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Nov 10, 2013 10:04 PM by Erika Flores

Tucson writer uncovers her parents' love story in World War II letters

TUCSON-Jane Bartow couldn't believe the surprise she got after opening a box sent to her from her father before he died.

She opened it and found old pictures but beneath that, over one thousand pages her father had written to her mother during World War II.

She ended up writing a book with those letters, and she learned about her parents' courtship and the struggles of war.

It's a love story Bartow said she never knew about until she discovered the letters.

"In one of his letters he said he remembered kissing her in the snow that first night they met," said Bartow."They first met right after Pearl Harbor."

Darrow then went off to be a merchant marine for the war that summer.

"For the duration of the war he was on one ship or another delivering," said Bartow.

And he worked as a radio operator.

"To know my dad at this age, and to see what he was like and how hopeful he was. How sure he was that he was a lucky Irishman and he'd be back from the war," said Bartow.

Bartow said the process was very emotional.

"I learned so much about the war. I learned how tough it was. I learned how hard it was for these men, and how lonesome it was for them, but I also learned how tough it was on the women. It's like their lives stopped because all of the young men were gone," said Bartow.

Bartow said her mother was a spirited woman who fought for what she wanted even running away to marry Darrow.

After they eloped, Darrow went back to sea.

"He knows he's leaving and he'll be gone a long time, and she's going to need some encouragement because she's done something her family didn't expect," said Bartow.

In the end, Elinor's parents accepted the relationship.

"He is one of the lucky ones who returned. Pretty much unscathed," said Bartow.

Bartow said she learned through piecing together these letters how important it is to preserve war stories and encourages daughters to ask their fathers to share their stories.

Bartow is the author of "To Elinor."

You can post your stories on her blog at http://WorldWarIIDaughters.org

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