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Woman wants to return letters to descendents

Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist

Heads up, neighbors. A woman needs your help in returning some letters to descendents of an area family.

Sandra "Sandy" Wendel, Fargo, bought a box of letters at an estate sale more than 20 years ago. They were written by members of the T.O. Thompson family of Leonard, N.D.

Sandy knows that three Thompson brothers fought in the service during World War II: Philip in Europe and Harold and Dave in the South Pacific. Their sister, Alice, was a lieutenant and a nurse in Europe, while Philip, a graduate of Fargo Central High School and the North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University), became a captain in the Army. He and Alice were able to get together in Europe. Five days later, and just a few days after V-E day, Philip was killed when his Jeep was in an accident in Luxembourg.

Here's a sampling of what a couple of the Thompson brothers wrote to their siblings.

Harold, who wrote in June 1942 and could only say he was with the 22nd Bomb Group in the Pacific area, wrote, "It hardly seems possible that a person can see half the world and still have nothing to write about, but we're not allowed in mention names or places or anything.

"One thing that really surprises me is the weather we're having. We're well inside the tropics, but the nights get tremendously cold. I sleep with five blankets and still I froze so much that I finally had to haul out my long winter underwear to use for my pajamas."

Alice wrote from southern Bavaria on May 8, 1945, explaining "We are less than 1 mile from a huge lake where we have taken over a yacht club. We don't know if we'll be busy or not, but we shouldn't be. Two other hospitals are caring for the casualties of the Dachau (German concentration) camp.

"When the (U.S.) Infantry walked in (Dachau) and saw the sights, they went crazy and shot S.S. guards and dogs and everything .

"There were 50 carloads of bodies (of concentration camp inmates) awaiting cremation and there's every disease raging. They are dying now at the rate of 200 a day. They are so emaciated they are better off dead."

There's lots more, but this gives you a taste of these World War II letters written by these siblings from Leonard.

If you know of any relatives of this family, let Neighbors and Sandy know, and she'll get these letters to them.

Tough test

Ken Hunt was the guy who roomed with Roger Maris when both were with the New York Yankees baseball team in 1960, which was fitting, because they'd met and become friends when both were attending school in Grand Forks, of which Ken was a native.

Ken later played with the Los Angeles (now California) Angels and the Washington Senators until he retired from baseball in 1965. With the Angels, he started out as a backup outfielder. But he made the starting lineup in 1961, played in 149 games, hit 25 home runs, knocked in 84 runs and batted .255. But then a shoulder injury set him back, and he never was the same.

He later was co-chairman of the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament in Fargo.

When he was a high school kid, he played for the Grand Forks Legion baseball team from 1949 to 1951.

He was inducted into the North Dakota American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. He died in 1997.

Some of this was mentioned in this column previously, which brought a note from Pat Colliton, Fargo.

The previous column "brought back memories," Pat wrote.

"In the fall of 1950," he writes, "our Shanley (High School of Fargo) football team played St. James Academy of Grand Forks. Their star fullback: Ken Hunt.

"It was a grueling game which we won 7-6," Pat says. "With the exception of Jamestown, it was our toughest test that season."

And Ken Hunt contributed to that test.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 241-5487 or email blind@forumcomm.com.

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