Here Is I Again

This still isn’t my address for sure.


Monday, June 7, 1943

7:35 a.m. Central Time


Dear gang,

Here is I again. I’m bouncing along somewhere in Eastern Kansas headed for Kansas City. I finished your letter last night just before we got to Pueblo, Colo. We stopped there to unhook the diner so we had quite a bit of time. I went over to the depot and mailed your letter and then bought a couple folders. One shows pictures of Southern Colorado, the other shows the Royal Gorge with the Bridge and everything that I tried to describe as I saw. Pueblo is quite a large sized city with trolley cars, etc. We left there just before dusk. A short way out we passed another army camp but this was much smaller than the other. I learned that the big one was Camp Hale. From Pueblo on we hit the plains and left the mountains behind. As soon as it started to turn dark the porter began to make up the berths. There wasn’t anything to do so I washed up a little and went to bed at about 9:00. We passed through a fairly large town and then stopped at the next town while they repaired the water tank on a Pullman. The fellows were getting off so we jumped into our clothes and got off. It was La Junta, Colo. They didn’t have much but I did get a folder on Denver Mountain Parks. Some of these folders aren’t the exact places I’ve seen but they give a good idea of the type of places anyway. I got back on with my folder and went back to bed. I looked out a couple of times during the night but I could see only about 100 feet for fog. When they called us for breakfast my watch said 4:30 but we entered the Central time zone during the night so it was 5:30. I got up, dressed and washed and then went out on the platform. It was and still is very foggy although it is very slowly lifting. We stopped at the town of Newton, Kansas and ate breakfast in the station lunch room there. It was scrambled eggs, potatoes, fried corn meal, jelly, toast, butter and milk and an orange. After breakfast I bought a folder on Kansas and its capital and 3 cards. I sent one to you and have the rest here yet. Johnny found some card maps so he gave me one of those also. We were there quite awhile. We finally pulled out and I sat and looked out the window until the porter made up the seats. Then I started to write. We passed through Peabody and Strong City and stopped a couple of minutes at a nice little town called Emporia.  We just now went thru Lebo. I remember from literature that Emporia is the home of Wm. Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette and a famous journalist. You probably remember his son Bill White who used to report from Helsinki when the Russians invaded Finland. When we left there I came back to writing and here I am.

When I saw Kansas in Feb., I didn’t think it could ever look good to me but it does now. It’s the nearest thing to home and Mich. that I’ve seen in 5 months. It’s still flat although it is slightly rolling in places here. I am south of where I came thru before. But now the fields are green and the trees are leaved out and in places it looks just like a little corner of Michigan. The god forsaken appearance has disappeared for me. The fields are green with hay, corn, or wheat and cattle are all around. I guess I’m pretty clumsy at saying things but in plain words it looks swell to me. The mountains are beautiful and awesome but aside for seeing them on a vacation or trip I wouldn’t care to live there. I’ll take Michigan. The towns here are quite frequent. They are neater and better looking than the ones out west and they are something more than just railroad sidings. We used to say out west in Kansas but it doesn’t seem like the west to me. I guess my conception of distances has changed. Remember 53 miles to Cheboygan? We asked the girl in the restaurant how far it was to Kansas City. She said it was an awful long way. I suppose it was to her but 200 miles doesn’t seem like much anymore. We are really hitting it off now as you can see from my writing. We are to reach Kansas City in about 2 hours.

I now have a lot of folders and cards. I suppose I should have mailed them at the places I bought them so they would have the postmarks but I didn’t. For one thing I didn’t have stamps and also I didn’t have time to put the little arrows and remarks that I like on them. Johnny just said it seems good to see something besides palm and eucalyptus trees and I agree. The only tree I recognized in Calif. was the elm. We are going thru farm country that very easily could have been whacked out of Michigan and set in Kansas. Well I guess I’ve run down for now so I’ll stop for now and be back later. This will probably be mailed from Arkansas. 8:55

10:30. We’re 10 miles from Kansas City now. We’ve been rolling along pretty fast. We went through one section of woods and ferns and stuff on low rolling hills that sure was like Northern Mich. We’re out on flatter ground now and we are following the Missouri River. There are a lot of gravel pits along the river and the towns are getting closer together. The gardens are pretty far along out here. The tom. plants are real large and the spuds are in blossom. We’re in a big R.R. yard now so Kansas City must be close. Off at 10:35.

