letters from my father – letter 1

January 7, 2012

Undated but guessing sometime in early January, 1944 (Dad was inducted into the Marines on January 17th)

Dear Ganther and Grampee,

We are now going thru Kansas. We stopped at Kansas City, Missouri for lunch. A navy shore patrol met us at the station and took us to a restaurant. McCormick gave them our meal ticket. First they gave us orange juice, then salad, then coffee and milk. For the main course they gave us steak, mashed potatoes and green beans, for dessert we got cake, ice cream and an apple. We were served at a big long table. When we came back our car was attached to a troop train. We have gone strait thru so far at a good fast rate. I gave the S.P. my letters to mail. I also have written to aunt J. and Mr. Burrows. A navy boy just came back and he said he never got such good treatment. Nobody has been loud or misbehaved. When we left the station Sargent Hall said that if we were army and navy men she would give us a lecture, but because we were Marines just behave like Marines and we wouldn’t have any trouble. Everyone has been very good to me everywhere we’ve been. I will tell you where to write me as soon as I know.

Love, Truman

I’m guessing that this is one of the earliest letters Dad wrote home, as Kansas City is not all that far from Indianapolis or Chicago (I’m not sure from where his train departed, but those are the most likely places). Dad regularly wrote to his grandparents and to his aunts. His grandparents adopted him after his mom died when he was 9 and for all practical purposes, Dad was estranged from his own father, who must have given up custody when Dad’s parent divorced.

What strikes me most in this letter, which is a pretty brief and banal accounting of his trip so far, is that he sounds young, which he was. He’d just turned 18 on January 2nd. And he also sounds bored and nervous. He’s writing letters and he’s looking around for cues and clues on how to behave and what to expect and he’s trying to figure out what it means that he is becoming a Marine. It’s like he’s at the start of a long rite of passage to adulthood.



6 responses to “letters from my father – letter 1”

  1. gretchen hale says:

    liz, i am so touched by this simple letter for the exact reasons that you wrote about. i read this so fast, and then again. i feel like i could read a list of letters like this for hours. thank you so much for sharing this…i hope we get to read more. i also wish i could read letters like this from my own dad…i will appreciate reading through your fathers letters and imagining that it touches you, too. thank you

  2. Ron Stone says:

    Looking forward to the future letters Liz, thank you for sharing.

  3. Rhonda Hughes says:

    Great project! Historical bits combined with your personal narrative is compelling. It’s close to the 17th of January when your father started this odyssey so many years ago. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  4. liz says:

    Thanks, Gretchen, Ron and Rhonda. And thanks Rhonda for remembering the 17th. Very sweet of you.

  5. joan.moyer@hotmail.com says:

    Strange date – Jan. 17th to be starting a new life!!!

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