Please Excuse Poem

Friday, February 5, 1943

About 9:45 Pacific time

12:45 your time


Dear folks,

Well I’m in Nevada today. Last night after I finished writing, I read 30 pages or so in Good Earth. The sgt. came through and asked if anyone had any letters they wanted mailed. I gave him mine so I hope he mailed it in Salt Lake City. We had a little trouble last night. We ran into a snow storm on our way down out of the mountains in Utah. Then a train ahead of us broke down and we had to push that for several miles. We got into Salt Lake City well after dark and I was in bed. We get to bed at about 9. I didn’t see much of the town but it must spread over a huge area. Once I woke up and looked out and we were in the station and just starting to leave. The city itself must have been on the other side of the train but what I saw was quite neat looking and well lighted. I saw some towers which looked like they might be for a radio station and I also saw several factories. This morning I got up at 6:30 pacific time and we were in Elco Nevada. During the night, probably in Salt Lake City, we got rid of the other troop train and hooked on to a 7 car passenger train. We have passed through several small settlements this morning. The largest were Carlon and Battle Mountain. The scenery here in Nevada has been beautiful. We are riding on a flat plain 6 or 7 miles wide and on both sides are the most beautiful snow covered peaks I have seen yet. They look like an artist’s painting. The level part is covered with short bushy vegetation of some kind; it may be sage brush. I am still looking for the desert. These mountains are really wonderful They may not be so big but they are as pretty as any picture I have ever seen of the Alps. They are capped completely with snow and with the sun shining on them are prettier than I can find words to describe. There is no reason why anyone should go to Europe or any other place to see nature’s beauty. We’ve got more than enough for everybody right here at home. Now we are in a fair sized town called Winnemoca (I hope that’s spelled right). A fellow came through selling cards and folders but they were gone before I could get any. A bunch of kids just got off the civilian train hooked to us and we guessed that they were a basketball team.  Gee, I just saw one of those folders and even though they cost 25 cents I wish I could have got one. They showed some of the very places we have passed through. Maybe I can get one someplace yet. There was a picture of these mts. I have been talking about and they are called the ruby range. We’re moving again but the mountains are still there. I don’t know when we’ll hit Frisco but they told us we wouldn’t sleep on the train tonight. We will go thru Reno this afternoon. I guess I forgot to mention I had breakfast at about 9:15. Potatoes, eggs, cream of wheat, muffin, bread, apricot jam, and an orange. Pretty good. We are stopped out here in the brush now for some reason. There are no trees in sight, just little bushes 8 or 10 inches high. We are moving again now. Boy we really are jerked around. They call the engineer a cowboy because of the way he stops and starts. Well I’ll be back later when I see something interesting again.

Back about 1 o’clock. We are still in much the same type of country but we must have dropped a lot because the mountain tops aren’t covered with snow here nearly so much. This looks like desert land to me. There is sand and not much vegetation. Yet here is a lot of water around. Little gullies are wet and one creek had overflowed. I imagine it is from snow melting and running down the mts. This would be one hot place in the summer! The real big mountains seem to be getting farther and farther away on both sides. The plain is widening out. Right now where we are the sand is all built up in hills a foot or two high. I don’t know if that is from the wind or animals. We have passed through the town of Imlay and Lovelock, a pretty good sized town along with several other little settlements. We should hit Reno pretty soon. We must really be in the desert now for the vegetation is getting thinner and thinner. There are still a lot of water puddles though.

A fellow came through selling souvenirs and wanted $1.25 for a pillow cover no better than the one I sent you from McCoy. That one only cost 85 cents. The price of stuff on the trains is prohibitive. 5 cent newspapers are 10 cents and a little tiny sack of peanuts is 10 cents. In Omaha apples & oranges were 10 cents each. Boy am I glad I had all I needed when I started. I have one orange left. All my candy bars are gone but one so I think I did pretty well and was smart to have the stuff in the beginning so thank you.

This is looking more and more like a swamp than a desert. There is water all over and it looks muddy. It reminds me some of the beaches we have seen only this goes on and on.

Back again much later at about 4:30. We just got into California. We came into the town of Sparks Nev. about 2 o’clock. The scenery had been pretty much the same all along. We stopped there a few minutes and we got out and walked the length of the train and got back on at the dining car for dinner. While we were eating we pulled on into Reno and stopped for passengers. Dinner was pretty good – roast beef, mashed potatoes, string beans, salad, bread, butter and pears. While I was eating some Red Cross women from a mobile canteen passed out doughnuts, coffee, gum, cigarettes, etc. to the boys who had already eaten. I was too late to get anything because when I finished the train was ready to move. We eat in shifts and I’m on the last car so we eat last. Reno is quite a nice place. There were a lot of soldiers there with the air corps insignia and I understand there is an air base near there. I also saw 2 officers from the chemical warfare division. I didn’t recognize any movie stars but we saw a young girl and a sailor who had just been married. Everywhere we go we see all kinds of soldiers and sailors. (A man just came in selling Bireleys orangeade at 50 cents a quart. He didn’t sell any.) Reno is quite a city and seems to be real clean. It is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It looked like a nice place to look over. Ever since we left Reno the scenery has been swell. The temp. there was like mid-May but now we are up in the mountains and there is about a foot of snow all over. We have been following a river for miles and I have never seen such wild water. It is rapids its whole length. We have just stopped in a small town and there is a ski jump up on a hill. There are several nice homes here too. We are in Cal. now where the wealthy folks live. These mountains are pretty in a different way. They are covered with beautiful pines. The mountains in Nevada were treeless. Everything one sees is beautiful and everything is different from everything else. If the sun shines in all of Cal. like it does here I’ll maybe like it after all. Our engine is one of those affairs that has the cab way out in front. It’s the first time I’ve seen them. This town is Truckee, Cal, and we’re leaving now. I’ve given you the names of a lot of the towns I’ve passed through but I don’t know if they are on a map so you can see my path or not. I’ve tried to take you along with me on this trip. We are supposed to be coming to a tunnel now. The highways out here are swell but I haven’t seen any roadside tables. In some of those states you could go 50 or 60 miles without finding a tree to put one under. It’s worse than it is up around Traverse City. We are now 208 miles from Frisco. We are way way up and as I look off I see a rolling blanket of green and white. The timber is getting thicker and thicker as we go on into California. We just went through that tunnel and off to one side as we came out was the first lake I have seen on the trip. It is about 300 feet below in a valley and is beautiful. Another tunnel. They aren’t real tunnels; they are built to keep the snow from drifting over the tracks. We’re really up in the air now. Another snow shed. Another one. Boy is this country pretty!

Boy we are in a real tunnel now, several miles long. I just filled my pen and when I put the ink back in my grip I cut the nicest slice off the first finger of my right hand on my razor. Not serious though. We just get out of one tunnel and go into another and the train is filling with smoke. I just opened another box of Cracker Jack but I didn’t find any prize in the end. Maybe it’s in the other end. So far I’ve got a wooden rolling pin, a cutout of Mary and lamb, and a little charm of a bottle of choc. milk. I found it. It’s a picture of a Spanish airplane.

Finally we are back in the sunshine. For a long time all we saw was the inside of snow sheds & tunnels. Boy is this snow deep. It’s drifted clear up even with the roofs of some of the buildings. We sure see a lot of different kinds of weather and climates. This ought to be great country for skiing and skating. There is a beautiful hotel and lodge built up here at a place called Soldiers Springs. We evidently are coming into a winter sport area. I’m glad I can see a little of this during the day. We are traveling around a deep valley way up on the side of a mountain. The valley is hundreds of feet below. Somebody just saw some deer. I’ve noticed a lot of tracks in the snow. We’re going down now and hitting more snow sheds. I just saw a fire tower way up on a hill.

I just saw a little waterfall. We are dropping down fast now. California here I come but it’s not where I started from. Someday soon I’ll have my wish and be right back in good old Mich(igan).  Please excuse poem. I just saw another lake way below but it was frozen solid. Here’s a little settlement built on the side of the mountain. At some time there has been a forest fire along here where I am now for there are burned skeletons sticking up all around. We have just passed a little place called Blue Canon. We’re beginning to leave the snow behind us now. I doubt if there will be any in Frisco although I hear it’s not too hot there. You see Cal. is a big state and Frisco is about 500 miles north of Los Angeles & Hollywood. No more snow but we are still way way up. Well I’ll sign off till after supper. Frisco is 158 miles.

Back after supper – chicken soup (I didn’t eat), chicken or turkey I don’t know which but it was breast, dressing, potatoes, green peas, tomato salad, bread, butter, peaches. It is dark now and they made us pull down all the shades to black out the train. So all I know is I am in Cal. somewhere about 100 miles from Frisco. What camp I’m going to or anything else I don’t know. Latest rumor is 35 miles from Frisco in either the coast artillery or air corps ground crew. I hope it’s the coast. Well this is all for now. Keep writing and I’ll do the same.


Love to all


Your Wandering Son

Thursday, Feb. 4, 1943

8:30 a.m. mountain time


Dear folks,

Well we’re rolling along in Colorado. After I finished that letter yesterday we stopped in a town in Kansas called Goodland. We had to wait for the streamliner, The Rocket, to go through so we all got off and got a little air. I mailed the letter and the two folders there. I was a little worried for awhile though because they had 2 mail boxes, one for Mail East and one for Mail West and I mailed your letters in the one for mail west but the fellow there said it wouldn’t make any difference. We walked around for awhile and then they had us run around about a block to loosen us up a little. Finally we got back on and started off. We went into Colorado early in the evening. It was the same as Kansas, flat and barren. When I couldn’t see anymore I read some. We had supper in the diner again. Mashed potatoes, corn, meat (beef which I wasn’t sure of and didn’t eat) swell dressing, salad, and a raspberry dessert. We got to bed at about 9 o’clock. As usual the best part was passed while we slept. We got into Denver after I went to bed and we crossed the higher mountains during the night. It must have been a tough pull because we stopped a lot and jerked around a lot during the night. We went through some tunnels too I guess. The windows are so filthy now we can’t see anything. They got us out over an hour ago for breakfast but we still haven’t eaten. I dressed, washed, and then tried to survey the situation. Instead of being up by the engine we are now the very last car. It seems that in Denver we were hooked to another troop train. We still have a diner making 5 cars and the other troops have a field kitchen set up in a baggage car. There are 12 or 13 cars altogether now. Since ours is the last car we can stand on the observation platform and see a little of the country.

As I said, we are still in Colorado. We are now passing through the western foothills of the Rockies. Although they may be hills they look like mountains to me. Out here there is a lot of snow and the brakeman told me we were up 8000 feet above sea level. The big hills with the snow and trees are beautiful. That’s about all I can say. I can’t see anything through my windows so to know what I’m passing I have to go out on the back end. This sure is nicer than Nebraska & Kansas. I never thought they were quite so dreary. Nothing for miles but fields with here and there huge herds of steers. The sun is just coming up over the hills now and it sure looks pretty. This is really the country. It’s barren so far as agriculture I suppose but it still is pretty. We just went through another tunnel. They are what makes everything so dirty. There isn’t much life in this part and the towns are pretty scarce.

Oh boy. All I can say is I wish you could see it. The track winds through the mountains alongside the Colorado River and on both sides there are sheer rock cliff and mountains. Some are nothing but rock, others have trees growing out of crevices. I can’t see what holds those cliffs together. They are very weather worn and are just full of cracks. They look as if they are all ready to crumble. I guess it’s just no use. I can’t describe them so you can get even a little idea of what its’ like. I wonder who owns all this land. I’ve seen pictures of this sort of thing but it always seemed as if it couldn’t be quite like the pictures showed. Well I’ll quit for now in hopes of breakfast pretty soon.

