(Dennett Family Letters)
Correspondence of the Dennett family, of Kittery, York County, Maine, members of the United States Navy, includes Lieutenant Commander Ralph Earle Dennett and sons Lieutenant Commander Armistead Dennett & Midshipman & Naval Engineer William A. Dennett, 1910-1959

863 letters, 2569 manuscript pp., dated 1910-1959, with 317 pieces of ephemera, including postcards, telegrams, calling cards, invitations, printed material, documents, manuscript notes, newspaper clippings, greeting cards, used envelopes, etc.

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The correspondence in this collection includes, but is not limited to the following: 223 incoming letters to Lieut. Alexander Dennett, father of Lieut. Comdr. Ralph E. Dennett, many from his son Ralph; 40 outgoing letters  of Elizabeth Dennett, wife of Ralph E. Dennett to her father-in-law Alexander Dennett; 235 outgoing letters of Ralph E. Dennett mostly to his father or sons, and 307 incoming letters to him; Lieut. Armistead Dennett, son of Ralph E. Dennett, 45 outgoing letters and 8 incoming letters, mostly to his father, or brother; William Dennett, brother of Ralph E. Dennett, 12 outgoing letters to their father Alexander Dennett; and Midshipman William A. Dennett, son of Ralph E. Dennett, 32, outgoing letters and 284 incoming letters, many from his father and brother, as well as friends and associates.

The remaining letters and many of the incoming letters to the Dennett's are written to and from family members, friends, or associates of the Dennett family, including Louise Howard Dennett, wife of Armistead Dennett, and her mother Jill Noble Howard, of Round Bay, Maryland; “Bunny” Daigle Dennett, wife of William A. Dennett, and her mother Mrs. L. Daigle, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire;  Dr. John Dennett, of Phoenix, Arizona, an uncle; as well as friends of William A. Dennett: Edmond C. Tarbold, Lydia Sawyer, Florence A. Paul, and  Lois S. Gimmi; and friends of Ralph E. Dennett: Alberta, Carolyn, and Charlie.

Dennett Family of Kittery, York County, Maine

Alexander Dennett was born 10 November 1811, at Kittery, Maine and died 6 May 1889, in Kittery. He was a farmer and was educated in the common schools. At the age of 19 he moved to York, Maine, where he eventually conducted a general store and owned coasting vessels. He moved back to Kittery and lived on the ancestral homestead until his death. During the Civil War he was appointed inspector of timber at the navy yard. Politically, he was a Whig in early life, a Republican afterward. He was a trial justice for many years; represented his district in the legislature in 1849-50-51; and was a delegate to the convention when the Free Soil and Whig Parties fused when the Republican Party was organized. Alexander was frequently moderator of town meetings and selectman of the town. He was active in good works and interested in the great questions of the day, and an enthusiastic supporter the anti-slavery and temperance movements. He was a member of the Sons of Temperance, and was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, being a charter member of the Second Methodist Episcopal church, of Kittery. He married Mary Kingsbury Remick (1819-1878) and together they had at least six children: Ellen Miriam, Elizabeth, John, Sarah, Mary Alice, and Alexander, who was the father of Ralph Earle Dennett.

Lieut. Alexander Dennett, of the U.S. Coast Guard, was born 13 April 1853, at York Village, York, Maine, and died 24 December 1934, at Kittery, Maine. His son Ralph was the only heir and executor. Alexander was educated in the public schools, Eliot Academy and various private schools. In 1878 he entered the U. S. Revenue Cutter Service as second assistant engineer and was stationed in New York at the office of Consulting Engineer Charles E. Emery. He and his wife resided at a number of locations during his naval career lived in Boston, Portland, Bucksport, Bath, Castine, Eastport, Mobile, Baltimore, and Somerville, while Dennett was attached to vessels (William H. Crawford, John A. Dix, Thomas Ewing, Albert Gallatin, Woodbury) with headquarters at or near these places. He later made first assistant engineer in 1890 and served on the Hannibal Hamlin in 1893. He continued on this ship with the Coast Guard until 1895, when he retired from active labor, making his home at Kittery and Thomasville, Georgia.