5:00 p.m. Sitting in the Kansas City yards waiting to leave. It will be pretty late when we hit Arkansas now. We got in here right after I quit writing. We got off the train and lined up and walked over to a lunch room in the basement of the station. For dinner we had tomato juice, salad, potatoes, peas, buns, butter, milk and cake with lemon sherbet. After eating they took us upstairs to the lobby and told us to be back there at 3:45. Johnny and I headed downtown. It was quite a walk. We stopped in a barber shop and got our hair cut. I hadn’t had one for close to two months. I got gypped I think. Haircuts are 65 cents. He asked if I wanted anything on it. I thought he meant to dampen it a little so I said yes. The guy put some goo on and gave me a massage and it cost 90 cents. From now on I don’t want anything but a plain haircut. From there we went on downtown and looked around in several dime stores and just walked around. I got a pennant and some cards and a folder. We were going to go to a show to see Gildersleeve but it didn’t end until 3:42 so we knew we wouldn’t have time. We started back and I got me a shirt on the way back. I figured if we wear suntans I’ll need another shirt so I bought one. – $3.01 with tax. The tax here is by mils. They have little tokens they use for tax. Johnny got a handful in his change and he gave me one. He got a shirt and belt buckle in another store and then we came back here at about 2 or so. We looked around at all the stores and shops in the station and then we went across the street to explore the Liberty Memorial Building. I bought some pictures of it so you’ll see a little of what it’s like. It is really a joke now because it is a huge memorial to the peace of World War I. In the middle is the tower which we didn’t go up. The city was covered with smoke and haze so we didn’t figure we could see much. We did explore the buildings on each side. One is a sort of church. The other is a museum of clippings and odds and ends of the war. We spent some time there and left at about 3. By then it was beginning to rain a little. We went back to the station and looked around. There is a book store, a drug store, a toy shop, a lunch room etc. in the huge station. We wandered around and I got a few cards and another folder. I also bought a couple of little trinkets for you which I’ll mail later. I don’t like them as well as I thought I did but I think you’ll like them maybe. I hope so. We’re moving out now. I’ve added a new state to my list – Missouri. I’ve got a lot of stuff to send home now. I don’t know just when I’ll send it but I’ll do it as soon as I can. We’re angling south now so this is the closest I got to home. Arkansas here we come. We waited around the station until 3:45. Then they got us together and we went down to supper. It was grape juice, salad, turkey, macaroni, peas, bread, butter, milk, and cake with sherbet again. Then we got together and they counted us to see if we were all here. We got on the train and here I am. I’ve got to watch how I spend for awhile. I wasn’t paid so I’ve got to make it last until July 1. I have 30 bucks now. I had 43 when I hit Stanford 2 weeks ago. I spent 5 today and the other 8 went here and there for candy, ice cream, stamps, shaving cream and this and that. I broke one 5 since I started this trip but it’s gone for cards, folders, etc. etc. I really don’t mind because I don’t go on these kind of trips very often. I’d have plenty of money if I get paid. I’ll get 93.50 next month I hope. I’ll make what I’ve got last O.K. I think. I don’t want to draw on what little I had saved because it had a purpose. We are going thru a moderately woodsy sector now a lot like parts of Michigan. It will be very late when I get to Arkansas so I may not write any then. I’ll leave this open and may add an ending tonight or it the morning. Right now I guess I’ve covered everything except I don’t care for Kansas City very much either. So for now I’m signing off at about 6 p.m. somewhere in Missouri.

Back at 8 p.m. somewhere in a freight yd. in Kans. or Missouri. We’ve been going along the state lines so I don’t know which one we’re in. We won’t get there until about 6 a.m., so I am going to finish this and mail it. I hear we make to [two] changes and stopovers. It sounds to me as if Fayetteville will be a hard place to get into and out of. It will take a lot of time off a leave. Well I’ll quit for Monday June 7. I’ll try to mail this tonight yet.




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.

I Fry a Mean Egg

Private Arlington A. Forist

[stationery header]