Back again much later in the town of Grand Junction Colorado. We finally got our breakfast at about 9:30. It was a pretty good breakfast. Fruit juice, oatmeal, potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon which I didn’t eat, whole wheat toast and butter. After breakfast I looked out the back some more and then washed and shaved. We were hitting some bumpy ground but I didn’t cut myself. Then I continued to view the scenery until we got to Grand Junction. We are just about out of the mountains now but the last ones are beautiful. They are just huge masses of rock. We are just about free of snow again now. One of the strangest things to see is ice in the Colorado River and a little ways away the river boiling and steaming due to hot springs. We are still following the river now although it disappeared for awhile. We were in Grand Junction about 20 minutes and they got us off and had us run around and do some calisthenics. Then we got back on and here I am. The town is about 17,000 people but they must all live in shacks by the looks. While we were there they washed the windows so we have a much better view. We are entering cultivated farm land more and are headed for the Utah deserts. I never thought I’d ever see what I’ve seen this morning. I’d like to spend about a month out here traveling by automobile. One fellow had a camera, and took some pictures but I don’t know what he’ll do with his camera when he gets there. He can’t keep it. The scenery is becoming fairly general again but the mountains make a beautiful background and the panorama is wonderful

The towns are getting a little thicker and larger. (12:30 o’clock) Up in the mountains the towns didn’t seem to be more than railroad stations and side tracks. We’re running parallel to a good paved highway again. Most of the roads don’t look so hot. The houses and buildings all have a rickety look, sort of ghost-like. I don’t see how people live in some of them. When I look back now, I don’t see how we ever threaded our way through those mountains.

The sand is beginning to show now and the vegetation is mostly short bushes. We’ll be in Salt Lake City sometime today or tonight. If we hit S. Francisco by tomorrow night we’re going to have to step on it. The speed limit for troop trains is 65. We are on level ground now and see several farms. The hills off to one side are smaller and covered with trees and grass. Well that’s all I can say right now again.

Back again in a hurry this time. They fooled me. We’re back in more hills and mountains and back to the river again. There’s one rock wall about 200 feet high that is stretching along the river for 2 or 3 miles. There are some of the most beautiful rock formations you could ever imagine. We passed through another tunnel too. There is a big rock about ½ as big as our house sitting up on top of a cliff. This certainly is beautiful country. We’re passing another huge rock wall. The only way we can get through is to follow the river valley. We are in Utah now but it doesn’t look any different. The fellow that called these the Rockies sure hit the nail on the head. It’s getting a little flatter again but I won’t get too much in a hurry this time. We still have a sheer rock wall on one side of the track. Once in awhile when we hit a curve I can see the engine way up ahead. The other troops we picked up in Denver must have come from a rather warm place because they all wore field jackets. We just passed through another settlement called Westwater. The sun is shining swell so that helps, too.

Some of the fellows have been worrying about furloughs and they have figured it will cost us close to $100 for a round trip. There is one consolation. They can’t send me anywhere in the U.S.A. without sending me closer to home. Its around 2600 miles from Frisco to Lansing, and that ain’t an overnight trip. I don’t think there is anyone in our group, except for the few from the West, who doesn’t hope we’ll be transferred back east in 2 or 3 months. They’d like to see Cal., but they don’t care to stay. The sgt. who is traveling with us said you couldn’t tell. They might turn around and send us to Chicago or someplace in a couple months. That’s probably just another guess of somebody’s with no foundation just like the rest.

Just passed thru Agate Utah, a railroad siding and an empty sheep ranch. It’s 1:00 o’clock. The ground is gradually flattening out although I can still see mountains in the distance. Well I guess I’ll quit this for awhile again.

Back again after dinner – Mashed potatoes, green string beans, ham (I didn’t eat it), whole wheat bread and butter and jello and cream. We have been passing through a very barren stretch of country again. Rocks, hills, dirt but very little vegetation. Just scattered tufts of grass. There are still mountains and bare rock formations visible on the horizons. I’d call this the badlands of Utah but we still haven’t hit the desert. We pass many freight trains off on the sidings waiting for us to go by. One brakeman told us last night that 300 gov’t  trains, munitions, etc. had been sidetracked for ours to go through. WE are important people. We are in some town now and way off up on a huge rock mountain is a big letter G. We just passed another freight, the 3rd in 10 minutes and a lot of the box cars were marked explosives. The town was Green River. It had a school, church, depot, 2 or 3 stores and a lot of R.R. tracks. Now we’re taking off across the badlands again. There is a pretty good black top highway running parallel to the tracks. More rock formations off to the other side. There is even an occasional advertising sign along the road out here in nowhere. Those rock formations are even more impressive here because they stand alone on otherwise level land. This is poor picture of what it looks like [drawing]. We’re passing another sidetracked freight. We cross a lot of creek beds but they are nearly all dry. I have seen 2 trucks and one car on several miles of this road. Rationing must have really hit home or else there’s nobody out here to drive. Well there’s not much to say now so I’ll be back when I see something interesting. I hope we get into Salt Lake City while it’s still daylight.

Back again much later. This afternoon the scenery has been pretty much the same, barren land and rocky bluffs. We passed through one town called Price which was pretty good sized and had a swell modern school. Now we are in a town called Helper Utah. It is fairly large and we have stopped to get 2 new engines. We are entering more mountains and they are going to use the 2 engines. We still are over 100 miles from Salt Lake City and it must be nearly 5:30. It is snowing a little out now.

During the night last night I understand we passed through the Moffat Tunnel in Colorado. It was 6.2 miles long. We have gone through several short ones since then.

One thing seemed rather amusing. Out there in the badlands where there was nothing but hills, rocks and dirt the fields (if you could call them that) were all fenced off. Some of the fences were going almost straight up hill. Now we are leaving Helper. There evidently is some type of mining done here. We are moving into another mountain range. You ought to see the telephone lines running over the mountains. We are passing a coal mine and there are houses all along the foot of the hills. This mine is at Castle Gate.

We just passed through Royal Utah – a post office and coal mine. We’re getting really into the mountains again now, and even with 2 engines progress is slow. The highway is winding around the mts. too. It is U.S. 50. There is plenty of snow up here and it is snowing now. There is more traffic on the highway now but they go pretty slow because it’s a good 300 foot drop off the edge into the valley.

Back again after supper. Boy that was a real supper. It’s going to be hard to go back to army chow. I had beef steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, salad, whole wheat bread, butter, milk and ice cream. It’s not quite dark yet but it is snowing quite hard. We are still in the mountain range east of Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ll start going down pretty soon. We are supposed to be in Salt Lake City about 9 o’clock. I’m going to close this letter in hopes of getting a chance to mail it. If I don’t you’ll get it from somewhere else. I imagine my mail will get behind a little for awhile like it did at McCoy but eventually it will get caught up. You probably got my letter today saying I was leaving so I imagine I’ll have your Sun., Mon., Tues., & Wed. letters coming to me out here. For gosh sakes keep writing. It means more than ever now that I’m this far away from everything.

Well I’ll quit for now and hope I can mail this. You’ll get it eventually anyhow. Don’t forget your wandering son wants to get mail and I’ve got plenty I haven’t answered too – Walt, Frankie, Nate, Julius, etc.


Lots of love to Mom, Dad, Gram & Babe


Read the letter

To My Chemist’s Eye

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 1943

About 3:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well I’m on my way. At the present time we are sitting in the railroad yards at Winona, Minn. We just crossed the Mississippi River. It isn’t very wide right here.

I was up about 6:30 this morning and had breakfast at the usual time. I had oatmeal, grapefruit and creamed beef on toast. After breakfast I finished packing and then we loafed around till about 9:00 when we took our rifles back. After that there was nothing doing till about 11:00. Then we took our sheets and pillowcases and our overshoes back. They had early mail call and all I got was a letter from Walt. Your Sat. letter came Monday so I probably wasn’t due for one from you folks. Any that you wrote since Sat. will have to be forwarded. We got our dinner early too, right off the stove. I had potatoes, beef, rhutabagas [sic], bread, and butter and 2 pieces of apple pie. Shortly after dinner we left. Boy my barracks bag weighed plenty and so did my grip. I was just about done out when I got to the place we were to gather. It was between ½ to ¾ of a mile. There we got on trucks and were taken to the R.R. yards of the camp. I saw more of the camp then than I have anytime while I was there. It really is a huge place. We are on Pullman cars so I guess California is a pretty good guess of where we’re going. I know it’s going to be a long way. We left Camp and went through Sparta and several other small towns before we got to Winona where we are now. I think you’ll remember this is where our milk came from.

The view is not so good because the windows are double and dirty as the dickens. We have passed some huge hills but they’ll seem pretty small when we get to the Rockies. There are 4 cars on our train and several fellows from our barracks. There are 8 or 10 from Lansing. There is a real large bridge across the Miss. here and this is quite a railroad town. There are lots of tracks.

We’re moving again now. There is a huge range of hills off the north, I guess it is. There is a lot of calculating of which way we are going and where we’ll end up. You want to keep track of the states I go through. On my way to McCoy I hit Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Now I am in Minnesota. I’ll sure pass a lot of country but I don’t know how much I’ll see.

Back again. It’s nearly dark and we are in Waseca, Minn. We haven’t been going too fast. That range of hills really got high. There was one place where the place for the tracks seemed to be chiseled out of solid rock. These hills are all rock. It looks like limestone to my chemist’s eye, CaCO3. After awhile the country began to flatten out and there aren’t many hills anymore. We went through Rochester, Minn., home of the Mayo Clinic, at 5:15. We have gone through several small towns which I can’t remember.

We are moving again. Our supper was pretty slim. We hook on to a diner in the morning but tonight we had 2 sandwiches and the jam was pretty thin. I still had one package of cookies so they helped and my candy bars too. I just took a walk the length of the 4 cars with another fellow. His name is Carlson. He is a Swede from Detroit and before that from upper Mich.

There’s not much I can say about the country so far. It’s pretty regular except for that one range of hills which are mountains to you and me. I expect that we won’t get there till Friday.

Happy Ground Hog Day. If he came out he sure saw his shadow because the sun shone all day. The snow here in Minn. has been pretty deep judging by the piles plowed back along the roads. The roads look pretty good and the pavements are all cleaned off. The temperature here on the train was 80 when we got on but it’s a lot more comfortable now. I hope it’s not too hot where I’m going because I still have my woolen underwear and socks on. My summer stuff is in the bottom of my bag.

Well we’ve stopped again for something out here in the country, but not for long. We’re moving off and I guess there isn’t much more to tell tonight so I’ll quit till next time.


Wed. Feb. 3, 1943

About 6:45 a.m.


Dear folks,

Well if I had thought, I could have mailed this letter this morning. After I quit writing, I read on The Good Earth. We got to bed at about 9 I guess. I slept down below. It’s not too bad. We’ve got 2 more nights.

When I woke up we were in Omaha, Nebraska. We got up about 5:30 I guess and I washed and dressed. Then we went outside the train and did a few exercises to loosen us up. After that we all went up into the beautiful station for breakfast. It was swell. I had cereal, tomato juice, milk, tea biscuits and butter, potatoes, and good scrambled eggs. After breakfast I stopped at the souvenir counter. It cost me 35 cents for a pennant but I may never be in Omaha again so I bought it. It will be in pretty bad shape when I get it home. I started to buy some cards but I saw that they had folders so I put back the cards which were in the folders and ended up buying 2 cards and 2 folders. Total in Omaha 70 cents. I could just as well have mailed the cards too but I didn’t have 1 ½ cent stamps.

We are moving off pretty fast now but it’s still pitch dark out. I wish it had been day so I could have seen the city a little. The card showing the interior of the station is the place where I was and that’s all I saw of Omaha. Gee I wish I could take this trip by car and enjoy seeing everything. Well I’ll be back when I have more to say.

It’s getting light off to one side now. We must be going southwest. The fellows have guessed at everything from Kansas, Utah, Texas, and Arizona up but I still think we’ll be pretty close to San Francisco when we end up. I can see a little now and there isn’t much snow anymore. It rained in the night. I’m not too sure but I think we cut through the corner of Iowa during the night so add 2 more states, Iowa and Nebraska to the list. I hope we hit Denver in the daytime. It’s getting light fast now and we must be on the great prairies. The trees just aren’t. I hope you can read this. I’m bouncing around a lot but I’m still writing every day. See. I’ll try to mail this and the Omaha folders the next time I get off. They won’t be postmarked Omaha but that won’t matter too much so long as you get them. I put 3 cent stamps on so I wrote something in each to get my money’s worth. Those stamps dad got me are coming in handy now.

We just went through a station called Prairie Home and whoever named it wasn’t kidding. The houses are miles apart it seems. Just passed through Havelock. We are running parallel to a paved highway. Looking out it looks like Mich. would appear in March or early April. The roads are all good. We just passed the state fair grounds and are coming to a stop in Lincoln, Neb.

I don’t know how this letter will sound as I just jot things down as I think of them.

