Back in July we unveiled the story that in the summer of 1946, seventeen-year-old Ernest Boyer, traveled to Poland by sea on the Wesley Barrett and helped deliver over 900 cattle to the war-stricken country. At the time the blog post was written, we had only a letter Boyer wrote home to his family on June 11, 1946 and a notecard from the Brethren Service Committee thanking him for his assistance with their livestock project.
Last Friday, Sarah, a Boyer Archives work-study, was accessioning a box and came across a scrapbook entitled “Cattle Boat Trip to Poland.” Jackpot! Ah, the joys of working in an archives – you never know what treasures await you in a box.
The scrapbook includes a day-by-day account of Ernie’s experience at sea and photos he snapped along the way. Over the next few days, we will share his entries and offer a glimpse into the life of a “seagoing cowboy” after World War II. His notes have been transcribed and any spelling or grammar mistakes have been preserved for authenticity purposes.
Here are Ernie’s first four entries detailing the buildup before setting sail:
Friday, June 7, 1946 –
We left Lancaster, Penna about 8:00 A.M. and traveled by car to New Windsor, Md. We were told to go from there to Newport News, Va. And be ready to sail in a few days. Ate dinner at the Brethren Service Center and left about 2:30. We hitch-hiked to Baltimore and took a ferry to Norfolk. We traveled all night and arrived at our destination about 6:30 A.M. We took the ferry with no reservations so I slept on an overstuffed chair.
Saturday, June 8, 1946 –
Arrived at Norfolk about 6:30 and took another ferry to Newport News and took a taxi to Pier X which is the UNRRA [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration] shipping dock. There we were told to resort [?] Monday morning. We went back into town and secured lodging at the Catholic Maritime Club. The fellows in our group were as follows: Barry Paugstat, Joe Brechbill, Prof. Wolgemuth, Bruce Lehman, Sam Derr (?), Royce Saltzman, Bert Asper, Ellis Krieder, Jean Kerr, Bob Lehman, Clyde Solhenberger, Nevin Smith and Melvin Hess. Booked the town over that afternoon.
Saturday, June 9, 1946 –
Went to church at a large Methodist church. We were made to feel very strangely, the “Southern Hospitality.” After loafing that afternoon we returned there for the evening service. Shorty decided to leave the group and take a coal boat to Maine. We were sorry to see him go but he was determined.
Sunday, June 10, 1946 –
Found out we were to leave Tuesday at 8:00 A.M. This made me feel good since we were tired waiting. We bought sport equipment to be used on the ship. Spent the afternoon at the Lutheran Service Center reading and playing games. Went to bed early.
Want to know what happens next? Check back soon.
Images and journal entries taken from a scrapbook of Boyer’s experience (catalog # 1000 0001 4085).