Raining here again but rather warm – Three more letters from Bill today. He’s probably in Puerto Rico now and if you haven’t heard from him– his new address is–
Lt. Wm A. Shepard Jr. 048155
Officers mail section
He has a tentative assignment to the 334th troop carrier squadron. So we are now hoping he gets to stay there. Capt. Davidson stays in Panama at Hawaii field so I won’t get to go don’t with her. Bill seems to think Panama is all right. Says the hardest work he’s seen anyone do down there is playing golf and fish. He also says not to send Xmas presents but if you want to send money he can get things he wants wants cheaper down there.
I went back to bowling today and my
absence didn’t improve me any. I bowled about 85 average today.
Kenny got his grade card Wednesday and he got all A’s. Isn’t that wonderful! I’m so proud of him. I have to give him $1.00 for that. I never dreamed he would get all A’s. And he got outstanding marks in dependableness, accomplishment and something else – I forget what.
Dick – I don’t think I’ll come home for Xmas at all. The way Bill writes it might not be too long till we can go down so I’m not planning on leaving here till I go down there. There’s too much to do. So you can make your plans accordingly.
Everything has closed upon the field until tomorrow & perhaps until monday. If that is so, I wont get to Puerto Rico until next week some time. I expect to be re-assigned at Puerto Rio to some other island. The way housing is in Pannama I am thankful for that.
I am happy to hear that you are getting a new car soon, and I hope that you like your new house. I wonder how Herman likes his new job? I think that it is a step forward for him.
I found out that Lois & the kids & I can come home once each year for about a month with transportation furnished by the air force! That sounds good doesnt it? Panama is a beautiful place and you would go crazy here in the shops. Beautiful imported rugs, china, silver and all sorts of things. I cant make connections in time this year, but next year Ill send some home by flying them to the U.S. that way Ill get out of paying duty.
It rains every day & sometimes 3 or 4 times and we sleep without covers of any kind, but the things dont get musty or mouldy as they said.
It is a jungle all around us but very very beautiful. All kinds of birds. I havent seen any snakes yet but they are here.
Fishing would wear a person out here. 40 & 50 pound fish arent anything at all. Fishing tackle is cheaper here than anyplace I have ever seen.
If I had a real good camera I could get shots that would be breathtaking I have never seen such picture material. But Lois has the camera. I didnt think to bring it.
[page 4] Lois and Sue were down at New Orleans for about a week. We had a wonderful time.
Well Ill close with a caution not to mail any Xmas presents to me. They will be screwed up something awful, Ive been so many places.
This will be my last post for this year. So enjoy another short letter. Everyone have an excellent holiday and New Year celebration.
See you next year!
November 26, 1947
Dear Dad & Mom & Herm & Ruth:
A brief letter to let you know I will be on my way to the Antilles. That is a group of islands reaching from Venezuaela to Miami Fla. I dont know what base as yet, but it wont be Panama, for Im leaving here. I think it may be Waller Field in Trinidad or Bounquen Field in Puerto Rico. As soon as I arrive Ill write a letter. Ill have more time & can tell you about Panama & everything then.
This will be a short letter for I am packing for New Orleans. We leave by train tomorrow to the New Orleans Port of Embarkation. We ship out on 21 Nov. by boat. The next time that I write Ill be in New Orleans. It has been pleasant here at F. Kilmer but Im ready to move on & get settled down. I found out that air force personnel are allowed the maximum of 2 1/2 years foreign duty now, so that places us back in June 1950.
Ill write you all the news when it happens. Until then remember candys dandy, but liquors quicker!!
Ill give you what information that I have, and it may be incorrect.
I should leave here within a week, go to new orleans & ten by boat to Panama. Where to then is anyones guess. it will be somewhere in the carribean my address to write to is:
c/o Postmaster, New Orleans, LA
I went in to New York yesterday. What a time! I really didnt care too much
for it. Its all right, but not what its cracked up to be.
There are too damned many people living in each others backyard in this part of the country.
Ill write you a letter when I leave here. No news so Ill close.
I am happy to hear that you all had asuch a good time in Canada, and that the fishing was so good.
