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


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