I Bet I’ll Be a Tight Old Duck Someday

Monday February 22, 1943

About 4:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

George Washington’s birthday again. He is 211 years old today. He is really getting old. Well there won’t be many more letters from here. We expect to leave tomorrow afternoon for our camps. I go to Battery A, 501st C.A. Regiment somewhere near Benicia. The fellow who will be our cook down there left today. He says we stay in barracks about ¾ mile from town. From all I’ve heard so far I must have gotten in about the best outfit but you never can tell about things you hear. I am back writing now after supper. About my glasses. I still have them here. The sergeant took the package but whoever had the say in the post office wouldn’t take it air mail. He said it was because they didn’t know how it was packed. Now that I am leaving I may as well keep them and get them fixed here. I don’t know yet if I can get the watch fixed or not. When I get a chance to get into town maybe I can get to a post office myself and send it out. First I’ll see if I can get it fixed here.

This morning I was up at about 6:05 and as usual dressed, made up my bunk, and shined my shoes before breakfast. I had 2 fried eggs, oatmeal and bread and butter for breakfast. I went back and got another scoop of oatmeal. After breakfast I went back and put the finishing touches on everything. Then there was a slack period when there was nothing to do, so I just sat around and took it easy. Finally we went out and drilled for a little while until about 10:00. Then we went inside for a lecture on airplane identification. We were supposed to do some more marching but it was raining so we had an informal question session and then quit for dinner. For dinner I had mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, salad, biscuits (2) and butter. All I was able to get was 2 more biscuits. Shortly after dinner we had mail call. I got 2 letters. The big one with the envelopes written Thurs. & postmarked Feb. 19 sometime & your Fri. letter postmarked Sat. at 12:30 p.m. That’s pretty good service. I still haven’t got the box. That should come tomorrow. I’ve given up hope of ever getting that last letter to McCoy. I checked back over the letters to make sure and I haven’t got it. I hate to lose confidence in the U.S. postal service but I imagine the army has lost it. It might be that it has been sent to Benicia and is still there. I may get it yet. Right after mail call we were all treated to a very nice shot in the left arm. I was lucky. They only stuck me once. Some fellows had the needle stuck in 2 or 3 times before it went in right. The fellow that shot me stuck the needle in about a half inch in and upward. Then he pressed the plunger and squirted the stuff in. Boy that really hurt for about 5 minutes afterward. Mine bled a little. The spot is pretty sore yet. I think this was for tetanus. I have had my 4 typhoid shots and a smallpox vaccination. This is the second tetanus but they are supposed to come within 21 days and I had the first one Jan. 11. I also found out that my blood type according to the army system of classification is type O. Don Ewing says that means I could give blood to anyone of any blood type. He works at the dispensary so he should know. After the shot I went back to the barracks and just finished reading the letters when we had to go over to the day room and hear talks. It didn’t amount to much. We had a little on the gas mask and some jiu jitsu stuff and finally quit about 4:00. I started this letter just before supper. For supper I had potatoes, gravy, beans, broccoli, salad, applesauce, bread and butter. I had plenty without seconds.

Now I am writing again. We are going to have a party tonight in the mess hall but I doubt if it would be anything I’ll care about. I’d like to go to the show but I won’t. I guess after 4 whole weeks I can wait a little longer. We have had typical Cal. weather today. Rain and more rain. Now about that income tax. I have filled out the blank and will return it. As soon as I can get to a post office I’ll send a money order for the 37 dollars made out to you. Then you can cash it and pay it however it has to be done. You will know because I imagine dad will have to pay too. His will be about the same amount as mine. I think I have filled out the blank as it should be. We still have 3 weeks yet anyway. I think it will be better for me to send the money and pay the tax out of present funds than to dip in my reserve. I’d like to keep that intact. Did you pay for getting my watch fixed out of your own money or did you do as I suggested: I don’t care which you did only you know me. I like to know how much I have. I’m a miser I guess. I bet I’ll be a tight old duck some day. I am writing this on the paper Mrs. C. sent. I thought I’d let you see what it’s like. I am writing small because this paper is pretty heavy. I could have gone down to Hamilton Field today if I had wanted. They took 8 fellows to help with several truck loads of mattresses. They just got back and I wish I had gone. They got a chance to go to a P.X. down there. I dropped this envelope and it looks like a mess but I’ve got to save the stamps so I’ll try to send it anyhow. Now to your letters. I don’t know what Thelma will do with my address. Yes I could write to anyone I know if I find his address in the paper. I write to Hugh and Francois & I are going to try to keep in touch after we leave here. Lots of soldiers write to other soldiers. I guess you get all possible use out of your sheets. You are doing your share regardless of how much Mrs. C. is doing. Her family hasn’t made any donations yet. C. There are a lot of dogs around here too. I laid my clothes on the grass, not on the dirty ground. You are right about the slacks and turban. I’m glad the overcoat is O.K. now.  I appreciated those cute little hearts. If you want me to leave the magazines well O.K. I had figured on sending them home but whatever you say goes. No matter how hard I had to work back there I was doing what I wanted to do and that is what is important. Maybe I can get some cards or folders from this part of the country some day. We hear the frogs every night. It never gets cold enough to freeze solid ice even here. I don’t think the lieutenant would unbutton any cuffs because he doesn’t know one of us from the other. At most inspections we stand right at the end of our bunks. I didn’t have mine buttoned. They were just as they had come from the cleaners. I got the envelopes O.K. That’s Thurs. letter. Now to Friday’s. I just threw in 25 cents toward a gift for our sergeant. This will run into money if I keep moving and getting new sergeants. So Hugh went off the deep end. He said he would but I didn’t think it would be so soon. Maybe he is going to be shipped. So your feet finally got warm. You got that first Tues. letter with the Mon. one because I wrote twice on Tues. Boy Ossie West must really be going to town. You must have nice neighbors on the south side. There are a lot of things that I eat which I never ate at home. When you are hungry there’s just one thing to do, Eat. Some of the stuff is pretty good too but boy, would your potato salad or macaroni taste good. So they have my name up out at the store. I wonder if they will give me my job back when I get back. If it is at the middle of a term I’ll want to go to work maybe. Maybe I’ll just want to take a good long rest. The 15 days starts here. That gives about 8 at home. Fellows who live nearby only get 8 days in the first place. I know nothing about life in tents and I don’t want [to] know. Our helmets are just plastic. They are liners for the steel ones. We got them at Custer. I don’t think I have put on any noticeable weight and I surely don’t over eat. Being outdoors a lot helps the appetite. I may be able to wear oxfords but I doubt it. We are supposed to wear our white socks to absorb the sweat. I doubt if we all will be sent overseas. I don’t think many L.S. men will go over myself. I never ate $5 worth of bread and butter a week did I. I sure do relax. I have learned that it does no good to worry about anything. I have a very good raincoat or slicker. There hasn’t been any cold epidemic here. I got all the math I could at Eastern but they may have special courses out here. I don’t think you have to sign the tax blank because you had no income. Well that covers your letters. To dad’s letter – that candy was really swell. So you finally got a good man. You boys must have had some fun with Russell.

Well this isn’t a very long letter but the writing is small and the pages are large. The sergeant got over $7 but we had quite a time getting him to take it. He was afraid it wouldn’t go so good if the big boys found out. We told him to use it on his furlough. I think I’ll slip into my O.D.’s and see what this party is like. I don’t imagine I’ll stay very long. I may get to bed early. Well this is it for tonight. I’ll let you know my new address as soon as I know it. Keep writing. I’ll see you next time. Lots of love to you all,



Who Are All Those Girls Whose Pictures You Sent?

Thursday, February 18, 1943


Dear folks,

This letter will be limited by time so I don’t know how long it will be. It is about 8:30 I believe so I’ll write till 10:00. I slept till 6:30 this morning. I was up and dressed and had my bed made before breakfast. I had 2 pancakes, syrup, oatmeal, & stewed dried apricots. I went back and got one more flap jack & syrup and more oatmeal and apricots. I really like those apricots. They are the dried ones stewed up. I used to like to eat them dry when I was at the store. After breakfast I shined my shoes and fixed my bed a little better to satisfy the sergeant. Then I sat around a few minutes until we went out. First we had to do our usual morning job of policing up – picking up all the matches, etc. on the ground. Then we went out and marched for an hour until 9:30. Then we had another medical inspection. They looked at our chests and throats again. After that we had a talk on the organization and tactics of the coast artillery. I think I have given this all in the order in which it happened. After the talk we went over so those who had laundry could get theirs. I had a little spare time then until dinner. Dinner was mashed potatoes, gravy, salad and peas and bread. I went back and got more of each. After dinner we had a talk on personal cleanliness. Now that I think it over, I am not sure where that examination or inspection came but it was this forenoon. This afternoon in his talk the doctor emphasized the need for keeping our hands clean, for taking showers and washing our feet and for caring for our teeth. When I was first here our teeth were examined and I was given a number 4 but I didn’t know what it meant then. He explained that to us today. Number 4 means I have good teeth that don’t need attention. After the lecture we went on a hike which lasted up until supper time. We walked about 7 miles I believe. We went off to a little town called Fulton and back. It sure seemed swell to see something besides barracks. It was a swell hot day and boy did I feel good to get out. It doesn’t seem possible that this is February and you are having cold weather back there. We passed several lovely homes. The grass on the lawns and in the fields is green and jonquils and crocuses (I guess) are in blossom. I saw one little tree with yellow blossoms all over it. We also saw a palm tree or two and one little orange tree in a front yard. All around are plum orchards (prunes) and vast vineyards, probably those sweet grapes we like so well. There is fruit all around for miles everywhere. The town of Fulton is just a small place and we didn’t go very far in. We stopped near the R.R. tracks and rested. We saw the Fulton Box Co. Warehouse and boy was it dilapidated. A lot of fellows complained about their feet but I enjoyed the hike except for about ¾ mile over a rocky stretch of new road. Supper wasn’t too hot. Navy beans, potatoes, salad and bread. I just got back to the barracks when we had mail call. I got 5 letters but still not the one you sent to McCoy Feb. 5. The last one I got was written the 3rd and sent the 4th. Tonight I got 5 letters – Your regular letter written Friday, your air mail letters of Sat. and Mon., and letters from Julius & Elmo forwarded from McCoy Feb. 10 & 11. I can’t understand why I haven’t got your letter from McCoy. It was mailed Feb. 5 & Elmo’s was mailed Feb. 8. Maybe I’ll get it yet though. I got your Fri. air mail letter yesterday & the regular letter today but I also got your Mon. air mail today which was post marked Feb. 16. It only took 2 days whereas the Fri. letter took 5. Evidently the air mail schedules aren’t too steady or we just aren’t getting good deliveries. There was an awful lot of mail tonight. I sure hope that letter wasn’t lost as I have gotten all of my mail O.K. up to now. After I read your letter I got to thinking about what you said so I took a chance and did up my glasses and watch to send to you. I don’t know when I’ll get it out but I want to send it air mail and I’ll insure it for 85 dollars. Then I shaved, cleaned my teeth and took a shower and here I am.

