About a Train

Wed. Jan. 6, 1943  10:05 a.m.

Railroad yards in Kalamazoo


Dear Everybody,

Well, I’m on my way.  We found out last night that we were leaving this morning.  I got up at 4:45, ate at 5:30 and then packed up & left the barracks at 6:30.  We were supposed to leave camp at 8:00 but never got away till about 9:30.  They checked our throats again for colds before we left.  Then we walked about ¾ mile to the train.  About 700 left altogether including about 100 colored fellows.  They won’t tell you where you are going.  There is no one in this car whom I know.  La Macchia is in the car behind.  There are six cars in my group.  Three other cars have most of the fellows on them who came with me.  So far as I know Hugh is still in camp, but another convoy is supposed to pull out at 9:00 and he may be on it.  Nearly everybody in the 1st 2 cars is limited service and we all expect to go to McCoy.  McCoy is near La Crosse in northwestern Wisconsin, Crest from Al’s Coffee Shop told me yesterday when I was on K.P.  We are going through Kalamazoo now.  The first town we hit was Augusta.  Then we ran along parallel to M96 into Kalamazoo.  Just passed Western Mich.College where Bert Tueling goes.  If I were home I’d be sitting in German class right now.  Boy does that sound good.  We probably won’t hit camp until late tonight.  The lieutenant in charge told us we would be on the train all day.  Scenery isn’t much yet.  I can’t see too well.  We’re near the engine and the smoke drifts past the windows.  Besides the windows steam over and they’re too dirty to wipe off with your hands.  I’ve been keeping mine partly clear with a dirty handkerchief.  I’m going to have to have some laundering done pretty soon.  My towel, handkerchiefs and my socks are getting dirty and my fatigue uniform (K.P. suit) is black from playing fireman for 15 hours.  Some of the fellows had been in Custer as long as 4 or 6 weeks before being shipped out or “bingoed” as they call it.  We were lucky.  I’d like to be sent back to Custer after my basic.  You’re only 52 miles from home there.  I think one of the reasons I got out quick is because I may be of some use in some type of job.

I suppose you’ve noticed by now that my letters don’t follow along very well.  I just jot down thoughts as they come to mind because after all that’s what we do when we talk to each other.  Well there’s not much to say now.  Signing off at 10:25.  We just went through another town but it’s like trying to look through a bottle of milk out my window.  The smoke blows back by.

1:45 – We must be near Chicago.  It began about 45 minutes ago in Indiana.  I didn’t see too much of the beginning because I helped set up dinner in the baggage car.  Since then I’ve been seeing quite a bit because we’re going slower and the smoke doesn’t blot out quite everything.  It must be an awfully dirty place.  Nothing but railroads, streetcars, trucks and factories for miles.  I just heard a boat whistle.  We’re not far from Lake Michigan but I can’t see it.  I just made up my mind to one thing.  When I get out of this ___ ____ __ ___ Army I’m going to see some country in a way that I can enjoy and appreciate it.  Well so long for now while I see what little I can.

3:55 by my watch; 2:55 actual time out here.  Still in Chicago.  We have been parked for over a half hour after riding for miles through a maze of tracks bordered by factories, stock yards, and everything.  Every once in awhile the elevated train goes by with a noise like a roller coaster.  We saw a couple of pretty snappy looking streamliners.  We had a regular picnic lunch and set up a cafeteria on boxes in the baggage car.  Had potato salad, corned beef, dill pickles (boy are yours good) bread, butter, milk, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls & tangerines.  The lieutenant asked if I wanted to help and I did.  He let us eat just about all we wanted.  We’re moving out now but I think we’re backing up.  We were parked next to another troop train.  The boys said they were going to Florida but you’re never sure.  It’s a safe bet that we’re going to McCoy though.  We’ll be there late tonight.  I hear that the camp is about 6 miles from the nearest town and over 20 from La Crosse.  Nothing but barracks, snow and more barracks.  If they had turned -me loose in Custer I don’t think I could have found my way out.  We’re moving pretty fast now.  The engine is on the other end of the train and we’re all lost but I guess we must be going north.  If you think the houses are close together in Lansing, you ought to see them here in Chicago.  In some places they touch.  One thing though. The streets are wide and look easy to drive.  We’re leaving town on our way to Milwaukee.  Boy the town stops in a hurry.  It’s a big place but I bet it’s interesting.

Thurs. – 11:37 Central time

Got to McCoy last night. Everything swell.  Will close this so you can get my address and write to me.  Will write more later.  Temperature 20 below here Tues.


Pvt. Arlington A. Forist  36, 416, 037

Co. 46  Bks 2610 L.S.S.

CampMcCoy, Wisc.



Original Letter

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