Please Excuse Poem

Friday, February 5, 1943

About 9:45 Pacific time

12:45 your time


Dear folks,

Well I’m in Nevada today. Last night after I finished writing, I read 30 pages or so in Good Earth. The sgt. came through and asked if anyone had any letters they wanted mailed. I gave him mine so I hope he mailed it in Salt Lake City. We had a little trouble last night. We ran into a snow storm on our way down out of the mountains in Utah. Then a train ahead of us broke down and we had to push that for several miles. We got into Salt Lake City well after dark and I was in bed. We get to bed at about 9. I didn’t see much of the town but it must spread over a huge area. Once I woke up and looked out and we were in the station and just starting to leave. The city itself must have been on the other side of the train but what I saw was quite neat looking and well lighted. I saw some towers which looked like they might be for a radio station and I also saw several factories. This morning I got up at 6:30 pacific time and we were in Elco Nevada. During the night, probably in Salt Lake City, we got rid of the other troop train and hooked on to a 7 car passenger train. We have passed through several small settlements this morning. The largest were Carlon and Battle Mountain. The scenery here in Nevada has been beautiful. We are riding on a flat plain 6 or 7 miles wide and on both sides are the most beautiful snow covered peaks I have seen yet. They look like an artist’s painting. The level part is covered with short bushy vegetation of some kind; it may be sage brush. I am still looking for the desert. These mountains are really wonderful They may not be so big but they are as pretty as any picture I have ever seen of the Alps. They are capped completely with snow and with the sun shining on them are prettier than I can find words to describe. There is no reason why anyone should go to Europe or any other place to see nature’s beauty. We’ve got more than enough for everybody right here at home. Now we are in a fair sized town called Winnemoca (I hope that’s spelled right). A fellow came through selling cards and folders but they were gone before I could get any. A bunch of kids just got off the civilian train hooked to us and we guessed that they were a basketball team.  Gee, I just saw one of those folders and even though they cost 25 cents I wish I could have got one. They showed some of the very places we have passed through. Maybe I can get one someplace yet. There was a picture of these mts. I have been talking about and they are called the ruby range. We’re moving again but the mountains are still there. I don’t know when we’ll hit Frisco but they told us we wouldn’t sleep on the train tonight. We will go thru Reno this afternoon. I guess I forgot to mention I had breakfast at about 9:15. Potatoes, eggs, cream of wheat, muffin, bread, apricot jam, and an orange. Pretty good. We are stopped out here in the brush now for some reason. There are no trees in sight, just little bushes 8 or 10 inches high. We are moving again now. Boy we really are jerked around. They call the engineer a cowboy because of the way he stops and starts. Well I’ll be back later when I see something interesting again.

Back about 1 o’clock. We are still in much the same type of country but we must have dropped a lot because the mountain tops aren’t covered with snow here nearly so much. This looks like desert land to me. There is sand and not much vegetation. Yet here is a lot of water around. Little gullies are wet and one creek had overflowed. I imagine it is from snow melting and running down the mts. This would be one hot place in the summer! The real big mountains seem to be getting farther and farther away on both sides. The plain is widening out. Right now where we are the sand is all built up in hills a foot or two high. I don’t know if that is from the wind or animals. We have passed through the town of Imlay and Lovelock, a pretty good sized town along with several other little settlements. We should hit Reno pretty soon. We must really be in the desert now for the vegetation is getting thinner and thinner. There are still a lot of water puddles though.

A fellow came through selling souvenirs and wanted $1.25 for a pillow cover no better than the one I sent you from McCoy. That one only cost 85 cents. The price of stuff on the trains is prohibitive. 5 cent newspapers are 10 cents and a little tiny sack of peanuts is 10 cents. In Omaha apples & oranges were 10 cents each. Boy am I glad I had all I needed when I started. I have one orange left. All my candy bars are gone but one so I think I did pretty well and was smart to have the stuff in the beginning so thank you.

This is looking more and more like a swamp than a desert. There is water all over and it looks muddy. It reminds me some of the beaches we have seen only this goes on and on.

