Never Will Be a Good Army Man

Thursday June 10, 1943

12:30 noon


Dear folks,

I’m back again. I’ll write until I have to go out. Last night after I finished your letter I wrote cards to the rest of the people I thought might be interested in my address. Since you said Mrs. C. gave Stachel’s my address I sent them a card too so they won’t write to Calif. or send it to Walt as that. That took up to about 9 o’clock. I got to bed at about 9:30 I guess but it’s too noisy to sleep until 10 when lights go out. I went to sleep right after 10 and woke up when somebody turned on the lights. I looked at my watch. It said 5:15 so I turned over and covered up my head and went back to sleep. We don’t get up until 5:45 so the lights were turned off until then. I got up then and dressed and fixed my bed up. We fell out at 6 for reveille. Then I came back in and cleaned up around my bed until time to go to breakfast. Breakfast was scrambled eggs, toast, butter, rice krispies, milk, and a BANANA. Can’t you get any bananas at all?

1:15. After breakfast we came back here and I took it easy until we fell out at 8 for drill. They divided us up into companies alphabetically and then arranged us by height. Then from 8:15 to about 10:30 we drilled in squads, platoons and companies. We had an occasional break but it’s still too hot. Finally we came in and had to arrange our stuff all the same for Sat. inspection. I fixed up my stuff, shined my shoes and then lay down and nearly slept until we fell out for dinner at about 11:30. We marched to eat and I was lucky to be one of the first. Since they rotate I will be nearly last tonight. The meal was good. We had beef (or pork), potatoes, dressing, string beans (or carrots), vanilla pudding (or chocolate), bread, butter, and milk. The stuff in parentheses is the choice we had but I didn’t take. I should have taken the chocolate pudding but I thought I was getting lemon. It was good anyway. I took my time coming back and got back about 12:30. I wrote until mail call. I got your Thurs. June 3 letter so I read it and the clippings and now I’m writing again. The mail is doing swell. It’s only taking a week to go back and forth across the country. Lots of times it has taken that long just to get to Calif. It sure is hot. It was sprinkling a little around noon but it didn’t last. It was raining yet no clouds were overhead. I don’t know what we’ll do this afternoon yet but I hope it’s easy. I’m signing off now at 1:25.