Sunday April 18, 1943

5:45 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well I’ll start in where I left off yesterday. When I quit writing I intended to write more before I mailed it out. I walked back to the battery and got here in time for dinner. I had bread, butter, potatoes, cocoa, and cookies, I think. It wasn’t much of a meal. After dinner I shaved, cleaned my teeth and washed. I had to shine up my buttons some more. They tarnish over night since I have started to shine them. I got no mail at mail call. Finally just as I was leaving, I got your registered letter with the check. For the last 3 days my mail came in 2 days but I didn’t get any today. I already had the partly written letter in my pocket. The three of us started out to get some film first. We had a camera which Haxton had borrowed. On the way uptown we passed the post office so I decided to get the check back to you as soon as possible. I signed it, wrote that last line to the letter and got it registered and sent it out. So that’s why that letter ended so abruptly. I didn’t want to carry that check around and maybe lose it. Nobody could cash it but I still wouldn’t care to lose it. I never did get any more written yesterday. After I mailed that we went up to get some film. We had a 620 camera but nobody had film. That’s as scarce as meat now I guess. One store had some 120 film so the lady sent Haxton over to the Hospitality House for service men to borrow a 120 camera. They lend cameras to service men but they didn’t have any left so we went on without the film. I wish we could have gotten some so we could have taken a few pictures. Anyway we caught the electric bus and rode out to Golden Gate Park. These buses look like a motor bus but they run with a trolley wire overhead the same as streetcars do. They are quiet but have a lot of pickup. They look strange going down the street. Fare is 7 cents per person. The ride took us clear across town and I only confirmed my first opinion of San Francisco. So far as I am concerned it is the most unattractive place I’ve been in. It is all hills. It is built on seven hills I understand. The buildings are all old and there is no appearance of neatness like you see back home. The streets are thrown in at every kind of angle and up, down and around the hills. The trip has a lot of variety but isn’t very interesting. The people don’t live like real people in houses with lawns and flowers. They all seem to live in apt’s and double houses crowded together. The buildings all seem old with these window seats/boxes like sticking out in front. The streets are the roughest you could imagine. Oh yes we love beautiful San Francisco. We got off at the end of the bus line near the park and Kezar Stadium. I remember hearing of this stadium when I was back home. I think it is where they used to play the east-west all star football games. We tried to get some film there but there was none so we left the camera at a drug store. They tell us the army gets most of it so if we ever want any again I guess we will have to go to any army camp. Then we started out. I made real progress forward yesterday. Yes indeed. Junior learned to ride a bicycle. Yes believe it or not. We rented three bicycles from a shop near the park. We had to put $10 down on them first. Oh boy. We started out or rather they did. I got on to it pretty fast though and after the first couple of times I did all right. I tipped over into the bushes along the path a couple times but I didn’t do so bad for the first time I ever rode one. Of course I was a little timid about it and most of the time they were ahead of me and then they would wait for me to catch up. We rode through the park clear down to the beach. Finally I saw the Pacific Ocean but it isn’t any more impressive nor half so beautiful as Little Traverse Bay I think. The park is supposed to be the largest in the world. It covers a huge area and it is the only nice thing that I’ve seen in Frisco. There are tennis courts and all kinds of recreation facilities imaginable. Vast stretches of mowed lawns are all around. There are beautiful trees and wild flowers all around. I really think you would enjoy it and I wish I could have gotten a few pictures. I can’t describe it the way I’d like to and I’ve forgotten a lot of the little things that would be interesting. If I wrote as I went along like I did on the train I would do better. Anyway it seemed like I was back in nature again like we used to be when we were up north on our trips. For a little while the army and the war was in the background. We didn’t spend much time at the beach. We got some ice cream. I had a chocolate milk shake, and then started back. The beach is very sandy and is quite nice. Nearby is a setup like Pine Lake. They have all types of rides and other entertainments (?). We rode on back the way we came. Coming out it was mostly down hill so you can see I worked going back. In all we rode from about 2:15 until nearly 5:00. It cost us 80 cents apiece which wasn’t too bad. I got a little sore down under but I really did pretty well. The only thing was I got my O.D.’s a little dirty and I sweat the creases out of a brand clean O.D. shirt. Otherwise everything went O.K. Still if I ever go out there again I intend to walk. There are a great many things to see which I didn’t see but would like to. I don’t suppose I’ve given you much of an idea about things but I’ve tried. There are a lot of museums, aquariums, zoos, etc. which ought to be pretty interesting. Maybe I’ll get out there again sometime. After we turned in the bikes we got the camera. Then we hit another ice cream store. I got a chocolate soda this time. Finally we caught the electric bus and came back over the same route through town to our camp here. We had a pretty fair afternoon but I spent all my time pedaling and I might have seen some of the things. On the whole though I enjoyed it quite a bit and got some exercise which is something I really need. Incidentally last night with all my clothes on and my light shoes I weighed 160. That seems pretty heavy to me but maybe its right. We got back to camp in time to get some supper. I had potatoes, salad, no turnips, bread, butter, cold drink and jello. Then about 6 o’clock we went on downtown. We walked around some and waited for another guy who didn’t show up so finally we went to a show at the Paramount Theatre – 60 cents for service men (yi!). The show was very good though – “The Hard Way” with Ida Lupino, Dennis Morgan, and Joan Leslie (of Detroit) and “Tahiti Honey” with Dennis O’Keefe and Simone Simone. There was a lot of music and I liked it. After the show we each got hamburgers (and I’m pretty sure it was real hamburger). Then we went up to the Service Men’s Hospitality House and watched the