I had planned on going up next year, but now I guess it is all off. I received instructions today to be prepared to move to the Carribean area very soon. I will leave Nov 1. for Camp Kilmer and go on from there to either the Panama Canal Zone or Puerto Rico, (I think).
Lois & the kids will stay here until I get the house all ready, wherever that is. She will probably come down about Christmas time. Everyone says that I am lucky to get foreign service so close to the U.S. and it is supposed to be nicest place to live in the Air Force.
I think that It would be a good idea for you folks to drop out before I go. If you can make it next week end (the 25th) it would be fine. Anytime between now and the 1st of Nov.
I wont be able to make it home. If H.O. & Ruth can come we can make room for them also.
Dad. we owe you $1700.00 and I am enclosing a check for $1600.00 Perhaps we can send the $100.00 next month. Thanks so much for letting us use the money. It helped out very much.
Dont worry about the kids as the climate and surroundings are very nice in the Carribean. It isnt like going to Japan or Germany.
Well Ill close and I hope you can get out to see us.
I think perhaps if you can arrange it; it would be better to come the week-end of the 25-26th. I’ll probably still come home for over Thanksgiving–
This is Thanksgiving week, so there will only be one entry this week as I have every intention of totally vegging out and enjoying my 4 days off. Lord of the Rings marathon here I come! Have an excellent Thanksgiving.
Officers Mail Section
Scott Field, Ill.
September 12, 1947
Dear Dick & Dad,
There just isnt enough time in the day any more. We seem to be going all the time.
Hunting season is in Nov. Im going out tomorrow after dove & squirrel. Fishing is OK here. We have a mess in the ice box & Im going again Sunday.
I suppose that you folks are catching whoppers. Mine are all little fellows.
K.W. is all happy, he got an erector set (big one) and is busy building most the time. Sue got a rubber doll,
she likes it too.
We all like it here. My work is OK, takes about 6 hours a day. We have every week end off & thats OK.
The car is running fine and it sure is a blessing. I dont know what we would have done without it. It needs a tuneup now & I think Ill have it done soon.
As soon as you folks get back let us know and Ill ship you a bundle of money. We owe you some, remember? We got the check from Hilliards bank but you were on your way to Canada.
One major disadvantage to growing up as a military brat, is that you don’t get a chance to become attached to ‘place’ or know your relatives, because you aren’t around, or around long enough, to do so. But I am glad that in my case I do have a some great memories of extended family.
Because my dad was stationed at McCoy AFB in Orlando in the late 60s, we were able to visit with my great grandparents, Dick and Dad, several times over the few years that we lived there because they weren’t too far away. My fist real connection to family other than mom and dad.
Although their earlier years were spent in West Virginia, Rachel ‘Dick’ and William Shepard, Sr. ‘Dad’ lived mostly in Ohio raising their family of two boys, until Dad retired from his supervisory job at the post office in the 1950s.
They had had a cottage in Thessalon, Ontario, Canada that they went to often, as early as the 1940s. (I don’t know yet if they bought it or rented it.) Below is a photograph of the cottage in Canada that gramps is always mentioning in his letters to his parents, where the fishing was fine.
When Dad officially retired, they went down to Safety Harbor in late 1956 where they rented a place in the area until they could find the perfect winter retirement home. (We know this because their son Herman wrote a letter to them in Dec of 1956 asking how they were liking their temporary accomodations.)
By December 26, 1956 they had found their spot, and it was at this time they purchased their second vacation/retirement home at 305 7th Ave N in Safety Harbor, Florida, near Tampa. The place that we visited several times in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
So in this post I thought it would be fun to do a sort of slideshow from past to present on the house I remember visiting in Florida.
In the above second picture you can see the tree is much taller, there are awnings added to the windows, and the front entrance/patio area is now enclosed. Everything else is pretty much the same.
Dick passed away in 1986 and the house was sold sometime later that year by her son Herman.
Now for the shocker, here is a 2014 image of the property from Google street view:
These are images posted in 2002 when it was for sale and the outdoor shots look pretty close to the 2014 images:
Quite a difference from the 50s though! That kitchen sure doesn’t look the same. The property sold for $74,000 in 2002, and it is currently valued at about $185,000, for 916 sq. ft. of living space. I like the improvements, although the carport/garage doesn’t look like it has been worked on at all. (It looks like someone tried to sell it in 2015 for $225,000, but it was only on the market for a couple of months before they unlisted it.)
