I Know I Am Not Going To Shoot Myself

Benicia, California

March 17, 1943

About 5:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I hope it has been nice there. It has rained here nearly all day but it is stopped now. I got to bed at a little after 10 last night. I got up at about 5:40. The guy who wakes K.P.’s woke me to find out where another guy had moved to but he left me sleep. I imagine I’ll go back to work tomorrow. I have “goldbricked” for 3 days now. I got up and dressed and made my bed and swept and shined my shoes before breakfast. We had no reveille because of the rain. For breakfast I had an egg, bread, butter, Farina, and an apple. After breakfast I sat around and read on my manual until time to report for sick call at 7:30. It was about 9:00 before I got back. The cap’t. looked at my fingers today instead of the major. He said they were healing in good but thought they should be dressed once more. I am to go back Fri. but I may not be here if I go on pass. I probably will be though, because I’ll probably come back here and sleep and go to work as usual. I’ll only lose about 6 hours that way. He marked my record card NO DUTY so I didn’t work again today. I’m not going to do K.P. if I don’t have to do it. I’ll go to work in the morning but I should go on pass at noon. I have already worked 3 days but they may think I shouldn’t get one because I haven’t worked for 3 days. Everyone who washes dishes is having trouble. They are beginning to think it is the G.I. soap. The doctor thought I might be allergic to soap. Anyway I guess my fingers are about healed by now. I’ll sweep and work in the dining room to keep my hands out of the water. After I came back from the dispensary I spent the morning writing and snoozing until dinner. For dinner I had hamburger loaf, beans, green beans, salad, bread, butter and rice pudding. I got 2 letters this noon. Gram’s letter of Mar. 13 and your Sat. & Sun. letter p.marked Mar. 14, 8:30 p.m. After dinner I read my mail until I had to go to a lecture on the rifle, how to adjust the sling and put in the clips. We are to go on the range pretty soon to fire for a record. I wish I could earn one of those medals but I know my eyes and hands aren’t steady enough. We spent the whole afternoon there on the rifle and on communications and military courtesy. Afterwards I talked with a sgt. for awhile who was pressing his pants. I don’t know exactly what his duties are but he looks and acts like a smart boy. He said he started college in S. Dak. in 1938 but he never finished. We got to talking about that test and he asked what I got on my aptitude (I.Q.) test. I told him 150. He said he heard but didn’t know for sure that one fellow in the last group that came in had the highest in the regiment. I think maybe it was me (conceited aren’t I). I know of one kid who got 148 but he got 90 on this college test. The master’s degree boy got 165 on the college test but his I.Q. is 141, so what other conclusion can I draw. I have a hunch my name is familiar to some of the officers from things they have said. You don’t know how much I want to be put in college. I can get along in the army but it isn’t for me. K.P. is as good as anything I guess. After the lectures I came back to write and here I am. I wrote 3 letters, to Dick Hollingsworth, Kircher, and Hugh, and 6 cards – Ossie, Amelia, Francois, John V., Thelma, and John Elsenheimer, a kid I knew at Eastern. Dick sent me his address. He is in the medics at Fort Lewis Washington. I guess I left that address of Sargy —[?] in the letter when I did them up because I can’t find it. I don’t know if I will write tomorrow or not. I should according to schedule.

