Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 39

By | November 27, 2023

[November 27, 2023] Bonnie was my first “girlfriend.”  I was six years old, and now as I look back from many decades and a number of girlfriends later, I didn’t actually know what having a girlfriend meant.  Some folks will say it’s not possible for a boy to have a girlfriend so young when he is immature, unfocused, inexperienced, and untested in the world.  And that was me: happy-go-lucky, free-willed, a bit of a scaredy cat, and with a thin physique, tall, and slender but also physicality weak.  I did have one strength, I could run as fast as the wind, and outpace even the top runners many years my senior.  Bonnie was in my First-Grade class and that was my first memory of meeting her, yet that was all good because she was there and pretty, and she smiled at me.  Yes, she was my girlfriend.  We never kissed, hugged, or even held hands.  That did not at all mean she wasn’t my girlfriend.  She was.  I just didn’t know it, yet, and would be until my family moved out of town six years later.

Bonnie contacted me on social media shortly after I retired from the Army, a few years ago.  We both were happily married with kids and grandkids by then.  We reminisced about those days.  Our talks brought back so many good memories that I’d forgotten, they quickly came flooding back.  Like memories of her dad, Mister Bo Sisson, who fought in the Battle of Leyte in the Pacific during World War 2, in 1944, wounded in the neck that earned him a Purple Heart.  Adult men were always addressed as “mister.”  Because of his severe wound from the war, Mr. Sisson wore a throat device that allowed him to talk.  When I was seven or eight, I was invited into their home for a snack and got to meet Bonnie’s family.  I asked Mr. Sisson if he had served in WW2 and, yes, he said so, but seemed reluctant to talk with me about the war around his family.  Sadly, I never got the chance to discuss his wartime experiences.  Later, I would listen to many local combat vets over the next few years.  Mr. Sisson would be my first veteran I’d ever spoken to who lived in my small town of Mer Rouge.  But it was he that sparked my interest in war and I believe the reason I later listened so intently to so many veterans.

I was elected president of my First-Grade class, Bonnie was the Secretary.  I’m not sure we had any unique qualities or duties.  Maybe we were just figureheads, or I don’t remember.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention; that could be the case, too.  The big event of the year was the class play and the entire class would be part of it.  Our teacher, Mrs. Esta Freeland said the play’s name would be “When the Pie was Opened,” and we studied hard, memorizing our parts.  The play was based on the old nursery rhyme “Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie.”  Or, that’s what the local paper said anyway.  I think it came from a Mother Goose poem.  Me?  I was a bit slow learning my role.  Technically I was probably below average in my acting ability, but we all played parts anyway.  Bonnie, all my friends and I played starring roles.  It was a great way to learn more about ourselves.  Some of us had good voices that projected well like Mary Hendershot.  Some could remember our lines better.  On the day of the big play, Bonnie and I looked at each other across the stage and smiled.  That made my day.

My next “girlfriend” would be a few years later after we moved out of town.  I was working on a farm milking cows.  And that is a story for another day.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

33 thoughts on “Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 39

  1. Jessica Luden

    Another great letter and Gen. Satterfield should be complimented on his zeal to keep his granddaughter informed about the “old days.”

    1. John Fenstermacher

      M&G. This is why I always come here for my daily fix on how to make myself better. And not necessarily happy. Happy is fleeting. Better requires effort and is never easy. Early Merry Christmas to all.

  2. Maximilian Krämer

    Gen. Satterfield, although I’m not new to reading your blog, I don’t often comment. Pressures of the job, you know. But a quick note to say that I’m very much enjoying your Letters series. Well done!

  3. Adolf Menschner

    Another powerful Letter to My Granddaughter. Let it be known that I am one who will be doing the same in the future. My first grandchild is due Christmas Day. Crossed fingers.

  4. Tramper the Tush

    Hello, Gen. Satterfield, new to your blog. I am enjoying your letters.

  5. Good Dog

    With my dog at my feet and a cup of java in my hands, I’m reading this letter out loud and my dog looks up, gives me a smile (dogs can smile if you pay attention to them). Now that is certainly a thumbs up for this letter. 🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕

  6. Liz at Home

    Keep these letters coming our way. I know that I’m a broken record and others have written the same but I want to encourage Gen. Satterfield to write more letters. I’m very interested in what made this little boy want to be in the army and those experiences that helped him be a great leader.