Now to your letters. I still have 50 minutes. I threw away the boxes before I left McCoy but I did keep the papers. I have since discarded all the papers I have read. My grip was heavy with books, toilet articles, fruit, candy and everything. I have a lot of things to remember. The Swede is still in my gang. I sleep better in these beds than I did on the train. The pennant from Omaha has an Indian. I think it’s the same one I got all over Michigan. I haven’t changed my wool underwear shirt yet. It isn’t all wool. We have to wear our wool socks. I heard today that regardless of how many cans you have, they can only take ½ of your months points. Is that right? I haven’t had any shots here yet. My finger is O.K. now. I have Listerine & sinus pills. That reg. mail took 6 days. Air mail takes from 3 to 5, usually 3. You can see how long it is before my letters get started. I did up my glasses and my watch as best I could and I will try to send them out tomorrow night. The plane better not crash with $85 worth of my stuff. I should have sent them home a week ago but I was afraid maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. I can’t get them fixed here until I get assigned. I have seen everybody I could about them. I haven’t missed them too much (I’m not telling the army that though.) but my eyes have tired easier and the bright sun has bothered a little. When I get stationed I’ll get 2 pairs on my prescription free. Nobody that wears glasses for eyestrain is in L.S. They all need them here. Do you have to order meat now? Al must be in bad shape to be turned down. Gee fix things the way you want. Don’t stop just because I used to like something. I don’t take cold showers. The barracks has two oil heaters. I have plenty of tissues even after what I used on my packing in the box. I imagine we are at least 30 miles from the ocean and maybe more. I really haven’t missed my long underwear pants. They would have been too hot here. Ewing is no relation to Ferl. We will probably train for at least 5 or 6 months and maybe longer. Non-com is for non-commissioned officer – corporal or sergeant. 15 days is all I can get out here. Maybe you might better keep my good watch & send the other one. My Bulova probably should be cleaned and oiled now after more than a year. The cook didn’t get any candy bars so I got my money back. Francois got a box of 24 choc. cherries and it cost him $1.50. They were pretty good but not worth that much. My heart candy was better. I have two pieces left. 10 minutes to go. Those old men aren’t married. Anybody that wipes on an army towel is briskly rubbed. It is a swell big towel though. I haven’t got your Sunday letter yet and it looks like I’ll have to quit.

Back again early Fri. morning. This is still considered Thurs. letter though because I didn’t have time last night. This will go out just as soon though if I mail it before tonight’s mail call. I have already answered the second Fri. letter & the Sat. letter. Now to Mon. Boy the Ebright’s are meeting violent ends. Who are all those girls whose pictures you sent? Setting the clocks back will make it nicer in that you’ll have daylight earlier. I don’t care whether the envelopes are stamped or not just so I am able to mail them air mail one way or another. So you finally got the sugar book straightened out. I wonder how I would go about getting a pair of shoes if I would ever need them. I’ll probably get your Sun. letter tomorrow. I got the air mails mailed Mon. & Tues. both on Thurs. Dad is getting pretty sharp on his driver’s test. That sewing kit is something I have been thinking about asking for. I may need it sometime soon. I think a lot of your questions are probably answered by my letters before I get your questions. Is that right? That R.O.T.C. manual is for infantry and probably won’t tell you much. You are right about the anti-.  You may not get my insurance policy for 2 or 3 months I understand. There shouldn’t be anything out of my pay because they didn’t sell it to us by our orders and they didn’t take our names as we paid. They just brought out the stuff they knew we needed & first come first served. I keep the candy in my grip with everything else. We have oranges for breakfast here too. The Hodgeman boy didn’t come. I have plenty of bath towels. I don’t know my job classification. I like your confidence in my grocery abilities. Sometimes I think if I shouldn’t get back to school that I may try to get a good grocery store job. A man who couldn’t take the Olds work has no business on dad’s truck.

Well that covers your mail I got last night. I also got letters from McCoy from Julius & Elmo which I’ll cover next time. Now I’ll try to get my glasses off to you tonight. They may be a little slower that the letter so don’t worry. I’ll have it insured for $85 and if anything is broken, collect. The lens was not broken, just the nose clip, see.  The watch is minus its stem. This is the first time I’ve had to take two days on a letter but this is Thurs. letter really and it will go out tonight as usual. I have done well to finish this since breakfast. We’ll go out to drill in a few minutes so I’ll close. Keep the letters coming. I’ll write a real Friday’s letter tonight. This will go out just as soon as though I had put it in the box last night. The Breakfast Club is on now. Love to you all until the next time,


Throw a Lasso Around That Imagination

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 1943


Dear folks,

Well here I am at the end of another day. We were up today at 6 o’clock sharp. I made up my bunk and dressed in time for breakfast. We had eggs, corn meal mush, bread and an orange. I didn’t bother to get seconds. The meals today haven’t been bad but I just haven’t cared for seconds. Maybe it’s the influence of your big box. We fell out at about 8. First we had to police the area or pick up everything on the ground. Walking through the dewey grass is always good on a pair of freshly shined shoes. Then we marched for about a half hour. We have a new commanding officer today. He is a second lieutenant or as they say a “shavetail.” He is rather shy acting and doesn’t say an awful lot. He has a very noticeable southern drawl. I don’t know if he is one of these 90 day wonders or not. He seems to understand his stuff. Then from 9 until dinner time we studied the 50 cal. machine gun. They put it together and told us all they could about its handling and operation. It is a pretty complicated thing. Dinner today was mashed potatoes, a sort of combination stew and gravy with peas & pieces of turkey in it, salad, biscuits & butter and strawberry ice cream. The rest of the day was supposed to be off but we had to clean the barracks. That took until about 2:30 or so. We had another medical inspection this afternoon. They don’t tell us what they are looking for but they checked our throats, chests, and asked about head aches. It may be still measles or maybe scarlet fever. The latest rumor is we have at least one more week or 10 days here yet. When we finished cleaning I tried to put a polish on my shoes. Our sergeant went and got a haircut and while he was gone he bought a few things and brought them back such as stationery, shoe polish & soap. I have enough stationery and I have 2 or 3 small pieces of soap besides a whole bar of Lifebuoy yet but I did need shoe polish so I bought a can. He made us understand that he was selling them at cost. There has been a little trouble over these fellows coming up here and taking advantage of the situation and selling 5 cent candy bars for 10 cents. Then I took a shower and read a few of the pages of one of those papers. I don’t get very far very fast on them. We had an early supper tonight – Spanish rice, cooked cabbage, salad, biscuits & jam. I loafed around for awhile after supper and then some of us went out and played a little ball waiting for mail call. Even the air mail has slowed up. Your Fri. letter postmarked Sat. at 1:30 p.m. just got here. That was all I got tonight. The mail man also brought out a lot of stuff – candy, tobacco, writing paper, soap, etc. I bought 2 candy bars, a Hershey almond & a Mounds and another tin of shoe polish. I didn’t need the candy really because I have nine bars of what you sent yet and I have some coming by the cook maybe if he was able to get any. Francois owes me a bar too. You sent me 13 and so far I have eaten 3 – a Zag-nut, a Whiz, and a Powerhouse. I am started on a Walnetto. This afternoon he got hungry so I loaned him a Chicken Dinner. I won’t sell him any that you send because I know how hard it is for you to get. Boy is that Valentine candy ever swell. Umh! Umh! One box from Mon & Dad is gone and I’ve got a good start on Gram’s box. I loosened up and passed out about a dozen pieces all together I guess but I am keeping it out of sight pretty much. It is too doggone good. It must have been pretty expensive to cause the value to mount up to $5.37. Those are awfully pretty boxes and I am going to save them if it is at all possible. Boy those dates are something else good. The box is about half gone. That all helps explain why I didn’t go for seconds today although the food really wasn’t too attractive to me anyway like it is sometimes when they have something I particularly like. My penmanship is getting worse all the time. After I bought the stuff I went back to the barracks and tried to put it in my grip in the way to make the most of the room. I didn’t need the shoe polish right away either but this quarantine has taught me to be ready for things so I got it just in case. Francois bought a box of razor blades, Marlin, and when he got over to the barracks he found he had bought single edge and he uses double edge. He couldn’t use them and nobody else wanted them so finally I took them. There were 14 for 25 cents. I still have 26 Star blades. That makes 40 so it ought to last me nearly a year unless I get so I have to shave every night. I am afraid that’s what it’s coming to. We are supposed to shave every night but I haven’t had enough beard for that up until lately. It seems to be growing faster now. Finally I got my pen & ink & paper and came over here to the day room to write. They still had some stuff left so I bought a candy bar and sold it right away to Don Ewing – no profit. That brings me up to date. Time out while I unwrap a Walnetto.

Now to your letter and dad’s. I was afraid the mail might not be spaced out from day to day. You see I am writing now but this letter in all probability won’t go out from here until tomorrow night and may not start until some time Sat. I didn’t get any air mail letter from you yesterday either. The one I got from McCoy took 10 whole days. I got the stamps & everything that you sent O.K. I managed to buy & chisel stamps enough until I got them. I have written air mail every day and twice yesterday. I still have one letter coming yet from McCoy from you and any others that people may have sent which I don’t know about. I have gotten every piece of mail you have sent here so far. They must have done a pretty poor job on the coat. I thought steaming it was supposed to fluff it up after the nap got packed down. I understood that was the purpose of steaming it. I sure wish I would be wearing it soon to some event. I’d feel strange in real clothes again. I’ll look pretty sharp in my uniform when I get my blouse cleaned & get my garrison cap and belt and insignia buttons but it will never feel as snug and homey and comfortable as my own suit and overcoat and oxfords. Don’t go too heavy on the cleaning bill because you have plenty of time. One fellow in our barracks went home on a 15 day furlough but I don’t ever want one of that kind. I guess someone, his mother I hear, is pretty sick. They made the mistake of sending him a telegram telling him to come home. That just wasted time because the officer here has to wire back to the Red Cross to examine the case. If it is such that the person should go home the Red Cross wires it back. The people there at home should have called the Red Cross first and they would then have wired the camp. That would have saved time and 2 telegrams. The thing to do is have the Red Cross do the telegramming because the army will have them investigate anyway. The fellow seemed sort of indifferent and didn’t care whether he went or not but I guess some people are like that. Don’t get too excited. I’m still L.S. I don’t know where you ever got the idea that I will be in airplanes. You better throw a lasso around that imagination of yours and stop and think a little before you get so excited. We don’t fly, we knock the planes down, if we are lucky. Now don’t worry too much. I haven’t the slightest idea yet what I’ll be doing but if they have me classified as I think they have, I might be assigned to a headquarters battery. I was talking to the sergeant about it and he said it was a swell place to get because there were lots of openings. I think and hope I may get something fairly decent to do. I have never worked with machinery. Many of the others have and I think they will be the ones to go on the guns. I sure hope so. That letter from Mrs. C.’s nephew wasn’t much but I imagine it is pretty hard to write from a place like that. If my letters were censored, as his no doubt was, they would probably be a lot shorter. I hope you forget what I write because the gov’t might not like to have me tell just what I do all the time. I haven’t told any secrets because I don’t know any yet. I didn’t know the fellow who was killed. Boy your canned goods must have gone down fast. I just remembered we also had cauliflower for dinner. I like it quite well too. I can’t remember having any at home for quite a while. You have to give them credit; we get a lot of variety in vegetables. 50 cents for butter sounds cheap. Mrs. C. will probably tell you when she gets the letter I wrote Sat. & mailed Sun. That will give you an idea of West to East time for regular mail. A lot of time is lost waiting for the letters to get out of here.

