Photo of Bill Birnes's UFO Hunters promotion in relation to the news.

Cover of Waiting Wife.

Waiting Wife
by Nancy Hayfield Duthie

A Vietnam Diary

It’s 1968. A reporter who is also a wife waits with her baby daughter for her husband to come home from the Vietnam War. The resulting series of articles was syndicated in newspapers and magazines and now I’ve reproduced it exactly, but added an update and lots of old color photos from the family shoe box.

In the new, revised edition there are a few blank pages, complete with prompts and places to add your own family documents and memories. Makes a thoughtful gift for a loved one who has served.

Diary Pages

Your Memories and stories In the print edition: The following pages are left mostly blank, with just a prompt here and there for you to write your own stories, attach your own news clippings, and perhaps pass those memories on to the next generation.

For digital readers; Go to Waiting Wife online. There’s a handy Disqus space for sharing stories.


Cover of Waiting Wife.

I wish I knew who took this picture of us when we were in Hawaii on the infamous R&R, so I can give a proper credit. I wish I could remember how many days we still had before he went back into the war. I wish I could wear that pillowy fragrant lei again.

I was a reporter when I wrote these five articles for my local paper. I loved being a newspaper reporter, but I wasn’t one for long. I fell in actual love on the job when I interviewed a dashing cadet from Pennsylvania Military College, and the rest, as they say, is this history. As was the custom in those days, I left a fabulous career-job to get married and start a family, and when my new husband went to Vietnam for a year, I revisited the offices of the Delaware County Daily Times in Chester and pitched this story to senior editor Joseph Jennings.

I remember the words just pouring out of my electric typewriter as fast as I could roll fresh paper in, and I even wrote some of it while visiting a girlfriend named Donna who lived with her son in a converted chicken-coop way out in the country. She played opera nonstop from excellent speakers hidden in the exposed rafters of the low ceiling, all the while cooking beautiful food, and I was on deadline. I wrote at a kitchen counter cluttered with homework and soup and pink foam hair-rollers. It was a time before great doubt had set in, a time of unwavering confidence and big roads going to forever in open cars without restraints.

The last part—Saturday—has been much, much harder to write. The problem seems to revolve around guilt: I feel guilty that my story had a very happy ending in 1968, a year when many other waiting wives were not so lucky. And just what did I do to deserve such luck? Was it ever, really, in my power to bring my husband back safely from the war by sheer longing and countless care packages? Of course not. Was it ever in my power to fix the problems that grew from his unseen wounds? Probably not.

However, let’s not tell the lady who is writing the first five parts with such enthusiasm that her ideas and plans were somewhat ephemeral and weak as a whisper. There’s plenty of room for that in the future. For now, let’s go back to a time in the United States when every single fellow at the prime of his life—no matter how cute or homely or talented or unsure—had to worry about going into the Army to learn how to shoot a gun at strangers who would be doing the same to him.

Sound insane? It was. It most certainly is.


☞ Product details and how to purchase:
  • Print Length: 110 pages
  • Publisher: Shadow Lawn Press (March 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
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