The K.P. Kid

Thursday March 11, 1943



My letters may be short for awhile. I start steady K.P. tomorrow Mar. 12.


Dear folks,

Well today is the day and we’ve had our inspections. I suppose my yesterday’s letter was a little unconnected but I didn’t have much time and I was also a little excited too I guess. After supper, just before alert, I was drafted to unload and spread another load of gravel along with a couple other fellows. We didn’t go out on the alert and we hurried and finished before the alert was over, so we gained some time on the others. I went to work on my stuff. I shined my shoes, cleaned my aluminum, and I spent about 1 ½ hour on my rifle. Then I washed and I got to bed at about 10:30. They woke us up at 4:45 to get the barracks in order. I dressed, washed, made my bed and spread out my junk on my bed – shelter half, belt, rain coat, canteen, cup and mess equipment, towel, hankie, underwear , tooth brush, powder, razor, blade & shaving cream and I guess that was about all. Oh yes, helmet, gas mask, and rifle. Then by the time I got the whole works set up it was time for reveille. After roll call we had breakfast. Boy was I surprised. Each of us got a banana. They were the first ones I’ve seen in months. I believe it was before Xmas. They had Rice Krispies too so naturally I sliced up my banana and had a real dish of cereal homestyle. Besides that I had an egg, 2 pancakes, syrup, cake and milk. After breakfast I put the finishing touches on my display of equipment. We had the alert but we didn’t do much and I managed to maneuver in a manner so that I kept my shined shoes from getting muddy. When we got in I washed my hands, changed to my O.D.’s and got set. We went out with our rifles for inspection in ranks at about 10 to 9:00. The inspection was made by the major and a lieutenant. The lieut. inspected my group. Confidentially I didn’t do so well. When the officer steps in front of you, you bring your rifle up and do “inspection arms.” First you come to port arms and then you pull back the bolt so the breech is open. I brought it up but gripped the bolt first so he politely told me to do it over again right. I know what he was getting at and the second time it was O.K. If you mess up the manual of arms they pay more attention to your rifle. He asked me if I had a front sight cover. I told him it was all right there, all that I had been issued. Then he asked me if I had ever tried to get one from the supply office. I told him no, that I didn’t know it was missing. I didn’t know I was supposed to have one. What do I know about rifles? I don’t want to know anything about them anyhow. I have no interest along that line. I suppose its fun to fire one and see how good you are but its fun to drive a car too and I don’t expect to learn all of its parts and how to tear it apart. He also found a little spot of rust that I had missed last night. The inspection in ranks took nearly an hour. Then we went inside and got ready for the inspection of quarters and equipment. The major and his lieut. along with our cap’t and 4 lieuts and the st/sgt. came through. We stood at attention beside our bed. The major and the rest came down the aisle and he was coming pretty fast until he got in front of me. He got nearly past and then stopped. I said to myself, Oh! Oh! Then he said to somebody – there is a wonderful set of shoe shines. Boy did I feel relieved. They didn’t spend much time in our barracks. Everything was O.K. except the stoves were dirty. As soon as they left, we took care of everything. I changed to my clean fatigues and sorted out my dirty clothes. Then I started to read my yesterday’s mail. I got a letter from Mrs. C. last night so that made 10 for yesterday. I also got 2 letters today – your last Sat. & Sun. letter Mar. 6 & 7 and a letter from Dick Hollingsworth.  I now have in all about 15 letters to answer. By then it was dinner time. I had potatoes, cabbage, peas, salad, biscuits, butter, cherry pie and ice cream. The cap’t told us the inspection as a whole was satisfactory and below. We got the afternoon off. I expected to get gigged because of that rust on my rifle but they had a gig-list and they rounded them all up and I wasn’t on it. They had to work this afternoon while we were off. I took advantage of the time off to do out some washing. I don’t like to send my own things to the laundry because they often exchange things. I washed 7 hankies, a washcloth, 3 towels, 2 prs. of shorts and 2 prs. of socks. My wool underwear shirt and my fatigues are going to the laundry. I just finished washing before I started writing and I have it hung on a wire outside. That brings me up to the moment. I have oil on my rifle and I’ve got to keep it in shape from now on. I don’t want to be caught at the last minute for the next inspection. It made me feel good to get a compliment on my shoes. They did have a swell shine and they had been filthy with mud too. It is a swell sunshiny day here and now that I am past that inspection I feel pretty swell. My fatigue hat is pretty dirty so I dug out that little cap I wore at McCoy. I have been wearing it on the back of my head like a ball cap in a very un-military manner I suppose but it makes me feel better that way. I’d like to play some tennis or something this afternoon. Tonight they are going to have what they call a beer bust. It is the same thing they had our first night here. I don’t care about that but I do feel pretty happy today except – tomorrow I go on K.P. and I think it will be steady for awhile at least. Two of the four who were scheduled to go on steady went on today. They are still on tomorrow and we other 2 also go on so I guess it is permanent at least until more new men come in. They are planning a new setup here and as things stack up it may not be too bad. The alerts are getting earlier and later every day. So they start this new setup Mar. 15. They will eat breakfast after going out on alert at about 8:00 instead of 6:30. Then they will work until 11:30 as usual. They will eat at 12:00 and have time off until 3:00 for athletics or anything they want to do. Then they go to work again. By summer they will be getting up at 4:00 and staying out on alert until after 10 at night. They will get one 24 hour pass or day off each week. On K.P. the hours will be longer probably. