Resting on the Oars

Mon. Feb. 28, 1944

4:45 p.m.


Dear folks,

I just finished reading your Fri. letter and I’m just a little mad. I know one Negro who has something waiting for him and I think he’ll get it some day. Couldn’t Pop take a poke at him for gosh sakes? Who was he anyway? Doesn’t he know him? The best thing to use on them is your foot. There’s one place you can get them or anybody so they don’t come back for awhile. At least hit ‘em in the guts, never on the head or you’ll break your hand. Well I guess I can’t do much about it so I’ll get back to my usual lineup. I did my Calculus last night after I finished writing. Then at 8 we went to study. I put one hour on one Physics problem. The second hour I spent on my theme for English. At 10 we came back & I got to bed. It started to rain last night & has been doing it off and on ever since. There was no reveille today so I slept on through breakfast until 7:15. Then I got up, dressed, made my bed and at 8 we went to Calculus. We finally got our tests back. The grades were poor – only 5 were above 70 & average was about 48. I pulled a 98 which made me feel pretty good. I lost 2 points for leaving out a minus sign. At 9 we had Physics. He gave us some problems about which I knew practically nothing. I’m a little lost in that stuff. We don’t get the test until Sat. You know all these tests this week really don’t mean an awful lot. Unless I really did awfully poor I couldn’t change my grades & whether or not we go on is all up to Dallas.

Back at 10:00. We had study at 10 this morning. I worked on Phys. just in case we might have a lab test. At 11 we had military and more stuff on map reading. At 12 we came back for dinner. I had steak, potatoes, cabbage, salad, bread, butter, milk and cake. At 1 we had Physics Lab. We didn’t have a test but did an experiment on Impedances in alternating currents. At 3 we had study & I tried to shape up that theme some more. At 4 we had P.T. & played volleyball. At 5 we had our monthly physical which means we get paid in a couple days. I got your Thurs. & Fri. letters today. I also got the letter back that I wrote to Hugh about a month ago. It had been sent from Camp Tyson to Fort Bragg & there it was stamped unknown and sent back. Evidently the mail clerk in Tyson made a mistake in sending it to Bragg. He probably shipped out to a different place. I started writing on this & wrote until 5:20. Then Sammy & I played ping pong until supper. I had corn, salad, bread, butter, milk, and fruit salad. Then we came back & played some more. I beat him 12-5 and broke even 2-2 with another fellow. At 8 we went to study. I did my Calculus and read 2 chap. of Drawing for a test we may have tomorrow. I had thought of really pouring it on & going to late study but they knocked all the ambition out of me. I’m back in the dayroom now. Here’s the setup as it stands now. They still don’t know if we stay next term or not. According to one of the officers they are trying to keep us 14 but don’t know if they’ll be able to or not. The big thing is this. There will be no furloughs. That came out today and applies to the whole A.S.T.P. all over the country. So that’s that I guess. God knows when I’ll get home now. Even if I can stay I doubt if it will be over 3 months & once I get back in troops chances for furloughs are darn slim. I know this sounds pretty morbid but its about the way things are. I want to stay but I’m beginning to think that will go too. To be honest with you I don’t expect to be here after the middle of next week. I’ll say what I feel then if things do turn out better, well we can feel happy about it. 14 months & I’ve had 11 days at home! What a life. Well that’s all there is. I know you’ve sort of expect me to get home & so have I but it’s out now.

Now your letters. They’ve knocked the wind out of my sails & I haven’t much ambition to study. I think I’ll do enough to get through & rest on the oars. Thurs. Feb. 24 – Don’t get excited over no mail for a day or two. You may hit gaps now & then when I won’t be able to write. I know you’ve been cleaning house sort of looking forward to something, but this is the army, they tell me. Boy they are taking everybody for the army now. They say they need us because quotas are low. The snow will probably be gone by the time I get there all right. Fri. Feb. 25 – Say, who was this guy that hit dad & how did it happen & where? He must have knocked him down, otherwise how could he get away. That guy must pack a wallop if he only hit him once. I’m mad about this. Let’s have the details. Don’t worry about me. Take care of him. Nobody can do anything about my situation. What people think about breaking up this program means nothing to the War Dept. I really don’t think Aunt Marie meant that that way. At least I’d like to think she didn’t. I know what I hope for too but I’m prepared for practically anything. There’s not much I could do to help Pop on that except add some moral support. You know what I’d like to do but I’m not a fighter. I have learned a few tricks since I’ve been in the army. A good swift kick in the abdominal regions would be just what he needs. Well that’s your letters. This probably sounds pretty low but forget it. I sort of kind of wanted that furlough and I don’t like the idea of people pushing Dad around. Well I guess I better quit,


So long for tonight



Confidentially He Smells

Sat. Feb. 19, 1944

11:00 p.m.


