Friday, September 9, 2011

Old Family Letters : Pieces of Our History

Ernest, 1944

One of the most meaningful things about being in San Diego this week is the fact that The Man’s father completed his basic training with the U.S. Navy here, and was stationed here for about a year, following his training in 1944. He was 17 years old. A mere baby.

In my mother-in-law’s final years, she gave various thing to her children, and one of the things she gave her middle son was a small stack of letters and postcards that were written by his father while he was a youngster, and long before she ever met him. 

Being a lover of handwritten letters, as well as a lover of words, I have enjoyed these letters very much, and have one displayed in a cabinet back home, alongside some china that belonged to my grandmother. It just so happens that this particular letter is one Ernest wrote to his family, while stationed in San Diego.

Had I thought about the significance of it, I would have brought the letter with me, but—voila! I managed to find a photo (see above) of part of the letter in my stash of photos on the flash drives that I carry around with me (only a blogger would understand and appreciate this bit of information). The girl is nothing if not organized. 

Since I couldn’t make out the return address in the photo, I called the daughter and asked her to run by the house one day and read me the address on the envelope. She said the envelope had “Baptist Fellowship Center” stamped on it, and the address was, “10th and E.” We weren’t able to locate a Baptist Fellowship Center, but we drove to the address and snapped a photo. Looks like an old building that might have been such a place in 1944. Part of Ernest’s handwritten address said, “U.S. Navy Hospital School,” so I’m not sure where his living quarters were during his time in San Diego, but I’m certainly glad he wrote a few letters to home.

Sometimes, it takes years to truly appreciate pieces of family history. This particular piece took on a new meaning while in San Diego. And I can think of no better weekend to honor my father-in-law than this one.

Until next time, dear blogging friends, keep the faith.


  1. I know little about my family or heritage. It is precious. And I know you appreciate having that.

  2. Sounds very much like a treasure hunt, Dayle. Perfect with this weekend indeed.
    Much love,

  3. Oh, you hit on some favorites of mine -- family history and San Diego! My sil is currently stationed on the CVN 70, the USS Carl Vinson. I have made two trips to SD, and enjoyed my time there immensely. So much to see. Do make sure you visit Point Loma. There's a veteran's cemetery up there that is quite nice, in addition to the lighthouse and the fabulous view. You can get a week pass. That and La Jolla are my favorites.
    Having that bit of family history is wonderful. Thanks for sharing! Joyce

  4. Oh My.. My Daddy was stationed in Sandiego in 1954.. several years ago, my hubby invited my parents to go on vacation with us to San Diego. What a joy to watch my father search for familiar landmarks... He did find the San diego Hotel. adn we all laughed as he described what had once been the tallest building in town. My hubby and Daddy walked the streets, found the YMCA where Dad would go to make phone calls at christmas...

    I hope you enjoyed your visit.

  5. You are so right that this is the perfect weekend. I'm another one who loves old family letters. I'm sure you understand what I mean when I say that they have a heartbeat.

  6. I too love old letters. I have some of my father's letters, and i have all the letters my uncle wrote home when he was off at war in the forties. Nice post and treasure!

  7. Thanks for sharing such a personal part of your family history. Have you thought of obtaining your late father in law's military record?

  8. Dayle,
    Your trip just seems to be getting better and better. That letters from your FIL is a treasure for your family to hand down to future generations.


  9. What a great post!! This is SO where I am in my life right now. I am researching my family history and am interested in old letters and diaries. Most people in my family don't seem to have held on to things. It's great that your mother-in-law did.

    Thanks for sharing,


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