1942: Uncle Fred sends money home to my dad

Sepia Saturday 711. Twenty-first in a series about letters from my dad’s brother Frederic Mason Charboneau while he was in the US Army during WWII.

What particularly impresses me about my paternal Uncle Frederic Mason Charboneau was how he managed to stay connected to his family while he was stationed abroad during WWII.

Frederic Mason Charboneau c. 1942. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Uncle Fred thought about his parents, brothers, and friends — regularly writing to his mother Mary (Owen) Charboneau — and he did his best to lend a helping hand from afar.

I was particularly touched to read about his support for my dad Norman, the youngest of the five Charboneau brothers, who was then away at college.

Walking around money

Somewhere in England, November 6th, 1942. Dear Mom, I received your cablegram the other day telling you that you’ve got the money. By the time you get this letter, you should have received some more,” wrote Uncle Fred.

“Here’s what I want you to do,” he continued. “When the other money arrives, take $10.00 of it and send it to Norman. I read in his letter that he said he had enough, but I know how it is. When I went to Business School, I could always use a little more. He isn’t one to spend money foolish and I think he can use it all right. Especially the way he is going to all the football games.”

Clarkson College beats St. Lawrence U. (1942). My dad Norman, who went to Clarkson College, wrote to his brother Fred about Clarkson’s football losses. Uncle Fred took an interest and sent my dad some walking around money. Photo: Clarksonian Yearbook 1942

Taking a brotherly interest

Growing up, Fred and my dad shared a bedroom in the Otter Lake Hotel that my grandparents operated — and in one of the cabins where the family spent each winter during the off season. Fred was six years older than Dad, and clearly took an older-brother interest in how his younger brother Norman was doing.

“Norman wrote me and I got the letter…a day or so before yours arrived,” Fred wrote. “He was telling me how Clarkson is like Forestport. Never winning a game. He should feel right at home in that respect… How much of a trip is it for Norman to get home? Does it take him very long and how does he come by bus?”

Another important gift

Besides sending money to my dad, Uncle Fred asked his mom to carry out another important task — buying a gift for Jean Bastow, who had been regularly corresponding with him and had sent him baked goods while he was stationed in the U.S.

Heart shaped cookies. In Nov. 1942, Uncle Fred asked his mom to buy a Christmas gift for Jean Bastow, who wrote to him and sent cookies and such. Photo: Pixabay

“One more thing,” Fred wrote. “I just got a letter from Jean Bastow and she said in it that she was sending me a Christmas present. So, what I want you to do is to buy something and send it to her for me. Nothing very expensive. Just a remembrance, and also something to acknowledge my appreciation for the cookies and things that she sent me while in the states.”

Spoiler alert: I’m guessing the gift was just expensive enough, because after the war, Fred and Jean got married! But I’m jumping ahead on their story, which in 1942 was apparently just getting started.

“Well, I guess that’s it for this time,” Fred wrote. “Remember me to everybody in Otter Lake. Hoping this letter finds everyone well and happy. Your loving son, Fred.”

Up next: Closing out Uncle Fred’s 1942 letters. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the other intrepid bloggers over at Sepia Saturday.

© 2024 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

17 thoughts on “1942: Uncle Fred sends money home to my dad”

  1. As I’ve been reading this series, I’ve come to like Fred, and this post shows me that he was a very kind young man. Kind to his family and friends. I’m looking forward to reading about the story of Fred and Jean.

  2. These posts are great insight into your family. It’s wonderful how your uncle kept up a correspondence with family members. I looked up on the Commerce Department’s inflation calculator to see what $10 in 1942 would be in today’s dollars. It equates to $196.44! That ten bucks would have gotten your dad into a whole lotta football games!

    1. Thanks, Susan. You think of the troops as needing encouragement from home, so it was interesting to me that he sent so much encouragement back.

  3. Good stories always improve with a little romance and a bit of sibling admiration too. When my dad entered the army at the start of the Korean War he sent dependent support to his mom who was a widow living in rural Maryland.

    1. So true. I inherited one of my grandmother’s day books, and tucked into it were several cards from Uncle Fred looking just as fresh as when he sent them.

  4. I shall stop back for sure. I am so enjoying your Uncle Fred’s letters to his Mom & family. What a thoughtful person he was, bless his heart. 🙂 He sounds a lot like my Dad. I remember one Valentine’s Day he gave Mom & me & my sisters 1 lb Valentine shaped boxes of candy. I was trying to lose weight back then and said “Oh, Daddy, thank you but . . .” He didn’t let me finish, smiling & simply saying “Look inside.”, I opened the box & instead of candy there was a lovely T-bone steak. :)) That was my Dad & I’ll bet Uncle Fred did things like that too. 🙂

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