Gee dad, another new man. You must really have a lot of fun. That figure of 749.87 looks pretty close to what I had. You can check it against my total on that paper in my black pocket book. Who gave you the total, Ruth? She is the office worker down there, the short one with glasses. She is ass’t mgr. of the office. My social security number is ***-**-****. I don’t think you need to see Geo.T. After all if he doesn’t send out those slips to his employees, the gov’t will be on his neck not ours. You don’t have to turn your copy in with your tax return. Can you file my tax return without my signature? I hereby give you permission to sign for me if that will do any good but I don’t want you to pay for it out of your money. Let me know how much it is and I’ll send the money if I am where I can. Otherwise you know where to get it. I think the whole thing will come out O.K. If you need any other information from me, let me know. We still have a whole month yet.

Well that is that for today and today’s mail. In some ways I’ll be glad to get out of here. Other ways I don’t care. It will get us back a little more in contact with civilization maybe but on the other hand I don’t know what I’ll be doing. The main thing is I don’t want you to be upset about anything. Wait until you have a reason for sure. I heard on the radio today that Joe DiMaggio is coming into the army tomorrow. I wondered how long he was going to stay out. If we are here over the weekend maybe I can get those papers read before I leave. I had them laying on my bunk and I guess several others looked at them while I was gone. Ewing read the funnies in all of them last night. I read them a lot more thoroughly now than I ever did at home. Why don’t you & pop slip out to a show some night. A good show, Red S. or somebody, would do you both good. I don’t know how things are back home but I can see you folks going around very quiet all day until the mail man gets there. Then there is a lot of talk until the letter has been digested, when silence is resumed. Dad must go to bed early every night but I don’t blame him. I am getting so I wake up and wait for the whistle to blow mornings. When I get out of here I am going to throw the first whistle I see just as far as I can throw it.

Well I guess this is it for today. I think I’ll send the other 1 cent card to Gramp so he’ll know I got his card. He probably is wondering because he sent it Feb. 4. Well take it easy and keep writing. I hope you are getting mail every day now. I’m sending it. The rest is up to the air planes. Until the next time


Love to all,


I Don’t Like to March With Rifles

Still Tuesday Feb. 16, 1943

About 7:30 or so


Dear folks,

Whew! I got that box and everything was just swell but that’s too doggone much money to pay for postage. $1.68 that’s awful. I know you can’t afford to do it. I appreciate very bit, the candy bars, the candy boxes, cookies, dates, stationery and stamps. That stationery is swell. It’s similar to what I had at McCoy. All I can say to all of you is thanks.

I hope the other letter I wrote this afternoon didn’t scare you too much but I wanted to get it out just in case we should be rigidly quarantined. After I finished writing the letter I shaved, washed and cleaned my teeth. Then came supper. It was a little early tonight. We had spaghetti, peas, rice and biscuits. I went back and got more of each. I am a real chow hound I guess. After supper I came back and repacked my stuff. We may be leaving Sat. I ordered 10 candy bars by the cook but I don’t need them now. I can always sell them though. A fellow was selling 5 cent bars for 10 cents tonight. You must have scoured the candy market in Lansing. They had mail call tonight in the day room because it was raining but I didn’t know about it so I stayed in the barracks. Don Ewing from Lansing brought me my mail – the box and 2 letters from McCoy. One was a card from Gramp himself and the other was your letter of Wed. Feb. 3. That leaves one more to come yet from McCoy. I didn’t get any direct from you to me here tonight. Maybe you mailed one not air mail like you said. I read the letter and looked at the card first. Then I opened the box. Francois was my shadow and had to see everything like a little kid. I haven’t opened the hearts yet but I promised him a piece of candy. Don Ewing is looking at the papers. He is from Lansing too. I went through my bag and discarded the papers I have read. I have about two weeks yet to read. It is pretty expensive for you to send them all this way. Wouldn’t they come cheaper if you sent them maybe one or two a week and just rolled up with a piece of paper wrapped around. I think you can send them for about 3 cents that way. I don’t want you folks to spend more than you can afford on me. After all you folks are just as important as I am and I know you aren’t flush with money. Boy are those dates good. The one Zag Nut bar was slightly broken so I ate it right away. I’ll have enough stationery for awhile now. I’m all set thanks, thanks, thanks. You know if I wrote home and asked for the radio I think you’d send it. All I do is mention things and I get them. You don’t know how good it makes me feel. I’ll bet I’ve cost twice as much away from home as I did at home. Please don’t go too far with it though. I realize how your conditions are and I don’t expect it. $1.68 is an awful lot of postage to pay.

Gramp sent a cute card and he wrote it himself. I finally got your Feb. 3 letter telling you got my Sun. & Mon. letters and cards from McCoy. I had been wondering if maybe the cards had been too heavy to go free and I’m glad you got them O.K. I’ll probably get the last letter from McCoy tomorrow. This one was p.m. at Lansing Feb. 4 – 11:30 a.m. and at McCoy Feb. 6 – 6 p.m. It took 10 days for it to get here from McCoy. It took Gramp’s card the same length of time. That isn’t very doggone fast either. Today is the first day I haven’t gotten an air mail letter since I got the first one last Sat. The ones I got last night were written Thurs. last. I read your letters pretty fast the first time too and sometimes miss things but I catch them the second time through. So pop is your sansilk buyer now. I really do like it here if we were not confined. The country is pretty and today has been the first rainy day in a week. This must be a fruit growing region because there are orchards all around and we ran on to several berry patches on our maneuvers yesterday. We didn’t go out in the fields today. I think it is probably nicer here than down near Frisco. They say it is foggy and damp down there. The fellow who had the measles came back tonight. He was in the hospital at Frisco and stopped at Vallejo last night on his way home. He says it is all swell down there. Did dad have to stand in the rain to wait for the bus? Couldn’t he have stood in a store? Gramp was at Los Angeles I believe and then he went on north into Canada on his way home. I don’t think the fellows ever picked on that other fellow. He was just going off gradually. Some of the things he did showed that. I know what you mean but you didn’t know him and what he did. I don’t know where they would get a picture of me to put anywhere. My picture wasn’t taken for the Wolverine if you’ll remember. It must have been someone else. Nate didn’t get all A’s I know. I’m not holding my breath till I get a pay raise. A Pfc. (private first class) gets only $54 a month. He has one stripe. I have some soap powder left yet but most of it is in a sack. It spilled out on the trip. I had everything in one bag and it was pretty heavy. I am going to divide it into the two bags this time and see if it is any easier. There will be more weight because I’ll be carrying my overcoat instead of wearing it. I have and will save all the magazines you send. I want to keep Red’s picture. It will go good on the wall with Harry James. I wish I could play a little tennis someday. Maybe I’ll be able to when I get a pass. To me a postcard doesn’t carry a lot [of] meaning unless it is a picture card. It looks as if the person is in too big a hurry to write. I’ll admit I feel that way when I write a card to people. I hope Gramp has written to you by now. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a p.f.c. or not. I don’t think I’ll ever make much of a soldier but I might make good on a technical job. It’s hard to tell. I don’t mind the marching but I don’t like to march with rifles.

Well that covers the day’s activities and my mail This letter has been split in two installments but I wanted to make sure you would know why you didn’t hear from me in case I had to quit writing. Thanks again to everyone for everything in that swell box. Keep writing and I’ll write as often as I can. Mail must be slow to take 10 days from McCoy here. The first ones only took 7 days. Well I guess this is it for tonight. Until next time thanks and love to all of you.




Things Looked Pretty Black Although This Ink Is Blue

Tuesday, February 16, 1943


Dear folks,

Whew! This has been a rather hectic day but I guess I better start at the beginning. I got up at about 6:30 this morning and made up my bunk before breakfast. Breakfast at 7:00 was oatmeal, French toast (2 slices) & syrup, and prunes. It was swell and I went back and got more oatmeal, prunes, and another slice of toast and I drank what milk was left in the bottle. Then I went back and did the usual shoe brushing & straightening up. Then we fell out for the mornings drill. We got the rifles and spent a couple hours marching and tossing them around. After that we had talks on courtesy and discipline and on guard duty. Then we had dinner. That was swell today too. Mashed potatoes and gravy, kidney beans, salad, jello, bread and butter. I went back and got more potatoes and gravy and jello. In fact I went back again and got more jello. I guess I am getting to be what is known as a chow-hound. We had a little spare time after dinner and then the lieutenant got us together to answer any questions we might have. There is where the fun began. He informed us that [as] of this noon we were under a 21 day quarantine. No one could even drive past our barracks, and we couldn’t write or anything. It made us all pretty down because we all knew our folks would wonder what had happened if we didn’t write for 3 whole weeks. I knew how you would feel. The lieut. said he had got orders to report to his battery this noon. You see he has a regular outfit to which he belongs and he has been sent up here only temporarily with us. He just got started to pack when he got orders that it was changed. We were all pretty discouraged. A week of quarantine at McCoy, a week on the train, a week and a half here already and then 3 more weeks was just too much. They wouldn’t tell us what it was for. The doctor came out and examined us. He asked who had headaches and he looked at our chests. We think it was either spinal m. again or maybe scarlet fever. They examined the sergeants and the lieutenant too. About 4 fellows were carted off to the dispensary and things looked pretty black although this ink is blue. I ran out and mine is over in the barracks. The sergeants were mad and we were mad. They finally lined us up to take us inside for a lecture on plane identification. We just got started when the Lieutenant stopped us and had us gather around. He said he had got word that his outfit is going over and he is going with them. Then he told us that the 21 day quarantine had been lifted. Boy, were we happy. So was he. He really wants to go across and so do the sergeants. After he had said goodbye to everybody we started off to the lecture again but the Lieutenant came back and told the sergeants to give us the afternoon off. So here I am. The day room is full of fellows writing letters. We aren’t taking any chances of getting caught again. They might put the quarantine back on again. As it stands now we will leave here Sat. but don’t stop writing at all. I’ll be only a short distance from there probably at Benicea wherever that is. I’ve learned one thing. If at any time my letters stop don’t get too excited as there is probably something beyond my control wrong. It definitely does not mean that I am sick. I don’t know if it will ever happen but I will prepare you in advance just in case. I know how you would have felt if you hadn’t heard from me in 3 whole weeks after I have written every day. I don’t suppose you are getting letters every day now. The one I wrote last night is still here in the box. You see I wrote it after the mail call and so it won’t be collected until tonight. I imagine you will be getting them maybe two at a time. I would have written every day even if the quarantine had been for good. I would have mailed them all at the end if not before. I had already figured a way to get them out. You see we would have had to keep a guard at all the roads and I would have had to stand guard sometime to keep all cars etc. out. I figured I’d be able to give a letter to some civilian to mail for me but that won’t be necessary now I hope. If they should suddenly put the quarantine back on this might be the last letter for awhile. I doubt if they will but you can be prepared. Well that’s enough for that.


