• Six Weeks for Boat Mail

  • The next book in the trilogy - available now!

     It’s August 29, 1941, embarkation day for the SS Santa Elena, a Grace Line steamship bound for Valparaiso, Chile. At Pier 57, New York Harbor, twenty-two-year-old Robin Bedford settles into cabin 128. Meanwhile Buster, her husband of ten weeks, hovers with the U.S. Army 101st Cavalry Regiment near the crisp and piney Massachusetts/New Hampshire border. That’s where 15,000 troops of the Blue Army face off with 25,000 men in the Red Army in the New England Maneuvers. So begins the continuing story of Robin, Buster, and a handful of other mid-twentieth century twenty-somethings, embarking on their newly-wed lives together under the shadow of WWII. 

    Three weeks later, in an open Scout car, Buster rolls south in a khaki-colored convoy through Gettysburg,  Antietam, and along the Skyline Drive to Fort Bragg. In the Carolina Maneuvers, Lieutenant General Hugh A. Drum, Commanding General of the 400,000 soldiers of the “First Army,” sees 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.

    PFC 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 returns 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 the port of Valparaiso, it becomes her “summer to play in.” 

    With the sinking of the USS Reuben James, notably the first U.S. naval warship lost to hostile action of a German U-Boat, the situation turns from serious to grave. Buster obsesses over Robin’s perilous return up the Atlantic coast. In a letter to his bride he avows, “… 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 her shocking extramarital affair with a ski racer and the December 7 Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. By way of Pan Am Clipper and Eastern Airlines DC-3 “Silver Sleeper,” Robin returns in time to celebrate their first Christmas. Each young couple’s path advances in lockstep with military training and rank advancement. For the young Bedfords it’s New Jersey and Massachusetts, where their son Bobby is born, to Florida and Louisiana. All the while, Robin’s mother Lelia chases Robin and her sister, Dottie, by way of government censored handwritten letters, often taking… Six Weeks for Boat Mail.

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  • Reviews

  • Listen to a Benny Goodman soundtrack while reading Six Weeks for Boat Mail, and fully immerse yourself into a personal history of 1940s family life in WWII America. Bonnie Park’s second book is an entertaining, wartime adventure across disparate continents. The intimate peek into her family's relationships reveal the War's societal limitations and beliefs that shape their lives. Inspired by the discovery of her mother’s handwritten letters, the author's untold narrative expertly melds history in tandem with the fates and fortunes of her patriotic family. Women readers today will be gently reminded how some things change yet stubbornly remain the same.

    Leslie Miller, Editor, Reimagining A Place for the Wild

  • This well-researched and insightful history digs deep into the personal lives of the Bedford family during World War II. The use of primary source letters and the author's anecdotal comments puts wind in the sails of this delightful narrative!

    Shawna Anderson, Family Historian, and retired educator

  • The author’s use of letters mailed between continents authenticates the unique personal sacrifices of WWII. As one who is set up to use my sewing machine every day, a several month hunt for a sewing machine “shuttle,” and the notion of having that essential part re-cast is unimaginable. Historic evidence takes this entertaining and intimate narrative down to the detailed level of a tiny sewing machine needle!

    Cindy Knowles, Cindy SewSew

  • I'm in awe! It takes great skill for an author to combine a lifetime of family letters and personal information into an engrossing story. This historic, family-focused novel explores the period shortly before the U.S. entry into WW2 and into the war years through letters between her newly-married parents, other family members and a huge amount of other research relating to that period in our history. Having read many tales focusing on the United States or the Pacific and European theaters during the War, I also found it refreshing that this book goes beyond to explore Central and South America at the time, including travel and dangers. Highly recommended!

    Nancy Porter, author of Skeletons in the Closet: Adventures of a Gold Rush Family and Owner/Travel Specialist

  • Love was in the air, but war loomed on the horizon. Robin Skinner and Buster Bedford threw caution to the wind and married in June 1941, preceding the December 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. While Buster fights in the historically significant New England and Carolina field maneuvers, Robin sails to her childhood home, which happened to be a copper mining camp in the Chilean Andes. Without the immediacy of phone calls or emails, their only means of communication were letters, often lost or delayed. Six Weeks for Boat Mail tells the story of trains, planes, automobiles and waiting for censored mail. Author Bonnie Park weaves a tale of mystery and romance from the letters her parents left behind.

    Michele Morris, author of The Cowboy Life