Lincoln is a pretty good sized place. There is one big building sticking up all by itself about the size of the Olds Tower and if my memory serves me right it looks just like pictures I’ve seen of the Nebr. state capital. It looks out of place all by itself. Time – 8:45 a.m. Boy it sure looks muddy out. We just passed some TENNIS courts. Most of the fellows are reading or playing cards but I can’t read when it’s daylight. I want to see everything. A few are writing like I am. Time out.

Latest towns are Plymouth and Jansen. Nothing but prairie. I just saw a Peter Pan bread sign along the highway. Now we’re stopped for some reason out here in the country. We’re moving off again now. We are going to pick up a diner somewhere along the line. I’d rather they would let us eat at some station. Then I could get off and get some cards or stuff. I’ll be back when I see something interesting again.

Now we’re stopped in a town called Fairbury, still in Nebraska. Well I got out for a few minutes and got a little fresh air while they took on water or something. I was out about 5 minutes. It is just like spring out. An old fellow told us they have snow but it doesn’t last and it never gets below 20 below here. It sure seems good to see grass again even if it isn’t green. It seems unusually warm but I imagine this whole part of the country is having warmer weather because it was starting to warm up when we left McCoy. Well we’re off again. We just passed a small sized dam. Gee I wish I could take pictures of what I see so you could get an idea of what it’s all like. Those scenery cards at McCoy were the best I’ve ever run across.

We pass a lot of fields with the corn stalks still standing from last summer but they are just as short as the ones in Mich. I can see only what’s on my side of the train because the sun is on the other side and makes reflections on the glass. I’ve been lucky tho. All the depots are on my side of the tracks. I am in the first coach and there is one refrigerator car between us and the engine. If it’s the same engine we had in Omaha, it’s a big baby. All of these larger towns, 10,000 or so, have huge railroad yards larger than anything I’ve seen in Mich. It must be for the wheat and corn and cattle & stuff. The yards are all busy too.

Boy some of these little country roads are a mess. Now we’re stopped in Bellville Kansas to hook on our diner. It’s about 11:30. Don’t forget to add Kansas to the list. I heard from the conductor that we are going to go through Denver. Time out for dinner. Back at last from dinner. It must be about 2:30. I waited awhile for dinner and finally got a little sleepy and I guess I dozed off for a little while. Then I looked out the window some more until finally they called us to dinner. It was pretty good. Creamed chicken, mashed potatoes, green lima beans, salad, pineapple, bread, butter, and milk. I ate the first piece of whole wheat bread I’ve had since Jan. 2. Now I’m back in my seat. We’re rolling along pretty fast now and way way off in the west I can see what almost looks like shadows. It’s the mountains and they are a long ways away. We probably won’t hit them until tonight. The towns are not very thick or populous. I wouldn’t care to live in this part of the country. It’s too barren looking. The last town we passed was Phillipsburg. We just passed another so-called town – Almena (Kansas I suppose). Your never told me you’d been out here but there are acres and acres of burned over land so you must have been. We’re running parallel to another pavement but there is no traffic at all. I don’t think I’ve seen a dozen cars outside of the towns.

We just went through a pretty good sized town called Norton. Just passed through Dellvale, population 18 or 20, a little town called Jennings, and now another called Dresden. The main thing in these jumping off places seems to be 2 or 3 grain elevators. For miles and miles you see nothing but fields with an occasional farm house outlined against the sky.

We’re stopped now in Seldon. We’ll be out of Kansas in an hour or so. Then Colorado.

I see by the headlines on another fellows paper that canned food rationing starts March 1. Will they stop sales of stuff before then like they did sugar? We just passed another small town sitting out here on the prairie all by itself. I’ll bet it is really hot out here in the summer. Not a tree in sight for miles. Even around the houses there is little shade.

Well I don’t know what kind of a letter this will make but I’ll cut it off here and get ready to mail it. When and where it will be mailed I don’t know. If I keep on I’ll have more than 3 cents worth and I want it to get through O.K. This will be continued in another letter. By the time you get this you will probably already [have] heard from me from my new station. From what we learned at McCoy, we are to go to San Francisco. Whether we will stay there or be sent somewhere else is something else. I may be back near home in a month or two. Keep writing. I’ll do my best too. Till next time, Love to all—


Read the handwritten letter

California Here I Come

Monday, Feb. 1, 1943

After dinner


Dear folks,

By the time you get this letter, all military secrets enclosed will probably have ceased to be secret. I am on shipping order and did I get gypped? Boy I’ll say I did. California here I come. I have to report at a building here tonight at 7 without bags. I expect we’ll leave during the night or early in the morning. The sgt. couldn’t tell us where we were going but he said we wouldn’t need our winter underwear and he asked if anyone knew where San Francisco was. Maybe I better back up and start at the beginning.

I was up at 6:10 this morning and dressed and made my bed before breakfast. I had a boiled egg, toast, wheaties, and a pear which I haven’t eaten yet, for breakfast. We loafed around till 8:15 or so when we fell out for graduation. We have never looked worse than we did this morning. The ceremony if you can call it that didn’t last long. We marched past the reviewing platform and down the field, stopped, turned around and marched back and stopped in front of the platform. An officer gave a short speech and then we marched off. We came back and the sgt. started to read the shipping orders to us outdoors but it was too cold so he brought us inside.

We spent the rest of the morning listening. He had a stack of orders like this. [sketch of tall stack of papers]

He had a stack of orders like this.

He had a stack of orders like this.

Some shipments are small only 20 or 30 men. Others are large. There must be over 200 in mine. They are sending us all over. The largest shipment is going to Fort Riley Kansas. La Macchia is in that bunch. Others are going to California, Virginia, and who knows where else. Bill Andrews goes to Sheridan near Chicago. And I had to draw California. There’s no place I’d rather go for a trip but to stay there. Gee, it will take 3 days to get home even if I am lucky enough to get a furlough. I am a little excited about going there because I expect to see some beautiful country but gee it’s so far away from everything.

I got 5 letters today. One from you written Fri. & p.m. Sat. 12:30 p.m. ones from you and Gram written Sat. & p.m. 8:30 p.m., a letter from Nate believe it or not and a very nice letter from Stewart at M.S.C. After mail call I went to dinner. I had potatoes, corn, carrots, bread, butter, jam and pineapple pie. That brings me up to the present.

Boy was I glad to get those letters. They are some different from the last 2 or 3 I’ve been getting. I guess you did do some work Fri. The tangerines didn’t shrink. I think they are the nicest and juiciest I have ever eaten. Good news, the quarantine was just now lifted. Boy that is quite a pretty stamp. We should get another shot this week The tetanus shots come every 21 days. That wasn’t the same guy three times sick but a different guy each time. Believe it or not they took another guy out of here Sat. and he is in the psychopathic ward. He was going goofy I guess. I never noticed it particularly but I never paid much attention to him. He lived in the 400 block of Beech St. and he was always playing the harmonica. He was 20 and looked 30. Wed. it seems he had been doing crazy things lately and while we were on the hike Fri. he was in the barracks with some other fellows who weren’t able to go. He tried to start a fight. Accused fellows of making fun of him. The sgt. gave him a good talking to and stayed down here and watched him nearly all night. He was afraid this fellow would get up and start using one of the bayonets hanging on our beds. The Dr. said he was capable of doing anything and it was good that he was taken out when he was. Never a dull moment.

Just take $5 out of that black book for the watch. I’ll try to get mine fixed when I get to California if I can. You want to listen to Breakfast at Sardis. I don’t want you to get excited over my letters. McCoy is a nice place but I wouldn’t care for any more. Maybe I’ll wish I were back when I get where I’m going. We’d never be able to loaf and take it easy like we have here. They didn’t keep anybody here for corporals. They are all being shipped. When I bring my bunk in from outdoors I spread it out to warm the clothes before I make it up. Any kind of stationery is O.K. with me. After all you are the ones who’ll get it anyway. I have been using the albatum just as you mentioned. I like its vapor better than Vicks. So pop swapped straps. Well it’s O.K. by me. He can wear the watch if he wants. Thanks for buying the stamps for me. Don’t run up too big a cleaners bill. I won’t need the stuff for awhile. I can see that. I had about the same opinion of Eva’s letter as you. When I send them all home I want you to read the ones I’ve got from others. Charles is nobody I’m looking for. My life will be just as cheery without her. Maybe we will replace some of the 38’s. We are nearly all kids. Just about the first bunch of young fellows.

The Cracker Jack wasn’t tough at all. I don’t think I’ll need overshoes in the next place but with all that Sunshine I’ll probably need rubbers. Maybe I would have taken boxing instead of safety skills. Boy that Scott boy was a big help. I shouldn’t think Dad would feel like going out after that.

Tell Gram I got her letter and I sure appreciate hearing from her so regularly even though I haven’t answered her directly.

I just got back now from getting paid. I got $45.08 for my first month’s work.

Nate didn’t have too much to say. He says he saw some pictures of McCoy in the Sunday paper. Qualitative Chem. is no snap. Dick Heil, Don Shaw & Jack Watkins are leaving Feb. 15. Their names weren’t on that list you sent. He says several fellows have asked about me and where I was. He gave Dick Hollingworth my address. He hears Ray F. is an instructor. Fred is in a cast now and lost all his credit at Albion. He had to write a theme so he cut it short. He’ll have to send me a translation of the French on the end.

Mr. Stewart was disappointed to hear that Custer had fallen down on the job. He is going to write to Col. Shanks, the commanding officer about it. That college training is still somewhat vague. Some 2000 boys will definitely be taken away from East Lansing by March 21. Col. McCleod (you sent the clipping) will probably head the program in Washington. He has unofficial information that they will get 3000 young men in uniform in March or April for courses varying from 3 to 27 months. That’s all he knows now. I think it was swell of him to write me such a nice letter.

That’s all so far today. You can tell its payday. The crap game is getting hot. You’d think these guys would get a little sense some time. I was going to send most of mine home but if I’m going to be in California I’ll need it in case I should get a furlough. It takes plenty for transportation from there.

Back after supper. We are out of quarantine so I went over to the P.X. before supper and got some last scenery cards and some candy bars. I had a lot but I thought I’d get some for my trip. I hear it takes 3 days and 2 nights. The cards are in a separate envelope. Supper was a little slim. Green beans, salad, jello, bread, butter, jam and cocoa. Now I have nothing to do till 7 when we have to report. If we don’t have to leave during the night I want to go to the show. Well I’ve covered the day. When I get back I’ll tell you when I leave if I know by then. Remember don’t tell anybody anything. All you know is my training (?) here is completed and I am expecting to leave here soon for an unknown destination. The movements of troop trains are supposed to be kept quiet for obvious reasons. The movements of troops would be good information for certain people.

I’ll probably write a running letter while on the train. You probably won’t get a letter after the last one from here for over a week. You have been fully prepared so you will know why. Well I’ll quit for now and be back later with new developments.

Well I’m back and I have my orders. Turn in my rifle, overshoes and sheets and report bag and baggage ready to leave at 12:45 tomorrow afternoon. That’s all there is there ain’t no more. While I was out I stopped at another P.X. and bought some more cards and 2 books – Microbe Hunters and the Pocket Book of Dog Stories. I also bought you a sofa pillow cover and mailed it to you. I put 6 cents postage on it and I sure hope you get it O.K. Let me know.

We took up a collection on our floor and got $20 – $10 for the sgt. and $10 for the corporal. I threw in 60 cents. We each threw in enough so we would get 20 bucks. Today was payday so we were big hearted.

Well there is not much more to say from there. In all probability the next letter you get will be mailed from a warmer climate. But remember, outside of the family you don’t know anything, O.K.

