Folder 12: Edna Minker, August - December, 1943

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Edna and Ralph L. "Lee' Minker, Jr.


Edna’s 19 year-old son, Ralph L. Minker, Jr., known as "Lee," is at Santa Ana Army Air Force
Base in California going through classification and pre-flight training.


Date:  Monday, August 2, [1943] - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Reports of friends in the service. Looking for a college for Shirley that offers a medical secretary
course. The health service field will certainly expand when the war is over. Notes how conditions
have changed in the field of education.

 

Date:  Saturday, August 7, [1943] - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Edna works at keeping her son connected with home by regularly sending clippings of sports
events and friends. Report of friend from Cochituate [MA] who is in the service and came to visit.

 

Date:  [Monday], August 9, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Responds to the letter Lee wrote while in the elevator during the air pressure test. She tries to
understand this new job of pilot; comments on article describing the nerve-racking pilot’s work.
Has sent back Shirley’s application to Boston University. There is a ban on pleasure driving. She
has extra work to do for the school’s board meeting. A brief tease … “don’t fly too high.”

 

Date:  Wednesday morning, [August 11, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Brief note responding to the letter he sent about his visit to the Hollywood Canteen and dancing
with movie star Hedy Lamarr.

 

Date:  Monday, August 16, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Report on the garden, meeting Reed Gerald and his new wife for dinner at the duPont Hotel.
Ralph. Sr. thinks the war has unsettled the situation and that Shirley should not go away to
college, so Boston is “up in the air.”

 

Date:  Thursday evening, [August 19, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Handwritten letter from the beach and a weekend vacation. The guestbook at the house shows
they were there in 1937, remembers that he got locked in the bathroom. Discusses “One World”
(1943 best seller written by Wendell Wilkie) which Lee had read. She is reading other books
about world peace, even as her son is training for war.

 

Date:  [Tuesday], August 24, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Report of their delightful trip to Rehoboth Beach. Disappointed – no letter from Lee, reports of
home and an early morning air –raid test.

 

Date:  [Wednesday], August 25, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
They received pictures from Lee, Edna struggles with seeing the new maturity in her son. Ever
the mother, she is supportive of Lee passing tests for flying, then corrects his spelling.

 

Date:  [Saturday], August 28, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Rain is badly needed, farmers will be losing crops. She is at work at the school as everyone else is
off on other duties.

 

At the end of August, 1943 Lee Minker moved on to Basic Flight Training in the bi-wing
Stearman at Thunderbird Field II outside of Phoenix, AZ.

Date:  [Friday], September 3, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
The formal picture of Lee in his uniform arrived, she is thrilled and keeps it on her desk. Shirley is
going for an interview for Williamsport-Dickinson Jr. College for the medical secretarial course.
Shirley was accepted at Boston University. One of the staff at the [Ferris] School was called into
the service, leaving them short-handed again. Reports of the grandmothers, movies. Word this
morning about the invasion of Italy, Edna struggles to understand why Italy continues to align
with Germany.

 

Date:  September 7, 1943 (Tuesday) - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Full report on the garden and summer heat. Cannot find gym shoes that he asked for. The box
arrived with the letters and film. Responds to question about the family lab, Ginger. Both Shirley
and Bernice have spotted boys off the grounds of the Ferris School.

 

Date:  [Friday], September 10, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Shirley sang beautifully at a district women’s meeting. Rally for the third war loan drive and
parade. Asks Lee what news he hears, Italy has surrendered. Shirley is using his room to get ready
for college.

 

Date:  Tuesday, September 14, [1943] - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Feels she has neglected Lee by being busy all day. Reports on the death of Richard du Pont in a glider
plane. Recognizes they were “too jubilant” last week as the Germans continue the fight in Italy.
Asks for a time that he might put a call through before Shirley leaves.

 

Date:  [Thursday], September 16, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
The film Thunderbirds is going to be shown at the school, it will give them some idea of what he is
doing. Bill Hyde washed out because of eye trouble. Almost finished with Shirley’s preparation
for college. Bernice will be lonely and is unhappy with A.I. duPont high school.
Name: Bill Hyde [Dickinson]

 

Date:  [Wednesday], September 22, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Lee was able to get a phone call through much to their joy, daddy and Shirley were disappointed.
Ralph Sr. is on the Delaware Council of State Executives which is planning problems of state
institutions and post-war programs. Praying for him as he made his solo yesterday.

