Boeing B-17E

The Family is thrilled that Frank, the youngest, has been made a navigator, and they send off congratulations. I’m grouping both of Frank’s brothers’ letters (first from Will, then from Fred) in one post, and a brief postcard, sent in between the brothers’ letters, from Frank to his Mom.

Letter #1

Jan. 6, 1944

Chicago, Ill.

Dear Frank:

Congratulations!  It’s a good job and you can make a good showing.  Don’t worry, you’ll still get some flying out of it because everybody aboard ship is taught to handle the ship in case the pilot is disabled. Many thanks again for letting me know ‘cause I sure was beginning to wonder what was to become of you.

Well, I took my written exam again for my private license and passed everything, better on the average than last time though not especially good in meteorology. The reason?  Well I haven’t touched a meteorology book since I last took the exam.

New assignment now is with C.A.P. Ground School, namely Airplane Power Plants.  Also, I’m studying now to see if I can get my ground instructor’s rating in seven subjects.  Am enclosing [some humor], but don’t let it distract you too much.

By the way while we’re at the beginning of your career as a navigator, I was wondering if you could send me the problems that are not confidential and secret since one problem we have is making up the problems and sometimes we’re still stalled because of lack of diversified conditions.  Mind now don’t get yourself in trouble about this or spend extra time on it but if they should give them to you in some sort of a mimeographed form, I sure could use them.

Thanks again for letting me know.



Letter #2


Dear Mom,

I’m on K.P. today and I haven’t time to write a letter so I guess this card will have to do. My cold isn’t much better but I’ll be OK in a few days. Nothing new happened today and no mail. I received your letter with the pictures in it yesterday. They didn’t pay us yet so as you can guess I’m broke but I won’t ask for any money till I really need it so till I write again.

Love your son,

Letter #3: Letter from brother Fred

On January 8th, Fred (aka Sam) my father wrote to Frank congratulating him on his status as navigator. This letter also reveals the impact of war on even the most sacred of traditions: Christmas.

My grandfather was a trained carpenter from Romania (see blog post at Family archaeologist) and could do and fix or make just about anything. He raised his boys to be equally as handy, as you’ll see here. In true Christmas spirit, he spent 35 hours making a gift for his older brother, Will. Dad mentions the bedroom set he and my mom bought—and it was the one I recall in their bedroom as I was growing up. He seems quite thrilled with his purchases.

A couple pages of this letter were missing when I found it.

January 8, 1944

Dear Ebner: ——

It’s about time I scribble off a few lines to you. We are at rest period right now. First of all I want to congratulate you on becoming a Navigator. Of the 3 (pilot, Nav[igator] or Bomb[ardier]) I think it is the best.  Also it entrusts in you quite a responsibility as no doubt you already know and feel. We are proud of you, Ebner, and know you’ll pull through all blazing.

Christmas came and went but somehow it was not the same without you, although it was nice just the same. We all got the usual presents, shirts, ties, socks, etc. I gave Lil an earring and broach set made of sea shells with rose colored shells in the center representing a rose, the smaller snail like shells around in 3 concentric circles being amber colored.

For Mom we got a set of removable collars for her dresses and some under things. For Pop we got a zipper front sweater and a pair of leather gloves––the kind that has the thumb and index finger separate and the remaining 3 fingers in one mitten-like enclosure. I have had a similar pair for over a year and like them very much.

For Will I made several things for his Solar Enlarger such as a 35 mm size film holder made of 2 pieces of 1/16” thick steel 8” x 5 ½ and polished and buffed to a mirror finish. Also, there were wheel handles and pinion for the rack that moves the lens. All told there was about 30-35 hours work. It was a lot of fun.

From Pop we got a 3 lb. jug of Old Fashioned tavern cheddar cheese. It’s very sharp and very good. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go to Schmidt’s church because Lil had a solo at Bethel [Church].

Oh yes, we bought new furniture, very nice, too. Our bedroom set is of bleached mahogany. It’s light but not as light as light oak. It has extremely fine workmanship in its construction. There is a tall chest of drawers for me and a vanity for Lil. It has a mirror of heavy plate glass of about 4 x 4 ½ ft square and as vanities go, it has plenty of drawer space. We had hoped of getting a dresser for Lil instead but there were none to be had; however, if and when this outfit gets one in maybe this spring we will be able to change the vanity in for it.

We also bought a new front room rug 9’9” x 12’ solid blue and a 7’ runner to go with it. For the kitchen we have a medium colored oak dinette set with four chairs. Everything is in simple lines and very attractive. Right now I am painting an old radio cabinet to be used as a bookcase and a steel cabinet for the bathroom. We bought several decals for the cabinet we have in the kitchen so in about 3 or 4 weeks time we should have things in an orderly shape.

January 11, 1944

We bought a beautiful Christmas tree this year, a balsam from the floor to the ceiling. I put in several branches and in the end it was perfectly symmetrical. We also bought new ornaments and a string of lights. We were very lucky to be able to get any. The old fashioned small size tree lights are out for the duration and I do mean “out.” You just can’t buy them for any kind of money. The string that I bought area the large sized NOMA LIGHTS which burn independently. This particular string has 24 lights and is large enough for an average sized tree. They were originally designed…


…and is flavored with an interesting philosophical touch you are guaranteed to find her very interesting and she will of course be glad to see you (what gal’s heart wouldn’t skip a bit when gazing upon your bulky masculinity?).

Well sorry boy it’s nigh on 12:00 p.m. [he means a.m. – midnight] now and past my bedtime as I get up at 5:30 now as in the old time to bring coal for Dad. He is getting older and the pep is not all there anymore. It’s beginning to tell.

Write whenever you can find time. I think I will be able to do some writing now too.

With all my Love
Your brother

Sam [Fred]
(The family called my Dad, Fred, by his middle name, “Sam,” and that is how he signed his letters to the family. I’ve included his first name, as known to my mom and friends, to avoid confusion.)

Original Letters