Miss Hartley, center 2nd row; Duck above her top row.

McCarthy & Bergen

Letters were special for World War II servicemen. That’s why Miss Hartley, Frank’s division teacher from Austin High School, made such an effort to write all her “boys.” She starts this letter (her eighth to former students) with a reference to listening to “Charlie McCarthy,” a famous ventriloquist act that was popular, even on the radio, a conundrum to many! At the link above, you can find out why. Read about Edgar Bergen, Charlie’s creator, Charlie, the dummy, even performed with Marilyn Monroe! These recordings, if you choose to listen, will take you back to another, more innocent era. The humor is clever without resorting to profanity or overt sexuality—all innuendo. A rarity today.

Ted Symon

As in her last letter, Miss Hartley gives a thorough update on the high school buddies who have scattered all across the nation and world to serve America in the war. Ted, I think is Ted Symon (see “Misusing a Brain Cell” post).

Duck is “Harvey Duck,” the man who put NASCAR on the map. (See more info at this post.) The others, just good buddies.

Harvey Duck

Enjoy an overview of what kids from one high school were doing two years after graduation.


May 7, 1944

Dear Frank,

I’m visiting with my boy friends today. This is my 8th letter. I’m trying to write it and listen to Charley McCarthy at the same time.

I know I owe you two letters. I’m proud of your Santa Ana record. It was too bad you didn’t see Stillo.

How is Hondo? I imagine you are having a pretty good work out now, too.

“Lt. Heggie” looked grand when he was home on his furlough after getting his wings. He is to be pilot on a two engine plane. I believe he went to New Mexico for further training. He and the girl friend were over and spent one evening with me. Bill said He wished you the best of luck when he asked about you in particular.

Duck was home on furlough at the time Ted was in. They had another party—Ted took Lil to Duck’s. They both looked good. Think I told you Duck was wearing 2 stars on his stripes.

Lil is visiting in Hollywood.

Ted is studying weather at Wichita, Kans. – seems to think they have more fun in camp than in the small town.

Duck and Russell finally got together sometime between April 14 when Jack wrote and April 18 when Duck wrote. Guess they had a grand old visit. Said they both agreed their old H.S. gang for four years was pretty swell. Duck said Jack looked grand.

Cpl Harvey Stocker—radio man and gunner is on furlough. He got his wings at Columbia, S. Car. He was wishing he might be placed on Heggie’s ship. He is a little stouter than he used to be and like the rest of you fellows, looks more mature.

You were right about how to spell my name—the card was wrong—but I was in a hurry and didn’t change it.

“Vic” says “the country in England is pretty at this time of year.” He said he’d written you a letter.

Stillo said some of his gang were afraid they might be sent back into the infantry or back to the ground crew.

Bornstein’s ship is in the active part of war and he is in among some hot islands which he’d just as soon they would give back to Hollywood.

Marge Gunderson Moffett and husband dropped in recently. Esther Kull and her fiancée named Fors from Minn. were here looking for an apt. the other night. Mary Ella still goes with Paul who is in the Navy. She thought Janice Fischer was married but I think she and Mary Linke are both in nurse training.

Bill Cohen’s brother dropped by the other day with new wings – pilot. R. O. inspection was Friday. There was much shining of shoes and buttons. Fortunately it was a cool day.

Miss Johnstone and Mother just left—I’ll finish this in a hurry and enclose a couple “tearings.” Then maybe I’ll write again before too long.

Write when you have time.

With love, C. Hartley

Original Letter