I’ve Got More on Top than Most of these Guys

Sunday, February 7, 1943

About 11:15 a.m.


Dear Everybody,

Well here I am again on Sunday although it doesn’t seem to mean much to them up here. 5 weeks in the army and all I’ve gotten is a 2600 mile ride away from home. I hope this letter doesn’t sound too discouraging but I don’t feel very spirited today for some reason.

I got to bed at about 9:30 last night. We didn’t get up till after 8 although the sgt. had told us 6:15. I dressed, gargled, and washed a little, then made up my bed and got ready for breakfast. We ate it at about 9:00. We had post toasties, scrambled eggs, potatoes, bread and an orange. It was pretty good although a little butter or jam on the bread and some sugar for the cereal would have helped. Usually they have given us jam or marmalade but there wasn’t any this morning. I was lucky enough not to draw K.P. today but they still keep us busy part of the time. When I got back from breakfast I swept a little and then we moved to bunks so that we are in alphabetical order. I got a bottom bunk this time but we are in a spot of the barracks where there are no shelves or places to hang our hangers. Oh well if there are no more measles maybe we can leave here soon and go someplace else. Time out for dinner.

Back about 4. Let’s see, where was I? After we moved we got out our shoes and hung up our coats & stuff. I went over to the day room and mailed the letter I finished last night and looked around a little. They have some tables from the mess hall over there and there are games, cards, checker boards, jig saw puzzles and a whole lot of scrap books made up by the U.S.O. I looked at one scrap book and read an article about radio commentators – Kaltenborn, Seving, Hill, etc. The book was made up by a 68 year old woman from Visalia California according to notes written here and there in the book. I didn’t read much. I felt kind of low this morning but I’ve gotten over it a little now. I left there and came back and tried to shine my muddy shoes a little. Then I began to write. Dinner was pretty good. Mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, salad, applesauce, biscuits & butter. After dinner we came back and mopped out the barracks. Then the afternoon has been free. They gave us a chest inspection for spots and we got another case of measles so that’s one more day in quarantine. They have arranged for us to have cleaning and laundry done so I took my shirt, pants, tie, and field jacket to be cleaned. It will cost me $1.15. The rest of the time till now I spent walking around as far as we could go outdoors. Supper will be on pretty soon.

We have been having typical California weather today. It rained hard all night until about 8:00 this morning. Then it stayed cloudy all morning with the sun breaking through once in awhile. Now it’s shining brightly but we have had several small showers. I guess this weather helped get me down. It’s too much like spring back home and that’s what I always liked best – spring and early summer. But I tried to tell myself if I was home I’d be studying anyway and wouldn’t appreciate the weather but I guess I can’t talk fast enough.

This quarantine isn’t too bad and tomorrow we’ll probably start drilling. The trouble is I am writing on my last piece of tablet paper. I’ll start using that notebook paper I brought. I have enough envelopes for about a week and I got 2 air mail envelopes at the day room, but my last 2 stamps are on this letter so if I don’t get my stamps I ordered by tomorrow I’ll have to go back to slow free mail. I can’t get any candy either. I have one bar I’ve been saving and a few peppermints & a box of Cracker Jack. If I thought it would get here O.K. I’d have you send some stamps, envelopes and paper and maybe some candy. I’ll be here until at least 2 weeks from today and maybe longer if the measles keep coming. Supper pretty soon.

It’s kind of hard to write a very long letter because we don’t do much and I don’t get any letters to give me something to write about or answer.

Back from supper. Potatoes, salad, rice, pineapple, bread and orange marmalade. Now I have to shave, clean my teeth and take a shower yet tonight. I’ll get my dry cleaning back Wednesday.

Boy that radio helps a lot but all we get are Pacific coast stations. It seems funny to think that when it’s 5 o’clock here it’s 8 there and when I go to bed at 10 it’s 1:00 there. We have a schedule posted up in the barracks. Up at 6:15, breakfast at 6:35, fall out at 8:00, dinner at 12:00, supper at 5:05 and lights out at 10:00. We can have stuff dry cleaned twice a week, Mon. & Wed. Laundry is taken every Friday.

