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When Next We Meet
By Leslie Shumate

 

 

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Their only intention was to maintain constant touch during the separation caused by World War II.  Over fifty years later, the letters of love, children, day to day life and news events between Armed Forces Radio newsman Gene Shumate and wife, former radio “soap” actress May-Floyd, recreate a three dimensional vision of the early 1940’s.
 
Most letters are May-Floyd’s who could make even mundane events, entertaining.  Gene’s letters are about life in the Marines, war news and missing home.
 
A refreshingly real view of a cherished era.

 



     Gene and May-Floyd Shumate were young lovers caught in the drama of World War II.  Gene was a Marine Corps newsman/sports announcer broadcasting to troops in the South Pacific theater on San Francisco based Armed Forces Radio.  May-Floyd, a former stage and radio actress, moved to the Milwaukee, Wisconsin home of her parents for the war’s duration where she had to control two small daughters in someone else’s house plus deal with parental dynamics…all while terribly missing her husband.
      During World War II long distance telephone calls were a luxury seldom used which, thankfully, left written words as the main communications link.  Both Gene and May-Floyd were writers by trade and in efforts to please only each other, they produced some of the best writing in their careers which inadvertently - as the book cover says - "documented an era."
      Stories of war time daily home-front life, children’s bright sayings, a young couple’s love for each other as well as historic war events are all contained in the letters which are now in book form.  The 504 page volume entitled When Next We Meet also includes photographs, 1940’s newspaper ads and other memorabilia from the era.  It was compiled over a three and a half year period by the Shumate’s younger daughter Leslie, now a jounalist, newspaper reporter and who has recently served as News Director for KSRA Radio in Salmon, Idaho.
      The collection of letters which span a two and a half year period is separated into months.  Each month begins with a chronology which lists what was happening on world wide battle fronts during that time frame and keeps the reader in touch with historic war events.  The chronology was published in the Milwaukee Sentinel Newspaper at the end of the war.  Wordage used in the brief one line accounts depicts and conveys the mood of the country in those historic times.
      When Next We Meet has been published by Buy Books on the Web and is available at Buy Books on the web.   The book may also be ordered through the company’s toll free telephone number, 1-877-289-2665.
      The Shumate family’s post-war Idaho history began in 1955 when the cross country two-car caravan of parents, children, grandmother, dogs and a parakeet arrived in Rexburg, Idaho, to assume ownership of KRXK radio.  It was a gutsy, no turning back move on the part of Gene and May-Floyd who uprooted the Des Moines, Iowa, homestead and invested everything they had into the dream of owning their own radio station…dreams about which they wrote in the war letters.  Maintaining a home base in Rexburg, the investment multiplied into building Salmon, Idaho’s KSRA in 1959 and the first Jackson Hole, Wyoming, radio station, KSGT.
      Gene Shumate was well known and respected in Idaho’s broadcast and print media industries from the mid 1950’s to the early 1980’s.  May-Floyd assisted Gene with radio station operations, hosted daily on-air programs and was care-giver to her homebound invalid mother, in addition to managing a household that included two teen age girls.  She also wrote and performed a series of classic children's stories, and painted.  Some of May-Floyd's art work is in the book.
 
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Copyright © 2002 by Leslie May Shumate