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Love Letters During World War II


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This story consists of a series of letters between Thomas Hale Keiser, Jr. and his family during his military service during World War II. Tom, Jr. was my mother's older brother, and her only sibling.

This story begins with a letter from Tom's mother after he left home for military service in July 1942, and continues until shortly after he returned from the South Pacific in April 1946.  Up to 2 May 1943, all the letters were saved.  After that date all we have are Tom's letters.  However, starting in Dec 1944, Tom's mother, Agnes, began keeping notes on the subjects of the letters sent to Tom, and these notes were also kept with the letters received from Tom.  These notes gives us an idea of the other side of their communications.

Tom was born on 24 Aug 1919, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and as a child moved with his family to Collingswood, New Jersey, where he graduated from Collingswood High School in 1936, and from Peirce Business College, Philadelphia, in 1938. An image of Tom is attached.

Tom was working in Philadelphia when World War II started. What follows is a summary of his military service:

14 Jul 1942 - enlisted at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

25 Jul 1942 - left for Fort George Gordon Meade, Maryland

30 Jul 1942 - assigned to 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

15 Nov 1942 - began Officer Candidate School in the 2nd Quartermaster Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

11 Feb 1943 - commissioned as Second Lieutenant and assigned to Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

11 Apr 1943 - assigned to 476 Quartermaster Truck Regiment, Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

9 Aug 1943 - assigned to 819 Quartermaster Amphibian Truck Company at Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

10 Jan 1944 - assigned as Executive Officer, 827th Amphibian Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida

28 Feb 1944 - assigned to 364 Harbor Craft Company, Camp Plauche, New Orleans, Louisiana

Sep 1944 - graduated from the Combination Piloting School, Navigation Training Section, ASFTC, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Nov 1944 - sent to the West Coast for transport to the Pacific. Stationed on Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, and was transferred to Noumea, New Caledonia in March 1946. 

Although Tom disliked the South Pacific, he did request being commissioned as an officer in the regular Army early in 1946.  For whatever reason, either the request was not granted or Tom changed his mind.  Tom took ill from hepatitis in April 1946, and was sent to the States about the end of April.  He remained in the hospital recovering from that disease until late in 1946.

Starting in January, 1947, Tom attended Syracuse University, studying electrical engineering. After six semesters he left college to work part time for WOLF radio in Syracuse, and later full time with WHEN TV in Syracuse. In June 1956, Tom was hired as a computer technician by International Business Machines in their new Kingston, NY office, and spent the remainder of his working career with that company in noth Kingston and Poughkeepsie. He resided in Woodstock, NY, and never married. He retired from IBM in 1987, died in Dec 1996, and is buried in the Woodstock Cemetery. [Update added Apr 2008]

[Throughout these letters I have added editorial comments in brackets. Also, throughout these letters are references to photos taken and pictures or negatives sent back and forth between Tom and his family. These photos are in an album that I will have access to in the future, and I will post appropriate images related to these letters as time allows.  Please check back periodically to see if more images have been posted.]

James H. Culbert

last updated: December 2008

23 Jul 1942, Postcard to Home

Postcard of Atlantic City, New Jersey

No date

Postmarked: 5:30 AM, 24 Jul 1942, Ocean City, New Jersey

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

Having a wonderful time[sic] wish you were here.  My picture is not shown on the reverse side of the card.


  • Ocean City, New Jersey, U.S.A.
  • 23 Jul 1942

26 Jul 1942, First Letters to Tom

From: The Keisers, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, New Jersey

Addressed To: Tom Keiser, Somewhere at Camp Mead [sic - in Maryland]

[Note: five separate letters were included in this envelope.]

Sunday [July 26, 1942]

Dearest Tom,

Daddy and I waited for Lester [Kish] to come out of church this morning so we could ask him all about his first days at Camp Mead [sic], and thus know what you are experiencing. He was very patient and gave us all the details, and since he seems happy with his life there now - we hope that you too will be.

He says in 3 days you will either move or be assigned to a place at Mead. [sic] I will be home all day Tuesday but Wed is last clinic day for the summer, so from 1 to 4 - I will be at 303 Benson.

I have asked Daddy to come home for lunch Wed. and stay here from then until I get home - so if you have a stop over on the way thru that day and phone Coll 3669 - Daddy will come right down and pick me up and drive me to see you - or if not that long a time to wait - ask information to give you the store at 301 Benson and they will come upstairs for me.

Leo and Lois [Stahl - Tom's Uncle and Aunt] came over at 2 o'clock today and we had 140 steamed clams, sweet corn, tomatoes, slaw and cherry pie. They thought they had a banquet - so it helped us over a lonely spot. Lois is going down to Ocean City with me tomorrow by train to see Mary [Keiser, Tom's sister] and then I guess she is going back to Syracuse on Tuesday.

Lester thought he could find you tomorrow - so if he can I couldn't resist sending our love and bestest wishes to you.

Love, Mom


Dear Tom,

We are having a good time with Leo and Lois today. I know you are having a good time. Lester Kish says you are having a good time at Camp Meade for he say [sic] "Everyone does" down there. He says it is a good camp.

Tell your supervisors that you have has Tetanus injections etc. That you belonged to the Boy Scouts. Two years at camp in the Poconos etc. Be a good boy. Everything O.K.

Lovingly, Daddy


Dear Tom,

Guess how many clams and ears of corn I ate for you today?

We are all well and happy and hope you won't hide your light behind a bushel.

You love to play and loads of soldiers will love to hear you. Besides indulging yourself you can give a lot of joy to others.

Let us hear from you and what any small needs may be.

Lots of love,

Unk and Aunt [Lois and Leo Stahl]


Dear Tom,

I'll give you the same advice as I heard Mr. Boringer [?], former General Manager of N.C.R. [National Cash Register] said his father told him when he left the farm - quote "Keep your money and your pecker in your pants and you won't get into any trouble."

Kindest regards and Best of Luck, L.E.S. [Leo E. Stahl]


Good Luck Fellow, here is one you can spring any place. L.E.S.

Dear Cousin:

Your Uncle has a job at last! The first time he has worked in forty-eight years.

We are rich now, $17.25 every Thursday. So we went up to Sears, Roebuck for one of those new danfangled bathrooms like you rich people up North have. It came and we got her all put up right. You should see it. Over on one side of the room is a big long white thing like the pigs drink out of, only you can get in and take a bath all over, at once.

Over on the other side of the bathroom is a little white gadget, hanging on the wall, called a "zinc." This is for light washing on the hands and face. They also sent us a roll of writing paper, but it's kind of cheap. I think it rips easy.

But over in the corner ---- WOW! They got a thing you put one foot in and scrub till it gets clean, then you pull the chain, then you get fresh water for the other foot.

Yours, Cousin Abner

P.S. Two lids came on the damn thing and we ain't had no use for them so Ma is using one for a bread board, and we got Gandpop's [sic] pitcher framed in the other.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, U.S.A.
  • 26 Jul 1942

29 Jul 1942, Letter No. 2 to Tom

Postmarked: 1:00 PM, 29 Jul 1942, Camden, New Jersey

Postmarked 11:00 AM, 31 Jul 1942, Fort George G. Meade, MD.

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. A - 3, 1302 SURC, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland

[Note: Address has been crossed out and forwarded to Camp Lee, Virginia.]

From: A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Dear Tom,

Nothing ever did me so much good as that telephone call last night, and Daddy was just as pleased as I was to know that you are well and happy.

We talked about you all day Sunday and though we wrote you the notes, we really didn't feel assured that Lester [Kish] would find you in so large a camp. Lois and Leo [Stahl - Tom's aunt and uncle] hadn't had any sweet corn this year or fresh tomatoes either - you should have seen them eat. We had 2 dozen great big ears of corn. Daddy and I each ate a couple, and there were only 5 left. We thought they would burst. They left about 10 on the bus.

Monday morning Lois and I met at the Camden Station and took the 9:08 train for Ocean City. We had lunch at the Plymouth Inn and Mary [Keiser, Tom's sister] waited on us. She and Irene are so much happier there. Regular and easy hours - good clean food and all they want - no cleaning silver or floors. It is more like a tea room. Their room at the Georgian is much more comfortable than at the Oceanic and everything is so clean and nice. I'm so glad they made the change.

Lois and I took a swim with Mary and then caught the 4:30 train. Just before the train got near Camden there was a cloud burst and as we looked out we could see autos flooded clear over the tops and rivers of water running up over the door steps of rows of houses.

All traffic was at a stand still. Water was over knee deep outside the station. Lois got over to Phila. in the ferry but couldn't get taxi or street car and eventually walked to the hotel. I was over 2 hours getting a bus to Coll. Daddy wasn't worried because he thought we had waited for a later train and anyway it wasn't so bad in Collingswood.

Tuesday morning (yesterday) I cleaned up a bit and at 10 - Partridge, Sutherland, Lummis, Henderson, and Richardson came to O.K. the clinic change to this location. They all approved so if we ever receive the F.H.A. approval of the mortgage - we will all be set. Mrs. Partridge was so surprised to hear you had left so soon. She said to tell you she was disappointed because she came all set to hear a joke. She sends her best to you.

I called Mrs. Sharp about Merritt this morning. She said he was still asleep, but was on the mend. He really needs his tonsils out and they are going to have his chest X-rayed as soon as he is around again. Mrs. S. is crazy about you. She thinks you are so witty and she said you and she just took to each other.

A letter came from the Unemp. Comp. - saying they were unable to give you credit for the two weeks in question since you were not available for work during that time and according to law, a claimant must be totally unemployed, able and available for work.

I am mailing you the funnies. If you want them, I'll save them for you each week. If you haven't time for them anymore just let me know and I won't bother you with them.

How about cash? Don't go without. It may be quite awhile before you receive any - so if you have any needs just let me know how much.

Gladys is coming down to visit Lester this week end and at first I thought I'd ask her to bring you a cake or something, but then Daddy and I thought that maybe since you are taking innoculations that you would be on a diet and it would be just as well not to tempt you to eat something that might not agree with you at the time. When you feel for something from home - just give me a hint and it will [be] a pleasure to make it and send it to you.

I'm not asking you any questions because I could just fill sheets - doing nothing but that - but we are interested in everything that you are doing, whenever you get the time to tell us. The main thing is to know you are well and having a good time.

Clinic today. The last I hope at 303 Benson.

It's hot as the dickens here the last few days, and I think how Daddy used to suffer with the humidity at Baltimore. Hope you are getting some nice breezes at camp.



I received your Atlantic City card from Ocean City - Monday and at first couldn't get the connection. I thought you had sent it from camp. Some swell mail service we get.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, U.S.A.
  • 29 Jul 1942

30 Jul 1942, Letter No. 1 Home

Postmarked: 5:30 PM, 31 Jul 1942, Camp Lee, Virginia  

To:  Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758,8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

Thursday, 30 Jul 1942 

Dear Mom and Pop,

Just a hurried note to notify you of my change of address.  When I talked to you on Tuesday, I thot [sic] it would be several days before I was transferred, since several of the boys were there one and even two weeks.

Boy! is it hot here!  The sweat just pours off like rain water and I have a towel over the sheet under my fingers to keep it from the letter.  Fort Meade was cool compared to Lee.  We were told this morning to get ready to move and at 8:30 we were at the station, ready to go, only to find that the 9:30 train was over an hour late.  About 10:45 we entrained and that was a hot and dusty ride.  Arrived here 4:30 pm, went thru Washington D.C. and saw the Capitol, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Monument from the car windows [sic] rode down with a fellow from Sonderton who knows Charlie Heckler.

Can you give me Gordon MacWilliam's correct address here?  I tried to call the hospital! the only way I knew to trace him, but the line was busy both times I tried.  Will try again tomorrow.

I can't tell you much more now, except that it is really hot and even Christian Science doesn't help.

This may not be a permanent address.  I take more classification tests tomorrow, I understand.

I have to write Les Kish again.  Yesterday I dropped him a note and asked him to come see me, so I'll have to cancel it. 

Love, Tom

  • Camp Lee, Virginia
  • 30 Jul 1942

30 Jul 1942, Letter No. 3 to Tom

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Postmarked: 10:00 AM, 31 Jul 1942, Philadelphia, PA

Postmarked: 7:30 PM, 2 Aug 1942, Fort George G. Meade, MD

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. A - 3, 1302d SURC, Fort George G. Mead [sic], Maryland [Note: address has been crossed out and letter forwarded to Camp Lee, Virginia.]

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thursday Eve.

Dear Tom,

Mr. Hawn from the bank called at 8:30 this morning and said the F.H.A. [Federal Housing Administration] had OK'd our mortgage. Later Mr. Henderson called and said the lawyer would get the title papers about August 15th - so now you'll have an "inheritance" in 127.

Your suit, 2 shirts and safety razor arrived via parcel post man at 10:15 this morning. They had gouged a hole in the package but I guess nothing spilled out. They must be letting you wear your socks and undies. Do you want the rest of them sent to you?

Merritt [Sharp] came down today to return your gas ration book and visited with me for about an hour and a half. He is going to try to get to the shore again this weekend - good excuse to recuperate.

Daddy had 2 evening calls in Woodbury after supper, so I went along.

When the F.H.A. called Peirce [Business College, Philadelphia] to verify Daddy's salary this week, I guess they also inquired about the expectancy of his job because Miss Kesler told Daddy that they told F.H.A. that he did good work and as far as Peirce was concerned his job would last indefinitely - so that is some comfort, isn't it?

I called Mr. Carr about your salary amt. yesterday and he said he would get it for me in a couple days. He asked all about you.

If you should find you are to leave Mead [sic] - and are not coming nearer home and can let me know in time - I'll hop a train down. I was tempted to call Alice and ask her to come down this week end but am afraid you might be in quarantine and not be allowed to have company.

Give us the low down on the rules about company when you know them.

Love from us both.


P.S. Do you want some writing paper? or anything else?

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, U.S.A.
  • 30 Jul 1942

Letter from the War Department

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3 Aug 1942 War Department Letter
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Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 3 Aug 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, New Jersey

From: War Department, Office of the Commanding General, Quartermaster Replacement Training Center, Camp Lee, Virginia


[Note: this form letter has been scanned as an image, attached.]

[Agnes Keiser added the following notes to the back of the letter:

Sat. July 25 to Camp Meade, Co. A-3, 1302d SURC, Ft. Geo. G. Meade, Marlyand

Thur. July 30 to Camp Lee

Started basic training Mon. Aug 3

Richmond [VA] to Petersburg [VA] - 29 miles

Petersburg to Camp Lee - 3 " [ditto]

Barracks - [? obliterated] Floor - 1 Platoon

1 Platoon - 75 men

1 Company - 4 P - 300 " [ditto]

1 Batallion - 4 C - 1200 " [ditto]

1 Regiment - 2 B - 2400 " [men] 


  • Camp Lee,
  • 3 Aug 1942

Card from the War Department

Postmarked: 5:30 PM, 4 Aug 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Agnes Freas Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

From: War Department, Headquarters, Camp Lee, Virginia



For prompt mail delivery when writing the following person, please use full address given below:

Pvt. Thomas Keiser, Jr.

Company G, 8th Regiment

1307th Service Unit

Quartermaster Replacement Training Center

Camp Lee, Virginia

[Agnes Keiser added the following notes to the front of the card:

Sun - July 26 - Mead [sic] (Kish)

   " [ditto] 28 Tom telephoned

Wed " [ditto] 29 - Mead [sic]

Thur " [ditto] 30 - Mead [sic]

Sun Aug 2 - Mead [sic]

      Aug 3 - Letter from Tom written Thur 30th

Mon Aug 3 - Lee

Tues Aug 4 - Lee

       Aug 6 - written Aug 3
  • Camp Lee, Virginia
  • 4 Aug 1942

2 Aug 1942, Letter No. 4 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:00 AM, 3 Aug 1942, Philadelphia, PA

Postmarked: 5:30 PM, 4 Aug 1942, Fort George G. Meade, MD 

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. A - 3, 1302d SURC, Fort George G. Mead [sic], Maryland [Note: address has been crossed out and letter forwarded to Camp Lee, Virginia.]

From: A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.



Dear Tom,

Just a little bit of a letter from you would be such a comfort, but I'd much rather have it be just neglect rather than illness that kept you from writing. I hope by this time your injections are over and you have not been distressed by them.

Gladys is in camp today with Lester. It will be fine if she sees you and can give us a message tomorrow.

I had a letter from Mary [Tom's sister] yesterday. She has had her hair cut and says it looks very nice. One of her friends, Betty Millnamon, has had to come home [from Ocean City, NJ] with impetigo.

Mrs. Pettyjohn called today to ask about you. She says Bill [Pettyjohn] weighs 185 lbs. Army life surely agrees with him. Douglas McArthur, who was in your class at H.S. is down there at Camp Shelby Miss. with Bill.

We're having awfully hot weather and lots of rain. Everytime I get the sand cleared off the side walks it rains and smears them all up again.

The Overmyers have gone to Toledo for two weeks. Charlie had more pain last week but the doctor said he could go. Dad is supposed to water their garden and pick the beans and tomatoes.

We couldn't buy a piece of beef uptown yesterday. I hope you fellows are getting lots of it. Will be glad to do without it, if we know you are getting your fill.

The Hendersons were over awhile tonight. Just back from Ocean City. Betty [Henderson] was on one of the floats in the baby parade. Dorothy [Henderson] has no date tonight. I guess she got tired of Harry, and the new fellow doesn't turn up steady.

I called Alice [Crompton] yesterday to see if she had heard from you. She was out getting her hair done - so Mrs. Crompton said you had written her last Sunday but not since. I do hope you will learn to love to write letters because now you'll have no one around to nag you to write as I used to do when you got presents and should write thank yous.

Scott MacGregor, who used to be guard at Roberts Park, was sent from [Fort] Dix to the Signal Corps at Monmouth as permanent swimming instructor. He had asked to be in camoflage because he is quite an artist but is delighted with his assignment.

Mrs. Pettyjohn's cousin, Morris Webb, who was married July 4th - with all those difficulties, has to report tomorrow with the August contingent.

Mrs. Blake called me tonight from Phila. She said Mr. Levereng has a baby son.

Daddy and I spent most of the day weeding in the yard and transplanting some of the flowers and patching up the concrete.

We both hope you are well and getting enjoyment out of your new environment.




Mon. AM

Dear Sunshine,

Daddy just ran up to see Gladys and she says you have been transferred to Camp Lee, Quartermasters. We did so want you nearer but we trust and hope you are getting the best for you.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 2 Aug 1942

3 Aug 1942, Letter No. 5 to Tom

Postmarked: 5:00 PM, 3 Aug 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T.758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Monday 12:30

Dear Tom,

Your Thursday letter just arrived and it did me more good than a tonic to know that you are well.  I wrote you letters Wednesday 29th, Thursday 30th, and Sunday Aug. 2nd.  If these do not reach you let me know and I will try to tell you all the news again.  I sent you the funnies last week and again this morning, and will be glad to do it each week if you enjoy them.

Mrs. Pettyjohn just had a letter from Bill and Jean.  He said, "Boy is it hot here!  Camp Lee was cool compared to Shelby."  He said it was so hot they were boring holes in the floor for the sweat to pour thru.  So I guess it is just hot everywhere.  If the dampness would just clear up I don't think we'd mind it so much.  Hope you don't have too much drilling till it is cooler.

I don't have Gordie's [Gordon MacWilliam] address.  When he first went there it was:  Co. L, 6th Quartermaster Training Regiment, but since then he became a Sergeant and then went to Officers school so I suppose it was changed each time.  I wrote Floy [Gordie's mom] and asked her to send it to you.  I haven't heard from her since July 18th but I suppose she has been too worried to write.

I had all I could do to keep from taking the train to Mead[sic] with Gladys on Saturday, but was afraid of missing you on the way.  It wouldn't have done me much good, would it?  Boy, I hope you don't go any farther - yet a while - anyway till I get adjusted to 300 miles.  While I felt you were at Mead[sic], it seemed it wouldn't be long before you would be home for a week end.

[Tom's father now writes:]  Glad to hear from you son. and I believe you will be happy in the quartermaster corps.  Try to write mother as often as you can and it will help a whole lot.  Mr. Witmer's son has been in Camp Lee for some time and has just finished an officer's training course, and is now a 2nd "Louie."

I will try to get his address and send it to you soon.  You might want to look him up.

If ever you wish to contact us in a hurry, use the phone and reverse the charges.  We are usually home from 5 PM to 7 PM and more often all evening.

Take care of yourself and I'm quite sure you will be O.K. for you will have the best of care.  I understand that Camp Lee is a very fine and well equipped camp.

Best of luck to you,


[Tom's mother continues:]  Daddy just said "To heck with the expense.  Call up Floy and get Gordie's address for Tom." - so you know I didn't have to be coaxed.

She said Gordie was getting along fine and was walking around but they had said nothing about his leaving the hospital or getting a furlough.  She writes him:

Staff Sergeant Gordon C. MacWilliam, Station Hospital, Camp Lee, Virginia

Willie is in N.Y. today - still has no prospects.  Don's job has folded up and he is looking again.  Floy was happy to know you are near Gordie.  I said maybe you had found him by this time.

How are your funds?  Let us know if you need cash, or anything else you would like to have.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 3 Aug 1942

3 Aug 1942, Letter No. 2 from Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 5 Aug 1942, Camp Lee,VA

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T-758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


August 3, 1942

Dear Mom and Pop,

Well, things seem to have settled down a bit.  I will be here in Camp Lee for eight weeks of basic training - four of drill and four of special Quartermaster training.  I will then probably be eligible for Officers Training.

I found out Gordon's [MacWilliam] address from the hospital - Company D, 2nd Regiment, Quartermaster School.  Camp Lee is shaped like a large "L" with my barracks about 16 blocks down one leg; the Q.M. School area seventeen down the other.  Co. D is away back in the woods at that end.  So, Sat. night I decided to take a postman's holiday, and I walked over to see Gordon.  Only the hospital didn't tell me that he had not as yet been released - of course I didn't ask that and so have no one to blame.  (I walked back ,too.)  Yesterday I went to the hospital to see him.  He looks fine and expects to be released in a week or so.  We had a couple of hours chat, and then I left, after promising to come back next Sunday to see him.

It certainly is hot here - about 100 degrees all day long, which is certainly not the most pleasant temperature for drilling and marching.  But, it cools off considerably at night, which makes sleeping endurable.  Sweat just pours off all this time.

How did the pictures turn out?  I presume you have them by the time you get this letter. 

I started this letter at noon.  It is now 8:30.  After lunch we went to a theater here in camp (there are 4 showing all the latest pictures every night) to see a special film on the Articles of War, and on Safeguarding Military Information.  Then we had a lecture on the War and its causes, how this one started, etc.  Then back to the barracks for instruction on how to prepare a pack for marches.  After supper I attended a special class which has as its object preparation for Board Examination for Officer Training.  Tonight was a lecture on chemical warfare which will be continued on Thursday.  Tomorrow night the class lecture will be on current events from 7:00 to 8:30.  It is not compulsory, but I expect it will be a big help.  Attending these classes on Mon., Tue. & Thurs. nights I ought to be able to pick up several points which will stand me in good stead.

There was a rainstorm tonight.  It was a real downpour for several minutes (the first we have had here) and it did cool off the air somewhat, but it won't last.  It is hot again already yet.

Army life seems to be a good way for me to save money.  I started out on the 25th with $10, and I still have $7.15.  I couldn't do that good in Collingswood, could I?  Maybe I shouldn't have told you that, for I want you to send me a carton of cigarettes.  I have just about finished Jane's [Jane Freas was an aunt] carton. You can get them much cheaper if you apply to have them sent by the Tobacco company than they can be bought at the camp exchanges.

Will you also send me four of my pants hangers and my bedroom slippers?  I should also like to have the portable radio, but I don't know whether it would be possible to ship it without injury.  It would be swell if you folks could bring it down, but I don't suppose you could spare the gasoline to come 250 miles and back.

Maybe you could come down by train some week end.  You could stay in Richmond, which is 25 miles away, or in Petersburg, which is only 3 miles.  Let me know.  I don't expect to be able to get a leave any time before I finish my 8 weeks of basic training.  Since the farthest I can go from camp now is either Richmond or Hopewell, I won't be able to get home for a week-end unless I were to go A.W.O.L. [Absent With Out Leave], and that is a bit too risky.

I want to tell you something really ridiculous that happened during the lecture we had this afternoon, that I mentioned earlier.  We were sitting out in the woods, and the Captain was telling us various aspects of life here at Lee, and answering the several questions that came up.  Our dope got up and asked him (I don't remember the exact question, but it was something like this): "Now we are privates in the Quartermaster Corps.  When we become officers, do we get Full-master ratings?  The Captain didn't even bother to answer, but joined in the general laughter.

The fellows here are all swell.  We have in our barracks a good many "Skis" from Hazleton.  The rest are mostly from Pittsburgh and Phila., and that fellow I told you of in my other letter, who is from Sonderton, is still with us.  The fellow on the one side of my bunk is from Lakehurst; on the other side from Upper Darby.  This latter fellow, Harry Harvey, is having his mother and girl friend come down this week end.  He wants me to meet them, and I may ask them to give you a message.

It just started to rain again, and the cool breezes feel wonderful.  I will take a shower now, and then to sleep.

Lots of love,


  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 3 Aug 1942

4 Aug 1942, Letter No. 6 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 5 Aug 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.



Dear Tom,

I had a disappointment today when I went over to Gimbel's [in Phila.] for your pictures. They had finished the wrong ones and those of you with the smile had so many lines brushed out that it didn't look like you. So now they are going to do the whole business over, but I'll have to wait 10 days more to get them.

Dick Stryker called up last night to ask about you. I told him to stop in for his "racetrack" picture when he could.

I an enclosing an article about your friend, "Tombstone." [The article follows:]


Monday, Aug. 3, 1942, Courier Post, Camden, NJ

Charles G. Canning, 34, of 118 Frazier avenue, Collingswood, is in the Cooper hospital with injuries suffered when his automobile side-swiped an abutment on the Admiral Wilson boulevard, at Federal street today. He has a fractured right ankle, lacerations of the chin and a blackened right eye. He was taken to the hospital by a motorist. Police say that Canning probably lost control of his car.


I called his mother up this morning. She said Charles was unconscious when they picked him up and hasn't any idea what happened. He had to have stitches taken in his ear and was so bandaged up that they didn't know how badly he was scared[sic - scarred]. His ankle was so swollen that he hasn't been able to have it set yet so he must stay in the hospital till that is done and until all danger of infection from his wounds is over.

His mother said he had been deferred in the draft because his father has heart attacks and he, Chas., has to look after the business. She wanted to be remembered to you. She said you and Chas. called each other "War buddies."

Uncle Leo [Stahl] called me up today to inquire about you. He is very much hurt because Lois [his wife] is seriously considering enlisting in the W.A.A.C.s. The captain at their filter center is pressing her to go to Des Moines for training and a commission and then maybe come back and teach at the Syracuse center [where the Stahl's lived] - but of course in the army they must sign for any place in the world. Betty Jane [Stahl - their daughter] and Jane [Freas - Lois' and Agnes' sister] are having a fit about it and Leo won't write to her until she makes her own decision. Lois wrote to me today and said she promised B.J. not to make a decision until she knew where Leo goes from Phila. [where Leo was working temporarily for National Cash Register] and if B.J. gets a job.

I received the form notice from your commanding officers this morning. [ref. Aug 3 War Department letter, above] Is it a new ruling that no furloughs are granted, except for emergencies? Gordie [MacWilliam] and Bill [Pettyjohn] both got home many times, so naturally that was what we were looking forward to. With the basic training condensed from 14 to 8 weeks, I dare say they will keep you pretty busy and we will have to be patient.

Mr. Pettyjohn said Bill had to have a permit for them to visit him at Camp Lee. You might inquire sometime if that is necessary and later on, when you get more adjusted to your routine, if you would care to have us come down - we will.

If you find things going a little easier and you are going to be free at that time - the Labor Day weekend, Sunday Sept. 6, might be a good time as it would give us a Saturday to come and Monday to return. If you find you are not free at that time - we will just make it some other time when you are.

Your new Book of the Month ought to be coming along soon. Shall I send it right on to you?

Daddy is going down to Ocean City and Atlantic City again on Thursday - so Mrs. Campbell and I are going along to see our daughters. Merritt came back from the shore tonight. I asked Mrs. Sharp to go down with us Thurdsay but she can't because there are so many things to be done before the brother's wedding next Sunday. The married brother from Oaklyn has been called up again for examination. His wife is expecting and they are terribly upset about it.

The insides of the living room radio just came back today. It cost $6.39 to take the squeeks out. They haven't fixed the bed-room one yet because 4 of their radio men quit last week and went to the ship yard.

Les [Kish] and Gladys went to the reception center at Mead[sic] to see you Sunday. Someone in charge said there was no one ther by the name of Keiser. Les said, "Why, yes there is, he is an enlisted man" - and in less than 2 minutes he told them you had been sent to Lee, so that was how I knew it before your letter arrived Monday.

I'd like to hear about your clothes and food and bed and everything if you get time to write it all.

Our love to you,


I'ts much cooler here tonight so I'm hoping you have relief, too.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 4 Aug 1942

6 Aug 1942, Letter from Tom to Mary

Postmarked: 11:30AM, 7 Aug 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Miss Mary Lois Keiser, 1120 Central Avenue, Ocean City, New Jersey, c/o the Georgian

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T-758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


August 6, 1942

Hi Kid,

Many thanks for your card, which was transferred to me and just reached here this afternoon. Note this new address. I'll be here for about 8 weeks, probably more.

On the old address at Fort Meade, the S.U.R.C. stood for "Service Unit Reception Center," but that doesn't mean anything much now. I was there only 5 days when I was shipped here. And it is hot here - I''ll say it is!

I got stuck in Quartermaster Corps (hereinafter written QMC for quickness) and not the Signal Corps as I wanted. Working for the Government doesn't mean you can get what you want. They put you where they need the most men at the time they want them. Of course, there is a QMC in every branch of the service. It is QMC's duty to bring up the supplies. Signal Corps has one too, so it is just possible that I may get there yet.

Mom said in one of her letters that she and Lois [Stahl - his mother's sister] got down to see you before Loch[sic - Lois] went back to Syracuse, and that they approved of your rooms and the Plymouth Inn. So, I guess you are set for the summer. Glad to hear you're having such a swell time.

Every time I get to feeling OK they give us another shot in the arm and then it hurts like the devil for about a week.

Last Sunday I went to see Gordon MacWilliam. He is still in the hospital for observation, but he looks fine and expects to be released in about a week. We had a couple hours chat and I promised to come back this Sunday.

Bet you have a beautiful tan by now. I got a burn when Merritt and I were down to see you and it is peeling off now. So it doesn't look like much. Did you get Betty's bathing suit? It looked well[sic] on you.

A fellow in the barracks took some snapshots but hasn't had them developed yet. Soon as I can I''ll send you a snap. It was so hot then I didn't have my shirt on, but you will be able to get a good look at this Godawful haircut. Maybe it's not so bad though 'cause I don't have to brush or comb it.

How is Merritt [Sharp]? I understand he came down again to see you over the week-end. He wasn't feeling so hot and you were supposed to be part of the cure - I'll bet you sure pepped him up, beautiful. He certainly thinks the world of you, kid, and while I don't want to get preachy, he doesn't like to have you going on drinking bouts at Sam's. Of course, that's your affair. So, I'll lay off and not butt in any more. I guess you're old enough to take care of your own doings.

We are really rushed here. It seems to be "Fall In" all the time and as soon as we are dismissed there is just about time to turn around before there is something else to "Fall Out" for. As yet we have only had class lectures, calesthenics, and a little marching. But next week they will start training us with rifles, 4-day hikes, and the like.

This is quite some letter for the first time a guy writes to his sister and I'd like to write more, but I have to get my laundry over by 6:00 pm and it's ten of now.

Let me hear from you again soon.



Regards to the gang.

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 6 Aug 1942

6 Aug 1942, Letter No. 7 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:00 AM, 7 Aug 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thursday Aug. 6, 11:00PM

Dear Tom,

It was certainly a perfect ending to a full day to come home from Ocean City tonight and find your letter waiting for us. I wonder if you have received any of my letters, Let me know if you get them. I wrote Wed. 29th, Thur. 30th and Sunday Aug. 2nd to Camp Mead[sic - Meade] - and Mon. Aug. 3rd and Tues. Aug. 4 to Camp Lee.

I've had 3 different ways of addressing you at Camp Lee, - the one you sent; the one from the commanding officer, which was similar to yours but omitted the Barracks number; and today a card from the War department, which said, "For prompt mail delivery when writing the following person, please use the full address given below.

Pvt. Thomas Keiser, Jr.

Company G - 8th Regiment

1307th Service Unit

Quartermaster Replacement Training center

Camp Lee, Virginia"

Daddy said you ought to know where you are - so I will use yours unless I hear from you to the contrary.

I will mail your hangars, slippers and cigarettes tomorrow. I've looked at your slippers every day and wondered if they wouldn't feel good to you at the end of the day, so I'm glad you asked for them. Daddy is afraid your radio might be smashed in transit and thinks we had better bring that to you.

Mrs. Pettyjohn told us of a very nice auto camp at Lake Moore near Petersburg where they stayed. If the plan I told you of in my last letter is OK with you, we will bring your radio and extra battery down then. If not OK, we will try to come when you suggest. Daddy got someone to promise him 40 extra gallons of gas and I haven't used any of your book except the 2 we gave to Merritt. We will take your car to the Jehl Bros. garage on Monday and have the clutch and brakes fixed so we can come down in that - because Daddy couldn't use his. Maybe Merritt will come with us to help drive. I asked Alice but she said she had to work Labor Day. Maybe she can manage it some other week end. We won't make any definite plans till we know what is most agreeable to you.

We had a drowning in Cooper River Tuesday night. A 13 year old Camden boy stood up in a canoe and fell in. Three or four fire companies arrived with pulmotors and grappling hooks. Jack Sullivan was out in his kayak and saw him fall. He dived in for him and lost his pants - with $5 in his pocket. It was 45 minutes before they got him and too late to resus[c]itate him. His name was Holshue.

The bishop is going to send Jack [Sullivan] to a school in Baltimore for 10 years free of charge and make a priest out of him.

The Cools had a 50th anniversary today. I sent a donation of $1 to Mrs. Irish. She took in over $100 so she got a $100 bill from the bank to present to them. Louella and Mrs. Steamer went over to the party, which was continuous from 3 to 10 - but I preferred to go down to see Mary.

Daddy took Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Clayton and Martha Jean, Mrs. Pettyjohn and me along. We spent the day on the beach and all the kids asked for you. There were 23 in the crowd. It was a perfect day, clear and cool, and Mrs. Pettyjohn said she wished we could share it with you boys down in the heat. We had supper at Plymouth Inn and Mary [Keiser] waited on us. She gave me $5 more to bring home, which makes her total now $41. Pretty good I think - to earn a vacation at Ocean City and that much extra. She looked fine today and her hair is very pretty.

I'll bet you and Gordie [MacWilliam] had a good old talk-fest. It is nice to know that he is better. Floy [MacWilliam] is so anxious to see him. When does he expect to go to Long Branch? Give him our love when you see him again.

We were pleased to hear about your work and are glad that you are interested in it and especially glad that you think the fellows are all swell. I'll bet you'll make some fine friends and you'll also see the funny side of a lot of people. You missed college life - with its dormitory associations and bull sessions - so this will make up to you somewhat for that loss and I'll bet you will love that part of it - as both your father and I did - and being the student you are - the other part, the grind, will be fun, too.

What we all wonder is - how you get up in the morning and whether you have had to be called twice.

Mrs. Pettyjohn returned "The Moon is Down" - the play flopped in Phila. because the audiences hissed the Nazi officers because they were too good to be real.

Bob Partridge is home from Florida for a week - will go back next Monday. Mrs. P. is taking roomers now because she can't bear to be in the house alone - and of course she can use the money.

Vernon Ware has finished his basic training at Camp Croft [Craft?], S.C. and they haven't heard yet where he is to be sent. He isn't getting much of a kick out of army life.

Are your inoculations all over now? How about vitamins? Do you miss your pills - or do they give them to you in some hidden fashion?

A funny incident held us up this morning. Just before Mrs. Campbell was ready, their bull dog Betty (in heat) got out; some one left the door unlatched; and a great big mongrel went to town. It took many buckets of water and much embarrassment to free Betty - and since she is such a little dog, she couldn't bear the pups of a big dog - so I drove Mrs. Campbell and Betty down to Dr. Fittipaldi and he was going to do away with her. She had a cancerous sore on her leg and she hates children, so Mrs. C. was going to get rid of her anyway before Eleanor's baby arrived.

I was talking with Helen Wygle (Mary's [Keiser] southern waitress friend) today. When she goes home to Western Va. she is going by way of Richmond to stay over two days with a friend. They will attend some U.S.O. [United Service Organizations] doings - so she said she hoped she might see you.

Guess I'll go to bed now, and sleep better because of this swell letter from my Sunshine.



Your letter written Aug. 3 was postmarked Camp Lee Aug. 5th - 1:30 PM and arrived here today Aug. 6th.


Dear Son:

Glad to get your letter and know you are getting along O.K. I think one can have a very fine and interesting time in camp, if they will adjust themselves to it.

I have, and am, making arrangements for enough gas to get down to see you, and if all goes well, you can look for us Labor Day weekend.

Give my regards to Gordon [MacWilliam] and tell him I hope he will be completely well soon.

Best of luck to you. Take good care of health for it means a lot.




[Enclosed with the letter was a news clipping, as follows:]

USO Gets Proceeds from Club Dance

Medford Lakes, Aug 5 - Medford Lakes Colony Club held a USO barn dance in the community house and raised over $90 for that agency, in addition to over-subscribing its quota in the regular USO campaign, Mayor Todd announced today.

Costume awards went to Mrs. Edward Moranz, Richard Charles, Mrs. David Johansen and George Hagerty. Specialty numbers featured Richard Meyers, Daniel Jones and Elmer Tattersdale. The committee in charge included Fay Binns, Mrs. Jack Gillen, John Binns and Ray Bondy. Music was furnished by Don Risler's orchestra.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 6 Aug 1942

7 Aug 1942, Letter No. 8 to Tom

Postmarked: 7:30 PM, 7 Aug 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Friday Aug. 7th, 3:30 PM

Dear Tom,

I was talking to Miss Baker today. She is head of the American Service Aid and she wanted to know your address. They write to all the boys from Collinngswood and ask them what they would like to have - and if within reason supply the wants. She said so many of the boys like these "shower bags" as they call them, to carry their things to the bath in, and she insisted on my taking this one and all the accompanying articles for you, so when you have a minute, drop a line to

Miss F. Gertrude Baker

American Service Aid

11 E. Franklin St.

Collingswood, NJ

and thank her for it. They meet every Thursday night and either make things for the boys or pack cookies or write letters or take eats to the boys on duty around here. They want to furnish a place for the local boys to gather, as soon as they can.

The town is seriously considering a 10 o'clock curfew for all kids 16 and under, because it is becoming pretty disgraceful how so many real young kids are hanging around the spotlights until midnight and after, and won't go away when told.

Your book of the month came today. $2.62 - I will pay for it out of your envelope and hold it here until you tell me whether you want it sent to you now or not. Shall I send you the next advertising literature that comes or do you have too much to read now?

Have you been able to get at a piano since you have been in camp?

Daddy just got one of his Irem cards. It said Laning Harvey of W.B. [Wilks-Barre, PA, where they lived previously] had died and also Heine Kleinkauf on Aug. 4th. He was your old piano teacher, do you remember?

Lynn Carr sent a statement of your earnings for 1942. He said including salary and bonuses, the gross amount was $902.50. I will put it in the box with your other papers, so you can use it for your next income tax statement.

No other receipt has come from George Hill on your insurance. Do you think I'd better call him about it?

Daddy is going out on a call - so I'll send this uptown with him now. He is going out to collect for the U.S.O. [United Service Organizations] tonight.

Love from us both,


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 7 Aug 1942

9 Aug 1942, Letter No. 9 to Tom

Postmarked: 7:00 PM, 10 Aug 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.



Dear Tom,

Daddy and I just finished making you some cookies, and I will send them out in the morning. I'm going to enclose a little sweitzer[sic] cheese. Let me know how it arrives and if OK. I can send you some more some time. If there is anything special you get hungry for, just tell us and we will try to get it to you.

Alice [Crompton] came over to see us yesterday about one o'clock. She had to work in the A.M. She visited with Daddy and me until 3:30 and then she had to leave because her mother is in N.Y. and Alice had to do the food shopping. We surely enjoyed having her and wish she could have stayed longer. When she left she took her umbrella and needed it because it was raining.

It has been pouring here off and on ever since. Hope you don't have to tramp around in the mud. What do you do when your shoes get wet? Do you have more than one pair?

We are wondering if you knew Gordy [MacWilliam] went home last Wednesday for 2 weeks. I had a note from Floy [MacWilliam] saying how happy they were to have him. Gordy told her you look fine and seemed in very good spirits. He also said the very remarkable score you got on your I.Q. won't do you a bit of harm - that it is very unusual and he feels you will progress rapidly. Alice told us your score was 145 out of a possible 150. That is certainly swell, Sunshine!

Gordy is supposed to resume classes when he returns and Floy is hoping it won't be too strenuous for him. He said he would be seeing you frequently.

I was talking to Lester Kish again this A.M. as he came from church. He said he got your note and was sorry to have missed you, but he felt sure you would like Camp Lee. I guess he will be staying at Mead[sic- Meade] indefinitely.

Daddy and I listened to a radio program called "Quartermaster" at 7:30 last night over W.I.P. It was about Food for the Men in the Field and it was quite surprising to hear the many things that your department must know and do about foods.

I read a few pages in your "Just and the Unjust" last night. Here is a quote - "The dwarf in the sideshow married the girl in the next booth, the tallest woman in the world, - yeah, his friends put him up to it." Now, do you think that's nice? It is entirely irrelevant to the story, but authors seem to think it necessary.

Brysons stopped here awhile Friday night to get us to walk around the block, and then we went in their place and played bridge awhile. Lex was especially vituperative and he got my goat and I finally sailed into him and told him what I thought of him and others like him who criticized - not even constructively - and did nothing for the war effort themselves. I told him I would walk out of his house and not return if he ever talked against Roosevelt again. I guess we're still friends - we played two rubbers of bridge after that - but he surely did calm down.

Merritt's [Sharp] brother is to be married at 6 tonight in Salem. Merritt will be best man in a big church wedding. It's going to be a wet one from appearances now.

I am sending your Book of the M[onth] advance report on to you. I don't believe you will want the September choice. I will keep here the little slip that must be returned to them before Aug. 25 - so you let me know your decision.


Dear Son:

I guess mother has told you all the news. We have not been out of the house all day. We, myself included, have been baking, reading, washing dishes, etc. and mom says I can shellac the floor from the dining room to the kitchen tonight before I go to bed. Boy what a day. I guess army life is much easier. What?

Not much news so will start to get dinner ready.




Gosh, but your Dad is henpecked - isn't he?

Love from Mom


[Included with this letter was a separate note, which follows, as well as a reminder card, also described.]

Please tell me if you want the funnies. Daddy say[sic] you don't and I'm only making a baby out of you. I have them all saved and ready to send and if you want them - you say so and you shall have them.


A Reminder

According to our records your eyes were last examined

Aug. 20, 1938

We advise that you return to your eye physician for a re-examination

Doyle & Bowers

125 South 18th Street


[Also written on this card was the note: "Was this the last time you had your glasses changed? I suppose you have had a recent test in the army."]

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 9 Aug 1942

9 Aug 1942, Letter No. 3 From Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 11 Aug 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T-758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


August 9, 1942

Dear Mom and Pop,

It is now a quarter of six and I have until eleven to get some letters written. I wish I were a little better at this telepathy business - then I could just send you a thought every few minutes. Believe me, I do think of you quite often.

All your letters except Sunday the 2nd have now reached me [Note: That letter did arrive and is shown above.], and in addition, the Sunday funnies that were sent to [Fort] Meade. You need not send the funnies, for the [Philadelphia] Inquirer is on sale here at Lee.

I'm glad that something has at last happened about the house, and also that you can hold the Clinic there. That ought to make it a good deal easier for you. [Note: The clinic was for Planned Parenthood, and Mrs. Keiser used to travel to Camden to volunteer.] I was also glad to read the clippings you sent. "Tombstone" [Charles Canning] must certainly have been quite banged up. If I can, I'll drop him a line. It was nice of you to have called Mrs. Canning. I'll also have to drop Howard a line to see if he is still kicking around at Medford Lakes or if he is as yet in camp.

There was a fellow from Philadelphia with whom I made friends at Fort Meade. I dropped him a note to let him have my address and asked him to let me hear from him. Just a day or two ago I had a note from him. He stayed one more day than I at Meade and entrained on Friday. In his note he says he is at the Ambassador Hotel in Atlantic City - private room and bath, with hot and cold running water, either salt or fresh. His room also overlooks the ocean. Some swell picking, isn't it? When I tell him about Lee, I don't think he will be very envious.

Had a card and a letter from Mary [Keiser] and two letters from Alice [Crompton]. So I will have some answers to write to them. By the way, the penmanship isn't always so good in my letter. I'm sitting on my cot, and every so often change my position. I could go to the Recreation Hall, and have a table to write on, but there is always a radio going and someone playing the piano, in addition to several games of ping pong. Here there aren't quite so many distractions - a poker game, a radio, and every so often some fellow going past stops to say a few words. It has only taken me half an hour to get this far. Of course part of that is the way I go at letter writing. You know! I'll write to you as often as I can, but they work us quite hard here and there isn't much time. In the evenings I have to do some of my own laundry, for it takes a week to get back what you send out, then shave, shower, and by then I am generally ready to hit the hay. Lights are put out at 9:30. Bed check at 11:00.

I'll tell you something about camp life here. I have an $8,000 home, quite well equipped. It has an air conditioning system (but not very much cool air comes from it), is equipped with electricity, and has hot and cold showers (hot, if you can get it before someone else), sinks and toilets. I live upstairs. There are a mattress, 2 sheets, a blanket and pillow for each cot. Clothes are hung from a rack on the wall, and some are stored in a foot-locker (like my camp box that I had at the Y camp). If you want to know where some of the tax money is going, figure $8,000 for a barracks building; each barracks holds a platoon. There are four platoons to a company, four companies to a battalion, two battalions to a regiment, and I have so far counted thirteen regiments here at Lee. That is living quarters. There is a mess hall for each company, administration buildings, four theatres[sic], 7 post exchanges (stores), and the quartermaster school buildings and several fire companies. All of which must represent a tidy sum.

It isn't too hard getting up at 5:45. Then we fall into formation for Reveille and police the area. Back into the barracks to make up our cots, mop the floor and clean up. Then breakfast, calisthenics, then classes or drilling - whichever is on the menu. At 11:30 the morning is over - we line up again for lunch, at 1:00 the afternoon classes or drilling starts and lasts until 4:30. Then comes Retreat and then supper. After that we are on our own, unless there is some special class for the evening. The same schedule holds for six days and Sunday is given over to doing whatever comes to mind.

This past week has been rainy and damp, quite a relief from the heat, but it has warmed up again tonight, and I guess tomorrow will be a sizzler again. Of course I caught a cold from sitting on the damp ground during one of our classes but it has just about cleared up now, and I expect it will be gone tomorrow.

My equipment is by now quite considerable. I have two summer suits (shirts plus pants), two winter suits (shirts plus pants), an overcoat, raincoat, blouse, field jacket, two fatigue suits (work clothes), toilet articles, leggings, caps, gas mask, rifle, haversack, meal can with knife, spoon, and fork, canteen, first aid kit, half a tent, cartridge belt, and various other items, including 2 pair of shoes, 6 pair of socks, 5 sets of underwear, and 4 handkerchiefs (all G.I.) G.I. is Government Issue. Enough of that - I'll tell you more later.

I went up to the hospital to see Gordie [MacWilliam] again and found that he had left for Long Branch for at least 14 days - maybe 28, so that ought to pep Floy [MacWilliam] and Mac up quite a bit. He is evidently all well again after the operation. So I guess it will be some time before I will see him again.

The other day (one goes like another and it is hard to keep track of them without effort) we went on a four-hour hike. We left at 7:30 and got back about 11:30. the march was about 6 miles and the whole batallion went - about 1200 men. We had a pack to carry and at that time there were about half enough rifles so each man carried a rifle for half the march - about 2 hours. Fortunately, I had mine the first half. To lapse into the vernacular, my ass was dragging, and it was enough to carry Pvt. Keiser and pack without the rifle for the last half. By the way, it was only a light pack - there are two others, each with more equipment, and I guess the marches will get longer too. Oh well! I guess I can get blistered feet just as well as the next fellow. We marched for 50 minutes and then a 10 minute break for a cigarette. That's the way we have class lectures, too, 50 minutes of instruction and then a 10-minute break. That afternoon we marched out to a large instruction ground back of the camp for instruction in tent-pitching. There were rumors that we would have the afternoon off to bathe our feet, but no such luck!

I have also had a go at K.P. [Kitchen Patrol] (which no longer means Korb Pettit! [Note: A former employer of Tom's.]). The cups were first and went pretty easy. The plates were next, and being heavier, were a little bit harder; the vegetable dishes and platters, weighing about 3 pounds each, were back-breaking after the first 150. Then the mess hall had to be cleaned up, tables set, and string beans prepared for the next day. The potatoes were all done, fortunately! That was just one meal. The next time it is my turn at it, it will be an all-day job.

Last night I went into Petersburg (3 miles) with Harry Harvey. His girl friend and mother were down for the week-end. I stayed in town last night (there is no bed check Saturday night, so it is permissible) and we all came back to camp early this afternoon. I stayed here because I was going to see Gordie, and Bud and his mother and girl went back to town. They came by bus and leave tonight about 8. It is an eleven hour trip. I gave Mrs. Harvey your address and she said she would get in touch with her[sic], so you can find out that I'm doing pretty well, except for this cold. But that's almost gone and is nothing to worry about.

I will certainly be glad to see you if you can get down Labor Day. I'll check up on regulations and let you know about reservations later. I haven't had much time for War and Peace, but if you want, send the books and I'll see what I can do about reading them.

I have a couple of other letters to write, so will close this one now.  Could my account stand a $5 withdrawal?  (I went to Petersburg so I must reverse my decision about money mentioned in my last letter.)



Use the address I gave you - it is the quickest if not the most technical.


[Also enclosed with this letter when I found it was a note probably written by Mrs. Keiser, after talking to or otherwise hearing from Mrs. Harvey, as follows:]

280 miles to Camp Lee.  Neighbor uses 13 gal to Richmond and does it in 6 hours - Petersburg is 22 miles farther.  Camp is ten minutes farther.

Mrs. Harvey took 7:00 bus Sat A.M. at 69th St. [Phila.]  Changed in Washington [D.C.]  Took bus "Norfolk by way of Richmond" and got in Petersburg at 6:45 Sat eve.  It cost her $8.40 return.

Son met her - called Tom over and they stayed in a double room in Petersburg over night.  Did camp Sunday and then went back to Petersburg and left by bus at 8 o'clock - rode all night and got in Phila. at 6:30 A.M.

Phone call costs 65 cents.

Train takes 6-1/2 hours - costs $12 plus.

Her son comes home Sat. eve. by bus and arrives 6:30 A.M. Sunday morning.  Leaves Sun afternoon - Costs only about $6 - soldier rates. 

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 9 Aug 1942

12 Aug 1942, Letter No. 10 to Tom

Postmarked: 1:00 PM, 11 Aug 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.



Dear Tom,

Your Sunday letter just came and I'm rushing uptown to send you a Money Order.  It's 11:30 and the mail goes out at 12.

Take care of your cold - you know a little Argyrol 10% helps you a lot.

If you want me to come down Saturday - call me by telephone and reverse the charges and I will come down either by bus or train.

Will write more when I come back.




  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 12 Aug 1942

12 Aug 1942, Letter No. 11 to Tom

story image(s)
News Clipping

Postmarked: 9:30 AM, 13 Aug 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Included with the letter was a news clipping entitled "Industrial Oddities."]


Wednesday eve, Aug. 12, 9:45 [P.M.]

Dear Tom,

I couldn't wait for Mrs. Harvey to get in touch with me so yesterday about noon I called her up, and heard the story of your trip to Petersburg. I told her I appreciated their including you in their party. Today Daddy has a call over in Upper Darby [PA] and he stopped to see Mrs. Harvey. She said Bud [Harry Harvey] was going to call her up tonight, so Daddy told her if you were along to have Bud tell you to call us up and reverse the charges.

She said she thought Bud was going to take a six o'clock train Saturday night and get into the 30th Street Station [in Philadelphia] at 12 o'clock and she wondered if we didn't want you to come along. It would surely be grand to have you if you were permitted to come - and if the trip wouldn't tire you too much for your next days work. You know we always want you and don't ever let the financial cost ever hold you back. The satisfaction of seeing you can't be measured in money and we will always find it somewhere. If you do come, call us or send us a telegram collect and we will meet you at 30th Street. If you don't come, we will understand that in your judgement you shouldn't take the risk.

I sent you a M.O. [Money Order] for $10 this morning at 12 and I will send you more next week if you want it.

Mrs. Harvey said you were using tissues Sunday so your cold must have been in your head. I hope it has gone by now and won't get on your chest. Please don't neglect your health, dear. I dare say they will give you proper treatment if you report your cold.

She said Bud wanted his bathing suit and more bath towels. Shall I sent[sic] your suit and towels to you I know your space for keeping things must be limited - but please ask for anything you want.

She told Daddy you said something about wanting Dress Shoes. Lester had on a pair that I spoke to him about. They were plain toes with one buckle over to the side. I saw them in [the] Hanover window in Camden - marked for Service Men. Are they what you meant and would like me to get a pair size 2[?]-9-1/2 and send them to you on approval? Or can you shop in Petersburg and prefer to get them there and shall I send you the money for them - $4.50 I think they were at the Hanover.

I'll send you the Courier [Camden, NJ] funnies for last week. If they don't appeal tell me when you write again and I won't accumulate them. If you get any kick out of them - I'll enjoy saving and sending them.

Would you like a portfolio that would hold your paper and act as a desk or hard surface to write on? I saw a nice one uptown today for 59 cents and I'll be glad to get it for you.

Mrs. Henderson had a letter from Vernon Ware. He said he bet Tom would find it pretty tough in the army because he was used to light work - and he (Vernon) was not finding it any picnic. They haven't heard yet where Vernon's next camp is.

Your friend was certainly lucky to draw the Ambassador. The Army has taken over every Boardwalk Hotel now - so a good many men are going to have pretty swell locations. How grand it would have been to have you so close - yet I am glad you are not in the Air Corps.

Dad said he wrote you today and gave you heck for not writing me oftener. Don't take it to heart, dear. I was terribly worried from the Tues. night you called until the following Monday when your letter came because I thought you were still at Mead[sic-Meade] and was afraid you might be sick from your inoculations, and couldn't understand why I hadn't a line from you if you were able to send it.

It seems to take so long for your letters to leave Camp Lee. The letter you wrote me Sunday (9th) was marked Camp Lee Aug. 11, 10:30 AM - and I got it this morning Wed. Aug. 12. So you see it isn't your fault. And that letter was swell. I've read it and read it and tonight Dad has his poker crowd here and I read it to them.

Your subtle sense of humor is a saving grace and will help you over many a rough spot, Tommie.

Mary [Keiser] said she had a letter from you Monday afternoon. She said it was the first letter she ever got from you and that it was a very interesting one.

Have you heard how they punish naughty soldiers? They send them to bed with a WAAC.

A letter from Mildred Hauser today says Albert has intestinal grippe and a sinus infection and is so weak he can't sit up any time at all. Al Sr. has applied for a commission in case salesmen should be dispensed with but he hasn't heard further.

Skippy Wallace went past tonight and asked for you. He said you should write when you get time. Bergen[?] was home over las week end.

Grandma's [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] letter said Jane [Freas] arrived last Sunday. [travel from Syracuse, NY to Jermyn, PA] Frank [Waters, Tom's uncle] is planning to take them to Berwick [PA] next Sat. and they will come down here by train Monday or Tuesday to stay a few days.

Grandma is planning to take Annie [Reilly] back to live with her until October 1st and thinks she will then close up the house. She is never going to be happy away from the place and it would be swell if she and Annie can get along there together. She will have a Martin boy come in each day to bring up coal and his mother will clean and do the washing each week. I hope it will work if that is what she wants.

Mr. Nagler[?] said Bob called them last night from Wichita Falls, Texas. He is drilling every day in the sun at 127 degrees. He says he really sweats. The girls down there won't dance with the soldiers and he says they have to pay for everything they get from the U.S.O. [United Service Organizations] Is that usual? I thought they gave their services and entertainment, etc. They are making their drive here now.

We've had almost steady rain here lately. South Jersey is worrying about its tomato crop and other things will spoil soon, too - if it doesn't dry up.

Mr. Henderson called this A.M. and said they had received the Title for the House from West Jersey Title & Trust Company. Now they must send that to Judge Sharp and get the Deed and maybe we can come to final settlement next week. I'll be glad when it is "signed, sealed and delivered" and we will know just how we stand.

Bob Partridge was home from Florida for seven days. He went back Monday so we haven't done anything about moving the clinic yet but we must start disposing of the furniture soon. We will open here Sept. 9th.

A bottle of alcohol would be a big help for your tired feet. How I'd like to send you all such things - and I only hesitate because I know so little of your restrictions or whether you'd have a place for or time to use such things. I hope you don't get blistered feet. I suppose your army shoes are hard to get used to at first.

And K.P. - Alice [Crompton] said you cut your finger. Did it heal OK? Did you get charged for the breakage? Aren't you glad you had a little home experience in that line?

Mrs. Harvey said you got so many stews. Judy Garland said in the paper that she got so much steak and chicken in the Army mess that she couldn't keep her weight down - so I've been hoping that you were living on the fat of the land.

Don't worry about your penmanship. I'll decipher it some way. I know how tough it is for you to write so many of us when you have so little time, and I'll be patient if I have a few lines from you once a week. You won't mind if I write oftener than that to you, will you? If you're really tired and terribly busy just drop me a card and tell me how you are. And do let me know about your cold.



You will be having a birthday pretty soon and I suppose the folks will be asking me what they can send you. If there is anything you can use and would like to have you might as well name it. Since Uncle Sam is providing your clothing it leaves little for people to give you as presents.


Dear Son,

Just sent the mob home. I made 55 cents so we will have a Hell of a good time when I come down.

Time to crawl in bed now - 1 A.M.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 12 Aug 1942

14 Aug 1942, Message from Tom

[A note was found among these letters in Mrs. Keiser's handwriting.  It is as follows:]

Friday A.M. Aug 14th 9 o'clock.  Night letter from Petersburg.  Tried all eve to phone.  Lines busy.  Will contact you as soon as possible.  Am well and will write soon.  Tom 

  • Petersburg, Virginia, USA
  • 14 Aug 1942

15 Aug 1942, Telegram From Tom

Western Union

[To:] Keiser 127 Haddon Ave.

[From:] Richmond, Va.

Bud and I arriving 30th st. station 4:45 AM Sunday morning tell Mrs. Harvey


[In Mrs. Keiser's handwriting on this message, which was typed on a piece of paper and not a standard telegram format, was "Sat August 15, delivered by policeman - 2:30 AM Sunday"]

  • Richmond, Virginia, USA
  • 15 Aug 1942

17 Aug 1942, Letter No. 12 to Tom

Postmarked: 1:00 PM, 17 Aug 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Monday A.M.

Dear Tom,

It certainly did us all a lot of good to have you with us yesterday.  You looked swell in your uniform.  We just hope you weren't too tired after your trip.  Uncle Leo [Stahl] drove us over to the B.F. [Ben Franklin Hotel in Phila.?] to see their lovely suite on the 14th floor - overlooking the entire river panorama, and with the loveliest cool breezes.  Then he took us to his offices and we had to go all thru there.  Nice offices but a hot safari.

By the time we got out of there it was raining and after we reached Colls. it really poured and poured. 

Alice [Crompton] left us at the station because she had to get dinner for her grandmother.  I was so glad she got over.  She looked so pretty.

B.J. [Betty Jane Stahl] didn't come back to Colls., but stayed at the hotel.  Lois [Freas Stahl] and Leo went back to have supper with her.  Bets [Betty Freas Waters], Frank [Waters] and Nancy [Waters] left right after supper and Daddy and Jane [Freas] washed the dishes - so I could snooze a bit.  Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] snored too and was it hot and sticky!

Mrs. Blake came in the eve for a visit.  Guess the main topic of conversation.  She wanted to be remembered to you.

We all turned in at 10:30.  At 11:30 Hank [Henry Leigh Freas] called up.  He was just home from work and wanted to know if you were here.  Jane answered and told him all about your visit.

It rained again last night and was/is so damp this A.M. that there was no use washing.  So I ironed your things a bit and will now take them to the P.O.  When you write, tell me when you receive them so I will know how long it takes.

Love from us all,


Grandma and Jane will stay until Thurs. I guess. 

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 17 Aug 1942

17 Aug 1942, Letter No. 4 From Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 18 Aug 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T-758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Monday Evening, 9:10

Dear Mom and Pop,

This has to be a short note for lights go out in 20 minutes.  Bud [Harry Harvey] and I made it  back OK and we had the same air-conditioned car all the way from Phila. to Petersburg (What a break!)

It certainly was swell to have been able to see yawl* even if it was for only such a short time.  I'm glad I could see so many while I was home.

With this note are four negatives which you can have printed.  (Mary [Keiser] wants a set.)  The fellow with me on the steps is Harry Shoemaker from Sonderton, the guy who knows Charlie Heckler.  Please return the negatives for they belong to Harry.

I have to acknowledge Floy's [Mrs. Harvey] cookies, so I'll close by sending my



The cold is all gone.  Score one more for Argyrol! 

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 17 Aug 1942

19 Aug 1942, Letter No. 13 to Tom

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News Clipping

Postmarked: 1:00 PM, 19 Aug 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Wednesday A.M.

Dear Tom,

Jane [Freas] and I went up to the Post Office to mail your clothes Monday morning. We took our time and shopped a little, and when we came back we found Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] stuck in the bath tub. She couldn't bend her knees or lift herself up because there is no rim on our tub and it is close to the wall. So, she just sat there putting hot cloths on her knee. We had some time getting her out and now no more sit-downs for her - only showers.

Daddy took Jane with him to Woodbury in the afternoon and Mrs. Henderson came over and visited with Grandma and me until 5:30. She heard all about you and wanted to be remembered to you. In the eve we had some more rain and Daddy, Jane, Grandma and I played Rummy on the porch. Daddy lost so he had to buy the ice cream.

Yesterday Jane and I left on the 9:08 train for Ocean City to see Mary [Keiser]. Lois [Freas Stahl] came over and stayed with Grandma until Daddy got home. It was a beautiful day at the shore. Mary was working when we arrived so Jane and I had a seafood lunch at Becks and Mary waited on us. She didn't put a service plate on for Jane's crab meat au gratin - so Mrs. Beck very nicely explained the way to serve it. Mrs. B. said she liked Mary very much and wished she had some more like her.

Jane and I walked the boards and did the shops until 2:30. From then until 4:15 we visited with the girls at the Georgian. Left on the 4:30 train. Helen Wygle is suffering with a case of blood poisoning in her foot. She got splinters from the boards and the coast guard removed them but they became infected. She hasn't been able to work and must stay off her foot. She is tired of lying around and losing money. Mary had $8 stolen and Barbara S. had $12.50 taken and they are sick about it when they think how they earned it by dribs and drabs.

George Carroll called up last evening and wanted to know all about you. He was concerned because he hadn't had a line and wondered where and how you are. I gave him your address and he said he would write. He told me Mary [his wife] is expecting the end of the year and how happy he is about it.

Last evening Frank and Polly Hogarth from Woodbury came up and spent the eve with us. Frank is 45 and is an experimental engineer for Socony Vacuum in Paulsboro. They have 2 daughters 11 and 16. I taught Frank in Jermyn [PA] when I first got out of Normal School. He was one of my favorites. You can imagine the Jermyn gabfest we all had. Jane had bought a bottle of "Southern Comfort" and she had just served some drinks when we had our State Wide blackout. So we all sat squeezing our glasses in the dark for about half an hour.

Mary [Keiser] got a letter from Frank Cajune yesterday. It was dated July 14th. He is on anti-tank manouvers[sic] in Northen Ireland. He said he wanted to accept her week end invitation but Uncle Sam wanted him more. Mary read us the letter but she said it was so "drippy" she might not even answer it. He "fell" too quickly to keep up Mary's interest.

Tomorrow is her day off - so she said she might take the bus up tonight after work in order to see Grandma and the Stahls. Lois [Freas Stahl] says she is going back this weekend. B.J. [Betty Jane Stahl] had an interview at Wanamaker's [Dept. store in Phila.] yesterday. Haven't heard any results yet.

We had sunshine yesterday and again today! Hope you are having it too.

All the kids at the Georgian read and enjoyed your letters yesterday and all send you their best. I think I'll have to make carbon copies of them before they get worn out. Everyone thinks they are swell and everyone who comes into the house has to hear them and even Daddy loves to hear them again and again. He loves to kid me about missing you, but he misses you just as much and is very proud of you, too.

Grandma and Jane will leave tomorrow for Berwick [PA]. Frank [Waters] will drive them to Jermyn Saturday so Jane can return to Syracuse on Sunday. Annie [Reilly] has promised to go and stay with Mother [Grandma] until Oct. 1st.

