Home!

Evidently, Lester’s leave to go home for a week was re-instated. Though there are no letters surviving with  final news of his travel plans, a series of photos from his visit has been treasured and circulated in the family for decades. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPerhaps he telephoned home to announce his travel plans. If so, all the neighbors would have known the plan instantly on their party line. Perhaps he sent a telegram. Given the previous on-again, off-again yoyo of anticipation and disappointment surrounding his leave plans, it seems likely that the folks dared not believe he was really coming until they could see him with their own eyes and hug him with their own arms.

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However, he did spend a wonderful week at home in early August of 1942. Imagine the parties! The dinners, family reunions, visits with aunts, uncles, cousins and classmates who were still nearby.

Lester (seated in front on the left) and classmates at District 72 school. Sister Frances is on the back row.
Lester (seated in front on the left) and classmates at District 72 school. Sister Frances is on the back row.

The boys at school. Lester is on the left in the back row.
The boys at school. Lester is on the left in the back row.

Imagine the joy and pride felt in the hearts of his parents, his fiance, his sister and his younger brothers.

With fiance Josephine.
With fiance Josephine.

Lester’s leave was granted as he completed his training course, and shortly before he received his navy ship assignment. He would not be spending any more time in Michigan. He would be going on, part of a crew on a navy destroyer destined for distant places.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My grandmother, Lester’s mother, recalled his visit home in August of 1942 with misty eyes. Decades afterward, she would tell her grandchildren (none of whom were born yet in 1942) about Lester’s last evening at home. He sat outside the farm house, gazing across the fields, staring and staring for a long time, as if he couldn’t get enough. He didn’t want to forget what his home looked like, for this is where his heart would always belong.

Lester with his 7-year-old brother Paul.
Lester with his 7-year-old brother Paul.

It was almost as if he knew on some level that he would never be back. He would never see his childhood home or his family again. And they would never see him.

The four Harris siblings. Wallace, Lester, Frances and in front, Paul.
The four Harris siblings. Wallace, Lester, Frances and in front, Paul.
Lester with his parents.
Lester with his parents.

This was Lester’s last journey home.

The Farm
The Farm

2 thoughts on “Home!

  1. Floyd

    I made a startling realization late in life that a writer makes something out of which most would find fundamental. The pictures really did it for me. I read most everything before seeing them and it was then that the loss of Lester really struck and the tragedy felt.
    How do we carry on?

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