See You in the Next Envelope

[enclosed with photo postcard of Stanford Campus]


June 3, 1943


This is a view of the campus taken I suspect from the tower shown in the other picture. You can see how everything is built around close together on what is known as the quadrangle. The building with the curved tower is the church you’ve seen in other pictures. We live in the clump of trees in the upper right part of the picture. This makes the third bunch of cards I’ve sent besides the first 3 in one of my letters. I sent two envelopes of cards of Frisco and one with the paper in it on one night. Then the other night I sent out 2 more envelopes with cards. Let me know if you get them all. I was afraid maybe they might be a little heavy to go free but I think they would go anyway. Haxton dropped an air mail letter in the box without a stamp once and it went thru and they paid at the other end. There’ll be 3 more envelopes this time. In one bunch were 12 pictures of Frisco. The one the other night had 8 of Stanford. Tonight I am sending 7 more. With the first 3 that makes 30 cards recently. Let me know in your first letter to Arkansas if you have them all.


See you in the next envelope


It Will Take a Bigger Library

[enclosed with a photo postcard of Hoover Library]


June 3, 1943


This is a picture of the Hoover Memorial Library. It is by far the highest and most outstanding structure on the campus and is visible for quite a distance. I’ve never been in it but I understand it contains the world’s most nearly complete record of World War I. It will take a bigger library than that to house the record of this one I’m thinking. I haven’t been out much after dark but I don’t remember seeing it lighted. I imagine this was taken before the blackout restrictions were enforced. This I think is the nicest building on the campus.


See you in the next envelope again.


The One I Least Expected

Wednesday June 2, 1943

6:45 p.m.


Dear folks,

No mail from you today so this will be a little shorter. After I finished writing to you last night I wrote letters to Aunty, Lillis, and a card to Aunt Edna. Then I polished a pair of shoes and took a shower. I got to bed at about 10 I guess. The captain and the 1st/sgt. came around at 10:30 and made a bed check but we were all in so it was O.K. I got up at about 6:15 and dressed, made my bed and swept under it. They called roll this morning before breakfast to see if anyone was gone. One fellow was AWOL for 3 days before they missed him. We marched to breakfast. It was oatmeal, milk, tomato juice, roll, and a couple of eggs so soft boiled I didn’t care for them. We got back here in time for 8 o’clock formation. We heard announcements and then waited around until about 8:30. Then we marched to the drill field and drilled for over an hour. After that we had about an hour of tough calisthenics. We marched back, changed to O.D.’s and marched to dinner. I had potatoes, jello, ripe cherries, milk, whole wheat, and butter. I didn’t care for the sauerkraut and wieners so I skipped them as I passed along the counter. After dinner I got my mail. It was a letter from Corporal Miller. Yes old Hughie is now a corporal and he’s pretty proud of it. I’m glad for him too because next to myself I’d rather see him get it than anyone I can think of. I had a little time at noon so I started a letter to him and wrote until the whistle blew. At 10 o’clock we went to class. First we went to math. We had some woman instructor who started right at the beginning of things and rambled on for the hour. She covered a lot of stuff I suppose I should read but I probably won’t. She gave us an assignment of about 8 problems. I did part of them in class and the rest since then so I’m through with that. Then we went to physics and the fellow spent the hour on mirrors and images. I recalled a lot of things I thought I had forgotten. He said we might look it over in the book if we had time. Then I went to chemistry. The fellow spent the hour on questions on chapters he had assigned for today. I wasn’t there yesterday so I hadn’t read it but I answered everything he asked anyway. He suggested we read a couple chapters for tomorrow. None of the instructors seem to take much of an interest. At 4 I came back here and left my books. I had an Eskimo pie and chocolate milk, At 4:30 we fell out and marched to retreat. From there we went on to supper. It was roast beef, potatoes, gravy, beets, sliced tomatoes, cake, raisin and white bread, butter, and 2 bottles of milk. After supper I came back and finished my letter to Hugh and then started this to you so here I am. I have to shave and take a shower yet. I think I’ll go out on the campus for awhile.

Now hang on to your hats. The lieutenant from Hdqs. came into class today and read a list including me and it is a shipping list to go to the University of Arkansas. Of all the places to go that’s the one I least expected. According to him, strictly off the record, we leave tomorrow or next day. He said we might not have classes tomorrow so I may not bother to read the stuff. I know enough to get by for a day or so. I am not crazy about the idea of going there but there’s nothing I can do about it. It has one advantage. I will be much nearer home and can probably get home on my 7 day leave which we are supposed to get every 3 months. I only have to cross Missouri and Illinois to get to Michigan. Just where in Arkansas it is I don’t know but I hope it’s the northeast corner. Anyway that’s the story. My mail will get into an awful mess. I suggest you stop writing here but keep track of the last letter you send in any event so I’ll know when I have them all. I may not have a chance to mail letters from the train so don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear anything for a few days. The trip will probably take close to 3 days. It’s nearly as far as from McCoy out here I believe. I’ll have to get a map to see just what the situation is. I had hoped for Ohio State but I’m doggone glad to get off this coast. There are a lot of newspaper headlines around here that I don’t like. If the Japs do decide to start something here I want to be far, far away.

Back at 8:45 and eating a pint of chocolate ice cream. Last night I had a pint of vanilla and raspberry. I shaved, cleaned my teeth and washed and then took off for an hour or so. I and another guy walked around on the campus and went over to the museum. It was closed but we found a bone, a rib, about 10 feet long out in back. Must be from a dinosaur. This leaf is from a pepper tree. It’s where those little black pickling peppers come from It’s now 8:55 and I guess I’ve covered the day.

