Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 25, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 1, The Adventure Begins

I thought for my newer readers we should go back to the beginning.

The Suitcase, my father’s journey through World War II

Chapter 1

The Adventure Begins

The Suitcase

The Letters

My parents moved into a rest home in 1994 due to my mother’s failing health. My daughter and her husband bought their house. In the attic they found a suitcase of letters. It seems like I should have known about the letters but heck, I must have forgotten. Both my sisters and brother knew about them, so I must have known at one time. They are all letters my father wrote to my mother and a few he wrote to my grandmother. The first one was written in 1937 and the final one in 1945.  They would span many changes in my mother and father’s lives, their relationship and their families. The letters are few until my father gets mustered into the Army on 23 December 1940. Then is when they fill the suitcase.

When my daughter Tania first told me about the letters I knew that something had to be done with them, after all they ARE our history. I took them home and put them all in chronological order. I scanned that first letter and looked at how many were left and I became overwhelmed. There are SO many of them, did I mention it is a suitcase full? There may be thousands, but I guess we will find out together if you want to join me for this adventure.

The Photo Album with Dad’s writing

The Pictures

When my parents sold their house, my nephew, Harold, and his wife, Kris, became guardians of our family pictures. Thank goodness they took them and kept them safe until my siblings and I came to our senses and realized something was missing from our lives, our pictures. I started looking to find my family tree information to pass on to the kids and grand kids. I am told that is something that happens at this stage in life. Old age is when we gather our history and get it ready to hand down. It is a good thing the younger generation told me as I did not even know I was middle age yet!

About seven years ago Kris and Harold moved to New Jersey and our family pictures went with them. In the meantime I had started working on the family tree. I got a chance to go to New Jersey and stay a couple of months in September of 2011. Harold is a stay at home dad and he had to go away for 6 months because of a job and Kris travels with her job so I stayed and helped with his kids so they could keep their commitments. I went on a scanning spree while I was there. I scanned 1600+ family pictures into my computer. There were thousands of unidentified pictures I did not scan. The 1600 were just the ones I could identify or that my family has identified and written names on the picture. My focus was getting as much historical information as I could from the pictures and I believe I have been successful.

While I was organizing the mass of pictures I came across a black unassuming photo album. As I flipped through the pictures I only saw pictures of my father’s time in WW II, with the 110th Quartermaster, in the US Army. There were only names of three men visible, Tribble, in St Jean, France, Levinsky, and Dudley. Since I did not have a lot of time there, I set this album aside thinking I would take it home and give it to my brother Loren for Christmas.

I am a history nut and had been studying the homesteading my great grandparents did. I have started two books about that era. When I got the album home I decided I should scan the pictures before I gave them to my brother; after all they are now historical pictures. I took them out of the original album to scan and was excited by what I found. Last names, places, and a few comments, my father wrote on the backs of the pictures. What I also found was that although there are several pictures of my father in this album, it was more an album in honor of the men my father served with. All of a sudden I got a little panicky and felt it was up to me to get as many pictures to the families of these men as I could. It was then I knew what I had to do. Reunite these pictures with the families who might or might not, already have them.  I needed to work with this collection, find any surviving family members possible, and pass on the story of the 110th 35th Quartermaster.

To make a long story short, as of today, Leap Day–29 February 2012, with help from Roberta Russo who maintains a Memorial Website for the134th Infantry, who found a roster of the 110th 35th Quartermaster Company; Find A Grave, a website that documents where people are buried; and Doris Cain, daughter-in-law of our soldier Marvin Cain; I have been able to put full names to 77 different men in the pictures. Also with the Cain Family’s kindness, our pictures have grown from 209 to 345 images in the collection.

(UPDATE 2014: Since I wrote this back in 2012 The 110th/35th Quartermaster Collection has grown to over 1,300 images. I have found many other families and learned more about the early days of the regiment. I have found different rosters and have been able to identify over a hundred men.  I have become quite an expert on the history of this group of men. This three years of transcribing the letters has a been journey of discovery about my father as a soldier and my mom as the love of his life.)

When I first saw the album I had no idea where it would take me. I am two months into trying to find family members of the soldiers whose pictures I have. So far, I am in touch with three daughters, two sons, one granddaughter, one cousin, a nephew, one distant cousin, an ex-son-in-law and Harry, a man who trained with the 110th QM and who is still alive. Harry was born in 1919, the same year as my father, and has a good memory at age 92.

(On a sadder note Mr. Dahlstrom passed away this last year. I have been working on the Winquest-Johnson collection and have found quite a few pictures of a very young Harry. Here you can read a memorial post I wrote about him)

There has to be a reason why we have all been brought together. I am amazed that I was able to find one family member let alone as many as I have. I do have to believe this path has been laid by God and our fathers, the men of the 110th QM. It is for our fathers I embark on this journey. I hope you will join me as I delve into the thoughts and actions of a kid who became a man while he was on his way to fighting in a war.

It is for our families I will try to tell their story.

Copyright © 2012 notsofancynancy

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Responses

  1. Thank you for starting at the begining.

  2. Good idea, Nancy. I could use a refresher run-through myself and looking forward to it.

  3. I am excited to get caught up on the letters and to re-read the later ones. I always catch something new when I reread something. Have you decided if you are going to put them in a book?

    • I am working on getting them into a book. I thought I would run through it as I have a ton of new pictures from their time training. It should be interesting. Thanks for your continued support!

      • I can’t wait to see the new pictures too.

      • I just got another 160 or so from another one of the families of the men dad served with. It is always exciting to thumb through them to see if I just might find my dad in the crowd. I have not found him yet but I always look. I can’t wait to share them in his story.

  4. Well if you put it in a book I would be in line to buy one. Wish my folks would have done that when my daddy was overseas during world war II

    • Thank you Colleen! It was a big project but well worth it.

  5. Thank-you for sharing this bit of your families history with us

    • Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment. I know it would mean a lot to my parents if they were still here.


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