July 25, 1942

Lester’s letter today is a real glimpse into the past. What fun to read his instructions to the folks on how to use a pay phone! And how to connect with him, use a redcap to move their luggage, and how to tip appropriately in 1942. The folks must be scurrying around trying to get ready for their big adventure. They are going to visit Lester!

July 25  – 1942

Dear Folks,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, mom, I am writing this with your pen.  How do you like it?  It isn’t just like mine but I think you will like it ok.  I really don’t have much to write about because I don’t know anything more than the last time I wrote to you.

Josephine said she thought that I should make more definite plans about meeting you but I really don’t know how we can make definite plans without knowing when your train arrives in Chicago or knowing where you are going to stay.  I won’t know my barracks or address until we get there.

I believe it would be best for you to call the hostess house at the training station, tell them your address and ask them to broadcast for me.  I will go to the hostess house when they call and get your address.  If possible, I will stay around the hostess house so as to not miss the call.

In case you can’t get the hostess house, call the Catholic USO and I will call them to get your address.  I don’t think we will have much trouble finding each other.  That Catholic USO is the one in Waukegan.  If you stay in Chicago, call the hostess house at the station or Audra.  Sorry I can’t give you the telephone number of any of those places.  If you can’t find them in the telephone directory, call “operator” and she will help you.

In case you don’t know how to use a pay phone, here is what you do.  Take the receiver off the hook, put a nickel in the coin slot and start dialing your number.

If you are going to Waukegan, you should get a transfer with your ticket and you won’t have to get a taxi for the transfer between stations.  If you stay in Chicago, take a taxi to a hotel and they will handle your luggage.  If a redcap carries your bags, he will expect a dime for each piece of luggage.  Better get a redcap as he will get you to your transfer or taxi without trouble.  I never got around much while I was at the Lakes so I don’t know much about the hotels.   I have asked one of the boys from Chicago about a nice hotel. He suggested that you stay at the Sherman hotel so if you stay in Chicago I could call you at that hotel.  It is a nice hotel and close to the station.  You may have to pay three or four dollars for the first night but don’t worry about that.  I’ll have enough money to pay your expenses after you get there.

Mom and Dad
Mom and Dad

I hope that dad is coming with you but if he can’t, perhaps I will get to see him a little later.  If you know for sure what you are going to do, you could send me a telegram up here if I would get it before Thursday night.  I don’t think that will be necessary though.  We still don’t have our orders to leave the 31st but no doubt we will have them then.  If there is anything different I will let you know.  I waited until after taps to call the other night as I thought everyone would be in the house by then.

We had watermelon for supper tonight along with wieners, potatoes, carrots & turnips, cabbage salad & jelly roll.  Not bad was it?  I can’t think of anything else to write now.  I wish I knew if I am going to get a leave but that remains to be seen.  Will see you Saturday afternoon.  Remember, if you can’t get me any other way, call Audra. I will call her too.


Love to all




P.S.  All the boys seem to be sure that we are going to get our leaves but I’ve got my fingers crossed.


Letter to His Dad

In a letter to his father, Lester actively encouraged his dad to come visit with his mother and youngest brother, Paul. Evidently, Dad had a few reservations. The other brother, Wallace, wasn’t mentioned. Perhaps it had already been decided that he would stay home and take care of the farm chores.

Charley, Lester's Dad
Charley, Lester’s Dad

Given all that there was to do on a farm in wartime forties, it was probably hard for Charley to think about leaving, even to see his oldest son. He didn’t travel too much. However, in his younger days, while he was courting Georgia in 1911, he had accompanied his mother to Colorado Springs on holiday and sent a postcard photo to Georgia from the west.



In wartime Kansas 1942, it was not that easy to leave. Lester gave it his best shot, however.

July 11 – 1942

Dear Dad,

I don’t know how long it took you to write your letter but it usually takes me quite a while too, and I’ll have to go put my leggings on for regimental review this afternoon so this will probably be short.

Can’t you arrange to come with mom and Paul to see me at the Lakes?  I’m not going to insist because you know if you can come or not but I would like very much to have you come.  We still can’t find out when we are leaving but it will probably be the 14th.  I don’t imagine there is much chance of getting a leave to come home.  According to an article in the navy paper from the Lakes, we are entitled to ten day leaves if we have six months active service, if our services can be spared and if our commanding officer sees fit to give us leaves.  Quite a few “ifs” aren’t there?

I’ve had over six months service.  Diesel men from the last draft are still waiting for ships, so my services can be spared.  It seems that the last “if” would decide the question for us.  That will be the officer at the Lakes and I don’t know who he will be.  The boys who left two weeks ago are still waiting at the Lakes and most of the diesel draft of six weeks ago are waiting in New York.  I wish we could find out something before it happens but that seems impossible.  Just have to wait and see, I guess.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI bought a new pen over at the store in the Ford plant the other day.  It is a $2.95 Parker but cost me only $1.65 over there.  It writes swell.  If mom hasn’t bought a pen yet, I’ll get her one here if she lets me know by the last of next week.  Does your pen still work OK?

Do you have most of the work done now?  I suppose that you are thru with the corn.

Charley and samples of his corn, 1942.
Charley and samples of his corn, 1942.

It is time for me to go so I’ll close and mail this.  Remember I want to see you if you can come.  I won’t be able to find out anything about getting leave until I get to the Lakes and if we waited until then to decide to come or not, you couldn’t get to the Lakes until my weekend liberty would be over.  If we stay at the Lakes more than a week, I would probably get a long liberty.  Hoping to see you.

Love to all