Its 3:15 and we have the rest of the day off. It will give me a little time to read and to get a shave. I have those papers and the magazine you sent to McCoy to read yet. I wouldn’t care about the quarantine if they would let us write. I’d just as soon stay here for the duration myself. The sgt. was telling us that at our regular outfit certain men are chosen to take a 6 week course in Math at Berkeley High School. This course gives one the necessary math requirements for O.C.S. If these other fellows go over our chances for promotion will be a lot better I imagine. The educational angle is beginning to creep in. I sure hope it will mean something. I think I can handle math as well as anyone I’ve seen here so far. The only college graduate that I know of majored in English and he is 42. I always could get math and I don’t see why it should be any different here. Whether I’ll get a chance I don’t know but I emphasized my math training when I turned in my educational status. I’ve had about 4 ½ years of higher math believe it or not. Men with only an 8th grade education have qualified for O.C.S. (Officer Candidate School). There is one thing I think I better do. I think I better study my soldier’s manual. I hate to do it but it might help me sometime to get a promotion.

Well I am going to quit on this letter. It isn’t much but it covers the days’ activities thus far. I am going to shave and clean up a little before supper. I am going to get this finished and out as soon as I can. I’ll probably get one or more letters from you folks in tonight’s mail call which I will answer in my next letter. I’ll probably write again after supper but I want to get this out to warn you that if you don’t hear from me for an extended period of time it is because they have slapped the quarantine back on again. I hope they won’t but they might. They brought the fellows back whom they took to the dispensary so maybe things will be O.K.  I sure hope so. Anyway you write to me even if you don’t hear from me. I’ll write just as often as I can. Until next time love to all of you,



Babe Still Doesn’t Like the Light Man

Monday, February 15, 1943


Dear folks,

It’s about 4:30 and I’ll start this while waiting for supper. They better have plenty because we are all tired and hungry. Dinner wasn’t very heavy either. I was up as usual and had my bed made by time for breakfast but it was late today and we stood around a long time waiting. It must have been past 7 when we got in. We had creamed dried beef on toast, a soft boiled egg, oatmeal, toast and jam. After eating I came back and finished straightening up my things and brushed off my shoes. We were quite late falling out for drill. We marched some and the lieutenant talked to us for awhile about furloughs and stuff. He told us after we had been home about 3 days we’ll want to get back but I don’t believe it. The most we can get is 15 days so that would give me about 7 at home. Then they showed us how to pitch our cute little tents before dinner. As yet they haven’t issued tent equipment and I hope they don’t. Dinner was pretty slim. Stew, pickled beets & onions, diced fruits and bread & butter. They have a lot of tea here and I think I’ll try drinking some of it. After dinner we were issued packs (empty) and belts. Then we had a little free time and I read some of “See Here Private Hargrove.” It is pretty good. It is a private’s experiences and they are pretty much the same as we’ve all had. When I send it home you ought to read it. Finally we went out with helmets (green plastic. They are liners for the steel ones which we haven’t got.) leggings & belts. First we learned how to run and fall with the rifle. Time out for supper.

Back much later in the evening. After we finished falling around, one of the platoons hid and we had to reconnoiter I guess you call it. Anyway we had to hunt them. After we found them we did a little with camouflage. You’d be surprised how much a man can be hidden by a little clump of grass. If he keeps his hands & face out of sight and doesn’t move you can’t see him. We were out about 2 hours but we aren’t used to it and we got tired, dusty, and hungry. I got up at the head of the line for supper so I’d be sure to get seconds. Supper was good. I didn’t take meat so I got a double shot of mashed potatoes the first time. Besides that I had peas & carrots, stewed raisin sauce which was swell, salad, bread and a biscuit. I went back and got the last of the potatoes, more peas & carrots, a biscuit & some more salad. The fellow from Port Huron, Aaron Francois, said he was stuffed but I told him I could still have eaten more. I’m a regular pig, aren’t I? Tomorrow morning we are going out in the fields again and do some with this camouflage training. After supper I took a shower to get some of the dust & sweat off. Mail call came while I was dressing. I got there when it was about half over so another fellow got my mail for me. I got 3 letters – one from Gram and a real one too, one from You, and the one from dad with the air mail envelopes all written Thurs. & p.m. Fri. at 8:30 a.m. I still haven’t got those last 2 letters from McCoy. The last one I got from there was written Tues. night Feb. 2. You said you mailed the last one to there Fri. morning Feb. which means I have the Wed. night & Thurs. night letters coming yet. That also agrees with what you said about my having 10 pieces of mail coming. I have 8 so far. Maybe they will come tomorrow. I haven’t got your big box yet but I expect that about Wed. It will take about a week for parcel post to get here. Gee that must be some box to be insured for $5.00. I’ll have to watch all that candy because it is scarce around here. I don’t mind sharing a little but I know how hard it is for you to get a hold of and that you mean it for me. I never passed out very much at McCoy. Probably Francois will be the only one who will get any here. He got his share of my candy bars I got last week. He bought 6 and I gave him one. He really isn’t a bad sort of fellow. He never went to town while at McCoy and so far as I know he doesn’t drink. He does smoke but is talking a lot about quitting. He is about as decent as I’ve found. There are a couple dandies in our outfit but they know too much for me to pay any attention to them. I think you know what I mean. Francois has a box of cookies coming from New York but I told him they would be crumbs when he gets them.

Who is that homely girl whose picture you sent? I don’t know her. The one on her left used to be Kircher’s girl friend. A lot of people are making some big jumps if you ask me. It looks as if there will be a change of students at M.S.C. before long. I mailed a letter to you yesterday free so you can tell by that how long it takes. It wasn’t a letter just some junk I’d accumulated. I imagine you did read between the lines on that first Sun. letter. I was feeling pretty low and I guess most of us did. I’ve gotten over it now I guess. I don’t think it’s spoiled my spirit any but I don’t like to think that you folks are aging just because I’m gone. I hope I haven’t changed any. Sometimes I get a little afraid wondering if I have. I remember how restless Ricketts used to be when he came home. I don’t want to be like that and I don’t think I ever will. I was a lot closer to my home than most fellows are even if I was out to shows a lot of nights. It’s hard to take a fellow away from all he has ever known and cared for without his changing a little I suppose. I don’t think they’ll make an old man of me unless I am here until I get to be an old man. I think I can outlive Hitler though, don’t you? I don’t know if I look my age or not but some of these fellows who are 20 & 21 I’d swear were at least 25. I can pass for about 19 and after all I’ve been 20 only 4 months. I don’t think I’ll look worried or scared when you see me. We are getting sugar O.K. now. You see they just opened up this mess hall for us and everything was new. We have all the sugar we want. As for butter, we get it when they can get it. I heard on the radio that they can’t ration butter because there isn’t enough to go around. When we don’t have butter we have jam. We are on field rations I understand. It costs about 65 cents a day to feed us. The bottom bunk is swell. I like it a lot better. Yes the measles could last a long time but we have only about 5 days to go now unless there is a new case. These scrap books are made by the U.S.O. with their emblems on the covers. Then women & groups fill the pages with stories & pictures. Don’t send any puzzles to the U.S.O. or to me. You keep them. I doubt if I’d have time to work them if you sent them & I wouldn’t want to leave them. I tell you I’m Scotch. No kidding though I haven’t even had time to look at those last papers you sent yet. There are all kinds of puzzles here but I just haven’t cared to fool with them. The first thing that counts on my spare time is my letter to you folks. Other things come second. I’m glad you told me to throw those papers away. Otherwise I’d have tried to decide what to do with them and I’d have carried them around with me. I’ll sort them out and dispose of the ones I’ve read. What do you do for newspapers in your work if you send them all to me? I was thinking today that since it’s so doggone far I wouldn’t send anything too bulky because it will cost you so. Also don’t send anything that will spoil in less than a week or anything easily broken. Boy will I go to town on those dates & cookies & Valentine candies. Oh, Boy. I hope I get it tomorrow. I imagine I’ll have a few interested bystanders when I open it. I’d be very glad to come home and do a little sweeping or mopping although I doubt if the army way of doing things would meet housekeeping standards. That second case of measles wasn’t measles. I wouldn’t care really if we did stay here under quarantine till the war was over. We’d still do a lot of training though. I sent the slip to Mitchell as soon as I got it and I assured him on the back that I intend to return as soon as possible. I got my O.D. pants, shirt & tie & my field jacket cleaned. It cost me $1.15. I did my own laundry. We have been having un-typical Cal. weather lately. Nothing but sunshine for a week. It’s easier for a person to keep happy himself when he is trying to make someone else feel better and that’s the truth. The mud and water is beginning to disappear although we went in about 3 inches today when we went thru a fruit orchard. I got a chance to see a little different view of the mountains and countryside. From what I’ve heard of the Frisco area I’ll rather stay here if we could be out of quarantine. I got those 2 air mail envelopes for nothing. They were here in the day room. Probably from the U.S.O. It sure is funny they don’t send those pictures unless they weren’t any good. The stationery & stamp situation is fine right now. I could walk to the P.X. if I could leave here but I understand they don’t have much and the limit is 2 candy bars. We have a 3% sales tax here like in Mich. There wasn’t any in Wisconsin. I cant’ seem to spell anything tonight. I hope you can read this. The anti-aircraft is on the ground maybe on hills or on the tops of buildings. L.S. is not gone. There must be a coffee shortage there. We get tea here about once in three times. Three pairs of shoes will do me O.K. for a year. I wonder if I could buy a pair of civilian oxfords without a ration book. It doesn’t seem possible that we have 18 prs. of shoes. Did you count house slippers? I only left two pair. My black ones & the tu-tone brown ones and the black ones were nearly gone. They came and fixed the floor so it is solid now. I don’t suppose I answer everything in your letters either but I read every bit. Francois told me the other day I’d have the letters read off the paper if I read the letter again. It was that first big one you sent air mail. I finally found out if you got the last bunch of scenery cards from McCoy mailed Feb. 1. Gram mentioned them in her letter. You must have a nearly complete collection. I got all I could find. Don’t worry about the income tax. I have the total in my pocket book there. You can go by that. It was taken from my pay envelopes and has to be right. Check their figures against my total. If my signature doesn’t have to be on the blank you can file it for me. The money is there to pay it or you can send me the stuff and I’ll try to take care of it. I don’t have to pay it but I’d rather. I suppose I’ll have to pay on $100 next year. We don’t pay the V-tax because we only get $600 a year. I don’t know any more that you do yet about what I’ll be doing. The best thing is to wait until I’m assigned. I don’t like that 6 mos. stuff you mentioned. The fellows we are replacing have been here nearly 2 years. It may not be actual non-combat but our chances of any fighting on this side are pretty slim. Personally I don’t think we will ever be sent overseas unless the U.S. has its’ back to the wall. As I said I don’t know whether I’ll have to fire guns or not. Some of these fellows will. I may do better. I have a bad eye but I at least have it. One fellow has a glass eye and others are blind in one eye. Without his glasses Francois is practically helpless. Don’t talk about these things with anyone outside of the house, See.  I don’t know for sure why those 1-A’s were put in L.S. some are too old and other have bad eyes and things which got by before. Some of these guys are corporals and Pfc’s but they aren’t anything but buck privates so far as they are concerned here. After all we should have as much chance as they. They don’t know everything just because they have been in the army 6 or 8 mos. I know you haven’t missed writing and it means a lot to me. Any letter under an ounce will go air mail if it has 6 cents regardless of what kind of stamps. Why did you put the extra 6 cents on the big envelope? Did you ever stop to think how much you spend on postage?