If you get where they sell Birthday cards, send one to Jane either to Jermyn or 200 N. Water St. Syracuse. It is her B.D. on Sunday, you know. Don't go out of your way to do it, however, because she will be glad to hear from you anytime.

Hope your trip didn't tire you too much and that you got back in plenty of time. Now you know the ropes - you won't feel so bound, because you know you can do it whenever you feel you want to. Remember us to Bud [Harry Harvey], and love to you from us all.



[A news clipping was included with this letter, as follows:] 

Excuse Grows Thin As Soldier Keeps Getting Leave

Camp Edwards, Mass., Aug. 13 (INS) - Private George Dion better do some deep thinking and explaining if he expects to get leave from Camp Edwards this weekend.

Two weeks ago Private Dion sought and received weekend leave with the simple explanation that his wife was expecting.

Last weekend he reiterated his "wife's expecting" and won another leave.

When he came up with the same reason this week, the officer in charge queried: "What's she expecting, anyway?"  "She's expecting me home again, sir," replied Private Dion.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 19 Aug 1942

20 Aug 1942, Letter No. 5 From Tom

Postmarked: 5:30 AM, 21 Aug 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T-758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Thursday eve

Dear Mom and Pop,

The package with the clothes arrived last night.  Many thanks for taking care of them.  I was going to write last night, but after I cleaned my rifle and then myself, it was too late.  Your Wed. letter arrived this evening, so I can count myself well up on the latest now.  Joe from Camp Edwards sure worked his excuse to death, didn't he?

Too bad Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] had such a time in the tub.  I hope it didn't affect her bum knee any more.  When she and Annie [Reilly] get together they can relate bath tub experiences.

We were drilling all day yesterday and today on the parade ground with rifles - getting the different positions, prone, sitting, kneeling and standing, with the sling tight around our arm and the sun broiling us.  After a good baking we paraded for the Major at Retreat this evening.  They are trying, with all this rifle training, to fit us so that we will be able to go on the firing range for four days next week.  Starting Sunday, our one day off a week.  But this week we spend it on Company time, and no overtime rates either.

I haven't had time to get to Petersburg yet for my uniforms and I'll have to go soon to get my hair trimmed.  So I won't be able to get a card in time to send a card to Jane [Freas].  I'll drop her a line tonight and send it to Jermyn [PA] and hope she gets it there.

Had a card from the Overmyers from Toledo.  What's their Wayne Ave. number?  I'll thank them for it.

A fellow from my barracks went to the hospital last night with haemorrhoids[sic].  Tomorrow night I'm going up to see him.  I can really sympathise[sic], can't I?  Mine have been taking care of themselves and not bothering me at all.

When we make application for Officer's Training, we are supposed to have our credentials, which consist of birth certificate and three letters of rec[ommendation].  So will you please send my certif. down and ask the Pettyjohns if they would mind writing to Bill for one?  Let me have Bill's address, so I can thank him when it comes.  I'm supposed to have all this stuff by the end of next week.  I plan to ask Gordie [MacWilliams] for one.  Do you think that Anne Wagner Freas could get me one from that Captain or Colonel that lives near them?  It would help a lot, but I wonder if that is stretching too far.  I'll write to Harold Kleintop from Korb Pettit - I think he'll give me one.  

It's getting on toward 9pm, and I have to make up my cot - we got clean linen tonight - shave and shower and write to Jane yet.  I dropped a couple lines to George and Mary [Carroll] this evening.  Guess they will have a real Christmas Carroll this year, what?   

Yours in haste,


One fellow spent a good while last night cleaning the gun in his place in the rack, only to find when done that someone else's gun was there by mistake.  He hadn't checked the serial but went ahead and cleaned it. 

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 20 Aug 1942

21 Aug 1942, Birthday Card to Tom

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Birthday Card (Front)
2 images

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 21 Aug 1942, Philadelphia,PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


The front and inside card images are attached. Tom's birthday was August 24th.  Mrs. Keiser's note on the back says,

"This dam - p weather stuck the envelope flat to the front of your card, but I know you won't mind."]

  • Collingswood, New jersey, USA
  • 21 Aug 1942

23 Aug 1942, Letter No. 14 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:00 AM, 24 Aug 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Sunday eve Aug. 23

Dear Tom,

I called Mrs. Harvey this morning thinking Bud [Harry Harvey] was home and might have a message from you - but she said you were on maneuvers this week end so he couldn't get away.

Jane [Freas] and Mother [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] stayed with us until Thursday. Ki [Daddy] and I drove them to the 5:40 train at the Reading terminal [in Phila.]. Frank [Waters] met them at 10:01 at Wilkes-Barre and drove them to Berwick. Saturday afternoon, Frank, Bets [Betty Freas Waters] and Nancy [Waters] went to Jermyn with them.

Dan and Agnes drove Annie [Reilly] to Jermyn Saturday night and she will stay with Grandma till Oct 1st anyway. Maybe she will close up then and come down here awhile.

Mary [Keiser] had her day-off Thursday so she came up on the bus Wednesday night, arriving at 11:30.

Merritt [Sharp] was driving a truck to N. Jersey and didn't get back until 6 P.M. Thurs. He was dead tired, but he came right down and asked her to let him go home and sleep till 9 - and if he could he would be down then - anyway he would call her. She didn't wait but called up Pete in Phila. He lost his job last week and came home. At 8:30 Merritt came down and said he wouldn't go to work but would take the night off so he could spend it with her. At 9:30 Pete arrived. Merritt couldn't believe she would do a thing like that. He stuck it out till after 10 then said he had to leave for work and went. He didn't go to work, though. He felt terrible. He came down to see me the next morning after Mary left and said he guessed it would be best to call the whole thing off, and under the circumstances he wouldn't be coming to Camp Lee with us.

I really like Merritt a lot and he was so kind and generous to Mary. She is just going to make her last High School year miserable by her selfish, tactless actions. She will find sooner or later that she can't ride rough shod over everyone. I don't want her running around with boys outside of Coll[ingswood]. while she is in school. Daddy was provoked with her too, and I'll let that 800 spread the news. Daddy is helping me address some of the cards tonight.

Tomorrow is your birthday dear - your first one away from us. I hope you have a pleasant day and that your cards and rememberances arrive on time. Won't you have a good time writing thank yous? Well it only comes once a year and after all it is nice to be remembered.

Has Gordie [MacWilliam] gotten back to Lee and if so, how is he? Give him our love when you see him.

How is the radio working?

Love from Daddy and me


Daddy enrolled Ruth Rissinger - Coll. 1936 for Day school. She is now a Mrs. Wright and lives in Had[ddonfield?]. but her husband must go soon. She said she knew you.


Happy Birthday:

Mom wanted to know if I had any news for you. By the looks of her letter she has said it all. Just like Gram MA.[Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] for she knows all the Jermyn news and never leaves the house. You know - Telephone - Telegraph - and tell-a-woman!

How are you standing the heat? It has been hot as hell here this week. We are having a little relief tonight as it is raining again. I'll soon have mother playing the part of "Sadie Thompson" if it keeps up much longer.

Have you heard this one - (lately). A mother had 3 daughters. One came down stairs all dolled up. Mother says, "Where are you going, Daughter?" "Out with Vance to dance." OK The second one came down and the same question was asked. Daughter replied, "Out with Jim to swim." The 3rd one came and the same question - Daughter says, "Out with Buck to ..." "Like hell you will," said the mother. "You go back upstairs and read your book." The poor girl never had a chance to finish her sentence.

Must get back on addressing post cards. It seems when I have a day off mother finds plenty for me to do. Down moving things from the Clinic, card addressing, etc. etc. - dishwashing, etc. etc. - gettng meals, etc. Well, I guess it is all in a life time.

Hope the cookies arrive in time for your birthday, however they can be enjoyed any time.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 23 Aug 1942

24 Aug 1942, Letter No. 15 to Tom

Postmarked: 7:30 PM, 24 Aug 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: [cut off] Keiser, [cut off] Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA [It appears this envelope has the Peirce College address in Philadelphia.


Monday - Aug. 24

Dear Tom,

23 years ago at 8:55 A.M. my dear little son of 9-1/2 pounds arrived.  It was a sweltering hot day and I remember seeing an airplane in the sky outside the hospital window - that long ago.  You had 14 visitors that day and were they the proud ones!

Your Thur. eve letter just arrived - and though my last night letter told you all the news - I hasten to answer the questions you ask.

Overmyers' address

Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Overmyer

31 E. Wayne Terrace

Collingswood, NJ



Lieut. Wm. E. Pettijohn

Co. E 27th Quartermaster Regt.

Camp Shelby, Miss

(His father spells his Pettyjohn but when Bill learned to write he couldn't make a y next to a j.) 

Your birth certificate is enclosed. [Note: not saved with this letter.]  If they should lose it for you - you can always get a copy by sending $1 to the Bureau of Vital Statisics at Harrisburg.

About that Col. in Scranton - I think it was Kolb or Stanley Korn or some such name and they [Hank and Ann Wagner Freas] talked of him because they didn't like him so I don't believe they would ask any favors of him.

Did you receive "The Just and the Unjust" I mailed it Sat 8/15.  I also mailed you the Bk. of the Month circular 8/12 and since you didn't mention it yet I sent the slip in "Do not send" as it had to be there by 8/15.  I didn't think you'd care much for the 2 for next month.

By the way, did you ever get my Sun 8/12 letter from Meade?

Lois [Freas Stahl] called this morning and says B.J. [Betty Jane Stahl] is now living at 1915 Green St. [Phila.] - has a nice room there for $7 per week.  She started work this morning on the floor at Strawbridge & Clothier at $18 and of course expects soon to be assistant buyer of her department.

Hope you have no trouble with hemorrhoids - Don't forget your Anusol suppositories if you do.  Does your friend have to be operated on?

Lois asked your address and said she was sending you an H. & H. [Horn & Hardart's?] assortment.  Sorry it was late but they had company Sat. and she couldn't get out to the store.

I called Mr. Eichelberger but find he is away for the rest of the summer, so then I tried Mr. Johnson.  He said he taught you Physics in H.S. and will go over to school and write you a reference tomorrow morning and then I will pick it up and send it to you.

I called Mr. Bull and he had Mr. Henry write one and Daddy will bring it home tonight so I can enclose it.  Mr. H. was the only one of your old teachers there [Peirce Business College, Phila.] this afternoon but he will have Mr. Dengler or Mr. Neuman write one tomorrow and Daddy can mail it to you.

I have tried all afternoon to get Mrs. Pettyjohn but she must be gone for the day.  Will tell her as soon as I can but it takes so long for her letters to reach Shelby that I doubt you will get an answer from Bill by this week end.

Daddy got one for you from Mr. Taylor which I enclose with Mr. Henry's - They are both very nice. [Note: These letters of recommendation were not kept with this letter.]

Dad was talking to Lynn Carr and he will bring you one tonight and I will send it out with Mr. Johnson's tomorrow.  Hope they arrive in time.  

Will mail this right out -



Daddy is writing an airmail letter to Bill [Pettijohn] and enclosed an airmail stamped envelope addressed to you, going out with this.


[Note:  written on the back of the envelope, in what appears to be Tom's hand, were the following addresses as other possible references:

Roy A. Taylor, Secretary

Leonard M. Addis & Co.

431 Walnut Street, Philadelphia


H.B. Henry, Head of Eng.[lish?] Dept. 

Peirce School

Pine Street, West of Broad, Philadelphia]

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 24 Aug 1942

25 Aug 1942, Letter No. 16 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 25 Aug 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: R. Lynn Carr, Asst. Office Mgr., Korb-Pettit Wire Fabrics & Iron Works, Inc., 1505-15 N. Mascher Street, Philadelphia, PA

[Note: On the back of the printed envelope is the following:







Tuesday AM 8/25/42

Dear Tom,

Lynn Carr dropped this off on his way home from work [Note: not saved with this letter.], so I'll have Daddy mail it this morning so you are sure to have 3 in time.  I'll have to wait for Mr. Johnson's until Miss Oliver can type it and then she will call me to come and get it.

Lynn said he hadn't heard from you yet and to tell you to write - so now you can kill two birds by writing him and thanking him at the same time.

I guess you have today and tomorrow "yet" on the range.  It's really chilly here this A.M. and I'm wondering if you have to sleep on the ground.  You'll be sharp-shooters after 4 days, won't you?  So many people are surprised that quartermasters carry guns.

I was talking to Miss Baker last night and gave her Bill's [Pettijohn] address.  She said she had such an enjoyable letter from you, and when I said "I believe I have read it in the Retrospect" she laughted and said, "I've never fooled a mother yet."

We had the things necessary moved over from the clinic last night.  Now to make them as invisible as possible.

Time to eat breakfast -



  • Collingswood, New jersey, USA
  • 25 Aug 1942

26 Aug 1942, Letter No. 6 From Tom

Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 27 Aug 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T-758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Wednesday Eve 9 pm

Dear Mom and Pop,

We finished up on the range this evening. 4 days, starting at 4:15 am Sunday morning - what a time! Back each evening to the barracks at about the same time as above and no time to do anything but sleep so as to be able to get up at 4:15 the next am.

What an enormous pile of mail - letters and packages waiting for me! And what a time I'm going to have answering! I'll try to thank you both for everything in this letter. I am breaking in the writing set herewith, and I received all the letters and cards, the cookies from Strawbridge's and the birthday cake. Jane's [Freas] present of $5 arrived, and a box of salt water taffy from Mary [Keiser], and a box of candy from Betts and Frank and Nancy [Waters]. The wash arrived. I think last Wednesday. I'm sorry I haven't been able to write more often this past week or so, but it isn't possible to squeeze in any more into these rushed days. Next week when we start classes in QM Training (the last half of Basic) there will be more spare time (if I ever get caught up). The letters of rec.[ommendation] all arrived, and birth certif. - Henry, Taylor & Carr and I'll have to write and thank them. Bill's hasn't come yet, but I did get a very nice 3-page typewritten letter from him which I have to write an answer. (I'm hurrying for lights are out at 9:30 and I hope you can read it.) Since they took last Sunday from us, we are having Friday off so I'll spend all day writing letters, I guess.

Got a card from Howard.

A.C. Howard Bendy

Squadron G Group 5

A.A.F. Company

Nashville, Tennessee

A temporary address a foot deep in mud. After 3-6 weeks he expects to go to Alabama.

Am trying to get in touch with Gordon [MacWilliam] again (he evidently has a new address here at camp.) If we can get together Friday we'll cut the Birthday cake then.

I qualified as a marksman on the range (143 points (out of 200) - 134 are needed to qualify so I just made it by the skin of the teeth - I was trying for sharpshooter (168 points) so you can see how far I fell off from that. However, the Company asks only that 80% of the men qualify as marksmen, so they're satisfied, even if I'm not.)

Got a card from Mrs. Harvey and Bud's [Harry Harvey] girl Helen, and a card from Geo. and Mary Carroll (wrote them a line or two after your letter mentioning the Blessed Event coming.) Alice [Crompton] sent a "A Sub-Treasury of Am[erican] Humor" and some swell handkerchiefs. Had cards from Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] and Jane [Freas] and Lauree[?] Henderson (please thank her for the present and tell her I'll write Friday and thank her.)

It's 9:30 and time to stop. This is a helluva letter but it's just to let you know I'm doing OK now that I'm 23.

More later


I finished Just and Unjust somehow - enjoyed it too. Still have W[ar] & P[eace] and the new one mentioned above - quite a library (didn't want The Raft and The Days of Ophelia so you did right in sending back the slip.

  • Camp lee, Virginia, USA
  • 26 Aug 1942

27 Aug 1942, Letter No. 17 to Tom

Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 28 Aug 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thurssday eve August 27

Dear Tom,

What a time you must have had opening mail when you got back from the range!  I hope all your birthday food wasn't too stale.

Miss Wetzel typed your letter from Mr. Johnson and when I called up to see if it were{sic] ready she said she would mail it out to you - so - I didn't see it.  Did he send you a good one?

Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] and Jane [Freas] were both so pleased to have letters from you.  Jane said she and Mother [Grandma] had dinner in the diner on the train last Thursday and a cocktail, too.  I wonder if Grandma needed her cane to get back to her car seat.

Lois [Freas Stahl] invited me over for lunch yesterday.  We ate at Wanamaker's [Phila.] then wandered from floor to floor.  After that we took in the Translux and I got back to Collingswood at 5:45.

Did you see the moon eclipse last Tuesday night?  It was so clear here.

I've been spending all spare time this week in the cellar getting things cleaned and set up.  Today I made a big curtain out of the drapes we used on Benson St., to shut off the doctor's space from the rest of the cellar.  It looks pretty nice.  I didn't bring any of the other furniture up and poor Mrs. Partridge has a headache trying to dispose of it and get it out of there by Sept. 1st.

It's still all right for us to plan to come down Saturday Sept. 5th?  If anything turns up that you can't have us be sure to send us a telegram.  Otherwise we will drive right to the camp as you said.  Is Gordie [MacWilliam] back yet?  Dad suggested calling Floy [Harvey] and Willie to make the trip with us, but I haven't heard from Floy since Aug 7th and then she was expecting Don and his family - so maybe they are staying over Labor Day.  I'd hate to phone her and have her feel bad about it - if she couldn't go.

Grandma expects the Waters [Frank, Betty Freas, and Nancy] for the week end.  It's a good thing Hank [Freas] has a gas station.  The Rowes are having a corn roast up at William's cottage at Chapman [Lake] and the Waters are going up.

Guess I don't know any more news tonight.  Ki's [Tom Keiser, Sr.] gone to bed with the new Digest so I guess I'll go read an article or two in the old one.  I'm behind in my reading as usual.

Our love to you, dear.



Friday Morning

Just got out of bed [sic] both mother and I went back to sleep after the alarm went off, so must hustle.

The weather is much cooler and it is good sleeping nights.  Hope you are getting plenty of this fine weather.

If everything is O.K. we will soon be down to see you.  Must eat now.  So long.




[Note:  written on the back of the envelope, in what appears to be Tom's hand, was the following name and address:

H.T. Harvey

338 Margate Rd.

Upper Darby [Pennsylvania] 

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 27 Aug 1942

30 Aug 1942, Letter No. 18 to Tom

Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 31 Aug 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Sunday eve Aug. 30th

Dear Tom,

I do hope you got caught up in your letter writing on Friday so that it won't seem like such a drag on you. That's what it is to have so many friends and relatives who love you. Everybody says it is a shame you have to take so much time writing and yet we are all thrilled when your letters arrive.

Lois [Freas Stahl] came over Friday and had lunch with me and then we decided to be devilish and go to the races. I didn't bet (guess why) but Lois lost six dollars. We got back about 7. Dad had supper ready but Lois had to get back to Phila. to eat with Leo and B.J.

Merritt [Sharp] came in to visit with us at 9:30 Fri. eve. and stayed until 10:30. He said he had been down to Ocean City over last week end and had seen Mary [Keiser] - so I guess they must have fixed things up again. He is going to have Dr. Phillips take out his tonsils tomorrow morning at 11 with a local anesthetic and if he is well enough he is going down Thursday to bring Mary home, and he is really anxious to come along to Camp Lee with us - so I'm just holding my breath till I see how things turn out.

We were down to Pettijohns yesterday afternoon. Mrs. P. is painting her bedrooms, right over the wall paper, in different colors with paint like we used in the cellar. I think that's the way I'll keep your Pop busy this winter, because our walls certainly need something.

We had more rain last night and it got pretty cool. We were reading the paper and kind of shivering at noon today when the 3 Stahls surprised us by arriving in their car and wanting us to go for a ride. Leo wanted to go to Barnegat - so we first drove out to Beach Haven and called on the Steiners. Stahls fell in love with their cottage and may rent it for 2 weeks in September if Leo isn't moved too far from here on Sept. 1st. He still hasn't heard what he is to do. Then we drove to the other end of the island and saw Barnegat Light, bought some fish, corn and tomatoes and crab meat and came home and got supper at 8:30. They left at 10 and here I am writing to you. The Steiners were wondering what had become of you and send their best.

I think your score on the range was pretty swell for a fellow who never was allowed to have a rifle before. Some grind you had from 4:15 A.M. to 9 P.M. You must be getting tough to be able to take it.

Thanks for Howard's [Bendy] address. I'll drop him a line some[sic] of these days - when I get caught up. I suppose A.C. stands for Air Cadet but shouldn't it be AAT Co. instead of AAF. I imagine it is Army Air Training Co.

We expect settlement on the house on Tuesday. It was held up again because they had to prove that Mrs. Morton wasn't married again after she inherited the property and now Daddy and I must make affidavits the we were not married before [becoming married to each other]. They certainly delve into all one's business.

Bets [Betty Freas Waters] says she and Alice [Crompton] are going to have dinner together and do a movie some night this week. I wish Campbells [Soup Co., in Camden] weren't so busy so Alice could come with us.

The tomato line was 7 miles long yesterday. The last truck had stood in line 21 hours so they kept the plant open today to use what they could. They have ads in the paper for any kind of help but they can't seem to get enough to take care of this rush.

If you think of anything you would like us to bring along, you'd better send us a night letter so we are sure to get it in time - though your Wed. night letter came thru in good time. It left Camp Lee Thurs. at 11:30 A.M. and I got it Friday at 11:30.

We plan to leave here at 6 A.M. on Saturday, so if it takes us 11 hours as it did the Pettijohns, we ought to arrive at Camp Lee before 6 P.M. - unless we hear from you that we are not to come.

Our love to you, Tommy -



Monday 8 A,M,

Dear Tom,

Hope to see you soon if things plan out O.K. Mother told you all the news, so must get to work now.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 30 Aug 1942

1 Sep 1942, Note by Mrs. Keiser

[Mrs. Keiser made and saved a note that is somewhat relevant at this point in time.]

Telephone - 3 minutes - 65 cents

Tom telephoned Tuesday Sept. 1 - 4:30 P.M.

Will be paid Sat. Sept 5 so entire company is on fire duty 5:15 Sat to 5:15 Sunday and must stay in own area - no exceptions - will be free Sunday 5:15 to 11 P.M.

We telegraphed him Wed - Sept. 2. Night letter.

We are coming anyway. Will get to Camp Sunday afternoon. Won't call Floy [MacWilliam] unless we hear from her. Gordon may have left Lee (23)

35 cents

04 cents tax

39 cents

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 1 Sep 1942

1 Sep 1942, Letter No. 19 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:00 PM, 1 Sep 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.



Dear Tom,

Daddy and I talked over the situation and decided that since the main object of this trip is to see you, that we are going to come anyway.

We just won't start so early Saturday and will stay over night some where on the way down and get to Camp Sunday instead of Saturday night.

Of course, we won't have such a nice long visit with you - but I guess if you can come all the way home just for 6 hours or so - we can come to Camp Lee for that short a visit too.

Daddy asked for the use of the Ford so he could use some B units and since we have the gas now we better use it before they stop pleasure driving altogether - which seems to be coming very soon.

Since you couldn't contact Gordon [MacWilliam], I won't call Floy because if we should bring them down and find he had left, I would feel terrible for her.

Merritt [Sharp] had his tonsils out yesterday morning. He was dressed and around the house and taking liquids and felt pretty good his sister-in-law said about 5:30 today when I phoned. His brother Ed has been reclassified A1 - even with 11 years experience at the ship yard and is due to leave Labor Day. His brother Al leaves the 1st week in Oct. Their baby hasn't arrived yet. I guess Merritt will have to continue working to support his mother instead of going back to school. She feels terrible about it.

Daddy and I went over to the West Jersey Title and Guaranty Co. this afternoon and signed on the dotted lines. It cost us $970.63 of Grandma's [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] $1000 to swing the deal and straighten out taxes, insurance, sewer, water, rent, etc. Now we have a $3500 mortgage at Citizens Bank and to reduce that will pay approx. $35.68 monthly, plus whatever else we can give Grandma. My $25 from the clinic will go right to her anyway.

I called up Geo. Hill's office some time ago about your receipts. Since they didn't come I called again this A.M. and the man who answered said he guessed the reason was that Mr. Hill has but recently become a father.

However on[sic] the mail later this A.M. the receipts arrived and the enclosed letter. I will bring the 4 green papers down when we come so that you won't have to bother with them around.

I expect to get the films of Buds back tomorrow and will bring those down to you too.

We expect Mary home Thursday eve. Merritt is going for her if he is strong enough. He is anxious to come along with us, so you may be seeing him.

I know how disappointed so many of the boys must be at the orders to remain in the area, but a week end with a full pay in the pocket would mean an awful lot of headaches and much resulting trouble, so you can't blame the authorities for trying to avoid it.

We'll see you anyway and from 5:30 to 11 Sunday, you'll be free and able to show us many of the things you had in mind. We'll try to get to Camp sometime after 12 and if we are permitted to see you in your area we will, if not, we will know the ropes and be ready to be with you at 5:30.

Our love to you.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 1 Sep 1942

8 Sep 1942, Letter No. 20 to Tom

story image(s)

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 8 Sep 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Tuesday A.M. Sept. 8

Dear Tom,

It certainly did rain after we left you and we all hoped you had covered your 16 blocks before it started. How grand it was that it held off and let us have such a fine visit with you.

Your address means some thing now when we write it and we can picture you in Co. G at Barracks T758. It helped to see you looking well and fit - and to meet your friends, whom we all liked.

We arrived at 127 at 2 A.M. Just a little matter of trying to make connections with ferries that aren't running any more. I will tell you about it later. Dad must leave at 8 A.M., since this is the first day of school - but I just had to get in a line to you.



[Note: an image from the Keiser's trip to Camp Lee is attached.] 

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 8 Sep 1942

9 Sep 1942, Letter No. 21 to Tom

story image(s)

Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 10 Sep 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Note: A note on the front of the envelope was written "1915 Green St.," which I believe was a family address in Phila. On the back of the envelope was written "believe beleive" as if Tom was trying to figure out the correct spelling.]

[Enclosed with the letter was a newspaper article from two pages of the Courier Post of Camden , NJ titled, "Shift in Spain Laid to Internal Crisis." A penciled note on it to Tom from his mother says, "Thot you might use these in your Current Events."  This article is not included.]


Wednesday eve Sept. 9

Dear Tom,

Of course I forgot to give you the snaps and have you sign those papers for Penn Mutual. I am enclosing the snaps but there is no rush about the papers so will let that go for the present. Here are the 4 films belonging to Bud [Harvey], too. I had some extra ones finished for Alice [Crompton], and will give them to her when she comes over.

How it did rain after we left you Sunday night! I'll bet your boxes got pretty heavy before you reached T-758. Hope you didn't get wet. It did us all so much good to see you, dear, but it was sure tough to pull back to Dutch Gap without you.

We left Mr. Goyne's cottage at 8:30 Monday morning [Note: a postcard of the cottage was sent to Tom, and is attached as an image. The description reads: Dutch Gap Tourist Court, U.S. No. 1 Highway 12 miles south of Richmond, Va., 10 miles north of Petersburg, Va. Wire or phone for reservations 3-9-2-3 Chester, Mrs. C.A. Joles [Note: name crossed out and "H.T. Goyne, Owner" added], Chester, Va.] - still pouring rain - and drove to Richmond for breakfast. It was hard to get a place to park and we finally at breakfast at the Elmore Restaurant. It was a terrible joint, but we were getting pretty hungry by that time.

From there we drove to Williamsburg. Saw Wm. & Mary's[sic] College and the quaint old town rebuilt by J.D. Rockerfeller[sic]. It was too wet to get out of the car so we just drove around. There were oodles of soldiers in the town - going around in squads of about 25 from building to building with guides.

On to Old Point Comfort to take a 2:20 ferry to Cape Charles - but that ferry doesn't run any more - so we had to take a shorter one to Norfolk - drive 10 miles to Little Creek and from there another ferry to Cape Charles. It was a lovely trip - almost 2 hours across Chesapeake Bay. We couldn't get out much on the open deck because of the rain but the air was good, we saw all kinds of boats and all enjoyed it. At Little Creek there is a huge naval base and Merritt saw some of the barges he helped to make at New York Ship. He knew them by their numbers.

When we came near Ft. Eustis, we passed a batallion of boys trudging along on a hike with all their equipment in the rain. They all looked so tired and some could hardly amble along.

The Delmarva peninsula from Cape Charles up is a forlorn looking place. We finally came to a tourist place called Whispering Pines about 40 miles from Cape Charles - and had supper there. The whole peninsula is under army control and about 90 soldiers live in the cabins at the Pines. We left there at 7:50 and it was 2:00 AM when we pulled in at 127.

There was a truck load of shrimp from Alabama that we met up with at the ferry and how it did smell. We met it again and again and tried to avoid it but sure enough on the Pennsville ferry we were right back of it again. Daddy got out and talked with the driver. He was going to New York and makes that long trip once a week. He has to stop and re-ice every so often. they ought to send them in a vacuum.

Yesterday I spent washing Mary's Ocean City wardrobe. She wore things, put them in the laundry bag or grip and the dampness down there covered them with mildew. I washed till 4 o'clock and then it rained and has drizzled ever since so I still have a basket of wet things.

Couldn't bring them down stairs because today was our first clinic day. Everybody seemed pleased with the place. I made dividing curtains out of our old clinic draperies and hung them so you don't see the furnace or doctor's supplies.

Mary [Keiser] had her first day of school today [Senior year at Collingswood H.S.]. She has Miss Latimer in Solid. Mr. Wehler in Chemistry, Mr. Ferner in English - but Mr. Holston in Principles of American Democracy. He has failed terribly lately - never smiles and is so serious. It is just too bad. He has to earn his living, poor man, but he isn't a proper teacher since his sickness.

Lois [Freas Stahl] called me yesterday. She and Leo and B.J. went to the races Labor Day and it was so crowded they had to park way out on the road and couldn't get a seat. They bet on all the races and came out about even, she said. Leo still hasn't had no[sic] word from the company [about a transfer with National Cash Register].

Mary treated Merritt cool as a cucumber on the trip. I don't think she cares a rap about him and I guess he commences to realize it. Pete called her tonight while she was at the movies with Mary Loper and said he would call again tomorrow night. Isn't it funny how contrary human nature is?

Dad just got back from his usual Wed. night poker game. He gave me his winnings - $1 - to buy War Stamps.

Buz[sic] Regan [a Keiser cousin of Tom's] enlisted in the Marines and leaves this week end for Paris Island, S.C. I think it is. Frank Hagenbaugh [another Keiser cousin] just came home on a furlough to get married. Ethel [Keiser Hagenbaugh] and the whole bunch are coming down to camp in Ann's new home this weekend. Norwood was in Camp Eustis but has been moved to Tennessee. Frank Regan and his wife are still at Bragg [N.J.] Luther Metcalf [another Keiser cousin] is permanently stationed at Great Lakes as an instructor.

I see you have Nathan Hale in your platoon and Winston Churchill in your company. It must be a pain to have a name like that when challenged by a sentry. Doug McArthur of your class gave his name one time and the sentry said, "Oh yeah, I'm Julius Caesar, I guess."

Mrs. Pettijohn called to hear about you. Bill told her he had a nice letter from you. She heard a radio broadcast from Camp Shelby the night before last.

A letter from Floy [MacWilliam] was here when we got back. She had her hand mangled in the car door while Don and his family were there, and it has been very painful. She couldn't wash dishes or clothes. They asked for a six months extension on their lease but their landlord said she wanted to sell and she is taking prospective buyers thru. Bill has no real prospects and Floy feels distracted. They do have the darndest luck. Maybe Gordie feels down about it all and didn't want to talk to us about it, and so went out Sunday night to avoid us.

Hendersons [neighbors] came back from the shore Tuesday. I told her you received her present and would write to her some day. She said to tell you not to while you are so busy.

Tired reading? I'm going to bed now. Goodnight, Tommie.




Dear Son,

As usual Mom said it all. However, I want to say how nice it was to see you, the camp, and your Buddies. You have some very nice fellows there and that is a big help.

Saw Buzz and Aunt Ann [Regan] yesterday. Buzz joined the Marines and will leave soon for camp. Ann now lives at 4407 N. 5th St. Not very for from her last place.

Must get to breakfast now and then [to] Phila. Good luck to you.




Dear Tom,

Guess I'll say hello too - "HELLO"

I started school yesterday. I have Latimer, Holston, Wheler, and Ferner (sp?). It was nice seeing you last week end. Be good Tom.

Love and X's


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 9 Sep 1942

14 Sep 1942, Letter No. 7 From Tom

Postmarked: 11:0[sic] AM, 15 Sep 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T-758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Monday eve, Sept. 14

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

It sure was wonderful having you all and Merritt down here last week-end. I've had a week of reminiscing of that swell time we had, even if we couldn't do much in the time we had. I've also been kept busy answering "Who was that beautiful dame I seen you with." All the boys tumbled for you, Mary. You sure wowed them all. I also received many nice compliments on my nice parents. I'm enclosing two more negatives depicting the Keisers at Camp Lee. Please return them after you get pictures made.

The negatives you did return I gave back to Harry Shoemaker - that's the fellow I introduced to you who was working in the Officers' Mess Hall. He left Camp Lee Saturday to be assigned to a regular unit. As yet, I don't know where; it's too soon to expect a letter.

Friday afternoon I went before the Regimental Board for an interview examination for Officers' Candidate School. I spent a few hectic minutes in the sanctorum and came out after a severe gruelling[sic] believing I had flunked miserably, but now I'm quite sure I passed, although I can't say for sure yet. One bad moment I did have - I had been cautioned to be on my best military behavior, and at one point, I looked down and saw that I was sitting there with one leg crossed over the other, just making myself at home with the boys! Of course, I uncrossed them as quickly and inconspicuously as possible, but the damage was done. And the questions they are liable to ask! The capital of Tibet, Japanese, German, Russian, and U.S. Leaders, how would I camouflage a water tower - anything that popped into their heads, and it seemed as if everything did.

Saturday night I went into Hopewell for the first time, with Charles Kerns, the radio announcer from Pittsburgh. Hwell[sic] is a nice, quiet little town, but Chas. says that more and more soldiers are finding it out, so I guess it won't be long before it's as bad as Petersburg. We had a swell meal at the hotel - roast L.I. [Long island] duck - and then went to their U.S.O. [United Service Organizations] club. A quiet, relaxing evening, and a ride back by cab (25 cents) to climax it. Sunday afternoon was taken up in letter writing, and I made quite a dent in the pile. Played a round of miniature golf, with a score in the 70s, just to keep in trim, then back to the mess-hall for supper and over to the recreation hall for more corresponding. I'm afraid I wasn't very original with Mr. Johnson's, Mr. Taylor's, and Mr. Henry's letters. The time it took me to write one of them, I decided it would be a lot easier to copy the other two from it. It was a lot easier, but the three letters are verbatim, so don't let them compare notes. This is some stinky paper I had left from Fort Meade. I'll get some more tomorrow at the PX.

One of the fellows in my class - Richard Nonnemacher - a May graduate from Bloom.[sburg] - lives in Allentown - wants Mary to autograph the picture of her in front of the Georgian [in Ocean City, NJ]. So, kid, kindly put "To Dick, with love, Mary" on the back and return it in the next letter from home. The above just came out. I've made good friends with Dick, and he was just now telling me about how he wrote to this friend of his in California, Norman Cool. I immediately interrupted with "Who?" and he repeated the name. "My God," I exclaimed. "I have a sixth cousin by that name." So we immediately began comparing notes, and it is the same Norman Cool with whom I traveled to Washington, Gettysburg, Hershey some years back. Dick knows Florence and Norman at 112 N. 50, too.

So now we've lots more to talk about.

Lots of love,


  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 14 Sep 1942

16 Sep 1942, Letter No. 22 to Tom

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Postmarked: 11:00 AM, 17 Sep 1942, Philadelphia, PA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.



Dear Tom,

The enclosed card from Florence Cool came this morning [see below] so when your letter came this afternoon, I couldn't resist calling her up and reading it to her. She was delighted that you and Richard [Nonnemacher] are friends. She said he is one of the finest young men she knows and that she has visited his people in Allentown and how fine they are, too.

Bud is an Instructor in Aviation at Prescott, Arizona and Florence said to tell Dick [Nonnemacher] that Agnes visited Bud out there this summer and they had some news for him.

I gave Mary [Keiser] the picture. She is doing her Chemistry report now, or rather she has just gone for some ice cream because it is so hot and sticky.

Mr. Henry got your letter Sat. and told Dad how much he enjoyed it. Mr. Taylor called me up Sunday and says he corresponds with about 20 boys but your letter was the most interesting one he had received.

Mrs. Henderson was in tonight to bring your letter and tell how she had enjoyed it and Marion Overmeyer just left after reporting the receipt of a letter from you - so you have been busy!

My last letter from you was dated Aug. 27 and I've just been fuming for another since our return. However when I heard you had written Taylor etc - I knew you must be O.K. and that helped.

Dad has to work every night this week [at Peirce Business College in Phila.] Pay day yesterday and they were all told that pay check would be reduced either 10 or 15% The enrollment is pretty punk. They sold Mr. Henry's car last week.

Lois, Leo, and B.J. [Stahl] were over Sunday and we had the usual steamed clams and corn dinner that they like so much. In the eve we went to the War Show at the Race Track but it was Punk compared to the Phila. show. [See images attached.]

I sent you the Book of the Month announcement. The slip must be returned by the 25th if you don't want them - so when you write again - say yes or no or else I'll tell them you don't want them.

John Shirk was in Monday night. He is due for his induction exam next Friday as he tried to get in the Navy Air Corps but made 87 in a test than[sic] requires 90 so that is out. He was going to try the Army Air Corps today.

Would these "War Quiz" clippings help you any? I'll be glad to cut them out for you if you want them. I heard over the radio that Brig. Gen. Littlejohn was the Q.M. [Quartermaster] in England and he said each U.S. soldier requires 10-1/2 tons of shipping overseas.

Wayne Boyd was married tonight to some girl from Pennsauken. Dorothy was over and kissed the groom. She is going with Harry Young again.

Warren Cook is going to be married Saturday afternoon to kathryn Crossley of Westmont. Mr. & Mrs. K.[Keiser] and family are invited to the Church - so you are included. I got a baking dish and pie plate combination for them but we won't get to the wedding.

Sunday is Pop's birthday so I guess I'll have to bake him a cake. By the way - did you ever cut yours and did you get rid of the two boxes you carried back to camp?

I had another letter from Floy [MacWilliam] today saying Gordon had told her we expected to go to Camp lee but she had no news since so hoped I would tell her about it. I wish I had something about him to tell her.

Enclosed are two pretty good offers if you care to have the Digest & Time. If you send them in let me know and I will send you the $3.99.

The snaps turned out pretty good -as you can see. You'll have to tell us the names of some of the boys on them. Thank you for the films. I will return them as soon as I get some prints. Too bad Harry S.[Shoemaker] had to leave. What kind of work will he have to do?

I can imagine that your O.C.S. [Officers Candidate School] exam was a pretty tough experience. I laughed about your leg crossing description. You just can't be nonchalant in the presence of officers.

Executive Board met here yesterday morning. Naturally I took as much of their time as I could talking about you and showing your pictures. I have your two Gimbel poses in a double frame and Mrs. Partridge said they were both so like you. When I said one was a little sober she said - "Well, even with that expression, I can see a little joke bubbling up - you tell him I said it just seems as though he were going to tell me a story."

Second clinic session today and everyone likes the location.

Glad you and Charles [Kerns] had a nice trip to Hopewell - and especially the duck dinner. A little variety in the routine helps a lot. The cab fare was cheap enough to try it again some time. We found Charles and Harry and Bud and Mr. Youst on the Company Picture. The one third from your Captain's right looks like George Coburn - but he wasn't an officer was he?

Floy returned your book "Inside S. Am." Anytime you want any of the ones you didn't read sent on just say the word.

The Stahls are driving to Syracuse Friday. Leo has to get his winter clothes and B.J. wants hers. Leo has had no news . He thinks Mr. Bean must be sick. Lois says she will stay in Syracuse till she hears. B.J. says she is going out with Alice [Crompton] Friday night.

Mrs. Sharp and Merritt came in last night Daddy had just gotten in from school and was having his "snack" so we all gathered in the kitchen and joined in the spread. She raved about you. Daddy said, "How that woman can talk!"

Jack Sullivan left for school in Baltimore today. I suppose he will be Father John some[sic] of these days.

Albie Lane was called in the draft and he landed in Atlantic City. Charles Glover and Marjorie are living are living in a room in N.Y. and expecting. He was changed to a N.Y. airport, and she finds it pretty lonely, a stranger in the city.

I spent last Friday afternoon with Lois in Phila. We tried to get in the cemetery to see Ben Franklin's grave but the caretaker was sick so we viewed it thru the fence. Then we went over and explored the Betsy Ross house.

They have a big board erected up by the Borough Bldg. to put all the Service Men's names on but the Board won't release the lists so they are asking all the people to send in the individual names. I can't understand why our Board is so secretive.

Dad was up to Ann's [Regan] yesterday and fried a chicken for lunch for Ann and Buz[sic - Buzz] and himself. Buz[sic] left today for the marines. He picked a tough service for such a lazy lump.

Goodnight dear - our love to you.



Dear Tom,

As usual mother has written a news paper. You will notice how many times she fell asleep while addressing the envelop[sic].

It has been hot as h- up here the last week, and looks like a scorcher today. I can imagine how you boys will feel in your woolens.

Must get my breakfast now and then to work. Best of luck.




Tom -

Tell Dick I'll write to him if he wishes but not to expect too many ;etters as I'm slow in corresponding as yourself. I don't have his address.

Be Good!




[What follows is the enclosed postcard from Florence Cool.]

Postmarked: 10:00 PM, 15 Sep 1942, Philadelphia, PA 8

To: Mrs. Tom Keiser, 123[sic] Haddon Ave., Collingswood, NJ

Agnes dear - Sorry not to find you home Sunday - called on a delightful young couple - 16 E. Narberth Mr. & Mrs. Herman Hoffie(?) - They have a darling 8 mos. old baby. You may know them. They are so near you.

I was sorry indeed to hear Tom had to go but God is good so just place him in God's care and He will take care of His own.

I just had a letter from Harold. Bud is now our Instructor in Aviation - and is located at Prescott Arizona - I know how your hearts ache for this first break(?) in the 'home ?' - but we will hope and we will pray that the end of this awful war is nearer than we now fear - at least you can have your big house again. I can't believe the world in general will ever be restored to it's former state - but if each home keeps their loved ones close to them and the home life is stressed - it will do much to bring back the happiness we knew and enjoyed.

Excuse Postal - I am so sorry you could not be over Aug 6 but now I wish told me and now understand.

Love always,

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 16 Sep 1942

21 Sep 1942, Letter No. 23 to Tom

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Postmarked: 12 M[sic], 22 Sep 1942, Philadelphia, PA 3

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Included with this letter were 4 War Quiz clippings, attached as images.]

Hello, Tom!  Mary

Monday eve.  Sept. 21

Dear Tom,

Mrs. Maussner called up this evening to see if you wanted to join her bridge class next week.  I told her I was afraid you couldn't get accomodations to fly up from Camp Lee each week, much as you would enjoy it.  She was interested in hearing about you and wanted to be remembered to you.  Her son, 29 years old, is a bomb site maintenance man at Camp Harding, Louisiana.  She just got back from visiting him because he expects to embark this week.  She had to sit up 2 days and 2 nights in a train to reach him and she said plenty of people stood all the way.  I guess traveling is getting to be a real problem especially on long trips like that.

Mr. Henry [at Peirce Business College, Phila.] let Daddy bring your letter to him home tonight for me to read but he said he wanted it back tomorrow, so he could answer it!

I have been waiting to get your negatives back but so far they haven't arrived.  Will send them as soon as they do.

We had a P.T.A. [Parent Teachers Association] executive board meeting this afternoon.  I have the same job this year - inside publicity - so I have to start this week to get a membership coaxer out.  Just think after this year, I won't belong to the P.T.A. - if Mary [Keiser] gets thru.

Grandma [Mary Agnes Shehan Freas], Bets [Betty Freas Waters] and Jane [Freas] were all thrilled to receive your picture and I guess will write to tell you about it.  Jane sent Daddy a carton of Chesterfields [cigarettes] - so now he has to write a "Thank You" letter.

We were all so pleased to hear your voice last night. We drew up 3 chairs here by the desk so we could all hear everything.

Were you in Petersburg or in your recreation hall in Camp? There are so many things one plans to ask or talk about, and then in the excitement of really hearing your voice, forgets all about until after you've hung up. I guess I'll have to make a list and keep it handy.

Betty Jane [Stahl] called tonight and said she had spent such a pleasant eve with Alice [Crompton] last week. They ate at Stouffers [in Phila.] and did a movie. I believe they are going to do it again Thursday night. I have been hoping Alice would come over for supper some eve. She called up before we came down to see you but we haven't heard from her since. I guess they've been pretty busy at Campbells. [Soup Company in Camden.]

I forgot to tell you - when Mrs. Partridge saw your "smiling" picture she said, "How much does the tooth paste company pay him for that?" It does show your teeth nicely.


Tues. A.M.

Dear Son:

Glad to hear from you Sunday evening, sorry you were not here to enjoy Moms cake, however you had Mom's - Mom's cake and that's something.

About your teeth I noticed when we visited you thay they appeared rather dark and dull. Does that mean that you are getting weak on the tooth brush?

Please don't neglect your teeth. [Note: in later life Tom ended up with full dentures.] Go to a dentist an[sic] have them thoroughly cleaned and then get a good tooth paste and brush them thoroughly twice a day preferably three times. An officer with dingy teeth would be horrible.

Read your letter you writ[sic] to Mr. Henry yesterday. He thinks it the berries[sic] and is going to answer it. More writing for you.

Must eat now. So long. Good luck.



Just read Dad's addition - so I'll go uptown and get you a new brush and paste this A.M. and sent it[sic] to you. Maybe you get no time to shop and need a new one. Anything else you need? Let me know if there is.

Weather is pretty snappy here this A.M. I guess we'll have a little frost soon. The old sycamores are starting to shed and the lawn needs a scrapping[sic].

Our love to you,


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 21 Sep 1942

24 Sep 1942, Letter No. 24 to Tom

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Postmarked: 5 PM, 24 Sep 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. Agnes F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Included with this letter were 2 War Quiz clippings, attached as images.]


Thursday afternoon - Sept. 24

Dear Tom,

I got the prints last night.  The one of you and Mary [Keiser] is very good.  Here are the films and say "thank you" to whomever they belong to.

I returned your Book of the Month slip yesterday marked "Do Not Send" - since I had received no instruction from you.  The one "They Were Expendable" is reviewed in the September Digest.

Tuesday, I went over to Snellenburgs and had them send you writing paper, tooth brush, tooth powder (I couldn't get paste because I'd forgotten to take an empty tube along) and some razor blades.  If any of these fail to arrive, let me know so I don't pay for them.  Do you use regular shaving cream or the brush-less type and what kind do you like best?

I also got new covers for the davenport and club chair which I think you will like.

Daddy played cards at Overmyers last night.  Mr. Sherry had just gotten a letter from his son from Guadalcanal.

A letter from Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] says she is going to close the house in two weeks and she and Annie [Reilly] are going to Berwick for 2 weeks and then Dan and Agnes Driscoll will drive up to [the] Waters [in Berwick] for Annie.  She didn't say whether she would come down here or not. 

The Stahls are still up in the air.  Lois called me this A.M.  Leo thought he would surely drive her to Syracuse this week end, but Mr. Bean turned up, but pretends not to know what the company [National Cash Register] plans for Leo when the new Phila. man arrives.  Some hectic company to work for! 

Mary [Keiser] is playing hockey at Haddon Hts this afternoon - their first game.  Football starts Saturday with Palmyra.  All Mary's gang except [Mary] Loper dropped out of Drum & Bugle Corps this year.  Betty Henderson is a Drum substitute and Elise Axner wields a baton in the band so it won't be long before all the younger kids will be taking over.

I think you said you had another test last Tuesday.  Hope you made out O.K.  How was the Friday night party the Captain was to give you in Petersburg?

I'm gettng pretty anxious to hear from you again.  Let's see - today is the 24th and your last letter is dated the 15th.  Yes, I know you did telephone the 20th.  Daddy says, "The boy is busy and has other things to do" - so I guess Mothers are too impatient.

We finally got some [heating] oil yesterday - don't know how long we must make it last but they do say we won't get as much as we are used to.

The weather is fine here today - cool but dry and nice.

Our love to you Tommie.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 24 Sep 1942

28 Aug 1942, Postcard From Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 29 Sep 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey


Monday noon [Sep 28]

Dear Mom,

Made it OK at 3:45 in camp.  Met Bud Harvey on the train and left him when I got on the bus.  Slept on the bus.  The weather has taken a sudden turn to cold.  Bitterly so this AM and not so warm even now.  Had a swell time at home and right now could eat another larger slice of that pie.  Will make reservations for Alice [Crompton] and Mary [Keiser] at Hotel Petersburg tonight.  Can't tell yet about when I'll meet them on Saturday.  More later.


[On the back of the card Mrs. Keiser wrote "phone call - 7:50 P.M. Mon. eve."]

[On the front of the card Mrs. Keiser wrote "Phone call reversed, Sat Oct 3, 1942 (change to tents and Co. H)"] 

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 28 Aug 1942

1 Oct 1942, Letter No. 25 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 1 Oct 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. G, Barracks T 758, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thursday [Oct 1] 7:30 A.M.

Dear Tom,

Pop had his poker gang here last night and we finished washing the dishes at 2 A.M.  There is a strong stench of dead horses (cigar butts) all thru the house so if this letter isn't quite logical you'll know why.

Mrs. Bryson wanted me to go to see "Mrs. Miniver" with her last night and when we got there (Colls.) no "Mrs. M" - she had read the wrong notice.  However we went in and saw "In Old California."  We wondered how we sat thru it.  Worse than the Oldtyme ones.  But we did see Walt Haus in the "Battle of Midway."  I guess they knew the town would come to see him so they ran a punk with it.

I will mail your picture to Aunt Betty [Freas Capwell] today so she will get it for her birthday Sunday.

Mary [Keiser] called Alice [Crompton] last night.  She wasn't there and her mother said it was still indefinite, but that Alice would call Mary tonight.  Mary said you should tell Dick [Nonnemacher] that is the reason she hasn't written him yet.

Doris Mac Donald - Mrs. Chas. Schaevitz was here yesterday.  Her husband graduated as a first Lieutenant July 3rd and is in Co. B - 9th Q.M.C.  They live on Carolina Ave. in West Hopewell and she said she'd be glad to have you visit them.  Her husband was a Camden boy.

Your postal arrived here yesterday, Wednesday, noon.  You wrote it Monday noon but it didn't leave Camp till Tuesday at 1:30 P.M. - so you see how'd[sic] I'd be fuming to know how you had arriven[sic] - if I hadn't had your phone call.  The mail delay evidently isn't in transit but in the getting it out of Camp.  I dare say they do have quite a few pieces to sort.

Everybody in the neighborhood is telling me how swell you looked and how glad they were to see you.  Of course I don't go for that stuff and your father's chest doesn't expand.

Lois [Stahl] called me Monday and said she and Leo had been puzzled over a caller they had missed by the name of Thomas Keenan.  The operator evidently was hard of hearing when you spelled Keiser.  B.J. [Stahl] had been with them till 10 P.M. and had gone home after that so I'm wondering if she got her message straight.  She heard from Irv at last.  He took his physical but couldn't make Officer Training so he is very discouraged.

Sorry you are having such cold weather.  Ours is dry and crisp just now but you are so much farther south.  I thought you'd be warm.  The Stahls are freezing in their summer outfits and Lois hopes to go home this week end and have the winter togs sent down.  No news yet from N.C.R. [National Cash Register]

Dad has just come down for breakfast and turned on the 8 o'clock news - so you know I can't write in competition to that - so Goodbye for now - it was grand to have you with us.




Dear Son;

Just ready to eat breakfast.  Not very hungry after last night or rather this morning.  I won a little over a dollar so will buy some war stamps.

Glad you had a nice visit.  Come again.



  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 1 Oct 1942

5 Oct 1942, Letter No. 26 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 6 Oct 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: [No return address]


Monday eve [Oct 5]

Dear Tom,

It has rained here continuously since last night and I'm hoping your tent doesn't leak and that you don't take cold. Your clothes must feel pretty clammy [with] weather like this.

We called the station last night and they said the train out of Richmond around 4 got in 30th St. [Station] at 9:38 so Daddy and I drove over. It was posted as late and due at 10:31 so we decided to wait. At 9:45 a black out sounded and it was on till 10:15. In the meantime a train came in but we were all herded in the ticket office and couldn't see anybody in the dark. The next train in from Richmond was due at 11:18 so we waited for that but no girls. Ki [Dad] walked the length of the train and then in the rain we drove around the city bus stops thinking we might see them standing. It was after 12 when we got home and Daddy went to bed. At 1:30 A.M. Mary [Keiser] called from N. Phila. Station so I told her to take a taxi home since it was raining so. It took her across the bridge for $1.65 and then she had to take a Camden taxi for 80 cents to Collingswood. So with our bridge tolls, it cost us all something to ride around in the rain.

Mary got in around 2:30 A.M. and was just too tired to say anything except that she had has a swell time - so we had to wait until breakfast this morning to get the details. We are glad you all had such a nice time together.

Betty Jane [Stahl] called up tonight and said she hoped she could get down to see you some time. She is going to get tickets for Gertrude Lawrence in "Lady in the Dark" for Thursday night for Alice [Crompton], Mary and herself. Aunt Lois and Uncle Leo went to Syracuse Friday and Lois expects to stay until Uncle Leo hears some definite news [about a job transfer].

I was over town with her [B.J.] Thursday and we ate at the "Hearthstone" in Elfreths Alley. It was shoddy and punk. Once was enough. We did some window shopping and she sent you some Turkish paste and I sent you some apple sticks from Strawbridges to your old address. Did you get them? Since you have only one more week of your schooling, you will have a new address if you enter O.C.S. [Officers Candidate School]. I suppose - so I won't write everybody about your changed address until I hear from you or unless you think it will remain the same for awhile.

Did Mary tell you we had a surprise blackout at 10 o'clock Friday night just as we were about to leave for the station? Lights didn't come on till 10:30 and at 35 miles per hour - I never thought we'd make N. Phila. at 10:59 but we "dood" it. Such complications.

Daddy and I went to the football game after we talked with you Saturday - Woodrow Wilson played - Colls beat them 41-0. Terrible. Colls have quite a lot of good material this year and some new tricky plays. Bob Smith can't play this year. He is a year too old - but he trains the JVs.

Mat. [Maternal] Health Ex. Board meeting here tomorrow morning.

A letter from Floy [MacWilliam] Saturday said, "We've had only a couple brief (about 1/2 page) letters since he started classes - only to say he was well and just terribly busy." - so I guess Floy missed her usual long letters from Gordie.

Mrs. Blake called by phone today and asked for you. She is having trouble finding some one to put up storm windows and take down awnings for her apartments. We're kinda going to miss our helper too this year.

Mrs. Darlington called me before my dishes were done this A.M. She talked steady until 10 o'clock and told me her husband had left her and all the details. Terribly sordid. It is amazing how some people live. She is starting to work for Western Union today.

Daddy is snoozing here in his chair and Mary is working problems in "Solid."

Your name is on the Victory Board uptown. They have a big blue "V" in the middle and your name is right in the most conspicuous part [drawing inserted with name in the middle of the V] the next ones will be partly in the blue. Bill's name and Vernon's are not on yet. I'll have to tell their mothers to turn them in - as the draft board won't release their files - even for that purpose.

You'd better take your Vitamins while living so exposed and if you get sneezy - remember your Argyrol.

Our love to you dear



Glad you had a nice week end. Must get to work now.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 5 Oct 1942

7 Oct 1942, Letter No. 8 From Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 8 Oct 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T-764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


October 7, 1942 [Wednesday] 

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Well, I've pretty well settled down after a wonderful weekend.  It certainly was swell for Dick [Nonnemacher] and me to have the girls visit us.

You and Dad must have had a pretty gruelling time trying to meet them at the station.  I thought that by now you knew better than to try to meet anyone at a railroad station; it seems that we always have bad luck.  It really wasn't Mary's [Keiser] or Alice's [Crompton] fault that they were so late, for the darned train was over an hour late leaving Richmond, and I guess it lost time all the way into Washington.  That's the way with any train here in the South.  So don't be angry with the girls, since they were subject to conditions beyond their control.

I received the Apple Sticks and Gum Drops from Strawbridges, yesterday - they are almost gone by now.  And, they are very good - I learn from the other fellows in the tent.  What a ravenous horde!  Yes, I did have one or two.  Maybe it's a good thing that I never got to the Hearthstone since you and Loch[sic - Lois Stahl] thought so little of it.

Collingswood really got skunked in the Woodrow Wilson game didn't they?  I'll bet it never would have happened with Smitty [Bob Smith] in there.

How many times a day do you walk past the Victory Board?  By all means get some more names on there, or I'll feel conspicuous, even way down here.  This writing ain't so hot, but it isn't so hot writing in the tent.

I did catch a little sniffle out here, but it is all gone now.  Fortunately, I remembered the Argyrol.  I didn't see Dick today in classes - he had K.P. over in Company D.  I won't see him tomorrow - I have K.P. here in Company H.  They certainly didn't waste much time in getting my name on their Duty Roster.

A package arrived for me from Berwick on Saturday evening and I didn't open it until I got back from Richmond.  It contained some swell Toll House Cookies which didn't last 24 hours, even leaving out 8 hours for sleeping.  They went over big.

In your letter of Sept. 24, enclosing the Peircetonian [newsletter from Peirce Business College, Phila.], I thought for a minute that H. B. H. had published my letter.  Thank Heaven he didn't!

I'm enclosing a card to the Adjutant General, N.J.  Please change G. to H. [Company] and fill in the municipality info. and send it in.  I don't know how long I'll be in Co. H before I go to O.C.S.  Thru underground grapevines I learn that my name is now on the list to take a physical exam for entrance.  When I pass that I'm in.  Charlie Kerns is in Co. H with me.  We both bitch about the tent job, but as the boys are leaving every day, soon I guess, there'll be room for us in the barracks.  The Mess Hall, at any rate, is much nicer and cleaner than Co. G.  Haven't seen a roach there yet.  Dick just came in from K.P. 8:35 P.M. with a Sweet Potato - what a racket!



  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 7 Oct 1942

9 Oct 1942, Letter No. 27 to Tom

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Postmarked: 5 PM, 9 Oct 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T-764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A. F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey


Friday - Oct 9th

Dear Tom,

Have just filled out your card to the Adjutant General - you vote in Collingswood Borough District # 6.  They must be going to send ballots to the soldiers for the coming election.

Enjoyed the "Brief Tour" thru Hopewell.  With so many important industries it ought to be a sizeable place.  The Southerners are certainly "History minded," aren't they?

Nice of you to stick up for the girls.  Daddy grumped a bit at me for wanting to meet them, but we weren't provoked at them.  I sort of enjoyed seeing all the crowds of people rushing hither and yon endlessly and everytime I saw a Camp Lee bonnet or insignia I wanted to rush up and say, "Do you know my son?"  Then, too, the blackout in the station was a new experience.  It was all better than sitting at home wondering why they didn't come.

One consolation about being in a tent.  There are only 8 compared with the larger number in the barracks - so when boxes from home are passed around - each fellow gets a more sizeable portion.

Am glad you remembered the Argyrol and got rid of your sniffle.  The weather here is swell just now so I keep hoping it lasts for your sake.  I'll bet its pretty cold at night.  Do you have enough blankets?  Could send you some if you dared have them.  You must keep in the pink for that physical.

What do you mean Collingswood was skunked by W. Wilson?  We have the finest team with the largest number of good players and reserves I've ever seen here.  The score was 41-0 in Colls favor.  Skeets has a new assistant this year and they have some new tricks and have learned how to throw and receive forward passes.  Daddy and I walk to and from the games this year, and enjoy it, too!

The Victory Board is getting jammed with names but I can still see yours even when I go by on the bus.  Enclosed is an article about its presentation, and a few other articles you may like to read.  [Two news clippings were saved with this letter, and are attached.] 

Saw Vernon Ware yesterday.  He is home from Georgia for 10 days.  It certainly has improved his looks and he has gained 18 pounds.  He is in Ordinance.

Mrs. Cook called me this A.M.  She said Warren had gone over to Phila. to see what he could get in ordinance because his 2 B deferment comes up for reconsideration about Oct. 20.  She said Roland had 3 small charges where he had been preaching all summer and up to now.  He got word from the N.Y. Dist. Atty. that he was to report to the D.A. in N.C. where he had been in Objectors Camp and if he didn't they would come and get him.  So, he is now hitching his way there and doesn't know what they will do.  Warren and his wife are living with Cooks.  She works in the Shipping Office at Campbells [Soup Co, Camden]

With all your K.P. experience and Mary's waitressing I'll be able to just sit back and let you two take over the kitchen when you come home, won't I?

It was nice of Bets [Betty Freas Waters] to make you Toll House Cookies.  Maybe I can get Mary in the mood sometime.  With her hockey and club and chem. reports she is kept in a whirl.

Mrs. Sharp called and asked me if you said anything about socks.  She sent you some Tuesday, Sept. 29th and wondered if you had received them.  If you have, please drop her a line or two of thank you.

Glad your little insect friends have disappeared.  Maybe they hibernate.

Daddy has just come in for lunch and he wants to "Adeline," so "Goodby, my love, goodbye."



How did Dick [Nonnemacher] make out with his physical Monday?  Hope he passed.

Am sending your B of M [Book of the Month] Club News.  Let me know your pleasure.


Dear Tom;

Mother said she would leave me a little space on her letter, however when I looked it over there was no more space.  "Well that's mother."  [Tom thus started writing at the top of a new page 3.]

Mr. Pettyjohn told me that Bill would soon receive his 2nd com. [commission] and be raised to a first Lieut.  He expects to soon be moved to Texas so he says.  He is all packed to go but he says in the army you can't tell what they will do next.

Glad you are getting along O.K. and hope you go thru with the physical with flying colors.  Remember me to Mr. Kern, and best of luck to you.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 9 Oct 1942

12 Oct 1942, Letter No. 9 From Tom

Postmarked: 5:30 PM, 13 Oct 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T-758[sic], 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Monday night [12 Oct 1942]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Spent a lovely week-end in camp, on Reserve Camp Guard, same as Labor Day week-end.  So I did some washing of underwear and handkerchiefs and socks Saturday night and also G.I.-soaped my shoes.  The clothes were spread out to dry on an empty cot in the tent, but it started to rain, so they didn't, and haven't yet.  If it doesn't soon warm up, I'll have nothing to wear.  So it's a good thing Mrs. Sharp sent some socks.  I got them Wednesday the 7th.  I'm writing to Mrs. S. to thank her, tomorrow.

Dont' know yet when the physical is coming off.  Maybe this week, maybe next.  At any rate, my name is on the list to be retained at Camp Lee for the exam, so I'll just be putting in time here in Co. H.  Today, since classes are over and because it was raining, we had some dopey lectures, and spent part of the afternoon whiffing poison gasses.  But as soon as the rains go, it will most likely be our lot to make holes with spades.

Dick [Nonnemacher] doesn't know yet how he made out - nobody knows nothing[sic] here.  But he probably made it.

I noticed that Pop corrected his split infinitive, but Mom evidently didn't notice hers.

Glad to hear the news about Bill Pettyjohn.  I'm going to try and see Gordon [MacWilliam] tomorrow night, so if I do, I'll tell him.

This isn't much as a letter, but it was written by candlelight (birthday candles again), in a tent, in the rain.


  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 12 Oct 1942

13 Oct 1942, Letter No. 28 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 14 Oct 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T-764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey


Tuesday, Oct 13, 10:45 P.M.

Dear Tom,

Daddy and I just got back from the first General P.T.A. [Parent Teacher Association] Meeting.  The speaker was Lieut. Col. C.P. Newton, who is now post chaplain at [Ft.] Dix.  He had a Ft.[sic] Lee Cadre insignia on his sleeve and the Pettijohns who were with us said he was the speaker when Bill graduated from O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School] at Lee.

It is Bob Hope night on the radio and Daddy said if he had remembered that, he wouldn't have gone to the meeting.  Bob has been doing Army Camps in the east and we were wondering if you might see his soon at lee.  Have you had any of the roving Stars there yet?

Well, your Mom is about to become a working woman again.  Thursday I'm starting in Strawbridge & Clothier Book Dept.  Mrs. Pettijohn is going to work in Toys.  Mr. P. had to take a cut and Daddy is supposed to get another job as soon as he can.  There is just nothing for him to do at Peirce [Business College, Phila.] - and now that the 18-19 year olds are to be drafted they will be worse off - so the handwriting seems to be on the wall for us again.

Daddy is trying everywhere but over 50 is against him and office work doesn't pay a living wage.  Just now it looks as though he may get a job in the Research Dept. of the Socony Vacuum Plant at Paulsboro at approx. $2,500.  He likes the set up and may be called in for a physical exam.  He could possibly get a little more with DuPont at Wilmington, but he would have to stay there with transportation as is, and of course that would mean additional expenses.  Here's hoping something turns up.

Mary [Keiser] was all set for 2 years at Peirce so she is wondering what this will mean to her future.  If Daddy can get a job with regular hours I think it will be much better for him, and he will be glad to leave Peirce.  Everytime we've been down, some way out has always appeared - so we are still optimistic.

The enclosed letter and the accompanying answer (copy) I sent are self-explanatory.  I hope they accept my vague reply.  If not the only thing I know to do is ask them to file an optional return for you for 1941 which amounted to $12.41 more than the form you filed.  Remember, at the time, I had my misgivings?