Dear folks,

Back again. I mailed the other letter this morning but it may lie in the box until Mon. After what I’ve said about shipping and stuff I hope you won’t pay too much attention if it’s a little late. When I quit writing I worked on Calculus until 12. Then we came back here. I shined my shoes before dinner. I had potatoes, peas & carrots, salad, bread, butter, milk & cake. After dinner we cleaned the latrine for inspection. We didn’t do a very thorough job but it was good enough to get by O.K. We got to study at about 1:30. I took my razor & shaving crème along and shaved downstairs in the engineering building. I needed one and hadn’t had time to do it. At 2 we had the second movie in this series on “Why We Fight.” I’ve seen the first 3 for 3 times but I’ve never yet seen the last 4. We’ll just about get to number 3 here and then they’ll quit. At 3 we had another hour of study which I put on Calc. At 4 we came back and changed for inspection. I got your Wed. and Thurs. letters & one from Elmo in my mail. The inspection was pretty fast. As soon as it was over we fell out & heard announcements & then were through at about 4:45. I got 4 more shoulder patches issued. Then Helle & Ferd and I went to the P. Office. I didn’t have anything to mail but Ferd sent his laundry & Helle sent three boxes of tricks & stuff home. Then we went up to the bakery & got some stuff to eat in hungry moments. After that we started back. On the way I got myself a bottle of olives. We brought the food back and then went to supper at about 5:45. I had potatoes, spinach, salad, bread, butter, milk, and jello. After supper we came back and Ferd, I & my roommate played ping pong until nearly 7:30. I beat Ferd but lost 2 out of 3 to my roommate. His name is Sam Crisman from Holdrege, Nebr. He’s in for term 4 also. At about 8 Ferd & I decided to walk downtown. The show down here was no good so we went to the one downtown but it wasn’t too good either. It was “Rookies in Burma.” It was supposed to be funny but it was too silly to be really funny. The show was out at about 10 and we walked back. It was beginning to rain when we got in so maybe there’ll be no reveille. We ate some of the stuff we had and here I am.

I imagine you’ve seen the big headlines on the A.S.T.P. The paper here says the advanced program will not be affected so maybe I can get in under the wire. It’s going to be close and we won’t be able to count on much from now on. The whole program may be wiped out anytime they feel like it. It means about 350 men will get the ax here. Probably no basic terms will be started. Maybe definite plans will be held out long enough so these kids can get their furloughs. I hope so. The main thing is for me to get mine. Well I’ll sign off now until tomorrow.

Back Sunday Feb. 20 at 8:45 a.m. I was up at about 7:30. It was raining but it’s pretty sloppy and foggy outside. After reveille at 7:45 I hurried over to breakfast. I had toast, butter, French toast, syrup, corn flakes, milk & a banana. After breakfast I came back and here I am. Now I better answer your letters. Wed. Feb. 16 – Seems as if the catalog we saw here has more nice stuff in it again. I believe it’s easier to get a lot of things now than it was for awhile. Babe really gets a mouthful when she grabs some of my socks. One pair of G.I. shoes does a good job on straining the water as you can see by the black soles on some of my socks. I’ve been wearing those shoes now since I came in. As soon as next term starts I’ll try to salvage some stuff. That one suntan shirt is in bad shape. I ripped the sleeve taking off a patch and the hole in the back is bigger too. I drew 4 more patches yesterday. I never sewed the first 3 on because I didn’t know how long I’d stay but I have 6 now so I’ll sew them on or have you do it for me. You don’t have to rewind that ribbon, mom. Just push that little rod on the side of the typewriter & it will reverse itself. It may be needing a new ribbon pretty soon. I better apply for my license if I get home. You can apply anytime within 6 months from the expiration can’t you? I might wait until June but it’s too much of a gamble. I never use a license but I sort of want to keep one in force all the time. I wonder if I could get by the thing with but two mistakes. Pop keeps his average. It’s been just as big a help to me to have you do my wash. I don’t mind a low C so long as it’s a C. He’s gotten me on 3 plates for arrowheads. I have one more to do. If I can make these look good I’ll be O.K. maybe. I still say those spaces in between letters were because you didn’t get your fingers away from the bar & keys fast enough. I did it at first too. That pink wash cloth is the one that was in the stuff from Sunfield for Xmas. We haven’t heard from Bill Johnson yet. If I write to all the guys I’ve known around here I’ll really have some mail but I don’t imagine many will write. I told Ferdie & Rudy that they’d have to write first because they know my address & I don’t know theirs. Of all those letters I wrote about 3 weeks ago I have gotten 4 answers – Lillis, Marie, Sunfield, & Dick H. and also the one from Elmo which he’s owed a long time. If you want you can get an appointment with Wetzel. Make it for Monday morning so I can get it over with. I don’t think they need it but maybe we better get it over with. Go ahead if you want to. Now Thurs. Feb. 17 – I got it on Sat. instead of Mon. You must have gotten the same snow we had. One of the fellows took a lot of pictures of the place around here & I’m having him get me a set. One shows the drill field the day we moved & you can see the paths where we walked across the snow. Am I still a curiosity to you? I never realized how fast time goes until the last year. Another year and I’ll begin to be getting old. Shucks in only 9 years I’ll be past 30. It sort of scares you when you think about it, doesn’t it or should I say didn’t it? I’ll try to send stuff next weekend. Just hold the laundry until I get there. I have plenty of clothes now. I have a lot more stuff to move than when I came – more underwear, socks & clothes of all kinds. I believe that when I’m sure of leaving here I’ll ship my locker home. It’s a good thing to have but if I should happen to get someplace where I’d have to carry my baggage I’d be a bit loaded down. I wish I could get rid of some of this G.I. equipment I have to drag around. Another thing, if we leave here we would be liable to move maybe 2 or 3 times in a few weeks. On the strength of being here until June I’ll hold my tennis racket for a while longer. I wouldn’t want to be in the M.P.’s. Selfridge Field isn’t far away from Lansing. I’d say the best deal would probably be Ft. Sheridan near Chicago. I could get home in 5 hours. Gee Pop must be quite a typist by now if he uses it for his blanks and stuff. I’m in bad shape ain’t I? That covers your letters & I guess I’ve exhausted all my ideas & everything I had to say so I’ll sign off for awhile. See you later.

