When our mother passed away in 1992, I received two items that were very special to me. One was a carved cedar chest that she had been given at my birth – I already had the one that was given to me – and a book of letters from World War II. I can remember as a child reading these letters under the stairs in the basement where they were stored. None were particularly racy, but I could evoke the time, some of the travails of war and the friends of my parents by reading these letters.
Many of the letters were written on airmail paper (very light and flimsy) and some had been cut by the censors, leaving large chunks of air. Most writers were quite circumspect in discussing their whereabouts and some envelopes were stamped “Idle Gossip Sinks Ships” just as a reminder. My parents were blessed with many friends, most of which were in the service as all were of an age to enlist at the time. My father enlisted one day on a whim, I was told, and luckily never left the state. The friends who joined up with him that day weren’t quite as lucky.
Now to my dilemma: I know most, if not all, of the people who wrote these letters are dead. Sadly, we lost one of the wives of these fellows just this month. It makes this feel more urgent. I know few of the descendants but being a genealogist I can trace others. Should I try to contact these folks? I am a little reluctant, as it would mean a lot of searching and then more work scanning the letters which are fragile and bound in the book.
I believe that the majority of these folks were schoolmates of my Dad’s from Cleveland High School in Seattle (class of 39) or may have been from Mom’s class at Federal Way, as well. That’s why I’ll include the nicknames.
I will list the names of the people who have penned the letters in this blog and perhaps one of the bots will pick up the names. Feedback would be appreciated from anyone who has had this dilemma.
Mogden, Walt (by far the largest number of letters and the gifter of the chests)
Talon, Ben “Zipper”
Wilson, Carl Edward