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A Shred of Hope

George Edwin Farrar’s mother must have recently written to the families of all of the boys who were on the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  They appreciated her sharing her news of a letter from her son.  He had written that he had been liberated and would be coming home in the near future.  Raleigh Mae Farrar’s backyard now boasted a large vegetable garden and was populated by forty-two chickens.  Her plan was in place to nourish her son back to health when he arrived home from the war.

She had recently received letters from the Buslees, the Albrechts, and the Pelusos.  The next letter to arrive was from the Stearns, parents of Lead Banana bombardier Robert Sumner Stearns.

June 10, 1945
Lapine, Oregon

My dear Mrs. Farrar,

How happy we are over the wonderful news you’ve had from your son, George. I hope he will soon be home with you, safe and sound. What a terrible experience he must have had to be in prison all these months. A cousin of ours was captured in the break-through in January and put to work on a Railroad crew on 2 slices of black bread and 1 qt. of soup a day. He lost 65# in those few months, but is now home and going to be alright. Luckily he was not injured. I surely hope George fared well and was not mistreated.

We’ve appreciated all the good letters you’ve written us so much as realize you’re busy and have been so worried over your boys. I’m so glad the son who was in the So. Pacific is home with you now – you really have been very lucky to have both boys home after all they’ve been through. I hope your son who was in India is well and that you hear from him often.

We have had no word from anyone of the crew’s families except you so I presume they have heard nothing. There are still a few prisoners yet to be liberated from Russian held territory, I read in this week’s paper, so maybe some of us will hear something yet, as long as there is a shred of hope, or chance that they are somewhere alive we will keep looking for news.

Our weather has been very rainy and cold the past month so everything is green and pretty. The gardens are slow, tho – in fact some of ours isn’t planted yet, the ground is so wet. Today was nice and sunny so perhaps we are going to have some warm weather.

How nice to have all those fryers ready for George’s home coming. I can imagine you enjoying cooking them for him almost as much as he will enjoy eating them. Bobby’s favorite meal was beefsteak, mashed potatoes, gravy, hot biscuits and a green vegetable salad, which he could cook very well himself, all except the biscuits. I read where the boys in the prison camps planned what they were going to eat and fishing trips they were going to take when they got home. Took their minds off their surroundings, they said. We are able to get meat whenever we have the points for it here, but we are in cattle country. May make some difference. Can’t have much choice at times, tho, but no one goes without.

We are anxiously waiting to hear from you again as to what really happened the day of the accident, and just where it was. We have heard two different versions, but realize how hard it was for so many accidents to be kept straight. So we will watch the mail and be forever grateful to you for sending all the good letters to us.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Stearns

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

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