Extract from letter from Tom Fitzgerald to his sister Tess, 24 October 1943

Dear Tess,

I’ve already sent copies of these newspaper clippings to Gerald, and no doubt they’ve rocked the household a bit. When Mac and I arrived in Chicago on the Diesel trucks, our first thought was for a clean-up, a meal and a rest. We went to the Servicemen’s “Center” and asked for the Officers’ Club, but before we were inside the centre five minutes we’d been told that a Miss Nelson wanted us upstairs immediately, by three different people. Up we went, dirty and unshaven, to face the impatient woman. Evelyn Nelson is an intelligent young woman, about thirty, and her job is Director of Publicity for the Servicemen’s Center. She needed two Australian officers as material for a bit of anti-Eleanor Roosevelt campaigning. She put the matter quite simply to us; the girls of the States had taken umbrage at Eleanor’s tactless remark, because it implied that the Yanks were more attracted by Australian girls than their own. This was something new to Mac and me, but we had our own grouch against the First Lady, the common indignation of Australian malehood. So on patriotic grounds we consented, and posed for two photographs by the Acme cameraman that very afternoon. When this was done, Evelyn had another cameraman ready for us, this time from a Chicago Sunday newspaper, and the full-page you see appeared the next Sunday. The other single photograph, by Acme, didn’t appear in the Chicago papers, but it was in one in New York, and some of our gang who went there on leave brought them back in high glee and presented us with the cuttings when we met them at Montreal. Acme is a very large photographic agency, and God knows where else that picture has appeared or will appear. I expect you to treasure it carefully as the one occasion in my life when I was dubbed handsome – and that, alas, for an ulterior motive.

…The most important lesson I’ve learnt from our visit to America is the kindness of the people there. You’d have to see it to believe it. A fellow travelling in a strange uniform like ours has practically the freedom of any city he cares to visit. I could quote you scores of instances if this letter wasn’t too long already.

…It is undoubtedly time that I closed up. Give Aunty my love, and point out to her that however disgraceful my behaviour seems to be from the photographs, they do at least show that I’m keeping in good condition. Remember me to everybody.

Your loving brother,