Back from a pretty good supper. I had potato baked, salad, French fried carrots, peas, bread, butter and jello. Now I have the rest of the evening I hope. I find it is a little harder to write because I don’t do the variety of things to tell of that I used to. If I get my pass I’d like to go to Frisco but I don’t know if I will or not. I want to get some sleeve insignia, a U.S. button, a belt like I wore on my college uniform, get my braid sewed on my hat, and then look around and buy anything I think I want. I’d like to go to a good show in the evening. I’m not worried about spending money. I have enough for awhile but if I come back here to sleep I will have to go to work at the regular time the next morning. If I don’t come back I will have to stay in Frisco over night and come back the next morning. The fellows who have already had passes have gotten hotel rooms and stayed there. One fellow spent $30 on his pass and another $15. One spent $4.50 for his dinner, another $8 but I think they must have added a few trimmings which I wouldn’t care for. I could go with a couple fellows. They are fairly decent acting but I don’t know if they would care for the kind of time I would have. You know what I mean. They want to go to see Ed Wynne’s show which is on. I would like to see that too or at least a good movie. They aren’t bad acting fellows and I may go at least part way with them. One is a Jew from Brooklyn, the other is the fellow with the master’s degree. I haven’t seen a kid from New York yet who wasn’t a Jew and most of them are named Cohen. They say they have an immigration station and a translation station where they translate the Jewish names to English. If they can’t translate it they call it Cohen so that’s why there are so many Cohens in New York. It is a good story anyhow I thought. I imagine I may come back and sleep here. The bus from Frisco to Vallejo runs every ½ hour and the one from Vallejo to Benicia runs every 2 hours I believe. Anyway I want to get the things I mentioned and then get some cards and things. I also want to send out that box of junk. I got the letter you sent with my watch so I am looking to get the watch tonight or tomorrow. If I do I’ll get the other one ready to send back. Boy it will be swell to have a watch again. If I don’t write tomorrow you will know why but I’ll try to knock off a letter wherever I am. I will be due for another pass next Monday noon and again next Friday noon. Those Burry cookies are swell as you probably know. So is that St. Patrick candy. One sgt. has been shaking hands with the Rackovich’s etc. and saying “Sure and it is a fine St. Pat. day to you.” Well I guess I’ve covered the days activities and my plans or ideas. I hope you won’t disagree with them too much. I shall be careful where I go and what I do: you know that, but I have been tied down for a looong time and it will be swell to breathe freely again if you know what I mean. I could be happy just to walk down the street and look in the windows with no whistles blowing and dishes to wash and floors to mop and sweep.