All I know for sure is that I am supposed to go to Arkansas in a day or so. I’ll keep you posted as I go along. That’s the best I can do. If the mail stops for a few days don’t worry. My mail is apt to get into an awful mess from here so you better hold it until I get landed. For tonight then so long.




Then I Got Ambitious

Sunday May 30, 1943

6:15 p.m.


Dear folks,

Memorial Day. This won’t be too long because there isn’t much to say and I didn’t get any mail today to answer. Last night after I finished your letter, I dressed and signed out for Palo Alto. I left at 15 to 8 which was too late really. I started to walk but a soldier stopped with a car and gave me a ride in to town. The town is a nice quiet, neat looking place. I walked the length of town looking for a place to get cards or souvenirs. I didn’t find any so I went to a show at about 8 o’clock. I should have known better than go so late. I went to the Varsity theatre which is quite an attractive place built on Spanish lines. I bought a couple candy bars and went in. I saw “Enemy Agents,” a spy story, a short about the war, a newsreel and part of “Hello, Frisco Hello.” You see we are supposed to be in by 10:15 so I left at 10:00. I saw the last 5 minutes and the first 10 or 15 minutes of the picture and that was all. I came too late. That was the picture I wanted to see. It was in Technicolor and about Frisco. I left at 10:00 and walked back here. I got here at about 10:20 and signed in and went to bed. I guess I could have stayed and seen all of the picture because most of the guys signed in at 10:15 at around midnight and nobody said anything. Anyway I got in so that’s all that matters. I slept until about 7:15 this morning. I got up and dressed and read the funnies until time for breakfast. We marched to breakfast. I had Kellogg’s 40% Bran, roll, milk, and I can’t remember if we had fruit or not. Oh, no, we had orange juice instead. We also had S.O.S. (initials for what the boys call —- on a shingle). It is creamed meat of one kind or another on toast. When it’s dried beef or hamburger it’s good but today it looked to me like diced ham so I didn’t eat any. After breakfast we came back here. I finished reading the funnies and then lay down and slept until about 11 o’clock. I got up and wrote until dinner. We marched over to eat and had to wait a long time but the meal was worth it I thought. I had breaded veal, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttered peas, biscuit, butter, milk, berry pie and a half of a cantaloupe. After dinner I came back and finished writing. I wrote letters to Amelia, Elmo, and Dick H. in answer to the letters I got yesterday. After I finished writing the other fellows were all gone so I tried to rinse out some socks, 2 prs. of brown and 2 prs. of wool ones. Then I got ambitious and swept and mopped out the room, cleaned the sink, and wiped off the mirrors. That lasted me pretty well up to supper time. I had an Eskimo pie during the afternoon. I have my share of ice cream now instead of so much candy. Supper was about the usual Sunday night G.I. meal – soup, crackers, potato salad, ripe olives, cheese, white and dark bread, butter, milk, and ginger bread. After supper I am back here now writing. We had just one mail call today and I didn’t get any. It looks like spare time will be pretty scarce as soon as I get into refresher courses. They have a schedule on the bulletin board. From 8 to 9 and 9 to 10 we get military science. From 10 to 11 – phys. ed.; from 11 to 12 military science again. From 12 to 1 we eat. Then from 1 to 4 we have 1 hour classes in Chem., math and physics. From 4 to 5 we get phys. ed. again. From 5 to 7 we eat and are free. From 7 to 9:30 we either have study periods or military correspondence whatever that is. Maybe its time to write letters. From 9:30 to 10:30 we have a whole hour to ourselves. That won’t leave much time for writing. Just when that goes into effect I don’t know. Up until now the refresher courses have been sort of hit and miss. It will be a little different once we get to a regular unit. They have about 6 hours a week each of  phys. ed. and military, where we have here about 15 hours of mil. science and 10 hours of phys. ed. Dick H. writes that John Elsenheimer, a kid we know, is going to U.C.L.A. and is carrying 24 hours of work. I had 17 ½ at State. It is possible I might be sent to U.C.L.A. – Univ. of Calif. at Los Angeles. It’s hard to tell. I’ll probably put in about 2 weeks at least here yet. We hear that Santa Clara is full. Maybe they’ll have to open courses in some of the Midwestern and eastern states – I hope. I don’t like the sounds of Oklahoma or Oregon. If I have to stay out here I think U.C.L.A. would be O.K. probably. Give me Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio State if possible. Well it’s 7 o’clock here now – 10 for you and I’ve got nothing else to say so I guess I better quit. I ought to get some mail direct here in a day or so. So far I have had no opinion from you on this setup at all. Well I’ll call it quits for tonight. If you went up there I hope you had a nice weekend. I don’t suppose Dad will get tomorrow off for today’s holiday since he works but 5 days a week. Take it easy.



Son  [sketch of him with nose in a book, captioned “me pretty soon”]

Yipee, Hooray and Stuff!