I sent you a little box from H. & H. [Horn & Hardarts?] on Monday.  Thought it might taste good for a change.  Mrs. Pettijohn and I went over that day to apply for our jobs.  Ever so many Collingswood women are at S. & C.  Mrs. Parker is selling china, Mrs. Clevenger, linen, Mrs. Overmyer, girls coats - Mrs. Barris and Mrs. Earl are there, too, so we will see lots of familiar faces.

The Coll. Vineland game Saturday was splendid - a 28-0 victory for Colls.  They really play this year, and I'm going to miss seeing the rest of the games.  If Daddy goes to Paulsboro he will have to work Saturdays, too - so we'll both be out of luck.

Daddy is in bed - calling down to ask if I'm asleep down here, so I guess I'll go get some shut eye.

My love to you, Sunshine.


Mary spent the eve at Parkers.  She and Barbara are Chem. Lab. partners so they were doing their experiment in Parkers Lab in their basement.


Dear Tom;

The boys are waiting so I must hurry.  How are things going by you?  Hope you are getting used to living in a tent.

Not much news for me to write, I leave that to my secretary (Mom).

Let us hear from you when you can spare a little time.




Hello !

I'm off to school!




October 12, 1942

In replying refer to IT:MG:FR  805967        

Thomas Keiser, Jr.
127 Haddon Avenue
Collingswood, New Jersey

In re: 1941 Income Tax return


The Commissioner of Internal revenue has referred to this office for verification, your income tax return filed for the year 1941.

In order that a prompt report may be submitted, it is requested that you appear at this office bringing with you such records and other data as will assist in explaining the items appearing on your return, particularly the following:

Please advise to whom you paid interest in the amount of $43.09

Send full details of car accident, including date, location, cause and name of police to whom reported.

If it will be inconvenient to appear in person, the information requested above may be submitted by mail, and upon receipt of same, it will be given careful consideration, and you will be notified of the results.

In any event, whether you call in person at this office or you submit the data requested by mail, please address your reply for the attention of the AUDIT SECTION.


Harry L. Maloney, Collector


127 Haddon Ave.
Collingswood, N.J.

October 13, 1942

Audit Section
Internal revenue Service
Camden, N.J.


In re: Income Tax Return of Thomas Keiser, Jr. of above address - IT:MG:FR  805967

Mr. Keiser is now in the Army and before leaving cleared out papers that he thought he had no more need for.  However, I think I can give you fairly close information. 

The interest item was paid to a company from which he had borrowed the money to pay for his automobile.

The car accident occurred either the latter part of May or the first week in June in Philadelphia and was reported to Harrisburg.

His mother

Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser 

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 13 Oct 1942

15 Oct 1942, Letter No. 10 From Tom

story image(s)
Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 16 Oct 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T-764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

[Note: First use of Camp Lee letterhead.  Image attached.]

Thursday night, by candlelight, 9:45 [15 Oct 1942]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Many thanks for the Income Tax Evasion Notice - see you in Alcatraz.  I suppose the best thing is to await developments.

Dick [Nonnemacher] expects to go up to O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School] either tomorrow, or at any rate, Saturday, to start classes Monday - I'm still waiting for my physical and doing dirty details in the meantime.  Today I was working in the Co. Supply Room, stacking equipment, checking it in and out for the fellows who are being shipped and arriving.  It was swell until the sergeant said to clean the stove and polish it.  You never saw a chimney sweep dirtier than I was then - I looked as if I had just come out of the mines.  Yesterday I did K.P. [Kitchen Patrol] for another fellow - which wasn't too bad.  It was worth $3.00 to him to get out of it, and worth $3.00 for me to take it.  Day before yesterday I was sent on detail to Co. G.  They were delousing and disinfecting the whole place - what a mess!  All the cots were taken into the shower room and sprayed with steaming hot water, the blankets, mattresses, and pillows had to be loaded into a truck and taken to Sterilization & Bath, and the whole place had to be sprayed with some sort of fumigant.  I had an electric atomizer and sprayed like mad - you should have seen those roaches and bed bugs run!  And when one of them popped his head out, I'd pounce on him with a spray and finish his career.  The fumes were so choking that I wore my gas mask.  Tomorrow I have to do K.P. again in the Officers Mess Hall - that building where you met Bud Shoemaker on Labor Day Sunday.  No $3.00 for that one.  I don't know if I told you but he's in Atlanta.

It's been raining almost a week now.  The sun tried to shine today, but the clouds were too strong.  The package from H. & H. [Horn & Hardarts?] arrived today and Chas. Kerns said to tell you the cinnamon buns were swell.  They were, too, I had one!

I'm sorry to hear that things aren't going too well at home.  I'm going to make application for a Dependents Allowance.  That will send you $52 a month until Mary is 18, then $47.00.  At least that's something I can do to help out.  I won't be able to get the papers until Saturday, since I'll be in the kitchen all day, but I'll send them to you for affidavits as soon as possible.

Just lit the fifth candle - they burn pretty fast, and I have only a few left.  Will have to get some more soon, for they come in pretty handy.

As soon as I've had my physical, I'll apply for a furlough, so I may be seeing you soon.


  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 15 Oct 1942

18 Oct 1942, Letter No. 29 to Tom

Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 19 Oct 1942, Philadelphia, PA 3

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T-764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey


Sunday eve, Oct 18

Dear Tom,

Walter Winchell is over and Daddy is out on the front porch painting the floor tile red.  Mary is studying Solid - after just learning "To be or not to be" and I'm writing to you.

I sent your picture to Aunt Betty [Freas Capwell] in time for her birthday [on Oct. 4].  Did you write her as you said and if so, has she acknowledged it yet?

Mrs. Sharp hasn't heard from you yet about the socks.

Colls. had no football game - at Atlantic City yesterday.  Just as they were about to board the bus Skeets got word that the field in Atlantic City was flooded and the game was called off.  How it has rained and rained here for a week steady!  Evidently, from the newspapers it has been quite general, with your section of the country pretty badly hit.  Are your wet clothes still hanging?  I don't see how you can have any dry clothes in tents in weather like this.  I certainly hope you're able to take it without getting another cold.

The address on your last envelope was Co. H Barracks 758 - I suppose it was a "lapsus" of your pen as that was the old # in Co. G.

We have had a busy day.  Daddy and Mr. Bryson washed the outside of all the downstairs and cellar windows and put in the storm sash.  That was 13 windows and he took down the screen doors, too.  The next time he gets ambitious he'll do the upstairs.  I cleaned thru - more or less, did the wash and washed my hair.  Mary washed hers, too.

Mrs. Pettijohn and I went to Strawbridges Sales School last Thurs. and Fri. and yesterday we were placed in permanent departments.  Mrs. P. got toys on 6th floor and when I went to Books, the Dept. head assigned me to Religious Books & Articles - so your Mom is selling Bibles, Catholic Rosaries and Miraculous Medals, etc. - "Ain't that sumpin?"  

We have to leave here right after 9 to get there by 10 - 2 mornings I stood all the way over.  We get out at 6, so arrive home at nearly 7 and then to start cooking isn't so good, but I guess I'll get used to it eventually.

Peirce [Business Coll. in Phila.] sold Daddy's car and he has to go over with Mr. P. [Pettijohn].  When a call comes in he has to use the station wagon.  He hasn't heard anything definite yet but he is getting tired of filling out applications.

Bill P. [Pettyjohn] was expecting to go to Texas when orders were reversed and he was told to move his company to Ft. Benning, Georgia.  He sent back word his Co. was not complete.  He didn't have 50 drivers for the necessary trucks - so they told him if he wasn't prepared they would get some one who was.  So now he doesn't know what to expect next.

What was my split infinitive?  They always were the bane of my existance.[sic]

They had a practice evacuation of civilians out of Camden today - 4,000 people were taken to surrounding towns by bus, motor boats and ferries.  300 were supposed to come to Coll. - but only 75 arrived and the emergency police took care of them.

Merritt [Sharp] drops in to see us all once in a while but he doesn't stay long.  However, he is going to take Mary to a Halloween Barn Dance at Silver Lake Inn.  She has a new escort now.  Robert Young, from Oaklyn, a fine looking young chap on the foot ball team has taken her out for 2 Saturday nights.  I guess there is safety in numbers.  She made up a box of cigarettes, candy, cards, etc. to send Frank Capine today.  He was still in Ireland when she heard last.  All foreign Xmas presents have to go out before November 1st.

Daddy finally got the front of your car all fixed up again.  I've used only one - 4 gallon stamp since Sept. 22.

Mary has gone to bed and Daddy is takinga shower, so Goodnight, Tommie.



Dad too!
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 18 Oct 1942

20 Oct 1942, Letter No. 30 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 20 Oct 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey


Monday eve [19 Oct 1942]

Dear Tom,

It was swell to come home from work and find your letter awaiting.  Daddy came soon after and I'll bet he has read it 3 times already.  Mary took it uptown on the bus with her to read this afternoon and we've all laughed and laughed at your descriptions.  You'll surely know how to house clean when you are thru.

Here's something that will please you.  Mr. Peirce said today that when Daddy gets another job - they will consider him on leave of absence and will give Mary a 2 year scholarship - Exec. Secy. like you had.  He said he would give Dad a paper to that effect and it would be good if Peirce [Business Coll. in Phila.] is still in existance[sic] next year.

It was very sweet of you to want to help but if you haven't already applied for those papers - don't do it unless things really get bad.  Of course, if Daddy couldn't get anything & I got sick and couldn't work, we might be very glad to avail ourselves of help for Mary - but we sure hope that something will turn up soon.

Daddy had a nice interview at Sun Oil today and also at the Signal Corps as civilian instructor up at Wissahickon Ave. [Phila.]  He would like to go to Paulsboro but if he doesn't hear from them, he hopes to hear from the others.

If you have applied and the papers come thru, I'll just hold them until you come home and we can talk things over then.

It is just too bad to go without candles when we have such an assortment of Angel Cake left overs here.  I just sent a box ful[sic] out with Mary to mail and anytime you want more, say the word.

I sold $35.52 worth of Bibles, etc. today - my first real selling day so I made $2.75 + 50 cents Com. [commission] or $3.25, out of which I paid 8 cents S.S. & Ph. [Social Security and Philadelphia] Tax and have the big sum of $3.17 for my days work - minus 20 cents lunch and 35 [cents] bus.  But anyway it all counts and as I get better acquainted with stock my Coms. may grow.  The buyer complimented me tonight and said the department looked so much better as I arranged the stock and I would cash in on it all later.  Several of my customers said how glad they were I waited on them and how patient and willing I was - so if I can keep the old smile working - I may get a clientele.

B.J. [Stahl] wasn't on the floor today.  The girls said she was home sick but we called tonight and she was out - so maybe she just didn't feel like working.

Daddy and Mary are listening to Bob Hope on Lix Radio in "My Favorite Blonde."  So, I can't concentrate anymore.

Goodbye now.




Dear Tom;

Am sorry Mom caused you some worry about conditions at home.  They are not bad and really quite good, taking everything into consideration.  I still have work at Peirce and will have until I find something else.  I have several prospects in view and want to try to pick out one that will be O.K. for the future.

You sure had some job with the bugs.  I'll bet it was fun even if it was work.  Evidently you are doing a good job at K.P. for they seem to keep you on it.

Bill Pettyjohn is now on his way to camp[sic] Benning Georgia with his entire gang, and he will probably go to another officers school down there.  No one seems to know.

Hope you pass your physical O.K. and are accepted for O.T. [Officers Training]

Must get to bed now.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 20 Oct 1942

24 Oct 1942, Letter No. 31 to Tom

Postmarked: 2 PM, 24 Oct 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey


Saturday A.M., 24 Oct 1942

Dear Tom,

Daddy and Mary [Keiser] surely were happy when I got home last night and they both yelled "You're just 2 minutes late."  You can well imaging how disappointed I was not to have shared your call, but it was fine to know you are well, and to hear even second hand about your activities.  Dad says you're getting a swell assortment of cuss words in your vocabulary.

I don't get off the floor until 6:10 at S. & C. [Strawbridge & Clothier] so it is usually 10 to 7 when I get home.  Supper at 7:30 - "Kinda" late for the rest of the family.

Aunt Lois [Stahl] came in S. & C. to see me yesterday.  She had just gotten in from Syracuse in the A.M.  She found B.J. better of her bronchitis but she (Lois) is going to stay here with Leo until Nov. 1st when the new Phila. agent will take over.  Leo says he doesn't know where he will go yet.  Lois invited us all to have dinner with them tonight.

Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] is closing the house next week end and going to Berwick with Bets [Betty Freas Waters].  I hope she will be happy there.  Annie [Reilly] is going along for a week or so.  Frank [Waters] is making out very well at the A. C. & F. [American Car & Foundry?]

Bets is a swell kid.  She is doing typing for kenneth Rowe and wrote Mary that with that money she would like to send mary to art school.  Of course we won't accept it but her heart is right and we do appreciate it.

Dad and Mary are going to the Bridgeton - Coll. [football] game.  Both undefeated teams - Homecoming Alumni Day - so it will be a real struggle.

I must leave in a few minutes and I have to curl a few bangs.

Goodbye dear.




Dear Tom;

Was glad to hear your voice last night and was sorry Mom was not home, she arrived a few minutes later and of course started to cry because she missed you.  I guess it cost you plenty for the call, for I think I ran, or rather Mary ran over the allotted time.  Anyway it was good to hear from you.

You are becoming quite a marksman, 43 out of 50 is a darn good score I think.  When you are thru with Camp lee you will have had a diversified knowledge of the entire workings.  Well, the more the merrier and it will make you that much more valuable.

Hope you get your physical soon and that you will be able to make officers training O.K.  I think you deserve it, but it takes a little time to get things started.

I have a good offer with the Socony-Vacuum so I was phoned last night.  I expect the letter this morning.  I also have an opportunity to teach in the Signal Corps in Phila., and have two or three other good possibilities with other concerns.  Matter of fact I don't know which I will accept, but lean toward Sacony-Vac. for I think they are a good Co., and one should have a good opportunity for the future.  I think it will be Chemical Research work.  Boy my chemistry is lousy [sic] it has been over 30 years since I had it [sic] however I'm willing to give it a whirl.  Will let you know later.
Mother is ready to go now.  Mary is in bed.  I'm taking a few days off, and Mr. Pettyjohn will take off the last 4 days next week so I'll relieve him for his vacation if you can call it such.

Mr. Peirce said that if I took another job I would be on a furlough subject to be called back by them [sic] however if I like the work I go into I will not likely go back.  The remuneration offered me is more than I am now making at Peirce [Business College, Phila.].  Exclusive of expenses.

Must ring [sic] off now and get the leaves raked up.  So long and good luck.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 24 Oct 1942

26 Oct 1942, Letter No. 11 From Tom

Postmarked: [incomplete print] 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T-764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

[Mrs. keiser wrote on the envelope, "written Oct 26, received Oct. 28, ans."]


Monday evening [26 Oct 1942]

Dear Mother,

This letter is for you, since I missed you Friday night when I called.  Of course, I should have remembered and made allowance for your trip home.  Still I hope you weren't too disappointed, and I'll call again soon, when you are[UL] home.

What a place!  After all the rain we had, the skies were pouring it down all day.  We got up at 5, ate, and marched out to the range this morning, then waited around hoping it would stop, as it did yesterday.  But it didn't, so we marched back.  From 9:30 on, while you were busy with Bibles, I was having one wonderful time goldbricking in the barracks - this afternoon I got in a swell nap.  But since we didn't get to firing today, it means one more day to get up at 5.

[Charlie] Kerns and I are now living in the barracks.  Last Thursday night when I got back from the range & Chuck came back from his duties, we went to our cozy little tent, only to find it a shambles.  Carpenters had moved our stuff out during the day, in order to build sidewalls for winter, and when they finished, everything went back in one pile.  What a mess!  We were until 9:30 getting straight.

Kerns has really got into something big.  For the past two weeks he has been on special duty at Public relations working on a dramatized Orientation Course.  It is a new venture.  Instead of having a Looie [Lieutenant], who probably doesn't know too much about it, instruct a platoon, the course is given to a batallion at a time, and instead of being a dry thing, it becomes alive, and forceful.  I know, for I went to the initial presentation Saturday, and it really is something.  The Commanding Generals, Edmunds and Rowe, were present, and gave it the "go" signal, and it may be adopted by the War Department as a standard course of instruction, so Milt is all agog, and walking around in the clouds.  It is something he likes and knows he is fitted to do, so I'm wishing him all the luck.

That leaves only Harry Kline from Co. G who will be in O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School] with me, since Dick [Nonnemacher] is already there, and Milt will most likely drop out soon.  The other G-boys in the picture are not going to O.C.S.  They are, standing, l. to r. Cobun, Duffy, X, Golderer; sitting, Scott, Kerns & Kline.  We had the picture taken at a shop just outside the Main Gate one evening.  It certainly is not flattering, is it? [Note: It is not known what happened to this picture.  It may still be in a photo album at Tom's last home in Woodstock, NY, bequeathed to Don White.]

There are also a couple of negatives of yours truly enclosed, just the bottom halves; please send them back after they are developed.

I'm also sending the papers I wrote about in my last letter.  I know Dad pooh-poohed the idea when I spoke to him, but it is something you can have by rights.  Just have some two people fill out the forms and send them back.

So here I wait for my physical and in the meantime get up at 5 for the range.  I may be doing range detail for some time yet.

Love to all,


How do you manage the clinic now?
  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 26 Oct 1942

29 Oct 1942, Letter No. 32 to Tom

Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 29 Oct 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey


Thursday 6:45 A.M., 29 Oct 1942

Dear Tom,

Thank you for "my" letter and the nice group picture you sent me.  I think it unusually good for a group and I took it right over to S. & C. [Strawbridge & Clothier] to show all the girls on the floor.  George must be raising another "eyebrow."

We were all glad to hear the good news about Charles [Kerns], but sorry you won't be going thru O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School] together.  Strange how you started out with a whole company and are now down to just Kline and yourself for O.C.S.  You would wonder how they all get pigeonholed.

Mary [Keiser] had a letter from Dick [Nonnemacher] telling her how busy he is kept with his studies.  Last Sunday she was out with John Hale - a boy from Haddonfield she used to like when she was 11 years old.  This Saturday night she is going to "The Barn" at Silver Lake Inn with Merritt [Sharp] and Ed and his wife to a masquerade dance.  She is wearing Mrs. Pettijohns Pierotte suit and looks very cute in it.  This is the first date with Merritt since her return from Richmond.  He keeps dropping in for a few minutes every once in a while and was here last Sunday when she went out with John.  He is certainly persevering.

You forgot to tell me about the B. of M. [Book of the Month] and I picked up the slip Sunday, too late to cancel, so I suppose it will be along in a few days.  It will make your four required for the year so I think I will tell them no more for the duration because you won't have time to read them in school - if it keeps you as busy as all the other Cadets say.  I will send this one to you when it arrives.

Daddy received pictures of Luther Metcalf [a Keiser cousin] from Great Lakes Training St. and from "Shadow" Hagenbaugh [another Keiser cousin] at Ft. Bragg.  He is married now and his wife and Frank Regan's [another Keiser cousin] wife are keeping an apartment there together.  Buzz [Regan] is at Parris Island so Ann [Regan] expects to go down and have them all together for Christmas.  Dad had a letter from Ethel [Keiser] and she and her daughter Mary were all alone now.

Dad just left for Newark.  He was all set to go to work in Chemical Research for the Socony Vacuum at Paulsboro on Monday when he got a letter from O.P.A. telling him to report to Mr. Roy for accounting work in Camden.  Somehow his application has been misplaced or gone to the wrong office, so he was told to get in touch with tops thru Newark.  I hope this materializes for it would be so much easier for him to go back and forth to Camden and while he would get $2,500 at Paulsboro this one would mean $3,200 to $3,800 and no night shifts as he would have to serve for Socony.

Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] sent me some money to send you some cigarettes.  Hope the nuts I sent Monday were fresh and crisp when they reached you.

I have clinic each Wed. as usual from 1 to 4 and then get to S. & C. at 5 and work until 9:10.  Stores in Phila. are open Wednesdays 12 to 9 so that gives me half a day.  Dr. Fisher and Mrs. Gandy said they would quit the work [in the clinic] if I gave it up so I'll try this plan for awhile.

Leo [Stahl, Tom's uncle] is thru[sic] in Phila. on Tuesday so we are anxious to find out where he will go next.

Colls. beat Bridgeton 7-0 on Saturday.  Both teams were undefeated previously and Dad and Mary said it was a swell game.  This week they play Camden at Camden.  They are really hot this year.

Garfield Dads have [a] Halloween party on Friday night.  We may go but we won't mask.  No time to fuss with costumes this year.  Dad went to the usual session last night and lost 90 cents and ate too much to make up for it.

I am really enjoying my work.  Lots to learn - especially all the different Catholic prayer books, medals and rosaries.  They have to have a lot of paraphenalia in their worship.  I have Jewish Bibles and the Star of David - Modern Translation of the Bible ad infinatum[sic] and it is really fun to sell.  The head of the Dept. is very nice to me and S. & C. are very considerate of their help.  We get good food in the cafeteria for very[UL] reasonable prices and the employee rest rooms are all fitted out with comfortable lie down chairs and one with beds for resting.

I must hie to it now.  Mary is just getting up.



Please let me know the marking inside your Brown Dress Shoes.  You most likely could use a new pair for Xmas - and please[UL] send me a list of somethings you could use so I can tell the family when they ask.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 29 Oct 1942

3 Nov 1942, Letter No. 33 to Tom

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Postmarked: 1 PM, 4 Nov 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

[Enclosed with the letter were 5 more War Quiz clippings, which are attached.]


Tuesday eve, Nov 3rd

Dear Tom,

Aunt Lois and Uncle Leo [Stahl] just called us up to say "Goodbye." The new Phila. agent[,] Mr. Berman from Honolulu[,] took over today. At the banquet last night the N.C.R. [National Cash Register] president said Mr. Stahl was now going on a much needed vacation and upon his return would be given something very good. So that is all Leo knows. They are driving to Syracuse in the morning to wait until he hears "what's cooking" for him.

Betty Jane [Stahl] and Lois are naturally upset not knowing where they will be located. B.J. sent in an application to the Waves and if she is accepted will be leaving Strawbridges.

Lois called Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] last night. She expects the Waters up for her this week end. She has been staying alone since Annie [Reilly] left.

Daddy's job with the O.P.A. proved to be a runaround. He went to Newark and came back convinced he had it, only to receive a letter next day that his teaching experience could not be accepted for actual office experience.

Mr. Clements from Peirce [Business Coll., Phila.] got the job with the Signal Corps - so Daddy started in yesterday at Paulsboro in Chemical Research. He finds the work interesting but much[UL] to learn and hard to be on his feet all day. The shift just now 8:30 to 4:30 is O.K. but he will have to take his turn at the two others 4:30 P.M. to 12:30 A.M. and 12:30 A.M. to 8:30 A.M. and he won't like either of those two well. However he is lucky to get a job so we shouldn't complain.

Ruth Clayton's mother died last night. She has been sick quite a while. I guess she had cancer.

Mary [Keiser] was up to Taylor's tonight. Roberta gave a shower for Betty Treadick[,] who is soon to marry Jimmy Dutton, a soldier. Betty is Marjorie Glover's sister. Ddi I tell you they are expecting?

Colls. won the game from Camden Saturday 7-6. Dad and Mary were disgusted that Colls. didn't do better[,] but they are still undefeated.


Dear Tom;

Have now taken up a new line and am trying to be a chemist. I'll say, life begins not at 40 but 52 [Tom, Sr. was born in 1890].

I think I will like it O.K. once I have the run of things. It is a good concern to work for and a nice bunch of fellows. I'm putting in some hours of study each night and hope I will be able to master it shortly - That is a sufficient amount to hold the job. The pay is good to start, more than I received at Peirce and if one makes good I believe there is a good chance for advancement.

We are as busy as a one armed paper hanger with the itch. The leaves are about two feet deep on the sidewalk and in the front yard but we just can't find time to rake them up and burn them. I only have one day off now and that is Sunday. Last Sunday I concreted steps all day however I would not burn the leaves on Sunday because of the proximity of the church.

Hope you are getting along O.K. and am glad you are back in the barracks, for it is beginning to get a little cool up here tonight[sic].

A great number of employees have left Peirce's. Mr. Altomere left a few wks. ago, I left Sat., Miss Sprague left Friday, Mr. Jannell left a few months ago, Mr. Shover and Mr. Dunkle have been gone for some time, and also Mr. Witmer. Several other shorthand teachers. Also Mr. Storm and Mr. Saye. Business is not any too good over there so every one is making a move.

It is getting late and I must get up and get to work on time so I'll say good night.




Daddy took this away from me so he could drop you a line before turning in and then he skipped the back of the sheet.

Mrs. Bryson started at Strawbridges yesterday. Collingswood is surely well represented over there.

Clinic tomorrow and then I go to S. & C. [Strawbridge & Clothier] until 9:30 P.M. We will soon be staring our Xmas evening hours a couple of nights a week. I average 25 to 30 dollars [in sales] worth of Bibles, etc. a day. One day I did $53 worth. I would much rather be busier.

Hope you are able to keep warm these chilly nights.

Our love to you, dear.


Lois sent you her love.

I expect to get your films back tomorrow and will return them to you when I do.
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 3 Nov 1942

5 Nov 1942, Letter No. 34 to Tom

Postmarked: 12:30 PM, 6 Nov 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: No return address [Mrs. Keiser]


Thursday night, Nov 5th

Dear Tom,

Here are the negatives.  You look well and happy in the prints but not very fat.  Who is the heavyweight in the other picture?

At last, I got a birth certificate.  Dad got his several weeks ago so now you and Mary [Keiser] have proof that your parents were born.

A letter from Floy [MacWilliam] tonight said Willie has taken a job in a store in Asbury Park.  It doesn't pay very much but he hopes it will get better.  He has charge of domestics.

Don enlisted in the Naval reserve and on Oct 22nd received a commission as Lieut. Sr. Grade and will be indoctrinated in aviation at either Harvard or Rhode Island.  Jeanie and Ann and Jim will stay with Mollie.

She said Gordie [MacWilliam] has another month in O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School] and that he writes very little because he is so busy.  What is your excuse?  Are you really[UL] real[UL] busy, too?  Doing what?

She said to give you their love and best of luck and hopes you got to see Gordie.

The Stahls [Leo and Lois] left Wed. A.M. for Syracuse.  B.J. [Stahl] is going to spend Sunday with us.

The Waters [Frank and Betty] go for Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] on Saturday so when you say "Thank You" for the cigarettes write her at 551 Green St., Berwick.

And - when you can steal a minute to write home again - answer some of my questions.

We had a nice white frost here this morning - looked almost like snow.  Do you want your red pajamas? - or any?  Would you like a nice warm sweater - with or without sleeves - what size?

I'm right in S. & C. [Strawbridge & Clothier] every day now and can get 10% off purchases so state your wants.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 5 Nov 1942

12 Nov 1942, Letter No. 12 From Tom

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Postmarked: 8:30 AM, 13 Nov 1942, Petersburg, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: [Masonic Service Center, P.O. Box 469, Petersburg, Virginia preprinted on envelope, but crossed out]
Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks T-764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

[Enclosed with this letter was a card from Strawbridge & Clothier, image attached.]


[Masonic Service Center, P.O. Box 469, Petersburg, Virginia preprinted on letterhead.]

Thursday Eve [12 Nov 1942]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

I came into town this evening to do a little shopping, so while here, decided to drop a line rather than wait until I got back to camp.

It was 4 am when I pulled into 764 this morning and did nothing much all day long.  Lots of stuff happened here while I was away: Lt. Salzman was made Captain, and rumors are flying around about who's going to get to go to O.C.S. for Monday classes - nobody seems to know, but maybe it will be the 28th before I start classes, so don't be surprised.

The cake was swell, and everyone who has sampled it wants me to let you know how much they enjoyed it.  [Charlie] Kerns brightened visibly when I told him that some cinnamon buns would soon be forthcoming.

Cobun is mustacheless again.

It was sure swell to have been able to get up to see y'all and I had a wonderful time.  The only thing wrong, it was too short.  Everyone admires my Christmas presents.  I had on my sleeveless today and lots of the fellows wanted to know who knitted it for me.

This is a nice place, right across the street from the Pbg [Petersburg] Hotel.  They're serving popcorn to everyone here this evening.

I have to dash out and pick up Kerns' coat before the tailor shop closes, so I'll say au revoir for a while.

Lots of love,

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 12 Nov 1942

13 Nov 1942, Letter No. 13 From Tom

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Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 16 Nov 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

[A different Camp Lee letterhead was used, image attached.]


Friday Eve [13 Nov 1942]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Nothing new to report. I was room orderly today, which entails keeping the barracks clean, so I did, and in off moments I painted cans which we will use for cigarette butts and ashes.

I guess I was a little premature and optimistic about starting school; of course they may still call me, but it seems as though the class for Monday is pretty well made up by now.

Dick [Nonnemacher] called up this evening to see if I were coming up, and I told him not yet. I'm going to see him Sunday and will introduce him to Gordon [MacWilliam].

That's about all right now.



How many bibles sold today?
How were the propanes and methanes?
How was 'You Can't Take It With You'?
  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 13 Nov 1942

16 Nov 1942, Letter No. 35 to Tom

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Postmarked: 12:30 PM, 17 Nov 1942, Philadelphia, PA, William Penn An. [Anniversary]

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia
[Note: This address was crossed out and was replaced by QM School, 2nd Regt., Camp Lee, Va]

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Note: enclosed with this letter was the Collingswood High School Senior Class program of the play, 'You Can't Take It With You,' which features Mary Keiser as Production Staff for furniture and Merritt Sharp as cast member 'DePinna' [images attached].
Monday eve., Nov. 16, 1942

Dear Tom,

Betty Jane [Stahl] was a happy girl today.  She answered a newspaper ad. last week and this noon she had an interview and accepted the job.  She will go to Lawrenceburg, Ind. - 20 miles from Cincinnati - Dec. 14 - as Asst. Production Manager for Joseph Seagrams Distilling Co. at $34 per week to start.  She could hardly wait for 7 o'clock to call up her parents.  She will finish out this week at S. & C. [Strawbridge & Clotier, in Phila.] and leave a week from Wed. for Syracuse.

Alice [Crompton] was in to see me Sat.  She couldn't see the Penn State - Penn game because she had to have a new set of photos taken for her application.  We had a nice visit.  She told me you had arrived safely, which news tided me over until I got home Saturday night and was delighted to find your letter waiting for me.

I sent you the H. & H. [Horn & Hardart's?] assortment Friday morning before work.  Hope you got it for Sunday.  Send me Chas. Kerns address and some time I will send him a package of buns.

If it has been as cold at Lee as it was here you've needed your two sweaters both at once.  It warmed up again today though.

The play Sat. night was fine.  Mary did herself proud as Furniture and Decoration Chairman.  The stage really was class.  Merritt [Sharp] took his part exceptionally well.  His makeup was something.

Mrs. Cook was in to see me last week.  She wanted your address to send you the Reader's Digest but I told her you already took it.  She had been to the hospital to see Ed Scherneck and his wife.  He was returning to camp at Cape May and went to sleep driving the car.  He wasn't hurt so badly but his wife was.  One of her eyes was torn out but they hope to save the sight of the other.  Roland is preaching in 3 small charges in N.Y. State and selling brushes on the side to make a living.  Warren has been reclassified in A1 - so they don't know when he will be called.

Here's a clipping about the dedication and also Bill Pettijohn's letter to America Service Aid. [image attached]

Dad got the last of the storm windows in yesterday and is he glad?  I did the usual cleaning and washing.  Tonight I ironed till eleven and then knocked off to write to you.

We're all waiting till "the next time."  Mrs. P. [Pettyjohn] was disappointed this A.M.  She expected Bill and Jean for Christmas, but they get only 3 days leave and couldn't make it from Georgia and back.  Now she's looking forward to January or February.

Our love to you


[Added to the letter was Colls. 59 - Haddonfield 0, still undefeated.]


Dear Tom;

Patience is a virtue, so don't mind waiting a few more weeks.  Must get my breakfast and then to work as it is now 8:40.  Good luck.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 16 Nov 1942

16 Nov 1942, Letter No. 14 From Tom

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Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 18 Nov 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Quartermaster School Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Quartermaster School Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia
November 16, 1942

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Guess What!  I still don't believe it after that last letter to you, but here I am at O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School].  So don't pay any attention to all that nonsense.  When I got back [Charles] Kerns told me that the list had been made up, and that my name wasn't on it - so I was down in the dumps.  Saturday morning they asked me to write out my qualifications for Anti-aircraft or Engines school and then in the afternoon I was told that I would go to school Sunday afternoon - so here I am; one day down, 89 to go.  Don't try to figure it.

I'm right down the street 4 barracks on the other side of Avenue F from Dick [Nonnemacher].  Saw him Sunday.

Already they have me working.  After classes today (4 pm) I went on duty as C.Q. (Charge of Quarters) until 4 tomorrow afternoon - answer the phone, take bed check, clean up, etc.  This eve. equipment was handed out, so the Supply Sgt. and I did all that - haversacks, shelter halves, ropes, poles, pegs, mess kits, silver, canteen, rifle belt, first aid kit, gas mask, and a couple others.  All while the men were at study - hall this evening.


Nov. 17 noon

Still at it.  Waiting to be relieved for dinner.  I was too sleepy to write any more above.  Slept from 12 to 2 last night and then got up to fix the fires, then slept til six.  This morning I had charge of cleaning up and thought I had done a pretty good job until I had a conference with the first Sarg.  He didn't bawl at me, but he's going to start handing out demerits tomorrow.

We have nice quarters here, much nicer than Co. G or H, just a trifle crowded, but not too bad at that.  130 men in the company, 65 in each platoon, and 32 or 33 to a floor.

Colonel Wolfe was around this morning, looking at things.  He found a light on in the shower room which I couldn't account for.



Had dinner - chicken, mashed pot [potatoes], cole slaw, cocoa, cake, and very good - fixed the fires, rolled my pack - a few miscellaneous, like carrying stuff for the supply Sgt., and now its time to look at the fires again.

Harry Kline is in Co. E., and there are several other fellows nearby that I know.  I only wish [Charles] Kerns could have come along in this class.

This is a terrible, disjointed letter, and probably doesn't make any sense, but I'm just squeezing it in in odd moments.

I'm going now to sew on some O.C.S. insignia on my shirts, blouse, and O. [over] coat so I'll say goodbye for awhile.

Wish me luck.

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 16 Nov 1942

19 Nov 1942, Letter No. 36 to Tom

Postmarked: 12:30 PM, 20 Nov 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Private Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. H, Barracks 764, 8th Quartermaster Training Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia
[Note: This address was crossed out and was replaced by OCS QM School, 2nd Regt., Camp Lee, Va]

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thursday eve., 11-19-42

Dear Tom,

Your letter written Friday and Dick's [Nonnemacher] letter to Mary written Sunday both arrived Wednesday on the same mail.  Strange.  You said "nothing new" but Dick said you were moving to O.C.S on Sunday, so we are anxiously awaiting a line from you with your new address.

I sold $69 worth of Bibles etc. Wednesday after clinic and $62 worth today - so at 1 cent on the dollar, you see I'm earning a "huge" commission.

B.J. [Stahl] quit work at S. & C. [Strawbridge & Clothier, in Phila.] on Tuesday and is just killing time till next Wednesday when she will leave for Syracuse.

Daddy is having a good time at his work this week.  A new crew is on hand and the man he works with is letting him work the machines.  He says he has learned more these few days than in the two weeks with the other fellow.

Mary [Keiser] had the Sub Debs here tonight with the usual racket.  They are planning another progressive dinner for December 12th.

Did you get the cinnamon buns in time to share with [Charles] Kerns? - or did they follow you to O.C.S.?  Don't forget to send me his address - also Howard's.

Frank [Waters] joined the Elks last Tuesday.  Won't he have a good time skipping out - now that Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] is there with Bets! [Betty Freas Waters]  Last Sunday he drove them to Bloomsburg and up around the school.  Grandma said it looked natural to her.

Our love to you, dear, and success in your new work.



Dear Tom;

Same old rush.  Must eat breakfast and hustle to work.  Like my work a lot, it it[sic] interesting.  Good luck.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 19 Nov 1942

21 Nov 1942, Letter No. 37 to Tom

Postmarked: 1 PM, 21 Nov 1942, Philadelphia, PA 3

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Saturday, 11-21-42, 8:15 A.M.

Dear Tom,

It was swell to find your letter waiting for me last night.  Mary [Keiser] yelled - as I opened the door, "It's Cadet Tom, now," and Daddy beamed all over.  We are all so glad you have gotten where you wanted to be but it does sound as though you're going to be a busy boy.

Dick [Nonnemacher] was so pleased in his letter that you are near him.  How far are you from Gordie [MacWilliam]?

So you are sewing insignia!  Mrs. Pettijohn said not to throw away your regulation shirts when you finally have to wear shoulder straps.  She cut off pieces of the tail and made the straps on Bills - so maybe I could do that for you.

Betty Jane [Stahl] called me by phone last night and said she was taking the sleeper for Syracuse tonight.  She said the girls at her house had made plans for today and night so she wouldn't get over to see us.  She is living "in the clouds".  I hope her bubble won't burst when she gets to Indiana.

We loved your letter - the dis-joints made it all the more interesting - you know - "kinda like" a play by play broadcast.

Dorothy Henderson's boyfriend - Harry Young - was drafted last Monday and went to Dix but she hasn't heard yet where he is to be trained.

Dinner sounded good - Hope it continues like that - easy on the cocoa.

Daddy seems happier in this new work than in the old.  He is kept busy all the time and can run a machine by himself now.

Mary [Keiser] is going to have her eyes retested this A.M. and to the Audubon game this afternoon.

Bibles moved Very slowly yesterday.  Usually Saturday is a busy day so I'm leaving for it now.

We all are wishing you luck and endurance to give and take in your new work.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 21 Nov 1942

22 Nov 1942, Letter No. 38 to Tom

Postmarked: 1 PM, 23 Nov 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Sunday eve [22 Nov 1942]

Dear Tom,

Mary [Keiser] and I baked the cookies for you this A.M. and this evening we had fun packing the box for you.  She fixed a few for Dick [Nonnemacher] and Gordie [MacWilliam] - if you get a chance to deliver them.  Sorry we couldn't send you more[UL] Turkey but this little one is a symbol of our thankfulness that you are well and happy and near enoughh that we can hear your voice as we did this morning.

I will mail your box uptown first thing in the morning as I don't have to get to work until 12 - in till 9.  Here's a little calendar - On the black dates we work 12 to 9 - On the others 10 to 6. [See image]

I am mailing your letter to Jane [Freas] and asking her to send it to Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas].  They will all be glad to hear of your success and daily round of duties.  Oh boy!  Won't you be the good "man around the house" after all this experience?

Hope you were able to get Alice [Crompton] this A.M.  I called to tell her the good news the night Dick's letter came.  Alice was out, but I had a nice chat with Mrs. Crompton and she was pleased to hear about you.

Sold $71 worth of Religious goods yesterday - My best day.  Tomorrow is the last Clover Day before Xmas, so of course we all expect to make a killing.

Mary is studying - No date tonight - Daddy got the "itch" and went out for a walk and now I'm going to get the weekly wash.

We were all happy to hear from you this morning.



Mrs. Blake just called me and wanted to be remembered to you.


[Included with the letter and calendar was a postcard postmarked 6:30 PM, 24 Nov 1942, Camp Lee, VA, as follows:]

Dear Tom,

Just got back from my furlough and found your letter waiting for me.  Thanks a lot.  It did me good to get time to visit my folks and friends, they were all swell to me.  I imagine you are well into your course of training.  How do you find it?  The next time I see you it might be "Sir" unless I see you before you finish your training.  Well here's loads of luck to a speedy training and graduation.

Quite a number of my friends back home are Officers of the different branches.

Good Luck Tom

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 22 Nov 1942

25 Nov 1942, Letter No. 15 From Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 26 Nov 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Quartermaster School Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Wednesday night [25 Nov 1942]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

I just received your Sunday letter this afternoon, and I also got a notice that there is an insured package waiting for me to pick up - so I'll get the cookies tomorrow - right in time for Thanksgiving, so I'll give - "Thanks."

Dick [Nonnemacher] dropped into my study-hall this evening, so I told him I was going to get something for him.  Gordie [MacWilliam] will be on guard until 6:30 tomorrow night, so after that time I'll drop over to his barracks with his.  He has only a little over a week to go now, and when I saw him last, he displayed some of the items of his new uniform for Dick and me.

Things are going along in a hurry here.  The time seems to pass quickly when every minute is taken up with something or other.  We had our first examination on Monday, and I still can't think whether I passed it - I can only hope I did.  The exam was in Map Reading, and it was pretty comprehensive.  We were only allowed 40 min. for 40 questions, and some of them required finding what points on the map were at the intersections of lines from certain other points, and that kind of problem requires more than one minute - so they keep us stepping to keep up even in exams.  It will be a couple days yet, I guess, before we are notified of our "S" or "U" - I'm hoping it's "S."

At any rate, I'm assured of at least one "S" in my course on Field Operations.  We will have an exam on the first 11 hours of 117 on Saturday, and we are given an automatic "S" if we are absent from the Problem to do K.P.[Kitchen Patrol]  If you deduce that I'll be on K.P. Saturday, you're quite right.

I talked to Alice [Crompton] Monday evening.  They were out in Manoa at Howard's.  She was worried about a letter waiting for her from the Navy Dept., but I assured her it was probably in reference to her picture - most likely an acknowledgement.

They had been up to see Betty and Reine[?] Olson at New Brunswick (Kilmer) Sunday, so I didn't get the call on Sunday.  I didn't ask about Howard - he's pretty bad and may last another two months.

I hope you did a booming Bible business on Clover Day.  What was the calendar you inclosed?[sic]  Will you sell more on Black days?

Please tell Betts [Betty Freas Waters] that I did appreciate the cookies she sent, even if I haven't thanked her yet.


  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 25 Nov 1942

27 Nov 1942, Letter No. 39 to Tom

Postmarked: 2 PM, 27 Nov 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Friday, 11/27/42

Dear Tom,

Daddy had a holiday yesterday.  It was a beautiful day so we went to the Colls - Woodbury game - our favor 12-6 and close enough to be very interesting.  Mrs. Pettijohn and Mr. Henderson went with us.

About six o'clock, Mr. and Mrs. Pettijohn drove over and picked up Mary [Keiser], Daddy, and me and we all had a turkey dinner at Neill Deighans.  It was packed and we had to stand about half an hour.  The Sullivans were just ahead of us.  They had a pretty good floor show and Daddy danced once with Mary - but he didn't have wind enough for the encore.

'Member you were with us there last year and you and Mary danced so nicely together - and then the next week we had another Thanksgiving and Bets & Frank & Nance [Waters] were here and we ate at H. & H. [Horn & Hardarts?] in Camden.

Mrs. Cook was in S. & C. [Strawbridge & Clothier in Phila.] Wednesday.  She said she was sending you a fruit cake.  We had Clover Days Monday & Tuesday but it poured both days so business was bad.  There is no school today so we are expecting every body in to see Santa Claus.

Mrs. Sharp is working up in Smiths Drug & Liquor Store in Westmont but her feet are killing her and she doesn't think she can stand it long.  Her son, Albert has to go to camp Monday.

A Captain came in and bought an $8 Crystal Rosary[sic] for his wife - from me on Wednesday.  His insignia said he was an instructor in Q.M. so of course I told him I had a son in O.C.S. [Officer Candaidate School] but I didn't tell him your name so you needn't be embarrased.  He said only one of his group made the Nov. 28th class.  

By the way, I have a swell book on insignia - all in colors - can recognize any costume or marking in Army, Navy - Marines, Coast Guard - W.A.A.C. - W.A.V.E.S. - Civilian Defense - all of them.  Would a copy help you any?  It's title is U.S. Service Symbols by Cleveland H. Smith & Gertrude R. Taylor.  Glad to send you one if you say so.

Did you read "How the Army Picks Its Officers" in the December [Reader's] Digest?

Daddy is on the 4:40 P.M. to 12:30 A.M. shift today and Mary [Keiser] has no school so they are both in bed.  I must get out to work but its a bright crisp day so it will make me feel good.

Hope you had turkey and all the fixings yesterday and didn't have to work too hard on a full stomach.

Our love to you, dear.


Bets said in her last letter that they had sent you something to Co. H. - so I hope you got it O.K.


Dear Tom;

Did you get the box we sent you?  I hope the olives were not broken, if so the rest of the eats would be a mess.

Mother has not left for work yet, and I must go up to do some shopping for the house.  I'm as busy as a one armed paper hanger with the itch.  

We had a nice Thanksgiving and hope you also had one.

Must go now.  Best of luck to you.




Two hours later

Dear Tom,

Mom hasn't left yet and Dad's still bitching about doing the shopping - Please excuse me while I leave this disrupted house.




[Written in Agnes' hand]  Don't you believe her.  Dad's a bit[sic] help and goes quite willingly.  Store hours 12 to 9 today.
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 27 Nov 1942

30 Nov 1942, Letter No. 40 to Tom

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Postmarked: 2:30 PM, 30 Nov 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Monday, 11/30/42, 8:00 A.M.

Dear Tom,

It made the sun shine in a rainy day to hear your voice yesterday, and how it did rain all day and night long!  It has stopped this A.M. but is still nice and damp and clammy out.

Anyway, I don't have to leave till 11 - so that's a help.  The dark dates on that calendar I sent you are the days we work noon to 9 P.M.  The other days 10 to 6.  The stores can't get enough help to stay open days and evenings, too, so thought up this plan.  They daren't open any morning till 10 because the hours must be staggered for the buses to carry the workers earlier.

Your friend, [William] De Frates, came to see you Saturday.  I wasn't home but Mary [Keiser] was here and he came in and visited with her awhile.  He had lip stick on his face and when Mary finally kidded him about it he said yes that he had a girl waiting for him out in the car.  He wrote his address for you [enclosed with this letter - Pfc William F. DeFrates, Main Batallion, Co. C, 10th Armored Div., Ft. Benning, GA] and got yours from Mary.

Harlan's wife dropped me a postal and asked for your address as she said Harlan wanted to write to you.  She signed it Anna Radford, 248 Park Ave., Collingswood - so they must have moved.

Mother [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] says Leo [Stahl] has been sent to Glen Falls, NY to help the agent there for awhile.  I'll bet it is a big disappointment to him not to get a definite assignment.  I haven't heard from them since they left Phila.

Mary had a date with John Wednesday night - with Bob Young Friday night and with Merritt [Sharp] last night.  They seem to be all running neck to neck with no favorites.  She turned down John and Bob last week when they asked her to go to two different straw rides and wouldn't go to a formal at the Country Club with Merritt Thanksgiving night - though she just stayed home all evening with Daddy and me, after we came back from Deighans.

The boys are all getting their questionnaires and if things don't change soon Mary won't be having any dates.  She hasn't heard from frank for a long while.  I dare say he is seeing Africa by this time.

Am enclosing a clipping about Jane [Freas - attached as an image] that you'll be interested in.  She is a busy girl - not much of a picture of her.

Haven't seen Alice [Crompton] since the Sat. she had her pictures taken.  Hope the letter you spoke of from the Navy Dept. contained good news.  Her grandmother told me over the phone - the night I called to tell her you had gone to O.C.S. [Officer candidate School] that she never mentions Howard's name because they feel so terrible about his condition - so I never ask about him unless they mention him.  What is he dying of?  It seems so strange that nothing can be done for so young a man.

I sold $88 worth of religion on Saturday.  Some day I'll reach 100 or bust.  Adelle Loft and her husband Franklin Ernst bought an $8 bible of[sic] me Sat.  He finishes as an M.D. in February.

Mary's gone to school.  Daddy is still snoring.  He likes this 4:30 to 12:30 shift.  He gets every 8th day off - and then changes his shift.  Next Tuesday off and then day shift 8:30 to 4:30.  We haven't worked out our schedule when he goes 12:30 to 8:30 A.M. because 3 days a week I'll be leaving the house before he gets back in the A.M. and the other 3 I'll be getting home at 10 and Ki at 1:15.  Mary will have to do some cooking for herself I'm thinking.

Mary got new glasses last week - same frames however.  Just needs them to study as the Dr. said her eyes had improved a lot.

Friday she and Shirley came over to S[trawbridge] & C[lothier] and had supper with me in the employees' cafeteria.  I let her pick out a new winter coat - brown and light blue herringbone tweed.  She bought it of Mrs. Overmyer.  She got a new brown purse with money Grandma sent her, when she sent the money for your Pall Malls [cigarettes].  By the way, do you need some more or do future officers set a good example and not smoke?!!

Bye now - I must do a little housework before I leave.



Dear Tom;

Just got up.  Must get breakfast and wash the dishes.  We are having a great time arranging things while working on staggered shifts.  I get most of the shopping and some house work, but it is fun anyway.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 30 Nov 1942

1 Dec 1942, Letter No. 41 to Tom

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2 images
Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 1 Dec 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Enclosed with the letter was a Peirce School invitation to their Annual Founder's Day dinner and dance. See Images.]

Tuesday, A.M., 12/1/42

Dear Tom,

Alice [Crompton] came in to see me last night and brought me a very pretty handkie for a present. We visited between customers and I was glad to see her, and to hear that she is coming down to visit you Dec. 19th. She said you couldn't get accommodations for her nearer than Richmond so I asked her how she would like to go to Hopewell instead. She said any place that was convenient for you suited her - and that I should write you about it.

Beatrice MacDonald's sister Doris is a very sweet girl. She is Mrs. Chas. Shaevitz and they live on Carolina Ave. N. Hopewell, Va. Her husband graduated from O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School] last July and is in Co. B, 9th Q.M. I'm sure if they have room they would be glad to take Alice, or Doris might suggest some other place she could stay if she already has company. Why don't you phone her? It would be much nearer for you, wouldn't it? I'm not trying to butt into your plans. Just thought it might help.

A letter from Lois [Freas Stahl] yesterday says Mr. Albertson, N.C.R. [National Cash Register] agent for Trenton and Asbury [New Jersey], dropped dead and Leo is appointed permanently to that job. They are thrilled at the thought of a real home again. As soon as B.J. [Betty Jane Stahl] goes West on Dec. 13, Lois will come on and look for a house and they will at last get their furniture out of storage from Middletown, Ohio. "Man proposes but God disposes," they do say.

Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] was out with the Waters [Frank and Betty Freas], Dr. Long, and another couple to the Rowes Thanksgiving night and they played spit-in-the-sink until 12:30. So she is starting to step.

Sold $104.30 worth yesterday. Stepping up gradually.

Daddy has today off. We both have to attend a Civilian Defense Meeting tonight.

Mary [Keiser] is just leaving for school and says "Hello."

Love from,

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 1 Dec 1942

8 Dec 1942, Letter No. 42 to Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 8 Dec 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Tuesday, A.M.

Dear Tom,

$147.50 was the best I could do yesterday.  We're sort of running out of our best items.  No more long silver chains - no more imported testaments - or small bibles.  We can blame the war for anything and then get away with inferior stuff.  It's a great racket and how manufacturers are commercializing everything.  Put a war insignia on anything and it's a cleanout.  People would pay any price for something they think their boys would like to have.

I took paper to work yesterday, thinking I might squeeze in a few lines to you, but all the customers on the other side of the counter did the squeezing - and I was too tired to think when I got home at 10 last night.  So, here I am "bright and early" but with too few minutes left before the old bus is due.

Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] is fussing because Frank [Waters] doesn't mail her letters in time for the A.M. collection and then she doesn't get answers from her girls in the same old way as in Jermyn.

B.J. [Stahl] is going to fly out to Indiana and Grandma is worried about that too.

Bets [Betty Freas Waters] and Nancy [Waters] have colds.  Got them hanging out clothes in the wind.  If they are better Frank is driving them all to Jermyn Sunday to take Xmas wreaths up to Granddad [Frank Dudley Freas - buried in Montrose].

Excuse the big envelope.  I'm all out of small ones and its heck to find a minute to shop.  We went up to the Super A & P Saturday night to stock up and there wasn't a smitch[sic] of meat left in the place.  We had scrambled eggs for Sunday and hard boiled eggs last night.  I'm hoping to get up town tomorrow morning as I don't leave for work until 11 A.M.

Sent you an H. & H. [Horn & Hardart's?] box yesterday.  Hope this one can be "et" before it is stale.  Is Kern in O.C.S. yet?

Love in haste,

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 8 Dec 1942

9 Dec 1942, Letter No. 16 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 10 Dec 1942, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Quartermaster School Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Wednesday night

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

This has got to be in a hurry.  Bob Ulmer is in my barracks, so we had a little get-together Monday eve.  I should have told you Sunday that I received a wonderful fruit cake from Mrs. Cook.  If you get time, please thank her for me temporarily until I can do so.

Gordon [MacWilliam] will finish this Friday.  I saw him last on Sunday, and he was very elated.  Dick [Nonnemacher] finishes his academic work this weekend, too, and plans to go home for the week-end.  I won't be able to get any time off at Christmas for a pass, for only 13 fellows from our company will be allowed them.

Things are running along at the usual gallop pace, with me trying to grasp on somewhere as they fly.  I got off a lot of correspondence tonight, considering Howard [Crompton?], Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas], and the Waters [Frank and Betty Freas], and I hope to get off another one to Alice [Crompton], if I can possibly squeeze it in.

We had some snow Monday afternoon, and it sure made the place look wonderful.  I dashed out with a camera (borrowed) and took six or seven pictures which I will send to you soon.  It didn't last long, for the weather was pretty warm and was all gone Tues.

It's time to close the study - hall now, so I'll go back to the barracks and wash, shave, and then write a note to Alice from there.  The furnace broke down yesterday, so no heat, but with 3 blankets I'm not cold at night.

Lots of love,

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 9 Dec 1942

15 Dec 1942, Letter No. 43 to Tom

Postmarked: 1:00 PM, 15 Dec 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Tuesday, A.M.

Dear Tom,

Doris Schaevitz was in to see me yesterday.  She says she has a spare room and is only 3 miles from camp and would love to have Alice [Crompton] come there any time - only of course she is up here now with her mother for awhile.  She wishes you would come over and see them.

Alice came in later and brought me a very lovely white scarf for a Xmas present.  It will be a punk Xmas for Mrs. Crompton - since Alice must leave on the 22nd and so much to do at the last minute.  I guess we'll all just have to take it this year and hope for better things by next Xmas - or before!

I ordered the H[orn] & H[ardart's] box for [Milt] Kerns yesterday.  It will go out today.  I took a card to put in it but they wouldn't put it in, as they order them sent out from West Philly.

I called Mrs. Cook for you, so that will tide you over till you get time to say "Thank you" yourself.

Bill Pettijohn's Company is all Negroes but he says he is proud of them and they are a lot more obedient and willing than many whites.  He hopes to come home for 10 days in January.

B.J. [Betty Jan Stahl] flew out to Indiana Sunday.  The Stahl's apartment in Syracuse is rented for Jan 1st - so Lois [Freas Stahl] will have to get out by that time.  Leo [Stahl] is looking for a place in Trenton [New Jersey].  Jane [Freas] and Hank [Henry Leigh Freas] are going to Bets' [Betty Freas Waters] for Xmas with Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas].  Don't know where Lois will be yet.  Daddy has to work Xmas day.

Well, goodbye Corporal!  Why don't you tell us these things?


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 15 Dec 1942

21 Dec 1942, Letter No. 44 to Tom

Postmarked: 9:30 AM, 21 Dec 1942, Philadelphia, PA 35

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


A Christmas card was sent to Tom by his parents.  There was no personal message.
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 21 Dec 1942

24 Dec 1942, Letter No. 45 to Tom

Postmarked: 4:00 PM, 24 Dec 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thursday, A.M., 12/24/42

Dear Tom,

It seems strange not to be hustling out to work as usual.  I am now thru as a regular at S[trawbridge's] & C[lothier], but am transferred to the extra list, if I decide to be at their "beck and call."  Guess I'll look up a defense job.  Mrs. Pettijohn is kept on for a time because they must now relabel all the toys and send them back to stock for next year.

Fortunate your request came when it did.  They had only 3 Lifetime Schaeffer [pen & pencil] sets left - a brown - a black, and the mottled one I had sent to you.  They are $16.50, but with my 10% off, it came to $14.85 which is within the $15 limit you set.  Hope it arrives soon and suits O.K.  If it doesn't [arrive], let me know so I can get after them.  I guess mail is pretty well tied up just now.

They hired high school boys all over to help deliver [mail].  Over in Philly they caught one fellow dumping his bagful[sic] of mail into a sewer and another one burned his in a furnace.  They said it was too cold to deliver old Christmas stuff.  Out in California 3 freight car loads of packages and mail burned up in a shed.  All from the Los Angeles area - so I guess lots of people will be wondering this year why someone forgot them.

Aunt Lois [Freas Stahl] telephoned me last night.  She and Uncle Leo packed all their Syracuse stuff and stored it and are now staying at the Hotel Hildebrecht at Trenton.  After Dec. 31st, they are taking a 3 room furnished apartment - 3rd floor at 1210 W. State St. - the best they could find for the present.  Lois did so hope for a house so they could bring their furniture in from Ohio, but they couldn't find one.

Betty Jane [Stahl] arrived O.K. and Lois says she is homesick.  Her address is New Reagan Hotel Annex, Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Mary [Keiser] and Dad are still in bed.  Dad is working on the 4:30 P.M. to 12:30 shift and Mary goes to Grants 5 P.M. to 9:30.  I guess this will be her last day, too.

Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] sent Mary $5 - Bets [Betty Freas Waters] sent her a slip, Lois, a pair of brown and green gloves, Jane [Freas], a slip over sweater and red knit petticoat, and Hank and Ann [Freas] - a pair of red wool socks.  B.J. sent her a celluloid cigarette case.

I gave her a new coat and scarf and Daddy gave her a pair of wool lined kid gloves, but she has already been wearing them several weeks.

We were going to go out for dinner tomorrow, but since Daddy has to leave about 3:30 for work, I told them I'd cook them a turkey, so we are going to get a 10 lb. one, and they will be able to pick the bones - which seems to appeal to them more than the regular dinner.  Wish we could share it with you, but since we can't we'll be thinking of you, and hope that you get your fill of all the "fixings" while you are doing K.P. [Kitchen Patrol].

Mary received a letter from Dick [Nonnemacher] yesterday - written last Sunday.  Not much wonder he has a cold, sleeping in tents in this weather.  I hope he is better.

Gordy [MacWilliam] looked fine in his new outfit.  He said they were all going to New York Tuesday [the] 22nd to meet Don on his way to a camp in Rhode Island.  Floy isn't too happy about Don's going into Air Service.

I stopped at H[orn] & H[ardart's?] to have a box sent to you yesterday but they said no more soldier boxes till after the holidays - so yours will be coming along later.

Dad sort of enjoys night shift work.  The fellows all take different foods down and cook it on electric plates.  They had tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches last night with the cookies, cakes, coffee, and ice cream.  Tonight they are going to have sausage, peas, green beans, and potatoes.  Doesn't sound like very hard work, does it?

Hope you are keeping warm.  We have had some bitter weather here, especially last Monday, but it is warmer now.

Our love to you, dear.



Dear Tom;

Just got out of bed and have not had breakfast as yet.  I don't get home until 1:30 A.M. and crawl into bed about 2 A.M., get up, do the shopping, etc. and it is time to go back to work again.

The work is very interesting and I like it a lot.  Something new to learn every day.  Must work Xmas, etc., however they give us a few days off when we finish a shift, so it is not too bad.

Sorry you won't be with us for turkey tomorrow, however I suppose you will have a very good meal down there.

Glad you are getting along O.K. and with a little extra concentration, I'm sure you will make it.

Best of luck - Merry Xmas and Happy New year.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 24 Dec 1942

27 Dec 1942, Letter No. 46 to Tom

Postmarked: 8:00 PM, 27 Dec 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Sunday afternoon

Dear Tom,

The days are all so cockeyed with the crazy hours we keep that we lose all track of which is which.  I thought I had written you after Xmas but is was the day before.

We had a nice 10 lb. turkey bought with Grandma's [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] Xmas present, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, stuffing, slaw, macaroni, scalloped oysters, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, cheese, and coffee - frozen fruit cup first.  We had to have it early, 2:30, so Dad could get to work on time.  We invited Merritt [Sharp] and "Edna" because they were going to be alone.  She brought a pint of 5 star Brandy and a quart of white port to make the dinner go down better.

Merritt and Mary [Keiser] went to the movies later, brought Howard and Ruth back.  They danced and sat around with us and about midnight we all had turkey sandwiches and coffee.

Saturday we slept till noon, as no one had to be up early.  In the eve. Mary went up to Norm Fenton's with Dick Culbert to a party.  [Note: This is the first mention of my father in these letters.]  It was rather "early" when she got in and Dad was plenty mad, so she has to have no dates or nights out for a week.  Merritt just called and asked her to go to the College Formal New years at the Walt Whitman, but Dad wouldn't consent.  I guess Merritt thinks Mary was hedging and didn't want to go because he said he would ask someone else, so everybody's feelings are hurt all around.

Mrs. Sharp said she put a dollar in her Xmas card to you but can't remember whether she sealed it now, and if she sealed it whether she put a 3 cent stamp on it.  Let her know whether or not you receive it.

She fell down her cellar steps a week ago tonight.  She was taking food down to the dog and she was some bruised up.  Her knees are quite swollen and she finds it hard to get up and down.  She is afraid she has lost her job, too, by being away from it so long.

Haven't heard yet from the family about their Xmas.  Will write you when I do.

Dad is leaving for work in 2 minutes so I'll send this out with him.  Tuesday is his day off and then he starts Wednesday on day shift for 7 days.

Lois and Leo [Stahl] phoned us Xmas Day as we were eating.  I had invited them down but they were "too busy" to get away and no gas.

We all send you our love.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 27 Dec 1942

30 Dec 1942, Letter No. 47 to Tom

Postmarked: 5:50 PM, 30 Dec 1942, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Note: Enclosed with this letter was a holiday greeting card signed by Charles Canning, a notice of the annual meeting of the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company of Phila., signed by George Hill, and a news clipping about the annual dinner dance of the Medford Lakes [NJ] Junior Colony Club.]


Wednesday 12/30/42

Dear Tom,

I hope you are not having outdoor manoeuvers[sic] [in] this weather or really, that you're not having "this" weather.  It's a heck of a vacation week for school kids - just one continuous down pour.  No use for skates this year.  I haven't been out of the house since a week ago tonight when I came from work.  Dad's gotten used to doing the shopping on his way from work - so I just let him since we have to take what we can get where we can get it nowadays.  Can you imagine us buying butter by the 1/4 lb.?  We eat butter with our toast these days - not toast with our butter.  I perk coffee and then boil over the grounds.  We're doing lots of funny things but it isn't hurting us any.  Daddy and I still weigh far too much.  I want Mary [Keiser] to give up cigarettes.  She has no appetite and I think they are the reason, because she really used to eat.  [Note: Mary did not give up smoking until much later in life, when she was forced to do so during a hospital stay as a result of a mild stroke.  Many of her medical problems later in life were exacerbated by her smoking.]  I've been working on the clinic yearly reports this week.  The annual meeting in N.Y. is Jan. 28 & 29th.  Mrs. Partridge called me the other day and asked if we should go and have another old fashioned [mixed drink] in the Waldorf Grille.  I told her we'd have to look up a Major or a General this year because all the Steel Men would be busy at home.  I don't know yet whether or not we'll go.  Hazel wrote and wants me to come stay with her.  Her son, Carl, is a Capt. and teaches in the Navigation School at Hondo, Texas.

Mrs. Cook called and says Warren is called up again for New Years day, but the doctor has found he has Bright's Disease, so they are hoping he won't have to go.

Did I tell you Mr. Campbell, Renee's Dad, is renting half of our garage for $4 per month?

Mary just finished "Look to the Mountain."  I haven't gotten to it yet.  I gave Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] "How Green Was My Valley" for Xmas.  I know she'll get a kick out of the old Welsh people - knowing so many in Jermyn.  How much light reading do you get time for?!!

Dad started back on Day Shift this morning, 8:30 to 4:30 for 7 days, so he will be working all day New Years.  Will it be just another day for you or a holiday?  Any special eats?  Hope you don't have K.P. [Kitchen Patrol] for that day, too.

Our love to you, Tommy, and bestest[sic] wishes for a Happy New Year.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 30 Dec 1942

1 Jan 1943, Letter No. 48 to Tom

Postmarked: 2:20 PM, 2 Jan 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Friday 1/1/43

Happy New Year Sunshine!

It's a queer holiday.  Daddy went to work at 7:45, Mary stayed in bed till 11:30, and you're way down in Virginia.

I couldn't get any of the H & H [Horn & Hardarts?] stores to send you some cakes.  They say they can't get any boxes and they had too many orders, so they are just stopping all mailing.  So - I took one of my clinic boxes uptown yesterday morning and had Mary Clayton pack it full of everything we thought would keep O.K. and then I mailed it to you.  I wasn't too keen about the outside wrap job Mary Clayton did on it but I pasted it down in the P.O. and had it insured so I hope it reaches you in an eatable shape.

Hank [Freas] met Jane [Freas] in Scranton [PA] the day before Xmas and drove her to W.B. [Wilkes-Barre]  They called on the Capwells, said Aunt B. [Betty] kissed them and talked quite a lot, and Uncle C. [Clarence] said it was a happy Xmas for him.  Later they met the Waters [Frank, Betty, and Nancy], who took Jane to Berwick [PA] until the Sunday after Xmas when they all (Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] too!) drove her to Scranton and then up to the Waters for supper.

