The following letter I think captures many things, the first being how over the years “in-laws” became attached to the Family and Jones Valley in such a special way. Today, I think there are several examples; Stan Prosen and Jan Lammers come readily to mind. In the 1930’s, when my mother, Nettie Sue Briscoe, married my father, Paul C. White, his grandmother, one of the original eleven founders, along with his mother, Jessie White, were living in the Valley along with several other of the founding siblings.
Ross D. Briscoe (R.D.), my mother’s younger brother, along with other of her family spent summers in the Valley, an enchanted place, with cousins galore, enjoying Reunions, the Tabernacle and church activities, gardens, chickens, a small lake, and loving people – but not much money (but that didn’t matter; with the depression, no one had any).
Fast forward to 1940, with a war in Europe, R.D. cannot wait for the U.S. to get into “the big one,” and goes to Canada, joins the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), subsequently marries my Aunt Lucille, and is sent to England. Now he’s in the war. He hasn’t been home to Arkansas in at least three years, but keeps close to family with letters.
The letter I’m sharing here is from R.D. to Melinda Cubage and Jessie White, in response to a letter they had written him. Remember, at this time living in the Valley was very basic; I’m not sure there was electricity, but certainly not other conveniences, such as a telephone. Also, this was a very serious war, censorship was common – there are a couple holes in the letter, where a censor used a razor to cut out a word or so that described a military activity or place.
In this letter, R.D. mentions several other people you might not be familiar with: Buddy Carnes, Cubage line, who now lives in N.C., and his brother Billy. Buddy and R.D. were good friends. Also, Roberta (Ford), granddaughter of Fannie, who was on an extended stay in the Valley (most likely at the Cubage Cabin) from New Mexico while taking nurse’s training at St. Joseph’s hospital in Hot Springs. And Frances, my sister. (I hadn’t been born yet.)
So, I hope you enjoy the letter and see my Uncle’s passion for our Family and the Valley, and respect for these two special women. And although he didn’t have the benefit of an advanced education, he could turn a phrase – which made him fit right in at the Valley. Also, you’ll get a little glimpse into the World War II era, at the human level.
R.D.’s letter: R.D. Briscoe letter WWII To Melinda and Jessie