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.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Letter #28 from J. P. Tousley August 4 1944

This blog letter is from an apparent friend of Mary's also enlisted in the Navy and stationed originally with Mary in Minneapolis. Mary saved this letter among the others and for purposes of being true to the "Letters to Mary" I have included it here. It is the only letter from J. P. Tousley. I never heard Mary speak of this person so I have no idea about their fate during or post war, although an internet search does turn up a lot of people and businesses in Minnesota with the surname Tousley. I found the letter to be humorous and enlightening as he describes personal experiences in preparations for his service in the war.

J. P. Tousley, SK1c
Lion 8, Distr. Office
c/o FPO
San Francisco, Calif.

Miss Mary Garner, SK2c/c
U.S. Naval Air Station
Wold-Chamberlain Field
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Friday, Aug. 4, 1944

Well, Mary Dear!

I hope you'll forgive me for not at least sending a note along with that request for T/R. I had one written, but forgot to put it in the envelope. I found it in my writing case the next day.
I imagine by the time you get this letter, my wife will be on her way. She told me you sound like a very nice girl, and I told her she should see you when you're mad at somebody, or when you do your bucket dance. Have you been having any trouble with those boys in the bucket brigade lately?

I want to thank you very much for all you've done for my wife (and me too) and would like it very much if you would get in touch with that girl who owes me $5.00, and tell her to go down-town and buy something nice for herself, and if there is any change, to go into the Viking room and spend it all on Boiler Makers. But tell her to hang on to her hat. She loses her hat when she drinks too much, you know.

I received a letter from Caffey and then one from you. I've been so busy lately, I haven't had time to write letters.
The first week we were here, all we did was sit around and think about what a swell place Mpls. is. The second week they gave us the works! Marching up and down mountains, drilling, rifle instruction, and a half dozen other things. Then one Sunday they took a group of us to a place North of Frisco, Tiburon, not far from what was Port Chicago. That blast almost knocked me out of my bunk. It was nice out there. Everything was so clean and there was only 500 men there. They taught us how to dock small boats, how to steer them, all about their motors. That lasted for one week. The next week we learned all about welding, more motors, caterpillars, also rifle, pistol and reboluer practice. Then our vacation was over, and we had to come back here. I forgot to tell you,- we had to take liberty boats into Frisco for liberty, so now I guess that makes me a real salt. What did the chief say?
When I got back here, they put me in the Lion 8 Distr. office and I haven't done any work yet. The main base still has Lion 8's accounts, but we expect to get them next week. Then we'll go to work. The D.O. personnel consist of 1 D.O., 1 Ens. Asst., 1 pay clerk, 1 Chief, 3 firsts, 3 seconds, 4 thirds, and two strikers. So far we have about 2000 accounts and expect many more. Lion 8's supposed to be the biggest outfit to leave the states. 

Captain McCaine is the head man, so figure it out for yourself.
Richard would be in his Glory out here, every Coke bottle has San Francisco on the bottom. I've been trying to figure out how much he owed me when I left. Oh well, it's too late to collect now so he's safe.
Don't let anybody kid you about "Sunny Calif.". After living in Minnesota all my life, I catch cold out here the first nite I'm here. Fo'give me Miss Brown, but a guy's got a right to his own opinion. Down on the Peninsula it's fine, but Frisco, ugh.
I hear they are going to cut down on the personnel there, is that correct? I also heard they were going to give Gilk that recruiting job he's been talking about. Only a little different location. I heard his going to set up a recruiting office in the jungle of Madagascar, (did I spell that right?) and see if he can't get some more men like Schaefers, Mitchell, Adams, and Andy King into the Navy. By the way, Schaefer's brother is out here. He thinks the guys off his bat too.
This should make Little Eva and Knabley happy. All our material is purchased and paid for by the Supply Depot in Oakland. Ho-hum, all we have to figure is a few mileage claims. We only have 2 typewriters, and I think somebody threw them away during the war of 1812.
Tell that Kitty form Kansas City that I met a Hill-William out here by the name of Wainscott, who said he knew her.
Say hello to everyone you're on speaking terms with, especially Gorjus Kanton, deliteful DeMarrs, and give Sorry Jo a pinch for me.
Does B.P. go down to the bank every day, or did they catch on down there?
Are Gilk and Coffey still "that way" about each other?
Don't forget to give my love to the Chief, and if Gilk can be had, give him a little too. And don't forget to write!

                                               Sincerely Tously
P.S. I just thought I'd warn you Gilk, that Brown is gunning for you, with a request for checkage in one hand and a forty-five in the other.

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