It looks as if Dad has a secretary. I was glad to get your air mail envelopes. That insures a speedier delivery of your mail. That wasn’t too expensive but I bet I’m costing you more now than I did at home. You’ll have to get some women to work on the garbage truck. We saw some women railroad workers in Colorado. You sure are getting me in suspense waiting for that box.  I got the book & 2 air mail stamps in yesterday’s letter. One of them is on this envelope. That letter I wrote to Stachel was long. I wrote him a real short one Sunday in answer to the one I got from him about an hour before I left McCoy. We can’t send by air mail free. It seems as if we ought to be able to send for 3 cents though. We had mail call yesterday Sunday. We seem to have just one mail call a day here but it has to be brought out to us in a jeep.

Gram’s letter is swell. You know I hope you folks don’t feel I don’t appreciate letters from Gram & dad. Maybe you wonder why you don’t get letters when you hear I’ve written to this one & that one but golly, I write everything I can think of in my main letters & if I wrote separately it would just be repetition. I hope you understand what I mean and won’t feel that I don’t appreciate hearing from you. Thanks for the clippings Gram. Your letter covered quite a space of time and gave me a chance to see your reactions to my different letters. I read it twice and enjoyed every bit of it. Don’t let spelling worry you. I seem to be having trouble with it tonight. I don’t give fruit a chance to spoil. All those fellows you mentioned are O.K. now so far as I know. I saw my shadow Feb. 2. We have had very few beans. I ate them when I could see the pan and there was no meat. We have a good variety of vegetables. I didn’t help with lunch this time. We had real food on the train.  “Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer.” We had a radio but it wouldn’t play on the train because of the steel top. I don’t want to be big enough for size 44. Babe still doesn’t like the light man. I hope she’ll remember me when I get back. Geo. T. sure is taking his time gathering those cans. Are the buses as crowded as they were? You really have been getting dirty weather there. It must be hard on dad combined with bum help.

Well I guess that covers it for today. It is getting late and I think I better close for tonight. I’ll need my sleep for tomorrow morning’s workout. We had calisthenics again this morning but the ones that made me stiff before didn’t seem to bother.

Well this has been a pretty good day. Any day is good when I hear from home and when I get 3 letters I had a real good day. I suppose you are in bed by now. We are only 2 hours behind you since they went to Central time there.

Good night and love to you all. Till tomorrow,




That was some Valentine I drew but I had to have you get something.

This Must Be Where Prunes Come From

Sunday, February 14, 1943


Dear folks,

Sunday and Valentine’s Day. I hope you have enjoyed the day. I have spent most of my time writing. Since last night I have written to Mrs. C., Stachel, Frank Webb, Kircher, Nate, Aunty, Elmo, Julius, Hugh and to Mitchell at M.S.C. and cards to Gramp, Aunt Edna, and Dick Hollingsworth. That’s a lot of writing but I had a lot of answers due them for their letters (most of them). From now on I’ll write only when written to unless I make a major address change. When I move from here it will only be a short distance unless – it might be to some school.

I got to bed last night at about 9:30. We slept late this morning until past 7. I got up and dressed before breakfast. We had scrambled eggs, oatmeal, toast (2 slices) and grapefruit. I was hungry and went back and got more oatmeal, another slice of toast and another half of grapefruit. After eating I went back and made up my bunk and dusted my shoes and straightened things up. Maybe I shouldn’t say I made up my bed because really I tore it apart. You see we fold the mattress in the middle and then fold the comforter and blankets and put them on top of the mattress. The pillow goes on top [sketch]. When the sun got out enough I put my clothes back out to finish drying. I just brought them in at about 5:30 but they still aren’t completely dry. The rest of the morning I spent catching up on my correspondence. Besides the mail I mentioned I am sending you a letter by free mail containing napkins and other stuff I accumulated on the trip. Dinner today was swell. I was too far back in line to get seconds but I had enough anyway. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, string beans and peas, biscuits, cake and ice cream. The ice cream was vanilla with orange thru the middle [sketch]. That was a pretty swell meal. After dinner we had mail call. I got your second air mail letter written Wed. night and post marked Thurs. at 1:30 p.m. There wasn’t much mail but the fellow said we might get some more tonight. I sure hope so. I spent the rest of the afternoon until about 3 writing. Then I finished and went and shaved and cleaned my teeth and washed a little before supper. Supper wasn’t so hot. It was a sort of picnic meal – cold meat, bread, veg. salad, potato salad and dill pickle. Oh it wasn’t too bad. I took a chance on eating a little of the meat. It tasted like it was all right. After supper I got my washing in and then came over here to the day room to write to you folks. I don’t have a chance to do much here so I don’t imagine my letters are very interesting reading. It sure makes me feel swell when you tell me how good my letters make you feel. I feel as if I have accomplished something. When I finish with this I think I’ll read some of those papers you sent and the magazine. These are the ones you sent to McCoy. This envelope I bought from a kid before I got your letter. Boy was I glad to get those stamps as I had none left. Of course when you send me stamps you are really getting them right back. I wonder how much time air mail saves. You did pretty well to get that letter all the way from Sacramento in 4 days. Today’s letter was full of surprises. The stamps, the picture, the little hearts & everything. I got that cute whirling Valentine Thurs. I believe it was. That surely was nice. That picture of you folks is something I’ve been wanting. I showed it to a couple of the fellows, and they both said I looked like my dad. That is a swell picture but I’ll be doggoned if I can remember when I took it. It was last summer some time after July 1 because you got those slacks and the turban for your birthday, right? Anyway thanks for everything. I have tried to think of some way of making you a Valentine but I haven’t come across anything yet. You know I’d remember the day if it were possible. What do you want me to do with those papers? Shall I send them back or just throw them away? So Babe is all licensed up for another year. You’ve got all your tags now I guess. Boy they sure are taking the fellows fast now. There were 20 on that list that I knew. Many of them graduated with me. Hugh’s cousin Harley is in the Navy group. I heard on the radio today that they will draft 12,000 a day for the rest of this year. That college setup is finally beginning to take shape and I’ve got my fingers crossed. They came and got our slips giving information about our college training today instead of waiting until tomorrow. I’m hoping this may lead to something good. I probably wouldn’t get back to M.S.C. but at least I might get back to school. I got to thinking today how really easy I had it. I was going to school, working, and still I had time for lots of movies and fun. I guess we don’t appreciate things until we can’t get them or do them. It seems funny for Ted Baxter to be engaged. He must be about 9. I’ll have plenty of writing paper now but I didn’t know about any of it when I wrote and asked for some. I can’t tell you much about this L.S. because I don’t know much. Forget what I do tell you see. We are the 8th bunch of L.S. men to be sent to the pacific coast. It is evidently the opinion of the top men that there is little likelihood of an invasion or an attack but they must be prepared. The men who have manned these anti-aircraft batteries and coastal batteries have had from 1 to 2 years training. The plan seems to be to put L.S. men on this coast and thus make it possible for the regular men to go overseas. That is as much as I know. You don’t remember any of it either. I don’t think it would be good to publicize the fact that L.S. men are protecting the West Coast. Of course they aren’t yet. I got your first air mail and I have taken care of Dean Mitchell. I have 8 of the 10 pieces of mail from McCoy. (2 packages, 1 letter from Mrs. C., 3 letters [Sun., Mon., & Tues] from you & the Valentine, and a letter from Dad) That leaves your Wed. & Thurs. letters which I expect tonight or tomorrow. That must be a real package at $5.00. I don’t imagine it will get here until about Tues. I’ll get it O.K. and there is nothing in it which will spoil. You’ll have to cut down on the weight of your boxes. It’s too much postage to pay. I can’t think of anything I want you to leave out though. About the only thing is the newspapers. I could get along with maybe one or two a week. It’s so far to send them. I’ll be glad to get that candy. I had a lot but I ate a lot and got generous and sold some of it. I shan’t sell any that you send because I know how hard it is to get. I understand the limit here is 2 bars. It’s not like McCoy where you could buy all you could pay for. I’m glad you got all the mail although you still haven’t said anything about the picture cards I sent the last day. They were in an envelope all by themselves I think. I can’t remember for sure. Anyway did you get them? I got your letter post marked Wed. on Sat. about the same as McCoy. I sleep O.K. on these bunks. In some ways they are better than the ones at McCoy. They keep your back straight. I was lame but it was from the calisthenics we had. I wish we would have them every day so I could get loosened up and stay that way. I wasn’t stiff when I was at M.S.C. I’ve gotten that way in the army from no exercise. I don’t mind having the toilet in another place because I never have to go during the night. It’s the only way they could do and have it accommodate 3 barracks. They had the same type setup at Custer but I was lucky enough to get in a different area. The salmon loaf was pretty good. All the cooking here is good. I never take a shower when I still have to drill and it isn’t cold out during the day. I have about 2/3’s of a package of sinus tablets. I hear we may have a case of measles tonight but nothing is certain. If there aren’t any we may leave next Saturday. I don’t think anyone lives in the farm house. Our buildings are all around in the orchards and all over. I understand they are plum trees so this must be where prunes come from. We get lots of stewed prunes and stewed apricots. I like them both. I didn’t get everything I sent for but I can get along O.K. Those stamps you sent me are the big things. How about maps in your old geography book? I am in L.S. I am in the Coast Artillery. Personally I doubt if I’ll ever be on the big guns. The anti-aircraft are the guns on the ground which attempt to bring down enemy air craft. There are 3 types – the big babies, 90mm, the 40mm, and the 50 cal. machine guns. Forget that too. You’ve got to get a hold of yourself. You know better than a lot of these things if you’ll stop and think. So does Dad. This place isn’t so terrible once I get used to it. I rather like it. When I went back to the barracks last night all kinds of frogs were singing. One big fellow must have been right near the building. I was never reclassified.  When I said I didn’t see any sense of ever classifying us at Custer I was a little disgusted. At that time they talked as if we would all be put on the guns regardless of what we had done or what we knew. It sounds a lot different now. All I changed was my underwear pants. I put on my shorts and I haven’t missed the others. They would have been too hot for drilling. I am still wearing my winter underwear shirt. I might better change when I first get here than wait a while. I’d have missed them more then. It’s a whole lot warmer here than it was in Mich. when I left. That R.O.T.C. training was a good thing. I wish I’d had more. I left all those boxes at McCoy. Back in the barracks. I ran out of ink. I still have the papers. I hated to throw them away. I didn’t have a chance to send my stuff home from McCoy because of the quarantine. It’s just 7 o’clock. Fred Allen just signed off and Take it or Leave It is on now. It must be 9:00 back there since you turned back the time. I have all the letters. The other fellows nearly all have theirs yet too. I haven’t any ladder but I sleep on the bottom now anyway. There are no bayonets here. We had them at McCoy only while we had the rifles. The quarantine here isn’t quite so stiff because we are by ourselves and can go out when we want to. I haven’t any fear of getting the measles. They didn’t mention my eye. There is nothing that can be done to improve it. At least I can see a little out of it. If some of these fellows lost their glasses they couldn’t get along at all. Don’t be too quick to think I have been gypped. Guy must live in your neighborhood now. That’s only 2 blocks away. No mail is censored inside the U.S. The stations we get are all in California so far as I’ve noticed – Los Angeles, Frisco, Santa Rosa, Pasadena, Oakland, etc. Our radio is a combination electric or portable. Who is Bob Burlingham? I can’t place him. I don’t sleep cold. I guess that covers your letter.