He was a Republican in politics, and had been a member of the school committee for a number of years and superintendent of schools. He was a prominent member of the Second Christian church. He married first in 1883 to Sarah Eva Paul (1856-1899), daughter of Warrington and Sarah A.E. Paul. Together Lieut. Alexander and his wife Sarah had at least three children, William A. Dennett (1886- ), Ralph Earle Dennett (1891- ) and Mary Elizabeth Dennett (1894- )

Sara Eva Paul Dennett died on 9 June 1899.  After the death of his first wife he was married a second time to Josephine E. Cox, only daughter of Carpenter Joseph Cox, U.S.N. (retired). Josephine died in 1917, Alexander outlived both his wives. He died in 1934.

William A. Dennett (1885-1911), Alexander Dennett’s oldest son, graduated Cornell University in 1907 in the mechanical engineering course and died at Kittery, ME of typhoid fever. He worked at Holyoke and New York City, for the Santa Fe Sugar Plantation, San Pedro de Maconic San Domingo.

               Alexander’s fourth child, Mary Elizabeth Dennett (1893-1895), died young of congestion of the lungs.

Lieut. Alexander Dennett’s third child was Lt. Comdr. Ralph Earle Dennett, USN. He was born 30 July 1890, at Kittery, York County, Maine, and died in February 1986. Prior to entering the Naval Academy he attended Kittery High School and the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. He attended the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. He lived at Upper Darby, Pennsylvania at the time of the 1930 Census. When his wife Elizabeth died in 1943 he was stationed at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, a position he had held since 1939.

Ralph Earle Dennett married Elizabeth Armistead. She was born 3 September 1889, in Virginia. The couple married 4 December 1920, at Washington, D.C. Elizabeth died 16 May 1943. Together Ralph and his wife Elizabeth had at least two children: Armistead Dennett and William A. Dennett. After the death of his wife, Ralph married a second time to Josephine Cox, daughter of Joseph Cox and Joanna Hurd. They married 28 August 1901 at Kittery, Maine.

Ralph Dennett’s oldest son was Lieut. Comdr. Armistead Dennett. He was born about 1922; attended Kittery Schools, and Portsmouth High School; and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland in 1941, where he took postgraduate course in ordnance. He served aboard the USS Benson, two years in the Mediterranean on destroyers, and was a veteran WWII, serving in the Pacific theater on a destroyer that was hit by a kamikaze. He later became Commander on several ships, including the USS Wallace L. Lind (DD-703) 1958-1960.

Armistead Dennett married Louise Howard. Armistead and his wife had at least one child, a daughter Sarah Dennett, who was born in May 1948.

Ralph Dennett’s second son was William A. Dennett. He was born in 1928 and died on 5 January 2013. Like most of the men in his family he joined the Navy and reached the rank of midshipman 4th class. He graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1944, and attended the University of New Hampshire prior to entering the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Class of 1949. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1951, with degrees in both naval architecture and marine engineering. After graduation, he was employed by Newport News Shipbuilding, and later retired from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1987 after 37 years of government service. He was a member of the Kittery Point Yacht Club, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and several other professional organizations. He enjoyed sailing locally, as well as having substantial blue water experience, participating in both the Monhegan and Bermuda races. He was an expert navigator, well skilled in celestial navigation.

William A. Dennett married Mary Irene “Bunny” Daigle, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire on 9 September 1950, in Maine. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard C. Daigle. Bunny attended the Vesper George School of Art in Boston. Together they had at least one son, John A. Dennett.

Another Dennett family member who wrote some of the letters in this collection is Dr. John Dennett. He was born in 1869 in Maine. He was a first cousin of Ralph E. Dennett (son of his father’s brother Capt. John Dennett, U.S.C.G.). He attended Harvard University and Harvard Medical College. After medical training he worked at Boston General Hospital until developing tuberculosis. In an attempt to regain his health he first moved to Santa Fe then arrived in Phoenix in 1895. Finding initial work as doctor at the Congress Mine he remained there until 1905 when it closed. On August 20, 1902 he married Louise Gage (niece of the owner of the Congress Mine). After work with the Congress Mine Dennett moved to the Silverbell Mine west of Tucson where he worked until 1910 when the family moved to Phoenix. After the move to Phoenix Dr. Dennett stopped practicing medicine and entered business. He became the manager for a creamery [Hassayampa Creamery] located at 5th Ave and Jackson St. and later became involved in the manufacturing of evaporated milk. Between 1911 and 1923 both Dr. and Mrs. Dennett were active in business and social activities in Phoenix. Dr. Dennett was president of the Rotary Club, active with the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and local Republican Party politics. He died in San Diego, California on October 17, 1957 at the age of 88.