Saturday May 29, 1943

4:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well I don’t know if I should be congratulated or not but I’m in. I go in as a Basic II in Chemical Engineering. That is somewhat equivalent to being a sophomore in college but we cover a year’s work in about 3 months. I’ll go into it in full when I come to it in my chronological report of the day’s doings. After I wrote to you last night I put a little more oomph on my buttons and polished off my shoes again. Whenever I take off a pair of shoes I try to leave them with a polish. That way I nearly always have shined shoes on hand if I need them. Then I went down and got a ½ pt. of milk and drank it. I am averaging a quart of milk or more each day now. Maybe I’ll fill up these pants again in time. I’m sleeping and eating regularly again for a change. According to the scales I’ve gained a few pounds since I’ve been in the army but I’d swear my belt was getting longer for awhile there. I came back up here and took a shower. I redressed and made my bed and walked around the dorm a little. Finally I went to bed at about 9:10. I get plenty of sleep. I was awake before the whistle and got up at 6 this morning. I find I am awake mornings waiting for the whistle to blow. I dressed, made my bed and we swept out the room before we fell out for breakfast. It was oatmeal, milk, scrambled eggs, applesauce and cinnamon roll this morning. After breakfast we came back here and mopped out the room and then waited around for inspection. The captain made a hasty survey and found a few things wrong but nothing serious. The mirror was a little dirty and we had a couple of dust rags tossed in a corner of the closet. After inspection we fell out and heard instructions. Then we changed to fatigues and marched out to the drill field. They had a soft ball game and some of the fellow played with footballs. I was content to sit in the sun. I’m trying to slowly get a little tanned without burning. My back seems to be coming along a little but I really burned my face. My forehead and nose are peeling from it now. That Woodbury lotion feels good. I am getting a little low on it and I’ll have to get some sometime soon. I’ve got to get me some shaving cream in the next couple of days too. I bought a small bottle of Vaseline hair tonic last night. It’s the first stuff I’ve bought to put on my hair but it’s been a little unruly so I thought I’d get it. It doesn’t smell and you don’t need a lot of it. We were at the field until about 10:45. Then we tromped back and changed to our O.D.’s again to fall out and march to dinner. No kidding, I’ve done more marching in the last 6 days than I have in the past 3 months since I finished basic training. No matter where we go we march in formation. Dinner today was pretty good. I had hash, vegetable soup, crackers, biscuit, butter, beets, milk and rhubarb.

Back from supper at 6. After dinner I came back here for mail call and got 4 letters – your Mon. letter and ones from Amelia, Elmo, and Dick Hollingsworth. I read them and then we had to fall out to hear announcements. All of us who have been taking these tests together were scheduled for interviews at 3. I came up here and shaved, washed, and cleaned my teeth. It’s getting so I have to shave every day and a half now and it’s a nuisance but I guess it can’t be helped. I shined my dusty G.I. shoes and then I took a quick shower. I wanted to look O.K. for the interview but I guess it wouldn’t have made much difference. I put on my new underwear and the socks. The shorts are a trifle large around but if they shrink any it will be O.K. The shirt and socks are O.K. I put on my freshly cleaned O.D.’s that I have been saving and my oxfords. I still have them all on. I may take off and see what Palo Alto looks like after I finish this. I have this one clean set of O.D.’s. The other set is pretty dirty but I don’t dare get both sets dirty at once. It’s a risk to send them to the cleaners because they tell us we may be here 2 or 3 days or 2 or 3 weeks. It’s like the reception centers. I’m beginning to accumulate a lot of dirty socks and underwear too so I guess I’ll have to rinse some out in our little corner sink before I run out. When I got dressed I went down and ate an Eskimo pie while I waited for proceedings to proceed. They took us through by alphabetical order so I waited about half an hour. I really didn’t think I’d flunk out because anyone under 22 who is brought here usually has the qualifications for basic engineering. I walked in and saluted and sat down. The officer says, “I see you are 20, that gives us a lot of leeway.” He looked over my record of past studies in high school and college and came to the conclusion I should be in Class II of basic Engineering. I asked him if he were sure I was capable of handling it and he said he saw no reason why I shouldn’t. As I figured I did very poorly on the physics test. But he said I must have a very good knowledge of basic math because I did excellently on the math test and that I must have really remembered high school chem., because I did unbelievably well for having had only 1 term of general chem. in college. He asked me if I were interested in the program or if I were just here because someone told me to come. I told him I was interested. He said that I should be able to do very good work and not just average. I let him know I have never been content with just the average. He asked me what I liked and I told him my interest was in chem. so he said he would recommend me for chem. engineering. He also said I will have to do some make up in physics to refresh it but that with a math basis such as mine I could pick that up as I went along. That was that and I saluted and left. I came up here and wrote on this until time for supper. We marched over and had potatoes, gravy, pump. and white bread, butter, carrots, salad, cake and milk. Then we came back and here I am.

Now probably you are wondering the same thing I have thought of. Will I like engineering and can I make a go of it? It isn’t exactly the thing I think I wanted. I never thought I had much aptitude for engineering. But on the other hand I never had much aptitude for K.P. or shoving shells into a 90mm. This is I believe my best bet. If I wash out I’ve lost nothing and certainly gained a little. I had no rating to lose. Julius is now taking chem. engineering so if he can make it so can I. The only trouble is the speed with which they shove it at you. It comes in 5 units, 1 and 2 as basic and 4, 5 and 6 as advanced. Each lasts 3 months or in other works [words] one if he went clear through would get a complete engineering course (4 years normally) in 15 months. If I start in Class II it means that if I go straight through I’ll come out a chem. engineer in one year. It is most likely that the war will last a year and if Churchill is right, much longer. In all probability I would come out with a commission. On the other hand, as I said the course is split up into 3 month terms. At the end of each term one has to go before the board. They may and probably will put him back if he is doing good work. On the other hand they may send him to O.C.S. or reassign him to some outfit as a trained technician with a no-com rating or if he has shown exceptional ability along some particular line they may send him for a different type training. In other words all I am in for is 3 months. Then I may go back for 3 more, I may be sent to O.C.S., I may get away from the engineering and get into chemistry maybe, or I might be reassigned to some outfit and given a rating. Personally I think I’d like to go on through and finish. It’s very probable we’ll finish with commissions as high as captain. Of course that’s in the future a long way but then a lot of things that were in the future are now in the past. At any rate I’m going to do my best and it will be no cinch. I’ll be assigned to refresher courses next week so I can be getting things in mind until I am shipped. I reckon it will be out here someplace. The school I’ve been mentioning was Ohio State at Columbus, about 400 miles away from you, but the shipment for there is already up and since not many go there my chances are relatively slim. Basics go there, to Univ. of Cal. at Los Angeles, to Univ. of Cal. at Berkeley near Frisco and to Oregon State. Of course, other schools may need men by the time I leave. You see the number of men available here is sent to Washington and then requisitions for different schools are sent here. Michigan trains engineers but I guess it’s advanced and the units are probably full. I remember you sending a clipping once which said M.S.C. was training a few engineers as well as the 1500 air cadets. At the time I had no interest in engineering but that’s too much to hope for anyway. The point is I want to get as close as possible to home because I may get time off at the end of the 3 mos. which is some time in early September. Well I guess I’ve said enough about that and about all I know now anyway. I hope I am at last getting a break.

