November 3rd, 1943

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well Mom I am very sorry I haven’t answered your letters sooner I have two from you, two from Dad and one from Bin and non from Marg. I feel awful. Mt neck is sore the same as I had on my arm, you don’t have to worry about it though, I am taking needles for it. I got two yesterday. The same kind as you get when you first join up, remember how I felt that night I come when I first got the needles. I get two every week until Dec 20 and the dose gets bigger every week yesterday it was only 5.5% the last two are 50.50% and the way I feel I know I can hardly lift the pen what will I feel like when I get the others. I could have went to the hospital but I get so lonesome and don’t feel right.

My hopes are still high on the furlough there is one more guy then it is a toss between Waugh and I but I don’t care because we will both be home for a week together no matter who goes first.

What is wrong with Marg she don’t write any more is she mad at me. I sure would love to see you both and the rest to. Tell Dad I got sweetipies picture all right. I am glad you are up and around again, but I wish you would let me know when you are not feeling good. Well I didn’t get the $10.00 but it may turn up sometime though. I hope so. And if you have any spare $1.00 laying around I could use it.

I am sure looking forward to seeing Big Ted and the rest of you guys.

You don’t have to worry about me when I do go over because I want to go. I am not like some of the guys just like one that just landed. But don’t say anything to anybody.

Jes <jeeze?> the war sure does look better I don’t think it can last much longer.

I guess you know about me not in the kitchen any more. It was a swell job but I don’t care.

Glad to hear Percy is home. Tell him I was asking about him. I’ll bet her is a real soldier now, what kind of patch has he got.

Tell Daddy we will celebrate his birthday when I get home.

Well that is all for tonight. Will write soon.

Lots of love,


PS: See why Marg doesn’t write.

June 24th, 1943

June 24th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad,

Well Mom I just got two letters from you to-day and was I glad, so I will answer them all right away. Well I got your money okay and I really needed it. I hope they catch the guy that broke into Sweetipie’s school, that was a dirty trick. I guess they just did it for fun.

Well I will start to answer your other letter. I don’t feel too bad now except my head is still aching, it’s been sore ever since I came here

I don’t remember getting any cigs but I got the $5 on Monday the 21st and you sent it on the 5th didn’t you?

Lucky Demps to be home but it’s a helluva place to spend his furlough in the isolation hospital.

No, I haven’t got  a dress  uniform. I don’t like them very much anyways, they are very hot.

I seen Ted on Monday, he hasn’t got a letter  from home in a long time. I get a pass on Friday night so I am going to meet him downtown and we are going to paint it red with the five you sent me.

I didn’t get the snaps yet of Marg, I hope they soon come because I forgetwhat she looks like. It won’t be long now until the huckleberries are ripe, then boy will I ever eat.

Don’t send the $20 until I find out if I will be coming home, that will be the 5th of July.

Well I will drop a line to Daddy now.

Hello Pop,

Well I will wait and see if I get my furlough. I’ll wait until August but I don’t think I can wait any longer. I’ve been doing everything the right way so far so I guess I have a good chance of getting it. Well, I’ll sign off for now.

Lots of love and luck to the best mother and father in the world.

Here’s 5 cents for Sweetipie.

March 5th, 1943

March 5th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Well I got your letter at noon to-day and this is the first chance I’ve had to answer. It’s now 7:30. I just got through with washing my shirts, socks, underwear, and towels.

I ain’t going to write very much just wanted to tell yous I may be home to-morrow at 4 o’clock so be looking for me and go and tell Marg.

See yous all to-morrow I hope.

Your Son.

March 5

March 1st, 1943

March 1st, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines to let yous know I’m okay and hope yous are all the same. There is a lot of talk about getting our passes [1] on Wed night so you can send me a bit of change.

Well I haven’t any more time, I have to go now. I’ll write a longer letter to-morrow so long for now.

The East Kid
Major Gordon.


[1- Shannan Note: I suspect when Gord mentions passes, he’s talking about tickets home for a furlough…The tickets in the picture above were just one old treasure from an old sweets box full of bits a pieces that he had either brought with him, or sent home.

Also, I am working on getting all of Gord’s details down in one place. After 3 days of photo, paper, and document sorting, I have amassed a great little collection of details for much of his family, and some newly discovered details on Gord as well. More details on these little life maps coming soon.]

