Friday, September 17, 2010

Okolona Post Office in 1908

This is another picture found among some more of my grandmother's things. It show the Okolona post office in December of 1908. At the time this picture was taken, my grandmother was 12 years old.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

WWI Newspaper Clipping

Here is a clipping from a WWI ad, saved by my grandmother. I think this came from a Baptist WWI Ministry, as it was included in a notebook she had kept with other related articles and writings. This print most likely dates to 1917.

On the back side is another clipping depicting a "nun"-type person tending to orphans of the war. In her writing are the words, "My heart yearns in silence with a sorrow all unknown, For those dear homeless children who are doomed to walk life's pathway alone."

pretty dark stuff

Friday, August 27, 2010


2 oclock Thursday Sept. 14, 1944

My dearest Sambo,

Got two letters from you today and was just awfully glad to hear from but I’m so worried about your feet.
We haven’t heard from Pete in several days – Hope he is okay – just too busy to write everyday.
It was pretty quiet up town this morning so I’m staying home to write and rest a little. The weather is fine so everybody is in the field – picking cotton I hope.
There just isn’t any news that I can write – I’m mailing you the Messenger
(*1) so be sure to read all of it. And Helen told me yesterday that she had written you everything. Bobbye said she was writing to you so maybe you’ll know all about Okolona.
Why did your feet get so bad (*2) and do you have to be on them much with night firing? And is that worse than driving and how come you quit driving. How is the war and is it nearly over? Or do you hear any reports?
I still listen to them when I am at the house so it looks like Germany is in a pinch.
Lots of people have asked about you and Pete today.

There isn’t anything to write from here so be good and write every day. Hope you enjoyed the cake, and what about the caps I asked you to mail to Pete? Let me know.

Lots love

*1: Okolona Messenger, town newspaper
*2: To the day he died, Dad's feet were a constant source of agigtation. He told me that his feet were ruined in the Army becuase of an incorrect boot size. In the TV show Band of Brothers, there is a great quote by a soldier in regard to his shoe size, "size 9...just like everybody else!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Dear Mother and Dad,

I am sorry I can’t keep writing you every day but when I get off from work I am so tired I hardly feel like writing. It is really hot here and the dust is really awful here and is about to get the best of me. The last few days I have felt the worst in my life. Every time I get excite my self I get so dizzy I nearly fall and can hardly breathe. But don’t worry I will be OK. I am trying to get a rating (promotion to Private First Class) and I so I will get more money.

I had the same job drove a major around camp and drove thirty miles. I drove for the 2nd Battalion HQ and I like my job swell. Sat around most all the morning and read a few magazines and listen to a radio. The war news sounds good and I hope it won’t be long before the war is over (*1).



*1: 277 days until VE day, 376 days until VJ day.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Dear Mother and Dad,

I am still here and have the slightest idea when I will ship. They have all ready started on some of the men that came in with me so I won’t be long now so pray for me because I am living in hell until I get out of the Army. If nothing happens I will call before I ship. Will call emergency and don’t get excited when I call and be ready to talk a long time. I won’t be able to send any money this month. I will ship before the month and so will send money next month.

I had a hard day today and long hours. I drove all day and I am really tired and my feet are not much better.

We really had a dust storm today and the dust is really bad on the eyes. Dust was so bad wouldn’t see hand in front of face and really hard driving in it.

They was really a big bunch shipped out today and I saw them leave. The band was there playing and I wish I was going with them. They had Pullman and traveling a long way.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dear Mother and Dad 8/4/1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

Another day has gone and I did the same old thing sat around and drove 30 miles. It is really hot here and I am really getting brown as a Mexican.

There is no news here and they are really shipping the men out by the thousand. They would ship more but can’t get enough trains for the shipments and the bunch left today went to Tex and Louisana, and Miss. I really hope they send me in the States I have already seen enough water to last me all my life.

Today I drove for the 3rd Battalion and hauled Captains around. Went to the ??? That is where the men ship from and the band was there playing and the men marched to the train. Wore steel helmets, full field pack and gas mask. The men left this week went to the states and next week the men ship will go across.

How is business at the store? Have they finished the front of the store and how does it look?

I went to a UAO show and saw some movie stars and it really made me feel better forgot all my troubles and I enjoyed it a hole lots.


Tell dad to stay off his leg as much as possible.

-This day in WWII History-

*after years of hiding, diarist Anne Frank and her family are betrayed to the German Police.

Dear Mother and Dad 8.4.1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

I am sorry I can’t keep writing you every day but when I get off from work I am so tired I hardly feel like writing. It is really hot here and the dust is really awful here and is about to get the best of me. The last few days I have felt the worst in my life. Every time I get excite my self I get so dizzy I nearly fall and can hardly breathe. But don’t worry I will be OK. I am trying to get a rating (*1) and if so I will get more money.

