Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Book

When my aunt died I became the keeper of the letters my dad wrote home from the war, 
World War II, 

from 1942 - 1946.  

There are somewhere between 800 and 1000 letters, my dad's plus one year of letters written to him by his family.  

He was only a teenager when he left the family farm 
but he was a very good and honest writer.

(Dad in his uniform and his sister on the farm)

The summer after I became the keeper of the letters, I began to read them.  

It was soon too difficult and emotional (my dad was very ill and died that fall) and I had to give it up before I had even finished the first year.  

But l had read enough to know that I was in possession of a little bit of history
 that should be preserved.  

It took me another four years, 
four years of distance from my father's death,
 to dive in again. 
 I had no idea of how to begin what seems like 
a very large project, how to approach it, what direction the telling should take.  
To tell you the truth, I still don't but I knew I had to start somewhere and I have.  I am trusting that the letters will tell me the story I need to tell.


  1. What a treasure you have and what a story to tell.

  2. I can see how incredibly emotional it would be to do it so soon after your dad died. Now with the intervening years it should be easier. What a treasure. There is a book program that I have used called blurb. When our youngest daughter was in China teaching I saved all her emails home plus the photos she sent. I incorporated them into a book for her to keep using blurb. Don't know if it will help you. I have a box of my father's sermons that I need to deal with one day. Maybe I'll get inspiration from your efforts.

  3. I assure you that you will get a good look inside your father's life. I think only one letter exists that was written by my father to my mother. It says far more than just the words.

  4. I am sure Cynthia that you will do your Dad proud.

  5. wow what a history. good luck with your book.

  6. To be the keeper of such treasure is indeed a great honour. As you read through them I am sure they will tell their own story and more pieces of history will be revealed.

  7. Oh, that is a real treasure you have got! This is such an interesting history to read about. I have read many books with personal stories about WWII. It keeps me fascinating. But to read the story about a family member must be rather different and emotional for you. Wish you all the wisdom to write the book!

  8. You are very lucky to have these. I had letters from my parents in the past when I was too foolish to recognize their value and I let them go. At least I have pictures

  9. I also have a packet of wartime letters that I opened and read while recovering from surgery recently. They are to my parents from my uncle and aunt (now deceased) when he was stationed on the East coast with the Coast Guard. It was like visiting with them again and very emotional. Reading letters from your father must be very special.
    I have transcribed the letters into Word documents, am editing them, and hope to create a Blurb book with them so I can share this bit our family history with my siblings, niece, and nephews.
    We recently visited the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredricksburg, TX and learned that they have a project for collecting WWII letters to preserve for future generations. I have also learned that Chapman University in Orange, California has a preservation project for letters from all American wars (Revolution to Afghanistan). Both collect either scanned or original letters, so I am considering passing these letters (or copies) along when I finish my book.
    Good luck with your project.

  10. You are in the possession of a real treasure trove of history!! Perhaps there is an historical society that would appreciate getting some of them. Weren't you recently a Minnesota resident? If so, you must be aware of the fine collection in the Minnesota History Center.

  11. With your interest in history and writing ability you are the perfect person to produce something special with your father's letters. I hope it flows for you.

  12. Dear Cynthia, this is exciting. I'm so happy for you that you got to meet your father, through his letters, when he was such a young man. Now the question will be whether you will write a novel based on all your gleaned from the letters, or whether you will write his memoir. This decision is big and needs a lot of thought. I'm wondering if you've ever read any of the historical nonfiction by Doris Kearns Goodwin. If you have, you know that WWII is a period of great interest to her. I'm wondering whether you might write and ask her for advice. Tell her the treasure that you have and see what her thoughts are on how you might proceed. This is just a thought that comes to mind. She is a writer and woman of great integrity and has a stellar reputation among historians. Peace.

  13. That's fabulous, Cynthia. Go for it! You are the best one to do it. I have my parents' wartime correspondence, dating from at least 1939 to 1945 (possibly a bit either side). For years, the letters sat in a box; I felt they were private. Then for various reasons, I began to transpose them. There are so many - not sure how complete they are, because dad was overseas for almost 4 years. As soon as A Bit About Britain has taken off, I'll get back to it and maybe write their story.

  14. What an honour to be responsible for such a treasure trove of memories.

  15. How wonderful! You need to write a book! At least type the best ones out and get them to the Historical Museum where his parents lived:)

  16. This is simply an awesome project, in our family we have a saying that 'we each have a book in us' How wonderful that this book has come to you, virtually asking to be written. I am sure that as you proceed you will find the path.
    One angle I can see is the birds-eye (excuse the pun) view of you reading the letters, learning from them and trying to make sense of it all from a historical point of view and from a personal perspective. It is written by you as the author, rather than simply trying to type the letters up in a chronological order. You link it to the world you live in, America's role in the world today from a defence perspective.
    I know you have strong views on your current Political leadership, whether you find anything in these letters that would show what your Father and his family would say about what he was fighting for etc and what they wanted for the United States and the world in the future.
    It would be fascinating! Sounds like you will be busy!
    Wren x

  17. You are very lucky to have these. I had letters from my parents in the past when I was too foolish to recognize their value and I let them go.