Now to your Mon. letter. Those flowers were very pretty. I see I am one of 15 from the class of 1946 who is now in uniform. It looks like a lot of boys aren’t going to finish school. That is a very bad thing. They tell us one reason for putting us in school is because many of our educations were interrupted and statistics indicate most of us won’t go back. Old man Sohn went out in a hurry too like his boy. Monday was quite a day for you and also for me. I wonder if Gram’s birthday had anything to do with Gramp’s coming. I got a letter from Amelia today saying she was over to see you. She always answers in a hurry. I’d like some of that pudding again. How old was the keepsake? Did he mention the rest of it? I never write very nice letters to them because I can’t think of anything to say but then I don’t know what kind of letters he is used to getting from his folks. It’s nice I didn’t disappoint him although I can’t see where I’ve done anything to make him have feelings of either kind. I haven’t done anything to surprise him that I know of unless it’s because I didn’t do a lot of sobbing about being drafted. I don’t know about the desk job but so far I’ve done O.K. by myself in some things. I hardly think you need worry of my being different in the wrong way. There probably will be a noticeable change because I am at the point where a person makes a turn over. I’m at that 7th year point you mentioned a lot. I would have done the same changing at home but it would have been gradual and less obvious. I don’t think I’ll be going to the dogs right away though. I am getting the mail O.K. and in sequence now. If I move any distance I should know a day or so in advance and I’ll send a telegram telling you to hold the mail. If it’s just to Santa Clara or U.C.L.A. it’s not far and they can easily forward it to me. I hope it’s about 2500 miles northeast mostly east. That was my first so-called blind date but he is a pretty decent acting fellow. Plain t-shirts are O.K. by me because now I am no longer in the coast artillery or won’t be much longer. At Frisco I was on Special Duty. Here I am on Detached Service but when I’m shipped I will no longer be on D.S. but will be reassigned to an A.S.T. Unit. I’ll have to take off my red piping on my hat and my Western Defense patch and my crossed cannons. No insignia or chevrons but I won’t have to take off any chevrons.

Yes my pen goes pretty steadily but it is a very good one. All it needs is good ink and an occasional cleaning. I didn’t do so bad on my socks but a couple more pair need fixing now. If I ever got within 100 miles of home I’d dump the laundry and patch work right smack in your lap. I won’t change anymore going to school now that I would have done at M.S.C.  C.A. (AA.) is a combat outfit in the sense it would go into action in case of an attack. Also it is possible some units may be moved to Hawaii, Panama, and Alaska where we are in control and no fighting is in sight. That is purely rumor but I can see where it is very possible. Maybe by the time I finish with this training the war will be over. I see no reason why I couldn’t use those shirts regardless of where I go. If I get where conditions are favorable I want to play some tennis. If I go to Oregon it’s north but not much farther from there. I rather doubt if I needed the army to make something of me. I was doing pretty well by myself up to the time I was drafted. I have no reason to be ashamed of anything that we did or you taught me so you just forget that kind of stuff. C. I guess that answers your letter.

Amelia wrote about being over to see you. Fred will finish in New York on June 15 and be sent to Cleveland. He hopes to get a leave then. Russell is still in San Diego. Jack Niklas and Bill Webb are also coming or I should say going home on leave soon. Bob Niklas is at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. Elmo wrote to find out why I hadn’t written. By now he probably has my last letter. Dick just answered the letter I wrote. We don’t say much to each other but just write a lot of junk and flowery language. Judging by his letters one would never picture him as he is. Well I guess I better quit before I exceed my 6 cents worth. It’s now 7:30. I don’t know whether I’ll go to town or just loaf around here and read funnies I see here on the table and maybe answer those letters. I can see very clearly that once I hit the real work my letter writing to outsiders will cease. A card is all they will get and I expect about a page a day will be my limit to you. I’ll see when I get to it. Well good night and take it easy. I’m glad I’m not a disappointment to anyone.




MSC ‘46


Let me know as soon as that new delivery set up for mail becomes effective so I will be using the right address!

Rah Rah Joe Buck the College Kid

Monday May 24, 1943

Stanford University

Sequoia Hall

Palo Alto, Calif.


Dear folks,

Well here I am. Don’t ask me how I like it because I don’t know. If I were free to come and go as a civilian student it would be heaven and the next best thing to going to good old beautiful M.S.C.

