From Ralph L. Minker, Sr. to Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr.

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

ABSTRACT

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

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

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

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

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]

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

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

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]

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

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]

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]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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]

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]

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

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

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]

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]

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]

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Folder 18: Ralph L. Minker, Sr., January – December 1944

ABSTRACT

Ralph L. Minker, Sr. (left) and Ralph L. “Lee’ Minker, Jr.

Date: Saturday evening, January 22, [1944]

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. updates Lee on the Bombers’ progress in the season.  He had the key men from the Civilian Defense to dinner.  Went to a meeting on new pre-induction training for the Selective Service, concerned because of the number of married men being called up. Reports on their active social life, asks that he call next week.

 

Date: February 2, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. advises Lee on what to buy for his new uniform after talking with an officer at the Air Base. Tells him to buy regulation items rather than tailor-made that Lee was requesting.

 

Date: February 14, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. updates Lee on the Bombers’ season thus far and the recent winter weather. Begins a conversation about ways to get home on leave.

 

Lee Minker graduated from Flight School on March 12, 1944.  He arrived home on leave on approximately March 14, leaving again a week later for Transitional Flight Training in the B-17 in Roswell, New Mexico.

 

Date: March 22, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. inquires on Lee’s stay in Chicago and if it was eventful.  He loved having Lee at home, enjoyed all the things they did together.  He congratulates his son on his commission, had expressed his pride from the pulpit while preaching the Sunday Lee graduated [March 12].

 

Date: Tuesday evening, March 28, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. shares a poignant moment while watching an intense basketball game with Governor Bacon.  He inquires about Lee’s new location and the experience he will have putting together a crew. Wants to put together a code so they will know of special developments.  Gives news of Raymond Eckeard and James Gilbert.

Names: Raymond Eckeard, James Gilbert, Governor Walter W. Bacon

 

Date: May 2, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

The family scanned every bomber that passed over trying to get a sense of what if was like for him. Talked some more about his clothing requirements. Lets Lee know he is doing a great job and that he has proven much to himself, there will be even greater jobs when this [war] is over.

 

Date: Thursday evening, [mid-May 2, 1944]

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. reports on a panel discussion on social work and the meetings and speeches he is doing. They are enjoying his letters from Roswell.

 

Date: May 21, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. talks about the winning game he saw with the Blue Rocks.  He visited with Irving Carpenter, a minister he knew as a young person who is now the chief of chaplains in the Air Forces. They bred Ginger to a police dog and are looking forward to puppies. Thinks he should ask for a furlough.

Names: Colonel Irving Carpenter

 

Date: July 2, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. commends Lee’s work thus far in his career.  He is working on a bond drive and still remembering how wonderful it was to have Lee at home [mid-March].  The Blue Rocks are now having some success.

 

Date: July 16, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. talks about the Sunday Church service.  Margaret Jones, a nurse is joining the army.  Baseball player Dutch Dorman was given a severe sentence without a hearing.  He appreciates hearing that Lee likes his bomber crew.

Names: Margaret Jones [cousin on mother’s side]

 

Date: Monday morning, [late July 1944]

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. comments on the impact of the traveling Lee has done.  He tells his son that he is very proud of him for all of his hard work and his steadfast attitude.  Assures him that they are well and pulling for him every minute.

 

Date: Saturday morning, August 5, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. give advice to Lee on how to handle the new responsibilities he has been given as the commander of a B-17.  He reports that the 5th War Loan Drive was successful although there are some slackers.

2nd Lieutenant Ralph Lee Minker departed Hunter Field, Georgia, on Wednesday, October 4, 1944.  With his crew they flew a B-17 to Wales, flying up the east coast of the U.S. and over Wilmington on their way to England.  They arrived at Rattlesden Army Air Force Base on October 13, 1944.

 

Date: October 8, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

The cramped space of using V-Mail is a new experience.  The entire family enjoyed themselves as Lee flew low over the house on Wed. on his way to Bangor, Maine, and then England. They were happy to see the plane after Lee’s descriptions of the B-17. Comments on the presidential election, the president seems old and in a tough spot for a campaign.  Gives Lee support as he heads off for combat.

