Coffee for Cocoa

Private Arlington A. Forist

Wednesday April 21, 1943

4:40 p.m.


Dear Mother and dad,

I’m starting out with two strikes on me but I have a right to defend myself a little I guess. First I want to say that I have been in this army for close to four months and during that time I have not drank either tea or coffee. I have drank water, milk, cocoa, and a variety of cold fruit juice drinks but absolutely no coffee or tea. Now you say I said so in my letter and that nothing I can say will change it. Do you really think then that I am a liar? I can see how you feel about it but I think you aren’t being fair to me when you say I needn’t try to explain. That’s the first time you ever called me a liar and that hurts. I can’t remember what I wrote and I don’t deny writing it but I still didn’t drink it. You must have my Wed. or Thurs. letter which was written on the 4 to 12 shift. Each night along about 9:30 Bartlett and I would go down to the coffee room and get a snack. Neither of us ever got coffee. We always got cocoa and doughnuts. I don’t know whether you will believe me now or not. I can’t see why I wrote coffee. Of course I am liable to write most anything in the confusion of different conversations around me and answering phone calls, etc. All I can say is I must have been thinking of coffee room and when I went to write cocoa, wrote coffee. I have made a lot of such mistakes as you can see by the number of words I usually scratch. Now if you say I am just saying this to smooth things over you are wrong and you are calling me a liar, something which I am not and you know it. I never lied to you about anything before and I don’t intend to start now. You say you have lost all confidence in me. That is a pretty big slap in the face and let down for me. I supposed you had enough confidence in me that you wouldn’t grapple on to something and then even refuse to accept an explanation. I’ve never given you any reason to have to be that way. It’s only fair to let me say what I have to say. And if you refuse to believe it regardless of what I say, then what can I do? Put yourself in my place for just a minute and see how I feel. I am accused of something which I did not do but which I did mention some way (how I still don’t know) in a letter. If I say I didn’t do it I am accused of lying to get out of it. Now I’ve tried to show you how I feel about this. I sure thought you had more confidence than that in me. You actually think that just because I’m not home, I’d do all the things I know I shouldn’t. Boy that really makes me feel good. So did Dad’s letter also. When ones parents will grab a little thing like that and refuse an explanation then there isn’t much left. Then when I am accused of trying to get out of it by giving a truthful explanation that just about finished me off. I’ve certainly never given you any reason to treat me this way now. I know you are hurt by the way you write but you have nothing to be hurt over yet because I didn’t do anything. I’m not trying to be smart or anything but I’m trying to show you how it is. If you won’t believe what I say, then I’m ready to give up on everything. You say don’t write a lot of mean things and I haven’t. I still can’t see how you could lose confidence in me so soon and without even giving me a chance.

