Letters & Papers from the Trunk in the Hall: Letter from Mayor O’Dwyer; March 24, 1949


Letters & Papers from the Trunk in the Hall:

Letter from Mayor O’Dwyer; March 24, 1949

The “Trunk in the Hall” held the letters and papers my grandparents saved – and they saved everything from cancelled checks, postcards telling of the next VFW meeting, receipts and family letters. My mother reminds me, of in those days, people didn’t throw things away like today. My grandmother unraveled burlap sacks and reused the string, the muslin tobacco bags were saved and sewed together for quilt backs, old clothes were ripped apart and re-used; the list could go on and on.When I think back now of how granddaddy’s farm looked, I can see various items laying around. There was always a pile of scrap metal pieces behind the smoke house – I guess that was his work-pile when he needed to repair something. My grandfather, like many others during those years, were very conservative people; mama still calls herself today a frugal person!

 The “Trunk in the Hall” will be an Heirloom post in the future.


Leroy letters and cards_0003 (513x800)

  • City of New York
  • Office of The Mayor
  • New York 7, N. Y.

Dear Mr. McKinley:

As Mayor of the City of New York, and on behalf of the citizens of this city, I extend my heartfelt sympathy to the family of Pfc. Edgar L. McKinley, who so honorably gave his life that others might enjoy peace and freedom. I trust and pray his sacrifice will not have been in vain.

Sincerely yours,

Mayor O’Dwyer


Mayor O’Dwyer also served during WWII – achieving the rank of Brigadier General as a member of the Allied Commission for Italy. I was quite touched that the Mayor of New York took the time to send his condolences – as Georgia is a long ways from New York. He may have done it for every serviceman – and if he did – he signed many letters. It was odd that he only addressed my grandfather in the letter though – why would you not have said Mr. & Mrs.?

It wasn’t until after the war that Leroy’s body was returned to the family for burial. All families were asked if they wanted the remains returned or buried in military cemeteries abroad. All servicemen were interred abroad – later to be sent home per the families wishes.

I can’t imagine having to wait over four years to have your sons body returned home – how that must have preyed on my grandmother’s mind –  waiting all that time. Four long years had passed – now they must finally plan a funeral; a funeral with military honors! After four years – they must relive it all over again!

funeral of leroy mckinley

My grandparents, Edgar and Ola McKinley, presented with the flag presented for military honors. I have that flag  today and plan to preserve it in a case for my granddaughter McKinley Lee who carries their surname of McKinley as a first name and Leroy’s name of Lee as a middle name, as I also carry and my daughter.

My mother, now an only child, was unable to attend her brothers funeral as she was preparing for the birth of her first child. She was now married and living at Millington Naval Base in Memphis, Tenn. I’m sure it made the day even more difficult without their now only child by their side. They were surrounded that day by family and friends in their bereavement and burial.

A story I posted on Leroy on Feb. 19, 2015 gives much insight into the many battlefield cemeteries and more can be read in a Memorial Day post. Until I researched the history on the burials, I never knew why some of our boys were buried overseas in U.S. cemeteries. My grandmother would never have allowed that! He could also have been buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but they chose to bring him home – home to Greene County – home to where he had been born.

To Read more: Letters and Papers from The Trunk in the Hall

For history on V-Mail:  WWII: The History of V-Mail

© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Letters and Papers from The Trunk in the Hall. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Letters & Papers from the Trunk in the Hall: Letter from Mayor O’Dwyer; March 24, 1949

  1. Lyn Smith says:

    Very touching story. Quite odd there is such a picture and I don’t recall seeing it before. Uncle Edgar looks like he would prefer the cameras go away.
    The guy standing in the rear with his arms crossed looks so familiar but I just can’t put a name to him. Unless my eyes deceive me, it is my Papa. Has anyone ever named those in the picture?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a small folder of pictures from the funeral. Seems like many did that back then. I’ll have to look at it on the large screen. I’m sure he was there. Maybe I’ll work On naming the people in another post


  2. Luanne @ TFK says:

    What a special photo!

    Liked by 1 person

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