February 28th, 1943 – Coat Hangers…

February 28th, 1943 – Brampton

Dear Mom, Dad,

Just a line to let yous know I got back okay. Boy am I getting it easy this morning, my boy friends and I had to sweep and scrub the orderly room. It took us about an hour and now we’re through for the day but still C.B. if we weren’t I’d get home but I’ll stay and catch up with my sleep and writing and washing. It’s pretty hard to write here there is 2 guys playing the pianos it sounds alright to.

Don’t forget to send the box because I’ll be looking for it and send me a couple of coat hangers that’s what I need the most.

Well I can’t think of much more to say so good-bye for now, see yous all soon. Will write to-morrow.

Lots of Love,
Your Son,


[Shannan note – The photo above is the whole gang – brothers Gerald (Pork), Ray, Gord, and dad Edward… Also, no blog post tomorrow, I’ve got a full day of family ahead. The Oakwood Kid will be back on Monday – see you then! 🙂 ]


February 13th & 14th, 1943 – No sweeter Valentine…

[Shannan note – Mixed in here and  there among the letters is the odd telegram. These were such an wonderful find for a girl that has had the internet around for about half of her life (I know, I’m dating myself here…) but has a love for “the good ol’ days”. A double post today because the telegram is brief…special, but brief. I mentioned in an earlier post that it really sounds like Gord just adored his mom, and this just helps confirm that. The photo is Gord’s mom, Amy, pulled from the collection of photos I inherited from my Aunt, date unknown.]


February 13th, 1943


February 14th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad,

Just a line to let yous know that I am still okay and having a swell time except it’s awful cold, 10 below last night, about 6 today. We just got thru with supper and the meals are pretty good. I’ve got four boy friends, pretty swell guys. We went down town last night at 7 o’clock and by 10 minutes after we had walked through the whole town 6 times. They have a club there for soldiers and it’s pretty big, and they let the girls go in they can either dance or go to a show, smoke, read and play games. We sleep in till 7 o’clock on Sun, go to church, and then we’re thru for the day. I did all my washing to-day. Did you get my Valentines Greetings yesterday? A card wouldn’t of got there quick enough so I sent it instead. If you have lots of cigarettes don’t be afraid to send them because they’re the only things you run out of down here. My teeth are starting to bother me so going to go to the dentist to-morrow to get them all fixed up and by the time there all fixed up I’ll be home, about March 5th I hope.

It’s a very nice camp here, hot water all the time. Showers, washing machine, the only thing they haven’t got is a radio but they will soon have one of those.

Is Marg being a good girl? Will you ask Marg to ask Gladys, Eddy’s and Kirk’s address so I can send them a line.

Tell Bin that Mr. Price the school teacher is down over here – a first lieutenant (not bad).

Well I can’t think of anything else to say so for now so long.

Your son,
The East End Kid

Don’t forget to write and send the cigs.

January 12th 1943 – Pictures on the train…

January 12th 1943 – Halifax N.S.

Dear Mom & Dad.

Well Mom I got back okay except I could have stayed home until Sat. morning till 9:15am that’s what time the other fellow left and I met him in Montreal about 6 o’clock Sat. night.

Are we having some time here it has snowed all day and it’s still snowing and it is now 6 P.M.

Well how is everybody getting along, I am okay. I got my needle and I don’t feel to bad. I got two letters that you wrote before I came home, one had two dollars in it and I needed it. I got into camp 12:30 P.M. Sun night with $2.50 and we got paid Mon $3.00. I got some pictures on the train and I will send a couple in every letter.

FLASH Good news just came in that all active men are C.B. [1] I am hoping and praying.

Well I can’t think of anything else except write soon.

Lots of Love
The East End Kid

1. Shannan note – I have found conflicting things on what CB means in terms of military speak, but i believe it’s either “Called Back” or “Confined to Barracks”, both of which would make sense in this context.


The who’s who…

Last year, when I made the decision to really dig into my family history, specifically into Gord and his letters, I didn’t really have any idea of the scale of work I was in for or how much of a challenge it would be. There are so many little details and facts that I am starting to uncover and finding the best method for managing everything has been a bit of a process – I’m a list maker, a note taker, and a lover of all things Excel. I like things to be organized and neat, and to sit right where they belong. This project has been an exercise in flexibility if anything. I very quickly learned that not everything will fit into a neat little box, there will be portions of this puzzle that might always be missing a piece, and I’ve come to accept that.

