Hurry, Rub, Scrub, Wipe, Sweep, Mop

Thursday, March 18, 1943

9:00 p.m.


Dear folks,

This is going to be a very short letter tonight. I just got off K.P. at 8:30 and I am pretty tired. I get my pass tomorrow noon I am told. I didn’t get it today because the two apprentice cooks have been put in our pass roster. That means we work 5 days instead of 3 for each pass. Of course these apprentice cooks get 3 days off to our one but we are only K.P.’s so that doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t get my pass tomorrow either. I worked like the dickens to get out of there tonight but it was still 8:30. When the mess sgt. gets back from his furlough we’ll be working until 10 or 11 every night. Starting tomorrow morning breakfast comes still earlier. I’ll be getting up at about 5:00.

I got no letters today. The last one I got from you was your Sat. & Sun. mailed Mar. 14. I got it Mar. 17. The important thing today was that I got my watch. It came tonight all O.K. and it is ticking away on my arm. It seems like an old friend. That is really a swell strap. It is much nicer than the one I had on it. Thanks a lot.

I was awakened in the dark at about 5:30. I dressed and made my bed in the dark and finally got ready to go to work. I worked on the dining room all day. Each meal is the same. We put on the food. Refill the dishes for seconds. Then when the meal is over we clear off the dishes, scrub the tables, wipe off the bottles of vinegar, salt, etc., fill and clean the sugar bowls, fill up the ketchup bottles, sweep, mop, reset the tables for the next meal. Then if there is any time left we have to do the odd jobs which need to be done. I did manage to do a little loafing at odd times but I earned it. I took my time on easy jobs like sweeping the porches. It doesn’t do much good to hurry. You can’t win. They figure to keep you there just so late anyway. If they want to leave early then we get done early. My day isn’t much to talk about any more. It is just hurry, rub, scrub, wipe, sweep, mop, and do it all over 3 times a day. Well enough for my complaints. I’ve just about resigned myself to my fate.

For breakfast I had shredded wheat, French toast and syrup and an apple. For dinner – roast beef, potatoes, gravy, beets, corn, salad, bread, butter and prunes (plums). For supper – stew, spinach with eggs, salad, bread, butter, and pineapple. I guess in all I ate about 24 pts. worth of pineapple. We also had lemonade for dinner which was good too.

My fingers are coming along O.K. although they are still sore. They have changed soap to see if it will help. Everybody has hand troubles. The captain got back from a 5 day pass today and everything was dirty and a mess he said. I can’t seem to think of a thing that is interesting to write about. The most important thing is that I got the watch O.K. I have the other one set to go back to you if I get a chance to mail it. I’ll insure it for $75. If you don’t get it don’t worry because for some reason I might not have mailed it. It will be a day or so behind this letter I imagine.

Well this is a pretty poor excuse for a letter but it is about all I am worth tonight. I hope I don’t sound too discouraged. I am beginning to get used to K.P. but it is still no good for a person day in and day out. It’s too grueling. Well good night and love to you all. Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to write you a real letter again. I sure hope so. No news of college from any source yet.



I Know I Am Not Going To Shoot Myself

Benicia, California

March 17, 1943

About 5:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I hope it has been nice there. It has rained here nearly all day but it is stopped now. I got to bed at a little after 10 last night. I got up at about 5:40. The guy who wakes K.P.’s woke me to find out where another guy had moved to but he left me sleep. I imagine I’ll go back to work tomorrow. I have “goldbricked” for 3 days now. I got up and dressed and made my bed and swept and shined my shoes before breakfast. We had no reveille because of the rain. For breakfast I had an egg, bread, butter, Farina, and an apple. After breakfast I sat around and read on my manual until time to report for sick call at 7:30. It was about 9:00 before I got back. The cap’t. looked at my fingers today instead of the major. He said they were healing in good but thought they should be dressed once more. I am to go back Fri. but I may not be here if I go on pass. I probably will be though, because I’ll probably come back here and sleep and go to work as usual. I’ll only lose about 6 hours that way. He marked my record card NO DUTY so I didn’t work again today. I’m not going to do K.P. if I don’t have to do it. I’ll go to work in the morning but I should go on pass at noon. I have already worked 3 days but they may think I shouldn’t get one because I haven’t worked for 3 days. Everyone who washes dishes is having trouble. They are beginning to think it is the G.I. soap. The doctor thought I might be allergic to soap. Anyway I guess my fingers are about healed by now. I’ll sweep and work in the dining room to keep my hands out of the water. After I came back from the dispensary I spent the morning writing and snoozing until dinner. For dinner I had hamburger loaf, beans, green beans, salad, bread, butter and rice pudding. I got 2 letters this noon. Gram’s letter of Mar. 13 and your Sat. & Sun. letter p.marked Mar. 14, 8:30 p.m. After dinner I read my mail until I had to go to a lecture on the rifle, how to adjust the sling and put in the clips. We are to go on the range pretty soon to fire for a record. I wish I could earn one of those medals but I know my eyes and hands aren’t steady enough. We spent the whole afternoon there on the rifle and on communications and military courtesy. Afterwards I talked with a sgt. for awhile who was pressing his pants. I don’t know exactly what his duties are but he looks and acts like a smart boy. He said he started college in S. Dak. in 1938 but he never finished. We got to talking about that test and he asked what I got on my aptitude (I.Q.) test. I told him 150. He said he heard but didn’t know for sure that one fellow in the last group that came in had the highest in the regiment. I think maybe it was me (conceited aren’t I). I know of one kid who got 148 but he got 90 on this college test. The master’s degree boy got 165 on the college test but his I.Q. is 141, so what other conclusion can I draw. I have a hunch my name is familiar to some of the officers from things they have said. You don’t know how much I want to be put in college. I can get along in the army but it isn’t for me. K.P. is as good as anything I guess. After the lectures I came back to write and here I am. I wrote 3 letters, to Dick Hollingsworth, Kircher, and Hugh, and 6 cards – Ossie, Amelia, Francois, John V., Thelma, and John Elsenheimer, a kid I knew at Eastern. Dick sent me his address. He is in the medics at Fort Lewis Washington. I guess I left that address of Sargy —[?] in the letter when I did them up because I can’t find it. I don’t know if I will write tomorrow or not. I should according to schedule.

Back from a pretty good supper. I had potato baked, salad, French fried carrots, peas, bread, butter and jello. Now I have the rest of the evening I hope. I find it is a little harder to write because I don’t do the variety of things to tell of that I used to. If I get my pass I’d like to go to Frisco but I don’t know if I will or not. I want to get some sleeve insignia, a U.S. button, a belt like I wore on my college uniform, get my braid sewed on my hat, and then look around and buy anything I think I want. I’d like to go to a good show in the evening. I’m not worried about spending money. I have enough for awhile but if I come back here to sleep I will have to go to work at the regular time the next morning. If I don’t come back I will have to stay in Frisco over night and come back the next morning. The fellows who have already had passes have gotten hotel rooms and stayed there. One fellow spent $30 on his pass and another $15. One spent $4.50 for his dinner, another $8 but I think they must have added a few trimmings which I wouldn’t care for. I could go with a couple fellows. They are fairly decent acting but I don’t know if they would care for the kind of time I would have. You know what I mean. They want to go to see Ed Wynne’s show which is on. I would like to see that too or at least a good movie. They aren’t bad acting fellows and I may go at least part way with them. One is a Jew from Brooklyn, the other is the fellow with the master’s degree. I haven’t seen a kid from New York yet who wasn’t a Jew and most of them are named Cohen. They say they have an immigration station and a translation station where they translate the Jewish names to English. If they can’t translate it they call it Cohen so that’s why there are so many Cohens in New York. It is a good story anyhow I thought. I imagine I may come back and sleep here. The bus from Frisco to Vallejo runs every ½ hour and the one from Vallejo to Benicia runs every 2 hours I believe. Anyway I want to get the things I mentioned and then get some cards and things. I also want to send out that box of junk. I got the letter you sent with my watch so I am looking to get the watch tonight or tomorrow. If I do I’ll get the other one ready to send back. Boy it will be swell to have a watch again. If I don’t write tomorrow you will know why but I’ll try to knock off a letter wherever I am. I will be due for another pass next Monday noon and again next Friday noon. Those Burry cookies are swell as you probably know. So is that St. Patrick candy. One sgt. has been shaking hands with the Rackovich’s etc. and saying “Sure and it is a fine St. Pat. day to you.” Well I guess I’ve covered the days activities and my plans or ideas. I hope you won’t disagree with them too much. I shall be careful where I go and what I do: you know that, but I have been tied down for a looong time and it will be swell to breathe freely again if you know what I mean. I could be happy just to walk down the street and look in the windows with no whistles blowing and dishes to wash and floors to mop and sweep.

