December 28, 1947 Bill Shepard to parents

This is a set of two letters. One written to each of his parents on the same day. Very poor spelling of places, and a just a little bit of that condescending white attitude toward the Puerto Ricans.

 

December 28, 1947

Dear Dick:

I am happy to hear that you will be with Lois & the kids until they leave. I know that it will help so much.

I hope that all of you had a fine Christmas. We were unorganized by the moving around but I think you will all understand. The main thing I guess is how you feel anyhow, and I want to tell you that I think the world and all, of my family.

I received your & dads package in time for Xmas and I want

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to thank you for the presents.

I am living in our quarters now. I am trying to fix them up a bit. The goverment furnishes stove, refrigerator, table & chairs for kitchen. For bedrooms they furnish beds  chests of drawers. In the living room-dining room they furnish a large table (seats 12) chairs, desk, and a type of bed that makes into a sofa. (We have 2 of them). So with a bit of arranging and some sewing of slip covers, we will make out O.K.

I hope you enjoy the trip. Be sure to see New Orleans if you go there. Take good care of yourself.

Love
Bill

December 28, 1947

Dear Dad.

Everything is settled down now. Lois will soon be here, with the children. I am sure happy that Dick is going with them to New Orleans. It is a big help to Lois.

I have quarters here, and they are very fine. Although we have only 2 bedrooms the place is large. The goverment furnishes adequate furniture including 2 beds that make into sofas in the living room.

The climate here is ideal, 75° to 80° all the time. Palm trees & jungle. I guess that we will be here

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until about June 1950, unless something unforseen occurs.

Right now I want to go on record as inviting you down in 1948. I think that the trip and the sights here about would be interesting. It is a very quick trip by air, and if you want to come by boat, it takes only two or three days. Perhaps we can all be together next Christmas?

Dad, I want you to take my gun to the gunsmith and have him put a poly-choke on it, then ship it to me. We have skeet club here, and I could use it, if It wouldnt be too much bother for you to have it fixed & shipped.

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The houses here are built for the climate. They are low-bungalows, built of steel reinforced concrete with tile floors. The windows have slot type shutters, like a venetian blind, only they are very heavy. All windows are screened with no glass in them. We have a utility room in the rear, with a 66 gal. hot water heater (electric) and double wash tubs. In front we have a large screened in porch.

They just finished repainting all the woodwork before I moved in, I have built 4 lawn chairs and now Im banging together some bookshelves and a few other odds

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and ends.

The school-house is a large one and is 1/2 block away, as is the shopping district. There is a shoe repair, barber shop, restaurant, post exchange, theatre and even an ice-cream factory less than a block away.

The children have a playground — almost in the back yard, and everyone here has children.

I am working as the telephone construction & maintenance officer for the Caribbean area. It is work I know, so I enjoy it. I have several line gangs and cable splicing crews working and I get to travel quite a bit, keeping them going.

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I have been in Jamica and Trinidad already, and I will be off to Antiqua and British Guina soon for a few days.

You know we got all these bases for 99 years from the British in exchange for those 50 old destroyers during the beginning of the war.

We have telephone systems on all of them and my crews maintain them from this headquarters. Bounquin field is the headquarters for the Antilles Dept.

The hardest thing I have to deal with is the Spanish language. I hope to pick it up in a few months. I can make myself understood only with a lot of hand motions.

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These natives are exasparating. You explain what you want done to them, assuming they know some english They dont want to let you know how little they understand so they say “Si Si!” which means yes. So when you get back the work is done wrong and they are standing there grinning like chesecats* thinking they have it right.

Well. It will all work out OK. They have been getting along OK before I arrived so they will do OK when I leave.

I think that we will enjoy it here. I’ll write again later

Take good care of yourself

Your son
Bill

*maybe he meant Cheshire cats

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December 13, 1947 William Shepard to parents

24th Composite Wing Hq.
APO #845 c/o Postmaster
Miami, Florida

Hello Dick & Dad:

Perhaps I can write a letter now that things have settled down a little.

I was sure suprised to be assigned to Borinquen Field, especially after being told that I would go to Trinidad. It is a beautiful base with the best climate of any US base.

There is a large school here just a hop from our house. It is much near[?] than Hilliards Schools.

Our house is a 2 bedroom one with a large living room & modern kichen. Electric range

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and refrigerator. All time floors and plenty of closets. It is a beautiful place to live. Coconut trees all around. We will send pictures of the place as soon as Lois comes down w/the camera.

The grocery, barber shop, shoe repair, PX, beauty parlor, officers club and beach are about two blocks away. Everything is handy.

The quarters have the stove refrigerator, kitchen table & chairs furnished in the kitchen. The beds, sheets pillows & blankets and dressers are furnished in the bedrooms & in the living

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room a table & chairs and desk are funished. All we have to do is furnish linens, silver cooking utensils & curtains & drapes. Of course we will want to get a few chairs and some small things but we wont have to ship furniture down. Veneer comes apart here upholstered furniture moulds so I decided that Lois shouldnt bring ours. Rather than have it broken up or deteriorate I would rather sell it.

I have a good job here. I am directing the telephone system in the Island. Trinidad, Puerto Rico & the other

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Islands. Just what I have always done with the Bell company.

Dont have much flying to do here. Everyone takes it easy.

Ill write another letter in a few days. By the way my Xmas presents to the family will be a little late this year. I got here to late to get them off in time for Xmas so just hold on & celebrate about January 25th or so.

Write me the news.

Your son
Bill

P.S. Excuse the last letter, I was in a hurry to mail it!

November 27, 1947 William Shepard to parents

[Page 1]
Albrook Field
November 27, 1947

Dear Folks,

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Your son,
Bill

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1947_11_27_p04

October 18, 1947 Letter to Dick & Dad

Trenton, Ill.
October 18, 1947

Dear Mother & Father:

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.

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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.

Love
Bill

Dear Folks–

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–
Love
Lois

January 12, 1947 William Shepard to parents…

This letter is in regards to William and Lois Shepard move to Puerto Rico.

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1947_01_12_p01

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.

letter_shepardw_to_shepardwr_1947_01_12_p02

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*
Borinquen Field**
Puerto Rico

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.

Love
Bill

 

*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/]