Well good night for tonight


Lots of love to all,


Read the letter

Rumors and Partly Fried Eggs

Sunday, January 31, 1943, after dinner

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well this may be my last letter from here. I got to bed last night about 9:30. I was up at about 7:10 or so this morning. I dressed and washed a little and then lay down till breakfast was ready at about 8. Breakfast was wheaties, toast, an orange, and 2 partly fried eggs which I didn’t eat. I’m not going to eat half fried eggs as much as I hated to see them go to waste. After breakfast I came back and washed, shaved, cleaned my teeth and put on clean clothes. Then I did my washing – underwear, 2 pairs of socks, 2 towels, wash rag, and 4 hankies. That took me up to mail call and dinner. I got 2 letters – from you and gram written Thurs. We waited around a long time for dinner because we didn’t want to stand in line. I didn’t figure we’d get much to eat but I did O.K. – potatoes, green string beans, veg. salad, bread, butter, strawberry jam and I even managed to get a piece of pie – pineapple custard. Now I’m back from dinner and sitting here on the edge of my bunk. I have started to pack my things some because I have a feeling we will be leaving here tomorrow night or Tues. morning. We know absolutely nothing but we hear a lot. The shipping orders are upstairs now and the common rumor is that we’re on our way to California. Just to show you how much we don’t know we have also heard we’re going to Fort Sheridan, just out of Chicago, Fort Custer, Fort Brady, and someplace in New Jersey. It’s just a lot of wild guessing but we will go somewhere if we get out of quarantine which we probably will. I did want to send a box of stuff back home but I don’t want to do it up and then not be able to have time to send it so I guess I won’t. I’ve got to economize on space someplace but I don’t know how. I have a lot more stuff than I had when I came. You won’t get this until Wed. and I may be where I’m going by then. I don’t imagine I’ll be able to mail any letters or cards while on the train because they don’t let you off. I do have stamps though and a couple 1 cent cards if I should get an opportunity.

Last night I switched money belts and put yours on. I cut the belt and I hope I didn’t cut it too short. It has a much nicer snap than the one Aunt Marie sent.

So there are some more Arlingtons around. I wonder if that Adcock from McCoy is L.S. or regular. I didn’t notice that about Clerk L for awhile. I thought you just wanted me to see the dog. Boy that’s quite a mess at Custer over the theater tickets. You weren’t wrong when you said Roosevelt was in Africa. I think if you can find a map you’ll find French Morocco is in the northwest part of Africa. That Sweet girl must be Howard’s sister. Right?

So they finally started post marking our letters with dates. It’s about time. I can’t see where the date could betray any military secrets. I imagine you got my letter yesterday telling I got the box O.K. I am glad you have your car and trailer licenses. I was wondering if he would get the trailer license. I’m glad the hat came out so good. It sure was a mess when I packed it. Boy when I get home I’ll be able to take a choice of all my shirts, my suits and everything. They’ll all seem like new to me and yet like old friends too. Me and another kid were saying today we wish we could have a civilian suit and overcoat on for awhile again. It sure would seem nice. I sure want to get my watch fixed as soon as I can. I hope they can fix it while I wait as I am afraid to leave it anywhere. Boy you sure are using a lot of coal this winter. It seems a long time since I used to wham the tennis balls in that gym outfit. Is the brace on my racket and is it in a dry place? Boy the strings are just about wrecked now. If we get down south maybe I can get in a little tennis or ball of some kind. I was kind of excited when I wrote that Monday because at first they said we couldn’t send or get mail but that was changed later. The letters are the things we look forward to and without them the quarantine would have been pretty stiff. So far as I know and have seen no one is sleeping in tents as I said. If anyone is it is the regulars when on hikes but I doubt it. Some days we see as high as maybe 2000 men go by on hikes with snowshoes and skis but they always go back by at night. You’re right, it is a pretty decent place although I can think of another I’d rather be. I found those spoons O.K. and have been using them every day. I must have neglected to mention them. I might get a job here but I doubt it.  I haven’t tried for a job as instructor and anyhow I hear Andrews who had the in road is going to be shipped with the rest of us. I am beginning to believe what I’ve thought a long time. Most of the stuff they tell us is a lot of bunk. I have no intention to take a rest from letter writing to you folks. If you wait for yours just half as expectantly as I do then I have enough reason to keep writing every day. I bet you won’t find many soldiers who write home every day and get an answer every day. I know. Some of these fellows get a penny card from their mother once in awhile. Nearly everyone gets lots of mail but not much from their parents where it should come from and go to. Gramp might have been a 2 dollar a year man if I could have sent him a card although I don’t suppose I would have sent a dollar. As it is I didn’t send anything because I couldn’t get out to get a card. Maybe they’ll send me someplace where I can get a lot more pretty cards to send home. I never got anything at Custer because I never went to the P.X. I didn’t know they had such a variety of stuff there. I thought it was just a place to guzzle beer. I’ll look after that show going guy as best I can but I need you folks’ help once in a while.

Gram is right. We don’t get any layer cakes. Either pie or little cup cakes is all they give us for sweets. There are usually about 100 pies. Its funny nobody knows where Donald is. One kid got a letter from one of the fellows who left Lansing with us. He is near Cheyenne Wyoming. Boy did they spread us out. They’ll do some more of it here in the next 2 or 3 days. I hear there are 1300 going out before Tues.

It is a beautiful day here. It has snowed all morning and every little branch is piled high with snow and now the sun is shining. It is a warm day. Well I guess I’ll stop for awhile and keep a-going with my stuff. I have all my summer issue stuff in the bottom of my bag. You ought to see the gaw [?] shirts they gave me [sketch of very wide shirt]. Size 44 must have been a mistake because it should be 34. If I get where I need shirts and shorts I think I’ll have you send me a couple of mine because they gave me only 3 sets.

Back after supper: between 5:30 & 6 because Gene Autry is on. Well I spent the afternoon arranging some of my stuff in my grip. I managed to make a little more space. Then I read some on those papers and a little in the New Testament. I made sure of getting there in time for supper. I had potato salad, corn, vegetable salad, crushed pineapple, bread, butter, jam, and cocoa. I came back and read a little more before starting to write. I have read all of the papers but part of Sunday’s and nearly all of the new magazine.

The sun is still shining and the wind is blowing some. I hope it’s a nice day tomorrow because we will probably have to march with our rifles in the graduation. The shipping orders are here but I haven’t seen them.

I still haven’t written to Aunt Marie but I guess I will after I finish this one. I probably will be getting mail here which they will have to forward to me. I’m not going to write to everyone and tell them not to write. I’ll send my new address to everyone who has written to me when I get there.

The rest of the evening I’ll probably write and read some more. We can’t go to a show doggonit. I haven’t been to a show for a whole week. I haven’t spent much money in the last 2 weeks either. I throwed in a dime for FDR today. Tomorrow is payday $46.75. You bet I’d like to be a corporal at $66 a month. A 1st class private gets $54 and a staff sergeant $98.

Jack Benny is on now. It seems a little funny to hear everything an hour sooner. Are you going to set your clocks back an hour there? I see there is a lot about it in the papers lately. The farther west I go the more the time is set back.

There is a lot of stuff in this envelope. I don’t know if you want it all and I hope it isn’t too heavy to go through free.

Well back from listening to part of Benny’s program. I saw Dennis Day last Sunday in “Powers Girl.” He’s pretty good. I think I mentioned that I saw one Benny broadcast in a movie short since I’ve been here.

I wrote a card to Aunty telling her I got the book. I don’t think I’ll write to anyone else before I leave unless it appears I may be here for quite awhile. You keep writing though. I’ll get them eventually and its swell to know someone is writing every day.

Well I guess this is about all I can think of today. I took down all my washing but the underwear and socks. I notice a small whole [sic] near the seam in my underwear pants. It looks as if I’ll have to get a needle and thread unless I get where it’s warm. I’ve seen some of the fellows have been darning their socks. Not such hot jobs. I haven’t had any holes yet.

6:30 and the end for today. Tomorrow I may be writing on a train. Don’t think I’m sick if you don’t hear from me for a week or so. I hope the heads and ears are beginning to feel a lot better.


Lots of love to all,



You know we’ve all been thinking where we are going. The most important thing really is what we are going to do. I hope I get a good job.

Original Letter

The Philosopher

Saturday, January 30, 1943, after dinner

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well another week gone. That makes 4. Today is a sort of anniversary because it was one year ago tonight that I graduated. A lot of things have surely happened in that year – some good, others not so good and some no good at all. Some planned, others entirely unexpected. I guess the best thing to do is look ahead instead of backward thinking what might have been. There isn’t much difference really. The future sure doesn’t offer anything so far as one can see. I guess this is just one of those periods when a person exists waiting for things to turn so he can live again.

I was up with the lights this morning and dressed and made my bed before breakfast. Breakfast was wheaties, 2 pancakes and syrup, and an apple. I came back from breakfast and brushed up my shoes and put on my dress clothes for inspection. I put on a new pair of pants and shirt because the others need to be cleaned and pressed. I was going to take them to the cleaners last Mon. but I didn’t get the chance. Inspection was by our own sergeant. I guess the lieutenants are afraid of us. Since inspection we haven’t done anything. I read another paper from back to front and ate a couple tangerines during the morning. We had mail call before dinner today and I got your Wed. letter. We waited for the line to shorten and didn’t do so well at dinner. Our mess hall is for 3 barracks but they are trying to feed over 500 men. They send all the quarantined men to eat at our hall. I got potatoes, corn, bread, butter, jam, and blackberry pie. Now I’m back from dinner. I don’t know what we will do if anything this afternoon. We were to have practiced for graduation but I don’t know if we will. So far as we know yet the quarantine goes off Monday and I sure hope so. I’d rather be doing something than to sit around although they don’t let us sit around too much.

I think you were right. I believe I got my cold last Fri. when it was so warm. Anyway, its just about gone now and I don’t want another. The cough has practically disappeared.

I am afraid if I made a bed at home like we have to here, that it wouldn’t come up to any good housekeeping standards. We have to have them tight. The corners are folded like this [drawing] and tucked under. The sheet is on the bottom and during the day is covered by the comforter. The blanket is folded and laid over the pillow and tucked in. At night I put the blanket under the comforter. They have just collected our sheets & pillowcases so I guess we may get clean ones.

I sure hope that Roosevelt and Churchill accomplish something. I hadn’t known that Churchill was there too. What are the license tags like? I see an occasional Mich. license and it sure looks good. Makes one feel nearer home. I think you did a pretty good days work for a person who isn’t feeling entirely up to par. Dad must have a pretty bad sore on his lip this time. It sure was tough going outdoors for a few days there. You had worse weather by far than we did although it was colder here.

You know doggone well you can tell me what to do just as much as you ever did but if I were there you could have seen just how I felt and I know you wouldn’t have been nearly so much alarmed. It’s hard to tell how good or bad one is in a letter. Everything seems so final when it’s written. It may be changed too by the way the person reading it feels and the tone of voice he uses. I’m on my own only so much as I can’t get home. I was a whole lot more on my own when I was home working and going to school than I am now. I could come and go as I wanted then. Now I’m in jail only I don’t wear a striped suit and a number. I’m on my own all right.

I got the sinus pills and socks O.K. The socks are swell for night wear too.

The army is no place for a decent person. All I want to know is how do I get out without getting shot?

So Rickets have other corporal in the family. That remark I made about calling a rifle a gun wasn’t meant for you. I was trying to tell how they make us refer to it. I guess I must have used “you” instead of “one” when I wrote it.

Do what you think is right with the sugar book. I don’t know. What is this about 5 cans per person? Does that mean you folks could only have 20 cans all together? Or does it mean 5 cans of each article? That must be some system. No wonder your head aches. Who heard of 8 oz. cans? They are too small for practical use. A no. 2 has 19 or 20 oz. I believe. From what you’ve told me you still have some canned goods left.  Don’t let losing some points bother you. You never dashed out and bought a lot of stuff with intentions to hoard. You have things they can’t buy anymore anyhow so that maybe will be some consolation.

I hate to have you say all there is to live for is future sorrow. We never can tell what is ahead. Maybe we’ll all be surprised. I hope and pray so. I’ll be home just as doggone fast as I can get there. I’ve been thinking that if things get to looking up maybe they’ll start discharging L.S. men.

I don’t know what that Hodgman’s first name is. I saw in Sunday’s paper where Max McWhorter from Sunfield is a 2nd Lieut. in the signal corps. Pretty good.

I’ve quit hoping or wishing where I’ll go too. They’ll send me where they doggone please so I might as well get used to the idea. I remember about Noble Scott and the butter. That was some crack coming from Dad.

I’m glad to hear you aren’t going to worry but I’m not so sure I like the way you say it. There’s a hidden meaning. I think I’ve found it but I’m not quite sure.

I won’t write to Aunt Marie & tell her to come and see you. I won’t write and tell you you aren’t cheerful but you can take that ignore you stuff and throw it out the window. You know doggone well my letters are mainly for you. They are written to everybody but I’m talking to you always.

I wrote to Crawfords and she may get it today or Monday.

