California Here I Come

Monday, Feb. 1, 1943

After dinner


Dear folks,

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

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

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

He had a stack of orders like this.

He had a stack of orders like this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well good night for tonight


Lots of love to all,


Read the letter

Rumors and Partly Fried Eggs

Sunday, January 31, 1943, after dinner

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well this may be my last letter from here. I got to bed last night about 9:30. I was up at about 7:10 or so this morning. I dressed and washed a little and then lay down till breakfast was ready at about 8. Breakfast was wheaties, toast, an orange, and 2 partly fried eggs which I didn’t eat. I’m not going to eat half fried eggs as much as I hated to see them go to waste. After breakfast I came back and washed, shaved, cleaned my teeth and put on clean clothes. Then I did my washing – underwear, 2 pairs of socks, 2 towels, wash rag, and 4 hankies. That took me up to mail call and dinner. I got 2 letters – from you and gram written Thurs. We waited around a long time for dinner because we didn’t want to stand in line. I didn’t figure we’d get much to eat but I did O.K. – potatoes, green string beans, veg. salad, bread, butter, strawberry jam and I even managed to get a piece of pie – pineapple custard. Now I’m back from dinner and sitting here on the edge of my bunk. I have started to pack my things some because I have a feeling we will be leaving here tomorrow night or Tues. morning. We know absolutely nothing but we hear a lot. The shipping orders are upstairs now and the common rumor is that we’re on our way to California. Just to show you how much we don’t know we have also heard we’re going to Fort Sheridan, just out of Chicago, Fort Custer, Fort Brady, and someplace in New Jersey. It’s just a lot of wild guessing but we will go somewhere if we get out of quarantine which we probably will. I did want to send a box of stuff back home but I don’t want to do it up and then not be able to have time to send it so I guess I won’t. I’ve got to economize on space someplace but I don’t know how. I have a lot more stuff than I had when I came. You won’t get this until Wed. and I may be where I’m going by then. I don’t imagine I’ll be able to mail any letters or cards while on the train because they don’t let you off. I do have stamps though and a couple 1 cent cards if I should get an opportunity.

Last night I switched money belts and put yours on. I cut the belt and I hope I didn’t cut it too short. It has a much nicer snap than the one Aunt Marie sent.

So there are some more Arlingtons around. I wonder if that Adcock from McCoy is L.S. or regular. I didn’t notice that about Clerk L for awhile. I thought you just wanted me to see the dog. Boy that’s quite a mess at Custer over the theater tickets. You weren’t wrong when you said Roosevelt was in Africa. I think if you can find a map you’ll find French Morocco is in the northwest part of Africa. That Sweet girl must be Howard’s sister. Right?

So they finally started post marking our letters with dates. It’s about time. I can’t see where the date could betray any military secrets. I imagine you got my letter yesterday telling I got the box O.K. I am glad you have your car and trailer licenses. I was wondering if he would get the trailer license. I’m glad the hat came out so good. It sure was a mess when I packed it. Boy when I get home I’ll be able to take a choice of all my shirts, my suits and everything. They’ll all seem like new to me and yet like old friends too. Me and another kid were saying today we wish we could have a civilian suit and overcoat on for awhile again. It sure would seem nice. I sure want to get my watch fixed as soon as I can. I hope they can fix it while I wait as I am afraid to leave it anywhere. Boy you sure are using a lot of coal this winter. It seems a long time since I used to wham the tennis balls in that gym outfit. Is the brace on my racket and is it in a dry place? Boy the strings are just about wrecked now. If we get down south maybe I can get in a little tennis or ball of some kind. I was kind of excited when I wrote that Monday because at first they said we couldn’t send or get mail but that was changed later. The letters are the things we look forward to and without them the quarantine would have been pretty stiff. So far as I know and have seen no one is sleeping in tents as I said. If anyone is it is the regulars when on hikes but I doubt it. Some days we see as high as maybe 2000 men go by on hikes with snowshoes and skis but they always go back by at night. You’re right, it is a pretty decent place although I can think of another I’d rather be. I found those spoons O.K. and have been using them every day. I must have neglected to mention them. I might get a job here but I doubt it.  I haven’t tried for a job as instructor and anyhow I hear Andrews who had the in road is going to be shipped with the rest of us. I am beginning to believe what I’ve thought a long time. Most of the stuff they tell us is a lot of bunk. I have no intention to take a rest from letter writing to you folks. If you wait for yours just half as expectantly as I do then I have enough reason to keep writing every day. I bet you won’t find many soldiers who write home every day and get an answer every day. I know. Some of these fellows get a penny card from their mother once in awhile. Nearly everyone gets lots of mail but not much from their parents where it should come from and go to. Gramp might have been a 2 dollar a year man if I could have sent him a card although I don’t suppose I would have sent a dollar. As it is I didn’t send anything because I couldn’t get out to get a card. Maybe they’ll send me someplace where I can get a lot more pretty cards to send home. I never got anything at Custer because I never went to the P.X. I didn’t know they had such a variety of stuff there. I thought it was just a place to guzzle beer. I’ll look after that show going guy as best I can but I need you folks’ help once in a while.

Gram is right. We don’t get any layer cakes. Either pie or little cup cakes is all they give us for sweets. There are usually about 100 pies. Its funny nobody knows where Donald is. One kid got a letter from one of the fellows who left Lansing with us. He is near Cheyenne Wyoming. Boy did they spread us out. They’ll do some more of it here in the next 2 or 3 days. I hear there are 1300 going out before Tues.

It is a beautiful day here. It has snowed all morning and every little branch is piled high with snow and now the sun is shining. It is a warm day. Well I guess I’ll stop for awhile and keep a-going with my stuff. I have all my summer issue stuff in the bottom of my bag. You ought to see the gaw [?] shirts they gave me [sketch of very wide shirt]. Size 44 must have been a mistake because it should be 34. If I get where I need shirts and shorts I think I’ll have you send me a couple of mine because they gave me only 3 sets.

Back after supper: between 5:30 & 6 because Gene Autry is on. Well I spent the afternoon arranging some of my stuff in my grip. I managed to make a little more space. Then I read some on those papers and a little in the New Testament. I made sure of getting there in time for supper. I had potato salad, corn, vegetable salad, crushed pineapple, bread, butter, jam, and cocoa. I came back and read a little more before starting to write. I have read all of the papers but part of Sunday’s and nearly all of the new magazine.

The sun is still shining and the wind is blowing some. I hope it’s a nice day tomorrow because we will probably have to march with our rifles in the graduation. The shipping orders are here but I haven’t seen them.

I still haven’t written to Aunt Marie but I guess I will after I finish this one. I probably will be getting mail here which they will have to forward to me. I’m not going to write to everyone and tell them not to write. I’ll send my new address to everyone who has written to me when I get there.

The rest of the evening I’ll probably write and read some more. We can’t go to a show doggonit. I haven’t been to a show for a whole week. I haven’t spent much money in the last 2 weeks either. I throwed in a dime for FDR today. Tomorrow is payday $46.75. You bet I’d like to be a corporal at $66 a month. A 1st class private gets $54 and a staff sergeant $98.

Jack Benny is on now. It seems a little funny to hear everything an hour sooner. Are you going to set your clocks back an hour there? I see there is a lot about it in the papers lately. The farther west I go the more the time is set back.

There is a lot of stuff in this envelope. I don’t know if you want it all and I hope it isn’t too heavy to go through free.

Well back from listening to part of Benny’s program. I saw Dennis Day last Sunday in “Powers Girl.” He’s pretty good. I think I mentioned that I saw one Benny broadcast in a movie short since I’ve been here.

I wrote a card to Aunty telling her I got the book. I don’t think I’ll write to anyone else before I leave unless it appears I may be here for quite awhile. You keep writing though. I’ll get them eventually and its swell to know someone is writing every day.

Well I guess this is about all I can think of today. I took down all my washing but the underwear and socks. I notice a small whole [sic] near the seam in my underwear pants. It looks as if I’ll have to get a needle and thread unless I get where it’s warm. I’ve seen some of the fellows have been darning their socks. Not such hot jobs. I haven’t had any holes yet.

6:30 and the end for today. Tomorrow I may be writing on a train. Don’t think I’m sick if you don’t hear from me for a week or so. I hope the heads and ears are beginning to feel a lot better.


Lots of love to all,



You know we’ve all been thinking where we are going. The most important thing really is what we are going to do. I hope I get a good job.

Original Letter

The Philosopher

Saturday, January 30, 1943, after dinner

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well another week gone. That makes 4. Today is a sort of anniversary because it was one year ago tonight that I graduated. A lot of things have surely happened in that year – some good, others not so good and some no good at all. Some planned, others entirely unexpected. I guess the best thing to do is look ahead instead of backward thinking what might have been. There isn’t much difference really. The future sure doesn’t offer anything so far as one can see. I guess this is just one of those periods when a person exists waiting for things to turn so he can live again.

I was up with the lights this morning and dressed and made my bed before breakfast. Breakfast was wheaties, 2 pancakes and syrup, and an apple. I came back from breakfast and brushed up my shoes and put on my dress clothes for inspection. I put on a new pair of pants and shirt because the others need to be cleaned and pressed. I was going to take them to the cleaners last Mon. but I didn’t get the chance. Inspection was by our own sergeant. I guess the lieutenants are afraid of us. Since inspection we haven’t done anything. I read another paper from back to front and ate a couple tangerines during the morning. We had mail call before dinner today and I got your Wed. letter. We waited for the line to shorten and didn’t do so well at dinner. Our mess hall is for 3 barracks but they are trying to feed over 500 men. They send all the quarantined men to eat at our hall. I got potatoes, corn, bread, butter, jam, and blackberry pie. Now I’m back from dinner. I don’t know what we will do if anything this afternoon. We were to have practiced for graduation but I don’t know if we will. So far as we know yet the quarantine goes off Monday and I sure hope so. I’d rather be doing something than to sit around although they don’t let us sit around too much.

I think you were right. I believe I got my cold last Fri. when it was so warm. Anyway, its just about gone now and I don’t want another. The cough has practically disappeared.

I am afraid if I made a bed at home like we have to here, that it wouldn’t come up to any good housekeeping standards. We have to have them tight. The corners are folded like this [drawing] and tucked under. The sheet is on the bottom and during the day is covered by the comforter. The blanket is folded and laid over the pillow and tucked in. At night I put the blanket under the comforter. They have just collected our sheets & pillowcases so I guess we may get clean ones.

I sure hope that Roosevelt and Churchill accomplish something. I hadn’t known that Churchill was there too. What are the license tags like? I see an occasional Mich. license and it sure looks good. Makes one feel nearer home. I think you did a pretty good days work for a person who isn’t feeling entirely up to par. Dad must have a pretty bad sore on his lip this time. It sure was tough going outdoors for a few days there. You had worse weather by far than we did although it was colder here.

You know doggone well you can tell me what to do just as much as you ever did but if I were there you could have seen just how I felt and I know you wouldn’t have been nearly so much alarmed. It’s hard to tell how good or bad one is in a letter. Everything seems so final when it’s written. It may be changed too by the way the person reading it feels and the tone of voice he uses. I’m on my own only so much as I can’t get home. I was a whole lot more on my own when I was home working and going to school than I am now. I could come and go as I wanted then. Now I’m in jail only I don’t wear a striped suit and a number. I’m on my own all right.

I got the sinus pills and socks O.K. The socks are swell for night wear too.

The army is no place for a decent person. All I want to know is how do I get out without getting shot?

So Rickets have other corporal in the family. That remark I made about calling a rifle a gun wasn’t meant for you. I was trying to tell how they make us refer to it. I guess I must have used “you” instead of “one” when I wrote it.

Do what you think is right with the sugar book. I don’t know. What is this about 5 cans per person? Does that mean you folks could only have 20 cans all together? Or does it mean 5 cans of each article? That must be some system. No wonder your head aches. Who heard of 8 oz. cans? They are too small for practical use. A no. 2 has 19 or 20 oz. I believe. From what you’ve told me you still have some canned goods left.  Don’t let losing some points bother you. You never dashed out and bought a lot of stuff with intentions to hoard. You have things they can’t buy anymore anyhow so that maybe will be some consolation.

I hate to have you say all there is to live for is future sorrow. We never can tell what is ahead. Maybe we’ll all be surprised. I hope and pray so. I’ll be home just as doggone fast as I can get there. I’ve been thinking that if things get to looking up maybe they’ll start discharging L.S. men.

I don’t know what that Hodgman’s first name is. I saw in Sunday’s paper where Max McWhorter from Sunfield is a 2nd Lieut. in the signal corps. Pretty good.

I’ve quit hoping or wishing where I’ll go too. They’ll send me where they doggone please so I might as well get used to the idea. I remember about Noble Scott and the butter. That was some crack coming from Dad.

I’m glad to hear you aren’t going to worry but I’m not so sure I like the way you say it. There’s a hidden meaning. I think I’ve found it but I’m not quite sure.

