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Nancy Myers Hopkins

Mail Call

Mail Call

Hand Painted Envelopes From Father to Son During World War I

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The envelopes in this book were painted by John Ross Myers to convey letters to his oldest son, Walter Lorain Myers, who had enlisted in the World War I American Expeditionary Force on February 2, 1918. Walter was assigned to the Signal Corps because of his expertise as a wireless operator. In addition, his experience as a scene painter in the family scene shop qualified him as a camouflage artist.

From the time of his training at Kelly Field, Texas until he returned home on May 3, 1919, the family's letters were sent in beautifully decorated envelopes, forty-eight of which are found in this book. Some letters never arrived.

At one point, Walter had to ask his father not to decorate them anymore as the envelopes (and enclosed letters) were being stolen for their paintings. They were decorated with pictures ranging from cartoons depicting army life to intricate patriotic designs. Given the conditions on the front lines, it's miraculous that these envelopes were carried throughout the war by Private Myers. At one point they were lost, but fortunately were found again and survived to become objects of art treasured by the family.

Walter left for France on April 22, 1918, and served in the 5th Balloon Corp. While in the muddy trenches of France he turned 19. He fought in the Meuse-Argonne Defensive Sector and was involved in the engagement at St. Mihiel that took place from September 12 to September 15, 1918. His overseas service lasted until May 3, 1919. He was discharged on May 9, 1919, at Camp Lee, Virginia.

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