When I get stationed, if it looks as if I’ll be in one place for awhile I may buy myself a radio. We may not get paid this month but I still have all of last months pay and some besides. You can’t spend much when you are in quarantine. I had my O.D.’s cleaned and pressed and boy they look nice. Maybe some day I can have some pictures taken. I’ll get me one of those caps and a belt as soon as I get set in one place. I haven’t many pimples on my face and for awhile they were all gone. Would you care for pictures of me in uniform or would you prefer to remember me as I was in civilian clothes? I’ll leave it up to you. Somebody someplace has a picture of me taken with Hugh and a couple others at Custer. I don’t even know who the fellow was. That sure is a nice picture of you two. You both are smiling and it gives me something to look at and enjoy. We haven’t had a second mail call and probably won’t now. I’m sure I’ll get those letters tomorrow. I don’t imagine you are getting these letters every day as the collections are a little irregular. You know I’m writing so that’s about all I can do. They’ll all be air mail for awhile now as they all have been from here. Tomorrow begins another week of drill I suppose. I’m getting tired of marching all the time. Winchell is on now. I don’t imagine we get programs in the same sequence as you do. According to Winchell the Axis is beaten but I’m not getting excited. He is too much an exaggerator.

Well I guess this is it for today. I’ve got to stay under an ounce so I’ll quit. By now you should have at least 3 letters from here and the picture won’t be quite so gloomy I hope. Keep the mail coming and I’ll do the same. With a combination like ours we can’t be beat. I am almost positive I’ll get a letter at every mail call. Please don’t worry too much about things. There may be some good news around some day. Good night and be careful, all of you.


Love to you all,



I hope your Valentines Day has been as happy as possible. I’ve done pretty well today. It has been swell here but there wasn’t any holiday feeling.


The Bacteria in Dick’s Nose

Friday, February 12, 1943


Dear folks,

Happy Lincoln’s birthday. Maybe I’ll learn to spell sometime. I started to write this at 6:30 when the Pres. was talking but somebody yelled mail call and that was more important so I didn’t hear the speech. It took about 40 minutes to pass out the mail. I got your box of papers & the magazine and Mrs. C. swell box of stationery – 50 envelopes & 60 sheets of paper. I don’t need to worry about stationery now for a while with that & the package I was able to get. I wrote asking you for stationery when it looked as if I wasn’t going to get any. If you send it, it will be O.K. I can always use it. I also got the letter you wrote Tues. Feb. 2. I wasn’t expecting it because I understood you were stopping with the Mon. letter till you had my new address. Now I’ll keep looking for more letters. Besides that I got ones from Hugh and from Dick Hollingsworth a kid I went to school with. He got my address from Nate.

Last night I got to bed at 10. I was up at about 6:15 again this morning and was dressed and had my bed made by breakfast. We had scrambled eggs, toast, oatmeal and stewed apricots. I went back and got seconds on the oatmeal and apricots. After breakfast we cleaned the barracks as usual. Then we fell out and picked up all the trash on the ground nearby. Then we drilled for an hour or so. After that we all marched over to the dispensary and we were there till dinner time. Each one had to wait in line and then the medics pricked the end of our little finger and got a drop of blood on a microscopic slide. This is to determine our blood type should we ever need a transfusion. Dinner today was navy beans (the barracks smell it too), yellow string beans, pickled beets, salad, biscuits and butter. After dinner we fell out and marched a little and learned to open ranks for inspection tomorrow morning. After a lot of practice we quit to get the barracks straightened up. I swept and mopped some, dusted off my shoes and got my clothes straightened out a little. They took laundry yesterday and I guess I should have sent mine. After we finished the barracks, I grabbed a shower, put on cleaned clothes and got into my O.D.’s. It seemed good to get out of those fatigues. We are supposed to shave every night but if I do I’ll just scrape my face. I’m hoping my whiskers won’t be noticeable for inspection tomorrow or I’ll be on K.P. probably. By that time it was supper time. The first time I got macaroni & tomatoes (very few), salad, bread, orange marmalade and cake, the second time I got macaroni and bread & jam and the third time I got a double helping of macaroni. I must be getting to be a hog. After supper I loafed around a little and started to write as I said.

You know the 23 candy bars I had. I’ve got 4 left. I’ve sold 8 and eaten 11 in 3 days. I really am a hog. I think I can get some more. That kid from Port Huron has the bright idea of buying the candy and selling them at 2 for 15 and that way we can get ours for nothing. I’m not interested in making a profit myself.

So Jack Watkins is alumni president. Somebody wrote me that Jack is going into the army Feb. 15. That engagement of Bill Bowden is no surprise. He has gone with that pigeon toed girl for years. She sure isn’t pretty. I was glad to get your nice long letter because your Mon. letter had sounded final till I had a new address. So Guy lives on River St. That must be right across from the coal yards there. I wonder how that guy got in the headquarters

company. Anyhow he is an infantry man, a mud-lugger. That 10% idea isn’t too bad because you’ll have about the same pay and you won’t be buying stamps from your pay after you get it so really you’ll have more. Let pop wear the scarf if he wants. Just so long as he doesn’t lose any of it he can wear anything I have even my last pair of shoes.

How is that show rationing coming. I wondered why that Mon. letter was so long getting started. Yet it was the first one to get here. I’ll bet my mail is coming to you irregularly now but you’ll have to make the best of it. I’m writing every day. When you were writing I was somewhere in Minn. or Iowa. Boy dad’s premonition really backfired. I sure wasn’t getting near to him but farther & farther away. I wear olive drab pants (O.D.) but there aren’t any stripes. The candy situation must be tough. We can get all we want if we weren’t quarantined. We just can’t get to it. I heard that Zane Amell was a lieutenant now. Do you know if that is right? We are needing hair cuts too. There aren’t any barbers in our gang. I haven’t been to a show in 3 weeks. The pancakes at Custer were made from a prepared batter. I don’t know how it is here or in McCoy. The syrup is sometimes Karo. At other times they have it in pans and I don’t know what kind it is. That cough syrup is doggone good. If I could get home I wouldn’t care how the bed was. As one fellow said, we’ll run every time we hear a whistle and when somebody throws a dog a bone we’ll race him for it. The stripes are green on black. A corporal is [sketch of chevron]. Nate wrote O.K. but I still haven’t answered him or any of the rest. I don’t care whether Thelma writes or not. If she does I’ll answer. I don’t know why that hike is after dark. We had no rifle range practice. Remember that road that goes out of Petoskey toward Charlevoix. We spent most of the morning in Petoskey and left about 10:30. We ate dinner on that road at a curve in the road in a little grove. There were 2 tables there and you were afraid someone else would come along and want one. I believe you washed there too. Can you remember it now. I’d like to take you and show you the place. The rubber picking up was the next day near Muskegon. I’d like to slap a tennis ball around again in that gym outfit. You better let the dresser go for awhile till you get all your bills paid up. Don’t be afraid to wind the watch. I won’t always stand in line but I’m wondering when I’ll quit. All we do is hurry up and wait.

Hugh was home again on Sunday Jan. 31, the lucky boy. He wanted to know what I am training for. I’d like to know too. He was on the rifle range and missed 4 points of qualifying. I don’t know what that means. He got 88 out of 100 on a driving test. He’ll probably be an assistant driver.

I don’t think you knew Dick Hollingsworth. He went to Eastern and to M.S.C. He lives on South St. and got my address from Nate. His letter sounds like a theme. He just registered and expects to be called at the end of the term. He wants to know what to expect. Everybody wants me to tell them what they can expect. I must be their guinea pig. He doesn’t intend to ask any military secrets though. The bacteriologist at M.S.C. is making a vaccine from bacteria in Dick’s nose and is trying to combat his sinus trouble with it. If it doesn’t work Dick intends to transfer to the U. of New Mexico next winter. I wonder if the has forgotten the army. It hasn’t forgotten him. If he does get in the army he is going to ask to be transferred to the desert. I doubt if he’ll get his wish. You don’t ask for things in the army. You take what you get. He likes trig. & boxing but hates German. He likes Spanish. He wants me to write when I can. Now I’m getting more mail that I can answer.

