October 5, 1942


Monday night October 5 – 1942

Dear Folks.

Have you had any snow yet?  I suppose not but everyone has mentioned how cold it has been, I was just wondering.  We are having rainy weather here but one nice thing, we don’t have to wade around in the mud.  Most of my time is spent below decks so the rain doesn’t bother much.  Frances spoke about you shocking corn.  How much did you cut?  Did you sow any wheat this fall?  Have the leaves started to fall yet?  They are dropping here but they haven’t colored much yet.  On my trip to Washington I noticed a number of pretty red trees, something like sumac but larger.  This should be pretty country when the leaves do start to turn.  People talk about the wasteland in Kansas but there is five acres of marsh and wasteland back here for every one at home.  The corn doesn’t look as good as ours either.  The corn shocks don’t look big enough to stand but I guess they do.  The rivers are larger than the Neosho but they aren’t all timbered.  Lots of the hills are covered with trees.

Corn crop in early summer on the Kansas farm of Lester's childhood.
Corn crop in early summer on the Kansas farm of Lester’s childhood.

I saw a show the other night that I wish you folks could have seen too.  It was a marionette show and it was really good.  One of the marionettes played a toy piano and even turned the pages of music.  One couple did a dance together and lots of other numbers that I can’t remember.  Near the end of the performance the top curtains were drawn so we could watch the three men and a woman who manipulated the strings on the marionettes.  They really have to have nimble fingers.

We aren’t allowed to write, keep or possess diaries anymore in the navy.  I just thought I would mention it as some one might be planning to send them to some of the boys.  I don’t know if that affects the army boys or not.

I bought myself a belt knife when I was in town Saturday.  I looked all over town before finally finding one like I wanted and had to talk the salesman into taking it out of his show case.  I was in the machine shop Sunday, sharpening it when a couple of the officers came in and saw me so they had to sharpen theirs too.  They are really a swell bunch of men.  Today while some of us were in  the shop a call came over the speaker for Lieut.  McKinsey to please report to the quarter-deck.  Without looking up, I remarked to the other fellows, “now that’s funny, they never say please to me, it just, ‘Harris, report to the quarter-deck, on the double’”.  When I looked up, there was an officer, smiling at me.  Boy, I was sure glad he was smiling.

It is time for lights out and I’m sleepy so guess I better sign off.


Love to all.



A knife Lester carried in 1942.
A knife Lester carried in 1942.




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