Saturday, November 23, 2013

Joan Benson's Postcard From Daddy

Some of the WWII postcards I come across were written by soldiers to their children. One of them is among the most vexing in my “too tough” pile of mysteries I can’t solve.

 The card was written by a sailor, Harold J. Benson, to his daughter, Joan Benson, in New Hampton, New York. It was mailed from New Orleans in 1944. The return address is “LST 718,” and the “Muster Roll” for LST 718 does indeed include Harold J. Benson among the crew in 1944. (“Muster rolls” are lists of military personnel on a Navy ship, and thousands of them are available on

From Find A Grave I learned that Harold died in 1958 and his wife, Marion Starr Benson, died in 1976. The listing included photos of their gravestones. Since they were born in 1906-7, Joan could have been born as early as the mid 1920s. At the time the postcard was written she could have been anywhere between a young child and a teenager .

 I found a news article, including photo, of a Joan Benson who graduated from the Middletown (NY) State Hospital School of Nursing in 1954. She’s about the right age, but there’s no way of knowing if she’s the right one. This particular Joan Benson is also listed in the 1954 and 1955 Middletown city directories as a nurse at the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital. It appears she lived at the hospital in 1954 and a rooming house in 1955. An article in a state employee newsletter in 1955 said she had been appointed a charge nurse.

That 1955 article is the last thing I could find about Joan – no marriage record, no more city directory listings, no death record, nothing. If she’s still living she would be at least in her early 70s. Maybe she’s passed away and relatives put the card in an estate sale. Whatever the case, I’ll keep looking.

There's a Joan Benson in this nursing school graduation photo, but I don't know if she's the one from the postcard.

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