After I wrote that short letter to you last night I went over to the mess hall and saw the tail end of a movie. It was “Swing It Soldier.” I saw the picture before back home on Xmas 1941, the night Julius and I took in 2 double features. After the show I went back and got to bed at about 10:30. The boys rolled out at about 4:45 to go on the morning alerts. They eat afterwards now. I got up at 5:30, washed, dressed, got a snack – rice krispies and an apple and was ready to leave at 6:30. I got my stuff loaded on a truck and rode as far as 211th Hq. in Vallejo. There I met another kid and we rode in a carry all to Brigade hdqs. in Frisco. So for all the good it did I could just as well have stayed in Frisco and had a full day off. But that’s the army. We waited around at Brigade and finally got started. We then had four men and a variety of bags and trunks. We rode in a big 2 ½ ton truck with the canvas off. It was very cold and foggy in Frisco but as we came south it got hotter and hotter. The scenery and buildings are much more attractive down this way. We passed through Daly City, Redwood, San Mateo and other smaller places.  Judging from the homes, the wealthier people in Frisco must live outside. It was a nice ride and very entertaining for me. We got here about 10 I guess and we drove and drove around this campus for nearly an hour trying to find where they were supposed to deliver us. After many stops and retracing of our paths we finally arrived at Sequoia Hall which was once a boy’s dorm before the army moved in. We unloaded our stuff and were marched off across the campus to dinner. I think I’ll like the food and no K.P. We eat on trays like at Custer and they have silverware. For lunch I had milk, spaghetti, asparagus, white and whole wheat bread and butter and jello. After dinner we marched back and were given a cot, 3 comforters, 1 blanket, a sheet, pillow and pillow case. We were then given a room for 5 of us and we put up our beds. There is a dresser, four chairs, a table, a closet and a sink in the room. It isn’t bad at all. We were taking it easy when they came looking for us. They had a little detail for us at headquarters. We went over there at about 15 to 2 and they put us to work. I took service records out and filed them, and checked out the cards of fellows who are gone. Kinney went to Santa Clara. They seem to stay here from 2 to 4 weeks. We are all practically supposed to be engineers I guess. The biggest groups are going to Santa Clara here in Calif. and to Oklahoma. Give me Santa Clara or U.C.L.A. We worked there until about 4 then we came back here and here I am. They sell milk and ice cream downstairs and I see where I am going to get my share while I am here. We get classification tests in a day or so, 3 hour exams. They will be on math and maybe also chem. and physics. I think I can handle basic math but I’m a little afraid of the other two. Still if Kinney could make it so can I. It’s a little like Custer here. I can see we’ll be stuck for details every once in awhile. The campus is quite large I guess from what I’ve seen. The architecture is beautiful and much better than M.S.C. yet the grounds can’t compare in beauty. The grass around the buildings is cut for hay instead of mowed. I’ll look it over more when I get a chance. I thought I would like to get to school and I believe I do but it makes me a little homesick. For some reason I don’t resent the civilian students, I envy them. I wonder how they keep out of the army. There are a lot of things to tell probably but I can’t think of them now. I bought about 15 cards in Frisco last week showing views. You probably have most of them on those folders already but I’ll send them anyway. There are a few showing Stanford also. I think you can read my address O.K. ASTARU means Army Specialized Training & Reassignment Unit. I may think of more things I’ve forgotten next time. My mail will probably get a trifle balled up but I guess I’ll get it O.K. Don’t send any packages for awhile until I’m settled someplace for awhile. I may get only 3 mos. and then be sent to O.C.S. It’s hard to tell yet. Well I think I’ll quit until after supper.

Back after supper of asparagus soup, roasted potatoes, gravy, spinach, whole wheat biscuit, butter, crackers, milk and cake (good cake not the G.I. kind). Now I think I’ll arrange my stuff a little and then I may sign out and go to town or look over the campus. Its 6:50 now and we have to be in by 10:15 so you see they don’t give us much free time. Well I’ll write more another time. Write when you can. I got your Mon. letter last so I’m a week behind but it will take time for it to catch me. For tonight so long and take it easy.



Rah Rah Joe Buck the college kid


MSC ‘46

My Stooges Tell Me I’m Leaving

Stamps are for my collection. After I got them I noticed plate no.


Thursday May 20, 1943

11:59 p.m.


