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The Box

Posted by on March 3, 2014

Several years ago my mother gave me a box containing “dad’s letters”. It wasn’t until recently that I took a look inside the box. What I found was several manila envelopes stuffed with letters that were written between January 1943 and February 1946 while my father was in the service during WWII. My mother said that she had read the letters several years ago after my father passed, but did not really remember the contents other than to say that they seemed to be rather mundane letters about what was going on. On a quick look at them I discovered that for the most part the letters seem to be correspondence between him, his brother and his family back home in Albany, NY. There are also letters from other friends and family both back home and in the military as well as assorted newspaper clippings, military orders and other memorabilia. Fortunately, Mom put all the letters in date order when she went through them all those years ago.

I’ve recently begun the project of getting the letters out of the files and making digital copies of them. As an avid scrapbooker, my wife advised that I do that right away. Along the way, I’m taking the time to read the letters as my four-in-one scanner runs a little slow for my liking.  Of course, all of this is happening between other obligations.

As I’ve been telling friends about the project they’ve expressed tremendous interest and I’ve had many people offer support in many ways. Needless to say my brothers are intrigued by this as are other family members. I’ve decided to start this blog in order to make it easy for my friends and family to keep on top of where I am with the project and as a way for me to let them know what I’m finding out as I go through the letters.

Manila file folders filled with my dad's war letters between him and his family.

Manila file folders filled with my dad’s war letters between him and his family.

In the past week, I’ve gotten through about a months worth of letters. Doing some quick math, with 36 months worth of documents, I’ve realized that I am looking at the project taking at least nine months. So for now I’m getting the letters into new folders lined with acid free paper and placing acid free sheets between the documents in order to get them immediately stabilized. I’ve learned how to handle all the papers while wearing those little white conservators gloves.

So, what have I found out so far?  Well, for now I’ve learned that Dad was inducted on New Year’s day 1943, immediately given a seven day furlough and reported to Camp Upton on Long Island on or about January 8, 1943. Within a week he was off to basic training in Miami Beach where the letters from his brother started to catch up with him. More later, but for now I need to return to the task of stabilizing the documents and getting them in some form of proper storage.

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