Things Looked Pretty Black Although This Ink Is Blue

Tuesday, February 16, 1943


Dear folks,

Whew! This has been a rather hectic day but I guess I better start at the beginning. I got up at about 6:30 this morning and made up my bunk before breakfast. Breakfast at 7:00 was oatmeal, French toast (2 slices) & syrup, and prunes. It was swell and I went back and got more oatmeal, prunes, and another slice of toast and I drank what milk was left in the bottle. Then I went back and did the usual shoe brushing & straightening up. Then we fell out for the mornings drill. We got the rifles and spent a couple hours marching and tossing them around. After that we had talks on courtesy and discipline and on guard duty. Then we had dinner. That was swell today too. Mashed potatoes and gravy, kidney beans, salad, jello, bread and butter. I went back and got more potatoes and gravy and jello. In fact I went back again and got more jello. I guess I am getting to be what is known as a chow-hound. We had a little spare time after dinner and then the lieutenant got us together to answer any questions we might have. There is where the fun began. He informed us that [as] of this noon we were under a 21 day quarantine. No one could even drive past our barracks, and we couldn’t write or anything. It made us all pretty down because we all knew our folks would wonder what had happened if we didn’t write for 3 whole weeks. I knew how you would feel. The lieut. said he had got orders to report to his battery this noon. You see he has a regular outfit to which he belongs and he has been sent up here only temporarily with us. He just got started to pack when he got orders that it was changed. We were all pretty discouraged. A week of quarantine at McCoy, a week on the train, a week and a half here already and then 3 more weeks was just too much. They wouldn’t tell us what it was for. The doctor came out and examined us. He asked who had headaches and he looked at our chests. We think it was either spinal m. again or maybe scarlet fever. They examined the sergeants and the lieutenant too. About 4 fellows were carted off to the dispensary and things looked pretty black although this ink is blue. I ran out and mine is over in the barracks. The sergeants were mad and we were mad. They finally lined us up to take us inside for a lecture on plane identification. We just got started when the Lieutenant stopped us and had us gather around. He said he had got word that his outfit is going over and he is going with them. Then he told us that the 21 day quarantine had been lifted. Boy, were we happy. So was he. He really wants to go across and so do the sergeants. After he had said goodbye to everybody we started off to the lecture again but the Lieutenant came back and told the sergeants to give us the afternoon off. So here I am. The day room is full of fellows writing letters. We aren’t taking any chances of getting caught again. They might put the quarantine back on again. As it stands now we will leave here Sat. but don’t stop writing at all. I’ll be only a short distance from there probably at Benicea wherever that is. I’ve learned one thing. If at any time my letters stop don’t get too excited as there is probably something beyond my control wrong. It definitely does not mean that I am sick. I don’t know if it will ever happen but I will prepare you in advance just in case. I know how you would have felt if you hadn’t heard from me in 3 whole weeks after I have written every day. I don’t suppose you are getting letters every day now. The one I wrote last night is still here in the box. You see I wrote it after the mail call and so it won’t be collected until tonight. I imagine you will be getting them maybe two at a time. I would have written every day even if the quarantine had been for good. I would have mailed them all at the end if not before. I had already figured a way to get them out. You see we would have had to keep a guard at all the roads and I would have had to stand guard sometime to keep all cars etc. out. I figured I’d be able to give a letter to some civilian to mail for me but that won’t be necessary now I hope. If they should suddenly put the quarantine back on this might be the last letter for awhile. I doubt if they will but you can be prepared. Well that’s enough for that.


Its 3:15 and we have the rest of the day off. It will give me a little time to read and to get a shave. I have those papers and the magazine you sent to McCoy to read yet. I wouldn’t care about the quarantine if they would let us write. I’d just as soon stay here for the duration myself. The sgt. was telling us that at our regular outfit certain men are chosen to take a 6 week course in Math at Berkeley High School. This course gives one the necessary math requirements for O.C.S. If these other fellows go over our chances for promotion will be a lot better I imagine. The educational angle is beginning to creep in. I sure hope it will mean something. I think I can handle math as well as anyone I’ve seen here so far. The only college graduate that I know of majored in English and he is 42. I always could get math and I don’t see why it should be any different here. Whether I’ll get a chance I don’t know but I emphasized my math training when I turned in my educational status. I’ve had about 4 ½ years of higher math believe it or not. Men with only an 8th grade education have qualified for O.C.S. (Officer Candidate School). There is one thing I think I better do. I think I better study my soldier’s manual. I hate to do it but it might help me sometime to get a promotion.

Well I am going to quit on this letter. It isn’t much but it covers the days’ activities thus far. I am going to shave and clean up a little before supper. I am going to get this finished and out as soon as I can. I’ll probably get one or more letters from you folks in tonight’s mail call which I will answer in my next letter. I’ll probably write again after supper but I want to get this out to warn you that if you don’t hear from me for an extended period of time it is because they have slapped the quarantine back on again. I hope they won’t but they might. They brought the fellows back whom they took to the dispensary so maybe things will be O.K.  I sure hope so. Anyway you write to me even if you don’t hear from me. I’ll write just as often as I can. Until next time love to all of you,



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