Thinking Too Fast For My Pen

Wednesday, January 27, 1943 2:00p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well I suppose you’ve all been pretty worried since my last letter or am I too self-confident. Well take it easy. Things don’t look so bad as they might.

After I finished writing last night I shaved and washed off some of the dirt and then read a story in the magazine. I got to bed at about 9:15.

I slept till 6:15 this morning. Nothing to hurry for. I got dressed & made my bed in time for 7 o’clock breakfast. I won’t be able to give you the time on things much longer because my watch will soon run down and I can’t wind it. There’s no way I can get it fixed without going to town, which I can’t, and then maybe I’d have to leave it which I won’t. I’ll keep it on my arm where I know where it is. Have you got my other watch yet? Breakfast was spuds, toast, oatmeal, and grapefruit. After breakfast we loafed awhile and then did some rifle drill in the barracks. Boy your shoulders take a beating. Then we mussed up all the bunks and carried them outdoors to air out. After awhile we went out to the drill field and marched some when the others had finished. Nobody wants to associate with us. We came back and took it easy till dinner. I read a couple stories. Even a love story helps pass the time away. Dinner was terrible. We waited too long. I got mashed potatoes, gravy, head lettuce salad, bread & butter. The pumpkin pie was all gone. I topped it off with one of my apples. I didn’t get any mail today and probably won’t because I got your Sunday letter yesterday. (Normally I would have gotten Sat’s. but you didn’t write one you said.) Monday’s letter will probably get here tomorrow although it might get here by tonight. We haven’t done anything since dinner. I read another story and just sat around before I started to write.

There isn’t much to write because we can’t do much. They just posted the insured mail list and my package is here but I don’t know when I’ll get it. Maybe I can get out tonight.

Boy I almost wrecked my pen last night after messing up my watch so I can’t wind it. I took it out of my pocket and the cap was unscrewed enough so that the pen part dropped and stuck in the floor. I was lucky though because it fell straight. I pulled it out and as you can see it works O.K. I finally cleaned it out today with water like you did. I was afraid at first that it would spoil it but it took off all that black sludge and I think it will stay off now because I am using Quink too. Mine is permanent black.

Well another special detail is going over to the P.X. to get stuff. Some fellows think they are getting gypped because they won’t bother to buy them candy so now they buy that too for them. I still have 4 bars left and whatever is in this new package. You see I had one Denver Sand. and you sent me 4 bars. I ate dates and cookies and stuff first and ate my first candy bar last night. I sent for a bottle of Listerine last night. I didn’t need it but I didn’t know how long we might be here or if we could continue to get things.

The situation seems to be this. They have us on the spot and are watching us pretty close. If we keep on as we have, airing our bedding and everything, we may be out in 5 days and at the head of the parade next Monday. But if anybody else comes down we may be here 10, 15, or even 30 days.

I just made out a slip for the mail orderly to get my insured mail for me. I just noticed that slip on the board was dated the 26th. So my box must have gotten here yesterday. Boy the deliveries must have been speeded up or maybe the typist made a mistake. Anyway we didn’t get a new list yesterday so this is probably yesterday’s list. I hope you can follow all of this. I guess I’m thinking too fast for my pen but things have all been a little confusing lately. My cold is showing improvement. My cough is gone a lot but I’ve got a wonderful baritone.

Yesterday morning it was 28 below but it has warmed up a lot and is nice out today. The sun is shining as usual. It really is a nice place but I’d be afraid to stay here now. We’ve got a couple more fellows trying to get to be corporals. I guess the Russian is about ready to quit. He’s not getting anywhere. I don’t think any of them will ever get very far here. If I can’t get out of this army, I still have hopes of getting farther than corporal. I am looking for a set of bars but don’t tell anybody. They are pretty hard to get I guess in limited service. It depends a lot on what kind of an outfit you get into. Probably I’ll always be a buck private. Several hundred men are just coming in with their skis. They went out this morning and must have been doing a lot of skiing.

Well we just brought our bunks in and made them. They have been out in the sun and air all day. Yesterday we hung the bedding out the window.