Back at 7:00 – 8 for you. Let’s see, if I remember rightly Baby Snooks should be on. About 5 minutes after I quit we fell out and drilled until 3:00. We drilled in squads and each of us had to take turns in commanding. I didn’t do bad or very good either. I don’t think I’ll ever make a good driller. At 3 we came in and changed to fatigues. Then at 15 to 4 we fell out and marched to the tennis courts and basketball fields. We had our choice of basketball or volleyball. I like basketball but I knew it was too hot to play such a fast game. I took the volleyball at which I was a complete flop. I can get the class work but they’ll find I’m a complete bust at these games, most of which I never played. Incidentally they say we will drill only once a week when classes start. They didn’t say how long though. Maybe it will seem better when we get into our permanent quarters and start regular classes. We played until 4:30. We came back and I grabbed a shower and put on clean socks. I can’t put on clean underwear as I have none. I washed the sweat off but it’s all back in a short time. I’m sitting here now with my shirt off and I can feel the water on my back. Incidentally my forehead, nose and especially the back of my neck feel pretty touchy from too much sun. I guess I didn’t burn my back much though. I changed to my suntans and we had a physical exam again at about 5. They asked if we had fevers or sore throats and looked at our chest and backs. I think they’re hunting measles. I loafed around until supper time. My shoes were red from playing in the dirt so I had a little trouble with them. I was near the end of the chow line so I sat down on the lawn under a tree and waited until the line shortened. I wasn’t going to stand in the sun and fry if I didn’t have to. It’s really nice here in the shade but in the sun it’s very hot yet the temperature is not so high as in Frisco. It’s the humidity. I wish I could wander around and look at the campus and town and the swell wooded hills all around. When we are released I’ll have too much work to do. Supper was beef, potatoes, gravy, tomatoes, little radishes (can you picture me eating radishes?), cake, biscuit, w.w. bread, butter and milk. After supper I came back here. Mail call was over but I didn’t get any anyway. I got mine this noon. Now I’m writing. I suppose tomorrow will be the same again. Saturday we have an inspection by the Colonel. I don’t know if we’ll have Sat. afternoon and Sunday off or not. If we do we’re still confined to barracks. I should shave but this shaving every day is making my face tender and besides there’s too many waiting to use the sinks now. Maybe I’ll wake up in time to get up early in the morning. There’s no drinking fountain in the gym. We have to go to the lobby and we can’t go out there without shirt and tie. I put some in my canteen, but it doesn’t stay cold. Now to your letter of Thurs. June 3. – That’s quite a graduating class. I know or know of some of them. The mail may have slowed up over the holiday. That’s why you got 3 at once. That makes air mail seem sort of useless though. If it’s as hot there as here I can see why dad is worn out. Why doesn’t Dad ride the buses or are they so crowded? I won’t sit up to write because I couldn’t if I wanted to. When lights go out we go to bed. It isn’t like the camp in Col.Sq. I really don’t know what the chem. engineering will lead to but it isn’t building bridges and roads that’s a cinch. I’m bound to learn some chemistry which I can use. Maybe I’ll like it better than straight chem. My buttons look awful now and my shoes don’t polish up right either. I need a buffing cloth. The one you sent to McCoy has ripped into several small pieces. I get a glow but no real shine. They need to be washed with saddle soap. I have lost about 7 pounds according to the last time I was weighed but its still 155 or 6 more than Pop. I can’t get the milk and ice cream here like at Sequoia. I can put the hand cream on my sunburn. It will cool it. I could and do get things but right now I’m where I can’t. I expect to be here 3 months and maybe 5 or 6 so this address will last awhile. I put just a couple drops of hair tonic on. My feet would smell but I wash them at least once a day. I really should have clean socks at least every 2 days. The same with underwear when it’s this hot. You remember how I sweat at the store last summer. I’ll be paid in full on June 30. I didn’t get the shoes. If you have a spare sugar stamp that no one is going to use don’t let it go to waste. Get a pair of 9 ½ or 10 oxfords, brown with plain toe either laced like the ones I have or with the buckle. Just a little large for Dad will fit me. I’ll pay for them. But if anyone needs it don’t do it. See. You have until June 30 on that stamp don’t you. I have to get these tapped if I can because the soles are shot. I can probably get a certificate here but it will take a little time. I wish you could do up my wash and patching. It wouldn’t cost me any more than laundry. $1.40 for what I had this time. It probably would have come and gone for $1.00 postage but it’s a little impractical from such a distance. I would complete the course if I went thru but I would not get a degree. I might get a commission but I doubt it. I guess I’m in Term I but I’ll be able to do work. I doubt if we basics will ever finish. They may take us out as soon as we get the main points mastered. I may be wrong on that. We work on the cadet system which means demerits for this and that. I’ll get plenty of them probably. I am not and never will be a good army man. I can learn the class work but I don’t give a rap for the rest. I wouldn’t have gotten the A in R.O.T.C. if they hadn’t marked solely on tests. The same goes in part for Phys. Ed. It was the final exam. Gramp’s memory is terrible. I think you know when you were born O.K. You ought to, you were there. I haven’t had a letter from Gram since May 17 that I can find anyway. Oh yes, here’s one I got June 1. It was postmarked May 27. Is that the one you mentioned? There is no swimming pool on this campus. There is one in town but I hardly think we’ll use it. You know I’ll get home as soon as I can. I wish it were right now and I mean it. Nate is a lucky guy if he doesn’t know it. A whole year in school makes quite a difference. The pre-meds are here as engineers though. That’s the army way.

Well that brings me up to date to 8 p.m. today. I think I’ll quit and take it easy the rest of the day. After I use up these air mail envelopes I’m going to use Free mail. I doubt if there is much difference from this distance. So for another day so long and take it easy. We just got another group of men in. This place is really full. Well good night.





Pretty crude but it’s entirely from memory.

[map sketch of the Midwest, with dotted line from Fayetteville to Lansing]

Share your thoughts