Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
December 28
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, credentialed in the United Church of Christ; licensed by the Moravian Church . Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office. Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Interim Pastor, the Baltic Parish UCC, Baltic, Ohio; starting 08 2014: Interim Pastor, St. John UCC, Strasburg, OH


Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield's Links

FEBRUARY 5, 2009 2:15AM

A WWII Romance, Part III

Rate: 13 Flag




 A WWII Romance, Part III

Part I:  http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=99576

Part II:  http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=99860

Al and Wilma were caught off guard by the letter and the finality with which it made clear that, in spite of Al’s injuries which made him useless to the Army, it was the Army that still owned him and could and would tell him what was going to happen to his life until it said otherwise.  Al was still in too much pain from his wounds, and was beginning to suffer from intermittent fevers for which they could find no cause, to really think about the reality of his being at the mercy of whatever the Army said he was to do.

He had accepted it for almost three years before he was wounded.  But that was war and he was a soldier. At this point he thought of himself as a little less than a man and a potential cripple.  Years later he would recite this incident as one in a litany of indictments that he had against the War, the Army and military service in general.

But the existential truth that the letter forced to light was now very clear.  Neither Wilma nor Al had the slightest interest in falling in love when they took radically different roads to the Surgery Post Op ward at Stormont-Vail Hospital. For the longest time Wilma would not even admit to herself that she was falling in love.  She saw herself first on a conquest of a young man who seemed indifferent to her substantial charms. It was a game she had played many times and had won them all, only to flit away when the boy became serious. And yet here the bond between them deepened day by day without either one consciously trying to hurry it along. There was no need to; time was not an issue.

Al was surely the least likely to have thought in terms of love or its implications.  He was a shy and naive country boy who was still stammering around girls when he joined the Army.  The Army may have taught him the language of the conquering Casanova and the ability to brag about nonexistent conquests, but in truth he was still a naif when it came to understanding what love was or how to define it.

What their meeting at the hospital had given to them that they would never have found anywhere else in their ordinary lives was a sense that time was irrelevant as they grew to understand each other, unfolding their most intimate thoughts and dreams to each other like the slow opening of a flower in the Spring sunlight.  There was no pressure.  There were no deadlines.  There were no rules.  At some point Wilma realized that this was no longer a game. It was a discovery in which the pace of the exploration was never at issue.

The few words in that letter threw all that they had come to expect out the window and faced them with issues that neither had ever dreamed they might face. This was, it turned out, a time for growing up, not just growing in understanding each other.

For the first couple of days they tried to ignore the letter as if it had never come at all.  Then on the third day they were told by the nurse supervisor that Al would be leaving for Takoma five days hence. Whatever hope they had that it was all just a bad dream evaporated and they realized that this was all too real.

And so they did what all young lovers do when faced with imminent separation. Wilma gave him her address and phone number and the address and phone number of her parents in Burlingame. In the doing of that it finally occurred to both of them that in all the time they had spent together talking and discovering each other, the need for such simple facts about one another had never existed.  They secured the name, address and phone number of the hospital in Tacoma and Al gave Wilma the names and phone numbers of his parents and brothers and sisters in Humbolt which he kept folded on a stained piece of paper in his billfold.  

Wilma asked him why they had never come to visit him since he was so close to his home and it was then that Al admitted that he had not told them that he was even in the States because they would just worry too much.  That made absolutely no sense to Wilma, nor would it have made any sense to anyone but Al who had his reasons but would not reveal them, and she vowed then and there to call them and tell them what had happened to him and what was going to happen next.  Al got her to agree to wait until he left for Tacoma before she contacted them.

And, of course, with a sense of urgency that neither had expected they began to speak to one another in the language of love.  This was not the language of passion that both may have fantasized that they would first speak to one another, but this was the language of something different, of soul mates about to be parted and the feeling of no longer being quite complete without one another.  This love was spoken at a level of maturity that neither of them knew they possessed.  And it had not been even sealed with a kiss.  There was no privacy in a ward with fifty beds in it and none had been needed until now.

Wilma made quick work of solving that problem by talking to the night shift supervising nurse and getting the OK to visit him after hours when the lights were dimmed and there could be at least a hint of privacy, as private as something could be with occupied beds within six feet on both sides.  But for a few evenings at least there was time for holding hands and not simply sneaking brief touches and for some sweet kisses which were not much more than one would expect kissing good night at the door after a movie.  But it was more than they had ever had and it was enough.

