Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Love for the Work . . . for Fourteen More Weeks

From Jim's letter, October 8, 1938:

"My Darling Gwen,

. . .I would imagine my letters must be rather boring to you, in a comparative way. For example, all I can write about is my life and my work, and my love for you. My work from day to day is much the same, and you already know my life and where it is centered, and my love for you never changes, so each letter must be pretty much the same. So by simple deduction you must get as tired reading my letters as you used to get when I told you in a spoken word and then proposed to you. Gee you certainly must have got a big laugh out of me and my weekly proposals. However, if I had you here, or if I was there, I'd do it again. Would you accept this time instead of saying 'after your mission'? But I love you and I want you to marry me. So there. And I won't change my story.

"And say, 'peanuts,' would you ever want me to change? In your letter I thought I could detect a wee bit of skepticism, and I want you to know that if it were here, New York, or Chicago, I could embrace you and still say 'My Gwen.' In my opinion you are the finest young lady and the most beautiful in Salt Lake. The best is none too good for me, so I aimed high and I got the best. And that's my story and I'll stick to it too. Gee, but I'm wondering if you could still look at me and only say 'My William.' That's all I would want to hear, because I would know what you meant. Remember the chewing gum wrapper?

"We have so many sweet memories and so many ways of our own of saying, or expressing our love, that in every act or word of my days work I am reminded over and over again of you. So you see darling, you did become a part of my mission and a real vital part as well. And I am glad.

". . .My word Gwen, can you fully realize that we only have fourteen weeks left of this mission. It certainly is surprising how quickly the weeks flit by and away into months. . . I'm certainly looking forward now to my arriving in New York again. And I hope you'll be there to meet me. . . "

From Jim's letter, Monday, October 24, 1938:

"My Darling,

You think of everything, and sometimes even me. Last week was my week of weeks, and I'm so happy when your letters come. I'm twice as happy when two letters come, and your card made me want to work real hard, complete my job, and hurry home. . .

Elder Jim Telford (right) with another missionary
"Last night I was in Sunderland on circuit, for my Sunday, and gee it was a swell meeting. Such a fine spirit and feeling in it, that even with having to speak I enjoyed it. Something came over me and I wanted to shout from the housetops that what I have to teach is the truth. Nine months in this work has done me a world of good, and sweetheart, I'm proud to say that you and my mission share my love, you and I share my mission, my mission and I share you. Each day brings me some new experience to teach me something new. Each day teaches me to love you more and I don't care if you get tired of reading of my love for you in my letters, because I'll go on writing it and telling it as long as it is real. . .

". . .And now I am to lose Bro. Bryson as my companion. Our conference over and our usual Elders meeting with Pres. Brown resulted in his transfer to Wales and he will leave me in about one week. I saw two of my associates off Friday, to Salt Lake. They may call to see you when they arrive and again they may not. If they do, you will fine two fine fellows . . .

". . .my thoughts are ever of you, and my prayers that our ideals may ever stand as a beacon light to our future. Praying for our future together, and loving you sincerely, I am, devotedly your sweetheart,

(XXO may I)"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tension and Preparation for Emergency Evacuation

Letter to Jim from the American Consulate, September 22, 1938:

"Sir (or Madam):

This office has been considering a plan for assisting Americans in this consular district in the even of an emergency and this letter is the result of a consultation held at the consulate between a few leading Americans.

"I wish to state at the outset that I do not wish to alarm you unduly and that I know no more concerning the possibility of war than appears in the newspapers. The international tension seems to have relaxed somewhat, but it was agreed at the meeting above mentioned that a rough plan of action be outlined.

"The following points were considered:
1. In the event of war, Newcastle-on-Tyne would probably be bombed from the air.
2. Such attack might be made with suddenness leaving no time for evacuation.
3. Events might so shape themselves as to give warning of hostilities and make immediate evacuation desirable.

"In the case of (2), it was agreed that it would be unwise, if not impossible, for Americans to attempt any concerted action. They should place themselves in the hands of the British authorities and adopt such measures for their safety as these recommended. . .

Letter to Jim from American Consulate, Sept. 29, 1938
". . .For your information, there are estimated to be about 125 Americans, including men, women and children, in the four counties comprising this consular district, namely, Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland and Westmorland, and the County Borough of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire; 106 of these are registered at the consulate. If you know of any Americans who are not registered, please ask them to call at the consulate at once. . .