Now to your letter of Sat. & Sun. Mar. 13 & 14. I don’t know about that butter. We have had all we wanted everywhere except at Santa Rosa. There is plenty here; more than enough. I know because I have seen what is in the refrigerator all the time. That fellow must have been in a hard up camp. Well well, quite a time over those pants. I don’t think Sam’s was a good place to take them anyway. I bought them at Two Legs. That was an awful thing to say to Dad. He certainly is worth more than those pants and he was not to blame at all for what happened. It wasn’t his fault. If they had been lost we couldn’t have done anything about it anyhow. Such things do happen. Did you have to pay for cleaning and pressing? You know I’d hate to lose them but don’t blame pop. I guess I was no mistake by the draft board. We have fellows with only one eye and some that are helpless without glasses; some with arms and legs such that they could scarcely do what they have to. I am lucky and thankful to be as good as I am. It is a smart thing to have 2 pairs of glasses anytime, I guess. G.I. glasses are designed for service. They are strong and are built so they will fit under a gas mask. They are plastic rims and bows and are not built for looks. They aren’t very good looking. If I get a pair I will still wear my own glasses. Wetzel may think it is too long since my lenses were changed to give me another pair on the same prescription. You two sure have more than your share of head trouble. I could have gone on sick call but I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere any sooner. One kid was tested before I came here and still he hasn’t his glasses. Ewing is in the medics and his are broken. I know I am not going to shoot myself and I won’t shoot anyone else if I don’t point it at them. They are going to teach us to fire before long but I won’t be on anyhow as long as I am on K.P. Guard isn’t bad. You are on 2 hours and off 4 for 24 hours. Nobody has to do any shooting anyhow. I don’t like the kitchen but I’ll make the best of it. I would rather be outdoors though I think. My biggest complaint about K.P. is that I don’t have enough time to write to you. L.S. does not mean we don’t work. It means we won’t be exposed to actual combat. We will stay here and do nothing unless something happens here. These office workers you mention will go overseas while we may never. If their outfits go they go with them. I doubt if that 1st/sgt. knows anything. He is too dumb if you ask me. He’s been in the army 2 years yet he has to take orders from young kid lieutenants. He can’t even speak good English. Fellows here swear he was a private 8 months ago. I didn’t come so close to guard duty. What’s a guy being shot in a dance hall got to do with me being on guard? As far as not doing it you see how much good it did to say I didn’t want K.P. Now please don’t try to look into things and see why L.S. do this and that because you won’t do either of us any good. I think I have said enough about that. I don’t know why you should think I would take swimming. If I have to take it in school I guess I can. It will be better than being in the army really. I’d still be in the army but it would be a little different just the same. It’s raining again. I hope it quits before tomorrow noon. L.S. men can get non-com ratings if they can earn them. They haven’t been here long enough yet. I think we should have had 2 or 3 months training on artillery before we were ever sent here. Of course we can go to this college training and maybe even to O.C.S. I’ll take the college if I get my choice. I can use that training and try for O.C.S. after I get it. If I went to O.C.S. and got my bars I might not get a chance to go for college training. Being an officer is O.K. but the training will do me more good I think don’t you. Gee does the post office stay open until 11 o’clock? I didn’t know that but I had wondered how you could mail boxes at night. No, Sgt. Harrity isn’t L.S. He’s as tough and rough and ready as they come. I haven’t seen the bull dog lately. I don’t think Charles will come to this outfit. We are over strength now. We have a dispensary which can give first aid. It is equipped with a dentist chair and equipment and has some beds and stuff. Anyone with a serious ailment is sent to Letterman’s Hospital at the Presidio in Frisco. Don’t worry about the letters because I am taking care of them. I’ll try to send them back before I get so many next time. You must have quite a stack from me but not so many as I have. I didn’t hear the Benny program because I was on K.P. Boy that will be something. Orson Welles at Camp McCoy. A kid I know says Welles is from Kenosha which is his home town too, Kenosha Wisconsin. Don’t worry, Orson Welles will get a promotion but fast. He is one L.S. man who will get the breaks. I’ll bet he is the first L.S. man to get a commission or some such thing. He’ll be there inside of 6 months. You watch. Look at lieutenants Jimmy Stewart, Hank Greenberg and Clark Gable. I wouldn’t be on guard duty all night. It goes in 2 hour periods 4 hours apart. I still didn’t get the watch. Maybe you couldn’t send it air mail. I heard you couldn’t send packages by air mail any more but then it would take it longer to get here than for a letter mailed at the same time. They would probably be on different trains. I hope you can read this. That covers your letter. Now to Gram’s. I wish Red. S. would drop in here sometime. I sure would like to see him. That is one reason I would like to be near Los Angeles instead of Frisco. On pass I could go to the Hollywood Canteen and see all of these people I have seen in the movies so much. I have always done my best wherever I have been and I guess I probably will. I have always earned everything I have gotten I think. Maybe others don’t think so but I do. Nate is out until June. If I do get into college I will have made better time that if I had been in the reserves. They will get 13 wks. and then if they get by that test which a lot won’t they will be put back in school. It doesn’t take a lot of college to pass that test as I have shown but a lot of college men didn’t pass. There is a lot of difference between a man with 5 years college & one with 3 months. I suppose you are tired of me repeating these things over and over but you can see I am pretty encouraged about it and it is topmost in my mind. If it falls through, K.P. is going to be hard to swallow. Everyone thinks it is funny that I am on K.P. but I guess I can take it. When I told one of the lieut’s who I was he seemed surprised that I was on steady. He evidently had heard my name mentioned in a better light. I shouldn’t think Howard would pass. I don’t help cook. I wash & rinse dishes or maybe scrub tables, mop, sweep the floors, set up the tables, peel spuds or carrots or onions or scrub pots or anything under the sun or kitchen roof. With all of you trying to cheer me up I guess I ought to feel a lot better. A note from headquarters would help too. They say the mosquitoes at McCoy are awful. We don’t have any here at Camp but we use the ones out at the guns for targets when no planes are in sight. A fellow got back from a furlough to some place in Michigan and he said it was awfully cold there. Well I guess this covers My Day. Say that sounds like dear Eleanor. I will finish this and mail it and then shave and clean up some so I will be ready if I do get a pass tomorrow. If you don’t get a letter I’ll see that you  get at least a card. At any rate something will be written to you tomorrow. I have to live up to my word. Well I guess this is all for tonight. Until the next time be careful and take it easy. I should get my watch tomorrow. I’ll let you know when I get it. If it comes before I go I’ll send out the other one.


Love to Mom, Pop, Gram & pup


Beef Or Was It Carbon

Tuesday, March 16, 1943

About 7:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well I have played goldbrick all day again today. I got that huge box tonight and I’ll mention it more later. When I finished writing last night I went over and washed and shaved. My bandages were dirty and loose so I took them off my fingers and left them off. My fingers looked a lot better. I was up at 5:40 with the rest this morning and dressed and made my bed and swept as usual before roll call. I started to shine my shoes but I never did get finished. For breakfast I had creamed beef on toast, toast, rice krispies, a doughnut and an orange. After breakfast I stayed around the kitchen and peeled a few spuds until it was time to report for sick call. Neither I nor one of the others was on the K.P. list today so he didn’t go to work but we were all made to understand that we are steady K.P.’s and we go to work every day unless we can’t for some reason. I notice our two names aren’t on the list tomorrow either. I think they are supposed to have only 5. They leave us off and put 2 more names on so the records show 5 but there are 7. It makes it easier to have more anyway. I reported to sick call as I had been told and so did the other kid. The major looked at his hands which were a little red and swollen and told him all he had was dish pan hands and let him go back to work. I feel sorry for the kid. He is really getting tired and he is losing his spirit on that job. The sgt. (the one who got my glasses) noticed it too. He tried to get me off K.P. but I guess he didn’t make it. When I went in the major looked at my fingers, broke the blisters which were there and had a fellow dress them again. First they put some purple stuff on, then they put that cream on again and wrapped them in gauze and tape. This wasn’t Ewing and he put them on to stay. I could hardly wiggle my fingers so I didn’t try to work. I stayed around the kitchen nearly all morning. I read a little and studied a little in my basic manual. The rest of the time I loafed around. There was nothing I could do without loosening the dressings so I took advantage of my chance and didn’t do anything. I got 2 letters this noon. Your Thurs. and Fri. March 11 & 12. For dinner today I had beef or was it carbon, potatoes, asparagus, cooked onions, bread, butter and pears. After dinner I went back to the barracks and read my letters. Then I began to write. Suddenly at about 2 I guess it was, they called a real alert. Everybody got his rifle and helmet and gas mask and clip belt and went to his post. I went over to the kitchen with the rest. They gave each of us one clip of shells and it was quite realistic. I guess it lasted about 15 minutes. I got a kick out of it to myself. You see they just took some of the new men out this morning to learn to load and fire their rifles. They gave me an MI clip and I have an ’03 rifle which uses a different clip. I don’t think I could have fired if I had wanted to. When it was over I went back to my writing. I wrote until after 4:30 and got 5 letters, all short ones, written to Aunt Marie, little George, Leo, Aunt Edna, and Mrs. C. I am all caught up except for 3 letters from Kircher, Dick H. and Hugh. When I finished I went over to the P.X. and it was closed and I am glad it was now. I came back and slept until supper. It wasn’t so hot tonight. I had potatoes, gravy, bread, butter, custard and fruit salad. My mail all goes to the kitchen now and my box was over there. Boy was that really swell but the postage is awful. I have just enough hangers now and one to spare for that shirt if I do get it. It is real dark green. I don’t remember for sure what I said it was before but it [is] a very rich dark green. The reason I needed more hangers was because I have hung up my suntan (cotton) outfits and my rain coat. I also hang up my fatigues but one set is usually in the laundry and I wear the other. Everything was swell and came through O.K. The brush, the hangers, the powder, and the shaving cream are all things I needed and asked for. I emptied that tube of Gillette last night and I will use up that old Woodbury next. I had a little Kleenex but the box got smashed so I use it to clean my glasses and wipe off my silverware and similar things. I got the shining cloth but they say the best thing to do is leave the buttons alone. Once you polish them they tarnish and you have to polish them all the more. The eats overwhelm me. Everything I have tasted is really all right. I lifted the top of that box of candy and gum and put it back on. I figured I couldn’t put it back like you had it so I would start at the top and eat down. I don’t eat so much when I am working in the kitchen because I don’t get to the barracks very much. That will last me quite a long time. I don’t know when I’ll read the magazine but I’ll keep it until I do get it read. I opened the box and unpacked it while they were out on alert. Then I took the last box I got which I have been saving and I packed stuff in it to send home. In it you will find some tablet covers and stationery folders on the bottom, then all the letters from you folks are tied together. They are all there in the order I got them except the 2 I got today and the Valentine and 2 St. Pat. cards. Also there are all my other letters except the 3 I haven’t answered and the ones from Stewart and Mitchell. I thought maybe I should keep them. They might do me some good sometime. I put all the cards down flat so they wouldn’t wrinkle and so you would notice them and look at them. Now I want you to feel free to look at any of it you want to. You send me the letters you get and I am doing the same. I also put 3 books in which I have read – Mrs. Miniver, The Good Earth, and Lost Horizon. There is also a cat tail of some kind that I picked up at Santa Rosa, the two pennants I have bought, an empty tube, the ribbon off one of those heart boxes, and something to take the place of your wire dish cloth. On the top is one of the news papers I bought at Camp McCoy. Most of it is junk which is no good as far as value goes. I may have missed mentioning some of the stuff. In the little envelope is the insignia which we wear now but which is now being replaced by a new one. I never wore one because I knew they were going to change and also I didn’t get where I could buy any. One guy, the old boy with the money, bought 2 of them a little while ago and then yesterday when he was on a pass he got the new ones. I asked to buy the old one (which is new also) and he gave it to me. I wanted to have one to keep to show what I would have worn if I could have gotten it. It stands for General Headquarters Reserve. The new ones stand for the Western Defense Command. Some around here wear the 4th army insignia too. Boy it would be nice to have a collection of these. They would be nice on a pillow or quilt. Anyway here it is and I want you to keep it. I grabbed it quick because I thought I might leave and maybe sooner than I think and I want a souvenir of my old place at Benicia. If I change places you will also get my new insignia and my crossed cannon button. You will have a lot of junk in time. Anyway it is wrapped up and I will mail it if I get my pass Thursday. I don’t know where I will go. The pass is from noon to noon. I would rather they were from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. Then I could be gone all day and come back in the evening and sleep here. As it is I leave at about 1 and if I come back to sleep I am just the same as reporting for duty. In other words if I am here they can put me to work if they want to do it. They probably wouldn’t but they could. The fellows who have already gone have stayed overnight in Frisco in a hotel. I suppose that is all right but I will probably come back and take a chance on being put to work. Of course I haven’t gone yet but I am due for a pass Thurs. noon. Don’t worry. I won’t do anything reckless. I’d like to mail out that box, go into San Francisco, get me a garrison belt, some insignias, maybe some other things if I see anything I want to buy, go to a good show and come back. I expect it will cost me about 10 bucks but I have about 80 and 50 more coming in 2 weeks. Oh yes, I’ll try to send you a money order for that tax if I don’t forget it. I don’t want you to have to pay it. If I thought you wouldn’t have any trouble, I’d just sign my check and send it home. I’ll see that you get it in the long run. That is too much for you to pull out. Does dad have to pay more by making 4 payments? If I go on pass I may not write for one day there so you can be prepared in advance. If I don’t write you will probably be sent something anyway so you will be sent mail every day. I am keeping my fingers crossed. It is about time I was hearing more about college although rumor has it at least one month yet. K.P. isn’t so bad. 3 days on and 1 off if you could just loaf and sleep but they expect you to leave. That is O.K. the first 2 or 3 times but after that I won’t have much to go for or see. Well it’s 9:02 so I’ll get to your today’s letters. Thurs. Mar. 11 — I got by that inspection but I still need to get that rust off my bolt. The kid from Lansing is not L.S. so far as I know. I don’t always lock my grip but I keep it zipped. Your old letters are taken care of now I hope. I don’t intend to give up my grip until I am forced to do it. I would advise you not to try to find out about anything. All you might do is cause trouble for both of us. Every post and camp has different rules so you couldn’t learn much anyhow. You better let well enough alone. Let me know if Wetzel will make a duplicate pair of glasses. He knows the size all right. That is on his record. They better exchange that shirt because he told me to wash it. You keep the receipt. I take it you like Brown better than Henderson. I don’t blame you for feeling the way you did about the glasses but that is over now anyhow. We did some close order drill but there is no level place to march on here. I wouldn’t change places with Dad. He is worth a whole lot more to you than I could ever be. See. I know you wouldn’t want us to change places either. I have to go along with the K.P. I guess whether I like it or not. I could learn to like the kitchen and supply work if it wasn’t so grueling. There was no one here to ask about the test. That comes from Regimental. I don’t know where you got the idea others read my letters because they don’t. If they did I’d know it by now. Was it Howard that went? I thought all the time it was his older brother. Yes that was Bob Weeks. I imagine he is L.S. because he was in 4-F. L.S. men have chances to even get commissions they tell us. Of course they will be worthless after the war but who cares? None of our officers are L.S. but they haven’t had L.S. long enough for that yet. I have done my best in the kitchen. The cooks will tell you that. We mail our letters in the office. They are supposed to be collected every morning. You must not get much sleep writing till 12 every night. One kid got a card tonight mailed Jan. 2. Well if they said all 3-As in the army by summer that is what they said. I didn’t know they had eliminated the H classes. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. That is that letter. Now Fri. Mar. 12—I heard packages mailed from camp are opened. I don’t know if it is true or not. I’ll mail mine in town. I guess I have used the word sgt. a lot. The one who got my glasses is the one who has drilled us. The old goat who put us on K.P. is the first sgt. [chevron sketch]. There are plenty of sgts. here. My glasses fit O.K. Ewing’s are broken clean across now and held with tape. I don’t wear my oxfords enough to wear out the souls [sp]. 9:45 I ate off my mess kit at Santa Rosa but not here. Kircher is talking about taking a trip to Cal. believe it or not. He has a cousin or something out here. Any kind of shirts and shorts are O.K. The turned the lights out on me so I am finishing this in the latrine. Yes I knew Bill Garrison well. He was L.S. in the reserve. His real name is Weldon. Well that covers the day so I’ll quit. It’s after 10 and I need my sleep. These pages are too big. I waste too much paper but I don’t care.


