Babe Still Doesn’t Like the Light Man

Monday, February 15, 1943


Dear folks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good night and love to you all. Till tomorrow,




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

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