I Fry a Mean Egg

Private Arlington A. Forist

[stationery header]


Sunday April 18, 1943

5:45 p.m.


Dear folks,

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

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

Well good night and be careful.


Love to you all

Private Arlington Ardeane Alexander Forist


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

Share your thoughts