Bets' [Betty Freas Waters] roaster wasn't big enough for the turkey so they borrowed Pauline's.  An hour and a half after they got it in the oven, the gas went off and they had to carry it next door and use a neighbor's oven - who uses bottled gas because the Berwick supply is so poor.

Can't you just hear Grandma and imagine the excitement.  As they ate the 3 Rowe's from Berwick and 2 from Jermyn [PA] arrived.  Jane had a cold and boil on her thigh and I'll bet it was a hectic holiday.  Mother says the house it[sic] drafty and she'll be glad when Spring comes.  I dare say she's counting on getting back to Jermyn.

Mr. Allan died in Daytona Beach last week.  He was playing shuffleboard and it came very suddenly.  Strange after all her sickness that he should go first.  He was 78 years old.  Robt. and Elwood had just bought Baker Bros. store and moved their business over there.

Mary [Keiser] went to a party at Walton's last night with Bill Culbert.  You knew Hilda Walton.  There were 31 there and she reported a good time.  I guess Merritt [Sharp] must have invited some one else for the College Dance tonight, as we haven't seen anymore of him.

Ki [Tom Keiser, Sr.] and I went down to the Century in Audubon [NJ] last night and saw "My Sister Eileen" - good for a laugh.  Then we stopped in Brysons till about 12:30.

Did you see "The Women" put on by Camp Lee or Clare Booth Luce, the author, when she was there?  We read about it in Life.  A cute insignia in the Jan 4th issue in Letters to the Editors sent in by a Lieut. A.J. Gray of the Q.M.S. school[sic].


6 pm

Dear Tom

Just got home from work.  We are going out to Neil Deighan's [restaurant] to see if they have any food.  Our larder is empty.  Boy can you imagine me working on Xmas and new Year's day?  Well, anything to win the war.  Best of luck and Happy New Years.


Dad & Mom
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 1 Jan 1943

1 Jan 1943, Letter No. 17 From Tom

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Postmarked: 11:00 AM, 3 Jan 1943, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Quartermaster School Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

[Note:  Letter was written on gold embossed Quartermaster School, Camp Lee, Virginia stationery with insignia - see image.]


New Years Day

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Happy New Year!

The pendulum has swung my way again - I have duty today. But this time it is a much better job - Officer of the Day for Guard Mount - the Supreme Big Shot.

Dick [Nonnemacher] invited me to attend a dinner party last night with some of the fellows from his company - at the hotel Pbg. {Petersburg] It was a rather quiet celebration and I got back at 2:30.

Alice [Crompton] is located in the Northampton Hotel and I sent out the pen and pencil to her Wed. night. It was a very pretty set, and thanks for getting it.

Had a letter from Howard [Bondy] yesterday - he is now at Kirtland Field, Albuquerque, studying with the bombsight, and aiming at pennies from a simulated altitude of 4,000 feet.

This is not a very newsy letter, for I'm rushing to get the Guard assembled for a practice run at 3 pm before we go on at 5.

I should like to have you get "Lee's Lieutenants" from B of the M [Book of the Month Club], and if you get time, there is another one you might see if you can get:

Military Basic Course by Frank X[?] Cruikshank, Captain, Infantry Reserve
Publisher: A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago, Ill. (1940)

Thanks, and Love,


  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 1 Jan 1943

6 Jan 1943, Letter No. 49 to Tom

Postmarked: 2:00 PM, 6 Jan 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Wednesday 1/6/43

Dear Tom,

Your own school paper, no less!  It is very pretty.  [Refers to gold embossed Quartermaster School, Camp Lee, Virginia letterhead and insignia on Tom's stationery used for his last letter.]  Your New Year Greetings arrived yesterday afternoon, and were we glad to hear from you!  Of course, we are still concerned about not receiving your usual Sunday call, and we are hoping it's a good reason and not a bad one.  You might be out on bivouac, or out of funds - but then you could reverse the charge - or the lines might be out with the flood, or busy so you couldn't reach us.  Just so you're well and happy.

At least Howard [Bondy] is coming a little nearer East.  I daresay he finds the bomb sight interesting.  Next time you write us, give us Howard's rank, etc. and we will drop him a line.  

Received the [$]30 - I will take out the Schaeffer cost [pen & pencil set] and hold the balance for you after I pay for the books.  I sent a letter out last night to B of M C [Book of the Month Club] asking them to send the two books to you and the bill to me.  If they forget and mail the bill to you - you just forward it to me.

S & C [Strawbridge & Clothier] had to wait quite a while for books ordered from publishers and many older books were out of print so I thought maybe B of M might be able to locate M B [Military Basic] Course for you since it is a 1940 publication.

Glad you had a New years eve party.  New Years Night, Daddy, Mary and I ate at Deighans and got home at nine.  Daddy was tired and went to bed.  Mary and I went up to call on the Axners.  Les Kish had just gotten home and was pretty blue.  He liked his work in Ordinance and being close enough to get home almost every week end.  He is now moved to Camp Benning, Georgia - and is entering O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School] in the Infantry and feels he has gotten a tough break.

He says since Dec. 1st no one is taken in Ordinance but limited service men and most of those in are being transferred to other groups.  I am glad you got in O.C.S. before that date.

Mrs. Pettijohn lost her job at S & C the Monday after Xmas.  Their business is punk and when Mrs. Bryson tried to go back they told her there was no chance in January anyway.  I went over to the Federal Reserve Bank yesterday.  Mrs. Hott works there and told me to apply.  They say 700 had answered their add[sic] and they didn't like to take anyone over 50 [Agnes was then age 52]  It commences to look like I'm almost on the shelf.

Mrs. P. and I are going down to Radio Condenser tomorrow and see if we can land anything.  She is feeling pretty blue.  Xmas day they received word from Bill that his things have been moved out and they are in readiness to leave at a moments notice.  He thinks to India.  Just rumors of course and it is well not to repeat but Mrs. P. is just on edge.  It will be well for her to get a job if she can to help relieve her mind.

Am glad you liked the pen.  Hope Alice [Crompton] does and that she is enjoying her work.  A letter from Floy [MacWilliam] said she would like to have sent Alice, Xmas and N.Y. [New Year's] Greetings but didn't know how to reach her and I should wish her well for them.  So you tell her when you write.

Floy had heard - a few lines - from Gordy [MacWilliam].  It said it was pretty rugged but O.K.  He didn't say he had been assigned at that time.

Did [Milt] Kerns ever say whether he had gotten his H & H [Horn & Hardart's] box.  I hope yours has reached you.  Mrs. Sharp said she had heard from you and you had thanked her for her enclosure.

Warren Cook was turned down by the draft board because he has Bright's Disease.  They seem happy about it, but he certainly will never enjoy life much if he really has Bright's.

Its awfully cold here today, dry and clear though.  Clinic day, too.  Daddy has it off and is waiting to mail this so goodbye now and

Love from Mom


Dear Tom;

Have a couple of days off and then start the graveyard shift.  12:30 AM to 8:30 AM.  I don't mind it as I am getting used to the change.

Am taking the car in to be serviced today, and tomorrow will try to paint the ceiling and walls of the kitchen.

Must get moving now as it is 11:30 and much to be done.



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 6 Jan 1943

7 Jan 1943, Letter No. 18 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 8 Jan 1943, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Quartermaster School Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Thurs. eve, the 7th [Jan, 1943]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Let me hasten to assure you that nothing untoward kept me from phoning on Sunday, except my inherent mercenary instinct - I made $7.50 that day doing K.P. [Kitchen Patrol] for a fellow who had previously made arrangements for the week-end in Richmond.  Quite a jump, what, from Officer of the Day back to the kitchen?

Howard is now:
Air Cadet Howard L. Bondy
W/C 43-4 Aviation Cadet Detachment
Kirtland Field
Albuquerque, New Mexico
His parents: 5431 Charles Street, Philadelphia

Miss Alice M. Crompton A S (V-9)
U.S.N.R. Midshipman School
Hotel Northampton, T-342
Northampton, Massachusetts

And now that our class in addresses is finished, I'll try the news angle.

Alice likes the set very much - it says in her letter.  The night I sent it, I had brought it to study-hall, intending to leave immediately thereafter (8:30) and go into Pbg. [Petersburg, VA] and mail it.  Since we are not allowed to write letters in study-hall, I merely addressed an envelope and stuck in a letterhead, intending to write a note in town.  But of course, I forgot, and mailed the blank letter.  It came back with a note saying, "Just received this lovely letter from you and we all decided that I was supposed to write on it and send it back.  I'll keep the envelope because that's the only thing with any writing on it.  This will be the cheapest letter I ever wrote - free paper and pen from you, ink from a room-mate, envelope from the hotel, with Uncle Sam paying postage."

The H & H [Horn & Hardarts?] assortment arrived and was eagerly devoured in a hurry.  I did manage to get a sniff as it went past.  Anytime you go past, thank Mary Clayton for them, for the package held up admirably until it got here.  It sure was good.  Haven't seen [Milt] Kerns, so can't say yes or no.

We have four exams in this our last academic week.  One today, two tomorrow, one Saturday.  So far, I've done O.K. and if the Law of Averages hasn't been repealed, I'll stand a chance on these last four.

I haven't time to squeeze more in here, much as I'd like to, for its 10:00 and time to leave the classroom.

Sure as ______ I'll be on the phone Sunday.


  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 7 Jan 1943

11 Jan 1943, Letter No. 50 to Tom

Postmarked: 1:00 PM, 12 Jan 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Monday 1/11/43

Dear Tom,

Yours of the 7th arrived this afternoon, and we were all amused at Alice's "retort courteous."  Pretty swell she can live at a hotel - providing it is a swell hotel, though I doubt Northampton is large enough to support a very large one.

Nort Bryson just came over for help with his geometry.  Mary is working Solid home work so I am helping Nort with his plane.  He doesn't care much for Math.  I worked one for him and have him doing it over by himself.

Was over to [Collingswood] High School today to a P.T.A. Study group meeting - Discussion - How shall we discipline H.S. students for entering a military life.  Mostly balogna[sic].

Thank you for the addresses.  Some day I'll get ambitious and drop them a line or two.

Finished the kitchen today.  A good start on my spring house cleaning.  Guess we'll do some of the upstairs ceilings next.

Tomorrow morning I'm going up to H & H [Horn & Hardarts?] and see what I can get for you.

Had a nice letter from Ann Wagner Freas.  She described their home and it sounds pretty nice - a 14 x 29 living room with beamed ceilings and large stone fire place - especially.  Three bedrooms and an invitation - in these times!  Walter gave Ollie a Steinway for Xmas - so they gave Ann their other piano.

Nort has just left - He had 4 problems in triangulation all based on the theorem that the external angle is equal to the sum of the two opposite internal angles, and he didn't know the theorem.  Guess he does now.  'Member how we used to work 'em at the dining room table at 123 [Haddon Ave.]?  Mary doesn't like help[,] but once in a while she asks me a question or two.  She went up to the 3rd floor to work her solid and listen to Lux Radio.  We were distracting her attention but the radio wont!

Jean Pettijohn got home about 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon.  She made the trip all alone and had no trouble.  She said she came thru a snow storm in Richmond.  I didn't ask about Bill or any details because I know how they must feel.

I wouldn't mind doing K.P. either for $7.50 - Some flossy pay for maids work.

Lois [Freas Stahl] was all set to do Gray Lady work at Tilten Hospital, Fort Dix [NJ] and she went over last week - but because she had worked at Civilian Hospitals in Syracuse [NY] - they told her to do Civilian Work at Trenton [NJ] - as they promised not to take trained workers from Civilian Defense for Army Work.  She doesn't like it a bit and says she isn't going to do it.  Maybe she can find something in the interceptor work where she will enjoy working.

Some surprise about B.J. [Betty Jane Stahl] going to N.C.R. [National Cash Register] at Dayton.  She said she had to stand in water to read the gauges and there were cockroaches and she didn't like shift work.  Wouldn't she love the army?!

Lois likes Trenton.  They have a very comfortable apt. - too much heat - bus 1/2 block - finest assortment of books in the Library that she has found anywhere.  She took 8 home the other night.  Leo [Stahl] home to meals and a ledge where she can feed her birds.

It is 10:45 P.M. - I must call Daddy now so he can get up and dress - have a little lunch and get on his night shift.  He gets 5 meals on this shift.  

Home at 9:15 for breakfast he gets his regular 3 plus a bite before he goes and a snack to take along.

We got some oleo last Friday.  It isn't so bad.  We used it during W.W. # 1 and got quite fond of it.  Hope you get your butter though - you all need the vitamins.  Some Q.M.'s!  Can't supply themselves.




Dear Tom.

Who goes there?  Officer of the Day.  Oh Yeah!  What in hell are you doing out this late?  Some joke, hey boss?

Was glad to hear your voice Sunday and to learn that everything is going O.K.  I can imagine you are quite [crossed out and replaced with quiet] busy, especially busy, if not quiet.

Am on the graveyard shift this week from 12:30 A.M. to 8:30 A.M.  It is now 11:40 P.M. so must get going.

Everything O.K. up here, and the kitchen is finished.  I did so dam[sic] good with it that I'm afraid mother wants other rooms done.  Just like Gramma.  

Good night and good luck.




Dear Tom -

Still doing Solid!

I'm Errol Flynn; what's you're[sic] hobby?  _______ or _______

Did you hear about the moron who sawed the toilet seat in half?  He heard his half-ass cousin was coming to visit him.

Enough of that -

Dad's leaving now - honest!

See youze!

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 11 Jan 1943

11 Dec 1942, Letter From Charles [Milt] Kerns

Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 12 Jan 1943, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. T.H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Corporal Charles M. Kerns, Jr., Headquarters Company, QMRTC, T-424, Camp Lee, Virginia


Monday, Jan 11, 1943

My dear Mrs. Kaiser[sic],

I should spend pages in apologizing for not writing sooner, but I think that is just a nasty old trick that people who can think of nothing else to write about use.  Now, I could string adjectives out for miles and miles and still have enough material for several more letters, just in describing the deliciousness of the cinnamon buns.  (Please don't "call me" on that.)  Having done that, I could then write a host of adverbs to express how pleasantly I was surprised on returning from a two day trip home (A mad affair!  Don't even try it.) and finding your very nice package lying on my bunk.  

I'm afraid I'm giving the impression that I didn't appreciate the muffins and cake, too.  I did - very much, but I must admit  I used them as a ruse.  

After all, one can't sit on his bunk stuffing himself with buns as sixty hungry men keep eyeing him.  So, I passed the box around saying, "Have a muffin or some cake."  It worked very well.  I had done with at least five buns before anyone discovered them.  I shall never forgive the fellow who discovered them[,] but I did manage to save a couple[,] which I devoured in the grey of the dawn, when everyone was too sleepy to realize what I was doing.

There I go - creating the impression that I'm a selfish old so and so - which I am.  But thanks so much for allowing me to indulge in my selfishness in such a splendid way.

I seldom get to see Tom, these days.  He's so busy getting those bars.  (Bars are still just something to lean on, to me.)  However, the last time I saw him he was looking very well and seemed to be bearing up beautifully to the strain of O.C.S. [Officer Candidate School].  

Thank you again for thinking of me and remember me to Mr. Kaiser[sic] and Alice (Oh good Lord!  That's Tom's girl and I meant to be remembered to his sister - This is awful!  I must fall back on the old cliche, "I don't remember your name but I never forget a face.")  Tell her a very pretty face.


Milt Kerns
  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 11 Dec 1942

14 Jan 1943, Letter No. 51 to Tom

Postmarked: 5:00 PM, 15 Jan 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thursday eve, 1/14/43

Dear Tom,

I had a nice letter from "Corporal [Milt] Kerns" today.  He said he could string adjectives out for miles in describing the deliciousness of the buns - and then write a host of adverbs to express how pleasantly he was surprised.  The boy knows his parts of speech!  He said he used the muffins and cake to keep the hungry horde away from the buns.

Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] wished that I would send you something from her, so today I had Snellenbergs send you a pound of mixed nuts.  Thought they might taste good for a change.  If there is anything special you'd like just name it and some one of us would love to send it to you.  Don't forget to say thank you to Grandma when you write.  Just a card would do if you're real busy.

Mary had a letter from Dick [Nonnemacher] yesterday saying he was leaving Friday for his Aunt's in Washington and if he could get away Sat. A.M. he would call her and take her out to dinner and dance in Phila.  Imagine his relatives will want to keep him over the week end, so I told her not to count on it too much.

She and Phyllis Burr are out skating on Newton tonight.  She's a funny one - she hasn't had a date since New Years eve.  Merritt [Sharp] asked her last Friday but she refused and went to the Basket Ball game with the gang.  Louis Gilde called her up a couple nights ago but she said no.  Contrary Mary fits her.

Grandma says the O'Conners are back living in Jermyn [PA] again and Joe McDonald is in the Army.  I suppose Walter can make as much in the mines now as he could in Rochester and its much cheaper to live in their own home.

Grandma is enjoying "How Green Was My Valley."

[Milt] Kerns['] address is now Cpl. C.M.K., Jr. Headquarters Co., Q.M.R.T.C. - T-424, so he must have moved.

Must get Dad up for night shift -


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 14 Jan 1943

19 Jan 1943, Letter No. 52 to Tom

Postmarked: 9:30 PM, 19 Jan 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Note: Enclosed with this letter was the Book of the Month Club substitution form for Jan. 25.]


Dear Tom,

Daddy and I have been finishing the walls in your room this morning.  He starts back on the afternoon shift today[,] so while he is napping a bit, I'll drop you a line so he can mail it.

Your income tax blanks came yesterday and even though you are in the army it will have to be paid, so you might as well round up the data and the wherewithal.  Daddy's [amount due] will be well over $200 this year[,] and we're going to have to sweat to make it.  Your total or gross income from K.P. for 1942 up to July 15 was $902.50[,] and I guess you didn't get an Army pay until Sept. 5.  Then you got one Oct. 3 and one Oct. 31 - were they each $44? and what were your other dates and amounts for Nov. and Dec?  You must declare it all but you are allowed $250 on army compensation.  I don't know yet whether you can subtract any bal. from your other amt. or not if your army salary didn't total [$]250.

According to the optional form 1040A, if you pay only on the [$]902.50 your tax for the year would be $63.  We will make it out the other way, taking your deductions when you give me the amounts and see if Form 1040 comes to any less.

We all must make out forms for 1942 and pay the first installment regardless of what "pay as you go plan" may be cooked up in Washington.

Did you hear from the Book of the Month Club yet about the two books I ordered for you?  You didn't say whether you wanted the Feb. selection or not.  

The slip should be sent to them before Jan 25th so I'll wait a day or so and maybe you will write me about it - or better[UL] I'll enclose the slip.  If you want them don't send it in - if you don't, you[UL] drop them the slip.

I was thinking that if Mary and I should come down when you graduate and the time tables remain unchanged we could come on the 12:05 out of 30th St. [railroad station in Phila.] on Thursday night and get into Petersburg [VA] at 7:15 Friday morning Feb 12.  We would have time to get to Camp before the exercises wouldn't we[,] and then we wouldn't have to stay over night anywhere[,] but could start home whenever you were ready.  Daddy won't be working Friday night and we could send him a telegram when we decide to leave and he could meet us - or not - as you say.

What time are your exercises and, what do you think?  I think it would be a lot easier and no accommodations would have to be made.

When you get time, sit down and answer some of these questions.

Time to get Daddy up and rolling.




Dear Tom:

Mom just woke me up to go to work.  Had a few minutes cat nap.  I had a few days vacation (?)  Mon[sic] found something for me to do every minute.  Got to go back to work now to rest up.

Well, your room is in top shape and you should sleep well when you come home.

Must cut a few slices of bread now as the bakers do not slice it anymore.

Glad you are getting along O.K. and will be glad to see you when you get your furlough.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 19 Jan 1943

24 Jan 1943, Letter No. 19 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 25 Jan 1943, Camp Lee, VA

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Quartermaster School Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia


Sunday night 24th [Jan, 1943]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Here it is, nearly time to say goodbye to another week-end.  It sure was good to hear your voices this morning.  I got in the call to Alice [Crompton] before she left for her train, and I also spoke to Leo and Lois [Freas Stahl] in Trenton.

After dinner I went into Pburg [Petersburg] to make the hotel reservation, and found them all filled up.  So then I went to Hopewell and spent the afternoon with Doris and Charles Schaevitz.  They have a nice place, not too far from the Camp, and Charles has pretty regular hours, so it is rather pleasant for them

all around.  When she found you and Mary were coming down, Doris insisted that you both spend your time with them.  So, I'll see you in Hopewell.

My Army salary to date is as follows:
August         $44.00
September     [$]41.00
October       [$]41.00
November     $55.57
December      [$]58.40
Total           $239.97

What does that make the income tax?  $100?  Remember, I get $750.00 exemption.

I've just bought about $150 worth of new clothes.  Just picked out this item and that, and then added it up - quite surprising how quickly it starts soaring.  One shirt, $11.50 - some punkins, what?

Well, this is turning out to be a quickie, for by the time the envelope is written, the lights will be out.



P.S.  I'm enclosing the marks in the exams I took - 13 out of 15 - missed one [while] on K.P., the other one when I went to get my eyes examined for G.I. glasses.


[Note: Here are the marks for O.C. Class No. 15, Regt. 2, Co. D, Platoon 1st, Seat No. 161, T. Keiser, Jr.:
Serial No. of Problem Booklet [blank] - Problem, Military I, Form A - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 55 - Problem, Map Reading I, Form C - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 57 - Methods of Instruction, Form D - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 57 - Problem, Defense Against Chemical Warfare I, Form A - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 61 - Subsistence and Mess Management I, Form B - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 68 - Problem, Fiscal I, Form C - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 130 - Problem, Supply: Depot, Post Q.M. - Unit I - Form A - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 131 - Salvage I, Form A - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 135 - Problem, Company Administration I, Form A (Revised) - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 131 - Problem, Company Administration II, Form A (Revised) - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 228 - Problem, Field Operations III, Form A - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 280 - Supply: Post, Depot, Unit II-A - Satisfactory
Serial No. of Problem Booklet 286-300 - Problem, Commercial Transportation & Packaging & Loading of Supplies - Satisfactory]

P.P.S.  Still have a few seconds. - A funny thing happened on the bus returning from Hopewell.  Several people, myself included[,] were standing.  At one stop, some got off, so a fellow took one part of the seat, and a colored boy sat on the other half.  The driver stopped the bus and made him get up and give me the seat.  I felt foolish, but I had to take it, as all the other white people expected me to and they glared at him - Southland!

  • Camp Lee, Virginia, USA
  • 24 Jan 1943

26 Jan 1943, Letter No. 53 to Tom

Postmarked: 5:00 PM, 27 Jan 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Tuesday eve, 1/26/43

Dear Tom,
I do hope that cold of yours is all gone.  The weather has been none too good for it and I've been thinking of you and hoping you didn't have to be out in it.  The fog was like pea soup last night.  Daddy said he never had such a time to see the road as he did last night.  A big truck of poultry from Vineland was behind him and he didn't dare stop for fear it would hit him.  When he got to Westville [NJ, on U.S. 130]- a big truck had run thru the circle, knocked down all the signs, and upset.  There were lots of accidents.  Some woman got off the road by the airport near Cooper River and knocked down a lot of the fence.

We just finished listening to the "big news."  What a thrill it must have been to our soldiers to see Roosevelt in Africa.  He is certainly adventurous to risk a trip like that.  Let's hope it will help end all this, and soon.

[Note: letter changes from blue to green ink.]
I suppose [we] will have to get down to brass tacks and really decide what we are going to do about coming down.  According to the time table we got when you were home there seem to be just two trains that come thru to Petersburg [VA]- L[eave] Phila. 4:19 P.M. - A[rrive] N. Petersburg 10:20 P.M. or L[eave] Phila. 12:05 A.M. - A[rrive] N. Petersburg 7:15 A.M.  One leaving Philly at 2:15 P.M. gets into Richmond [VA] at 7:50 [P.M.] and one at 5:30 P.M. arrives in Richmond at 10:45 P.M.  I suppose we could take a bus from there.

You tell us just what one you would prefer us to take and where we should go and wait to hear from you - or whether we should come out to camp and meet you there or go right to a certain place at Lee - and we will do what is easiest for you.  Your time won't be your own and we don't want to hold you up on anything.  Do you have to have tickets for us or is it free-for-all?

Daddy works nights that week - and then has Friday, Sat., Sun. and Monday off and goes back to work Tuesday the 16th at 4:30 in the afternoon.

If we could get some kind of special soldiers visiting permit for you from our local gas board and tell them you were going up to bring a crippled old lady back to live with us, I figured we might go up to Berwick [PA] one of those days and bring Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] back before Daddy would have to use the car again and if it is O.K. with you.  We still have your A Book Coupon 4 which will give you 8 x 3 or 24 gallons which you are entitled to use.

Grandma is anxious to come and I don't know how else to get her down.  Hank [Freas] with all his gas [runs a gas station in Jermyn] daren't even take a chance to run to Berwick to see her.  This is not a must.  It's just a suggestion and if it works in with your plans all well and good.

I was pleased to get the phone call from Alice [Crompton], and she seemed to be happy in her work.  She thought it would be a waste of your time to go to Northampton as she is under restrictions there even on Sunday[,] and there would be no place you could go - but walk the street.  She suggested Boston, New York, or even Phila. as a better idea of a meeting place if she could get off the week end before you go back.  Were you able to reach her Sunday?  

Maybe you got that all planned out if you did.

Lois [Freas Stahl] called me Sunday afternoon to tell me you called them and how pleased they were to hear from you.

The Sub-Debs [Mary's school group of friends] were over to the Walnut [theater] last Thursday night to see Boris Karloff in "Arsenic & Old Lace."  Mary enjoyed it a lot.

Mr. Henderson started working night shift in the [Phila.] Ship Yard on Monday.  No more houses for rent or sale in Collingswood.  We were lucky, I guess, to be forced into buying this when we did.  He took a machinist night course at Vocational so that got him a good job - a little lathe[sic].

Mrs. Partridge and I are taking the 8 o'clock train Friday A.M. for N.Y. and the Waldorf.  We are just attending the one day this year.  Clinic[']s sort of hard up financially - so we decided to forego the night expense.  Do you suppose we can find a grille side kick this year?  Mrs. P. said we'd look around anyway.

Daddy's having the poker club here tomorrow night.  Last week he could not play because of night shift.

Mary's busy these days getting her chemistry experiments up to date for the half-year.

No Fun Night for P.T.A. [Collingswood High School Parent Teacher Association] this year.  Remember the "Wagon Wheel Dancers" last year? - so we had to make up the Budget some how.  We have "goodie baskets" going around.  Mrs. Bryson brought it over the other night.  I took out a box of cookies - put what I thought they were worth in the glass piggie bank, baked a chocolate cake[,] put it into the basket[,] and passed it on to Mrs. Schneider.

Clinic tomorrow.

Daddy and Mary have gone to bed so I guess I'll follow.

Good night dear.



Mary was using the blue ink.
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 26 Jan 1943

28 Jan 1943, Letter No. 54 to Tom

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Postmarked: 5:30 PM, 28 Jan 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thursday, 1/28/43

Dear Tom,

I note how you must have felt Sunday night.  Maybe you should have refused the seat and maybe then you would have gotten the poor boy into a worse jam.  When in Rome," they say -  What a shame that the accident of being born white makes some people so intolerant of the rights of other humans who had no choice in the matter of how they should be born.  Well, it all goes back to Birth Control and selective breeding - just as it is applied to the animals.

We're having an ice storm.  The back door was frozen shut this morning and the back windows are all translucent.  I just phoned Mrs. Partridge and tried to call off our trip to N.Y. in the morning but she is "ararin" to go and said if it were at all possible to be at Broad St. at 8 A.M.  They had a 3 hour tieup of all transportation in N.Y. yesterday due to labor discussions - so I'm not so keen about the big Metropolis this year.

It was interesting to read the titles of your different tests and to see all those nice S's.  I will keep them for you.

Will make a sample of your Income Tax soon and you can revamp it and turn it in when you come home.

Was your prescription changed when you had your eyes tested?  How do your G.I. glasses differ?  Daddy had to get safety glasses for his work.  Supposed to be unbreakable - They are heavier but don't look any different.

Daddy got $4.65 out of the "boys" last night.  He put it in an envelope.  If he can get a few more extras and then maybe the day off - maybe he will come with us. - Just maybe [-] don't plan on it yet.

Glad you liked the Schaevitz's.  Doris told me during the holidays when she saw me in S & C [Strawbridge & Clothier's] to come to their place - but I didn't know how transportation to and from might work out.

Lois [Freas Stahl] just wrote me for a good cake recipe.  She said all hers are packed in Syracuse and Dayton and Betty Jane [Stahl] had written saying how she missed good cake.  I guess will[sic] all be missing it.

The enclosed clippings [2 cartoons - see images] well illustrate "as was" and "as is" - though really I haven't seen anyone yet who has lost weight due to the food situation.

Find I have no stamps [3 cent] - so I'll have to brave the elements and go uptown on the bus and get some.  Clinic boxes to mail, too.

Hope you are under cover from this storm and that your cold is gone.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 28 Jan 1943

3 Feb 1943, Letter No. 55 to Tom

Postmarked: 1 PM, 4 Feb 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Wednesday, 2/3/43

Dear Tom,

Mrs. Bryson just called to tell me she is working down at Futernicks in Camden - clerking.  Lex has had a bad cold and has been without a voice for several weeks.

I had a nice letter from Alice [Crompton] yesterday.  She told me about her work and that day she was mate on the 3rd deck.  Sort of a pretend game they play, isn't it?

I called up the MacDonalds Sunday and talked to Mrs.  She said Doris and Chas. usually drive to Washington and take the train up from there so she couldn't give me much help about the thru train service.  As soon as I hear from you I will decide definitely and write to Doris [Schaevitz].

We had an Exec. Bd. [Board] Meeting yesterday at the Walt Whitman and then I went over to Phila. and met Lois [Freas Stahl].  She came down from Trenton by train.  We had lunch at H. & H. [Horn & Hardart's], walked thru the stores and the Terminal Market, sat in the station, and visited for about an hour and then she took the 5 o'clock train and I, a bus for home.  She sent you an H & H. box for a Valentine.

Clinic today - and Mrs. Partridge was here for awhile too.  Daddy had his day off and spent the morning chopping blocks of ice off the cellar door so we could open the clinic entrance.

Mrs. P.[Partridge] and I went down[sic] to N.Y. last Friday morning.  The meetings didn't seem so worth while this year and we didn't find anybody interesting either.  We went over to Radio City outdoor skating Rink.  That was swell and I wished you were there to try it.  The city is very dark and depressing - no store windows lighted to look into and just little +'s [crosses] in the traffic lights.  We ate supper at Longchamps in the Empire State Bldg. and were glad to take the 9 o'clock train for home.

Got into Phila. about 11 - waited 1/2 hr. at 30th St. for shuttle to Broad and over an hour on Market St. for a #5 bus.  I was frozen - got home at 1 A.M.

Mr. Prock, our air raid warden[,] was just here.  He wanted to be remembered to you.  Now that George Dare has gone into the Medical Corps in Texas - Mr. P. has no assistant and he is looking for help - I guess Benny Sweisicki[?] is the only young man left in this block and under this new ruling, his wife and family won't be a reason for deferment much longer.

Mary [Keiser] and I each had a letter from Bob Smith at Parris Island.  He says they are treated like cattle down there.  Because some one made a noise, they were all made to sleep on the floor and Bob caught a bad cold.

Daddy is going to Garfield [School] Dad's meeting tonight so he will mail this for me.

Mary is studying Trig.  They just began it Monday.

We all send our love to you, Sunshine.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 3 Feb 1943

8 Feb 1943, Letter No. 56 to Tom

Postmarked: 5:30 PM, 8 Feb 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Cadet Thomas Keiser, Jr., Co. D, 2nd Q.M.S. Regiment, Camp Lee, Virginia

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Monday, 2/8/43

Dear Tom,

It did us all good to hear your voice yesterday.  Shortly afterward Doris [Schaevitz] called and said she is staying up until Thursday and will come down with us.  Isn't that nice of her?  We will leave 30th St. [Station in Phila.] around 12 noon and should reach Petersburg around 6:22 - However the time won't matter so much now since she will be with us and we won't get lost.

She also said she would drive us over to the exercises Friday morning in her car.  She told us how fine you looked the day you called on them and that you were in good spirits.

Three months ago today you came home for your 3 day leave.  What ages it has seemed and how glad we will all be to have you here with us again.

Nothing new since yesterday to tell you about except "I did the wash this morning."

We'll be seeing you - and soon



  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 8 Feb 1943

1 Mar 1943, Letter No. 57 to Tom

story image(s)
2 images

Postmarked: 2 PM, 2 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., B.O.Q. 172-2, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Note: There is a 3 week gap between this letter and the prior one. During this time period Tom graduated from O.C.S., which was attended by his mother and sister. See the attached image, which shows Doris Schaevitz, Tom, with Agnes doing the pinning. Then, he came home to Collingswood on furlough, returned to Camp Lee briefly, and was promptly transferred to Texas, where this letter was addressed.]


Mon. eve. Mar 1-42[sic]

Dear Tom;

Glad to hear you arrived safely in San Antonio, but was sorry I was not home to say hello, to you. However, I will do so in this letter. Hello!

Enclosed you will find the two bucks I borrowed, and by all appearances I guess you can us[e] it. Take my advice and try to save up some cash, for it comes in mighty handy. Don't buy out the town of San Antonio, for it is quite a big city and will take all your cash. A good idea would be to budget yourself to spend a certain amount each day, and try to save the rest, for it will come in handy later.

You ought to like the place[,] for people who have been there seem to think it is some nice city and many people from the North go down there to spend the winter months. Your "mom" has some relatives living there, so I guess she will tell you about them. Hope you can locate them, and you might probably be able to get a few meals out now and then.

It is now my bed time and I know mother will give you all the news, (the day it happened) for she was out calling on the neighbors tonight, working (collecting) for the Community Nurse Drive.

Best of luck to you. Keep on trying for the next rise in rank and I'm sure you will be able to advance, and it is worth trying for. Drop us a letter once in awhile.



Did you ever locate the gas coupon book? Probably it was stolen from the glove compartment in the car, as I noticed after you left, it was unlocked. Don't be careless, for the damn things are hard to get. Nite, Nite.


Monday eve

Dear Tom,

I'm sending you all the prints. One of Lois [Freas Stahl], you and I[sic] not printed because Mary [Keiser] focused our heads off. Keep out what ones you want to keep and put the rest in an envelope and send them back for the book [probably the family photo album] and I will have others made to fill in. I think they are good as a whole.

This Q.M. [Quartermaster] Card came the day after you left. Here's a clipping [see image], too, about your "Flying Mule"[,] which we saw at [Camp] Lee.

I went over to Phila. today but your cards were not yet in, so I asked them to mail them directly to you and to send the plate to me to keep for you - was that OK?

I called Western Union right after your call Sunday, but they wouldn't send the money by telephone. Nearest office at 120 Broadway, Camden didn't open till 4 - so I had to wait till Daddy came from work. He sent it about 6:30. What time did it reach you? They said in a couple hours but of course your time is different - Are you Central or Mountain Time? I've given all our old Geographies away so I have no time map.

We got out the one I have left and the old Atlases and they say that San Antonio is a health resort for people from the North so that sounds good. We learned all about Virginia before and now we'll have to get acquainted with Texas. Who ever thought we would have to be tracing our Sunshine on a map!

You said you went thru St. Louis. That sounds like going North to get South. Did you come up to Baltimore or Washington before going west? The Penna. [railroad] goes thru Harrisburg and Pittsburg[h] - where did you change over? Did you have sleeping accommodations? I'll bet you were glad to get out and stretch your legs.

I finished soliciting for the Annual Community Nursing Service Drive tonight - Got $17.75 for them on this side of the street from Browning to Crescent. Not so bad. Mrs. Henderson is Captain of this district.

The Army Air Force have taken over the Haddon Press on Federal St. With about 4 acres surrounding they are establishing a Storage Depot. I went over today and applied for a job. They think they can use me and I am to take a Civil Service Test Wednesday A.M. at 10:30. Mrs. Sharp and Mrs. Pettijohn are applying too.

I think you have some cousins in San Antonio by the name of Childs. Harry Freas from Scranton and Pauline from Berwick have a sister Laura who did live there. She had a son and a daughter a little older than you and they were East when you were a baby and it was Laura who told me to buy Dr. Dentons for you - to keep you warm when you kicked the covers off. She was East again and saw Mother not so long ago and Bets [Betty Freas Waters] could get their address from Pauline in Berwick if you want a place in the city to go to. Be sure you tell Laura you are Frank [Dudley Freas] and Mary's [Sheahan Freas] grandson if you do find them. I think her husband has been dead some years.

I worked on the Ration Board all last week. We got our #2 Books and it is going to take longer to figure out what we can buy than it will to eat it.

Mary has her 17th birthday on Thursday [Mar. 4] - no party but she will have club [Sub-Debs] here that night.

We certainly were pleased to hear from you Sunday and know that you arrived safely. Will be anxious to hear about your new location and work.



Look thru your pockets and if you can locate that gas ration book send it up - as Daddy may have some trouble when it is time to get a new one.

Was Bob Ulmer allowed to come home again or did he have to go on to Texas with you?

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 1 Mar 1943

2 Mar 1943, Letter No. 20 From Tom

story image(s)
Postmarked: 8 PM, 2 Mar 1943, San Antonio, Texas

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

1) This letter was written on official Depot stationery - see image
2) Written on the envelope were the following notes of Agnes': letter no. 20, and no. 1 from TX; letter arr. Sat 6 Mar, noon; B.O.Q. 172-2; Brig. Gen. James Molisn[?]; wife a Buckley[?] (Mrs. Hagerty's sister-in-law)
3) Written on the letter were the following notes of Agnes': He left Camp Lee Wed at 3:15 - Feb. 24 and arrived at San A. on Sat. noon - Feb 27]


Tuesday pm [2 Mar 1943]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

We finished up early at school this afternoon, so I've got time to let you know how things are going.

So far everything has been swell here. The Depot is moderate in size, although laid out on a large scale (Texas influence, no doubt), and while there are not very many soldiers here at the post, there are plenty in San Antonio. Kelly Field, Randolph Field, and Fort Sam Houston are all right close by, and I guess there must be about 250,000 all told. I went in town last night to the Western Union office to get the money order cashed, and I thought my arm would break off returning salutes. Many thanks for sending the money. Just as soon as I get hold of some I'll send it back.

After this, please address any mail to me as follows:

Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr.
Ordinance Automotive School
Normoyle Ordinance Depot
San Antonio, Texas

All our mail is put in a box over at the school building, and we pick it up there, instead of at the barracks.

I like this post more and more each day. We have all kinds of things here - tennis courts, a swimming pool, and the Officers Club is very nice. They have a reading room, ping pong and billard tables, a ball room for dances every Saturday night, and a grill room. The meals here have been wonderful.

At the Mess hall I've been getting good meals and all I can eat for about $1.50 a day.

The barracks is just across the street from the post theatre where we can see some good shows, and they even have grass all around. The place is almost spotless and very well kept up and is much nicer than [Camp] Lee in many respects.

Each of us has a room to himself, and there is a connecting door to the next room to mine, occupied by a fellow from Saint Louis or Chicago, I forget which, and he has a table in his room that I'm using now to write on. I've got everything unpacked and set up for my two month's stay and everything is swell.

It was nice and warm here Saturday afternoon, Sunday, and yesterday. However, today has been overcast and a little chilly. I didn't think I would have occasion to be using either of my overcoats here, but I was glad to have them today. The buildings are warm enough, though.

I'm returning the "A" coupons that I had in my wallet, and my driver's license that you can have renewed for me.

So far at school we have had a few lectures, drawn texts and tools. Tomorrow we will start in in ernest[sic] on chassis, engine, and so forth. The shop is just spic and span, with everything in its place. And they have all sorts of working models with parts cut away so the operation can be followed. I should learn a good deal about motors - at least more than putting the key into the lock and stepping on the starter, which is about my total knowledge at present.

On the way out, we stopped for awhile in Cincinnati and I called [cousin] BJ [Stahl] from there. You will probably learn from Lois [Freas Stahl] that everything is off between BJ and George. There is another girl in North Carolina that he will marry and BJ is quite broken up about it. [In Agnes' handwriting here is written, "Don't mention this to Lois - she hasn't told me"]

San Antonio is a wonderful city. The Spanish influence in the architecture is not so pronounced as to be obnoxious, although the Mexicans go about spouting that goofy lingo and can't be understood. The most interesting part of the city I think is the San Antonio River (Lagoon) which meanders about all through the town, winding hither and yon. They have it fixed up beautifully with grassy banks, flowers, etc., a regular park, and all the buildings bordering it have balconies and colored lights at night. One can rent a canoe or take a gondola ride. I do wish you could see it.

It's time for supper, so I'll put this in the mail on my way up to eat.

My love from the "Sunny South"


Let me know how long it takes for this to arrive
  • Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • 2 Mar 1943

7 Mar 1943, Letter No. 58 to Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 8 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.



Dear Tom,

How we have enjoyed reading and rereading your first letter from Texas and knowing that you are so happily situated.  San Antonio must be a very lovely place and we shall be glad to enjoy it by proxy.

Dad and I met Harlan uptown last night.  He was so sorry to have missed your visit.  He has a 7 weeks old son, Harlan, Jr., but has just been reclassified A-1, and expects to go very soon.

119 boys leave Collingswood Monday morning.  Among the ones you know are Skip Wallace and Fred Taraschi.  Bill Naglee[?] and Bob Smith's brother[,] Lee[,] are each the 3rd son in their respective families to leave.

Daddy got his questionnaire yesterday.  It is of course just occupational, but he will have a merry time answering all the questions.

We got a card for your driver's license[,] which is enclosed.  Sign at the X and sent it back, and we will get the new one for you.  Also enclosed is a card from the Adjutant Gen.  Sign it and drop it in the mail so that they can send you your ballot.

Had a card from Lois [Freas Stahl] yesterday.  They have found a nice home in Trenton - 7 rooms and sun parlor - fireplace, pantry, tile bath, oil heat - yard 85 x 400, evergreens, grapevines and apple trees - and they have sent for their furniture.  Their new address will be 1910 Pennington Road.  Lois was so anxious to get a home so they could give Betty [BJ Stahl] a nice wedding.  I wonder if Betty has told her it is all over.  What a shame it turned out this way!  I feel so sorry for BJ.  I hope it won't make her bitter, for she is really lucky to be rid of him before it is too late.  He must be a gay Lothorio - handing out diamonds like that.

I started work Friday morning.  My hours at present are 8 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. but as the place expands and the work increases we will be put on shifts and won't that be something?  Daddy and I will be able to hail each other in passing.  The man directly over our department is Mr. Schwarz, the photographer from Oaklyn who took your pictures when you graduated from Peirce [Business College - Phila.].

It is a Storage Depot for all photographic supplies - moving and still - that are used by the Army Air Force.  I guess you would call me Requisition Clerk in 10 D [f]or moving picture cameras, parts, and supplies.  For the two days, I've just worked on stock cards, but if that is a true index - we will be plenty busy later and will be the main supply depot east of the Mississippi.

Kaiser, the ship builder, has just taken over Fleet Wings at Burlington and is going to turn out planes in a hurry - so that ought to boost business.

It was Merrit's [Sharp] mother who told me to apply for the work.  Quinlin, one of the freeholders[,] had given her a letter to Lt. Smith for a job for herself - as receptionist, or something.

I went over and saw the Lt. without any letter and am already on the job and she isn't.  When she phoned him again the other day, he bawled her out for bothering him.  I feel awfully funny about it and indebted to her of course.  She should have gone over and not phoned.  She really needs to get work for both Merritt and Ed are now A[-]1[,] and most likely both will have to leave in April or May.  She and Ed's wife will never be able to live together by themselves.

Your letter left S.A. at 8 P.M. Tuesday night and reached us Saturday noon.  It surely made me feel good to find it here when I got home from work.  

Daddy and Mary had already perused it and they were beaming as they watched me read it.

Daddy worked today and has just come in (5:30) so I'll be getting his supper.  Mary has been reading the Sunday Book Section in bed all day.  She comes down for refreshment now and then.  She surely was thrilled with your Birthday call.  I saw Charlotte uptown and she thought it was a grand B.D. greeting.  She hoped her brother would think that much of her.




Dear Tom;

Glad to hear from you and to know you like the place.  It must be quite some city, and I imagine you will like it.

Received the gas coupons and am glad to get them.  I have been accusing some one of stealing them out of the glove compartment.  So, I must repent for being wrong (as usual).

Will get your license (driver's) when you fill out the card, or just sign your name and I will fill it out.  The State of N.J. charges ($3.00) for a driver's license (as if you didn't know).  I will manage to get the car license somehow, I think that will cost $14.00.

Just got home from work and am getting hungry, so will help "Mom" get supper ready.

Best of luck to you.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 7 Mar 1943

10 Mar 1943, Letter No. 21 From Tom

Postmarked: 1 PM, 11 Mar 1943, San Antonio, Texas

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas


Wednesday night [10 Mar 1943]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Well, here it is, the middle of the second week, and yours truly is deep into transmissions and such.  It's pretty interesting learning such crazy stuff as - all the gears on the Countershaft are drive gears except the Countershaft Drive Gear, which is a driven gear!  There is a lot to learn about what goes on under the hood and floorboards.  We have a dozen texts, with some powerful assignments in each.  (No pun).

Your letter arrived this morning.  Glad to know that everything is going along at the Signal[sic] Depot pretty well.  Must be a bunch of stuff to get in order.

Carl and I just returned from the Post cafe where we had a bite to eat - a rather late supper (9:45), for we both fell asleep after coming back from school, and slept right through the supper hours at the Officers' Mess.

I haven't been doing much exciting - last Friday night I went over to Kelly field and saw Dick Culbert [My father, who graduated from Collingswood H.S. four years after Tom, then studied engineering at Drexel Institute for one year before joining the Air Force].  We had a long talk about things in general - I showed him the pictures of the graduation [Tom's from O.C.S. at Camp Lee] and it was pretty late when I got back.  I saved a bit of money on the trip, too - over there and back on one fare.  Quite an intricate system of transfers was responsible.

Saturday afternoon I went to S.A. and got me a raincoat and a "pink" shirt and garrison hat (the one without a visor), ate supper, and then went to see "Arabian Nights," which I enjoyed very much.  I got back to Normoyle about 9:30 and went up to the Club to see how the dance was coming along.  Several of the fellows in my class were there with their wives, and so I got in a few dances, and had a swell time.

Sunday, I slept all day, as usual, and got up in time for supper.  Then went into town with a couple of the boys.  While we were in the Turf Club, I met a fellow from my class at Colls. H.S., Joe Odlin, who is an air cadet out here at one of the fields.

Monday night there was a shindig in town given by the girls at the Q.M. Depot at Fort Sam Houston.  When they learned that we Q.M. Officers were at Normoyle, they invited all of us to come.  It was a bit too crowded for dancing, however, so I left kind of early.

Sounds like I've been in S.A. more than at Normoyle, doesn't it?  So last night I stayed on the post and went to the movies to see K. Hepburn and S. Tracey in "Keeper of the Flame."  It ended a bit stinkey, I thought, and it certainly wasn't a role for Miss H., but it was well-acted.  Tomorrow night, I think I'll see Jack Benny in the "Meanest Man in the World."  Which reminds me - when I left the theater after seeing Arabian Nights, I was sort of

dreaming along, thinking of the picture, when all of a sudden, Bang! my hand came up and hit my forehead, and before I knew it, I had returned a salute quite automatically.

It is really a test of skill and endurance to try and light a cigarette while on the streets in town, what with saluting at every step.

My name cards arrived yesterday and are quite the stuff.  Did you see Ida when went over after them?

I'll send back the application for the license in a day or so.

I still haven't written to Dick [Nonnemacher] since I've been here, so I'll drop him a few lines tonight and see if he is still in Tampa.

Haven't heard yet how Alice [Crompton] made out, but I guess she hasn't gotten settled yet.


  • Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • 10 Mar 1943

11 Mar 1943, Letter No. 59 to Tom

Postmarked: 1 PM, 12 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Thursday eve, 3/11/43

Dear Tom,

We took a peek at your Q.M. magazine before we sent it on to you. It gives quite an insight into all the things you have had to learn. I kept the slip out of your B. of M. [Book of the Month] Review, and unless I hear to the contrary - I will cancell "The Year of Decision: 1846" by the 25th.

Notice the spelling cancell[UL]. That's the way we have to spell it at the Army Air Corps Storage Depot - also called the Camden Photographic Depot of the A.A.C. We also write incl for enclosure and indorse. We are getting pretty busy and I am gradually learning all the forms.

Inclosed[sic] is a letter from Geo. Hill. I dare say he will hate to go and leave his new baby.

Dr. Fisher and Mrs. Gandy handled clinic alone yesterday and seemed to get along O.K. They will have to continue to do so as I'm not available for the duration.

I told Mrs. Overmyer about the A.A.F.S.D. - and she went over last Wednesday and applied. She can type so they hired her in the mailing dept. and she will start working there next Monday.

Mary [Keiser] had an airmail from Dick Culbert yesterday - just to tell her about your visit to him. He was so pleased and thinks you are a swell person. He writes very interesting letters.

Mother [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] writes that Laura Freas Childs is now living with her daughter at Ft. Riley, Kansas. The daughter is married to an Army Captain.

I do not know just how far New orleans is[,] but if you ever get there with time on your hands you could call on Lt. and Mrs. A.D. Foster, 333 No. St. Patrick St. They just had a baby on Feb 18th. She was Jean Davis, the daughter of Harold E. of Jermyn - and Lila Anwyle[?][,] who was a Bloomsburg classmate of mine. I made the match when Lila came to visit me at Chapman Lake [PA]. Jean will be 24 on March 24th and was a flier. They were just married Feb '42 and her husband is an Ensign in the U.S. Naval reserve. 'Member all those unusual Xmas cards Harold always sends us?

Mrs. Sharp had a heart attack on Broad St. [Phila.] Tuesday night at 8 o'clock. She didn't know what happened to her until she woke up in the Hahnaman[n] Hospital hours later. They called Ed about 11:30 and he went over and brought her home. She had been to her aunt's funeral and I guess it was too much for her. I went up to see her last night - and she was all right, but felt sort of washed out.

Susanne Holston fainted in French class today. Her father came and carried her out of the room. Mary is bored to death with him as a teacher and says he acts so irrational at times. He works at the R.C.A. [Radio Corporation of America, in Camden] - doing copy work every day after school from 4 to 11 just to keep from thinking - he says. Mrs. Holston is so nice. She surely has some cross to bear. Of course every one feels sorry for them - still he shouldn't be kept on as a teacher since it affects him so.

I am anxious to hear what assignment Alice [Crompton] has received. She was to graduate the 9th, was she not? I must get a card for her birthday the 24th of Mar.

Is Hondo, Texas near you? Hazel Longenberger Stieg's son is Captain Carl Stieg at the Navigation School. He is 26 - from Lehigh U. and was married last May. Hazel is the classmate we tried to visit on our trip to the N.Y. World's Fair. We were pals at Bloom. We did visit them the day we went to Radio City.

Mary had a letter from Dick N. [Nonnemacher] and he asked for your address. Said he got the insignia O.K., thanks you, and hopes to hear from you soon.

She hasn't answered it yet, and I don't know when she will get to it. How I had to prod her to get all her birthday thank yous written.

It's 12:45 so I guess I'd better "turn in." Daddy and Mary did so quite awhile ago. 6:15 comes awfully early. What time must you get going?



I've ordered the prints you asked for and will send them as soon as they arrive.


Hello, Tom;

I guess Mom has said it all so I will go eat my breakfast. Must get to work soon.




  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 11 Mar 1943

11 Mar 1943, Letter No. 22 From Tom

Postmarked: 1 PM, 11 Mar 1943, San Antonio, Texas

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

[Note: Tom used Quartermaster School, Camp Lee, Virginia stationery for this letter.]

Thursday Mar 11

Dear Folks,

Just a note to use up some of the old paper.  I'm inclosing the application for the license, the two pictures I don't care so much about, now that I have the others, and a check for $37.00 to take care of the twenty you sent me, the fourteen for the plates, and three for the license.

When will the other three pictures arrive?

Had a letter from Alice [Crompton] today.  She is assigned in Washington [D.C.] and is to report Sunday, the 14th.  She says hers will be the third tent from the Washington monument.  It was written last Sunday, before the graduation, so I've yet to hear about that.  Howard [Crompton] died the day I left for Texas.  [Agnes noted the date here as 2/24/43.]

Not much other news - just saw J.[Jack] Benny's picture this eve.



  • Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • 11 Mar 1943

15 Mar 1943, Letter No. 60 to Tom

Postmarked: 11 AM, 16 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

Monday, 3/15/43

Dear Tom,

Your Wed. night letter and the one you wrote Thursday both were post marked Mar. 11 - 1 P.M. and arrived together today.  Of course we get no mail Sat. afternoon so I suppose the Airmail lay in the P.O. over the weekend.

Daddy and I went to the movies Friday night to see Bob and Bing in "The Road to Morocco."  I guess we weren't in the mood because we both went to sleep, it was most boring.  I never did care for Bing - too much close up action.

When we got back we found the enclosed slips [messages from Mary] strewn on the dining room table.  I thought you would get a kick out of reading them.  

Poor Moll [short for Molly, one of Mary's nicknames] was on the throne, and she sure was kept jumping.

Alice [Crompton] called us again at eleven o'clock.  She said she had tried every day to call me - since Tuesday - but no answer.  She wanted to come over - didn't know I was working.  She told me her brother had died and she wasn't able to get home.  Certainly sad for her mother, but nice that Alice is stationed no farther than Washington and can get home once in awhile.

I ordered the other 3 pictures for you but Mr. Schwarz forgot to bring them in Sat. and again today.  He promised them tomorrow so - if he doesn't forget again - you'll be getting them soon.  Alice said she had some snaps taken in Northampton and would send me some if she ever got to having some finished.  

I hope she finds something better than a tent in Washington.

So you have your first check account, and you sent me #1.  It wasn't necessary to return the $20 for that was your money anyway.  I'll just put it aside for you - so you'll always have a little to call on if you need it.  Then, too, I don't think you should have to pay for the car license since you don't use it - so as I earn some of the government money I'll put that $14 in your spare account, too.

Dad went uptown tonight to see if he could get your license for driving.  I didn't think the office would be open[,] but if he does get it, I will enclose it.

Well, Mrs. Pettijohn finally went over with me this morning and got herself a job at the A.A.F.S.D.  She is to report tomorrow but doesn't know yet what her job will be.  It is certainly a growing business and they say it will be a permanent thing.

Dr. Fisher just called me.  Her son graduates from Temple Medical School tomorrow and his wife[,] who will graduate as an M.D. in June[,] went into the hospital today with pneumonia.  Quite a disappointment for them.

Mrs. Pettijohn and Mrs. Sharp both think you write such interesting letters that you ought to write a book about your experiences.  [Note: Tom never did that, so this series of letters is, in a small way, my attempt to fulfill that wish.]

A letter from Floy [MacWilliam] says they enjoyed your visit so much and appreciated your coming to see them when your time was so short.  Donald is in Kansas (I couldn't distinguish the name of the base) getting 2 months additional experience in "Operations."  Gordie loves his work.  He is Liaison officer in Motor Transport and Asst. Maintenance Officer.

Mrs. Pettijohn gave me her cousin[']s address and said if you got to Sam Houston to look him up.  George Dare[,] who was our Air Raid Warden[,] is there with him.

Pfc. Geo. M. Webb
Co. C, Bks. 10
Medical Service School
Fort Sam Houston, Tex.

It was nice you got to see one of your class mates.  There are certainly lots of Collingswood boys in Texas.

Yes, I saw Ida and Laura and all the gang when I went for your name cards and they all asked for you.  What did you do with your old plate?  I note this is a new one.

It sounds like you're having a pretty good time along with your hard work and I'm glad and hope it continues.

Mrs. Pettijohn was listening to Vox Pop tonight and a colored soldier from Walter Reed Hospital was interviewed.  He said he had just returned from India on a clipper plane and had been injured when a truck overturned on the Burma road.  He belonged to a Q.M. Transport group so of course Mrs. P. feels he must be one of Bill's group.  He left 2 months ago and they heard from him.  He said he had seen enough to write a book.  They sailed from Cal. and he told her when they had crossed the equator but he didn't say where they had landed.  Bill was the censor for his group.

Mary had another letter from Frank Cojune from Africa.

Bob Smith is home on a furlough.  Has finished his basic.

Mary has gone to the movies, as usual on Monday nights.  She went horseback riding with Merritt [Sharp] yesterday and when she came back she was rubbed sore and was all stiffened up this A.M.  She has been sitting on a cushion here at home, but of course movie seats aren't hard.

Your name, rank, and location were in the last Colls. High News.

Later- I finished the wash.  Mary is home working Trig.  Your Dad just came in but no license.  Maybe he'll get it tomorrow.

Goodnight Sunshine




[What follows are the telephone messages referenced above.]

Alice Crompton called.  She'll call again about 11:00.  She's going to Washington.

Mrs. Overmeyer called about sewing shifts - call her back.

8:30 Am going up to the triangle to meet the kids - then over to the Woodlynne Dance - will be home after its over.  Mrs. Roy Henderson called about wht. eleph. - call her back - Mrs. Par will pick them up Tomorrow - I guess.

Mrs. Stuber[?] called - Practice Tuesday nite at 8:00 at M.h School of Red Cross.

2 wrong #s.

I'm getting damn tired answering this phone.

8:55 Bye.
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 15 Mar 1943

17 Mar 1943, Letter No. 23 From Tom

Postmarked: 1 PM, 18 Mar 1943, San Antonio, Texas

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas


Normoyle Ordinance Depot

San Antonio, Texas

March 17, 1943 [Wednesday]

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

I found a typewriter to use for my correspondence, which is a rather fortunate circumstance, as you will soon see. On the third, I fell again (as I seem to be getting into a habit of doing), and on my wrist. I have been going on with it thinking it was strained, sprained, or something, but it didn't clear up as I thought it would, so last Saturday, I went over to the dispensary to have them take an X-ray of it. It showed up a definite fracture in
the lavicular bone of the wrist, so they sent me over to Brooke Hospital at Fort Sam Houston Saturday night, and I was just released this noon. I expected to get back to classes Monday, but when one gets into the clutches of the Medics, it takes quite a while to become extricated. So I can't write (so that it can be understood) with my right wrist in a cast, but fortunately enough my fingers are still free, and I can use this machine.

So don't pay particular attention to the bad typing. Once in awhile I do miss a key that I'm aiming at, since the momentum of the cast sometimes carries my hand on beyond the key. [Note: There were only 10 typos in this typewritten letter - probably a result of Tom's education at Peirce Business College.]

I'm sort of glad that Laura [Freas] Childs is located in Kansas City. Not that I wouldn't want to see her, but that she is finally located. When I got your letter, I looked in the phone directory and found eight Childses and when I called, not one of them knew any "Laura." So, it's sort of a relief to get her tracked down finally. As for the folks over in Hano, I may get a chance to see them, but New Orleans is out. N.O. is about 500 miles away, and quite out of the picture. Doesn't Betty Carpenter live in Corpus Christie?[sic] Or who is it? I might get to see that party sometime.

Go ahead and use the $14 for the car licenses. I will be using the car some soon. After I finish my course here, I go back to Brooke, I guess, at any rate, I will be casted up for three months, and then after the wrist is all fixed up, I will get thirty days of sick leave. All the boys think I'm pretty fortunate, and I'm afraid there will soon be an epidemic of broken wrists around here.

Do you remember that Bill Baker I had to see in order to borrow a key to open my foot locker when I was home? He arrived here last Friday in order to attend classes Monday. So that saves me from writing a letter and returning the key. I'll just give it to him. He and I are going over to see Dick Culbert tomorrow night. Dick's brother [Bob] just came back from Santa Ana and is stationed at Randolph Field here, so Dick is pretty happy about that; I guess he will be getting some training [flight instruction] on the side from his brother.

I only have one more choice news item for you, and then I'll sign off for tonight. When I arrived here in S.A., I sent a wire to Howard [Bondy], since there wasn't time to write. I thought if he were coming through S.A., he could look me up. You remember Dottie was to go down to see his graduation exercises? Well, I just had a letter from Howard today. It seems that Dot likes the climate here very much, and while Howard is continuing on at
Kirtland Field, she is staying as Mrs. Bondy. I was somewhat surprised when I heard it, since when I went out to Medford Lakes, Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock said that they were only allowing Dot to go if Howard would not do it. Evidently they expected it though, for Howard says they sent their congratulations, however, he hasn't heard from his folks and doesn't expect to.

I washed today, but the weather was too damp (Grandma gossip, this letter, isn't it?)


Tom [signed]

  • Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • 17 Mar 1943

18 Mar 1943, Letter No. 61 to Tom

Postmarked: 10 PM, 18 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


At Work (?) 3-18-43

Dear Tom,

Mr. Schwarz just gave me the snaps [photos] this A.M. - so here they are.  Also your license.

Miss Baker said last night that all mail they have addressed to Wm. Baker comes back marked "Whereabouts unknown."  Was he sent to Texas with you?  Also what became of Bob Ulmer?  Was he allowed to go home again, or did he go to Texas?


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 18 Mar 1943

21 Mar 1943, Letter No. 62 to Tom

Postmarked: 2 PM, 22 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Typewritten - 13 typos, all but three corrected in what follows]

SUNDAY 3/21/43

Dear Tom,

It is much easier for me to write with a pen.  However, I can plainly see that I need typing in my business.  My course in Adult Education School may bear fruit at last.  One thing is certain, if I have to pound this damn thing, my future letters to you will be very brief and to the point.

As a final gesture - I hope - toward the first day of Spring, we had a snow storm today.  The bushes and trees are butiful[sic] but the street is messy.

Pop went to work at 3:30 and Mary and I have snoozed most of the time since.

Aunt Ethel [Keiser Hagenbaugh] called last night.  She is taking care of Ann [Keiser Regan] again.  A card from Buz [Regan] said he had arrived across the Pacific, but gave no location.  Frank [Regan] is organising a band at Camp Hoffman, a new camp in S.C.  Daddy is going over to see Ann in the morning.

Miss Baker stopped in today.  She would like to quit teaching and get a job at the AAFSD [Army Air Force Supply Depot].  So she is hoping there will be a place left for her when school is out.  Doris Gray's mother starts there tomorrow.

Lois [Freas Stahl] called Friday from Phila. and talked with Daddy.  She was there to meet Betty [Betty Jane Stahl].  The factory was making some change so B-J [Betty Jane] has several days vacation.  They expected their furniture to arrive today - I mean yesterday.  Lois has not mentioned Betty's shattered romance.

John Shirk is at Colby College, Waterville, Maine, for a five month course in aviation.  Thomas Meeks of your class is in Corpus Christi, Texas, in Naval Aviation.  Bob Smith stopped in for a few minutes the other night.  He looks quite handsome in his Marine uniform, but otherwise he hasn't improved any.  

Got my first pay check yesterday. ($49.95) for 11 days work.  $44 basic plus $9.53 overtime, minus $2.20 retirement and $1.38 Victory Tax.  Each pay hereafter is figured on 15 days, and next time they start deducting 10% for bonds, that is 10% of basic or 12 dollars a month.  Retirement is 5% of basic and VT is %5[sic] of basic plus overtime minus $26 - each 15 days.  Quite a probleml[sic].  I don't know how to make an exclamation point [on the typewriter].

Well, Sunshine, how'm I doin'?  Lots of errors I know but I'll improve.  Is there anything you would like to have us send you?  It's 1:10 A.M. and daddy is just driving into the garage from work.

Our love to you, dear.

Mom [signed]

[Hand written]

Monday 8 A.M.

Dear Tom;

What do you think of Mom's first type letter; some class don't you think?  Or don't you?  Not bad I say.

Just took Mom to work, and am now going to take Mary and the kids to school, post these letters and get a hair cut.  Then, I am going over to see Ann [Keiser Regan], she is quite sick I understand.  Will let you know about it in our next letter.

Butter, meat, and cheese is stopped this week and will be put on ration starting next Monday.  Lucky we have a few chunks on hand which helps!

Must get going now.  Take care of yourself, and best of luck.




[Hand written]

Monday Morn

Dear Tom -

Not to be outdone, I went over town Saturday night and saw "Keeper of the Flame."  I too think more of Miss Hepburn than the picture.  However to compensate (sp?) for the picture - I'm sending along the original story which you'll notice was issued some time ago.  When you read it - let me know which story you liked better.

Gotta get some food!


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 21 Mar 1943

22 Mar 1943, Letter No. 63 to Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 23 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Typewritten -  4 typos]

MONDAY 3-22-43

Dear Tom,

I never knew you had a lavicular bone and now you have gone and fractured it.  I asked Dr. Fisher about it, but it was a new one on her too.  However, she is going to look it up for me.

Seriously though, dear, it made me shudder.  I do hope you are not in pain with it, and that it will not impair the future use of your hand.  It will be grand to have you home for thirty days.

Whatever made you fall?  Will you be able to go on with your course in the automotive school?  How can you handle a monkey wrench?  Dick [Culbert] tells Mary that you are collecting autographs.  Can you get your arm in your shirt sleeve?

I can't blame Dottie for wanting to get away from Medford.  Just hope they know something about B.C. [birth control] and that Howard's faith won't make her unhappy.