I won’t write to Aunt Marie & tell her to come and see you. I won’t write and tell you you aren’t cheerful but you can take that ignore you stuff and throw it out the window. You know doggone well my letters are mainly for you. They are written to everybody but I’m talking to you always.

I wrote to Crawfords and she may get it today or Monday.

Boy some gang leaving there now. They must go to Custer right from Kalamazoo now. There were 19 in that gang that I knew or knew of. 3 of them – Bill Grost, Romayne Hicks and Merle Baren were going to State. They aren’t fooling anymore. Pretty soon there’ll be too many men in the army. Have you heard much about calling up the reserve corps yet? I think they’ll have them in inside of a month. I think Roosevelt is tired of planning so far in the future and wants to get this over as soon as possible. Maybe he sees an opening which we don’t know about.

Julius didn’t have much to say but he put it in a 10 inch envelope. He got my letter and my card O.K. but has been pretty busy. He had his first blood test Jan. 21. He may not go till July. He is an engineer with one year’s training. He wants to go to North Carolina if he has to go. He wrote this letter Jan. 22 and named off what he expected to get on his subjects but a note written on the edge of the page Jan. 27 said he would be getting mostly B’s. He had to stop because he had work to do. He says I am one of the very few to whom he shall write regularly. Evidently he doesn’t write to very many but I can see why he doesn’t have much time. He works in those theaters and was carrying Chem., Physics, Music, Phys. Ed., Mechanical Drawing, English, and Physics Lab. That’s a pretty stiff schedule.

Kircher’s writing looks like some little kid’s. He is home now but has had some trouble with an injured kidney as well as his leg. He says they don’t have guests down there at the Club where he cooked because there is no good cook to take his place. He is going to have a cast on below his knee pretty soon. He isn’t going to be able to get back in time for the next semester at college.

Frankie addressed me as “Dear Major.” He has evidently promoted me. He says they miss me at the store although I can’t see why they should. He is going to try to be a checker. Bea is still bossing them around and he likes the new manager. He’d like to borrow some of my brains to use on his final exams. They have rearranged the store again. He had to shovel off the front out there during that deep snow. That’s all he had to say.

Boy I sure wish we could have cameras so I could take first hand pictures of these hills and creeks and trees. Then you wouldn’t have to look at just post cards. You’d have real pictures. They have banned them from all camps so it’s out I guess. We couldn’t see much last night on the hike. I wish we had taken it in the daytime. Everything up here is pretty and yet I don’t appreciate it like I do northwestern Mich. Right now I can see that curve in the road just out of Petoskey where we ate our dinner that 3rd day on our trip on our way to Charlevoix. It doesn’t seem as if it can ever be warm like that again. Everything up there seemed so friendly to us. We just sort of belonged. I could take you to the places where we ate every meal on the whole trip. I remember every one. And the day we picked up rubber “to help.” I’m sure helping now. For all the good I’m doing them I might better be right back where I was. But I guess we can’t argue with the “Great White Father.”

Well I’ve said enough for now. See you after supper.

Back after supper. We (I) had potatoes, spinach, dill pickle and onion salad, bread, butter, and fruit salad. Not so bad. I got over early this time. We got clean sheets and pillowcases tonight for a change. I have read through another Journal too. Boy you sure had snow. Well there’s nothing to do but read tonight. Oh I could wash out my socks and stuff but I’ll do that tomorrow. I’ll have to write to the fellows and to Aunty too I suppose. I haven’t read any of the book yet but it looks pretty good.

I said yesterday I had a surplus of fruit but it’s going down now. I’m eating it plenty. I’ve eaten 2 candy bars today so far too.

Well I guess I’ve about run down for today. I sure wish I could be with you folks tonight. I’d like to sit in a real chair and sleep on a real mattress. (I just heard that song again. It must be getting popular.) Then sleep till about 9:30 or 10 tomorrow and get my breakfast without waiting in line. Then a whole day without doing any washing. Just sitting, listening to the radio, talking, eating, and all of us enjoying ourselves together the way it should be. But I guess I can’t make it so. I better pull myself out of this morbid mood.

I hope you folks are feeling better than you have been lately. Keep writing.


Lots of love to everyone


Read the letter



Thinking Too Fast For My Pen

Wednesday, January 27, 1943 2:00p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well I suppose you’ve all been pretty worried since my last letter or am I too self-confident. Well take it easy. Things don’t look so bad as they might.

After I finished writing last night I shaved and washed off some of the dirt and then read a story in the magazine. I got to bed at about 9:15.

I slept till 6:15 this morning. Nothing to hurry for. I got dressed & made my bed in time for 7 o’clock breakfast. I won’t be able to give you the time on things much longer because my watch will soon run down and I can’t wind it. There’s no way I can get it fixed without going to town, which I can’t, and then maybe I’d have to leave it which I won’t. I’ll keep it on my arm where I know where it is. Have you got my other watch yet? Breakfast was spuds, toast, oatmeal, and grapefruit. After breakfast we loafed awhile and then did some rifle drill in the barracks. Boy your shoulders take a beating. Then we mussed up all the bunks and carried them outdoors to air out. After awhile we went out to the drill field and marched some when the others had finished. Nobody wants to associate with us. We came back and took it easy till dinner. I read a couple stories. Even a love story helps pass the time away. Dinner was terrible. We waited too long. I got mashed potatoes, gravy, head lettuce salad, bread & butter. The pumpkin pie was all gone. I topped it off with one of my apples. I didn’t get any mail today and probably won’t because I got your Sunday letter yesterday. (Normally I would have gotten Sat’s. but you didn’t write one you said.) Monday’s letter will probably get here tomorrow although it might get here by tonight. We haven’t done anything since dinner. I read another story and just sat around before I started to write.

There isn’t much to write because we can’t do much. They just posted the insured mail list and my package is here but I don’t know when I’ll get it. Maybe I can get out tonight.

Boy I almost wrecked my pen last night after messing up my watch so I can’t wind it. I took it out of my pocket and the cap was unscrewed enough so that the pen part dropped and stuck in the floor. I was lucky though because it fell straight. I pulled it out and as you can see it works O.K. I finally cleaned it out today with water like you did. I was afraid at first that it would spoil it but it took off all that black sludge and I think it will stay off now because I am using Quink too. Mine is permanent black.

Well another special detail is going over to the P.X. to get stuff. Some fellows think they are getting gypped because they won’t bother to buy them candy so now they buy that too for them. I still have 4 bars left and whatever is in this new package. You see I had one Denver Sand. and you sent me 4 bars. I ate dates and cookies and stuff first and ate my first candy bar last night. I sent for a bottle of Listerine last night. I didn’t need it but I didn’t know how long we might be here or if we could continue to get things.

The situation seems to be this. They have us on the spot and are watching us pretty close. If we keep on as we have, airing our bedding and everything, we may be out in 5 days and at the head of the parade next Monday. But if anybody else comes down we may be here 10, 15, or even 30 days.

I just made out a slip for the mail orderly to get my insured mail for me. I just noticed that slip on the board was dated the 26th. So my box must have gotten here yesterday. Boy the deliveries must have been speeded up or maybe the typist made a mistake. Anyway we didn’t get a new list yesterday so this is probably yesterday’s list. I hope you can follow all of this. I guess I’m thinking too fast for my pen but things have all been a little confusing lately. My cold is showing improvement. My cough is gone a lot but I’ve got a wonderful baritone.

Yesterday morning it was 28 below but it has warmed up a lot and is nice out today. The sun is shining as usual. It really is a nice place but I’d be afraid to stay here now. We’ve got a couple more fellows trying to get to be corporals. I guess the Russian is about ready to quit. He’s not getting anywhere. I don’t think any of them will ever get very far here. If I can’t get out of this army, I still have hopes of getting farther than corporal. I am looking for a set of bars but don’t tell anybody. They are pretty hard to get I guess in limited service. It depends a lot on what kind of an outfit you get into. Probably I’ll always be a buck private. Several hundred men are just coming in with their skis. They went out this morning and must have been doing a lot of skiing.

Well we just brought our bunks in and made them. They have been out in the sun and air all day. Yesterday we hung the bedding out the window.

Well this is pretty much of a hit and miss letter. There isn’t much I can say now because there’s nothing doing and as yet I haven’t any letter to answer.

How do you like this paper. It’s from a tablet and it’s the only kind of tablet they had Sunday night. It cost me 20 cents for 50 sheets but I’m glad I got it. There was a piece of cardboard with lines with it to keep your writing in a straight line. I tried it but it kept slipping and I’d go off at an angle so I quit using it. I write quite straight. So do you I notice. Some of the fellows have about an inch left on one side of the page when they get to the bottom. You know [picture of letter with crooked lines].


“I write quite straight.”

6:40 – Well everything seems a lot nicer. I got your box and attached letter and letters from Eva, Mrs. C. and Hugh M. I read the letters before supper and then came back and opened the box. Supper was potatoes, beets, bread, butter and peach pudding.  Boy everything in the box is swell. Albatum & hand cream. Money belt & 75 cents. That money belt is similar to my first one but a little nicer I believe. That brittle is precious. I think there were 5 packs of gum and I didn’t count all the candy bars. Boy you sure must have raided somebody or everybody. The cookies are all O.K. & the Cracker Jack and fruit. Boy I’ve got plenty of fruit and I’ll have to start eating it faster than I have been. You know how much I appreciate everything so thanks. Boy you sure do a wonderful job of packing everything. I gave some paper and some of the string to that kid from Port Huron. He broke his glasses and wanted to do them up to send them home.

I got a letter from Mrs. C. saying she received my letter. I don’t remember now when I sent it. She complimented me for the 3rd or 4th time on my letter writing and mentioned the star in your window. She mentioned the cold & snow there & that Ray had to work Sunday. She thinks I am doing fine to do my washing and everything. That’s all. Off the record, her letters don’t say much but I know she is interested or she wouldn’t write. I’ll try to answer and acknowledge the money belt sometime tomorrow.

Eva wrote a short letter and sent a couple post cards for me to write back. She thought I might be surprised to hear from her but she was helping Gramp out because it is so hard for him to write. She didn’t have too much to say. They looked for me before I left. The boys up there are pretty well cleaned out she says. She says all she thinks and talks about is the boys in the service (?) They were glad to get my letter because they both wondered where I was. Gramp is feeling pretty good and wishes he could go and help out. He has been pretty busy because he was the only mechanic in town till Jan. 1. Now there is a younger fellow in the oil station.

She said she didn’t know whether I cared to hear about it but Charles went to Custer last Mon. (This letter was written Sun. so that would be the 18th.) They haven’t heard from him yet but he is in limited service. (He’s probably been on convoy and couldn’t write.) He may be here by now because that’s where he’ll go. At the rate we’re going he may graduate before I do. She wants me to write as often as I can and if there is anything they could send me to make life more cheery, let them know. All in all it was a pretty fair letter. I sure would have felt gypped if they hadn’t got Charles if you know what I mean. By the way we have heard here that there will be no more drafting of limited service after Feb. 1.  Do you know anything about this. Maybe we’ll get out like the 38 yr. olds someday. The papers today say victory over Hitler in ’43 predicted by Roosevelt himself in Africa. Maybe things look pretty good to him.

Hugh’s letter was written before he got mine. He wrote Sunday & I wrote Sat. He got my address from his folks. He is in a truck driving regiment and they drive in convoy but he has to learn to drill and march also. I remember he wanted to be a truck driver so I hope he’s happy. He has been home once and seen Rusty his girl friend, twice. He couldn’t go any place on the weekend when he wrote because his barracks was quarantined with spinal meningitis. Something tells me maybe this started at Custer. This kid that got sick up here came from Custer and they say he was sick down there and sick when he came here. That sure is a coincidence though that Hugh & I should find ourselves in the same situation. We sure have done a lot of things together and come together in strange situations. The fellow who got it down there was in the hospital a week before they were quarantined. He doesn’t expect it to last over 4 days (the optimist), then maybe he can get a pass home. He says it’s too bad I got so far away from home and he guesses he is very lucky. He expects they will pull out soon and wants me to write the first chance I get.

