Monday, December 10, 2018

Dear Charles

The smaller box of letters.


Saturday’s post is here and explains this one.

Blaine came over for dinner (meatloaf, mashed potatoes and the last package of fresh corn from the freezer). While the meatloaf was baking, I showed him the boxes of letters. I could tell he didn’t understand my interest, never mind my excitement, to have letters from people I don’t know. He did think it was remarkable that this family would have known Mom’s family.

I reached into one of the boxes and pulled out one of the letters, a purely random selection. It was an airmail envelope sent from Charles S. to his mother. Charles was in basic training in Laredo, Texas. His letter, which I read out loud to Blaine, told of how busy he was learning different skills including how to shoot. He wrote, “I was out on the skeet and trap range 3 times this last week. The first 2 times I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a shot gun. Saturday afternoon I got 8 hits out of 25 tries. I guess in another week or so I’ll be able to do a lot better. It sure is fun.”

He wrote that he was including a letter he had received from his friend Harry’s mother. He and Harry had met in basic training and had become good friends quickly. Harry had mentioned Charles in letters home, so Harry’s mom wanted to write to him. “To my son’s pal,” she began. There is an undercurrent of worry in her friendly words. “I have been praying, believe it or not, that you two will stay together and I still am going to do so for I think you must get along very well by the sound of Harry’s letters, which, by the way, is a great enjoyment to us at home.”

She let’s Charles know he will always be welcome to visit, whether Harry is with him or not. Then she writes, “By the way, Charles, I have two daughters that are real pretty too. Will that entice you a little? Harry may have some pictures for you to see.”

That made us both laugh. By end of her letter, Blaine was better able to see the appeal.

There were two clippings included in the envelope that must have been slipped inside years later. One is a notice about Charles’ mother’s funeral. The other reports that Charles has gone missing over Germany. He was a staff sergeant and assistant crew chief gunner on a bomber that disappeared during a mission. Later, they would find out he was a POW. Also in that envelope was a letter Charles was able to write from the camp where he was being held. Subject to censors, he simply wrote: “Dear Mother: Hope this card finds you in the best of health. I want to wish Bill [his brother] a happy birthday. Tell Aunt Neva and Uncle Fran hello for me. I am in good health. The little garden I planted some time ago is growing good. Love to rest of family. Love, Charles.”

What a letter to begin with! Blaine let it sink in for a moment. “How many of these do you have?”

“Not sure. Two boxes. A few hundred maybe.” He looked at me, a small smile there. I smiled, “You’re hooked, aren’t you?”

He shrugged. “I could listen to you read a few more.”

Not tonight though. We ate, cleaned up and agreed if we started in on the letters, neither of us would get to bed. I think we’ll spend a few evenings sorting them. Once they’re in chronological order, we’ll start reading.

I hope he’ll stay interested. It would be great to share this with him.


  1. I love this! Sounds like you got some good letters.

  2. This is fantastic! Old letters are so much fun.

  3. Oh, that sounds wonderful! I have one page of a letter that my Pop wrote to my Mom during World War II - it's one of my favorite things.


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