Do you recall Mrs. England in the white house across the street?  Well, she finally married the old guy with the spiffy car, and we received an announcement today.  Her house is for sale as they will live in Haddon Heights [NJ].

Dad was over to see Ann [Keiser Regan] this morning and reports her some improved, though quite thin and weak.  He is home from work and gone to bed.  He said he thought I would make better time with a pen.  I was surprised to see your typed envelope right after I had sent you one.

I asked you to take care of yourself for me and you haven't done such a hot job.  Hop to it now and don't do any more falling.

Good night, now, and love always.

Mom [typed and signed]

[Hand written]

Tues. A.M.

Dear Tom;

Well, you should at least develope[sic] some muscle now, for if you must salute with that weight on your wrist - you should become a Sampson.

Ann [Keiser Regan], and Frank [Regan] Sr. asked about you and wanted to be remembered to you.  I think Ann is worrying about Buzz [Regan], but appeared some better yesterday.  Have today off, so will take this to post and do some shopping.  But - no meat - Butter - Cheese for a wk.[week]



Ethel [Keiser Hagenbaugh] is taking care of Ann.  Buzz landed somewhere in the Pacific O.K.
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 22 Mar 1943

25 Mar 1943, Letter No. 24 From Tom

Postmarked: 1 PM, 26 Mar 1943, San Antonio, Texas

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

[Note on envelope in Agnes' handwriting - "Rec'd. Tues, March 30th"
[Typewritten - four typos]

Normoyle Ordinance Depot

San Antonio, Texas

Thursday March 25

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

I've certainly been enjoying the typewritten letters.  I have read and reread them both, and get a big kick out of the zealous energy that must go into them.  And I remember that sample I saved when you, Mom, were attending the typing class, and tried The Raven.  I laughed, and laughed, and laughed at it.  I think it is still in that box on my bureau in with the Army-Navy tickets.

If you have [Dr.] Stella [Fisher] looking for a "lavicular" bone, I don't think that she will ever find it either.  It seems that I, too, am prone to slip up on typing.  I put an "l" where I should have put an "n", and if you will look up "navicular" you will stand a better chance of finding it.  It is more commonly, rather, better known, as the "carpus scaphoid."

I see that you didn't get the full information on the case by the number of questions asked, so I'll try to clear up the discrepancy.

1. Whatever made you fall?
A. I tripped over my own big feet.

2. Will you be able to go on with your course in the automotive school?
A. Yes.  When they told me at the Brooke General Hospital at Fort Sam Houston that I would be laid up for three months with this beautiful cast, I nearly popped.  I asked for and received permission to continue with the course, for which I was indeed grateful.  Hard as it may be to dis- and re- assemble an engine with one hand, it is better than lying around in a hospital for three months.

3. How can you handle a monkey wrench?
A. We have here a complete assortment of left-handed ones.

4. Can you get your arm in your shirt sleeve?
A. Yes, but not into my service coat or field jacket.  And it is a tight squeeze into the overcoat sleeve, but just makes.

I'm glad that Ann [Keiser Regan] is feeling better.  She certainly looked pretty down-for-the-count when I saw her.  I think it is pretty swell for Ethyl[sic] [Keiser Hagenbaugh] to be taking care of her, and it should relieve her of a few of her worries just to be able to talk to her sister.  Give her my love when you see her again.

Many thanks, Mary, for sending the story, which hasn't arrived as yet, but which I shall pursue avidly.  Finished "Guadalcanal Diary," and am going to start "Let The People Know" soon.  Liked the Diary.  Haven't gone back to "Lee's Lieutenants" yet, think I'll wait 'till I get back to Virginia to be in the mood.

I got the pictures and the license.  Many thanks.  As I mentioned in my other letter, Bill Baker is here at Normoyle.  In another class, though, two weeks behind mine.  I don't know what happened to Bob Ulmer; haven't seen him since I got back to Lee.  (Pretty sloppy in that last line.)

Alice [Crompton] is at the Hotel Raleigh, Pennsylvania Avenue at 12th Street [Washington, D.C.] for the time being.  They take in all WAVES.  But she will have to look for a room shortly, to make way for the next bunch.  Don't know where she will find it.  I called her on the 'phone to wish her a Happy Birthday.

Just came across another question - what did I do with the old name-plate?  I turned it in to S&C [Strawbridge & Clothier] when I gave them the order.  

I'll look up George Webb when I get over to Fort Sam again.

Last Saturday night I met Dick Culbert and we had supper at the St. Anthony Hotel.  If you order a la carte, you lift the mortgage, it seems.  We had a good meal for two dollars apiece (it should have been!) (that's how to make an exclamation point) [an apostrophe over a period], and then we went canoeing on the river.  I did right well, too.

It's getting on toward eleven, so I'll close with my


  • Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • 25 Mar 1943

27 Mar 1943, Letter No. 64 to Tom

Postmarked: 8 PM, 28 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Hand written]

Saturday [27 Mar 1943]

Dear Son,

Did you ever notice the W.P.A. [Works Projects Administration] men leaning on their shovels?  Well, they had nothing on this office force.  I am ashamed to sit here day after day doing nothing.  They tell us we are necessary so that when the material comes in, we will be ready to ship - but practically all I've done so far is obligate.  Fanny will be blistered if something doesn't break soon.  I practiced on the posting machine awhile and then on the
typewriter but I've still over an hour to kill.

Mrs. Pettijohn is sitting 3 desks up and I see her writing a letter too, so I suppose it's to Bill.  She had a letter from him this week but he hadn't yet arrived at his destination.  She is acting as checker for the Chief clerk and is a little busier than I am.  Mrs. Campbell came over yesterday and applied but they didn't take her on.  One of our 2nd Lieutenants, Alexander Matthews, who is the Asst. Supply officer, is going to be married next Saturday in the Collingswood M.E. Church.  The girl is from Dayton, Ohio, but I guess he can't get a leave so they are having the doings here.  He is a nice looking chap but all the officers sort of look over our dumb civilian heads.  You should see our Major strut with his Swagger Stick.

2nd Lieutenant Joseph Smith, who takes charge of employment can swear like a trooper.  I heard one woman ask him what she should do the other day and he said "Go to Hell."  He gets away with it someway, but a lot of folks "love" him for it.

I ate part of a wisdom tooth for lunch today and later about a quarter more of it broke off - so I guess I'll have to give in and have it pulled.  But when?  Since this is Saturday night.

Ethel [Keiser Hagenbaugh] wrote us a card and named about a dozen members of the family who were coming to see Ann [Keiser Regan] over the weekend.  Daddy, Mary and I expect to drive over tonight for the reunion - since Daddy must work tomorrow (Sunday).

Alice [Crompton] had a birthday the 24th but I haven't heard her address yet from either of you - so I didn't send her a card.  I suppose I should have called Mrs. Crompton but there are so many things to do in the few evening hours that I usually go to sleep and forget them all.  I'll send her a belated card when you tell me her address.

Mary signed up again for farm work this spring.  She said she would do anything but pick cherries.  She would look smart if they enrolled her in the "farmerettes" and make her stay on the farm.  She expects to start at Peirce [Business College, Phila.] just as soon as school is over.  No waitressing this year.  Betty Millnamow is going with her.

Jean Gleeson has announced her engagement to Charlie Driees[?] and had her picture in the paper.  She is the first Sub Deb - so they gave her a shower down at Marian Adams' last Thursday night.  Mary gave her a glass tea kettle and a rolling pin and a lamb's wool duster.
Marian is going to Bucknell next year, but so far is the only one of the crowd going away to school.

Am anxiously waiting to hear from you again and to know how your wrist is getting along.  Is the cast heavy to carry?  Must you keep it in a sling?  

There are so many questions and questions I want to ask you but I might as well restrain myself because you'd never get time to answer them all.

My love to you,

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 27 Mar 1943

30 Mar 1943, Letter No. 65 to Tom

Postmarked: 7:30 PM, 30 Mar 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

Tuesday, A.M. [30 Mar 1943]

Dear Tom,

The old wisdom tooth is out.  I went up to Dr. Comfort, Sr. last night after work.  It was broken so close to the gum that he had to dissect it first.  

He didn't hurt me any, but I didn't enjoy it either.

They tore down partitions and just about doubled our office floor space last night.  Everything was out of place and dust covered this morning and so far our unit is just sitting - waiting for action.  Men are scrubbing the floors and the painters are starting to paint and it's pandemonium generally.

Hurrah!  Action - I've just has 2 requisitions to make out shipping tickets on. - 10 A.M.  It takes about 5 minutes to make out tickets, tag, and envelope on each transaction and then I must wait for the poster to post the transaction - and then for the typist to set them up.

The baker just came and I got 3 doughnuts, 3 6-cent pies, and 3 chocolate eclairs to take home for dessert tonight for Dad's and Mary's lunches tomorrow  - if they leave any.  Wish I could send you some but they wouldn't keep.  I guess you can get all that stuff that is good for you now that you eat at the

Officers' Mess and out at classy hoteleries on your Sat. nights.

Was there a moon for your canoe ride?  No, you didn't write me about it but Dick [Culbert] told Mary.  How could you paddle with a cast on, or didn't you?

A 3rd Requisition! - No material - Must obligate and send out a 1st endorsement to the basic letter.

Three more requisitions - one obligated - Shipping Tickets etc. for other 2 - My, my, this never happened before - 6 in all and complete before noon.  

Maybe we are going to be of some use, after all.

Mrs. Pettijohn and a Mrs. Hickman of Haddonfield come up to my desk every day at 12:30 and we eat and gab until 1:00.  They each bring a thermos of tea and share with me.  Mrs. Petty thinks Jean [Pettijohn] is going to try and get in here.  She is familiar with Army forms since she helped Bill [Pettijohn] with his work.  She is at R.C.A. now but doesn't like it much because it is all so routine.

Almost time to go home.  No action all afternoon.  Just busy watching 5 painters painting the ceiling beams and overhead pipe system.  Roughly speaking, our office is 150 ft. x 50 ft. with only about a 9 ft. ceiling.  The roof is flat and evidently last year's heat made the tar melt thru as there are streaks down the beams - so I imagine it will be a scorcher this summer.

Just arrived home and must apologize for all my gentle digs.  Such a nice letter here for me, telling me the answers to most of my questions about my sunshine.  You didn't tell me - does it hurt?  I hope not.

I just called "Stella" and she thought it was "cute" - your referring to her as Stella.  She knows your bone under its proper name.  She said you must be O.K. - writing such a gay letter.  She said I should tell you she was asking for you and sends her regards.

Pop just came in and is reading your letter.  He says there's no such thing as a left-handed monkey wrench.  Are you spoofing me?


Dear Tom

Mom couldn't get the joke about the left hand monkey wrench, until I explained it to her.  She is English somewhat, eh?

Glad you are enjoying your work or rather (vacation) in S.A.  I'm enjoying mine and will have a few days off this week to fix the lawn.  Everyone O.K. here.  Mom is waiting to go shopping.  So long and good luck.

Lovingly Dad

and Mom
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 30 Mar 1943

1 Apr 1943, Letter No. 66 to Tom

Postmarked: 11 AM, 2 Apr 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

Thursday eve. [1 Apr 1943]

Dear Tom,

I wrote to Mother [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] and Jane [Freas] tonight so here's just a line to you, too.

Am mailing you a copy of the new Retrospect, so you can see how our Collingswood paper is advancing, a will of Hitler's that Daddy picked up today[,] and some jokes from Mrs. Pettijohn.

Dad seeded and rolled the lawn today and tonight it is drizzling just nice.  He hopes the sun will shine tomorrow and make it sprout.

Mary was at club at Gleeson's tonight and brought back your "New Yorker Stories."  She and Dad have both gone to bed and Dad keeps yelling down, "Are you asleep?" - so I guess I'll have to get upstairs before I do nod off.

We were over to see Ann [Keiser Regan] Sat. night - or did I tell you before?  She has[sic] a complete nervous break down and looks awful.  If she could only have some real peace and quiet - but she wants that gang around and they are so noisy.  It would drive me nuts.

Goodnight dear and love to you,


Don't bother looking for Geo. Webb at Fort Sam Houston.  He was dismissed because of his feet and overage and he and his wife are on their way home.

Dear Tom;

Am taking mother to work now and will then put another day in on the front lawn.  It looks as if it will be a nice day.

Best of luck to you.



[The following handwritten page was enclosed.]

Mrs. Pettijohn copied these for you as she overheard them around her at work!  All about the moron who -

went in the closet to change his mind.

chased coast guards off the board walk because waves were coming in.

went to lumber yard to see draft board.

saluted the refrig. because it was a General Electric.

cut off his arms to wear a sleeveless sweater.

drove car in the water for a fluid drive.

drove car over the cliff to try air brakes.

went down to dock to see a blood vessel.

took a bale of hay to bed to feed his nightmare.

jumped off Empire State building to show he had guts.

kissed trolley car goodby and went to work on his wife.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 1 Apr 1943

3 Apr 1943, Letter No. 67 to Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 PM, 3 Apr 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

Saturday eve. Apr 3

Dear Tom,

Thought you might like to see your name in the Peircetonian [Peirce Business College newsletter] - a paragraph all to yourself!

A letter from Mary Toole today says Thomas is ill in the Mercy Hospital in Scranton [PA] and there is no hope for him.  She doesn't say what his trouble is, but he always ailed more more or less.  We certainly feel very sorry at the news.  She is at 901 Electric St., in Scranton with those folks you met at their place last year.  You might like to drop her a line.

Mrs. Pettijohn has a letter from Bill [Pettijohn] today, written March 12.  He says he is in India, living the life of Riley.  He has an Indian lackey, who does everything for him, waits on him hand and foot, for 16 cents a day.  He didn't give any definite place - just gave them a new A.P.O. number - and said they should keep writing - that the mail would catch up with him sometime.

Spring has arrived and everyday the High School Seniors throw a few more underclassmen into Knight Park lake.  They are going to have no senior day - if they don't stop.

Mary got a driver's permit yesterday.  She is hopeful, isn't she?

Pop's in bed - night shift now for six more days, so I'll have to get him up about 11 P.M.

Mary was over to Phila. today and got a pair of shoes with her # 17 stamp and a new brown linen dress with her birthday money [turned 17 on March 4].  

She also got a $1.50 feather hair cut - which I don't care for.  However, she seems pleased with it.  She is enjoying wearing your fatigue hat.  The suits don't fit her or I guess she'd have those on too.

Our love to you dear.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 3 Apr 1943

5 Apr 1943, Letter No. 25 From Tom

Postmarked: 12:30 PM, 5 Apr 1943, San Antonio, Texas

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas
[Typewritten - 12 typos]

Normoyle Ordinance Depot

Ordinance Automotive School

San Antonio, Texas

April 5, 1943

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

What happened to the typewriter?  I notice that the mail is coming through in longhand - just when they were getting to be good.  Hope it wasn't because of that sample I kept!

By the way, I hope you didn't get "The Year of Decision" for me; but I do hope they get something promising in BoM [Book of the Month] soon, for I'm just about ready for some books - haven't finished "Lee's Lts." yet, however.  But I expect to in a little while, when I go back to the hospital.

Oh, yes, I found a couple more questions to answer:

Is the cast heavy to carry, and must you keep it in a sling?

The answers are: "No"

I thought I had told you about the night I went out with Dick [Culbert].  Anyhow, you've had a report on it.  I saw him again this past week, over at Kelly Field in the SAAAC.  He's now in Pre-Flight, and is a mighty busy boy.  When he isn't studying, the upperclassmen are hazing him.  We never had any of that stuff at [Camp] Lee, since the whole batallion was one class.  But he has these upperclassmen to contend with right in his own barracks.  I thought he was laying it on a bit thick with some of the things he was telling me, but after I left him I was walking past another building where some first-class hazing was going on, and it was really every bit of what he was telling me.

Don't remember whether or not there was a moon for the canoe ride, now, but I did do some of the paddling.  It wasn't hard, but rather awkward.  The doctor told me to use my hand as much as possible, so I'm trying to oblige him, and typewrite, play billiards, and ping pong (which isn't so hot-never was).  But it doesn't hurt a bit.

So I took you in with the left-handed monkey wrench, did I?  Thought you knew about them.  Ours certainly work fine.

"Keeper of the Flame" arrived, and I finished it.  I guess the picture spoiled the story for me, for I didn't care for it either.  I did enjoy the moron jokes, however.  Thank Mrs. Pettijohn.  I noticed they weren't all in her handwriting - I mean the one about the trolley car.  And what was that about having a whole paragraph to myself in the Peircetonian!  After counting words, I find that I got 32 out of 48, and Dad gets 16.  Are you getting upstage[d], Pop?

Well, I guess you deserve a little mention, the way you are going to work on the lawn.  It should look quite the berries with all the time you're giving it.  What sort of vegetables are we raising in the ...-- garden?

I too, was sorry to hear about Tom Toole.  I was thinking about them just a day or so ago, and was going to drop a line.  I certainly will write to Mary.

This afternoon I went over to Fort Sam again, to have another cast put on.  The old one was getting a bit soft from washing grease from my hands, and taking showers, and whatnot.  I remembered not to look up Pfc (correctly Pvt 1[st] Cl[ass]) Webb.

There's not much news, other than it promises to be a scorcher this summer, what with no rain here.



Oh, yes, we just finished a week of electricity (ignition, etc.), and are now going into a week of carburetion.  Then two more of convoy, and whoops!
  • Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • 5 Apr 1943

8 Apr 1943, Letter No. 68 to Tom

story image(s)
Postmarked: 1 PM, 9 Apr 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

Thursday eve. [8 Apr 1943]

Dear Tom,

Am sending your Book News, and enclosing an invitation from the local [American] Legion [image attached].

Your first four canceled checks arrived here Monday.  I was surprised to see the one to the hospital.  Will you have to pay for care now that you are a

lieutenant?  I put them with your other papers.

Mrs. Blake was here for awhile yesterday when I got home from work.  She looks fine and wanted to hear all about you.  Had a letter from Floy [MacWilliam] today and she, too, asked for you.

I didn't get time yesterday to shop since Mrs. B. was here, so because it was pay day I thought we could stand a meal out.  Our first since you were here.  We went over to Johnsons, and had a side car and liver and talked mostly of you and the last time we were there - Feb. 12th.

Mary drove the car over.  Daddy thinks she does very well.  She hopes to take her test soon.

If all goes well, we are going to Trenton Sunday to see the [Lois Freas and Leo] Stahl's new home.  Leo said BOM - bring own meat, so will go after a late breakfast and come home for supper.

Have you heard of the moron who went up on the roof - because he heard the drinks were on the house?  Mary told me another one but it is too bad to write.

Dad just left for the night shift.  I meant to write this earlier so he could mail it but I went to sleep.  He has Friday, Sat., Sun., and Monday off and goes back for 4:30 shift Tuesday.  It will give him a chance to work in the yard if the weather is nice.

Six o'clock comes "early" so I'm off to bed.

Good night and love from

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 8 Apr 1943

10 Apr 1943, Letter No. 69 to Tom

Postmarked: 10 PM, 10 Apr 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Enclosed also was a postcard and page of typed moron jokes.]
Saturday A.M. [10 Apr 1943]

Dear Tom,

I had a little spurt of work this A.M. but now have a respite, so will put it to good use.

Dad, Mary and I went to the movies last night to see Mickey Rooney in "Andrew Hardy's Double Life."  Usually he bores me, but last night Mary and I laughed in spite of ourselves.  Daddy always likes him.  After the show Mary hiked up to the Triangle to meet the gang and Daddy and I went in Prices for a nut fudge sundae.  Just as it was served we had a black-out and maybe we didn't have fun finding our mouths in the dark.  Then the blue signal came and  we got all the way home - at least 10 minutes before we were allowed to put on the house lights.

We are going up to Trenton tomorrow.  I called [the Leo and Lois Freas] Stahls last night and they are supremely happy in their new home.  They had just had their garden plowed and harrowed and paid $16 to the two men who came and brought their tractor.  They are in their element when they can plant - but its nice to have the heavy work done by machine.

I had your typewriter out on the dining room table for the two letters I wrote on it, but that next Wednesday night Daddy had the poker club here and I had to put it away.  Funny what an effort it is to set it up again - but I'll surprise you again sometime.

I didn't get your refusal for last month's B.O.M [Book of the Month] in until the last day - I was waiting to hear from you - so along came the three books, "Year of Decision", "Human Comedy", and a Digest of 4 of Dickens' works.  Mary read "Human Comedy" in one night so we boxed them up and mailed them back the next day.  I sent you your review for this month and I'm enclosing the slip in this letter.  If you don't want the book send the slip in
saying so - but if the book comes along - I'll know you want it and send it on to you.  Don't forget.

You said you were going to read "Lee's Lieutenants" when you went back to the Hospital.  Does that mean you anticipate a lengthy stay there?  Will your course be all completed in 3 weeks - and then must you spend a month in the hospital recuperating?  Not a bad place to be, if one must recuperate - from your descriptions.  I'm hoping they don't forget the furlough later.  I don't mind your taking ignition and carburetion but I don't like the sound of convoy.

Lester Kish flunked out of officer's training.  Isn't that too bad?  Mrs. Axner said he got thru the Academic part fine but couldn't take the physical and couldn't give the commands harshly enough.

I guess the hazing is severe in some groups.  They seem to see how much the boys can take.  Bob Smith said in the Marines Boot Camp - anyone who gets out of step has to be kicked.  Their sergeants open their boxes from home and eat the contents, and give the boys a piece if they feel like it - they give them their mail at 9:25 and put the lights out at 9:30.  It seems like pretty rude treatment but the idea seems to be to try them out.

Here are some more moron jokes.  I suppose you've heard about the moron who called on his girl before he went away and she had no clothes on.  When he came back she had a little moron.

Mary got a dozen American beauty roses from Merritt [Sharp] last night in remembering it was a year from the first date they had.  Poor Merritt, he is so considerate - and I do fear his affection is not reciprocated.  His mother is working at R.C.A. [Radio Corporation of America, in Camden] now as a file clerk.  She isn't keen about it and I guess the pay isn't so much.

Bets and Frank [Waters] drove Mother [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] to Jermyn last Sunday to the Waters.  They didn't take her to the Cemetery [Montvale, PA, where the Freas' are buried] where she wanted to go.  She had given Bets money to buy food so they could eat at 558 [Madison St., Jermyn, her home] but instead they took it to Waters and there were 14 there and the noise almost drove her nuts.  When they stopped at 558 [the] Greens [neighbors] told her he cess pool was blocked - the support of the back porch needs a new one - the garage roof is falling in.  When they started back, there was a bad storm and Frank couldn't see thru the windshield.  Bets tried to guide him and he'd get on the wrong side and Nancy [Waters] would scream.  With it all, Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] stayed in bed 2 days when they got back to Berwick.

I wish she would come down to Collingswood awhile.  I think the quiet would do her good.  It certainly isn't going to be safe for her to be alone in Jermyn - worrying about all the things that should be done, and expecting Hank [Freas] to stop in and tend to them, instead of going home to Ann.

Mrs. Hickman from Haddonfield, who checks with Mrs. Pettijohn, brought me these moron jokes [enclosed].  She writes to a young bombadier at Kirtland Field - Jesse Edgar[,] about 23 - also from Haddonfield.  He says it is very dry there and they are at 5,314 feet above sea level and the least bit of exercise leaves one puffing.  His address is A/C Jesse B. Edgar, WC 43-9, AAF AFS, Kirtland Field, Albuquerque, N. Mex.  Maybe Howard [Bondy] would like to know someone from around home - if you write to him sometime.

Well, lunch is now over.  We have from 12:30 to 1:00 so haven't time to go out.  Mrs. P., Mrs. Hickman and I open our little paper bags together and jabber over the morning's tribulations.

Mrs. O'Neill, my immediate superior, is a gorgeous red head.  She has charge of correspondence and stock records, while I do requisitions.  She is very capable - almost 40 - used to work in the Gloucester Immigration Station - knew the Princess Hohenlohe and all our other famous spies who were interned there.  She says they have pretty fine accommodations there - can be taken shopping - to have their hair done, etc.  The Princess is now interned in Texas.  Several of the Gloucester inspectors lost their jobs over her, and all the other German women spies used to wait on her hand and foot.

We have over 400 working here now and the painters are still painting.

Will write you my impressions of the new Stahl home when I come back from there.

Love to you, dear,



Dear Tom;

Glad to hear from you.  Just came home from Bryson's.  Beat him a game of rummy and had a glass of beer.  Of course mother smelled it on my breath. 

Am teaching Mary to drive.  She does very well and is capable.  Don't forget to move up [to] I Lieut. and then Capt.




Postmarked: 5 PM, 9 Apr 1943, Scranton, PA

To: Mrs. Thomas K.[sic] Keiser, 123[sic] Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

Friday [9 Apr 1943]

Dear Agnes,

Just a line to let you know there is a little improvement in Thomas [Toole].  The rest has done him a world of good, but he waited so long to take that rest, that it will take twice as long to get back to his normal self again.  He certainly has been a sick man but he has very good care, so all we can do now is hope for the best.

Best to all

Mary [Toole]

[Moron Jokes]

Ever hear about the moron who:

1. Went to the football game because he thought the quarterback was a refund.

2. Thought no kidding was birth control.

3. Put his old man in the icebox so he could have some iced pop.

4. Walked the sweater girl home so he could pull the wool over her eyes.

5. Slept with her army husband[']s picture for nine months and then had paper dolls.

6. Was feeling low and got his face slapped.

7. Thought asphalt was rectum trouble.

8. Slept on the chandelier because he was a light sleeper.

9. Ate dynamite hoping his hair would grow in bangs.

10. Looked in his history book all day trying to find out who General Delivery was.

11. Went into the living room because his doctor said he was going to die.

12. Took a bale of hay to bed with him to feed his nightmare.

13. Stayed up all night studying for a blood test.

14. Pinched his girl[']s eye so he could have a blind date.

15. Went to a show and didn't pay.  Said his name was "Crime" and crime doesn't pay.

16. Backed off a bus because he heard a woman say she was going to grab his seat when he got off.

17. Drank a bottle of whiskey so he could sleep tight.

18. Worked in a maternity ward making wheels for mis-carriages.

19. Drank a bottle of mercurochrome[sic] before going to bed so his dreams would be in technicolor.

20. Wanted a divorce from his wife because he came home and found her in bed with laryngitis.

21. Swallowed a thermometer so he could die by degrees.

22. Ran around the bed trying to catch some sleep.

23. Cut his toilet seat in half because his half-brother was coming.

24. Read his geography through and through studying all the maps looking for capacity.

25. Went to the docks looking for blood vessels.

26. Walked through a screen door and strained himself.

27. Painted his wallet with iodine because he got a cut in pay.

28. Killed his mother and father so he could go to the Orphan's picnic.

29. Took cream and sugar to the movies and waited for the serial.

30. Stood on a busy corner with a loaf of bread waiting for the five o'clock jam.

31. Went to the lumber yard looking for his Draft Board.

32. Cut off his left side to be all right.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 10 Apr 1943

14 Apr 1943, Letter No. 70 to Tom

Postmarked: 11:30 AM, 16 Apr 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.


Wednesday, Apr. 14, 1943

Dear Tom,

We had some very heavy snow squalls today and high wind and we got our last ration (100 gal.) of oil in, so we just hope it is the last storm of the season.  It doesn't look a bit like spring here yet.  A year ago it was so different -

A year ago the 18th, the sub-debs had their ride-around dinner and the next day Ki [Tom Keiser, Sr.] and I drove to Moorestown [NJ] to see the peach blossoms.  You and Alice [Crompton] had dinner at the Carrols that day.  It was on the 18th, too, that Howard [Bondy?] stopped in with his Dad after enlisting.  So many changes since then - it seems much longer than a year.

We had a very nice visit with the Stahls [Leo and Lois Freas] on Sunday.  They surely have a fine home and are enjoying it thoroughly.  Their lot is about 75 x 400 and they have plenty [of] gardening to do.  We helped them cut out rosebushes and so forth in the afternoon.  I took some pictures and will send you some if they turn out O.K.

Lois had her usual good dinner and we stayed until 10:30.

The Nat. Cash man and his wife at S.A. are good friends of the Stahls.  I've forgotten his name but if you happen by the office some day, - drop in and ask for the agent and tell him you are Leo Stahl's nephew.

B.J. [Stahl] called them up Saturday and said she is getting homesick.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear she is living in Trenton in the near future.

Mary took her drivers test Monday.  She turned 7 corners and forgot to put her hand out.  She did everything else right and said she could see in the mirror there was no one behind her but the "big molice pan"[sic] said come back in two weeks.

Bets [Betty Freas Waters] wrote me this week and sent a drawing of the Navicular [bone] - which I enclose.  [Note: Not kept with this letter.]  It is so covered, it seems strange that it could be fractured.  You must have weakened it when you fell here and the second was just too much.  'Member how I smelled the linement - or I wouldn't have known your wrist hurt.  Tell me now - how did you come to fall here?  Daddy says you slipped on the ice.

Mary had a letter today from Dick Nonnemacher.  He says you have owed him a letter for over three weeks and that you must have written a lot of letters to Alice to get a fractured wrist.

What do you hear from Alice?  Is she still at the Raleigh?  How do you address her now that she has a commission?  I haven't yet gotten a letter off to her.

I lost my cleaning day by going to the Stahls Sunday and I'm having a heck of a time catching up.

Tomorrow night Mrs. Pettijohn and I are going over to the Spring Concert at [Collingswood] H.S. to hear Mary sing!  She is in the glee club and choir.  

Dick Culbert's brother Bill is the star male singer.


Dear Tom;

It is now 1:30 A.M.  I just got home from work.  Made Mom and myself a cup of tea, and while she is sipping hers I will keep the ink flowing.

Things are about the same here.  Called Ann [Keiser Regan] today on the phone.  She is some better but Frank [Regan] has been laid up for a week or so, but is doing nicely.  She had a letter from [son] Buzz.  He is somewhere on an Island in the Pacific and says he is enjoying himself.  Etc.

Well must get to bed now for I drive Mom to work at 7:30 A.M.  Good night and good luck.


Dad and Mom
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 14 Apr 1943

20 Apr 1943, Letter No. 71 to Tom

Postmarked: 10 PM, 20 Apr 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Note:  Also found in this envelope was a name and address written in an unknown hand on a piece of envelope, as follows:

George L. Alario, Sqdn. 108, Bks 1739, AAFCC - SAACC, S.A.T.  
Call Kelly Field ext. 2188]


Tuesday, April 20, 1943

Dear Tom,

There's a "lull in the day's occupation" so here are a few lines for you, and believe me, there'd better be a few lines from you P.D.Q. [Pretty Damn Quick]  Two weeks all but two days since your last letter arrived!

The Glee Club Concert last Thursday was a great success.  Full house and standing room taken.  Mrs. Pettijohn went with me and after the performance she introduced Mary and me to Mrs. Culbert, Dick's Mother.  She is very pleasant and immediately asked if I were Tom's Mother and said Dick had written home about you.  It must have been good since she seemed pleased.  She said she didn't wonder Dick wrote to Mary, since she had gotten a look at her.  Mary did look pretty in her chintz evening dress.  Do you remember? - the one with the bare spot on her tummy.

Mary and I went to the concert in a taxi and met Mrs. P. there.  Afterward Mr. P. came from night school and drove us all home.

Friday night, Daddy was working so Mary and I went to see Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in "Once on a Honeymoon."  It was so punk I went to sleep.  Cary's clowning is getting too obvious and it was just one close up after another.

Mary deserted me and I went to the triangle awhile - I expected to read but as usual went to sleep.  Am only about 2 of each magazine back now.

Sat. night when Daddy got in from work about 1:15 A.M. - we had a little lunch and went upstairs about 2 o'clock.  We noticed the whole house lit up over at [the] Gardners and Dad remarked that they must be having a party.  Sunday morning, Mr. Gardner came over bright and early to tell us that they got home from a party - at quarter to 2 and found their house in a mess.  Robbers had broken in a porch window, brought all the bureau drawers downstairs and dumped them all over, gotten away with approx. $200, jewelry, pen and pencil set, revolver, all their ration books, food and gas, his auto license, had torn up all their policies and papers and strewn them all over.  The police couldn't seem to find any finger prints and have no clues.

Sunday was just another day.  I cleaned house.  When Daddy got up he and Mary went out for a little driving lesson.  I finished all the cleaning but Mary's room and yours, and actually[UL] Mary did those for me yesterday and a good job, too.

They are having vacation from school until next Monday.  This is the first time they've had school on Easter Monday in a long while.

Daddy has his day off today - and since it is my pay day, he and Mary will meet me after work and we'll eat out.  Wish you could dine with us.  Gee, if you were home, I'd take us all over to Stouffers [in Philadelphia]!

I was thinking of Alice on Sunday, so I called up Mrs. Crompton and had a nice visit with her.  She told me about Alice's new apartment and said she and Mr. Crompton were going down soon to visit her.  Alice was fortunate to find a place in Washington [D.C.].  I'm going to drop her a line some of these days.  Mrs. C. said you wrote her a nice letter after you went to Texas.  She was concerned about your arm.

Your Q.M.C. [Quartermaster Corps] magazine came yesterday and I read about the course at Camp Lee - like you are having at Normoyle - evidently.  Will send it on to you.  Did you get last month's copy O.K.?

Inclosed is your card to the Peirce annual.  A shame to waste that 60 cents [see card contents, below].  They sent us a marked copy of the Peircetonian so we could read about our son.

Doris Schaevitz came to see me last week, but since I wasn't at home she wrote me a letter.  She and Charles came home on an Emergency leave because Charles' father had to have a serious operation.  He is improved and left the hospital Saturday.  Doris says there are rumors that Colonel Mutty from [Camp] Lee may be moving out and if he does he will want to take Charles with him.

Jack Sullivan has signed up for the Navy.  His father had to sign his papers.  He didn't like being away at school and he doesn't want to go to Camden again so Mr. Sullivan figured he might as well have his way.

One of the higher ups from Hq. came to looks[sic] us over the other day.  The chief clerk must have heard one of the officers make a remark which he didn't understand, because he rushed in and told Mrs. Pettijohn that we were going to have a "Short Arm" inspection.  She didn't ask him what it meant but at dinner she was telling Jean and Petty and she nearly died when they told her what it meant, because she had come over to my desk to ask if I knew
and if I didn't, would I ask you the next time I wrote.

Our office is gradually acquiring class.  The painting job is about complete, ceiling and half way down of wainscoted wall in robin's egg blue and lower part a light tan.  Our units are all arranged symmetrically and we are commencing to learn what it is all about.  Ours is the only unit with a woman at the head.  Our former head Mr. Wick[?] - a young snip - was moved to Engineering, thank goodness, and the rest of us are getting along beautifully
without him.  It seems like a different place.  I completed my first full month's service with today's pay and it is quite possible, I'll get a higher rating next pay and be based on 1620.  If I do - we'll celebrate when you come home.  What do you want to do?

We are still using the oil heater.  No nice warm days.  Yesterday, how it did rain.  We were soaked getting home from work.


Dear Tom;

While I am sipping my side car at Johnston's I will add a few lines, however I think mom has written some epistle.  Why in hell don't you write - once in awhile?

I'm going to have corn beef and cabbage tonight - Don't get it at home.  $1.25 some price.  Will take the kids to the movies after dinner.

Start on the day shift in the morning so have the night off.  It was a little warmer today and I hope the winter is over.  Will close now as the waitress has just brought our first course.

Good luck to you.




Thomas -

Guess it's my turn to add a line -

Mom didn't tell you - but Miss Latmer fell down the steps the second day or so this month and knocked her hip out of place.  Some say she's laid up for the rest of the school year.  Mom seems to think you might like to drop her a card - Address is:

1019 S. Farragut Terr., Philadelphia, Pa. . c/o Miss Harps

We had a swell time last Friday - Senior Day - I took a couple of pictures - will send them along when they are finished.

You won't know your car when you come home - but wait till I get my license - them maybe you won't have a car!

Well, think I'll eat a bit now - Remember me to Dick [Culbert].



P.S. Did you see "Hitler's Children"?  I thought it good.

I just heard a new one, possibly not to you.

Two M.P.'s were out quite late one night and they ran into two W.A.A.C.'s.  The M.P. said, "Say girls don't you know you are out after hours?"  "So what," says the W.A.A.C.'s, "You are out after ours too."  Some joke, hey boss?


We[']re waiting for ice cream and coffee now.  These guys have certainly smeared my letter up some.

Our portions tonight were just about half the size of the ones we had here Feb. 12th.  Oh, well, we'll look better with a little less avoirdupois.

Love to you dear,



[Note: what follows is the contents of the postcard mentioned above.

Postmarked: 5:30 PM, 17 Apr 1943, Philadelphia, PA 8

To: Mr. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.




The Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association will be held at the School Building, Pine Street west of Broad on Wednesday, May 5, 1943, at 7:30 p.m.  

Following the regular business meeting, interesting technicolor motion pictures will be shown by Past-President, Mr. Chas. Otto Mason.


At 6 o'clock, supper will be served at Kugler's Cafeteria, 15th Street Below Market.  Order what you choose, and this card will be accepted by the restaurant cashier for 60 cents on account of your supper charge.

Members of your family and friends are invited to the supper at their own expense.  They are also welcome to attend the Annual Meeting.

We are counting on YOUR attendance.

Ann Bennett Peirce, President.
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 20 Apr 1943

25 Apr 1943, Letter No. 26 From Tom

Postmarked: 11 PM, 26 Apr 1942[sic] , San Antonio, Texas

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

[Written on the envelope were the following notes:
On the front: [No.] 26
Rec. 30th
Ans. 5/2
Tom Call Mrs Culbert 2773W
On the reverse: Wexlers N. 5th 4710 8.30]
[Typewritten - 11 typos]

Normoyle Ordinance Depot

San Antonio, Texas

April 25, 1943

Dear Mom, Pop, and Mary,

Well, I've finished my course here at Normoyle, what with the wind-up three-day convoy Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and graduation exercises yesterday; so I'll settle down and tackle some correspondence (for a change).

These last two weeks of convoy work were lots of fun at first, but you should have seen the sad-looking lot that pulled in to Normoyle Friday afternoon.  

Thursday night we got to sleep sometime around 12.30, and woke up (?) about three o'clock to be able to get in a little blackout driving.  We did get five hours' sleep the night before, so you can see why I popped right into bed as soon as we got back.

We saw some of the wildest country in the world, driving about miles from nowhere, over the worst roads I ever came across.  The old road up to Chapman Lake [PA] was a picnic compared to them.  But it was a lot of fun, all told.  I guess I drove over 250 miles - a couple of hours on Thursday, all day Friday.  The doctor at the hospital said he wanted me to drive, so I obliged him.  But wait until he sees the cast tomorrow - Its all banged up from the gear-shift lever and from pulling stones out from between the tires, and I just had it put on Tuesday before we started out.  I guess I'll get another right quick.  Unfortunately we weren't permitted to take a camera along, or I would have some wonderful snaps to send you.  As it is, you will have to be satisfied with the S.A. [San Antonio] photos, which are mighty tame by comparison.

I didn't return the BoM [Book of the Month Club] slip because I thought I'd like to read the Fifth Seal, and certainly the dog stories anthology sounds interesting from the introduction by Thurber.  So get caught up on your magazines and you can get them read before sending them on down.

The check for the hospital was for my meals for the four days I spent there.  (And what meals!)  That's all I will have to pay for during my stay there.  

As yet I don't know how long I'll be there - find out tomorrow.

The moron stories are fine- let's have some more of them.  And what was the one Mary told that couldn't be written?  My curiosity is aroused.

It was nice to hear that Tom Toole is recovering.  What was their Scranton address again?  I misplaced it somewhere.

I stopped in at the National Cash office here in S.A. last Tuesday on my way back from the hospital.  The agent's name is Orville Eckhoff.  We had a little talk, and he wanted to know all I could tell him about the Stahls.  He invited me to come again, so when I do, I'll have the pictures of Trenton to show him.  I liked the one of "Texas Tommy" and the others show that they have a mighty nice place in Trenton.  You'll have to take me up to see it when I get back.

So Kiddo forgot to put out a hand at the corners.  I guess you'll remember to do so when you take the next one Wednesday, won't you?  By the way, how did you make out at the Spring Concert?  Mom said it was a great success, but she didn't say how many curtain calls you took for La Traviata- or whatever it was that you did sing.  I'm going over to see Dick [Culbert] this afternoon; I'll say hello for you.  You might drop a line to Miss Latimer for me and tell her I was sorry to hear about her accident- tell her we can compare stories sometime.  Who is teaching math for her?  Benny?

Easter Sunday here is mighty quiet and plenty hot.  I hope you are going to get some warm weather in Jersey soon, before you run out of oil.  I've got to get some summer clothes pretty soon, for all I have are my GI kackies[sic], and we won't be able to wear pinks and greens after this month here.

All my classmates have left here now, for all parts of the US, from Fort Meade to Camp Young, California.  It was sort of sad to have to be here and say goodbye to all of them.  The barracks will be a mighty dismal place until I get acquainted with some of the new class.  Several of the boys went to Dix [NJ], and I told one couple, Lt. & Mrs. Howard Cory[,] to look in on the Stahls in Trenton.  They are certainly a nice couple.

This is a rather disjointed letter, for the OD is keeping up a running conversation, and I've already been an hour and twenty minutes getting this far.  

Whoever is Officer of the Day likes to chat with anyone who comes in, for the place is deserted.  And you know me- I'll chat right back when I have a letter to write.

But If I'm going over to see Dick, I guess I'll close.  After I find out what I'm going to do, tomorrow, I'll let youse[sic] know.


  • Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • 25 Apr 1943

25 Apr 1943, Letter No. 72 to Tom

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2 images
Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 26 Apr 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

[Note: The above address was crossed out and redirected to: 476th Q.M. Truck Regt., Camp McCoy, Wis. (Postmarked 8 PM, 28 Apr 1943, San Antonio, Texas 2) Then, that address was crossed out, and redirected to: Post Hospital, Normoyle Ord. Depot, San Antonio, Texas. (Postmarked 10 AM 4 May 1943, Camp McCoy, Wis.) Then, that address was also crossed out, and redirected to: 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, NJ. (Postmarked 8 PM, 7 May 1943, San Antonio, Texas 1)]

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Note: Also enclosed with Agnes' letter, in addition to the enclosures indicated below, was a letter from George H. Hill, 3rd., Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, Independence Square, Philadelphia - see image. The accompanying Service Card was not completed by Tom, and remained with the letter.]


Sunday, Apr 25 [1943]

Dear Tom,

The last letter we received from you was dated April 5. Almost 3 weeks, and truly I am worried about you and your wrist. If you can't write yourself, won't you please have some one drop us a line and tell us how you are?

Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] sent the enclosed dollar for you. [Note: Enclosed was a note saying, "Easter egg for Mary and Tom. Love from Grandma"] We didn't have any special Easter today. Daddy is working all day so Mary and I are just doing odds and ends around the house. She worked yesterday and last night in Grants, putting decorations on Candy and Cookies for Easter. She enjoyed pushing the goo out of the bag and had a crowd around her all the time. She spent her money on a pink azalea for me.

Mary was quite disappointed to read the enclosed article about Bondy's cottage [at Medfored Lakes, NJ - see image]. She hoped they might be going back for the summer so she could get a few swims in. I bet they will miss it, themselves.

Nothing new to tell you about. I'll feel so much better when I hear from you.



[Note: also enclosed was the following poem.  Several different versions are posted on the Internet.  The author is unkknown.]

Starkle, starkle, little twink,
What the heck you am I think,
I'm not under the alchofluence of inklehale
As some thinkel peep I am,
I foll so feelish, I don't know who's me yet
And the drunker I sit here
The longer I get.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 25 Apr 1943

28 Apr - 10 May 1943, Agnes Keiser's Notes

[Note: Accompanying these letters, was a page with the following notes in Agnes Keiser's hand.]


(Texas) 90 cents - 10 words 15 cents tax.  X words 6 cents each + 15% tax.  Night letter 58 cents - 25 words

Wed night Apr 28

0.30 To Alice - Dot Bondy on way home.  Howard killed in crash Easter.

1.14 to Tom - Dot flying home.  Howard killed in crash Easter.  Military funeral later.  We telegraphed Alice.

0.96 to Tom - Funeral  Monday morning.  Sealed casket.  No viewing.  Use your own judgement.

From Tom - Cannot make funeral.  Send flowers.  Will advise when leaving.

Thur. Apr. 29th

0.50 to Tom - May 5 - Brook Hospital - night letter Wed 5:30 PM.  
My April 29th letter returned.  Card dated 30th Brook Hospital says - not serious.  Wrote you May 2nd to Normoyle.  Advise us condition and proper address.

Thurs eve 6 P.M. May 6th

From Tom - Arriving Phila. Sun Morning (May 9th).  Condition OK.  See you then.  Tom.

Left S.A. Friday 7:45 AM - arrived Phila. Sun 8:15 May 9.

Haddonfield Natl. Bank 110 K. Hwy. E. - Note Window Mr. Watkins - Mon May 10th.  Telegraphed money to Texas.

  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 28 Apr - 10 May 1943

29 Apr 1943, Letter No. 73 to Tom

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Postmarked: 9:30 PM, 29 Apr 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Ordinance Automotive School, Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

[Note: The above address was crossed out and redirected to: 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, NJ.  (Postmarked 1 PM, 3 May 1943, San Antonio, Texas 1)]  

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[Note: Also enclosed were two Philadelphia newspaper articles about Lt. Bondy - see image of both.]


Sunday, Apr 29 [1943]

Dear Tom,

Mr. Bondy called on the phone yesterday at 3:00.  Mrs. Gandy took the call and left a note for me.  When I called back at 5:30, Mr. Bondy told me about Howard.  They have very few details yet, but Dot is flying home and they expect Howard's body about Saturday.  Mr. Bondy said they would have a military funeral and would call us later.  I will send a boquet[sic] and go over if possible.  He asked me to let you know, so I sent you the telegram right away and also sent one to Alice for I'm sure she will want to write to Dot.  What a tragic thing!  I didn't know when we have all been so shocked.  Such a cross for Dot to bear.  Mr. Bondy said she was on her way home, so I'm hoping for all of them that they have gotten over their aversion.

Uncle Frank Regan called Mary yesterday and he wants her and Daddy to give transfusions to Ann {Keiser Regan].  They took her to the hospital last week.  Daddy has today off so will go over this evening to have a test made.  Frank said his own wouldn't do and they needed some one of the family strain to get the proper kind.  [Note: Ann Keiser Regan died 12 May 1943, but her death is not mentioned in future letters.]

Mary had a letter from Dick [Culbert] yesterday.  The first since April 6 the day after your last letter.  I have been hoping to hear of you, thru him, but all he said was that he was waiting all Sunday afternoon for you, but you had not shown up.  So that doesn't help me much.  Just a line from you would help so much.

Jesse carpenter was over to see us last Friday night.  He sold his green house properties to Socony about 2 years ago and retired.  When he filled out his occupational questionnaire, his Draft Board told him to get a Defense job or else.  Jesse is 52 or 53, but he came down to Midvale Steel in Phila. and is working on a bench smoothing shell cases.  Emma is alone in W. Pittston.  Betty's husband will be called soon, and when he goes, Emma, Betty and the baby will take an apartment in Phila. for the duration.  Jesse looks very old - much older than Daddy.

Grandma's [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] letter said they had a nice Easter.  Henry [Freas] went down [to Berwick] and took them a capon - so they had an old fashioned meal, with all the "fixins."  She is anxious to get back to Jermyn, but has promised to come see Mary graduate if possible.  Jane [Freas] didn't get down to Berwick because transportation is so hard to get, over weekends.

Dorothy Henderson's boy friend, Harry Young, is still fuming in the hospital.  He had an operation for a fistula, and while he is well enough to do K.P., they won't dismiss him.  His younger brother is married to Dick Culbert's sister [Jane], and expects to have to leave soon.

Must break in a new typist - Show her how to fill in our forms, etc.

Goodbye, dear.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 29 Apr 1943

30 Apr 1943, Postcard to the Keiser's

Postmarked: 6:30 PM, 1 May 1943, San Antonio, Texas 2

To: Mr. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddan[sic] Ave., Collingswood, NY[sic]

From: War Department, Brooke General Hospital, Ft. Sam Houston, Tex.



April 30, 1943

Dear Mr. Keiser,

Please be advised that 2nd Lt Thomas keiser Jr has been admitted to this hospital this date.  His condition is not serious.  Should further information be desired please communicate with him, direct, in care of this hospital.

For the Commanding officer:

  • San Antonio, Texas
  • 30 Apr 1943

2 May 1943, Letter No. 74 to Tom

Postmarked: 3 PM, 3 May 1943, Camden, NJ

To: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Normoyle Ordinance Depot, San Antonio, Texas

[Note: The above address was crossed out and redirected to: 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, NJ.  (Postmarked 3 PM, 5 May 1943, San Antonio, Texas 2)]  

From: Mrs. A.F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, N.J.

[IMPORTANT NOTE: This was the last letter sent to Tom from the Keisers that was saved.  From this point forward all we have are the letters from Tom.]


Sunday, May 2nd [1943]

Dear Tom,

Your letter was waiting for me Friday when I got home from work and how we enjoyed hearing from you.  I took it with me when Daddy, Mary, and I went over to Bondy's today and read it to Mr. and Mrs. Bondy.  They were so glad and said it was just as though you were sitting there with us.  They certainly think a lot of you[,] and it made me very proud to hear the nice things they said about you.

Howard's group took up a collection, got plane transportation for Dot, and paid for all her expenses home.  She arrived on Wednesday or Thursday.  A lieutenant from Jersey City was sent by train with Howard's body and the casket was taken directly to McCafferty's funeral home on Torresdale Avenue [Phila.], from where the funeral will be held in the morning.  He will be buried in the Soldier's National Cemetery in Germantown [PA]. 

Howard was acting as bombadier instructor.  The rule is, students out first.  His student got thru the door but his parachute didn't open and he was killed anyway.  A student pilot was driving the plane and the pilot, student pilot, and Howard were all trapped by the flames as the plane caught fire when hit by the other plane.  The other plane landed safely and in 20 minutes the crew was up in another airplane.

We didn't see Dot.  Just Mr. and Mrs. Bondy were home.  Mrs. Bondy said her brother, Louis Mack, was out to see Howard graduate, and was now at Camp Barkley, Texas, doing clerical work.  I think that Camp is at Abilene.  It is where Albert Sharp is located in the Medical Corps.  Albert is now in Officer's training.

We took flowers over to the Bondy's[,] red carnations, white gladiolus, and blue iris.  They were pleased and said they would keep them there because that was where Howard really was.

We all enjoyed the S.A. [San Antonio] pictures.  Surely a beautiful city and very artistic shots.  The day was evidently clear but the dullness of some of the pictures must have been due to the wrong adjustment of the shutter and the lens was either badly scratched or dirty - from all the criss cross lines, visible over your face and Jim's.  Anyway[,] it was good to see your smile and to know what your cast looks like.

Was Jim one of your classmates from [Camp] Lee or a new friend?  Where did he go?  Also the Baker boy from Collingswood?

I telephoned Lois [Stahl] this A.M. and told her about your visit to the Eckhoffs - and about the Corys being at Dix.  She said B.J. is coming home to stay about June 1st.  She sent George back his ring.  It seems some girl in S.C. wrote her and told her Geo. was "duty bound" to marry her.

The Book of the Month hasn't yet arrived.

The Toole's address in Scranton - his sister - is 901 Electric St.  We haven't heard since the card I sent you.

Only one moron joke for you this time.  They seem to be out of the picture lately.  Mrs. O'Neill wrote this one for you.  [Presumably this was on an enclosure that was not kept with the letter.]

Thanks for the Block Buster.  Interesting to see the map of S.A. but it didn't show Normoyle.  Noticed you didn't put Automotive School on your envelope - so I'm addressing this as you had it.  Are you still at BOQ 172-2? and by the way - did you get your Easter boxes[?]  I sent one to Alice, too.

Mrs. Bondy said Helen Green was under Alice [Crompton] in Washington, and that Rosemary Nelson was now a nurse.

It's 11:45 P.M.  Daddy just finished eating and is leaving for work, so will take this with him.

We all send you our love.


  • Collingswood, New Jersey, USA
  • 2 May 1943

5 Jun 1943, Letter No. 27 From Tom

Postmarked: 7:30 PM, 5 Jun 1943, Saint Louis, MO 11

To: Maternal Health Center, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, N.J.

[Note: There was a gap of just more than a month between the Keiser's last letter to Tom of May 2 and this one.  Tom came home on furlough May 9th, and presumably was home the remainder of May.]

[Note: Written on the envelope were the following notes:
Wrote Sun. June 6th
Recd. Mon. June 7th
Ans. Tues June 8th
Ans Wed June 9th]
Hotel Statler St. Louis

Saturday noon [5 June 1943]

Dear Folks,

Arrived in St L yesterday afternoon at about four pm and went out to Scott Field to see Skippy.  He's fine and asked about everyone.  He had a class at 7 so I came back to St L, saw "Lady of Burlesque," took a shower, and went to bed.  Woke up at 10:30 this am.  I'm still not dressed, and don't know yet what I'll do with the afternoon until 6 o'clock.  

I saw where the floods were, but they've all gone now.

Everything's OK - more later.


  • Hotel Statler, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
  • 5 Jun 1943

10 Jun 1943, Letter No. 28 From Tom

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Postmarked: 12 PM, 11 Jun 1943, San Antonio, Texas 3

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Brooke General Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas

[Note: Written on the envelope were the following notes:
Recd. Mon. June 14th
Ans. "[Mon] in eve "[6/14]
Letter returned to Collingswood Tues June 22
Another written to Officer's Ward 2 - June 22]

[Note: See image for letterhead logo.]
Brooke General Hospital
Fort Sam Houston, Texas

Thursday after noon [10 June]

Dear Folks,

Well, I'm out at last, and it's mighty queer to be using my right hand again.  The half-cast only lasted for a day, and then, it, too, was discarded.  I've had two treatments to date, another one tomorrow.

I've been playing bridge, Russian Bank, and learned a new version of Canfield so that has kept me pretty busy.

This is just a short note before I go down stairs for my dental appointment.  The dentist says all they need is a good cleaning, but he's also going to smooth down a rough filling that's been bothering



  • San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
  • 10 Jun 1943

Abt. 14 Jun 1943, Postcard, No. 29 From Tom

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Postmarked: 5 PM, 15 Jun 1943, Dallas, Texas 3

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Tom Keiser [No return address]

[Agnes' notes on the card:
Recd. - June 17
Ans. - June 18]

[Note: The front of the postcard shows Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. - see image]

This is the real McCoy - having a swell time, wish you were here.  Will you please send on the rest of my clothes?

More later.



  • Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
  • 14 Jun 1943

21 Jun 1943, Letter No. 30 From Tom

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Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 22 Jun 1943, Camp McCoy, Wis

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 476 Quartermaster Truck Regiment, Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

[Note: Agnes' notes on the envelope:
Recd. Thurs. June 24 AM
Trunks sent at 6:30 REA
Ans. - Thurs eve - June 24.
Ans. - Thurs eve July 1
Telephone call from Wisconsin Sat eve - 12:30 (July 3)
Got sunburn on Range
1st Platoon - Co. A
Wants Old Spice
Recd. trunks Thurs.]

[Note- see image of Camp McCoy letterhead logo.]
Camp McCoy

Monday eve [21 June]

Dear Folks,

Here is yours truly with his outfit.  I arrived just in time to get into Rifle Marksmanship, and spent today out on the firing range - tomorrow, too, and the next day.

I certainly don't need any heavy clothing here, for there is practically little or no difference in temperature between Camp McCoy and Normoyle.  But today, I did wish I had my raincoat, for in the middle of the afternoon's firing it poured, and you can believe I got well soaked.  So I hope that you started my things on their way when you got my card from Dallas.

A week ago tomorrow morning I left San Antonio, and arrived here Thursday night [17 Jun] at seven-thirty, after missing connections in Chicago, where I spent Wednesday night.

Everything is OK, except this getting up at 4 o'clock business.



  • Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
  • 21 Jun 1943

1 Jul 1943, Letter No. 31 From Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 2 Jul 1943, Camp McCoy, Wis

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 476 Quartermaster Truck Regiment, Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

[Note: Agnes' notes on the envelope:
Recd. Tues. 6 July 43
Ans.   "      "  - reached Tom July 8 noon
7 July sent Old Spice, Pall Malls [cigarettes], Walnut candy
" [Ans.] Thurs. 8 July
" [Ans.] Sun 11 July]
Camp McCoy

Thursday, July 1

Dear Folks,

My belongings arrived this afternoon, and I'm sitting on one foot locker with things strewn all over the place.  I haven't found a place for half of the stuff as yet.  The new brush and Krispy Krunch are duly noted and appreciated.

Well, this, I guess, is "the Army," for its not the snap Normoyle was.  I haven't been off the post once since I've been here, except on convoy, and I don't see much prospect of being able to.

It's not a colored regiment like Dix, nor a "green" one.  Most of these boys have been in other outfits and were transferred to the 476th when it was formed.  All one does is rush, rush, and for changing uniforms, it has O.C.S. beat a mile.

I wonder if Mary's sunburn all peeled.  The first couple of days here I got a good burn all over my face, and then it started to peel and looked like the very devil.  As yet it isn't all off my nose, but it's getting nice and brown now.  The only fault is that it stops right at the neck - line.

That first week was certainly a rough invitation, what with up at four every morning, and back to bed at ten in the evening.

Tomorrow I am Regimental O.D., and a rumor is making the rounds that Maj. Gen. Fredendahl from Hq. Second Army will be here inspecting tomorrow.  Woe is me if something goes wrong at Guard Mount and he is looking on.

I'm going to bed now.  Will drop you a line shortly to let you know how it was.



I'll try to call you Sunday morning.
  • Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
  • 1 Jul 1943

9 Jul 1943, Letter No. 32 From Tom

Postmarked: 10 AM, 10 Jul 1943, Camp McCoy, Wis

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 476 Quartermaster Truck Regiment, Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

[Note: Agnes' notes on the envelope:
Recd. Monday 12 July
Ans.  Wednesday 14 July]
476 QM Truck Regt.
Camp McCoy

July 9, 1943

Dear Folks,

I started a letter Sunday, after the call Saturday night, our time, but never got around to finish it, for we had to make a reconnaisance for a bivouac Monday & Tuesday.  I still haven't had time to turn around, for our Company is short of officers - at present, I'm both Mess O. & Motor O, and there should be at least 12 more hours in a day.

Everything was going along fine today until my class in a practical aerial map exercise screwed up the works.  They were given aerial photos of the area and the coordinates of several points to which they were to go.  At each point, a man was to be left off, to show that the rest had been there, and these men were to be picked up by a special truck.  The second sections of both the second and third platoons drove to some place not on the problem, and each left off a man.  So they weren't picked up, so I spent my lunch hour and a good bit more scouring the country for them.

I've balanced my account and am returning the statement.  Also two checks, one for the phone call, the other for the loan.

Your first Tuesday Eve letter arrived on the 8th at noon.  The other, today at noon.  Glad to know T. Toole is coming along.

Now it's 12 o' clock, so I'm going to bed.



Send me a jelly-box so I can return the first roll of film.  Can you get another roll of 118 - it isn't sold in these PX's and I haven't a ghost of a chance to get to town for it.  (The pictures won't be too good for they were taken in the woods)


  • Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
  • 9 Jul 1943

12 Jul 1943, Letter No. 33 From Tom

Postmarked: 1:30 PM, 13 Jul 1943, Camp McCoy, Wis

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 476 Quartermaster Truck Regiment, Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

[Agnes' notes on the envelope:
Recd. Wed. 14 July
1. Ans. Thurs eve 15 July
Fri sent B.O.M. for July, V118 film
Sat eve - 9 PM - Phone call from Tom (July 17)
Arm O.K.
Almost went to Colo. Spr.
No Jap soldiers at Camp McCoy
about 60 Jap prisoners
Wants Wendall W. "One World"
Enlarged Kodachrome of Alice
2. Ans. Sun -18 July
Mon 19 - Mary sent "One World" and 2 lb. Turkish paste
3. Wed. 21 - wrote letter
Sun 25 - Telephone call from Tom
9:30 AM - Palmer house Chicago
Heard Symphony Orchestra Sat night
Well - cigs. from Jane [Freas] - Range & Convoy rides in jeep.
Has read Western Star
4. Sunday 25th wrote
5. Wednesday 28th wrote
6. Tues. Aug 3rd wrote & Fri. 30th candy
Thurs Aug 5 - sent film
Sat - Aug 7 - Tom called up & gave APO #
7. Mon - Aug 9 - wrote to Nashville]
476 QM Truck Regt.
Camp McCoy

Monday night [12 July]

Dear Folks,

Twenty-four hours just don't seem to be enough to do what is required in one day.  Lesson-planning, schools, and meetings cut into all hours, and it is now after eleven and I still haven't finished for tomorrow.

Saturday afternoon the Old Spice arrived, and very nice it is, too.  Today I received the cigarettes and the Lit candy and Salt Water Taffy, which latter were appreciated by all.

I'm going to bed now, and cutting this short.  Inspectors are here from 2d Army, so the next few days will probably be hell.



  • Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
  • 12 Jul 1943

10 Aug 1943, Letter No. 34 From Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 11 Aug 1943, Uptown Station, Chicago, Illinois


To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida
[Printed return address crossed out - E.B. Badger & Sons Co., 75 Pitts Street, Boston, Mass.]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Wrote Thurs eve Aug 12th
Jane [Freas] wrote Sun Aug 15]
[Typewritten on back of Memorandum, E. B. Badger & Sons. Co., Expediting and Inspection]

August 10, 1943

Dear Folks,

Just a hurried note to let you know that I'm not going to go on maneuvers in Tennessee.  At the last minute I was transferred from the 476, and I'm now on my way south again.

The new address will be
    Lt. etc
    819 QM Amphibious Truck Company
    Camp Gordon Johnston

I don't know what it's all about, or what I'm getting into, but it probably will be interesting.  Lt. Kefauver and I are driving down in his car, and we stopped in Chicago last night to see his brother and stay overnight.

Please send me Dick Nonnemacher's address again, maybe he will be somewhere near.  The camp is somewhere near Tallahassee, and that's all I can tell at present.

more later

  • Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
  • 10 Aug 1943

16 Aug 1943, Letter No. 35 From Tom

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Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 17 Aug 1943, Tallahassee, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibian[sic] Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Thursday AM  B.D. Boxes
Ans. Thurs eve 19 August
     Sun eve 22    "
(Marys Grad picture
QM Review]

[Note: See image of letterhead logo.]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Monday, 16 Aug

Dear Folks,

Here I am on the Gulf, as you can see from the picture above.  And it looks just like that!  All sand and scraggly pine trees, and hot, but yes.  There is a breeze blowing, but it is still over 100 in the shade.  We have here all the conveniences, such as outside showers and latrines, hot and cold running water from the same tap, and others.  The water is full of sulfur, too, and the lemonade we had for dinner was like citrate of magnesia.

Camp is 58 miles from Tallahassee, on route 319, and is out in the wilderness of the Gulf Coast.  There is a town two miles further down the road - Carrabelle - population, including whites, 300.  Twenty miles or so farther is Apalachicola.  Back the other way 8 miles or so is Waukaula (sp?) Springs, where Weissmuller made the Tarzan pictures.

This is about the newest thing in the Army.  Our Tables of Organization and Equipment are merely tentative, and there is a viscious fly here trying to bite off my ankle.  The companies are not formed yet.  Cadre came in yesterday, and we are trying to get set up with some sort of organization.  The commanding officers are all at a school in Detroit. (Colored Troops!)

I got the film and the bank statement before leaving McCoy, but the other letter has not shown up yet.

Thanks for the pictures.  They aren't as good as the slides though, are they?

The mess hall is about a mile away, it seems, so I've got to start over if I expect to eat supper.  I'll see if I can walk on these bloody stumps.  That fly is mighty hungry.
We have lots of saw-grass, and the alligators don't grow to be any bigger than 3 feet, but bathing in the Gulf is fine when you get a chance to do it.  

The water lights up at night with flecks of phosphorus.



  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 16 Aug 1943

22 Aug 1943, Letter No. 36 From Tom

Postmarked: 12 -M, 23 Aug 1943, Tallahassee, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Wed. Aug 25th
Ans.   "     eve
Sun. Aug 29th]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Sunday am [22 Aug]

Howdy, Folks,

Well, this place isn't quite so bad, once the initial shock wears off.  Of course it still is depressing, what with all this drab coloring on the buildings - dirty grey - and the pines as above - but we have a rather nice Officers' Club and P.X. and the bathing is superb.

Guess what job I drew - no.  I'll tell you.  I am Mess Officer for the Officer's Mess - and what a job to get started - I am practically cook, KP, table-waiter, and everything rolled into one.  As soon as we get rolling though, it'll all iron out.  It's lots of fun - drawing the food from the
warehouses and watching it cooked & served - but it is a full-time job, no fooling.  This morning, we had men coming in for breakfast from 8 until 10, and I suppose dinner will last anywhere from 12 to 3.  Goodness knows about supper.  It is a regular cafeteria on Sunday, but during the week it is more like a Mess Hall.

In addition to the food I draw, I'm charging 30 cents a day, so that I can get some extras to work with.  Since Tuesday I've spent over $135.00 for milk, butter, eggs, canned goods, and so forth.  We have a well stocked commissary.  The only thing they don't have is lettuce or celery.  The other night I went to Sopchoppy to see if I could get some lettuce.  Joe said the heads were small - I told him it didn't matter could he let me have some - Sure he said, I have two heads here!  (When I wanted about a hundred!)  So I've got to scout around & see if I can get any.

