My Spirits Were Under the Linoleum

Saturday March 27, 1943

Columbia Square in San Francisco, 3:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well here I am but I don’t know exactly where or why as yet. Anyhow I have moved and if the work is no better, the surroundings are at least so that is something.

Last night after I finished that letter, I mailed it and went right to bed. I slept plenty sound too until 4:30 when the flashlight came through as usual. My campaign against whistles now includes flashlights also. I got up and dressed and went and washed a little. I was too tired last night. When I finished I went back and lay down again until the guy came after us again. Then I had to go to work. For breakfast I had pancakes, scrambled (G.I.) eggs, rice krispies and milk. Then after breakfast I started cleaning the dining room. I quit for a few minutes to take breakfasts over to a couple fellows in the dispensary. Then I went back to work on the dining room. I’m telling you we were all shot this morning. There were just the 4 steady K.P.s and the sum of our ambition wasn’t enough for one good man. I thought I never would get that dining room finished and as it turned out I didn’t. I scrubbed all the tables, took time out for a couple doughnuts and 2 or 3 glasses of milk. Then I swept and mopped the floor. That took me until 9:30 or so. Suddenly the phone rang and at last I heard, “Forist report to the office on the double.” Boy I had been waiting for that and I really lost no time. My orders were to pack everything and be ready to leave after dinner for San Francisco. I shaved, cleaned my teeth, took a bath, got my laundry and put on some clean clothes. Then I began to pack. I didn’t know I had so much stuff. I had to discard what old State Journals I had left although I hadn’t read them. I didn’t want to after you paid the postage all the way out here but I didn’t have the room. You see I had to bring my comforter and 2 blankets and those plus all my other clothes and equipment filled both barracks bags. I also had my grip filled with my toilet articles, books, a few candy bars I had left from that last box, etc. I ate early chow at 11:30 – potatoes, macaroni salad, cold tomatoes, bread, blackberry jam, and cocoa. Then I went to see one of the fellows who works at Reg. Headquarters to see if he knew what was cooking. He said he found an order which had been misplaced evidently. I was supposed to have reported here yesterday according to him. He says I am getting a break. I hope so. I got 3 letters today; your Sat., Sun. & Mon. letter p. marked Tues. and Gram’s letter mailed at the same time. That brings me back up to date again. That is only 4 days and that is good for regular mail. I also got a letter from Amelia in answer to the card I sent to her. At 12:30 I loaded up my stuff and started out. They stopped me on the way out and told me to leave my rifle. I was glad to get rid of it. The 1st/sgt gave me a talk on how to dress and to keep neat and all that stuff he is always spouting. Finally I got started. Two other fellows on pass rode along with me and the driver. We went all the way to Frisco in a jeep. It didn’t take us long either but it was a pretty windy ride. I got in here about 2:00 I guess. I unloaded my stuff and reported with my special order to the office. I was shown a bunk in the barracks. I got out my clothes, hung them up, shined my shoes up a little and here I am. One of the first things I had to do was take my insignia patches off my shirt and blouse. They can’t wear them here yet. They are wearing the 4th army four leaf clover here. So I did that much sewing for nothing. I still don’t know what I will do for sure. I am here on special duty (until my turn for college comes up maybe). They tell me I probably will work in the office but that is not definite. I imagine I’ll find out when they want to tell me. I don’t know exactly in which part of Frisco this is but it is very near the heart I believe. Our buildings are in Columbia Square. I don’t know what my address is as yet. It is very nice here. There is nice grass lawn all around and the buildings are more attractive. The barracks is swell. It doesn’t have the barn-like appearance of Benicia Barracks. This is Brigade Headquarters Battery. We have double deck bunks here but I am on the bottom. I left my foot and wall lockers in Benicia. I really need a foot locker so I may have to build one. I may be here a couple weeks and I may be here several months. No one seems to know. They have a full day here but since I am on special duty I may not get all of it. That’s something else I don’t know yet. They have reveille and also retreat which I haven’t had since I was at Custer. Retreat is at sundown so that may get later, maybe not. Whether I will get K.P. and guard I don’t know either. There are men stationed here permanently who probably get all of that. You see I am still a part of a battery, 501st. There is no fence around this place but we still can’t walk out. Passes are one 6 hour & one 12 hour a week with a 24 hour every two weeks. That is good. They have full field inspections every Saturday. That is bad. That’s about all I know. I don’t know if I’ll like the setup or whatever I’ll be given to do but I do like the place itself. As I’ve said so much, time will tell. It doesn’t make any difference anyway what one wants, it is best to take it easy because you’ll get what they want you to get and when they want it. Maybe everything will work out all right. I guess I get impatient but boy my spirits were under the linoleum this morning. I hope they won’t give me too much clerical work to do but I guess I can get along. The men here are mostly from Minnesota I guess. One fellow said these college trainees have come to [from?] Oregon, Mich. & Minnesota. I still think I am in on that college training and that they just want me here until I come up for that. Maybe I am wrong but I was put in class I which will be the last one to go probably. That college program outlined there in the paper is tough but I guess I could handle it (?) Whew 15 hours of Physics. That’s an awful lot. I guess there is no doubt that a person has to be in the groove on that kind of a setup. The point is though, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. A lot of the fellows here are at least Pfcs. Most of them are experienced men but a few are L.S. Well that’s all I know at present. There goes a bugle.