jitterbugs for a little while. We finally headed for the barracks and got in at about 11:30. I looked for more mail but didn’t find any. Then I headed for bed. I put my name on the wake up list to be sure I wouldn’t oversleep. You see there is no reveille on Sunday and they sleep late. I asked to be woke at 6:45. I was wakened at 6:30. I got up, dressed, and washed. Breakfast is at 8 on Sundays but we have to be to work by then so we got our own breakfasts. We fried our own eggs. I fried two and had them, a box of Quaker Rice Flakes, plenty of milk, bread, butter and a banana which I ate during the morning on the job. I fry a mean egg. Personally I think they were better than the ones the cooks fry. We rode to work at about 7:45. The day went along quite fast. There wasn’t too much doing because of foggy weather but just enough to keep us busy. Dinner was potatoes, gravy, peas, salad, bread, butter, and 2 or 3 pieces of ice cream. The afternoon went along O.K. I took my stationery along but didn’t write. They went on Orange #1 alert at San Diego for about 10 minutes but it didn’t last. The Navy had a flight of 45 bombers & fighters up this afternoon. What must a thousand be like? They have been on their toes the last 2 days because it is one year since Doolittle bombed Tokyo and they were afraid of reprisals. We got off at 4 and Bartlett and I walked back. We got back in time for early chow. I had potato salad, bread, butter, cheese and pears. After supper I loafed until mail call but didn’t get any mail. Then I started writing this. Bartlett suggested a show but I declined because I had a letter to write and I wanted to get my sleep. I’ll have to stand reveille all this week. That at long last catches you up with me again. Flash – after months the ratings came through for the three experienced men – hey Pfc. ratings. Boy what a promotion. One guy had his stripes on today and he only got the rating yesterday. That stripe has gone to his head. Personally I think it is an insult but in a month they are supposed to get a promotion. It will take me 3 months to get Pfc. at that rate. Then tonight I find 2 fellows here from Benicia. One was a private when I was there. He’s been in 4 months and just got his corporal’s stripes. The Cadres are moving out of my old battery and the kids I came in with are getting the ratings. I swear. I get the short end of it everywhere I go. There must be a pot of gold somewhere but I’m beginning to wonder. One fellow is from Regimental and when I mentioned my name he says I remember you. I corrected your paper for that college test and you got the highest in the regiment. I says yeh, and then I’m made a steady K.P. If I had been put on one of the range section devices I’ll be willing to bet I’d have made T/5 as soon as these kids who came out here with me. Nobody know nothing about college. They aren’t breaking anyone in for my place so I guess I’m not going anywhere. Personally I feel as if I have had a pretty raw deal but maybe in the long run I’ll come out ahead. My job is supposed to be a T/5 or Corporal so far as I know but when is something else. Now to get these letters answered. I went through your Mon. letter once but maybe I have missed something. I think you get my letters faster when I mail them at the Exchange. I was at the store more than I was at college. I wasn’t there long enough to be a rah rah boy. No dill pickles are as good as yours. I don’t use the bread elevator so much but occasionally. Your bet my clothes get dusty and I imagine my overcoat will be pretty dirty when & if I wear it again. A person can fire an MI rifle left handed. There are some guns that you can’t do that with. I still haven’t fired and don’t intend to although I think I would enjoy it just for the fun of it. Bartlett made expert with the rifle and automatic rifle. You bet I remember the frost at M.S.C. I realize now it was even prettier than I thought then. Officers get short leaves + traveling time but I don’t appear to be in line for a furlough any more than I am for a rating. Believe it or not they are just about as hard to get because we are away from our batteries but only attached here. That answers the letter I got Thurs. Now to your Tues. letter I got Friday. What a pay check. I’m glad you can get all the butter & cheese you want. That was nice of Thelma. I’ll write when I get the candy. The boys heard me snore and told me when I woke up. It is O.K. to sleep on the job. Allowance is made and we have enough on duty so we can take turns. The captain sleeps all night. The mice didn’t damage my grip any. My foot locker is O.K. but if I go back to the battery someday I’d have to get rid of it probably. I have no desire to go back. I might or might not get ahead faster there but I want to go forward not back. Yes, I’m guilty. I quit writing that time to go to a show but you still get at least a short letter every day even then so I’m keeping my word. I may go to a show tomorrow night. I haven’t been skating. After riding a bicycle 2 ½ hours I think I better take time out to recuperate. I’d like to get those boys on a tennis court but neither plays. That’s your Tues. letter. Now the Wed. registered one I got yesterday. The paper looks proper but my writing isn’t so hot. A $200 bond would cost $150 but you would probably have to buy two $75 bonds. Put it either in both our names or in your name. I don’t think much of the idea of buying it from Iowa although it may be perfectly safe. You talking of getting stickers for the window. How times have changed. I’ll be private for quite some time. I wrote to Mrs. C. on some of the paper she sent. I’ve hoped to be sent near home too but I don’t know how it will all come out. I have my spoons yet but someone has borrowed my G.I. spoon. You are right. I don’t know what I do want but I want to get someplace before long. Bartlett isn’t such a bad sort however I’ve known fellows I liked better. Until something changes my opinion, I still rate Julius as the best. I’d like my tennis shoes if I knew I were to be in one place very long but as it is they would be just something more to carry around. It doesn’t seem as if you could be having snow there although we have some nippy weather here at times. I couldn’t get to Los Angeles and back in 32 hours and have time to see anything. I haven’t heard from Ewing or Francois but they don’t know where I am I imagine. I haven’t spent much time in the dimestores so I haven’t noticed rugs. Usually when I go to town it’s at night. I do walk back from work or to work but I don’t dare to dally too long because after all I am out without a pass. Frisco is pretty big but it is very unattractive I think. There are supposed to be 1 ½ million people in the bay area. I saw by the headlines that Harmon is O.K.

