Over the past year or so, my nephew John has been bringing me “stuff” to sort through that he has found while going through his late father’s “things”. One larger plastic bag included several sets of letters belonging to my Aunt Helene Estes Mitchell McNew Schumer (yes, that’s three times). I have always known that she had gobs of friends, both male and female, and she evidently wrote to many of the young men when they went off to World War II. Among those men were Bob Theobald, whose name I had always heard growing up, and Al Blamer, too. These two men had sent her back the most letters. Al was with the 336th Bomber Squadron, eventually in France, and Bob was in the U. S. Marines, serving in various places in the U.S. I don’t recall his going out of the country, but he might have. He was a Sgt. in the Corps, and I find him particularly interesting because he and his future wife shared a double wedding with Aunt Tady and Uncle Estil. In the picture below they are from L-R: Bob (Robert L.) Theobald, his wife Estelle (called Lucky), unknown bridesmaid, Erma Unknown, who would become the wife of Tady’s cousin, James Estes, Aunt Tady and Uncle Estil. The brides dresses are identical as are the bridesmaid’s, and although I do not have a firm date, I know from the letters, that the wedding took place in Cincinnati in December of 1943.
As I read and looked at these letters, especially Bob’s and Al’s, I began to wonder if there was any way I could restore them to someone in either man’s family. I went on to ancestry.com and looked for each man. I found family trees in which each appeared and contacted the “owners” of those trees, asking if they, or some other family member, would like to have the letters. Both put me in contact with nieces by marriage of both men, and the letters now safely reside in their care. Both women have contacted me to say how much they appreciated my doing this for them. I have shared copies of the picture with Bob’s relatives too.
I consider Aunt Tady to be one of my surrogate mothers. I got her “show business” genes, and she was my “Auntie Mame” for those of you who know that reference. I hope I did what she would have wanted done. I miss her on Mother’s Day too.