As I wind up the tail end of my mini holiday vacation, I’ve really been diving into all of the random scraps of paper and unlabeled photos that accompanied the letters. I’ve spent the last couple of days lost in photos, notes, and research. It’s become apparent that with the first letter post coming up in a couple of days, a cast of characters could be a useful thing for everyone.

I expect this list to grow with time, but these are a few of the key folks that we’ll be introduced too early on.

Gord – the man himself. He’s young, from Peterborough area originally. I have heard a few different things on his age when he joined the military, but official paperwork shows him as 19 in 1943 so we’ll go with that. Later letters are signed as The Oakwood Kid, which is where the blog name was born from. Oakwood, Ontario is where (I believe) his parents moved to around 1944, and possibly where they were originally from – Oakwood is in the Kawartha Lakes area (like I said, pieces are still missing).

Gord’s Mom – Amy – everything I’ve found in all my dives into the family history, and from everyone I have spoken to, suggest that Amy was a wonderful woman. Gord certainly seems enamored with his mom, and I can’t wait to learn even more about her.

Gord’s Dad – Edward – I’m still digging through bits and pieces to try and learn more about Edward. He passed away when my mom and her siblings we’re very young, so there’s not much first-hand knowledge about him around.

Bin – Gord’s sister, and my Grandmother. I didn’t know Bin very well, she passed away when I was quite young, but my mother adored her, and my brother had an incredible relationship with her. Gord was very clearly quite close to his sister, and the rest of his family.

Marg – a friend of Bin’s, and possibly a love interest of Gord’s.

Sweetipie – Gord’s little sister Geraldine (Gerry)

Pork – Gord’s brother Gerald.

Waugh – A friend of Gord’s from back home that he meets up with in the military.


The big question…

A few weeks ago I did an interview for a friend that’s in school for radio broadcasting. We chatted about these letters, their discovery, and the plan for this blog. One of the questions that came up, and keeps coming up, is “what happens?”.  Everyone that I talk to about this is understandably keen to know the ending.

The simple answer: I don’t know. I mean, I do know that Gord lived to marry and have a family, but I don’t yet know what happened with Gord between January 5th 1943 and July 13th 1945. When I embarked on this project, I had to decide just how far ahead of the reader I wanted to get. Just how much of the story I wanted to know… I’ve decided to opt on the side of less, and so at any given time over the next…however long this takes, I will be no more than 10 – 12 letters ahead of the blog. I mean, I have read the odd letter here and there, and have seen indication of him spending time overseas, but you and I know just about the same level of detail at this point. For all I know, these letters might be phenomenally boring, or they might be gut wrenching, or some place in between. I don’t know what Gord’s training consisted of, where he winds up, or what his experiences were like, but I am sure am curious.

January 5th – just under 3 weeks…


Internet, please meet The Oakwood Kid

When I first decided to take on this task, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into…heck,  I’m still not really sure what I am getting into. All I know is that I have a stack of yellowed envelopes staring me down, and a massive sense of curiosity that I can’t seem to quiet.

Everyone around me has been so supportive of this endeavour, and I’ve been able to reconnect with family members that I haven’t seen since I was a child, and meet others that I didn’t even know existed! Even though this pile of what are often nearly illegible scribbles seem a bit overwhelming at times, it’s already worth it. Being able to connect with family, being able to open some doors into my family history… At the risk of sounding cliché, and quoting a well-known commercial, it’s priceless.

My family, like many families, have not had the most…transparent histories, if you may. It might be that I just missed the boat on grilling the elders and now I’m playing catch up, and maybe the details were always there for the taking and I was just too young to notice. Either way…here goes.

My rambling aside, perhaps it’s time for an introduction. Internet, please meet Gord, The Oakwood Kid. The young man that you’ll be living along with over the next while. Because I have vowed to not travel too far ahead in the letters, I don’t know too much about Gord yet, other than that he seemed to have a great love for his mom (one heartwarming Valentines telegram that you’ll soon see will prove that) and a bit of a sense of mischief that could only be expected from a young man, he just seems like a bright, adventurous, funny guy.