Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008

Hope everyone reading this had as nice a Christmas as we did. The best part is that Nancy is feeling good again! Her pneumonia has cleared up, her blood cells are up, and her chemo is OVER. Seeing Nancy happy and laughing was the very best gift of all. Our family got together at Nancy and Aaron's house this afternoon for great food, the annual gift exchange, and Grampa Smith's old home movies. Needless to say, we laughed a LOT!
I'm posting a few photos of our day and hope that other family members will share theirs on this blog as well. Now that it's over for another year, here's to an evening of flannel pajamas and some rest for us all!

Sep 23, 1942 Father's insurance increased

On tan paper imprinted with blue ink at the center top:
Air Corps Technical School
Chanute Field
Rantoul, ILL.

Sept 23, 1942

Dear Folks

Well I guess my last letter has hit there by now and I suppose it was quite a shock.
They are working us hard and we are even studying every night but one week is gone and only 2 more to go. So far I’ve stayed about on top of the gang and I intend to stay there. I still enjoy living here and its really swell. I doubt if you could find this place on a map but you might find a city called champaign about 18 miles from here. I’m a long ways from St. Joseph as you will see.
Received you money and it shure came in handy. You would be surprised at the things you run in to. Having 2 uniforms cleaned a week, haircuts, extra clothes (shorts, stockings, handkerchiefs that I bought) laundry. Who said everything was free. Sending it straight mail was O.K. the only reason I suggested Reg. was because I didn’t have a permanent address as I have now. Haven’t received any papers for 2 1/2 weeks. They went to Atlantic City and haven’t reached me yet. I’ll probably get them shortly also 2 weeks mail.
I am increasing my insurance to the limit ($10,000) and the money for bonds. The bonds will be sent directly to you. I will have a check coming in Dec. from my Christmas Club and that is about the extent of my affairs at home. Because of the uncertainty of things here I want to get things straightened up early. Have Maury go over my policy as it probably is not worth mutch good while I’m in the service. If I ever get paid I’ll try to send you some money as I’ll have more than I need. (If ever I get paid) I don’t find mutch time to sleep and that is where I’m headed now.
Tell Ed I’m going to send him an air corp emblem for his sweater like I wear next week when the store receives more. Art William I hear is now quite a sport with his big wardrobe. Things get way down here even.
I’ll try to write soon but now for some sleep.


My father's Letter to his Little Brother, Eddie Sep 25, 1942

Written on United States Army Air Forces Stationary

Post Mark:
Ranoul, Ill,
Sep 26, 1942
10:30 AM

Mr. Edmond T. Smith
79 Chadwick St
Haverhill, Mass

Sept. 25, 1942
Dear Eddie,

Here they are. These are the official air corp insignia that I wear on my uniform and you can wear them on your sweater. Then you’ll be a real soldier. You put them on your left sleeve about an inch below your shoulder.
How’s school this year now that you are at greenleaf not far to walk anyway.
It’s swell down here. I work in the same building where they keep all the planes and am able to look at them all. You have seen pictures of these great big bombers. Well you ought to see how big they really are. Inside they show all sorts of machine guns and big racks for bombs. It takes 6 men to fly one. Yesterday a plane crashed on the field and was wrecked. The pilot wasn’t even hurt.
I work telling what the weather is going to be and its all a military secret. We aren’t supposed to tell anyone what it will be. Well I’ve got to go to school so write me when you have a chance.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.
There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.

The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Merry Christmas everyone and may God bless us all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Note to Readers

Andi has scanned in many interesting documents and photos in the posts below. Some are small and hard to read (for example, the wedding signatures from 6-29-46). To see them larger, just click on the document or photo you wish to make larger and it will enlarge to fill your screen. When you are done, use your Back button to return to the blog entry.

The ring and wedding

Here are some memories from Fred and Alice's wedding in 1946!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My father's letter Sept 8th

Cheryl, If you know how to reorder these by date, and want to, go ahead.

Written on United States Army Air Forces stationary which is beige with 7 red stripes horizontally across the top. Above it, Dad wrote "address on back"
Envelope Post mark: Atlantic City; Sept 8, 1942 7PM

From: Pvt F.J. Smith
925 T.S.S.T.C. Group D3
Army Air Force R.T.S. room 328
Atlantic City, NJ.