Well I’ve got a real letter written once again. It’s 10 and I still need to wash up and shave so I’ll start to stop. Do the think [thing?] you think best with the check. I hope you get it O.K. Don’t take the draft too seriously. I never did which was good. If I had worried about it I would just have spoiled my chances for fun and a good time while I was at home.

Well good night and be careful.


Love to you all

Private Arlington Ardeane Alexander Forist


These letters haven’t bee censored, the envelopes just got stuck a little.

The Hairless Marvel

[stationery heading]


Pepsi-Cola Center for Service Men & Women

948 Market Street

San Francisco, California


Saturday April 17, 1943


Dear folks,

I’m writing the beginning of this down here. I have a 32 hour pass. I came out to get a haircut so I am staying out until I think the Saturday inspection is over. I imagine that note I wrote last night sounded pretty dismal but when I was writing it I really had a dilly of a headache. That was around 9 o’clock. I don’t know what caused it but it began to be noticeable around supper time. I had to do a little plotting on the board which I don’t like to do and maybe that helped. Supper wasn’t much help last night either. We had beans, tomatoes fixed with bread which seems to be the G.I. style, bread, butter, pickles, cookies and coffee cake that one of the ladies brought in. That butter is beginning to pay dividends. After supper I thought I better write you a note before I began to feel any worse. I sure didn’t say much but it was a letter (?). I’ll re-answer that Mon. letter and try to do a better job. My head felt pretty lousy until around 10. Bartlett wanted me to go down and get some cocoa with him. I finally decided to go. The cocoa and doughnuts and being away from the job I guess sort of relaxed me or something. Anyway I began to feel better and by midnight my headache was just about gone. I walked back to camp with the other two fellows. I as usual looked for mail and I found your Tues. Apr. 13 letter so the mail is coming through swell again. I also got letters from Hugh and a card & note from Eva. I didn’t bring your letters with me so I can’t answer them now but I’ll answer them later. I read my mail and then went to bed. Charles is in a medical detachment at Temple Texas – McClaskey Hospital (I think). He is mourning the fact that he can’t get into combat training. Some people don’t know when they are well off although I wouldn’t trade places with him. Gramp is feeling O.K. again now. I guess he isn’t ever going to write to you about his birthday dollar. Hugh is very absent minded. I got a letter last week from McCoy then in this one he says he has been there 2 weeks but this is the first chance he has had to write. His regiment has been split. The old one is now part of the 2nd Army. He is in the new half and expects to leave soon. He doesn’t say where but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wound up driving the Alaska Highway. He said none of us would ever go over. I hope he doesn’t but then it’s hard to tell. The 101st is supposed to be stuck so as long as we are in it we aren’t going anywhere. I hear it takes 6 months for a rating but I hope to be far behind a text book before 6 months on this job have passed. I now have 3 weeks behind me. I’ll tell you more about the letters when I have them where I can look at them as I write. I got to bed at about 1 I guess. I got up at about 8:20 this morning just in time for breakfast. I didn’t do much sleeping after 6:15 though because the others were all laying out their equipment for inspection. I’ll have to stand it again next Sat. Personally I don’t like the idea of laying out my stuff and leaving it all day. It’s too handy. Nothing has turned up missing since the coat hanger until today. I reach for my knife, fork and spoon and no spoon. I have had them hanging on a nail. Whether someone knocked it off while cleaning and didn’t know where it belonged or whether someone needed one I don’t know. If someone borrowed it for inspection it may be back by tonight. I have to have one for next inspection. Last week someone borrowed a pair of my shoes for inspection. When I came in to go to sleep they were gone, when I woke up they were back. I guess I had too much shine on them. If I were like the rest I’d pick up the first spoon I see but I don’t work that way. Of course mine isn’t marked which is my fault and isn’t so good. Anyway for breakfast I had toast, scrambled eggs, rice flakes, and grapefruit. I made up my bed, dusted off my shoes and then left so I wouldn’t be around for inspection. I got a haircut, the first one since Feb. 24 and my 3rd in the army. You should see me – the hairless marvel. Oh it’s not too bad, but there are some short hairs that stick up in back like they used to when I was a little guy. It cost me 65 cents same as it did Dad. The radio is playing “Easter Parade” and it sure takes me back to a lot of Easters – the one when I put on Little George’s brown suit and thought I was all dressed up and last time when I put on my own green suit and was dressed up. This year I have my choice of O.D. shirt and O.D. pants or O.D. pants with an O.D. shirt. The well dressed man also wears an O.D. cap piped in scarlet with an O.D. blouse tapered at the waist. Boy my buttons look pretty bad. Every time I shine them they look worse the next day. If you ask me this G.I. junk is getting cheaper and cheaper. Ain’t I enthusiastic about the army, though. The remark that best exemplifies the typical L.S. man is – I don’t want to get ahead, I want to get out! After I got trimmed I just took my time and walked down here and then I decided I’d write a little. The three of us have talked about going out to Golden Gate Park this afternoon. It seems to be a pretty nice day so we may go. It’s 10:45 now so the inspection ought to be over by the time I get back. I guess I am the official waker-upper for my shift. Well I’ll cut this short for now. I’ve got you back on my track with me and you are up to 11:00 a.m. I sort of got you sidetracked last night. So long for now until I see you on the next installment. This is some pretty stationery, I don’t think you’ll think. So do I.

Just got check so am sending it right back. Son

My Spirits Were Under the Linoleum

Saturday March 27, 1943

Columbia Square in San Francisco, 3:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well here I am but I don’t know exactly where or why as yet. Anyhow I have moved and if the work is no better, the surroundings are at least so that is something.

