USS Pampanito Petty Officer, O.D. Hawkins, received amazing artistic love letters from his true love Muriel Mix.
By Russell Booth
Excerpt from the Sea Letter, 1994 #69
Letters from home have a great meaning, especially for servicemen stationed overseas during wartime. For O. D. Hawkins, a young petty officer aboard USS Pampanito, letters from his sweetheart back home, Muriel Mix, came in remarkable envelopes.
Muriel I. Mix was born and raised in a rural area of Saint Paul, Minnesota in a house located at a state fish hatchery. Living in such an isolated area meant she had little association with other children her own age, but the hatchery proved to be an interesting place to grow up. The happenings at the hatchery were a part of daily life for her whole family. The grounds had a number of shelters for wild animals that were in need of homes: a badger found under a back porch, a wood duck with a broken wing, deer that had tangled with barbed wire, bear cubs rescued from forest fires, and even an orphaned female moose shared the hatchery grounds with Muriel and her family. Muriel enjoyed drawing and painting as a child and was encour-aged to pursue this interest further when she attended public school in Saint Paul. Following high school, she attended a small commercial art school and worked for a time in the art department of the National Youth Administration to pay for her tuition.
During the war years, Muriel noted with interest the illustrations on bombers — mostly, pin-up girls — that were popular at the time. She got the idea that perhaps soldiers or sailors would enjoy something different that came in the mail, so she started to put illustrations on each envelope she mailed. She regularly wrote to her brother, stationed on the cruiser USS Minneapolis, and her cousin, who was a paratrooper with the Seventeenth Airborne in Europe.
Unfortunately, not many of these envelopes returned home.
Muriel’s future husband, O. D. Hawkins, enlisted in the Navy in June, 1943. Following boot camp, he attended electricians school at the University of Minnesota, where he met Muriel. While he was in submarine school, Muriel began sending letters to him with illustrated envelopes. A regular flow of letters continued all the time he was at sea aboard Pampanito. Muriel continued to write while he attended college following the war. They were married in 1948, and by then, she had sent over 300 illustrated envelopes; O. D. kept them all.
Muriel’s work was also noted by postal workers, since they received requests for her illustrated envelopes. She obliged them all until raising two children caused drawing and painting to fall by the wayside until they were grown. Once again, she is now at work and says, “Once in a while it is fun to paint or draw a pretty girl. Not a scantily clad miss, but more likely a Victorian or flapper-period young lady in appropriate dress.”
Click Image for Larger Picture