Until next time then, Love to you all,

The K.P. Kid


I Am Not Seriously Damaged

Monday March 15, 1943

About 6:30


Dear folks,

Well I’ve been off all day today. I wrote that note to you last night, washed and wend to bed. As I said, my hands were pretty blistered. Little water blisters were raised up on my fingers. I soaked them good in my hand cream when I went to bed. This morning when I got up at 5:30 my hands were sore and the fingers were a little stiff. I went to work and worked on the dining room. For breakfast I had rice krispies (good old snap, crackle, pop), 3 eggs and bread and butter and an orange. I kept working until 7:30! Then I decided to report for sick call. In all probability my hands would have been O.K. if I had kept them out of water but I thought I’d make sure. Everybody told me I was crazy if I didn’t go on sick call so I did. I went to the office but the sick book was already gone. I got to the dispensary ahead of it though and got my name in. I was there quite awhile and it was nearly 9:00 when I got back to the kitchen. The doctor, a major, took us one by one. When I showed him the blisters he told me I had been using too hot water. I think it was partly the water and partly the soap. Anyway he broke the big blisters with a pair of tweezers and then he had Ewing put sulphadiazine (or something like that) on them and dress them with gauze. The stuff was a white cream. Don was pretty shaky with his bandaging but he did a pretty good job. He needs practice and plenty of it. When he finished the Major told me to come back tomorrow morning. I started back for the mess hall. On the way I passed Lieut. Charlton, the mess officer, and when I saluted he notice the bandages. He stopped me and asked what had happened. I told him and he told me not to wash any more dishes. He blamed it on the soap. He said he had the same thing once when he was on K.P. I went on to the kitchen and tried to do work such as sweeping where I wouldn’t get my hands wet. I did some but moving my fingers loosened the bandages. Ewing came in to inspect the mess hall and he told me I shouldn’t even do that so I quit entirely and I went back to the barracks. I read a little and then slept until dinner time. For dinner I had macaroni, carrot & raisin salad (it’s good too), corn, cauliflower, bread and butter. After dinner I started to answer some of my back mail. I got letters written to Elmo and to Sunfield and that was all. About 4 o’clock I had to move across the street to another barracks. A bunch who have been living out at Mole Hill came in and they all had to be together so I had to move. That took some time and I rearranged some of my stuff as long as I had to move it anyhow. I finally got settled again and wrote until supper. My name is not on the K.P. list tomorrow so I don’t know what I will do after I report to the medics. I may be put back on the guns. I’d rather use a pick and shovel and be outdoors working regular hours than in that mess hall from morning to night. I am getting a little used to it by now but I never will like it. For supper I had potatoes, spinach, squash, salad, bread, butter and bread pudding. I know the bread pudding here is O.K. because scraps left by the men are put in the garbage by the men themselves. That brings me up to the present. There is going to be an entertainment tonight at 8:00 and I think I’ll go over when I finish this letter. Now please don’t get excited over my hands because they don’t ache or pain or anything. I have let them get me out of as much work as they can. They are a little sore and tender and that’s all. Another day or so and they will be healed up. The fellow who took my place had to go to the medics this afternoon. His fingers swelled and cracked around the nails. He has to report tomorrow and has to quit washing dishes. I think or hope this steady K.P. idea is blowing up. Anyway I am not seriously damaged. I am writing as you can see so you know they aren’t bad.

I’ve got me a swell shirt coming pretty soon. It is a regular wool gabardine officer’s shirt. We can wear them off duty. They sell for about $9.00 but we can get them for $3.50 wholesale. There is a little Jewish kid name Cohen from New York in our battery. His dad owns a concern which makes officer’s pants and overcoats. A friend of his makes the shirts. So in this round about way we can get these shirts at that price. It is all honest and above board. I saw one of them and they are honeys. They are dark maroon and with our new insignia they will really be nice. Our new insignia is [sketch – red, yellow, black]. I just talked to the sergeant and he is going to try to get me back on the guns. He says he thinks this K.P. idea is about shot. He is a tough baby when he’s giving orders but he’s a swell guy otherwise. He would do a lot for a person if he thought he deserved it. I don’t go on tomorrow and the next day I may be back on the guns. I didn’t get any letters from mom this noon and I haven’t seen any mail yet tonight. I did get a letter fro Elmo, the card from dad and the two letters from Gram this noon. Elmo had the usual things to say. It was the letter he said he would write in his letter to gram. He sent it to Santa Rosa but I got it in 7 days anyway. It took 5 days for you folks’ mail to get here. That was a very cute card dad and I appreciate the verse and what you added too. Thanks a lot and you know I mean it. The last letter I got from Mom was Wed. Mar. 10 last Sat. so I am just about due for another one. Now to answer some of Gram’s letters. I have 3. The first is p. marked Mar. 4 – you ought to ride in a jeep sometime. I think I’ll bring one home with me. The ones we have here are Fords. I don’t care if it is stale news when I get it, I still enjoy it. I am glad you liked the St.Pat. card. I got there real early and they had a good selection to choose from. The dime store has a nice group of cards if nothing more. Those long round cookies were really swell. The radio doesn’t do much good when I am not in the barracks. I have decided not to buy a radio because I may do some more traveling by train again I hope. This time I hope to go east. I’d like to got to New Mexico or Arizona but I can’t even guess where it will be if I go. I think it will be in the east somewhere though. I wish there was a school in Michigan which the gov’t had taken to teach chemists. I can see Babe in that basket. There is a big bird dog we call Bill that hangs around the mess hall. He lies on the porch where he can watch the Frigidaire door for meat. The fire engines are going out in Benicia. We left our L.S. dog at Santa Rosa. They have to keep me pretty busy not to get time to at least write a card to you every day. That reminds me of the soldier who took a penny card, carefully crossed out Franklin’s picture on the corner and wrote FREE above it. That covers one letter. Now the one March 10, 2:30 p.m.  Walt sure runs to catch a lot of buses. It isn’t so cold here but it was quite windy [tomorrow] yesterday. I guess I am thinking ahead of myself. The men are coming in from the alert now. It is nearly 8 o’clock. One thing my uniform is much nicer that the one at college was but I would be willing to exchange anytime. Boy you sure have enough blizzards and cold. You’ll have to ration your mail. Open one letter a day. They must dam it up someplace and wait for it to accumulate a little. That sewing kit is tops and I’ll be using it pretty soon. I hope I can get my braid sewed on my hat by a tailor. I am going to try to fix a broken loop on my fatigues myself. My ring wasn’t damaged too much and as for my finger, a cut or scratch never bothers me. I scratched my hand on a nail one day and the kids all said go to the medics but I just washed it & put Listerine on. It’s as good as new. Of course I would go get care if I thought it was serious but I don’t worry about a little cut or so. That’s that letter. Now to the last one. I didn’t get any more mail today so that is 2 days now without a letter from Mom. I don’t think you have to wear any of Mrs. C. glasses and surely if they don’t fit you don’t want them.  Elmo has big plans for the summer. It sure would be nice if we could all be together at our garden again. I am looking forward with expectancy for that box. It must be a honey. I should get it tomorrow or Wednesday.

Well that covers my back mail from home and what I have done today. My letters aren’t much lately but I am still writing every day. Last night’s was the shortest so far. I am going to quit now and go over and see what the entertainment is. I will have to try to shave afterward and I’ll put an ending on this letter. I don’t use up all the space on these pages but we didn’t pay for it so I guess it won’t matter. I can write long letters when I get that air mail paper if I have time. Well I’ll be back a little later.

Back from the show. I didn’t see it all but it was a variety program. They had a dancer, a singer from the Coast Guard, a girl who did character parts, a girl violinist, a magician who was very good, and a girls trio. It was all pretty good. Well I’ll quit for tonight. I’ll mail this and then try and shave and clean up a little. I have to keep shaved because I never know when I may have to go to Regimental or Brigade Hdqt. Both times I haven’t had much time to get ready and I don’t want to be caught with a beard. I don’t think it is much after 9:00 yet so maybe I’ll get to bed a little earlier tonight. We get up earlier every morning as the sun rises earlier. I sure hope some news comes through about college. I have a feeling it may be tomorrow or Wednesday. At any rate I think I am off K.P. at least for tomorrow. Well I’ll quit for this time.


