BY WAYS - Shelby Coffman. Johnnie Gilkerson - November 30, 1944

Greetings, dear friends, who read the Saltsburg Press!

Is it snowing where you are? If it is, I hope you like cold weather better than I do. Br-r-r. I started this column yesterday (Friday) with the statement, "Let's get away from war news - and all the heartache it brings," and tried to write just about people - sequels to old stories. And then found that I could not write about worthwhile people of the present and not write about the war. For every person worth his salt is all mixed up in the war. How are we were going to even things up with those who have given their dearest treasures? For them the war is never 'over'. Surely a just and merciful and tender Father will make it right with them in the next world - where there is no more sorrow. Do you like to know what 'becomes of people - real or fictional? If you have followed the By-Ways, you will remember Shelby - Shelby Coffman II, handsome, diplomatic, efficient, and altogether delightful young man at the head of inspection on third floor, Plant 3, of Warner & Swasey Co. The navy took him last December, interesting letters came from boot camp. Then a long silence (due to my negligence). Now comes a homesick letter from "somewhere in the Pacific" - on the destroyer escort, U.S.S. Wesson. He wants me to contact his old friends at Warner & Swasey, and see that they write to him. "I have a son, three months old, whom I have never seen," writes this proud and heart-hungry young father. So I went to see Shelby Coffman III yesterday. Handsome - and sweet beyond compare. Healthy, hungry, eager, smiling, dimpled darling; he has been tugging at my heartstrings all day - the thought of him, and what his father is missing - what all these young fathers are missing - fathers, sons, husbands, lovers - while they straighten out the mess this world is in.

Oh, let every man Jack of us - as my Canadian night nurse used to say - put our shoulders to the wheel, to get them home as soon as we can. We sit in comfort by our home fires, but there can be no peace in our hearts while our own - who in spirit have become kinsmen to us all - are fighting in the bitter cold of Europe, or in the "green hell" of the jungle. While I think of it, I want to thank those of you who sent a birthday greeting to my son-in-law. You wouldn't believe how grateful he was. He mentioned each person who wrote, and gave the gist of each message. He seemed especially touched by a letter from a "dear old lady in Livermore, Miss Rebecca Matson." Bless her heart! Tom's own grandmother is 92 years old - and spry as a cricket. She came all alone from Delaware recently, to visit her daughter, Mrs. Young. She loves to play "500" - and we love to play with her.

Now, let's mention two more personalities of whom I have written - Johnny Gilkerson and Almira Lytle. Johnny (my beloved Doctor Knox's boy) is home from the far Pacific, where he was promoted to Chief Pharmacist's Mate, and is now transferred to Washington, D.C. He wrote to Almira Lytle (of the golden heart) and asked her to be on the lookout for an apartment for him and his devoted young wife. For reply she mailed him the key to her lovely home. Who says everybody in Washington is hard-boiled? I might mention Ronnie's mother - out on Lilac Road, the young mother who slapped and pommelled her little son right out on the street. I am sure she has changed her methods of discipline, and Ronnie has developed into a very worthy citizen. His mother is an indefatigable worker for the Red Cross and for the War Fund. She has sold more War Bonds and stamps than anyone else in South Euclid.

Now it is Saturday evening - and mail time. The Saltsburg Press of Nov. 30 has not yet reached me. So mayhap this will not reach the Press office in time for you. I hate to think how desolate you will be. Don't forget that extra War Bond.

Yours for Victory,
Florence B. Taylor

Next - 12/21/44 - There will always be a Christmas. The Bondaliers. Helen Hayes.

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