Folder 17: Ralph L. Minker, Sr., March - December, 1943

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Ralph L. Minker, Sr. (left) and Ralph L. "Lee' Minker, Jr.

Rev. Ralph L. Minker, Sr., superintendent of the Ferris Industrial School for Boys in Wilmington, Delaware, brought his eighteen-year-old son home from Dickinson College in late February, 1943. Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., had to report for basic training in Miami, Florida, the first step in pilot training with the Army Air Corps.  Ralph Sr. provided active encouragement and advice to Lee throughout each phase of training and when he was in combat in England.  


Date: Wednesday evening, March 3, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
The first letter from their son brings great relief.  Dad recognizes how busy the first days are.  Reports on a Red Cross drive for $450,000. There will be a test blackout tomorrow night with the new siren [Ralph Sr. is the Civil Defense Warden for New Castle County]. Comments on Hitler.  Sends words of tremendous support and respect to his son. 

 

Date: March 8, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
The family is so appreciative of Lee’s letters: they make the rounds of the entire family, including grandmothers, the dog Ginger and anyone who drops by.  Sympathizes with the crowded conditions in Miami, encourages his son to work in the best spirit. Asks after Stan Wilson and Bill Hyde, who are with Lee in Miami.  Will be sending Lee reports of the Blue Rocks. [Sports is a way father and son stay connected throughout the correspondence.] 
Names: Stan Wilson, Bill Hyde

 

Date: March 19, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. gives advice to Lee on how to deal with the haphazard nature of his training.  He inquires about Bill Hyde and how he's coping with training. He and Bill Hyde’s father are exchanging notes. Sending lots of clippings and a box of cookies. 
Names: Bill Hyde

Lee Minker was in the infirmary in Miami with a mysterious illness in late March.

Date: March 25, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. sympathizes with Lee and his sickness with [apparently] the measles.  He is getting ready for the [Ferris] school's baseball team. Tells Lee to wire or phone if there is any urgency.

 

Pvt. Lee Minker left basic training in Miami for a long train trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, in early April.  A postcard to Bernice Minker dated April 10 states that they had arrived.

Date: [April 11, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. writes after Lee has had a week in transit from Miami to Lincoln, NE. They have been concerned as mail was returned, the family has planned that he hear from one of them every two days. Sorry to have missed his call but Bernice had it typed up for them. Gives news of Bill Rogers and Walter Hall, African American Ferris student now in the army. He went to an A’s and Philly's game with Governor Bacon, is hopeful sports will continue during the war.  He is having to coach the baseball team himself due to lack of staff.
Names: Bill Rogers, Walter Hall, Governor Walter W. Bacon

 

Date: Friday evening, April 16, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. reports a classmate from Boston U. School of Theology, Ben Schwartz, is chancellor of the university [U. of Nebraska at Lincoln where Lee is stationed.]  Lets Lee know how important his letters are to them, “you are everything to us.” He is getting letters from Ferris boys Steve Paulik, Joe Hobbs, and Nick Caseta who are in the service. Arthur Stille was on the North Africa casualty list. They laughed over the heavy schedule he reported. 
Names: Steven Paulik, Joe Hobbs, Nick Caseta, Arthur Stille

 

Date: April 24, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
They missed him at the Easter celebrations.  Describes their dinner with family and friends; teases Lee about how much he could eat. Working on getting the swimming pool at the school into shape. He brings his son up to date with results of sport events. Dickinson [College] will have an abbreviated commencement.  They are thankful for their son. 
Names: Howell Wilkins

 

Date: Saturday eve, May 1, [1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. reminds his son of home with description of a Minker Sunday dinner.  He is pleased that Lee met the Chancellor [Schwartz].  He talks about the Boston University School of Theology and Dickinson. Praises the foundation received at Dickinson College.  Closes with encouragement to his son.

 

Date: May 12, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Sorry that he missed Lee’s call last night.  He has a heavy schedule of meetings and speeches.  He is pleased with Lee becoming suited to Air Force life. He bought 20 steers yesterday for the [Ferris] school. He talks about North Africa and the progress of the war in general.  Expresses his love by saying he “moves in his direction” every hour of the day.

 

Date: Sunday evening, [date unknown, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
The whole family went to church. He provides current sports updates and talks about the lack of staff at the school. Asks that Lee call home as there are not many letters. Good news on the war, hoping the “whole mess” will be over soon.

 

Date: Saturday evening, [May 29, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. congratulates Lee on his first flight [May 24].  The Army Engineers need a place to house 350 soldiers and were looking at the [Ferris] school for it. Wonders what would happen to the boys. 

 

Date: Tuesday morning, June 1, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Anxious to hear about the next flights, they haven’t heard from him. He mentions that Bill Hyde has not flown yet.  A report on the Blue Rocks and their recent games.  He is pleased with the work done on improving the swimming pool. 

 

On June 22, 1943, Lee Minker arrived at Santa Ana Army Air Corps Base, California for testing and classification. 