I understand there is a P.X. on the post but it’s about a mile away and isn’t well stocked yet. This camp covers 17,000 acres but a lot of it is probably the air field. Dozens of planes fly over all the time. Our amateur experts say they are mostly light and medium bombers. They sure are thick.

I wish I had taken coast artillery in R.O.T.C. now although I don’t suppose it would have helped much. I hope I’ll like this anti-aircraft stuff because anything is always a lot easier if you like it. About all we’ll do here I think is brush up on our close order drill and maybe do a little extended order drill. It won’t be bad up here when the mud is gone. I really like it in a lot of ways but when I think of where I am it kind of gets me once in awhile. I suppose its cold back there and probably you have lots of snow. That’s what makes this seem funny. Its spring in February and no snow in sight.

How are you set with can good rationing and sugar and coffee? We just heard on the radio today that shoe sales have been frozen and that they are going to be rationed on one of your sugar stamps. Things must really be getting tight. It’s like Fred Niklas said I guess. We lose track of shortages and stuff although we got butter this noon for the only time since we have been here. The fellow at the mess hall said they can’t get butter for some reason. They usually give us jam or marmalade for our bread or biscuits. Yes we get biscuits here. They aren’t bad but Gram’s sure are good. We don’t get pie here like we did at McCoy but we get canned peaches, applesauce, or pineapple for dessert. We get lots of pineapple. As the fellow said, nothing is rationed to the army but there are things they just can’t get. We are the only ones who eat at the mess hall and I think we are the first ones. All the buildings are brand new and the tags are still on the heaters and the bowls in the latrines. The floor in the barracks has dropped several times. The ground here is evidently thawing out and is very muddy. There are little trees planted around some of the buildings but they don’t add much beauty because of the mud and water. The buildings are all covered with tar paper and some are painted 3 or 4 different colors. It must be for camouflage. The barracks are green with some of them having black strips in the middle. This must make them look like several small buildings from the air. One large warehouse is painted several colors [sketch].

I don’t think this camp would have been opened yet if it hadn’t been for the measles epidemic. It made a handy place to send us.

I wish I could have a camera and take some pictures so you could see what things are like. I don’t want you to think I’m in cold barracks and a swamp. It’s really not that. It’s just the mud you’ll have in April. This has been a farm and the house and several sheds are near our barracks. There are fruit trees in abundance and I imagine it will be beautiful to see and smell when they blossom. I hope the measles don’t last that long though.

There are several mountains in the distance. They are covered with trees but there is no snow. Boy we sure changed climates a lot on that trip. I hope you have gotten all my letters by now and that they gave some picture of the things I saw. Let me know how long it took for the letter to get from Sacramento to you and if the air mails get there any faster. Go by the postmarks. I don’t know how often they take them from here to town. We put them in a box in the day room.

You are luckier than I am because when I left McCoy you couldn’t write to me because I had no address but I could write to you. You probably won’t get my yesterday’s air mail letter till Wed. or Thurs. and I won’t get the answer till next week. If you wrote me every day till you got my letter saying I was leaving McCoy I should have 4 letters at least (Sun., Mon., Tues., & Wed.) coming from there. I didn’t get any the last noon there but I had gotten the expected letter for Tues. on Mon. Air mail ought to get there from here as fast as regular mail from McCoy.