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to myself. We may have quite a bit and then again we may work from morning until 8:30 or 9:00 at night. We are supposed to get a pass every 5 days according to what they told us so we will get more time off on passes than the others. It’s hard to tell what will work out. I’ve found that you can’t plan much on the army. As someone said there are 2 ways of doing everything, the right way and the Army way. Anyway my letters may be a little shorter but don’t doubt that I am writing because I am. I have hopes of something good coming from this college training. It will probably take 2 or 3 weeks yet though. If that materializes I won’t mind doing some K.P. but K.P. for the duration is enough to make a person go over the well known hill. They call this the guard house battery. Half of it is in the guard house and the other half is over the hill. I don’t know when I’ll answer this mail from other people. Some of it is from McCoy, a lot from Santa Rosa, and some direct to here. I also have some new addresses that you sent & Dick Hollingsworth sent me a boy’s address that I used to know. He is in the Medics up here in Fort Lewis, Washington. Aunt Marie also hinted that Leo would like to get a letter. She doesn’t want him to know she mentioned it but she says he noticed it because I wrote cards to little George and Irving. I’ll have to remedy that situation I guess. I have the following unanswered mail – a card and letter from Aunt Edna, a card and letter from Sunfield, a letter from Aunt Marie, one from Geo. C. Ralph (incidentally it was Aunty who sent that book) one from Dick H. and one from Gram. Well now I’ll start to answer your letters. First the one of last Sat. and Sun. Mar. 6 & 7. I imagine that by now you have gotten quite a few letters. I have written to you every day since I left home and I’ll continue to do so unless it is absolutely impossible. It may be delayed somewhere but that isn’t my fault. Evidently there has been a delay somewhere along the line. I have had the same thing. I didn’t get any direct mail from you yesterday, but I got enough old mail from Santa Rosa to fill the gap. Yet I got a letter last night from Mrs. C. postmarked 5/12 hours later than the one I got from you today. All I can say is I am writing and if you don’t get a letter for 2 or 3 days there must be a stoppage somewhere. Maybe a plane crashed or there is a snow storm or something. I follow your letters to see which ones of mine you get and you have gotten them all up to date. Some days you get 2 and then none the next. I have the same thing quite often. I always know what letter to look for. By that I mean I know which days letter. Tomorrow or tonight I should get your Mon. letter. I’m anxious to get it and see your reactions to that test I took because by Mon. you should have gotten my last Mon. letter telling I took it. I hope they don’t waste a lot of time. I believe these soldiers are to be placed in the schools by April 15. You sent me a clipping but I can’t remember the date for sure. Anyway I may be leaving here pretty soon. If I do leave and I have a doggone strong basis for thinking I will, I imagine I’ll be coming closer to home although that is just a guess. I’ve read a lot about the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. That would be a 3,000 mile trip. If I am not up for training they would not have called me in yesterday and asked for my choice of fields of training and of branches of the service. I really feel I may get a break this time. If I am fooled I imagine I will be able to get along. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose. If I move I will probably know in time to give you at least a hint. I also will probably travel pretty much on my own. It won’t be like a troop movement. There will probably be only a small group of us. I hope they have lots of openings for training for chemists. I bet they’ll really lay the stuff on too. They won’t waste time so the slow ones can keep up like they do in real schools. I guess you can tell by the way I write that I am building up a lot of expectations but if it falls thru I don’t think it will bother me too much. Before I leave, if I do, I want to get one of the arm insignia that they wear here for a souvenir. It is like this [sketch] and stands for the General Headquarters Reserve. A new one is coming out pretty soon. I haven’t got Carl’s letter yet but if I do I’ll answer him in turn when I get the time. I don’t know how it will be for us but I understand the others have to leave camp when they get their passes, otherwise they will have to go on working. On the K.P. I think it will be different because the cooks get time off but can stay here. The time off will be noon to noon for others. Ours is supposed to be six a.m. to six a.m. which is better. I will have the day to go or do what I want and I can come back to sleep. My time won’t be divided by the night that is if our setup is as they told us last Sun. As I always say, time will tell. Anyway people will probably think I don’t pay much attention to their letters when they don’t get prompt replies but I can’t help it. So Carl finally got his divorce. My letters are in my grip but I’ll get them ready to send home as soon as I can. I don’t want to burn them. It isn’t that I don’t want to do as you ask but I haven’t had any chance to do it yet and I guess I put things off too much. A lot of fellows have packs of letters. One kid writes about 8 pages to his wife every night. He wrote number 83 today. I agree that L.S. men are worth more in plants and on the farms. Most of them were in an essential industry before going into the army. I wouldn’t worry about drafting the women if I were you. That is a pretty drastic measure. I don’t seem to be able to remember how Dave Minor plays the piano but I am not so different in the music I like than you. I like this jive stuff because it peps you up and lifts your spirits but I also like real music. I think that those people who write to me should write to you too but I’ll not suggest it to them as I know you wouldn’t want that. Yes Aunt Edna has written twice to me in Cal. You better not sit in the house all summer if you have a chance to get out. Go with dad when he goes out. You shouldn’t sit at home all the time. It doesn’t seem right that it is so cold back there when we are having early summer weather. The mail you didn’t get Tues. you either got Mon. or Wed. As for your mail going to Guy Forist don’t worry about that. You have those cards filed and if I wrote to you at any address in Lansing you would still get the letter. If anything you are apt to get his mail as you did once. I don’t eat much meat so I don’t think I’ll get any horse meat. They haven’t tried that yet anyway. Gee Dad shouldn’t let his pants get so dirty. If he or you need any clothes you should get them because you never can tell how the situation may be later. I have intended to write to several of my teachers but time is my worst enemy I guess. I’ll use Mrs. C. paper until it is gone. She sent it to me to write on and I’ll use it. She will get as many letters on it as I write to her before it is all gone. I don’t intend to save it all for her though. We will have range practice probably but I doubt if we have any maneuvers. That is for field artillery and infantry most.