Love to you all and I better get a letter tomorrow.


A Lot of Pots and Pans

If I hadn’t gone to a movie you would have had a longer letter but I couldn’t resist the chance to get away from the thoughts of army & K.P. for awhile. Everybody tells us we are crazy to stay on K.P. but I don’t see what we can do. I’ll try to write more next time.


Sunday March 14, 1943

10 min. to 10 p.m.


Dear folks,

This won’t be much of a letter. I got off K.P. at 7:30 and could have written quite a bit but I went over to a movie at regimental headquarters mess hall. I just got back. The show was “Lady in a Jam.” It wasn’t too good but I don’t care much for Irene Dunne anyway. That was my first movie since Camp McCoy. I thought I would be able to sleep til 7:00 tomorrow but they haven’t changed the time for breakfast so it will be 5:30 as usual. They turned the lights on at 5:20 this morning before they even woke us K.P.s up. I dressed, made my bed, and washed and went to work at about 5:45. I spent the day from then until after 7:00 tonight washing dishes. I never knew there could be so many. My hands show it too. I am going to work the dining room tomorrow and let somebody else do the washing. My fingers are blistered from so much hot water and they look like a person’s back when it is sunburned. They are pretty withered too. These turkey dinners are nice to eat but they really make work for the K.P.’s. For breakfast I had a dish of Farina and pancakes and syrup & milk. I washed dishes til noon. For dinner I had potatoes, carrots, green beans, dressing, bread, butter and small 5 or 6 pieces of ice cream. The lights are out now so I am writing all by myself over in the day room. They had turkey but all that was on my table was dark meat and I didn’t want it very bad anyway. A turkey dinner really means a lot of pots and pans. I washed and washed dishes right up to supper time. For supper we had a cold lunch. I had potato salad, cheese & bread & butter sandwiches, pickles, and cake. After supper we turned on the steam so we would get done as soon as we could but the best we could do was 7:30. One of us will go off on 24 hour pass tomorrow noon. The passes will be from noon to noon instead of 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. I don’t know which I do like the better. I don’t know which day I will go but it will be at least by Thursday. One of us goes every day so we work 3 days and get one off. I sure hope something comes from that training. If it doesn’t come before April 1 I don’t expect to hear anything before the end of the school year along in June sometime. I didn’t get any mail from you folks today but I got a card from Aunt Edna. I got your Wed. Feb. 10 letter last. Well this is the shortest letter you have gotten from me yet but at least it will give you a little to read and I am keeping my promise. I don’t do much to write about now anyway. I will close so I can go wash and get to bed. I hope I get off tomorrow noon but it probably won’t be til Wed. for me.


Love to all,


We Don’t Say Bang When We Simulate

Saturday March 13, 1943

About 7 p.m.


Dear folks,

I am chiseling a little but I seen to be getting away with it. The K.P.’s are still working but I am here in the barracks and maybe I can get a decent letter written to you tonight. The lights are messed up someplace though. A fuse must be burned out.

I was awakened at 5:30 although I was already awake. I slept pretty light last night for some reason. I washed and shaved and got to bed at about 10:30. I heard the kid next to me go on guard at 2:00 and come back at 4:00. I dressed and made my bed and by that time it was 5:45 and the lights were on. Then I washed a little and went to work. I did the dish washing. For breakfast I had French toast & syrup, oatmeal and an apple. I washed dishes most of the morning until 9:30 or so. Then I scrubbed the counter and swept the floor and then helped clean the ice box until dinner time. For dinner I had potatoes, peas, escalloped corn, bread, butter & pineapple. About 11:00 the 1st/sgt. came in and took me off to one side and told me I was to go to San Francisco this afternoon to get an interview for O.C.S. I rather doubted that because I hadn’t made any application. Anyhow he gave me some tips on what to do when I got there. He didn’t know for sure at what time I was to go. He said they had called him and asked what kind of a recommendation he would give for me. I don’t think he knows me very much but he said he told them that as far as he was concerned, I was 100% O.K. I ate and went back to work and then at 12:00 noon I was told to report in O.D.’s to Regimental Hdqt. at 12:30. I hurried and washed and changed and brushed off my shoes and got ready. I tried to make everything look as good as possible because everyone says the impression they get of your personal appearance and your personality is the most important thing. Just before I left I signed the pay roll so I’ll get another $46.75 March 31. I’ll probably get cash next time so I’ll keep the check for awhile. It is good for a year after July 1, so I have lots of time. I got up to headquarters on time and at about 1:00 we left. There were 7 of us from Benicia – a staff sgt. from the medics, 5 from Regimental & Battalion Headq. & I was the only one from Bat. A. We picked up another Staff sgt. at Bat. B in Richmond and a corporal at Bat. D also at Richmond. Batt. B, where Francois is, is just a lot of barracks with no trees or anything in sight. It is awfully barren looking so I guess we aren’t so bad off.  Batt. D is located right in Richmond. The men live in a big school house and there are no fences. When they want to go to a show or the U.S.O. they just sign their name and go. We had a pretty good ride both ways although it was pretty bumpy and it rained some on the way back. The emphasis in Cal. seems to be on gaudiness and display. Everything seems in confusion. The roads are being repaired and they are pretty bumpy. These towns, Richmond, Vallejo, Benicia, and the rest are growing like weeds. War housing projects are going up all over everywhere. People are living in hundreds of house trailers or in barracks tossed all over the hillsides. The country is awfully hilly and from a distance the picture is nice of all these buildings spotting the hillsides. Everything is streamlined. Just about every bunch of trees has a tourist camp or a “Motel” in it. Fruit trees are in blossom here too. We crossed one big bridge across the bay from Vallejo. It was at least ½ mile long. The towns run right into each other so that they are nearly continuous all the way into San Francisco. There is plenty of bustle at the Kaiser Shipyards. Boy is that bridge something. I guess it must have been the Golden Gate Bridge. I mean another bridge. This was across the bay to Frisco from Oakland. It was about 2 miles long and both ends were anchored way inland away from the water. It is in 2 sections to an island in the middle. It goes through a tunnel in the island. The trucks and buses and an electric trolley train go on the bottom bed and passenger cars go on the top bed of the bridge. I know you have seen pictures of it so all I can say is it is a huge thing. I saw the World’s Fair Buildings on Treasure Island and Alcatraz off in the distance. San Francisco itself, what little I saw, is quite a place. We were right in the heart of the city. Big buildings were on all sides. I didn’t see much but I do remember seeing the stock exchange & the huge post office. I walked around one block but I didn’t find any stores where I could get folders and cards. The town is built on hills. The streets are awfully narrow and most of them were one way. We got to Frisco at about 2:30 I guess. We finally found the place and reported. Each of us was given a short interview before the board. We left at about 4:30. The board consisted of 5 officers from different branches – a 2nd lieut., a 1st lieut., a captain, a major and a lt. colonel. I usually am a little nervous or scared about something like this but today it didn’t bother me. I walked in, stopped, did a left face, saluted and gave my name and then stood at attention until they told me to sit down. As I had suspected, it was for specialized training and not O.C.S. They all fired all kinds of questions at me about what I had studied and why I wanted to take or study chemistry, etc. I answered them the best I could or said I didn’t know. They have diff. classes, I, II, III, etc. I is for basic or beginning, II is for advanced. They debated quite awhile whether I should be I or II. I lack enough college for II but they considered putting me in on the basis of my scholastic ability. Then one of them asked me what the benzoine ring was and since I had had no organic chemistry, I didn’t know. I guess they finally decided to put me in I, so I will start at the beginning. I don’t care. The only important thing is that I am scheduled to get some kind of training for research work in chemistry. I don’t know when, where, or how much but I hope it is soon, near Mich., and plenty of it. If I do get in school I am afraid my letter writing really will go to the dogs. I hear some will go before April 1 or maybe by April 15 and I sure hope I am one of them. I’ve had too much K.P. already in 1 ½ day and I’ll be doing it until I get out of here maybe although I might get a break if this should fall through. I doubt if it will now though. This board was for the 101st brigade. I think that is as high as I have to go. The fellow in the office said we would know when we left if we were going to college or not. Since they weren’t sure if I should be class I or II, it definitely shows I will be included, otherwise there would be no point of deciding which class. I hope they pull me out of here next week. Just so I get my 24 hour pass. I’d hate to get it earned and then not have a chance to use it. I guess that’s about all I can say about the interview. The fact that you didn’t know the answer to a question didn’t seem to bother but a sloppy salute caused trouble as one fellow found. When I was through I got up, saluted, did an about face and beat it out of there. We got back to camp at about 6:00. I went over and ate. Supper was over but there was still quite a lot left. I had potatoes, peas & carrots, pickled beets & onions, bread, apple jelly and 2 pieces of berry pie. They don’t teach these cooks much at school. His crust was soaked and he must have forgotten to put sugar in. When I finished I came back to the barracks. I suppose I should have changed my clothes and gone back to work but nobody told me to so I didn’t. I may hear about it tomorrow but I don’t care. They can’t give me K.P. for it anyhow, that’s a cinch. I have spent the time writing. I got your Tues. night & Wed. Mar. 10 letter today. I see now why I didn’t get those cards. It is because you sent them by reg. mail. I expect to get them tomorrow. Before it gets any older I am going to answer that Fri. Feb. 26 letter. Most of it has been answered in other letters I guess. I guess that was a little something they did at college. I’m glad they did a good job on my sport coat. It shouldn’t show too much wear because I haven’t worn it so much. I like to wear it though. It makes you feel dressed up but still relaxed. Those shirts were all nice but they were pretty high. They look awfully attractive after living for 10 weeks with one color. Its 10 weeks today I believe. Am I right? That cook isn’t a cook any more. He was scheduled to get his release because he is over 38 but he went over the hill so he may not get it now. I won’t leave my watch anywhere. We stand up for shots. I usually don’t sit down after. Typhoid shots don’t hurt much but they leave a sore arm the next day. The K.P.’s are still working. I should feel guilty but I don’t. They would take advantage of me if they could. Nobody gives me anything so why should I worry. I am going to finish this and get to bed. 5:15 or so in the morning again. I have heard of no L.S. men going overseas. L.S. men in the Coast Atty. will not go over according to what we hear. We are stuck here for the duration unless we leave for training or a transfer. If I leave for training I’ll never come back here. We get less than $12 a week so there won’t be any 5 % to pay unless I get a raise. I guess that covers the uncovered points in that letter at last. Now I am just about up to date with you. I don’t know when I’ll catch up with the others who have written. Now to your Wed. letter. Boy another big group. There can’t be very many boys left at that rate. One fellow just said that think of the victory parade after this war. It will make the 1919 New York parade seem small. Think of  8,000,000 men in one place on parade. We don’t say bang when we simulate. I may get to a movie next week. By now you know I have my glasses fixed. I didn’t leave the next day after we went to that show. That was New Year’s Eve & I didn’t leave til Jan. 2. The last night I went to the game with Chuck & Walt. Don’t bother to send toilet paper. It takes too much space. The army would give me glasses if I wanted them to, but I don’t know if I want them to. I don’t imagine I will get to Sardis on a 24 hour pass.  I tried to get my watch fixed in both jewelry stores but got nowhere. I don’t expect you to send me every little thing I need. I probably have more ready money that you do. They couldn’t give soldiers stuff without points or they would buy it and bootleg it. I haven’t answered Eva or any one else yet. I sent Elmo my address from here. It’s a good thing I didn’t go back to K.P. They are still working and you wouldn’t have gotten a letter from tonight. I got Mrs. C. letter. She doesn’t say much as a rule. Three hangers ought to be enough. I found out for sure today my test mark was 166, my I.Q. – 150. Is the post office open nights so you can mail boxes at 9:30.  I guess it is better to eat at a set up table but it makes more dishes to wash. I’d say the temp. varies from 50 to 70. Sometimes maybe it gets to 40. Occasionally there is frost on the grass on the pass. There are big bridges all around here. Dad isn’t 3-A until he is reclassified again. We have a washing machine and an electric presser now. I don’t think dad is in and it is possible I may be on my way out. Dad would have quite a time carrying on an extended correspondence.

