Once upon a time, there was a pretty, green-eyed girl named Angie, who lived in New York and aspired to a career in the fashion trade. She lived in a women-only residence and club for single women, at the very heart of the social and cultural whirl that was New York City in the early 1940s.

Although she was entirely serious about her career, Angie was also much courted, and most earnestly by a young man named Bill Luddy, who had a puckish sense of humor and a talent for music… as well as a deep conviction that he and Angie were made for each other. He was from her home town of Altoona, Pennsylvania and had known her for a couple of years. When she went to New York to study fashion at the Traphagen School, he wrote to her occasionally… but to her, he was just another one of her boyfriends.

But when he was called up for active service with the Navy in 1942, Bill was sent for junior officer training at a detachment housed on an old ship docked in the Hudson … and it is the letters which he wrote to Angie from that moment on, that form the heart of this volume. He wrote to her every day, witty and affectionate letters, outlining plans and dreams both long and short term. He and Angie met when they could, for dances and shows, parties and dinners in wartime New York’s most glamorous venues… and sometimes they just sat and talked to each other. When Bill’s training class was finished, and he graduated as a full-fledged officer, he had finally convinced Angie to marry him.

They married happily; Angie followed him to his service assignments until the end of the war. They built a family and a life together, but the charm of this book lies in the account of their courtship, and first years together. They were representative of millions of ordinary men and women living through extraordinary times, taking from it the happiness that they could with grace and love.

Their youngest daughter, Elaine Luddy Kloniki has assembled her parents’ letters and her mother’s reminiscences into this endearing memoir of a time that seems almost another world, so very different were the conventions and customs. It’s pages are enriched with a wealth of contemporary advertisements and illustrations, as well as pictures of Angie and Bill’s families; the families they came from, and the one they created. There are also cartoons from magazines, and from Bill’s graduating midshipman class publication, some of which might be a little obscure, but others of them amusingly relevant. There are also facsimiles of some of his letters, their marriage certificate, and words and music to some of the songs that he wrote for her, one of which provided the title:

All on account of you
I do the things I do
All on account of the way you dress
All on account of your loveliess
I fell in love with you…

Above all, a little book like this serves to remind us that our parents, or our grandparents were not always our parents, staid and stern and conventional. That once they were glamorous and dashing, writing fond letters, dancing in the Waldorf-Astoria’s ballroom, and planning their future.

“All On Account of You” is avaible at Amazon.com, and from Lulu.com

Sgt. Mom is a freelance writer who lives in San Antonio, and blogs at The Daily Brief. More about her own books is at www.celiahayes.com

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