To: Mr. & Mrs. Arthur W Smith
79 Chadwick St.
Haverhill, Mass.
Tues. Sept. 8th

Dear Folks:
First I want to send my congratulations on your 20th wedding anniversary. I would have written sooner but it seems hard for you people to realize how little time we actually have. I’m writing this letter that I tried to start last thurs but I just don’t have chance. This may not seem reasonable but it is true so even though I don’t answer immediately don’t think I haven’t got all your mail. I’ve received it all so far.
If you will notice, I have a new address. I was transferred here last night. This hotel is just across the street from the one I was in and yet it took us 8 ½ hrs to move. At seven they had us pack our clothes and at 10:30 after standing waiting we walked the 200 ft over here stood outside the hotel until 11:45 in the pouring rain and then we rebelled and disregarding the gaurds climbed up on the porch and all of us (168) sprawled on the floor and slept untill they woke us at 3:00 A.M. and gave us rooms. I got to bed at 3:30 fully clothed and slept like a log. We were up at 5:15 and it is now 2:30 and we haven’t been called yet this afternoon so I’m trying to write. The others are sleeping. Something is always happening and we never get a nights sleep but I hope it will soon be over. 2/3 of my outfit has already been shipped so I should go soon. It will be swell to get someplace definate with a definate schedule.
I’m getting quite used to hard work and exercise now and it goes a lot easier for me. I was pretty soft when I got here. The routine has been up at 5:15, breakfast, 2 miles to the drill field each way or 8 miles a day, 2 hrs. callisthenics 6 hrs drill, and when get on our own about 7: P.M. we don’t even write or go out when we have passes we just sleep. The drilling was hard at first because of the heat. It has been 90 degrees or better all but the last two days, That’s hot!
A general was here and so now we drill all morning at 128 steps a minute with no rest or water and even drill sergeants are trying to make us fall out and go to the hospital so they will be more reasonable. They carry 20-40 off the field every day and as many more walk off. I’m glad it is over now for me although the last few days it didn’t bother me at all. These men 35-50 who you read about enlisting former cops, etc. All rugged hard looking men just can’t take it as hard as they think they are. We run for a quarter mile and they have to stop every time. I can see why the army wants 18-21 their endurance is mutch better.
Was glad to get Rogers address. He got a good branch and one not too hard.
"Len?" Shanahan I guess waited too long because now they will do as they please with him. Fred Shan. is going to get a rude awakening shortly but I won’t say I pity him if he was smart her would enlist. I still do not regret my move and can see where I’m way ahead.
I’ll try to answer a few questions. My arm is pretty good now but I had a very severe reaction 15 days after vaccination and for 5 days I could hardly move it. It is healed up now and will be all right. The others had another shot but I didn’t get it yet my arm was too sore.
The gang quickly forgets. I wrote Tom when I first got in but he never wrote. I haven’t heard from sweeney or mack either. Harry wrote as have milly, sandy, Ethel Shanahan (surprise) and about every one else. I’ve got a lot of mail.
They don’t require us to get a haircut and I’ll send a picture whenever I have "scratch out" (I’m asleep)Have to have one taken.
The camera wouldn’t be mutch use for there are too many restrictions. We got our pay last Sunday. All $10.00 of it. That is all we get untill we get to our permanent base. Then we get it all at once. I don’t need any yet. I’ll hollar if I do.
Last night the fellows all got cake and cookies in the mail so we had a party in the sgt’s room about 20 of us. We drank 62 bottles of milk and ate all of the cake and most of the cookies. There were only 5 lbs. of cookies left so imagine how many we had. Well I guess that is up to date now I’ll see if I can get a little sleep though I doubt it. Thanks for the addresses. Write.

Love Fred

Grampa Smith's & Al Hatch's Christmas Card 1929-1949-talk about frugal!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Letter from my Father Sept. 21, 1942

This letter made me cry. As a mother, I would be so scared after reading it, but also so proud of my son. Daddy was so sensitive and caring for others and you can tell that in this letter.