How is everybody including the pup? Are you still having help trouble dad? Did they get the 10% for bonds? You know I still have $7 left of what I brought with me and what you and aunty sent. When you are in quarantine you can’t spend much money. I haven’t touched my pay except for the change. It will go some when I can get to town or a P.X. I haven’t seen a show for 2 weeks. That must be a record for me. Have they called the reserves yet? Nate and Stewart both said in March they probably would. Stachel has got his second questionnaire according to his last letter. If Julius goes to Carolina like he thought they’ll sure have us spread out from coast to coast. If I were to get a 15 day furlough it would take half of it and $100 for traveling. Maybe its better I’m not able to get home every 2 or 3 weeks. I’d have that leaving to do too often but I still wouldn’t refuse the chance to get anywhere nearer home. Anything within 1000 miles would seem close now. Say, can you take care of my income tax for me or will I have to file a blank? You can get my earnings from Ruth Cook at the main office if they haven’t sent out the slip. I don’t remember for sure how much money I left but I know there is enough to pay it.  Confidential to Ma: ((((There should be $75 loose from the roll or it may be with it but that $75 is for taxes, the watch and anything else that comes up.))))        I don’t know if it’s too smart to carry much money with me but I want enough so I can get home if the opportunity should suddenly arise. The news today is all good. The Russians are 2 miles from Rostov and the Japs on Guadalcanal are surrounded. Boy if this war ended tomorrow I’d be the happiest and probably the only sober man in the U.S. Army. That last 6 months after the war is over will be awfully hard to take knowing it’s over and still I couldn’t go home.

If they put me on an actual job on the guns I’ll bet I get a promotion. I may not have the brawn but I’ve got more up on top than most of these guys. There are some college graduates though. From what I understood at college, the Coast Artillery takes plenty of math which is O.K. by me. I never saw any math I couldn’t get. I’ll never get a commission so long as I am in the Artillery. I’d have to be transferred to some other outfit. Most of us are the regular limited service fellows but we have 15 or 20, I guess, who were with the second division at McCoy. That was a pretty tough outfit. I understand they are going across soon. Anyway they culled out several fellows who had been in 1-A and put them in limited. Naturally they have had a little more training than we have so right off the bat 4 in each platoon are acting corporals and some already have their stripes from the 2nd.

I don’t know for sure what our arm insignia will be but my hat trim will be reds and my collar ornament will be like this [sketch] – crossed cannons. Most of the arm insignias around here are [sketch] – the four leaf clover. I hope I get one but we may be in a different outfit.

I can give commands as well as our sgt. He knows his stuff I’ll bet anybody but he gets rattled sometimes and his voice isn’t harsh enough to give commands. His name is Hajicek and he’s from Minn.

Well I suppose it’s about bed time for you folks but the sun is still up a little yet here. There are a lot of things I’ll think to say probably after I finish this letter. I always do.

I hope some mail gets here pretty soon. It seems like I have something to hold on to then. It’s not your fault. I know you have written every day except one (when you had a headache) and you’ll start again as soon as you get my address. When I look out the window and know you are over 2500 miles beyond that mountain, it just doesn’t seem possible. One thing, Cheboygan 52 miles will never bother us again (remember that). Any distance less than 500 miles won’t count. You know when one thinks of Cal. he thinks of Hollywood but I am twice as far from there as you are from Chicago.

Well this has gotten to be quite a long letter after all. It’s the last airmail unless I get the stamps I ordered. I sure hope I get the stationery I ordered too. I’ve got 9 sheets of paper and 8 envelopes and 9 cards. I may have to go to sending cards. I wanted to send my new address to the ones who had written but you come first till I get straightened out. You know about how long it will take by how long it takes for letters to get through and if you think it will get here 2 weeks from now I’d appreciate some airmail stamps, some air mail envelopes, and a couple tablets. I may not need them by the time I get them but I can always use them. Use your own judgment but I hope I don’t have to stop writing. I’ve written every day yet and I want to keep it up.

Well I guess I’ll go clean up and spend the rest of the evening reading or listening to the radio. One thing I have lots of reading material. Write as soon as you can and I’ll write as long as I can. I hope everybody is feeling right on top. Signing off at 6:30 Pacific wartime, 9:30 eastern war time. Have you set back your clocks? Then its 8:30 your time.


Love to Mom Dad Gran & Babe [stick people sketches]

From Arlington [drawing of himself]


They just took the mail so now this won’t go out till tomorrow, Mon.



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