August 27, 2015 – The search goes on and thinking about going home

Last night I did some great searching and took a picture from Aunt Madeline’s photo album and tracked two little kids who turned out to be cousins on the McArdle side of the family. They were born in the west – it looks like their father Marcus Stevens, was called a traveler with a comment in the census next to him stating French furs.  He must have gone out west to find furs to purchase to send back to Montreal.  His wife was French speaking and when the children were little they were speaking french.  The names of the children were James and Amelia.  Very cute. I imagine he was named after his grandfather James.  Later they moved to Quebec and that is when I decided to head for bed.

Then I had had a question from a Laughland cousin asking if I knew anything about Robert Graham Kelly Laughland son of Hugh Laughland and Maggie Kelly.  At first I could not find anything other than that he had married and they had adopted a son Andrew.  Well, I went on Family search.com and found him in British Columbia married to Marjorie MOORE a Canadian.  No record of Andrew anywhere but at least I know he left England/SCOTLAND and went to BC, married and spent his life there with Marjorie.  I am thinking they came to visit us in Seattle.  Anyway, nothing I enjoy more than figuring out these puzzles.

The road was repaved today in front of us so we did not go anywhere until the afternoon.  Met one of the neighbors Brian I think. He lives on one of Aunt Mary’s former properties.  He was very nice. Turns out Ed had given him a tour one time when we were not here.   Glad we have our neighborhood guy to keep an eye on things.

I spent some time this afternoon setting updates  to visit some of my cousins that are on my list to see.  Margaret O’Connor is up there in age and living at a senior residence outside of Gan.  I am going to take some of Madelines picture books down to show her.  She says she can see them and will try and ID some folks for me.  She even described one of the pictures from the reunion back in the 30’s at Long Point of all the first cousins who were then getting on.  Aunt Madeline is in that picture and as Margaret told me there is a woman sitting in a car because she had trouble standing.  That is one of the pictures I put on facebook to see if anyone recognized anyone.  She thinks she can tell me who those people were.

And for you all I did something this afternoon.  I transcribed the few letters from Jack Gray that we have found.  You will be surprised to see what happened with them.   I figured Sheila had gotten a “dear john” letter but that is not what happened. So I will put all of his letters on here tonight.   Makes interesting reading.

Letters from Jack Gray
Envelope Salvation Army – by air mail
Canadian YMCA (Spirit-Mind-Body) ON ACTIVE DUTY
25-07-44 Miss Mary O’Connor / 193 Earl St / Kingston Ontario from Jack Gray
Lt. J.A. Gray
Transit Camp Debert N.S.

Dear Mary,
First of all Mary I wish to apologize for delaying so long in acknowledging having received Sheila’s Picture and your letter but like all army personnel I have an excuse; namely pressure of work which has been slightly terrific during the last week.
As for the picture itself I am afraid it would be necessary for me to use a few Hollywood idioms in order to describe my appreciation but then perhaps I am predjudiced.

No doubt you will have realized that by now my leave is only a memory. Due to the work mentioned above it was necessary for me to return to Debert via the most direct route some three days in advance of the date I had expected. Hence I was unable to visit Kingston and take advantage of your invitation. Please tender my thanks to your parents in this connection.

There is still no news of when I can expect to get across the pond, although I am still pestering many; often. By the looks of things at present it would appear that the necessity of sending troops to the European theatre will be past very soon.

Well Mary I am afraid that I am forced to bring this note to a close. They tell me that our quarters will not be tenantable to nite due to painting and that every man has to find a place to sleep for himself, so on with my running shoes before the news gets to widely spread.

Again my most profuse thanks to you and your parents and au Revoir until some not too future date when I shall hope to make your acquaintance.

Sincere Regards¸
Jack

July 31, 1944

Greetings Honey:
Your mail is coming through great whereas mine doesn’t seem to be reaching you at all so have decided to switch over to this type of letters. In your last letter you mention having only received one of mine to date so there are about nine or ten others somewhere between hither and yon.

As mention ed in my last letter I had planned on visiting my sister and her hubby at Chatham NB but was unable to get away so will get going this next weekend.

By the looks of things at home it won’t be very much longer until the Germans fold up their tent and haul in their wash so am hoping to see you home by Christmas. What a reunion that is going to be believe me. Don’t take it from that that I have given up hopes of getting over but just can’t see why any more reinforcement will be necessary. My friend Jim Travis is in your vicinity someplace so you might have a chance to run across him. At any rate he will be looking for you.
We have stopped matching at the office but still play a little penny ante at nite not very large games however and I am showing a fair credit to date.

Ken Watson is just about finished our new pay office and is it a dandy. Should be the nicest in MD6 I would imagine. Besides the Beer Garden Ken wrote describing to Mary he built a Volley Ball court that would make a volley ball player Ball so the old games were hot and heavy. Everybody plays from the Batmen to the Colonel. A league has been drawn up within the Brigade group and the team from the mess stands in good stead of holding the Golden Ring. Good eh!