Now your second Sunday letter. I bet dad found that clipping in my desk when he cleaned. I had that when I was in World Lit. class when we studied Machiavelli. I just opened a box of Cracker Jack but I opened the wrong end so I’ll have to eat to the prize. The strawberry jam is good for what I expected of canned jam. It is Jack Frost brand and I never heard of it before. We have gallon cans of Musselmann’s applesauce just like we used to sell at the store. It is a good policy to insure a package containing as much as yours although I have no doubts that they would come through O.K. You should see some of the messy torn packages some fellows get. They look as if someone was in too big a hurry to do a good job. A box like mine is worth going after but the mail man had to carry this one for me. I found the two spoons O.K. and haven’t used that big one since. Take the $5.50 for that watch from you know where. That’s too much for you with all your other bills and expenses. After I ever get straightened away I’ll try to get this one fixed. I may try to go to town Sat. night if I can get out of quarantine. Maybe I can get it fixed there. Crist appeared to me to be a sort of easy going guy and I thought he was pretty easy to get along with. Mrs. C. has answered every letter and card so far as I can remember. Things have improved however since I wrote last Wed. I have heard twice from Mrs. C. & from Sunfield and once from Marie, Walt, Bernie, Hugh and Elmo. We still haven’t unmailed too much because those fellows are quarantined with us. They sneaked out and found their names on the shipping order but they were sent back and not allowed to go. You know the first time I’ve even thought of birds is when you mentioned it and for the life of me I can’t remember seeing a single bird but there must be some somewhere. I’ll look tomorrow. So the old hat is getting blocked. I can write on any kind of stationery. This isn’t so hot because it has to be folded over to get it into my envelopes and it’s pretty bulgy. Maybe I can fold it the other way. I evidently have been wearing my other money belt wrong. It has 2 compartments but only one zipper and the belt is not so nice. I’ve been wearing it in front like a nail apron though. I usually have my head pretty well covered up. I just got to the bottom of that Cracker Jack and guess what — a wooden rolling pin. Yes I know who you mean by the fellow from Sunoco and I’d probably know him if I saw him but I can’t think what he looks like. I saw a picture of those new stamps in a newsreel. I don’t see why I should take commando training. That’s for the toughest of soldiers not puny L.S. men. I’ll use the hand cream but I don’t intend to do much toilet cleaning.

To dad’s letter – boy you must have scoured around to get all that candy and gum with those limits on. Boy you sure are having your troubles. The garbage dep’t must be going to the dogs. I don’t need any money and won’t if I get paid. If I don’t get paid Saturday you’ll get an S.O.S. I have enough to last another 2 weeks maybe. I haven’t been on any main highways to see if there are roadside tables but I doubt it. They are a luxury of Mich. There are some beautiful spots on the roads I’ve been on but they are all in or near camp. Take it easy on cleaning and pressing bills. There is no particular hurry and you owe a lot of bills for Feb. I hear. I got a kick out of how you said you might go out to supper at the Old’s Hotel & maybe not. I imagine that you are probably just about getting home now while I’m writing. I hope you went and enjoyed yourself.

Well that just about covers the day’s activities and correspondence and I’m going to have to quit or I won’t be able to get this all in the envelope if I’m not careful.

If everything goes favorably and the big boys are satisfied with our sanitary efforts and nobody comes down sick, we’ll be out of here O.K. But if somebody gets it they say we may be here 30 days. I’m not afraid for myself but I sure hope & pray no one else gets it.

One fellow went to the hospital tonight but the Dr. examined him yesterday and I’m sure it’s just a cold. Nearly everybody has accused him of being a “goldbrick” – lazy. I don’t think so. He’s from Kentucky, 6 miles from Tenn. and he’s homesick as the dickens. He’s had a cold ever since he’s been here but he babies himself. He’ll be up maybe a day or two or only a few hours and he’s back in bed. Now he’s got a couple bad teeth to go with his cold and he’s gone to the hospital. I don’t think there’s anything serious wrong. I rather like him myself but he is a baby. He hasn’t any stick to it spirit. Who am I to talk?

Well this is it for tonight so stick with me in all ways and keep a-writin’. I’ll write as long as they’ll let me.


Lots of love to every last one


Original Letter

Until Further Orders

Tuesday, January 26, 1943, about 11a.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well I didn’t mean to scare you by the way I cut off yesterday but at first report we weren’t going to be allowed to get or send any mail and I wanted you to know so you wouldn’t wonder why I wasn’t writing. I finished the letter in a hurry and beat it out and mailed it before anything became official.

As I remember, I stopped where I said I asked the corporal if I could stay in the barracks during graduation. He said “O.K. You be barracks guard,” whatever that is; so I went back downstairs and began to write. But for some reason our company never went out for the graduation. They sat here and watched the other companies go out and then come back. Finally our co. comm., who had been a color guard came in and started blowing off about our being in 10 day confinement. We all thought it was punishment for not going out until he told us that he had heard we were going to be confined because of that kid who had contracted a contagious disease. He told us if we wanted anything from the P.X. we better get it. Well I finished my letter & got it out and let it go at that. A lot of fellows got over to the P.X. and got cigarettes and magazines and stuff. There had been no official order so the sergeant gave passes to 3 or 4 to go to town to get the radio fixed and I hear they brought back 41 pints. We had supper at the usual time. Bread, butter, potatoes & peas was what I had. I guess I was a little excited to eat too much. After supper we loafed around the barracks and I read that Radio Guide practically from cover to cover. Early in the evening they brought us 2 red flags to take with us when we went out. Later in the evening the sgt. got us all together and said we were all confined to barracks till further orders. So that was that officially.

I got to bed at about 9 o’clock I guess and was up at 6 this morning. We had breakfast at 7:00. Grapenuts flakes, toast, potatoes & grapefruit. After breakfast they started to scrub the barracks. We have to scrub every day because we are subject to medical & other inspections at any time during quarantine. Today we have Keep Out signs on both barracks.

Later in the morning we marched over to get our rifles but they sent us back and wouldn’t let us in the buildings. Now though they just brought the rifles over to us. That looks encouraging. You see we were to graduate next Monday and maybe we will after all. I sure hope so. I can’t get out of here too fast. I wouldn’t stay up here for $150 a month if I could help it.

The sgt. says he will do all he can to get us graduated and also to get our pay Saturday. He just announced that until further notice we can send and receive mail. If you sent a package yesterday insured I’m afraid I can’t get it because I’d have to go to the post office and sign for it. I hope there’s nothing in it that will spoil. Maybe they’ll arrange something though. They have a special detail coming over tonight to get us anything we need or want from the P.X. It all looks a lot better than it did last night. I sure hope nobody else gets sick so we can get out of here as soon as possible. You see they have said “until further orders” about everything so it may not be 10 days. Well I’ll stop now for dinner. They may stop mail anytime so if you don’t hear from me you’ll know why. See you later. 11:20

Back at 5:40. Dinner wasn’t so hot. I had corn fixed with bread, veg. salad, bread, butter and a cupcake. I had a meat mixture too but I was afraid of it so I didn’t eat any. After dinner we came back but I didn’t get any mail at noon. We spent nearly all afternoon, nearly 2 ½ hours, drilling with our rifles. We quit about 3:45.

Now comes the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do in my life. This hurts me more than it does you and yet I know I’ve got to tell you. So here goes. We have been exposed to a case of spinal meningitis. Now don’t get panicky because I know that just as sure as the sun rises in the east that I won’t get it. For the first real time in my life I’ve done some praying and I mean praying. And with you behind me I know I’ll be all right. You see this fellow got sick while most of us were gone on that hike. They took him upstairs so I was never around him, and even before I was seldom close to him because I didn’t know him. His name was Joe Jerome. He was about as unhealthy a looking person as you could find. His cheek bones stuck out and he only weighed 101 pounds.

Well Sunday we heard he had a contagious disease, somebody said scarlet fever. Then last night they told us the real facts. They’re not fooling with this thing though. We have to air our bedding and scrub this place every day. They open the windows at night to make sure of fresh air. Last night it froze water in here, but I slept plenty warm. Then this afternoon they gave us a medical inspection. I swear the army is making a sissy out of me. The doctor was some kind of a foreigner but he explained to us how this mengancoccus or something works. He ways it is usually started by a carrier who isn’t sick himself. He said that probably all of us, including himself, had the germ in our throats but it probably wouldn’t take hold unless there was a susceptible spot. He mentioned all the symptoms – throbbing in the head, inability to bend the neck, etc. He also said that persons contracting the common form as a rule come through O.K. All the while he was talking I was standing there and I guess little pangs of fear were running through my mind. I’ve had a cough and my throat is pretty irritated. Besides I’ve had a head and neck ache. Now I’ve blamed these on mucous in my head and on tossing that rifle around on my shoulders. Well all of a sudden I began to get that feeling I had over at the Voc. School after my blood test. I made up my mind I wasn’t going to faint and I didn’t but everything seemed to go black. When the Dr. came along with his light to look in my throat he could tell right away that something was wrong. So they herded me into a room and laid me down and as soon as I lay down I was O.K. Boy was I mad with myself. The Dr. asked a lot of questions. I told him I’d had a cold. (He had one too.) Boy he checked me thoroughly. He twisted my head around from side to side to see if it hurt. My neck was lame but thank God it didn’t hurt. Then he looked at my throat from every angle, felt my back over, took my pulse and felt for a fever. He told me to take it easy for awhile and then looked at another fellow. I went downstairs and laid down till supper and before the Dr. left he came and looked at me again & told me I’d be all right. I can’t see why I should be like that. I used to be able to stand most anything. It made me feel kind of cheap and I said so to a couple of the fellows and they told me I was crazy to feel that way. They said it wasn’t anything I could help.

Well I suppose that by the time you have gotten this far you are pretty excited but don’t get panicky or jump to conclusions. It wasn’t because I was awfully sick or hadn’t had enough to eat. I can just hear you saying one or the other. No kidding though this is doggone serious stuff, but if you folks pray with me and for me I know I’ll miss it. I pray nobody else contracts it. They’re talking now about this confinement lasting 30 days and every new case means that much longer. I don’t want to be here when spring comes. There have been thousands of colds here all winter and when spring comes and all these germs thaw out I’d be afraid to stay here. And to think that I might have left next Tues. or Wed. Now I may be here till March. I’d almost be tempted to take myself a vacation but I know I couldn’t get away with it. Well enough of the morbid. I’m afraid that you’ll probably worry yourself sick but let’s put it into the background and try to look at more cheerful things. Maybe you better burn these letters and gargle good after you read it.  If I sent something home to you I’d never get over it.

Even though you didn’t write Sat., I didn’t go a day without mail. Yesterday I got Fri. letter and this afternoon I got Sun. postmarked Mon. at 1:30p.m. That’s pretty good service. I hope it keeps up. After I read your letter I went to supper. Potatoes, cooked carrots, bread, butter & peaches. Then I came back and went to work on this letter.

Ans. to your Sun. letter –

I’ll read the papers good if I can get them because there isn’t much else to do. Your letter sure is an improvement over the last one and I hate to spoil that cheerful mood. That sounds like a swell box but I don’t know how I’m going to get it. Maybe they’ll bring it over to the barracks but I doubt it. I imagine it’s insured and we have to sign for them at the P.O. but we’re not supposed to go out. I’d hate to get caught outside of the barracks. I couldn’t tell for sure who it was that died. Was it Alexander Woolcot? I understand perfectly about those bills. I don’t expect you to deprive yourselves for me. Just keep writing. You’ve overdone yourself in these boxes already. Well I have one money belt so now I’ll have 2 but I’ve a hunch yours is nicer. It was swell of them to do it but I don’t know how to thank them before I get the box. Maybe you better explain the situation to her and tell her a million thanks for me.

This kid is from Port Huron really and not Cheboygan. That is a swell picture of Red. Wonderful Smith is a colored boy. Did you see Eddie Green’s picture in one of those magazines you sent? Yes, green beans are green string beans. It’s quicker to write and sounds ritzier don’t you think? They are trying to break that Russian in as an instructor now but he doesn’t even know the commands. I could handle the job but I wouldn’t take it. I can make a lot of mistakes if I have to, if you know what I mean. Boy pop bit off quite a job with that desk. Thanks a lot. H.A.M. that’s pretty good and a good description of Hugh too. I guess I’m not going to be able to send a card to Gramp after all. I believe daylight is lasting longer at night but you don’t notice it much in the mornings. The moon is usually shining real bright when we go to breakfast. Remember we’re an hour later here than you and that reminds me of something. I finally did lose the knob for my watch. I missed it after this afternoon’s excitement. I told the corporal about losing it and he said he was having his fixed for the same reason. Those wool gloves are warm but nothing can keep you completely warm if it gets cold enough. I think those books will stand up pretty well on my bookcase. I’ve got about 2 ½ to read yet. I don’t think I’d care too much for skiing. I’d rather skate. I can always laugh regardless of temperature or anything else. I don’t think I’ll over grow. My shoes could stand it but my pants and blouse couldn’t. The buttons on my blouse are strained now. We aren’t supposed to wear civilian clothes but I think I’d be tempted to try it in private. The corporal said he put his civilian suit on when he went home while his mother pressed his military outfits. I haven’t any sewing equipment. I don’t have that report card with me and I couldn’t tell you where to look for it. It seems like it should be in the envelope along with the other letters and stuff. So pop got the wrong kind of cheese. I guess there isn’t much choice anymore is there? Of course cleaning the desk is all right with me. I get a lot of enjoyment out of grabbing an apple or cookie once in awhile. Those expensive dates were tops and so was everything. I still have a few cookies and some candy and fruit.

Well that’s that for today. I guess I’ve said enough for today. Its 7:10 now and I have to shave yet. For heaven’s sake don’t get panicky about what I’ve said. I came to the conclusion you might better hear the truth from me than an exaggeration from someone else. Just take it easy and keep writing. I don’t know how long they’d let us write so if you don’t hear from me don’t suspect the worst. Just be calm and pray along with me and we’ll win.