Well at last I have gotten your letters answered. I still have one from Gram but it is getting late and I am going to quit to go to bed. I hope to be able to say I am on my way to school in a week or so. Then again I might not go until June. When I think of 3 months K.P., I quit thinking about it. Goodnight and love to you all,



The K.P. Kid

Thursday March 11, 1943



My letters may be short for awhile. I start steady K.P. tomorrow Mar. 12.


Dear folks,

Well today is the day and we’ve had our inspections. I suppose my yesterday’s letter was a little unconnected but I didn’t have much time and I was also a little excited too I guess. After supper, just before alert, I was drafted to unload and spread another load of gravel along with a couple other fellows. We didn’t go out on the alert and we hurried and finished before the alert was over, so we gained some time on the others. I went to work on my stuff. I shined my shoes, cleaned my aluminum, and I spent about 1 ½ hour on my rifle. Then I washed and I got to bed at about 10:30. They woke us up at 4:45 to get the barracks in order. I dressed, washed, made my bed and spread out my junk on my bed – shelter half, belt, rain coat, canteen, cup and mess equipment, towel, hankie, underwear , tooth brush, powder, razor, blade & shaving cream and I guess that was about all. Oh yes, helmet, gas mask, and rifle. Then by the time I got the whole works set up it was time for reveille. After roll call we had breakfast. Boy was I surprised. Each of us got a banana. They were the first ones I’ve seen in months. I believe it was before Xmas. They had Rice Krispies too so naturally I sliced up my banana and had a real dish of cereal homestyle. Besides that I had an egg, 2 pancakes, syrup, cake and milk. After breakfast I put the finishing touches on my display of equipment. We had the alert but we didn’t do much and I managed to maneuver in a manner so that I kept my shined shoes from getting muddy. When we got in I washed my hands, changed to my O.D.’s and got set. We went out with our rifles for inspection in ranks at about 10 to 9:00. The inspection was made by the major and a lieutenant. The lieut. inspected my group. Confidentially I didn’t do so well. When the officer steps in front of you, you bring your rifle up and do “inspection arms.” First you come to port arms and then you pull back the bolt so the breech is open. I brought it up but gripped the bolt first so he politely told me to do it over again right. I know what he was getting at and the second time it was O.K. If you mess up the manual of arms they pay more attention to your rifle. He asked me if I had a front sight cover. I told him it was all right there, all that I had been issued. Then he asked me if I had ever tried to get one from the supply office. I told him no, that I didn’t know it was missing. I didn’t know I was supposed to have one. What do I know about rifles? I don’t want to know anything about them anyhow. I have no interest along that line. I suppose its fun to fire one and see how good you are but its fun to drive a car too and I don’t expect to learn all of its parts and how to tear it apart. He also found a little spot of rust that I had missed last night. The inspection in ranks took nearly an hour. Then we went inside and got ready for the inspection of quarters and equipment. The major and his lieut. along with our cap’t and 4 lieuts and the st/sgt. came through. We stood at attention beside our bed. The major and the rest came down the aisle and he was coming pretty fast until he got in front of me. He got nearly past and then stopped. I said to myself, Oh! Oh! Then he said to somebody – there is a wonderful set of shoe shines. Boy did I feel relieved. They didn’t spend much time in our barracks. Everything was O.K. except the stoves were dirty. As soon as they left, we took care of everything. I changed to my clean fatigues and sorted out my dirty clothes. Then I started to read my yesterday’s mail. I got a letter from Mrs. C. last night so that made 10 for yesterday. I also got 2 letters today – your last Sat. & Sun. letter Mar. 6 & 7 and a letter from Dick Hollingsworth.  I now have in all about 15 letters to answer. By then it was dinner time. I had potatoes, cabbage, peas, salad, biscuits, butter, cherry pie and ice cream. The cap’t told us the inspection as a whole was satisfactory and below. We got the afternoon off. I expected to get gigged because of that rust on my rifle but they had a gig-list and they rounded them all up and I wasn’t on it. They had to work this afternoon while we were off. I took advantage of the time off to do out some washing. I don’t like to send my own things to the laundry because they often exchange things. I washed 7 hankies, a washcloth, 3 towels, 2 prs. of shorts and 2 prs. of socks. My wool underwear shirt and my fatigues are going to the laundry. I just finished washing before I started writing and I have it hung on a wire outside. That brings me up to the moment. I have oil on my rifle and I’ve got to keep it in shape from now on. I don’t want to be caught at the last minute for the next inspection. It made me feel good to get a compliment on my shoes. They did have a swell shine and they had been filthy with mud too. It is a swell sunshiny day here and now that I am past that inspection I feel pretty swell. My fatigue hat is pretty dirty so I dug out that little cap I wore at McCoy. I have been wearing it on the back of my head like a ball cap in a very un-military manner I suppose but it makes me feel better that way. I’d like to play some tennis or something this afternoon. Tonight they are going to have what they call a beer bust. It is the same thing they had our first night here. I don’t care about that but I do feel pretty happy today except – tomorrow I go on K.P. and I think it will be steady for awhile at least. Two of the four who were scheduled to go on steady went on today. They are still on tomorrow and we other 2 also go on so I guess it is permanent at least until more new men come in. They are planning a new setup here and as things stack up it may not be too bad. The alerts are getting earlier and later every day. So they start this new setup Mar. 15. They will eat breakfast after going out on alert at about 8:00 instead of 6:30. Then they will work until 11:30 as usual. They will eat at 12:00 and have time off until 3:00 for athletics or anything they want to do. Then they go to work again. By summer they will be getting up at 4:00 and staying out on alert until after 10 at night. They will get one 24 hour pass or day off each week. On K.P. the hours will be longer probably. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to myself. We may have quite a bit and then again we may work from morning until 8:30 or 9:00 at night. We are supposed to get a pass every 5 days according to what they told us so we will get more time off on passes than the others. It’s hard to tell what will work out. I’ve found that you can’t plan much on the army. As someone said there are 2 ways of doing everything, the right way and the Army way. Anyway my letters may be a little shorter but don’t doubt that I am writing because I am. I have hopes of something good coming from this college training. It will probably take 2 or 3 weeks yet though. If that materializes I won’t mind doing some K.P. but K.P. for the duration is enough to make a person go over the well known hill. They call this the guard house battery. Half of it is in the guard house and the other half is over the hill. I don’t know when I’ll answer this mail from other people. Some of it is from McCoy, a lot from Santa Rosa, and some direct to here. I also have some new addresses that you sent & Dick Hollingsworth sent me a boy’s address that I used to know. He is in the Medics up here in Fort Lewis, Washington. Aunt Marie also hinted that Leo would like to get a letter. She doesn’t want him to know she mentioned it but she says he noticed it because I wrote cards to little George and Irving. I’ll have to remedy that situation I guess. I have the following unanswered mail – a card and letter from Aunt Edna, a card and letter from Sunfield, a letter from Aunt Marie, one from Geo. C. Ralph (incidentally it was Aunty who sent that book) one from Dick H. and one from Gram. Well now I’ll start to answer your letters. First the one of last Sat. and Sun. Mar. 6 & 7. I imagine that by now you have gotten quite a few letters. I have written to you every day since I left home and I’ll continue to do so unless it is absolutely impossible. It may be delayed somewhere but that isn’t my fault. Evidently there has been a delay somewhere along the line. I have had the same thing. I didn’t get any direct mail from you yesterday, but I got enough old mail from Santa Rosa to fill the gap. Yet I got a letter last night from Mrs. C. postmarked 5/12 hours later than the one I got from you today. All I can say is I am writing and if you don’t get a letter for 2 or 3 days there must be a stoppage somewhere. Maybe a plane crashed or there is a snow storm or something. I follow your letters to see which ones of mine you get and you have gotten them all up to date. Some days you get 2 and then none the next. I have the same thing quite often. I always know what letter to look for. By that I mean I know which days letter. Tomorrow or tonight I should get your Mon. letter. I’m anxious to get it and see your reactions to that test I took because by Mon. you should have gotten my last Mon. letter telling I took it. I hope they don’t waste a lot of time. I believe these soldiers are to be placed in the schools by April 15. You sent me a clipping but I can’t remember the date for sure. Anyway I may be leaving here pretty soon. If I do leave and I have a doggone strong basis for thinking I will, I imagine I’ll be coming closer to home although that is just a guess. I’ve read a lot about the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. That would be a 3,000 mile trip. If I am not up for training they would not have called me in yesterday and asked for my choice of fields of training and of branches of the service. I really feel I may get a break this time. If I am fooled I imagine I will be able to get along. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose. If I move I will probably know in time to give you at least a hint. I also will probably travel pretty much on my own. It won’t be like a troop movement. There will probably be only a small group of us. I hope they have lots of openings for training for chemists. I bet they’ll really lay the stuff on too. They won’t waste time so the slow ones can keep up like they do in real schools. I guess you can tell by the way I write that I am building up a lot of expectations but if it falls thru I don’t think it will bother me too much. Before I leave, if I do, I want to get one of the arm insignia that they wear here for a souvenir. It is like this [sketch] and stands for the General Headquarters Reserve. A new one is coming out pretty soon. I haven’t got Carl’s letter yet but if I do I’ll answer him in turn when I get the time. I don’t know how it will be for us but I understand the others have to leave camp when they get their passes, otherwise they will have to go on working. On the K.P. I think it will be different because the cooks get time off but can stay here. The time off will be noon to noon for others. Ours is supposed to be six a.m. to six a.m. which is better. I will have the day to go or do what I want and I can come back to sleep. My time won’t be divided by the night that is if our setup is as they told us last Sun. As I always say, time will tell. Anyway people will probably think I don’t pay much attention to their letters when they don’t get prompt replies but I can’t help it. So Carl finally got his divorce. My letters are in my grip but I’ll get them ready to send home as soon as I can. I don’t want to burn them. It isn’t that I don’t want to do as you ask but I haven’t had any chance to do it yet and I guess I put things off too much. A lot of fellows have packs of letters. One kid writes about 8 pages to his wife every night. He wrote number 83 today. I agree that L.S. men are worth more in plants and on the farms. Most of them were in an essential industry before going into the army. I wouldn’t worry about drafting the women if I were you. That is a pretty drastic measure. I don’t seem to be able to remember how Dave Minor plays the piano but I am not so different in the music I like than you. I like this jive stuff because it peps you up and lifts your spirits but I also like real music. I think that those people who write to me should write to you too but I’ll not suggest it to them as I know you wouldn’t want that. Yes Aunt Edna has written twice to me in Cal. You better not sit in the house all summer if you have a chance to get out. Go with dad when he goes out. You shouldn’t sit at home all the time. It doesn’t seem right that it is so cold back there when we are having early summer weather. The mail you didn’t get Tues. you either got Mon. or Wed. As for your mail going to Guy Forist don’t worry about that. You have those cards filed and if I wrote to you at any address in Lansing you would still get the letter. If anything you are apt to get his mail as you did once. I don’t eat much meat so I don’t think I’ll get any horse meat. They haven’t tried that yet anyway. Gee Dad shouldn’t let his pants get so dirty. If he or you need any clothes you should get them because you never can tell how the situation may be later. I have intended to write to several of my teachers but time is my worst enemy I guess. I’ll use Mrs. C. paper until it is gone. She sent it to me to write on and I’ll use it. She will get as many letters on it as I write to her before it is all gone. I don’t intend to save it all for her though. We will have range practice probably but I doubt if we have any maneuvers. That is for field artillery and infantry most.