Back at nearly 7:00 p.m. I spent most of the forenoon just fumbling around with my stuff. I guess I have it sorted down to a minimum now. You’ll have a fairly large laundry next week & if I get home I’ll bring what accumulates after I send. My foot locker is a little more orderly and empty I believe now. When I pull out of here sometime, then you will really get a lot of plunder. After I got everything the way I wanted it I showered and dressed for dinner. I ate at about 12:30 – potatoes, asparagus, salad, biscuits, butter, milk, and ice cream. After dinner I sat around a bit & then Ferd, Helle, & I took off. Ferd & I took some pictures of the campus from a 3rd floor window. We deduced that there is something wrong with my camera when it’s clicked either up or down. I figured it out to be on the up click so I took most of my pictures on the down click. We took some pictures of the fellows we knew. We started out and walked downtown. Ferd left a reel to be developed but we couldn’t get any film. Then we started walking. The sun had come out and it was beautiful day. We spent about 2 hours I guess and walked practically all over the parts of town we hadn’t seen. The fellows have one more weekend in Fayetteville. I’m going to miss them too. I know them the best of anyone I’ve met in the army. We got back down here by the theater in time to go to the 4 o’clock show. We saw “Higher & Higher” with the great Sinatra. Confidentially he smells, but the picture itself wasn’t bad. We got out at about 6:05 and went over to the Union for cheese sandwiches and a milk shake. Then we walked down to the store and got some cheese crackers and came back. I changed clothes & here I am. That’s the story for today. I have a Physics test tomorrow so I’ll have to quit and get at it. So long for tonight,




What Happened to the Idea of Conscripting Cars?

Wed. Jan. 26, 1944

5:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Here I am again. I’ll write on this until we go eat. After I wrote to you last night I did my English & worked on Physics. At 10 I went to the Physics drill class to see if I could learn anymore. I didn’t learn much. I got back to the dorm at about 11. Then I worked on Physics out in the hall until 11:30. I thought I knew it pretty well. I was up at 6:15 this morning but not very much awake. After reveille at 6:40 we went to breakfast. I had toast, butter, oatmeal, milk & an apple. Then I slept until about 7:40 when I got up and made my bed. At 8 we had Calc. At 9 we had Physics & the test. It was a dilly. The problems were pretty catchy and it was a long test. I don’t know how well I did. I managed to finish but I made some foolish mistakes. I found most of them I hope but I guess I misplaced a decimal point in one of them because no one agrees with me. There were 104 possible points. I hope I go 75 or better but it’s hard to tell. One question was worth 20 pts. These physics tests are always rugged. They throw enough work for 3 or 4 problems in each one. We probably won’t know what we got until a week or two from now. He never gets papers back in less than a week. At 10 we had study and I worked Calculus. I haven’t been putting much time on Calculus with other tests on the fire but I’ll have to get at it for Fri. test. At 11 we had Military. We got those tests back we wrote about a month ago. I missed only 1 question for 98 out of 100 which was pretty good for me on a Military quiz. We get one on rifle marksmanship tomorrow. I don’t know much about it and there’s nothing to study. We have practiced doing things instead of listening & taking notes. Maybe that grade will counterbalance whatever I get tomorrow. At 12 we ate. I had potatoes, beets, carrots, chili, salad, bread, butter, milk, and rice pudding. At 1 we had English. We heard talks & he didn’t give an assignment for Fri. which is good. At 2 we had Geog. Test Fri. over a bale of notes & 4 chap. in the book which he never assigned before.

Back at 6:15. At 3 we had study and I started reviewing History. We haven’t covered much since the last test so it could be pretty easy & then again he could make it hard by going into detail. At 4 we had P.T. We did calisthenics and then played volleyball as usual. After P.T. I showered and read my mail – your Sat.-Sun. letter. I shaved this noon. At 5:15 we had our monthly physical which means we get paid pretty soon. I have 3 checks left yet but I guess I’ll have to cash one pretty soon. After that I wrote on this until we went to supper. I had potatoes, peas, salad, bread, butter, cookies and milk. Now I just got back from eating. That’s today. No new rumors around today. According to where they are in the alphabet, I imagine I’ll pull C.Q. or O.G. either Fri. or Sat. night. I was figuring on sleeping this weekend so it won’t make much difference. I’d rather have it on a night off because I know there are no classes the next day. I’ve been so sleepy today that I’ve had a little trouble staying awake. The boys around here are working fast. A lot are putting in air cadet applications. Today an announcement was on the board saying men who can qualify for Coast Guard Academy will be discharged from the army to go. Some are going to try it. So far as I’m concerned it’s the A.S.T.P. and nothing else. If they kick it out I’ll probably be able to grapple on to a fair job someplace else.

Now to your letter – I bought a card to send Gramp but there won’t be any buck in it. The work is plenty hard all right. Oh actually each course itself is fairly easy but added together it’s too much. It’s boiled down to studying for tests and that’s about all. I don’t think there are any shows or gals interfering with my work. I’m sure I don’t know it if they are. And my work isn’t anything to complain about yet. I’m doing the best I can under the conditions. I’ll admit I haven’t put time in on weekends but I’ve kept my grades without doing it and its doggone little time that I have off. When you look at it we don’t have much incentive. Everything points out. About the only ones who are really working now, are we with the good grades. You can address me as Pvt. probably for the duration +. You know you and I have been throwing some pretty dirty digs at each other, at least you must be taking what I have written that way. When I say I don’t want you to worry about this or that I mean it seriously. I’m not wanting to be a good shot with my left eye. If I get out of here I’m very likely to goldbrick & try to get a C.D.D. I’m fed up to the ears with the army & everything about it. 1 yr. and 24 days is just 1 yr. too much. If you could see yourself as others do & know how they feel, you’d find you are pretty much wrong. People like you if you’d give them a chance. I think I know you probably better than your mother or even Pop but then maybe I’m wrong. Anyway I hate to see you worry so over things that are far-fetched. Remember what happened to the idea of conscripting cars? I don’t say things to criticize you. You know that. If I don’t agree with you I say so. We both have a right to our opinions but I’m not trying to make any smart cracks. You ought to try firing the old rifle sometime. I imagine its fun if a person could be by himself but there are always too many people in everything in the army. Some of those movies haven’t been too good. I guess I go just to get away from stuff & things. That’s the Ruth Barnard who was in my class. I’ll keep my racket at least until I get something to wrap it in. It will go in the bottom of my foot locker anyway. Today is the hottest I’ve ever seen it in Jan. I think you would be very foolish to try to put $75 into bonds extra. Well that’s your letter & the bottom of the page I’ll sign off and get to work. Don’t pay too much attention to things I might say. See.