So you finally got that rail to fit down in on my bed. Now it will be level. I can imagine how dirty and dusty it was upstairs because it sure accumulated fast. With that trunk out, there will be more room in my room now. It sounds as if you are getting rid of all the unnecessary junk which is a good idea. Don’t throw anything worthwhile out though. I imagine Babe did have a real time at the dump. They have been on the Indians trail along time but he’s no better than the rest of us. Teeth won’t keep anybody out anymore. Haggerty must know somebody out here in the coast artillery. He has the right dope on things. In time the whole antiaircraft setup in this country will be L.S., not alone California but I think the whole coast in time. I guess you are right Things are in stride. About all we can do is go along with things I guess. What you say doesn’t sound lousy because it is the way things are. I’ve decided I may as well take it easy. I’ll be put where they want me regardless. I was glad Harmon got through O.K. yet why should he be such a headline figure. If it had happened to one of us un-famous guys nobody would have heard about it. But I guess that’s the way things are all the way through. I try to read but I can’t get into a book and get really interested. I guess I am as nearly happy as I can be when I’m working. I rather enjoy my work and I don’t have a chance to think. I don’t like the city yet it is better than Benicia. Things don’t seem so desolate here. Mrs. C. said they had been saving gas so they could get to the cottage. Now I come to the coffee part of your letter. All I can say is I don’t know how I happened to write coffee for cocoa but cocoa is what I drank. I’ve never even used coffee or even tea to dunk in let alone drink. So far as I am concerned I shall send cards, etc. the same as usual. Nothing is changed. There is no reason for any change. I hope the coffee chokes me too if I ever drink any. Yes I eat pancakes but I don’t eat things that aren’t to be eaten. If I didn’t eat some of the things that are O.K. I wouldn’t be eating very much. I am hungry most of the time. The thing that gets me is you saying I can’t make it right no matter what I say. I never thought you would refuse to believe me. If I had done it I would admit it. But I’ll never admit  doing something I didn’t do. That’s something you impressed on me from the first. If you are innocent stick to it, if you are guilty admit it. I’m doing just that. Are you going to go back on your part of it? You say “don’t look for me to write.” I’d hate to think our chain of letters was broken over a foolish little thing like that. If I had done it you know I’d admit it. I’m not in the habit of being called a liar. You’re the last one I ever expected to get it from. I wish you would think things over and ask yourself if you have been absolutely fair with me about this whole thing. How about it?

That was quite a long letter for dad but you sure did a good job pop. I got to thinking about the place today, wondering how it will look. Stuff is pretty high all over I guess. We saw a fruit dealer on the street Saturday selling oranges at 3 doz. for 50 cents. I don’t see how you managed the trailer all alone. I guess that finishes my mail of today. I have been thoroughly tanned down. I accept my part of the blame for the things I said in the other letters but on this coffee deal I can only repeat what I have already said several times in this letter.

Last night after I finished writing I took a quick shave and wash up and got to bed at about 12. It rained this morning so there wasn’t any reveille. We slept until 10 to 7. I got up and dressed in time for breakfast. I had 2 eggs, toast, milk and ½ grapefruit. After breakfast I made up my bed and got ready to leave for work. It was misting so I didn’t expect a very busy day. I was partially right. The morning was dull and I managed to get letters written to Gramp & to Hugh M. All was not so peaceful though. The weather cleared and picked up the business a little but also we struck snags on radar coverage and stuff which threw us all up in the air at times. I think there could be a lot more efficiency here. Dinner came as usual right in the midst of a lot of phone calls. We had stew again, bread, butter, cold tomatoes, and jell roll. The meals aren’t what I would call good at times. Los Angeles went on alert this afternoon and we thought maybe we would but it was another false alarm. You may have heard about it over the radio. We got off at 4 and rode to camp. I found your letter on my bunk. I read that and afterward was waiting for the chow call. It didn’t blow so I ate after retreat tonight. I went out for retreat. I got no mail tonight. After supper here I am writing. I had potatoes, tomatoes, salad, bread, butter and jello and I ate plenty. I was really hungry. I looked for the box but it will probably be here by tomorrow. It’s 6:45 now. I guess I’ve covered the day and said about enough about the major topic. Just think it over and see if I am really so unworthy of confidence. I think you have been a little unfair. Let’s forget the whole thing since actually nothing happened in the first place. How about it. Dad ought to be an impartial judge on this since he has an interest in the proceedings also.


Well so long for tonight.




I’ll be looking for letters as usual.


  1. aaftwo
    Jun 19, 2014

    I am surely curious about the great Coffee dustup. Anyone ever hear anything like this?

    • Leo
      Jun 21, 2014

      This was a surprise to me. I imagine it was a little something Grandma got a tad unreasonable about. I looked over all the other letters and could find no reference to coffee drinking, just the rationing of it for the folks at home. Did see a statement about maybe trying some of the tea available for the soldiers. I just felt sorry for Daddy as I read this.

      • aaftwo
        Jul 16, 2014

        Ann’s new thought is that maybe because he was not yet 21. Perhaps coffee is an ‘adult’ beverage.

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