Boy some gang leaving there now. They must go to Custer right from Kalamazoo now. There were 19 in that gang that I knew or knew of. 3 of them – Bill Grost, Romayne Hicks and Merle Baren were going to State. They aren’t fooling anymore. Pretty soon there’ll be too many men in the army. Have you heard much about calling up the reserve corps yet? I think they’ll have them in inside of a month. I think Roosevelt is tired of planning so far in the future and wants to get this over as soon as possible. Maybe he sees an opening which we don’t know about.

Julius didn’t have much to say but he put it in a 10 inch envelope. He got my letter and my card O.K. but has been pretty busy. He had his first blood test Jan. 21. He may not go till July. He is an engineer with one year’s training. He wants to go to North Carolina if he has to go. He wrote this letter Jan. 22 and named off what he expected to get on his subjects but a note written on the edge of the page Jan. 27 said he would be getting mostly B’s. He had to stop because he had work to do. He says I am one of the very few to whom he shall write regularly. Evidently he doesn’t write to very many but I can see why he doesn’t have much time. He works in those theaters and was carrying Chem., Physics, Music, Phys. Ed., Mechanical Drawing, English, and Physics Lab. That’s a pretty stiff schedule.

Kircher’s writing looks like some little kid’s. He is home now but has had some trouble with an injured kidney as well as his leg. He says they don’t have guests down there at the Club where he cooked because there is no good cook to take his place. He is going to have a cast on below his knee pretty soon. He isn’t going to be able to get back in time for the next semester at college.

Frankie addressed me as “Dear Major.” He has evidently promoted me. He says they miss me at the store although I can’t see why they should. He is going to try to be a checker. Bea is still bossing them around and he likes the new manager. He’d like to borrow some of my brains to use on his final exams. They have rearranged the store again. He had to shovel off the front out there during that deep snow. That’s all he had to say.

Boy I sure wish we could have cameras so I could take first hand pictures of these hills and creeks and trees. Then you wouldn’t have to look at just post cards. You’d have real pictures. They have banned them from all camps so it’s out I guess. We couldn’t see much last night on the hike. I wish we had taken it in the daytime. Everything up here is pretty and yet I don’t appreciate it like I do northwestern Mich. Right now I can see that curve in the road just out of Petoskey where we ate our dinner that 3rd day on our trip on our way to Charlevoix. It doesn’t seem as if it can ever be warm like that again. Everything up there seemed so friendly to us. We just sort of belonged. I could take you to the places where we ate every meal on the whole trip. I remember every one. And the day we picked up rubber “to help.” I’m sure helping now. For all the good I’m doing them I might better be right back where I was. But I guess we can’t argue with the “Great White Father.”

Well I’ve said enough for now. See you after supper.

Back after supper. We (I) had potatoes, spinach, dill pickle and onion salad, bread, butter, and fruit salad. Not so bad. I got over early this time. We got clean sheets and pillowcases tonight for a change. I have read through another Journal too. Boy you sure had snow. Well there’s nothing to do but read tonight. Oh I could wash out my socks and stuff but I’ll do that tomorrow. I’ll have to write to the fellows and to Aunty too I suppose. I haven’t read any of the book yet but it looks pretty good.

I said yesterday I had a surplus of fruit but it’s going down now. I’m eating it plenty. I’ve eaten 2 candy bars today so far too.

Well I guess I’ve about run down for today. I sure wish I could be with you folks tonight. I’d like to sit in a real chair and sleep on a real mattress. (I just heard that song again. It must be getting popular.) Then sleep till about 9:30 or 10 tomorrow and get my breakfast without waiting in line. Then a whole day without doing any washing. Just sitting, listening to the radio, talking, eating, and all of us enjoying ourselves together the way it should be. But I guess I can’t make it so. I better pull myself out of this morbid mood.

I hope you folks are feeling better than you have been lately. Keep writing.


Lots of love to everyone


Read the letter



Thinking Too Fast For My Pen

Wednesday, January 27, 1943 2:00p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well I suppose you’ve all been pretty worried since my last letter or am I too self-confident. Well take it easy. Things don’t look so bad as they might.

After I finished writing last night I shaved and washed off some of the dirt and then read a story in the magazine. I got to bed at about 9:15.

I slept till 6:15 this morning. Nothing to hurry for. I got dressed & made my bed in time for 7 o’clock breakfast. I won’t be able to give you the time on things much longer because my watch will soon run down and I can’t wind it. There’s no way I can get it fixed without going to town, which I can’t, and then maybe I’d have to leave it which I won’t. I’ll keep it on my arm where I know where it is. Have you got my other watch yet? Breakfast was spuds, toast, oatmeal, and grapefruit. After breakfast we loafed awhile and then did some rifle drill in the barracks. Boy your shoulders take a beating. Then we mussed up all the bunks and carried them outdoors to air out. After awhile we went out to the drill field and marched some when the others had finished. Nobody wants to associate with us. We came back and took it easy till dinner. I read a couple stories. Even a love story helps pass the time away. Dinner was terrible. We waited too long. I got mashed potatoes, gravy, head lettuce salad, bread & butter. The pumpkin pie was all gone. I topped it off with one of my apples. I didn’t get any mail today and probably won’t because I got your Sunday letter yesterday. (Normally I would have gotten Sat’s. but you didn’t write one you said.) Monday’s letter will probably get here tomorrow although it might get here by tonight. We haven’t done anything since dinner. I read another story and just sat around before I started to write.

There isn’t much to write because we can’t do much. They just posted the insured mail list and my package is here but I don’t know when I’ll get it. Maybe I can get out tonight.

Boy I almost wrecked my pen last night after messing up my watch so I can’t wind it. I took it out of my pocket and the cap was unscrewed enough so that the pen part dropped and stuck in the floor. I was lucky though because it fell straight. I pulled it out and as you can see it works O.K. I finally cleaned it out today with water like you did. I was afraid at first that it would spoil it but it took off all that black sludge and I think it will stay off now because I am using Quink too. Mine is permanent black.

Well another special detail is going over to the P.X. to get stuff. Some fellows think they are getting gypped because they won’t bother to buy them candy so now they buy that too for them. I still have 4 bars left and whatever is in this new package. You see I had one Denver Sand. and you sent me 4 bars. I ate dates and cookies and stuff first and ate my first candy bar last night. I sent for a bottle of Listerine last night. I didn’t need it but I didn’t know how long we might be here or if we could continue to get things.

The situation seems to be this. They have us on the spot and are watching us pretty close. If we keep on as we have, airing our bedding and everything, we may be out in 5 days and at the head of the parade next Monday. But if anybody else comes down we may be here 10, 15, or even 30 days.

I just made out a slip for the mail orderly to get my insured mail for me. I just noticed that slip on the board was dated the 26th. So my box must have gotten here yesterday. Boy the deliveries must have been speeded up or maybe the typist made a mistake. Anyway we didn’t get a new list yesterday so this is probably yesterday’s list. I hope you can follow all of this. I guess I’m thinking too fast for my pen but things have all been a little confusing lately. My cold is showing improvement. My cough is gone a lot but I’ve got a wonderful baritone.

Yesterday morning it was 28 below but it has warmed up a lot and is nice out today. The sun is shining as usual. It really is a nice place but I’d be afraid to stay here now. We’ve got a couple more fellows trying to get to be corporals. I guess the Russian is about ready to quit. He’s not getting anywhere. I don’t think any of them will ever get very far here. If I can’t get out of this army, I still have hopes of getting farther than corporal. I am looking for a set of bars but don’t tell anybody. They are pretty hard to get I guess in limited service. It depends a lot on what kind of an outfit you get into. Probably I’ll always be a buck private. Several hundred men are just coming in with their skis. They went out this morning and must have been doing a lot of skiing.

Well we just brought our bunks in and made them. They have been out in the sun and air all day. Yesterday we hung the bedding out the window.

Well this is pretty much of a hit and miss letter. There isn’t much I can say now because there’s nothing doing and as yet I haven’t any letter to answer.

How do you like this paper. It’s from a tablet and it’s the only kind of tablet they had Sunday night. It cost me 20 cents for 50 sheets but I’m glad I got it. There was a piece of cardboard with lines with it to keep your writing in a straight line. I tried it but it kept slipping and I’d go off at an angle so I quit using it. I write quite straight. So do you I notice. Some of the fellows have about an inch left on one side of the page when they get to the bottom. You know [picture of letter with crooked lines].


“I write quite straight.”

6:40 – Well everything seems a lot nicer. I got your box and attached letter and letters from Eva, Mrs. C. and Hugh M. I read the letters before supper and then came back and opened the box. Supper was potatoes, beets, bread, butter and peach pudding.  Boy everything in the box is swell. Albatum & hand cream. Money belt & 75 cents. That money belt is similar to my first one but a little nicer I believe. That brittle is precious. I think there were 5 packs of gum and I didn’t count all the candy bars. Boy you sure must have raided somebody or everybody. The cookies are all O.K. & the Cracker Jack and fruit. Boy I’ve got plenty of fruit and I’ll have to start eating it faster than I have been. You know how much I appreciate everything so thanks. Boy you sure do a wonderful job of packing everything. I gave some paper and some of the string to that kid from Port Huron. He broke his glasses and wanted to do them up to send them home.

I got a letter from Mrs. C. saying she received my letter. I don’t remember now when I sent it. She complimented me for the 3rd or 4th time on my letter writing and mentioned the star in your window. She mentioned the cold & snow there & that Ray had to work Sunday. She thinks I am doing fine to do my washing and everything. That’s all. Off the record, her letters don’t say much but I know she is interested or she wouldn’t write. I’ll try to answer and acknowledge the money belt sometime tomorrow.

Eva wrote a short letter and sent a couple post cards for me to write back. She thought I might be surprised to hear from her but she was helping Gramp out because it is so hard for him to write. She didn’t have too much to say. They looked for me before I left. The boys up there are pretty well cleaned out she says. She says all she thinks and talks about is the boys in the service (?) They were glad to get my letter because they both wondered where I was. Gramp is feeling pretty good and wishes he could go and help out. He has been pretty busy because he was the only mechanic in town till Jan. 1. Now there is a younger fellow in the oil station.

She said she didn’t know whether I cared to hear about it but Charles went to Custer last Mon. (This letter was written Sun. so that would be the 18th.) They haven’t heard from him yet but he is in limited service. (He’s probably been on convoy and couldn’t write.) He may be here by now because that’s where he’ll go. At the rate we’re going he may graduate before I do. She wants me to write as often as I can and if there is anything they could send me to make life more cheery, let them know. All in all it was a pretty fair letter. I sure would have felt gypped if they hadn’t got Charles if you know what I mean. By the way we have heard here that there will be no more drafting of limited service after Feb. 1.  Do you know anything about this. Maybe we’ll get out like the 38 yr. olds someday. The papers today say victory over Hitler in ’43 predicted by Roosevelt himself in Africa. Maybe things look pretty good to him.

Hugh’s letter was written before he got mine. He wrote Sunday & I wrote Sat. He got my address from his folks. He is in a truck driving regiment and they drive in convoy but he has to learn to drill and march also. I remember he wanted to be a truck driver so I hope he’s happy. He has been home once and seen Rusty his girl friend, twice. He couldn’t go any place on the weekend when he wrote because his barracks was quarantined with spinal meningitis. Something tells me maybe this started at Custer. This kid that got sick up here came from Custer and they say he was sick down there and sick when he came here. That sure is a coincidence though that Hugh & I should find ourselves in the same situation. We sure have done a lot of things together and come together in strange situations. The fellow who got it down there was in the hospital a week before they were quarantined. He doesn’t expect it to last over 4 days (the optimist), then maybe he can get a pass home. He says it’s too bad I got so far away from home and he guesses he is very lucky. He expects they will pull out soon and wants me to write the first chance I get.