Sample Letters:

Ralph Earle Dennett wrote his father Alexander Dennett 162 letters between the years 1909 and 1931. The early letters show Ralph attending school at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and received his first command during WWI. He writes his father about the academy, and life at the academy, and his activities there, when he goes out on ships for exercises. He also writes about his various ports of call, and the various ships he is assigned to, and what he is allowed to tell that the censors won't scrub:

"USS Washington, Hampton Rds., January 2, 1912

Dear Mother and Dad -

Tomorrow at ten we clear the harbor for another sea trip of uncertain duration, they don't have mail boxes at sea, the'fore I write while I may. The Admiral expects to take the rest of the little flock with him and join the fleet 400 miles at sea, or thereabouts, and then we're all going to play horse for little while, with the Red Fleet and the Blue Fleet, - really a very interesting thing if you can get inside dope on what's going on, the only one I really even savvied was the one we were working on when we left Newport last, and bad weather bused that up. Later on in the month, about 21, the gallant Fifth (Seems I never get away from 5th, 5th Company, 5th Division, etc) is to go to Key West for the celebration. What celebration I know not, just a celebration that's all. I haven't seen an up to date paper since we left the Navy Yard four days ago, Old Point is a tiresome sort of a joint at this time of year, you can't get your finger on the pulse of affairs down here, it doesn't belong the  main arterial system of the country. There's life in it still, but it's all fungus growth - rooky army lieutenants (coast artillery school) or "incubators" and their would be or is sweet hearts. Besides Hampton Rds is such a dreary windy place to anchor, it hasn't the slightest suggestion of coziness about it but instead the old ship is yawed about in the tide, the shore in the dim distance all around the horizon. If you ever sat in a big draughty desolate unfurnished room you can get an idea of Hampton Rds at this time of year. All the time you have the feeling of being somewhere and yet no where.

Today has been a very enjoyable day for all; we started coaling at day break and finished about 4 p.m., with intermissions for breakfast and lunch, having increased our coal supply by 1600 tons. There's a certain exhilaration that the crew takes on when performing useful work that makes everybody happy. I imagine the novelty would soon wear off, if we had to do it every day tho.

After leaving Key West the Fifth is expected to arrive sooner or later at Havana, to aid in disposing of the wreck of the Maine if she is then ready. Altogether we have a very pleasant outlook for the coming routes and if our plans are not changed we may have a chance to laugh up our sleeves at the boys who have to spend their time at Guantanamo.

"Fat" Hicks has fully clinched his job in the Army, but he missed connection in getting his orders, probably much to Fats disgust. He wanted to be detailed to Fort Riley and run down to Kansas City occasionally to see the girls and perhaps "land" a good one among the latter who had plenty of cash in her jeans, but he got a jack-ass mountain paltry out in Fort Russell, Wyo....

Hoping this will find you well, I am your affectionate son, Ralph Dennett"

"March 8, 1918 [New York, NY]

My dear Dad,

My attention has been temporarily turned away from the complication of affairs at home by the passing demand which have been made on my time and thought and shoe leather since I arrived in New York,, but I have during the lapses of evening after all the various naval Hqtrs have done up their business, had some chance to think things over, I'll come back to that later.

The change in my own affairs have reached the advanced stage of completion where I am now, after two days of toilsome "reporting" back and forth between 280 Broadway and City Park, Bklyn, sometimes alone and most of the time with my predecessor, finally installed aboard the "New York" as the com'dg officer of her Armed Guard detachment. From the face of it, it looks like a most excellent billet. Tho I have been aboard the ship only once for a few minutes, she looks like a very fine lady to me and I'm glad I got the job. "Stitchy" Paine my pred. was loathe to give it up. Said he'd like to stay aboard for the period of the war. Can't find out why they relieved him. Probably too much rank. He was 1908. Tomorrow I shall take a small share of my household goods aboard for the trip and the rest I shall probably store here in New York somewhere. With all the truck you have to handle just now I shall not send it home, besides I might need some of the stuff when I get back....

My ship sails Tuesday, carrying passengers, mail and cargo. She is fast and therefore safe. I don't think you need give yourself any worry about me at all, Quarters are comfortable, and Paine tells me that the officers are congenial. I have a good titled second, a lieutenant, and 44 men. During the past two days I have worn out my feet and my change pocket hiking and subbing around between different offices of which there are three, besides the ship. All in different parts of the city...

My voyage will last about three weeks if you have need of any of that money of mine in the York Bank and can get it out in my name you are at liberty to do so....