We Can’t Sing as a Group

Thurs. Jan. 6, 1944

6:05 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well a year ago today I went on my first train ride out of Michigan and ended up in cold old Wisconsin. I’m beginning to wonder how long it will be before I’ll be moving again. If I can better myself I want to get out of here and most any school north of here ought to be better. We have another big deal on the fire now. I presume it’s the Major’s idea. First – the companies are being reformed. Instead of 4 there will be just 2, A and B. Unfortunately we will be in B. Co. and we have to move over to Razorback Hall probably Saturday. That is semi-official. Second – a new Sat. schedule – Study from 1 to 3, orientation to tell us why we are here 2 to 3 and inspection at 4. That gives us 5 study hours on Sat. when we don’t really need it. I don’t know when they expect us to prepare for inspection. The only good thing is it appears we get all of Friday evening off but we won’t get loose Sat. until nearly 5:00. Everybody was happy but I guess some people always want to impress people by changing things and showing their power. Razorback isn’t bad but it means losing our small rooms & soft easy to make beds. They have 5 men to a room over there. That makes a crowd too. The officers in B Company aren’t so good either. The more I see of this place since the honorable major got here the less I like it. In a couple weeks we’ll be full time soldiers along with the double time students we already are. I don’t want to sound discouraging, but I think the A.S.T.P. is about on the rocks. The fellows that are left now are practically all serious about & trying hard but nobody is a superman. Well, I’ve rambled long enough and haven’t said anything but I still think, I hope either me or the Major goes to a different school in March. Time off for supper –

Back at 7:00. Now to my regular lineup of stuff and things. I studied history until 8:00. Then we went over to the field house. We heard a couple long winded announcements and then saw a training film on military instruction. It lasted until 9:45 so you see what happened to our study time. I came back here and went to work on History and crammed until about 11:35 I guess. Then I studied Military until 12 and went to bed. I was up at 6:15. After reveille we swept out and I slept until we fell out for breakfast. I had oatmeal, toast, butter, milk and a banana. From there we went to Calculus. We get a test in that on Mon. and it will cover quite a bit of ground. At 9 we had drawing. I finished my plate on time by 11:00. It didn’t look too bad except it was pretty soiled in spots. Then we had to study some stuff and we have outside work to do for Tues. At 12 we came back here and I studied Military until we went to dinner. I had chili, corn, beets, salad, bread, butter, milk, and cake. At 1 we had study and I put it on Military. At 2 we had Physics lecture. We get a big test in that next Thurs. At 3 we had our History test. It was a pretty good test. It took me the whole hour to do it but unless he’s a pretty tough grader I think I did pretty well. I felt as if I knew what I was talking about on it all. At 4 we had P.T. We played volleyball awhile and then had to run the 100 yds. piggy-back. I carried Ferd in 23 sec. He made it with me in 26. I don’t know if I’m too big for him or not. I’m quite a bit taller but I’m actually lighter. After that I got our mail and passed it out. I got your Mon. letter. At 5 we had Military. The test was the easiest I’ve had so far here in Military and I think I got above 90 but then I may be wrong. I felt pretty sure of most of the answers though. Then I came back and wrote until supper. I had potatoes, carrots, salad, bread, butter, milk, and raisin pie. And here I am. I have a Geography test to study for tonight and a 300 word essay to write. Oh what a life but I shouldn’t complain. These poor civilian students are carrying a whole 18 hours of classes and here I only have 24.

Now to your Mon. letter I got today. I don’t get much help. If I get stuck about all we can do is pool our brain power on the problem. I’m getting by in drawing O.K. and I guess that’s what counts. I’m far from the worst that’s a cinch. If I can get to a school up near there I hope they do ship us out of here. Otherwise no. I want to end 1944 and all the rest in the US.A. if I can. Of course I have no control over it but you know how I feel anyway. This setup is one man’s idea but he’s the commandant so what he says goes. We have to get haircuts on our free time nights before 8 o’clock. We can’t sing as a group. I am never out that late on Sat. night unless I go to the 11:00 show. Then I’m back by 1:00. I can’t see how I could go to bed at 12 & 1 and get up at 10:15 when I was in school & still feel alive. I guess I relaxed more there between times though.  I’m not pitying the married men. I didn’t report the glasses. It might cause more than its worth. Look Mom, I can see you sort of resent Betty’s writing to me & I know why but so far as I’m concerned you have nothing to worry about & I think you know it. To my knowledge she has never mentioned her sister. I imagine Aunt Marie will worry but you are right. What can she do? I had the cakes on New Years all right and just about everything is gone. Well that finishes your letter & today so I’ll sign off at 7:45.




You Let You Run Away With Yourself

Thurs. Dec. 23, 1943

7:50 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well, we are free from now until Sunday night study hall. They are throwing some kind of a party for us tonight at the Union. Freese & I are going over pretty soon and see what it is. I got back from study at about 10. I washed and shaved and got to bed at 10:30. I was up at 6:15 and after reveille I came back and slept until about 25 to 8. Then I made my bed. At 8 we had Calculus. We had a 12 question test. So far as I know I got them all O.K. but I’m not positive. I did each one twice and 2 different ways if possible in order to check my work. I did one wrong the first time but I caught it O.K.

