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 29, 2015

Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Souil Garner March 29, 1943 Louisville, Kentucky

Mrs. W. C. Garner
1449 S. Third St. 
Louisville, Ky.
March 29, 1943

Dear Harriet and Souil,

Bill asked me to drop you a line to let you know he hasn't forgotten you. He seems to be getting along swell at school, at least he is ahead of the rest of the fellows in his class. I arrived here last Thursday. The train was only 20 minutes late getting in. This part of the country certainly has been flooded. The waters were still up even with the railroad tracks. It rained the day after I got here but has been sunny and nice ever since. Yesterday Bill and I walked for about 3 hours. The houses here are very big and beautiful. My room is on the 3rd floor. What a climb. We are at least 8 blocks from the center of the city. We usually walk in to dinner and take a street car back, incidentally, the fare is 2 persons for 15 cents. The blocks are very long. It takes us a good half an hour to walk to town. The only bad feature about this set-up is that it is so far from Fort Knox. I would like to find something closer. I understand there is a town closer to camp called "Elizabeth Town." I want to see if we couldn't get something there. You have to be careful about these small towns though and be sure they have inside "johnny's." Louisville is about 30 miles from camp. Has Souil heard any more from the draft board? Bill is very anxious to know all about it. We heard that he has had his blood test. Is that correct? Bill expects to graduate May 16 - and has to go back to Camp Polk the next day. Don't ask me what I am going to do because I really don't know. It would be swell to hear from you. Please write soon. Better send all mail to Bill.

Love Betty

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