Back at about 6:45. They pulled two of us out to unload and spread a load of gravel. We worked at average speed and were just about finished at the time for alert so the fellow told us to rake it around and sweep some. This took us until the fellows had gone out on alert. Then he let us go so although I lost some of my afternoon off I gained it back by not going on the alert. I also got 2 pieces of ice cream from the cooks in the kitchen, so I didn’t lose too much in the deal. Now back to your letter. I am not sick or apt to be. The butter milk didn’t bother. It was butter milk all right but I just don’t like it. Hugh has written twice since he was married but he hasn’t mentioned it to me. The one thing he mentioned was that while he was in Lansing he saw Nate at a bowling alley and he was surprised to see Nate smoking. You wouldn’t think he would pay attention to a thing like that. I didn’t go to church last Sunday. I guess we can both hang on as long as things are as good as they are and the mail man holds out. I wouldn’t worry too much about 4-14 men being drafted. Dad has a bona fide dependent in Gram and that’s an honest fact. Whether he may be caused to go to a war job is something else. He might better do that than be drafted. I’d come back and take a war job now if they would let me go but I guess they have other plans. If this whole thing wasn’t so dead serious, I would get a big kick out of thinking of Dad in the army. He would no doubt be L.S. If he ever got in he had better say he is a truck driver. He ought to be able to handle a 1 ½ ton or 2 ½ ton snub nose job. I don’t know about a prime mover. Anyone can toss a jeep around. Of course you have to have an Army driver’s license which is something else. A good truck driver can get a T/5 rating – $66 a month. It would be tough if one of us got be an officer over the other. I can see dad saluting officers and doing the manual of arms, to the rear march, but the right flank, etc. I also can get an inward laugh seeing him on K.P. Enough laughs at his expense and I earnestly hope and pray that he won’t get a taste of any of it. I would hate to have him have to do any of the things even I have had to do. Did you find out how or where Bob Hutchens was hurt? Is he on sick leave? Well I guess that covers your Sat. & Sun. letters. To dad’s letter – I am glad you liked the card. I hope you and mom can get up to the place soon. You know when I work around here with tarpaper or old lumber or gravel it seems sort of like the good old days up there when we poured concrete and sawed crooked boards. I don’t like to change my address so often either but if the change is for the better I won’t mind at all. A kid who works over at regimental says things are popping so I may hear something definite pretty soon. If you get to be a private and I am an officer you better salute and say sir or I’ll put you on K.P. Gee it would be nice if you could get gas for a vacation. You never can tell. We might be able to take a trip yet. We’ll wait and see. A kid bought a cucumber tonight to eat and it cost him 30 cents. Oranges are 30 cents a dozen. I’ll try to get those letters out soon. If I stay on K.P. here as scheduled I’ll have a 24 hour pass coming up early next week and I intend to go to Frisco and see what I can see. I may as well see it as I may not be in this part of the country too long. I think I’ll go east and maybe south on my next move (if I move). That covers the fresh mail. The alert is about over so I’ll go wash and get ready to eat. I’ll see you later.

