Notes to a Brother

A model big brother, Lester kept in touch with all of his siblings. In this letter to his teenage brother, he chats casually about some of his activities in Michigan. Zoo and a movie–something every Kansas farm boy would enjoy. He must have purchased a few post cards at the Zoological Park. Though no photos of his own still exist, his family kept the post cards.

Lester also encouraged his brother’s interest in radio technology, even offering to help pay for training with radio equipment after Wallace graduated from high school. Brothers can’t get much better than that.

Wednesday evening

Dear Wallace,

I received your letter so will try to get it answered this evening. You’re welcome to the magazines but you don’t need to send me any Popular Science as we have them in our reading room here. We have magazines of all kinds but I don’t have time to read many of them. It keeps me busy washing and pressing my white clothes. I may go to the show later this evening, “Riders of the Timberline.” Did Paul get my card? We went to the zoological Park Sunday and saw nearlyevery kind of animal and bird. We took some pictures, hope they turn out good. The park is quite large so we didn’t get to see all of it.



We are having a blackout drill tonight at 10:15. That means we will have to get out of bed for it. This will be the third drill since I have been here.

How is the radio work progressing? If you want to take the NRI Course, I think I could help you with monthly payments. How much are they per month? I think it would be a good idea to learn a trade if you can do so while at home. I like my Diesel work very  much. Three of us put in requests for special liberty this Saturday to go with our instructor to work on a Diesel engine out on a lake somewhere. Hope I get to go. I spent two days on a locomotive Diesel but didn’t do much work on it. Today our class went on a tugboat here in the canal and saw the Diesel engines on it. The whole engine room was cleaner than most folks’ kitchens or dining rooms and that isn’t an exaggeration. It was spotless. In fact so clean than I’m afraid that may be my job when I get on board ship—running a rag. Suppose? One of the big ships was in but she was ready to leave again so we didn’t get to board her.

Our pay bill passed but don’t know when we will start drawing it.

Hope everyone is well.

Love to all


Running commentary from Sick Bay

May 3 – 1942

Sunday night

Dear Folks

Is it raining at home?  It is here, a nice spring shower.  It has been raining an hour or so now.  I’m glad I don’t have to be out in it.  I won’t have to stand any more Seaman guard watches.  The diesel boys just stand the gate sentries & we have little guard houses to stay in.  That shouldn’t be bad at all. Some of the seaman guard boys didn’t have their raincoats when it started raining so I expect they got wet.

We started wearing our white hats the first of May.  They look very nice, I think.


Monday noon

Its pretty chilly today, guess the rain cooled things off.  I am still in bed here in sick bay but I never felt better in my life.  My temperature has been normal for several days.  Today is my eleventh day so I should be getting out of here soon.  I have a pretty fair-sized boil on my neck.  You should have seen my nurse dance with joy when she saw it.  She says that she just loves to squeeze those things & I believe her.  It didn’t take her long to get started on it after I told her that she could squeeze it.  Its getting better now & I don’t have any more.

Monday evening.

Well I’ll see if I can finish this letter this evening.  I’m afraid it won’t be 18 pages though.  A hundred players from Hollywood are putting on a show in Detroit tonight.  Seats cost from one dollar to five hundred dollars.  Only three & five dollar seats are left & not many of those.  The money is to be turned over to army & navy relief societies.  It should be a good show with Bob Hope as master of ceremonies.

Tuesday afternoon.  I’m going to mail this today even if I have to let it go unfinished.  The doctor said I might be up two hours today so I’m hoping to get out before long.  The reason this is harder to read than usual is that I’m laying on my side with a hot water bottle on my neck so I can’t get in a very convenient position to write.  We have a quiet hour from one until two each afternoon & it is time for it so I will close.  I’m feeling fine.




Wednesday noon

May 6 – 1942


Dear Folks

Well, the mumps are all gone & the doctors have said that I may return to duty this evening.  I’m glad of that.  I haven’t had any fever for a long time & am feeling fine.  They don’t take any chances of us developing any complications.  There isn’t any danger now.  The swelling has been down about a week, I think.  The boil on my neck is practically okay.

I hope you don’t have any floods from the rains you have been having.  We have just had a nice little rain & it is still cloudy.  This river seems to just stay the same, never rises or falls.  It has been quite warm but is a little cooler now.  Is the garden up yet?  The grass, trees & shrubs are all green up here.  I believe it is warmer here than at home because it hasn’t been nearly cold enough to freeze or frost.  You certainly must have had a lot of mud to burn out two clutches in the car.  You may take the fenders off if you want to make a mud car out of it.  You had just about as well do that if you can use it only for the route on account of the tires.  I helped rebuild some V-8 engines up here but I didn’t work on any model A’s.  I have liked my work fine but haven’t gone to any diesel yet so don’t know what it will be like.  The boys tell me that is hasn’t been very interesting but perhaps it will get better.  Some of the fellows brought my lessons over so I have just about kept up with them.  I won’t be penalized for what I have missed.  I was getting a little anxious because if we miss ten school days we are set back with the next class & I want to go ahead & finish with my bunch so that we may get to go to sea together.  I have missed eight days now.  Don’t worry about the mumps because the doctors won’t release us until they are certain we are safe.  They don’t care if we miss two days or twenty.

Teachers are scarce this year, aren’t they?  You will be fortunate if you can keep all of them.  Will there be only four in high school?

So Caroline still feeds you, does she, dad?  Its rather odd but I was just telling my roommate yesterday about the cookies she gave us.  Did you tell Wallace & Paul where she gets her water to make that cake?  No need to spoil it if the cake was good.  Josephine sent me some candy the other day & I still have some of it.  It was good.  You don’t need to send any cookies or anything that uses sugar because you probably need it & we have all the sweet stuff we need.  Of course, the cookies are good.

Mom, I am sending you a little money as a mother’s day gift.  I haven’t had a chance to get out & get anything & I want to give you something.  Buy whatever you want for yourself but don’t send it back to me.  I have all I need.  When I get ready to leave here I expect to have a good deal of my pay be put into defense bonds or something.  I don’t spend a great deal in here.  Some of the boys are always broke but I have saved fifty dollars up til now & we get paid again soon.  The check is yours too.  Guess I’ll have to get me a date book & put down all the anniversarys & birthdays.  I forgot Frances’ wedding. I was thinking it was June 5th.

It is evening now & I have got moved back into the barracks & done some washing.  I’m going to bed pretty soon.  If ever you want to call me, the number is Oregon 9482.  That is different than the old number so don’t get them mixed.

Love to all.


Wallace, I found the Bulletin you sent me this evening.  Some one had put it in my coat.  Thanks.