It will probably come as no surprise to faithful readers of this blog that I have fallen in love again. My newest historical boyfriend is Thomas H. Jones, a Black soldier in the 4407th Quartermasters Service Company who served in Europe during World War II. We know, from plenty of evidence, that Blacks were not treated fabulously during this time period, despite fighting for their country. However, based only upon the two scrapbooks Jones created, one would never know that this was the case–and that is because Jones seems to have looked at the world through gloriously rosy glasses. His sense of humor is omnipresent.
It seems that one way he kept his spirits up was through a solid appreciation of the ladies. He seems to have made friends everywhere he went and he requested letters and photographs from all the lovely ladies he met.
One of his favorite correspondents was the beautiful Naomi Davenport from Philadelphia.
There are numerous photographs of her and one spectacular letter that she sealed with a kiss … literally! It is clear how important messages of friendship and community were to those serving in the military–Jones captioned a page with “Morale Boosters from the States.” The thing I love most about scrapbooks is that they are so incredibly deliberate–the creator selects their most treasured items and carefully places them in a volume to memorialize them. Here we see what was important to Thomas H. Jones: it was his people and the support they gave to him while he served his country. They sent him photos, letters, and greeting cards–but mostly they sent him love. And Thomas H. Jones appreciated it!
Jones did not just appreciate the ladies–his friendships with his fellow soldiers, his love of his family (especially his brother who was serving in the Pacific), and his connections to his community are evident on every page. In fact, there is a lot less about Thomas H. Jones than one might expect within these two volumes. You can see him with his “pals” in the bottom left image of the photograph on the left.
But I’ll be honest, I think what made me fall in love with him was this page …