How about Pat, is she still near you. IF so please give her my regards. Dare say there was considerable chatter going on between the two of you.

Have been stealing a few minutes from work in order to write this note so it looks like the stolen moments are going to end with the paper. Curly is sitting across from me beaming and asking me to say Hello. The advent of the pay office has him as excited as a Four year old at Christmas.

Where would you like to go on New Years Eve?

Then bye now and as ever all my love,
Jack

4 Aug 44

Dearest Sheila,

Hi, Have you received any more than one letter yet if not you can be sure that there must be a lot of them on their way. I just can’t bear the thought of any of them being lost as they represent in total two years letters writing on my part. Truthfully though I don’t find much trouble in sitting down and writing you the words seem to parade in endless monotony as you will no doubt note.

Haven’t had much excitement this week but did go to the Tennis Club dance on Wed nite. The dance was perfect as usual or should I say as near perfect as possible considering your absence. Went stag but escorted on old pal Marnie Smith to her door.

Last nite went to see Charles Laughton in a show titled “the Ghost of (Somebody or other). Rather a unique type of drama but can’t say that it particularity appeals.

Am getting ready to catch the train for Chatham this evening to visit my sister Marg and her hubby Kitch. Hope to catch me a ride in one of them thar army planes people are all the time chatten about. So you suppose?

Freddy is still on leave but expect he will be back some time near the end of next week. For some reason or other maybe due to his absence haven’t heard any new jokes that would bear repeating.

Transit Camp is throwing a big picnic this coming week end for the other ranks but won’t be attending as I will be absent and furthermore wasn’t invited. They have too many officers going at any rate considering that invitations were only being given to the C.O. and the 2i/c. All the rest have in on the excuse that there work requires their presence.

Ken Watson leaves for the place, a spot some 30 miles from here on the Bay, sometime tomorrow morning and will be busy setting up facilities such as stands etc. required in connection with a picnic.

That just about takes care of what news there is to date so will write on Monday.

Where did you say you wanted to go on New Year’s Eve?

My love as ever Sheila,
Jack

Mailed Sept 1, 1944

Dear Sheila,

By the time you receive this letter you will have begun to wonder what has happened to the mail. Actually I haven’t written a letter in the last three weeks. Just seemed to hit one of those spells when I couldn’t find time nor patience to sit down and write.

Several of your letters have been received and I agree with you Sheila that 9 days we new each other was insufficient to warrant me writing letters like I did in July. Believe me Sheila you interest me more than any girls I have ever met, but now deep down in my heart I realize that we must get to know each other far better than we do in order to formulate a basis for a future, bright.. So I think we should more or less establish a platonic friendship until such time as the wars ending will permit our meeting in a less glamorous atmosphere then was excited by your departure. I will leave this para the way it is without trying to sum up a conclusion because I feel that none is indicated.

Well to go a long ways back I was up to my sisters and had the time of my life. Managed to get a three hour flip in an Anson? Flew over the camp and over to the Island. Really enjoyed it and am looking forward to a flip next time I can get up there.
You have asked whether Ken Watson is married. Naturally I don’t figure that to be a question for me to answer so I won’t. Would suggest that Mary use a little subtly and obtain the information from Ken himself. Hope you appreciate my view point.
Sure sorry to hear that so many casualties are pouring in but I guess war can’t be conducted without them. It’s a tough world and nobody seems to come out of it alive do they? Had a letter from my cousin in France the other day and was chucking over his various experiences when a letter came from home telling me that he had been killed in action three days after his letter to me. The news kind of knocked me for a loop because we have palled around together from the time we were two years old until he joined the army and was transferred overseas. It is a son of a gun to hear of these fellows, the flower of Canada as they are and should be described, giving their lives when there are so many in the country who could better be spared but I guess that is Gods will.

Freddy is back but his jokes of the week have been such as shouldn’t be put in a letter of this nature. However have heard a couple of corney ones that might bet a laugh.

“The little moron who kept his Dad on Ice because he liked cold Pop”
And “Who thought a cellophane Bag referred to a transparent woman”

The summer here has been really dandy. Managed to get out to the beach a couple of times and it was just like old times being able to be around in old clothes

By the by, the pictures Marg took of me while I was up there were so poor as to be considered Slanderous so won’t be sending them I fear.

Will drop over and see Mac in a day or so and see if I can get some Chocolate bars on the way. Glad you mentioned them Sheila. Shouldn’t have overlooked them as I knew they were hard to get in England.

From information that I have been able to get it doesn’t seem that your brother has arrived in camp as yet but will keep enquiring with hopes of meeting him.

Well Sheila I appear to have exhausted the moments stolen from my work in order to get this letter away so will close now with another hollow promise of getting letters away more frequently.

As ever,
Jack

For info about Debert                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CFS_Debert

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