Last night after I finished that letter, I mailed it and went right to bed. I slept plenty sound too until 4:30 when the flashlight came through as usual. My campaign against whistles now includes flashlights also. I got up and dressed and went and washed a little. I was too tired last night. When I finished I went back and lay down again until the guy came after us again. Then I had to go to work. For breakfast I had pancakes, scrambled (G.I.) eggs, rice krispies and milk. Then after breakfast I started cleaning the dining room. I quit for a few minutes to take breakfasts over to a couple fellows in the dispensary. Then I went back to work on the dining room. I’m telling you we were all shot this morning. There were just the 4 steady K.P.s and the sum of our ambition wasn’t enough for one good man. I thought I never would get that dining room finished and as it turned out I didn’t. I scrubbed all the tables, took time out for a couple doughnuts and 2 or 3 glasses of milk. Then I swept and mopped the floor. That took me until 9:30 or so. Suddenly the phone rang and at last I heard, “Forist report to the office on the double.” Boy I had been waiting for that and I really lost no time. My orders were to pack everything and be ready to leave after dinner for San Francisco. I shaved, cleaned my teeth, took a bath, got my laundry and put on some clean clothes. Then I began to pack. I didn’t know I had so much stuff. I had to discard what old State Journals I had left although I hadn’t read them. I didn’t want to after you paid the postage all the way out here but I didn’t have the room. You see I had to bring my comforter and 2 blankets and those plus all my other clothes and equipment filled both barracks bags. I also had my grip filled with my toilet articles, books, a few candy bars I had left from that last box, etc. I ate early chow at 11:30 – potatoes, macaroni salad, cold tomatoes, bread, blackberry jam, and cocoa. Then I went to see one of the fellows who works at Reg. Headquarters to see if he knew what was cooking. He said he found an order which had been misplaced evidently. I was supposed to have reported here yesterday according to him. He says I am getting a break. I hope so. I got 3 letters today; your Sat., Sun. & Mon. letter p. marked Tues. and Gram’s letter mailed at the same time. That brings me back up to date again. That is only 4 days and that is good for regular mail. I also got a letter from Amelia in answer to the card I sent to her. At 12:30 I loaded up my stuff and started out. They stopped me on the way out and told me to leave my rifle. I was glad to get rid of it. The 1st/sgt gave me a talk on how to dress and to keep neat and all that stuff he is always spouting. Finally I got started. Two other fellows on pass rode along with me and the driver. We went all the way to Frisco in a jeep. It didn’t take us long either but it was a pretty windy ride. I got in here about 2:00 I guess. I unloaded my stuff and reported with my special order to the office. I was shown a bunk in the barracks. I got out my clothes, hung them up, shined my shoes up a little and here I am. One of the first things I had to do was take my insignia patches off my shirt and blouse. They can’t wear them here yet. They are wearing the 4th army four leaf clover here. So I did that much sewing for nothing. I still don’t know what I will do for sure. I am here on special duty (until my turn for college comes up maybe). They tell me I probably will work in the office but that is not definite. I imagine I’ll find out when they want to tell me. I don’t know exactly in which part of Frisco this is but it is very near the heart I believe. Our buildings are in Columbia Square. I don’t know what my address is as yet. It is very nice here. There is nice grass lawn all around and the buildings are more attractive. The barracks is swell. It doesn’t have the barn-like appearance of Benicia Barracks. This is Brigade Headquarters Battery. We have double deck bunks here but I am on the bottom. I left my foot and wall lockers in Benicia. I really need a foot locker so I may have to build one. I may be here a couple weeks and I may be here several months. No one seems to know. They have a full day here but since I am on special duty I may not get all of it. That’s something else I don’t know yet. They have reveille and also retreat which I haven’t had since I was at Custer. Retreat is at sundown so that may get later, maybe not. Whether I will get K.P. and guard I don’t know either. There are men stationed here permanently who probably get all of that. You see I am still a part of a battery, 501st. There is no fence around this place but we still can’t walk out. Passes are one 6 hour & one 12 hour a week with a 24 hour every two weeks. That is good. They have full field inspections every Saturday. That is bad. That’s about all I know. I don’t know if I’ll like the setup or whatever I’ll be given to do but I do like the place itself. As I’ve said so much, time will tell. It doesn’t make any difference anyway what one wants, it is best to take it easy because you’ll get what they want you to get and when they want it. Maybe everything will work out all right. I guess I get impatient but boy my spirits were under the linoleum this morning. I hope they won’t give me too much clerical work to do but I guess I can get along. The men here are mostly from Minnesota I guess. One fellow said these college trainees have come to [from?] Oregon, Mich. & Minnesota. I still think I am in on that college training and that they just want me here until I come up for that. Maybe I am wrong but I was put in class I which will be the last one to go probably. That college program outlined there in the paper is tough but I guess I could handle it (?) Whew 15 hours of Physics. That’s an awful lot. I guess there is no doubt that a person has to be in the groove on that kind of a setup. The point is though, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. A lot of the fellows here are at least Pfcs. Most of them are experienced men but a few are L.S. Well that’s all I know at present. There goes a bugle.

Back at 6:30. It was for supper. They blow a bugle every time one turns around it seems. I have been talking to several fellows. One fellow is from Rogers City, Mich., another from Massachusetts, another from Utah. The kid over me is a Kelly from New York. I guess it’s like it is everywhere. The men are from all over. Supper was pretty good – potatoes, gravy, carrot & raisin salad, apple sauce, lemon pie, cocoa, raisin & white bread, butter & jam. The food is on the table like at Benicia. The tables here are covered with oilcloth and it seems more homelike. When we are through eating we bring our dishes with us and pass along by some tubs. Each of us washes his plate & cup and thus saves a lot of work for the K.P.s. I am told that so long as I am on Special Duty I won’t get guard or K.P. I happened to be seated across from a fellow at supper who is on S.D. from Bat Q. I had heard his name a lot back there. He has been on S.D. for 5 months so I may be here a long time. He is a graduate chemist from Purdue & he expects to leave for school soon. He thinks I may go to work in the stock exchange where he is now. He is a really intelligent talking person. I may not be up for this college stuff for quite awhile so maybe I am getting a break at last. I think it is about time. Boy I’ll have to be pretty sharp by next Sat. They got a lot of them on today’s inspection for little things. Well I guess I’ve told all I can about what has happened today. I’ll know definitely what I’m doing in a day or so no doubt.