Fri. Dec 24, 1:10 p.m. Here I am back after dinner on Fri. You always get the Thurs. & Fri. letters together so for this time I put them together. After Calculus yesterday we had drawing from 9-12. I worked as fast as I could with safety and just barely finished the second plate at the end of the class. It isn’t too bad looking but I don’t know what he’ll think. At 12 we ate. At 1 we had a study period. We went and got our Geography books and came back and spent the rest of the hour in the dorm. At 2 we had Physics lecture. At 3 we had History. The regular teacher was sick with the flu. The substitute we had Tues. got sick also so he sent his wife. One more class and they probably would have sent the little boy to teach the class. At 4 we had P.T. and we played volleyball. At 5 we had Military class. At 6 we were free. We ate. I had roast beef, potatoes, salad, bread, butter, milk, and peach cobbler. After supper I came back and took care of my mail, shined my shoes & brass, & cleaned up. Then I wrote on this until Freese and I went over to the Union. It wasn’t much of a party. They had a sort of program – a magician and some dancers. Then they gave us each a Xmas present – 2 packs of cig., 1 pkg. of gum & 1 bar of candy. A few of the guys got lots of cigarettes because a lot of us in our section don’t smoke and gave them to them. Freese & I listened to the juke box awhile then we looked at some magazines and finally came back at about 10:30 and went to bed. I was lazy this morning. I woke up several times but it was 11 before I finally got dressed. This morning one of the fellows who just got out of the hospital brought me a note from Ferd asking for his toilet kit, stationery and Calculus book. Several of us were going out to see him this afternoon but he’s isolated so we can’t. So I got the stuff together for him and took over to the infirmary. They’ll send it out to him when the ambulance goes out. The hosp. is way out north of town. He’s really conscientious about that Calculus. When I took care of that, I came back and at 12 I ate – meat loaf, potatoes, peas & carrots, bread, butter, salad, milk, and pudding. That brings me up to now. At mail call yesterday I got your Sat. –Sun. letter and a card from Thelma. The mail is all at least 1 day behind. I finally got the box of candy you sent last Fri. It was all O.K. and I’ve begun to make an imprint on it already. Now so far I have gotten 2 boxes.

Back at 4:00. My roommate and I went downtown for awhile. I got my shoe sewed. The whole side ripped loose yesterday. He got his laundry. We were going to the show but it wasn’t open so we came on back. When I got back my bed was full of mail – your Mon. letter & card, your Tues. letter and card, cards from Hugh & Nate and a card and $2 from George & Betty. I also finally got the other box of candy, nuts and the rest of my laundry so that makes all 3 packages finally. The mail is really balled up but I’m up to your Tues. letter today, so I guess I’m back on schedule. I hope you are getting my letters regularly now. I wrote them but you must be having the same trouble I had. The mail is overloaded now but it ought to clear up by next week. If you hadn’t got my Fri. letter by Tues. it really must be bawled up plenty. All I can say is I hope you had a big day of mail by now. If you get my Tues. letter today as you should you won’t be worrying so much about me because you’ll know my cold is nearly gone. I’m just blowing the after effects out of nose now as you’ll see by my laundry. I really wasn’t as bad as you thought but I did have a good cold.

Now to some of these unanswered letters I have here. Wed. Dec. 15. I don’t know how much good I would have done you if I had been there but you know I’d rather be there than here. We have a pretty good sized crowd here when we are together. Just about everybody came back with this cold or got it afterwards. Ferd happened to be the only one who went down. He had it bad though with a fever & chills. I intended to go on sick call last Sat. if I didn’t feel better but I could tell in the morning that the cold was broke so I didn’t go. Other mornings I have Calculus & I can’t afford to miss it or drawing. Those mornings I didn’t go to breakfast I was smart I think because I’d have had to stand in line in the cold a long time. I’ve done all I could with what I have and I’ll be doggoned if I’ll run over to the dispensary unless I absolutely know I need it. I’ve had enough colds so I can guess pretty well how bad they’ll be. Oh I know I’m not doing the right thing probably or didn’t but you know me and how I hate stuff like sick call. I guess I’ll have to make a resolution to do different but you know how I am. Every morning I tell myself, well if it isn’t better tomorrow I’ll go on sick call so that’s the way it goes. If you were here I bet you’d do the same thing but maybe I’m wrong. I think I know you pretty well though and they’d have to tie you down to get you to a doctor.

Thurs. Dec. 16 – Helle liked that cake. It wasn’t hard. I didn’t get the flu in Chicago. I had the cold when I got here Sunday morning. Most of the guys on this floor were snorting around. My roommate was sick for a day or so. It got his stomach. Don’t worry about me going places with that Stuart guy. I’d like to be home tonight having popcorn & cocoa & stuff. What a way to spend Xmas eve & Xmas. I got a kick out of the thing you said but I won’t mention it here.

Fri. Dec. 17 – If you don’t get any mail anytime don’t get excited. It’s very foolish. You know I’d get a card or something out someway. Of course I doubled up this letter with yesterday but you get them both on Mon. anyway. Any time you don’t get mail it’s not me but the U.S. Mail service. You let you run away with yourself. You don’t stop to think first. It’s your parents fault. They never taught you not to jump to conclusions. Be like Dad. Think about what might cause things first. I thought of telegramming to find how you two were but I was afraid it would get gummed up like the one in Sept. & then you’d think I was sick or something and it would make things worse. If everybody went to the P.O. if they didn’t get mail on time look what it would be like. Practically all of us were home last Xmas. Lohreny was just talking about the Xmas program his kids put on a year ago tonight. He was teaching school then. I got disgusted about the nuts but you know me. It doesn’t last long. I guess I’ll be able to stick with the A.S.T.P. for quite awhile at least. I’m a cinch to get into Advanced. I hear that’s pretty tough but I feel pretty sure of sticking at least until June and probably longer. One pkg. you mailed Mon. I got Wed. The one from Fri. I got Thurs. & the other one from Mon. I got today. Oh yes I got a pkg. yesterday from the WJIM Xmas Club. I don’t know where they got my name. The junk included a deck of cards which I’ll donate to whoever wants it, a pocket book “Journey Into Fear” a little sewing kit, a rubber stamp with A. FOREST on it, and a bag of peanuts. My, oh my, isn’t that lovely. Praise Allah & Lt. Finch. They must have gotten my address from somebody but I don’t know who. The olives are long gone. I haven’t tried my cheese yet.