"Very truly yours,
Harold Playter
American Consul."

Letter to Jim from the American Consulate, September 24, 1938:

"Sir (or Madam):

". . .You will have noted that the situation has grown more tense during the past two days. Cook's tourist agency informs this office that a general exodous [sic] westward of Americans has begun. It will be well to remember that if conditions grow worse bookings will be difficult to obtain. . ."

Letter to Jim from the American Consulate, October 1, 1938:

"Sir (or Madam):

Having reference to my former circulars concerning Americans, I now submit a more detailed plan. .

"Points to be remembered:

- Persons traveling in the cars of others can take no more baggage than they can carry in their laps.
- Dress warmly. Take blankets, if possible, and enough bread and tinned meat for two or three days.
-Travel the unfrequented roads to the Etty Farm.
-Send license numbers and description of your cars to the Consulate so that Consulate may be able to save them for confiscation and obtain petrol.

"Key Men:
-Get in touch with your key man at once. At the time of the preparation of this circular the international situation has much improved, but the British Government is still delivering gas masks and taking other precautions, and the Consulate deems it proper to develop this plan. Please cooperate.

"Very truly yours,
Harold Playter
American Consul."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hitler and The Worry of War

From Robert Telford's (Jim's Dad) letter, Sunday, September 18, 1938:

"My Dear Son,

Robert and Charlotte Telford
I greatly fear that when you are reading this letter there will be a state of war in Europe. The aggressive attitude of the Nazi's in Czecho-Slovakia in their determination to become incorporated in the German Empire and the admirable determination of the Czech's to keep the boundaries of their country just where they are, together with England's vacillating and weak policy toward the whole situation, have created a problem which in  my opinion can only be settled in war. If it must be war then it may as well be now as later. If that mad man in Berlin and his equally mad sattelite [sic] Henlein think that they can realize Kaiser Bill's dream of world dominance, then now is the time to call their bluff. Hitler is depending on his bluff. He knows that war means his doom, and notional suicide for Germany. If Chamberlain could muster enough courage to say to Hitler, and say it with a very significant smile on his face "Don't be silly" the impression and conviction conveyed would jar Herr Adolph worse than the impact of a bullet. Enough has happened already to justify Hitler in carrying out his threats to take the Sudeten Territory by force if necessary, but he isn't doing it. He won't do it until circumstances into which he has forced himself, and from which he cannot back out, force him to fight.

"Well, what am I telling you all of this for anyway, you know as much about it as I do.

Letter and writing sample of Charlotte Telford (Jim's Mother)
"A report has just this moment come over the radio to the effect that Britain and France have agreed that a plebiscite is the only solution to the Czech problem. In the first place the Czechs won't accept it. In the second place, if they do, they may as well hand the disputed territory to Hitler on a silver platter. Well, we haven't had a letter from you this week, I guess you are pretty busy. . .

". . .I want to write a letter to your Uncle Harry and one to your Uncle Bill today, so not having more interesting news for you and wishing to avoid sermonizing at this time I will close. Your check for $35.00 has gone forward and will now be in your pocket. Please tell me how you are faring on this amount and what you have on hand, how your suits are, and if you need anything extra. We don't want you to get shabby or to want for anything.

"Gwen was in and spent a couple of hours last night. She comes in quite often for a visit and we really enjoy her. In fact I don't know what we would do without her. Oh, by the way, when you write to Len you had better address your letter to the new edition of Fred Astaire, same address as usual. Len is now dancing instructor in the ward with Gwen as his partner. So we have changed his name to Fred. His is proud of his job.

"Best respects to everybody over there and kindest regards to you,
 From yours affectionately,

From Robert Telford's letter, Sunday, September 25, 1938:

"My Dear Son,

As I start to write I suddenly realize that I have not very much on my mind that I can put into my letter. Naturally, the predominant thought in one's mind is the condition of Europe as it relates to peace or war there. It crowds out of the mind any thoughts of a great many other things, and in spite of every effort to the contrary, remains paramount.  ___________________________
I stopped writing to listen to the International Radio Broadcast of World News during which a flash from London came over saying that the Czechs had notified Chamberlain of England that Hitler's latest statement of conditions giving them to Oct 1st to evacuate the Sudeten area are unacceptable. Unless Hitler backs down this means war. I fail to see how that braying ass can back down now without losing his prestige with his own people and with the rest of the world, and by the same token I see no way to avoid war. Let's hope for the best.

