California Here I Come

Monday, Feb. 1, 1943

After dinner


Dear folks,

By the time you get this letter, all military secrets enclosed will probably have ceased to be secret. I am on shipping order and did I get gypped? Boy I’ll say I did. California here I come. I have to report at a building here tonight at 7 without bags. I expect we’ll leave during the night or early in the morning. The sgt. couldn’t tell us where we were going but he said we wouldn’t need our winter underwear and he asked if anyone knew where San Francisco was. Maybe I better back up and start at the beginning.

I was up at 6:10 this morning and dressed and made my bed before breakfast. I had a boiled egg, toast, wheaties, and a pear which I haven’t eaten yet, for breakfast. We loafed around till 8:15 or so when we fell out for graduation. We have never looked worse than we did this morning. The ceremony if you can call it that didn’t last long. We marched past the reviewing platform and down the field, stopped, turned around and marched back and stopped in front of the platform. An officer gave a short speech and then we marched off. We came back and the sgt. started to read the shipping orders to us outdoors but it was too cold so he brought us inside.

We spent the rest of the morning listening. He had a stack of orders like this. [sketch of tall stack of papers]

He had a stack of orders like this.

He had a stack of orders like this.

Some shipments are small only 20 or 30 men. Others are large. There must be over 200 in mine. They are sending us all over. The largest shipment is going to Fort Riley Kansas. La Macchia is in that bunch. Others are going to California, Virginia, and who knows where else. Bill Andrews goes to Sheridan near Chicago. And I had to draw California. There’s no place I’d rather go for a trip but to stay there. Gee, it will take 3 days to get home even if I am lucky enough to get a furlough. I am a little excited about going there because I expect to see some beautiful country but gee it’s so far away from everything.

I got 5 letters today. One from you written Fri. & p.m. Sat. 12:30 p.m. ones from you and Gram written Sat. & p.m. 8:30 p.m., a letter from Nate believe it or not and a very nice letter from Stewart at M.S.C. After mail call I went to dinner. I had potatoes, corn, carrots, bread, butter, jam and pineapple pie. That brings me up to the present.

Boy was I glad to get those letters. They are some different from the last 2 or 3 I’ve been getting. I guess you did do some work Fri. The tangerines didn’t shrink. I think they are the nicest and juiciest I have ever eaten. Good news, the quarantine was just now lifted. Boy that is quite a pretty stamp. We should get another shot this week The tetanus shots come every 21 days. That wasn’t the same guy three times sick but a different guy each time. Believe it or not they took another guy out of here Sat. and he is in the psychopathic ward. He was going goofy I guess. I never noticed it particularly but I never paid much attention to him. He lived in the 400 block of Beech St. and he was always playing the harmonica. He was 20 and looked 30. Wed. it seems he had been doing crazy things lately and while we were on the hike Fri. he was in the barracks with some other fellows who weren’t able to go. He tried to start a fight. Accused fellows of making fun of him. The sgt. gave him a good talking to and stayed down here and watched him nearly all night. He was afraid this fellow would get up and start using one of the bayonets hanging on our beds. The Dr. said he was capable of doing anything and it was good that he was taken out when he was. Never a dull moment.

Just take $5 out of that black book for the watch. I’ll try to get mine fixed when I get to California if I can. You want to listen to Breakfast at Sardis. I don’t want you to get excited over my letters. McCoy is a nice place but I wouldn’t care for any more. Maybe I’ll wish I were back when I get where I’m going. We’d never be able to loaf and take it easy like we have here. They didn’t keep anybody here for corporals. They are all being shipped. When I bring my bunk in from outdoors I spread it out to warm the clothes before I make it up. Any kind of stationery is O.K. with me. After all you are the ones who’ll get it anyway. I have been using the albatum just as you mentioned. I like its vapor better than Vicks. So pop swapped straps. Well it’s O.K. by me. He can wear the watch if he wants. Thanks for buying the stamps for me. Don’t run up too big a cleaners bill. I won’t need the stuff for awhile. I can see that. I had about the same opinion of Eva’s letter as you. When I send them all home I want you to read the ones I’ve got from others. Charles is nobody I’m looking for. My life will be just as cheery without her. Maybe we will replace some of the 38’s. We are nearly all kids. Just about the first bunch of young fellows.

The Cracker Jack wasn’t tough at all. I don’t think I’ll need overshoes in the next place but with all that Sunshine I’ll probably need rubbers. Maybe I would have taken boxing instead of safety skills. Boy that Scott boy was a big help. I shouldn’t think Dad would feel like going out after that.

Tell Gram I got her letter and I sure appreciate hearing from her so regularly even though I haven’t answered her directly.

I just got back now from getting paid. I got $45.08 for my first month’s work.

Nate didn’t have too much to say. He says he saw some pictures of McCoy in the Sunday paper. Qualitative Chem. is no snap. Dick Heil, Don Shaw & Jack Watkins are leaving Feb. 15. Their names weren’t on that list you sent. He says several fellows have asked about me and where I was. He gave Dick Hollingworth my address. He hears Ray F. is an instructor. Fred is in a cast now and lost all his credit at Albion. He had to write a theme so he cut it short. He’ll have to send me a translation of the French on the end.

Mr. Stewart was disappointed to hear that Custer had fallen down on the job. He is going to write to Col. Shanks, the commanding officer about it. That college training is still somewhat vague. Some 2000 boys will definitely be taken away from East Lansing by March 21. Col. McCleod (you sent the clipping) will probably head the program in Washington. He has unofficial information that they will get 3000 young men in uniform in March or April for courses varying from 3 to 27 months. That’s all he knows now. I think it was swell of him to write me such a nice letter.

That’s all so far today. You can tell its payday. The crap game is getting hot. You’d think these guys would get a little sense some time. I was going to send most of mine home but if I’m going to be in California I’ll need it in case I should get a furlough. It takes plenty for transportation from there.

Back after supper. We are out of quarantine so I went over to the P.X. before supper and got some last scenery cards and some candy bars. I had a lot but I thought I’d get some for my trip. I hear it takes 3 days and 2 nights. The cards are in a separate envelope. Supper was a little slim. Green beans, salad, jello, bread, butter, jam and cocoa. Now I have nothing to do till 7 when we have to report. If we don’t have to leave during the night I want to go to the show. Well I’ve covered the day. When I get back I’ll tell you when I leave if I know by then. Remember don’t tell anybody anything. All you know is my training (?) here is completed and I am expecting to leave here soon for an unknown destination. The movements of troop trains are supposed to be kept quiet for obvious reasons. The movements of troops would be good information for certain people.

I’ll probably write a running letter while on the train. You probably won’t get a letter after the last one from here for over a week. You have been fully prepared so you will know why. Well I’ll quit for now and be back later with new developments.

Well I’m back and I have my orders. Turn in my rifle, overshoes and sheets and report bag and baggage ready to leave at 12:45 tomorrow afternoon. That’s all there is there ain’t no more. While I was out I stopped at another P.X. and bought some more cards and 2 books – Microbe Hunters and the Pocket Book of Dog Stories. I also bought you a sofa pillow cover and mailed it to you. I put 6 cents postage on it and I sure hope you get it O.K. Let me know.

We took up a collection on our floor and got $20 – $10 for the sgt. and $10 for the corporal. I threw in 60 cents. We each threw in enough so we would get 20 bucks. Today was payday so we were big hearted.

Well there is not much more to say from there. In all probability the next letter you get will be mailed from a warmer climate. But remember, outside of the family you don’t know anything, O.K.

Well good night for tonight


Lots of love to all,


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