Bradley T. Van Deusen

Bradley T. Van Deusen

January 29, 1947
August 19, 1951
Date unknown 1951
December 19, 1951
December 27, 1951
January 5, 1952
August 2, 1952

Father's Links

January 29, 1947


I take no exception to myself. All you say is right and how can I feel anything but shame. I know I have done wrong but I have been unable to do anything else.

Jean, I am sick, I am mentally and physically sick. I am in constant pain twenty-four hours of the day. Trying to think is a definite effort for me.

Jean in hat I love you Jean, there is, nor can there be anyone but you. The Hell on earth I have gone through is unbelieveable. I see your face in every succession of hotels and furnished rooms. I can do nothing, I cannot think except of you.

Would you try again? I have my GI which will get us a place wherever you wish. I have my retirement pay, a little over two hundred a month. The GI we can work out together so that we live where we wish. The retirement pay you may handle completely. I don't ask that you live as my wife. I only ask a room, rations and a bit of tobacco. The rest you may handle as you see fit. Perhaps in time you may see fit to come back to me but in the interim I will be content with only the companionship of you and TenEyck.

World War I Don't call me "Mister" -- don't write me as "Mister". You dragged me from Private to Captain and a Captain of the Army I shall remain -- it's a long way up from what I have been and I will not forget it.

I'm a sick, lonely man, Jean. Much of it if not all of it is my responsibility. I simply cannot exist without you.

The things? Hell Dear, if you can't solve it we might as well forget them. I known no transfer place in Chicago. If all the concrete results of your life and my life mean so little to you they can mean no more to me. Let them go. I have little left anyway.

Dam! Darlin'! All the hard days we lived together and now that we're economically sound you slip it off. Sure, if you take me back you've got three children but I still think we can live and find happiness, or content.

I'm tired and I'm sick and I love you, Jean. Each thing I do is wrong but it was never that way together.

You've had Hell? Yours has been an economic Hades whereas mine has been something it is impossible to live with.

Will you try again Jean Dear? I'm a tired, hurt old man but I love you terribly even if I constantly hurt you. You handle the checkbook, you run the house, you take care of me as well as TenEyck and Mary-Suskind. A load? Sure, but no worse than the current problem, and, it might save me.

I love you Jean.


Full Letter

August 19, 1951

Dear Warrior,

... Have been prowling around thru Mexico, Guatamala and Cuba and finally wound up in St. Augustine -- a jewel of a little ancient city where you can have a beach party and swim on Xmas.

... Was promoted to Major as a kindly pat on the back -- but no troops.

Tell Jean I haven't had a drink in over three months and I wasn't drunk at the station. ...

Kiss 'em for me, Son.

All my love, always


Full Letter

Date unknown 1951


I probably won't do any better today than I did last night.

I'll try however.

You have the preponderance of right on your side. I do not question that. I feel that I have some things on my side.

From the time you left me I blew completely to Hell. The things I did you knew I'd do when I was without your controlling influence.

I was not retired from the Service primarily for diabetes. I was retired because I was of no further use to the Service. Your letters to the hospital (which I resented) didn't tell the story. I have always in these latter years been protected by that fine old business of "...he's an old soldier, cover him..."

There is a certain amount of brilliance but damned little basic intelligence. The things I do I don't want to do. I only find it impossible to do any other way.

If you'll try to go along with me again there is a definite two hundred and twenty a month. You handle it. I don't think you're too good at it but you are much better than myself. You want surety and secureness? There it is. What I need beyond the basic needs of food, lodging and tobacco I'll manage on the other hand. I'm sick -- you've got to remember that I'm sick but as long as I'm above it will come in. I wish you'd have used your head enough to know that when I wanted the number of my insurance policy it wasn't for me. Damn it! You resent too much without thinking. I need it to cover TenEyck's future education.

I'm sorry Dear, I have too many memories and all of them beautiful. I remember the touch and the feel of you. I remember the passion you had for cokes and mysteries and the look of you coming down the street to meet me. I remember so much. I wish to God I could forget it. You are the only woman I have ever loved -- there have been others, yes, but you are the only one who has been of any importance to me.

God Almighty Jean! Can't you find any kindliness in your heart for me? I need you. We had twelve years together. I'm a sick broken man and I need help. Your help. The economics can take care of if we're together - I've drawn them from service. You handle them. Hells Bells, Child! There is what you are talking about. Oh Dearest, let's have our home and our books and our quietness and the laughter over small things. Let's go back and do all that we had planned.

Love me again, Jean, before I give up all that has been.


Full Letter

December 19, 1951

My Darlin'

This is a love letter, a short one but still a love letter. If you don't want to read love letters from an embittered old soldier you can tear this up now.

You know, some long years ago, I met a girl in Chicago. A slim, lovely, adorable person who wore lacey bloomers. (Didn't find that out until later.)

She had laughter that was exciting, she had a mouth that was twisted into sheer beauty,she had a skin of silk and satin and memories. She had everything that any man with appreciation of beauty would desire. And I desired her. But I was a wild eyed young military idiot that didn't appreciate what I almost had.