Dear folks,

Here I am again. Hooray, yippee, wahoo and stuff. My stooges tell me I’m leaving tomorrow or next day at long last. I’m told I will go first to Stanford University which is at Palo Alto, about 35 miles south of here. I guess I better start at the beginning as I usually do. I finished writing to you a short time after I got here last night. The night was uneventful so I took myself in hand and wrote nearly all night. I had my pen in one hand and the telephone up to my ear with the other listening to radio music in East Bay. I wrote a card to Thelma thanking her for the candy and letters to Elmo, Aunty, Gramp, Hugh and Amelia. Writing, making line checks, listening to music and conversations all kept me awake O.K. By 8 I was beginning to get pretty sleepy and was glad to get off. During the night I began to get a little perturbed about this ASTP so I decided to do something about it. We rode back to the battery as always. Breakfast was pancakes, jam, butter, syrup, milk and a banana. After breakfast I decided to see what I could find out so I went to the battery office. The battery clerk advised me to write to my battery and ask if my ASTP records had been returned and if they had to ask them to submit my name to go before the board again. He said that since the setup was changed some person’s records had been sent back even tho’ they passed before because they hadn’t qualified for a technical field. He believed that my field was considered as technical and that was why I hadn’t been called before the board again. He recommended writing as a double check. The captain also thought it was a good idea. This captain down here at the btry is an all right guy. He is a lawyer from Minnesota. I decided maybe they were right so I intended to write tonight to my battery when I got to work. Then I headed for bed. I slept until noon, woke and went back to sleep. I slept off and on until about 5. I got no mail at all today. I dressed in time for supper – potatoes, salad, bread, butter, jam and lemon pie. After supper I had decided to loaf away the evening when one of the corporals asked me if I was Forist and if I was up for ASTP. I said yes and he said you’re leaving. He said the orders came thru for me and another kid at about 4 this afternoon. You can bet I felt pretty good so I decided to clean up and go out someplace. I passed another fellow and he says you’re leaving tomorrow or next day. A little further on a kid says “goodbye.” I asked why and he says “You’re leaving.” So I guess I must be leaving. They all work at Brigade where they know what happens. As yet of course I’ve had no official notice about it. That might come tomorrow or it might be a week. I washed, changed my clothes, got a pass and left. I got some stamps, left some negatives at the drugstore for Haxton and bought some cards to send out. Then I walked around a little and finally went to a show at the Warfield Theater. I hope you can read this. My writing is getting worse all the time. The movie was “Follow the Band” with a lot of radio and screen stars. The stage show was fair. A couple of the acts were very good. After the show I came on up to work here. I got here a little after 11. I started to write this but had to help on the board down here for awhile. I finally got back to this. The lieutenant had a birthday the 10th so the ladies brought him a cake tonight. It was very good. I’ve been writing tonight and also visiting some with the boys on the lines. I have a date with a corporal from the 216th for tomorrow night if I’m still in town. Neither has seen the other but we’ve talked a lot over the phones. He wants me to go to a show with him. He has suggested it several times before. He is the boy who flunked out of O.C.S. He sounds like a pretty decent fellow over the phone. He’s from Ill. That brings me up to where I am now. I bought a pack of those FREE cards to use to give people my change of address. Now I can’t give you much information because I haven’t much to give as yet. Stanford is a sort of reception center. They hold you about 2 weeks there unless you are assigned to a unit there for training. During this preliminary period several tests are given to determine abilities and aptitudes to see just what one is best qualified for. After that one attends classes until he is assigned for training at some school. In all probability the school will be in the 9th Service Command – Calif., Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nevada I believe. They are supposed to keep us in this command. If I can’t get back East I think I’d like to go to Southern California or someplace in Oregon. Of course this is just assumption and nothing definite. The stay at Stanford is about 2 weeks. New men come and go every day so trying to conduct classes is a joke. One thing it will give me a chance to get used to studying again before I hit the real thing. Reveille 6:15 – lights out at 10:15. This sure has been a cinch setup here. I’ll probably appreciate it more after I’ve been gone awhile. I’m willing to grind a little though if I can get someplace by doing it. This will with good luck lead to O.C.S. in time. I’ve always wanted to go to O.C.S. but I wanted to do it this way. After having had all this training O.C.S. would be much easier. Where it all leads I don’t know yet. I hope I’ll never wish I hadn’t got this because I really think it is a break. I’ll probably get K.P. again at Stanford but once in awhile won’t be bad. I can take it I guess after having done K.P. at its worst. I haven’t ordered you not to write for awhile because I’ll be only about 35 miles from here. If I make a big move I may send a telegram saying, Moving, hold mail, or something like that. Anyway don’t send any packages for awhile because my mail may get tied in knots. I supposed I would have to return to Benicia and give them my bedding and stuff but maybe not. Kinney took his with him and then was issued more. He had 2 comforters and 5 blankets. He said he was the only one with a rifle down there. There is one drawback. This probably kicks a furlough right square in the teeth. Maybe if I get on the ball and keep my nose to the wheel I can work nearer to home and if I do get a leave I can have more time there. As it is I would have 7 days of a 15 day leave at home – cost $150 and up. As I said I bought a pack of post cards because I don’t expect to write many letters once I get to really hitting the books. I have too much at stake. So if my letters get a little briefer and cut off don’t pay too much attention. I’ll write as much as possible but they don’t allow much time for writing. Of course each school is just a little different. Maybe I’ll hit a good one. Anyway I’ll know in time. I guess this is all the info I can give you this time but I’ll keep you posted. Write if you can. I haven’t gotten a letter for two days. The last was your last Fri. one. I’ll get all mail eventually but it may be tied up for awhile. My blouse & one set of O.D.’s won’t be back from the cleaners till Sun. so maybe I better hope to stay here till then. Well so long for tonight or I should say for Fri. morning. Maybe by tonight I’ll be a rah rah boy again. If you think I’m not happy you are much mistaken.




To Father on Mother’s Day

Monday May 3, 1943



Hi pop,

It’s about time I wrote you a couple lines I guess after all the swell letters you have been writing to me lately. Your letters get better each time. Oh I get a little laugh now and then out of parts but it’s you as I know you and it seems as it should be. I’ve been answering your letters each time when I wrote to Mom and the family as a whole. I imagine Mom reads them to you. I don’t care whether she reads them to the whole family or not. That’s up to her to do whatever she thinks best. They are for her and you. See. I just finished eating supper. We had spaghetti, string beans, salad, raisin bread, butter, and lots of jello. There isn’t a lot doing tonight so I am having plenty of time to do some writing. I just got to kiddin’ a guy out in Vallejo and then I find out he’s a lieutenant but he still sounds like he’s not so cocky. He still sounds friendly. Some officers are O.K., others think that just because they have some bars they are almighty. He just called again and sounds pretty friendly. Maybe I can work up to something someday. I went to a show on the way back to the battery from work last night so it was about 3:30 when I got to bed. How’s your cold? I didn’t get any mail from Mom this noon so maybe I’ll find a letter tonight when I get back. Boy you must really be having labor troubles there all right. I have received hints in recent letters that you might change your job and location. Keep me informed so I’ll know where I live. I want to know where I am. If you mean what I think you mean, you are going to have to hunt up a mail box to take care of the volumes of mail I send. I sent out a package to you today so you’ll be getting quite a bit of mail in a few days. Keep writing.




Just an 8 Hour Sit

Private Arlington A. Forist

Saturday April 24, 1943

8:15 p.m.