I had the same job ?hauling? a major around camp and drove thirty miles. I drove for the 2nd Battalion HQ and I like my job swell. Sat around most all the morning and read a few magazines and listen to a radio. The war news sounds good and I hope it won’t be long before the war is over.



July 31-1944

July 31 -1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

I got your letters today I got two long letters from you and read them over and over many times. I had it pretty easy today drove a Capt. around and he had a 45 (*1) attached to his belt and drove all over camp. In fact I drove 30.2 miles and
Sat(urday) 11 miles. I am enjoying my job while I am here and I wish I would get stationed here. I stayed most all morning at the generals house took a sergeant out there and he really has a beautiful home. It is kinda like John Stones home and has lots of trees around the house.

The past few days it has been pretty windy here and plenty of dust.

How is the business at the store fine I hope. I got another pay day and will send more money. I made up my mind I wanted to go to Columbia Military Academy (*2) (what about it?). I will send money home every month to go on my schooling. You will get 10:00 from war dept for my over sea money and they said it would be sent this month.

I will call you as soon as I get my shipping orders. I will send an emergency call so don’t get excited. HA HA.

Tell everyone hello.



*1: drool

*2: "Vincit Que Se Vincit".."He Conquers Who Conquers Himself." This was the motto of the school which opened its doors in 1904, and was retired in 1979. To my knowledge, Dad never attended.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dear Mother and Dad

Dear Mother and Dad

Sorry I haven’t written you every day but the army life is getting pretty rugged for me now.

Mom, I went on a convoy to Oakland California and came back Wednesday and Thursday I went on a forty mile hike and bivouac (*1) and got back Friday morning and when I got to the CO they called me to the motor pool and I spent the rest of the day there.

It is really hot here and I nearly die in the sun and every afternoon it gets hotter.

Today I drove a bunch of Captains and Sergeant Majors (*2) so I was a big shot. HA what do you think. I am driving a car next to a jeep and I really like my job.

Tell everyone hello for me.



*1: Bivouac- A temporary shelter, usually only used overnight.


Sun - 30 - 1944

Sun – 30- 1944

Dear Mother,

Another day has nearly gone and very little news. The war news sounds pretty good(*1) and I hope it keeps up.

I am feeling fine and not working too hard. I have a regular job now while I am here driving at the motor pool. Saturday I drove a “????” car for the 5th Brn. H.Q. and drove a bunch of Captains around. I really enjoyed it. I drove 77 miles around in camp and learned around camp pretty good and know more about the camp now.

How is everything around home fine I hope and is Rip (*2) OK.

I am getting plenty of good food and lots of sleep now.

I have the slightest idea when I will ship.



*1: Around the time this letter was written (7/20/44), Hitler's own people had tried to kill him in the Rastenburg Assassination Plot. Also, in Operation Cobra, allied bombers have managed to bust a wide berth in Hitler's lines while Patton's 3rd Army desimate fleeing German troops. I would have to agree with my dad. The war news is good.

*2: Rip is either a Collie or a Shelty, and was my father's dog.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wednesday evening, July 26, 1944

Wenesday evening – 26

Dear Mother,

I have been out of camp ever since Monday. We took some rain coats to Oakland Calif. We went through San Francisco and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. We left Monday morning and got to Oakland about six and we got a pass and went into town and I stayed in a service man dormitory and I really slept good. We had to report back Tuesday morning at eight and I wandered around Oakland Monday night till about one o’clock. Going through San Francisco I really had fun, not stopping for the red lights and not stopping for a thing (*1). It took about an hour to go through San Francisco and about forty five minutes to go through Oakland.

It was really an interesting trip for me and I really saw interesting scenery I never will forget. Going across the Bay saw big sea planes landing and huge troop boats.

When I got back to camp I got those letters from you and one from Helen and one from my girl in Mendenhall (*2), and it really made me feel good.

My name was called again for another convoy I think I am going to Camp White in Oregon taking some jeeps.

Tell everyone hello and tell Katherine I am mad as hell at her for not writing.



*1: I can imagine my father as a young country boy, driving his two and a half ton truck through down town San Francisco revelling in the fact that the rules of the road no longer apply.

*2: I'm not sure if this is where my grandmother was born, but I am pretty sure this is where she is buried. I have the most vague memory of driving our old black Ford Crown Victoria to the cemetary to put flowers on her grave.

These letters are displayed in reverse-chronological order. Click here if you want to start from the beginning.