Letter from Jim's Father (Robert), Sept. 25, 1938
"We had Gwen in last night practicing a dance with Len. Len had his young lady in here too, so don't get upset about Gwen with him. He is too infatuated with his own little Dutch girl to have any eyes for Gwen. The little Dutch-ess is quite a sweet little thing . . .

". . .I haven't had a letter from your Uncle Tom Gate yet. Maybe I stumped him with my letter on administration to the sick. Have you ever talked to him about that letter? Rather, I should say, has he ever mentioned it to you? . . Knowing these old non-conformists local preachers as I do, I am mindful of the fact that their knowledge of the bible is limited to a few tenets in the New Testament which apply to certain conditions of salvation . . .I know that it is hard to get these old duffers to change their minds or even get them to think a little on the possibility that there might be something more to the plan of salvation than they already know. So you just have to be patient with them, and realize that you cannot change a lifelong conviction with a single argument, especially when that conviction has been the basis of a man's moral and spiritual attitude and conduct throughout his whole life.

"Tuesday morning, 10:15 o'clock a.m. A radio broadcast has just come in stating the U.S. government has advised all Americans to leave Europe immediately. As this includes England I may as well stop writing because if the governments advice is heeded, this letter will not reach you there, you may be on your way home anytime. So until further developments, I will send our very best regards and am as always,
yours affectionately,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Meeting Jim in New York? and the Worry of War

From Gwen's Letter, September 11, 1938:

"My Dearest Sweetheart,

. . . What will you do when you get home and find that you no longer have to write letters. Gee, honey, it seems like half your and my life have been filled with writing letters to each other. Just think from 1933 to 1939 is six years and truly almost half of that courting was done thru letters wasn't it. I can't wait until some cold stormy night when we're cozy and snug together before an open fire reading some of our many letters to each other. Wouldn't that be fun to see in letters how we changed from kids to older kids and from mere acquaintances with dignified 'Dear Jim' to intimate lovers [?]

". . . Last night at the Old Mill was the stake gleaner dance. I asked Lenny to go but it was his girl's birthday, so Stan went with me and Lenny brought his girl. I wasn't going to the Old Mill with anyone but you, but since Berdine and I had to do the entertaining and since I could go with a Telford (the nearest thing to you), I finally decided to go. . .that Lenny has developed into a darn good dancer. It must be a talent with you Telfords. . .We were both recalling memories of other nights at the Mill and in the midst of it all I saw a fellow dancing just in front of us and, darling, he looked so much like you it made my heart almost stop for a minute. He was your height, had hair and features like yours, and danced so smoothly, just like you. Well right then and there I realized how wonderful, how unexplainably satisfying, it would be to go with you again.

Gwen with a friend (Berdine?)
". . .Oh, Jim darling, I was so glad to read in your letter that you wanted me to come back to meet you. I thought perhaps you would rather I didn't, but now I'm really going to do everything in my power to get to come back and meet you. The prices for round trip on the Challenger aren't bad and I'd love a trip like that, and I know Berdine would too. Oh, honey, I'm so excited about it already I can't wait. Do you think we could make arrangements to meet without fail in New York? Oh, if we only could and then if I knew which train you were returning on I could come back with you. Oh, kid, think of the fun we could have seeing those places to-gether. It really would be worth it don't you think so? Would you be able to let me know a little ahead of time just when you would land and all? Maybe I couldn't see Europe with you, but I could surely see the United States with you. . .What makes me feel bad though is that your folks probably want to come just as badly as I do, and if I go do you think they might feel that it is kind of unfair and selfish on my part [?] For a while I thought maybe I could coax dad to drive back and take your folks too, but he says he couldn't possibly get off work at that time of the year.
Union Pacific's Challenger

". . .I hope you're still planning to tour the continent, Jim, that is if they aren't having a war in Europe by March. I'd surely like to see you go see all those wonderful places. . .

". . .Here's to our love, our success, and marriage in the temple on June 19, 1939. Oh, darling, that would be glorious. Now goodnight sweetheart and did I tell you I love you more than anything in this world[?]

