This postcard traveled from the itty-bitty town of Galilee, PA to Great Lakes, Illinois, home to a massive Navy installation which trained a staggering number of sailors for service in World War II.
The front of this card features an aerial image of Camp Chicopee, a traditional summer camp which was located in the rural northwest corner of Pennsylvania near the New York state line. The camp was in operation until the late 1960s (source), but based on some Google Maps sleuthing, the land has since returned to private use and little trace remains of the buildings depicted in this photo.
Regarding supervising campers, I can personally relate to the sender’s sentiments. I myself worked as a camp counselor for one summer in rural Vermont when I was 19, and can attest that keeping a group of 8-year-olds entertained and out of trouble is no easy feat no matter the era. Though, for the recipient of this card, I’m sure a Navy life wasn’t much of a picnic either. Continue reading “Summer Camp and Boot Camp [1943 – Galilee, PA]”→
Located on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Keesler Air Force Base is an active installation operated by the U.S. Air Force. However, it was known as Keesler Army Airfield when draftee Pvt. Ralph Wissinger found himself there in May of 1942. At that time the post had been in existence for less than a year. Keesler would become home not only to basic trainees like Wissinger, but would also train aviation mechanics. Notably, the installation hosted more than 7,000 black soldiers who trained in various technical fields, and many of the famous Tuskegee Airmen completed their basic training at Keesler before being transferred elsewhere for flight school (citation).
I find it interesting that some newly-minted service members were put to work straight away doing precisely the vocation they had left behind in the civilian world, while others were retrained to do something totally different. Pvt. Wissinger is one of the former, as he notes expecting to continue his work as a shipping and receiving clerk, only now for Uncle Sam.
Pictured on the front of this postcard, Gulf Park College was a women’s college in operation until 1971. Its former campus is now part of the University of Southern Mississippi. I wonder about the story behind how Pvt. Wissinger came to possess this particular card. Perhaps he met a young lady who attended school there. The Gulf Park campus is located 15 miles to the west of Keesler AFB along the coast, and you can still visit “Friendship Oak,” a southern live oak tree which is purported to have taken root there in the year 1487.
I was drafted a month ago into the army and they put me in the Air Corp. I have about one more week [of] Basic Training here. Then they will be sending me to some other air-field as a shipping and receiving clerk. Same as I was at home. (Write & Let me know all the news)
From: Pvt. Ralph Wissinger, Air Corp | 400 School Squad, Flight 252-C | Keesler Field, Miss.
To: Mr. Harry Snyder, Loysburg, Pennsylvania, Bedford County
Postmark: Biloxi, Miss – May 10, 1942
Image: Friendship Oak, Gulf Park College, Gulfport, Mississippi
George found himself in a quaint alpine village in the late summer of 1945. The picturesque village of Reit im Winkl is a small German town near the Austrian border with a strong tradition of tourism. No rank or unit is given on this card, but the postcard was stamped at APO 527.
We are now quartered in this little Alpine village. We are really miles from no where. They say the snow here is terrific gets to 8′ deep in the village. Don’t you think the Alps look beautiful?
Postmark: U.S. Army Postal Service A.P.0 572 – 25 Aug 1945
To: Miss Olga Schleichen | 450 N. Pine St. | Indianapolis, Indiana
Image description: Reit im Winkl mit Keisergebirge 2344m
Reit im Winkl
An alpine community in the Southeast corner of modern Germany, to this day, the town has no rail connection (source), but remains a popular destination for winter and summer outdoor sports.
This postcard was sent during the Korean War by what I assume was a junior enlisted sailor. He gives us no details about his assignment other than what we can see from the the San Diego, CA postmark. Carl writes such an endearing note home to his parents in Tennessee. The handwritten names on the cartoon are my favorite part.