Well this is pretty much of a hit and miss letter. There isn’t much I can say now because there’s nothing doing and as yet I haven’t any letter to answer.

How do you like this paper. It’s from a tablet and it’s the only kind of tablet they had Sunday night. It cost me 20 cents for 50 sheets but I’m glad I got it. There was a piece of cardboard with lines with it to keep your writing in a straight line. I tried it but it kept slipping and I’d go off at an angle so I quit using it. I write quite straight. So do you I notice. Some of the fellows have about an inch left on one side of the page when they get to the bottom. You know [picture of letter with crooked lines].


“I write quite straight.”

6:40 – Well everything seems a lot nicer. I got your box and attached letter and letters from Eva, Mrs. C. and Hugh M. I read the letters before supper and then came back and opened the box. Supper was potatoes, beets, bread, butter and peach pudding.  Boy everything in the box is swell. Albatum & hand cream. Money belt & 75 cents. That money belt is similar to my first one but a little nicer I believe. That brittle is precious. I think there were 5 packs of gum and I didn’t count all the candy bars. Boy you sure must have raided somebody or everybody. The cookies are all O.K. & the Cracker Jack and fruit. Boy I’ve got plenty of fruit and I’ll have to start eating it faster than I have been. You know how much I appreciate everything so thanks. Boy you sure do a wonderful job of packing everything. I gave some paper and some of the string to that kid from Port Huron. He broke his glasses and wanted to do them up to send them home.

I got a letter from Mrs. C. saying she received my letter. I don’t remember now when I sent it. She complimented me for the 3rd or 4th time on my letter writing and mentioned the star in your window. She mentioned the cold & snow there & that Ray had to work Sunday. She thinks I am doing fine to do my washing and everything. That’s all. Off the record, her letters don’t say much but I know she is interested or she wouldn’t write. I’ll try to answer and acknowledge the money belt sometime tomorrow.

Eva wrote a short letter and sent a couple post cards for me to write back. She thought I might be surprised to hear from her but she was helping Gramp out because it is so hard for him to write. She didn’t have too much to say. They looked for me before I left. The boys up there are pretty well cleaned out she says. She says all she thinks and talks about is the boys in the service (?) They were glad to get my letter because they both wondered where I was. Gramp is feeling pretty good and wishes he could go and help out. He has been pretty busy because he was the only mechanic in town till Jan. 1. Now there is a younger fellow in the oil station.

She said she didn’t know whether I cared to hear about it but Charles went to Custer last Mon. (This letter was written Sun. so that would be the 18th.) They haven’t heard from him yet but he is in limited service. (He’s probably been on convoy and couldn’t write.) He may be here by now because that’s where he’ll go. At the rate we’re going he may graduate before I do. She wants me to write as often as I can and if there is anything they could send me to make life more cheery, let them know. All in all it was a pretty fair letter. I sure would have felt gypped if they hadn’t got Charles if you know what I mean. By the way we have heard here that there will be no more drafting of limited service after Feb. 1.  Do you know anything about this. Maybe we’ll get out like the 38 yr. olds someday. The papers today say victory over Hitler in ’43 predicted by Roosevelt himself in Africa. Maybe things look pretty good to him.

Hugh’s letter was written before he got mine. He wrote Sunday & I wrote Sat. He got my address from his folks. He is in a truck driving regiment and they drive in convoy but he has to learn to drill and march also. I remember he wanted to be a truck driver so I hope he’s happy. He has been home once and seen Rusty his girl friend, twice. He couldn’t go any place on the weekend when he wrote because his barracks was quarantined with spinal meningitis. Something tells me maybe this started at Custer. This kid that got sick up here came from Custer and they say he was sick down there and sick when he came here. That sure is a coincidence though that Hugh & I should find ourselves in the same situation. We sure have done a lot of things together and come together in strange situations. The fellow who got it down there was in the hospital a week before they were quarantined. He doesn’t expect it to last over 4 days (the optimist), then maybe he can get a pass home. He says it’s too bad I got so far away from home and he guesses he is very lucky. He expects they will pull out soon and wants me to write the first chance I get.