From: Pvt. F. J. Smith
Base Weather Sta.
Chanute Field, Ill.
Postmark: Rantoul, Ill.
Sep 22, 1942 11- AM
Postage: Free
Angled across the envelope in red " Idle Gossip Sinks Ships"

To: Mr. & Mrs. Arthur W. Smith
79 Chadwick St.
Haverhill, Mass.
Chanute Field
Sept. 21, 1942

Dear Folks
Got your letters and money which was very welcome as we will probably not get any pay till next month. I am at the weather station studying now and am so pressed for time I don’t know what to do. We are doing 10 weeks work in 8 and its quite a grind. We start at seven and never get thru before 9:00.
Fortunately we only have 3 weeks of it and then work a week here in the station. After that we will ( the 10 of us) operate this station alone for the following four weeks. I am waiting for my having 90 days in the service and then I am going to apply for officers training as I know I am eligible. They require I.Q. of 120 and the ten of us selected for my work all have 135 or better. The only thing that will stop me is my not being here. I have wondered about telling you this but I guess it is best. You see upon completion of my 8 weeks here I am being sent into foreign service. I know that definately. My chances of getting home before I go are about one in a hundred. You see as I said the ten of us will be in charge of this station 24 hrs a day and we will be too short handed to get furloughs. It is hard but just can’t be helped.
If things turn out well I will be corperal at the end of one month and sargent at the end of two. We get ratings quicker than any other branch. Upon shipping we will get more stripes so I’m pretty lucky.
I am too pressed for time to do mutch writing so give my regards to all. I am enjoying this place and live like a king. Next to the cadets we 10 are considered tops among the 30,000 here and are treated as such. I don’t even have to stay on the post. My pass allows me to be within 20 miles any time I’am off duty so I have every weekend but no place to go.
This post is in Rantoul, Ill. about 100 miles south of Chicago if you can find a map.
Well I’ll try to write soon but I haven’t any more time now.
Drop me a line if you have a chance for my last 2 weeks mail because of my moving is all missing. I’ll probably get it in a couple more weeks.

Friday, December 19, 2008


A Tip for New bloggers:

You can go back and re-read (or comment on) older posts that don't show up on the first page (because the space on that page is full). Just scroll down and look on the right side of the blog (under the photo of the orange camper where it says "Blog Archive") and the title of each blog entry is listed. Just click on that title to read that entry again. When you're done, use your "back" button to return to the main page. You can also go back to previous month's blog entries if you joined us recently and missed them. Just click on the month you missed and a list of the titles from that month will come on the entries you want to read from that month (there are some pretty good ones back there!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back from Damariscotta

I've been away since Monday so was glad that Andi has kept up the blog this week! I love reading all the family history and seeing the old photos. Geneology is Andi's hobby and she has done a lot of research into all the branches of our expanding family. She traced Hank's family back to the boat they arrived on in Virginia in the 1600's and has been busy on both the Boocock family in England and the Parker family here. This is a great place to share all that she's learned.

I've been in Damarscotta since Monday doing a State special education site review with a team of three other educators. It was beautiful there in the snow. We stayed at the Aleswife and Ales B & old home with big canopy beds on a historic street right near the middle of town. A lot quieter in Damariscotta in the winter but still beautiful. Got home to the news that Joanne and Mark are still without power - a week after the ice storm. Can't imagine what that must be like - one day was bad enough! And now more snow is predicted for tomorrow with a possible Northeaster on the way for Sunday...sure hope they get their power back before then.

And since the name of this blog is "It's Always Something", I called Nancy as soon as I got home only to find out that she now has pneumonia! I guess her immune system was just so run down from all the chemo that she was an easy target. The doctor has started her on medication and assures her that she should be feeling better soon...I hope has been one thing right after another for her. Her red blood count is also very low so tomorrow afternoon she has to go in and have a transfusion of red blood cells. She said she doesn't have the energy to get up off the couch; hopefully the transfusion and meds. will help her get back on her feet for Christmas.
And to end on an exciting old teacher friend of mine, Bob Crowley, is Sunday night's winner of the reality show Survivor! He won the million dollar grand prize as well as an extra $1o0.k for being voted the Sprint "most popular player"! This year, the 17th edition of the CBS strategy-endurance game was set in the West African nation of Gabon, where 18 castaways had come together when the season began. Bob is a physics teacher at Gorham High School where I taught for nine years. He and my friends Sandy Colburn and Tom Ward ate lunch in my classroom most days and over the years we all got to be good friends. "Crowley" is a great guy and I'm so happy that he won! (As an aside, Andi had picked Bob as the winner in the UNUM pool where she works...not sure what she won for picking the winner...maybe she'll blog and let us know!)
p.s. Great reading the comments on this blog...hope you will add yours! Just click on the underlined "Comment" area on the bottom of the post and a text box will pop up. Type your comment in the box and follow the instructions to post...then we can all read the notes from each other.