With much love, Ralph"

"New York, June 11, 1918

My dear Dad,

I have not mentioned the name of the ship here because I would be afraid that the censor if there is one would hold up the letter. I am therefore writing in a deuce of a hurry because there is very little time left, you may understand why the feverish remodeling of the ship has been finished as far as possible we are still in very much of an uproar. For myself, I have been trying very hard to keep a reasonable hold on what would be ordinarily three different jobs. There are only three regular offices on the ship, including the Captain, this makes it rather difficult since the remaining number are stripers of only a few weeks experience and are still in the process of training sometimes with only an indifferent amount of progress in their new job day by day.

Boucher and myself have had to share between us nearly all the work of organizing and quartering the new crew, and it has been some husky. Both of us have stuck pretty close to the job. Not since I have been in the Navy have I been pushed with so much different kinds of urgent work at one time.

Leave for me or anybody else connected with the ship was absolutely impossible. I should have liked very much, as you must know, to come home to see you, and the letter you wrote me recently made me home sick, but she could not be done this time.

Probably my lack of time is due more to mismanagement or shortage of grey matter than anything else. But I can say this:  that I have this conciliation, I have pushed the job and the job has not pushed me, which was what I was fighting for. In case it had been the other way around, it would have been a case of being invalidated out of the transport service instead of leave of absence.

Give my love to all the folks at home....Ralph"

"October 12, 1918

Dear Dad,

Have arrived on my new station. Give you my word, this is awful. After a year or so of real activity, it's like being buried alive, or a spirit flight to the moon. The only thing missing is the funeral service. Here in front of the casket containing the remains of many a live man's lost hopes, they are holding a solemn requiem day by day, over embalmed doctrines of naval efficiency while the current of modern sea life sweeps swiftly past the door and on into the joyous vigorous future. It's a sickening decline from the land of Doing to the land of Being.

The Bones of this old packet should have been and were, laid to rest years ago, and there she ought to lie, and not rack her poor old frame with the nervous excitement of this day and generation. Nature seems to want to scrap fighting men and fighting machines when they got too large and intricate and unwieldy. She prefers new and growing stock I guess, and nothing too good anymore than anything too bad. So it is, I see highly trained sailor men in comparative idleness here, and amateurs struggling with greater slathers of work elsewhere.

Hope you, in your lack of companionship and help at home do not find it wholly unbearable. It must be difficult and I realize it now, more since seeing you last and remaining in close touch. Better times are probably coming for us all tho, let's hope so, your affectionate son, Ralph...Illinois, care P.M. NYC"


The collection also contains letters of both of Ralph's sons when they were students at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. There are 36 letters to Ralph E. Dennett from his son Armistead "Army" Dennett. Twelve of these letters are written by "Army" when he was attending the Naval Academy in 1940. His class graduated early due to the outbreak of WWII. There is much in these letters about sailing for the Annapolis sailing team against other schools (Harvard, MIT, Brown, etc), the types of boats they use, and his studies at the academy, as well when he goes out to sea on exercises. The other letters are from 1944-1959, when he was serving in the U.S. Navy on the USS Hansworth (1944), or when he was attending Naval Post Graduate School at Annapolis (1945-1946), and later while serving on the USS Juneau (1949-1951).


"15 March 1940 [Annapolis, MD]

Dear Dad,

Still sailing down here. Had a meet Saturday with Brown and Sunday with Haverford. Both were fairly easy, but this week we sail with Princeton, who beat us last fall by about two points. I think we have to keep hot this spring to make a little reputation for the new team. So far we've sailed seven teams. MIT beat us because as usual we sank more boats.

I sent you a letter received this morning. It came in a [blank] envelope and I almost threw it away as propaganda when I saw it was addressed to "Memphis, Maryland."

Mrs. Ferrell was here Sunday with no previous word to me. I was out sailing in the races until late and hardly got to see them. She seems to be enjoying herself as usual and hopes you are taking good care of her house.

Incidentally, Danny says in a terse letter that he wants to buy my boat. If you see Danny please discourage that. What is there to sail with the Caribou gone? It's so hard to find a sailboat. I want to keep that one, even if she is a pee wee. I think she might plane like a 14 with encouragement.

I got to study bull. I got a 2.2 last week on the Dutch wars.

Love, your son, Army."

"31 March 1940, [Annapolis, MD]

Dear Dad,

We sailed Boston and St. John's yesterday in a fog. We won 61 ½ to 51 ¼ to 23. We go to Boston April sixth to race MIT, Boston, and Harvard. I have my doubts about being with the team. They say maybe if the team gets hot the NAA might think about a boat house on the America dock, new sails, more boats, bigger squad, and so on.