Back at about 6:45. They pulled two of us out to unload and spread a load of gravel. We worked at average speed and were just about finished at the time for alert so the fellow told us to rake it around and sweep some. This took us until the fellows had gone out on alert. Then he let us go so although I lost some of my afternoon off I gained it back by not going on the alert. I also got 2 pieces of ice cream from the cooks in the kitchen, so I didn’t lose too much in the deal. Now back to your letter. I am not sick or apt to be. The butter milk didn’t bother. It was butter milk all right but I just don’t like it. Hugh has written twice since he was married but he hasn’t mentioned it to me. The one thing he mentioned was that while he was in Lansing he saw Nate at a bowling alley and he was surprised to see Nate smoking. You wouldn’t think he would pay attention to a thing like that. I didn’t go to church last Sunday. I guess we can both hang on as long as things are as good as they are and the mail man holds out. I wouldn’t worry too much about 4-14 men being drafted. Dad has a bona fide dependent in Gram and that’s an honest fact. Whether he may be caused to go to a war job is something else. He might better do that than be drafted. I’d come back and take a war job now if they would let me go but I guess they have other plans. If this whole thing wasn’t so dead serious, I would get a big kick out of thinking of Dad in the army. He would no doubt be L.S. If he ever got in he had better say he is a truck driver. He ought to be able to handle a 1 ½ ton or 2 ½ ton snub nose job. I don’t know about a prime mover. Anyone can toss a jeep around. Of course you have to have an Army driver’s license which is something else. A good truck driver can get a T/5 rating – $66 a month. It would be tough if one of us got be an officer over the other. I can see dad saluting officers and doing the manual of arms, to the rear march, but the right flank, etc. I also can get an inward laugh seeing him on K.P. Enough laughs at his expense and I earnestly hope and pray that he won’t get a taste of any of it. I would hate to have him have to do any of the things even I have had to do. Did you find out how or where Bob Hutchens was hurt? Is he on sick leave? Well I guess that covers your Sat. & Sun. letters. To dad’s letter – I am glad you liked the card. I hope you and mom can get up to the place soon. You know when I work around here with tarpaper or old lumber or gravel it seems sort of like the good old days up there when we poured concrete and sawed crooked boards. I don’t like to change my address so often either but if the change is for the better I won’t mind at all. A kid who works over at regimental says things are popping so I may hear something definite pretty soon. If you get to be a private and I am an officer you better salute and say sir or I’ll put you on K.P. Gee it would be nice if you could get gas for a vacation. You never can tell. We might be able to take a trip yet. We’ll wait and see. A kid bought a cucumber tonight to eat and it cost him 30 cents. Oranges are 30 cents a dozen. I’ll try to get those letters out soon. If I stay on K.P. here as scheduled I’ll have a 24 hour pass coming up early next week and I intend to go to Frisco and see what I can see. I may as well see it as I may not be in this part of the country too long. I think I’ll go east and maybe south on my next move (if I move). That covers the fresh mail. The alert is about over so I’ll go wash and get ready to eat. I’ll see you later.

Back pretty late. We had a get together with cheese sandwiches, pickles, potatoes, and ripe olives – that was what I ate. We have a fellow who is a good accordion player and he did the entertaining. I will quit this at 10:00. I have to get up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow to go on K.P. I’m glad I wasn’t on today. They’ll be there until midnight or after.

Now your Mon. Feb. 22 letter. What is the Dave Minor way? I’d like to learn to play the piano any way. Henry Aldrich is on now. I still think I’d like a furlough even if it is warm here and cold there. I hope Tom V. is okay by now. I haven’t heard anything about sleeping on the ground. I don’t know where you got that idea. I thought I wasn’t much of a help up at the place. All I did was play tennis off the garage door. I hardly think it would be practical to move troops by planes. The expense would be tremendous and unnecessary. You didn’t lose so many points and you are fortunate to have the canned goods you have. Aunty says she wishes she had some of yours. She says George can’t realize that he can’t buy things like he used to do. Lenna Forist – who is she? —– If you need a good rain we could spare you one I am sure. 9:30 now. Thanks for those dates. A walk every day would be good for you I think. Every letter from you is welcomed by me, and I mean it. Ossie may be getting $85 counting allowances for room and board. He gets 66 as a cpl. If I go to school I will get my 50 plus an allowance for room and board (I think). A sgt. gets 78.

Now to the Wed. Feb. 24 letter. I wouldn’t worry about not cleaning my room. It will be taken care of in time. Is Clare Potter in the air corps or naval air corps? Elmo thinks Thayne may go April 4. That pre-flight training is really tough. I haven’t seen any bed bugs, fleas, etc. My feet aren’t sore. You bet those homes were occupied. The flowers were in gardens. Yes that warehouse was all fallen in. That Swede was L.S. for his eyes. Most of us are. Those G.I. glasses are made to fit under a gas mask. I suppose I’ll have to get a pair in time if I am here long enough. I’ll save my tubes. My candy was much better than the cherries Francois paid $1.50 for. I found that little man in the magazine. He is a pretty cute guy. I got the stamp off a package. I can’t remember whose it was now. The Tasty Yeast was O.K. I sure hope Chemical Warfare is interesting. It better be. Brocolli [sp.] tastes a little like cabbage. It is in a head but doesn’t look like cabbage. We had an old soft ball or two without covers. I have had a couple boil like pimples but nothing has developed from them. Julius is 2-A because he is studying engineering. That dog was a mixture of everything. Julius is 19. Ewing left on the 28 of Dec. just before I did. A doesn’t mean excellent when it is Battery A. Well that’s that letter and they are turning the lights out on me so I’ll have to quit and leave a half sheet of paper blank. 5:00 isn’t very far away and I’ve been up since 4:45 so I’ll have to say good night. Until next time lots of love to you all,



The K.P. Kid

We of the Congregation

Sunday February 28, 1943

4:45 p.m.


I’m not out of stationery but I thought I would use this to show you your money does go for good use. [letter written on U.S.O. stationery]


Dear folks,

I’ll start this while waiting for supper. I’ll finish some time after the alert probably. This is Sunday but I have been on the go all day. I got to bed a little after 10 last night. Because it was Sunday they let us sleep until 5:45 instead of the usual 6 o’clock. I got dressed and got part of my bed made before reveille at about 6:15 but I couldn’t seem to get awake very fast this morning. We had breakfast earlier this morning too. I came in and finished making my bed before I went to breakfast. I put a good shine on my oxfords and one pair of shoes last night so I didn’t have to bother with that this morning. For breakfast I had oatmeal, scrambled eggs, toast and butter. After breakfast I came back and lay down and I was just about asleep when the whistle blew for the morning alert at a little after seven. Supper!

Back after supper. Charlie McCarthy just signed off. We were out on alert until about 8:15. It wasn’t foggy this morning and the sun rise was awfully pretty. When we first went out, the lights were still twinkling in Martinez and Pittsburgh. When we left the sun was high. We spent the time as usual, practicing with dummy rounds of ammunition. We got back to camp at about 8:30 and I washed a little and changed to my O.D.’s. I put on my pants, shirt & blouse and wore my green (or khaki, whichever they are) socks for the first time with my oxfords. Then at 8:45 we fell out and the chaplains, one Catholic & one Protestant, invited us to attend church. I had already changed my clothes so I thought I would go and see what was cooking. The services are held in a building where they have a table for the preacher and folding chairs for we of the congregation. The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes. We sang a few songs (I imagine I was decidedly off key) and then we had a prayer and a short sermon and a solo and more songs and finally the benediction. I imagine it’s hard for a man to give a sermon to men of all kinds of Protestant beliefs. His sermon was general enough so that he couldn’t be accused of favoring anybody. When we were leaving he stopped us and shook hands with each of us. I am sure he appreciated seeing all of our shining faces. Certainly it did me no harm but I can’t see where it did a lot of good either. About all it did for me was to give me a tinge of homesickness again for a little while. We finished there at about 9:45. I came back and got into my fatigues again and began the major construction problem of making a wall locker. [sketch] Really all it is is a box on end with two shelves nailed in. I have a foot locker, a small trunk 12×24 inches, which was given to me. It could stand some improvements but it is probably better than anything I could build for myself. First I got measurements and then started hunting for lumber. I found some pieces when one of the corporals suggested that we go get a truck driver and have him take us out to get some empty ammunition boxes. We hunted around until we got a truck driver. He took several of us out to look for boxes. We found some and I picked one out for myself. When I got it back it was much too short so I went to work to rebuild it. It was also a little deep but I decided that wouldn’t hurt anything. By this time, it was time for dinner so I put my stuff to one side and washed. For dinner I had chicken, a nice big piece of breast, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots and peas, salad, bread and butter & pears. Boy that was a swell meal. The only trouble was that the chicken should have been cooked a little longer. I don’t suppose you listened to One Man’s Family tonight but they gave a pretty good explanation of how to use these food ration stamps. The thing they emphasized was to use your 5 & 8 point stamps first so that if at the end of the month you wanted to buy a 2 or 3 point article you would have small stamps to pay for it. There is no change given with these stamps like we used to give with the old surplus foods stamps. I imagine that setup will be a headache to customers and clerks both for awhile. After dinner I hurried back and went to work on my carpentering again. The Manhattan Merry Go Round is on now. It’s 6 here and 8 there. I’ll soon have to go out for the alert I imagine. I worked about ½ hour and had to leave to go out and help clean our gun. That only took about an hour and we were back at 2 o’clock. Boy that gun was really dirty. The parts are big though and easy to clean once you can get at them. When I got back I stuck to my cutting and nailing until I finished my wall locker at about 4:00. It has to fit between a ledge on the floor and another one just below the windows. If it had been a 1/16 of an inch higher it would have been too big. It isn’t a very fancy job but it looks pretty good. I used the ends out of that old ammunition box and cut boards for the sides. It was pretty hard to find two boards around here that were the same width. One fellow came along and cut up one of my boards after I had it all set and that threw me off a little. I think that on the whole I did pretty well for me. I even ripped a couple of boards about 3 feet long and Dad knows that is no cinch to do. I think mine looks as good as any of the others. I finished and cleaned up my mess in time to start this letter before supper. They have been building a garage near here so we worked over there and used their tools. We have a stiff inspection coming up March 11 and everything is supposed to be ready by then. We have to have wall lockers and they are to put our toilet articles, etc. in. I like the idea O.K. if we can trust everybody else. It makes things a lot handier. I had supper at about 5. Sunday night suppers are never much. I had cold meat (which I mistrusted and gave away), slices of cheese, potato salad, celery, sweet pickle, bread, butter and a cinnamon doughnut. I went back for the first time tonight and got more salad, celery, pickle, 3 ripe olives, bread, and 2 doughnuts. I don’t care much for ripe olives. I got stung on our drinks. They had bottles of milk on the table so I quick filled up my cup and started to drink. Guess what—Buttermilk. I drank what I had but I didn’t like it very well. That brings me up to the present so I’ll quit before the whistle blows for the evening alert.

