Monthly Archives: May 2014

Letter from Dad to his parents: March 29, 1948

Dad didn’t always remember to put the month on the letter. This one says Mon — 29 — 48. According to the Time and Date website the 29th of the month fell on a Monday twice in 1948 — March and November.

He does mention school starting soon though and that does not make sense if it was written in March or November unless it is Easter break and not summer break. Easter was on the 28th.

Okay, I will say this was written in March.

“Mon — 29 — 48
Great Lakes, Ill.

Hello Everybody,

Well I was going to write this letter yesterday but I will try and write it now. Boy, yesterday was a busy Sun. We got up at 5:30, went to early chow and then went to church. They had 3 different churches so I went to our church. I didn’t like the minister as well as at the church at home though, he was a civilian too. After church we came back and mopped the whole barracks floor, shower room , head (toilet), washroom, drying room and everything. When we got the barracks cleaned up it was time for noon chow. Afternoon we went to the recreation room. Boy is it nice up there. They have 5 pool tables, a big room full of nice overstuffed furniture, a nice big television set and a lot of magazines. You can check out most any game you want and it’s really swell up there. Up in the rec room they also have a long line of papers with different states marked on the top so you can put your name, Co. no, and hometown. I haven’t found anybody from Elgin in Camp Moffet yet, but I think that there is a guy here somewhere because he said that he was coming here…….

Well I am back again. As I was writing the chief came in and he hollered “Fall out for drill” so we went out and drilled for about an hour before chow. We just got down cleaning up the barracks so maybe I can finish this.

After we left the rec hall yesterday my buddy and I came back and started to clean up our clothes but before we got done we had to fall out for chow. We don’t get as good chow here as we did over at Barry but I’m not complaining. because we get a lot to eat anyway.

When we got out of chow we went to the P.X. to get some cigarettes and went to the canteen to get some ice cream. When we left the canteen we went back to the barracks, finished washing our clothes and read the funnies which I bought that morning but didn’t have time to read yet. I was pretty tired last night so I didn’t try to write.

Well, just got back from night chow so I’ll finish quick like a rabbit. I can’t think of much more to write. I went down to the P.X. after night chow and got some pictures. Nobody has a camera here in camp as we all had to send stuff like that back with our clothes. The pictures will give you some kind of idea what this place looks like.

Well, guess I’ll have to close pretty soon now as I have to hit the sack pretty soon. How’s Morris and Darlene? I sure would like to see them again. Can you send me some of the best pictures of them? Not too many just 2. How are all of the rest of the kids? Wild as ever, I suppose. Corrine doesn’t know what to do with herself right now — but pretty soon school starts. I hope  Verne is getting better. Tell everybody hello.


My Father / My Son

Pile of lettersFor the past few weeks I’ve sat at my [messy] desk, working and feeling a little guilty. I’ve meant to transcribe more of my dad’s letters to his family in my spare time, but I always find other things do do instead. It’s not that I don’t want to type them up, I just haven’t.

They sit, inches away from my left hand and occasionally I read a snippet or two.

He was lonely and wanted people to write him letters:

“I’ve gotten one letter so far, it was from Martha but it’s the only one I’ve gotten so far. By god, I’m not going to write any more until I get a few.”

He wrote about his activities:

“Yesterday morning we had to swab decks in 1 barrack and last night got they got 12 of us guys to swab decks in 3 rooms of the PX, and they are darn big rooms.”

He wanted his parents to send him his camera, he went to church, he talked about the food he was served at boot camp.

Whenever I read one of the letters, or even just look over at them I remember that he was younger than my son is now. These are the handwritten words of my 20 year old father written before he met my mom, before he had children, before he was 21. He was in Navy boot camp during wartime.

My son doesn’t write me letters. He texts now and then. He calls us occasionally. We communicate on Facebook sometimes. But he’s only in college and not heading off to a possibly dangerous situation like my dad was.

I guess I just wanted to say that it feels strange to be able to read my father’s words when he was younger than my son. It puts a whole different perspective on things. Before he was my father he was someone’s son. Just like my son will be someone’s father. Not earth-shattering news by any means. Yet it certainly shakes me up a bit.