Tam Dalrymple transported the library audience back in time to the era of World War II last week as she read excerpts from her keepsake book, “Letters to the Editor.”
Dalrymple tells the story of her father Pete’s travels in the service and her mother Ruth’s work as editor of theMorrow County Sentinel during the war.
Tam said she only has her father’s letters to her mother since her father was in Europe during most of the war and he could hardly keep all the letters he received. He was getting the Sentinel sent to him in Europe and commented on her editorials in his letters. At some point she realized that her mother talked about his letters in her editorials and articles. That gave her the idea for the book’s title, “Letters to the Editor.”
After she had the title, writing the book came easily. The Morrow County Sentinel is one of the major characters in the book as Pete comments on happenings mentioned in the paper as well as reflections he has on activities in Europe.
Pete didn’t see combat directly since he was attached to General Moses for much of his duty. Tam supposed that was because they found that he could write and he wrote speeches and letters for the general.
Tam read from several passages in Pete’s letters that show a “juxtaposition of both beauty (in his descriptions of the countryside) and the horror of war.” He spoke of the beauty of the apple blossoms in Normandy and a few letters later of the “pretty grim sights and some very heroic ones.”
Along with serious readings about the war, Tam interspersed light moments from her father’s letters. The library audience chuckled as she read Ruth’s observations about the “crowds in downtown Mount Gilead on a Saturday night.”
Tam’s favorite letter of her father was the first time he saw Paris. He describes his excitement to see Notre Dame and sidewalk cafes before they went straight to the famous Chanel department store and purchased perfume.
Before the war began Pete Dalrymple was vocational agriculture teacher at Mount Gilead High School where he met Ruth Griffith who was teaching second grade in the district. They were married Dec. 20, 1941 just as the United States entered World War II.
Ruth and her brother Terry were the fourth generation of Griffiths to publish and edit the Morrow County Sentinel, which the Griffiths owned since 1858. Terry took over the Sentinel when their father, Earl passed away in 1940 and Terry’s name was on the masthead as manager of the paper during the war. However, it was Ruth and her mother, Mary who ran the paper during the war.
Terry went into the service close to the time that Pete joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. It was a time after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that many men joined the service and many couples got married before the men shipped out. It was also typical for the time that women took over many of the traditional jobs of the men who were serving in the military.
During the question and comment time after the presentation visitors commented on the loving relationship that shines through in many of the letters. Pete talked about the good work she was doing as Sentinel editor and expressed how much he loved her in many ways.
Two copies of “Letters to the Editor” by Tam Dalrymple are available in the Mount Gilead Public Library.
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