"Your Sweetheart, Gwen"

From Gwen's Letter, September 26, 1938:

"My Only Sweetheart,

. . .What do you hear concerning the war over there? Is England really planning to join France against Germany? What difference does that make in your work? Are they really drafting a million young men in England? Well, I guess by the time you read this letter war will either be on or off. We hear so much about it. Almost every fifteen minutes over the radio they announce something concerning it. Oh, kid, I hope Hitler and Mussolini fall down and break their necks or something.

David O. McKay with  Pres. Hugh B. Brown
"Darling, I was surely thrilled to read about the success of your conference and I could have cried when you told me how you were so happy and thrilled to stand and speak before that audience. Isn't it wonderful what missions can do. You must have worked hard to interest 230 people over there. I'm surely proud of you and you bet I've got the account of it in your mission scrap book. From the way you describe President Brown, honey, I would surely love to meet him and be acquainted with him. It's good to have such men as ideals and guides in your life, and with such high ideals Jim, I'm sure you will become as wonderful a man as you set your goal to become. As for me from my acquaintances, I believe I want to be like David O. McKay still, and as for a woman ideal I would aim at Sister Wood. Have you ever heard her speak? She's young and blonde and so full of enthusiasm. She and her husband are now presiding  over the West German mission. . .

". . .Berdine and I are still planning for New York in the spring--that is if you come home. Wouldn't be any fun to go if you decide to stay, but darling after your tour, please hurry home as fast as you really want to.

"So long and remember I love you always.

Your Sweetheart, Gwen"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

International Relations in Europe=War?

From Jim's letter, September 15, 1938:

"My Dearest Gwen,

Oh, if you could only be here now. At night, when the air is cool and crisp, and the feel of it makes you stand straight and walk fast, and a moon peeks out from behind a misty cloud to throw it's light to the earth below, my mind runs back to one September 12th, just before you were to return to school. But the days are warm and pleasant for the sun shines, the trees are dropping their leaves, and the flowers are hanging their heads, the country side is being painted by a master and I am reminded that under these conditions we used to have a drive into the mountains. So you see darling our going together, and our love for mutual things, took us into such a variety of places that even over here you are a part of it all. And I hope you will always be the same in the future.

". . . No, I don't kick in my sleep. I do enough in my waking hours.
I love you. Will you marry your Sincere Sweetheart, Jim."

From Jim's letter, September 20, 1938:

"My Only Sweetheart,

Another twentieth day of another month, and incidentally this is really number twenty of a once eternity of a mere twenty four. Or, we only have four more to go before we can say one of our greatest dreams has become a reality and then we are going to go to work on even a greater dream and ideal. Do you know which one that is?

London Times article dated Wed. Sept. 21, 1938
". . .You know over here we are very nearly into a chasm, caused by international relations on the European continent. All the folk seem to want to talk about is the possibility and probability of a war. But what is the attitude and opinions of the folk and papers at home[?] Over here the papers are too conservative in what they give to the general public. Why don't you send me a paper some time? Would you like one of these that we have to read?

". . .Well Sweetheart, even though twenty months have come and gone and we have gone through many changes, one thing remains true. That is my love for you and the sincere desire to make you my own, as soon after my return as possible. After we have been so patient and have waited for so long, it seems to me we deserve it. What do you and your folks think? You may know it, and again you may not, but my own people, at home, think you are the only girl in the world. Even the ones over here seem to know you as their own. They are all coming to our wedding, so we should have a real crowd of relatives.

"Well darling, I really must close this lousy letter, and go to bed. It's late and morning comes too soon as it is.

"So darling, here is my love for you and a kiss, the expression of how high I hold it. Love me, as I love you, Sincerely,= Your Sweetheart Jim."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Serious Question and Looking to the Future

From Gwen's Letter, August 28, 1938:

. . .'Sir James' before we proceed any farther with this courtship by correspondence will you answer me unflinchingly one very important question. I'm convinced that my whole future well-being depends on it. By rights, I really should ask Elder Howard or one of your former companions this all important question, 'Do you kick or talk in your sleep?' If you do I'm very afraid we'll have to install a petition when we get married. The last week and a half I've been having a nightmare of time. Mary Elaine has been staying with us and although I'm crazy about that kid in all other ways, she's not so hot as a bed partner. It seems that I'd just doze off into sweet slumber and 'Bam!' right in the middle of the back and when she gets in the land of nod she can really kick. Next time I'd doze off she'd sack me on the nose with her elbow. By this time I'd move over a couple inches and try again. Then in the mysterious stillness of the night I'd wake up with a start to hear an awful groaning and gnashing of teeth and then she'd shout a whole story of jumbled lingo that sounded like a fish market full of China-men eating mush while they gossiped wildly. But the last straw was when I finally fell asleep over on the perilous edge of the bed hanging by the extremity of the springs and she gave me another lusty kick. Wow but it was hard to believe she was so cute and sweet all during the day. And now as I write this letter after a week and a half of wrestling nights, the circles under my eyes are so dark and large that they're practically hanging to my knees and my brain feel[s] like the barrel on a merry-go-round, so, honey, do you blame me when I ask you in all sincerity, do you kick or talk in you sleep?
A copy of the monthly Millennial Star
". . .'Supervising Elder Wm James Telford,' you're getting to be a big shot aren't you? Every Millennial Star that comes lately tells of how you were a featured speaker at some meeting or how you blessed a baby and confirmed or baptized a couple. Kid, it's hard to believe that you're really you and doing all these wonderful things. I'm so gal dern proud of you that I'm saving every clipping I find that even mentions your name. Darling, truly our prayers are answered and dreams do come true. I only hope you won't let that dark head of handsome hair up there expand at all. Are you still keeping from being spoiled?
One of the articles Gwen clipped and saved from the Millennial Star
 ". . .Sweetheart, now you can imagine how excited and happy I am when I realize that the time is so short that you're even beginning to send some belongings home in advance. That's just like when you see the buds on the trees you know the spring isn't far behind. And the best part of it all is we've weathered the storms, the rocks and all obstacles and if we can just get safely in the harbor now  we'll meet again as the old Gwen and Jim, deeply in love and yet also a new Gwen and Jim with more experience, greater patience, more understanding and very, deep purposes.

". . .Well, honey, soon school starts and then Christmas comes and then spring and you. I can't wait. For now I must be patient and try to just write you and say here 's all my love.

Your Sweetheart,

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gratitude for Opportunities, Blessings, and People

From Jim's letter, August 1, 1938:

"My Only Sweetheart:

. . .My word I wish you were here with me right now. Today is an English holiday, and right now 7:30am it is a lovely sunny day out, and we could have a real lovely time going up to Scotland on an excursion train, or down to the sea side to lay on the sands and dream dreams of our future. However be that as it is, our day will not be too far ahead of us now. . .Can you realize my darling that it is eighteen months and twelve days since we last saw each other? But better still that it is only seven and one half until we shall see each other again. What shall we do that first night at home? Talk? Movie? Dance? Drive? . . .

Photo capturing the Dominion Monarch's size
"We had a very nice week last, seeing some things that I shall never forget. Over in Newcastle there is a cathedral and in the coloured glass windows they have portrayed the life of Christ. One window in particular took my fancy, and you as a student of art would really have appreciated it more than I. Then as a lark and merely on chance, we went over to a ship yard on the Tyne and by making ourselves known we saw the launching of the largest ship built here since 1907. 13,000 tons of steel plate, 650 feet long when completed will weigh 27,000 tons. The lady who broke the champagne on her (the ship) nose, had merely to pull a wire and away she went. Gee until you stand along side of one of those boats, you can never really realize there immense size and tonnage. But I know ships don't interest you so I'll not go into more detail. . .
QSMV (Quadruple Screw Motor Vessel) Dominion Monarch, launched at 3.30 p.m. on the 27th July 1938, by Lady Essendon. . .The Dominion Monarch was the largest ship built on the River Tyne since the famous RMS Mauretania in 1906. (; photos from

"Well for a week or two now we are through with our conferences. We had one in Gateshead last night. . .the real high light of the conference came when they gave me a seven week old baby to bless. The little rascal was as cute as a new doll, so we gave him the name George William Brewiss. . . Gwen I think of the opportunities that have been mine over here, some I never would have had at home. I thrill and feel to thank you for your sacrifice, my parents for theirs, and Our Father for His calling me. Really it has been grand and still is for that matter. But a mission such as this, for twenty-four months, is but a school to prepare a person for a still greater mission in life, that of serving in the still greater calling of marriage. There are scriptures to bear out my statement but why bore you with such things. . . So darling, given this opportunity I have come to you to ask again for your hand in mine and together lets fill our mission of life. . .Say you will.

"And now I send my love and undying affection to you and for you alone.
Sincerely Your Sweetheart,