The Bacteria in Dick’s Nose

Friday, February 12, 1943


Dear folks,

Happy Lincoln’s birthday. Maybe I’ll learn to spell sometime. I started to write this at 6:30 when the Pres. was talking but somebody yelled mail call and that was more important so I didn’t hear the speech. It took about 40 minutes to pass out the mail. I got your box of papers & the magazine and Mrs. C. swell box of stationery – 50 envelopes & 60 sheets of paper. I don’t need to worry about stationery now for a while with that & the package I was able to get. I wrote asking you for stationery when it looked as if I wasn’t going to get any. If you send it, it will be O.K. I can always use it. I also got the letter you wrote Tues. Feb. 2. I wasn’t expecting it because I understood you were stopping with the Mon. letter till you had my new address. Now I’ll keep looking for more letters. Besides that I got ones from Hugh and from Dick Hollingsworth a kid I went to school with. He got my address from Nate.

Last night I got to bed at 10. I was up at about 6:15 again this morning and was dressed and had my bed made by breakfast. We had scrambled eggs, toast, oatmeal and stewed apricots. I went back and got seconds on the oatmeal and apricots. After breakfast we cleaned the barracks as usual. Then we fell out and picked up all the trash on the ground nearby. Then we drilled for an hour or so. After that we all marched over to the dispensary and we were there till dinner time. Each one had to wait in line and then the medics pricked the end of our little finger and got a drop of blood on a microscopic slide. This is to determine our blood type should we ever need a transfusion. Dinner today was navy beans (the barracks smell it too), yellow string beans, pickled beets, salad, biscuits and butter. After dinner we fell out and marched a little and learned to open ranks for inspection tomorrow morning. After a lot of practice we quit to get the barracks straightened up. I swept and mopped some, dusted off my shoes and got my clothes straightened out a little. They took laundry yesterday and I guess I should have sent mine. After we finished the barracks, I grabbed a shower, put on cleaned clothes and got into my O.D.’s. It seemed good to get out of those fatigues. We are supposed to shave every night but if I do I’ll just scrape my face. I’m hoping my whiskers won’t be noticeable for inspection tomorrow or I’ll be on K.P. probably. By that time it was supper time. The first time I got macaroni & tomatoes (very few), salad, bread, orange marmalade and cake, the second time I got macaroni and bread & jam and the third time I got a double helping of macaroni. I must be getting to be a hog. After supper I loafed around a little and started to write as I said.

You know the 23 candy bars I had. I’ve got 4 left. I’ve sold 8 and eaten 11 in 3 days. I really am a hog. I think I can get some more. That kid from Port Huron has the bright idea of buying the candy and selling them at 2 for 15 and that way we can get ours for nothing. I’m not interested in making a profit myself.

So Jack Watkins is alumni president. Somebody wrote me that Jack is going into the army Feb. 15. That engagement of Bill Bowden is no surprise. He has gone with that pigeon toed girl for years. She sure isn’t pretty. I was glad to get your nice long letter because your Mon. letter had sounded final till I had a new address. So Guy lives on River St. That must be right across from the coal yards there. I wonder how that guy got in the headquarters

company. Anyhow he is an infantry man, a mud-lugger. That 10% idea isn’t too bad because you’ll have about the same pay and you won’t be buying stamps from your pay after you get it so really you’ll have more. Let pop wear the scarf if he wants. Just so long as he doesn’t lose any of it he can wear anything I have even my last pair of shoes.

How is that show rationing coming. I wondered why that Mon. letter was so long getting started. Yet it was the first one to get here. I’ll bet my mail is coming to you irregularly now but you’ll have to make the best of it. I’m writing every day. When you were writing I was somewhere in Minn. or Iowa. Boy dad’s premonition really backfired. I sure wasn’t getting near to him but farther & farther away. I wear olive drab pants (O.D.) but there aren’t any stripes. The candy situation must be tough. We can get all we want if we weren’t quarantined. We just can’t get to it. I heard that Zane Amell was a lieutenant now. Do you know if that is right? We are needing hair cuts too. There aren’t any barbers in our gang. I haven’t been to a show in 3 weeks. The pancakes at Custer were made from a prepared batter. I don’t know how it is here or in McCoy. The syrup is sometimes Karo. At other times they have it in pans and I don’t know what kind it is. That cough syrup is doggone good. If I could get home I wouldn’t care how the bed was. As one fellow said, we’ll run every time we hear a whistle and when somebody throws a dog a bone we’ll race him for it. The stripes are green on black. A corporal is [sketch of chevron]. Nate wrote O.K. but I still haven’t answered him or any of the rest. I don’t care whether Thelma writes or not. If she does I’ll answer. I don’t know why that hike is after dark. We had no rifle range practice. Remember that road that goes out of Petoskey toward Charlevoix. We spent most of the morning in Petoskey and left about 10:30. We ate dinner on that road at a curve in the road in a little grove. There were 2 tables there and you were afraid someone else would come along and want one. I believe you washed there too. Can you remember it now. I’d like to take you and show you the place. The rubber picking up was the next day near Muskegon. I’d like to slap a tennis ball around again in that gym outfit. You better let the dresser go for awhile till you get all your bills paid up. Don’t be afraid to wind the watch. I won’t always stand in line but I’m wondering when I’ll quit. All we do is hurry up and wait.

