More White letters

For this post, I chose another five letters randomly from the dozens I have on my desk. Several of these letters come from the Stoddards of California, another from Bill White to his mother, and two from John E. White. These letters represent part of the shared family history. All credit to the writers, all transcription errors are mine.

Letter 1

1548 East 49 Street
Brooklyn, New York
May 2, 1943

Dear Bill:

Boy it seemed good to get your letter day before yesterday. It was even nicer to know that you may come out here for a visit. I only hope that I will still be on shore side when you do come. I am taking a ship tomorrow I think, but that does not mean that I will go right out. It sometimes takes two weeks or more to get a ship in order and loaded and ready for her trip. So there is a good chance that I will still be here. My only worry is that the one I get will be already loaded and ready to go. The only reason I would take a ship like that is because it is one of the new floating palaces and too good an opportunity to pass up.

I just wrote to dad. He said some time ago that he planned to come out here for a visit or to look for work but I immagine(sic) that is not so easy to do if you already have work. The Man Power board is kind of nasty about changing jobs now-a-days.

We just had an air raid alarm a few minutes ago. I suppose it is another one of those foneys the mayor seems to take delight in pulling at all kinds of ridiculous hours. If we ever had the ral thing here I am sure half of the people would ignore it completely and get caught. Just another case of hollering Wolf once too often.

Some of our tulips are in bloom now and we are watching yours with interest. They seem so slow and stubborn. The roses will be in bloom when I get back again. I hope this next trip dont turn out to be one of those six month affairs to the Indian Ocean or some such place so that it brings me back in the middle of winter. I havent seen snow for wo years now and my blood is as thin as water. That would be some jolt.

Do you suppose you will have to go over pretty soon or are you allowed to say? I hope not. But maybe you are anxious to get over there and see what it is all about. Well Bill it isn’t much and if you dont get over you will be lucky as hell. I wish to heaven I had known that you wanted to get into the same thing that I am in. I could have swung it for you. I have helped any number of fellows along and they are all in it now. You knew that I had been in it and you might have mentioned your ideas on that score. Oh well. Your job is just as important as mine and it takes both jobs to get this business done, but it would have been fun to have you along. However if one of us is lost it wont be both of us and maybe it is for the best at that.

Well Bill drop me a line right away and let us know if possible if you are coming out and I will try to make my own plans accordingly. I am ever your loving brother.

P.S. Thanks for the picture Bill. I am sending along some I took on the trip. Some of them are pretty tough looking but then this is a pretty tough business. You did not mention whether or not you got grandmother’s letter.

Say Bill. Send this to mother as I do not think I will have time to write before I go to sea.

Letter 2

Atlasta House and Hotel
Mile 166 Glenn Highway, Alaska
Cafe, Lodging, Gas and Oil
P.O. Address – Palmer, Alaska

(Postmarked Dec 1 1952 8AM)

Mrs. E.L. White
546 West College Ave.
Milwaukee, Wisc.

Thanksgiving Day

Dear Mother & Bill:-

We are just about ready to sit down to a big turkey dinner so this will be a short note.

I wanted to tell you that I got your lovely birthday cad today. Thank you very much. Each years counts from now on and I am grateful that we are established and things look good for the future.

I also had a letter from Aunt Bea today in which she tells me that she did not have her operation yet as Uncle Joe had recently suffered a stroke and though it was not too serious she did not want to leave him alone.

He is quite old and these things must be expected any time. They both have been very fortunate in health and they may go on, and should, for several years. They live in an easy climate and have no wories(sic so there is nothing to speed either of them down hi..

The turkey is on the table, the candles are lit and everyone is thankful for all our many blessings so I will close now with the hope that you are both enjoying this wonderful season and with Love to both of you I am —


Letter 3

Liberty Hotel
Sgt. Wm. R. White
53 Sqd.
Romulus, Mich.

(Postmarked Apr 29 1944 330PM)

Mrs. E. L. White
3540 No. Maryland Ave.
Sharewood, (11) Wis.

(Stationery reads as follows)

100% Air Conditioned 100% Steam Heated


Dear Mother & T.D.

Well I’m on the swing again I am enjoying some of the sunshine that Florida is so famous for. The only thing I don’t like is the rain that keeps falling. It is so wet down here that the ducks are starting to go north where it is dry. Well they say some rain must fall in each mans life. What I am not sur(sic) is why it must fall in my life!

By the time I get back to Romulus I will have completed 8400 miles by air and 1800 by rail all in one month. 10,200 miles in all.

(?) I got back to camp OK in fact I had 4 hr’s to spair(sic).

I got to see all the folks in Chi except Ella & Emmit. On this trip I was hold(sic) up over night in Chicago, so I went to see Emmit & Emily. I stopped over night with them. Ella was not at home so I did not get to see her.

I am glad you liked the things I sent you.

Well I will close for now.

Love, Bill

My new add. is:
Sgt. Wm R. White
53rd Squadron
553rd Air Base Unit
Romulus, Mich.
I am at the same place just a new name.

Letter 4

Mrs. JE Stoddard
6805 Central Ave.
Lemon Grove, Calif.

(Postmarked May 6 1954(?) PM)

Mrs. E.L. White
546 W. College Ave.
Milwaukee 7, Wis.

(A Mother’s Day card — you never know what each envelope contains)

(Inscribed) Love to Mother from Mercedes and John

Letter 5

Mrs. J.E. Stoddard
3101 Courser Ave.
San Diego, Calif.

(Postmarked 15 Feb 1966)

Mrs. E.L. White
4221 South Sixth Street
37 C Lane
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

February 14, 1966

Dear Mother and Bill,

Just a note to remind you that Mother should be eligible for Medicare even though she has never been on Social Security.

You probably know this and have it all taken care of by now; but I felt it wouldn’t do any harm to make sure – especially since the time to sign up if getting short.

We all hope very much that you’ve both been well this winter. We’re all fine. The girls are frisky as ever.

Mary goes to camp for a week at the end of this month. The schools here maintain a camp in the mountains for the sixth graders so that none of them will miss the experience of camping.

Mary is so thrilled about it you’d think she’d never done it in her life before. I suspect thought it’s the idea of going off for five dayswithout the family that excites her. Besides – no schoolwork for a whole week! Next year it will be Juanita’s turn.

Patty is in second grade so it will be a few years before she goes.

Lots of love to both of you from all of us.


In the course of reading, reviewing and transcribing hundreds of documents, I have yet to find but passing reference to government, politics and matters macro. The focus and energies across the generations are local. The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, reflected thus. The family forms the core of most societies around the world; the ruling classes themselves are tribal, and frequently parochial in outlook. Life is comprised of the small things, the daily chores, the common place. I judge that to be for the best: “Paleolithic instincts, medieval institutions and god-like capabilities are a fatal mix.”

Thanks for reading.

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