Be sure if you get a little boat to get one that you can race. Then get Bill to studying Curry and he can really have some fun. He can sail a Dyer by himself if he wants to. The Band X classes are good, too. The Tech classes are like the B's, loose footed main, roomy, and don't sink when they roll over. Our 14's are expensive and big, and take two men to sail right. So I think either a Dyer or a B would be best. They still cost about $250, and should be hauled up on a float. For pete's sake get a real Dyer. We've got one built by the Annapolis Yacht Yard "exactly like." We can't find any difference in the lines, or weight, or sail, but the thing only sails half as fast as our one good Dyer.

Well, I hope the Caribou has a good owner. She was like a member of the family. Our back yard won't look the same at all without her masts.

My standings are up a little. I don't know why. I think I study less when we sail because every night I'm too tired to bone. Still my math came up. Think I'll go to the chapel.

Your son, Army"

"5 April 1940, [Annapolis, MD]

Dear Dad,

Your devoted son didn't make the squad of nine that goes to MIT. I was in the top six for last week's race with Boston here, but I dropped to eleventh by Thursday when they made out the list...

Maybe I can make the next trip in May. Lately, I've been averaging about fifth in our ten boats, which doesn't mean much. All last fall it was 3.5. Top man has about 2.7 and low man has about 8.5.

Still I'd like to know where we are going this summer for our destroyer cruise.

Think I'll go to the formation.

Love, your son, Army"

"17 June 1940, [Annapolis, MD]

Dear Dad,

Here I am back with my sad story about being broke again. Mary came down for June Week and stayed through six days and four hops. That and keeping an apartment stocked with everything for a week just ruined me. Now we are going up to Barnegat Bay for a five day race week in scows and I don't own a quarter.

We are probably going to be graduated early, in three and a half years. They are even making out a new summer schedule and shortening the cruises, effective Thursday. Leave and academic year will start early, and we will be graduated in February, so the officers predict.

I have been sailing one of our racing stars at Gibson Island each weekend in a star series there. She is a good boat but I'm not used to her yet, and haven't been doing well at all. We tow three boats up behind one of the diesel motor-sailer ketches Saturday, go ashore, race Sunday, come back for supper.

The candidates ('44 bless 'em) are being seen around the yard. Did Dick Underwood ever make it? The poor guys look as bewildered as I felt two years ago.

Have you got any boat yet? Too bad you aren't near one of the real good racing classes. These innocent looking yacht clubs put out some stiff competitors.

Your son, Army"

Ralph E. Dennett's second son, William A. Dennett, also attended the Naval Academy at Annapolis. William wrote a total of 32 letters to his father. During the years 1945 - 1946, William is at the Naval Academy. There are also letters on the different cruises he takes during his training, to Cuba, Panama, etc.:

"Unites States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, Room 5305 Bancroft Hall, 6 July 1945

Dear Dad,

Don't think that I haven't been thinking of home most of the time. This place, at times, has been almost enough to get me down.

I felt very much elated at having passed the physical. That was last Wednesday (27 June). Tuesday night (26 June) I left, and by the next day at 1400 I knew that I had passed. That night (27th) I tried to call you with no success. From then on my time was all spent indoctrinating myself. On the 29th I was sworn in. Days 29th, 30th June, 1 July, 2, 3 July I was wishing that I had never come to this place.

That feeling has worn off now after having settled down to a routine. Now that I am resigned to my fate I am content to wait patiently for Christmas leave and want very much to hear from home. Your telegram was a moral inoculation. I need letters now very much.

I can use up to five of Army's white work uniforms. Tell Clodia to start sending the cookies and other food now.

Everyone that goes to the NA now is 19 and up, has spent much time in the navy, or three years at college or both. My plebe summer roommate is Wm. M. Shanhouse of Rockford, Ill. I am trying to arrange rooming with a boy I met as a candidate, Bill Hall, from Ohio. I like him very much. He will take Spanish as a language so that may separate us unless I take Spanish.

I was required to send all non-reg clothing home. Did you get the laundry bag of clothes? Monday I have the watch. Saturday (tomorrow) we take inoculations and such stuff. There were 600 of the 4th Class here when I came and 600 were to come after, 1200 in the class of '49.

The life here is difficult for me at first. Much harder than when I was helper to the plasterer.