 

Date:  [Friday], September 24, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Had to get rid of the Packard, describes the gas rationing, the school had a new Studebaker which
they will use as there are no new cars until after the war.

 

Date:  Saturday morning, [September 25, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Compliments Lee on his letter to Ralph Sr., enclosing clippings on the Blue Rocks. Again, lines of
support as he reports being tense about flying. They looked at a plane which was on display at
Wanamaker’s, wonders how he will be able to handle it.

 

Date:  [Tuesday], September 28, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Congratulations to Lee on his successful first solo flight. Description of the trip to take Shirley to
college in Williamsport. Saw many new air cadets on campus. Bernice is going to take voice
lessons. She made a double dose of applesauce cakes and shipped them.

 

Date:  [Thursday], September 30, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
First letter from Shirley, there was an air raid siren drill at school. Air-raid signal came in
Wilmington as unidentified planes had been spotted, sky full of searchlights. [As a civil defense
warden, Ralph Minker Sr. received the signal.]

 

Date:  [Saturday], October 2, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Report of life at the school, his interesting letter and a letter from Shirley. Encourages him to
write his sister during the first few weeks of adjusting to college. People in town asking for him.

 

Date:  Tuesday, October 5, [1943] - view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Waiting for Lee’s box of cactus to arrive, checks on the box of cookies she sent. Reports from
college from Shirley. Reports on weather and friends.

 

Date:  [Friday], October 8, 1943view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Edna has sent him accounts of the World Series. Bernice has started voice lessons. Talks about
his flying training and hope he won’t be too tired to do his best. Received a war bond in the mail.

 

Date:  Monday, October 11, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Tries to understand the receipts he sent, as soldiers were charged for food. Shirley called home
and is positive about school. Sending him clippings, reports of people from home.

 

Date:  [Wednesday], October 13, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Final clippings from the World Series. A musical at church. Reports from several boys from Ferris
School who are in the service.
Names: Julia [Taylor]

 

Date: Friday, October 15; Saturday, October 16 1943; Monday morning, [Oct. 18], [1943] view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Letter was written over a four day period. The cactus Lee sent from Arizona finally arrived.
Shirley wrote and enclosed his last letter to her. Enjoyed his letter with the drawings.
[See Lee's letter of October 3, 1943.]  News of his sisters and the World Series. Surprised Shirley at college, daddy
splurged on lobster tail dinner. Came home, went to the concert at church [Grace Methodist,
Wilmington, DE].

 

Date: Tuesday, October 19, [1943] view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Edna encourages her son as his last letter found him down in the dumps. She reminds him that
there are times when you want to quit, you “have to keep going.” Reports of other boys in the
service. Will give grandmother Minker one of the cactus he sent.

 

Date: [Tuesday], October 26, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Ration books will be issued today, good for two years. She sees rationing as a way to support the
war and bringing it to an end. Sent a box of cookies and caramels. A Chinese soldier was in
church yesterday along with other servicemen. Asks him questions about the movie
Thunderbirds. Julia [Taylor] leaving for Oberlin.
Names: Julia [Taylor] Ross Pillsbury, Ed Laird, Tom Wills

 

Lee Minker is now in Preliminary Flight Training in Pecos, Texas

Date: [Monday], November 1, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Slight anxiety, they haven’t heard from him, wondering if he has moved to another base or
working hard on 50 hour army check. Shirley had a good report card, will not be home for
Thanksgiving. Only 80 boys left at Dickinson, most are pre-med or ministerial. Reports that there
is not enough food at several colleges. Halloween parties at Ferris School.
Names: Howell Wilkins [Dickinson]

 

Date: [Wednesday], November 10, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Received a large card {missing from collection] that he was in Pecos, TX. She misses Lee terribly
and worries when she does not hear from him. A box with letters and class book from
Thunderbird [in the collection] arrived. Concerned about Shirley traveling alone on the train.
Asks what he needs for Christmas. As always, expresses her love.

