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.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Souil Garner January 6, 1943 Gatesville, Texas

(Note: This letter contains racial slurs and bias and are not my beliefs. I have typed the letters exactly as they are written for historical purposes only. They are not meant to hurt any one, but to share a time in history as it happened to and with the people who wrote the letters.)

January 5, 1943

Dear Harriet and Souil,

I certainly had a hair raising trip down here but it was worth it a million times. It's so good to be with Bill again. So far he has gotten out every night and leaves about 5:45am for camp. Three of the boys have the mumps so of course everyone is supposed to be confined to the camp. But as usual Bill has managed to get out. He seems to be getting along swell. He has his corporal's rating now. We won't move to Louisiana now for at least 2 or 3 more weeks on account of the mumps. I spend most of my time at the U.S.O. They have some activity planned for the wives each day and then something else for the evening such as movies, dances, song session, etc. We went to Waco Sunday and went to the movies "The Palm Beach Story." There is nothing much to do around here except eat and sleep. I have noticed quite a few Mexicans around, they are almost as dark as our negro's and rather ugly. My room is very plain but very comfortable. I was lucky to get a room at all. All the rest of the girls that came down for Christmas have gone home again. We saw them off Sunday while we were in Waco. I felt sorry for the boys watching the train pull out with lipstick smeared all over their faces.
I was glad I wasn't leaving. I forgot to tell you, Bill has poison oak all over his body. For the last three nights I have been up about every cpouple hours with him. It seems to be much better now. Up until today , the weather seems to go from one extreme to the other. Either it's too warm of freezing cold. We have tried several times to call Baltimore but can't get through. When we do move to Louisiana I have a ride over with the first sergeants wife and 2 other people. That's much nicer than going by train or bus. We went to the New Years Eve dance at the U.S.O. but all soldiers had to be off the streets by 11:30pm.Well there isn't much news so I'll close this letter.
Hope you are well and hope to hear from you soon.


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