Saturday, February 18, 2017

Helen McCoy's Letter To Willis Wilson

This letter is part of a private collection.  The author of the letter is my great grandmother Helen McCoy (maiden name Wilson).  The recipient was Willis Wilson, her brother.  This letter contains racial slurs.  After the information on the envelope this is a direct transcription.  I think it is important not to tone down any langauge used in the past.  It is a snapshot in time.  You should be able to view a larger image of the photos by clicking on them.  Click here to view more items privately collected regarding Helen Wilson, and husband Ernest McCoy.  I will add a little more information after finishing the transcription.

Post marked - Buena Park
June 11, 1942
6 pm    Calif

Pencil - Trinity
Blue ink - this letter cam back after willis was killed
Black ink - Mr Willis H. Wilson
C/O Johnson, Drake & Piper Inc.
C/O Post Master New York, City

Back of envelope

RT .1. Box 287 A
Buena Park, Calif

     Buena Park Calif
May 29, 1942
Dear Willie
Im all alone as Mac is
still working & it is 10. oclock so thought
I would start a letter to you.
Sure hope you are not home sick & hope
you will write to me, as I will be looking
forward to hearing from you.  I have to
go about three quarters of a mile to our
mail box & if I run out of cigs or milk
I am just out, there is a store about 2 1/2 miles
from here & I have no neighbors so you
can see I get pretty lonesome.
We have been moved in here almost
two weeks & you should see our house
or shake really.  The japs left us two
dogs & I cant get rid of them I called
the police today & told them to come & get them
and I told him were we live & he got a kick out
of it but can not get them because of house
is in Orange County & our property L.A. County
& when the dogs are under the house they are in
Orange Co & when they are out from under it they
are in L.A. & they cant come into orange Co. so
every thing we do we have trouble on that account
Our phone is Artesia our mail in Buena Park
so we are every ware & no ware
I saw Mama last night, the first time in
two months, she is not a bit well. it
was sure to bad about Bert, she will be home
Monday baring complications
We have about six to eight kids out hear
each weekend to help us but they mostly
play & eat.  Sonny sure has got it bad
he is sweet on a giral in town & writes
her to or three times a week & tells
her how much he loves her, he is going to
be like his old man, his first day in school
he came home & said "all the girls keep looking
at me all the time I wonder why mom?" Vain?
The babies are fine & sure eat swell out here, which
is the main reason I wanted to move out here
to get them out of the city into a different
invirnmont & I sure have.  I dont seea soul half
the time, The cat had kittens of yes we have too
cats, besides the three dogs & Ernie wanted
to know how the mama made them imagin
4 years old & asking that, he broke a glass
to-day & started crying and said "how hard
are you going to whipe me, so of course I could
not whipe him.
We are going to lose a thousand dollars
on onions becausewe could not borrow
enough money to have them weeded & they have
not matured.  Every thing has gone wrong  

we could not get the japs out & our going
to lose plenty, our lettuce cost of thirty dollars
to thin out & we won't get half that out of it
as it is rotting in the center the celery
on other ranches is doing the same, the gov.
man yesterday said they think the jap did
something to the crops. if you see any of
those squint eyes on the way stick your tounge
out at them for me.
Sonny has learned how to take care & harnes
the horses & plows & cultivates good, he
rides one of the horses a lot, we have two
nice horses, they cost a hundred a piece & sure
do eat.  I planted about five hundred tomato
plants las Sun. & hope to plant about nine
hundred more tomorrow, so you can see how
many time I have to lean over.  I bet I lose
my tummie, hu?  I make apretty good jap
I picked about two hundred head of lettuce in
less than three hours yesterday & and wont get
more than three dollar from it, we are getting
three &half cent a pound for onions which
isa pretty good price from onion we have about
eight acres of them dont know how many
will mature tho?  We got two hundred dollars
fromour Caulifloure which is very good, but
our strawberries are not so hot.  I bet you
wish you could eat a few, we have them
every meal.
June 10.  I have been so busy I could not
finish this letter since Iwrote last
the sugar has been quite a problem we
have somany here It dont last the aloted
time we are alould five lbs ever other week
& are now using what brown sugar & syrup
in our coffee ect, so can't have berries so
often now & they sure are going to waste
I don't know what we are going to do, I realy
think we won't be able the last very
long as Mack can't quit & we can't make
a go of this if it don't the gov. will not give
us money unless they morgage our house
& we won't do that. suppose it will all come
out in the wash
Suppose buy now you are a long way
from no ware   I heard Sun. on the radio
soldiers are fighting in S. Africa in 160
heat so guess you don't getall of it
The man said the soldier comein & fall
down uncounsis & are given shrts & sent
back out that must be hell.
We are getting a lot of heat here we are
only twelve miles from Santa Ana.
 hope you will write to me will close
 now & get to work, I have to pick strawberries
 we can sure sell them fast & wish we had more
                          Love your big Sis Helen.

Writer - Helen Spencer McCoy (maiden name Wilson): Helen was born in St. Louis, MO. in 1905.  She moved out to Los Angeles, CA. then to Redondo Beach, CA. with her father Robert Wilson, and mother Orpha Wilson (maiden name Spencer).

 I feel Helen was a product of her generation.  Children were taught from a young age to distrust and fear the "Yellow Peril".

Recipient - Willis Hembre Wilson:  Born 1914 in Redondo Beach, CA. He was part of the Army Corp. of Engineers, working under Johnson, Drake, and Piper Inc.

Helen received the letter back, after Willis died in South Africa.  The letter was sent shortly after Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066.  

There has been discrimination against immigrants of practically all lands at some point in our nation's history.  After adding photos and transcriptions of all my family's documents, letters, etc.   I plan on creating a section on this blog just about prejudice and add transcriptions of old news paper articles.   

I don't know who lived on the property before my great grandparents.  I never knew they lived on a farm for a time.  I do plan on finding out, and finding out which camp they were sent to "probably Mazanar" I want to know if they survived.  If they ever got any land back, or had any compensation in any way.  If I find them, and their descendants I will try to get photos of the Americans, or immigrants that were forced from their home and farm.  If I get permission, I will post the photos here.  

Here are a few of the laws that racism and fear fueled.
Naturalization Act of 1870
Chinese Exclusion Act 
California Alien Land Law 1913
California Alien Land Law 1920
Immigration Act of 1924

Notable things to look up 
Chinese Massacre 1871 - in Los Angeles
Asiatic Exclusion League
Anti-Jap Laundry League
Yellow Peril 

Title: Transcription / image of Helen McCoy's Letter To Willis Wilson
Transcriber / photographer Heather Wells

The original sources are part of a private family collection in Redondo Beach.
Please consult me before reproducing any images.

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