A cake from home for his birthday

February 21, 1942 was Lester’s twenty-fourth birthday. Amazingly enough, his mother baked a cake and sent it to help him celebrate. This was his first birthday a long way from home, and though none knew it at the time, it was to be his last birthday.

Lester with his sister Frances about 1920.
Lester with his sister Frances about 1920.

February 21-1942

Saturday evening

Dear Folks

???????????????????????????????I received your card & letter yesterday & the cake arrived today.  It was in perfect condition and still fresh and very good.  We haven’t eaten all of it yet.  I didn’t set it out for everyone because there wouldn’t be enough to go around but some of the boys in my section helped me sample it.

I did intend to go on liberty this evening and tomorrow but we are quarantined on the station because of scarlet fever.  Two men from this dormitory were taken ill this morning with it.  If I should happen to get it, someone will let you know but I will be OK. You don’t need to come to see me because they wouldn’t let you in.

I had planned to go over into Canada and see what it looks like.  If you look on the map you will see that Windsor, Canada is only a short distance from Detroit.  We are allowed to cross the border without a passport.

I received a birthday card from Margaret & Hank but they didn’t write anything.  I wish that since she used a three cent stamp on it, that she had written a few lines.  I think I told you I got a Christmas card from Anne the other day.  It has been at Great Lakes all this time.

Ambassador Bridge at Night between Detroit, Mich. and Windsor, Ont. Photo from postal card, 1942
Ambassador Bridge at Night between Detroit, Mich. and Windsor, Ont. Photo from postal card, 1942

Sunday morning

It is nine-thirty and I have just returned from church.  The protestant services are held from eight-thirty until 9:30 and the Catholic services from then until ten-thirty.  There seems to be about an equal number of the two denominations that go to church services.  We don’t have a regular choir, usually about six or eight volunteers.  It is such a nice bright day today that it will surely warm up.  We don’t dress up to go to church, just wear our neckerchiefs with undress blues.

We took our second-class seaman test yesterday. It was so easy that all of us passed.  We get that extra stripe on our sleeves now and should get our extra pay before too long.

I received two cards and a letter from Frances and Gloyd.  Gloyd wrote the letter and said he thought Frances was taking the flu.  How is she now?

There are four boys singing songs about ten feet away.  Did I say singing?  Well, at least they are trying.  They can get plenty of volume.

This letter is progressing pretty slowly and I have several others I should answer so guess I better start on them.


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.