Back at 6:30. It was for supper. They blow a bugle every time one turns around it seems. I have been talking to several fellows. One fellow is from Rogers City, Mich., another from Massachusetts, another from Utah. The kid over me is a Kelly from New York. I guess it’s like it is everywhere. The men are from all over. Supper was pretty good – potatoes, gravy, carrot & raisin salad, apple sauce, lemon pie, cocoa, raisin & white bread, butter & jam. The food is on the table like at Benicia. The tables here are covered with oilcloth and it seems more homelike. When we are through eating we bring our dishes with us and pass along by some tubs. Each of us washes his plate & cup and thus saves a lot of work for the K.P.s. I am told that so long as I am on Special Duty I won’t get guard or K.P. I happened to be seated across from a fellow at supper who is on S.D. from Bat Q. I had heard his name a lot back there. He has been on S.D. for 5 months so I may be here a long time. He is a graduate chemist from Purdue & he expects to leave for school soon. He thinks I may go to work in the stock exchange where he is now. He is a really intelligent talking person. I may not be up for this college stuff for quite awhile so maybe I am getting a break at last. I think it is about time. Boy I’ll have to be pretty sharp by next Sat. They got a lot of them on today’s inspection for little things. Well I guess I’ve told all I can about what has happened today. I’ll know definitely what I’m doing in a day or so no doubt.

Now to my mail. Amelia says they are working Russell pretty hard. Fred is in New York at a seamanship school. He is working for a rating. Johnny is still in Duluth but he is going into the air patrol. Fred is one of 6 who were sent to school so he is doing all right for himself.

I have about four letters from different ones to answer but I’ll wait until I find for sure about this address and things.

Well at last I got your letter and it caught up 3 days at once so I haven’t lost any mail. I guess they must have a plug between me and me that catches my letters. I get around to write at least one page as you have seen by now. For gosh sakes don’t ever let Dad work like that again. Jones is interested in Jones. You know that. Didn’t Dad get anything for doing all that work? You tell Jones to go hunt up another man. He won’t make up Dad’s lost pay. That’s too hard on dad. Gee he must have hurried like he did on Gramps garden or when he was mowing his lawn. After all we come first (the 5 of us). Let Jones solve his own problems. Let him get a woman to do the work. It makes me feel awful to think that happened. I sure hope Dad is on his feet again by now. I didn’t think the car would be worn out in 3 months. Make it last until I can drive it again. One thing though. Money will buy more cars. You should do more driving. I think I’ll get to be a jeep driver (joke). I don’t blame you for not being cheerful when Dad comes home looking like that. He was worse that I the day I went to the circus. That shows me one thing. He definitely isn’t fit for the army, even L.S. I guess Dad and I will always be biff bangers [??]. It is just natural. It was a shame to lose those 4 gallons but if you couldn’t help it that’s that. Conditions alter situations or something. You don’t think they are going to tax you to pay $200 to a lot of old ducks when we are getting only $50. Counting our food & everything we don’t get over $80 a month. Don’t let Dad tell you what to do. If he is sick I want to know it. Boy you really were sort of on the spot but I guess things will be O.K. Right now I can’t place any Kenneth Greer. I may remember him later. I am glad they pulled the plug on the mail. I sure am glad my watch got there O.K. I imagine you have the other 2 packages by now and I hope you will like that 64 package. If those letters made dad feel any better maybe it is good they were held up a little. I didn’t get in any noisy crowds in Frisco. It seems very peaceful here tonight. We are sitting right here in this square in the city with no fences or nothing. My hands are coming O.K. The old dead skin is coming off now. It was worth it to miss nearly a week of that K.P. Just one thing worries me. I am afraid they’ll put me in a clerical job that I can’t handle. Still they know what I can & can’t do I guess. Maybe I’ll be given a job entirely different from that. The reason it cost me more to send the watch is simple. The postage was 24 cents but I insured it for $75 which cost 25 cents. The one he sent was insured for much less. Now do you see? The insurance made the difference. Don’t worry about sending me candy for awhile. I have money and you are going to be a little flat for awhile. Sure I write nice letters when I get a chance. Look at this one for instance. They aren’t like the ones I wrote at McCoy though. You were right. That red shirt was green but I didn’t get it anyway. Now I feel I deserve a little credit for Dad’s feeling a little better but I’ll give you 99% of the credit. Now let’s see what answers Gram’s letter needs. Walt better appreciate his porch and everything that goes with it. He won’t be seeing it much longer I’m thinking. I guess Babe is always ready to go to bed. Gee you can’t afford to let carrots or parsnips spoil with things like they are. I had it figured out that you would get all the butter you needed but maybe I was wrong. I forgot and stuck my arm in the water with my watch on but it didn’t do any damage I guess. It is running a little slow I believe. I still have my ring on. It isn’t so bad but what I can wear it O.K. Say mom did you notice Bob Munroe’s picture in that one clipping you sent? If I were in Custer I’d be home every other weekend. Orson Wells is in terrible shape. We are getting sliced bread again too. The army even had to slice its bread for awhile. The turkey was roasted. The breast is light but not so white as chicken. I like it when it is really cooked. $4 a bushel for parsnips sounds like Calif. prices. The rent can’t be raised now without gov’t permission. Mom has the ceiling rent statement.

Well that’s the mail for today. Its 8:30 and I think I’ll go to bed early for a change. I can sleep until 7:30 tomorrow.

I am not sure about this address but it should get the mail here O.K. and faster than waiting for it to be forwarded.


Pvt. ———

Bat. A 501st C.A. (A.A.)

C/O Hdq. Bat. 101st/C.A. Brigade (A.A.)

Columbia Sq. San Francisco Calif.


Of course mail sent to Benicia will be forwarded. I am not going to send out a change of address to everyone until I am sure of staying here awhile. Write as often as you can.




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