Bob-Lo Island, Rain Showers, Dreaming of a Ship

In a long letter just in time for Father’s Day, Lester describes his busy life. He sees more of the nearby sites, now that Josephine is around to take places. Included is a special, reassuring note to his mother, who evidently has expressed her concerns about what Lester will do after he finishes his training.

June 12 , 1942

Dear Dad

Well finally I am getting started toward answering your letter of two weeks ago.  That is very prompt isn’t it?  Mrs. Wolfram was right when she said I wouldn’t have much time for writing letters.  I have been going on all my liberties, even though there isn’t a great deal for us to do in the evenings.

We went out to Bob-Lo Island on a picnic last Saturday.  We had quite a nice boat ride but the picnic wasn’t very much.  I sent Paul a picture card of the boat which we took.  I don’t know how many people were on the boat but it seemed to be filled.  On the trip back from Bob-Lo there were quite a few small boats on the river.  I got a big kick out of watching our waves hit them.  None of them upset but they would nearly go out of sight when in the trough of the wave.  The river channel is marked with bouys which must be lighted each evening.  Men were lighting the lanterns for them as we returned.  We saw James at the picnic but didn’t talk to him.  I don’t see much of him on the station.

The Postal card Lester sent;  SS Columbia of the Bob-Lo Excursion Co.
The Postal card Lester sent;
SS Columbia of the Bob-Lo Excursion Co.

We don’t have anything to do tonight which is unusual.  I was on guard last night and today so didn’t go to school today.  This afternoon another of the boys and I washed the foundation of the barracks and watered the shrubs and trees.  I washed all of my whites again this evening and I didn’t have anything to wear to chow so I missed it this evening.  I had one of the boys get me an ice-cream sundae at the canteen so I think I will make out until morning.  We had a real good meal at noon.  Pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, pea soup, lemon pie, ice cream and cool tea.

Your new pen seems to work fine.  Try it again sometime.  No, I’m not lonesome or homesick.  I don’t have time to be.  It is easy to make friends and all the people are so nice to us.  They are very  nice about giving us rides.

Thursday evening:  Didn’t get this finished so will continue it today.  I wish you could be having some of the rain which we are getting.  It rains every time I have liberty and sometimes oftener.  We have had several showers last night and today.  I had liberty last night so we went out to Greenfield Village but it hasn’t opened yet so we couldn’t go thru it. It is to open this Saturday so we will go see it on the first opportunity.  We did walk around some of the grounds but not the main part.  We ate supper in Dearborn then went to a show.  When we got out of the show it was raining so we stayed in a doorway until the bus came.  Megdall’s (where Josephine works) had company so I didn’t stay but started back to the station in the rain.  The bus wasn’t due for half an hour so I started walking.  A car stopped and picked me up. The fellow brought me right out to the station.  That’s the way they treat us up here.

Guess I had as well answer mom’s letter also as I probably won’t have time tomorrow night.

Yes, Mom, $4.00 an hour seems pretty high wages, doesn’t it?  Guess what the sweepers at Ford get an hour.  They get a dollar and a nickel an hour just to sweep floors.  Of course it costs more to live up here.  It costs a dollar every time Josephine and I eat a meal and we don’t indulge very heavily for that.  Yes, I know that help is scarce.  It is scarce here too, especially skilled men.  We need more instructors at school but can’t get them.  The papers are full of ads for experienced men and women.  Better earn and save the money while you can.  I imagine Mrs. Rutledge was glad when Leslie was turned down.  I admire him for being willing to go anyway.  Someone had told me that Don had joined the Marines.  I wouldn’t want that branch.

You asked about the Ford Trade School and the Service School.  The Service school is for navy boys who work and study in the Ford schools and shops.  The Ford trade school is made up of boys from ten years on up to around eighteen, I think.  They work as apprentice helpers for several years and are paid two dollars per day while learning.  Some of them study in the classrooms to learn mathematics.  They operate a good many machines on production work.  I think it is a fine chance for them to learn a trade.  I believe I like Diesel work better than the machinists trade though I like both courses.  If I get to continue in Diesel after I leave here, I should understand it pretty well.

We won’t know until after we get back to Great Lakes whether we go aboard ship or stay on shore.  By far the most of the boys go on board ship and they like it much better than ashore.  All of the other navy men prefer the sea unless they are married and want to stay settled.  I think you are doing a lot of worrying about something which can’t be changed.  I know you can’t help worrying but it doesn’t do any good and I am really looking forward to going to sea.  Would you want to come to Chicago to see me when I go to the Lakes?  You could come here but it costs so much to live here and I wouldn’t get any more liberty than at the Lakes.  I don’t know how long Josephine is going to stay.


Glad you enjoyed the magazine.  I am sending you a couple more of Our Navy.

I am going to call Josephine then press some clothes.  Gale and I bought our electric iron the other day.


Love to all



Looking forward to liberties now

Lester said a lot in one short sentence. Now that Josephine was nearby, the liberties he previously had not even bothered to take no longer seemed frequent or long enough. What does a young couple do in wartime Dearborn? Take long walks, evidently.


Wednesday noon.

June 3 – 1942



Dear Folks

I’ll try to answer your letter which I received from you today.  I didn’t write last week because Josephine said that she was going to write to you and I am sure her letter would be more interesting than mine.  Besides there wasn’t any need for both of us to write about the same thing.

I had liberty last night so she met me down at Dearborn and we went out to the Ford Rotunda and walked around on the grounds there.  The Rotunda is closed but there are some pretty walks on the grounds.  We went back to town and ate supper then went to the park for the evening.  Nearly everything closes at 5:30 except the shows and we didn’t care about going to a show.

We don’t have time to go very far because I have to be back on the station by midnight.  Usually I am pretty lucky about getting rides but last night I had to take a bus.  I left her at a quarter til eleven and was in the barracks at eleven – thirty.   I get liberty every second week-end and one night each week.  It doesn’t seem very often since I want to go out now.  Until Josephine came I didn’t often go out during the week because there isn’t anything to do.  The Ford trade school and the service school are holding a picnic at Bob-Lo Island this Saturday so I expect that we will go to it.

All of us on the station changed into our white clothes this evening. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA They are nice and cool after our woolen blues but they are going to be hard to keep clean.  Another boy and I are going to buy an electric iron so we can press them ourselves.  Probably have to wash them three or four times a week.  I’ve been busy this evening.   Washed my hammock this evening, got a haircut, called Josephine, went to the show and am writing this.

I would sure enjoy helping you eat that fried chicken and the fish.  We have both of them here but they aren’t good.  I never eat the chicken but usually manage to get rid of my fish.  We had strawberry shortcake and ice cream last Saturday as a holiday dinner for the parade we had that morning.  I didn’t go on it because I had been on guard duty.  The boys marched seven miles and were simply drenched with sweat when they returned.  It was hot that morning and they had to wear dress blues and leggings.

Josephine told me tonight that Leslie Rutledge was being inducted into the army soon.  I was surprised at that. I supposed he would be deferred.

I just have time to get ready for bed so will close for this time.  Glad to get the letters from all of you.


Love to all