Please don’t let yourself go and worry yourself into a sick headache. My cold is getting better and the Dr. said I’d be O.K.


Love to all from



Keep writing

Read the letter – New paper

White Livered Meat and Hangovers

Sunday, January 24, 1943  1:10p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear Folks,

Well here is another Sunday and by latest report we graduate a week from tomorrow. It is a fairly warm day and the sun is shining now. When I went to breakfast it was still misting a little and I wish you could have seen all the evergreens decorated with frost and ice. It was awfully pretty.

Last night after I finished your letter and the others I mentioned in that letter. I wrote short ones to Hugh and to Bernice. I guess that catches me up on my correspondence pretty well. I had thought about going to the last show last night but I didn’t know what was on so I cleaned my teeth and took a shower instead and got to bed about 9:30. From what I hear, I didn’t miss anything because everybody says the show was no good. The one tonight & tomorrow night is supposed to be good and I want to see it. It’s “Powers Girl” with Benny Goodman’s orchestra.

I made sure of breakfast this morning. I got up at 7:00 and dressed and gargled and got ready and then grabbed a cat nap till breakfast at 7:45. Breakfast was pretty good. Fried egg, toast, post toasties, and grapefruit. After breakfast I came back and did my washing. This week I had 2 prs. of wool socks, 2 piece underwear, 2 bath towels, 2 wash rags, and 4 hankies. They are hanging up now but aren’t drying very fast, especially the wool stuff and the big white bath towel. When I finished I got out my jack knife and new finger nail file and gave myself a manicure. Boy that file really is swell but I’ll bet it cost you plenty. Then I brushed up my shoes a little bit to bring back the shine. When I wear my overshoes over the shoes, the shine is dulled, but a little brushing & buffing brings it back. I’ve been wearing my shoes in the barracks today and boy do my feet feel light. When I put my overshoes on to go to meals, there is about 1½  inches of room in the end, 9½ oxford, 12 overshoe. I’ve got a swell set for shining shoes except for a buffing rag and my oxfords really shine. When I finished my shoes, I straightened out my stuff a little. I’ve got some stuff I want to send home, books I’ve read, pennant, and some of the stuff they gave us at the depot that I don’t need. I looked through that Bible a little today, too. Then when I had everything sorted out, I got out that Radio magazine and read till dinner time.

I ate at about 12:00. I had mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, bread, butter, p’nut butter & pie. I passed up the meat because it was white-livered and I was afraid it was pork. They had another mess of stuff I didn’t like the looks of either so I didn’t take that. Boy was that pie swell. It was a soft pie and looked like custard but was full of puree of crushed pineapple. Oh boy! The only trouble is they don’t give seconds on pie.

After dinner I came back to mail call. I kept my average and got 2 letters, one from you written Thurs. and one from Elmo written the same day. Now I am writing to you and I’ll also write to him this afternoon. It seems as if last week my letters got ahead of me and it took all yesterday evening to catch up. Last Thurs. was my best day. I got 6 letters. I have had 13 in 4 days.

Boy I seem to have developed a touch of this Camp McCoy “malaria.” I’ve never had a real cold but I got that roughness in my throat and now I’ve got a pretty good cough. My throat isn’t really sore, my glands aren’t swollen, but when I cough it just about takes the lining out of my throat. I guess you know how that feels. Every morning and night and in between I gargle and my sinus pills are ¾’s gone. I have a cough drop in my mouth most of the time and I take the cough syrup so I guess I’ll just have to let it wear itself out. Every night I grease my throat with Vicks as a preventative measure and put some in my nose. You can’t say I’ve neglected myself. I don’t think there are a half dozen fellows in the barracks who haven’t had the same thing and I remember the fellow in Kalamazoo who said he had C. McCoy malaria. Now don’t get excited because I’m not sick at all and I’m doing as well for myself as I would at home and I get to bed early and get my sleep. I don’t think I’ve ever been up after 10. My Listerine is better to gargle with than the salt they give you at the dispensary. Don’t worry for gosh sakes because I know you want to know how I am and I’m trying to tell you without exaggerating or minimizing. Probably by the time you get this letter, I’ll be over it. And if you don’t hear from me for a day or so or even longer don’t suspect I’m sick because I may be on my way. 4 men from my company were shipped yesterday. If I have to be a long way from home, I hope it is in a healthful climate. Some fellows think this is better than Mich. but I don’t. It’s too changeable. 33 below Wed. and melting ice (above 32 above) on Friday. Well, well I just got another letter. This one is from Lenna. A lot of our mail was taken to Co. 49 by mistake and they just brought it in so time out while I read it. 2:00p.m. I can’t understand it. You wrote yours Thurs. & it was postmarked Fri. at 11:30a.m. Gram’s written Wed. was p.marked yesterday at 9:30a.m. – pretty speedy.

2:15. I finished reading gram’s swell letter but I still can’t figure out how her letter finished on Fri. & postmarked yesterday morning could get here today. I don’t expect Friday’s letters till tomorrow. You should get Thurs. & Fri. letters tomorrow. Boy if we could pick up a day like that right along, answers would be 2 days sooner.

I’ll try to write to Gram and Dad soon but you know by now that my letters are for everybody and just keep writing.

I just heard that one of the fellows in our barracks has got scarlet fever so I wouldn’t be surprised if they put us in quarantine. Personally I think they should because a disease like that could spread through this whole camp. Thank goodness I’ve had it. We all signed our names to a greeting to him. I don’t know him personally and although he is in the hospital I hadn’t even missed him.

Enough dismal news for now. Boy some of the fellows were happy enough last night if you know what I mean. This morning all they had were headaches and plenty of empty bottles. Boy if we get paid next Sat. it’s really going to flow. I hope they hold our pay back till Mon. I still have plenty of money.

Elmo was sorry not to have written for 12 days in answer to my letter but he has been pretty busy working and shoveling snow. The snow in Michigan must be awful. He mentioned his trip to Lansing and thinks that 4:00 is too early to get up. You see I wrote and told him about K.P. at Custer. He mentioned reading some of my letters to you and couldn’t see how I could write so much every day. He liked my bookcase too. He is very cheerful about world conditions. He says he is glad I like the service although I can’t remember what I said that gave him that idea. He ways he hasn’t a single 5 cents worth of candy or gum in his usually full show case. He is doing his part by buying bonds, he says. That about summarizes his letter.

Now to answer yours. So pop belongs to the 4-14 now. Good for him. I sure would like to be able to paddle home every once in awhile. I ate the fried corn meal but I don’t think it was very good. It was too flat. I sure would like a picture of you and dad.

The most important people...

The most important people…

The most important people on my mailing list are my folks, then my friends and finally interested strangers. I don’t think that John Wayne is the same one you are thinking of. You mean the one in Big Sister don’t you, and that was his character name. I guess he only frosted one ear because his other was covered by his cap or collar. Also the wind on one side will make only one ear cold sometimes. You’re doggone right I want to be a corporal or anything else I can but I want to be a real one and not an acting one. You see an acting corporal gets $50, a real corporal gets $66 and wears [2 stripes] on his sleeve, a sgt. [3 stripes] gets $78. If Fred is 1st class seaman he corresponds to a corporal and gets $66. We were supposed to learn those orders because they are what we are supposed to do while on guard duty. If we are on guard an officer might come along & ask for no. 1 or no. 6 and if we didn’t know it we would be jerked off guard duty and probably get K.P. This stuff is a cinch after what I’ve studied & learned. For pete’s sake if you want jello & can get it, eat it. I eat it every chance I can get. I have had potatoes in skin or baked 3 or 4 times. I doubt if the fellows who feed us know me from the other 250 or so. So you cut up the gray pants. Those were the ones Nate wore in the Senior-B play, weren’t they? We won’t do any shooting unless it gets a lot warmer. We can’t shoot a lot of those rifles anyhow. Boy there’s one thing sure, never call it a gun in the army. It’s either a “rifle” or a “piece.” I stood back and watched the others fool around with the rifle learning the manual of arms and then when I got the rifle I already had learned it from watching and only had to practice a few minutes. None of the classes go for 13 weeks. Only those men who are put in 1-A. These are the ones with simple defects such as varicose veins, piles, and ruptures. Men with bad eyes are not re-classified. Ask all the questions you want and I’ll do my best to answer. Nobody is as interested in me as you. We both know that. I liked their hamburger loaf but there wasn’t any heart and it didn’t have that cooked through taste of yours. This is the first time I thought you thought I was easy to cook for, what with that daily discussion “What’ll we have for supper.” Heh! Heh! M.P. means military police & that’s one thing I don’t want to be. He’s the soldier’s best friend and yet they all hate him. I sure would like an apple pie but I don’t know how it would get through. That would be hard to keep hidden. You see I am pretty tight. I gave out a couple pieces of candy and 2 or 3 flat cookies but no fruit. One kid, the one I gave the cig. got some chocolate chip cookies and gave me one today and the kid from Saranac has been passing out candy. His girl friend sent him 2 lbs. He’s talking about getting married and he is barely 19.

(The sergeant just came down at 3:15 with his underwear on only. He looks like he had a big night. One of the drunks brought in a swell little dog last night.)

What would I do with my sugar book? I imagine I could get shoe strings at the P.X. if I needed them. I told Chris who I was and he knew dad. Said he had seen him a couple weeks before, I think it was. He was an easy guy to work for. So far I haven’t gotten any compliments for anything. Boy it must be really hard on Dad to try and work in that snow and cold. Although I had thought my feet were frosted, they aren’t swollen and don’t itch and burn. Don’t let a telegram scare you. That way you would know my whereabouts a lot sooner. Sure I can have an army scarf or a sweater too. I don’t have to buy them myself although they have them at the P.X. Just so they are the right color. The cough syrup was O.K. and I’ve taken quite a bit of it. There are no registers to stand by. The hot air comes from 3 registers in a square hot air pipe overhead. It isn’t any warmer than at home. I won’t coax anyone to write and it doesn’t look as if I’ll need to. I don’t get the most mail but I’m far from the least. They were kidding a couple of fellows about writing to each other so they could get mail. Nearly everybody gets at least one letter a day. I peeked over one fellow’s shoulder & his letter was postmarked Lyons. His name is Hodgman & he sleeps upstairs. There is another fellow here from Mulliken but I don’t know his name. I haven’t been weighed yet. Is Fred married or did she marry somebody else?

Well that covers your letter.

Gram’s letter – I don’t know of any camp closer than Custer & I’ll settle for that. Has Ricket’s son in law got any chevrons on his sleeves?

drawing of Chevrons

drawing of Chevrons

I ate some of the fish and it was pretty good. I don’t mind fish as long as it doesn’t taste like the fish mkt. smells. When it leaves that kind of a taste in my mouth I don’t want any. Those cans in the picture are for all kinds of trash. For a barracks they are for paper, apple cores and any other rubbish the men might have. At the mess halls they are used for garbage, paper, ashes, etc. I don’t think I’d care for any cream out of them. This is no little town. 65,000 people is a good sized city. This camp stretches for several miles. We don’t have nearly so much snow as you must have. We don’t have any bugler here. I heard from Aunty Thurs. & from Elmo today. I like to get these “books” from people.

Well that brings me up to the present all around I guess. I have gotten a total of 28 letters, half of them in the last 4 days. I have 2 more sheets of stationery left so I’ll have to get some more at the P.X. I got this last Tues. I think I’ll just buy a tablet this time because I am accumulating a lot of envelopes. Boy Sundays seem to go fast here it is 4:00 already and in an hour supper will be ready. It seems like about all we look forward to is meals, mail call, and evenings. I just took down part of my washing but the big towel and wool stuff don’t dry very fast. There’s nothing much I can say right now so I’ll stop till after supper. 4:25p.m.

Back at 5:03. They surprised us and gave us an early supper tonight. Potato salad, tomatoes cooked with bread, cabbage salad, dill pickles, bread, butter, & fruit salad. Pretty good except for the spud salad. Our only complaint is that they dump everything together on your plate. I forgot to mention we had cocoa to drink too.

Well I haven’t got much more to say today. I think I’ll write a short letter to Elmo and then around 6:15 go over to the P.X. after a tablet and go on to the show. When I get home I’ll shave and probably get to bed at about 9:45. We get rifles tomorrow and I am looking forward to sore shoulders. They (the rifles) have to be cleaned every night too. Something else to fool with. One fellow made the remark today that we’ll just nicely get accustomed to the cold and they’ll send us where it’s hot. I’d rather wade snow than mud myself.

I just thought of something that we get quite a laugh out of. There’s a little Armenian named Sam in our barracks that the fellows are always kidding with. Every once in a while somebody will yell with a Jewish accent, “Hey Sammy, turn on the green lights. The man wants to buy a green suit.” Do you get it?