Well that’s the day’s activities and mail. It’s about 9:15 so I’ll have to quit pretty soon. I won’t have time to write to Mrs. C. tonight but tomorrow for sure. I really do appreciate that stationery and I’m not kidding. It was awfully foggy when I went out this morning but it cleared away and was a swell hot day. Hot too believe it or not. While we were at the dispensary for our blood tests I could see some big mountains which aren’t visible from our area. The higher ones don’t appear to have trees on them. I have a lot of washing to do sometime – set of wool underwear, 2 prs. of socks, towel, wash rag, four hankies. I am wearing shorts and wool underwear shirts. The cotton shirts go around me nearly twice – size 44 instead of 34. The shorts are white broadcloth. Maybe I can get my shirts exchanged for the right size. I can’t get my glasses fixed until I get to my station. I don’t miss them too much but I do miss them especially in the sun. A good jeweler or oculist could fix them in a short time. This kid from Port Huron says his dad is an optometrist. He used to help his dad grind lenses and he wants to be a doctor himself. He would like to get in the medical corps. His father’s office & equipment were destroyed by fire and he had to work his last year in school. He graduated last June and is 20. He also has “one of those things” – a step-mother. His mother is dead. He is rather noisy but I kind of like him. I think he has a lot of good points although they are a little hidden. We have some members of the intelligentsia in our barracks who listen to long haired music and read Milton but they are too stiff for me. I like natural people.

Tomorrow morning the Capt. from the other bunch is coming over to inspect us and our lieut. is going to inspect them so they’ll both probably be pretty critical. I sure am making a lot of mistakes tonight. This page isn’t very neat. Francois the Port Huron kid wonders how I can write so small. All I hope is you can read it. I write small to save paper and bulk in my letters but I suppose it is hard for you to read. I imagine that these 6 pages equal about 8 or 10 on your size paper. I hope so. This doesn’t look like a long letter but there is quite a bit here. I like to get good long letters and I suppose you do too.

I still don’t know what FDR said but I hope it was good. I hope we get out here inside of a year. When I get my discharge they better nail down the railroad tracks ‘cause I’m going to tear them up if they don’t.

Well this is enough for tonight. Keep me looking for mail and I’ll write so long as I have time.

I just heard we get up at 4:30 tomorrow. I hope it’s a rumor.

Good night and love to you all.


Your wondering and wandering son




[sketches – Valentine heart & map of California]

Plenty of Prunes

Mon., February 8, 1943

12:30 noon


Dear folks

I don’t know how long this letter will be as I may not have time tonight to write. Last night after I mailed your letter I shaved, cleaned my teeth, took a shower, polished my shoes and then read until 10:00. I was up at 6:15, dressed, made up my bunk and we had roll call. Breakfast was at 6:35. We had scrambled eggs on toast, prunes, and mush. The scrambled eggs here are pretty good. They give us plenty of prunes too and I like them and they also serve another purpose. From then until 8 we had the time to eat, wash our mess equipment and straighten up the barracks. I and the boy from Port Huron got oil for the burners instead of sweeping. At about 8:15 we fell out and drilled in marching for awhile. Boy the outfit was pretty stale although I did pretty well. Last night it rained hard all night again but it cleared away and the sun shone while we were drilling. But then a black storm came up from the northwest off the Pacific Ocean and it began to rain and hail so we were dismissed. We just nicely got into the barracks when we had to fall out again and march to an empty hall across the road. There they gave us a chest inspection. No measles today (13 more days). Then our lieutenant (Lt. Dunsten) read us the Articles of War and explained them and answered questions. That took up the time till dinner at 12:00. We had mashed potatoes, gravy, spinach, salad, biscuits and BUTTER. Now I am waiting for whatever we have to do this afternoon. I imagine we will do some drilling because they had us change to our fatigues. I’ll be back later and give the rest of the day’s activities.

Back later in the afternoon. After dinner we went out and drilled some till the rain drove us inside, then we had a lecture on military courtesy. While I was listening I noticed my glasses didn’t set right on my nose and when I moved them the piece across the nose bent real easily from where it was fastened to the right lens. When it quit raining we went back out for more drill. While I was marching I noticed my glasses drooping more and more and finally they came apart. The sgt. told me to drop out because I couldn’t march and hold them in my hand. The lieut. came over and looked at them and asked if I could see without them. I told him I could see pretty well with one eye. Then it started to rain and we went in the barracks for a few minutes and then back to learn how to salute and stand at attention. I don’t know when I can get my glasses fixed. The sgt. told me to tell the doctor next time he comes thru. Don Ewing from Lansing has a pair broken too and he’s wearing another fellow’s extra pair. As soon as I get stationed, I can get a pair on my own prescription free. They will be much sturdier and harder to break. Now we are in the barracks again.

If you remember those glasses have been bent a lot. 3 or 4 times Wetzel straightened them out. Once there at the store I really bent them. It has just gradually weakened them until finally they snapped. You know what happens to a wire if you bend it back and forth enough.

Back at 5:00 after supper. Pretty slim – beans, beets, bread and 2 fig bars. Now I don’t know what we will do next. Ordinarily we would be free, but the lieutenant mentioned something about movies tonight so we may have to go out. They will be training films and nothing entertaining. They practically start at the bottom all over again here but they go deeper. This is just for you folks. We are going to be stationed eventually at a place 35 miles from San Francisco. We will be in the 501st C.A. Regiment Anti-Aircraft. I can’t remember the name of the camp. The regulars who are there are going over probably as soon as we can get enough training to be any good. The plan is to man all the shore batteries on the coast with L.S. men and release the 1-A men for foreign service. In other words I’m probably stuck out here for the duration. It will be our job to protect an arsenal at Vallejo, one of the largest in the country. We will be on the guns, after preparatory training naturally, for 2 hours a day but we must always be within 5 minutes distance. We will have 24 hours off a week. Our chances for non-com ratings are good and we might even get commissions but it is doubtful. We are liable to be commanded by overage officers. To be an officer we should know plenty of math. I’ve had all he mentioned except calculus & spherical trig. My chances are pretty good I suppose. I am lucky because there are a lot of old guys who don’t look too smart to me and neither do some of the younger ones. I’m going to do my best and let the rest take care of itself. Our lieutenant has worked up from a private over a period of years and he made the same remark that Brisben made. He’d rather be a buck private in the rear rank. Someone mentioned furloughs and he told them if they didn’t think about them for a year or so then they’d feel better. I hope to be home in the summer maybe. Our job out here will be pretty static unless the Japs start something on this side. I always said if they came over I wanted to be able to shoot back so I guess I’ll be able to.

I still haven’t got my stamps and stationery but I may get them tonight. I am going to try to buy a stamp or two off the sergeant otherwise this will be a free letter.

I miss my glasses plenty but I am more fortunate than some fellows. Without their glasses they are out with both eyes. With my watch and glasses broken I wonder what’s next. I’m still saving that candy bar. The sgt. brought some out last night but I didn’t know about it so I lost out on that.

One thing here we don’t have time during the day to lay around like we did at McCoy. We have been busy all day. They look at individuals here too. At McCoy the corporal didn’t know most of our names unless they had gambled with him. Here our names are on our beds and the sgt. is learning our names. Some of these guys ought to be back home. One fellow has a stiff leg, another has habitual headaches and can’t drill and there are others with bad legs and arms. Some are just clumsy, one is 43, another 42 and some are just plain dumb. I am thankful I am not in the shape some of these are. If I like whatever they put me to doing I’ll probably get ahead. I’ve got to be at least a corporal to keep up with the Rickets family. After all I can’t let them beat me even if I am L.S.

We are having that California weather Hope & Benny joke about. Sun shine one minute and rain the next. It seems to rain all night. The lieut. said that it is foggy all day and the sun doesn’t shine much during the winter where we are going. The food is good though he says. I sure hope so and there better be P.X.’s and shows too.

Nobody has said anything about mail so I guess we haven’t got any yet. I got my last letter from you last Mon. The others are probably being forwarded. Maybe they have been sent where we were to go. I’ll get it eventually. I don’t expect to hear from you directly to here till next week sometime and by then I’ll be just about ready to leave, I hope. If I’ve got do this kind of stuff I might as well get started and hope this war is over before Xmas.

Its 6:00 now and we go on to the movies at 7:00. I don’t know if I’ll have time to write or not afterwards but if I don’t I’ve covered the days work pretty well I guess.

I wonder to myself sometimes how you will feel about me being so far away. It really got me for awhile Sunday but I guess I’ll get along O.K. Looking out the window Mich. might be only 50 miles away but when I stop to think how far it really is that’s something else. I guess we’ll just have to make the best of it, you and I, until we can get together once more. We can take pictures but there can’t be any trees or buildings or anything that would identify the place. I won’t even bother. It isn’t worth the trouble that might be raised. They are much more strict than at McCoy. It looks like it will rain again tonight by the clouds.

I’ve got some washing I should do but we haven’t the conveniences here. I still have some super suds although lost some on the trip. I had it in a sack but some got out anyway- I guess the small boxes are better although they cost more. Back again at 9:15. I took a shower and then we went over for movies. They were on articles of war and health and sanitation and we had seen most of them at McCoy.

Well this will have to be all for today. Lights go out in 45 minutes. Our orders didn’t come tonight so I haven’t any stamps to mail this airmail. You’ll probably get tomorrow’s letter before you do this one.

Well I hope you are all up to snuff and kicking around O.K. Write as soon and as often as you can. I suppose a lot of people are wondering why I haven’t written but I can’t write without paper.

Well I’ve got to quit so good night and lots of love and good luck to all.



I’ve Got More on Top than Most of these Guys

Sunday, February 7, 1943

About 11:15 a.m.


Dear Everybody,

Well here I am again on Sunday although it doesn’t seem to mean much to them up here. 5 weeks in the army and all I’ve gotten is a 2600 mile ride away from home. I hope this letter doesn’t sound too discouraging but I don’t feel very spirited today for some reason.

I got to bed at about 9:30 last night. We didn’t get up till after 8 although the sgt. had told us 6:15. I dressed, gargled, and washed a little, then made up my bed and got ready for breakfast. We ate it at about 9:00. We had post toasties, scrambled eggs, potatoes, bread and an orange. It was pretty good although a little butter or jam on the bread and some sugar for the cereal would have helped. Usually they have given us jam or marmalade but there wasn’t any this morning. I was lucky enough not to draw K.P. today but they still keep us busy part of the time. When I got back from breakfast I swept a little and then we moved to bunks so that we are in alphabetical order. I got a bottom bunk this time but we are in a spot of the barracks where there are no shelves or places to hang our hangers. Oh well if there are no more measles maybe we can leave here soon and go someplace else. Time out for dinner.