Now to my mail. Amelia says they are working Russell pretty hard. Fred is in New York at a seamanship school. He is working for a rating. Johnny is still in Duluth but he is going into the air patrol. Fred is one of 6 who were sent to school so he is doing all right for himself.

I have about four letters from different ones to answer but I’ll wait until I find for sure about this address and things.

Well at last I got your letter and it caught up 3 days at once so I haven’t lost any mail. I guess they must have a plug between me and me that catches my letters. I get around to write at least one page as you have seen by now. For gosh sakes don’t ever let Dad work like that again. Jones is interested in Jones. You know that. Didn’t Dad get anything for doing all that work? You tell Jones to go hunt up another man. He won’t make up Dad’s lost pay. That’s too hard on dad. Gee he must have hurried like he did on Gramps garden or when he was mowing his lawn. After all we come first (the 5 of us). Let Jones solve his own problems. Let him get a woman to do the work. It makes me feel awful to think that happened. I sure hope Dad is on his feet again by now. I didn’t think the car would be worn out in 3 months. Make it last until I can drive it again. One thing though. Money will buy more cars. You should do more driving. I think I’ll get to be a jeep driver (joke). I don’t blame you for not being cheerful when Dad comes home looking like that. He was worse that I the day I went to the circus. That shows me one thing. He definitely isn’t fit for the army, even L.S. I guess Dad and I will always be biff bangers [??]. It is just natural. It was a shame to lose those 4 gallons but if you couldn’t help it that’s that. Conditions alter situations or something. You don’t think they are going to tax you to pay $200 to a lot of old ducks when we are getting only $50. Counting our food & everything we don’t get over $80 a month. Don’t let Dad tell you what to do. If he is sick I want to know it. Boy you really were sort of on the spot but I guess things will be O.K. Right now I can’t place any Kenneth Greer. I may remember him later. I am glad they pulled the plug on the mail. I sure am glad my watch got there O.K. I imagine you have the other 2 packages by now and I hope you will like that 64 package. If those letters made dad feel any better maybe it is good they were held up a little. I didn’t get in any noisy crowds in Frisco. It seems very peaceful here tonight. We are sitting right here in this square in the city with no fences or nothing. My hands are coming O.K. The old dead skin is coming off now. It was worth it to miss nearly a week of that K.P. Just one thing worries me. I am afraid they’ll put me in a clerical job that I can’t handle. Still they know what I can & can’t do I guess. Maybe I’ll be given a job entirely different from that. The reason it cost me more to send the watch is simple. The postage was 24 cents but I insured it for $75 which cost 25 cents. The one he sent was insured for much less. Now do you see? The insurance made the difference. Don’t worry about sending me candy for awhile. I have money and you are going to be a little flat for awhile. Sure I write nice letters when I get a chance. Look at this one for instance. They aren’t like the ones I wrote at McCoy though. You were right. That red shirt was green but I didn’t get it anyway. Now I feel I deserve a little credit for Dad’s feeling a little better but I’ll give you 99% of the credit. Now let’s see what answers Gram’s letter needs. Walt better appreciate his porch and everything that goes with it. He won’t be seeing it much longer I’m thinking. I guess Babe is always ready to go to bed. Gee you can’t afford to let carrots or parsnips spoil with things like they are. I had it figured out that you would get all the butter you needed but maybe I was wrong. I forgot and stuck my arm in the water with my watch on but it didn’t do any damage I guess. It is running a little slow I believe. I still have my ring on. It isn’t so bad but what I can wear it O.K. Say mom did you notice Bob Munroe’s picture in that one clipping you sent? If I were in Custer I’d be home every other weekend. Orson Wells is in terrible shape. We are getting sliced bread again too. The army even had to slice its bread for awhile. The turkey was roasted. The breast is light but not so white as chicken. I like it when it is really cooked. $4 a bushel for parsnips sounds like Calif. prices. The rent can’t be raised now without gov’t permission. Mom has the ceiling rent statement.

Well that’s the mail for today. Its 8:30 and I think I’ll go to bed early for a change. I can sleep until 7:30 tomorrow.

I am not sure about this address but it should get the mail here O.K. and faster than waiting for it to be forwarded.


Pvt. ———

Bat. A 501st C.A. (A.A.)

C/O Hdq. Bat. 101st/C.A. Brigade (A.A.)

Columbia Sq. San Francisco Calif.


Of course mail sent to Benicia will be forwarded. I am not going to send out a change of address to everyone until I am sure of staying here awhile. Write as often as you can.




