WWII-Era Journal Found; Brings Two Delaware Families Together - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

WWII-Era Journal Found; Brings Two Delaware Families Together

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Lisa Fennington thought she was buying a box of CDs.

"Garth Brooks caught my eye."

She bought the box through an online yard sale.

"We sorted through it," Fennington, who lives in Dover, said. "Cleaned up what was in there. In the bottom of the box was the little book."

It was a book with the words "My Life in the Service" on its worn cover.

"We start looking through it and realize it actually was a journal from 1941."

And it was written by man she'd never heard of before - Lawrence R. Hanna.

"It was very interesting to read just the different things he wrote," she said. "He seems to be a very brave person."

Lisa Learned a lot about Lawrence's life, like that he was from the Baltimore area. She also got a first hand account of one of the most important moments of the 20th century. It was an account probably best described as nonchalant.

"He put," she read. "'December 20th, 1941. Nothing of interest happened from Thanksgiving up until now. Spent a very swell birthday on December 5th. I was 24 years old. On December 8th 1941, Monday, the United States declared war on Japan. The furlough I had coming up for Christmas was shot to hell."

Lisa was fascinated. She knew she had to get the book back to Lawrence's family.

"I just couldn't bring myself to throw it away," Lisa said. "It's somebody's life."

And after she couldn't get back in contact with the guy she bought the box from, Lisa reached to WBOC.

"I'd like to find some family members that are related to him. I think that would something very nice to pass down," she told WBOC.

She had information like enlistment number, date of birth and date of birth. That's where the hunt began for a man who would be 96 years old right now.

There wasn't a readily available obituary. But there were army records, old phone book entries, property deeds and, eventually, Lawrence's will and estate information.

Those documents showed he had passed away in 1997. They also led to the names Richard and Jeanne Baer, Lawrence's nephew and his wife. And it turned out they live in Bridgeville.
WBOC called them and told them about Lisa, the box and the book.

"We said maybe that was the book that we had been looking for," said Jeanne. "Accidentally, I think it was put in a box."

And then it was sold in an estate sale.

"We would never have trashed My Life in the Service of his. He was such a favorite in the family," Jeanne said.

A time was arranged for Lisa to meet Jeanne and return the book. When they did, in no time, they were chatting like old friends.

Jeanne shared pictures and memories of the man she called Larry.

"Larry was an outgoing, compassionate, loving individual," she said. "He was very, very artistic, very talented."

She helped Lisa better know a man she'd only met through his words.

"He was an entertainer," Jeanne told Lisa.

"He wrote he went and saw Tommy Dorsey, a couple of different performers in there," noted Lisa.

For Lisa it was a meeting she'll never forget.

"There's a closure. I feel like I even know more about this man I personally never met," she said. "I feel like he found his way home. It's where it needs to be."

For Jeanne getting the book back was as pleasant and unexpected a surprise as Lisa had when she found the book in the first place.

"I think the fact that Lisa cared enough to want to find the family that may have had the book - it sort of bonds us together," she said.

It's a bond Larry would be glad to know he helped create.

Jeanne plans to use the book as a part of a family history album she is making for her two daughters, who she says were very attached to their Uncle Larry.

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