Tuesday July 25, 1944

Dear Mother,

I am having a swell time. I am OK and wish you and Dad were here with me.



These letters are displayed in reverse-chronoligical order. Click here if you want to start from the beginning.

Saturday July 22, 1944


Dear Mother,

We got off today at seven and I cleaned up and went to town. This morning I didn’t do so very much. I loaded a truck with shoes. I am going to Oakland Monday to take some clothes and bring back some over coats. It is really hot here.

Love Sam of many words...

These letters are displayed in reverse-chronological order. Click here if you want to start from the beginning.

Friday, January 22, 2010

July 17th, 1944

Dear Mother,

I am feeling fine and doing ok. I am at the USO in camp and it is a good place to spend part of your time.

It had been a hot day and I took it rather easy. I had a pretty good job worked in a wear house. The job was rather easy.

I hope you can read this letter I am trying to type and doing a rather poor job. I am in the library. The typewriters you pay a dime and type as long as you want to. I am typing with an Underwood (*1) like the one at home.

It was a really big bunch shipped out today. And I don’t know when I am going to ship soon I hope and closer to home any where so it is in the states. But the roomer is we are all going over I hope not because I am not ready. A big bunch in the infantry shipped going across had the over sea bag and all combat equipment and it really looked tough.

I hope you are getting my letters pretty quick because it makes a person feel good when he gets a letter from home.



*1: The Underwood Typewriter company was founded in 1895. Like many other machine factories during WWII, Underwood not only produced typewriters, but M1 Carbines. With exception, this is the weapon carried by most support troops in WWII, including medics. Also of note, before WWII, Underwood built the world's largest typewriter which was subsequently used for scrap metal after the US joined the war.

These letters are displayed in reverse-chronological order. Click here if you want to start from the beginning.

May 6th or May 13th 1944


Dear Mom,

I just got back from the show and went to the U.S.O. (*1) and I am feeling fine. I had a good job today driving a dump truck and I really had fun.

The light had to turn out so I am finishing the letter on the stairs really crowded (*2).

When Buster visit you don’t let him use too much gass because I want to drive some while I am home on a furlough (*3). If Buster spends the week end at home and if his girls come too, don’t let him start asking questions about writing Charlene, Bobbies’ sister. I just write her because I don’t get letters from any of the girls at home they can go to hell as far as I am concern or how you spell it (*4). I tried to get you something for mothers day but couldn’t get a thing at camp so I will send you a telegram if I can get off Sat night.



*1: I'm not sure he wrote USO, but I can't read his writing and can't imagine what else he cold have meant.

*2: To me this single sentence paints such a clear picture of dozens of young men in their Army issued PJs huddled together shoulder to shoulder in a stairwell, the air thick with Army issued cigarette smoke trying to pencil out the last few lines of correspondence to mothers, wives, and girlfriends back home. I can imagine how each man feels connected to his loved ones, and that miles of separation are miraculously bridged through the contact of his pencil to a single leaf of paper, if for only just a few minutes.

*3: Funny how a true soldier is able to correctly spell "furlough" but mis-spell the three letter word gas. Priorities I suppose.

*4: Dad. Even though this letter was written when he was 18, I can hear the ornery old man that I remember as my father say the same thing about political parties, news anchors, and those kids with the boom boxes in their cars. It's funny how such annoyances have become some of the fondest memories I have.

These letters are displayed in reverse-chronological order. Click here if you want to start from the beginning.

Pvt. Samuell Terrell Graham (Sr.)

My dad's official Army photograph. Since the next few posts are written by him, what better time to display the author.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pete Graham, March 29, 1944

March 29, 1944

Somewhere in New Caledonia (*1).

Dear Sam,

Well, Sambo, how in the world are you getting along nowdays? I hope you are doing fine.

I’ve been trying to sit down long enough to write you for over a week, but every time I get started, I jump up and go somewhere.

Sam, I’m getting along just fine and I like it here ok. It’s really not too bad. I’m getting plenty of food every day and it is usually good. In case I do get hungry, I just run to the PX (*2) like you are probably doing. I’ll bet you really enjoy your PX.

Did mother write you and tell you about Shorty Blaylock and I meeting each other? I ran right into him in the Post Office one day. Boy, I was really glad to see someone from home. Charlie McGhee is not here now, but he wrote me and said he might see me soon. I would really like to see him.

I’ve met several boys who took training at your camp and they all said it is a swell place. Have you met any good looking babes? We have plenty of babes here! Ha! Mostly natives. But they are right friendly, and it’s lots of fun to watch them. They are much like the Negroes back home. Of course, they are superstitious and have many peculiar ways.