I still have your Sat.-Sun., Mon. & Tues. letters to answer. It’s 5:25 so I think I’ll bring this to a close and maybe get it into the mail a bit sooner. I sure hope you’ve caught up with my mail by now. Thanks for all the candy and stuff. Don’t worry about laundry. I’m pretty well set again now. I didn’t send this week and may not next week. We’ll probably have classes as usual but the P.O. will probably be closed Sat. afternoon. Jan. 2 is some sort of an anniversary but it isn’t anything worth celebrating. Well for today I’ll sign off. I hope you all feel a lot better. That will go a long way toward making it a better Xmas for you. So long on Xmas eve.




The Price of Chenille Bedspreads

You’ll get this Thurs. I hope, so you know I’m hoping you all feel good Xmas. That will do more than anything else to make it a better day.


Mon. Dec. 20, 1943

9:40 p.m.


Dear folks,

Here I am again. Lights don’t go out now until 10 so I’m back in the dorm writing this. Last night I read Physics until 6. Then I went to supper & had potatoes, pickles, carrots, bread, butter, milk, and cookies. At 7 we went to study. I copied my geography notes and started on English. The study hall was so cold that we came back here at about 8. I finished my English & read History until 10 when I showered and went to bed. I was up at 6:15 and after reveille I went back to bed until 7:30. Our platoon was last and I didn’t want to wait in line behind 150 or so. I got up finally and swept and made my bed. At 8 we had Calculus. At 9 we had Physics drill. He gave us a lot more problems to do. At 10 we had a study hall. I did my Physics and went over to the registrar’s and got my grades for last term. Here they are.


English –A                Chemistry – A

History – A                Physics – A

Geography – A          Analytics – A


Not bad at all eh! I thought so too. At 11 we had Military. Today we studied the daily sick report. At 12 we had dinner. I had potatoes, beans, salad, bread, butter, milk, and choc. pudding. At 1 we had Physics lab. We did an experiment on electrification and charges which was sort of fun. I worked with Helle today. Ferd was pretty sick with the flu last night. He got some lemons and made himself some drink last night and this morning he went on sick call. He hasn’t been around since so I think he must be at the hospital. I guess they aren’t taking any chances with it. We were in lab until 3. Then we had a study period and I did Calculus. At 4 we had P.T. and played a couple of volleyball games. They’ve been good & skipped calisthenics lately. At 5 we were through. I took my shirt to the cleaners, turned my shoes in for heels, and my pants in for salvage. Then I came back and read some of my mail until 5:50 when we went to chow. I got your Wed., Thurs., & Fri. letters & cards from Gramp, Marie ($2) and Kircher. For supper I had potatoes, beans, salad, bread, butter, milk, and baked apple. After supper I finished my mail. At 7 we went to study and I did my History. Then at 9 I came back here. I have to shave yet before I go to bed. I am sending each of you a Xmas card so let me know if you get them. The mail is awfully heavy now so don’t get worried if letters are delayed. Mine are too. Don’t kick about what I put in the cards. I tried to buy Gram a clock & there wasn’t one in town. I wanted to get Pop some good pajamas but couldn’t find any I would buy and for you I priced a chenille bedspread. It was 12.75 & up so I figured you may be needing things now the way you’ve all been and in this way you can put my present where it will do the most good. Merriest Possible Xmas to you all,




Trying to Buy Cheese Spread



Sat. Nov. 27, 1943

4:20 p.m.