Now your second Sunday letter. I bet dad found that clipping in my desk when he cleaned. I had that when I was in World Lit. class when we studied Machiavelli. I just opened a box of Cracker Jack but I opened the wrong end so I’ll have to eat to the prize. The strawberry jam is good for what I expected of canned jam. It is Jack Frost brand and I never heard of it before. We have gallon cans of Musselmann’s applesauce just like we used to sell at the store. It is a good policy to insure a package containing as much as yours although I have no doubts that they would come through O.K. You should see some of the messy torn packages some fellows get. They look as if someone was in too big a hurry to do a good job. A box like mine is worth going after but the mail man had to carry this one for me. I found the two spoons O.K. and haven’t used that big one since. Take the $5.50 for that watch from you know where. That’s too much for you with all your other bills and expenses. After I ever get straightened away I’ll try to get this one fixed. I may try to go to town Sat. night if I can get out of quarantine. Maybe I can get it fixed there. Crist appeared to me to be a sort of easy going guy and I thought he was pretty easy to get along with. Mrs. C. has answered every letter and card so far as I can remember. Things have improved however since I wrote last Wed. I have heard twice from Mrs. C. & from Sunfield and once from Marie, Walt, Bernie, Hugh and Elmo. We still haven’t unmailed too much because those fellows are quarantined with us. They sneaked out and found their names on the shipping order but they were sent back and not allowed to go. You know the first time I’ve even thought of birds is when you mentioned it and for the life of me I can’t remember seeing a single bird but there must be some somewhere. I’ll look tomorrow. So the old hat is getting blocked. I can write on any kind of stationery. This isn’t so hot because it has to be folded over to get it into my envelopes and it’s pretty bulgy. Maybe I can fold it the other way. I evidently have been wearing my other money belt wrong. It has 2 compartments but only one zipper and the belt is not so nice. I’ve been wearing it in front like a nail apron though. I usually have my head pretty well covered up. I just got to the bottom of that Cracker Jack and guess what — a wooden rolling pin. Yes I know who you mean by the fellow from Sunoco and I’d probably know him if I saw him but I can’t think what he looks like. I saw a picture of those new stamps in a newsreel. I don’t see why I should take commando training. That’s for the toughest of soldiers not puny L.S. men. I’ll use the hand cream but I don’t intend to do much toilet cleaning.

To dad’s letter – boy you must have scoured around to get all that candy and gum with those limits on. Boy you sure are having your troubles. The garbage dep’t must be going to the dogs. I don’t need any money and won’t if I get paid. If I don’t get paid Saturday you’ll get an S.O.S. I have enough to last another 2 weeks maybe. I haven’t been on any main highways to see if there are roadside tables but I doubt it. They are a luxury of Mich. There are some beautiful spots on the roads I’ve been on but they are all in or near camp. Take it easy on cleaning and pressing bills. There is no particular hurry and you owe a lot of bills for Feb. I hear. I got a kick out of how you said you might go out to supper at the Old’s Hotel & maybe not. I imagine that you are probably just about getting home now while I’m writing. I hope you went and enjoyed yourself.

Well that just about covers the day’s activities and correspondence and I’m going to have to quit or I won’t be able to get this all in the envelope if I’m not careful.

If everything goes favorably and the big boys are satisfied with our sanitary efforts and nobody comes down sick, we’ll be out of here O.K. But if somebody gets it they say we may be here 30 days. I’m not afraid for myself but I sure hope & pray no one else gets it.

One fellow went to the hospital tonight but the Dr. examined him yesterday and I’m sure it’s just a cold. Nearly everybody has accused him of being a “goldbrick” – lazy. I don’t think so. He’s from Kentucky, 6 miles from Tenn. and he’s homesick as the dickens. He’s had a cold ever since he’s been here but he babies himself. He’ll be up maybe a day or two or only a few hours and he’s back in bed. Now he’s got a couple bad teeth to go with his cold and he’s gone to the hospital. I don’t think there’s anything serious wrong. I rather like him myself but he is a baby. He hasn’t any stick to it spirit. Who am I to talk?

Well this is it for tonight so stick with me in all ways and keep a-writin’. I’ll write as long as they’ll let me.


Lots of love to every last one


Original Letter

Until Further Orders

Tuesday, January 26, 1943, about 11a.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well I didn’t mean to scare you by the way I cut off yesterday but at first report we weren’t going to be allowed to get or send any mail and I wanted you to know so you wouldn’t wonder why I wasn’t writing. I finished the letter in a hurry and beat it out and mailed it before anything became official.

As I remember, I stopped where I said I asked the corporal if I could stay in the barracks during graduation. He said “O.K. You be barracks guard,” whatever that is; so I went back downstairs and began to write. But for some reason our company never went out for the graduation. They sat here and watched the other companies go out and then come back. Finally our co. comm., who had been a color guard came in and started blowing off about our being in 10 day confinement. We all thought it was punishment for not going out until he told us that he had heard we were going to be confined because of that kid who had contracted a contagious disease. He told us if we wanted anything from the P.X. we better get it. Well I finished my letter & got it out and let it go at that. A lot of fellows got over to the P.X. and got cigarettes and magazines and stuff. There had been no official order so the sergeant gave passes to 3 or 4 to go to town to get the radio fixed and I hear they brought back 41 pints. We had supper at the usual time. Bread, butter, potatoes & peas was what I had. I guess I was a little excited to eat too much. After supper we loafed around the barracks and I read that Radio Guide practically from cover to cover. Early in the evening they brought us 2 red flags to take with us when we went out. Later in the evening the sgt. got us all together and said we were all confined to barracks till further orders. So that was that officially.

I got to bed at about 9 o’clock I guess and was up at 6 this morning. We had breakfast at 7:00. Grapenuts flakes, toast, potatoes & grapefruit. After breakfast they started to scrub the barracks. We have to scrub every day because we are subject to medical & other inspections at any time during quarantine. Today we have Keep Out signs on both barracks.

Later in the morning we marched over to get our rifles but they sent us back and wouldn’t let us in the buildings. Now though they just brought the rifles over to us. That looks encouraging. You see we were to graduate next Monday and maybe we will after all. I sure hope so. I can’t get out of here too fast. I wouldn’t stay up here for $150 a month if I could help it.

The sgt. says he will do all he can to get us graduated and also to get our pay Saturday. He just announced that until further notice we can send and receive mail. If you sent a package yesterday insured I’m afraid I can’t get it because I’d have to go to the post office and sign for it. I hope there’s nothing in it that will spoil. Maybe they’ll arrange something though. They have a special detail coming over tonight to get us anything we need or want from the P.X. It all looks a lot better than it did last night. I sure hope nobody else gets sick so we can get out of here as soon as possible. You see they have said “until further orders” about everything so it may not be 10 days. Well I’ll stop now for dinner. They may stop mail anytime so if you don’t hear from me you’ll know why. See you later. 11:20

Back at 5:40. Dinner wasn’t so hot. I had corn fixed with bread, veg. salad, bread, butter and a cupcake. I had a meat mixture too but I was afraid of it so I didn’t eat any. After dinner we came back but I didn’t get any mail at noon. We spent nearly all afternoon, nearly 2 ½ hours, drilling with our rifles. We quit about 3:45.

Now comes the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do in my life. This hurts me more than it does you and yet I know I’ve got to tell you. So here goes. We have been exposed to a case of spinal meningitis. Now don’t get panicky because I know that just as sure as the sun rises in the east that I won’t get it. For the first real time in my life I’ve done some praying and I mean praying. And with you behind me I know I’ll be all right. You see this fellow got sick while most of us were gone on that hike. They took him upstairs so I was never around him, and even before I was seldom close to him because I didn’t know him. His name was Joe Jerome. He was about as unhealthy a looking person as you could find. His cheek bones stuck out and he only weighed 101 pounds.

Well Sunday we heard he had a contagious disease, somebody said scarlet fever. Then last night they told us the real facts. They’re not fooling with this thing though. We have to air our bedding and scrub this place every day. They open the windows at night to make sure of fresh air. Last night it froze water in here, but I slept plenty warm. Then this afternoon they gave us a medical inspection. I swear the army is making a sissy out of me. The doctor was some kind of a foreigner but he explained to us how this mengancoccus or something works. He ways it is usually started by a carrier who isn’t sick himself. He said that probably all of us, including himself, had the germ in our throats but it probably wouldn’t take hold unless there was a susceptible spot. He mentioned all the symptoms – throbbing in the head, inability to bend the neck, etc. He also said that persons contracting the common form as a rule come through O.K. All the while he was talking I was standing there and I guess little pangs of fear were running through my mind. I’ve had a cough and my throat is pretty irritated. Besides I’ve had a head and neck ache. Now I’ve blamed these on mucous in my head and on tossing that rifle around on my shoulders. Well all of a sudden I began to get that feeling I had over at the Voc. School after my blood test. I made up my mind I wasn’t going to faint and I didn’t but everything seemed to go black. When the Dr. came along with his light to look in my throat he could tell right away that something was wrong. So they herded me into a room and laid me down and as soon as I lay down I was O.K. Boy was I mad with myself. The Dr. asked a lot of questions. I told him I’d had a cold. (He had one too.) Boy he checked me thoroughly. He twisted my head around from side to side to see if it hurt. My neck was lame but thank God it didn’t hurt. Then he looked at my throat from every angle, felt my back over, took my pulse and felt for a fever. He told me to take it easy for awhile and then looked at another fellow. I went downstairs and laid down till supper and before the Dr. left he came and looked at me again & told me I’d be all right. I can’t see why I should be like that. I used to be able to stand most anything. It made me feel kind of cheap and I said so to a couple of the fellows and they told me I was crazy to feel that way. They said it wasn’t anything I could help.

Well I suppose that by the time you have gotten this far you are pretty excited but don’t get panicky or jump to conclusions. It wasn’t because I was awfully sick or hadn’t had enough to eat. I can just hear you saying one or the other. No kidding though this is doggone serious stuff, but if you folks pray with me and for me I know I’ll miss it. I pray nobody else contracts it. They’re talking now about this confinement lasting 30 days and every new case means that much longer. I don’t want to be here when spring comes. There have been thousands of colds here all winter and when spring comes and all these germs thaw out I’d be afraid to stay here. And to think that I might have left next Tues. or Wed. Now I may be here till March. I’d almost be tempted to take myself a vacation but I know I couldn’t get away with it. Well enough of the morbid. I’m afraid that you’ll probably worry yourself sick but let’s put it into the background and try to look at more cheerful things. Maybe you better burn these letters and gargle good after you read it.  If I sent something home to you I’d never get over it.

Even though you didn’t write Sat., I didn’t go a day without mail. Yesterday I got Fri. letter and this afternoon I got Sun. postmarked Mon. at 1:30p.m. That’s pretty good service. I hope it keeps up. After I read your letter I went to supper. Potatoes, cooked carrots, bread, butter & peaches. Then I came back and went to work on this letter.

Ans. to your Sun. letter –

I’ll read the papers good if I can get them because there isn’t much else to do. Your letter sure is an improvement over the last one and I hate to spoil that cheerful mood. That sounds like a swell box but I don’t know how I’m going to get it. Maybe they’ll bring it over to the barracks but I doubt it. I imagine it’s insured and we have to sign for them at the P.O. but we’re not supposed to go out. I’d hate to get caught outside of the barracks. I couldn’t tell for sure who it was that died. Was it Alexander Woolcot? I understand perfectly about those bills. I don’t expect you to deprive yourselves for me. Just keep writing. You’ve overdone yourself in these boxes already. Well I have one money belt so now I’ll have 2 but I’ve a hunch yours is nicer. It was swell of them to do it but I don’t know how to thank them before I get the box. Maybe you better explain the situation to her and tell her a million thanks for me.

This kid is from Port Huron really and not Cheboygan. That is a swell picture of Red. Wonderful Smith is a colored boy. Did you see Eddie Green’s picture in one of those magazines you sent? Yes, green beans are green string beans. It’s quicker to write and sounds ritzier don’t you think? They are trying to break that Russian in as an instructor now but he doesn’t even know the commands. I could handle the job but I wouldn’t take it. I can make a lot of mistakes if I have to, if you know what I mean. Boy pop bit off quite a job with that desk. Thanks a lot. H.A.M. that’s pretty good and a good description of Hugh too. I guess I’m not going to be able to send a card to Gramp after all. I believe daylight is lasting longer at night but you don’t notice it much in the mornings. The moon is usually shining real bright when we go to breakfast. Remember we’re an hour later here than you and that reminds me of something. I finally did lose the knob for my watch. I missed it after this afternoon’s excitement. I told the corporal about losing it and he said he was having his fixed for the same reason. Those wool gloves are warm but nothing can keep you completely warm if it gets cold enough. I think those books will stand up pretty well on my bookcase. I’ve got about 2 ½ to read yet. I don’t think I’d care too much for skiing. I’d rather skate. I can always laugh regardless of temperature or anything else. I don’t think I’ll over grow. My shoes could stand it but my pants and blouse couldn’t. The buttons on my blouse are strained now. We aren’t supposed to wear civilian clothes but I think I’d be tempted to try it in private. The corporal said he put his civilian suit on when he went home while his mother pressed his military outfits. I haven’t any sewing equipment. I don’t have that report card with me and I couldn’t tell you where to look for it. It seems like it should be in the envelope along with the other letters and stuff. So pop got the wrong kind of cheese. I guess there isn’t much choice anymore is there? Of course cleaning the desk is all right with me. I get a lot of enjoyment out of grabbing an apple or cookie once in awhile. Those expensive dates were tops and so was everything. I still have a few cookies and some candy and fruit.