Where is Army? I wish I could have been home when he was. I will be glad to see him when he comes. Be sure and come to see me if you get the chance. I am moderately homesick, moderately to lightly.

Tell me how the farm is working out and what goes on, Your loving son, Bill"

"United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, Room 5305 Bancroft Hall, 5 September  1945

Dear Dad,

Don't let the bill worry you. It is for the coming college year and I won't be able to attend. I wrote the Registrar and told him to withdraw me from the student body. The letter was mailed 26 August so it should have gotten there by the time they sent out that bill but it is known how slow UNH is on such matters - see my college certificate of late.

There was liberty on Labor Day and rare dining out privilege was granted to plebe summer plebs. Nancy Leeds, Army, and I had dinner at Carvel Hale.

Last Saturday and Sunday I sailed on the Vamarie for an over night race. The weather was rough and all save few were sick. Never let it be said that I was seasick on Chesapeake Bay though - I wasn't.

Too many headsails rigged so the Vamarie spent the night thrashing around mostly and placed next to last. That's what poor handling does to the Queen of Ocean Racing.

Marched in a P-rade yesterday in Annapolis. Understand we get more Christmas leave - maybe 10 days. Your loving son, Bill"


"United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, Room 6313 Bancroft Hall, 10 October 1945

Dear Dad,

The word has it that we have town liberty tomorrow afternoon. so I shall follow the trail to Army's apt. and maybe later go to the movie.

The big celebration this week is the USNA's 100th Anniversary but the Navy Public Relations or what ever it is has probably been hard at work on the story so that I don't need to tell you.

Last night some engraved announcements of the Centennial to those midshipmen desiring to send them to their home town newspaper providing they came from a town of less than 5000 population. Just the thing to send to Aunt Florence.

The biggest flop of Centennial Week so far has been Educator's Day. College Presidents from NROTC Colleges (about 55) were invited to explore the NA and express their opinions. About ten presidents showed up from places like Case Inst. Tech and Villanova. NA seems to come in for much criticism these days concerning policy toward expansion to include St. Johns and method of teaching. Having just come from college I notice a big difference in the method. I am afraid that the college student has the greater chance for individual thought whereas the midshipman learns mostly to follow orders or a gauge.

I like the idea of midshipmen being trained in civilian colleges first and finishing off at this place.

Kay Kyser is playing tonight for the Centennial Ball.

The P-rade looked well today - 24 companies - it takes 20 minutes for our brigade to pass in review. There were only 16 companies here when Army was a Mid'n. He was amazed when I told him I was in the 23rd Company.

Army and his roommate seem to drag a different set of girls each week. I'm going to arrange dining out with Army on a Sunday. That way I can see him and go into town at the same time because we can't have liberty on Sunday unless dining out.

I'm having a little trouble with Bull and Skinny but a little application will make everything rosy.

I still need to know about insurance - should I pay for it from personal funds (which is the only way) or ignore it until I graduate. I'll see the financial adviser and ask Army when I can...Love, Bill"


After his time at the Naval Academy, William A. Dennett was honorably discharged due to an illness. After recovering, he studied naval architecture and marine engineering at M.I.T., then went to work for Newport News Shipyard. Letters from his wife "Bunny" to her father-in-law Ralph, give insight into that chapter of their lives:


"May 5, 1951[Cambridge, MA]

Dearest Dad,

Since Bill and I have been quite busy tying up little ends we've not had the time that we would have liked to have had to spend on a visit with you. We shall be seeing you very soon, though and in the meantime I have lots to tell you.

Bill has had a number of splendid offers of employment from some of the very best yards and firms. He has considered them all very carefully and has decided that the Newport News Ship Yard holds the most future for a young and inexperienced engineer. The salary is of course not particularly spectacular but it is ample enough to allow us to manage without my having to contribute.

It has been very difficult for me to get used to the idea of living so very far from home but I have tried not to sway him on that account. I would feel very badly if Bill made a wrong choice because of me because it does seem that it is important to work in the place where one feels most content. We are in any case, both looking forward to this summer because it will be marvelous to have a real income and time to enjoy each other.

Our last weeks here (and there are only thee you know) will be filled with activity. Bill has to complete his thesis, prepare for exams and pass in lots of last papers in each class. His marks are very good and he has been a credit to both of us. You have good reason to be proud of him as I am. Although he has had just mountains of work he has attacked it all with admirable gusto...

...Bill and I both miss you and look forward to seeing you soon, All our love, Bunny & Bill”