In the extensive collections of war letters in WKU’s Special Collections Library, no expression is more common than the joy of a soldier who has received mail from home. In April 1943, Corporal B. J. “Jay” Borrone, stationed in North Africa, wrote to Dorthie Hall, his former classmate at Western Kentucky State College, and vividly described the whirlwind of anticipation, exhilaration, and sometimes disappointment, known as “mail call”:
“The truck driver is pestered all day to go into regimental headquarters for the mail even tho all know that it is not finished being sorted until 4 p.m. . . . Usually it is about 7 before they get back and no lynching mob in all its fury ever went after a victim like we go after that driver. . . . [F]inally someone grabs the bunch of letters and starts yelling off names.” Those lucky enough to receive mail, Borrone continued, “go off into a corner and get that beatific look for hours while the other poor guys that didn’t get anything pretend (very poor pretending by the way) that they didn’t expect any anyhow. Pretty soon the score is tabulated on just how many letter[s] each fellow got and the winner comes in for a lot of kidding. Then the discarded envelopes are looked at and sniffed at for evidences of female traits and more kidding follows.”
It was 3 a.m. as Borrone wrote these words, but even at such a late hour and so far from home, he was looking forward to “the promise of a grand sunrise and a perfect day” — and, no doubt, the next mail call.
A finding aid for the Dorthie A. Hall collection of World War II letters can be downloaded here.