Assorted Musings from an Unknown Historian

Bourbon, Books, and Bemusement


Dear Mom… Letters from WWII


Clipped from some newspaper or magazine in July of 1943 and sent from the Navajo Ordnance Depot  to his own mother, I could think of no better day to share these sentimental war-time thoughts from Granddaddy Bill on the singular beauty that is a mother.

It took a sailor to find a new use for a worn out word which gives it fresh sparkle and a deeper meaning than ever before.  I thought the word glamour was through – ready to die from overwork – until I heard one of the boys at a U.S.O canteen express his approval of a solidly built matron with a good humoured smile.

“She makes me homesick but it doesn’t hurt,” he said – “she had mother glamour.”

And so she did.  You could be sure just by looking at her, that the cookie jar at home was always filled and that there were no restrictions on lifting the lid.  You felt certain that her nerves were strong enough to stand beating drums and blaring saxophones and a goodly measure of back slapping – that her rugs had often felt the contact of scuffing young feet.  You could picture her in generously proportioned, spic-and-span gingham aprons, turning innumerable pancakes on her soapstone griddle.  You could imagine her listening with flattering and unforced interest to enthusiastic youthful confidences.

Perhaps, like me, you may never before have heard the phrase, “motherglamour,” but you know exactly what that boy meant.  Mother glamour is compounded of family games and measles, of birthday cakes and Thanksgiving turkeys, of Christmas tree candles and Easter egg hunts – of homemade Halloween costumes and pack numbers sewn on cub-scout sleeves.  It is the fragrance of ginger and cinnamon, of chocolate and bubbling molasses; it is the sound of corn popping, of puppies barking, of flames snapping in a friendly fireplace; it is the color of snowy marshmallows and golden pumpkin pies.  Mother glamour – it’s synonym is home – is what soldiers dream about, all around the world.

                                                                                                                                                  –Elsa Connors


Dear Mom… How Granddaddy Bill got Convicted for Trout Poaching

In a battered blue trunk with rusted hinges and broken locks lies the truest of treasures: hundreds of letters from Granddaddy Bill and his brother Hugh, written to their mother from far away lands during the Second World War.

The following was written while Granddaddy was serving at the Navajo Ordnance Depot in Flagstaff, Arizona.

May 1st, 1943

Well, I’m in the soup up to my eyebrows.  Ray Barnes and I were pinched yesterday for fishing in a restricted trout stream.  We certainly had no intention of breaking the law, for we had bought fishing licenses and were not fishing for trout.  In fact, with the tackle we were using we couldn’t have caught a trout to save our souls from hell.  And it certainly never occurred to us that this one particular stream was closed to fishing when none of the other water here-abouts is.  It’s all very aggravating and the Lord only knows what it will cost me – for I was breaking the law, even though I was doing it innocently.  My case will come up before a Justice of the Peace, who probably gets a percentage of all the fines, so I’m not optimistic.  I’ll find out tomorrow if my pessimism is justified.

May 5th

Well I was tried and sentenced yesterday afternoon for my crime against the sovereign State of Arizona.  I established the fact that my sin had been committed by reason of nothing more than ignorance.  I think I plead my case with unusual eloquence – at least I got the judge and the game warden who appeared against me to admit that they were convinced I had no wish or intention to break the law.  But it cost me fifteen hard earned dollars anyway.  Of course I didn’t have to pay it – I had my choice of paying the fine or spending 15 days in jail.  There was a tear in the old judge’s eye when he read the sentence but duty is duty and a justice of the peace is a justice of the peace and I hope everybody connected with taking me for a fifteen-dollar-ride will go plumb to hell.  The only way I can think of to get my money back is to take up poaching as a profession.

I’m so mad I could spit from here to Albuquerque.



Dear Mom… How Grandaddy Bill bagged a Lieutenant and sundry other officers of the US Navy with a most diabolical trap.

In a battered blue trunk with rusted hinges and broken locks lies the truest of treasures: hundreds of letters from Grandaddy Bill and his brother Hugh, written to their mother from far away lands during the Second World War.

Aug. 12, 1943 (Nine days till I break boot camp!)

Dear Mom and Hugh –

Just received nice letter from both of you and am losing no time in replying as I expect my good right arm to be paralyzed by bedtime. I’ve just had another series of shots – tetanus and typhoid – and it’s putting things mild to say I’m feelin’ queer.

This had been a lovely, lovely day – in fact, I never expect to have another so nice while I’m in the Navy. This was my duty day which meant I was supposed to dig ditches and do constructive things. But don’t think I did ‘cause I didn’t. My entire morning was spent in company with a dozen of my companions in crime – riding around the camp in a truck, looking for draining ditches which weren’t draining. I am happy to report that we didn’t find a single one. The camp is huge and located in a most scenic area so I enjoyed the ride immensely. Our work made us all very hot and thirsty – and we had to stop for ice cream and cokes every time we passed a ship’s store. All in all, it was a very successful morning. I had to work a little in the afternoon but, even so, I had fun! We were refilling holes on the parade ground, and our orders were to fill them and level off the ground. The hole on which I was working was quite a large one, with lots of soft mud and water in the bottom. Well we filled it and leveled it off – and it looked fine – but when I’d touch it with the point of my shovel it would quiver like a bowl of the six delicious flavors. I realized at once that we had constructed a diabolical trap and we retired to some nearby bushes to see what kind of game it would catch – in the space of 45 minutes, we bagged a lieutenant, J.G., a warrant officer, 2 C.P.O’s, and a whole platoon of enlisted men. It was so funny to see them marching serenely along and suddenly discover themselves thigh deep in the mud. They all made some extremely interesting remarks about the situation. As I say, it’s been a most successful day. I won’t be at all surprised if there’s fried chicken and hot biscuits for supper tonight.

Hugh – I gather the memorandum you enclosed with your letter was your subtle way of telling me you’re a Lead Man. Congratulations – this should prove to you that you can’t keep a good man down. I’m very glad and proud – I hope this step up will make it easier for you to wait until the Marine Corps comes to realization of the obvious fact that it’s just marking time until H.L. Akin is called into service.

Be good and write to me often, both of you – Much Love,



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