Well that’s not much of a joke but it’s the best I can do. We had a radio for awhile today. One fellow got one of those that operate on electricity or batteries. The only way they could make it work was to hook up the batteries & then plug it in so the kid boxed it up and is going to send it back home I guess. I think a radio is a trifle impractical until one gets stationed because we have enough stuff to drag around now.

I hope its quit snowing there by now. I don’t see how dad can get around his route at all. I sure hope he’s feeling better and that you will start getting away from those headaches. Don’t worry so much about me. Of course that’s easy for me to say and I should know better knowing you like I do.

Well this is the beginning of our last week of training I hope. So take it easy and don’t worry too much. Write as often & as much as you can. So long for now. 5:30p.m.


Love to all





Read the letter.

Food Critic

Saturday, January 23, 1943  1:00p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well three weeks today in the army. Last night after I wrote your letter I shaved and washed and got to bed about 9:45. I was up at about 5:45 again this morning. I dressed, made my bed and swept my half of the barracks. It was my turn to help sweep this morning. No reveille. I had breakfast at about 7 o’clock. I had Bran Flakes, potatoes, toast and grapefruit. I haven’t eaten the ones you sent yet but I opened the dates last night and they are over half gone. Boy they are really good, just like the fresh fruit must be. We were ready for inspection at 8 but the officer never came till about 9:15. We stood around all that time waiting because we didn’t know when he might come. For inspection we have to wear our dress uniform (O.D.’s) and we have to stand at attention at the end of our bunks. He walks down one side of the barracks and back the other. If he catches you following him with your eyes it’s just too bad. He told one fellow to get a haircut. In the other barracks of our company, he told one fellow to get a haircut and some of the others began to laugh. The sgt. was so mad he said he felt like confining them to the barracks for the rest of the training and let them go nowhere except to the mess hall. He thought it over a little though and let it drop but if it happens again it will be too bad for somebody.

After inspection we went out to the drill field and practiced for the next graduation on Monday. I don’t know for sure when we graduate. One day they say we have one week more and the next day they say two weeks. Even after I graduate I might be here only a few hours or maybe a week or two. Four men from our company are being shipped today. I imagine they were reclassified. After we came back we were free till dinner I read a few pages of the Good Earth.  For dinner I had roast beef, potatoes, cooked beets, veg. salad, bread, butter, strawberry jam, and pumpkin pie. Pretty good, eh? The pumpkin pie was awfully creamy and nice but it had a little too much cloves or something I think. After dinner we had mail call. I got 2 letters, the one you wrote Wed. night and postmarked Thurs. at 4:30 p.m. and one from Bernice Stachel. It was postmarked at 2:30 Thurs. but was dated Jan. 15 on the inside. At 10 to 1 they took all the fellows over to get helmets but I got mine at Custer so I didn’t have to go. I am spending that time writing this letter. They aren’t back yet so I’ll try and answer your Wed. letter.

Don’t be too sure you’ll never see those hills and rocks. I enjoy sending the pictures because I know how you like them. I hope you don’t get any duplicates because sometimes I can’t remember for sure which ones I have sent. Last Wed. when it was 10 below there it was 33 below here. But at least it was warmer than 51 below in Minnesota. The strange part is that the temperature was so high yesterday that the snow and ice began to melt. Today it is snappy but not too cold. You must have more snow there than we have. It’s probably about a foot or a foot and a half deep here. Is the snow deeper than that day I started at Eastern and the day I went to work at the store last March? What do you mean let you know when I want a rest from your letters? What do you think I hurry to mail call for? I want to hear from you just as much as you want to hear from me. I know it’s hard for you to get candy but the soldiers can get all they want so it isn’t so bad. Don’t try to break yourself sending stuff to me. You know how much I appreciate it all but I know that your financial picture is a little dismal. I’ll be doggoned if I can think of anything I was disgusted about last Sunday although I can’t see where we have gotten anywhere in particular. The books I have bought are good books. The colored girl in Gildersleeve is really colored. When I mentioned hangovers I meant the ones on Sunday morning caused by too much celebration Saturday night. I didn’t miss my breakfast on purpose. My wash comes out pretty good although I think you could do better. The shower situation is different than you think. The latrine is the length of the barracks, about 35-40 feet from my bed. The shower room itself has coat hooks so that I undress right there and hang up my clothes and when I’m through I dress right there on the spot. The fellows who work in the kitchen change from time to time because they are men who have graduated and are waiting to be shipped. They have cream for coffee – condensed, I think. At breakfast there are 2 quarts of milk to a table of 10 men. I wasn’t worried about you sending pajamas and I would have worn them if you had sent them. One fellow wears his every night but they are something more to wash. Well the fellows just came in with their plastic helmets and field caps so maybe we’ll have to go somewhere again. I had the one shot in my right arm last Tues. They don’t upset me but my arm gets a little red and sore for 2 or 3 days. I have heard fellows complain of them quite a bit but they aren’t too bad. We won’t have any more for 2 or 3 weeks. I’ll admit I haven’t read that Bible but it’s not because I am afraid of anybody. I got rid of the cigarettes so they won’t smell up the bag. I haven’t written to anyone more than once unless they answered and I owe letters to Bernice, Walt, Aunt Edna, & Mrs. C. and I ought to write to Hugh after you went to the trouble of getting his address. You can send the sinus tablets anytime. I haven’t burned any letters and I don’t intend to. You don’t burn mine do you? I don’t notice my head getting cold in the barracks. They are furnace heated. The knob on my watch can’t come off if it isn’t turned backwards because it screws in. The watch works swell, cold weather and all. The raisin pie was good. So far we have had raisin, cherry, apple, custard, pumpkin, peach and pineapple and raspberry pies and they are all swell. The potatoes do not taste of lard nor does anything else. I drink cocoa when they have it. I keep the candy bars in the box or my bag. No one touches it. I didn’t notice my head being cold inside and when I was outside I pulled my field cap way down. I never put my hands and feet near the heat when they are cold for the simple reason that the heat comes from near the ceiling. I warmed my feet just like you said. Like you said, “I am not all dumb either.” My feet don’t feel swollen. I ate fish twice so far. They had it yesterday too but it didn’t look very good. White fish I guess. I haven’t read those papers very thoroughly but it seems as if I can’t make any headway lately. I can’t keep up with my letters, believe it or not. I bought another bottle of Listerine a few days ago. Don’t send any blanket because I don’t need it and it would be something more to carry around. I sleep under a wool blanket and a heavy comforter. I shine my shoes before lights out but I can shave and wash after then. I have left everything in your letters as they came except the pictures. I have them in the one candy box & covered with transparent paper so they won’t get dirty or torn. Everyone thinks she is an awfully cute little dog. How did you like that one card I sent? I thought those cartoons were pretty much like me. My hands haven’t been chapped at all. Maybe I don’t wash them often enough.

Well that covers your letter I hope. I hope I haven’t overlooked any of your questions. Probably a lot of them are answered in my letters before I get yours but I guess it can bear repeating. I’ll try to answer anything you want to know as best I can. I can’t think of a lot of things to ask you because I know pretty well how things go at home and just about what you are doing when. If I can get caught up on my mail I may go to the Saturday night double feature or I may stay in and read those magazines. I feel a little guilty for not thoroughly reading all those State Journals but I never did at home. That is an awfully good picture of Red S. Those cookies are swell and the apples and oranges. I haven’t eaten any of Baby’s box yet but I will. Were those candy boxes any special ones? I don’t want to throw away anything that we were saving.

Well we are still in the barracks at 2:45 so I imagine we are through for the weekend although we can’t leave the barracks until after 4:30. We are on duty, really, from 6 to 4:30 but we are on call 24 hours a day. Well I’ve covered the day’s activities so far and your letter so I guess I’ll stop for now and drop a card to Mrs. C. and write to Aunt Edna & some of the others. Mrs. C. doesn’t say very much and I can’t think of much to write to them so I’ll just write a card. Bernice didn’t have too much to say either. It is cold in Lansing she says. She intended to go skating but it was too cold and she was sitting with her feet on the register. Walt & Margery had gone to the Eastern Central game. (The letter is dated Jan. 15 but that game wasn’t played until the 19th, was it?) I think she must have made a mistake or something. She hasn’t heard from either Paul or Julius. She is glad they keep me busy as she wouldn’t want me to get lazy. She says if I’d behave I wouldn’t get K.P. I guess she needs to be enlightened on that situation a little. Now I know she dated that letter wrong because she was listening to George & Gracie and the 15th was Fri. and they are on on Tues. Am I right? She couldn’t think of anything else interesting to tell me so she quit till some future time. For an honor student she sure makes a lot of mistakes. There were 6 or 7 misspelled words. Well I guess I’ll stop now till after supper. See you a little later with an account of the evening meal. Hold on to your seats.

Back at 6:45

Well I’ve been writing most of the afternoon. I wrote a card to Mrs. C., one page on both sides to Aunt Edna and an 8 page letter to Walt. I’ve answered them all but Bernice now. I didn’t get any mail tonight but I didn’t expect any really although Thelma hasn’t written yet. I don’t care particularly whether she does or not. I had supper at 5:05. Potatoes, beets, sweet & dill pickles, sliced onion, rice pudding, bread, butter & p’nut butter. I came back and went to writing again. I wrote Stachel a real letter. It’s probably too long for someone outside my family but I gave him a brief summary of what we have done and a description of life here at camp. He sounded a little worried to me and I hope he can stay in school. I hate to see a kid of his age stuck in the army with a lot of men older than he is. The influence isn’t so good unless you’ve got what it takes. I think you know what I mean. I think he will do O.K. though.

Well tomorrow is Sunday. I hope I get up in time for breakfast tomorrow and I have some washing to do. I’m going to wash my underwear oftener and maybe it will be easier. Is it warmer back there by now? Boy you sure will have high water. Aunt Edna said it was up to the R.R. tracks there. Dad is sure going to be behind on his route if that snow keeps up. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll go to that last show tonight or not. I don’t know what’s on. I may keep writing and get caught up to start a new week. The dates are just about gone and the cookies are about ½ gone. Everything is swell but $3 a week is pretty expensive for you.

I’ve been doing pretty well in mail. I’m always pretty sure of at least one letter although I don’t get excited if it doesn’t come. So far I have heard from Gramp, Aunt Edna, Aunt Marie, Walt, Bernice, & Mrs. C. I really don’t know how to write to Bernice as I’m a little inexperienced in writing to young ladies.

Well I guess I’ve just about covered the situation for another day. This last week has gone much faster although I can’t see why. We may get rifles Monday & may go on to the range if it stays warm enough. There are going to be a lot of left handed men because there are about 5 or 8 bad right eyes. Well be careful and don’t worry or get impatient because if you don’t hear from me I might be going somewhere. So long till next time,


Lots of love to everyone



Next Saturday is payday. Whee $46.75

Aunt Edna’s Marriage Tips

Friday January 22, 1943  6:45p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear Folks,

Another day just about over and it has been a beautiful hot day. It has been so hot that the snow has dropped a lot and icicles have dripped all day. I should judge the temperature to be about 40 degrees. Quite a change from 33 below day before yesterday. Last night I stayed in and wrote to you folks and got to bed at about 9:30.

I was up at about 5:50 this morning. No reveille again today. I had breakfast at about 7:00. Pancakes, syrup, Post Toasties and an apple. We went out for drill about 8:00 and drilled for quite awhile to take advantage of the warm weather. We got back to the barracks and had over an hour of spare time. During then I wrote two pages both sides to Aunt Marie and one page on both sides to Gramp in answer to their letters and cards I got yesterday. I had dinner about 12:00. Mashed potatoes, corn, veg. salad, bread, butter, p’nut butter and cherry pie. Mail call at 12:30. I got 3 letters today. 2 from you written Tuesday and a short note from Aunt Edna believe it or not. About 1:00 they sorted out the ones with sore feet & blisters and the rest of us went on a hike. We intended to go about 10 miles but cut it down to about 6 miles. It was swell. The scenery was pretty and it was warm. The snow was wet and heavy in spots though and my overshoes got pretty heavy on the way back. When we got back we scrubbed the barracks. It was easier this week because we had taken all the bunks outdoors. They were left out in the sun all afternoon to air out but soot fell all over them and some got kind of dirty. When we finished cleaning and brought in the bunks it was supper time. We had hamburger, baked potatoes, fried onions, veg. salad, bread and butter. After supper I came back and topped off the meal with a couple of choc. cookies. Not much mail tonight and none for me. I shined my shoes for tomorrow’s inspection and that brings me up to the present. I did figure on going to the show but I have to shave and clean up and I should write letters to Stachel & Aunt Edna and I think I’ll send a card to Mrs. C.

Aunt Edna sent a letter written on a piece of white card. It never dawned on them that I might be called into the service. Uncle Roy’s nephew, she says, flew from Honolulu and made them a visit and then volunteered for army service from Mt.Pleasant & left Jan. 18. He is over 28 and enlisted in the army about 7 years ago. He was in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 1941. Bill, Aunt Laura’s boy, hasn’t been called yet. He was married Feb. 14, 1942. She thinks he was too young to get married and is glad I didn’t “do that trick.” She thinks “it is plenty long to live with each other if they wait a bit.” I wonder if she is getting tired of Uncle Roy’s company?

