Hey Soldier! - A Letter From Grace April 15th, 1942
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In this installment of Hey! Soldier George gets clued into the latest happenings from is Mom including that the ceiling is indeed finished at the Mastic Beach House.
- Hey! Soldier - Introduction - Letters To George Lutz: A World War II Soldier
Hey! Soldier chronicles the real life of George Lutz a World WAR II (WWII) Army veteran while he is stationed in Georgia in 1942. Through letters to George you'll discover details of every day life from a different time period and see how they handle
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April 15th, 1942
About This Letter:
From: Grace Bauer
To: Corporal George F Lutz
6th Training Battalion
Wednesday Morning April 15th (At Breakfast)
Good morning honey!
How are you? Will write you tonight but in the meantime here are the pictures I took. The dates are on the back of them.
Here I am writing to you and eating at the same time, but I want you to see the pictures you've waited for so long.
Be good, dear, and I'll write again tonight.
Editors Note: This is probably one of the shortest Hey! Soldier letters in the series. Unfortunately the pictures were not located with the letters so we have no idea what my grandfather got to see with this delivery. Despite a very short letter I wanted to address something that I have recently been thinking about. In a previous letter Grace mentions to George how he can reply to her at no cost because the postal service wasn't charging service men for their letters home. This also happened within my lifetime during Operation Desert Storm. Soldiers often times made up their own colorful illustrations instead of stamps. Rumor has it, the heat and humidity made actually applying stamps and keeping them stuck to the envelopes provided a logistical nightmare in the desert. Anyway, what about Grace's expenses writing to him? In a previous letter Grace mentions she was running out of paper, and even his parents seems to use every last inch of paper to get news back and forth.
Now I do realize there was a paper shortage and it was rationed in the US and in Great Britain in particular, but that is only one part of it. According to the postage stamp it costs 3 cents to mail these letters to George. I also see very few letters where additional postage was ever added. Notably when George received his tax documents from his father. I personally doubt the USPS had the resources to weigh each letter individually back then. But back on track, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics here in the US, accounting for inflation, that $.03 would actually cost only $.42 in today's money. Interestingly enough, mailing a similar latter via 1st class postage actually costs $.45 via the USPS. The one time so far where George's mother sent him a letter via air mail, the total price was $.21, or $2.97 in today's prices. Priority mail now costs at least $4.95 for a small letter.
In comparison, remember in 1942, based on the information George's dad sent him, the Federal government didn't require you to file taxes if you made less than $750 annually. George Claimed $694.50 after deductions for 1941, thats $9,815.84 today, or like making only $188 weekly in today's society. This is far from a minimum wage. George's brother Gene on the other hand mentions making around $18.06 in one paycheck for overtime, as well as having $50 to go spend one Friday night. He didn't make out so bad in comparison, that's $255.28 in overtime and $706.68 when he partied that weekend! Remember the husband of one of Grace's friends who was an airplane mechanic? He made $94 monthly, or $1,128 annually. Adjusted thats more like $1594.79, again, a far cry from what we would consider a great job nowadays, but was certainly enough to get by.
My point with all this is that I suppose with today's free communication such as texts, instant messaging, emails, and blog posts, it's easy to forget that people needed to actually make an effort to send these letters to George. It was truly money out of their pocket, if only a little here and there. Multiplied over the course of the war, the communications could really add up.
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