Back pretty late. We had a get together with cheese sandwiches, pickles, potatoes, and ripe olives – that was what I ate. We have a fellow who is a good accordion player and he did the entertaining. I will quit this at 10:00. I have to get up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow to go on K.P. I’m glad I wasn’t on today. They’ll be there until midnight or after.

Now your Mon. Feb. 22 letter. What is the Dave Minor way? I’d like to learn to play the piano any way. Henry Aldrich is on now. I still think I’d like a furlough even if it is warm here and cold there. I hope Tom V. is okay by now. I haven’t heard anything about sleeping on the ground. I don’t know where you got that idea. I thought I wasn’t much of a help up at the place. All I did was play tennis off the garage door. I hardly think it would be practical to move troops by planes. The expense would be tremendous and unnecessary. You didn’t lose so many points and you are fortunate to have the canned goods you have. Aunty says she wishes she had some of yours. She says George can’t realize that he can’t buy things like he used to do. Lenna Forist – who is she? —– If you need a good rain we could spare you one I am sure. 9:30 now. Thanks for those dates. A walk every day would be good for you I think. Every letter from you is welcomed by me, and I mean it. Ossie may be getting $85 counting allowances for room and board. He gets 66 as a cpl. If I go to school I will get my 50 plus an allowance for room and board (I think). A sgt. gets 78.

Now to the Wed. Feb. 24 letter. I wouldn’t worry about not cleaning my room. It will be taken care of in time. Is Clare Potter in the air corps or naval air corps? Elmo thinks Thayne may go April 4. That pre-flight training is really tough. I haven’t seen any bed bugs, fleas, etc. My feet aren’t sore. You bet those homes were occupied. The flowers were in gardens. Yes that warehouse was all fallen in. That Swede was L.S. for his eyes. Most of us are. Those G.I. glasses are made to fit under a gas mask. I suppose I’ll have to get a pair in time if I am here long enough. I’ll save my tubes. My candy was much better than the cherries Francois paid $1.50 for. I found that little man in the magazine. He is a pretty cute guy. I got the stamp off a package. I can’t remember whose it was now. The Tasty Yeast was O.K. I sure hope Chemical Warfare is interesting. It better be. Brocolli [sp.] tastes a little like cabbage. It is in a head but doesn’t look like cabbage. We had an old soft ball or two without covers. I have had a couple boil like pimples but nothing has developed from them. Julius is 2-A because he is studying engineering. That dog was a mixture of everything. Julius is 19. Ewing left on the 28 of Dec. just before I did. A doesn’t mean excellent when it is Battery A. Well that’s that letter and they are turning the lights out on me so I’ll have to quit and leave a half sheet of paper blank. 5:00 isn’t very far away and I’ve been up since 4:45 so I’ll have to say good night. Until next time lots of love to you all,



The K.P. Kid

1 Comment

  1. Leo
    May 21, 2014

    Wow, Ann, that was a long one. After actually seeing what you are doing, I appreciate it even more! Thanks from the Mt. P. kid.

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