She was loyal. Much more so than I. She allowed me to come to her in Chicago. Then, under the wildest conditions in the world she came to me and married me. It was economic Hell, we slept in hall bedrooms, I fought at St. Nick's, I gave blood under different names. But we were together and it was sufficient.

Bit by bit she built me up and made a full man of me. I went from a wild eyed Private to a fairly capable non-commissioned officer. She worked her heart out in jobs she didn't give a damn about to keep the tribe going and all the time she knew where we were going. Under her help I earned a Reserve Commision. Simply for my self pride, there was no need of it. The war came and I was called into my commissioned status.

We had a son then. A beautiful little brat who thought the world rose and fell in his "Daddy Tiger".

Things got better. I got my silver bar and was put out sniping at bad schools. Got my Captaincy to the pride of my son. Economics ceased to be such a helluva problem.

She stayed a beautiful woman with ready laughter, brilliance and kindliness. The original passion remained with me. The touch of her, the nearness of her was an eternal flare in my emotions and heart.

We had another child, an adorable little girl with her mother's heart shaped face. We carried her around in a blue canvas case to show her off.

The "sniping" got very tough. Hall bedrooms, cheap apartments and I was always and forever tired and tied up with my trade.

This beautiful lady became emotionally exhausted. I was too damned busy to understand or know. So, she went to her home on the theory that after the war and my certain retirement that things would be all right. They didn't, her exhaustion became a complete emotional collapse. I too was on the frayed edge and when I came to her I got a mental beating that the whole war hadn't been able to give me. She came out of it but by that time my orders had called me back and I could do nothing. Her mother had lied to the doctor, to her and to me until none of us knew the score.

She was still the most beautiful woman in the world but she had lost all faith in her husband.

Then the real Hell started. She abandoned me. I became an escapist. I found that by staying more or less drunk I could forget how beautiful my Lady was and her sweetness and her love for me. I forgot everything and wandered all over the face of the land trying to find some peace of mind. I didn't care for clothing or decency or niceness, all I wanted was to get drunk enough to go to sleep without remembering this Lady. My sickness became too much for me. I was an ill man, a sick man and a defeated man. I lived twenty four hours a day with the scented dream of her in my heart and mind without the ability to try to correct it.

I made two good tries. Once my illness caught up with me at the wrong time and once I got so nervous over the possibility of a reconciliation that I blew that up trying to keep myself quiet.

I loved that girl, I loved the children I had by her. I loved the great emotional moments we had together and I loved the quiet laughing days and nights we spent. I will always love her.

I do not know if I can ever regain her and my children. I do not know if I have the physical and emotional ability to make myself again a father the children can be proud of or a man my woman wants. I only know that I will try. "He seen his duty, he done his damndest, Angels can do no more."

I love you, Jean.

Tiger #1

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Full Letter

December 27, 1951

Your letter came this afternoon and I have read and re-read it many times.

Of course we are friends. I have known long since that I killed passion and desire.I ask nothing but the assurance that there is someone, by preference my family, who cares even in my long absence. We have ties together, Jean, that can never be violated.

You are as great a lady as my mother. You have her same sweetness and courage. Shall I, with all my errors of commitance and failure, dare to place my damned emotionalism against it? Even your proffer of friendship is more than I actually deserve or can ask.

I'll try to make this a better year for you all. I will make no promises for promises from me seem to have a habit of slipping away into limbo. But, damn it, Slim Lady, I shall try.

Shall cut the things for the kids even if my confounded hands fall out. Please send me exact waist sizes.

Sometime ago I had one of the finest artists in the country, Emmett Fritz (1) (2) , do a portrait of you from my one picture of you. I was going to send it to TenEyck for Xmas but couldn't bring myself to part with it for it stands on a shelf above my cot where I can say "Goodnight". Someday you may see it. He has caught every bit of the beauty of you.

Loved the mental picture of Mary S. and the tree. Lord, I bet she is a wonderful person. Never had much to do with "...little girls that are very sweet" but sure can do a lot of imagining and dreaming. Does she still have her vast collection of dolls?

Six feet! By Allah! If he keeps going he will make his old man look like a runt.

Wrote him a letter yesterday, Jean. One that I felt I have owed him for something longer than a day or two. I hope you are not angered with me. I spent many hours and many pipes in its composition because I did not wish to say anything wrong. He'll probably show it to you and I hope you approve.

Even if you request nothing but "friendship" I do not regret writing you my "loveletter". Have no idea whether you read it or never got past the first paragraph but it was tender and absolutely sincere. I am not going to press a damned thing, time will settle things, but I do, or did, have the right to speak out in meeting with no heavy emotional background.

... I have a friend here, "Don Pedro", or Peter Herzog who is becoming as close to me as Bob. (He has his troubles too). I have my old Adjutant, Captain Bob Morrison staying with me in the back of the shop. We awake each other at the damndest hours to quote something back and forth and cool each other off. I am not throwing any binges and I am fighting the damndest fight I have ever put forth. Am drinking, yes, but now only to stop the pain. My insomnia is my worst problem. My liver and diabetes can be stood but these long white nights with memories crowding can give me Hell. Will probably never be a shining light but would like to be a man of whom my children can approve. I am not doing it only because I love you but for my own self-respect. ...

