Edward J. Thomas - World War II

Below letter written by Harry. Thomas

February 14, 1945 Wednesday

Dear Eddie:

I have delayed writing to you because I was tied ap with the mink for the
last three weeks. Gladfelter wrote a letter the first of January
in which he hinted that the snow had slowed up the work there and that
he was busy trying to ship out the rest of about 100 mink which he had
sold to a party out East. I took advantage of this fact and wrote back
that I would pick up half of the mink the last week of January.

On the morning of Sunday, January 27, (calendar shows Jan 27, 1945 as being Saturday)I set out with the trustworthy old Ford after having first removed the rear seat cushion and put in all the paraphernalia needed for the trip. I took only four of our own shipping crates since I expected to use some of Gladfelter's more compact crates.

The weather had been clear during the previous weeek so that the roads
were pretty clear all the way. There were some slippery spots, however;
one of these must have proved fatal to a huge van truck which was lying
on its side in a ditch along the highway near Monroe. Just north of
Toledo I turned west on a county road to avoid going through Toledo.
I decided to go as far as Metamora, which is directly north of Swanton.
The road was clear up to Trilby, where I shoud have turned south. After
Trilby the road became increasingly rough and narrow. There was no
danger of getting stuck, however, since the snow was we11 packed but
the rough spots and ruts in the road made it slow going. At times the
road dwindled down to two ruts in the road between snow drifts which
were between 5 and 6 ft. high. I made the trip in the regular 2 1/2 hrs.
though not counting the 20 minutes I lost in getting out of the snow
in the back of the garage. I started out at 11:30 and arrived at Gladfelter's
at 1:00 (one hr. gained by the difference in time). This link interesting story of time standards for Indiana, neighboring state of Ohio.

I expected Gladfelter to be through with lunch, but I walked in the feed
bard to find him just finishing getting four of his mutation mink
photographed for advertising purposes. The photographer was a fellow
from the Tolede Blade who had photographed the mink which appear in
Gladfelter's ads in the magazines. Quetschke was also there.
While listening to their conversation about mink photography, I learned
that the Valleywood mink photograph appears on his letter-heads and
which was put on the cover of the American Fur Breeder a couple of years
ago, has been used by several commercial companies for their advertising.
From Federal Foods Company, for example, have a picture of this mink
about a foot long stamped on all their cereal bags. Apparently, these
companies in looking a good picture of a mink inevitably end up by
selecting this particular mink. It certainly is one of the best posed
picture of a mink tbat has appeared in any fur magazine.

After aboat an hour, the two men left and Gladfelter invited me to lunch.
After firlt refusing, I finally gave in. The lunch, as is customary in
the Gladfelter household, was more like our supper. It consisted of
chicken and all the trimmings. Around 3:00 their time we finally got
around to getting the mink rounded up. It turned out that Gladfelter
didn't have a single shipping crate. They were all shipped out and
none had been returned al yet. We filled up the four crates I had taken
along and then put 12 mink in some old catching cages. We packed them
in the car and separated them with some small fish boxes.

I asked Gladfelter if he got the new Black Cross male from Roy Jebb.
He seemed surprised at the question and sald that he was waiting because
he did not know if we wanted to exchange it ourselves or have him do it.
This was somewhat of a shook to me since I thought we had a pretty clear
underatanding at the Grand Rapids show that he was to ship the mink back
to Roy Jebb immediately. I did not say anything about it though because
there was little that could be done about it. I merely told him that
I would take the mink along on the first trip so that I could get him
exchanged right away.

Gladfelter then gave me instructions about a better route to get back to
US-24 and I departed. I found out that I couldn't have picked up the
mink any sooner becaase Gladfelter's road was blocked by high snow drifts
up to a couple of days before my trip. The trip back to Detroit was
uneventful. I arrived in Detroit about 7:30 and spent the next two or
three hours in getting the minks in the pens, replacing broken water cups,
etc. The first shipment consisted of 15 platinum females and the black
cross male.

The following'Wednesday Mom and I made a trip to Grand Rapids to Roy
Jebb's farm. We had good travelling weather and good roads. After
running into a little difficulty in finding our way in Grand Rapids,
we finally got to our destination. I met Roy Jebb and he took me and
the mink downhill to his mink yard. He dumped our mink into an empty
pen and then showed me the male he was saving for us. It was a dark
mink, nicely marked, similar to the one we had picked out originally
on Gladfelter's ranch. I said "O.K." and after a short conversation
regarding feed, etc., we were on our way back.

Mom made the suggestion that we go over to Dan Bekin's place to see if
we could pick up some meat. I thought this was a good idea; 80 we shifted
our course northward. Scarcely any horses were noticeable there, due
no doubt to the deep snow in the fields. We seemed to have arrived at
an inoppportune time. Mr. Bekins greeted my question in regard to horse
meat with suspicion. He asked me just what the horse meat was intende
for. After informing him, he wanted to know where our mink ranch was
located, how may mink we had, how long we were in the business, who
told us about his place, eto. Atter answering all these questions and
after telling him that I made the trip to Grand Rapids to see Roy Jebb,
and after mentioning several names and places that were familar to him,
he finally became congenial and told me about the price and the possibility
of getting it delivered to Detroit. He said that he just got
word that his son was killed in an airplace crash in Florida Just prior
to going overseas and that since his home was upset just then, he would
rather discuss the matter of delivering meat to us in Detroit later.
He did say that they deliver as far as Walled Lake.

After paying him $16.00, we went over to the slaughter house and picked
up 200 lb. of meat in chunks. He said that they did not like to grind
the meat except as a temporary measure until the customer could get a
meat grinder.
We arrived in Detroit at 6:30 after making 325 miles. The next Sunday
I made the second trip to Swanton and picked up the last 16 mink. This
time I left early enough to get to Gladfelter's at about 11:00 their time.
This time Gladfelter was showing a customoer around the yard. After about
an hour the customer left and we got down to business. After getting the
mink crated (in our own crates this time), I was again invited to stay
for lunch. I told them I would rather leave early so that I could get the
mink in their pens before dark. The weather was very nasty on the way
back. It had been sleeting and raining since 10:30 and the roads were
like glass. It took me about 3 1/2 hours instead of the usual 2 1/2 to gat

We now have 35 mink all told. I do not believe I will increase this number
by buying additional black mink as we had planned. Instead I am
going to breed the silver sable and black cross to some of the platinum
females. This cross will be even better than with blacks because the
kits will either be black cross, silver sable. or platinum.

I have put a classified ad in the Fur-Fish-Game, Americaa Fur Breeder,
Black fox, and National Fur Newe. Regarding that 1/2-page ad you sent
us, we all thought that it was very good; however, I thought it over at
the last moment, after deciding not to buy any more black mink, that·we
couldn't sell more than two males and 2 or 3 females. This small number
would not make the large ad profitable. However, we would like to have
your idea of a 1/2 page ad to be put in the magazines starting around May
or June to sell our kit production this year.

We haven't seen any of our ads in the magazines as yet (they start in the
February issues) but we have already received one query from the Rurode
and Schlattman Mink Ranch in Braidwood, Ill. Have you any ideas on
what prices we ought to charge. If so tell us about it 1n your next letter.
Mom haa suggested a price of $250 for a bred female with a one male kit

I believe you asked for Richard Barrigar's present address. It is--

Pfc. Richard E. Barrigar, 20640287
Co. A 1296 Engr. C. Bn.
Ft. Riley, Kansas

In his last letter he states that be got married during his last furlough
at home. Apparently, it was a short courtship since he met the
girl for the first time during the furlough.

So long, Harry


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