Trumbull – Dear Children – War Speculation – May 21, 1944

A snapshot from 1944

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

The Old Homestead

The Old Homestead

Trumbull, Conn.   May 21, 1944

Dear Children:

Your pop has been working like all get-out today – – out in the sunshine being a dirt farmer in an effort to make the place look halfway presentable to the homecoming bride and groom. Yes Sir, they really are coming and may even be here this time next week. Lad writes: ”The 1st. Sgt. told me my furlough would start May 24th. If possible I will get the U.P. (Union Pacific) Challenger leaving LA Tuesday at 6:45 PM. We intend to spend one week in Trumbull and one week with Marian’s folks in Orinda”. I would like to quote the letter in full, but the hour is late and I am very much in need of a hot bath before I hit the hay and any hoo, there is a letter from Dan, two from Dave, a six page…

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Adding To Her Life Story

See my previous blog

There she was home in Belmont and she felt honor bound to return to Seattle. She travelled by train for the return journey. ( I am puzzled as to how she took her skis)

That aside, her arrangements for accomodation worked out very well. She had so much fun living with Mary Ann and Jody. (Mary Ann is still alive and well and living in a retirement community in downtown Seattle. Sadly Jody passed away some years ago) Her friend Rachel lived and taught 6th grade in West Seattle. It was relatively easy to get together.

But the job as Research Officer at Puget Planners proved to be problematic. She liked the job at first – and she liked the view of Mt. Rainier! For the first month she was assigned to conduct a survey of the retirement homes in the Seattle area. There were not very many! She can only remember a Lutheran Home. Possibly John Nordmark was thinking of an Investment opportunity. After a couple of months it became apparent that the firm was in some trouble. They were beginning to have trouble paying their employees. Come the New Year Janet started looking for another job. She was offered a position as a Design Progress Estimator in the Boeing Missile Division. At a higher salary and more surety of actually being paid. That worked out very well in that there was no problem in leaving in June to return to New England. It really was a HORRIBLE job. Rows on rows of desks occupied by people with nothing to do but trying to look busy. Commuting to the Boeing plant was no problem – she was in a car pool with 2 others. Reliable and convenient.

She knew that her friend was finishing her 2 year contract to teach 6th grade and would be leaving Seattle. It was easy to decide to leave at the same time. So Rachel and her parents and Janet set out from Seattle in June to return to New England.

Life in Alaska – Dear Ced – Distinguished Service Citation – May 24, 1944

Second World War seen from Alaska

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

This week, I have moved forward to 1944, a time when all five of Grandpa’s sons are serving the war effort in one way or another. Lad is in California, with his new bride, Marian, training vehicle mechanics for the Army; Dan is in London, with trips to Paris, probably drawing maps for the coming Army invasion; Ced is working as an airplane mechanic at an airfield which has been taken over by the Army; Dick is in Brazil, working as an M.P. and acting as a liaison between the Army and the local workmen; Dave has been in the Army for about six months and is at Camp Crowder, Missouri, for further training before being sent overseas. 

Nome, Alaska

May 24, 1944

Dear Ced,

Sure wish to thank you for taking care of frames for me. Will someday show appreciation for lifts you’ve given me. But plans have taken…

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Writing Ian’s Biography

Here we go – this will be challenging. Where are all those files of resumes we wrote together over the years?

He was born at home in Belfast Northern Ireland on October 30 1933. His home was within a stone’s throw of Stormont Castle, the center of government in Northern Ireland. In 1934 when Ian was 8 months old his father died following an operation performed on the kitchen table. His father had been severely wounded in the First World War but had recovered and married Ian’s mother in 1927. A baby girl was born in 1929 but she only lived for 6 days. A baby boy was born in 1930 – Stanley is still alive age 90. You might say that Ian grew up in the shadow of the tragedy of the First World War and the relatively primitive stage of medicine and medical procedures at the time.

World War II Army Adventure(48) – Hello Dave – News From the United States Army Air Forces – July 29, 1944

Correspondence from World War 2

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

This is a letter from Al Huntley, another friend from Trumbull.  The letter was written in pencil and is so faded, the writing barely shows up on a copy.  I will scan it so that you can see the United States Army Air Forces logo at the top of the stationary.  The return address on the envelope is Sheppard Field in Texas.  It was postmarked in Wichita Falls, Texas.

I wonder if this is the Al Huntley who became a History teacher and was at Trumbull High School when I went there?

July 29, 1944

Hello Dave,

Well you said the air corps gets the best (not bragging) so here I am.  Army Air Force, that’s for me.

I guess he who waits is rewarded, it looks that way, doesn’t it.  I know why I am here though.  Remember General  Classification. I got 126 for an I.Q. on that and…

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My 300 Word Biography Continued

In my previous entry I got as far as Seattle in my travels at age 22.

While in Seattle she visited the Geography Department at the University of Washington.  She had applied there to do her Masters Degree but she never heard back from them.  She had also applied to the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern University.   The University of Washington was her first choice.  Northwestern was her 3rd choice but they offered her a tutoring position and that was attractive financially plus giving her some valuable teaching experience.   Hence Northwestern.