I talked to Dick N.[Nonnemacher] on the phone and he asked to be remembered to you all.  He's coming over some week-end.

Hope you had a nice visit with Jane [Freas].  I must write her now & thank her for the 5.  Lois & Leo [Stahl] sent me a card & money too, so I'll drop them a line.



(Haven't lost my pen as you see)
  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 22 Aug 1943

25 Aug 1943, Letter No. 37 From Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 26 Aug 1943, Tallahassee, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Mon Aug 30 (2 film rolls)
Ans. Thurs eve Sep 2nd
 "   Fri  eve   "  3rd
Telephone call Sunday afternoon, 5th 2:45
Arrival new C.O.
Meal schedule
30,000 capacity
New ducks Lt's wedding
Ans Tues Sept 7th
 '  Wed   "   8th (incl. Wisc. prints)
returned for more postage
Not recd. Sun 12th]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Aug 25

Dear Folks,

Had a rather quiet birthday yesterday - went into Tallahassee to purchase some celery, lettuce, radishes, and other things I can't get at the commissary, and then came back and read some of Paul revere and had two Rum Cokes - then to bed.

I'm still having a good time runnning the Mess Hall - that's all there is to do, since our troops aren't here as yet we're just marking time.  Went to Carabelle Beach today for a swim - most all the officers were there, and we thought of holding a Retreat on the beach.

Many thanks for the cookies and candy they came in handy on the beach.

Am anxious to see the article in the QM Review - as yet I have not seen a "Duck" but I have seen the Amph. Jeep - at Normoyle.  None of us knows much about any of this stuff - in fact no one had seen the Table of Organization 'till he landed here.  So it will be pretty new to us all.  The 5th Detachment, Special Troops, 2d Army, is supposed to send some Brass and about 30 E.M. to supervise our training program, but hasn't arrived as yet - neither have our CO's from the school in Detroit.  When we start it'll be Basic.

It's pretty stale news now, but on our trip down, we stopped overnight in Chicago; Madisonville, Ky; Chattanooga; and Thomasville, Ga.  Saw some beautiful scenery in the Cumberlands - especially Sewanee - Univ. of the South - they have a marvellous campus on the mountain top.  Col. Lloyd Kefauver is some sort of cousin to Lt. John with whom I drove down.  We got that news in Chicago at Charles' (John's brother).

After the first shock of this place wears off it's not too bad after all.  There must be something good about it, or the Duponts would never have owned it.  Biggest alligator ever seen here was 3 feet long.

In case you're wondering where my check 29 got to, it's inclosed.  Please put it with the others.



I didn't inclose the check with the other letter so am putting it with this note.

We live in barracks - and don't have a two holer but a great big 8-job.


Am sending back some films, when the pictures come, mark a number on each, so I can place my order.



Wrote to Alice and asked her not to come to Fla but spend her vacation at home.  Hope she was able to see you.


Incl. - ck 29
  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 25 Aug 1943

7 Sep 1943, Letter No. 38 From Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 8 Sep 1943, Tallahassee, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Fri, Sept 10
Telephone call Sun about 2:00
Ans. Sun Sept 12
I added 6 cents to your air mail letter to Tom mailed in Camden yesterday A.M.  it was overweight and came back to my desk  M. Saal 99
Tues. A. 14 Sept sent 3 Cl. Boxes for film rolls
Wrote Thurs eve 16 Sept
Income tax returns]
Tuesday, midnite [7 Sep 1943]

Dear Mom,

Thanks for the Statement and the other inclosures to your Friday letter [3 Sept].  Is that all you do at the Depot?  

According to my figuring, at worst, I would have $185.40 to pay; at best, $97.85.  Of course, I don't understand what it's all about.  So I'll submit the amounts I received up to and including July 31:

January 1-31   $   59.40
February 1-11      20.20
February 12-28  109.90
March 1-31        158.50
April 1-30          164.40
May 1-31           201.10
June 1-30          180.00
July 1-31            154.30

                    $ 1047.80  total

This amount includes a ration allowance for 164 days at 70 cents ($114.80) and from this amount (1047.80) has been taken 7 months insurance deductions at $6.60 (46.20), so I have actually earned $1094.00.  In addition to this, there is the clothing allowance of $250 and travel pay allowances of $273.02.  I do not think these are taxable, or the ration allowance of $114.80.  But up to July 31 I have received $1617.02.  August I don't know yet for the check was mailed direct to the bank, and will appear on the next statement.

So I'm retuning the forms.  Take them to the Income Tax man and let him sweat over them.  If I owe anything, let me know and I'll send a check for the amount.

We are in the midst of a great upheaval here at Camp GJ.  What with the Division and Brigade moving in, we have to change our place of abode from one area to another.  Day after tomorrow we are to be completely moved and functioning in the new area.  So I have to move the mess hall bag and baggage about two miles down the road.

At present we have a beautiful mess hall.  It is large and roomy, and the kitchen is nice and cool.  The one to which we move is so small, I don't see at present how I can feed all our officers at once, and the kitchen will not admit of one person's passing another.  There is enough work in the new place for 20 men to clean up for 20 days straight running, but it is to be operating day after tomorrow.

In addition, I am to become Billeting Officer, and set up the Officers' quarters in the new area.  So I guess I'll have my hands full for awhile.  

I'm also inclosing a check for $9.25 to pay for the phone call.  It sure was good to talk to you.  Wish I could have seen the F.D. rushing to 127 [refers to Keiser residence, but details are not known].

Love to all


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 7 Sep 1943

17 Sep 1943, Letter No. 39 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 17 Sep 1943, Tallahassee, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

[Special Delivery postage of 16 cents added.]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Sat - 18 Sept + 2 rolls film
Tom phoned Sunday eve 19th about 19th
5 mile hike Fri.
Sore muscles from hike
Hdq. party Sat nite at Officers Club
Ans. Tues. eve, 21st Sept.
sent shoes from Geutings[?]Ans. Wed eve, 22d, erasers, Books of M.
Ans. Mon eve, 27th, sent pictures, B poem
Digest sent from Nashville & McCoy readdressed to Fla.
Tom called Sunday Oct 3 about 10:45 AM
Was over to Eglin [AFB] last Sunday in a jeep to see Dick Nonnemacher.
3 units at Camp G.J.
His negro help no good.
Can't get beef or salt, using salt tablets.
Warm days but nights cool.
Wrote to him Sun eve.
Charlie Webb wil contact Chicago about beef.
Ki [Tom Keiser, Sr.] will try to send salt tomorrow.
Wrote Fri eve, 8 Oct - enclosed snaps of Ki and rail puller [removing trolley tracks from Haddon Ave., Collingswood], and bank statement]

[Inside the envelope was the receipt dated Oct 4 from the Camden Grocers' Exchange for 2 les[?] of 5-cent salt - total $2.40, and the Railway Express

Agency receipt for sending the  2 cartons, weight 122 [lbs.?] to Camp Gordon Johnston for $4.56 on Oct. 4.]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Sep 17

Happy Birthday Dad,

And many happy returns of the day!

I'm sorry I didn't get to say hello on my last phone call, but I certainly shall get a chance to do so when you come off this day shift.

Things are going along fine down here, after a hectic week or so, what with the moving.  Last Friday (10th) I had to serve  breakfast in one mess hall and the noon meal in another.  Then in the middle of this week they made me release all my kitchen personnel and start out with new ones.

Mother said in her letter that you couldn't make out the insignia on my picture, so I'm enclosing one with this note - its Second Army - a big red and white 2 on O.D. background .  We have been units of Army Ground Forces, directly under 2d Army, but we may be changed to Army Service Forces, and then will wear the star.  It's not certain yet.

The pictures you had developed, in case you'd like to have a history, are:
1. a view of Chicago from 23d floor of the Palmer House
2. Mrs. E.A. Horne, 2025 Hawthorne Lane, Evanston, Ill., whom I met on the train from St. Louis to San Ant. when I was returning from my leave.  She invited me to visit them when I said I was to be at McCoy.
3. Me in Evanston
4. 476th QM Truck Regt, Co. A Mess Hall on bivouac, Camp McCoy
5. ? on bivouac (might be Sgt., Moore)
6. Lts. Wall. Lennon, and Hoopes, in Jeep
7. Me (!)
8. Mess Truck - feeding on convoy
9. Chow line - convoy

[Ed. Note: In the future I add some of these photos to this story page.  JHC]

The last three were time shots, and the camera wasn't held steady, which is why they blurred, but the exposure is OK.  One of the three not printed I'm having the Signal Corps Photographer on the post see what he can do about - the others are hopeless - double exposures.  When I get the others that I just sent, I'll order some more of them all.

The camp is rapidly filling up with a division and a brigade - all amphibious troops, and it (the camp) no longer resembles the ghost camp it seemed when Lt. Kefauver and I first arrived.

I've been too busy to take that swim for you as yet, but I may be able to squeeze it in this weekend.

Hope you can get in a game of golf on your Birthday.  We don't have a course here, for it would be all sand traps and one big water hole.

Love to all,


No inclosure - its locked in my foot locker, and piled away with some other junk.  But you know what it is now.

  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 17 Sep 1943

7 Oct 1943, Letter No. 40 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 8 Oct 1943, Tallahassee, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Monday Oct 11]
Thursday night [Oct. 7]

Dear Folks,

Not much news to relate - just the same old hum-bum stuff around here.  Even that hurricane that we were supposed to have as yet hasn't materialized.

The mess-hall takes up most of my time, and it's getting to be quite a job.  I have enough papers and records to fill a filing cabinet right now, and after only a month and a half's operation.  Not one check-book, but four - one each for cash, meat points, processed food points, and sugar.  They started making me turn in points for stuff the beginning of the month - but i don't have to worry too much about rationing - i got 30,000 meat points, 22,000 processed food points, and 600 pounds of sugar to last for the month, which should work out OK. - just eyewash, contributing to the paper shortage.

We expect shortly to have our organization changed - that is, we will no longer be Quartermaster Officers, but will belong to the Transportation Corps, and be under Army Service Forces instead of Army Ground Forces.  So, since the insigne[sic] of T.C. [Transportation Corps] is not available here, I'm going to ask Mary to get me some on one of her trips about town.  If the Department of Jewelry stores don't have them, the Phila QM Depot at  2800 S. 20 St. will.  

I don't like the new insigne[sic] as well as QM.  The inclosed letter should be sufficient authorization. [letter not available]

Please order the following pictures: [picture numbers and number to order followed, but have not been transcribed.]


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 7 Oct 1943

9 Oct 1943, Letter No. 41 From Tom

Postmarked: 12 -M, 10 Oct 1943, Tallahassee, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Tuesday Oct 12
Ans     "   eve
Sent angel cake, insignia, V118 film on Thur 14
Wrote Fri eve Oct 15
Oct 19, Wed, AM, mailed snapshots of McCoy, Chicago, Camp GJ
Oct 21            "   Peircetonian [newsletter] ]
Saturday 10/9

Dear Pop,

Much thanks for the salt and here's a check to pay for it.  Damn expensive salt, I calls it, what with the express charge almost four times the value of the goods.

Haven't heard yet from Wilson & Co., but on my next trip to Tallahassee, I'll stop in and see them.

Nothing exciting down here, except there is now no flour on the post - Don't get me any - I already bought some in Apalachicola.

Mess Officer is right - its a helluva mess.

Haven't had that swim for you yet, but will, one of these days.

Jane [Freas] sent me the name of an acquaintance of hers here at G.J.  Looked him up and spent a pleasant half-hour.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 9 Oct 1943

19 Oct 1943, Letter No. 42 From Tom

Postmarked: 12 -M, 20 Oct 1943, Tallahassee, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida
[return address of War Department, Official Business, crossed out]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Sat 23 Oct
1. Ans Sun 24 Oct
2. wrote Wed eve 27 Oct
sent QM Review, B.O.M., Gingerbread boy
3. wrote Mon eve 1 Nov
    (1) Ins. bill
    4 officers pictures
4. wrote Tues eve 2 Nov
    (2) Ins. bill
    file V118
    Portrait attach
    Tom Xmas card
Telephone call [UL]
Sun Nov 7 - 4 PM
No longer Mess officer
Box for coats
Moth holes in pants
5. wrote Mon eve 8 Nov
    Bank slip
    Anderson of Westcott notice
    BOM Review
    2 Books - Screw Top, 7 Tales
Letter returned Wed 10 - postage had been soaked off.
Sent 2 angel cakes Tues 9th
wrote Thurs eve - Nov 11th
wrote Sun eve Nov 14th
Olives & ABDB Mon 15th
Candy & Nuts - Wed 17th
Telephone call from Tom Wed night 17 Nov

Sept  5 -  7.70 + 1.54 = 9.24
Sept 12 - 3.85 +    77 = 4.62
Sept 19 - 5.25 + 1.05 = 6.30
Oct   3 -  5.60 +  1.12 = 6.72
Tuesday evening [19 Oct]

Dear Folks,

Many thanks for the insignia and the film and cake.  The cake arrived yesterday, the others today.  And the cake was very eatable when it arrived - but it wasn't edible a few minutes later, for it was et.

I may have the Arsenal send down a whole batch of TC insignia, for they are 95 cents a set here, whenever they are available, and I got a set for 26 cents.  Many thanks for them.

Tell Dr. Haussman I'll dash right up from Florida to have my eyes examined.

The other morning it was 45 degrees here - it gets pretty chilly of an evening, too, but we have stoves in our quarters that keep us warm, while at the same time they spread soot all over us; but that helps keep us warm if we don't wash.  And I don't go out much of an evening, so I won't need the coats for awhile yet, since it is quite warm through the day.  Accounting for this Mess keeps me pretty busy, although I do have time to play a little Blackjack - some of the boys seem to have a lot of luck, but I've only made about 5 dollars in the two games I've played.

Where is Avon Park?  Anywhere nearby?  I don't suppose it is - Dick Nonnemacher is about 175 miles west - near Pensacola.  

Pretty soon I'll have to pay my insurance premiums for 1944, so you might find out what they are and I'll send a check to pay the two policies up for another year.  You might call P.M. and find out the exact amount, if paid October 31, to carry them both to Dec. 31, 1944.  I had one letter from Geo. Hill at Normoyle which I answered, but haven't heard any more.  And, I haven't heard from Geo. Carroll at all.

The picture is one of the three that weren't developed.  It is of Lt. Hollingsworth, Lt. Dunker, Captain Riggs, and Lt. Huther[?] - on convoy somewhere in Wisconsin - we got lost that day and it rained cats and dogs shortly after we got started.  This picture goes with the ones of the mess truck.  The other two couldn't be developed.  I should like to get four more of this one, if you will.

Got a letter from mr. Daget, Mgr. of Jacksonville Branch of Wilson & Company quoting prices on cuts of beef.  I placed an order for 150 lbs. a week of tenderloins with Mr. Bowman, Tallahassee representative last Thursday and Friday I served filet mignon- but de luxe - about 2100 ration points.  Had enough left over to serve them again for Sunday dinner.  I'll have to raise my prices, though, if I'm going to continue the steaks.  The boys pay 75 cents a day for the field ration they are issued, and 30 cents a day for extra stuff.  Finance gets the 75 cents, so some of the fellows who ate two & three steaks got about $1.50 actual value in steak for 10 cents for that meal (30 cents / 3 meals) - its 56 cents a pound to us.

This mess business is quite a mess - when I first opened up, I had the building in picture 24, built wonderfully, with a nice roomy kitchen.  The kitchen had three double sinks - 3 ranges - and three work tables to lay out the stuff for serving.  There also was an enormous refrigerator that one could walk into, and in which hung carcass beef, also another smaller one for incidentals.

Now I have a mess hall half the size of the other, with the kitchen right in the middle and dining rooms on either side - only one sink in which to wash dishes, silver, glasses, and pots & Pans, and two ranges - and no big refrigerator.

After the Division leaves here, though, we will probably move to another area, and I'll see if I can't swipe another good mess hall.

It's twelve now, and I have to get up at 5:30 so I can get over to the MH and see after breakfast, then go to draw rations and then make up a report to be submitted by 8.  After that some bookkeeping until dinner, then up to the Commissary to purchase some foodstuffs - what a my Day!


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 19 Oct 1943

14 Nov 1943, Letter No. 43 From Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 16 Nov 1943, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibian[sic] Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Thurs 18 Nov
Tom called from Washington Sunday eve, Nov 21st
Arrived home Wed AM - 4:30 - Nov 24th
Recd card, letter, Lits book, Mon
Wrote Mon 6 Dec
7 Dec sent ins slip
9 Dec]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida

Sunday [14 Nov]

Dear Folks,

Thanks alot for the cakes - they sure were swell.  It's funny how well they kept in the box - as soon as they were opened they deteriorated or disintegrated, or something!

I'm writing in pencil for I lost my pen on a filed exercise, and what with all the tons of sand here, I suppose it's too much to expect to sift it all.  

So if someone would like to give me one for Cmas, you can get one at Sbridges[Strawbridges] or Wmakers[Wanamakers] - maybe.  This set is a $400 Shaeffer.  I also need a coupla combs - long and pocket.  Neither are available here.

That telephone conversation last week was kind of screwy, wasn't it?  but I wanted to tell you about what's going on here, and with 3 or 4 of the Hq officers in the room, I couldn't.

We seem to be lost in somebody's pigeon-hole in Washington.  We are now under our fourth Hq.  Nobody wants us.  At present, we are QM Officers under a T.C. [Transportation Corps] Table of Organization, with an Engineer Hq. and the men are from Medical Sanitation Companies.  Rather a hodge-podge, what?

Each new Hq comes in in a blaze of glory and changes all the existing regulations, and everything is all screwed up.  We hear the most amazing rumors - then 5 minutes later we get ones exactly opposite.  At present we are trying hard to keep the Japs from getting beyond Carabelle (deep sarcasm!).

The new Hq brought their own Mess officer.  And how they changed the set-up.  There is now no Mess Fund - it's strictly on Field Rations, and while I've nothing against said F.R. (it supplies wholesome food, & in quantity), still it doesn't take care of what most Officers like to have for eating - especially do they like milk and butter each meal.  And those delicious filets Mignon I got through Wilson & Company.  Never no more!  You can tell Mrs. Pjohn[Pettijohn] to inform Mr. Wood that they were excellent and well-appreciated.

Now for some shut-eye



P.S.  I'm sending a roll of film - maybe you can find one suitable for Xmas.  In a letter you asked what 15 through 24 were.
15 is the same as 1, but in daylight - from the Palmer House.  
16 is a fountain on Michigan Boulevard.
17 is Michigan Boulevard.
18 is looking out at Lake Michigan from the P.H.
19 is a fellow in Co. A of the 476th eating dinner from a jeep on the same trip that 7, 8, and 9 were taken
20 is a view along the beach at Gordon Johnson
21, same thing - sand, sea, and sky
22 is Lt. Downs coming from the 10 holer
23 is just a view of some buildings, my erstwhile Mess Hall in the foreground
24 is the M.H.
I still think thirteen is pretty good - Ephriam Kurtz & Chi. Symphony.
  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 14 Nov 1943

1 Dec 1943, Postcard No. 44 From Tom

Postmarked: 12 -M, 2 Dec 1943, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Wed AM [1 Dec]

Dear Folks,

Got a seat on the train to W and made the plane connection OK.  Arr. T. [Tallahassee?] at 6:30am Tues & at G.J. at 4:40pm where I walked into a 4-hour march from 6:30 to 10:30 pm.  The camp looks almost the same as it did Aug 14, since a good many of the troops left while I was away.  The candy and nuts were waiting for me, but I still haven't had time to open my other mail.  The trip down was most uneventful, and I navigated it O.K. - don't know if I was airsick on the plane, for I slept all the way down.  Got into T. with 67 cents.  I waited till the bank opened in order to cash a check.  More later when I can find some time to squeeze it in.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 1 Dec 1943

2 Dec 1943, Letter No. 45 From Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 3 Dec 1943, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 QM Amphibious Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

December 2

Dear Mom,

Here's a couple of checks I never used.  If my Bank Statement has arrived, please send it along, will you?  Busy.  Busy.  Busy - on the range today and tomorrow - lots of sleep for me.  Some time soon I'll catch up.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 2 Dec 1943

6 Dec 1943, Letter No. 46 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 7 Dec 1943, Tallahassee, Florida

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 Amphibian[sic] Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Wants Xmas cards ordered
8.00 check enclosed]

[Note: this letter is missing.  All we have is the envelope.]
  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 6 Dec 1943

8 Dec 1943, Letter No. 47 From Tom

Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 9 Dec 1943, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Miss Mary Lois Keiser, c/o Peirce School, Pine Street, West of Broad, Philadelphia, Penna.

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 Amphibian[sic] Truck Company, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Dec 8 Wed.

Dear Mary,

Haven't heard any ideas from you as to what to get Mom for Xmas, so I finally cooked up one of my own.  Cash the enclosed check at the School and go down to John B. Stetson's on Chestnut Street - near Bailey Banks & Biddle - and get a gift certificate for a hat.  Of course Mom will have to come to town to pick one out, but it's the best I can think of when I'm

In a hurry,

  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 8 Dec 1943

12 Dec 1943, Letter No. 48 From Tom

Postmarked: 5 PM, 13 Dec 1943, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 Amph Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd 16th Dec. (Thurs)
Ans 17 Dec (Fri)
Sent Xmas box - 18th (Sat)
Ans 19 Dec - Sun eve (Mon AM)
Sent QM Review
(Xmas cards, bracelet)]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Sunday night [12 Dec.]

Dear Folks,

Mighty cold here tonight, but today was nice, what I saw of it after getting up at 2 pm.

About the only item of interest is that Post headquarters building burned down.

Thanks for the bank statement.  I got back the money I loaned out and it looks more like something now.

Now that we are the only ones here again, we're going to get new quarters up at the other end of camp - in about another week.  Maybe the change will be good - and housecleaning stuff is lots harder than moving to a new place.

I'm shivering, so I am going to bed to keep warm.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 12 Dec 1943

20 Dec 1943, Letter No. 49 From Tom

Postmarked: 8 PM, 20 Dec 1943, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Agnes F. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 Amphibian[sic] Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Thur - Dec 23
Ans Sat Dec 25
sent Jigsaw - Wed 29th
sent N.Y. card - Thur 30
Recd. Xmas card 31 dec Fri
wrote Tom Sat Jan 1st
mailed BOM Mon Jan 3rd]

U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Sunday [19 Dec.]

Dear Mom,

Lots of love, & Merry Christmas.  We're spending it on the rifle range.


[Enclosed was a gift certificate - on the envelope of it was written, Merry Christmas, to Mother, from Tom.]
  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 20 Dec 1943

24 Dec 1943, Letter No. 50 From Tom

story image(s)

Postmarked: 5 PM, 27 Dec 1943, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mr. & Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 Amph Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Arr Fri Dec 31st]
[Enclosed was a Christmas card - see image]

On the back of the card was written:

Found these waiting for me Xmas eve when we got in from the rifle range. 

Love, Tom

  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 24 Dec 1943

4 Jan 1944, Letter No. 51 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 7 Jan 1944, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 Amph Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida
[The return address of War department, Official Business, was crossed out on the envelope]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Monday 10 Jan
Ans Mon eve
Marry Carrols, Xmas card, & Bank deposit slip]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Tuesday eve [4 Jan]

Dear Folks,

Many thanks for the package of goodies.  They arrived while we were bivouaced out on the range, and did we hit into them!  My bracelet came on the 28th, and I'm quite proud of it.  Every one has admired it.

Thanks also for getting Nancy's [Waters] Christmas present for me.  Booby says she (Nancy) was pleased with the doll.

The Christmas cards were waiting in the company orderly room when we came back Christmas eve, so I sat down then and sent out about fifty.  Thought I'd have more, but I couldn't remember the addresses.

Well, the Basic Training is over, thank God, although heaven knows these dopes could stand it all over again and still not know anything about it.  We're learning how to operate the Dukwa. (DUKW-353 is the QMC model number of the vehicle, hence the name "Duck," but whenever we speak of it we use the term Dukw, pronounced duk [short sounding u]).  It's pretty interesting learning how to manipulate them and handle the loading and unloading of cargo.  Two vehicles can even carry a Sherman tank alone.  But the uninteresting part, and of course the most important is cleaning the bilges after water operation.  

We officers have regular classes along with[,] but separate from[,] the men.  Maintenance is pretty much a drudge, but of course it has to be done.  Sand from our shoes is continually falling into the vehicle and mixes with grease and cakes there.  Then, too, the salt spray does wonders to the paint.

But we'll keep after these minor things and half the battle will be won.



We have lots and lots of work to do in the Company, which is why I haven't written sooner - they found out I could typewrite and put me to work.  So, soon, I may become a Corporal for the extra work I'm doing.

Good night - 11:30 PM

  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 4 Jan 1944

8 Jan 1944, Letter No. 52 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 10 Jan 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 819 Amph Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida
[The return address of War Department, Official Business, was crossed out on the envelope]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Thurs 13 Jan
Ans Thurs eve
10 D picture]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Saturday [8 Jan]

Dear Mom,

Just a short note before going over to the  Co.  We are busy as _______ and seem to be going about 25 hours a day.  Tomorrow we go out to bivouac for a week to try our hand at unloading a cargo vessel with Dukws.  (no week ends off, it seems.)

Here is my bank statement for Dec.  I dropped them a note not to change the address.

I received the Born Tapo[?] for Pvt. T. yesterday together with the novels.  Did we get Emily Bronte?

Must dash now.



Thank Mel for Hanks dollar.
  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 8 Jan 1944

About 12 Jan 1944, Letter No. 53 From Tom

story image(s)
Postmarked: 10:30 AM, 13 Jan 1944, Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 827 Amphibian[sic] Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida
[Note: The envelope was pre-addressed by Tom's sister, Mary]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Monday 17 Jan
Ans Monday eve
(Bank statement, comb, 2 files, Mares eat oats 27
sent typewriter Tues 18 [a REA receipt indicates it cost $1.04 to send the 17 pound box]
Sent Bronte Books Fri 21
Wrote Sun eve, Jan 23]
[Note: The form letter enclosed was prepared by Tom's sister, Mary, completed by Tom, then mailed back in the pre-addressed, stamped envelope - see image.]
  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 12 Jan 1944

23 Jan 1944, Letter No. 54 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 PM, 24 Jan 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic], Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 827 Amphibian[sic] Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Wed-Jan 26th
Ans. Thurs eve Jan 27th
Wrote Mon eve, Jan 31st
Dep. slips  QM dues bill
Wrote Wed Feb 2
cookies 12  Mac Millan]
U.S. Army
Amphibious Training Center
Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

Sunday [23 Jan 1944]

Dear Folks,

What the Hell kind of a song that must be from the screwy words that accompany it!  I'm glad I haven't heard it here.

That's some swell picture of 10 D.  I'm sure the sign "Messengers" over your heads is in error.

I got the files and comb.  Many thanks, pop.

Everything is snafu here.  Most of 819 was trfd [transferred] to 827 and vice versa.  Then we went out into the field for a week, and yours truly still doesn't know where any organizational property is, or even what we have and the Supply Clerk is going to school for a week for packing and crating.  And as yet I'm doing S-1, S-3, and S-4 (Personnel, Plans & Training, and Supply).  The only bright thing in the picture is the Motor Maintenance Section.  Lt. Coughter has that well in hand.

Tomorrow, of course, from 400 is out and 446 is in - just something else to clog up the gears.  Then we have such nice little items as 7-page reports to be filled in quad.  If paper will win this war, we've sure got it in the bag.

The order came from W.D. [War Department] changing all us Q.M. [Quartermaster] Officers to T.C. [Transportation Corps], so now we're wearing the cartwheels Dada got for me at Phila Dep. [Depot] (Silvery? Ans.?)

I received a letter from Geo. Carroll - pfc. [private first class]  He's at the Lawson gen. Hospital in Atlanta, which if it's any-thing like Brookes Gen. must be a swell place to work.

There is a check inclosed for the parking fine, since it was my fault that we parked there.

My base pay for 1943 was $1,679.20.
Jan $66.00
Feb. $118.20 and 10 mos. at $150.

I'm sending a film for developing.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 23 Jan 1944

30 Jan 1944, Letter No. 55 From Tom

Postmarked: 8 PM, 30 Jan 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic], Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 827 Amphibian[sic] Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[War Department - Official Business envelope - crossed out - typewritten]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Thurs Feb 3
1. Ans. Thurs eve
2. Wrote Mon eve, Feb 7
films Bk statement  Valentine
3. Wrote Sun eve Feb 13
income tax B?  BOM Der Fuerher  Fri AM Q.M. Review
4. Wrote Feb 19th]


Sunday eve [30 Jan 1944]

Dear Folks,

As you can see for yourselves, my typewriter has arrived, and it is in wonderful condition.  It was packed well, and not damaged a bit by the handling it received on its way to Florida.  (However, it still has a habit of typing the wrong character every once in awhile.)

Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have arrived, also, and I have finished Jane Eyre just this morning.  Probably next week end I shall read the other.  But I don't know when if ever I'll get around to reading the Sunday novels inclosed with them.  I still haven't read any of the ones sent with Taps for Private Tussie, although I did get TFPT read.  I rather enjoyed reading it.

The Book of the Month Review arrived on the twenty-seventh, along with the cancellation slip which is due in new York on the twenty-fourth, so I suppose pretty soon the treatise on Hitler will arrive.  After you have finished with it, send it along.  I also think I shall send for the book by Ilka Chase--We Cried in bed.  Which reminds me--how much do I owe for books?  I've been getting them pretty regularly, so it should be quite a sum.

I got up this afternoon at four, dressed, and went to the mess hall for something to eat ( I was getting pretty hungry by that time), then came back and polished up some brass, took a shower and cleaned up generally, and then came up to the Motor Maintenance shop to write some letters.  We have an entire barracks building in which is stored our 2d and 3d echelon maintenance equipment, and since no one is around at this time, it rather suits me to write here.

Well, I guess you will have some retracting to do.  How many people did you tell I would be a 1st Lt in a week or so?  I no longer hold the position of Executive Officer.  That went on for a period of about two weeks, and then the Colonel found one of his hireling first lieutenants to occupy the position.  So I suppose I'll be a second for the duration.  It was rather griping to learn that Bob Ulmer is already a Captain, but that's the break one gets in this organization.

Did I mention that we are now Transportation Corps officers?  That came about on a WD [War department] Special order early this month.  We have an Engineer headquarters that is so set on making a name for itself that it is driving us all nuts.  The expression was never more true-- "Horse ---- and the Engineers will win this war."

I'm getting rather fed up with this place now and, much as I dislike moving, I rather think I'd like to get out of here; maybe to go to a Depot or some similar place where there isn't all the chicken---- there is in this place.  At any rate, to get back up North, into civilization.

Have you received the roll of film, and are the pictures finished yet?


Tom [signed]
  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 30 Jan 1944

18 Feb 1944, Letter No. 56 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 21 Jan 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic], Florida, Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 827 Amphibian[sic] Truck Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[War Department - Official Business envelope - crossed out]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Thurs Feb 24th
Ans. Thurs Feb 24th
income tax blank  TBrushes  combs
Wrote Sun Feb 27
Wrote Tues Feb 29
2 angel food
Wrote Thurs 2 March
bank statement
Recd. 2 Boxes Books etc Friday 3 March]

Friday [18 Feb 1944]

Dear Folks,

Well, I really got a pile of stuff in that last letter!  After looking the blanks over and trying to decipher them, I figure that I still owe 29.47 on 1942 and that if I can't claim 2000 exemption but only 1500, then the amount is 38.40.  Anyhow, I filled in the one form and am inclosing a check for 29.47.

Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are on their way back.  I finished them but had no place to keep them, and anyway they're too good to keep here.  Last Sunday night I saw Jane Eyre on the screen.  It was pretty good, but Orson hammed it up.

Saturday I received two pairs of socks and a sweater knit by the gals of the Am. Service Aid.  They are really swell socks and I don't know why, but they and the sweater fit fine.  I was under the impression that none of those things were supposed to be the right size.  So that's some more letters to write.

A letter from Jane [Freas] hoped I was enjoying the Florida sunshine, not the cold and snow they were having in Syracuse.  I had to laugh when I opened it for the sunshine was pouring down all around in liquid form.

There's nothing exciting going on down here, except that the men of the company are planning on having a dance in Tallahassee Monday night, and we're having a to do trying to get transportation.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 18 Feb 1944

1 Mar 1944, Letter No. 57 From Tom

Postmarked: 9 PM, 2 Mar 1944, New Orleans, LA.

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Plauche, New orleans 12, Louisiana


[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Mon 6 March
1. Ans. Mon eve
BOM Review  
2. Wrote Thurs eve 9 Mar
writing paper
3. Wrote Wed eve, 15 Mar
4. Wrote Tues eve 21 Mar
AR-55-510 Harbor Boat Service]


364 Harbor Craft Company, Camp Plauche, New Orleans 12, La.

1 Mar 1944

Well, Folks, I guess I stole a march on you.  Thought I'd take a run over here to see the Mardi Gras, but not only did I miss it by a week and a day, they didn't even have it.  Even so, I'm not disappointed.  This place has it all over GJ [Camp Gordon Johnston]-- in fact it's almost like Normoyle.  Such a lovely campus with green grass growing all around, and NO sand.  Single room, inside showers, and toilets that FLUSH.  The ride over wasn't much to brag about-- same dirty coaches all the way, and the train stopped at every boar-crossing, which started some nasty remarks about the High Command, and administration in general at GJ.  Arrived in the Crescent City about 7 this am, and backed around sidings in the yards, finally arriving in camp at ten.  Numerous PX's, all within reach, bus station to town right across the back yard, and the theatre across the street from that.  Most of the fellows are going exploring in town tonight, but I decided to be a dutiful little 2d Lt and get out with some letters.  Haven't unpacked as yet, and I'm a little afraid to open things, for I know how they're going to spill out stuff all over.  Sent two crates of crap to you (books, manuals, and papers), and still had to sit on the foot locker lids.  Went to various administrative agencies this pm, getting straightened out and settled in the new home, also finding time to get my ears moved down.  Had to leave all my beautiful homw furnishings at GJ-- rug, desk, lamp, ash stand, and chair.  I could really use them here to help fill this big room.  So here I am, all ready to go through Basic Training again.  White troops this time.  There are at present 5 people in the 364th HCCo.  4 Lts (2d) and one 1st Sergenat (with 18 years of Army life behind him).  He's going to need some of them, too, for the 236 EM [enlisted men] will be the rawest of recruits, from all indications.  There will eventually be 5 officers, 4 Warrant Officers, and the above-mentioned number of EM.  Everyone her while going about assiduously salutes everyone else, somewhat different from GJ.  I was most startled to receive a salute from a Second, this am, but when I caught on that it's a ground rule, I entered into the spirit of the thing madly, and had a swell time.  My arm really got a good work-out, and maybe I can attribute some of the typographical errors to that.  If that's all the pother we have to put up with, well, fine and dandy.  This paper was borrowed from Lt. Anthony, and he only let me have 4 sheets, so that's the reason for the apparent conservation.  I think I signed and returned the Income Tax sheet.  Let me know if it doesn't come.  [Note: It was sent separately on March 4 - empty envelope found with Agnes's note, "Income Tax Report," written on it.]  Tomorrow there won't be much to do, so I plan on going into town and seeing what there is.  The brakeman on the train said we would probably get tied into knots and get lost in the streets, the way the crescent cuts into town.  But I'll just look as if I'm going around the airport circle and trust to luck not to wander astray.  At least there should be some good foood here, and what with current shows one should be able to have a good time.  This camp is named after Jean Batiste Plauche, and officer in Stonewall Jackson's army, who later was a governor of Louisiana.  I saw the dates and stuff in a picture as Post headquarters today.  There are a lot of WAC's here on the post.  One of them took down my history for File 13.  Mighty efficient miss.  Well, that's the news to date.  I think I'll go up to the Officers' Club for awhile, and see what it's like.



Just saw a viscious[sic]-looking mosquito.  Hope I can do unto him before he does unto me.
  • Camp Plauche, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
  • 1 Mar 1944

17 Mar 1944, Letter No. 58 From Tom

story image(s)
Postmarked: 2:30 PM, 19 Mar 1944, New Orleans, LA.

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Plauche, New orleans 12, Louisiana


[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Wed 22nd March
Ans. Wed eve
Wrote Mon 27th
Wrote Mon 3 Apr
Easter Card - 4 Apr
Blank checks - 4 Apr
[Note: This last may be Tom's service number.]

United States Army, New Orleans

[typewritten on stationery - see image]

Friday Nite [17 Mar 1944]

Dear Folks:

It seems I have a bit of catching up to do.  Lots of things have been arriving, and I haven't as yet acknowledged them.  First of all, though, there is paper available here at Camp Plauche, although you have seen mighty little of it up to now.  However, I did receive the paper you sent, and that will keep me from buying more for some time, since I already had this.

I went out to 333 North St.[Saint] Patrick St.[Street] the other afternoon to visit the Fosters, and what did I find?  They don't live there any longer--haven't for some time, so I guess I won't get to see them.

Forwarded from Gordon Johnston were two angelfood cakes (in a very eatable condition, notwithstanding the long trip they made), and two teeth[sic] brushes and some rum toffees.  It worked out beautifully--ate the toffees and got my teeth all stuck up, then used the brushes to clean them.  Didn't get much of a chance to get my teeth stuck up with the cakes, for they were opened at the company orderly room, and zowie!

No, a Harbor Craft company is quite different from an Amphibian Truck company.  Its job is somewhat like that of the small pilot boats in any large harbor--to pilot the large ships through the harbor channel.  I don't know just yet precisely what we are to do, but we have boats, and the officers are called Mates.  Quite nautical--decks for floors, ladders for stairs, heads for latrines, and so on and on.  I'll have to get in a store of terms from my friend in the Navy Department.

Which brings us to another little item.  Alice [Crompton] is to be in New Orleans next week-end for a week's leave, so in between seeing Basin Street and a few other assorted sights of the Crescent City, I'll be able to catch up with the latest scuttlebutt.

At present we have in the company about forty men--all of them just inducted into the service, and we are giving them a blitz basic training.  When we get the rest of the men here, we will have to depend on some of these fellows to help us out, as squad leaders.  These fellows seem to be "tackling kindly" to the stuff as it is dished out, and one thing--they seem to want to know all about things, and ask a whole lot of questions.  That always makes it easier for the instructor, for then he can find out what to stress to put across the subject.  Not so with those soldiers who have been through basic three or four times and know all about it.  They don't ask any questions but sit around in class and sleep.

Rain, rain, rain.  Lost of rain.  And lots of thick gooey mud to go with it.  But its better than the sand at GJ, which got into teeth, shoes, and hair.  However, every once in a while we have a spell of good, hot sunshine.

We pulled one of those nasty Army tricks on one of the men this morning.  The 1st sergeant sent out for a carpenter, so we inquired of the men who was a good driver and sent him to the orderly room to drive some nails.

I'll try to get a chance tomorrow to get into town to send y'all some XXXXXXX (sp) Pralines, the Nawleens favorite confection.  And what a bunch of antique shops there are in the city!

Don't suppose, since you are no longer affiliated, that you get much chance to gab with Mrs. Partridge.  But here's a story that you ought to relay to her with my compliments.  What is the new sulfa- drug for Birth Control?  Sulfa-Buse.

More later,


  • Camp Plauche, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
  • 17 Mar 1944

11 Apr 1944, Letter No. 59 From Tom

Postmarked: 6:30 PM, 12 Apr 1944, New Orleans, LA.

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Plauche, New Orleans 12, Louisiana

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Sat 15 April
Ans. Sat 15
Bl. checks 2nd  Peirce alumni card
Wrote Tues 9 May
Bank Statement
Wed 17th sent Penn Mut[ual]. Report
Thurs 18th Mailed box of clothes
Fri 19th letter
Wed eve May 10 - Tom phoned from Washington
Thurs eve May 11 - Tom and Alice here for supper & night
Fri afternoon May 12 - Tom and Alice to Cromptons
Saturday May 13 - Tom and Mary [Keiser] to Q.M. Depot.  In eve they took me to B. Franklin for dinner and to Walnut Theater - "By the Spirit" Rain
Sun May 14 - We all drove to Trenton to Stahls
Mon May 15 - Tom up at noon - Phila. in afternoon.  Home for supper.  We drove him to 30th St. for 8 o'clock train.]

United States Army, New Orleans

Thursday [11 Apr 1944]

Dear Folks:

At last a note, just to let your know I'm still alive.  I got ashamed of myself for not having dropped a line before this, and I was going to call you Easter Sunday, but posted delays on calls to Philadelphia were 45 hours.

Alice's visit was lots of fun - mostly a search for the food for which N.O. is famous.  We really had some wonderful things to eat.  During the day, Alice went sightseeing, and after work, I'd meet her in town at the hotel about 7.  Two highballs was the usual procedure, then it would be 8:30, and we would start out for supper and it was customary for the meal to be about two hours long.  You just can't hep stuffing yourself, for it is all so darn delicious.

I suppose its still mighty chilly at home, but we're wearing summer uniforms here since the third of April.

We're still waiting for some men to fill up the company so we can start Basic.  Maybe it isn't some job getting a company started - I didn't have this workout in the 819th at G.J., for my time was all taken up with being mess officer.  But getting all the things done that have to be taken care of, what with men coming in and then being transferred around among these Harbor Craft Companies - records and reports takes up a terrific amount of time, and frequently we are at the orderly room until way late at night getting caught up.  And reveille is at 5:40 am!

Speaking of transfers, we got a letter today that brought a smile.  It read, "If [triple UL] there is no military objection at your hq. request the transfer of _____ to ____.  By command [UL} of Brig. Gen. ___!"  needless to say, there was no military objection at our Hq.

Right now I am acting commander of the Company, being Sr. Officer present for duty.  We did have a Captain attached for a couple weeks, but he was recalled.  Don't have any worries, though, I won't keep it.  The CO of these units has to have some qualifications of maritime service and navigation, so the govt. is making 1st Lts. and Captains out of a bunch of civilians and Maritime Service men to come in and take charge of these companies, and so far as promotions go, we will be left with the short end of the stick.  I'll bet that 6 months after the duration I'm still a second Lt.  I'm getting used to the idea now.

Did Mary enjoy "In Bed We Cry" by Ilka[?] Chase?  You mentioned she read it.  Alice brought it with her to read on the train and left it for me.  I thought it was the most drizzly bunch of goop I ever tackled and didn't get up any interest in what happened to Devon, or whether she didn't.

You can send along some of the other BOMs if you get around to it.

By the way, has my bank statement for march come?  If it has, I'd like to see what it looks like.

I'll close now, and get 6 hours of sleep.



Tell Laura Henderson thanks for the Easter Card.  Thanks for yours, too.
  • Camp Plauche, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
  • 11 Apr 1944

17 May 1944, Letter No. 60 From Tom

Postmarked: 3:30 PM, 18 May 1944, New Orleans, 2 LA.

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Plauche, New Orleans 12, Louisiana

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Mon 22 May
Wrote Mon eve
sent blank checks
Wrote Tues eve 23 May
sent films and snaps
Tom telephoned Tues May 30
Wrote him Thurs eve 1 June
Wrote him Wed eve 7 June
bank statement, BOM review
Sent candy from S & C [Strawbridge & Clothiers, Phila.] Wed 14 June
Wrote Thurs 15 June
Tel. call Sun 18 June
Wrote Tues 20 June
Wrote Thurs 29 June]


Wednesday night [17 May 1944]

Dear Folks,

Made New Orleans OK at about 5:30 pm our time, and I think that's the last plane trip I want to make.  Don't know what the trouble is after having ridden on the "Thunderbolt" at Willow Grove [NJ] with no ill effects, but airplane  riding seems to get to me.  I had another little session on the plane and lost my cookies again, but I'm all right now.

Had my supper here at the new mess hall - we have one for our own company now, and then came to the orderly room to find out about things.

There certainly have been lots of changes in the couple of weeks I was away and it's going to take some time until I can get things straightened out in my mind.

After supper the evening was spent talking with some of the other company officers, and listening to the woes of life at NOAAB [New Orleans Army Air Base?].  Now I am going to bed.


  • Camp Plauche, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
  • 17 May 1944

27 Jun 1944, Letter No. 61 From Tom

story image(s)
Postmarked: 3 PM, 28 June 1944, New Orleans 4, LA.

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., NOAAB, New Orleans 12, Louisiana

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Fri 30 June
Ans. Sun 2 July
Wrote Sun 9 July  Bank St.
Wrote Sun 16 July  3 snaps incl.]

United States Army

[on stationery - see image]

Tuesday night [27 Jun 1944]

Dear Folks

A note to let you know I'm OK and working 26 hours a day in pretty hot weather.  The check inclosed is for the two phone calls.  I'm going to send my watch back for a cleaning, if I ever get around to it.  It ran slow and slower till it finally stopped.  So if you can get it to S & C [Strawbridge & Clothiers] for a free cleaning and maybe a new band.

Not much news - we're awaiting the Inspector - General and madly trying to push our records into some sort of shape.  

Swimming classes are on the schedule each night this week in the Lake right out our front door.  It helps some.


  • Camp Plauche, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.
  • 27 Jun 1944

15 Jul 1944, Letter No. 62 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 PM, 15 Jul 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic] Fla., Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Tues July 18th
Sent BOM Review 19th
Ans. Thurs July 20th
Wrote Tues 25th
Wrote Tues 1 Aug
Wrote Sun 6th Aug - blank checks, BanK St., Inquiries on strike
Wrote Mon 7th Aug - 2 BOM, BOM Review]

[This letter was handwritten on Tom's May-Jun 1994 Bank statement with the Union State Bank of South San Antonio, Texas.]

Somewhere in Florida
15 July 44

Dear Folks,

Here we are, back in the Sand Flats again.  Left N.O. Monday [10 Jul] and arrived Tues. noon.  Been pretty busy getting settled and getting out the payroll.  Now we must settle down and try to become sailors.  And that's not going to be so easy.  However, we do have a good company of men now.

Glad to hear you were able to visit with the Waters & Stahls.  Too bad the Depot was in operation on the holiday so you could[n't] have more time with them.

If you will please explain where the $12.00 deposit comes in, the [bank] statement will be OK.  I'm returning check # 109, void.  Either 110 or 11 has been destroyed, & I don't know the amount of the other, but it's about 60 some dollars.  I gave Sgt. Wilson two blank checks when the Company was to clear the Air Base to pay all our bills.  One of them he tore up.

We were the last H.C. [Harbor Craft company] at the Base, & for that last week we had all the Hq boys in our orderly room all day long.  Lt Cols. Majs. & Capts. galore, for Hq had nothing to do but look after us.  The mess hall was inspected six times one morning by officers from the Colonel on down.  Poor Colonel Thompson must be like the man without a country, for he has no one to command now.

We love our new home dearly - you know how much.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 15 Jul 1944

31 Jul 1944, Letter No. 63 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 PM, 3 Aug 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic] Fla., Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Mon Aug 7
Ans. Tues Aug 8
Wrote again Wed Aug 9 - about Gordie Mac
B.D. [birthday] card Thurs 17th
2 B.D. boxes Fri 18th
Wrote Thurs 24th from Jermyn [PA] ]

Monday Night [31 July 1944]

Dear Folks,

I don't know how it is that I never seem to get around to writing, but it is just like pulling teeth to get me to do it.  So having figuratively lost a tooth, here it is.

Everything is going along smoothly here, which it seems can't be said about Philadelphia.  What are they trying to do over there, and what a mess things must be.

The films and watch and lemons which arrived sans explanation is another letter I was going to write.  As you suspected, the lemons were the only packing material available, and not a local product.  I had them in my locker so that I could at random intervals mix up a side-car for the boys and myself.  It seems the other officers like them too - and Cointreau is so darn expensive!  The films were an error on my part.  I thought 120 was right, so maybe you can dispose of them through your black market connections and I'll try to get some 116.  It seems that 118 for my camera is non-existant[sic].

Everyone enjoyed the "glamour-shot" of Mary & everyone is also going to hunt for a building in N.J. numbered "1120" with four girls in front of it.

Thanks for the $12.oo deposit slip.  I guess it must be rental allowance for my leave last October, for which I just put in a voucher in June.  I'm returning the slip.  Also thank you for the candy.  It did arrive, so the bill is in order.

No, I never knew of Mrs. Lozo's little boy Joe until you mentioned him.  You see they (the 337 HC Co.) started up here in Area 1 while I was in Amphibian Truck training Group in Area 3 - 20 miles away.  And then, I never was in Harbor Craft Training Group here until the 11th of July when we arrived from New Orleans.

So here we are, for technical training.  Some of the men are working on boats during their practical work, but most of it is "dry-run" theory.  I am busy keeping up the records.  Maybe I'll go to Navigation School.

Shortly after arriving we received our initial inspection - on the status of our training.  A couple of days later we got a letter from the Colonel commending us for the fine showing we made and expressing his appreciation, and that we had set a new standard for initial inspections on this post.  So we all have a good opinion of ourselves.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 31 Jul 1944

20 Aug 1944, Letter No. 64 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 PM, 21 Aug 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic] Fla., Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida


[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Recd Friday 25th Aug
Ans. Monday 28th Aug - check - income tax return]



Sunday Night [20 Aug 1944]

Dear Folks:

I go a lot of fun out of the letter about the "race riot" in Phila.  To quote, "Don't ever let race ratred[sic] get you, son, for it's only by chance that you are white."  Now, whatever could anyone mean by that?  Sometime I must have the whole story.

It was nice to have almost met Gordon [MacWilliam] in New Orleans, but maybe he will get to come over here to Florida-- most of [Camp] Plauche and the Air Base are here now, and this Garden of Eden is becoming overrun with chicken-.  They don't want 'em over in La., so put them in Florida seems to be the concensus-- they can't hurt anyone there.  But they can make like pretty miserable for the present occupants of GJ, and it's bad enough as is.

Just to keep up the atmosphere surrounding this place, I wish to report that an eighty and one-half inch alligator was shot in the water down by post Hq-- near where the picture of my mess hall was taken; and out at Intermittant[sic] pond where we frequently go swimming they (alligators) have been sighted often.

I sent back the BOM's-- at least I think I did.  Anyway, I told Cpl Dixon to send them, and I don' see them around.  I asked for some goofy text-books this time instead of the regular selection, so don't be surprised when they arrive.

The Navigation course is now two weeks over and two weeks to go.  It is a typical GI institution, the school-- nobody knows nuttin' and tries to spread it farther.  We waste most of our time in learning how to interpolate tables.  Of course, in between the junk does come once and awhile a few tarnished jewels of thought for digestion, but they don't give us the "big picture" but resolve everything into "look in Table 4 or Table 53" without knowing what the tables are themselves.  Maybe when I get the texts I can really find out what this here stuff is all about.  Lt. Algea from the company who is also attending the school puts in his time making up a logarithm table in class.  He's doing it the hard way, by trial and error, just so it will take longer and fill up the four weeks.  Me, I have to rely on Astounding Stories, Science Fiction, and other OCS [Officer Candidate School] manuals.

I double-spaced to make a short note look longer, but it still seems pretty short at this point, which is just the same point where I have run out of stuff for publication, except for the Parade ground.

Lt. Col. Tinker, CO of Harbor Craft here ag GJ built, or rather, caused to be built, out of sand, a most beautiful parade ground, all paved over with asphalt, perfectly level, and all trimmed up with a reviewing stand.  Harbor Craft would show this post what parades were supposed to be!  However, the good colonel (he did that too) forgot about how small these companies become when the men are all detailed at different schools about the post, and others down at Camp belle, in Carrabelle, where the Coast Guard has an installation for maintenance, and our men go to learning shiplifting, rigging, et all[sic].  We actually have to look pretty hard during the day to find even two men in the company area.  So the Companies can't parade.  So the men are happy.  So are the Officers.  So is Colonel Tinker (not).

That's all.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 20 Aug 1944

28 Aug 1944, Letter No. 65 From Tom

Postmarked: 12 -M, 29 Aug 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic] Fla., Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida


[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Thurs 31st Aug
Ans Thurs eve - Nav Book - Leary's [map to store and receipt accompany this letter]
Wrote Thurs 7 Sept - BOM Review, Bank Statement
Cel. Nav. - 11 Sep
Wrote Thurs 14 Sep
Wrote Thurs 21 Sep
Wrote Thurs 28 Sep]



Monday night [28 Aug 1944]

Dear Folks,

The birthday party was simply superb, what with all the fixings that arrived.  It was a rather quite affair, though I did notice an empty bottle accompanying the crumbs.  However, no one tripped over it so there were no casualties.  Many thanks for all the eats, not only from myself, but from all the others who partook and enjoyed them.

Outside of Mary's [Keiser] coup, it seems that the birthday at Jermyn [PA] was also quiet.  It was swell that you could get up to see Jane [Freas], and to help her celebrate.  Did you take any pictures while there, or didn't you have any film?  I purchased some 116 that I'll send to you some of these days, when I can get to the post office.  Did you find any takers for the 120?

Well, navigation school is now more than three-quarters over, for which I am grateful, and for two reasons.  One, that it was somewhat disappointing, the other, that it has meant double work for me here in the company, since I have been doing the administrative work after classes.

Yesterday I took some time out to go swimming with some of the other officers.  As soon as we got out to Intermittant[sic] Pond, the rest of the party promptly started the game "Throw-Keiser-into-the-water."  It wasn't so bad, for I had a couple of innings, but just as we were about to come home (I had got dry so my clothes wouldn't get wet) the game started all over again.  It held up the party somewhat.

That cool weather you spoke about in Jermyn sounds pretty good.  Do you suppose you could have some of it shipped down here?

I've still two more [letters] to go, and it's a quarter to eleven now, so this one will be mighty short.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 28 Aug 1944

About 28 Sep 1944, Letter No. 66 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 PM, 29 Sep 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic] Fla., Amphibious Training Center

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Thurs Oct 2nd
Wrote Thurs Oct 5
Rec'd Bonds Sat Oct 7
Sent BOM Review Mon 9th
Received Pralines Tues 10th
Wrote Thurs Oct 12
Wrote Thurs Oct 19 - Bank Statement]


[No date]

Dear Folks

No letters - I'm out on the Gulf for boat training.  Got the card etc. from Lois [Freas Stahl] and will write from New Orleans or Port Arthur Tex


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 28 Sep 1944

20 Oct 1944, Letter No. 67 From Tom

Postmarked: 12 -M, 21 Oct 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic] Fla., Amphibious Training Center


To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Mon 23 Oct
Ans Mon eve
Sent book "Lost in H.L." Tues 24 Oct
Sent Halloween Box, Snellenberg Wed 25 Oct
Tom home Sunday Oct 29
Tom returned Tues Nov 7
Wrote Fri eve Nov 10th]



Friday night [20 Oct 1944]

Dear Folks,

It was a lovely cruise, insofar as cruises go, but for trying to make a sailor out of me, it was a flop.  I guess I should be in the Infantry, for I don't get land-sick, but I do get air-and sea-sick.  I really let go with the cookies when we had a little rough sea.  But most of the time we had swell weather, and it was fun.  All the crew learned a lot, I'm sure.  If not about seamanship, then certainly about the mosquitos in Port Arthur, Texas.

You think the Jersey mosquitos are bad, but you now have firsthand information that they do not begin to come up to the ones in PA [Port Arthur].  Either in quality or in quantity.

While we were docked in new Orleans, I tried to get in touch with Gordon [MacWilliam] but we missed connections.  We were tied up at the Port of Embarkation[sic] pier, and I didn't get out to the Air Base where he is stationed, but called from the Port.  Evidently he couldn't get away; at any rate he didn't come to the boat while we were moored there.  Mr. Hicks WOjg, got the pralines for me when he went into town, and after I had them addressed, we were in Port Arthur, from where he mailed them.  It took a long time to get them to you, and I do hope they were as good as the ones I had in NO [New Orleans].  I also bought some for Alice [Crompton] and [Aunt] Lois [Freas Stahl].

When we got back I found my wrist-watch here waiting for me.  It wasn't too good a job they did on it, for some of the radium paint got knocked out of both of the hands, but at least it runs.  I haven't checked to see if it is on time yet, but the approximation is at least better than the nothing I had for so long.

The hurricane turned out to be a fizzle, but it had us stepping for awhile.  Storm warnings were posted, and we were alerted to be ready to evacuate the camp.  However, the storm turned away and all we had was a day of rainy weather and a little wind.

What is the weather like up north?  On the 17th it became optional for us to wear woolens here, for we've been having some pretty chilly nights, but it is still fairly warm during the day.  Last night I wrapped myself in a blanket at the movies (they're outdoor theatres) and was comfortable enough, but it wasn't worth the effort for the picture.  An American Romance-- it sort of petered out into a lukewarm friendship.

I'm finally getting around to reading Joseph the Provider, and enjoying it immensely, much to my surprise.  And Corporal Dixon has promised to send for the other three books in the series that he has at home.  he read it first.

Not much else has happened.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 20 Oct 1944

Chronology of Events - Oct 29 to Nov. 7, 1944

[What follows are Agnes Keiser's notes of Tom's visit home Oct 29 to Nov. 7, 1944]

Mary down to Culberts when Tom called from Washington

Home Sunday [Oct] 29th.  Met him at Station at 6:07 - Home for Roast Beef supper.  Played bridge - 4 of us in eve till 12-

Monday [Oct] 30th.  [Tom] In bed all day till I came home from work.  In eve he went over to Cromptons.  (Dick [Culbert] reported a prisoner of war).  Bill [Culbert] called Mary [Keiser].

Tuesday [Oct] 31st.  [Tom] Came in to 802nd. to see me.  Met Mary at noon at Peirce [Jr. College, Phila.] and they drove to Trenton to visit Lois [Freas Stahl] and got back here about 11 o'clock.  They dropped in [Mary] Loper[']s to see Halloween party costumes.

Wed [Nov] 1st.  I took off from work.  Tom and I wen uptown to MacWilliams['] and Acme for groceries (cake & steak).  Drove over to Phila. to get Tom's new watch & present for Alice [Crompton].  Met Mary at 3 o'clock at Peirce [Coll.] and came home.  Took pictures out front.  She went to [Dick] Culbert[']s [in Collingswood] for supper.  Bill [Culbert] brought her home.  Tom stayed in and read after supper.

Thurs. [Nov] 2nd.  Tom & I drove uptown to get Christmas wrappings for Alice's present & groceries.  We all had supper at Nilos (Hmo's closed except for Old fashioned).  Mary went to club at Marion's.  Tom, Ki [Tom Keiser, Sr.] & I went to Camden to see "Wilson".

Friday [Nov] 3rd.  I left Tom in bed.  He took canned stuff to Amer. Service Aid Food Sale and got a cake for us.  He was bathing when I got home from work.  He dressed and went to meet Alice at 30th St. [train station, in Phila.] and then went up to Crompton[']s for supper & eve.

Saturday [Nov] 4th.  All in bed when I left for work.  Ki had day off.  He went to [Collingswood H.S.] Football Game [vs.] Camden.  Mary worked at Lit's [in Phila.]  Tom out to eat with Alice & then to see Mikado.  Ki out with Sullivan, Bryson, etc.  Mary & I walked up for Ruth and went to movies in Collingswood to see "I Love a Soldier."  Sundaes in Sissins & home on bus.  Ki in at 1.

Sunday [Nov] 5th.  Ki up for work.  Tom down for breakfast at 11:30.  Mrs. Henderson over to visit.  Tom dressed to catch 11:30 o'clock train with Alice for New York.  Mrs. H. stayed & visited  with Mary & me.

Monday [Nov] 6th.  Work as usual.  Ki on afternoon shift.  Tom got back about 3 A.M.

Tuedsay [Nov] 7th.  Day off.  Ki & I went up to vote - raked and burned leaves.  Signed oil coupons to Sun agent.  Tom up about eleven & packed.  Mary- no school.  We all had lunch at Whitman Coffee Shop.  Ki drove us to Phila. to shop for Tom.  Bath robe & watch repair.  [Ki] Left us at 3 for work.  Tom, Mary & I to N. Phila. by subway.  Met Alice & Mrs. C. [Crompton] and Tom & Alice left on 4 o'clock train.  Mary & I to Fox Movies & Bookbinders [in Phila.].

Tom left here 7 Nov Tues.
Arrived 8 Nov Wed (Thur 3 A.M. Comp)
10 Nov - Fri night officer party
6 days out
17 Nov Fri - sent Bond West
18 Nov Sat - written from West
telephoned 21 Nov Tues (Wed A.M. San Diego)

New address: 364 H.C., APO 17634, c/o P.O. San Francisco
  • Collingswood, New Jersey, U.S,.A.
  • 29 Oct 1944

10 Nov 1944, Letter No. 68 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 PM, 10 Nov 1944, Camp Gordon Johnson[sic] Fla., Amphibious Training Center


To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Mon Nov 13th
Ans Mon eve
Wrote Fri 17 Nov - bank statement
Sent fruit cake Sat 18th
Telephone call from Tom at San Diego, Wed 22 Nov, 4 A.M.
1. Wrote Wed night Nov 22 (1st to APO) (Dec 12)]



Friday night [20 Oct 1944]

Dear Folks,

We've just had a party with the Halloween goodies that you sent.  The boys were fooled by the box which had a "Glass-- Handle With Care" sticker on it, and didn't suspect what was within.  But they got some of it anyhow, and so the score is just about as it would have been.  The contents were mighty delectable, and many thanks for them.  I've also started on the Horse Latitudes, which was also here waiting for me.

The trip down was pretty uneventful, and made without undue hardship.  However, I didn't get into camp until three hours past midnight Thursday, when I was due.  Everyone was asleep, though, and didn't notice.

And what a mess I walked into, literally and figuratively.  The so-called "orderly room" was anything but-- it really looked like a mad-house, and then there was not only the work of cleaning that up, but also a raft of stuff to take care of, like entering payrolls in the service records, making up statements of charges, and what-not, and I've really got a raft of stuff to take care of.

I arrived in camp with just a little over three dollars in cash, and Lt. Ostertag promptly took that away from me to pay for some refreshments to be used for a little party for the officers to relax on tonight (that's Friday night), which is a little confusing when you start to reckon dates.  There's plenty of the Halloween eats to last for that party too, even after ten people lit into it.  Of course we also has some of Sgt. Merone's cheese, salomi[sic], Italian bread, and Dago Red to help out tonight.  The marshmallow is real good on the figs, surprisingly enough.  or maybe it was the wine that helped it along.  We also had a case of beer.

Now is the time for all good men to go to bed, so I'm going.


  • Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida, U.S.A.
  • 10 Nov 1944

about 22 Nov 1944, Letter No. 69 From Tom

Postmarked: None

[typewritten on War Department- Official Business envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 17634 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Fri Nov 24 (Bond in envelope)
2. Ans Fri eve (snapshots)
3. Wrote Tues eve Nov 28
4. Wrote Thurs eve Nov 30
5. Wrote Mon Dec 14
6. Wrote Thusr Dec 7 (V)
Fri dec 8 Xmas Box
7. Wrote Mon eve Dec 11 (Bank Statement)
Wed - Xmas cards
8. Wrote Thurs eve Dec 14]


[about 22 Nov 1944, written on an envelope]

A lot has happened since I got back to G-J. and I'll tell you all about it as soon as I can.


  • California, U.S.A.
  • 22 Nov 1944

3 Dec 1944, Letter No. 70 From Tom

story image(s)
Postmarked: 9 Dec 1944, U.S. Army Postal Service 502

Postmarked: 19 Jan 1945, Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post [It is not understood how this could be.]


To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 17634 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[This envelope was opened by the U.S. Army Examiner, then resealed with tape and stamped as passed - see image]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Sat Dec 16
Ans Sunday 17th 9. - calendar
Wrote Wed 20th 10. (3 Jan)]



3 December 44 [in red]

Dear Folks,

I've certainly been having a wonderful time for the past several days, just lying around and vegetating in the sunshine, and incidentally getting the makings of a rather good tan.  Of course it is also quite a bit warm, but it has baked out of me that cold I mentioned in my last letter.  [Note: that letter is not available.]

What with eating and sleeping, varied by sleeping and eating, you'd think that I might have put on a little weight, but I seem to be just about the same in that regard, so I guess it's no use trying to do anything about it.

That date up in the corner I put in red, for it certainly doesn't seem in the present surroundings to have the usually chilly association one likes to attribute to December.  Right now all I am wearing is a bath towel for a covering.  I'll bet that you are somewhat differently attired.

Let me know when you get this letter; I'm interested in knowing just how long it takes.  I don't know yet when it will be posted, but surely within a few days of writing.

I have just recently been initiated into the mysteries of the AOD (not quite so impressive as the AAONMS in length), the Ancient Order of the Deep, and am now a trusty Shellback in the court of Neptunis Rex.  It was quite a palaver, and a lot of foolishness and fun.  In the course of events I lost my head (of hair), and now have nothing to show for my henna rinses but a few mangy bristles that jut out at odd angles here and there.

This is of necessity neither a very long nor a very revealing epistle, which is dictated by my not knowing too much about events to come.  But later on when I find out what is happening, I shall probably be able to let you know more about what is cooking.



P.S. Merry Christmas

  • Enroute to the South Pacific
  • 3 Dec 1944

15 Dec 1944, Letter No. 71 From Tom

Postmarked: 16 Dec 1944, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 23 Dec 1944, Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post [Note: the letter's pages were also postmarked this way.]