Back again much later at about 4:30. We just got into California. We came into the town of Sparks Nev. about 2 o’clock. The scenery had been pretty much the same all along. We stopped there a few minutes and we got out and walked the length of the train and got back on at the dining car for dinner. While we were eating we pulled on into Reno and stopped for passengers. Dinner was pretty good – roast beef, mashed potatoes, string beans, salad, bread, butter and pears. While I was eating some Red Cross women from a mobile canteen passed out doughnuts, coffee, gum, cigarettes, etc. to the boys who had already eaten. I was too late to get anything because when I finished the train was ready to move. We eat in shifts and I’m on the last car so we eat last. Reno is quite a nice place. There were a lot of soldiers there with the air corps insignia and I understand there is an air base near there. I also saw 2 officers from the chemical warfare division. I didn’t recognize any movie stars but we saw a young girl and a sailor who had just been married. Everywhere we go we see all kinds of soldiers and sailors. (A man just came in selling Bireleys orangeade at 50 cents a quart. He didn’t sell any.) Reno is quite a city and seems to be real clean. It is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It looked like a nice place to look over. Ever since we left Reno the scenery has been swell. The temp. there was like mid-May but now we are up in the mountains and there is about a foot of snow all over. We have been following a river for miles and I have never seen such wild water. It is rapids its whole length. We have just stopped in a small town and there is a ski jump up on a hill. There are several nice homes here too. We are in Cal. now where the wealthy folks live. These mountains are pretty in a different way. They are covered with beautiful pines. The mountains in Nevada were treeless. Everything one sees is beautiful and everything is different from everything else. If the sun shines in all of Cal. like it does here I’ll maybe like it after all. Our engine is one of those affairs that has the cab way out in front. It’s the first time I’ve seen them. This town is Truckee, Cal, and we’re leaving now. I’ve given you the names of a lot of the towns I’ve passed through but I don’t know if they are on a map so you can see my path or not. I’ve tried to take you along with me on this trip. We are supposed to be coming to a tunnel now. The highways out here are swell but I haven’t seen any roadside tables. In some of those states you could go 50 or 60 miles without finding a tree to put one under. It’s worse than it is up around Traverse City. We are now 208 miles from Frisco. We are way way up and as I look off I see a rolling blanket of green and white. The timber is getting thicker and thicker as we go on into California. We just went through that tunnel and off to one side as we came out was the first lake I have seen on the trip. It is about 300 feet below in a valley and is beautiful. Another tunnel. They aren’t real tunnels; they are built to keep the snow from drifting over the tracks. We’re really up in the air now. Another snow shed. Another one. Boy is this country pretty!

Boy we are in a real tunnel now, several miles long. I just filled my pen and when I put the ink back in my grip I cut the nicest slice off the first finger of my right hand on my razor. Not serious though. We just get out of one tunnel and go into another and the train is filling with smoke. I just opened another box of Cracker Jack but I didn’t find any prize in the end. Maybe it’s in the other end. So far I’ve got a wooden rolling pin, a cutout of Mary and lamb, and a little charm of a bottle of choc. milk. I found it. It’s a picture of a Spanish airplane.

Finally we are back in the sunshine. For a long time all we saw was the inside of snow sheds & tunnels. Boy is this snow deep. It’s drifted clear up even with the roofs of some of the buildings. We sure see a lot of different kinds of weather and climates. This ought to be great country for skiing and skating. There is a beautiful hotel and lodge built up here at a place called Soldiers Springs. We evidently are coming into a winter sport area. I’m glad I can see a little of this during the day. We are traveling around a deep valley way up on the side of a mountain. The valley is hundreds of feet below. Somebody just saw some deer. I’ve noticed a lot of tracks in the snow. We’re going down now and hitting more snow sheds. I just saw a fire tower way up on a hill.

I just saw a little waterfall. We are dropping down fast now. California here I come but it’s not where I started from. Someday soon I’ll have my wish and be right back in good old Mich(igan).  Please excuse poem. I just saw another lake way below but it was frozen solid. Here’s a little settlement built on the side of the mountain. At some time there has been a forest fire along here where I am now for there are burned skeletons sticking up all around. We have just passed a little place called Blue Canon. We’re beginning to leave the snow behind us now. I doubt if there will be any in Frisco although I hear it’s not too hot there. You see Cal. is a big state and Frisco is about 500 miles north of Los Angeles & Hollywood. No more snow but we are still way way up. Well I’ll sign off till after supper. Frisco is 158 miles.

Back after supper – chicken soup (I didn’t eat), chicken or turkey I don’t know which but it was breast, dressing, potatoes, green peas, tomato salad, bread, butter, peaches. It is dark now and they made us pull down all the shades to black out the train. So all I know is I am in Cal. somewhere about 100 miles from Frisco. What camp I’m going to or anything else I don’t know. Latest rumor is 35 miles from Frisco in either the coast artillery or air corps ground crew. I hope it’s the coast. Well this is all for now. Keep writing and I’ll do the same.


Love to all


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