And they vowed to write to one another every day and Wilma said she would call him as soon as he said he could have access to a phone.  They talked about how long it might be before he was through with rehabilitation and how soon he might be discharged and could return to Kansas and to her. They bravely made estimates of a short time of separation all the while knowing that neither had the slightest idea how long they might be separated.  

The very week that this was going on Germany surrendered on May 7 and May 8 and VE Day, Victory in Europe, was declared as May 8, 1945.  Neither Wilma nor Al paid much attention to this monumental date in history for the entire Western world.  All they knew was that the world which they were seeing take shape for the two of them was being torn apart by 2000 miles of separation. They vowed to each other that they would not let the miles keep them apart.

Wilma went to the hospital on that Monday morning expecting to say goodbye to Al, to hold his hand for just another moment before they placed him on the litter and carried him to the waiting ambulance which would take him back the Forbes Air Base and yet another plane to carry him to Tacoma, Washington.  But once again the Army proved more than either of them could control and he had been taken at five in the morning, long before she arrived.  When she got there around eight she walked over to his bed which was newly made up, sat in the chair beside it and laid her head on the scratchy blanket and wept.

To be continued……………


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
This is getting better and more interesting, eagerly awaiting the next installment...
Mesmerizing and bittersweet. A testament to old fashioned, enduring love.
Gasp! I feel like crying myself. How horrible. You are doing a beautiful job with this Monte.
"She saw herself first on a conquest of a young man who seemed indifferent to her substantial charms."

Great story Monte. I would say that the fact that it wasn't her outside that he was falling in love with played a big role in her attraction. All people want to be loved for what they have inside.

I look forward to more...

You really know how to leave us hanging!!! This is so dramatic it should be made into a movie. Perhaps it will...
I LOVE a good love story! Thanks Monte.
Great piece Monte. Your description of a "Candy Striper" reminds me that we live on a different planet new.

BTW, which Executive Office did you work for ? I worked for Council on Wage and Price Stability under Carter.


Moana, Cartouche, Dusty, Greg, and dcv: I owe a lot to you for sticking with this story and I appreciate it. I did not think it would have much, if any, appeal to others. The one thing I knew is that I am the last one left who remembers this story, told first hand to me, fact by fact revealed at various times by Al and Wilma. I was required to piece the story together from memory and though I have done that many times over the years, I had nowhere recorded it. That was the primary motivation for posting this story. Now at least a few people other than me and Sue, to whom I have told the story several times, will have at least known about it and them.

Bill, thank you for reading and commenting. I was in the Bureau of the Budget, July, 1963 to the end of the Johnson administration. I was there for only 5 months under Kennedy.

When Nixon came in he threatened to politicize the BOB down through the GS 15 level. I was a GS 14 at the time and so I moved to a GS 15 position in BLM, Interior. Ironically, Nixon did not politicize the BOB further and I could have stayed in BOB longer. But, in the end it was better that I moved on.

Your family will treasure this, Monte. Thanks for sharing with us as well.
Thanks, Laurel. Blogging was something I never thought I would do but it has given me both a place to record some family history that would be totally lost if I did not record it somewhere, and an incentive to do it.

You are very sweet to say so, Kay. I will post Part IV this evening.

I'm a little late to the story, but this is another great installment. You definitely have me sitting next to the couple. I almost feel like I'm eavesdropping and I know I shouldn't, but hey, I'm only human.
This is surely some of, if not, your best work I've read here and that is saying a lot!
Thanks, so much, Mike. And while I am not objective about this story at all, I do agree that this is some of my best work here on OS.

It certainly is not of the writing quality that it could be if I were doing a short story for paid publication. I spend no more than an hour or two typing out each chapter and another hour editing and rewriting. But for the "quick and dirty" style of blog writing that I do here, I agree it is some of my best. Thanks for thinking so.

Thanks Cindy. You almost make me wish that I had finished the next two Chapters I will be posting before too long.

I am in tears... I don't him to go.. Okay I am hooked on this story bad time and I love it.. You tell such a great story and you are such an awesome writter.
Sorry it took me so long to get out here to read part II.. Had my grandson yesterday, I wanted to read it without interruptions..Okay off to get tissues and to read part 4..
Thank you for wonderful love story.
Glad you are liking it fireeyes. Sorry for the tears. ;-)

"...unfolding their most intimate thoughts and dreams to each other like the slow opening of a flower in the spring sunlight..." Really nice simile.

This story is just so lovely and romantic. Happy, wistful sigh.
Thank you, Annette, I am glad you are enjoying it.

Beautifully written and heart-wrenching.
Thanks, Buffy. There are ups and downs in this story, like all of life. Hopefully you will feel a bit uplifted soon.