Date:  June 29, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
They were relieved to receive two letters from Lee. Minker Sr. is impressed with the amount of travel now that Lee is on the west coast. Dad realizes how strenuous the work must be to prepare for what is ahead.  He gives a report on the Blue Rocks. 

 

Date:  Monday morning, July 19, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. congratulates Lee on being classified as a pilot and expresses his pride.  Captain John Daunt from the Army talked to the boys at the [Ferris] school.  In their continuing conversation about sports, dad tells Lee about the Blue Rocks’ success.  He writes about the current politics in the country and Delaware.

 

Date:  July 29, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
They are interested in the routine Lee has to follow.  Minker Sr. writes about current events at the school and the state of education.  Reports that whenever they sit down together they pray for him. 

 

Date:  August 21, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
The new letterhead shows that he was able to get the name of the school changed at the last legislature.  The grandmothers are taking care of him as mother and the girls have gone to Rehoboth.  Enjoyed his letter about being in the [altitude] chamber.  The Blue Rocks are a sorry lot just now. 

 

After successful classification as a pilot, Lee Minker was shipped to Phoenix, Arizona, for training in the Stearman at Thunderbird Field II. He arrived on Tuesday, August 31, 1943.

Date:  Sunday evening, September 12, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Have been waiting all day for a phone call from Lee.  The telephone company cannot handle the load of calls.  Asks him not to give up trying. Enjoyed his letter about flying the Stearman.  He is keeping in touch with Lee's fraternity [Theta Chi].

 

Date:  Wednesday evening, [September ?, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Said goodbye to Lee’s girlfriend, Julia [Taylor, who is leaving for Oberlin]. Praises mother [Edna Minker] for her dual role keeping the house and being his secretary. Gives news of Major Yost. He gave a talk for the African American teachers at State College in Dover. He is having dinner with a friend, Dr. Clinchy, secretary of the National Conference of Jews and Christians.
Names: Major Yost, Dr. Everett Clinchy

 

Date:  Sunday evening, October 3, [1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Writes about having to retrieve several runaways from the school, expresses concern about the conditions they come from.  Minker Sr.’s pride in his son’s progress is apparent as he congratulates Lee on his progress as a pilot and his hopes for Lee’s future.  He is hopeful that the war will be over by the fall. Another update on the Blue Rocks and their record, basketball is starting again, a report on the World Series.

 

Date:  October 24, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. brings home to Lee by sharing the family dinner, asks about the food at Phoenix.  Has fun describing their trip to Williamsport to surprise Shirley, glad to see her happy.  He updates Lee on the Bombers team, is losing interest in games due to the war.  Again, expresses how proud he is of Lee, hoping he will get leave.

 

By early November 1943 Lee Minker was in El Paso, Texas, for advanced flying training in the BT-17.

Date:  November 11, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. commends Lee on a job well done in the Air Force so far and his adventures.  They went to see Princess O' Rourke, which he enjoyed and updates Lee on sports news.  Many people are inquiring about Lee's well-being; today is Armistice Day.

 

Date:  Saturday evening, [November 27, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. thanked Lee for the birthday letter he sent and how great it is to have his three children.  Comment on the army pulling out his [wisdom] teeth. He gives Lee some updates about sports teams as well as about the Bombers and Phillies.

 

Date:  Saturday evening,  [December 4, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. gives advice to Lee about finishing his training.  He is going to see the Green Bay Packers play the Eagles [game was played on Dec. 5].  He expresses concern about Lee's fraternity and pledging under current conditions.  Is pleased Shirley is settling in nicely at school.   

 

Date:  December 9, [1943] - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Recommends that Lee read Thirty Seconds Over Tokio if he has time. Everyone is asking for Lee and about flying. Comments on a staff person who has struggled with drinking.  Minker Sr. talks about the church services, especially the one with Bishop [Arthur] McKinstry speaking.  He inquires about Lee's letter on his uniform.  He provides Lee with news about the Bombers and the Echo yearbook [A.I. du Pont High School].  He congratulates his son on making it to advanced flight school.  
Note: Letter is incorrectly dated 1944.

 

Date:  December 14, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. reports that he has a bad case of the grippe.  Wishes they could surprise him at Christmas. On the homefront, there are no boxes available for wrapping Christmas packages. 

 

Date:  December 21, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Minker Sr. sends Lee some contacts for him to meet a “substantial” family in El Paso.  They are getting ready for Christmas at the [Ferris] school. Sending him wishes for the best Christmas “under the circumstances”.

 

Date:  December 23, 1943 - view telegram
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
A telegram giving Lee times to call home and to call a Reverend Williams in El Paso.  The telegram is in Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., October-December 1943 folder, because of his annotations on it.

 

Date:  December 28, 1943 - view letter
Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Recipient: Lee Minker
Place: Wilmington, Delaware
Tells Lee about the scramble for the phone when he called home. The first Christmas apart, Minker Sr. describes their Christmas and hopes that Lee got the package they sent.

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