Now to your letter of Sat. & Sun. Mar. 13 & 14. I don’t know about that butter. We have had all we wanted everywhere except at Santa Rosa. There is plenty here; more than enough. I know because I have seen what is in the refrigerator all the time. That fellow must have been in a hard up camp. Well well, quite a time over those pants. I don’t think Sam’s was a good place to take them anyway. I bought them at Two Legs. That was an awful thing to say to Dad. He certainly is worth more than those pants and he was not to blame at all for what happened. It wasn’t his fault. If they had been lost we couldn’t have done anything about it anyhow. Such things do happen. Did you have to pay for cleaning and pressing? You know I’d hate to lose them but don’t blame pop. I guess I was no mistake by the draft board. We have fellows with only one eye and some that are helpless without glasses; some with arms and legs such that they could scarcely do what they have to. I am lucky and thankful to be as good as I am. It is a smart thing to have 2 pairs of glasses anytime, I guess. G.I. glasses are designed for service. They are strong and are built so they will fit under a gas mask. They are plastic rims and bows and are not built for looks. They aren’t very good looking. If I get a pair I will still wear my own glasses. Wetzel may think it is too long since my lenses were changed to give me another pair on the same prescription. You two sure have more than your share of head trouble. I could have gone on sick call but I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere any sooner. One kid was tested before I came here and still he hasn’t his glasses. Ewing is in the medics and his are broken. I know I am not going to shoot myself and I won’t shoot anyone else if I don’t point it at them. They are going to teach us to fire before long but I won’t be on anyhow as long as I am on K.P. Guard isn’t bad. You are on 2 hours and off 4 for 24 hours. Nobody has to do any shooting anyhow. I don’t like the kitchen but I’ll make the best of it. I would rather be outdoors though I think. My biggest complaint about K.P. is that I don’t have enough time to write to you. L.S. does not mean we don’t work. It means we won’t be exposed to actual combat. We will stay here and do nothing unless something happens here. These office workers you mention will go overseas while we may never. If their outfits go they go with them. I doubt if that 1st/sgt. knows anything. He is too dumb if you ask me. He’s been in the army 2 years yet he has to take orders from young kid lieutenants. He can’t even speak good English. Fellows here swear he was a private 8 months ago. I didn’t come so close to guard duty. What’s a guy being shot in a dance hall got to do with me being on guard? As far as not doing it you see how much good it did to say I didn’t want K.P. Now please don’t try to look into things and see why L.S. do this and that because you won’t do either of us any good. I think I have said enough about that. I don’t know why you should think I would take swimming. If I have to take it in school I guess I can. It will be better than being in the army really. I’d still be in the army but it would be a little different just the same. It’s raining again. I hope it quits before tomorrow noon. L.S. men can get non-com ratings if they can earn them. They haven’t been here long enough yet. I think we should have had 2 or 3 months training on artillery before we were ever sent here. Of course we can go to this college training and maybe even to O.C.S. I’ll take the college if I get my choice. I can use that training and try for O.C.S. after I get it. If I went to O.C.S. and got my bars I might not get a chance to go for college training. Being an officer is O.K. but the training will do me more good I think don’t you. Gee does the post office stay open until 11 o’clock? I didn’t know that but I had wondered how you could mail boxes at night. No, Sgt. Harrity isn’t L.S. He’s as tough and rough and ready as they come. I haven’t seen the bull dog lately. I don’t think Charles will come to this outfit. We are over strength now. We have a dispensary which can give first aid. It is equipped with a dentist chair and equipment and has some beds and stuff. Anyone with a serious ailment is sent to Letterman’s Hospital at the Presidio in Frisco. Don’t worry about the letters because I am taking care of them. I’ll try to send them back before I get so many next time. You must have quite a stack from me but not so many as I have. I didn’t hear the Benny program because I was on K.P. Boy that will be something. Orson Welles at Camp McCoy. A kid I know says Welles is from Kenosha which is his home town too, Kenosha Wisconsin. Don’t worry, Orson Welles will get a promotion but fast. He is one L.S. man who will get the breaks. I’ll bet he is the first L.S. man to get a commission or some such thing. He’ll be there inside of 6 months. You watch. Look at lieutenants Jimmy Stewart, Hank Greenberg and Clark Gable. I wouldn’t be on guard duty all night. It goes in 2 hour periods 4 hours apart. I still didn’t get the watch. Maybe you couldn’t send it air mail. I heard you couldn’t send packages by air mail any more but then it would take it longer to get here than for a letter mailed at the same time. They would probably be on different trains. I hope you can read this. That covers your letter. Now to Gram’s. I wish Red. S. would drop in here sometime. I sure would like to see him. That is one reason I would like to be near Los Angeles instead of Frisco. On pass I could go to the Hollywood Canteen and see all of these people I have seen in the movies so much. I have always done my best wherever I have been and I guess I probably will. I have always earned everything I have gotten I think. Maybe others don’t think so but I do. Nate is out until June. If I do get into college I will have made better time that if I had been in the reserves. They will get 13 wks. and then if they get by that test which a lot won’t they will be put back in school. It doesn’t take a lot of college to pass that test as I have shown but a lot of college men didn’t pass. There is a lot of difference between a man with 5 years college & one with 3 months. I suppose you are tired of me repeating these things over and over but you can see I am pretty encouraged about it and it is topmost in my mind. If it falls through, K.P. is going to be hard to swallow. Everyone thinks it is funny that I am on K.P. but I guess I can take it. When I told one of the lieut’s who I was he seemed surprised that I was on steady. He evidently had heard my name mentioned in a better light. I shouldn’t think Howard would pass. I don’t help cook. I wash & rinse dishes or maybe scrub tables, mop, sweep the floors, set up the tables, peel spuds or carrots or onions or scrub pots or anything under the sun or kitchen roof. With all of you trying to cheer me up I guess I ought to feel a lot better. A note from headquarters would help too. They say the mosquitoes at McCoy are awful. We don’t have any here at Camp but we use the ones out at the guns for targets when no planes are in sight. A fellow got back from a furlough to some place in Michigan and he said it was awfully cold there. Well I guess this covers My Day. Say that sounds like dear Eleanor. I will finish this and mail it and then shave and clean up some so I will be ready if I do get a pass tomorrow. If you don’t get a letter I’ll see that you  get at least a card. At any rate something will be written to you tomorrow. I have to live up to my word. Well I guess this is all for tonight. Until the next time be careful and take it easy. I should get my watch tomorrow. I’ll let you know when I get it. If it comes before I go I’ll send out the other one.


Love to Mom, Pop, Gram & pup


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