(Excerpts from Bryan Raner's letter written under date of August 18th from Norfolk, Va.)
I have been transferred from the Kearsarge. I am going over to town so thought I would write.
Say, that box of candy was sure good and you can send some more sometime. I can get chocolate candy here but that isn't good any more.
I am sending you a picture of my new home. I am fireman, first class, and I am helping clean the ship up now.
Until after I go to sea my address will be U. S. S. Necker, Navy Yards, Norfolk, Va. After I go to sea it will be U. S. S. Necker, in care of the Postmaster, New York.
(Excerpts from James Raner's letters dated August 10th and 14th, written from Great Lakes, Illinois.)
I got my uniform yesterday, two whites, one blue, twelve pairs of socks, twelve handkerchiefs, pocket knife and other junk.
Say, you asked about me being appointed captain, I will tell you that is over guard on the house.
I am going to have my picture taken when I get out of detention, and that will probably be in the morning. I am sure a peach in my blues. I haven't had a shave since I came but once about two weeks ago.
I am corporal of the guard today so I don't have to work.
I don't know what I want unless it is some of that good candy you folks can get whenever you want it.
I can see the smoke of several boats out on the lake but that don't do me any good. I see company F is leaving the detention. I guess I will go out soon, I hope so.
I feel big as h--l, I have a big dagger hanging at my side. Whoopee! some man, huh?
You ask about me being the tallest or smallest. Well, I am no runt and I am no man either. There are fellows that don't weigh 115 pounds and still there is a lanky here that is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds and he is not fat either. The boys say he is the company's wireless because he is so tall.
Well, I am out of detention now and I am sure glad of it for I will get shore leave now. That means that I can go to Chicago Saturday if I get paid.
They say I will get out of here in about three months. I hope so any way.
I think if I was home I could use that old shot gun to a farewell.
I have sure got some hard headed commander now. Whenever he takes us out of camp Paul Jones he always straps U. S. Automatic to his side. But still I like the Navy.
I am entitled to a stripe around my shoulder now, but when I will get it, I don't know.
I hope they give me a furlough before I leave here. I am going to try to get one at Christmas any way.
I don't know much to say, there is one thing I know sure and that is I have a lot to learn. All my good farm education is shot to hell too.
My address is Co. D., 1st Reg., 1st Batt., Camp Paul Jones.
The Wilmore News, September 20, 1917.
Great Lakes, Ill., Sept. 9, 1917.
Dear Mother and All;
I received your ever welcome letter and candy and was sure glad to hear from you. The candy was sure fine.
No, you have a good reason for not getting the picture of the sham battle for I didn't send it and furthermore I don't think I will soon for I didn't get paid Friday.
I got shore leave Saturday and went to Wankegan about three miles and had to bum a nickel to get back on. That is getting hard up for money.
I have been told that there will be 15,000 men in the barracks by the 15th of this month and there will be 20,000 go out by the 31st of December. If so, I guess that includes me, I hope so anyway. But you can't believe what you hear and only half you see up here.
I have not been able to get my picture taken yet, but will soon.
It is sure getting cold up here now, I hope we do move in the barracks soon. We still have to wear our whites and they sure are cold.
I am having some hell of a time writing. One fellow wants me to spell a word and another wants to know the date etc. One wanted two one dollar bills for a two. The only way a man can keep his right mind, is to get off by himself. Of course it don't bother me so I shouldn't worry.
I tried to borrow 50 cents to go to Chicago yesterday and one fellow told me he couldn't buy tights for a gnat.
I was in the sham battle the other day and when they get the pictures made if I can see where I am I will send you one of them. I was leading the third squad column from the south side of the field. If you don't know what that is ask some soldier. Mack Payne ought to know.
Well, I guess I must close.
Your loving son,
Jasper Newton, Sr.
Henrietta (Davis) Raner
William Bryan Raner
James Alonzo "Jim" Raner
Jasper Newton Raner, Jr.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
Shirley Brier noted that the Raner brothers wrote to their family often and that their letters were often published in The Wilmore News during this period of time. Check microfilms of the newspaper available through the Kansas State Historical Society for the other letters.
Marji Turner is researching the Raner family history and invites family members and fellow researchers to contact her.
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