Because the city used crushed shells, instead of gravel, in the driveway, when we visited I would go looking for cool shells when I got bored with all the adult talk. I still have some great finds in my shell collection.
Interesting fun fact: According to the 1959 directory for Safety Harbor, Lois and William Shepard, jr. were also living at this address. My grandparents. (Hey Mom, I don’t remember you mentioning this.)
This letter is in regards to William and Lois Shepard move to Puerto Rico.
January 12, 1947
Hello Dick & Dad:
We are settled down now. At least we are settled as much as we can be until the trunks arrive.
Lois & the children like it here very much and it is nice. I work when I want to, report in the morning 8 to 9. Off at 11 until 1, quit about 4.
It has been raining some the last two days, rather cool, about 70°! It will undoubtedly warm up the next few days.
Sunday we went to the beach for a while after lunch. The kids had a swell time. Played in the sand. Found coconuts. I opened one for them. They found about a bushel of shells.
I think they are going to send some home. Havent sent your Xmas present yet. So it is still pending. What I have in mind is in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. My next trip there, Ill pick them up.
Prices on food are about the same as the U.S. a lot of frozen foods. The milk is also frozen. Vegtables are fresh grown & frozen both. We get the sweetest tasting cabbage here. No lettuce though. Oranges, big ones, are 1¢ a piece. Lemons grow all over the place.
The farmers grow coffee, sugar cane & vegetables. Some pinneapple too, I think.
Sue is going to school here. She goes about two hours a day. KW & Sue both seem to like the school here.
We went to the show friday. Saw Spencer Tracy in “Cass Timberlaine.” Only about 2 blocks away as Ive told you.
The only thing that you folks can do for us or rather me is to have my gun fitted with a poly-choke and shipped down. Pack it well & ship it to me at the below address.
Lt. William A. Shepard Jr 0-48155
24th Composite Wing*
What ever it costs let me know. By the way we will send you the $100 we owe you next month. And while we are on debts. Thank you very very much Dick, for helping Lois to New Orleans she really appreciated it. And Lois tells me that dad helped a lot in Trenton. It made the trip a lot easier.
I expect the car down the 25th of January. We can use it here. The post is large and we want to travel over Puerto Rico.
Well, Ill close for now. Xcuse the paper.
Havent found film to take pictures yet.
*From August 1946 until replaced by the Antilles Air Division in July 1948 the wing supervised large numbers of major and minor bases and Air Force units in the Caribbean area from Puerto Rico to British Guiana. [https://www.revolvy.com/topic/24th%20Composite%20Wing&item_type=topic] and
Constituted as 24th Composite Wing on 19 Nov 1942. Activated in Iceland on 25 Dec 1942. Served in the defense of Iceland. Disbanded on 15 Jun 1944. Reconstituted on 5 Aug 1946 and activated in Puerto Rico on 25 Aug. Assigned to Caribbean Air Command. No tactical groups were assigned, but the wing supervised various air force units and bases in the Antilles. Inactivated in Puerto Rico on 28 Jul 1948. [http://www.armyaircorpsmuseum.org/24th_Composite_Wing.cfm]
**Borinquen Field was an American military airfield built in northwestern Puerto Rico in 1940. During WW2, it served as a base for US Army Air Corps (later US Army Air Forces) reconnaissance flights over the approaches to the Caribbean Sea. In 1947, it was turned over to the newly formed US Air Force, which renamed the field Ramey Air Force Base the following year. [https://ww2db.com/facility/Borinquen_Field/]
A short note before I turn in to sleep. No news on the discharge that I havent already told you. I will probably fly tomorrow, I hope so as it means $80.00 to me. Nothing else to do, so I had might as well fly.
If I get back too soon before hunting season I will go right to work for Ma Bell. No use loafing around all the rest of the year. Well I doubt very much if I will be able to come up this year, but next year the story
will be different.
give Mr & Mrs Forder my regards and tell them that I shall see them next year. Bring back some fish so I can have some real fish to eat. I’ll always remember that lake trout.
Take care of yourselves and Ill see you when you get back or when I get back.