Back about 4. Let’s see, where was I? After we moved we got out our shoes and hung up our coats & stuff. I went over to the day room and mailed the letter I finished last night and looked around a little. They have some tables from the mess hall over there and there are games, cards, checker boards, jig saw puzzles and a whole lot of scrap books made up by the U.S.O. I looked at one scrap book and read an article about radio commentators – Kaltenborn, Seving, Hill, etc. The book was made up by a 68 year old woman from Visalia California according to notes written here and there in the book. I didn’t read much. I felt kind of low this morning but I’ve gotten over it a little now. I left there and came back and tried to shine my muddy shoes a little. Then I began to write. Dinner was pretty good. Mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, salad, applesauce, biscuits & butter. After dinner we came back and mopped out the barracks. Then the afternoon has been free. They gave us a chest inspection for spots and we got another case of measles so that’s one more day in quarantine. They have arranged for us to have cleaning and laundry done so I took my shirt, pants, tie, and field jacket to be cleaned. It will cost me $1.15. The rest of the time till now I spent walking around as far as we could go outdoors. Supper will be on pretty soon.

We have been having typical California weather today. It rained hard all night until about 8:00 this morning. Then it stayed cloudy all morning with the sun breaking through once in awhile. Now it’s shining brightly but we have had several small showers. I guess this weather helped get me down. It’s too much like spring back home and that’s what I always liked best – spring and early summer. But I tried to tell myself if I was home I’d be studying anyway and wouldn’t appreciate the weather but I guess I can’t talk fast enough.

This quarantine isn’t too bad and tomorrow we’ll probably start drilling. The trouble is I am writing on my last piece of tablet paper. I’ll start using that notebook paper I brought. I have enough envelopes for about a week and I got 2 air mail envelopes at the day room, but my last 2 stamps are on this letter so if I don’t get my stamps I ordered by tomorrow I’ll have to go back to slow free mail. I can’t get any candy either. I have one bar I’ve been saving and a few peppermints & a box of Cracker Jack. If I thought it would get here O.K. I’d have you send some stamps, envelopes and paper and maybe some candy. I’ll be here until at least 2 weeks from today and maybe longer if the measles keep coming. Supper pretty soon.

It’s kind of hard to write a very long letter because we don’t do much and I don’t get any letters to give me something to write about or answer.

Back from supper. Potatoes, salad, rice, pineapple, bread and orange marmalade. Now I have to shave, clean my teeth and take a shower yet tonight. I’ll get my dry cleaning back Wednesday.

Boy that radio helps a lot but all we get are Pacific coast stations. It seems funny to think that when it’s 5 o’clock here it’s 8 there and when I go to bed at 10 it’s 1:00 there. We have a schedule posted up in the barracks. Up at 6:15, breakfast at 6:35, fall out at 8:00, dinner at 12:00, supper at 5:05 and lights out at 10:00. We can have stuff dry cleaned twice a week, Mon. & Wed. Laundry is taken every Friday.

I understand there is a P.X. on the post but it’s about a mile away and isn’t well stocked yet. This camp covers 17,000 acres but a lot of it is probably the air field. Dozens of planes fly over all the time. Our amateur experts say they are mostly light and medium bombers. They sure are thick.

I wish I had taken coast artillery in R.O.T.C. now although I don’t suppose it would have helped much. I hope I’ll like this anti-aircraft stuff because anything is always a lot easier if you like it. About all we’ll do here I think is brush up on our close order drill and maybe do a little extended order drill. It won’t be bad up here when the mud is gone. I really like it in a lot of ways but when I think of where I am it kind of gets me once in awhile. I suppose its cold back there and probably you have lots of snow. That’s what makes this seem funny. Its spring in February and no snow in sight.

How are you set with can good rationing and sugar and coffee? We just heard on the radio today that shoe sales have been frozen and that they are going to be rationed on one of your sugar stamps. Things must really be getting tight. It’s like Fred Niklas said I guess. We lose track of shortages and stuff although we got butter this noon for the only time since we have been here. The fellow at the mess hall said they can’t get butter for some reason. They usually give us jam or marmalade for our bread or biscuits. Yes we get biscuits here. They aren’t bad but Gram’s sure are good. We don’t get pie here like we did at McCoy but we get canned peaches, applesauce, or pineapple for dessert. We get lots of pineapple. As the fellow said, nothing is rationed to the army but there are things they just can’t get. We are the only ones who eat at the mess hall and I think we are the first ones. All the buildings are brand new and the tags are still on the heaters and the bowls in the latrines. The floor in the barracks has dropped several times. The ground here is evidently thawing out and is very muddy. There are little trees planted around some of the buildings but they don’t add much beauty because of the mud and water. The buildings are all covered with tar paper and some are painted 3 or 4 different colors. It must be for camouflage. The barracks are green with some of them having black strips in the middle. This must make them look like several small buildings from the air. One large warehouse is painted several colors [sketch].

I don’t think this camp would have been opened yet if it hadn’t been for the measles epidemic. It made a handy place to send us.

I wish I could have a camera and take some pictures so you could see what things are like. I don’t want you to think I’m in cold barracks and a swamp. It’s really not that. It’s just the mud you’ll have in April. This has been a farm and the house and several sheds are near our barracks. There are fruit trees in abundance and I imagine it will be beautiful to see and smell when they blossom. I hope the measles don’t last that long though.

There are several mountains in the distance. They are covered with trees but there is no snow. Boy we sure changed climates a lot on that trip. I hope you have gotten all my letters by now and that they gave some picture of the things I saw. Let me know how long it took for the letter to get from Sacramento to you and if the air mails get there any faster. Go by the postmarks. I don’t know how often they take them from here to town. We put them in a box in the day room.

You are luckier than I am because when I left McCoy you couldn’t write to me because I had no address but I could write to you. You probably won’t get my yesterday’s air mail letter till Wed. or Thurs. and I won’t get the answer till next week. If you wrote me every day till you got my letter saying I was leaving McCoy I should have 4 letters at least (Sun., Mon., Tues., & Wed.) coming from there. I didn’t get any the last noon there but I had gotten the expected letter for Tues. on Mon. Air mail ought to get there from here as fast as regular mail from McCoy.

How is everybody including the pup? Are you still having help trouble dad? Did they get the 10% for bonds? You know I still have $7 left of what I brought with me and what you and aunty sent. When you are in quarantine you can’t spend much money. I haven’t touched my pay except for the change. It will go some when I can get to town or a P.X. I haven’t seen a show for 2 weeks. That must be a record for me. Have they called the reserves yet? Nate and Stewart both said in March they probably would. Stachel has got his second questionnaire according to his last letter. If Julius goes to Carolina like he thought they’ll sure have us spread out from coast to coast. If I were to get a 15 day furlough it would take half of it and $100 for traveling. Maybe its better I’m not able to get home every 2 or 3 weeks. I’d have that leaving to do too often but I still wouldn’t refuse the chance to get anywhere nearer home. Anything within 1000 miles would seem close now. Say, can you take care of my income tax for me or will I have to file a blank? You can get my earnings from Ruth Cook at the main office if they haven’t sent out the slip. I don’t remember for sure how much money I left but I know there is enough to pay it.  Confidential to Ma: ((((There should be $75 loose from the roll or it may be with it but that $75 is for taxes, the watch and anything else that comes up.))))        I don’t know if it’s too smart to carry much money with me but I want enough so I can get home if the opportunity should suddenly arise. The news today is all good. The Russians are 2 miles from Rostov and the Japs on Guadalcanal are surrounded. Boy if this war ended tomorrow I’d be the happiest and probably the only sober man in the U.S. Army. That last 6 months after the war is over will be awfully hard to take knowing it’s over and still I couldn’t go home.

If they put me on an actual job on the guns I’ll bet I get a promotion. I may not have the brawn but I’ve got more up on top than most of these guys. There are some college graduates though. From what I understood at college, the Coast Artillery takes plenty of math which is O.K. by me. I never saw any math I couldn’t get. I’ll never get a commission so long as I am in the Artillery. I’d have to be transferred to some other outfit. Most of us are the regular limited service fellows but we have 15 or 20, I guess, who were with the second division at McCoy. That was a pretty tough outfit. I understand they are going across soon. Anyway they culled out several fellows who had been in 1-A and put them in limited. Naturally they have had a little more training than we have so right off the bat 4 in each platoon are acting corporals and some already have their stripes from the 2nd.

I don’t know for sure what our arm insignia will be but my hat trim will be reds and my collar ornament will be like this [sketch] – crossed cannons. Most of the arm insignias around here are [sketch] – the four leaf clover. I hope I get one but we may be in a different outfit.

I can give commands as well as our sgt. He knows his stuff I’ll bet anybody but he gets rattled sometimes and his voice isn’t harsh enough to give commands. His name is Hajicek and he’s from Minn.

Well I suppose it’s about bed time for you folks but the sun is still up a little yet here. There are a lot of things I’ll think to say probably after I finish this letter. I always do.

I hope some mail gets here pretty soon. It seems like I have something to hold on to then. It’s not your fault. I know you have written every day except one (when you had a headache) and you’ll start again as soon as you get my address. When I look out the window and know you are over 2500 miles beyond that mountain, it just doesn’t seem possible. One thing, Cheboygan 52 miles will never bother us again (remember that). Any distance less than 500 miles won’t count. You know when one thinks of Cal. he thinks of Hollywood but I am twice as far from there as you are from Chicago.

Well this has gotten to be quite a long letter after all. It’s the last airmail unless I get the stamps I ordered. I sure hope I get the stationery I ordered too. I’ve got 9 sheets of paper and 8 envelopes and 9 cards. I may have to go to sending cards. I wanted to send my new address to the ones who had written but you come first till I get straightened out. You know about how long it will take by how long it takes for letters to get through and if you think it will get here 2 weeks from now I’d appreciate some airmail stamps, some air mail envelopes, and a couple tablets. I may not need them by the time I get them but I can always use them. Use your own judgment but I hope I don’t have to stop writing. I’ve written every day yet and I want to keep it up.

Well I guess I’ll go clean up and spend the rest of the evening reading or listening to the radio. One thing I have lots of reading material. Write as soon as you can and I’ll write as long as I can. I hope everybody is feeling right on top. Signing off at 6:30 Pacific wartime, 9:30 eastern war time. Have you set back your clocks? Then its 8:30 your time.


Love to Mom Dad Gran & Babe [stick people sketches]

From Arlington [drawing of himself]


They just took the mail so now this won’t go out till tomorrow, Mon.