Uncle Roy is an air raid warden and bowls for recreation. She will write often she says and wants me to let her know if my address changes. She wants to know if I smoke cigarettes so I’ll have to write and tell her “no.” You mentioned those cigarettes in your letter and I got to thinking about them and finally gave them to a kid from Port Huron. His name is Aaron Francois, French I guess. He is a big tall slim fellow about my age and I like him quite well. He just graduated from high school last June. He worked nights & went to school days the last year to get through and he wants to study medicine if he can.

Now to your 2 letters written Jan. 19, Tues. They came right on schedule and I always know what I’ll get unless the mail doesn’t get through. That reminds me. Don’t ever get excited if you don’t get a letter, even if it’s for several days. There may be a perfectly good reason and it doesn’t mean I’m sick! I might be on my way someplace else or the mails might be delayed. We got no mail from Mich. at all Tues. because of the heavy snow. I mention this because this morning while we were on the drill field the sgt. was stopped by a runner from headquarters who was looking for a certain soldier among probably over a thousand on the field. It seems his folks hadn’t gotten a letter for 2 days and had sent a message to the camp wanting to know what was wrong. Don’t ever do that. If anything is wrong you’ll know about it. There is always a reason for everything. They say now we will graduate a week from Mon. on Feb. 1. That means I may leave Feb. 1 or I might stay here a week or longer. If I stay it leads to complications because I won’t have a permanent address during that time. They have been sending a lot of fellows to Custer so here’s hoping. Of course some went to San Francisco too. I guess that instructor job went up the chimney. We with experience have been drilling with the rest except for that one day. Bill Andrews I guess will stay. He is an acting corporal now. So is some other dope from the 2nd platoon. Our barrack leader has sucked around too and I understand they are trying to stick him in. So far as money, these instructors draw the same as I do now. Someplace else I may get a real promotion. I guess I don’t have much to say about it. If I find there isn’t much chance of getting back to school I’m going to see about Officer’s CandidateSchool. Limited Serv. men can be officers in certain branches and they were particularly interested in the fact that I had handled large sums of money down at Custer, maybe the Finance Dept. Some of the fellows know what they got on their I.Q. tests. I didn’t ask but the sergeant who took my classification card when it was completed looked it over and said “You have a fine looking card here, Arlington.” If that means anything or not is something else. Maybe you are tired of me making so many wild guesses about where I’ll go or what I’ll do but you can see how much we are up in the air about everything. The whole thing will take care of itself in a short time though I guess.

Evidently you had the same cold wave we did. You mustn’t make too much fun of Aunt Edna because she really did write after all even without free postage. I don’t think the cocoa would be too good an idea because I don’t know whether the hot water would be good to drink. I can get along without it O.K. I guess. I haven’t heard a word from Julius. I am afraid he is in the army. Did it get down to 10 below Tues. night? It was 33 below here Wed. morning. I can’t understand how Mrs. C. could get Sunday’s letter ahead of you as they were mailed together. Anyhow by the way they have been going you wouldn’t get Sunday’s letter until Wed., right? Air mail is not so hot. There was only 6 hrs. difference in time. Boy you really must have a lot of snow there. Aunt Edna & Marie both mentioned it too. You should see the plow I saw today. I bet it could go through an 8 or 10 foot drift. I’ve seen just about every type of military vehicle there is since I’ve been here. We saw a little tank today. It was painted nearly all white and boy it really buzzed along. While we were on our hike we saw a lot of soldiers learning to ski. They weren’t doing so well because the wet snow stuck to their skis. I see no reason why I should take 13 weeks training. They have made no steps to reclassify any of us with eye troubles and the men who have been here longer say they never reclassify men with bad eyes. That Gildersleeve show was O.K. That Cub ball player is O.K. so far as I know. He is quite an interesting speaker. In the long run that other stationery wasn’t cheaper. I haven’t noticed my hair cut a great deal. I can have my wool shirts, pants, and blouse (O.D.’s) cleaned and pressed at the P.X. I haven’t even read those magazines yet. All of a sudden I hear from everybody but don’t seem to be able to find time to answer. Here it is 10 after 8 again. I’ll read them Sunday if not before. I put my name on them so if anybody borrows them I can claim them. I think Red is one of the craziest yet funniest guys in pictures and I don’t think I’ve missed any of his big pictures yet. I said La M. was a huge bore. The seconds are just as good as the firsts. This noon when I came along I said, “Oh, boy corn.” The fellow put on some and asked if I wanted some more. I said a little and he filled half of the plate. Boy you ought to see the way they slice bread. The butter is usually too cold to spread so I just smash it on and eat it in a lump. I’m going to get my share anyway. We have to wear our tags all the time. I’m not neglecting myself.  If I had I could probably been sick with a cold with the rest. I don’t need garters now but will probably next summer or if I go south. I really ought to break myself of the habit of sleeping in my socks. You see I wear 2 pr. and take one off when I go to bed. Today is the first day my feet have been warm enough to sweat. Maybe I’ll send a card to Amelia. Does she know I’m gone? So they make you slice your own bread. That seems silly What’s G.F.S. going to do with his automatic slicer, scrap it? Who was the freshman who died from the broken leg? Pickets is no better to shovel than the rest of you. I see butter is 54 cents. One boy from Detroit says it is as much as $1.25 there when they can get it. I can’t hide those eats so I am putting everybody on the honor system. I scanned through all the papers and read the funnies, sports, and theaters and the headlines like I used to at home. No commands trg. here or or anywhere for us. The 2nd division, field artillery and tank destroyers are leaving for maneuvers in Texas, we’re told, before they go overseas. I guess those tank destroyer outfits are really something. We saw some fellows building tank traps today in the woods. I’d like to know where the radios are too. There is one upstairs but we can’t hear it much. I have both mouth organs and play them once in awhile but there is a reed stuck on my new one and I can’t get it loose as yet. One fellow wanted to buy it but I refused to sell it. He already has 2 or 3. We took up a collection for that corporal just because he was a swell guy and we gave him the money. I guess they put it on his bunk so they wouldn’t be breaking any rules by giving it to him. Before we left he thanked us by saying we had been swell to him in more ways than one. My throat is a little rough but the syrup helps. I don’t have any real trouble with my leggings. All you need to know is how to go at it. We give the barracks a real scrubbing every Fri. afternoon and we sweep and mop every morning. I have to sweep tomorrow morning. I don’t have trouble keeping awake mornings but I don’t have any trouble going back to sleep either. I ate 4 pancakes this morning. No blisters on my feet but they did get a little sore across the toes. The pancakes are O.K. We have syrup on them. There is no indication at all that I will be assigned to active duty so worry about something else.

I haven’t heard from Thelma yet. I like to get dad’s letters even though I may not mention them a lot. He doesn’t ask many questions for me to answer.

Well that covers the day. They brought in some copies of the Real McCoy, camp paper for us to read. There aren’t enough for all so I probably won’t be able to get one to keep and send home. Here it is 15 to nine and I wanted to write to Stachel tonight. He is worried about the draft I think and he wants to know about army life. Personally I think the army is no place for a kid of his age.

Well this letter is a little more like it should be – 8 pages. I guess I’ve mentioned everything so I’ll call it quits for tonight. Be careful and don’t worry. Good night to all with lots of love,


Original Letter

Frosted Feet

Thursday January 21, 1943 6:45 p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear Folks,

First the day in review – I stayed in last night and shaved & cleaned up and looked through some of the papers. I went to bed about 9:15.

Up this morning about 5:45. Reveille at 6:15 and breakfast at 7:00. It was much warmer today than yesterday and it was snowing this morning. For breakfast I had toast, Post Toasties, and scrambled eggs. I think they are powdered eggs or something. Anyway they aren’t too good. I topped off breakfast with one of my oranges. Boy they are swell but I bet they cost you plenty. I know they were 66 cents a doz. the last I knew & they are probably more now.

At about 8 I guess we went out to the drill field for a while and did some exercises and marching. Then we came back and did some work on the manual of arms before dinner. We had dinner at about 12 o’clock. Mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, applesauce, bread, butter, and very good peach pie. Mail call at 12:30.

This afternoon we went on a hike off the southwest I think although I’m pretty mixed up on directions. I’d say we went in all about 5 miles. It was swell. Although my hands and feet have a tendency to get cold while drilling I seem to keep real warm on a hike and I like to see the country. My overshoes tire me quicker though. When we got back from the hike we went over to a small theater for a lecture on first aid. Then we came back and were through for the day. I had supper about 5:15 – potatoes, meat loaf, green beans and peas, veg. salad, bread and butter and a lot of Jello. Swell meal. Now I’m trying to catch up on my correspondence. No mail for me tonight.

Now back to 12:30 mail call. Well I hate to hold you in suspense: so I hit the jackpot today. Six letters and a package. I got the letters from you 3 of Mon. postmarked Tues. at 11:30 a.m., a card from gramp, a card from Aunty, a letter from Aunty, a letter from Walt Stachel, and a letter from Mrs. Crawford, and the package was the money belt from Aunty.

I’ll try to tell a little about each. Gramp sent a card of “greeting to a soldier” with a detachable part called automatic letter answerer. All I have to do is put “X’s” in squares & tear it off and mail it to him. It’s something like the one Ray sent me. Gramp says that they are good for them (in health), and that Eva will write in a few days and he says quote “Good wishes to you Son,” unquote. He put his address on the detachable part for me to send back but I think I’ll keep it and try and write a little letter instead.

I got two letters from Aunty. One was an awfully nice card, “Greetings to one in the Service.”

Here’s the verse –

“Though the life is no vacation

...till the day of your return

…till the day of your return

And the rules are strict and stern,


‘Til the day of your return!”


I think it is very good and very appropriate. The other letter was from Aunty in answer to my letter of a week ago Sat. She said she was ashamed for not answering my “lovely letter” sooner and wants me to let her know if I get the money belt. She thinks it’s a good thing I left Custer because there are WAAC’s there now although I can’t see her reason for saying that myself. She thinks they should be in different camps. Lots of snow in Detroit. She says she got a letter from you in which you said you were going to look for a letter from me every day but knew you wouldn’t get it. I like that. I demand an apology. So there too! George hasn’t been called yet. She wondered about my vaccination and shots. She was glad I could go to shows and says she likes love & romance herself. I was glad to hear from her at last. The money belt is brown. There is a zipper which opens 2 compartments, one for bills & one for change. The bill compartment contained a new $1 bill and there were 4 new quarters in the change part. That boosts my financial status above the danger point. I now have a little over $10 and that should last 10 days easily. I have spent about $8 so far.

I almost got lost in Stachel’s letter. The pages came in this order: 1,3,2,4. I didn’t pay attention to the numbers at first and couldn’t make much sense. He sounds a little worried to me. You see he got his questionnaire Jan. 16. He is having trouble with Descriptive Geometry and he says that Nate’s chemistry course is really tough and maybe I’m lucky to be here. I wonder if he was kidding. Right now I could crack the toughest chem. course but I can’t remember enough German to mention. He’s been ice skating several times. He takes boxing for Phys. Ed. and the first shot he got a bloody nose. He wants to know how long it took to get me in the army after I got my questionnaires so he can plan on how much time he’ll have. Gee, I hope they’ll let him finish the term but he won’t if they go as fast as they did with me. Just 2 months. He emphatically wants me to write and answer his questions and tell him about Army life.

Mrs. C’s letter was about the same as the last one. She acknowledged the card which I sent and by now probably has my letter. She mentioned reading my letters and visiting with you folks. She is in hopes “you will surprise her and visit her someday.” She have me her phone number and told me to feel free to call it anytime if I wanted to call you folks.

And now to you folks. Do you have to use 4 1/2 cent postage or did you just do that as a safety measure. I’m glad Elmo is going to write to me too. You’re telling me it means something to get a letter every day. Now put a stop to that worrying about my feet. I didn’t mean to alarm anybody. I am not the only one who gets cold feet. I didn’t mean to give the impression that I had frozen my feet. I used the word frosted to express the fact that they were doggone cold but I didn’t mean they were anything serious. They got numb and a little stiff at the time as though asleep but it’s been a week now and they still haven’t swollen, or turned black or purple or bursted so I guess you can calm down and start worrying about something else. Don’t jump at conclusions and I guess I’ll have to watch the way I write too. When I was home I could correct a misunderstanding but now it takes a week. They itched a little and felt a little buzzy but they are O.K. understand. I wear 2 pairs of wool socks. I thought about putting cotton ones on first but I didn’t know whether it was a good idea or not. I’ll have to try it if I can dig my cotton socks out of the bottom of my bag. You see I buried all my summer clothes. Gee I don’t expect a package of that size every week, that’s too much to expect. By the way don’t send any packages after the middle of next week unless I change the order because I understand we may graduate Feb. 1, which means I may be shipped at any time after that. I asked the Co. Commander about this college trg. and he says he has had no orders concerning it but that it is possible that they may have me classified for assignment to some school. I wouldn’t count on it though myself. As soon as I get where I’m going I’ll try to send you a telegram. Now don’t get scared when I say this because it may be and probably is nothing but a rumor but I hope they don’t send me to Seattle preparatory to going to Alaska. But then it couldn’t be much colder. They have called several over for reclassification but so far have called no one with eye deficiencies and I understand they won’t. Personally I really think I’ll be assigned as a clerk or typist in some induction or reception center. Boy, I hope its Custer or Detroit or Kalamazoo. I’d almost settle for Ft.Brady at the Soo even if it is colder than here. I’m sure happy about the money from Mr. & Mrs. C. I don’t think I’ll thank her though until I get whatever is bought. I found the knife and gum O.K. So the star surprised Pickets [?] eh? Good for me. I hope it doesn’t have a chance to get dirty if you know what I mean. Well I guess that covers your letter.