Guess Who is in England?

Name the Parkers!

Can you name these folks? If you have the original of this, please scn it and send it to me.

Two minds think alike!

I thought this was a bit weird.

Last Saturday I went to a CVS in South Portland to get Christmas cards for my 3 kid's.

Dave also went, separately, to the Hallmark store at Northgate to get Christmas cards for his 3 girls.
When I arrived home I showed Dave my chosen cards.
Dave went to the other room and got his 3 selected cards to show me.

Of all the card in rows and rows at the stores, Dave and I had chosen the identical Christmas card for our daughters! Is that a coincidence, or a "Higher Power" thing?

See if you can do that with your husband. I double dare you!

Guess Who?

Who's the middle man?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Father's Letters Sept. 4, 1942

#6 . Postmark: ABSEGON, NJ
Sept 4, 1942 6 AM,

Written on one side only of 2 tan sheets of paper with a blue Eagle Standing on a stars and stripes coat of arms on the left corner.
Stamped "FREE" for postage.

To: Mr. & Mrs A.W. Smith
79 Chadwick St.
Haverhill, Mass.

Dear Folks,
Well I’m pulling our of Devens this morning.(Fri.) I expected to go yesterday but no luck. Right now I’m sitting on the parade grounds waiting for some fellows to come back from their inoculations. I had mine last night and was quite sick this morning. We were lucky to have them.....5 Hr. Pause. Now on train to? the fellows who had them yesterday were bad. We carried six off the mess line out after they collapsed. We have been waiting since 4 this morning to be shipped and we are now on a train just about to leave. It is 12:30. I am quite sure I am in the air corp and believe I am headed south but they don’t tell us anything so I don’t know. The fellows in this place are swell and everyone gets along fine. The only thing that has bothered me so far is the continual waiting. We wait to eat, mess, reveille, retreat. They think nothing of putting us in the sun for 3 or 4 hrs. But we hope things will be better at our permanent camp. You should see this place. It is a regular town with its own stores, bakeries, hospitals, theaters, service clubs, etc. There are aprox. 35,000 here at a time. We are on a train holding probably 1000 troops. There are one to 3 of these leave every day loaded with recruits. Well I guess there is not much to say and I will write when I find out where I’m going.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Letter From My Father in War

Postmark: Atlantic City, NJ
Sep 1, 1942, 6 P.M.

United States Army Air Forces
Pvt. F. J. Smith
991st T.S.S.T.C. group D3
Army Air Force R.T. S.
Atlantic City, NJ

To: Mr. & Mrs. Arthur W. Smith
79 Chadwick St.
Haverhill, Mass
United States Army Air Forces

Tues Sept 2

Dear Folks,
Well I’m off again. I’ll be on my way before you read this. Last Sat (this is Tues.) we were classified and all told what branch they were in. All but me. They lost the records of myself and six other fellows, so we don’t know what we are going to do. I don’t think its drafting. Most of the fellows are to be mechanics, radio mechanics, or radio operators. This morning at 6:00 about 12 of us were restricted to quarters and told we were being shipped. I don’t know whether it will be an hour from now or 2 days but it is soon and we leave our rooms only to eat. I’ll have to write when I arrive as strict censorship is maintained aboard train. Any mail en-route to me will be forwarded. The weather here has been beautiful it only rained one day. I can’t say mutch as this letter may be censored. I was allowed to go out 3 nights and should have had all next sunday but don’t know where I’ll be now. One fellow cracked here in our outfit Sat. and is now in the hospital crazy as can be. He was a swell duck too. I’m all done my basic training now and will receive no more. It’s from here to some school.

Till I arrive

Sunday, December 14, 2008