Dear Mother and Daddy
How are all of all there fine I hop. I went to church today. It not much to do here today so I thought I would write you a line. I will send you a picture this next weekend. by for now
To: Mr. Mrs. J. T. Knight
308 Madison St. N
Nashville 8, Tenn
Postcards like this one always prompt me to reflect on how places change over decades. The building pictured is the Art Institute of Chicago, constructed in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exhibition. The card was postmarked Bensenville, Illinois, which is located near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
This antique photograph postcard reflects an earlier era before the divided back postcard format. The message had to be squeezed on the front and the reverse reserved for the address only.
The place and time where Marie wrote and sent this card seems as distant from our present as our nearest celestial neighbors are from Earth itself. The Chicago of today would be unrecognizable to a 1910 resident, save for monumental landmarks such as this one.
“Come for me to night as I cannot walk home very well. Even if it is late. I must sew late any way. Marie”
Such a charming message with positive sentiment from this soldier who only left us his initials. Ellington Field (where this card was postmarked) was a significant military installation for the war effort in the 1940’s, offering advanced flight training for bomber pilots (Wikipedia).
Due to favorable weather patterns (well, at least most of the time) surrounding its location near Houston, Texas, Ellington Field has served as a significant aviation operations center for the U.S. Military since the First World War. It’s legacy continues as the present “Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base,” serving the Texas Air National Guard, Johnson Space Center (NASA), and other active duty units (source: Wikipedia).
I just thought I would write you and send this card along at the same time. Everything on the other side pertains to me except the last line. I wouldn’t trade my place with anybody. Believe it or not that is a picture of me on the other side. I think I’ll get to come home next Saturday. Well this leaves me still a kicking and doing fine.
The postmark caught my eye on this one. Ray sent this card from a military post office, presumably RAF Lakenheath (APO 09179). It’s a military post mark, which reads: “U.S. Army Air Force Postal Service,” and apparently was still being used long after the separate “U.S. Air Force” was created in 1947. The U.S. Air Force, to this day, maintains a presence at RAF Lakenheath (http://www.lakenheath.af.mil/).
I got your clock shiped it about 3 weeks ago. You should get it sometime next month. It is insured in case anything is broken.
Mr. Wallace King
Postmark: U.S. Army Air Force Postal Service 179 – 27 October 1954
Poor Carolyn. I’m sure a bout of the measles couldn’t have been much fun. Somehow, she and Ruby managed to enjoy the capitol and Indian reservation. Next stop Colorado Springs.
Hello there. How is every body. Carolyn has been sick ever since we’ve been here but is a little better. She has a rash. [?] or measles. I think it is the shots Dr. [?] sad she had virus infection. We’ve seen the Indian Reservation. The capitol is pretty. we are going over to Col. Springs
See I made it O.K.
Mrs. Felix Tyson Family
Postmark: July 2, 1953 – Cheyenne, Wyoming
Comic Cards – Comic Postcard C-102 “I’ll bet you thought I couldn’t make it, officer!”
A description of jet-lag, the superb inflight service, and the quirks of Australian plumbing & electrical fixtures fill up this traveler’s early 1970s message back to the states.
Sydney, Aust. 7-14-71 2:45 A.M.
Greetings to you from the “Land Down Under.” I hope this reaches you before you leave. Here it is early morning & I’m wide awake (it is about 11:45 A.M. there on 7-13. It was an 18 hour flight down here on Qantas with excellent service – 1 stewardess & 5 men stewards to serve us. The weather here is sunny & bright even tho it is the dead of winter. Where we have the yellow pages in the phone book – there are pink & the hot & cold faucets are opposite ours & the light switches work upside down. The people are friendly. Have a good trip.
Sincerely, Walt Neiman
Sent to: Kalama, Washington
Postmark: Potts Point, Australia – July 14, 1971
Image: Sydney Harbor Bridge, view of Express Way and North Shore
Qantas introduce the “Jumbo Jet” into their fleet in September 1971 (Qantas.com), just after the above postcard was sent. Take a look at this meal service.