Fort Myers, FL 1944-45

She would have been 17 or 18 when she made this photograph, a “pin up” for her soldier, so far away in India. At 16 she had met and married a soldier from Buckingham Field, an Army Air Corps airfield just outside Fort Myers. He was 26. I’m sure some eyebrows were raised, but, true to their vows, only death parted them, and, by their beliefs, reunited them.

When Dad got his orders for India he was first sent to Maine, then NYC, and then Miami Beach, after starting in Fort Myers. Mom immediately made plans to get there and stay until he left, taking the Greyhound (or it might have been Trailways) to Miami. But she missed the last shuttle to the beach for the evening.

(In hindsight it doesn’t seem like it was that long of a list, but Mom had a few “absolutely not, under any circumstances” scenarios set down for me. Hitchhiking was high up the list.)

So, stuck in Miami in the early evening, in a town full of servicemen heading off to war, she stuck out her thumb. A 2nd Lt. driving a convertible stopped and picked her up, drove her to where she knew Dad was hanging out, went inside, and said, “Sgt. Durrence I have something for you outside.”

They got a room, and wound up having a few more weeks together; he would report for duty every morning. She knew he was shipping out the night he didn’t come home, but they managed to say goodbye through the post fence, and then didn’t see each other again for almost a year and a half, until the war was over.

Happy Mothers’ Day Mom.

For some of Bill’s photographs, go to