This collection (87 items) contains 83 letters, 1 postcard, and 1 telegram that Robert Preston sent to his mother and stepfather, Eva and Frank Lakewitz of Baltimore, Maryland, from March 5, 1942-April 20, 1943, while serving in the United States Navy, as well as 1 letter from his wife Dotty (April 24, 1942). The final item is a photographic greeting card with an informal portrait of a man and woman (January 10, 1945).
Robert Preston wrote about his arrival at Norfolk, Virginia; his work repairing airplanes and supervising metal shops at Norfolk Air Station and Chincoteague Island, Virginia; and other aspects of his daily life. He sometimes mentioned his wife and their young daughter Mary Jane. In his letter of September 5, 1942, he noted that some money had been stolen out of his wallet, and, on September 19, 1942, he reported that the culprit had been dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Preston occasionally flew in military aircraft. He described fatal crashes in his letters of November 15, 1942; February 21, 1943; and April 4, 1943.
Preston wrote 2 early letters on stationery with printed paintings of navy vessels and aircraft and sent his mother an illustrated Mother's Day telegram from Western Union (undated). Some of his letters and envelopes have cartoonish drawings of sailors or other men (December 29, 1942, et al.). He drew a diagram of part of a car (October 22, 1942) and a picture of an airplane instrument he built (October 26, 1942).