 

Date: October 13, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Attending a convention in NYC.  Ralph Sr. took a walk, writes his observations of the crowds and the hundreds of boys on leave. Reports on the World Series. MInker’s strong connection with his son shows in how he closes the letter.

 

Date: October 14, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: New York City, NY

Ralph Sr. just finished a training course on problems of 16-21 year-olds and how to be helpful.  He is grateful that Lee at least had a few years to get started in college in a time of normalcy. Talks about the future when Lee’s job is over.  He is thinking of his son this minute wondering where he is and what he is doing.

 

Date: November 3, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

He opens describing the quiet life of the family at home.  Wonders if he will hear the Navy-Notre Dame game. Comments on the pending election. Everyone asks for him [Lee] and wants to be remembered. Ben Johns has registered for the army.

Names: Ben Johns [son of friends]

 

Date: December 1, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Minker Sr. talks about seeing a Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles game and describes  other sporting events.  He is going to a meeting at Boston University about Americanism. The Sixth War Drive is about to begin.

 

Date: December 23, 1944

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Minker Sr. talks about the family’s Christmas trip to New York City.  He describes getting ready for Christmas, and sending Lee some gifts and cookies.  His fatherly anxiety is not expressed directly, rather he reassures Lee that they are all thinking of him a great deal as they read the articles in the paper about the European Theatre.

Folder 19: Ralph L. Minker, Sr., January – October, 1945

ABSTRACT

Ralph L. Minker, Sr. (left) and Ralph L. “Lee’ Minker, Jr.

 

Date: January 6, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. tells Lee about another war loan drive, the best one to date. The family Christmas was changed by the cablegram they received from Lee. He talks about their visitors including Lee’s girlfriend Julia [Taylor]. Congratulations on his promotion to 1st Lieutenant. Meant a lot to him to see the Clark Gable movie on the 8th Air Force. Fatherly pride shows when talking about Shirley doing well in school and Bernice being active in the community. Gives Lee career advice for the post-war period. Advises against a military career but will support whatever decision he makes.

 

Date: January 29, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

He is so pleased with all that Edna [Minker] has done these past years, and lets him know how important the letters are that he writes to her. Report on the Bombers and the Sixth War Bond Drive. Hoping he will be home soon.

 

Date: February 17, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Minker Sr. went to a conference in NY this week, enjoys exchanging ideas. Went to the Latin Quarter for dinner and a show. Newspaper carried the news that Lee was awarded another Oak Leaf Cluster. Feels they are flying with him on every mission. Sends names of some of the people who are asking for him; letting Lee know how much they think of him and want to see him home.

 

Lee Minker completed his tour of duty by flying 35 missions on February 27, 1945, entitling the crew to return home. Lee Minker, however, signed on for a second tour and went on a 30-day leave in the English countryside.

 

Date: March 20, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Congratulations on safely completing their tour of duty. Looking forward to pictures of the Blue Hen Chick. Dad is supportive of his decision. Report on the Bombers.

 

Date: March 26, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Has lined up a pro golfer to give Lee lessons when he comes home so they can enjoy playing together. They had hoped he would be home by Easter.

 

Date: April 12, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

[Lee had sent a lengthy letter describing a “typical mission”. ]Minker Sr. enjoyed it tremendously and shared it with dozens of people. It’s tough not to hear from him.

 

Date: May 2, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

The campus grounds are showing improvement after all the work they put in. The war news is good, Japan should capitulate soon. Compliments Lee on being equal to the situation.

 

Date: May 10, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

The recent war news is welcome, difficult to understand how the Nazi ideology gripped the German people. Recognizes the work there will be to do after the war and that Lee will be a part of that. Counting the days until Lee’s return.

 

Date: June 6, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Everyone is excited at the news that Lee has made Captain. Grandmother couldn’t speak. Teases that the whole family is in the newspaper and that he can’t keep up. Thinking of him being home soon.

 

Date: June 28, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Regrets getting the news that he has been delayed again. They are printing photos from all the negatives Lee has sent home, but there aren’t many of him. Looking for him in August.

 

Date: Tuesday evening, October 17, 1945

Writer: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.

Recipient: Lee Minker

Place: Wilmington, Delaware

Writes in support of the courses Lee has chosen for his first semester back in college. Will preach twice this coming Sunday. Golf and football, and hopes that they can enjoy them together.