Sunday, December 9, 2007


After boot camp the new recruits were assigned to guard the ship Balls Brothers as it sailed the Great Lakes. The Balls Brothers was a laker ship built by the American Shipbuilding Company in Lorain, Ohio in 1905 and was still sailing the Great Lakes in 1942 when William was assigned to sail aboard and guard it as it made its way up through Lake Erie through Sault Sainte Marie to Duluth, then back to Buffalo, New York, finally ending at a Coast Guard Station. (The ship was scrapped in 1963.)

During this time he sent his sister “Oh” (pictured with him here) three postcards. The first is postmarked Gulliver, Michigan, 21 November 1942. Over the “PLACE STAMP HERE” box in the upper right corner the word “FREE” is written.

From: Wm. Valencheck A.S.
c/o Steamer Ball Bros.
Marine Post Office
Detroit, Mich.

Hi Oh

We are now in Port Island and from here we go to Buffalo. I’ll drop you a card at each port so until then, Adios.


The second postcard addressed much the same way is post stamped Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, 2 December 1942.

Hi Sis,

Another card for you. The next one you get from me will be big enough to write a short story on it.

I haven’t gotten any letters for two weeks since we haven’t been down to Detroit for that period of time. We should be there Thur.


The last post card in this set was indeed a long one. In fact it was three feet long. It was postmarked in Buffalo, New York in December of 1942 and addressed to Miss Olga Valencheck.

December 4th, 1942

Hi Sis,

I got your letters today and nine others. The others were mailed last week some time and I couldn’t get them until today.

Here is that card I was telling you about and I think you will need a bigger scrapbook to put this one in.

The last trip we made was the roughest trip I ever went on. When we got to Duluth our boat was covered with ice and you would think it was a floating iceberg. Every wave that came along would cover our deck and almost the pilothouse. When I get home I’ll tell you more about it and about going through Sault Sainte Marie. I think I did mail you a card from there.

We are going to hit Lake Erie now and they say that it is stormy and that a boat and its crew went down.

This is the only letter I got from you so if you mailed one Monday, I didn’t get it.

We had a swell Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ice cream and pie, and a bottle of beer and cigars and cider too to top it. It was plenty good. (hic burp)

I got a letter from Stan and he gave me all kinds of hell for not writing to him. I guess he forgot that he sent me a card and telling me not to write until he finds out where they send him.

I’ve got a lot to say but I (will) wait until I get home and tell you all about it so until again,




Anonymous said...

This blog is an extraordinarily sweet surprise. Unique.

We're all praying for your dad.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and..

one can see where Fr. V got his good looks. :-)