My uncle died this year at age 95. He had been in the Army during World War II, serving part of the time in Europe. He told a lot of war stories, especially as he aged, sometimes repeating the same story over and over. And sometimes, coming up with something new. Or mentioning someone who was killed in the war on a particular day in a particular event. Once, I distrusted the accuracy of what he said, but looking up the battle he mentioned, at what I thought was an improbable location, and which he said took place on a holiday, I discovered he was correct.
His daughter, my cousin, has been slowly going through his house. He was clearly a pack rat of sorts (although a neat one), and she does not want something of value (personal, not financial) to be accidentally tossed. On one occasion, when I was in St. Louis, I helped her, and I discovered a box filled with letters, many, many, letters, which he had written to his wife (then his fiance) from abroad, mainly on official V-mail stationery. It seemed to be a treasure trove, and although I did not read very many of them, I thought the story they painted might be interesting to a broader audience.
This morning, my cousin called to tell me that she found a second box, this time filled with letters my uncle wrote to his mother, and that they seemed to be daily letters and (within the bounds of military censorship) very, very detailed, sights, people, impressions.
I wonder how many more such boxes exist in homes across the country, and how many people have the patience (or is it just the obsessive nature) of my cousin in ferreting them out.