Military Postcards, United States

From Ruth to Ruth in the Hospital [1942 – Salisbury, Maryland]

Salisbury, MD 1942 Norfolk Navy Yard Portsmouth image lg

Have you ever found yourself in a close relationship with someone who shares your first name? For me, it was my roommate during freshman year of college. Someone in the housing office probably thought it was cute to assign us to a room together, or it could have been random happenstance. We coexisted well enough, but were certainly never bosom buddies. And, I don’t know about her, but I was frequently asked if I felt confused about our shared name situation. The harmless inquiries still strike me as mildly obtuse.

I supposed in some scenario — if we had a visitor perhaps — we might both look up upon hearing our name. But, clearly, I always knew that if I wasn’t talking to myself, there was only one other Katie I could possibly be addressing.  As the diversity of names in the U.S. continues to expand (i.e. the proportion of people who have the most common names is declining), perhaps more people exist who have never met someone who shares their first name. That’s certainly not the case for me.

In this postcard, we meet not a pair of Katie’s, but of Ruth’s. The card was sent by Ruth D. to Ruth C. in 1942. I wonder if these Ruth’s were ever roommates. Plus, how did their friend Margrite figured into their relationship? Regardless of her name, Ruth C. probably had a roommate of some sort at Philadelphia General Hospital, where she received this card. Like the sender, I too hope Ruth C. was on the mend and able to make the date with her friend the following Wednesday.

So what about the image of Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth?

The image pictured on this one seems to be incidental and not related to the sender’s message, though the note could have been written in Norfolk, Virginia and later posted in Salisbury, Maryland. Nonetheless, it hits close to home for me. I grew up not far from Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. Both places are located in the so-called “Hampton Roads” region which encompasses the southeast corner of the state and surrounds the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard at Portsmouth was first established by the British in 1767 as Gosport Shipyard. It truly is an ideal place for naval operations, and as such, it has a long and illustrious naval history spanning nearly three centuries and capable of filling several books. At the time this postcard was sent (August 1942), the U.S. military was preparing to launch into active involvement in World War II with what would be known as Operation Torch. Norfolk and the surrounding Hampton Roads region were heavily involved the mobilization for Torch, the allied amphibious attack on Nazi and Vichy French controlled North Africa.

Salisbury, MD 1942 Message corrected lg

Hello Ruth how are you today[?] Better I hope[.] I didn’t get to see you sun. This is where we are today. Your Margrite and I and are well and fine. Will see you Wed. So be good a friend, Ruth D.

[Punctuation added.]

To: Mrs. Ruth Carey c/o Philadelphia General Hospital Room 100

Postmark: Salisbury, MD – Aug 25, 1942

Image: Main Gate, Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia


Norfolk Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Virginia

“Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia. This beautiful group of buildings surrounded by the Elizabeth River and extensive foliage is an ideal spot for the sick of our Navy. It is in close proximity to the Naval Yard and only a short distance from Hampton Roads.”

Other Naval Operations in Hampton Roads

General McNair, Admiral Kirk & High Ranking Officers Inspect NAS Norfolk, Camp Bradford & Little Creek, VA, 09/12/1943

Silent footage of amphibious training exercise, aircraft, ships, buildings, enlisted sailors and officers.

49298928366_0ba4fde061_c Dental Technicians NTS Norfolk 1943
School of Dental Technicians, NTS [Naval Training School], Norfolk, Virginia. Source: https://flic.kr/p/2i7nTRy
Map, Norfolk & Portsmouth 1948
“Norfolk South” map prepared by Army Map Service 1948.

See high-resolution Norfolk South Map

Army Map Service “Norfolk North” map – 1948


Looking for more?

Check out these other vintage “Lost Greetings” postcards.

Postcards from the 1940s.

Postcards from WWII.

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