Back after alert. It seemed quite long tonight. Every day I see the sun rise and set while I am on an alert at the gun position. Tonight we didn’t do any practicing. We just took rags and wiped the outside of the gun off and then stood around the rest of the time waiting for the Orange 2 signal. I really enjoy the view at just dark and just daybreak from our gun position out across the water to the towns and mountains on the other side. These are just remarks for you folks of course. There is a boat that goes up and down the bay all the time. I don’t remember if I mentioned it before or not. It must be meant as a protection for the big railroad bridge. It looks like what I would call a mine sweeper. The Kaiser ship yards, part of it, is down the bay about 8 miles at Vallejo. I got this stationery at the day room and I thought I would write on it so you could see what USO money goes for. I need to shave tonight and I should take a shower but the water is off now. I didn’t take a shower last night. The water was cold so I just washed my face and hands. I still haven’t got any forwarded mail from Santa Rosa. It sure will be nice when all my mail gets caught up with me. I wonder when that will be. I wrote to everybody from Santa Rosa so if they answered before I sent them my newest address I’ll have a lot coming. I’d like most of all to get that box. That is most important. It will be 2 weeks tomorrow since you sent it. It’s a good thing there was no fruit in it. I expect to hear from you direct to here by Tues. or Wed. Well I guess I’ll try to get something resembling a shine on these shoes and arrange my stuff in my wall and foot lockers. I like it better that way. It seems a lot more like home to have stuff out where I can grab it in a hurry. I could write more if I had a letter of yours to answer. Probably I’ll get about a dozen letters at once and then not have enough time to answer them. I can see now why Ray and fellows didn’t answer very soon. There are a lot of things to do. If and I said if I ever get to any kind of a school I don’t imagine my letters will be worth much. I want to start studying for a rating but I just don’t seem to be able to have half enough time for things. If I ever get a furlough I’d like to be something besides Pvt. when I get home. Pfc. is better than nothing but I hope it can be Sgt. someday. I said 6 months before I got in the army but I doubt it now. I was thinking today of all the times I would like to get home for a furlough. I doubt if I can get one by July 1. I think they are issued on a rotation basis with the older men first so I probably won’t be due for one until late Aug., Sept. or maybe Oct. October would be nice but it would mean I couldn’t get home for Xmas. But there’s no sense in worrying about all that. I’ve got only 8 weeks in so far but it is the longest 8 weeks I have seen yet. In four weeks I can apply for O.C.S. but I think I’ll wait until I am sure I know enough about the gun and about the handbook. There are too doggone many things to learn. Well this is enough of this and about all for today. By now you should have my first letter from here. I wrote it Tues. & sent it out Wed. morning. Mail deliveries are better from here I believe. Well good night for tonight. I hope those heads aren’t acting up too much on you folks. Until next time so long and love to you all,



I Didn’t Throw the Vicks Away

Wednesday February 24, 1943

About 9 in the morning


Dear folks,

Well here I am. I got to bed at 10:00 last night and they got us up at 6:00 this morning. I dressed, washed, and made up my bed & dusted my shoes before we fell out for roll call at about 6:25. Then I came back to the barracks till breakfast. I had 2 eggs fried, a box (bowl) of Kellogg’s Wheat Pops and a slice of toast with about 3 pieces of butter. That is the first time I ever saw Kellogg’s Wheat Pops. They must be something new but they are like Quaker Puffed Wheat. Shortly after breakfast we went over to the office and the Battery Commander told us what he liked and didn’t like as they usually do. Tom Brenneman just came on with Breakfast at Sardi’s. Then the Lieut. told us the different jobs there were and gave us a chance to take our choice somewhat. I couldn’t qualify for the range finder or director because they are optical instruments and they need men with perfect eyes. I know no radio so I was out so far as 268 goes. 268 is some secret weapon which is highly technical. I asked for the clerk job but we have a former Co. clerk so he got that and there was another kid with 2 yrs. college & 2 ½ years of clerk experience. He went to Regimental Hdq. for personnel work. Another fellow had been stock clerk 3 years so he got in supplies. I’ve never done any work to get experience in anything they can use. I’ve studied a lot of stuff but I didn’t have time to specialize. I know nothing about motors so I couldn’t get in power plant work. I can’t cook and I don’t drive trucks so here I am. He assigned each of us to something for the next week. Then if there is something else we can do better we will be put on that. For now I am assigned to a 90mm. gun. They don’t leave a person out of the army long enough to learn a job or get any experience. I don’t know if I’ll be on the guns for good or not, but there eyes aren’t so important. The directors and height finders take care of all the eye work. When the lieutenant finished talking the first sgt. said a few things to us too. We have to build ourselves foot lockers & wall lockers by next Mon. morning. The wall locker is a box with shelves nailed in and stood on end. It is to put toilet articles, etc. in. The foot locker is a small trunk like with a cover. It is to keep our clothes in. They have cases which we can tear apart and use for lumber. Boy I bet mine will be good and straight. What do you think? They tell us we have to learn all we can because the regular service men will be moving out and we will take their places. We in turn will have to instruct the new men who come in. The 1st sgt. seemed to think that if we don’t get ratings (cpl. or sgt.) it will be our own fault. Right now I don’t care whether I get [to] be anything above private or not. A private doesn’t have many responsibilities. Later in the day I may feel more progressive and decide I’ll get to be sgt. I still doubt if West is a sgt. yet. I have been told that ratings aren’t given until a person completes basic which in his case would be 13 weeks. He has had about 7.

Back again about dinner time. When they got through talking to us we came to the barracks and I began to write. Then I had to break off and went outside. Four of us were told to report to the mess sgt. I told myself that I might have known it. K.P. the first day. It wasn’t as I thought though. I worked about 2 hrs. or so. I piled old lumber and boxes, picked up paper and trash from the ground, mopped in the kitchen and picked up more junk and trash and put wood on the fire under the hot water for washing our silverware after we eat. Now I am back in the barracks waiting for dinner. This afternoon they are going to take us into Benicia four at a time to get haircuts. We haven’t had any since we left McCoy. Mine isn’t bad but I may as well get it cut now and then I won’t have to do it on my own time. They have a barber shop here at the P.X. and a barber but he has no instruments to work with. I hope I can get to a drugstore or something but I don’t suppose I will. Well I’ll stop for now and be back later.

Back again after dinner. Four fellows have gone in after hair cuts and the rest of us are here in the barracks. I guess we are supposed to stay here until our turn comes. I will go in the third group. Dinner was pretty good. I had potatoes, gravy, carrots, green string beans, salad, bread, butter, and plums. We have dishes here, cups, bowls and plates. All we have to use is our own silverware. The dishes were bought by the fellows themselves and we each have to put up $1 towards some more. The big problem for me will be to build my foot and wall lockers. I am no carpenter as you know but maybe I can get it done O.K.

Back now after supper quite awhile. I was pleasantly surprised to get 2 letters this noon. One was that long lost letter of Feb. 5, the other was from Hugh and was one of these good luck chain letters. My faith in the postal system has been restored and this mail has helped to fill the gap until my mail catches up with me again. I don’t know whether I’ll bother with that chain letter but I suppose I will. I was just finished with reading them when I was told to go out. They took 3 of us with another gang and at 1 o’clock we went out to the gun positions. We were there an hour. We 3 knew nothing about it so we stood back and watched while the rest practiced. We were given some basic information about the gun and then the others practiced with a dummy shell. I don’t know how much I dare say about the guns positions. They are a short distance from our camp and are on a high hill overlooking an arm of the bay. It is rather windy up there but the view is nice. There is a railroad track down below and the train looked real cute going across a long bridge. There are rolling green mountains all around. They are building concrete underground quarters for the men right at the gun positions and eventually they will live right there. After we finished out there we came back to the camp. From the hills I could see concrete doors all over the hillsides in the distance. They lead to an underground arsenal which must honeycomb those hills for a great distance. That and the navy yard at Vallejo are the reason for us and the guns being here I guess. We were in camp a few minutes and then they took about 8 of us in a truck into town to get hair cuts. We were there about 3 hours in all. First I got my hair cut. That didn’t take long. Then I had a lot of time left so I looked the town over. It isn’t much of a town. I would have felt better if I had had my O.D. uniform on. I had my dirty fatigues and that old “Joe College” fatigue hat but I saw all I wanted anyhow. The town is about 8,000 and most of the buildings are pretty old. I walked around and saw all I wanted to. I was in 2 jewelry stores but couldn’t get my watch fixed in either. I spent about $1.96 altogether.