Dear folks,

I’ll start this now but I’ll probably finish it on the job tonight as I have to go to work at midnight. There’s not much to tell tonight. I finished yesterday’s letter there at the stock exchange and after I mailed it I left. I met the sergeant from the radio shack on the elevator so I got a ride back to the battery in the radio truck with him. I got to bed at about 12:45. I was pretty sleepy yet this morning and I slept right on through reveille and also breakfast. Nobody said a word about missing reveille. They can’t keep track of us special duty men to know when we work and are entitled to sleep. As for breakfast, I hear it was beef creamed on toast again so I didn’t miss much although I could have used a little filler. I got up, dressed, and made up my bed. By the time I was all ready, it was time to go to work. We rode again this morning. Oh what a day. It was a nice day and the usual run of things kept us pretty busy. Then to top it off the big flight of bombers and fighters was up this morning. There were 100 B-17 flying fortresses, 66 B-25s, 4 B-24s and over 50 fighters. In all there were 200 planes. We all supposed this flight was secret. Then this morning we heard about it over the radio. It was a huge display of power. I didn’t see a single plane. The other two fellows dashed to the windows when they heard them overhead so I stuck with the phones. I handled my job O.K. so far as I can see. I think that in another month’s time I’ll really know the job and I’ll feel qualified for a rating if there ever is one. I got pretty mad once. There is a complicated setup for tying in interceptor groups and everybody. I got it all set and then some woman didn’t know which switch to use and gummed us up for about 5 minutes. I guess she was new but in a case of the real thing 5 minutes is a lot of time to waste. In all, everything went off swell and I guess there are no complaints. The planes flew over town, went out to sea and then came back and were attacked by fighters over Frisco. It gave me a pretty busy morning up to dinner time. For dinner I had potatoes, creamed asparagus, onions, bread, butter, and lime jello. That wasn’t very filling. I had a half bag of those little hershey bars so I ate them during the morning as breakfast. This afternoon after dinner, things were quite busy. We thought for awhile we were going to have the real thing. A report came in last night that a sub carrying a plane was off shore and everyone was put on the watch. Then this afternoon a report comes in that a sub was seen and that the navy is firing at it. We thought maybe they’d get it. Finally we get word that it was all a mistake. Instead of a sub, they say the coast guard had dropped a smoke bomb and was using it for a target. That’s a pretty good alibi for not getting anything anyway, but then maybe its’ the truth. There were a lot of navy planes down there for just a smoke bomb but then I don’t know. We were pretty glad to get off at 4.

Back at 11:40 at the stock exchange. I rode back to the camp from work and hunted up a guy who had a message for me from my battery at Benicia. It seems he is from the battery too and went up there on his day off. He brought back word that my package is up there. It seems they sent it up there from here. They said they couldn’t find me here. You see I don’t make but one mail call a day when I’m working and they couldn’t find me. I don’t know where they think I was. I’ve asked the dope the last 2 days if he had any packages and each time he said no. Now I don’t know if they will send it back or not. They told this guy to tell me to come after it because I have to go up there and get a helmet and rifle. I don’t want to get the junk but I do want my box. They should forward it back here but they may hold it to get me to come after the other stuff. I think it’s time somebody who is awake started to handle the mail. Supper tonight was lousy. I had potatoes, bread, butter and fruit salad. After supper I started in and shined my buttons, my belt and buckle, and my shoes. I got my letter written Mon. tonight. I got the Tues. letter yesterday. When I got through with the polishing I washed and shaved. Then I read the rest of “My Sister Eileen” and started to write this. I also did a little snoozing. We all left early at about 9:00 and walked to work. I got a cheese sandwich and some cocoa after I got here because I was pretty hungry. The meals I missed and what I did eat didn’t last long. That brings me up to now.

Now to pop’s letter. You give a pretty good picture of things but you don’t ask anything that will give me something to write about. You will be pretty short handed in a few more weeks at the rate you are losing your men.

I have a couple letters I could answer tonight and also a book to read, but I haven’t much ambition to do it. These night shifts are just an 8 hour sit. We don’t have much to do unless it’s the real thing. I don’t know what to do about that box. The fellow in the office here said it will be sent back so I’ll wait a couple days. If I get the box O.K. I’m not going after the rifle until my day off in 2 weeks. I might not be here by then. The one kid left tonight for Salt Lake City to go to the Univ. of Utah. There are 2 going but as yet I’m still as ever. This fellow hates to study. I’d like to but that’s the way it goes. The person who would appreciate & make the most of things doesn’t get them.

Well this is it for tonight I guess. How about a family letter?


Love to you all


Coffee for Cocoa

Private Arlington A. Forist

Wednesday April 21, 1943

4:40 p.m.


Dear Mother and dad,

I’m starting out with two strikes on me but I have a right to defend myself a little I guess. First I want to say that I have been in this army for close to four months and during that time I have not drank either tea or coffee. I have drank water, milk, cocoa, and a variety of cold fruit juice drinks but absolutely no coffee or tea. Now you say I said so in my letter and that nothing I can say will change it. Do you really think then that I am a liar? I can see how you feel about it but I think you aren’t being fair to me when you say I needn’t try to explain. That’s the first time you ever called me a liar and that hurts. I can’t remember what I wrote and I don’t deny writing it but I still didn’t drink it. You must have my Wed. or Thurs. letter which was written on the 4 to 12 shift. Each night along about 9:30 Bartlett and I would go down to the coffee room and get a snack. Neither of us ever got coffee. We always got cocoa and doughnuts. I don’t know whether you will believe me now or not. I can’t see why I wrote coffee. Of course I am liable to write most anything in the confusion of different conversations around me and answering phone calls, etc. All I can say is I must have been thinking of coffee room and when I went to write cocoa, wrote coffee. I have made a lot of such mistakes as you can see by the number of words I usually scratch. Now if you say I am just saying this to smooth things over you are wrong and you are calling me a liar, something which I am not and you know it. I never lied to you about anything before and I don’t intend to start now. You say you have lost all confidence in me. That is a pretty big slap in the face and let down for me. I supposed you had enough confidence in me that you wouldn’t grapple on to something and then even refuse to accept an explanation. I’ve never given you any reason to have to be that way. It’s only fair to let me say what I have to say. And if you refuse to believe it regardless of what I say, then what can I do? Put yourself in my place for just a minute and see how I feel. I am accused of something which I did not do but which I did mention some way (how I still don’t know) in a letter. If I say I didn’t do it I am accused of lying to get out of it. Now I’ve tried to show you how I feel about this. I sure thought you had more confidence than that in me. You actually think that just because I’m not home, I’d do all the things I know I shouldn’t. Boy that really makes me feel good. So did Dad’s letter also. When ones parents will grab a little thing like that and refuse an explanation then there isn’t much left. Then when I am accused of trying to get out of it by giving a truthful explanation that just about finished me off. I’ve certainly never given you any reason to treat me this way now. I know you are hurt by the way you write but you have nothing to be hurt over yet because I didn’t do anything. I’m not trying to be smart or anything but I’m trying to show you how it is. If you won’t believe what I say, then I’m ready to give up on everything. You say don’t write a lot of mean things and I haven’t. I still can’t see how you could lose confidence in me so soon and without even giving me a chance.

