browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

13 Buttons

Posted by on January 19, 2015

July 14, 1943. A letter from Anna to her brothers. As a reminder, after Dad was called up, he and his brother Stanley told Anna to send the same letter to each of them by way of a carbon copy, so in the letters we see times when Anna addresses the brothers both together and individually. In this letter from home, Anna tells of a visit from family friend Joe Miller who is home on furlough from his duty in the Navy.

Joe came into Albany on a train with about 900 other sailors. His wife Mary was at the station to greet him. It took the train eight hours to get to Albany from Joe’s duty station in Sampson, NY in the Finger Lakes region. Anna notes that he must have been on the “milk train as they call the train that stops at every station.” She says that Joe is looking good, “He gained 15 pounds and his face is all filled out and suntan. He has a short haircut which makes his face look fuller.” Anna comments that Joe has become much more serious now that the is in the Navy, commenting that “he isn’t quite as silly as he used to be when he was home.”

Joe and Mary visited with Anna and Eddie and stayed for dinner. While he was visiting he brought along his “ditty bag” and showed off some of his gear. Anna says, “We got the biggest kick out of the 13 buttons which Joe has on the front of his pants under the waist that overlaps the pants. He said that they signify the original 13 states in the union. Eddie said to him that it is alright that they don’t have 48 buttons one for each state in the union now. We laughed out of Joe when he went to the bathroom and came out and said ‘Those 13 buttons’.” Anna also reports that now that he is in the Navy, Joe Miller has learned how to swim.

A vintage US Navy "crackerjack" uniform showing the 13 button front flap. Image credit: Imperial Antiques

A vintage US Navy “crackerjack” uniform showing the 13 button front flap on the pants. Image credit: Imperial Antiques

Eddie is on vacation for the week and is spending a lot of time doing one of his favorite things – fishing! He “went fishing to the Cove and caught a big bull head and a sunfish over 9 inches long and an enormous rock bass” which they served to their dinner guests. Anna says the fish was so good that no one bothered to eat the fried pork chops that they also cooked for dinner. She also notes that the fishing has been good lately since “there aren’t many fisherman now and Eddie gets a lot of bites.”

Apparently Stanley’s time to ship overseas will be coming soon. Anna alludes to mentions in Stanley’s previous letters that he is likely to ship overseas directly from Great Falls, Montana. Anna also laments that with the war effort in full swing “it is so dead around the city. You can’t do anything or go anyplace.” She even says that “Orange Street is very quiet now and we don’t dare breathe because it is like the calm that comes before a big storm.”

She signs off after providing a quick weather report, “a very hot spell and not much rain. When you walk on  the sidewalk it is just like walking over hot coals.”

Previous Post
Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *