No letter from Lester on May 28.



There was no letter dated May 28, or any mention of this event in any other letter. Apparently, the entire school shared celebration dinners when one class completed its training. This was not Lester’s group, but the dinner invitation was in his scrapbook. He must have been included in the festivities, and perhaps contemplated his own graduation and assignment to a newly commissioned battle ship. His training continued through the early summer pending the deployment of his class in a few weeks.


A Letter Home on March 19, 1942

Keeping busy at the training station. Photo postal card 1941.
Keeping busy at the training station. Photo postal card 1941.

March 19, 1942

Dear Folks

I received your letter today so will try to get a letter off by tomorrow morning.  No there isn’t any special history connected with the handkerchief, just a little souvenir from Canada.  Nearly all the stores were closed so we didn’t have much of a choice.  I don’t know whether I will go on liberty this week or not.

I expect to be here about another month.  We are supposed to leave here April 24th.  My last weeks grades averaged 3.6 which a little above average.  4.0 is equal to 100.

I will try to write to Nelson Parrish soon.  Not much chance of us seeing each other.

Glad to know that dad has got the crops started.  Did you sow the lespedza out west of the garden?  I didn’t realize that St. Patricks day was this week until I heard some of the boys talking about planting potatoes.  Mr. Ford is starting to send his ships out this week & they say that Spring is here when he does that.  A little tug boat is used to pull the ships out of the canal.  Two of the largest ships are still here.

Is Merle going to Calif. too?  I didn’t know that Roy was in the service.  Did Ola have a job?  Rymans probably won’t hear from Ernest very often cause the ships don’t go into port very often.

If Nelson is in a barracks close to the water then they certainly are expanding rapidly cause I never was close enough to see the water.

I’ll try to write the first of the week.


Letter to a younger brother

Lester, on right, with his sister Frances and younger brother Wallace. About 1928.
Lester, on right, with his sister Frances and younger brother Wallace. About 1928.
Wallace, the addressee of this letter, was my dad. Years after 1942 he wrote this about his brother, Lester. “Although Lester was seven years older than me, we were friends and played together some. He was slight of build and was a friendly kind of person. One time when I was in grade school and it had rained a lot during the day, Lester brought a horse for me to ride home so that I wouldn’t have to walk in the mud.”
In this letter, Lester responds to one that Wallace had written him. A junior in high school, Wallace was fascinated by the technology of his time: radios and electricity. Lester encouraged this interest in his younger brother.

Ford Motor Company

Dearborn, Michigan

Friday the thirteenth February, 1942

Dear Wallace,

I will start to answer your letter this morning though I don’t have much time.  I just finished washing my ditty bag so as to have it clean for inspection tomorrow.  Saturday morning is always inspection in the navy.  Friday is field day which means that we clean everything up extra well.  We will do that tonight after chow when we get back from shop.  We don’t go to school on Saturday so we usually have a little free time.  Half of us are supposed to get liberty tomorrow but it isn’t my half.  I am supposed to get liberty next Saturday.  So far I haven’t been outside the gates up here yet.

Did you go on war time?  We did of course but I don’t mind it. We still get eight hours sleep, sometimes.  Last night the U.S.O. put on an entertainment for us.  They had singing, dancing, acrobatics and a speaker, the kind that makes up his talk as he goes along.  He was very good.  Boys in the crowd gave him different topics on which to talk. Then he made them into a rhyme & sang about them.  Here is part of the list they gave him:  Hitler, Mussolini, McArthur, Japs, Capt. Kelly, Mr. Ford, Submarines, Pearl Harbor, Hedy Lamarr, Fox deluxe (a beer), U.S. Navy & others which I don’t remember right now.  Try making those into a rhyme.  We called him back for an encore & he made up rhymes about the ladies in the front.  I bet they could have choked him.

I didn’t get this finished this morning so will continue this evening.  Field day is over and I had a watch from 4 to 7 so I missed out on the work.

How are you getting along with your radio work?  I believe it would be a good idea to learn all you can about it because if you have to enter the service, it would probably qualify you for a pretty good job.  It won’t hurt anyway.  Write again.


Letter home from February 8, 1942

Lester and a young cousin with the farm dogs.
Lester and a young cousin with the farm dogs.

Given the frequency of his previous letters, it is hard to believe that none arrived home from early December until now. Surely there are a few missing in the collection. Perhaps he called home a time or two. Since his last letter, Lester has been accepted in the US Navy Service school at Ford Motor Company and moved to Dearborn. He spent some time in the hospital, so must have been quite ill for a while. He writes again:

Postmark:  Dearborn, Mich.  Feb 9  11:30 AM, 1942 US postage 3c

Sunday, Feb. 8, ‘42

Dear Folks:

I have just returned from church so will try to get a letter off to you before chow.  We have church at 8:30 here & it isn’t compulsory as it was at Great Lakes.  Today was my first time up here as I was in the hospital the other two Sundays.  It is getting colder & the wind is quite sharp but the sun is shining so it isn’t too cold.  We have had some snow but it has been above freezing most of the time so there isn’t much snow on the ground.  We have had pretty nice weather so far.  Hope it continues.  We didn’t get liberty this weekend as we were supposed to because someone has measles or scarlet fever.  That means I won’t get liberty for two more weeks as only half of us get liberty each week.  Guess they must want to help us save our money.  About one more month & I should be getting my $36 per month instead of $21.  Yesterday was inspection day but that is about all we did except hear a lecture on firearms & march around the station for an hour.  We have a little more time here than at Great Lakes but not too much at that.  I went to the show last night “All Through the Night”.  It was a propanganda film showing the Nazis work in the U.S.   Our shows aren’t all like that.  We have the same shows here as at home.  I haven’t been out on liberty yet & we do the same thing every day so there isn’t much to tell you.  I wrote to Myron this morning.  Maybe he will get it by the 4th of July.  I should answer a letter from Frances today if I can.