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.


November 4, 1941

The Folks
The Folks

Nov. 4. 1941

Dear Folks

I won’t have time to write much of a letter tonight as we are really quite busy all of the time.  Of course we don’t drill so long each day but we have to do our washing & cleaning up in leisure time.  Also I want to do some studying before we take any more exams which will be next week.  We took one exam today.  It wasn’t bad so I think that I made a fair grade.

Sorry to hear that you are still having rains back there.  I hoped that it would dry up some time.  It has been nice here since Sunday & probably will stay that way for awhile.  I can’t think of very much to write about as life is very much routine here.  About the same every day.  I’m liking it better all the time as I get accustomed to the new way of doing things.

As I told you, we sleep in hammocks & we have to air our mattress & blankets every day & then make them in the evening.  We are learning something new all the time so that keeps it interesting.

Postal card from the U.S. Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Ill. 1941
Postal card from the U.S. Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Ill. 1941

We got our first mail Monday & when Earnest got a letter & I didn’t get any I was rather disappointed but the tables were turned today when I received two letters & he didn’t get any.  We have been together all the way through so far.  He sleeps right beside me.  I am number 17 & he is no. 18.

We all have certain duties toward keeping the barracks clean.  The jobs are passed around so that no one has a bad job very long.

We went to a show last night but it wasn’t too hot.  I think I will stay & study tomorrow night.  They have shows on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday.  Josephine sent me a clipping from the paper saying that we could attend the roller skating rink, bowling & a few other activities that I haven’t heard anything about here yet.

Keep writing whenever you can & I will do the same.