He Would Clean Toilets If He Could Be In Indiana

Friday March 26, 1943

8:45 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well I’m back. I bet that letter I wrote this morning didn’t make a lot of sense. I must have been about ½ asleep at the time. I just couldn’t bear to have my string of letters to you broken so although it was written at 3 a.m. Fri. it was your Thurs. letter, see! I want you to have one from each day. I didn’t get any time to write so finally I just took it. When I finished that note I went back to work and we finished the mess at about 15 to 5. I just lay down on the table seats as did the others and we went to sleep. The tables are made something like roadside tables. Come to think of it you have a picture of them at McCoy. These are the same. I woke up at 5:30 when the mess sgt. came. He found out that we had worked all night and told us to go to bed. You can bet we didn’t argue. I didn’t even wait for breakfast. All I ate was an orange. I went to bed and finally got to sleep. I was awakened at about 10 to go on a detail to take the dishes back to Richmond. I missed the truck so I went back to sleep until about 11:30 when I had to go on K.P. again – about 5 hours sleep in all. We got off at 10 to 8 tonight, but it was because we had 9 K.P.s. 3 volunteered to work this morning, there was the 4 steadies and 2 extra duty men. Tomorrow afternoon there will be only 3 of us so it won’t be early tomorrow night. My next pass will be about Monday noon I imagine. Oh to be on a train headed east right now. My back is very tired and I wrenched my ankle today and that is pretty sore. I swear, everything happens to me it seems. For dinner I had potatoes, salad, spinach, tomatoes (I don’t like to have them put sugar in them but they do), bread, butter, and peaches. I worked in the kitchen just about all day and we did get chances to sit down a couple minutes now and then. Supper was spaghetti, peas, salad, bread, butter & doughnuts. We really percolated after supper and we finished in about 1 ½ hours. As soon as I got through I shined my shoes and straightened up my locker. I hear there is some kind of inspection coming soon. Now I am in the day room writing. This day like the rest fits right into the groove and there is nothing interesting to tell. I wait each day for a notice to leave but it may not come for weeks. I prick up my ears every time the phone rings but I guess patience is the best policy. If I didn’t have this to look forward to, K.P. and the whole setup would get pretty discouraging at times.

Now I want to know what’s wrong. Are you sick or what? I don’t get excited or start worrying easily, but my mail is way behind. The most up-to-date letter I have is your last Fri. Mar. 19 which I got on Mon. the 22nd. That was good speed but since then all I have gotten are the Wed. & Thurs. letters mailed before that. In other words I am now a whole week away from you. I got nothing at all today. Of course there is probably a reason somewhere but I hope it isn’t because you are sick or something. One of the cooks said he didn’t get any letters for 3 weeks and then he got 16 all at once. His home is only in Los Angeles so maybe I shouldn’t worry. Now to answer your Thurs. Mar. 18 letter I got yesterday. It was sent to San Bruno Cal. Why I don’t know.  That was some cinder. This morning my eyes felt like they had cinders in them and they are getting a little rough now. I am going to get to bed as soon as I can. That drafting women idea must be quite on the fire by the way you write. I never buy a paper so I don’t hear much. Butter rationing is about all I know about. 16 rationing points per person a week for meats & fats and 8 pts. for a lb. of butter so if you use 3 lbs. a week it will take ½ of your points. That is not too bad. You don’t eat much meat anyway. I wouldn’t worry about being sent anywhere. I have all the boxes but I should hear pretty soon if you get my watch and the box of junk and that surprise package. Gee I’d like to know. Of course if you have written then don’t worry. I’ll get it in time. That’s the trouble with the bananas on the market now. They rush them out green. Ours we had here were ripe. Well we will have plenty to eat as long as we can get it but we go on field ration next week. We are on garrison ration now. I’ll explain the difference when I have more time. We will have as much maybe more to eat but not so much variety. A lot of spinach and green stuff like that. That was very nice of Miss Lang I am sure. I guess it won’t take very long for me to get back in that old home groove. I suppose I will have some changes but I doubt if they will be marked. Let’s not worry. I’ll be home the first chance I get and I ain’t kiddin’ either. This tough hard way you mentioned makes us all appreciate home. To show you they typical feeling, one sgt. said he would clean toilets if he could be in Indiana. You are right. I does do something to a person to be away from home but I guess I can take it if you can. If I have changed the one I know about is that I want to do a little traveling and see things. My curiosity has been aroused. My self confidence is improving too. Oh if I can only get this training and make good. Bachman was to get 3 months. I imagine if I can hold it up I’ll get 2 years which ought to be the duration the way I look at it. Now you see why I feel the way I do. Yes I knew Walt Kuhn all through Jr. & Sr. high schools. He came from Russia. I think you’ll find these men who are killed in crashes are air corps men & not just anybody. Bachman went alone by train to Mich. You better hold that check unless there is a deadline for cashing because if I should leave here and go very far, it would take a long time for me to get it. I think those underwear shirts with the short sleeves are best. When it is really hot you can take off your outside shirt and still be respectable. About a 34 or 36 shirt fits me. I wear 30 army shorts but I don’t know if that would be big enough or not. This war has every one of us gloomy but it won’t last forever. Someday it will all be just an unpleasant memory.

I hope to be able to send you good news as much as you hope to get it. It seems I should hear something in the next week or two if I am ever going to. Of course you can’t rush the army.

Well this is a little more like a letter. I never know how much time I’ll have from day to day but I’ll do my best again next time whether its 1 page or 10 you know the spirit is there.


Love to you all



I sure hope I get some mail tomorrow.