To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Fri Dec 22 - sent Fr. Cake Dec 23rd
Ans Fri eve  11. #1 to 709
Wrote Mon Xmas 25  12. #2 to 709 (family letter)
Wrote Fri eve Dec 29  13. #3 to 709 - Old Heidelson[?]
Wrote Wed eve Jan 3rd  14. #4 to 709 - Mummers clip  
Wrote Fri eve Jan 5  15. #5 to 709 ]



The Rock
15 December 1944

Dear Folks,

Having a wonderful time, wish you were here.  (That's what it says here in small foreign print.)  The boat trip was wonderful, and was made without any trouble at all.  I was too busy eating turkey to pay any attention to our leave-taking.  We were put ashore here on the tenth, and then the fun began.

Things are in a sort of hectic state, what with crates scattered all over the lot, tents half finished for occupancy, and a general sort of bedlam due to the fact that someone comes out with a new plan every five minutes, and everyone else is working on the plan of five minutes ago.  We shall probably get some sort of order out of the chaos, however in spite of ourselves.

Your letter of the twenty-second was given to me on the twelvth[sic], which is pretty good for a starter.  The service will probably improve later on when we get settled.  There was also one from Jane [Freas], telling of the wonderful winter weather in Syracuse, and how I wish we could have a little of it.  During the day it is pretty hot, since summer is just about here.  But the nights are cool enough to sleep under blankets thank goodness.

The first couple of days we did nothing but eat cocoanuts[sic], I suppose just for the novelty of it, for the fad has somewhat worn off by now.  Oddly enough, they (the cocoanuts[sic]) seem to be the biggest source of danger, since they are pretty lethal weapons when they drop from the trees.  As yet I don't know if anyone has been beaned, since we're on the lookout for such.

I have assumed my administrative duties here, and it's quite a job trying to keep everything from blowing away.  It seems that just as soon as one gets all lined up a gust of wind makes has of the whole business.  The too, the crates are here, there, and the other place, and it is another job to find things and have them handy for use.  This typing is no cinch, either, what with doing it by gasoline lantern.  At present we haven't got our power plant set up.

Most likely the Stahls are pleased at having found a new home.  Jane said that [cousin] BJ [Stahl] was looking forward to spending Christmas in Hartford [Conn.].  You won't be able to make a run up that far on Sundays now, will you?  I'll bet Lois [Stahl] would have a good time here with a garden.  There are ever so many different plants that I couldn't begin to classify.  But some of them are pretty wonderful in bloom.

Everything seems to be available in the PX's.  They are stocked with just about all anyone could want, so I can't think of anything to ask you to send, unless it might be another fruit cake.  Of course the one you mentioned hasn't arrived as yet, but it sounded good-- even sounded like another.  If I should think of anything else, I'll let you know.

I guess celebrations were a little premature on the promotion deal, for I haven't seen anything of it yet.  There has been some mail that went on ahead of us that is being recalled, and I'm looking for something in that to be from the War Department.  Whenever I find out I'll let you know.

Tomorrow 16th.

I had to give up the gasoline lantern, so am taking up here.  Today I finished up the officers' pay vouchers for Nov and Dec.  Quite a job, too.  Have you received my bank statement for October yet?  The last one I received was for September, and you mentioned that $50.00 was deposited when we had the telephone conversation.  That should continue every month.  You haven't mentioned the bond I sent from California-- unless that's in one of the letters that hasn't yet arrived.

Today letters  number 3 and 4 arrived, Nov 28 and 30.  Those two  and the one  of the 22d  are all that have come through so far.  I have sent you one from California and one other before this, which ain't so much, but I promise to do better.  I'll also follow Bill Pettijohn's example and if you take it literally I'll stop that.

From what you tell me of the Stahl's new home, it sounds wonderful.  Jane also mentioned that BJ [Stahl] was planning to spend Christmas there.  On looking on page one, I find myself repeating a bit, but with a set-up like that, I guess it bears repetition.  It was nice that you could get up to Trenton before they left.

Won't I look silly with that package from S&C [Strawbridge & Clothiers] when it arrives, if the other letter doesn't arrive.  But it won't take too much difference, for I can't see us making any formal calls here, what with going around in bathing trunks during the day, and not much more at night.

Tell everyone Happy new year for me, and let me know how [cousin] Nancy [Waters] is.  Has Mary sent the card to the Bank, and has she paid the insurance yet?



PS, Please send me some writing paper.


Note the new APO 709
  • Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
  • 15 Dec 1944

13 Dec 1944

story image(s)
A War and Navy department V-Mail Service envelope was received by the Keisers on 23 Dec 1944. See image.]
  • Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
  • 13 Dec 1944

25 Dec 1944, Letter No. 72 From Tom

Postmarked: 4 PM, 28 Dec 1944, U.S. Army Postal Service

Postmarked: 5 Feb[sic] 1945, Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post [Also stamped thus on the last page of the letter.]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Friday 5 January
Wrote Fri eve  15. #5 to 709
Wrote Wed eve  16. #6 to 709]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 16.
Bank Statement Dec
John Ayer
Nurses & Waves - Radio?
Culberts 1st letter
Mr. Lutz 709
Bill P'sboar dinner
Letter to Grandma]

[Tom's note on reverse: (Lt.) Bob Ulmer, Gitstown[sic] N.J.  Patton's 3rd Army]


[Tom's notes on letter:
11/10 (5) & 11/18 (6) to GJ]

The Rock
25 December 1944

Dear Folks,

I'm going to do this one sans typewriter and see what comes out.  Since the last note I've received the above letters.  So I guess we're pretty well caught up except for the fruit cake and October bank statement.

Here we sit, winning the war at a great rate- waiting for our equipment.  And so, with nothing to keep us busy, somebody decided to put some of our officers to work.  For the past week or so I've been bossing a stevedore gang of another company here that is short on officer personnel.  Amazing what talent I have, isn't it?  It's about the next best thing to sailing a boat - loading it - at least I get on board a vessel once in awhile.  We've been working swing shift, so that's how I spent Xmas Eve, and got to bed about 2 this morning.  Up at 2 this pm after sleeping around the clock and had dinner.  I don't go back to work until 4 tomorrow afternoon.

Why didn't you give Mrs. Morton's friend a trunk-load of Life magazines or some other stuff to cart away so you could get tid of him?  Has he been back since?  He sounds like a nice old codger.

It's nice to know that Cwood [Collingswood] is having its own little battle with Carl again.  How is he making out in his skirmish for "Our Youth?"  Somebody ought to sit on that guy but good.

By the way, what you sent labeled "Bank statement" was in reality a deposit slip for the allotment.  You marked that it was small.  But that's what it will be each month, if ODB remembers to send it.  I'll probably be sending more money to the bank after I get paid, anyway, since living expenses are not very high.  I've managed to live on five dollars since I called you from San Diego, and I still have two left.  I hope there was enough in the account to take care of the Penn Mutual - according to my figures the deposit of 14 November left a little over one hundred.  Has Mary sent them a check?  I suppose the second policy premium is due now too.

Glad to hear that Randolph took such good care of the car.  There probably won't be anything left of it if you give them half a chance.  Did the clutch job ever get back from whoever got it, or did he ever get back his bearings?

I'm going to drop Floy [MacWilliam] a line and see if she has any more info on Gordon.  Sorry to hear she has a cold.  It seems you all are getting them- Lois [Freas Stahl], Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas], et. al.- and no wonder, if that picture from the Post Standard is any criterion.  I have the picture opened up and spread out over my bed, but it doesn't seem to do much to the temperature here.

I'll also drop Grandma a line and thank her for the present.  You can put it into the pool in San Antonio- I can't think of anything else to do with it.  I received a card and note from her.  I also have an Interesting Fact to tell her.  There is a Lt. Kretschner in this new company I'm working with from Honesdale [PA].

I didn't make out any cards- they only bawl things up.  But now I'm ashore I'll send one to Readers Digest.  I don't know why I should bother with it, for I can get it just as soon buying it.  We've got all sorts of stuff- New Yorker, S.E. [Saturday Evening] Post, Time.

More later,

Love and stuff,


P.S.  Please send me some writing paper.  T.

P.P.S.  I tried to find Dick Stryker, but so far as I can make out from info received, he's at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  T.
  • Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
  • 25 Dec 1944

25 Dec 1944, Tom's Letter to the MacWilliam's

[On 25 Dec 1944 Tom wrote to Gordie MacWilliam's parents.  They gave the letter to the Keiser's, and it is transcribed herewith.]

The Rock

25 December [1944]

Dear Floy and Mac,

Greetings from the South Pacific!  Although you'd never guess it from the temperature here, it actually is Christmas.  I suppose you know it in West End, though, and a little Lend-lease on the weather deal might be mutually beneficial.

Mother writes that you, Floy, have been having a pretty bad time with a cold.  I hope that it's over by now and that the recovery is complete.  I'm glad to know that Ann is getting well.

I guess you had a good time with Gordie when he was home.  I wish I could have gotten in touch with him in New Orleans.  What is his new assignment and what address have you for him--  Maybe if he heads this way we could have a delayed celebration.

I've been busy working with another company while we wait for our equipment to catch up with us.  I'm working a gang of stevedores, loading and discharging cargo - which, while not so enjoyable as sailing, is yet winning the war at a great rate, and at least I get to set foot on board once in awhile.

My best wishes to you for a happy new year.

  • Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
  • 25 Dec 1944

1 Jan 1945, Letter No. 73 From Tom

Postmarked: 2 Jan 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 19 Feb 1945[sic], Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post [Also stamped thus on the first page of the letter.]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Thur Jan 11
Ans Sun Jan 14  # 17, Jermyn snapshots
Wrote Wed Jan 17  # 18

300 Base for 2 mo.
42.70 Subsistance
21.00 Quarters for leave
19.50 Overseas
105.00 Cash Bal.

82.50 Bonds Nov
82.50 Bonds Dec
50.00 Allot.
50.00 Allot
6.60 Ins.

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 17 - 14 Jan
2nd letter from Dick [Culbert - a POW in Germany]
Ice Follies
War Record for Colls High
No good picture
Sherry home from Guadalcanal
Lucite watch strap
Bisk - 720
Guad. Diary
No Nov or Dec Bonds
Sup. Course
Snow storm here
Snaps at Jermyn
2nd note from Alice
Charlie's and church with Sullivan]


[Tom's notes on letter:
Nov 14 & 24 to G.J. (7, 8, 9)]

The Rock
1 January 1945

Dear Folks,

I guess we're caught up on mis-sent letters, having received the above two backnumbers.  We'll start of by acknowledging the October and November bank statements.  I have brought my balance up to (or down to, as you will) $153.57.  If Mary [Keiser] will give me the total amount of the checks she writes at the end of each month, I can deduct that to make things come out even.  I don't expect to write any checks myself so it should be pretty easy to keep things squared away.  I am inclosing number 122 that I tried to cash in San Diego, and also a deposit receipt for the October check I sent the bank from Camp Stoneman, California.  Today is pay-day, so I should have quite a bit of money to send to Texas, what with two months' worth coming.

We get paid in cash here, not by check, but I can get a treasury check from the F.O. and send that to the bank.  You should also receive the Nov and Dec bonds shortly - let me know when.

Your letter of the 24th mentioned receiving a bond, so I guess that's the $1000 one I sent from California.  So much for affairs financial.

How was the supervisor conference work you questioned the importance of?  Probably similar to the basic training course I'm going to take for a week.  God, how they can Think of Things!

Glad to hear Collingswood finally won a game this season- it was pretty bad being skunked by Audubon, but the Thanksgiving Day game probably saved face for them.

Did I go to the AC & FDD&D shindig at the Warwick?  Hope Mary used the invitation.  Wouldn't want to miss out on free eats, you know.  Glad she is liking the concert series.

The snapshots arrived- gee, I sure look like a dope.  The one of the Kid and me takes the cake, doesn't it?  Everyone looks at me and wonders how I can have such a good-looking sister.

Do you have to go to work in Philly or was that just a rumor.  It won't be too good if you do.

After just saying I wasn't going to write any checks, Lt. Curry just came over and asked if I would write one for him to mail for a magazine subscription.

Knocked off for dinner and then went over and collected my pay - $105 for two months.  300 base + 42.70 subsistence + 21 quarters for leave + 19.50 for overseas less 82.50 twice for bonds - 100 allotment - 13.20 ins.  I guess I'll send 75 to the bank tomorrow.

You sure did some bum figuring on where I am.  Missed it by about 6000 miles.  We crossed the Equator at long 172 deg. W. on Dec 1.  Never saw Dec 4, for we crossed the Date Line then.

The letter you mentioned receiving in # 9 was sent from Noumea, New Caledonia.  Then we came north again to within 10 deg S of the Equator.  And at present I am basking in the sunshine of Richard Tregaskis' little isle- waiting for our boats.  [Note: Richard Tregaskis was a war correspondent during World War II, who spent two months following the U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands.  He wrote the book, Guadalcanal Diary, in 1943, which is an account of the invasion there.]

I received the cards from S & C [Strawbridge & Clothiers, Phila.] and Alice [Crompton] gave me a set of bars- now all I need is the authority to use them.  Saw "Rhapsody in Blue" the other night, which was supposed to have had its world premiere here on Guadalcanal- it was a good "B" picture.



P.S. Please send me some writing paper.  T.

N.B. You spelled carburetter[sic] wrong.  T.
  • Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
  • 1 Jan 1945

3 Jan 1945, Letter No. 74 From Tom

Postmarked: 4 Jan 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 24 Mar 1945[sic], Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post [Also stamped thus on the last page of the letter.]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Wed 17th Jan
Ans Wed 17th Jan # 18]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 18
Letters from Gr., Jane, Betts, B.J. & his written 3 Jan
Blizzard here & Jermyn
Mary - Concert & Ben franklin
Snap of 10 D Unit
Ltr. from Floy
Snaps into album
Changed sweater for dress
Stetson next Wed.
Hoyle- Cribbage
Basic over?]


[Tom's notes on letter:  10.]

The Rock
3 January 45

Dear Folks,

Hope you had a good time in Jermyn during the holiday season.  It was nice you could get away.  And I suppose you had a call from Laura for I figured it right my first letter from "The Rock" should have reached home by that time.  It was nice of her to offer to come over.  Say hello for me to her.

Spent the evening playing Cribbage with Lt. Kretschmer.  I'm not a very good player, having just learned about it on  the boat over, so he skunked me.  It's a pretty complicated game.

Tried to get a check for $75 to send to the bank but couldn't, for they are only given for $100 and over.  Decided I couldn't last for a month on $5, so will wait until next month to send it.

Had a letter from Booby, and will try to get it answered tomorrow, but I don't know yet what I'll be feeling like, for the Basic training starts then.  Up at 5 tomorrow morning, gad!

Guess we're caught up except for the Thanksgiving fruit cake & Lois' cookies.  Will drop the Stahls a line soon.

Received Floy & Mac's Christmas Card the day after I wrote them.

When I get around to it, I'll tell you more about Guadalcanal.  Right now I've got to see if I can get an envelope unstuck so I can mail this.  The weather plays the devil with the stickum.



P.S.  Please send me some writing paper.  T.
  • Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
  • 3 Jan 1945

10 Jan 1945, Letters from Alice Crompton

[The next items in time sequence are two thank-you notes from Alice Crompton to Agnes Keiser, both found in the same envelope.  It is presumed that the second envelope was discarded.]

Postmarked: 11 PM, 10 Jan 1945, Washington, D.C. 2

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt.(j.g.) A.M. Crompton, U.S.N.R., 1633 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.


Wednesday [10 January 1945]

Dear Mrs Keiser,

Thank you for the slip (it's my favorite make) and for the Christmas Card.  It's so nice of you to remember me.

My Mother and Father and I had our Christmas on the 30th this year as that was my day off.  We had a wonderful time and a good turkey dinner.

Yesterday I moved as Mary Bates' (the girl I have been living with for the past six months) Father came back to town for the new session of Congress.  Its quite a job to move now for while I don't know exactly how I do it I keep getting more and more possessions.  This time we have gotten a room and bath as we are tired of the house work envolved[sic] in an apartment.  I know I won't like going out for all my meals but it will be a change and a lot easier.

We have a landlady who talks for hours if she catches you so we will have to be very careful entering and leaving the building.




Wednesday Jan 10th

Dear Mrs. Keiser,

I remember writing to you but I am not at all sure if I mailed the note and as I was so pleased with the sip you sent me and of your thinking of me at Christmas I want to be sure you know about it.

Today we decided to move in the last few things we had left behind on our first moving day.  It was all pesty stuff like radio, card table, two big bulging shopping bags and an ironing board.  As we are not allowed to do any washing here we were quite afraid to bring the ironing board and as you might know the landlady caught Lynn.  She had the presence of mind to keep talking to her in our room while I and the ironing board, card table, etc. hid in the telephone booth downstairs.  Twenty minutes later with the coast clear I dashed up the stairs with my burdens to the safety of our room.

A little living here and we will be quite adept at underhand work.

From Tom's letters he seems to be as contented and comfortable as is possible in the Pacific and I hope as you do that he remains so.


  • Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
  • 10 Jan 1945

8 Jan 1945, Letter No. 75 From Tom

Postmarked: 11 Jan 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By Examiner U.S. Base 1919 Army

Postmarked: 21 Apr 1945[sic], Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post [Stamped also on one page of the letter.]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Photographs Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Ans Thurs. eve # 19, Box- Fri 19th
Wrote Tues eve, 23rd # 20]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 19 - Jan 18
Jan 8th letter received
Writing on 1 side
Henderson's scales {olives, cookies, cand milk[?], peaches, or. juice, nut meats}
Harry not hear from since 29 Dec
Letter postmarked 11 and opened
Neg. to Haus
Junk for natives?
Hawaiian dollar [Note: enclosed with this letter was a U.S. One Dollar Silver Certificate, Series 1935 A, stamped Hawaii on the front and back.  The significance of this Hawaii mark is unknown.]
Roland Cook
Frost Pres. Estil...[?]
Mary to club- guessing game
Need cards?
Has hair grown
Can you bath off shore[?]
Tied box & will mail]


[Tom's notes on letter:  1 & 2 to 709]

The Rock
8 January 45

Dear Folks,

Let me start out by admonishing you for the paper on which I've received the last few letters.  Let's either write on only one side of it, or else get some heavier stuff, in any case, so the writing won't show through from reverse to obverse.  I know you are being the sweetest kind of dears about trying to win the war, and by using light-weight paper you are keeping down the weight of the mail planes, but it is still damn hard to read both sides of the sheet at once.

I muchly enjoyed your endeavors to locate me.  As I mentioned in a previous letter your first effort was a beautiful failure, but now that you do know, the attempt at "detective" work appeared more and more humorous.  In order to clear up some of the mystification that arose concerning the heading of my letters, let me say that "The Rock" is any island, islet, coral reef, or atoll, which may be harboring a "G.I.," whether it be Attu or Andalusia.  (not being too certain of the geographical nomenclature of the last-mentioned reference, I mention it only as a phonetical nicety.)  Thank you, no, the "Rock" is not Alcatraz, although we did pass close by on our way to San Diego, while we steamed out the "Golden Gate."

I suppose on your part you will be amused by the financial turn my first few letters have taken, But I do believe that everything has been caught up by now.  If Mary will use her own numbered series of checks It will probably be a little easier for the bookkeeping, for I have gone right on, and I had a number "122" of my own.  You should have it by now, as I voided it.

So far as BOM [Book of the Month] is concerned, I'll turn it over to you and Mary & Dad.  If you should decide to want the books, let Mary send them a check; and if you think I might be interested in them after you are through with them, include them in one of the "writing papers" you send.

It is going to be interesting to see whether the fruit cake you sent to G.J. or to 709 reaches here first.  The only package so far is the cards from S & C {Strawbridge & Clothiers, Phila.] - probably a needless expenditure, for I have neither the authority to use them at present, nor am I in a place where they could be used to any advantage.

Do not let me mislead you to the state of civilization here on Guadalcanal by the above statement.  True, the main highway is more or less similar to Madison Avenue, Jermyn, Pa, and the by-ways are little more than tortuous mud ruts if it has been raining, or dusty Saharas if it has not; but each of these little branches from the highway leads to the camp-site of a different organization where the likes & dislikes- petty hatreds & jealousies among the members are so much waht you will find - let us say for instance; at the 802d Depot, that I cannot be but convinced that we have here a very high state of civilization.  This, of course, excepts the natives.  And since I can't speak their language anyhow, there is no way for me to report on that aspect of the situation.

The natives are directly, as we are indirectly, controlled by the british who have domain over these islands.  They must have feet with cast iron soles, for they never seem to bargain for shoes to wear, whatever other clothing the may have finegled.  The usual costume is a skirt of some sort of tattered canvas held at the waist by a belt such as our enlisted cadies wear with their service coats.  To this is added a musette bag slung over the shoulder in which they carry only god knows what.  Somewhere, suspended from the belt is a wooden comb, which looks for all the world like the brush on the front of the Scottish uniform.  They usually carry some sort of stick or club, and, if they really want to be "sharp," they have an unlit pipe of Occidental manufacture stuck in their mouths.  Sometimes the combs I mentioned above are carried stuck into their frizzy head of hair, and I do mean that they have lots of it.  It sticks out all over in some cases as much as 4 inches or more, and it is in some cases also, either bleached by the sun, or so full of dust, that it is almost blonde.  The natives are short of stature, but they have no shortcomings when it comes to barter or sale.  They have learned a good deal and drive a hard bargain.  We on our side have, some of us, an interest in their grass skirts or clubs.  They, on theirs, have an interest in our pipes, knives of any sort, flashlights, and money.  Although they are prohibited from buying at our PXs, and it would seem that they had no need for the money, they get our boys to buy them the things they want for it.  I suppose they are given money for the work they do, and they probably use it to get foods in their villages which I have never visited, or they use it to impress[sic] their women, whom I have never seen.  Everyone to them is "Joe," for those who speak, and they ride up and down the highway in our trucks to & from work, or funnier yet, they walk along, using the gentle art of thumbing, of which they are proficient masters.  So much for that.

We have here a radio station, which is as powerful as WBRE probably was in 1925, however receptionis remarkably clear, even in storms, excepting sometimes the short-wave relays from Stateside, as it is the only station on the dial (unless, as the fellows do at times- one can pick up short wave directly) we either listen to what they have to offer, or we don't listen at all.  However, the programs we do get are sans commercials and this was all OK for a time.  I do believe, though, that maybe a "Rinso White," a "Chicklets Candy-Coated Chewing Gum," a "B-O," or what have you, would now be highly entertaining for its novelty.  The programs do include "Information please," as much symphony and popular music as one would care to hear, good entertainers, and occasionally a mystery drama which lacks only Host Raymond & his door.

I just stopped for a nice, cold beer- a further indication of how far we have progressed, and now, after a couple of lusty belches, I will bring this letter to a close, for I'm just about written out this week.

The "Christmas letter" was thoroughly enjoyed, and I wish I could write to everyone and tell them so.  Whoever does Grandma know to get the turkey?  The dinner sounded its usual best, and you are quite right, that although I did have a turkey dinner for Christmas, it was nothing to compare with the sumptious feast you described.

N.B. - The army never has hot slaw.

I laughed indeed, at what you described as the race Edna, Mrs. Boyer, and Mrs. Culbert are having to get a d. in-law.  I have my own choice, but will keep it to myself for awhile.

If you haven't yet read "Generation of Vipers" by Philip Wylie, by all means do so.



P.S.  Please send me some writing paper.  T.

P.P.S.  I almost forgot to inclose these eight negatives from a film Lt. Curry took one day.  He thought them no good & was for throwing them away.  However, I persuaded him to let me see if you could not make something of them- although they will probably turn our poorly, I agree.  If you can get anything good from them send me two sets & send a set to Mrs. Richard T. Curry, 381 Oakland Avenue, Oakland 11, California.  She is sending you a set of some that turned out well.  The characters are Lt. Curry, Lt. Kretschmer, and myself.  Lt. C. is tall, & Lt. K is stout.  Paul (Lt. K) has just told me the natives bleach their hair (see page 5).

Inclosed also is $1.00 for developing, which I think you might like to have anyway.  T.
  • Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
  • 8 Jan 1945

15 Jan 1945, Letter No. 76 From Tom

Postmarked: 19 Jan 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By Examiner U.S. Base 1953 Army

Postmarked: 4 Jun 1945[sic], Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Thurs Jan 25th
Ans Fri Jan 26 # 21
Wrote Thurs Feb 1st # 22
Box Mon Feb 5th
Wrote Mon eve Feb 5th # 23
Wrote Fri Feb 9th # 24]

[On the back of the envelope Tom writes: Forgot the Writing Paper  T.]

[Agnes' notes on papers inside:
# 21
In ans to letter of 15th Jan
Milk in bottle frozen
Temperature 2
Snow man
Condition of cake?
Did he receive key case?
Native comb
Mildreds presents, hula skirt etc.
2 sets of pictures enclosed
Odd picture of icicles
Fire in Phila.
Letter from Aunt Lois
Using blankets

# 22
Ground Hog Day
Brown out
Victor clipping etc.
Mary club here
Harry Young in Hawaii
Gordon in Hawaii
Don from Cape May soon
Mary card from Dick
Granada fire
Bets article on SW Pacific
Request for knife

# 23
Letter from Mrs. Curry
Snap shots and comments
Box {peaches, snifties[?], nuts}
Our Hearts Were Young & Gay
Dr. Snell & Dr Roberts
Picture of Stahls home
Mary 3rd from Dick
Tom in jeep- Filter would clear
Dad eating It. Bread & Catsup

# 24
Capwell wedding and anniversary
Thurber Carnival
Mary - War & Peace
New BOMs - not getting
Xmas Hat- Wannamakers - Winged Victory
Guadalcanal - Garden Spot of the Pacific
2 $10 Bonds Nov & Dec
802 to 859A
Dad brought donuts
Dr. Lester Wilson - Cooper- Guadalcanal
Bill P. will wait for rotation
Mr. D's will.]

[Agnes' notes on the back of the letter:
Deviled ham - 15
Snifties - 47
Box nuts 1.39
Melba toast .15
Anchovy .20
Blue cheese 22 [circled]]


[Tom's notes on letter:  3 to 709]

The Rock
15 January 45

Dear Folks,

Your above letter arrived on the tenth followed the next day by the fruit cake from G.J.  Then yesterday the package of Gimbel's delicatessen was waiting for me to pick up - literally it was in pieces.  Who did the wrapping job on it?  When I stopped by the orderly room, I received a miscellaneous collection of boxes and bottles, and the mail clerk said if I wanted the nuts, here was the mail sack - pick 'em out.  But not any of the bottles & jars were broken.

I'm going to let my last letter do double duty for this short note.  This week is the graveyard shift for yours truly, and I've got to try to sleep during the hot daytime hours.  Sometimes is's successful- like yesterday when it was cooled off somewhat by the rain, but today  is a scorcher.

Basic training is over for the nonce, and I'm back at stevedoring.

I'll tell you more about the flora and fauna of the "Rock" when I get some more time - meanwhile the inclosed clipping from the New Yorker will have to suffice. 

[The clipping states:  RAISED EYEBROWS DEPARTMENT [From the Rochester Times-Union]  A combination of business with pleasure is in store for teams who will participate in the membership drive of Monroe County league for Planned Parenthood when they gather Sunday night at Eastman House as guests of Mrs. Alan Valentine.]



  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 15 Jan 1945

28 Jan 1945, Letter No. 1 From Doris H. Curry

Postmarked: 29 Jan 1945, Oakland 2, Calif.

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Mrs. R.P. Curry, 381 Oakland Avennue, Oakland 11, California


On letterhead inscribed in blue, "D H C"

January 28, 1945

Dear Mrs. Keiser,

My husband has asked that I send you a set of the enclosed pictures.  Dick is stationed on Guadalcanal with your son.  The boys took some snapshots recently and when Dick sent the negatives he asked that I have an extra set made for you because your son would like you to have them.

I don't know the story of the sinking ship but perhaps they can tell about it if we ask them in a letter.

Writing to someone in New Jersey, even though we have never met, makes it seem like home.  I lived in Jersey City for about 17 years.  I came out here two weeks ago when Dick was transferred to this coast and I decided to stay here until he returns which shouldn't be too far away.  One of my college friends, Patricia Hunt, came from Collingswood.  Do you know the family?

I hope someday when this terrible war is over I may have the pleasure of meeting you.


Doris Curry

P.S.  Dick is the one in the picture marked "X" and as you see appears in others too.

  • Oakland, California, USA
  • 28 Jan 1945

1 Feb 1945, Letter No. 77 From Tom

Postmarked: 7 Feb 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By Examiner U.S. Base 1534 Army

Postmarked: 14 Mar 1945[sic], Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post [on envelope and one inside page of letter]

Postmarked: 4 Jun 1945[sic], Collingswood, N.J. Parcel Post [on first page of letter]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Mon 12 Feb
Ans Tues 13 Feb # 25
Wrote Mon 19 Feb # 26
Mon Fruitcake (21 Mar)
Wrote Sun 25 Feb # 27]

[Agnes' notes on papers inside:
#25, 13 Feb
Letter censored
Dick censored two from one soldier to different wives
Feb weather - blizzard north, Hurricane south, Sleety snow here
Mary & John to movies
Buckhill - Univ Hosp.
Enjoyed description in letter
Am. or Eng. beer
bank statement 7 to Texas
Pay balance 8.60?
Nov Dec bonds arrived Total of all.
Trees in Jungle
Merritt & John over  Ed. O.C.S.
What can I send?

# 26, 19 Feb
copies of Guad. descr. to Grandma & girls
Grandma 75th B.D.
Sat snow storm & Mary's back
Cover of Plane Facts picture of G.
Dad sent Bond Fruit Cake
Open house at 802
Mary finished Thurber
Did you get book from Jane

# 27, 25th Feb
Spring like day- cleaned yard
Marys suit at Bonds
Childs- Here Come the Waves
Rain- Bus ht- home 12:30
Club at Adams
Mary to Newcastle- Homestead
Girls Roller Skating
Mrs. Ford - mental. - Fire in cellar
Mary inv. to dance lee Simpson
R.O. Carr out of business
Note from mrs. Curry
No mail since Feb 1 letter
No Generation of Vipers
Washed hair, clothes - Dad to Charlies
Kis note- Car to Hunt next week.

# 28, 1 March
Letter 27 back for more postage
Grandma letter back for address
2nd aniv at Hoftran[?]
Mary & I & Mrs. Blake - Karlson & Now Tomorrow
No Gen of Vipers - Aunt Lois excerpts
Check 10 to Mary
Feb 8 to 15th letter
Unit Chief - ?
Odgen folding
Mary inv. to Frat dance & party
Merrit in France

#29, March 5
Mary's birthday & gifts
Took over unit
Conference W.M.C. & S/Bal Report
Mary concert, friends from Peirce
Finished wash - on way to bed

#30, 9 March
Picture recd.
Ki wrote letter too

# 31, 13 March

Joke- 3 ducks - put put
Kodachrome - 4 to 6 weeks
MacWilliams - no cake
Grandma letter - flood - 2 lost, needs sunshine, new glasses
Nilos - hover[?] wait, shopping- same- wait
Stanley- Humphrey Bogart, To Have & To Have Not
Capwells moved
No word from Bus Coll
Bank Statement for Feb
Peirce Alum Statement

# 32, 18 Mar
China closet- glass
Spring- too early
Dad & I cleaned yard - Mary have backyard
Peirce dance fri- no boys
Ginny Henry- Wash]

[Also enclosed was a note written in shorthand by sister, Mary.  Tom translated it as follows: 
Dear Tom,
This is a specimen of my shorthand written legibly, freely, and ? [Agnes later added what-not].  Mom is sitting over me with a gun so if I don't write - well.  Sorry my lad but I really must run now. 

[Also enclosed in the letter were a few pages from Yank magazine, date unknown, with a two-page spread on Picnic on the Kinugawa Maru.  These pictures, by Yank's Sgt. Dil Ferris, were taken during an offshore party by five Red Cross girls and 10 G.I.s, exploring a Jap ship that was sunk trying to land troops on Guadalcanal.  This ship was the subject of some of the pictures taken by Dick Curry, copies of which were sent to the Keiser's.]


[Tom's notes on letter:  14, 15, 16, 19]

The Rock
1 February 45

Dear Folks,

It wasn't hard for me to break the one New year's resolution I made to write at least once a week.  Was it?  But we'll give it another try this month.  Of course a lot of things combined to interfere - one, the continuation of night work, two, a fondness for having "a beer" (which if you must know, has already interrupted this letter), three, the custom of the peoples of torrid climes to siesta  and in general to take  things slow and easy, and four, a lot of activity caused by a couple of unfortunate accidents.  One of our officers was killed in a motor accident several days ago- rather a stupid thing to wait until getting overseas for a vehicle to run over one.

Then too, I just had to change quarters.  By this time I should be used to that, but it is still a nuisance packing up and then straightening out again.  I had been occupying the spot of an officer who has been in the hospital for some time.  When he returned of course, I had to scram and  am now sleeping where another officer lived.  He is now at a stevedore school and will probably return in a week or so and I'll have to switch again.

Today was pay-day, and I received the enormous sum of $8.60 after additions and deletions had been made.  That should be plenty, unless I decide to go to a few night clubs and several trips to the theatres - I rather think I won't be having much night life except for working.

By the way, have you received the November and December bonds?  The ones for January should also be along shortly.

Well, I promised more information about Gc [Guadalcanal], so here goes.  All these South Pacific islands are spectacular - They are real mountains themselves, and if the ocean could  be drained away, would probably rival the Himmalayas[sic].  The scenery here is really marvelous.  But it  has to be appreciated from a relatively close spot to the shore.  The interior is pretty much "off limits", not only because of the jungle, but also it helps coordinate activities to have things pretty much consolidated.

All day long there are mists in the valleys which at first are deceptive in that they are nistaken for lakes.  There are patches of light and dark green running wild over the hills - lights being grassy spots, and dark being jungle - and in the distance the farthest hills are deep blue and lost in the clouds in spots.  The skies are beautiful either by day or at night.  There are long, low clouds that make the sunrise interesting and the sunset beautiful, and the stars outshine themselves in gorgeous array.  Thank heaven there are still some familiar constellations visible (Orion, Casseopea, and the Big Dipper for a few- however, Polaris is below the horizon so I won't have to learn navigation over entirely).  The Southern Cross is no great shakes, for all the publicity it gets.

I think there are more vultures here than anywhere else.  Great, big, ugly things that make a leathery "swoosh" as they fly over, and they sound like crows with laryngitis.  They are not  the only things though.  We have bats that come and eat the papaya fruit, beautiful red birds  that look like cardinals from the distance I observed them, white parrots, and another bird that I have never seen that has a call simialr to the department store call chimes - at least that's as near as I can get to it.

There are dragon-flies galore - large ones in all sorts of colors - red fuzzy ones, black ones with red tails, green, brown, and balck, and of course a lot of pesky bugs.  Flies seem to have thrived in this climate and are as big as dinosaurs (figuratively).

Insect life cannot be ignored either.  Spiders range from tiny dots to as large as tea cups- millipedes and lost of other crawling, jumping, and flying things that would put an entomologist in seventh heaven are a dime a dozen.  But none of these is so bad or pesky as the ants.  They are everywhere.  Practically every fallen limb or twig is an ant hill par excellance, yet they don't seem to lead a happy home life and are always pestering people.  Any food left open is subject to their larceny.

Plant life too, is plenty plentiful.  These jungles are really the thing.  I know, for in the basic course I just completed we had compass marches and scouting and patrolling problems through the thickest.  They have a peculiar odor all their own that I can't describe.  And once in them without a compass one gets lost quite easily and keeps going round in circles just as when we hit the Jersey traffic intersections [a.k.a. traffic circles].  You can see maybe  five feet away in some spots, and its like trying to get off the B.M.T. or going along Market Street on Clover day to try to beat a path.

So much for stuff.  When you get through with "The Thurber Carnival," send it along.  Did you get "Generaton of Vipers?"  Doc Ayer been there recently?

Whatever you do, don't send me a cow unless you can send two.  Much as I'm dying for a drink of fresh milk, I'd probably cut the poor thing up for a good tenderhouse.

Thank you, no, I won't need any old pipes, beads, etc.  The dollar will probably be the only thing coming from the South Pacific.  I'm not going to get burdened up with any native junk - I have enough crap of my own already.  My hair is slowly growing out, but I can still comb it with a towel.  Swimming is fine here. but we have to go a distance  from the harbor activities, for that water is full of stuff from ship's bilges and gooey.  The water is however crystal clear, and the most beautiful deep blue.



P.S.  Please send me some writing paper.  T.

P.P.S.  Rather than violate my abhorrence of writing on the reverse of thin paper I'll use another sheet - I'll probably receive 17 and 18 shortly - 15 came before 14.

N.B.  Who gave my APO to Am. Serv. Aid?  They sent me a Valentine!  Thank Miss  Baker for it, and politely tell them to let me be.  T.

P.S.  What was my first day in the Army?  I'll be getting longevity in a few months.  By the time you get this I'll have had a commission for two years.

This letter took five cigarettes and a beer to get itself written.

More love and stuff,


  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 1 Feb 1945

8 Feb 1945, Letter No. 78 From Tom

Postmarked: 19 Feb 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By Examiner U.S. Base 0885 Army

Postmarked: Westville, N.J. Parcel Post [on second page of letter]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
(see # 14 free)
Rec'd Wed Feb 28
Ans Thur Mar 1 # 28
Wrote Mon Mar 5 # 29]


[Tom's notes on letter:  17, 18, 21]

The Rock
8 February 45

Dear Folks,

Just as I suspected, the two missing letters 17 & 18 showed up the day after I last wrote.  Now 20 is missing and will probably make the same mysterious appearance.

I hope by this time the Nov Dec & January bonds have arrived- let me know.

Thanks for the Jermyn pictures- they certainly look nice and cool.  The other pictures we took are pretty crummy, aren't they?  Richard Curry is holding the cocoanuts[sic] - not myself.  However, I am in the picture, if you look closer.  When I took it I lay on the ground, and them's me pants occupying the lower part below Dick's knees.  I'm also in the one of Lt. Kretschmer- you can see the toe of my shoe in that one.  The other roll that Lt. Curry sent for printing should turn out much better, for the negatives were good.  Has she sent them yet?  Dick has been away at school and his mail forwarded, so I can't say whether they have arrived.

The ship is the something-or-other "Maru" a troopship of the Japs when they tried to retake the island.  There's a couple of others in like condition.

Stop for a beer.

15 Feb 45

That stop was interrupted and, shall we say, protracted - started talking with the boys, went to work, and when I returned, Lt. Curry was back & I had to take a powder and let him have his own bed.  It didn't take a whole week to get moved, but just that I didn't get back to it.  Dick gave me a set of the pictures- pretty good.

Jane's [Freas] book "Cross-Section" arrived and it's quite interesting and I must write her - and Betts [Freas Waters] - and Lois [Freas Stahl] - and Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] - and on an on.

So I'm going to make this short with a request that you take the inclosed and get Mary something for her birthday.



P.S. Please send me some writing paper.  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 8 Feb 1945

15 Feb 1945, Letter No. 79 From Tom

Postmarked: 19 Feb 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By Examiner U.S. Base 0885 Army

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Tues Apr 10
Ans Tues Apr 10 # 37
Wrote Mon Apr 16 # 38]

[Agnes' notes on papers inside:
#37, 10 Apr
Free letter of 15 Feb arrived
Use stamp
Last letter 10 days ago
Letter from Alice- thanks for B.D. pres
Work piling up-Nights.  New class of equipment
Move upstairs next week
Dad fixing around house
Mary lily of the valley, riding at New Town Sq.
Feb Bonds - New Bond drive

# 38
Pres. Roosevelt's death
War nearly over?
Stock Records moved upstairs
New back rain pipe
No azalea blooms
Dad to La Tosca
Mary 4 tests passed
Bank statement]


The Rock
15 February 45

Dear Mom,

Here's the "free" letter mailed on 16 February with the 8-15 February airmail letter.  How long?

The second fruitcake arrived safely, and I am now preserving it in alcohol - Hope whiskey will make it taste even better than it looks.

Received also the Xmas fruit cake & the key case Mary sent.



P.S.  Please send me some writing paper.  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 15 Feb 1945

18 Feb 1945, Letter No. 2 From Doris H. Curry

Postmarked: 19 Feb 1945, Oakland 2, Calif.

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Mrs. R.P. Curry, 381 Oakland Avenue, Oakland 11, California


On letterhead inscribed in blue, "D H C"

February 18, 1945

Dear Mrs. Keiser,

I received your very nice letter and thank you so much for the snapshots.  Yes, pictures do mean so much when the boys are far away.

It certainly was thoughtful of you to contact the Hunts.  I had been wondering where Patty is and I was glad to hear the news.

Dick will be overseas two years this March.  Naturally it has seemed much longer than that to me but I have been very lucky knowing he is in a safe place and not a combat area.  We both feel he will get home during '45 but so far he has no prospects of a leave.  Time will tell but  we're keeping our fingers crossed.

I came out here in January 1943 and when the fellows shipped out I moved into my girlfriend's apartment with her and we decided to wait here until they return.  We are both working and trying to do our part here on the homefront in the meantime.

I do hope we shall meet someday and thank you again for the pictures.


Doris H. Curry

  • Oakland, California, USA
  • 18 Feb 1945

1 Mar 1945, Letter No. 80 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 Mar 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service

Postmarked: 4 Jun 1945[sic], Collingswood, NJ, Parcel Post [also stamped on first page of letter]

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Examiner Base 0899 Army

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Friday 9 Mar
Ans Fri eve 9 Mar # 30
Wrote Tues eve 13 Mar # 31
Wed 14 Thurber, carnival
Wrote Sun 18 Mar # 32]

[Tom's note on top of letter: 20, 22, 23, 24]

The Rock
1 March 45

Dear Folks,

Here's proof of what I wrote you in December that I was wearing bathing trunks.  The picture was taken in front of one of our tents.  Those are young cocoanut[sic] palms about it - they are much taller by this time, and there are also now some giant zinnias almost as large as dahlias planted about.  We were unpacking our equipment at that time - those are some of the crates behind me.  I have acquired a tan since then.

I have finished working with the Port company and am no longer stevedoring.  Back with the H.C. [Harbor Company] helping run our operations and in the spare time helping with the construction of a club and mess building.

Thanks for the reefer barge clipping.  We won't have to wait for it for the ice cream, for it is made here, and we have it maybe once a week.  However, we do have to wait for refrigerator ships to bring eggs and such.  Jane [Freas] didn't believe my story of having cold beer to drink.

Have you received the free letter dated 15 February yet?

The fruit cake in the green tin is darn good eating.  I improved its flavor somewhat with two ounces of whiskey.  It's about half gone now, so maybe you'd better start another one.  Don't send any more nuts, for they get too soggy for eating.

How come Mary went to Dr. Snell for a dental appointment - why not be a guinea pig for Doc Ayer?

The bonds are pretty slow in coming aren't they?  I checked with Finance and was told that it takes probably three months to get them started.  But they should roll along OK after that.

Are you going to have to work in Phila?  And is there any more doing with WBBC [Wilkes Barre Business College, PA]?

That's about all for now, except that I'm also inclosing check stubs 101-125 and waiting for the next (or the last) statement.



P.S.  Glad you like your Xmas present.  T.

N.B.  Thanks for the Valentines.  T.

P.P.S.  Please send me some writing paper.  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 1 Mar 1945

11 Mar 1945, Letter No. 81 From Tom

Postmarked: 13 Mar 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 4 Jun 1945[sic], Westville, NJ, Registered [only on last page of letter]

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Examiner Base 1953 Army

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr  01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd 20 March
  15 - overseas
  21.70 (70 cents a day meals)
  47.60 for meals at 25 cents apiece, etc.
  23.25  31 x 3 = 93 x 25 cents

 75 Bonds
 50.00 Allot.
    6.60 Ins

[Tom's note on top of letter: 25, 26, 27]

The Rock
11 March 45

Dear Folks,

I suppose our little scheme to find out how much longer regular mail takes to arrive over air mail has fallen through but I'll send another "free" with this one.  # 27 said you hadn't received any since 1 feb, but I have sent some since then.  I inclosed something for Mary's B'day, so I guess you'll have to use it to get a belated gift.

Now that you're getting into Spring and Summer weather I suppose it won't be long until you're out in the garden again.  Let's hope for a little better results this year, for that lone tomato of last season's crop was pretty pathetic.  At the same time, we'll be going into Winter weather here - wonder what it will be like.  Not much different I suppose, being only 7 deg. from the Equator.

You spoke abot Dick Culbert censoring mail - when I was stevedoring I came across several similar instances of the colored men writing to "Dear Wives" - and addressed "Miss"

Today we had our first meal in our new mess hall and club.  It has been in construction for a couple of months now ans is still not completed - at least the bar is not set up yet.  But it's pretty snazzy nonetheless, with all sorts of conveniences, including running hot and cold water.  It sits up on a hill, and commands a wonderful view - from the front over the water the other islands are visible and out the other way, the noble mountains & jungle.  We have all worked on it, doing everything to pouring concrete to tacking down the roof, fitting pipe, and stringing wires.

I'm inclosing my translation of Mary's note as far as I could go with it.  The [unknown shorthand symbol here] got a little sloppy along toward the end.  [See Letter No. 77 from Tom]  Am also sending more literature about the boat in the pictures I sent.

The package with the olives, Bordens Milk and cookies arrived yesterday - good, too, if you can get hold of any "Toddy" made by the Wonder Co. - (Ovaltine), you can send it along any time.  I had some of it here, but there is no more.

Received the Bank Statement OK - Mary doesn't have to put back for the checks she writes (unless they amount to more than what's on hand).  So far there have been two of Mary's checks.  Please have her number the next one "3".  More about the $8.60 salary for January - $150 + $15 (10% overseas) + $21.70 (food alws) = $186.70.  $75 + $7.50 (bonds) + $6.60 (ins) + $39 (meals fr 11 Dec to 31 Jan @ 25 cents ea) + $50 almt + $8.60 = $186.70  OK? 

This month (Feb) I received $24.50.  150 + 15 +19.60 (food alws) less 75 + 7.50 - 6.60 - 50 - 21 (meals Feb).

I guess that's about all.



P.S. Please send me some writing paper.  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 11 Mar 1945

11 Mar 1945, Letter No. 82 From Tom

Postmarked: 13 Mar 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Examiner Base 1958 Army

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Tues 20 March
Ans. Tues. 20 Mar # 33
Box Sat 24 {ripe olives, green olives, Tooties}
Wrote Tues 26 Mar # 34]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 33 - 20 March
Letter of 11 March & postcript
Happy homecoming
No use to try free mail
Tomato crop year before no last year
Mess Hall - did you wire?
Interesting picture of Kingawa Maru
Get Toddy tomorrow night Phila
January bonds arrived
Ins to Roy Taylor
Govt 70 cents a day  Meals cost 75
Mary shorthand word was whatnot
Broad ripple
Lois [Stahl] in Syracuse - new Coliseum

# 34
No Toddy - Coll. or Phila. - Tootsie
Letter from Mary Keiser [aunt] - Ed.
Mary at concert - rifing and bowling
Mr. Culbert free[?]
Roy Taylor here
Fire trucks going by
1 o'clock broadcast - No end of Germany yet
B-32 requests - first today]


The Rock
11 March 45

P.S.S. to letter airmail same date:

Alice and Mary Bates are vacationing in Florida for a couple of weeks, and they are staying (of all places for a couple of Waves) at the Hotel Broadripple!

 Mary's father is in Congress from Massachusetts, and it was at their apartment in Washington that Alice [Crompton] and Lynn were staying.

When did you get this?


  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 11 Mar 1945

23 Mar 1945, Letter No. 83 From Tom

Postmarked: 24 Mar 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 21 Mar 1945[sic], Camden, NJ, Collingswood Br. [on second page of letter]

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Examiner Base 0899 Army

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Sat Mar 31
Ans. Sun Apr 1 - # 35
Wrote Thur Apr 5 - # 36]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 35 - 1 April
Letter # 28 ? Free letters?
Evelyn married
Mil divorced
Busy at 859 - 60 Rad Cameras[?] overtime
Mary to St. peters
Mary picture with my hat
Mulberry tree down
Chrysanthemums up
Perfect Easter
Saratoga Trunk not here yet
Waters in Jermyn
Grandma ill - no doctor - better
Nancy [Waters] - Happy Easter to Tom
No cha..[?] for peaches - brandy - dunk in whiskey
Feb bonds arrived

Spring weather - now cold again
Grandma better
Night work at 859 & Sunday
In grade raise
Dad lost half a molar.  Jagod[?]
Mary in 70 at Peirce [Bus. Coll.]
Lawsuit at Peirce by girl from bermuda
Food Fair almost complete
No Toddy in Jermyn, Berwick, or Syracuse
Russia voided Jap. treaty]


[Tom's notes on top of letter: 29, 30]

The Rock
23 March 45

Dear Folks,

Glad you liked the picture.  But in order to clear up a point, I was wearing a towel, bathing trunks, and slippers - not what someone so insidiously remarked.

The moat and bridge is used only on sunny days when there isn't much moisture.  On rainy days, entry is effected through the roof.  Boy, when it rains ----!

I think I can hear the band playing "Hail to the Chief" (10-D), and of course congratulations are in order.  Pretty soon everyone will have seniority over yours truly, although there is a rumor that action along those lines has again been started.

I guess it was rather a faux pas to advise Mary to get some free doctoring from Dr. Ayer, wasn't it?  Better just disregard that one.

A package of peaches, nuts, and snaffles or whatever they are arrived a couple of days ago.  It took several beers to get rid of the snaffles, a quart of whiskey to finish the nuts, but I'm stuck for something to go with the peaches (no champagne!)

Not much news, been to the movies to see "Saratoga Trunk" three times - read the story back in G.J. [Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida]  Have done lots of reading here.

This is one helluva short letter.



P.S. Please send me some "Toddy"  T.


Hey Mary,

Have you heard about the paper doll who just cried and cried when she found out her ma was an old bag?   T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 23 Mar 1945

8 Apr 1945, Letter No. 84 From Tom

Postmarked: 13 Apr 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Base 0899 Army Examiner

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Thurs 19 April
Wrote Thurs eve # 39
Sat - Fruit Cake
Wrote Tues 24 # 40
Wrote Mon 30 # 41]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 39
Letter dated 13 Apr at 709
Letter # 28?
Overtime at 859
Brass from Hq & Matscom
replenishment program
Floy's - 6 mo. lease, Willie's eye
Waters to Jermyn - Nancy nervous stomach
Mary passed test to 90
Dad writing Hard Sauce recipe
Mary says I must stay home & cook after duration[?]
What can I send?
Films in refrigerator to keep from sticking
W D circular 16 - studies
No more news of Park Ave fire
Dad laughing about pastry bag for Hard Sauce - What are you eating?

# 40
Cryptology - bet $10 - Dad & Mary couldn't guess
Mary got Eastman enlargements
one enclosed for Alice
Mrs. Henderson over - visiting nurse butter & cig.
Job - excess disposal
29 1/2 hrs overtime
Mary trying for Oklahoma
Mary mailed fruit cake Sat
Dad writing jokes[?]

# 41 - 30 April
Jittery time - false VE day
March bonds arrived 27 Apr
Chevy clutch to be fixed Thurs
Socony Vac Brochure - Dad's picture
W.B. [Wilkes-Barre] Coll - Kings Coll - clipping
Garfield Dads Swan Song
Annie Bechtel here (Florida)
Grandmas letter - Love and wish she could send cake
Letter from Anita - Manuel in West
Norcats[?] for Oklahoma]


[Tom's notes on top of letter: 31, 32, 33, 34]

The Rock
8 April 45

Dear Folks,

I sent back my rsvp to Peirce [Business College, Philadelphia] on the annual meeting and dinner, stating that I wouldn't be able to attend either.  They probably won't get it until way late, since it went regular mail, so mary can say I send regrets and all that, if she goes.

A lovely Sunday afternoon, and I'm sitting here in our beach operations tower looking out at the brown, green, and blue Pacific, watching the storms in the distance as they come and go.  Just marking time at a teriffic pace.

After much groaning, sweating, and gnashing of teeth, the club is ready for its housewarming, which we plan to have this Saturday.  It won't be too hilarious, due to a dearth of wherewithals - just a cozy little husking bee.  I'll try to take some pictures of it for you, but I'm not too sanguine of the results.  I took one roll to be developed, but nothing came out, for the paper had stuck to the film negatives, heat you know.  I have two rolls of film, but they're the develop-before-Oct 44 type, which adds another knoll to the sad story of pictures.

Get jold of W.D. [War Department] Circular 16, 1945.  I applied for the courses listed therein, for I sort of like that sort of thing, and then it will be

something else to do.  That is if they ever get here.  I sent for them almost a month ago, and as yet no soap. (channels)

A letter from [Aunt] Lois [Freas Stahl] says it was 86 deg. up there recently - rather warm Spring you're having, isn't it?

The Bond cake has arrived, and is now in the process of ageing-in-the-box with the aid of a little brandy.  If you'll send me the receipt[sic] for hard sauce, I can probably make it a bang-up job.

You really went all-out on that bank statement.  Actually, it doesn't take all that work to keep my books in balance.  I make their figure the one with which I start afresh even though  it is somewhat late in arriving.  Saves a lot of figuring.

We sure have a fine bunch of carpenters at 127 - witness the china - closet incident.  Certainly a fine way to do things.

Not a word more about the fire on park Avenue - so I guess it wasn't worth chasing the trucks, as you so wisely didn't.

The kid [sister Mary] is sure getting to be a good bowler.  Have to do some brushing up.  Be sure to have her write a check for the car insurance.



P.S. Please send me some writing paper.  T.

9 Apr 1945, Letter From Alice Crompton

Postmarked: 1:30 P.M. 9 Apr 1945, Washington, D.C. 2, 7945

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. (j.g.) A.M. Crompton, U.S.N.R., The Alturas, 1509 Sixteenth St., NW, Washington, D.C.


Monday morning [9 Apr 1945] 4:45 A.M.

Dear Mrs. Keiser,

Once again I am in the position of not being sure whether I wrote and thanked you for your lovely present.  I think these night watches are really getting me down for I didn't use[sic] to be vague and I certainly am now.

The plate is lovely and when I finally do get settled will be very useful.

I moved again yesterday morning but unfortunately it is another temporary room.  I have been living out of one suit case for over a month now and have moved about five times in the last month and a half.

I have been promised a permenant[sic] room in about three weeks.  It is a fairly nice one and has a screened in porch as well.  Also it is just five blocks from work so I am anxiously looking forward to moving in.  Then I will be able to unpack all my things and start living like a human being.

I'm not sure if I told you that all this moving about was brought on by the fact that my room mate got a transfer.  She is now in Philadelphia at 2nd and Chestnut, has a[sic] interesting job and is quite happy about it.  She has relations in Philadelphia and of course is now able to go home more often as the distance is now cut in half.  I miss her but am fortunate in having a number of other friends to go out with.  As I am now eating all my meals in restaurants I am glad that I have people to go with.

Tom sent me flowers on my birthday.  He had made arrangements with one of my friends here in Washington to get them for me.

I had a leave last month and went to Miami Beach.  I had a wonderful time and just wish it could have lasted longer.

I have just read this letter and am much ashamed of it.  I do wish I could find time to write my letters other than the early morning hours for I am definitely not sharp then.



  • Washington, D.C., USA
  • 9 Apr 1945

21 Apr 1945, Letter No. 85 From Tom

Postmarked: 23 Apr 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Base 0899 Army Examiner

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope: Rec'd Thurs 3 May]


[typewritten - Tom's notes on top of letter: 35, 36, 37]

The Rock
21 April 45

Dear Folks,

Believe it or not, after all those requests for writing paper, here I am without any of the usual airmail stationery.  The Px seems to have run out at the same time as myself.  But this will do, I guess.

As usual, I'm way behind on my correspondence, and of course, it's not all due to the fact that I ran out of stationery.  Nor Have I been too busy (although I have assumed some new duties--see below) to write.  I guess it's the same old story--too hot or too lazy.  Even then I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt!

There is a position (job) here which amounts to Chief of Harbor Craft operations, and while it is not too strenuous to be carried by one person, it still carries with it three assistants who can be on duty around the clock.  That's me, Assistant Com Harbor craft.  We have lots of fun with these "Com's" over here, and roll up some pretty tongue-twisters.  From the original CinC or CominCh which Time and Life siezed[sic] upon upon some time ago, we have gone on to such ones as ComGenSoPacBaCom, of course we have had some fun out of it, and the head of our carpenters is affectionately known as ComChips.  We also have a sign posted on one of our buildings where coffee is kept for the late workers.  It reads, "Please keep this place clean or the coffee will be cut out[,"] and it is signed ComCafeteria.

Then we recently had a meeting of the Harbor Craft Officers Club for the election of officers, and guess who got to be the new Secretary-Treasurer.  The treasury as turned over to me held $1.10, so I shan't be able to do any wild spending.  At that, though, I bought ten boxes of Kleenex this evening, which leaves us a working capital of ten cents.

I guess we have now cleared up the mystery as to whether I sent any free letters, since the first one has arrived.  Things would be rather stale without airmail, wouldn't they?  And by this time I have forgotten whether I wrote two or three of them--one I believe is perfectly blank, so maybe it didn't pass the censor.  We'll continue to use the air at this end, even if infrequently.

That course I mentioned in cryptanalysis[sic] that I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see, came to light a day or two ago, when the correspondence pertaining to it turned up after floating about the Pacific for a month or so.  Someone wanted to know what I wanted, so a reference was made to the basic communication by a fifth indorsement, and shot off to try its luck again.  Maybe three or four years from now-----

Thanks for the lily of the Valley--but it had no smell left when it arrived.

How about the March statement?


Tom [signed]

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 21 Apr 1945

27 Apr 1945, Letter No. 86 From Tom

story image(s)

Postmarked: 29 Apr 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Base 1919 Army Examiner

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Fri 4 May
Ans Fri eve # 42
Wrote Thur 10 May # 43
Wrote Mon 14 May # 44]

[Agnes' notes on card inside:
# 42 - 4 May
Apr 21 & 27 letters
received two days in succession
STO shipments cancelled
Whistles today - office factory[?]
Shock at 3:25 A.M.  Meteor?
Stalag #1 released by Russians [Dick Culbert there]
Ass Com Har Cra
Balance of 10 cents wouldn't carry far
5th endorsement Every body laughed
Lurid calendar sheet
Snaps - Mary Ki & I
Don't belittle war effort in So Pac - officers at home
Ki wrote - car fixed

#43 - 10 May
VE day past - awaiting VJ
Points for discharge - 42?
VE Day at work
Units change next week
Over town for Hank [Freas] & Nancy [Waters] B.D. [birthday]
Forgot to get off bus
POW at Havre [Dick Culbert in France]
March & May turned around

# 44 - 14 May
Phoned Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] - Mother's Day
Mrs. Hiltebrand died
Mr. Henderson lost memory
Clothing drive
New glass for china closet
Tickets for Okla - Jun 29
Clipping about meteor
Mrs. Blake[?] here Fri eve]


[typewritten - Tom's notes on top of letter: 37, 38, crossed out with 38, 39 inserted, with comment: "(I think, not having them here)"]

[Enclosed with Tom's letter were his return of Agnes' letter of commendation, transcribed below, and a May 1945 calendar promoting Malaria and Epidemic Disease Control in the South Pacific - see image]

The Rock
27 April 45

Dear Folks,

Just got back to the office 2200 hours, after seeing The Princess and the Pirate, which I enjoyed immensely.  Now I'll spend part of the rest of my shift with getting off this missle--working rather hard putting in time.  At least I get in a lot of reading and an occasional movie.  A couple of nights ago I saw the Keys to the Kingdom (or is it "of" the kingdom?).  It's been so long since I read the book, I don't remember, and so recently since I saw the picture I don't remember either, but it was an excellent picture, nevertheless.

Many thanks, Pop, for the receipts[sic] for hard sauce; I'll see what can be done to improve the fruit cake with them (now I need something to improve my typing, too, for it's getting fierce).  The pastry bag is quite out of the question, but the ingredients are all handy, and we'll see what comes out.

There was a sort of question as to what goes in the eating line hereabouts, so I'll give you a sample menu (hitting the high spots only).  For breakfast (when I get up in time to eat it) we have had eggs to order at least three times this week--over easy for yours truly--which so far is a little above average, but not much, toast, butter, coffee, fruit (sometimes fresh apples, sometimes stewed prunes or apricots.  Dinner brings steak or liver or pork chops, corn on the cob, string beans, tomatoes, or what have you, bread, butter, cake, pudding, or sometimes ice cream.  We have had some delicious steaks, and I have had one lucious tenderloin filet.  Supper is not quite so elaborate, maybe chicken soup or vegetable soup, spanish omlette, or cold cuts, and the usual bread, butter, and desert[sic].  Drinks include coffee, tea, lemonade, ice water, but the best is a cold beer to (as Grandad used to say:) "Get the damned taste of food out of my mouth."  However, I'd give up all the beer for a quart of fresh milk.

When we arrived here there was enough of the much-mentioned boiled, fried, and stewed Spam to go around, and when we got a bit fed up with that there were those damned Vienna-sausage-Frankfurters.  Added to that were the usual culinary disappointments with the dehydrated potatoes, etc, but the cooks have nearly overcome that difficulty by this time and can turn out a tolerable mess of them.  But I think you will agree that there has been a definite improvement in the "fixin's" and that we do not suffer too much when it comes to the time to sit down to eat.

Nor is the daily itinerary very strenuous.  I have to be up ay 0830 if I haven't already arisen for breakfast (and I usually haven't), in order to get in a truck and ride down the island so that the EM along with me can get some ice to keep the beer at the club from being too disgustingly warm.  Back at about 0930, which leaves only about two hours to get in some reading (or snoozing) until dinner.  After dinner I have until 1500 to get ready to go do work (1515 to 2400), and at a quarter past three a jeep comes to pick me up and drive me down to the office, where I can put in the time reading, playing cards, occasionally answering the 'phone, going to the movies, writing (infrequently, i'll[sic] admit), or what have you.  Then back in the jeep, and so to bed to rest up after an arduous day.

Then, too, our morale is also boosted by such as the enclosed! (?)

All of which adds up to the fact that I am pretty much ashamed of the contribution I am making, especially after reading the letter of commendation you got.


Tom [signed]


859th AAF Specialized Depot
Branch 2
1620 South 49th Street
Philadelphia 43, penna.

11 April 1945

SUBJECT:  Commendation

TO:      Mrs. Agnes Keiser
    Stock records Supervisor
    859th AAF Specialized Depot
    1620 South 49th Street,
    Philadelphia 43, Penna.

1.  Class 10-D personnel are to be highly commended for their attainment of a 99% accurate inventory accomplished 8 April 1945.

2.  Such a record, as above, is the direct result of your supervision and diligent management.  Class 10-D has established a goal which serves as a new challenge for all branch 2 personnel to equal.

For the Supply officer:

R. M. Kerr
Capt., Air Corps,
Branch 2.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 27 Apr 1945

8 May 1945, Letter No. 87 From Tom

story image(s)

Postmarked: 10 May 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Base 0899 Army Examiner

[typewritten on War Department envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Thur 15 May
Ans Wed 16 May # 45
Sent Venus pen]

[Agnes' notes on Tom's business card from Pierce School, from when he was a student there [see image], inside:
# 45 - 16 May
Looked up Russells, 75 miles?
No mal de mer?
Comparison of Army & Navy attitudes due to Procurement
Lt. Lehman today - yr. on Guadalcanal
No Schaffer pens - am sending a Venus
Mary read Forever Amber
Roberts to be married 26th]


[typewritten - Tom's notes on top of letter: 38, 39, 40, 41]

The Rock
8 May 45

Dear folks,

Well, here I am back at work again, after a rather delightful week-end trip.  You can probably find on some chart a group of pin-points somewhat to the northwest of Guadalcanal labeled "Russell Islands."  They're not so very far away, and the journey was pretty much like a ferry trip from Staten Island, if some[sic] longer.  Ostensibly, the trip was made in order for our maintenance section to get some repair parts, but I also had a good time in doing it. 

Since the parts I was to get were to be picked up from Navy (a condition which keeps us in a dither much of the time, since we are sort of bastards of Army and Navy), I stayed at their base quarters, which are situate[sic] on an old plantation established circa 1910 and well taken care of.

I made some very nice acquaintances among the officers there, and it is interesting to note how cooperative they were in assisting me to get what I wanted.

Not at all like the Army (and myself, I must confess) that likes to hoard up stuff pleading "But we might have to use it ourselves some day," and only grudgingly gives out upon receipt of half a dozen certified copies of a requisition, and then only after trying to cut it in half - it almost seemed as if they were asking me to relieve them of the burden of keeping the things I asked for.

Just after I dropped you a line last, telling how much my laziness has improved, came the package containing the chocolate powder.  After having become accustomed to the prepared drink, which needed only a can-opener to be enjoyed, the shock was so great that as yet I haven't had the energy to open it. 

When I do, I hope that the evaporated milk (which is all there is to be fortified by it) won't taste too much like evaporated milk.  However, the olives were muchly enjoyed, both ripe and unripe.

We have just sustained a terrible loss in the form of my Schaeffer fountain pen.  I must have put it down somewhere, as I'm in the habit of doing continually, and then walked off and left it.  The hope of having it returned is pretty slim, for it is much superior to the pens sold by the exchanges.  I feel pretty much at sea without it, not that it will make much difference in my letterwriting[sic], but it did have its advantages.