Well that’s that for today. I guess I’ve said enough for today. Its 7:10 now and I have to shave yet. For heaven’s sake don’t get panicky about what I’ve said. I came to the conclusion you might better hear the truth from me than an exaggeration from someone else. Just take it easy and keep writing. I don’t know how long they’d let us write so if you don’t hear from me don’t suspect the worst. Just be calm and pray along with me and we’ll win.

Please don’t let yourself go and worry yourself into a sick headache. My cold is getting better and the Dr. said I’d be O.K.


Love to all from



Keep writing

Read the letter – New paper

White Livered Meat and Hangovers

Sunday, January 24, 1943  1:10p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear Folks,

Well here is another Sunday and by latest report we graduate a week from tomorrow. It is a fairly warm day and the sun is shining now. When I went to breakfast it was still misting a little and I wish you could have seen all the evergreens decorated with frost and ice. It was awfully pretty.

Last night after I finished your letter and the others I mentioned in that letter. I wrote short ones to Hugh and to Bernice. I guess that catches me up on my correspondence pretty well. I had thought about going to the last show last night but I didn’t know what was on so I cleaned my teeth and took a shower instead and got to bed about 9:30. From what I hear, I didn’t miss anything because everybody says the show was no good. The one tonight & tomorrow night is supposed to be good and I want to see it. It’s “Powers Girl” with Benny Goodman’s orchestra.

I made sure of breakfast this morning. I got up at 7:00 and dressed and gargled and got ready and then grabbed a cat nap till breakfast at 7:45. Breakfast was pretty good. Fried egg, toast, post toasties, and grapefruit. After breakfast I came back and did my washing. This week I had 2 prs. of wool socks, 2 piece underwear, 2 bath towels, 2 wash rags, and 4 hankies. They are hanging up now but aren’t drying very fast, especially the wool stuff and the big white bath towel. When I finished I got out my jack knife and new finger nail file and gave myself a manicure. Boy that file really is swell but I’ll bet it cost you plenty. Then I brushed up my shoes a little bit to bring back the shine. When I wear my overshoes over the shoes, the shine is dulled, but a little brushing & buffing brings it back. I’ve been wearing my shoes in the barracks today and boy do my feet feel light. When I put my overshoes on to go to meals, there is about 1½  inches of room in the end, 9½ oxford, 12 overshoe. I’ve got a swell set for shining shoes except for a buffing rag and my oxfords really shine. When I finished my shoes, I straightened out my stuff a little. I’ve got some stuff I want to send home, books I’ve read, pennant, and some of the stuff they gave us at the depot that I don’t need. I looked through that Bible a little today, too. Then when I had everything sorted out, I got out that Radio magazine and read till dinner time.

I ate at about 12:00. I had mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, bread, butter, p’nut butter & pie. I passed up the meat because it was white-livered and I was afraid it was pork. They had another mess of stuff I didn’t like the looks of either so I didn’t take that. Boy was that pie swell. It was a soft pie and looked like custard but was full of puree of crushed pineapple. Oh boy! The only trouble is they don’t give seconds on pie.

After dinner I came back to mail call. I kept my average and got 2 letters, one from you written Thurs. and one from Elmo written the same day. Now I am writing to you and I’ll also write to him this afternoon. It seems as if last week my letters got ahead of me and it took all yesterday evening to catch up. Last Thurs. was my best day. I got 6 letters. I have had 13 in 4 days.

Boy I seem to have developed a touch of this Camp McCoy “malaria.” I’ve never had a real cold but I got that roughness in my throat and now I’ve got a pretty good cough. My throat isn’t really sore, my glands aren’t swollen, but when I cough it just about takes the lining out of my throat. I guess you know how that feels. Every morning and night and in between I gargle and my sinus pills are ¾’s gone. I have a cough drop in my mouth most of the time and I take the cough syrup so I guess I’ll just have to let it wear itself out. Every night I grease my throat with Vicks as a preventative measure and put some in my nose. You can’t say I’ve neglected myself. I don’t think there are a half dozen fellows in the barracks who haven’t had the same thing and I remember the fellow in Kalamazoo who said he had C. McCoy malaria. Now don’t get excited because I’m not sick at all and I’m doing as well for myself as I would at home and I get to bed early and get my sleep. I don’t think I’ve ever been up after 10. My Listerine is better to gargle with than the salt they give you at the dispensary. Don’t worry for gosh sakes because I know you want to know how I am and I’m trying to tell you without exaggerating or minimizing. Probably by the time you get this letter, I’ll be over it. And if you don’t hear from me for a day or so or even longer don’t suspect I’m sick because I may be on my way. 4 men from my company were shipped yesterday. If I have to be a long way from home, I hope it is in a healthful climate. Some fellows think this is better than Mich. but I don’t. It’s too changeable. 33 below Wed. and melting ice (above 32 above) on Friday. Well, well I just got another letter. This one is from Lenna. A lot of our mail was taken to Co. 49 by mistake and they just brought it in so time out while I read it. 2:00p.m. I can’t understand it. You wrote yours Thurs. & it was postmarked Fri. at 11:30a.m. Gram’s written Wed. was p.marked yesterday at 9:30a.m. – pretty speedy.

2:15. I finished reading gram’s swell letter but I still can’t figure out how her letter finished on Fri. & postmarked yesterday morning could get here today. I don’t expect Friday’s letters till tomorrow. You should get Thurs. & Fri. letters tomorrow. Boy if we could pick up a day like that right along, answers would be 2 days sooner.

I’ll try to write to Gram and Dad soon but you know by now that my letters are for everybody and just keep writing.

I just heard that one of the fellows in our barracks has got scarlet fever so I wouldn’t be surprised if they put us in quarantine. Personally I think they should because a disease like that could spread through this whole camp. Thank goodness I’ve had it. We all signed our names to a greeting to him. I don’t know him personally and although he is in the hospital I hadn’t even missed him.

Enough dismal news for now. Boy some of the fellows were happy enough last night if you know what I mean. This morning all they had were headaches and plenty of empty bottles. Boy if we get paid next Sat. it’s really going to flow. I hope they hold our pay back till Mon. I still have plenty of money.

Elmo was sorry not to have written for 12 days in answer to my letter but he has been pretty busy working and shoveling snow. The snow in Michigan must be awful. He mentioned his trip to Lansing and thinks that 4:00 is too early to get up. You see I wrote and told him about K.P. at Custer. He mentioned reading some of my letters to you and couldn’t see how I could write so much every day. He liked my bookcase too. He is very cheerful about world conditions. He says he is glad I like the service although I can’t remember what I said that gave him that idea. He ways he hasn’t a single 5 cents worth of candy or gum in his usually full show case. He is doing his part by buying bonds, he says. That about summarizes his letter.

Now to answer yours. So pop belongs to the 4-14 now. Good for him. I sure would like to be able to paddle home every once in awhile. I ate the fried corn meal but I don’t think it was very good. It was too flat. I sure would like a picture of you and dad.

The most important people...

The most important people…

The most important people on my mailing list are my folks, then my friends and finally interested strangers. I don’t think that John Wayne is the same one you are thinking of. You mean the one in Big Sister don’t you, and that was his character name. I guess he only frosted one ear because his other was covered by his cap or collar. Also the wind on one side will make only one ear cold sometimes. You’re doggone right I want to be a corporal or anything else I can but I want to be a real one and not an acting one. You see an acting corporal gets $50, a real corporal gets $66 and wears [2 stripes] on his sleeve, a sgt. [3 stripes] gets $78. If Fred is 1st class seaman he corresponds to a corporal and gets $66. We were supposed to learn those orders because they are what we are supposed to do while on guard duty. If we are on guard an officer might come along & ask for no. 1 or no. 6 and if we didn’t know it we would be jerked off guard duty and probably get K.P. This stuff is a cinch after what I’ve studied & learned. For pete’s sake if you want jello & can get it, eat it. I eat it every chance I can get. I have had potatoes in skin or baked 3 or 4 times. I doubt if the fellows who feed us know me from the other 250 or so. So you cut up the gray pants. Those were the ones Nate wore in the Senior-B play, weren’t they? We won’t do any shooting unless it gets a lot warmer. We can’t shoot a lot of those rifles anyhow. Boy there’s one thing sure, never call it a gun in the army. It’s either a “rifle” or a “piece.” I stood back and watched the others fool around with the rifle learning the manual of arms and then when I got the rifle I already had learned it from watching and only had to practice a few minutes. None of the classes go for 13 weeks. Only those men who are put in 1-A. These are the ones with simple defects such as varicose veins, piles, and ruptures. Men with bad eyes are not re-classified. Ask all the questions you want and I’ll do my best to answer. Nobody is as interested in me as you. We both know that. I liked their hamburger loaf but there wasn’t any heart and it didn’t have that cooked through taste of yours. This is the first time I thought you thought I was easy to cook for, what with that daily discussion “What’ll we have for supper.” Heh! Heh! M.P. means military police & that’s one thing I don’t want to be. He’s the soldier’s best friend and yet they all hate him. I sure would like an apple pie but I don’t know how it would get through. That would be hard to keep hidden. You see I am pretty tight. I gave out a couple pieces of candy and 2 or 3 flat cookies but no fruit. One kid, the one I gave the cig. got some chocolate chip cookies and gave me one today and the kid from Saranac has been passing out candy. His girl friend sent him 2 lbs. He’s talking about getting married and he is barely 19.

(The sergeant just came down at 3:15 with his underwear on only. He looks like he had a big night. One of the drunks brought in a swell little dog last night.)

What would I do with my sugar book? I imagine I could get shoe strings at the P.X. if I needed them. I told Chris who I was and he knew dad. Said he had seen him a couple weeks before, I think it was. He was an easy guy to work for. So far I haven’t gotten any compliments for anything. Boy it must be really hard on Dad to try and work in that snow and cold. Although I had thought my feet were frosted, they aren’t swollen and don’t itch and burn. Don’t let a telegram scare you. That way you would know my whereabouts a lot sooner. Sure I can have an army scarf or a sweater too. I don’t have to buy them myself although they have them at the P.X. Just so they are the right color. The cough syrup was O.K. and I’ve taken quite a bit of it. There are no registers to stand by. The hot air comes from 3 registers in a square hot air pipe overhead. It isn’t any warmer than at home. I won’t coax anyone to write and it doesn’t look as if I’ll need to. I don’t get the most mail but I’m far from the least. They were kidding a couple of fellows about writing to each other so they could get mail. Nearly everybody gets at least one letter a day. I peeked over one fellow’s shoulder & his letter was postmarked Lyons. His name is Hodgman & he sleeps upstairs. There is another fellow here from Mulliken but I don’t know his name. I haven’t been weighed yet. Is Fred married or did she marry somebody else?

Well that covers your letter.

Gram’s letter – I don’t know of any camp closer than Custer & I’ll settle for that. Has Ricket’s son in law got any chevrons on his sleeves?

drawing of Chevrons

drawing of Chevrons

I ate some of the fish and it was pretty good. I don’t mind fish as long as it doesn’t taste like the fish mkt. smells. When it leaves that kind of a taste in my mouth I don’t want any. Those cans in the picture are for all kinds of trash. For a barracks they are for paper, apple cores and any other rubbish the men might have. At the mess halls they are used for garbage, paper, ashes, etc. I don’t think I’d care for any cream out of them. This is no little town. 65,000 people is a good sized city. This camp stretches for several miles. We don’t have nearly so much snow as you must have. We don’t have any bugler here. I heard from Aunty Thurs. & from Elmo today. I like to get these “books” from people.