To dad’s letter – good work with tea & toast. Did you get the 8 gal. in your tank O.K. before today. Maybe my haircut won’t last till Xmas but it seemed as though it would at first.

To gram – thanks for a very nice letter. I get a 3 way slant on what happens at home so I have a pretty good picture.

Well this just about completes the picture for now. Lights out in 40 minutes and I intended to answer all my mail tonight. I read all the newspapers at spare times during the day and the box of chocolates is about empty. Well keep writing and forget about headaches and I’ll call this note (beside yours) a letter. So long for now.


Love Arlington


Don’t Worry.


Read the original letter

Drill Master

Wednesday, January 20, 1943  3:25 p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear Folks,

Well here I am again. It’s been so cold today that we haven’t gone out for anything except our meals. Temperature was 33 below and the sgt. wouldn’t let us go outside to drill. I think it’s a little warmer now because the sun has shone all day.

Last night after I mailed your letter, I went over to the P.X. with a kid from Port Huron. I bought a box of Smith Bros. cough drops. Then I went on to the show by myself. It was pretty good last night. The “Wrecking Crew” with Chester Morris & Jean Parker & a March of Time, a color cartoon “Super-Mouse” and a short showing a Jack Benny broadcast from Camp HaanCalif. with Jack, Mary, Rochester and the whole gang. I came back and got to bed about 9:30.

I was up at 5:50 today. Pretty chilly in the barracks. No reveille again this morning. I had breakfast – Post Toasties, toast, potatoes and an apple – at about 7:00. We stayed in all morning and worked on the manual of arms. We don’t have individual rifles yet but there is one for each platoon. There were some fellows in the platoon upstairs and we watched them do the manual for they knew it already. We spent a couple of hours listening, watching, and practicing with the one gun and loafed around the balance of the time till dinner at about 12. Dinner – roast beef, mashed (by me on my plate) potatoes, gravy, beets, veg. salad, bread, butter & raspberry pie. Pretty good!

After dinner I came back and I got the letter you wrote Saturday in which you said you got my letter telling I got your

packages. Although you wrote it Sat. it wasn’t postmarked until 2p.m. Monday afternoon in Lansing. They must not pick up mail over Sunday any more. I rather expect another letter tonight if you wrote any Sunday.

This afternoon we had a lot more practice with the manual of arms – you know all this right shoulder, left shoulder stuff. By the time we get our rifles we’ll know most of it. There is no reason why we shouldn’t leave here a week or so early. We were nearly a week ahead of time on the marching and now we’ll be ahead on this too. Probably no chance of leaving early though. When we got through with the rifle, the instructor (called Corporal but he gets $50 same as I do) split us up into 6 man squads and gave us marching drills in the barracks. He eliminated those who made mistakes until he had the best one or two from each group. Then he took these and eliminated them till he got down to only two. He tried for about 5 minutes to catch one off his guard and twist him up but he finally called it a tie and quit. Now I’ve been a squad leader but he’s never been particularly impressed by my ability and I haven’t tried very doggone hard. But if he did think I wasn’t too good I fooled him. The last 2 were a Russian from Lansing whom I never knew there and me. Now I guess I’ll have to learn the manual pretty well too. Boy when I got through I was dizzy from doing “to the rear march,” but I stuck with it O.K. Some of the fellows who went out were in the Nat. Guards & State troops. Now we’re through for the day.

I’ll try to answer your letter before supper. Boy Hugh is lucky. I didn’t think he was still in Custer though. I’m glad to get his address and I’ve got to write to him tonight. We can get all the candy and gum we have money for here. That’s the reason there is a shortage for civilians. The hot drink is coffee except once in awhile when they have cocoa. As far as the Nestle’s cocoa, I don’t imagine it would work out too well, although we have running hot water in the barracks. I don’t know how good it would be to drink though. We are served by passing along the counter with our plates. If we don’t want anything we tell them not to put it on. I get mail on Sunday. Grandad hasn’t answered yet but I’ve been thinking about sending him a birthday card. That ought to surprise him a little. They have some very nice cards here at the P.X. Bernice hasn’t written yet but I didn’t write to her directly. I addressed the card, a scenery picture like one of yours, to Junior. I have wool gloves to wear and if my hands get cold I put the fingers up together and double my fist.

I regret to say the books are not stiff cover but paper cover. They are not very expensive though and are easy to read. So you got a star to put in the window. Plenty expensive too. Must be a big one with yellow fringe. I am afraid I’m not going to see much of the country. A 10 mile hike means 10 miles altogether. I saw one fellow skiing down a hill when we were hiking. About 2/3’s of the way down he parted company with one of his skis and we got quite a laugh at his expense. I haven’t been weighed since I was at Kalamazoo so I don’t know if I’ve lost but I rather doubt it. So far as I can see those letters from Hannah & Stewart wouldn’t do any good here. I have enough hangars for now, just enough. I’ll do any sewing so far as I know.

Well that covers your letter from Sat. We just had mail call but there didn’t seem to be any letters, only packages. I see by the list on the board that I have an insured package at the Post Office so I’ll quit now to go get that and eat supper. I’ll be back later.

4:40 p.m. c.w.t.

7:00 p.m.  Got the box. I ate super – potatoes, spinach, veg. salad, bread, butter & strawberry jam and went right after it. Boy I was surprised at the size of it and my fingers got kind of cold carrying it back. You see the Post Office is ½ mile or more away. Everybody thought it was an awful big box. One fellow suggested it might be a radio. I did my best to save the string and I was able to save most of it. You see I make myself take my time. After I got it unwrapped I read the letters before I opened the box. Everything was there just as you said and it was all swell. I’m eating an apple now and it is real good. So are the cookies. I gave one of the chocolate cookies to the kid who sleeps on top next to me. He came from Lansing but originally he was from S. Carolina. Oh boy, everything is swell and thanks a lot for everything. I found the file O.K. but you didn’t have to buy a new one. I found everything just as you said except for the knife & gum. Then I noticed there were 8 boxes of cough drops so I shook one without cellophane and there was the knife & gum. I have enough fruit to last quite awhile. I had one apple left from this morning’s breakfast too. You know how much I appreciate everything so just thanks. Thank Baby for me too.

Now to answer your letters –

I hope that writing didn’t cause your head to get any worse. Do you have more headache than you did before I left? No, I didn’t get up in time for breakfast but if I miss it next time I won’t get hungry. If the mail gets through as usual you should get this Sat. as you said. I told Christ who I was and I worked with him nearly all day. He worked from 4:30a.m. to 7p.m. From what little I could see, WesternMich.College is small compared to MS.C. but the buildings looked real nice. I wrote to Stewart at M.S.C. last Sunday. I sent a card to Fred Kircher. Whether he is able to answer I don’t know. Everything came thru in good shape including the cough syrup. I don’t have any particular boy friend but everybody is nice to me. You see some of these boys are over 30 years old. The youngest is a boy from Saranac who used to live in Gr. Rapids. He was 19 3 days before he was drafted. There’s another fellow here from Belding.

To dad’s letter – So far my mail has been from you 3 and Mrs. C.

Well I guess this covers all of today’s mail. I’ll read the papers when I have the time. I’m staying in tonight. I don’t think the show will be very good and it’s too doggone cold out anyhow. I’ve got to wash & shave and clean up a little. We have some new men in the barracks tonight & one is sleeping over me. They graduated Monday and are waiting to be shipped out. Most of them will probably leave tomorrow morning. We have everything nailed down. We trust each other but we are a little doubtful about strangers.

I guess I won’t have time to write to Hugh tonight. It’s 7:45 already. Well this is the last sheet of this stationery so you’ll get a different kind next time. You see I mail these letters in a box upstairs and they are collected at 11a.m. & 4p.m. So if I write a letter tonight it doesn’t go out till tomorrow. I used to mail them in a box on a telephone pole a block away but they say they are picked up at the same time so I won’t go out in the cold.

Well I’ve covered everything that’s happened today so there’s not much more I can say. So just keep writing and I’ll do the same and don’t worry too much. I have had warm feet all day today. Overshoes are a big help. Well I hate to leave a blank sheet of paper but I can’t think of anything to say. I probably will when I’ve sealed it up like you do. So long for now with love,




My letters are getting poorer. They won’t be worth bragging about anymore.

Link to Letter


Nose Holes

Wed. Jan 13, 1943  10:25 a.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

Dear Everybody,

Oh you lucky people. The temperature here is 25 below zero. That’s what the corporal told us and I believe it.  You walk 30 feet and your nose holes are practically shut. I got up at 5:45 and boy was it bitter when we fell out for reveille at 6:10. I took a chance and went to breakfast ahead of the crowd. Usually if you go early you have to wait for the door to be opened and if you wait for the rest to go you have to wait on the end of a long line anyhow. I was lucky though and walked right in without having to wait outside. Boy, we had oatmeal this morning and that was really good. Besides that we had French toast with Karo syrup, potatoes and applesauce. I passed up the frankfurters & bacon and got a double shot of applesauce.


11:40 – Hooray, got 2 letters and the box of candy and nuts. The letters were both mailed Monday. One from dad & one from mother. Are they the first one’s you’ve written to me here? I still haven’t gotten the one you wrote to Custer. Maybe I’ll get that tonight. I read both letters twice and boy did I feel good. I’ll have to quit now for dinner but I’ll be back later.


Letter along with somr stamps and other items sent home

Letter along with some stamps and other items sent home

12:15 – Back for a few minutes. Gee, what’s wrong with you folks. I didn’t think you were all going to get sick when I left. Dad must have been pretty low to lay off 3 days. I sure hope he feels better now. And don’t let that head get you down. I will read the clippings when I have more time tonight but I did notice the Dunckel girl’s picture. I know one of the other girls there too. She used to go to Eastern. From what you say, you got both letters from Custer. Good. You should have gotten two letters at once from here or at least close together because Thurs. I mailed the one I wrote on the train, which you got Saturday, and another I wrote here. I have written every day since so you should get a steady stream of mail. I don’t know for sure what you mean by “dad’s reg. letter,” regular or registered but I haven’t got it yet. I’m glad you and Mrs. C. are getting together at last. It’ll be good for you. I have written once to Julius while in Custer, and since I’ve been here letters to Aunt Marie, Elmo, Granddad, and cards to Nathan and the Stachels. That ought to bring some answers. I haven’t got auntie’s letter that you mentioned yet. When is she going to come back and see you? Don’t worry about next Xmas. That’s too far away to even think about.

We very often have grapefruit for breakfast or else some other fruit such as an apple or orange, prunes, or applesauce. We have toast but the bread is all white and not very well toasted. I imagined my hat would be pretty badly smashed but most of that happened before I mailed it. But then there are & will be lots more hats.

Don’t be afraid to write and send any clippings you want. Anything from home is good to see. I try to write all the things I know you want to know. I may repeat a lot but I don’t think you’ll mind.

As for today, at 9:15 we marched down to the theater and heard lectures and saw movies on first aid. It was so cold my fingers became numb. I’ve never had them entirely lose their feeling before. They soon warmed up though. Then we came back to the barracks and did some indoors practice. We’ll probably leave in a few minutes to do some marching. It’s much much warmer now because the sun is shining brightly as it usually does.

Dinner today – mashed potatoes, gravy, veg. stew, veg. salad, bread (4 slices), butter, and apple pie.

Last night I spent $1.25. I bought 25 cents worth of candy bars (that won’t be necessary for awhile now what with my reinforcements). I bought 2 books, Lost Horizon and The Good Earth. I finished Mrs. Miniver last night. I also bought a jar of Vicks Vapor Rub as a precautionary measure. A lot of the fellows use it and you’d be surprised at the amount of Listerine around here. Then last night I went to the show. It was a pretty fair picture. Lionel Barrymore in “Dr. Gillespie’s New Assistant.” I don’t think I’ll go tonight. It’s too cold and I’ve got lots of things to read here. I may go tomorrow night. Rob’t Taylor will be on. I’ve started Lost Horizon and it looks like a swell book so far.

