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Andrew Krueger , Forum News Service, Published June 30 2013

Duluth man gets WWII-era postcard in the mail

DULUTH, Minn. – Tyler Scouton says he’s always had an interest in history, and that’s one of the reasons the Duluth native bought a decades-old house in the city’s Hillside neighborhood last year.

But Scouton, 32, has found himself digging deeper than ever before into his home’s past in recent days, thanks to a mysterious piece of mail delivered last week.

“I came home from work and checked the mail” on Wednesday, Scouton said. “I was kind of flipping through it and saw a postcard. … The first thing my eyes went to was the postmark, and the date was 1945.”

It’s a pristine postcard postmarked April 23, 1945, the closing months of World War II, showing the USS Cuttlefish, a submarine that at the time was serving as a training vessel.

The card is addressed to Mrs. T. Gorkoski, 117 W. 9th St., Duluth – that’s where Scouton now lives. The card bears a modern-day, 44-cent stamp.

The message, written by L.A. Nesgoda from the U.S. Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill., reads:

“Hi Folks, So far I’ve survived 2 weeks of this boat training. Boy Scout camping was more rigorous than this. The Navy may be alright but not for civilians. This confinement is bad. Len.”

Scouton and his girlfriend, Kelly Mullan, at first thought it might be some kind of cryptic promotion or ad. Or perhaps a prank by a relative. They set it aside. But later that night, Scouton said, the mystery nagged at him, so he started doing some research and posted the card online. Soon friends were chiming in with information, in addition to what Scouton found himself.

Here’s what Scouton knows:

• Thomas and Sophia Gorkoski were longtime residents of the home at 117 W. 9th St. They died years ago but had several children.

• L.A. Nesgoda appears to be Leonard Alexander Nesgoda, who died in 2007 at age 89. He and his wife, Lois, also had several children.

• Nesgoda and the Gorkoskis lived within a few blocks of each other at one time.

Here’s what remains unknown:

• Are Nesgoda and the Gorkoskis related? The use of the term “folks” seems to suggest they are.

• Where was the postcard for the past 68 years? Who affixed a new stamp and sent it along?

Scouton said he’d like to get the card to descendants of the families, and on Saturday said he now has contact information for a great-granddaughter of the Gorkoskis and a cousin of Nesgoda – so some of the mystery may be on its way to being solved.

He’s set up a website to keep track of the information. Why make so much effort? Scouton said he’d hope that someone else would do the same, if the card was part of his family’s history. And the family’s dog was hit and killed by a car a week ago – so investigating the mystery has been a welcome distraction from that traumatic event.

“I find this fascinating,” Scouton said. “I’ve heard of little stories like this, but I’ve never had it happen to me.”