Evening message to the Folks

I wonder what the topics of conversation included in Lester’s six minute phone call home. Perhaps a family journey to visit him in Detroit was suggested. The folks are missing Lester very much.


Tuesday evening: 2000


Dear Folks

There isn’t anything new since I talked to you Sunday afternoon except my new barracks letter.  We will be moved by the time you get this so use the new address.  I sure had good luck getting the call thru.  It didn’t take over five minutes from the time I started the call until I was talking to you.  All of the phones here were busy all afternoon so I went into Detroit & called from the YMCA.  It cost $1.45 for the first three minutes & I talked over-time three minutes for another 1.45.  That wasn’t bad, was it, considering that it is nine hundred miles apart?  I could hear you fairly well but not as well as the time I talked to Josephine from Great Lakes.

No, I never get lost, Mom.  Usually I go with someone who knows the town & we don’t usually get far off the main part of town.  It wouldn’t matter much if I did get lost because I can always inquire the right way & it doesn’t cost anything to ride the buses or street cars.  We always start back in plenty of time to get here before midnight.  There are lots of bums but they never bother us except just to ask for a dime or quarter.  There are always enough sailors around they wouldn’t dare start anything.  You would have to get around the same as we do—get on a street car & ask if it is going to the place we want to go.  The name of the street route is on the front of the car, too.  It isn’t so hard to get around.

The two white stripes on my cuff show that I am a second-class seaman.  One stripe is for apprentice seamen; three stripes for seamen first class.  That will be my next step.  We can’t get a higher rating here at the station.  Some of the boys in my company are already first class seamen.  They are the ones who went to sea instead of school.  The discipline here is getting very strict & most of the boys are glad to be going to sea.  I manage to stay out of the way so I don’tmind it yet.  We will have different guards when we move to the other barracks.  The diesel boys are the main guards at the gates but don’t have to stand any other guards.

It is 2020 now, the sun is just setting & colors has just been blown & the flag lowered.  The band usually plays in the mornings when the flag is hoisted.

I must close now so good-bye.  Hope everyone is well.









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.