Jay C. Hormel – and his parents – understood impact of military service

Published 7:41 am Saturday, July 7, 2018

As we have just celebrated our nation’s independence, I thought I would print some correspondence we have from George A. Hormel to his son during Jay’s military service in World War I.

Typical parents, George and Lillian Hormel eagerly awaited word from their only child, who was 25 years old by the time he went overseas, and were sure to tell him to write more frequently and offer him wise parental advice.

Jay was stationed at Camp Merritt in New Jersey while he awaited sailing to Europe. We don’t have copies of Jay’s responses to his father’s letters, but I am sure he was mostly happy to receive them, even when some of his father’s messages could have been perceived as more lecture than friendly greeting.

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From Jan. 3, 1918:

“I presume you are anxious to get over on the other side and get your work organized in whatever your duties are going to be. I thought you were a little restless the day I was there because you were ready to go and daily looking for orders.

“Mother has been waiting for a letter for the last three or four days, anxiously meeting the mailman at the door expecting a letter from you. I think it would be well to write something a little oftener, if it is not more than a postal card. Just anything from you will be satisfying.”

From Jan. 7, 1918:

“Dear Jay: We received your good letter, which is the first since Christmas, and as usual was pleased to receive it, for as I have written you before, just something that would come more frequently would be a great relief to your Mother, as she is constantly concerned about you.”

On Jan. 15, 1918, George, a concerned father, wrote to Jay of the importance of taking care of himself after he learned that a fellow soldier had succumbed to pneumonia.

“It is because of the exposure you are subjected to, and the necessity of extreme care in guarding your health that I have been urging you to take rubbers with you so that in case you are obliged to go out in the wet and mud you can keep your feet dry. One can stand a lot of cold and exposure if they can keep their feet dry, but the moment anyone has wet feet they become chilled throughout the system.”

To all military families writing similar letters to loved ones serving today, I say God bless you, and may you be comforted in your times of worry.

What’s happening at the HHH

Peace Garden Concert: Todd Menton

6:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 10

Todd Menton, edgy Celtic/eclectic folk and original music. Joined by John Wright of Galactic Cowboy Orchestra on guitar, Todd will entertain and educate about the history and origins of the songs and instruments he is playing including the Bodhron (an Irish drum). Free.

Jack & Kitty Day

Tuesday, July 17

10:30 a.m. — Instrument making for pre- and elementary aged kids, $3/$5.

2:30 p.m. — “Sounds So Sweet!” The History of American Jug Band Music of the ‘30s, Free.

6:30 p.m. — Peace Garden Concert for all ages to enjoy, Free.