  7. Mark Evans

    Wow, a real series and now we are at #38. I know in an earlier letter, Gen. Satterfield wrote that he would write 365 letters. Now that was a bold claim and I’m not so sure he will go that long but at least 100 letters would be most appropriate to tell us about his story. I don’t expect him to get into his latter adult years but I would hope he writes about what drove him into the Army as a private. Sir, keep up the great work you are doing for us. 👍

  8. Army Captain

    Gen. Satterfield, thank you for now 38 letters and counting. Keep them coming our way. I also hope you publish these into a book. I certainly would buy the book.

    1. Maureen S. Sullivan

      I believe all of us would want the book. As you know, Gen. Satterfield also places “zingers” in all his books that will catch you off guard and makes for great entertainment, as well as for great information we all can use. Gen. Satterfield, I love these letters.

  9. Max Foster

    Gen. Satterfield is a true leader. The key to success, as he has said many times, is to encourage others into leadership roles. Being a good parent means also to be a great leader. The job is tough, but it is also the most “noble goal” that one can have (per Gen. Satterfield) and to strive for that goal, to aim at it consistently and with great focus, means that you just might achieve it and in your older years, you can look back without regret and also say that your life was successful. Grow up, get married, have children, teach them to be good folks, and support them. That is what family is all about and having a family is the fundamental example of an ethical life.

    1. Eddie Gilliam

      Max excellent reply. Family are critical to the molding of a child. Douglas i know how you felt when she smiled at you. You says that my girlfriend. She is a girl that is pretty not only physical I am quite sure but personality speaks great volume. A friend that you can share your secrets to, laughs at your silly 😜 funny jokes. So yes she is your girlfriend

  10. Harry Donner

    And that was me: happy-go-lucky, free-willed, a bit of a scaredy cat, and with a thin physique, tall, and slender but also physicality weak. I did have one strength, I could run as fast as the wind, and outpace even the top runners many years my senior. – Gen. Doug Satterfield… good one, sir.

    1. Mikka Solarno

      Great letter today. Well done, Gen. Satterfield.

      I’ve now decided to start writing to my children (they are adults now), so that some day they can give my letters to their children. These will be great keepsakes for their future. They will be able, just like here, to pull these letters out and read them to their future children too. Such a loving idea.

  11. Nick Lighthouse

    Bonnie was my first “girlfriend.” And Gen. S. like her even then. Too bad his family moved away, for I wonder what would have happened since.

  12. Doug Smith

    I’m too inspired by these letters to write some of my own. I don’t have a website but I can print them out and put them into a binder for my grandkids.

    1. Plato

      Good suggestion. I will too. Doug, have a great day, and good to see you back here on Gen. Satterfield’s website.
      “No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.” – Plato

  13. Jerry Jones

    Gen. Satterfield sure knows how to write a letter. From a previous “letter” he says his granddaughter is eight years old. I’m not so sure she will fully understand what he writes for her but she will mature and these letters will always be there for the world and her to read.

  14. Julia

    … and now we have No. 38 (My First Girlfriend) and another exceptional read from Gen. Satterfield as a little boy, six years old.

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Gen. Satterfield, as that little boy, has no idea what awaits him as an adult and yet is already interested in girls (a good thing) even though he has not idea what that means at the time. I can’t wait until he starts writing more of when he is a teenager to see some real humdingers.

    2. Aussie

      Excellent letter to your granddaughter, Gen. Satterfield and thank you. You’ve encouraged me to write letters too. That is a long lost art and, yes, a lost responsibility. 👍 Cheers!

        1. Aussie

          You’re welcome Julia. I think we see the same thing and the inherent value in his letters to his granddaughter. There are other functions, perhaps unintended, in that he is documenting his childhood in such a way that the lessons he has learned can be of value to others. I will also point out, especially in this letter, Gen. S is beginning to talk about his weaknesses and I hope how he overcomes them. Life is a struggle but having a “good life” is overcoming those life struggles. Cheers.

          1. Xerces II


          2. Yusaf from Texas

            Gen. Satterfield continues to provide great content. And don’t forget to get a copy of his books. My favorite is “55 Rules for a Good Life” and they meld perfectly into these letters.

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