I bought a new bathing suit when I first got here and we go swimming nearly every day. We really have a beautiful place for swimming. If we don’t go swimming, we usually play volley ball or baseball. We have a big game every evening.

I’ve visited Noumea (*3) several times and it is a very beautiful place. It’s quite different from any place I ever visited.

Are you going to get a furlough after you finish basic training?

Blaylock and I went to the show last night and saw “Old Oklahoma.” We have a movie nearly every night so I don’t miss so very many things.

Well, Sam, I don’t know of anything else to write so I guess I’ll have to close. Be good and write soon.



*1: New Caledonia is here.

*2: PX- "Post Exchange" This is a program run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service which sells just about anything you could need while on base.

*3: Noumea is the capital city of New Caledonia.

John Day, March 19, 1944

This letter is from John Day. While I remember my dad mentioning his name several times, I can't remember if he is a relative, or just a family friend.

*Please note the awesome Navy stationery.

Dear Lonie,

I got your letter the other day but this is the first chance I’ve had to answer it. We are really working hard to get out of here. We get our boat leave some time next week, they are giving us eleven days.

I really like the Navy and I wouldn’t swap places with anyone. This boot camp is awful rough, but that’s almost over now. I’m in the Hospital Corps as you can tell by my address. I work in Sick Bay part of the time now. When I return from boat Leave I’ll get about four weeks training here at Great Lakes. I’ll be sent to San Diego then for a little more, then I’ll be transferred to the Marines. I’ll be a “Sea Going Marine.” (*1) I get a complete Marine uniform in addition to my Navy tags. I’ll see plenty of fun.

I’ve already written Sam and I’ll write Pete just as soon as I can. I would really like to look up those boys from Okolona, but they’re not in my Regiment and we’re not allowed outside our Regiment.

I’ve got to close and go to work. I joined the Navy because it was so clean, but I never stopped to think who kept it that way. ‘Til next time, I remain

As always,

John Day

*1: A Sea Going Marine differs from other Marines in that Sea Going Marines are assigned to specific ships, and are not typically ground pounders. The program was disbanded in 1998.

War Department, 2/10/1944

*I believe this letter was composed shortly after my father was activated. At this time, I believe he is still in basic training.

Dear Mrs. Graham,

This Chaplain had quite a talk with your son, Pvt. Sam T Graham of the 6th Quartermaster Training Regiment, last evening.

Your son seems to enjoy Army life and he has the making of a real soldier. He is getting along just fine and he told the Chaplain that he was going to be regular in his attendance of the Chapel services which are provided for the men in the Army.

Like all young men who enter the Army, Pvt. Graham loves his home and his parents very much and because of this he is determined to live a life while in the Army that be an honor and credit to those whom he loves.

If at any time this Chaplain can be of service to you while your son is in the 6th Regiment, please feel free to call upon him.

Sincerely yours,

Oscar T. Smith

Thursday, January 14, 2010

3 o’clock Tuesday Afternoon Sept. 12, 1944

My dearest Sambo,

Was really glad to get your letter this morning – and I bet you are eating plenty. Sorry about your feet (*1) but maybe they’ll soon be in good shape again. I hope you aren’t griping and complaining too much. You are a good soldier I know and I believe you are really trying to do good at whatever you are put to doing. That’s right son.

It hasn’t rained today so there are not many people in town like it was yesterday. Mrs. Young stayed home this morning and I went to the store when your dad did. She came at twelve and I checked out soon as the factory girls (*2) and school kids cleared out. We really had a mob – and its hard work to wait on all of them. These little kids ought to eat in the lunchroom where a good warm meal will do them some good instead of all cold drinks.

Your dad told me yesterday that the new school supt. came to the store when he got your letter and wanted to know what you were interested in studying and just a lot of things and he told the man he didn’t know. So that is why his letter was not satisfying to you. I didn’t know a thing about this until yesterday so I guess there is nothing I can do about it. Can you take any of the courses there and would you have an instructor?

Maybe the war will be over pretty soon (*3) – we are hoping it will any way. Have you met any Miss. Boys and are you with any Camp Lee buddies. Did you get the package I sent and what all have you been doing. Write every day.

Lots of love


*1: Until his death, dad complained how the army ruined his feet. I remember how fervently dad insisted I not join the Armed Forces, with the only explanation that "They will ruin your feet. And then what?" More on feet later...

*2: Hellloooo Rosie! All the day long,
Whether rain or shine
She’s a part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory
Rosie the Riveter

Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb -1942

*3: not so much. Victory over Europe doesn't happen for another 238 days, and Victory over Japan another 337 days.

^^^These letters are displayed in reverse-chronological order. Click here if you want to start at the beginning.^^^