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

...man 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.^^^

8:30 Monday Night, Sept 11, 1944

*on this day, 9/11/1944, Allied troops have broken through German lines and invade Germany itself.

My dearest Sam,

Your dad and I were really glad to get your letters today and I’m glad you are getting plenty to eat. I hope you got the box I sent last Friday.

Helen told me she got a letter and I gave her a quarter to see that you get the school paper (The Spirit of O.H.S)(*1) she says she will see that you get it. I met Bobbye Richardson on the street and she said she got a nice letter from you today and that she is going to write you everything. I told her I know you would really appreciate it.

Reeder left last night going back to camp McCall and Frances left this morning on the Rebel (*2) going to M.S.C.W. Mrs. Mc said they nearly spent the night at the depot. She talked like Reeder is going overseas pretty soon. Said he wishes now he had gone cross sooner so he would be coming home sooner and not have to stay away so long with the Army of Occupation.

Denny Garner came in to tell me about going to Fort McClellon Saturday. Louie got a pass and they went back to Birmingham Saturday then they took him back to camp Sunday and they came home today. Says the training is awfully hard but Louie is really in a nice camp. Said he even lay down in Louie’s bed. They didn’t eat with them tho like we did.

There have been lots of soldiers, sailors, and marines on the streets today but I just didn’t know them.

School opened and the kids have nearly run us crazy – and it being so wet all the country people have been in town all day.

Write soon and lots news-

Lots love,


*1: Okolona High School

*2: The Rebel

The Rebel train began its career in 1935 providing service between New Orleans and Jackson, TN. In 1937 a third Rebel train was added with an extended route from Mobile, AL through Union, MS, and in 1942 its route was expanded all the way through St. Louis, MO. The train was scrapped in 1962.

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

7:30 Sunday Night Sept. 10, 1944

My dear Sambo,

I did not get a letter from you today but I got two from Pete and he said he got one from you and that he had written to you. He said your letter was very interesting and well written. I guess you have heard from him by now – hope you have anyway.

Your dad and I went down to State (*1) this afternoon to see Buster and Bobbye. I wrote him yesterday that we were coming so they were sitting on the porch at the Y looking for us. They came out and sat in the car with us and we had a very nice visit with them. I took a box of fruit and a little of just everything to them. It rained on us all the way down and most of the time we were there. Most of the students were in their rooms on account of the weather but the place really looked deserted and the grounds are unkept so it did not look like it did when Pete was there. I told Buster that he and all the boys ought to cut all the grass and weeds before they leave next week.

Bobbye is going home Tuesday night and coming back to MSCW (*2) Thursday night. She will finish there in January. Buster didn’t seem to know what he is going to do – wasn’t sure that he is going home Tuesday. Says he has several offers of jobs but he didn’t volunteer to tell where or what and I didn’t press for the information before Bobbye.

It has been raining here all day and is very cool- just the kind of weather to sit a round and do nothing.

We really had a day at the store yesterday – lots of people came to town – some sold cotton and everybody sold seed and I tried to cash all the checks so we really had some fun – too much for one day according to my way of thinking. It was twelve thirty when your dad and I got home. We got up around eight and he went to church and Sunday school and I churned and cooked dinner.

Pete wrote me the other day to send him some things and since I can’t get some of them here I want you to mail him 2 overseas caps (*3) – size 7. He said didn’t matter about the color of the braid. Please get them and mail to him just soon as you get this and I’ll send you the money for them. You know all about everything at the PX and what overseas is and everything so please do this just for me; please right now. And here is the last address he gave – Cpl. Pete E. Graham – 14154708
Education Section, S.P.B.C.
A.P.O. 502, % postmaster
San Francisco, California.
Mr. Blaylock told me yesterday that Pete is now in the same office that Arthur is in. Says Arthur told him to tell us that they are in the same office now.

Mr. Romie Hayes came in last night and asked about you and Pete and talked about the trip to Jackson to the Band Concert. Said you all really did have a good time.

School opens here tomorrow and I really dread the noon hour at the store. I wish the kids were forced to eat at the lunch room so they won’t worry us to death.

This is all for now so write often and be a good soldier – don’t gripe and fuss and complain about everything and nothing. Hold a good pleasant expression on your face all the time.

Lots of love, mother

*1: I'm assuming this is Mississippi State. Starkville is about an hour and 20 minute drive from Okolona.
*2: MSCW is the Mississippi (State) College for Women, or the "W." My mom graduated from this university. Although I dont' think I would select the W as my college of choice, it has been open to male students since 1982. Actually they may be on to something...

*3 see this guy. Also known as the Garrison Cap, or Campaign Cap, this hat was introduced in WWI, and was created as an easily stored head cover for US troops.

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

Two O'Clock Thursday Sept. 7, 1944

My dear Sambo,

We are not closing on Thursday afternoon any more this year(*1) so I really will miss my wash day.

The weather has turned real cool and the wind is coming from the north.

I went to church last night. The visiting preacher is Rev. Pierce from New Albany and he really is a good preacher. He preached on the “Wages of Sin.” last night. The auditorium was full. Sonny Lyles is here and he was there with Frances McDonnell. Bonny Sue and Jean Taylor come in later and sat with them. Pretty soon Winifred and some more girls come in. None of them had dates though. I didn’t see Red and his rough neck Gang. Maybe they will be there tonight with their dates. There is nobody here to date. You know the school is really going to be off this year. I notice in the paper that Mrs. C.A. Lyles is going to teach the fourth grade.

I did not hear any news of any importance up town (*2) this morning and I’m mailing you the messenger (*3) so you can read all about what is going on around here.

My dog and cat are very devoted to me- Rip is lying here at my feet right now. I had to let him in so the laundry man could get in with the laundry. He wants to stay in when he gets in lately.

I hope you see all the show places of Illinois while you are up there and go to Chicago on the special train if you can get you a nice Buddy to go with you you can really enjoy it. Write often
Lots love

*1: Earnest Graham and Lonie Graham owned the town's grocery store, Graham's Grocery. Apparently as of 9/7/1944 the store was open 6 days a week.

*2: "Down-town" to my grandmother was known as "Up-Town." Any time her name was brought up in our home, my mom would always poke fun at that.

*3: "The Messenger" is "The Okolona Messenger." It is Okolona's weekly newspaper, still in circulation to some 1,058 readers. My dad was a subscriber, and read this paper religiously until his death.

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

"Letters From When I Was Overseas"

I've been pining for weeks trying to decide how to start this thing...

My father, Sam T Graham Sr was born in 1925 to the late Earnest Dewey Graham and Lonie (pronounced "Lonnie"- she'll haunt you if you say it incorrectly) Eubanks Graham in Okolona MS. He passed away in 2008, six months after my mother passed. Maybe it's becasue they were both born in poverty and couldn't stand to throw anything out, maybe they were both closet historians; either way, they left behind a house filled to the brim (literally) with objects and items from decades long passed. Among these treasures was a box yellowed with age labeled "Letters From When I Was Overseas."

My father volunteered for the United States Army shortly after his older brother Pete in 1943. He was placed in active service in January of 1944. He was 18 years old.

In the "Letters From When I Was Overseas" box, I discovered an accidental memoir comprised of letters from my grandmother (Mrs. E.D. Graham) to my father (Pvt Sam T Graham). What follows is an insight into the lives of ordinary people in an extraordinary time.