Now your second Sunday letter. I bet dad found that clipping in my desk when he cleaned. I had that when I was in World Lit. class when we studied Machiavelli. I just opened a box of Cracker Jack but I opened the wrong end so I’ll have to eat to the prize. The strawberry jam is good for what I expected of canned jam. It is Jack Frost brand and I never heard of it before. We have gallon cans of Musselmann’s applesauce just like we used to sell at the store. It is a good policy to insure a package containing as much as yours although I have no doubts that they would come through O.K. You should see some of the messy torn packages some fellows get. They look as if someone was in too big a hurry to do a good job. A box like mine is worth going after but the mail man had to carry this one for me. I found the two spoons O.K. and haven’t used that big one since. Take the $5.50 for that watch from you know where. That’s too much for you with all your other bills and expenses. After I ever get straightened away I’ll try to get this one fixed. I may try to go to town Sat. night if I can get out of quarantine. Maybe I can get it fixed there. Crist appeared to me to be a sort of easy going guy and I thought he was pretty easy to get along with. Mrs. C. has answered every letter and card so far as I can remember. Things have improved however since I wrote last Wed. I have heard twice from Mrs. C. & from Sunfield and once from Marie, Walt, Bernie, Hugh and Elmo. We still haven’t unmailed too much because those fellows are quarantined with us. They sneaked out and found their names on the shipping order but they were sent back and not allowed to go. You know the first time I’ve even thought of birds is when you mentioned it and for the life of me I can’t remember seeing a single bird but there must be some somewhere. I’ll look tomorrow. So the old hat is getting blocked. I can write on any kind of stationery. This isn’t so hot because it has to be folded over to get it into my envelopes and it’s pretty bulgy. Maybe I can fold it the other way. I evidently have been wearing my other money belt wrong. It has 2 compartments but only one zipper and the belt is not so nice. I’ve been wearing it in front like a nail apron though. I usually have my head pretty well covered up. I just got to the bottom of that Cracker Jack and guess what — a wooden rolling pin. Yes I know who you mean by the fellow from Sunoco and I’d probably know him if I saw him but I can’t think what he looks like. I saw a picture of those new stamps in a newsreel. I don’t see why I should take commando training. That’s for the toughest of soldiers not puny L.S. men. I’ll use the hand cream but I don’t intend to do much toilet cleaning.

To dad’s letter – boy you must have scoured around to get all that candy and gum with those limits on. Boy you sure are having your troubles. The garbage dep’t must be going to the dogs. I don’t need any money and won’t if I get paid. If I don’t get paid Saturday you’ll get an S.O.S. I have enough to last another 2 weeks maybe. I haven’t been on any main highways to see if there are roadside tables but I doubt it. They are a luxury of Mich. There are some beautiful spots on the roads I’ve been on but they are all in or near camp. Take it easy on cleaning and pressing bills. There is no particular hurry and you owe a lot of bills for Feb. I hear. I got a kick out of how you said you might go out to supper at the Old’s Hotel & maybe not. I imagine that you are probably just about getting home now while I’m writing. I hope you went and enjoyed yourself.

Well that just about covers the day’s activities and correspondence and I’m going to have to quit or I won’t be able to get this all in the envelope if I’m not careful.

If everything goes favorably and the big boys are satisfied with our sanitary efforts and nobody comes down sick, we’ll be out of here O.K. But if somebody gets it they say we may be here 30 days. I’m not afraid for myself but I sure hope & pray no one else gets it.

One fellow went to the hospital tonight but the Dr. examined him yesterday and I’m sure it’s just a cold. Nearly everybody has accused him of being a “goldbrick” – lazy. I don’t think so. He’s from Kentucky, 6 miles from Tenn. and he’s homesick as the dickens. He’s had a cold ever since he’s been here but he babies himself. He’ll be up maybe a day or two or only a few hours and he’s back in bed. Now he’s got a couple bad teeth to go with his cold and he’s gone to the hospital. I don’t think there’s anything serious wrong. I rather like him myself but he is a baby. He hasn’t any stick to it spirit. Who am I to talk?

Well this is it for tonight so stick with me in all ways and keep a-writin’. I’ll write as long as they’ll let me.


Lots of love to every last one


Original Letter

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