Letters from home


By Joan Baxter



During the past few weeks, the media has been focusing on some of the events of World War II and those who were a part of the military at that time

If you have ever lived away from home no doubt you looked forward to receiving mail from home. Before e-mail, letters were written. Those serving in the military were very happy to receive news from home.

The American Women’s Voluntary Services of Greene County recognized that there was nothing nicer than to receive a letter from home and so they set out to produce a very newsy, upbeat series of “Good News Letters”. This is the group which sponsored the U. S. O. (United Service Organization) and many more benefits for the military personnel.

At that time the Service Club was at 35 E. Market Street in Xenia and open for military personnel, either local folks or visitors. Coffee and donuts, a reading room and volunteers to sit and chat were offered. This was a wonderful place for the local service personnel on leave to visit with friends, or for those stationed in the area to spend a few hours

Margaret Helvenston was the Unit Chairman for the Center.

No doubt there are more issues of the letters in an old trunk somewhere, but I have two, both Volume 2 dated January and May 1945. The publication was printed monthly for ALL IN SERVICE with no fee. Each letter is on legal paper with two sheets printed on both sides and filled with “good news” from home. The masthead features the faces of men and women in military uniform with the subtitle “All doing their best”.

Maggie’s helpers at the Service Club were Miss Eloise Coy as Assistant Editor. Letter Committee Chairman was Mrs. Lee Mitchell and the Assistant Letter Chairman was Mrs. Arthur Miller. The cost of the monthly paper was underwritten by George P. Henkel and George Eckerle.

On the front page of the January issue is a photo of two Xenia men; Staff Sgt. Dick Lighthiser and Staff Sgt. Jack Hook. They had recently completed two years of overseas service while on duty with a supply squadron in Italy. This statement accompanied the picture: “That these two men who had been together before, during and since school days should stay together during their Army assignments is unusual.”

Under the title Photos Wanted, was a request to have photos sent so they could be reproduced; a 2 x 3 inch photo would work well either glossy or matte. Unfortunately they had not been able to reproduce a photo of Pete Stephan and Bob Weiner who were guests of “Tuffy” Fuller at a dinner somewhere in Europe.

For those who forwarded photos, they would be placed in scrapbooks and made available for all to view.

Other highlights of the January issue included such newsy items as:

“Plans for a 35-acre lake near Alpha are under discussion and it will be stocked for fishing. Plans are not in any way complete but they include boating and recreational facilities”

A whole column was devoted to service personnel from Greene County who recently had become engaged or married.

Under the heading “News about Home Folks” was the following: ‘George H. Smith who was a Major until his recent discharge was appointed to handle the Veterans Administration. He will assist in the handling of discharges and claims and pensions. Instruct your family that he is the one to see for anything relative to your problems from insurance to personnel problems.”

“Parking meters are due in January at 5 cents an hour in the downtown area but the plan for garbage disposal, which is far more irritating to housewives, seems to have been stymied.”

“$15 per thousand is the new tax rate and a proposed $64,000.00 airport is whispered about for a CAA post-war plan.”

“Everyone is well covered from head to foot and we are still scrambling about on sheets of ice. Thaws a bit and then turns on to 5 and 6 below. It’s even been too cold for the Dick’s Hill gang to enjoy their sleds.”

The editor also gave the names of those who were being re-assigned or home on furlough. In Jamestown: Miss Ruby O’Bryant is Red Cross director of recreation at an Army hospital in England; Staff Sgt. John E. O’Bryant, Air Corps and Lt. Junior Grade, Blanche M. O’Bryant, Navy Nurse Corps are stationed in the U. S. while Second Lt. Dorothy R. O’Bryant, Army Nurse Corps is in France. (They are brothers and sisters).

Yellow Springs listed servicemen who had been home on furlough along with Pvt. Robert Rogers who was recovering from wounds received in combat in the European theater and Sgt. John L. Reed returned to duty in the S. Pacific.

Osborn welcomed Ensign John W. Brex who was on leave from the Pacific Theater, where he saw service as a member of a carrier-based plane unit. His plane, a Grumman Hellcat, was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the Philippines, September 13, and was lost for sixty-six days in the Philippine jungles.

Cedarville was pleased to announce Wings and Bars to Lt. John O Bradfute. His brother 2nd Lt. David W. Bradfute is a navigator in England. Cpl. Greer G. McCallister is overseas.

O.S.S.O. Home: Albert Busse met Frank O’Dowd in France and Wendell Segers, Lt. Alice Jean Balmer, Army Nurse, is in France and Russell Lockwood won the Purple Heart in ETO. (Europe),

This was a wonderful way for our local folks to keep in touch.

Joan Baxter for publication week of June 24, 2019

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By Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and long-time historical columnist.

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and long-time historical columnist.