Oh, to backspace a bit, in addition to the package mentioned as having been received, "The Thurber Carnival" also arrived, and is being much enjoyed.  Up to now I haven't been able to devote the fullest attention to it, as it arrived in the midst of "Forever Amber" which is certainly a violation of the paper-will-win-the-war campaign.  I finally finished it, but it is a juvenile attempt, and certainly doesn't come close to the historical-novel-masterpiece claimed for it; there is a similar sounding work that would fit it much more aptly.

Glad you liked the kodachrome.  There is really some grand scenery around here, and if I could get George's camera, I could really go to town.  I must get him to take one of me in my "blues" for you.

Can't see much in your bitching at WBBC [Wilkes Barre Business College, Pennsylvania].  Of course "Congregation of the Holy Cross" will look rather stupid plastered across the portals of 29-31 [Northampton Street], but I don't suppose a couple of masses will demoralize the place.  Besides, there is always Dad's effigy with his finger pointing to his head in a "Thru these portals pass 'teched' mortals" attitude.  Then too, look what a great religious center the corner of Franklin and Northampton is becoming--Presbyterian church, YMCA, and Catholic school!  If our bloc of stock carried any weight, I could agree that they should be out-voted, but since it doesn't, why worry?  [Note: Thomas Hale Keiser, Sr. was a co-founder of the Wilkes-Barre Business College circa 1915.  His image, along with that of the other co-founder, Dobson, were placed on the building front as a mural.  The building was later demolished, but I
have photos showing this mural.]


Tom [signed]

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 8 May 1945

11 May 1945, Letter No. 88 From Tom

Postmarked: 13 May 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709, A.P.O.

Stamped: Passed By U.S. Base 0899 Army Examiner

[typewritten on War Department envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Monday 21 May
Ans Mon eve # 46
Sent Dazzle for ink eradicator
Wrote Sun eve # 47]

[Agnes' notes on card inside:
# 46
Dazzle instead of Clorox
Acid to remove brown stain
Glad pen was returned.  venus mailed.  Wouldn't take airmail.
What kind of pooch
Points earned up to 12 May
Dad taking out windows
Kummel for Alice
Dad & Mary will try:

# 47 - Sunday 27
Dick [Culbert] liberated
Letter to Mary
Two Peirce girls for supper Fri.
Stahls to Dayton
Our vacation 20 Aug
Robert taylor's wedding
For Whom the Bells Toll
Ginny Henry to Miami & away
Nort[?] took girl to prom
No Red Horse Kummel so far
Continual rain]


[typewritten - Tom's notes on top of letter: 38, 39, 40, 41]

The Rock
11 May 45

Dear folks,

We are jubilant, joy is supreme, and Diogenes can put away his lantern, for an honest man has been found.  The cause of all this outbreak is to make celebration for the return of the missing fountain pen.  It was a sad week spent without it, but now that it has come back things are falling back into their old "situation normal a f u" status.

Please put my requisition for a bottle of Clorox--any size--an argyrol bottleful[sic] will do nicely.  Basis for this requisition (any good QM will require same and I suppose the air force personnel are likewise) is the fact that yours truly is keeping books, and finds it impossible to do so without it. 

Without a pen I can keep books, but without ink remover--no.  This requisition is urgent, and is being passed on to you only after a thorough search has exhausted the local sources of supply to no avail.  The supply room has none, says it is not available, and the MD puts out only a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide which does not qualify as ink remover.  The local PX does not stock Chlorox.  PLEASE EXPEDITE SHIPMENT.

Our little pooch got a bad case of ptomaine, and spent a sleepless night (and so did we in the tent) moaning and carrying on something fierce.  Today we got some dope capsules to try to quiet her down until she could be taken to the vet, but she resisted taking them something fiercer.  This pm the vet said she was running a temperature of 104.2, and if he couldn't get her fixed up by 1000 tomorrow he'd get rid of her.

Near as I can figure I have about 40 points.  And at the rate I'm piling them up, I'll have my 85 in a couple of years.  See you then,


Tom [signed]

PS, Mary, will you see if these people can send any Kummel to Alice [Crompton]?  Get yourself some, too.  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 11 May 1945

17 May 1945, Letter No. 89 From Tom

Postmarked: 21 May 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

[typewritten on War Department envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
Rec'd Mon 28 May
Ans Tues 29 May # 48
Wrote Mon 4 June # 49
4 Boxes
Wrote Sun 10 June # 50]

[Agnes' notes on cards inside:
# 48 29 May
Not opened by Army Ex
Nice poochie
Nice pictures
Dad scowled - didn't want picture taken
Clubmobile repairs
Why $10- pictures 75 per.
Sending writing paper
War show - Coll- X Bonds
Consolidation at 859
Mary typing Bonds at Boro Hall
Mr. Schlover stroke
June Thomas missing
Dad poker party Thurs

# 49
4 Boxes on way
$10 Bond arrived
Scott pestering Mary again
Called mr. Toole
Worked till 9:15
Bradley & Spatz in Phila

# 50 - 10 June
Walked to Crescent with mary
Stopped at Culberts
Glass in China Closet
Photo exposure Meters to Guadal.
Normoyle now E. Kelly.
Jack Monroe[?] - 4th July - friend over.
Commencement Thursday
Ballot for June premiere, Merrit got his - 21st B day
Latchem's ad. (novel)
No letter since 17 May.  Moody
Does heat stay ennervating[?]
Commentators uring terms for Japan
$100 April Bond arrived]


[typewritten - Tom's note on top of letter: 42]

The Rock
17 May 45

Dear Folks,

Here are a couple of pictures of our pooch, in exchange for the two you sent me.  I'm putting in a check for six dollars, and I should like to have two of each.  The other three dollars you can use to get a couple of them for home consumption.  Poor poochie passed away early this week after a severe ptomaine attack which she got from eating some C-ration stew, presumably, and we are thinking of having her posthumously cited for valor.

Incidentally, Mary, you look pretty swellegant in Mom's hat, and I suspect there were some ulterior motives when you helped select it.  I wonder what Dad was scowling at when you snapped his picture.

It's too bad, Pop, that it takes so long to get any repairs made to the car.  You ought to see how expert I'm getting at repairing the jalopy I'm driving around.  It is called a "Club Car" only because I use it for business of the club, not because of its being luxurious in any way.  Here's a list of some of its ailments and the remedies:

Missing radiator cap - Rag
Fan belt too large (right size not available) - Stone between generator & engine block to take up slack.  (sometimes a good bump will throw it out & the belt flies off)
Windshield brackets broken - Wires hold windshield in place
No lights - Daytime operation only
Speedometer missing - Oil pressure gauge serves instead--not too good for gauge dial slips around under needle and sometinmes it reads 80 lb. instead of 30 lb. for 25 mph
Bolt missing from starter linkage - Nail inserted and bent over to hold
Battery box busted - Battery sits on runningboard with short cables to hold it down
Missing gas cap - Paper cup over pipe
Gas gauge out of commission - 5-gal can of gasoline in tonneau
Door catches broken - Door wired shut (it has only one)
Leak in radiator - Tin can for adding water

You can see that some of these cures are worse than the ailments, and also that from the nature of the "ooc's" (out of commissions) that it fully deserves its name of jalopy.

I'm really having me a time to try to make something out of this letter, guess I'm not in the mood or something, but I've sat here just looking at the machine for about half an hour and not got anywhere, so I suppose that the better thing to do would be to sign this one off and wait till the mood strikes again.


Tom [signed]


P.S. Couldn't make it 6, so made it 10.

P.P.S.  Please send me some writing paper.  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 17 May 1945

2 Jun 1945, Letter No. 90 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 Jun 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 2 Jan 1946[sic], Philadelphia, PA, William Penn Annex Sta. [also on last page of letter]

[handwritten on War Department envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
#21 Rec'd Monday 11 June
Ans Wed 13 June # 51]

[Agnes' notes on card inside:
# 51 13 June
Postage due on Tom's & my letters
What for birthday?
Where's typewriter?
Clipping Mary's outfit
Kretchners in Haddonfield
Liquors in comp.
Beach chair
8th indorsement on cryptology
McGinnis working for Pettijohn (swearing[?])
jermyn H.S. burned
Waters to jermyn
Nancy W.
Bank Statement
Snap of Mary]


[handwritten - Tom's note on top of letter: 43, 44, 45]

The Rock
2 June 45

Dear Folks,

Now I can really set to on that set of books, since the clorox arrived today, and just in time, too, for the great monthly closing before our meeting on the 4th.  Two days ago I also received the fountain pen, just a day after your letter telling me of the purchase of it.  Excellent service, I call that.

I look like a real executive now, wiht all the pens and pencils in my pocket, it's a shame I haven't been able to show off, but business on my shift has been rather slow, and if I turn up at the office, everyone greets me like a long-lost soul.

Tonight we listened to Command Performance's "The Wedding of Dick Tracey," and we're still holding our sides.  One of the comments expressing the ultimate of disgust was, "Well, I'll be a Second Lieutenant!"  It was one of the screwiest things ever heard, but was also excellently done.

I started out this evening to type this, and went to the orderly room, but the lights were burned out, so I trotted up to the "power house" as we call our electric plant, rummaged around in the electrician's kit but found no bulbs.  The man on duty said that they were all in the supply room, so I located the Supply Sgt., got his keys, and trotted back to the other end of the area to get them out of the supply room.  After selecting two beautiful specimens, I returned the Sgt's key and went back to the orderly room with my prize.  One of them was already caput[sic].  I found out after putting them in the socket.

 But the other would have been enough, so I got the paper & the typewriter all set, put some books on the chair & sat down to business.  Then up spoke the C.Q., "Cpl. Dixon said not to use the typewriter, sir, it's broken!"  So I trudge back to my quarters, and its a wonder I have enough energy to go through with this.  As it is, I'm lying down, which accounts for the punk Palmer.  Any spots are drippings from the coke I'm drinking.

I sort of disremember whether I mentioned inclosing this clipping when I asked for another picture of the kid [sister, Mary] in her Easter finery, however it does resemble one of her ensembles. [See image]

Tried my hand at gourmandizing (sp is wrong) on an extra-special item of fresh pineapple soaked in brandy, but I didn't eat it so ravenously as I expected I might, and also ruined a good bottle of brandy.

Sold the two bottles of Scotch I received to Lt. Kretschmer, since he wasn't able to get any, at cost, which is ridiculous when I tell you.  This left me practically high and dry (?) with only two bottles of bacardi, two of brandy, and two of whiskey (Canadian).  The delivered price is only $1.40 a fifth (average).  And it lasts for quite some time, too, for two drinks is a maximum at any one sitting here.  (Guess I'm getting dinosaur blood.)  That is, it lasts except when I get brilliant ideas such as the pineapple brandy job mentioned above.

Lt. Neagle has just left to go to the PX, so I am now sitting up in our beach chair, a surprising burst of energy on my part, but before it passes I think I'll conserve a little of it.  This letter has rambled on far enough, anyhow.



P.S.  Oh yes, that course I was going to take has been squelched by the 8th indorsement.  It took a Lt. Gen. to do it, however, upon the advice of two Maj. Generals.  I'll show it to you sometime, it makes good reading.


P.P.S.  Please send me some writing paper (and someone to write on it for me).  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 2 Jun 1945

7 Jun 1945, Letter No. 91 From Tom

Postmarked: 8 Jun 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: Westville, NJ [on letter only]

[typewritten on War Department envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 22 Rec'd Thurs 14 June
Ans Fri 15 June # 52
Wrote Wed 20 June # 53
Wrote Wed 27 June # 54]

[Agnes' notes on card inside:
# 52 - 15 June
Typewriter fixed - 2 letters in one week
Answer to Maiden prayer[?]
20 for Mary
Hot day- Where on Guadalcanal?
Lowell Ton Iwo Jima
Gov. Giles projector
War Bond movie
Lt. Lehman gone
Letter from Bets [Waters] Nancy's marks
Hope jeep is dry
Partridges & Hendersons away
Doesn't believe in BC [birth control] - A Daddy
Mary typing bonds

# 53 - 20 June
Barnegat Lot
Dick's [Culbert] arrived
859 back to Camden

# 54 - 27 June
Jane's paper
Birthday at work Phila gifts
Dick - copilot & bride
swim[?} & out in eve
Trip to Barnegat
Mary & Dick to Circus
Mary at club
Hot at work.  No move yet
Vacation Aug 20, maybe to Hartford]


[typewritten - Tom's note on top of letter: 28, 46, 47, 48]

The Rock
7 June 45

Dear folks,

Well, I found it--the twenty-eighth letter has been hiding away in a book where I put it for some reason or other, and today it dropped out when I was looking up something.  It is the one about your HofBrau supper and the Great merger (802 to 859), including a pamphlet about the great institution Major Griffin has made (singlehandedly) of the 802.  The letter also contained several rather pointed remarks about that "depot in Utah" and how much better "we" could do it.

I think I mentioned the arrival of "Dazzle" and the pen in the last letter.  The best way to use both these items would be to fill the pen with the eradicator, and then I wouldn't wouldn't have to go back over the books and fix up the errors--only to fill in the blank spaces.

What in the world are the Stahls trying to do--see how many cities they can hit?  If so, why didn't they pick a different one this time?  I'll bet Mrs. S. is not too happy about the prospect of another move in such short order.  They've hardly had time to get settled into this place.  Evidently the Hartford job had prospects which will now not be realized, as evidenced by this quote from one of [Aunt] Lois' letters: "The window looks out on the lake across the road and the trees in the back will be wonderful in the Spring and Summer.  The land stretches away to acres of woods and swamp.  I can scarcely wait to see all of the Spring wild flowers and hear the 'peepers' and hear the birds...."  Too bad that you couldn't see your way clear to get up to see it before they leave.

You can tell Lt Lehman that insofar as the weather goes, his remembrances of the good old downpours are certainly correct.  In the most recent spell of our "dry season" I lost my runabout--my little ice wagon.  Last Sunday one of the men took it to go for a ride and he got caught in a little drizzle.  So the vehicle had to be abandoned sitting in the mud puddle bigger than itself, and there it has sat all week waiting for a "thaw" so it could be pulled out.  Of  course I had just spent two days working on it, cleaning the air filters and putting in a new set of plugs (spark) and a new generator, changing the oil, and so forth.

So I sent you a check for ten dollars instead of six, for i wanted four prints--three dollars, and figured maybe you did too--six dollars, and then there were some others that you had made before--ten dollars.  Besides, I have to write some checks in order to keep up with the stubs, for by this time the accounting on the stubs has run past four blank checks and I have to turn a lot of pages unnecessarily, which is hard work.  Incidentally I had a lot of cash around, and so for the month of May I had the Finance Office take out tewnty dollars extra, which will be sent via treasury check to Mary.  It can be used for something if you want to, kid, or you can send it to San Antonio [bank is there].

Alice's [Crompton] address, in case you want it is "2026 F Street, NW, Washington 6, District of Columbia", and Lt(jg).  Her grandmother [Matilda M.] Crompton died last month.

That seems to be it,


Tom [signed]

P.S. Please send me some writing, no, what am I saying!  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 7 Jun 1945

26 Jun 1945, Letter No. 92 From Tom

Postmarked: 27 Jun 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

[typewritten on War Department envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 23 Rec'd Tues 3 July
Ans Tues 3 July # 55
Wrote Sun 8 July # 56]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 56 - July 4th
Mary {Ocean City, No Dell-rain, Fri- NY, home on train}
Check to Mary
$10 Bond changed Why?
Songsheet for duet with Lt. Naegle
Worked all day Sun.]


[typewritten - Tom's note on top of letter: 49, 20, 51, 52]

The Rock
26 June 45

Dear folks,

I guess it's about time I got down to business again on the letter-writing, since I seem to be getting rather far behind.  It seems that i put it off a little too long this time, as I was reminded by a letter from [Aunt] Betts [Waters] that June 22 had a special significance.  I hope my sister was better at remembering her mother's birthday than I was.  The best I can do at this point is to send, rather belatedly, my best wishes.

Of course, in Betts's[sic] letter was inclosed an identical copy of the Child's [refers to Nancy Waters] record of her first year, and also a print of the Class Picture.  I had emulated your sending of a present (same amount) to the Child, but the only address I remembered was 551 Green Street, and now I find it's 1635 Front.  Hope the postmaster in B'wick [Berwick, Pennsylvania] is on his toes.

The 20 April fruit cake arrived 15 June, and is going through its initial immunization process.  I was going to say I in(n)oculated it, but couldn't find the dictionary to check the spelling.  Also arrived were two containers of powder to make chocolate milk, from [Aunt] Jane [Freas], which, with the one you sent were delivered to the mess hall to be mixed for one of our meals.  Too much trouble trying to get the milk and mix it myself.  But I shall thank those concerned just the same.

16 June I started traveling again.  0400 hours (ghastly hours!) we started out in two little boats to see the greener grass on the other side of the island.  I think the greenest thing about the whole business was my face after we rounded the upper end and ran into a head wind.  Incidentally, to my credit, I managed to hold my cookies.  Eleven of us made the trip to Beaufort Bay starting Saturday morning, as indicated, and we returned Monday night to home port.  Except for the rough water and a couple of engine conk-outs, the trip to and fro was uneventful.  There is a native village there of about 600, and a mission run by a Dutch padre who has been here some ten years.  He has quite an interesting place and has been host to a number of generals and admirals.  He himself received an honorary commission in AUS as 2d. Lt., and when he comes around to this side for supplies, wears a uniform and insignia.

We took several pictures, visited his extensive farms, dynamited fish, went to church, and in general had a week-end vacation.  Monday morning when we left we took the padre several miles further on to another village where he was going to give medical treatment to the inhabitants, working his way back over a period of about a week.  Then we set off on the return jaunt with sacksful of limes, bunches of bananas, lots of yams, pineapples, and a fruit he called 'pamelo'--a cross of orange, lemon, and lime, about as large as a small pumpkin, green, and with a texture of a pomegranate.  Also four roosters who didn't seem to care much for the trip.

Found some interesting bits of croal and shells.  There are any number of coral reefs around here, and we did some sharp piloting on the trip, in order to be in as calm water as possible and still not go aground.

The next trip was to Tulagi this past Sunday.  It 'came on to blow' again, but this time the boat was much larger (almost as large as ours--the ones we might get) and the effect was not so bad.  Had an enjoyable day making the trip, but due to a drizzle at the far end of the run, didn't get off to look at their greener grass.  Sunned myself on the trip back.

I do wish I were Christian Scientist enough to make my stomach behave a little better on the water.

Thanks for the information on 'East Kelly Field.'  Wouldn't mind going back there again sometime.  Guess Dick wouldn't, either.  Any more news from him?  I received the ballots, but did not write anything for publication.  Collingswood was mentioned in a WD [War Department] Circular as having an election--notice to USAF for voting, but I don't remember the number now, and anyhow, it isn't too important.  Just file it under 'Trivia'.

The new watch is holding up well, but the other isn't.  I lent it to another officer in our company for awhile, and the winding stem knob came loose and dropped off, so it was no longer waterproof, and he was a great perspirer.  I'm sending it back when I get around to it--maybe something can be done for it.

You certainly asked a lot of questions about the light-bulb situation after I mentioned the delay experienced recently.  And you don't seem to understand about keeping them handy for spares.  Once the company gets a supply of bulbs, everyone becomes a bulb-snatcher, and the race is to the swift.  Of course, possession does denote ownership in a sort of haphazard way, but no one is above 'borrowing' a bulb from an untended socket.  Right now things are pretty much ok, but it may not be long until we start rumaging again.  And we don't requisition on '81's' but on QMC 466's.  The only '81's' we have are WDMD--Immunization Registers.  Must be somewhat different in the Air Forces.

Lt. Kretschmer is from Honesdale, and does have a brother 'Al' who used to bartender at 'Four Corners.'  Maybe Hank knows him.  Maybe he moved to Haddonfield--wouldn't know.

I see you didn't read the article in 'Time' or there would be no mystery about dinosaur blood.  Should think you would be an eager beaver on anything pertaining to [Margaret] Sanger, since you are sending corny BC [birth control] jokes, but I guess the natural aversion to the mag was the deciding factor.

Anyhow, some screwballs have a theory that the dinosaurs died out because they became sterile from the heat.  Claim to have tried hot baths on people and noted marked impotency for certain periods thereafter.  Going to put you out of business, clinic and all, if you don't watch the modern trends.  Big headlines about the fellow who tried to get out of these climes, using the article as a clincher.

This seems to be going on, but I guess a longie will sort of fill in for the past blank space.

The pineappled brandy is not going over so hot.  Neither did the brandied pineapple.  The net result seems to have been the ruin of one pineapple and one bottle of brandy.  I still have a half-bottle of cordial left form the experiment which is being used as a book-end, and is evaporating faster than it is being drunk.

Only two of us now use the beach chair.  Since Lt. Neagle found it (on the beach, oddly enough)  it is his to sit in when he wants it.  Occasionally when he is not around, I may try it out, but I have my own chair which I prefer anyhow.  I have moved again, and believe this is the one.  Lt. N. and I occupy a tent by ourselves now, have been for a couple of weeks.  The old one which seated four of us was razed today.  We are quite pleased with our new quarters, and have expanded it considerably.  One of the features of our new place that we admire is the fact that it is not necessary to move the furniture during a rainstorm.  The other one was pretty sievey, but this one is as tight as a drum.  There is a low-ceilinged 4' extension along one side of the 16 x 16 platform, which we immediately decided would make an excellent bedroom, leaving us much more space for our furniture.  (table, bench, 3 chairs, foot-stool, coffee-table, 2 foot-lockers apiece on stands, 1 clothes-closet apiece, and two sets  of shelves apiece for clothes and stuff, and a little ice-box for our coke and beer.)

I had a good time fixing up the wiring, and made ample use of switches and gadgets, as I usually do.  There is a center light, one over the table, each of us has a reading light, and there is also a night light for my use, since I come in about twelve and N is usually asleep then.  Also an outlet for the radio.  Since N (Harvard '42) doesn't know a damn about electricity, he likes to be the 'chief', and I have fixed up things so that he has the main switch,
and controls all but my reading light and the night light, for which there are separate switches--one where I can reach out without any trouble for the reading light, and the other on the door jamb for the night light.  We have quite a ceremony about "Cut in the main switch, Chief" when we want a lot of light every evening.  The night light switch is entirely mine to work, and N doesn't touch it.  Lad does quite a bit of work feeding power to the lights and radio, but we get a kick out of the arrangement.

We might sound a bit cluttered, but just the contrary is true.  All the furniture is ranged around the walls, which leaves only the chairs and the small table to trip over.

The old ice wagon finally gave up the ghost.  I suppose it could have been resalvaged, but it was such a piece of junk anyway, that we pushed it into the jungle.  When she came back from the mud puddle the steering was affected, and in order to make a left turn you had to back around until it was practically a straight run.  And it made a horrible clanking noise when running.  The trouble was that one of the spring leaves had broken out of the left front spring, and the bolt that centers the leaves had sheared.  With that 3/16" of space, the front axle on the left side had moved forward 2", and when you were steering almost all the way left the wheels were pointed straight.  This angle in the front axle was too much for one of the bearings in the front-wheel drive, so it snapped, which accounted for the clanking.  All this was straightened out by putting in a new bolt and pushing back the axle to where it belonged and disconnecting the front-wheel drive, but when some other internal trouble developed and it just wouldn't start at all, we decided that it would be best to consign it to the boneyard.

Now the ice is fetched in a spanking new job, but the joy has sort of evaporated--no bounce, not fits and starts, just plain easy sailing.

We may shortly be rationed on cigarettes, so I've got to get busy and work my consumption of them up to the proposed 25 per day--maybe even to 26, so I can bitch about it.  Right now I'm straggling along at a measly 20.

That seems to be it.


Tom [signed]

P.S. Please send me some writing paper.  T. 

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 26 Jun 1945

About 30 Jun 1945, Letter No. 93 From Tom

story image(s)

Postmarked: 1 Jul 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

[typewritten on War Department envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 24 Rec'd Mon 9 July
Ans Mon July 9 # 57
Wrote Tues July 10 # 58
Wrote Thur July 12 # 59
Wrote Sun Jul 15 # 60
Wrote Fri July 20 # 61
Wrote Thur July 26 # 62
Lighter, clippers sent Friday 27 July - arrived Tues 7 Aug
Wrote Thur Aug 2 # 63]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 57 - 9 July
Congratulations [on promotion to First Lieutenant]
$100 Bond arrived
Mary safe return from N.Y.
Grandma's [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] fall

# 58 - 10 July
Bank statement
Bets [Waters] called Grandma's X-rays taken - no broken bones - up in wheel chair in 2 days
Nancy [Waters] with Green's [neighbors in Jermyn]
Bets on the job

# 59 - 12 July
Mother [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] improved
2 fractures but better
Greyhound Bus 7:50
Belle Hiltebrand fall
Bill Pettijohn home

# 60 - 15 July
Return from Jermyn

# 61 - 20 July
No letter since yours of 26 June
Minicolor prints Tom & Pooch
Dick & Mary and Mrs. Culbert at Dell [Fairmount Park, Phila.]
Grandma's BM as described in Bets letter

#62 - 26 July
No ltr. from 1st Lt. K
$50 allotment what to do with it?
Lois & BJ [Stahl] to Jermyn
Louella to see Grandma
Dick to take us to Dell but it rained
Went to see Without Love
Sending new lighter, etc.

# 63 - 2 Aug
Night work
No letter
Continuous rains mildew etc.
Harry Young home - apartment
Frank's [Waters] father funeral
Stahls going home Wednesday
Grandma to Berwick for winter
Bonds for June
Dick & Mary movies
Ki - sherry - poker]

[Note:  This letter is missing from the envelope.  Enclosed in the envelope was Tom's new calling card.  See image.]

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 30 Jun 1945

20 Jul 1945, Letter No. 94 From Tom

Postmarked: 31 Jul 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 25 Rec'd Sat 4 Aug
Wrote Mon 6 Aug # 64
Arr. 15 Aug (shaving brush) (O.S. soap) (Empire St. building clippings)
Wrote Mon 13 Aug # 65
Wrote Sat 18 Aug # 66
Wrote Tues 21 Aug # 67 from Hartford
Write Fri 24 Aug # 68 (Birthday from Coll.)]


[Tom's note on top of letter: 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61]

The Rock
30 July 45

Dear folks,

I'm really getting off the ball to have allowed all those letters to pile up.  So I'll get busy and dig into them.  In one of your letters you said that I answered about every other one of your questions, so I have just gone through the above list and found twelve of them whose answers I am putting right here:

Yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes, yes, yes, no, yes, yes, no - 12, count 'em - 12!  That clear up everything?

Several packages have also arrived, the BOM's [Book of the Month] have kept me busy reading - I rather enjoyed Green Mansions, but didn't make too much of Ballard & the Source.  Thanks for the juices, olives, candy, etc.  Haven't broken into them yet.

By the way, if you can get hold of a good shaving brush and some Old Spice bath soap, send 'em along.  The Px brushes are not too good, and they don't have O.S. soap.

Mary should have received by this time (or in a little while), another $20 check, which will probably come in handy for all the doings she and Dick [Culbert] have been up to.  Then, starting July 1, I took out another allotment for $50 which should start to arrive sometime in August, and continue monthly.  It would be nice if some of this found its way to San Antonio [bank].  I didn't change the bonds any, and if you want to check up on the one misaddressed one, the War Bond office will want to know that it was made out correctly here on Schedule X-13 inclosed with Letter of Transmittal # 8 dated 15 May 45, from D.O. Sym. 211-321 (thats the Disbursing Officers' Symbol number).  I don't think it;s too important, but if they continue, let me know.

The menu from N.O. [New Orleans] didn't appeal to me particularly with the exception of one item - the Shrimp Arnaud which is delicious!  I could write a better menu:

[pen changed] Absinthe Frappi - try one, but don't have it before dinner - substitute a standard brand;
Shrimp Arnaud - leave that as is - maby[sic] have 2;
Crab Gumbo a la Kolb - Kolb's was disappointing, to say the least - substitute Green Turtle soup, or better still, Antoine's Onion Soup;
Sazerac[?] - never had any, but would rather not - substitute what you will;
Green Salad - doesn't sound like much - substitute Antoine's Tossed Salad;
Pompano Papilliotte - if it's fish you want - substitute Trout Armandine, by Antione;
French bread & Louisiana coffee is OK;
Lafitte Special a la etc. - substitute Strawberry Brulot.

The difference in ink denotes the stop I made this afternoon to listen to the radio, and I didn't get back to this until after supper, when I found I didn't have my pen with me & had to borrow one.

Cigarette rationing is now in full swing and I'm continually puffing away in order to try to keep up, but it is a loosing[sic] race, and I now have five unopened cartons supply;  they keep piling up, too, and there's no way to stop it, except maybe to give up a month's ration, and that would upset the whole W.D. [War Department] allotment system, which I can't do.

Just took a  look at the news coming in on the teletype - lots of news about bombing raids this evening.

Sure hope you and dad can get to Hartford before the Stahls take off - must be quite a place from what I've heard, and was glad to know Mary & Dick [Culbert] got around to seeing it.

I suppose the Pettyjohns are making much of Bill's new assignment - what is his rank now?

Got around to dropping Grandma a line - sent it direct to St. Josephs, for I suppose she'll be there for awhile.  Did you have the pictures of me & the dog when you were up to Cdale [Carbondale, PA]?  Enjoyed reading Bett's[sic] account of the B.M.  Hope Grandma can get around shortly.

Well, I believe I've said about everything for awhile.  Just heard last nite over the radio of the recent excitement in New York, when the Air Corps tried to bite off too big a chunk.  How about a couple of pictures of the face-lifting job on the building?

As you can see, I won't have to ask for any more writing paper for some time.  [Tom is now using the beige stationery sent by his family.]



  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 20 Jul 1945

16 August 1945, Letter No. 95 From Tom

Postmarked: 18 Aug 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 28 Nov 1945[sic] Collingswood, NJ, Parcel Post [on envelope and letter]


To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[handwritten on the bottom left of the envelope: Thomas Keiser, jr 01588087]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 26 Rec'd Sat Aug 25th
Wrote Mon Aug 27 # 69
Wrote Tues Sept 4 # 70
Wrote Tues Sep 11 # 71
Wrote Tues Sep 18 # 72]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 69
Glad no celebration on his island
Entry to Tokio[sic] going on
Mary - Ocean City
Dad wants to show her how you can type in dark
No hope she grads but Dick keeps her busy
Nancy asked Dick
What do you hear from Alice?
Glad to hear of ping pong
Bill P. wants to be back in India
Send 2 BOMs - Maudlin & The World etc.
Bryson & us to Coons in Gra
Giving in B.A.

# 70 [no notes]

# 71
Solomons surrender clipping [see transcript dated Sept. 6]
Xmas package
Bank Balance
Dinner & pinochle at Culberts
1st letter from Grandma
Lois - Syracuse
Mrs. Waters ill
Bets and Nancy to Jermyn
859th to Rome
Meat & shoes ration free

# 72 - 18 Sep
Rain - from Florida
Dick and Mary to Towers
Mr. Pettijohn smash on bridge - Mr. Ward's car stalled
Roast Beef Sunday
Soap & snaps to send when I hear from him]


[typewritten - Tom's note on top of letter: 62, 63, 64]

The Rock
16 August 45

Dear Folks,

Yesterday, as I was opening the two packages that had come for me in the morning's mail (one shaving brush, one cake of soap) the radio announced that Japan would accept our terms.  Naturally I was very glad, for it isn't every day that i receive two packages.  Mail service was certainly excellent on that delivery.  The lighter and clippers arrived on the seventh.  Quite an unuisual lighter, and very attractive.  Many thanks.

Well, the good news will probably not mean too much for awhile, and I don't look to be back for some time yet.  We were sent over here for a purpose, I suppose, and should do something before returning, even if only to clear our consciences for the money we've been getting.

Celebrations here have been conspicuous for their absence, for we were pretty much worn out with waiting for the news after that first item was broadcast for a conditional unconditional surrender.  As yet the war is not over until Doug gets the signatures, so we have a holiday coming, as well as a case of beer to help spend the day.  Of course it's been pretty much of a holiday ever since we got here, but this will be something extra.

Glad to hear that Grandma is coming around so nicely.  She sent me a birthday card and a remembrance.  And she signed the card, so evidently her arm is going to be ok pretty soon.

How much longer are you going to be supervisor of the Back Order Unit?  Not too long, I should imagine, for there probably won't be much traffic in back orders from now on.  I hope you will be able to settle down for a nice long rest, for you are certainly entitled to it.

The new right-hand margin [on this letter] is due to the fact that the lights just went out, and I(m[sic] now typing in the dark and relying on the bell to shift the carriage.

I inquired today about the June bonds, and found that they were misaddressed due to an error in the schedule made on the island, and not in Chicago, as was the case with the May bonds.  The ones for July should be ok, for they left here in good condition, and if there is any mix-up on them, you'd better get in touch with the main office.  Not thatit[sic] makes too much difference, but it's nice to get things the way one wants them.

I've been playing a good bit of ping-pong recently, and have now worked my game up to mediocre-- although today I was nold[sic] not to describe my game with a superlative adjective.  It certainly doesn't take long to get wringing wet in these temperatures and climes, and I have trouble with my glasses sliding down my nose.

Not much outside of that, except I've got to get up for reville in the morning--duty officer--something I haven't done for long[sic].

Please send me some writing paper.

Tom [signed]

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 16 Aug 1945

28 August 1945, Letter No. 96 From Tom

Postmarked: 13 Sep 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 28 Nov 1945[sic] Collingswood, NJ, Parcel Post [on envelope and letter]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 27 Rec'd Fri 21 Sep
cake of soap
Ans. Sun 23rd Sep # 73
Hartford snapshots
Cake of Old Spice soap
Wrote Mon 1 Oct # 74
2 boxes
Wrote Mon 8 Oct # 75
Wrote Tues 9 Oct # 76
Ginnie card & bank statement]

[Agnes' notes on paper inside:
# 73 28 Sep
Telep. from Bets & Frank
Frank can't come fishing
Bets - diarrhea
Mrs. Waters ill at Eliz.
Eliz. - 2nd baby
Grandma on one leg
Hartford snaps
Card from Lois - coming to Phila.
Clip from Inquirer about bringing boys from pacific
3rd letter from Ginny - no radios there
Dick for dinner - up to Waltons - Temple tomorrow
Located Kukum
Write us about everything
Sent cake of soap
Vernon Ware in Japan
Looking for your homecoming

# 74 - Mon Oct 1
What division or regt.?
Studies here
Rationing almost off
What for Xmsa?
Dick & M to football games & Bullet
Dick's classes
Bill P discharged
Mrs. Crompton
Dick American Legion
Bonuses & privileges

Wed 3 Oct
Cookies 1.29
Packing   .50
Postage   .61

Thur 4 Oct
2 Plum Pudding  .66
Soap                1.00
TBrush               .47
Colgate              .37

# 75 - 8 Oct
2 boxes
Bonds & ck arrived
Mrs. Blake here & going to Long Branch
Capt. Kerr leaving - $117
Bill & Jean to Haddonfield
Dad wrote conundrum
Card for Ginny Xmas tree
Dick here for supper & bridge - his brother left children with mother
Dave hit Carolyn's nose

# 76 - 9 Oct
Card for Ginny & Bank St.
Lois letter - Phila after New Jer[?] ]

[Note: In this envelope were Tom's letters of 28 Aug, 31 Aug, and 12 Sep, 1945]


[typewritten - Tom's note on top of letter: 65]

The Rock
28 August 45

Dear folks,

I just returned from a USO show with Jack Carson and Chili Williams, and now that I've got the highway dust out of my eyes I'll get off a note to you.

I disremember whether I acknowledged letters before 65, but I did receive them, even though I can't seem to find them right now.  Mail deliveries have been somewhat slow lately, and I understand there will be a big lot tomorrow, so I will be behind again.

My birthday was a quiet affair, since I spent most of it in bed resting up from resting.  Got a lot of cards, which means that I owe letters to a lot of people.  Grandma wrote a note on hers, so evidently she is getting along pretty well.  It's nice that you will get to see her again on your trip--you must let me know how everyone is.

What is Dick's [Culbert] new assignment?  Does he have sufficient points for a discharge?  The Army is taking care of the fly-boys pretty well on that score.

Thanks for the bank statement.

Well, I said this would be a note, and that's just what it's going to be.  I've sat here for a half-hour with a blank expression and little if any inspiration, but nothing seems to come out, so I guess I'll call it quits.


Tom [signed]

P.S. Please send me some writing paper.  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 28 Aug 1945

31 August 1945, Letter No. 97 From Tom

Postmarked: 13 Sep 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 28 Nov 1945[sic] Collingswood, NJ, Parcel Post [on envelope and letter]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California


[Tom's note on top of letter: 66, 67]

The Rock
31 August 45

Dear folks,

Well, I found out how the first lap of the journey went, evidently very smoothly, barring that one rough spot.  Sounds like a swell time was had by all, sleeping and eating and fishing, which is similar to what I've been doing - without the fishing - a lot of. 

Everyone seems to like 51 WPR immensely, so I'll have to take a trip up there sometime after I return to see what it looks like.


  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 31 Aug 1945

6 Sep 1945, News Article

139,000 Japanese On Islands Give Up [ref. Agnes' notes for her letter # 71]

Sydney, Australia, Sept. 6 (UP) - Corsair fighter planes did victory rolls above the flight deck of the british carrier Glory off Rabaul today as Gen. Hitoshi Imamura signed the formal surrender of 139,000 Japanese on New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, and the Solomon Islands. 

Vice Admiral Kusaka, commander-in-chief of the Japanese southeastern fleet, also signed the surrender document as Imamura handed over his sword to Lt. Gen. V. A. H. Sturdee, commander of the First Australian Army.

[Historical Note:  Rabaul was invaded by the Japanese in early 1942, and it became the main base of Japanese military and naval activity in the South Pacific.  The Allied strategy that was developed was to subject it to continual air attacks, rather than trying to re-capture it.  Thus, Allied forces bypassed it and established airfields and naval bases on the islands around it.  This strengthened the Allied ability to sustain the air attacks.  Cut off from re-supply, the Japanese were neutralized and isolated, but they continued to hold Rabaul until they surrendered at the end of the war in August 1945.]

  • Rabaul, New Britain, Papua New Guinea, South Pacific
  • 6 Sep 1945

8 Sep 1945, News Article

His Sword For A Needle

Sydney, Sept. 8 (UP) - Japanese Lt. Gen. Mastane Kanda almost lost more than face at Bougainville during ceremonies in which he surrendered the Solomon Islands.  He tore his pants while taking off his sword.  After signing the surrender, Kanda borrowed a GI needle and cotton thread and mended his pants before retiring.

  • Bougainville, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 8 Sep 1945

12 September 1945, Letter No. 98 From Tom

Postmarked: 13 Sep 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: 28 Nov 1945[sic] Collingswood, NJ, Parcel Post [on envelope and letter]

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California


[Tom's note on top of letter: 68, 69, 70]

364 Harbor Craft Co.
Kukum Beach
Guadalcanal BSI
12 Sept 45

Dear folks,

As you can see by the inclosed, I not only don't write letters, but also forget to mail them.  And as you can also see I am no longer "somewhere on Guadalcanal" but have located.  Maybe you can get together with Tregaskis and find out where I am on the other side of Beaufort Bay from.[sic]

The tourist bureau blurb [see transcript, below] will also tell you something about life on Gc [Guadalcanal], altho['] it was composed some time ago.  It was rerun by me today, as a part of my new job.  I've been doing nothing for so long that I finally got tired of that, too, and am now out to learn radio-teletype from the ground up, on my own.  Having wonderful time, wish you were here.

Quite a bit of rain the past few days, after a long dry spell it's welcome.

Don and Gordie [MacWilliam] must be having a swell time being together on Hawaii - did I tell you that there is there a general's club - not an officers club, but a generals club made out of the D.D. Cromwell estate.  Glad to hear that Floy and Mac [MacWilliam] are going to be able to stay put for some time longer.

Now that the point-discharge system has been made available to officers, I have figured out that I will need only 16 more months over to be eligible under points, or 9 more years to qualify under age.

My best wishes to Dick [Culbert] on his new venture, and thanks for the picture of him and Mary.  Not too good of the kid, but he looks sharp.

Any more news from Ginny?  Should think her work would be a bit on the exciting side, what with our present relations with Argentina.

Glad to hear that the trip was, on the whole, a great success, and that Gma is doing so much better.

See you soon,



Are you a housewife with nerves tattered and torn by life's mad pace?  Are you a Defense worker whose morale has been shattered by $200 a week, and the grim menace of Mitsubishis over Minneapolis?  Does your battered soul thirst for some peaceful haven where days drift by like rose petals on the placid tide of sleep?

Then be of good cheer, for war's scarred face can be blotted out by the many-fingered shadow of a palm tree.  Turn from the world's churlish buffetting and come to Guadalcanal--to romance-drenched Guadalcanal, the Shangri-La of the tropics, the past participle of perfection.

To reach this island of enchanted loveliness we must first cross the cobalt blue foothills of the Pacific.  For a few glorious weeks we shall be in the fascinating man's world below decks.  Tucked cozily in the fourth tier of an eight bunk forecastle you may lie dreamily and watch the buttocks bulge the springs above your head or watch the favorite shipboard recreation of people racing each other to the rail.  You can hear torpedoes boil dreamily beneath the stern, and realize that life can be beautiful.

Yet all of this is but a poor herald for the island splendor which is to be yours at Guadalcanal--a flowery fantasy--often referred to as the healthiest community west of the Fiji leper colony.  Watch it surge above the clean line where the sea embraces the sky.  Vibrate to the topaz peaks wrapped in a golden nimbus of blood-sucking insects, muscled like bull gorillas.  You will be embalmed along with many others at the sight of this never-to-be-forgotten spectacle.

At first this lush fairyland is almost confusing.  What to do?  Will you ride a bloodied native pony along the romantic trails which sweep Mount Austin?  Or shall the first hike you take be through the convulsive beauties of Bloody Ridge?  Here the beautiful bewildered Samurai rot peacefully in the ravines--the sight will bathe your soul in beauty.

Then of course there is always the good-humored argument between the mountain resorts and the sea coast.  So perhaps you would prefer a day on Guadalcanal's world-famous beaches.  You can lie on slate-white sand, or plunge into incredibly clean breakers washed by the winds of half a world.  Lie on your back, bathed in diesel oil and mellow sunlight--or romp with the playful shark.

If you are the competitive type you will find keen sport upon the velvet courts of the Matanikau Bath and Tennis Club.  Or bring your clubs and tour the unmatched fairways of the Foxhole Golf and Country Club.  Here are the traps which have frustrated the best of the Japanese professionals.

The nights--ah, the nights--mighty chasms of darkness--sable curtains powdered with stars and flak-bursts of uncanny beauty.  The Southern Cross hangs there in the mystic blue, like the lap-lap of some godlike native giant.  The soothing coo of the vampire bat flows down among the palms, and you can hear the lilting slobber of Japanese bodies washing softly along the beach.

And how will you spend your first few evenings?  We might drop in on a native village, where the simple black man lives in sun-spoiled dignity.  In this thatched hamlet we will find the romantic Solomon Islander in his proper setting--untouched by the grubby paws of the white man's civilization.  Hear that eerie native chant swirling through the fire-burnished darkness?  Rum-boogie, followed of course by that native war chant, shoo shoo baby.

Very well, if you insist upon Guadalcanal's cafe society, we'll watch the sunset through tall, misty glasses in the air-conditioned bar at Koli Plaza.  We can dine on the dream-festooned terraces of the Lunga Lagoon Hotel.  The evening may be brought to a fitting climax dancing beneath the stars at Club Kokombona, where the soul-stirring music of the native orchestra will drown the cares from your very soul, and chlorine cocktails give your brain a pleasant whirl and a happy, delirious feeling.

And what can be lovelier than driving home through the ack-ack-spangled night watching the lazy fingers of the search lights probe slowly through the velvet tresses of the night.  You can feel your weary broken soul re-knitting itself as your jeep tires croon softly on the smooth coral boulevards.

You're rather a night owl, aren't you?  Well, we'll drop in on some of the Bohemian places.  You won't meet the cream of Guadalcanal society here, but they do have quaint characters such as "Washing-Machine Charlie" and the charming "Rough Pistol Pete."

At home at last to sink into the drowsy ripples of your gently crawling bed to let the elfin drone of the mosquitos urge you gently down the slope into the arms of Morpheus and utter tranquility.  Tune your ears to the crystal waters of the Tenaru as it wanders toward the sea, chuckling contentedly through the picturesque eye sockets of Japanese skulls.

Yes, come to Guadalcanal---and bring your strait-jackets, you silly bastards!

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 12 Sep 1945

3 October 1945, Letter No. 99 From Tom

story image(s)

Postmarked: 4 Oct 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service APO 709

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., 364 Harbor Craft Co., APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

Postage Due 6 cents

[Tom's Notes on envelope:
Do Not bend
Received 71 & 72]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 28 Rec'd Wed 10 Oct
Wrote Sun 14 Oct # 77
2 boxes Mon Oct 15
Wrote Sun 21 Oct # 78
Wrote Mon Oct 29 # 79
Wrote Sun Nov 4 # 80]

[Agnes' notes on papers inside:
# 77 - 14 Oct
Pictures good - sailor togs
Ice capades - Scherazade
Dad poker gang Thurs
Bill Sherry at Guadal.
Mary called Mrs. Crompton
Uncle len at Bellevue
Roomate operation painful
Names of pictures?
Stevedore strike N.Y.
Dinner for Capt. kerr
Mary & Dick to Vineland
Clipping - Pigeons in Phila.

# 78 - 21 Oct
2 boxes from Snell[enburgs, Phila.] - Oct 15
Jordan Al & Fruit Cake
Xmas Tree & Candy [see image of ad]
Coll - Atl. City game
Dick has grippe
Slip on Culbert's steps
859th lay off
Mary passed typing
"Her Highness & the Bellboy"
Car pump leaking
Col. Bowen from Lee selling furniture at Wanamakers
Started Generation of Viper
Uncle Leo [Stahl] to Hartford Wed.
Witch for Halloween

# 79 - 29 Oct
Navy Day - golf
Grandma teleph, Sun
Lois, Bets, Jane home [to Jermyn]
Mrs. Waters died
Month since last letter
Gordie coming for Xmas
Dick for supper & bridge
Mrs. Wells[?] died - Mary 100 test
Less work at 859
Tom home a year ago today

# 80 - 4 Nov
Mr. Peirce died, viewing
Hoff Brau
Colls. beat Camden
Mary & Dick to temple dance
"Pride of Marines" with Brysons
Grandma - 3 steps - lost 50 lbs.
Mary Club - Charlotte's 21st party]

[Note: Also enclosed in the envelope were a newspaper advertisement for Xmas presents for overseas shipment (see image) and a Guadalcanal Certificate of Citizenship.]


The Rock
3 October [1945]

Dear folks,

Here's a big dose of me, just to show you that I'm still sticking around.  This is Keiser in his "working clothes" which are still pretty new-looking. 

Will you please take me over to Phila for the prints?  I have put the number I want of each on the frame.  You will notice there are four marked "5" - when you get the prints send one of each these four to mrs. Philip M. Neagle - 2 Stuyvesant Avenue, Rye, NY and send me the rest, please.  The check will cover one additional print of each more than I have marked them, so be sure to order one for yourselves of each one you want.

Poor Phil is going about like a man broken in spirit - he can't sit, stand, or lie down after his operation this morning.  He had his sphincter muscle cut and is mighty sore in the rump.

After quite a layoff (I almost got my application for unemployment compensation put through) I have finally been put to work as personnel officer of the 358 PortBn [Batallion], which is a headquarters unit for 4 port companies, and it is quite an abrupt change, what with all the processing that is going on hereabouts.  Their former P.O. is returning with some 90 points and I am replacing him on temporary duty - I'm still staying with H.C.  Looks like it will be a White Christmas - I'm snowed under with reports.

That looks like all there is to relate at present, except that I'd like to have Mary get something for Alice [Crompton] for Xmas and send it to her.  So for now,



  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 3 Oct 1945

24 October 1945, Letter No. 100 From Tom

Postmarked: 25 Oct 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

Postmarked: Westville, NJ on letter only

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Control Section Hq. Iscom, APO 709 c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California

[Tom's Notes on envelope: Do Not Bend]

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 29 Rec'd Mon Nov 5
Wrote Wed Nov 7 # 81
Old Spice & Bubbles & Noxema
BOM - Rickshaw Boy, World, Flesh & Father Smith
Wrote Tues Nov 13 # 82
Bk statement, Founders Day Inv.
Clippings Wed Nov 21 - Bubbles Snoozers, Radio teletype
Wrote Thurs Nov 22 # 83
Wrote Tues Nov 27 # 84
Powder & Lotion & Soap]

[Agnes' notes on papers inside:
Tom Box Nov 8
1 jar Noxema
Mug O.S. Sh soap
O.S. Toilet Water
2 lagre O.S. soap
O.S. Table box
Bubble liquid & wand

# 82 - 13 Nov
Bk Statement
Founders Day Inv.[itation]
Bill Culbert Wharton
Peirce future?
Leaves all over Rain 3 days
Mary to Barbar's wedding
Mary to St. pete with Dick & Bill
East...[?] say Beaufort
Kodachrome not so good
Bubbles at football game
Colls. undefeated
Mary spelling

# 83 Thanksgiving
Woodbury game
Mary & Dick to Melrose
Telephoned Grandma
Waters there
Mrs. Allen died
Airport circle torn up
Dad - $1 at Poker Club
Leo & BJ at 51 WP Rd.
Army turkey dinner?

# 84 - 27 Nov
Old Spice talc & lotion
Uncle Leo here
Alice announcement
Family comment]

[Additional Editorial Note:  Letter # 84 is the last written mention of Alice Crompton.  We do not know what Agnes' note above meant.  We do know that at some point before Tom and Alice were reunited that she broke off the relationship.  Apparently Tom received a "Dear John" letter from her, which we do not have, and within a couple of months Alice married another WW II serviceman.  It is also interesting to note that Alice and her husband settled in Syracuse, NY for a time, but she did not have any contact with Tom, who was also there at the same time.] 


The Rock
3 October [1945]

Dear folks,

A note in a hurry - 74 & 76 just arrived yesterday & am returning card.  What's it for?

I am now in Hq. - mail address is:
Control Section Hq Iscom
APO 709 c/o Postmaster
San Francisco, Calif

I have gone up as far as I can here - am presently what might be called a Colonel's aide, except they don't have 'em.  Will be the last one off this rock, so don't be expecting me for some time.  The snaps of your vacation were swell - here's more of me on the trip to Beaufort Bay - send me a couple of each and one for you - 5 x 3 x 75 censt - check for $11.75 incl.  More later when I get around to it - Harbor craft is practically no more.

Thanks for the bank statement - 130 was to Lt. Moore who left here in July & was going to call you re. how I was doing on the rock - I'll write San Antonio & cancel it (if I get time) since he evidently doesn't plan to use it.

Love & stuff,


P.S. Please rush Old Spice - Powder - Soap Shave lotion - toilet water - Shave soap - etc. for Xmas - that's what I need.  T.

  • 24 Oct 1945

17 November 1945, Letter No. 101 From Tom

Postmarked: 19 Nov 1945, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, Jr., Control Section Hq. Iscom, APO 709 Frisco

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 29 Rec'd Sat Dec 1st
Ans. Mon Dec 3 # 85
Pen & pencil set - Thur 6th
Wrote Mon Dec 10 # 86
Dolier - 16 Dec
Wrote Mon Dec 17 # 87
McMillan Fruit Cake Dec 20
Minature Bulletin Dec 21
Wrote Tues Dec 25 # 88
Geduldig[?] 27 Dec
Wrote Tues Jan 1 # 89
Box Hor D'Oeurves - Jan 2
Wrote Tues Jan 8 # 90
Dolier & Lafayette clippings
Wrote Tues Jan 15 # 91
Dec Bank Statement
Wrote Tues Jan 22 # 92
Wrote Tues Jan 29 # 93
Wrote Tues Feb 5 # 94
Wrote Tues Feb 12 # 95
Tom called 17 Feb
Wrote Wed Feb 20 # 96, Cars Tim...[?] Feb 20
Wrote Tues Feb 26 # 97, Bank St.
Tom called 3 Mar
Wrote Tues Mar 5 # 98
Navy box recd. Tues Mar 5
Wrote Tues Mar 12 # 99
Wrote Tues Mar 19 # 100
Easter Box sent Mar 21
Wrote Tues Mar 26 # 101
Wrote Tues Apr 2 # 102]

[Agnes' notes on card inside:
# 85 - Dec 3
Letter 2 wks getting here
Picture weird
Bill C. at S & C Sch pen & Pencil
Ham dinner - Culberts
Alumni dance at H.S.
Is "building" a shock?
CO's rank?
Up Front dedication?
Mary graduating
1st interview RCA tomorrow
Vernon Ware on Coast
Colls. - Aud. 67-0
Army-Navy 32-13 - clipping
Mortons moved
Lester Kish discharged
John Ax - home few days
New battery in car

# 86 - Dec 10
Letter to Mrs. Naegle
Premium - Penn Mut 59.88
Paid with Allot Check & Bal on pictures
Peirce commencement
Mary's new job
Xmas - Jermyn?
heavy snow
Dad kem Tone[?] Bath Rm

# 87

# 88 - Xmas

# 89 -N.Y.]

[Tom's note on top of letter: 75, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81]

The Rock
17 November - noon [1945]

Dear folks,

It rather looks as if my "Lifetime Sheaffer" had come to the end of its lifetime, so if you can shop around for a pen and pencil like it for me, please.

There was a big groan here today when the news announcement was made of the lowering of officers' point score from 75 all the way to 73!  Everyone was expecting at least a five - and some a ten-point drop.  Except me,  My 48 don't entitle me to join in the fray.

Iscom is an unofficial abbreviation for island Command - you were close.

Here's a picture of Kukum Lagoon looking west to Point Cruz.  The black streak across the center is the ocean & Harbor.  If you scan closely at the foot of the second palm, you will notice a ship heading for the docks.  It's rather a striking scene, and was taken with infra-red [ink was changed here] film which accounts for the black sky and water.

Glad you liked the pictures - hope to get the enlargements soon.  Mrs. Neagle is Phil's wife.  The thatched job was merely a day-room.  Our club was the long one pictured from a distance.

Note that I said was.  364 Harbor Craft is an organization only on paper now, and all personnel transferred to other organizations.  It will be shortly inactivated entirely.

Just got up for a beer - which I took from my refrigerator - no less.  A real stateside job, except it makes too much noise when it is running.  Quite a setup I have now - a building to myself, with enormous clothes closet, radio, fan, phonograph attachment, sink with running water, ice box, and on and on. 

Good food, too, for the mess serves only 8 - the Island commander & his selected set.  Our quarters are located on what is supposed to be Nob Hill, but more frequently is called "Snob" Hill.  Ride around in the Old man's Packard, and have my own jeep.  What a racket!

Instead of looking for a boat to dock from Gc [Guadalcanal], why not get started on one of the most logical plans for getting us home that has yet been advanced - start digging a big hole thru the earth down to Gc, so we can throw all this stuff we have into it & get it back in a hurry.  Then we could follow.  Good idea, what?
Glad to hear Grandma [Mary Agnes Sheahan Freas] is getting along so well & hope she will be around soon on her own.  My love to all the folks when you write them.

I suppose the only way to get the Old Spice Talc & Lotion is for me to write a sob story to Shulton, about the poor, forgotten man overseas & how he has nothing, absolutely nothing.  neagle tried it on Parker Pen & Bulova Watch and they came through in grand style.

Are Rickshaw Boy & Green Years any good?  Haven't done [ink was changed here] much reading lately, & didn't think too much of the World, Flesh, & Father Smith.  Up Front's pictures were OK, but his text stinks.  More than read, I've been seeing some lousy pictures & one or two good ones occasionally.  Bingo every Wednesday nite.  Made $10.00 last time.

So it's getting on to one pm & back to the office for

Yours truly


P.S. Please send me some writing paper.  T.

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 17 Nov 1945

20 December 1945, Letter From Betty B. Neagle

Postmarked: 3 AM, 22 Dec 1945, New York, NY

To: Mrs. Thomas H. Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Mrs. Philip M. Neagle, 2 Stuyvesant Avenue, Rye, New York


[On note paper embossed ELBN]

Dear Mrs. Keiser,

I enjoyed getting the colored prints of Guadalcanal so very much and your running descriptions were a great help in placing them into my very confused mind's eye view of the place.  You were so very nice to send them on to me.

Phil writes quite often about something he and Tom have done together, and seems to have enyoyed his company a great deal.  I should like very much to meet him and hope they will be heading "stateside' soon.  I am afraid Phil is in teh same boat as your son when it comes to points.  Phil writes very gleefully about anyone he happens to meet with less points than he has - and is most delighted by the dentist who only has 13 points.

My thanks again for the pictures and my very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Yours sincerely,

Betty B. Neagle

December twentieth

  • Rye, New York, USA
  • 20 Dec 1945

14 March 1946, Letter No. 102 From Tom

Postmarked: 15 Mar 1946, U.S. Army Postal Service 709

[typewritten on War Department envelope]

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr., Control Section Hq USAF, APO 709 c/o PM, SF, Cal

[Agnes' notes on envelope [now partially obliterated]:
# 31 Rec'd Wed Apr 3 [Note: Tom's # 30 in Agnes' numbering system is missing]
Wrote Thurs Apr 4 # 103 (Nalverton[?] letter enc.)
Wrote Tues Apr 9 # 104 (3 snapshots enclosed)]


[typewritten - Tom's note on top of letter: 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97]

14 March 1946

Dear folks,

Here I am back on "The Rock" again, sweating it out, and I do mean I'm sweating.  After a couple weeks in the temperate Zone, it is really HOT back here down under.  Had a swell time up on Oahu, though, and was especially glad to hear your voices.  Incidentally, it's a good thing I didn't reverse the charges on that second call, for we talked for thirteen minutes, and it came back to something like $40.66!  Worth it though!

Things are somewhat of a mell of a hess here.  We have some 98 enlisted personnel and about 84 of them are recent inductees from Hawaii and not only have had only four weeks of basic training, but some of them don't speakit the Eng so good.  And there is still a lot of work to be done here, all of which makes one  want more than ever to kick guys like this Merchant Captain Williams in the ---.  Sure, we burned a lot of lumber, and undoubtedly some good equipment was given a splash treatment.  And there will be a lot more of the same thing.  Hell's bells, there's nothing else we can do with the stuff, for we don't have the personnel to gather it up and prepare it for shipment.  The Army should have taken a firmer stand on this demobilization business. 

It inducted people for the duration of the emergency and six months but just as soon as the fighting was over everyone wrote to his congressman saying get me home or I'll vote for Joe Blow.  The emergency is by no means over, but all the qualified and experienced personnel have gone, so no one has any gripe coming over we do with the property that is left.  Of course we shall take care of as much of it as possible, and if anyone wants better care taken of it, let him come out here and do it.

Congress is a big bunch of nuts, anyway, of which I became firmly convinced after a committee came out here.  They jabbered away and took dozens of pictures of each other standing in front of the Jap ships and on Henderson Field, acted like a bunch of pigs in the mess hall, and drank up a good bit of our liquor.  Net accomplishments--nil.  Colonel Howie, our CO, had one committee visit him and they went to the cemetery.  A member said to him, "And now, Colonel, show me where the men from my state are buried, so I can have my picture taken by their graves."  He was most indignant when told that they weren't buried by states, and when he asked why, he was told because they hadn't died that way.  Which shut him up for five minutes or so until he got on to some other topic where he could ask other stupid questions.

Enough of that.  The Retrospect arrived, and I read the article on the renumbering of Haddon Avenue [Collingswood, NJ].  There was also something on changing of telephone numbers, too, so I won't know how to get in touch with you when all this takes place.  Any idea of where we are going to be on the Avenue?

The January bank statement also arrived, and has ben adjusted to take into consideration about ten outstanding checks, which cut the balance about in half.  I asked the bank some time ago to stop payment on # 130 but have not heard from them.  Have they written about it?

So far as plans go, I haven't anything definite to offer.  At present the wheels-that-turn have decided to cut this place down to a token garrison of two officers and twenty-two men on the fifteenth of April, come hell or high water.  The rest of us will go on down to Noumea, New Caledonia, which is headquarters for South Pacific Base Command, and will probably be there for six months or so to get it closed out.  Comes the tenth of June and I will have completed eighteen months of overseas duty and will be eligible for Temporary Duty (Rest and Recuperation) leave in the states for forty-five days, after which I shall be required to return to the Pacific theatre to finish out the thirty months which is the length of the overseas tour of duty now.  We'll see what happens on the tenth of June and what the situation is then about getting passage and relief from duty and stuff and things.

What do you know, this is the Golden Voice of Radio, God's Gift to the Airwaves!  For about a month before going to Hawaii I was helping out in our local radio station, and now upon returning, find myself the only member of the AFRS staff.  I am program director, announcer, and chief comedian and dramatic star.  My audience consists of the personnel on Guadalcanal, including the British garrison, and the personnel on Tulagi and Russell Islands (one Navy officer and 12 Navy men each).  The station is operated from 7.00 to 10.30 in the evenings, which is all the time I can spare for operating it.  It's a lot of fun, but I may be out of the job shortly, for Colonel Howie is considering packing it up and shipping it.  Maybe I could crawl into one of the crates!

Well, that's about it.  Say hello to everyone, and


Tom [signed]

  • Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, South Pacific
  • 14 Mar 1946

2 April 1946, Letter No. 103 From Tom

Postmarked: 3 PM, 3 Apr 1946, U.S. Army APO 502

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr., Headquarters SPBC, APO 502 c/o PM, San F

[Agnes' notes on envelope:
# 32 Rec'd Thur April 11
Ans Thur April 11th # 1 received
Wrote Wed April 17th # 2
Wrote Wed April 24th # 3
Tel call Mon eve Apr 29 from Cal.]


[Tom's note on top of letter: 98, 99]

Another Rock
2 April 46

Dear folks,

Here I be in new quarters, but still in the South Pacific!  Note the new address on the envelope, repeated here,
Headquarters SPBC (South Pacific Base Command)
APO 502 c/o PM, San Fran

The four of us who went to Hawaii just managed to get back to Guadal on the last Navy plane.  Navy used to fly from Kwajalein, Army up from here (Caledonia).  After the return from Hawaii I just bummed around on Guadal, resting up, and then came on down here as a sort of advance party for the rear echelon.  Guadal will probably be cut down to garrison strength the middle or end of this month, and most everyone will come down here.

Barren, desolate country on this rock.  Drove all the way across from the airport to Noumea on arrival.  This place is french instead of British as were the Solomons.  Whole place here looks run down, including the military establishments.  Noumea has that pastel French decor which looks as if someone had regurgitated all over the plave.  (I'm not really bitching here, but merely carrying on my campaign of hate for the South Pacific.)  ("How ya gonna keep 'em down in Sopac, after they've seen Oahu?")  Probably after I get better settled and stuff I'll like it a little better.  Understand they have some pretty good restaurants.

Will let you know more about what I'm going to do here when I find out myself.  At present I'm just going around saying hello to the 'Canal fellows here. 

Have heard rumors about my being Administrative O. for Army Port here.

Hope you can decipher some of this, for I'm writing while sitting on the bed.  Haven't yet amassed any possessions here as I had after 15 months at G.  My orders read "65 lbs. baggage auth. for air travel" but there were hardly any passengers or cargo, so I brought almost 300 lbs. with me.  Part of which is a case of H.W. Canadian Club, that I just couldn't leave behind.

Don't seem to recall D.W.B. Pinkerton's husband.  98 & 99 arrived on G. the 28th of March.  the fellow on the Griggs must have prepared charges on the stuff I sent.  Which is OK, he got a console radio-phono out of the deal, and some of my liquor to boot.  Thanks for fixing up the clothes - I'll tell you more about some of the pictures sometime.  Show the native gals to [Uncles] Frank [Waters] and Leo [Stahl] and tell them both I followed their advices.

Will try to get the bank to stop the stop payment charge - I didn't realize either that they'd make a continuing charge.  Bonds for Feb. & Mar. will be held up, for I haven't been paid since 31 Jan 46.  Was in Honolulu at the end of Feb & came here at the end of Mar and missed being paid both times.  So it may be the end of this month before I get any money.  This won't affect the Cl. E almts to the bank and mary, but will hold up the bonds.  I don't particularly need any money, for I can cash a check - wait till you see them roll in for the trip to H [Hawaii]!

Now, what's this silly stuff about teaching?  Don't let's have any more of it.  Join the Women's Club, or Eastern Star, or go back to margaret Sanger, but not to school.  Dad and mary want some good cooking, I'll bet, and so do I after some of this chow on Caledonia.

More later,


  • Noumea, New Caledonia, South Pacific
  • 2 April 1946

About 4 May 1946, Postcard From Tom

Postmarked: 10 PM, 4 May 1946, Louisville, KY

To: Mrs. Thomas Keiser, 127 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, New Jersey

From: Lt. Thomas Keiser, jr., Detachment of Patients, Halloran General Hospital, New York


Derby Day [Note: the postcard showed Gallahadion, 1940 winner of the Kentucky Derby]

Having a wonderful time.  Wish you were here.  Chilly.

Everyone is in town and celebrating.  Sorry to have missed Jermyn but will call from New York.  Did you receive Topeka telegram?  Pen leaks.  Tom

[Note: This is the last correspondednce we have from Tom related to his military service.]

  • Louisville, Kentucky, USA
  • 4 May 1946

Contributor: jhculbert
Created: June 14, 2007 · Modified: August 16, 2011

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