While we wait...

With no letter from Dip last week, and more silence this week, I thought it would be a good time for some background information.

Dorance Alquist was 23 years old when his number came up for draft. He had a little over a month before had to report to Fort Snelling and the same was true for his good friend Rolie Iverson. The two decided the best use of their limited time was a trip to what is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in far northern Minnesota. They packed their bags and a canoe and drove north into the most remote part of Minnesota to escape for a while.

My grandpa always described the trip to me as 30 days and 30 portages. It probably took two days just to get to the Gunflint trail from Minneapolis, it takes most of a day now with highways and modern cars,  I can only imagine how much of a trip it was in 1941!

Luckily Dorance took along his camera and we can see what it was like for them, some of these pictures are posted along with the blog post today. They made some stops along the way, including the Split Rock Lighthouse along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Then they headed into the woods and into canoe country. They carried their canoe from lake to lake (portaged) and travelled deep into the wilderness to escape the pending reality. He and Rolie remained good friends and they kept in touch during their time in the Army, we will hear a letter or two from Rolie later on.

If you were wondering how Dorance Alquist came to be known as Dip, it is a nickname from his childhood friends that stuck throughout his entire life. Instead of Dorance they decided to call him by his initials, and so Dorance Pershing Alquist became “Dippa” and then “Dippy” and they finally settled on just “Dip.”

His middle name was Pershing after General John Pershing, whom his father greatly admired. Oscar Alquist served as a Sergeant in Company “M” in Minnesota’s first infantry regiment of the National Guard and served under General Pershing on the Mexican Expedition from 1916-1917 to pursue the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. They routed the revolutionaries but ultimately failed to capture Pancho Villa. Shortly after that the US was drawn into World War I. Pershing was sent off to command the United States Army and the National Guard was sent home. 10 months later, Dorance Alquist was born.

Oscar's Sergeant Letter.jpg

Dip’s sister was named Dorothy and sometimes went by Dot. She had recently married Arlo Jordan and was living in Austin, MN when Dip’s number came up. We will hear plenty about her in future letters and a few of her letters to Dip survived as well which will be included in the project.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for joining me on this adventure. I’m learning so much in the process and it’s so much better to share it with others. I love getting feedback so feel free to respond to the emails or posts with your reactions and memories.

I recently purchased a negative scanner and I am now scanning the hundreds of negatives from Dip’s time in the Army and in the war. I have a few people to thank for their financial support, which made this purchase possible: Larry Jordan, Jeff Neuman, Jill Gallery and Sam Nigh. If you would like to support this project please follow the Donation link at airmailfromdip.com. My time is free but production and supplies are not. I am lucky enough to borrow a microphone for now, but I hope to purchase one soon. Also, webhosting and domain registration are ongoing costs. So any help would be greatly appreciated. With enough support I intend to turn these letters and photographs into a book after broadcasting them.

Another way you can support this project is to simply spread the word! Tell your friends, talk to your mom, or download the podcast on your grandpa’s iPad. And as long as you are listening to the podcast please leave a rating and review, this makes a big difference and I would love to share these letters with as many people as possible.

Thanks for listening, we will hear from Dorance next week, and maybe we’ll even find out about his expected furlough, fingers crossed.

Until then, have a great week and watch out for crumbs in your bunk.


Christian Olsen