• Six Weeks for Boat Mail

  • The next book in the trilogy - coming soon

    It’s August 29, 1941, embarkation day for the Grace Line steamship bound for Valparaiso, Chile. Roberta “Robin” Skinner Bedford settles into cabin 128 aboard S.S. Santa Elena, docked at Pier 57, New York Harbor. Meanwhile her husband of ten weeks, Nathanial Forrest “Buster” Bedford hovers with the U.S. Army 101st Cavalry Regiment near the crisp and piney Massachusetts/New Hampshire border playing war games. At the end of the New England Maneuvers, the regiment will roll south to North Carolina. There, Lieutenant General Hugh A. Drum, Commanding General of the 400,000 soldiers of the “First Army,” will see to it the military might of the new U.S. Army strategically grows bigger and stronger in an all-out sham war over sixteen counties in North and South Carolina.

    Buster insists his military service “must of necessity be directed to the improvement of the armed forces of this country, for unless this war is in the end definitely won by the democracies, then any plans that we may have for the future will definitely be destroyed.”

    Robin’s sojourn to the El Teniente mining camp, east of Rancagua, Chile is to visit her parents, Dr. Lelia and T. Wayne Skinner, and the home she knew as a child in “Campamento Americano.” Buster anticipates Lelia will ensure Robin’s return from the odyssey will come with “a basic knowledge of home economics, a desire and energy to be a good housekeeper, the knack of making a real home…” Yet from the time Robin disembarks in Valparaiso, it becomes a “summer to play in” while Buster obsesses on her return. In a letter to his bride he avows, “Maybe I was too selfish in asking you to marry me so soon. Perhaps you would have had a more enjoyable trip as a single person… I don’t quite know how to say it, but I don’t want you to do anything your heart doesn’t tell you to do. If you don’t see your duty as I see mine, if you feel you would be happier at home in Chile, than you would be with me wherever I might be, then stay there until your heart calls you back to me.”

    The next time Buster sets eyes on his bride will be after F.D.R. delivers his famous Infamy Speech to a joint session of U.S. Congress, elicited by the December 7 Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor.

    Upon Robin’s return to U.S. soil that December, the young couple’s peripatetic path advances in lockstep with Buster’s military training: New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Louisiana. Not unexpectedly, Buster is forced to leave Robin and their one-year-old son, Robert, when his marching orders take him to the Western Pacific Theatre in October 1943. Robin and “Bobby” are relegated to stay in the Pelham Manor home of his parents where they will want for nothing. Eight months later, Robin insists the arrangement is impossible. As Buster gives her a blank ticket to do as she pleases, he asks for these three things in return:

    “First, please don’t let anything interfere with your letters to me for they are my lifeblood. Second, wherever you go, please be waiting for me when I come home – don’t let me spend weary days waiting for you as I did the last time you went to Chile, for you were exceedingly cruel about that and I could not stand going through a month of waiting after what I have been through over here. Thirdly, remember that you, too, owe a duty to your country. Wherever you are, see that you do your share, whether it be in the Red Cross at Pelham or something else somewhere else. Remember – it is impossible for you to know what these men go through out here. You can imagine it, but you can’t feel it. Sun, rain, heat, mud, long hours that sear into your very soul until you can’t think or sleep – you hear about them, yes, but you don’t experience them. But nothing in this world is so injurious to the morale of a soldier as a feeling that the things he is fighting for are crumbling beneath him and he is unable to get home to do anything about it.”

  • Buy Book From:

  • Reviews

  • Coming soon...