That boy from M.S.C. is Bill Andrews. I never knew him at State. His folks are dead and he is part operator of their fox farm in the Upper Peninsula. He is 21 and has 2 fingers gone, which he lost in a meat grinder. Enough for him.

I think I have covered all the questions in your letter. If you haven’t sent my camera that I asked for don’t send it. This morning they banned them from the camp. Somebody must have taken pictures of something he shouldn’t. If you’ve sent it it’s O.K. I’ll send it back.

My vaccination never did work but these last 2 shots have left my arms pretty sore. Boy those anti-lockjaw shots really hit you. Well this is all I can think of now. I’ll finish this later and write one to dad. If there’s something I forget in one letter maybe it’ll be in the other. Read them to each other. 12:50

Back again at 3:10. We just got back from a short hike of 4 or 5 miles. It is much warmer and I enjoyed it. My feet are really warm for a change. Boy it’s really nice to get out in the country. The camp seems to be on a flat plain completely surrounded by hills. When you get up close to them they remind one of the pictures you see of the badlands of the Dakotas except these have trees on them. They are very rocky and you see huge crags and some of the hills are almost perpendicular. They look as if they would tip over. The trees are all evergreens. I don’t know much about trees but they are different from any kind with which I am familiar in northern Michigan. They may be hemlocks.

There is a lot of snow and they do quite a bit of skiing on the hillsides. I’d like to take a hike around here in May or June. I’ll bet it’s really swell then. Before we finish we’ll take 10 or 12 mile hikes with full pack and rifle. As near as I’ve been able to learn, they give us a rifle & teach us the manual of arms but we don’t do any shooting. You hear a lot of heavy shooting around here from the boys of the second division – artillery. They must shoot out in the hills. The first time I heard it I thought it was thunder. Most of the second division boys are from Texas I hear. I don’t see how they can stand the temperature. There is one fellow in our barracks who says it isn’t so cold here as it was at home. He’s from Cadillac Mich. We have a bunch of Negroes moving in down the street in a short time. They are a little afraid of trouble, especially from the southerners up here. They’ll eat at our mess hall but I don’t care so long as they don’t bother me.

When I got back from the hike I found my name twice on the mail list once with an R after my name. It must be that registered letter. I guess we have to go to the Post Office for large packages and reg. letters. My box of candy was delivered to the barracks. Incidentally I just discovered the handkerchiefs in the bottom. Thanks. I won’t have to do my laundry so often. You’d be proud to see me make by bed and do my washing. I’d like to go see about that letter but it’s only 3:30 and we can’t get separated until released. I have to be at the P.O. before it closes at 6:00. Do you like this type of running, chronological letter? As long as Mrs. C. is interested I’ll send her a card. I think the Zeller boy that she knew went with Ossie West to Missouri but I’m not sure.


7:20 – Well I’ve had a good day. 4 letters and 2 packages. Besides the 2 letters and candy, I got the registered letter and the big package with letter attached tonight at the Post Office. I feel almost like a new person. First because when mail call came I didn’t have to shake my head and walk away. Moreover I can do a lot better now. I got out my stuff and hung up my clothes. One hanger for my overcoat, one for my blouse, one for my fold jacket, and one for each shirt and pants. That does away with so much packing and unpacking of my barracks bag and my clothes won’t get wrinkled so much. I also took my handkerchiefs and soap out of my bag (grip) and put all my soap, hankies, towels and wash rags in the large box you sent. We have a shelf at the end of our bunk and we can put things on it which are compact such as kits or boxes. I guess most of us are honest because nobody has lost anything yet so I put the box of cleaning equipment on the shelf together with the Super duper Suds and my shoe shining kit. The rest of my personal stuff, pens, pencil, stationery, shaving cream etc. I keep in my grip. My other barracks bag I’ll use for keeping wrapping paper, string, newspapers, etc. and dirty clothes. I think I have a pretty good arrangement now thanks to you.

The registered letter had 5 stamps on the back. Two in South Lansing Jan. 7, two in Custer on Jan. 8 and one Jan. 9, and one here in McCoy yesterday Jan. 11. A long time, eh? I’m glad Aunty wrote to you so soon. Maybe we can keep your mail box full too. I feel the same way she does about things but it was pretty hard for either one of us to smile I guess. Boy I think Hugh was really one homesick boy but he tried not to show it. I tried to keep him feeling up and it helped me.

I have gotten everything now that you have mentioned. I’m afraid that gram’s pickle would be a little impractical, but doggone good. Tell her not to feel slighted because I don’t write directly to her because my letters are to every last one of you, even Babe.

I took those coal clothes over to the P.X. last night and they are going to launder them. They would do everything but it’s too expensive. Over at Custer permanently stationed men get their laundry done for $1.25 a month but there is no post laundry here. It’s so new we haven’t any trays or silverware yet. We eat off large plates and use our field equipment for knife, fork, & spoon. You’d be surprised how much oatmeal you can eat with a spoon larger than a tablespoon. You know when I stop and think how much people have always done for me I think I’m doing pretty well here.

I’m glad you like my letters. I was afraid they wouldn’t make much sense because they are mostly unconnected thoughts and ideas. Gee what’s the matter with Pop? Is he trying to get in 4-F. For gosh sakes tell him to be careful.

Now here’s something maybe you won’t like but if you get short of money what with deductions and loss of days, please, you know where you can fall back for a little help. And don’t go to any unnecessary expense on my account. I’ll love you just as much if you just write.

Maybe they don’t date our letters for some reason although I can’t see any. Nathan probably heard from Clayton’s mother about the fellows in Missouri. You see one of the fellows was Clayt’s step father. He was a cocky little guy, too cocky in fact. He got pretty smart in Custer when we were getting our uniforms and in about two more words a sgt. would have given him a going over. He had it coming. I still don’t know where Miller went. He left

later in the day. There were 6 cars (283) men who came up here. 3 cars went in the group to Missouri.

I’ve read all the clippings and I’ll read the paper when I get time. I’ll never get so I won’t like it at home. Every day I appreciate it more. This life may make me more able to pull away from home and get along with others but it’ll never reduce my love for family life. I’ll always be a family man. Ha Ha.

The hankies they gave me are white, hemstitched, real large and silky. I’m sorry about not seeing the Crawford’s. I am sending them a card giving my address.

Well I guess I’ve answered all questions and this is really a letter from me but then I feel a lot better. You know doggone well I’ll write. I’ve written every day since I’ve been here and every day I could while in Custer. Well good night and thanks plenty.


Lots of love to everybody,


Original Letter


This Camp is Tops

8:07 p.m. Central War Time

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear Mother, Dad, Granny, and Babe,

Well I’m here deep in the heart of nowhere.  I guess you’ll probably wonder what happened to that last letter.  As I said I wrote it partly on the train and carried it in my pocket so long before I mailed it that it got pretty dirty.  You should have gotten 3 letters before this one.  Let me know when and if you got them.  This Camp is tops.  Everything is new.  The barracks is warm and clean and the bathroom is ten times nicer than Custer.  Over there you couldn’t see your face in the mirrors.  Here they even have sockets to plug in radios.  The camp itself is swell and so are our officers so far.  They are strict but not tough.  Everybody thinks this beats Custer all to pieces.  Tonight after drill this morning and lectures this afternoon, I went over to the P.X. (post exchange) to see if I could get some stationery and things.  I didn’t bother to go over to the one in Custer because I thought it was just a place to drink 3/2 beer.  I was wrong.  It’s a regular department store with drugs, notions, clothing, gifts, pen & pencils, magazines, candy and just about everything I would want or need.  I bought this stationery there along with some other things.  My expenses to date are:

Custer:  Post cards which I sent home      .50

1 show                                     .15

Donation to collection for our
Quarantine corporal who was a swell guy  .15

McCoy:  stationery                          .21

3 candy bars                                .15

5 cards which I am sending                 .15

1 bottle of ink                             .10

1 beautiful pennant which
I probably will spoil by folding            .15

Total                             $1.56


•1 beautiful pennant which I probably will spoil by folding

•1 beautiful pennant which I probably will spoil by folding

I decided that if I wanted anything I would get it. I didn’t see nearly enough of the country on the trip.  Judging by this around here (see postcards) we must have passed through the prettiest part at night.  This country is beautiful; snow, pine trees everywhere and big hills off away from camp on all sides.  It gets awfully cold up here they say, as low as 20 below.  You don’t feel it too much though because it is very dry and not damp like in Michigan.  The sun even shines up here.  I think this air is good for my sinus trouble.  My head feels real clear.  Everybody else almost has a cold.  They coughed so much in lectures that the speaker had to stop once in a while yet he said there wasn’t as much coughing as usual.  I’m trying my best to keep away from colds.  I may have to cut this short because they turn out the lights in a ½ hour but I don’t have to be in bed till 11:00. We’re going to have some fun in the morning with our puttees or leggings.  I sure want to hear from me [you]. You have my address so let it come.  I haven’t written to anyone but you yet with the exception of a short note to Julius when I was in Custer.  Now comes the S.O.S. I find that there are several things that I would like you to send me.  I need 2 or 3 wash rags (don’t send my new ones if there are some that I’ve used), an older bath towel, 4 or 5 coat hangers, a bar or two of soap (Sweetheart is O.K.), a few of my older handkerchiefs, and some of that candy I left behind.  Don’t send the pretty boxes it came in. Put it in something else.  I don’t have a wash rag and only 1 real bath towel which was white.  They gave us 4 handkerchiefs & the 2 which I took making 6 but 3 are dirty.  I need the coat hangers otherwise I have to fold up my clothes and put them in my bag when I leave for drill.  That gets them pretty wrinkled.  As for the candy, I bought and ate 3 bars tonight but they’re so doggone small.  Send anything else you want.

We don’t know exactly where we are but we’re near Tomah, Spartan and from 20 to 30 miles from La   Crosse.  If you have a map maybe you can locate it.

The folks ought to see me now!

The folks ought to see me now!

There is no laundry service, which means I do my washing Sunday.  If I thought I could get it back soon enough, I’d send it to you, but then that wouldn’t be nice.  Well pretty near lights out so good night with love,



Everybody write! How is everybody?

Letter and Milk Cap


About a Train

Wed. Jan. 6, 1943  10:05 a.m.

Railroad yards in Kalamazoo


Dear Everybody,

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

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

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

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

Thurs. – 11:37 Central time

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


Pvt. Arlington A. Forist  36, 416, 037

Co. 46  Bks 2610 L.S.S.

CampMcCoy, Wisc.



Original Letter

Smarty Pants

Tues. Jan 5, 1943

8:10 p.m.


Dear Everybody,

Did you get the other letter and my clothes?  You can write to me if you want to at the address on the envelope but I don’t expect to be here long.  They finished processing us yesterday.  In the morning we wrote the intelligence tests.  On the general I.Q. tests I did 132 and Guggemos (the fellow who had 2 years at State) did 133.  The rest seemed to be in the 70’s, 80’s or low hundreds.  Of course I don’t know how many I got right.  After that we went through our classification.  They really try to find out what you can do best.  First we signed up for insurance.  I got $5,000 which will cost me $3.25 a month.  I didn’t see any sense in getting $10,000.  They tried to get us to sign up for bonds but I declined politely.  If I want any I’ll buy them myself!  After that we were given a personal interview.  It included education, work, experience, sports, hobbies and just about everything that shows what you are and can do.  The fellow that interviewed me used to go to college at Kalamazoo, his home.  He said he goes home 2 or 3 times a week.  I told him everything I could think of and they gave me a typing test.  I said I could type 25 words a minute.  I was pretty jumpy and made a lot of mistakes but did 30.  When I turned in my card the sergeant said it looked very good.  After that we got our shots.  The vaccination in my left arm looks as if it might work.  The shot was for typhoid.  The fellows around here have been trying to scare us about the needle.  The guy really did take a poke at you but the needle was so small you hardly feel it.  My arm is a little sore but O.K.  We got off quarantine last night and they split us up to fill the vacancies in several barracks.  I’m in 1056, Hugh is in 1054.  I sleep above a fellow from Detroit.  Last night I went to a show and saw “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”  The pictures are good and it costs only 15 cents.  I got in about 9:15.  They turn the lights out in the barracks at 9:00 but you don’t have to be in till 11:00.  Then came the fun.  They woke us up at 4:00 this morning to go on K.P. (Time out, the kid in the next bunk plays the harmonica.). Those jokes are all right but it’s no fun.  We went on at 4:30 and got off at 7:15 tonight.  For nearly fifteen hours I shoveled coal into six cook stoves.  Boy my clothes and me were black.  Now I’m in my bunk.  I washed and shaved but most of the dirt came off on the towel.  Well that brings you up to date.  If I’m still here Saturday, I may be home, but don’t plan on it.  It’s now 8:35.  Maybe I’ll go over to the show.  Love to everybody including Babe.




P.S. – We’ve got a guitar now.

Original Letter