BY-WAYS - 9/16/43 - The Boaks - September 9, 1943

Next week I want to write a column dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Kate Virginia McQuiston, and replete with the little things that endeared her to Saltsburg, as well as to her own family. I need your help - for my association with her, vis-a-vis, was limited to two hours - but enough to make me long to know her better. If you want to pay tribute to her, and hesitate to send it in as a separate thing, just mail it to me - on postcard, or in a letter, and I will do my best to weave it into the bright tapestry of her beauty-loving life. I hope you will allow me to quote you, but your wishes shall be held inviolate. Please send AT ONCE.

I promised to tell you more about the Boaks, my hosts for one week. They are interesting people. Mr. Boak is a research chemist for the American Steel & Wire Co., Virgil's "alma pater" for 29 years. His lovely wife, Carolyn, is a college graduate, and was a High School librarian for 17 years. They raised two fine children. Nancy, the tomboy, expert carpenter, and good all-round "handy-man," is now, at 25, the adored wife of a tall, handsome Swede, Clifford Erikson, Flight Commander of a Flying Fortress over in North Africa (maybe in Italy now). Nancy, the athletic, outdoors girl is now quite domestic; for she is making tiny garments for that wonderful baby who is about to make his debut in this beautiful, but battered, old world. I say "he," because all the boys in Cliff's outfit have agreed on the name "Pedro," regardless of sex. It is supposed to be an honor conferred, because of their unanimous affection for a veteran of the Spanish-American war, bearing that name.

The Boaks have an only son, "Bob." Bob, the quiet, sensitive type, who sat in the garden swing, reading poetry, while Nancy repaired the pasture fence or the pigsty, has put on the full armor of courage, and has plunged into the most dangerous phase of the war, leading these bombing sorties. In other words, he is a Flight Commander of a Flying Fortress, the same as his intrepid brother-in-law. The remarkable thing about this family is their extreme modesty. I was there a whole week before I found out that Bob has won the Distinguished Flying Cross. Mrs. Boak and I were having a quiet little farewell talk before my family would come for me. I had been so taken with Nancy and her romance with Cliff that I suddenly realized I didn't know much about her brother. Like all mothers, Mrs. Boak is very, very proud of her son. He was home on a week's furlough just a few days before my visit. Of course her first question to him must have been, "What did you do to win the coveted "Cross?" But he was not allowed to tell her. Some of his missions were secret, and cannot be disclosed, until the War Department sees fit to release such information. Suffice to say that young Bob, only 23, has flown all over the world, has met the test of real air combat, and has proved that he can be trusted with our country's most important secrets. He is now stationed at Tucson, Arizona, where he is teaching combat tactics at the air school there. Isn't it amazing what a mere boy can do? He gets at least a part of his heroic stuff from his mother. She has plunged into her new role as farm wife with a whole-souled enthusiasm and thoroughness. We laughed at her - how she does everything "by the book" Remember that she was a librarian, up until two years ago. John, the hired man, who runs the farm, beheaded eleven big Rhode Island Red chickens for her one day, then she and I plucked them. I wanted to help her cut them up, but was forced to follow the doctor's orders, and rest. She kept plugging away for about five hours. (It would have taken my Aunt Caroline less than two). Then she canned them - process cooking - the next morning. But the amazing thing is that that plucky woman walks - without the trace of a limp - with a foot that was sliced off in a mowing machine, and is fastened together with wire. It gets very tired. But she refuses to baby it.

Some other time I want to tell you more about Nancy. But now I must close. I shall be looking for those messages from you.

Florence B. Taylor

Next - 10/7/43 - "Mother" Kate Virginia McQuiston.

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