About this blog

As the author of this blog, Karen L Garner Martin Messick, I am the daughter of an American soldier, Wilbur (Bill) C. Garner, Sr. and Women's Royal English Navy service woman (British Wren) Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins, who met and married during World War II. They lived and loved for over 50 years before Mother passed in 2000. When she did I helped Dad with every day chores when I could. One day I was helping him clear things out and I lifted a plastic bag out of the seat of Mom's piano stool, asking Dad, "Whats in this bag?" to which he replied, "Just some of Mary's old letters." Mary, his older sister, was still alive at the time, residing in an assisted living facility, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I put the letters back in the piano seat thinking he did not want me to open the letters.
When Dad passed two years later, I inherited Mary's letters.
When I began to read them, I found they were mostly letters from Dad to Mary while he was in World War II ("The War"). I could not put them down. I wished I had opened them the day I first saw them so that Dad and I could have had conversations about them, but that was not to be...so as I read through these "Letters to Mary" I began to get a glimpse into Dad's young years when he met Mom and his time as a soldier. I have researched events during World War II to enhance my understanding of what was happening in the war as each letter came to broaden my understanding of what he might have been experiencing. I knew he landed on the beaches of Normandy, France D-Day plus 1 as he recounted his memory of that day to me when he was dying from Leukemia. It was horrifying. There were also letters from a companion Mary had met while in Minneapolis, he had been deployed overseas. I have entwined them chronologically with Dad's letters as it gives a greater dimension to the war itself. I intend to editorialize as necessary to explain personal relationships and situations as the story unfolds through the "Letters to Mary." I welcome any questions, comments and feedback. As the "Greatest Generation" fades away, I felt compelled to share these letters and story in hopes of continuing the legacy they left for the world. Let us never forget the untold years and lives that were sacrificed for freedom!
If you have stumbled upon this blog I have added a blog archive at the bottom of the blog page. Continue to scroll down to access the Blog Archive. The posts are chronologically listed and to follow the story it is best to start with the first post in December 2013.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

October 13, 1930 Letter #2 From Joe to Mary

A few notes about Joe. In 1923 Joe was withdrawn from Public School #63, located at Westwood Avenue and Rosedale Street in Baltimore, unable to finish his grade school education and sent to vocational school. In the summer of 1924 Joe ran away from home at the age of twelve and drove a "borrowed" automobile to Alexandria, Virgina. He was caught when police became suspicious noticing his youthfulness and the fact that he was not keeping an entirely straight course. The police, after learning his identity contacted his father Souil Wade Garner, who then traveled to Alexandria, picked him up and brought him home. In 1929 Joe left home at 17 to join the Navy.  
Photo provided by Joseph Randolph Garner, Jr January 12, 2015

He was characterized by Wilbur Cecil Garner, his younger brother as "a handsome boy and quite personable but at an early age developed into an individualist and adventurer."

U.S.S Lexington                                                      San Pedro, California
Postmaster, San Pedro, California                           October 13, 1930                                        

Miss Mary W. Garner
3001 Windsor Avenue
Baltimore, Md

Dear Sis,

   Just a few lines to let you know that I am well and getting along fine. I am out of the brig and am expecting a transfer to San Diego this week, about Wednesday, I think.
Say, why don't you write a fellow once in a while huh? I sure would be glad to hear from you at any time. 
   A friend of mine and I shifted uniforms last Saturday and we took some pictures, we are up on what is known as sky forward they turned out pretty good. If I can talk him out of one I will send it to you. I must say that I would make a better looking sailor than he does a Marine, but as that were neither one so hot. 
   Say, kid, if I can't get a transfer to the East coast before the eighteenth of next month I am likely to be sent to China and that is a long way from home. I am afraid I could never get back from there, besides I never did like the looks of those Chinks. 
   I am trying to get a transfer to Washington, D.C. Annapolis, Indian Head, Philadelphia or Brooklyn, New York. If I don't get it I am going to get leave and beat my way across country and turn in at Washington time. I will have to knock off now because a fellow want's this typewriter.

Your loving brother,

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