Well that brings me up to the present all around I guess. I have gotten a total of 28 letters, half of them in the last 4 days. I have 2 more sheets of stationery left so I’ll have to get some more at the P.X. I got this last Tues. I think I’ll just buy a tablet this time because I am accumulating a lot of envelopes. Boy Sundays seem to go fast here it is 4:00 already and in an hour supper will be ready. It seems like about all we look forward to is meals, mail call, and evenings. I just took down part of my washing but the big towel and wool stuff don’t dry very fast. There’s nothing much I can say right now so I’ll stop till after supper. 4:25p.m.

Back at 5:03. They surprised us and gave us an early supper tonight. Potato salad, tomatoes cooked with bread, cabbage salad, dill pickles, bread, butter, & fruit salad. Pretty good except for the spud salad. Our only complaint is that they dump everything together on your plate. I forgot to mention we had cocoa to drink too.

Well I haven’t got much more to say today. I think I’ll write a short letter to Elmo and then around 6:15 go over to the P.X. after a tablet and go on to the show. When I get home I’ll shave and probably get to bed at about 9:45. We get rifles tomorrow and I am looking forward to sore shoulders. They (the rifles) have to be cleaned every night too. Something else to fool with. One fellow made the remark today that we’ll just nicely get accustomed to the cold and they’ll send us where it’s hot. I’d rather wade snow than mud myself.

I just thought of something that we get quite a laugh out of. There’s a little Armenian named Sam in our barracks that the fellows are always kidding with. Every once in a while somebody will yell with a Jewish accent, “Hey Sammy, turn on the green lights. The man wants to buy a green suit.” Do you get it?

Well that’s not much of a joke but it’s the best I can do. We had a radio for awhile today. One fellow got one of those that operate on electricity or batteries. The only way they could make it work was to hook up the batteries & then plug it in so the kid boxed it up and is going to send it back home I guess. I think a radio is a trifle impractical until one gets stationed because we have enough stuff to drag around now.

I hope its quit snowing there by now. I don’t see how dad can get around his route at all. I sure hope he’s feeling better and that you will start getting away from those headaches. Don’t worry so much about me. Of course that’s easy for me to say and I should know better knowing you like I do.

Well this is the beginning of our last week of training I hope. So take it easy and don’t worry too much. Write as often & as much as you can. So long for now. 5:30p.m.


Love to all





Read the letter.

Food Critic

Saturday, January 23, 1943  1:00p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well three weeks today in the army. Last night after I wrote your letter I shaved and washed and got to bed about 9:45. I was up at about 5:45 again this morning. I dressed, made my bed and swept my half of the barracks. It was my turn to help sweep this morning. No reveille. I had breakfast at about 7 o’clock. I had Bran Flakes, potatoes, toast and grapefruit. I haven’t eaten the ones you sent yet but I opened the dates last night and they are over half gone. Boy they are really good, just like the fresh fruit must be. We were ready for inspection at 8 but the officer never came till about 9:15. We stood around all that time waiting because we didn’t know when he might come. For inspection we have to wear our dress uniform (O.D.’s) and we have to stand at attention at the end of our bunks. He walks down one side of the barracks and back the other. If he catches you following him with your eyes it’s just too bad. He told one fellow to get a haircut. In the other barracks of our company, he told one fellow to get a haircut and some of the others began to laugh. The sgt. was so mad he said he felt like confining them to the barracks for the rest of the training and let them go nowhere except to the mess hall. He thought it over a little though and let it drop but if it happens again it will be too bad for somebody.

After inspection we went out to the drill field and practiced for the next graduation on Monday. I don’t know for sure when we graduate. One day they say we have one week more and the next day they say two weeks. Even after I graduate I might be here only a few hours or maybe a week or two. Four men from our company are being shipped today. I imagine they were reclassified. After we came back we were free till dinner I read a few pages of the Good Earth.  For dinner I had roast beef, potatoes, cooked beets, veg. salad, bread, butter, strawberry jam, and pumpkin pie. Pretty good, eh? The pumpkin pie was awfully creamy and nice but it had a little too much cloves or something I think. After dinner we had mail call. I got 2 letters, the one you wrote Wed. night and postmarked Thurs. at 4:30 p.m. and one from Bernice Stachel. It was postmarked at 2:30 Thurs. but was dated Jan. 15 on the inside. At 10 to 1 they took all the fellows over to get helmets but I got mine at Custer so I didn’t have to go. I am spending that time writing this letter. They aren’t back yet so I’ll try and answer your Wed. letter.

Don’t be too sure you’ll never see those hills and rocks. I enjoy sending the pictures because I know how you like them. I hope you don’t get any duplicates because sometimes I can’t remember for sure which ones I have sent. Last Wed. when it was 10 below there it was 33 below here. But at least it was warmer than 51 below in Minnesota. The strange part is that the temperature was so high yesterday that the snow and ice began to melt. Today it is snappy but not too cold. You must have more snow there than we have. It’s probably about a foot or a foot and a half deep here. Is the snow deeper than that day I started at Eastern and the day I went to work at the store last March? What do you mean let you know when I want a rest from your letters? What do you think I hurry to mail call for? I want to hear from you just as much as you want to hear from me. I know it’s hard for you to get candy but the soldiers can get all they want so it isn’t so bad. Don’t try to break yourself sending stuff to me. You know how much I appreciate it all but I know that your financial picture is a little dismal. I’ll be doggoned if I can think of anything I was disgusted about last Sunday although I can’t see where we have gotten anywhere in particular. The books I have bought are good books. The colored girl in Gildersleeve is really colored. When I mentioned hangovers I meant the ones on Sunday morning caused by too much celebration Saturday night. I didn’t miss my breakfast on purpose. My wash comes out pretty good although I think you could do better. The shower situation is different than you think. The latrine is the length of the barracks, about 35-40 feet from my bed. The shower room itself has coat hooks so that I undress right there and hang up my clothes and when I’m through I dress right there on the spot. The fellows who work in the kitchen change from time to time because they are men who have graduated and are waiting to be shipped. They have cream for coffee – condensed, I think. At breakfast there are 2 quarts of milk to a table of 10 men. I wasn’t worried about you sending pajamas and I would have worn them if you had sent them. One fellow wears his every night but they are something more to wash. Well the fellows just came in with their plastic helmets and field caps so maybe we’ll have to go somewhere again. I had the one shot in my right arm last Tues. They don’t upset me but my arm gets a little red and sore for 2 or 3 days. I have heard fellows complain of them quite a bit but they aren’t too bad. We won’t have any more for 2 or 3 weeks. I’ll admit I haven’t read that Bible but it’s not because I am afraid of anybody. I got rid of the cigarettes so they won’t smell up the bag. I haven’t written to anyone more than once unless they answered and I owe letters to Bernice, Walt, Aunt Edna, & Mrs. C. and I ought to write to Hugh after you went to the trouble of getting his address. You can send the sinus tablets anytime. I haven’t burned any letters and I don’t intend to. You don’t burn mine do you? I don’t notice my head getting cold in the barracks. They are furnace heated. The knob on my watch can’t come off if it isn’t turned backwards because it screws in. The watch works swell, cold weather and all. The raisin pie was good. So far we have had raisin, cherry, apple, custard, pumpkin, peach and pineapple and raspberry pies and they are all swell. The potatoes do not taste of lard nor does anything else. I drink cocoa when they have it. I keep the candy bars in the box or my bag. No one touches it. I didn’t notice my head being cold inside and when I was outside I pulled my field cap way down. I never put my hands and feet near the heat when they are cold for the simple reason that the heat comes from near the ceiling. I warmed my feet just like you said. Like you said, “I am not all dumb either.” My feet don’t feel swollen. I ate fish twice so far. They had it yesterday too but it didn’t look very good. White fish I guess. I haven’t read those papers very thoroughly but it seems as if I can’t make any headway lately. I can’t keep up with my letters, believe it or not. I bought another bottle of Listerine a few days ago. Don’t send any blanket because I don’t need it and it would be something more to carry around. I sleep under a wool blanket and a heavy comforter. I shine my shoes before lights out but I can shave and wash after then. I have left everything in your letters as they came except the pictures. I have them in the one candy box & covered with transparent paper so they won’t get dirty or torn. Everyone thinks she is an awfully cute little dog. How did you like that one card I sent? I thought those cartoons were pretty much like me. My hands haven’t been chapped at all. Maybe I don’t wash them often enough.

Well that covers your letter I hope. I hope I haven’t overlooked any of your questions. Probably a lot of them are answered in my letters before I get yours but I guess it can bear repeating. I’ll try to answer anything you want to know as best I can. I can’t think of a lot of things to ask you because I know pretty well how things go at home and just about what you are doing when. If I can get caught up on my mail I may go to the Saturday night double feature or I may stay in and read those magazines. I feel a little guilty for not thoroughly reading all those State Journals but I never did at home. That is an awfully good picture of Red S. Those cookies are swell and the apples and oranges. I haven’t eaten any of Baby’s box yet but I will. Were those candy boxes any special ones? I don’t want to throw away anything that we were saving.

Well we are still in the barracks at 2:45 so I imagine we are through for the weekend although we can’t leave the barracks until after 4:30. We are on duty, really, from 6 to 4:30 but we are on call 24 hours a day. Well I’ve covered the day’s activities so far and your letter so I guess I’ll stop for now and drop a card to Mrs. C. and write to Aunt Edna & some of the others. Mrs. C. doesn’t say very much and I can’t think of much to write to them so I’ll just write a card. Bernice didn’t have too much to say either. It is cold in Lansing she says. She intended to go skating but it was too cold and she was sitting with her feet on the register. Walt & Margery had gone to the Eastern Central game. (The letter is dated Jan. 15 but that game wasn’t played until the 19th, was it?) I think she must have made a mistake or something. She hasn’t heard from either Paul or Julius. She is glad they keep me busy as she wouldn’t want me to get lazy. She says if I’d behave I wouldn’t get K.P. I guess she needs to be enlightened on that situation a little. Now I know she dated that letter wrong because she was listening to George & Gracie and the 15th was Fri. and they are on on Tues. Am I right? She couldn’t think of anything else interesting to tell me so she quit till some future time. For an honor student she sure makes a lot of mistakes. There were 6 or 7 misspelled words. Well I guess I’ll stop now till after supper. See you a little later with an account of the evening meal. Hold on to your seats.

Back at 6:45

Well I’ve been writing most of the afternoon. I wrote a card to Mrs. C., one page on both sides to Aunt Edna and an 8 page letter to Walt. I’ve answered them all but Bernice now. I didn’t get any mail tonight but I didn’t expect any really although Thelma hasn’t written yet. I don’t care particularly whether she does or not. I had supper at 5:05. Potatoes, beets, sweet & dill pickles, sliced onion, rice pudding, bread, butter & p’nut butter. I came back and went to writing again. I wrote Stachel a real letter. It’s probably too long for someone outside my family but I gave him a brief summary of what we have done and a description of life here at camp. He sounded a little worried to me and I hope he can stay in school. I hate to see a kid of his age stuck in the army with a lot of men older than he is. The influence isn’t so good unless you’ve got what it takes. I think you know what I mean. I think he will do O.K. though.

Well tomorrow is Sunday. I hope I get up in time for breakfast tomorrow and I have some washing to do. I’m going to wash my underwear oftener and maybe it will be easier. Is it warmer back there by now? Boy you sure will have high water. Aunt Edna said it was up to the R.R. tracks there. Dad is sure going to be behind on his route if that snow keeps up. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll go to that last show tonight or not. I don’t know what’s on. I may keep writing and get caught up to start a new week. The dates are just about gone and the cookies are about ½ gone. Everything is swell but $3 a week is pretty expensive for you.

I’ve been doing pretty well in mail. I’m always pretty sure of at least one letter although I don’t get excited if it doesn’t come. So far I have heard from Gramp, Aunt Edna, Aunt Marie, Walt, Bernice, & Mrs. C. I really don’t know how to write to Bernice as I’m a little inexperienced in writing to young ladies.

Well I guess I’ve just about covered the situation for another day. This last week has gone much faster although I can’t see why. We may get rifles Monday & may go on to the range if it stays warm enough. There are going to be a lot of left handed men because there are about 5 or 8 bad right eyes. Well be careful and don’t worry or get impatient because if you don’t hear from me I might be going somewhere. So long till next time,


Lots of love to everyone



Next Saturday is payday. Whee $46.75