You are quite right, what you have done and what I have done to hurt each other had best be wiped out of our minds. None of them are important if we can ever put our hands together again and the children are a damned sight more important than memories.

My Love, and friend, Goodnight.


Full Letter

January 5, 1952

... I think I understand TenEyck even better than you even though you have had him and I have not. Remember, Jean, for a good many years lads of that age, with all their problems, were my business and a business in which I effected considerable success. I know how lonely the lad is, I know the emotional turmoil he has had to ride thru.

That he has done it is a magnificent credit to his character. I don't blame him a damned bit for having no faith in me. I shall have to rebuild that faith again quietly and slowly, and, as you say, by definite action and not words. Yes, I suppose that is what few contacts I have had with Tiger Two I have ever emphasized his responsibilities to you. I wasn't fair to him but you must realize that my primary motivation was my absolute and eternal love for you. I do love you, Jean. Doggone it! You were always a perfect example to me of that phrase of G.K. Chesterson's "...A Lady in public and a bitch in bed..." And that, my Dear, is a compliment.

I am so glad that you have decided to become a Woman again instead of a false male economist. The graciousness and the sweetness of you was wasted for a long, long time. I only hope that I am capable of being a Man again instead of a rather disreputable character.

Don't know what to say about Mary Suskind. I desire her near me as any man desires his children but I know nothing whatever about little girl children and am not sure I would know how to act or react. TE I understand fully. Mary S. I do not understand at all. If she has your sensitivity she would probably help me.

Have gotten myself late some weird situations since you left me. Seems you're the governor on my motor. Wish to Hades I had your calm advice to guide me.

... No, Woofels, I haven't written nor do I think I shall ever write again. I've lost the touch and the desire. I don't give a damn if posterity ever hears of me. I destroyed all my MSS several years ago. The future, rough as it may be, can do without me. My dreams, my emotions have all gone for nothing so why try again. So -- I'm a quitter. So I've quit!
[And this is why you're reading these letters. Because I am determined that he will NOT be forgotten!]

Under the current situation I am not eligible for the rites of the Church but, for the last year, I have not failed in one day to pray for me and mine.

I have been wrong in so many things. It's hard to live with at night.

TenEyck gave his offertory last Xmas (a year past) to his father. I have not failed in my daily duty since. It meant much to me.

You'd get a kick out of this place. I'm sitting in a little hole in the wall trying to sell belts. It's a helluva pastime for me because I'm probably the worst salesman that ever happened and I find them wandering down the street with a belt that cost me more than I sold it for! Well, at least I had the pleasure of making it.

My letters to you? Darlin' TRUE CONFESSIONS is not a good outlet! Nothing will happen financially this month. As a matter of fact I'll be lucky if I live thru this month. But I shall try to do something next payday and as soon as I can get organized I shall get in a regular payment you can count upon.

What in Hell are you doing in Chicago?

Love you


Full Letter

August 2, 1952

Jean Dear:-

I have waited over twelve days since I left the Hospital to write this.

Avoiding emotion - Just current facts.

Whatever went before I am probably more responsible than anyone concerned.

According the facts. I have been a very ill man since '44 or so. I am NOT an alcoholic. Drinking has been escape from pain and misunderstanding. I have not had a drink of hard liquor for over six months. It hasn't made a great deal of difference. I'm still in pain and I'm still very lonely for you.

There is one great love for a man and one for a woman. Sublimated by mating and children it becomes perfection.

" sickness, in sorrow or in health 'til Death do us part..."

I've seen the Lord in the past few months and when I came back I asked the Doctors, "Why couldn't you let me go? I'm tired." They had no answer except the pride of the profession but the old priest, who had given me the last rites said, "There must be something you have yet to do."

I think I know what it is and in my own stupid way I'd like to do it.

Jean, I have a year, maybe two or three ahead of me. You are my Lady and the mother of my children.

By remarriage you will be entitled to pension, insurance et al.

I ask nothing. Companionship if you feel in the mood - the chance to see and be with my kids and my girl to hold my hand when the boom comes down.

I will keep a separate room and I will not impose upon you.

Would honestly like to go back to Manasquan and see how our roses are doing. There are good schools there and TE could commute to Xavier if you and he wished.

I have enough retirement pay to get along. We won't be wealthy but we won't miss too much either.

I'm a soldier, I cannot practice my profession any longer. YOU made me a sargeant; YOU made me a Lieutenant, YOU made me a Captain, but By Allah, I made myself a Major.

Since my retirement I became one of the best leather carvers.

Now, since my illness my hands are not too good. Not good enough for the things I wanted to do. So, where am I? A lost patrol with nothing. I asked for it and I got it, I suppose, but it doesn't make it any easier.

The days have been tough for you. My sorrow does not replace. But, please, in your kindliness, remember I was not a responsible man. Serious illness can play some strange tricks.

Yours will be the last name I speak. I love you.


Full Letter


Jean never returned to him, although she never remarried. Bradley never again saw his son or daughter and died in San Antonio, Texas on September 23, 1955 and was buried in the Fort Sam Houston military cemetery.

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