 

Date: [Monday], November 15, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Comments on Lee’s busy schedule. Had a talk with Mr. Yingst. Government is urging colleges to
plan a month’s Christmas vacation to reduce number of students traveling around Christmas and
New Year’s Day. Asks he write daddy for his Nov. 22 birthday. She will take care of his Christmas
shopping. Hopes to find ingredients to make fruit cake.
Names: Mr. Yingst [A.I. du Pont high school football coach]

 

Date: Thursday, November 18, [1943] view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Mailed a box to him for Thanksgiving. Mentions movies, watching Bataan took a lot out of her.
Report of plans for the family holiday, weddings, and a friend killed in action. Prays they will be
together next Thanksgiving.
Names: Roy Wilson, Ruth Collins, Clyde Taggart, Senator Bridges

 

Date: [Tuesday], November 23, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
On stationery from the Hotel Pennsylvania as the family went along with Ralph Sr. who attended
a meeting in New York City. Gives Lee the details of the trip to the city. Had a combination family-
Thanksgiving dinner with members of the Minker family. Shirley called, getting high marks in
chemistry. Reacts to Lee’s report that his wisdom teeth are being pulled. Reports on other
events that connect him to everything familiar: his girlfriend Julia, the Theta Chi fraternity, and
the [Ferris] School.

 

Date: Friday, November 26, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Thanksgiving was not much of a celebration with both Lee and Shirley away. Keeps sending him
notices of weddings from his crowd, is concerned about the future for these young families when
they are thrown back into civilian life. Short letter as she has a lot of work piled up in the office.

 

Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1943 view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Received his letter of Nov. 26. Report that the mail sent overseas for Christmas has been
distributed, will be a letdown then for the troops. She baked 3 fruitcakes. Very pleased with how
well Shirley is doing in school. Have not had a blackout all month, one a month is scheduled.
Hopeful at the news that he will be home in March. Received his army insurance policy for
$10,000.

 

Date: Undated view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Sending Lee information about a ministerial contact in El Paso. Still has mimeographing to do for
the [Ferris] school newspaper.

 

Date: [Thursday], December 2, 1943 -  view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Christmas trees will cost twice what that did last year. Trying to get equipment for basketball for
the [Ferris] School, impossible to find basketballs and gym shoes. Enclosing clippings about the
Blue Rocks and Phillies.

 

Date: [Tuesday], December 7, 1943 -  view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Shirley’s birthday, Pearl Harbor Day, Delaware Day! Recalls Shirley’s birth. Sending him a box for
Christmas, tells him not to open it early so that he can have something for Christmas Day.
Describes plans for Christmas and activities at the [Ferris] School.

 

Date: [Friday], December 10, 1943 -  view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Sending his Christmas box, present from his sisters is not ready yet. Received the money he sent
to buy Christmas gifts. Played bridge with friends. Showing a movie at the school. Teases with
news about football star Creighty Miller.
Names: Julia [Taylor], Creighty Miller [Wilmington boy who was a Notre Dame football star in
1943]

 

Date: [Monday], December 13, 1943 and Tuesday -  view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Sent the words to the poem “High Flight” by John Magee. Reminder Christmas box says “Do not
open.” Daddy has been sick with the cold, running the office, getting ready for Christmas has
kept her busy. Making an evening dress for Bernice for a dance on Dec. 23. Sending a copy of The
Dickinsonian.

 

Date: Friday, December 17, 1943 -  view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Visit from a young black man who used to work at the house, now in the air force. Will miss the
Messiah, daddy is still sick. Asks about his flying. Selected a present for Julia [Taylor]. Trying to
figure out a time for him to place a call. Her concern for his health shows in several comments.
A friend from their early days in Mass. sent Lee $10. Feels honored to be asked to speak at the
meeting of the Woman’s Society for black women. Does not want to serve again as president of
the Wilmington district as she is working in the office. Reminds him of their love.

 

Date: Wednesday, December 29, 1943 -  view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
[Lee was able to call at 1 a.m. on Dec. 28.] Happy just to hear his voice on the phone. Report of a
happy day in New York; effort to go to Radio City failed, saw Sonja Henie show and had dinner at
fancy Swedish restaurant. Describes their Christmas activities, not the same without him at
home.

 

Date: [Friday], December 31, 1943 -  view letter
Writer: Edna Minker  
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Opening is full of yearning for her son. Pleased with the pictures he sent and that he is looking
well. Details of family life. A family member died, one of the sons was wounded on the Solomon
Islands. Prays that New Year’s next year the world will be celebrating peace.
Names: Gus Minker

 

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