Remembering the big brother who didn’t come back

(Pictured: As Memorial Day neared, Lorraine Burns remembered her big brother, Raphael Hines, by getting out some of his pictures and letters. (5-30-04lorraineburns) Staff photo by Joyce Moran)

Recalling the telegram’s arrival, Hines’ sister, now Lorraine Burns of Little Falls, said, “As I recall, they just slipped it under the door. It was hard on my parents. They got very nervous. Eventually, they agreed, ‘We have to shape up because we still have Lorraine.’”

Lorraine was just 13 at the time of her big brother’s death. “We lived on the west side,” related Lorraine last week as she reminisced, going through some of Raphael’s letters, now brown with age, and pictures. “It was just us two kids. He was a wonderful big brother, always looking out for me. We attended Our Lady of Lourdes School, and he’d give me a ride on his bike. Once we fell in a ditch.”

Raphael’s interests included the guitar, figure skating at the city’s rink on the northeast side of town, and girls. “He never married,” explained Lorraine, “but the girls were interested in him; he was so good looking.”

Raphael graduated from Little Falls High School in 1941. Wanting to be a brick layer like his uncle, he followed him to Joliette, IL to learn the trade. “It looked then like he was going to be drafted,” recalled Lorraine. “He didn’t want to go in the Army, so he joined the Merchant Marines. I believe they would man the supply ships.”

A letter from the Merchant Marine to his parents, Phil and Genevieve Hines, dated March 23, 1943, was the last time the couple heard from their son. It said, in part, “I bought a bond and I made Dad co-owner. I’m going to buy another at some future date. I’m going out to sea in a very short time within the next few days. We have to have our sea bags packed at all times, so I’ll see where I end up. Don’t write any more as I don’t think it will do any good. I’ll write every time I hit port and we’ll have signals so you know where I am when I write the letter. Some snow means U.S., lot of snow means somewhere around Russia, melted snow means Africa, no snow means South America. I’ll feel pretty blue, leaving all my buddies behind. They sure were a swell bunch of fellows. I won’t have it soft like you thought I would. I don’t know what to say outside of take care of yourself and tell everyone to wish me good luck.”

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