So you finally got that rail to fit down in on my bed. Now it will be level. I can imagine how dirty and dusty it was upstairs because it sure accumulated fast. With that trunk out, there will be more room in my room now. It sounds as if you are getting rid of all the unnecessary junk which is a good idea. Don’t throw anything worthwhile out though. I imagine Babe did have a real time at the dump. They have been on the Indians trail along time but he’s no better than the rest of us. Teeth won’t keep anybody out anymore. Haggerty must know somebody out here in the coast artillery. He has the right dope on things. In time the whole antiaircraft setup in this country will be L.S., not alone California but I think the whole coast in time. I guess you are right Things are in stride. About all we can do is go along with things I guess. What you say doesn’t sound lousy because it is the way things are. I’ve decided I may as well take it easy. I’ll be put where they want me regardless. I was glad Harmon got through O.K. yet why should he be such a headline figure. If it had happened to one of us un-famous guys nobody would have heard about it. But I guess that’s the way things are all the way through. I try to read but I can’t get into a book and get really interested. I guess I am as nearly happy as I can be when I’m working. I rather enjoy my work and I don’t have a chance to think. I don’t like the city yet it is better than Benicia. Things don’t seem so desolate here. Mrs. C. said they had been saving gas so they could get to the cottage. Now I come to the coffee part of your letter. All I can say is I don’t know how I happened to write coffee for cocoa but cocoa is what I drank. I’ve never even used coffee or even tea to dunk in let alone drink. So far as I am concerned I shall send cards, etc. the same as usual. Nothing is changed. There is no reason for any change. I hope the coffee chokes me too if I ever drink any. Yes I eat pancakes but I don’t eat things that aren’t to be eaten. If I didn’t eat some of the things that are O.K. I wouldn’t be eating very much. I am hungry most of the time. The thing that gets me is you saying I can’t make it right no matter what I say. I never thought you would refuse to believe me. If I had done it I would admit it. But I’ll never admit  doing something I didn’t do. That’s something you impressed on me from the first. If you are innocent stick to it, if you are guilty admit it. I’m doing just that. Are you going to go back on your part of it? You say “don’t look for me to write.” I’d hate to think our chain of letters was broken over a foolish little thing like that. If I had done it you know I’d admit it. I’m not in the habit of being called a liar. You’re the last one I ever expected to get it from. I wish you would think things over and ask yourself if you have been absolutely fair with me about this whole thing. How about it?

That was quite a long letter for dad but you sure did a good job pop. I got to thinking about the place today, wondering how it will look. Stuff is pretty high all over I guess. We saw a fruit dealer on the street Saturday selling oranges at 3 doz. for 50 cents. I don’t see how you managed the trailer all alone. I guess that finishes my mail of today. I have been thoroughly tanned down. I accept my part of the blame for the things I said in the other letters but on this coffee deal I can only repeat what I have already said several times in this letter.

Last night after I finished writing I took a quick shave and wash up and got to bed at about 12. It rained this morning so there wasn’t any reveille. We slept until 10 to 7. I got up and dressed in time for breakfast. I had 2 eggs, toast, milk and ½ grapefruit. After breakfast I made up my bed and got ready to leave for work. It was misting so I didn’t expect a very busy day. I was partially right. The morning was dull and I managed to get letters written to Gramp & to Hugh M. All was not so peaceful though. The weather cleared and picked up the business a little but also we struck snags on radar coverage and stuff which threw us all up in the air at times. I think there could be a lot more efficiency here. Dinner came as usual right in the midst of a lot of phone calls. We had stew again, bread, butter, cold tomatoes, and jell roll. The meals aren’t what I would call good at times. Los Angeles went on alert this afternoon and we thought maybe we would but it was another false alarm. You may have heard about it over the radio. We got off at 4 and rode to camp. I found your letter on my bunk. I read that and afterward was waiting for the chow call. It didn’t blow so I ate after retreat tonight. I went out for retreat. I got no mail tonight. After supper here I am writing. I had potatoes, tomatoes, salad, bread, butter and jello and I ate plenty. I was really hungry. I looked for the box but it will probably be here by tomorrow. It’s 6:45 now. I guess I’ve covered the day and said about enough about the major topic. Just think it over and see if I am really so unworthy of confidence. I think you have been a little unfair. Let’s forget the whole thing since actually nothing happened in the first place. How about it. Dad ought to be an impartial judge on this since he has an interest in the proceedings also.


Well so long for tonight.




I’ll be looking for letters as usual.