Hugh was home again on Sunday Jan. 31, the lucky boy. He wanted to know what I am training for. I’d like to know too. He was on the rifle range and missed 4 points of qualifying. I don’t know what that means. He got 88 out of 100 on a driving test. He’ll probably be an assistant driver.

I don’t think you knew Dick Hollingsworth. He went to Eastern and to M.S.C. He lives on South St. and got my address from Nate. His letter sounds like a theme. He just registered and expects to be called at the end of the term. He wants to know what to expect. Everybody wants me to tell them what they can expect. I must be their guinea pig. He doesn’t intend to ask any military secrets though. The bacteriologist at M.S.C. is making a vaccine from bacteria in Dick’s nose and is trying to combat his sinus trouble with it. If it doesn’t work Dick intends to transfer to the U. of New Mexico next winter. I wonder if the has forgotten the army. It hasn’t forgotten him. If he does get in the army he is going to ask to be transferred to the desert. I doubt if he’ll get his wish. You don’t ask for things in the army. You take what you get. He likes trig. & boxing but hates German. He likes Spanish. He wants me to write when I can. Now I’m getting more mail that I can answer.

Well that’s the day’s activities and mail. It’s about 9:15 so I’ll have to quit pretty soon. I won’t have time to write to Mrs. C. tonight but tomorrow for sure. I really do appreciate that stationery and I’m not kidding. It was awfully foggy when I went out this morning but it cleared away and was a swell hot day. Hot too believe it or not. While we were at the dispensary for our blood tests I could see some big mountains which aren’t visible from our area. The higher ones don’t appear to have trees on them. I have a lot of washing to do sometime – set of wool underwear, 2 prs. of socks, towel, wash rag, four hankies. I am wearing shorts and wool underwear shirts. The cotton shirts go around me nearly twice – size 44 instead of 34. The shorts are white broadcloth. Maybe I can get my shirts exchanged for the right size. I can’t get my glasses fixed until I get to my station. I don’t miss them too much but I do miss them especially in the sun. A good jeweler or oculist could fix them in a short time. This kid from Port Huron says his dad is an optometrist. He used to help his dad grind lenses and he wants to be a doctor himself. He would like to get in the medical corps. His father’s office & equipment were destroyed by fire and he had to work his last year in school. He graduated last June and is 20. He also has “one of those things” – a step-mother. His mother is dead. He is rather noisy but I kind of like him. I think he has a lot of good points although they are a little hidden. We have some members of the intelligentsia in our barracks who listen to long haired music and read Milton but they are too stiff for me. I like natural people.

Tomorrow morning the Capt. from the other bunch is coming over to inspect us and our lieut. is going to inspect them so they’ll both probably be pretty critical. I sure am making a lot of mistakes tonight. This page isn’t very neat. Francois the Port Huron kid wonders how I can write so small. All I hope is you can read it. I write small to save paper and bulk in my letters but I suppose it is hard for you to read. I imagine that these 6 pages equal about 8 or 10 on your size paper. I hope so. This doesn’t look like a long letter but there is quite a bit here. I like to get good long letters and I suppose you do too.

I still don’t know what FDR said but I hope it was good. I hope we get out here inside of a year. When I get my discharge they better nail down the railroad tracks ‘cause I’m going to tear them up if they don’t.

Well this is enough for tonight. Keep me looking for mail and I’ll write so long as I have time.

I just heard we get up at 4:30 tomorrow. I hope it’s a rumor.

Good night and love to you all.


Your wondering and wandering son




[sketches – Valentine heart & map of California]


  1. Al
    May 5, 2014

    Brian, I really enjoyed your “pin” on FDR’s press Conf. I recently read a biography by H.W. Brands that went into a lot of detail of his relationship with Washington Press Corps.

  2. Brian
    May 5, 2014

    Very interesting. I will have to add that to the stack of things to read next year!

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