Dear folks,

Another weekend. This is the last one this term here. One week from now I should be in Chicago. Time seems to be dragging pretty much now. After I finished writing to you last night I shaved, showered and got to bed at about 10:30. I was up as usual at 5:30. After reveille I lay down and slept until breakfast. I had oatmeal, toast, butter, grapefruit and 3 bottles of milk. After breakfast I slept until about 7:20. Then I made my bed and we took off for our first test at 8:00. It was Analyt. I know the subject pretty well but we’ve had open book tests all term and have never had to learn the formulas. I figure I did pretty well although I was weak in some places. There were several things I had never heard of and I had to guess at. Of the 50 problems I’d guess I got about 35 or more right. That could be pretty good. It all depends on how the others did. It’s a military secret but I was tied with 3 other guys for highest score on the Physics test. I got 50 out of the 60. I’m not kicking about that at all believe me. I put nearly 2 ½ hours on the Analyt. but if you’ve never seen some of it before time doesn’t help much. I got back to the dorm at about 11. We talked over some of the questions. Then I straightened stuff up a bit and packed my laundry to send out. You’ll find one wool under shirt, one set of pajamas, 2 sets of underwear, 1 towel, 1 wash cloth, 4 or 5 hankies, my shorts and a stack of old letters. At about 12 we ate. I had potatoes, peas & carrots, salad, bread, butter, milk, and pudding. At 1 we had the last of our tests. It was Chem. – 55 questions. We had 2 hours. I finished in 1 ¼. It was a pretty fair test I thought and I hope I got a good grade. I felt as if I knew most of it as I went along but of course I could be wrong. I left at about 2 and came back here. When Ferd got back we dressed and took our laundries down to mail out. Ferd was hungry for some cheese & crackers so we tried to buy some cheese spread. They wouldn’t sell it to us without stamps so we bought some cookies instead.  On the way back I stopped to pick up my dry cleaning but it still isn’t back.  It sounds a little phoney to me but I’ll give him until Monday. We came on back and tried to get some cheese spread at the little store down the street here but they didn’t have any so we finally came back to the dorm. As I came up the stairs I saw that some air corps fellow was talking to Jim Langford about something. Jim is in our section and comes from Flint. He pointed to me and said here’s a fellow from Michigan, maybe he’d know. I stopped and the fellow asked me if I knew anyone around here who had a cousin named Ralph. I told him I guess that was I. He said he was George’s brother-in-law. I knew he was nobody I’d ever seen before. He came on upstairs and sat here and talked for ½ hour or so I guess. He’s in Sqd. D. and has been here about 4 weeks. He said Betty wrote that I was here but didn’t tell him my name. He was asking everybody if they knew a fellow here who used to go to M.S.C. We swapped addresses and he left at about 4 I guess. He didn’t impress me very greatly. I’d judge he was about 25 altho I’m a poor guess at ages. His name is Walter Stuart. He says he’s been in about a year and a half. He was in the ordnance before he came here. He said George was at a P.O.E. the last he heard. He thinks he got a dirty deal. He says George was an inspector at Timkens and should have gone into Ordnance at Custer instead of the Infantry. So that’s today. I’ve run into some pretty far distant relatives but I don’t think I’d ever hunt him up. My first impression is that he isn’t my type person. I think I like Ferd better than I would him even if I got to know him.

Well that’s the story up to now at 5:00. It’s time to go to supper so I’ll sign off. I didn’t get any mail today but I didn’t expect to.

Back at 9:35 p.m. For supper I had potatoes, spinach, sliced toms, bread, butter, milk, and rolls. After supper I shined my buttons, washed up a bit and started a letter to Hugh. At 7:15 Ferd and I went to the show and we just got back. It was the “Iron Major” with Pat O’Brien. It was about Frank Cavanaugh, a football coach. The engineer all-star basketball team played the Univ. team tonight and beat them 36-30. I didn’t see the game but Arkansas is going to have a dark season if we can [can’t?] beat them. That’s about all there is to say for today so I’ll close this, finish my letter to Sergeant Miller & get to bed. So long for now.

Sun. Nov. 28, 8:35 p.m. I finished writing to Hugh and got to bed at about 10:15 last night. I was on the ball today. I had one of the fellows wake me up at 7:45 and I went to breakfast for the first Sunday since about the middle of last term. I had French toast, syrup, toast, butter, oatmeal, milk, jam, and grapes. After breakfast I came back and went to work on History. It seems as if it takes me so long to do so little. It took me until dinner time to get through 3 chap., about 50 pages, of history. I tried to go a little slow and really get something out of it but I don’t know how well I succeeded. For dinner I had potatoes, string beans, beets, salad, bread, butter, milk, and ice cream. After dinner I came back and went at my Physics. I got one long chap. read by 2 o’clock. I decided I’d had enough for awhile so I quit and went to the show. It was “In Old Oklahoma” with John Wayne & Francis Farmer (I think). It was a western picture about oil in Oklahoma. It was sort of good to see something without a war background. I got back at about 4:10 and dug into my Physics again. At 5 I went to supper. I had potato salad, carrots, salad, biscuits, butter, milk, rolls and jello. After supper I went back to the Physics. I finally finished the 3 chapters of it in time to go to study at 7. I spent the first hour doing Physics problems, then I did my Analyt. for tomorrow and started this. Its 9:15 now and I’m back in the dorm. Except for mealtimes and the 2 hrs. at the show I’ve been behind a book all day. I’m pretty well caught up in everything now except Military. We have a test in that Wed. and I’m afraid it will be pretty doggone tough as usual. Well that’s another weekend. I wrote 7 letters last week which is some sort of a record I guess. I still have 5 to answer but except for Nate none are important. Next week at this time I should have been home nearly 24 hours. Oh boy. It’s really going to be good to get home again. This would really be bad if we didn’t get the break at the end of each term. By the end of the term I’m about ready to quit but I came back full of energy last time and it’s lasted up to the last week or so. Sometimes it seems as if the whole thing isn’t worth it but I think of what the boys are getting who leave here and I know its’ worthwhile. People in general think we have it pretty soft, we are the favored few in this army. Civilians say to us, You boys have it pretty easy don’t you? I’ll let them take my place awhile if they think its easy. There’s no physical strain but it still is a mental strain or whatever you can call it. We are working under pressure all the time. Well its time for lights out so I’ll sign off for tonight. It won’t be long now.