She asked the Head of Department at U Washington what had happened to her application – he had mislaid it!!  On such action her life path hinged.  One wonders what would have happened if …………..

He asked what she was doing then  and she  explained that she was just traveling and looking for a job.  He suggested she contact John Nordmark at Puget Planners.  And that’s what she did.  She was offered a position.  She can’t remember the title – Research Planner?  Anyhow when she queried her salary she was told that despite her qualifications she would be paid the same as the female secretary.   Those were the times…….

She accepted the conditions and it was agreed that she would start in 3 weeks time, after she had gone back East to collect her belongings.  It was exciting to have the prospect of a job doing urban planning research in Seattle!

Her friend Rachel helped her find accommodation.  Rachel knew of 2 teachers living in Magnolia looking for a third.  She was interviewed and accepted to live with Jody and Mary Ann.  She could travel by bus to work at Puget Planners on Dexter.

She boarded a Greyhound bus to travel back to Boston.  It helped to make her realize just how big this country is.  And this was before the Interstates.  By the time she finally reached Boston she was beginning to regret the plan.  Did she really want to return to Seattle?

to be continued


300 Words for a Biography

IMG_0001  Graduation from Middlebury College, Middlebury Vermont, June 1958Aunt Libby, Cousin Betsy, Jan, my mother, Lil my sister-in-law

Janet was born on December 7, 1936 in Boston Massachusetts, daughter of the late Joseph Buckingham Miller and Dorothy Friend Miller.  She grew up in Belmont, MA and after graduating from Belmont High School she went on to Middlebury College in Vermont to study French and Geography and to ski, her favorite sport among many.  At Middlebury she scored out the “et” -on her name badge and from then on she was known as Jan.

From Middlebury she went on to Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois to obtain a Master’s Degree in Geography.  In the summer following graduation she took a 2 month trip to Europe.  She flew Tiger Airlines.  It took 14 hours with stops in Halifax Nova Scotia, Gander Newfoundland, Shannon in Ireland, and finally London.  And then she spent a month cycling and staying in Youth Hostels in England, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.  Along with 2 other girls, Betty and Miriam, she then traveled by train to Geneva Switzerland where Betty picked up a brand new Volkswagen.  The 3 girls spent a month driving in southern France and Spain and western France to reach Paris and fly home to New York in August.

Her travels were not over.  She then rode in another VW with her Middlebury friend Lucy  to go to Chicago/Evanston to attend a mutual friend’s wedding.  Middlebury classmates, Ginny and John,  She missed the wedding.  She  met a Northwestern classmate/friend who was driving to California.  He was leaving almost immediately and had room in his car.  Off she went on Route 66 with Mohammed, Bob, and Helene.   Next stop Palm Springs California.  Followed by a camping trip to a lake in the mountains east of San Francisco.

Still footloose and fancy free she traveled by bus from San Francisco to Seattle, again to visit another Middlebury friend, Rachel.

The above Middlebury friends are still close over 60 years later.

I think I’ve exceeded my allotted 300 words.  To be continued.


Second Thoughts

I’m having 2nd thoughts on “WrIting my biography in 300 words”.  That’s the assignment for the residents here at Ida Culver House Broadview (ICHB).  I think this is like writing one’s obituary – which would be helpful for the family left behind.  My sister Nan passed away at the end of January this year and I have a copy of the obituary here before me as I write.  And a nice picture.  Nancy Richardson of Middlebury, Connecticut, April 18, 1927 – February 1, 2020.  “Loving mother, sister, grandmother and great grandmother.  The obituary was beautifully written……  I don’t know when and by whom.  I’ve counted the words and actually in about 300 the essence of her life is there for all to read.  So here’s my example of how to write my 300 words.  Thank you Nan or her sons – probably her sons.  Somehow I don’t think Nan would have written this.  More likely her 4 sons clubbed together to produce the finished piece.

my sisters on the Ile de France Nan and her sister Ruth on the Ile de France, about to sail to Europe for a 2 month adventure, April 1950

Viking Voyages

Vikings established a number of settlements along the coast of Ireland.  According to today’s edition of The Daily Chronicle, the in-house publication here at Ida Culver Broadview, it was on July 10 988 when the Vikings first sailed up the Liffey and founded a settlement, which grew to be the City of Dublin.

Ten years or so ago in 2007  I followed the journey of the Sea Stallion and watched the ship sail up the Liffey to reach modern Dublin.  It was very exciting to watch the finale of this re-enactment of a voyage made almost 1000 years ago, the difficult voyage  from Denmark to Dublin.  We were part of a very large cheering and welcoming crowd.


My Autobiography In 300 Words

I’ve started writing –  I was born in Boston Massachusetts on December 7, 1936.  My 3 older siblings had gone to school that day per usual.  My sisters Ruth and Nan were 6th and 5th graders in Payson Park Elementary School. They were called to the principal’s office and given the happy news that they had a new baby sister.  Ruth suggested that I be named Janet

IMG_0003   my mother and father, married on December 28, 1935

IMG_0002 Spring 1937  on our back door steps                     my mother holding me, my siblings seated from left to right Nan age 9, Bob age 12, Ruth age 10.     I need Ruth to remind me of the cat’s name – possibly Blackie