Haircut                                   .75

Book- Mission to Moscow  .25

1 cent cards                            .25

Scenery cards                         .20

Other                                      .19

Candy bar                              .05

Eraser                                     .05

Piece of ice cream                  .05

Pie & ice cream                      .16

Weight                                    .01



I was really extravagant wasn’t I? I got my hair cut quite short but it is warm here and I won’t have to bother so often. They really soaked it to us at 75 cents. I bought the book, eraser, and some of the cards at a little variety store. I had always intended to buy a bound copy of the book (it was $1.89) but this is the first I’ve seen it in the pocket book edition so I grabbed it. I have nothing to erase with so I bought a small eraser. Of course you know why I bought the cards. They aren’t very good though and I haven’t seen any [of] the things in the pictures as yet. I bought the penny cards to send out to people to give them my new address. I have no more but 2 of those free cards and I didn’t want to take time to write letters to everyone. The other cards mentioned you will get by free mail and I’ll leave them as a surprise to you. I hope you like them. You watch the mail very closely. There that ought to put you in suspense. I bought the candy bar “Old Nick” in a drug store. They sell only one to a customer. I weighed myself and clothes and all, its 154 so I guess I am the same as when I came into the Army. I bought the square of ice cream from a vendor with a cart. I tried to get some in one drug store but the fountain was out of order. I got the apple pie a la mode in a bakery with a fountain. It was very good too. If I had had a spoon with me I would have bought a pint of ice cream. All in all I had a fairly nice afternoon. This was the first time I have been on a street since Jan. 2. I was off the train once or twice but I didn’t go anywhere. The rest of the time I have spent in a camp. It seemed pretty good to be free for a little while but it makes me feel a little funny when I see shoes and sport shirts and pants and sports jackets and things which I would like to buy but can’t wear in the windows. There are two theatres in town which show not very new pictures. They are 2 months behind the Michigan back in good old Lansing. So far as I am concerned there is nothing in Benicia that I care about except the shows. One or maybe two nights a week will probably be plenty for me. I wish I could go see Fibber & Molly & Charlie McCarthy Sat. but I can’t. We left town about 5:20 I guess when they got everyone rounded up out of the beer garden. An old lady who ran a beauty parlor gave a couple of us a big stack of magazines from her shop and I was in the truck looking at them when the others got there. We got back to camp when supper was over but I hurried over and got plenty for myself. I got potatoes, spinach, corn, salad, bread, and doughnuts. And here I am. I find that when I write during the day like I have today, my letters are longer because I have more time to think of the things I want to say. I doubt if we will have much spare time. Besides our training we will have alerts at dawn and at dusk every night so that will take more of my letter writing time. I’ll write though if I have to get a flashlight and write under the covers at night. Well that’s a pretty good coverage of my day’s activities. Now to your letter of Feb. 4 postmarked at Lansing Feb. 5 – 11:30 a.m. and at McCoy Feb. 8 – 4 p.m. I hope the mail deliveries keep steady so you will get a letter every day. When you get 2 letters you will have to save one for the next day. Kay Kyser is on now. Are you listenin? Most of the things you asked then are probably answered for you by now. That’s good service, boy. 20 days from Mich. to Cal. I hope my next graduation will include a diploma. I could have got the money order for my tax today but it was in my money belt yet when I was in town. I doubt if we will be paid although Mon. is pay day. We haven’t signed the pay roll this month. I didn’t throw the Vicks away. I always like to be depended on even if I did make a lot of noise about things. I still have my pennants. Boy that makes milk 14 cents doesn’t it? There is a 3% sales tax out here and it starts on 15 cents. I would surely like to get home for Oct. If they give them by regular order I will get it when my turn comes. Why don’t you use the new oil mop? Or don’t you like it? I bought it for you to use. Don’t fear, I’ll always like your food better than any other. I will be glad to go to a good show. Well that is that for today and today’s mail. I will call this a letter. It’s only 4 pages but I think it is equal to about 10 or 12 of your size page. These pages are large and I have written very small. I have twice as many lines per page and the pages are twice as big. I hope you are getting these letters O.K. So far as I know now I will be stuck here for the duration so keep the mailman busy. I’ll write as much as I can. So long till next time.


Love to you all,


Two Huge Tomato Sandwiches

Tuesday February 23, 1943

Probably about 6:30 or so


Dear folks,

Well here I am again in another camp. This is the first camp I have reached while it was still daylight. We got here about 4:00. That was quite a party last night. They told us all to go so when I finished writing that letter, I put on my O.D.’s and went over to the mess hall to see what was cooking. I’ll have to apologize for that messy envelope but I dropped it in the mud while going from the day room to the barracks. I already had the stamps on it and I couldn’t afford to throw them away so you got a muddy letter. I didn’t think you would mind too much. The party wasn’t bad. It was our last night and the sgts. & lieutenants did their best to give us some entertainment. Several of the fellows sang or played guitars & harmonicas (not me) and made entertainment for the rest of us. The lieutenant had a phonograph and he played us some Crosby records. We had lots of things to eat. I ate some apples and some cheese & cracker sandwiches. They also had lots of 3.2% beer, pretzels, shrimp, ripe olives, and potatoe chips. I tried a ripe olive but I don’t like them. Then a bunch of us got together and sang songs. We were the last ones so we helped clean up the mess hall. It was about 11:30 when we got through and I got to bed at about 15 to 12:00. Nobody cared last night and the barracks didn’t quiet down until about 1 I guess. I was one of the first ones up and I didn’t get up until 7:30. The cooks were waiting for them to come to breakfast when I went over. I had 3 fried eggs, oatmeal, my mess kit pan full – that’s probably equal to 2 dishes at home – grapefruit and toast. Boy they have really fed us here at this mess hall since we moved in last Saturday. We haven’t needed seconds. After breakfast I went back and tore my bed apart and got my bedding ready to turn in. Then I started to pack up my stuff to move. Some of the fellows just heard a broadcast from McCoy. Jimmy Dorsey is up there playing for the L.S. men and I’m in California. I just can’t win I guess. Then we swept and mopped out the barracks. We surely didn’t leave it like we found it. The rest of the time until dinner was free so I shaved and washed up a little and then took it easy until dinner. Boy did they put out a dinner. I ate beef steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, pears, ice cream and choc. milk. Besides that they had onions, broccoli, shrimp and coffee which I didn’t eat. That really was a swell meal.

Back after supper. Right after dinner I and another fellow collected light bulbs out of the barracks and latrine and took them over to the supply room. Then we had mail call. I got your letter you wrote Saturday. It was postmarked Sat. at 7:30 p.m. I still didn’t get that box and the sgt. told us it will take quite a while for our mail to be forwarded. Shortly after mail call we went out with our bags and as our names were called we got in our trucks. There were 8 of us from the same barracks in our truck. The trip took about 2 hours. We went thru Fulton, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Vallejo and of course Benicia. The trip was swell At one time we were within 26 miles of San Francisco but it is farther than that from here. You ought to see these towns and the homes. Down here the cherry trees are in blossom and other bushes are out with yellow flowers. These country homes and the towns are like something from story books. Everything is so colorful. The buildings are of all types, streamlined, old Spanish type and just about every kind. They are painted light colors with red or green or other bright contrasting colors. There are lots of palm trees too. Of course everything seems good to see after seeing nothing but army for 2 ½ weeks but the whole thing really was interesting to me. A lot of people really must have plenty of money to live in such nice homes. I am getting to like Calif. itself more and more. We came down out of the mountains and we must have been pretty high up. We passed around San Francisco bay in spots and it is really huge. There were hundreds of wild ducks in the marshes along the road and we also saw several cranes or storks. The ride was nice. I had my overcoat out but I didn’t have to wear it. Vallejo and Benicia were not quite nice though. There is a Navy yard there and it is a war industry boom town. There are rows and rows of houses tossed on the hill sides and there are lots of trailer camps. One thing which interested us was the sight of a great many of these barrage balloons all around Vallejo. They are the first any of us had seen They must be meant as a protection for the Navy yard. Vallejo is about 8 mile away. I doubt if Frisco is more than 40. Benicia is no good at all from what I saw. It looks like it is just being built but I doubt if we saw the real town itself. All I saw were rows and rows of cheap looking houses being built all over the hills. People are living in trailers. At the first sight of camp it didn’t look very inviting but it may not be bad when we get acquainted. We pulled in and got out of our trucks and stood around awhile until they got us a barracks ready. This is a small place tossed on some hills. The buildings are about like the ones at Santa Rosa. They asked us about what equipment we had been given and after quite awhile we were given bed mattress, mattress cover and two blankets. No pillow here. We took our stuff into the barracks as soon as they got the other fellows out. They moved them out to quarters right on the gun positions & we get the barracks. I put up my bed and made it. It is a steel frame bed with springs. We sleep in single beds too. There is no top deck. I got my stuff out of my bags and hung it up and then made a trip to the P.X. It isn’t much but it is a P.X. One of the fellow treated several of us to some cokes and finally I got me 5 Hershey bars and 2 little cup cakes in a package. I was surprised to find that candy bars are only 4 cents out here. I get 5 bars for the price of 4. Then I came back to the barracks and started finally to write. One of the first things I did was see if I could get my glasses fixed. I can’t get them fixed until next Mon. or Tues. We can’t leave camp until 7 days after we arrive. Then after 7 days I will go to Frisco to get them fixed. There are 3 of us in our barracks with broken glasses. We had our supper at about 7:30 or so. It was just a lunch. There was bread and sandwich material on the tables. I had a slice of cheese and two huge tomato sandwiches. Then I came back to the barracks to write to you. First I shined up my shoes. Then while I was writing Don Ewing came over and I talked with him for awhile. He just left. We thought we were separated but he turned up here too. His glasses are broken and he can’t tell the officers from the men. That brings me up to now. It is raining hard. We are evidently somewhere on the Bay because we saw a large body of water off below us when some of us went walking around a little. Our barracks is pretty nice. They have different odds & ends of linoleum covering the floor which will make it much easier to keep clean. Some of the fellows in the other battery got guard duty the first thing. I was talking with the corporal quite a while and he is taking that 6 week math course I mentioned. It is at the U. of Cal. instead of Berkeley High. He is very interested in my training in math. He says that the coast artillery will be 90 % L.S. including the officers. I’m going to do my best. We will have to work building concrete positions as well as getting our training. It looks as if I’ll be right here for the duration plus unless I go somewhere for training. Well that gives you a little idea of things here. The mess hall is small but I hear the food is tops. Our latrine is across the street. The kid with the radio is next to me in the barracks.

I don’t know if I’ll have time to ans. your letter but I’ll try. I’ve already mailed that blank with my home address but I think that is right. So at last they got the cans. You have a lot of patriotic neighbors. Your return is a joint return but his is the first type under C and I don’t think you have to sign. You had no income during the year. There haven’t been any fleas yet. You never can tell about next summer’s vacation. So Aunty finally wrote. She should have the letter by now that I wrote over a week ago. The Ewing boy got a piece of candy too. It’s getting close to lights out. I have a bar of Lifebuoy left yet plus some little pieces of other bars. I put my powder in my hand when I clean my teeth. That was the only Swing bar I had. That’s your letter.

It’s getting late so I’ll have to close. I’ll have some mail coming but it may be delayed in getting forwarded. A letter was here waiting for Ewing from McCoy. It was mailed from Lansing Feb. 5 so maybe mine will be here too. I hope so. Well tomorrow we will start what will probably be our real training. I was a little afraid of being a flop confidentially but I am beginning to get more confidence. It just seems as if they ought to have an extra set of gold bars around here someplace. I heard on the radio that they will train 800,000 officers this year. Francois has a pull in Washington he hopes to get him into Officer Candidate School. If I get here it will be on my own. Well this is the end for tonight. Write to me here.

Lots of love to you all,

Your wandering son