WWII Wednesday - From Harry

Tuesday, September 28, 1943

Hello Darling,

Boy has your hubby been a busy chicken today.  Up at 5:00, Chow - 5:15, Lecture 6:30.  Tests from 7:15 - 11:45.  I got a 118 on the army General classification.  It takes 105 for an air cadet, 115 for OCS so I am in Class II above average. Class I is from 130 to 150.  We had about 45 off for lunch then insurance and bonds and our interview.  I still don't know how or where I will be sent or what branch of the army I will be in.

I am afraid that Sunday is definitely out.  They are tighter than the very devil with passes.  One of the barrack leaders was selling passes and showers to new fellows as they came in.  He was courtmartialed and was sentenced to 4 years hard labor.  Served him right.

The army is not so bad, of course I'd rather be home with you but of course it is my duty to defend my home and family.  So don't worry about me.  I will take care of myself.  

We haven't our uniforms yet but are supposed to get them tomorrow pm.  I sure hope so - this shirt is beginning to stink.  I am afraid to wash it because it might not get dry.  Well, I have 15 minutes to shave and be ready to go to a training film.

There are some papers enclosed which you should save.  You can send me 3 or 4 wire coat hangers.  Tomorrow I should have a little more time to write.  The food isn't bad - not as good as yours.

Write to Mom and Dad.

How are you getting along with the car?

Love, Harry  

My notes: It's so impressive to me how the country asked for men to leave their homes and jobs - and the call was answered.  For the simple reason - defending the very things they had to leave.  One week Harry is driving a truck the next week he's wearing a stinky shirt and can't even tell his wife what he's doing next week.  But he takes responsibility to do his duty.  And he has the calm collectiveness to report home with a newsy letter and express his concern for Helen, his parents (and apparently the car - lol).  

From Harry

Last year I had plans to record my Harry and Helen Letters and did not.  
still have people asking me about them so I'm going to try again.

September 27, 1943
Fort Benning
Harrison, Indiana

Dearest Helen,

Well, today I am a soldier.  We arrived here about 11:30.  Waited for awhile.   Then some Capt. MD looked down our throats and then short arm inspection (I told you so).  I'm am writing this in a hurry.  Hope you can read some.

We are now assigned to beds and barracks.  We have practiced making beds.  The army doesn't use the same method you do.  Yours is easier.  I doubt very much if anything can be arranged for Sunday.  Will let you know later.  They told us that we wouldn't be here for more than 5 or 6 days.  We don't know for sure.  So mail a few letters.  My address is
Pvt. Harry Teague, US Army
Co. A. Reception Center
Ft. Bening, Harrison, Indiana

We had roast beef, boiled potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and onions for dinner.  Tea to drink.  Was pretty good.  Well honey, I have to sign off now.  So I'll close by telling you I love you very much.

Love, Harry

p.s. we have tests, shots, and get uniforms tomorrow.  Busy day!

The Search for Harry and Helen

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Over the last couple years I've been posting excerpts of letters from a husband and wife, written during WWII.  I've owned and enjoyed "The Letters" for about 15 years now and always felt I could do something special with them.  I don't have a formal "bucket list" but I've always wanted to add published author to my resume.  This year I've decided to be more creative.  Doing something with "The Letters" is a step in the right direction.  Maybe one day these folks will be characters in a novel penned by me.

I can't say why I'm so attached to these pieces of paper.  I don't know what made me spend $40 on them (at that time in my life I enjoyed antiques but didn't have the cash to waste on this sort of "junk".)  Aside from enjoying the yellowed government issued stationery and the fine penmanship I have no connection to these two ordinary people who lived during an extraordinary time.  And yet, I own the almost daily account of three years of their life.  I get a historic glimpse into an era, over 70 years ago, that our country holds dear.  I get a "behind the scenes" military look as well as the "home fires burning" aspect.  When people tell me that they follow my blog, I get asked about "The Letters".  They want more.

I've often wondered how three hulking boxes of words landed in an antique mall in Ohio.  Aren't these letters something to be cherished and kept within a family?  Then again, not everyone lives in the past and certainly do not care about what a stranger (even one they are related to) did in 1944.  Let's face it - life is busy and stressful these days.  Who has time for this sort of nostalgia?  I don't blame anyone for letting go of material things that do not interest them.

I think of all the photos I've seen over the years in various thrift stores and antique shops.  There is something sad about photos that live in a old shoe box in a thrift store. Then again, it's sort of sweet.  No one seems to want to throw away a photo.  Or add them to a burn pile. In that respect, the fact that the photos exist, even in shabby surroundings, means they were cherished and respected enough to not be destroyed.

While I have lots of words from Harry and Helen, I do not have a photo.  NOTE: In the hopes of someday having a photo I originally put names and dates of the important moments of Harry and Helens life in this post.  I wanted to reach a family member who might supply a photo.  At the time It didn't feel wrong but then again it didn't feel right.  Today I feel differently.  While Harry and Helen are gone and do not seem to have much family left, it is still private words that I'm making public.  It no longer feels "okay" to publicly post this information in a selfish attempt to put a face to their words.  Isn't it enough that I'll be sharing the inner intimacies of a marriage and a glimpse into their private lives.  Now that I'm starting it up again I've deleted that info and wish to just focus on the words and stories of this couple and this time in the history of our country.