Samuel Dashiell Hammett was a fiction writer who became famous for his hard-boiled detective novels which include The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon. As you may know, Humphrey Bogart brought The Maltese Falcon to life by portraying Sam Spade in the Oscar nominated film. Dashiell Hammett worked for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency before joining World War I. He did not leave the mainland, rather, he served in the Motor Ambulance Corps before contracting the Spanish flu and tuberculosis. During his recovery at Cushman Hospital in Tacoma Washington, Hammett fell in love with a nurse named Josephine Dolan. When he was stationed at a different hospital they continued their correspondence through letters. Hammett and Dolan would eventually have a two children together and marry. Although his constant sickness drove them apart literally, Hammett was advised by doctors to stay away from his second child and wife, he continued to support them even as the marriage disintegrated. During those troubling years, Hammett became the famous writer that we remember today. Below is a letter written by Hammett to Josephine after they moved the injured soldier away from her hospital.
To Josephine Dolan
9 March 1921 [Camp Kearney, California]
Your letter of the fourth got here this afternoon—so you see it does take nearly a week.
I was tickled pink to get your letter. I wasn't at all sure you'd write till some tiresome, draggy evening when you couldn't find anything else to do. But the letter came and so I feel as if I had the world by the tail—it was better than a shot of hooch. I'm still a long way from finding anyone to take part of your place. (I don't expect to find any one who could completely fill it.) All the nurses here are impossible. A few with fair ankles but, My God! the faces—like cartoons! But, seriously, I am being remarkably faithful to you. Some day I may partially forget you, and be able to enjoy another woman, but there's nothing to show that it'll be soon. If anything, I'm a damnder fool over you now than I ever was.
Mr. Brown is one fine ass, isn't he? I wonder where he got all his information. Dream Book? Or Ouija board? But I reckon it was half quesswork and half based on information furnished by Jacobs. Now you can paste the following in your hat: I may have done a lot of things that weren't according to scripture, but I love Josephine Anna Dolan—and have since about the sixth of January—more than anything in Christ's world. I know you don't expect or want me to deny Mr. Brown's news, so I won't bother you with it.
Meldner and Goodhue were kicked out a couple days ago for putting on a booze-party. I think they are at Alpine now—a san[i]torium about 30 miles out of San Diego. You can't be missing me any more than I'm missing you, Sweet. It's pretty tough on these lonesome nights. I'll have to cut this off now and fall in bed. Yes'um, I deserve all the love you can spare me! And I want a lot more than I deserve.