Tag Archives: Helena (Dasey) Charboneau

Before WWII: What can we learn from Uncle Fred’s draft registration card? (1940)

Sepia Saturday 687Eighth in a series about letters written by my dad’s brother Frederic Mason Charboneau while in the US Army during WWII.

Frederic Mason Charboneau circa 1940. Scan by Molly Charboneau

After the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was enacted — on Sept. 16, 1940 — the US government set up nationwide registration for the first peacetime draft in US history.

Wed., Oct. 16, 1940, was set as Registration Day or R-Day in the ramp up to US entry into WWII, as described in the article below.

Some 16.5 million men were expected to register, at a projected rate of 1 million per day — and my paternal uncle Frederic Mason Charboneau, 22, was one of them.

New York Daily News, Wed., Oct. 16, 1940.

Local Board 435 in Remsen, N.Y.

To set up draft boards all over the country, locations had to be found, draft cards had to be printed/distributed and staff had to be hired who could answer questions and help get the forms filled out.

Remsen School in Remsen, Oneida Co., N.Y. (2015). Local Board 435, where Uncle Fred registered for the WWII draft on Oct. 16, 1940, was located in this building. Source: Google Maps

As noted in the article above, one solution was to use local polling places — often located in school buildings. The public knew where they were and poll workers may have been tapped to staff the new draft boards.

Thus, Uncle Fred reported to Local Board 435 located in the Remsen School, shown above, near his Otter Lake, Oneida Co., N.Y., hometown. There, he completed a draft card that provided some interesting personal and family details.

Uncle Fred’s draft card details

Shown below is the card Uncle Fred filled out on that fateful day. From it we learn his full name and its correct spelling: Frederic Mason Charboneau.

He also stated he lived in Otter Lake, Oneida Co. N.Y., and that he was born in Dolgeville, N.Y. on March 13, 1918 — making him 22 and a US citizen.

For the “name of person who will always know your address” he wrote down his father (and my grandfather) William Ray Charboneau of Otter Lake, Oneida Co., N.Y.

The previous post revealed that Uncle Fred was unemployed but looking for work during the last week of March 1940 — per his enumeration in the 1940 U.S. census of Forestport, Oneida Co., N.Y.1Family search requires free login to view documents. From his draft card we learn that he was still unemployed in October 1940, because he put “none” for place of employment or business.

Finally, there is his signature in handwriting that looks remarkably like my dad’s (Norman James Charboneau), who was six years younger than Fred.

A surprise in the registrar’s report

Accompanying Uncle Fred’s draft card was a Registrar’s Report containing his physical description. The report says he was white, 6 feet 4 inches tall, weighed 180 pounds and had gray eyes, brown hair and a light complexion.

Nothing unusual about that. My dad, his father Ray and his other 3 brothers were all over six feet tall — and his Welsh-Irish mother Mary (Owen) Charboneau and her sisters were about six feet tall, too.

I was intrigued, though, by Uncle Fred’ gray eyes as I hadn’t previously considered that an eye color. And I was surprised that the registrar turned out to be another family member: Uncle Fred’s aunt, Lena D. Charboneau! Born Helena G. Dasey, she married my grandfather’s brother Orville on Oct. 25, 1920, in Little Falls, N.Y.

At the time of the WWII draft, Orville, Lena, and their son Albert Bernard, 17 — known as Bud — lived near the Otter Lake Hotel2ibid. where Uncle Fred, 22, my dad Norm, 15, and my grandparents lived in 1940. Thus we can be fairly confident about Lena’s description of Uncle Fred.

Lena’s signed report also says that she was the registrar for the 2nd and 3rd assembly district of Oneida County, N.Y. — supporting the use of electoral districts, polling places and possibly their staff for WWII draft registration.

Up next: Uncle Fred enlists in the US Army. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the other intrepid bloggers over at Sepia Saturday.

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