So For Tonight, Roger

Friday Nov. 26, 1943

8:40 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well here it is free time on Fri. night. I’m going to write this and then shave and clean up and hit the bed. After I finished writing last night I took the rest of the time and thumbed through my Physics. At 9 we came back here. I washed up a little, ate a couple cinnamon rolls I had my roommate get me while he was at the store and then got to bed at about 9:30. I was up at 5:30 and after reveille I was back in bed until about 7:30. Then I got up and made my bed and got ready to leave. We had our first test at 8. It was Physics – 60 questions. I didn’t do too badly. I made some silly mistakes on one or two and then there were several I didn’t know but in all I figure I did pretty well. We had 1 ½ hrs. to put on it. I finished at about 10. I came back and we proceeded to go through and argue out all the questions we could remember. Then I skimmed through my Geography notes. It all seemed pretty well in mind so then I started to write a letter to Bart until we went to dinner. I had mashed potatoes, peas, salad, bread, butter, milk, and rice pudding. After dinner at 1 we went back for more tests. We had 3 ½ hours to do the English & Geography tests. The English test was the same one we had last term. The test was pretty easy. I put 75 minutes on the 96 questions. Then I started the Geography. It took me 1 ½ hr. to get through the 130 questions. It was really bad. It was all on stuff we’ve had but when they give 4 answers, any one of which is right and ask for the best it makes it hard. I had to resort to pure guessing in spots. I’m usually pretty unlucky at guessing. I finally finished at about 4:00. I came back and finished the letter to Bart to answer his of Oct. 4. Before supper I took my O.D.’s over to turn in for cleaning and tried to get my field jacket but it wasn’t back yet. Then I went to supper. I had sweet potatoes, cabbage, cheese, carrots, bread, butter, milk, fruit salad and cookie. After supper at 6 we went to study. I decided it was futile to try to study for tomorrow’s tests so I did some writing and between now and then I got letters written to Granny in answer to Oct. 7, to Amelia in answer of Oct. 23 and to Lillis to answer Oct. 28. At 8 we came back here or I did. The fellows have to be in by 10:30 tonight. We have Math in the morning and Chem. in the afternoon. If I can make it I’ll send out my laundry but there won’t be much. That’s today. I have my mail down to 6 letters. I’d like to get it cleared out before I leave if I can so I can start even on text term. Now to some of your back letters. Thurs. Nov. 18 – Was that the pink butter dish that broke? You’ve had it quite awhile. I’ve never read much in that Chem. book I left there in Sept. I think it will be quite interesting. I did my Chem. in Analyt. because I knew the Analyt. but not the Chem. 25 more are on shipping lists now to go out. That will be all until we get back from furlough. The only one I want to be on is one sending me to a school in the 3rd, 5th or 6th service command. The ones who flunked out were either flunking term I over again for the second time or were flunking 2 or 3 subjects. I didn’t mean a B would be a flunk. I meant a B average. You see an average is figured on a point-credit basis as at State. A person could have a couple C’s in certain subjects and still have a B average. I don’t think they’ll let anyone who has been consistently getting D’s go on into advanced though. Remember all this junk I pass on to you is just the latest rumors so your foolish to let it worry you. I just thought I’d let you see how the undercurrents go around here. I’ll be here until March. After that if I stay in the 8th Service Command I want to stay here so I’ll get my furlough and be this close to home. If they flunked me with the marks I have now a lot would go with me is all I can say. Boy, those kids that work with Dad are trying to drag him into everything. They are still taking limited service men, but I don’t think “many are discharged if they don’t fit into the army.” My roommate will stay on next term easily. He’s one of the smartest in the section. Ferd, Freese, & Helle will make it but whether they will ever get past 3rd term I’m personally doubtful. Ferd will make it if any do. Helle could do it hands down. He’s just a little too easy going. Don’t start talking of a 5 or 10 year war. None of us could take it that long. I think it ought to be pretty well in hand inside of 2 yrs. But if it’s only 2 days it’s still too long.

Fri. Nov. 19 – Don’t worry. The bed making and sweeping can go for someone else when I’m out of this. You bet I’m carrying a load and altho’ I’m not trying to brag I think I’m doing pretty doggone well considering the contrast with the kind of study conditions I was used to. I don’t think, in fact I’d bet that Gramp couldn’t work that problem. My eyes don’t look red but they just get tired. I think its lack of sleep as much as anything. American Beauty stuff was all pretty good.

Now to your Mon. & Tues. letters that I got today. That dollar wasn’t necessary but thanks. I repeat we really pass the buck around. I was afraid you were going to suggest going to Wetzel’s. I guess you are right but there goes the extra day I gained. I don’t know if they need changing or not but then I suppose it is the thing to do. It means half a day up there and then a day to wear the stuff out. I only have 6 days at home you know. This could be my last furlough for a long time. I may get one in March but it’s a gamble because we are liable to be shipped out then. Who’s kidding whom. You don’t actually think that I’ll get anything at the presentation do you? I’ll just stand there and hang on to that wooden rifle for about 30 minutes. About 150 men or more were  eligible for good conduct ribbons so they are going to give out 20. You know who’ll get them, too, the cadet officers. I can’t kick because I’m not eligible but I think some of the fellow are justified in kicking. Also rumor has it there will be scholarship awards to the 3 highest men in the Battalion. I’m not building up to any letdown by telling myself I’m one because I probably ain’t. There are a lot of guys here in 4-A who at least ought to get good grades. Of course I have but one B so maybe I have a chance. We’ll see. We haven’t been able to get those insignias yet. If I can’t get any here I may be able to get some there and then you can sew them on for me. Going back is something to forget. Freese is going to Chicago I guess. I’ll get my furlough O.K. Of course I couldn’t control a train strike. I wasn’t in a hurry to buy my ticket. I just avoided the rush. It doesn’t matter now I see whether the Frisco is a little late or not. I can’t get to Chicago before 2:05 and the bus leaves at 1 so I’ll have to wait for that 8:00 p.m. train the same as before. If we are on time then I’ll have 6 hours in Chicago. Thanks for the bus schedule. You can see it doesn’t help me any.

Tues. Nov. 23 – Yes I’ve heard quite a bit about old blood and guts. He really put himself on the fire. It’s his own fault and although he’s a good man he deserves a little taking down for it. Yeh, you can see how I planned on that party & dance Wed. Oh yes. I’m sure you can.

Well that cleans up all your back letters. This weekend I’m going to force myself to do some work for a change (maybe). We have a rough week of tests coming up.

Its 9:55 now so I’ll sign off, go shave, take a shower and head for bed. A week from now I’ll be on the old Frisco Limited. All that’s limited is the speed and the comfort.


So for tonight, Roger