Prelude: Here is another letter in my series of letters from Young Hank. Young Hank is a soldier from Hornell, NY who was stationed in Italy during World War II. This letter was written on April 23, 1944 to Mr. & Mrs. Frank Fairfield, in Hornell, NY.
Some where in Italy April 23, 1944
I received a swell letter from you last night. Thanks a million. You sure have been swell to me. I’m sorry I can’t write more often, but I’m lucky to get all my mail answered as it is, I’m sure you understand.
Everything here is fine. I’m feeling swell and getting along fine with the world. The boys are all fine, they ask me to say hello for them.
Yesterday I had to haul mules they’re about, if not the meanest things in the world. They want to do everything but what you want them to. The countryside for miles and miles around us is covered with ashes from the volcano. In some places we went yesterday it was between two to four inches deep. That’s a long way from the volcano too. I guess as it gets nearer to the volcano it gets deeper.
The weather has been fairly nice lately. It rains once in a while but that’s to be expected.
For a while there, I didn’t think it would ever quit.
I see you have a lot of jobs to do now. If you asked me you always did do a lot of work.
I’m sorry that Lew had such a time of it. Here’s hoping he’s alright now. Lew was always swell to me. I cleaned cars for him for four years and he never said anything mean to me. He never bawled me out for anything and heaven knows I had them coming. He’s a swell guy to work for and to know.
We just had supper and we had cherry pie and ice cream. That’s not half bad. Do you think? Of course, that does not happen very often but it’s darn nice when it does. We do have pie a lot though.
You spoke about the fire tower up in Canada, I sure would like to walk up to it about now.
Lu and I had such a swell time up there. I guess a lot of people didn’t think much of us going up there like we did, but with Lu’s folks and mine thought it was alright. And right now. I have some swell memories and believe me I can use them.
How is Mr. Fairfiled feeling now? Good I hope. Tell him I said hello and that everything is going along swell. The boys are all fine and are still getting into trouble. You know boys.
I guess maybe I had better close and write to Harold Graham. You remember him, he used to drive for lightning express.
Good luck and take care of yourselves. By the way, how is Frances these days. Tell her I said hello.
These letters from little Hank are so polite and he writes just like I would imagine a guy from the 1940’s would write. I wonder if he is in Sicily near Mt. Etna. It was and still is an active volcano. Little Hank always seems to say that him and the boys are fine. I guess that is what you say to loved ones when you’re in the middle of a war. I don’t know. What do you think?