My letter home is published in the home-town weekly,
The Coast Star, in Manasquan, New Jersey. While travelling around the
U.S. or on my trip to South America on finishing high school the paper
printed all my letters home to my mother. This letter is presented
as a continuation of those early travel letters. November 7, 1952.
George Drake, whose letters we published while he
was on a trip throughout the United States and Mexico, has written the
following letter to his mother, Mrs. Ann Drake, from Korea:
Christmas for me this year will be spent
in a tent in Korea, about 40 miles from the front lines. I am writing
to you through the aid of my mother to ask for a gift from you to make
Christmas for a lot of us a true Christian event. Here is the story
I have to tell.
Yesterday I visited Manassas Manor. Manassas
Manor is the name given to the orphanage supported in part by the company
to which I belong. I first read of the orphanage in a letter posted
on the company bulletin board. It was a request for winter clothing
for the children, also an invitation to visit the orphanage at any time.
I took advantage of the invitation and yesterday at about 3 p.m. walked
down the road about 300 yards to visit the place. The institution is
made up of two buildings. A large hut of two rooms houses the overhead
personnel. The other building houses the orphans, kitchen, and sanitary
I introduced myself to the director who
spoke English. He was so kind as to guide me about the place personally.
He first showed me the records - the number of children of each age
and sex. Most of the youngsters are under the age of five, while the
rest range in age up to 12 and 13 years. There are 55 children cared
for here - 33 girls and 22 boys.
All the children were in the enclosure
playing ball, hop-scotch (or a similar game), and other children's games.
The papa-san (father-like superior) called to them and had them line
up for a group picture. What a bunch of dolls, all of them smiling
cherubs! They comprehend nothing of the cruel life about them. For
the most part their parents are not even known. They have been orphaned
by the war.
They wear rags of all sorts, a goodly portion
of which are made up of cast off GI clothing. They run, play, eat,
sleep and suffer in a valiant way. They often go hungry and cold and
want for the lack of close parental love.
Samuel Wadsworth once wrote:
"How dear to my heart are the scenes
of my childhood,
When fond recollections present them to
The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled
And every loved spot which my infancy knew."
In years to come, what fond recollections
will these dear little hearts call to view? The barbed wire enclosure
in which they play and live? The hard, bare floor upon which they lie,
rolled tightly in their blanket, trying to garner every last bit of
warmth on nights when the weather drops below freezing? (and such nights
are frequent). The room doesn't afford too much protection from the
weather, as it is a one-story frame house of very light construction
with a thatched roof. There is no heating in the two common rooms,
used in the daytime for schooling, and in the evenings for a dormitory.
Possibly they will call to mind the kitchen
- black as it was - where they crowded on cold, wet winter days to keep
the least bit dry and warm of body and spirit. In the kitchen there
is always warmth and smoke - smoke - smoke. The stove was but a clay
shelf on which an oven-like affair was built. A wood or coal fire was
going in the hearth, while a large pot of liquid bubbles above.
There is always the view from the rear
of the orphanage to remember - a series of low hills covered with white
stone markers - the cemetery - occupying a much greater portion of the
hillside than ever before.
And the sounds those little ears have picked
up - 'tis enough to make one weep. The thunder of canon, the rattle
of machine guns, rumble of tanks and trucks going up the village road
to the front. The smells? I'll not mention those. How can I describe
the odor of a country occupied by hoards of warriors for two years -
but it's there.
The good Lord only knows what sights and
sounds these innocents have seen and heard before finding their way
to this haven for the little war casualties.
"...Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,
"...For I was hungered, and you gave
me meat. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and
you took me in.
"...Naked and you clothed me. I was
sick, and you visited me.
"...Inasmuch as you have done it unto
one of the least of these, you have done it unto me." - St. Mathew
I feel that I need not say much more in
expressing what I want for Christmas this year. I want you to send
me children's clothing, toys, picture books, candy, tricks, crayons,
paints, anything that would make a bright spot in a heart of a child
in want. Send a little, send a lot, you know best what you have to give,
but please, as my good friends, do send something.
If a package is mailed within the week
it might get here by Christmas. But don't let the fear of the late
hour detain you. The body needs food and clothing in January as well
as in December.
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Send packages care of: Pfc George F. Drake, RA12344689, 326th CRC,
APO 301, c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California.
Love to all, and a Merry Christmas.
This letter which I wrote to her was printed by
my mother on a mimeograph machine and sent to many friends and relative
as well as to the community weekly newspaper.
November 7, 1952