Two Huge Tomato Sandwiches

Tuesday February 23, 1943

Probably about 6:30 or so


Dear folks,

Well here I am again in another camp. This is the first camp I have reached while it was still daylight. We got here about 4:00. That was quite a party last night. They told us all to go so when I finished writing that letter, I put on my O.D.’s and went over to the mess hall to see what was cooking. I’ll have to apologize for that messy envelope but I dropped it in the mud while going from the day room to the barracks. I already had the stamps on it and I couldn’t afford to throw them away so you got a muddy letter. I didn’t think you would mind too much. The party wasn’t bad. It was our last night and the sgts. & lieutenants did their best to give us some entertainment. Several of the fellows sang or played guitars & harmonicas (not me) and made entertainment for the rest of us. The lieutenant had a phonograph and he played us some Crosby records. We had lots of things to eat. I ate some apples and some cheese & cracker sandwiches. They also had lots of 3.2% beer, pretzels, shrimp, ripe olives, and potatoe chips. I tried a ripe olive but I don’t like them. Then a bunch of us got together and sang songs. We were the last ones so we helped clean up the mess hall. It was about 11:30 when we got through and I got to bed at about 15 to 12:00. Nobody cared last night and the barracks didn’t quiet down until about 1 I guess. I was one of the first ones up and I didn’t get up until 7:30. The cooks were waiting for them to come to breakfast when I went over. I had 3 fried eggs, oatmeal, my mess kit pan full – that’s probably equal to 2 dishes at home – grapefruit and toast. Boy they have really fed us here at this mess hall since we moved in last Saturday. We haven’t needed seconds. After breakfast I went back and tore my bed apart and got my bedding ready to turn in. Then I started to pack up my stuff to move. Some of the fellows just heard a broadcast from McCoy. Jimmy Dorsey is up there playing for the L.S. men and I’m in California. I just can’t win I guess. Then we swept and mopped out the barracks. We surely didn’t leave it like we found it. The rest of the time until dinner was free so I shaved and washed up a little and then took it easy until dinner. Boy did they put out a dinner. I ate beef steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, pears, ice cream and choc. milk. Besides that they had onions, broccoli, shrimp and coffee which I didn’t eat. That really was a swell meal.

Back after supper. Right after dinner I and another fellow collected light bulbs out of the barracks and latrine and took them over to the supply room. Then we had mail call. I got your letter you wrote Saturday. It was postmarked Sat. at 7:30 p.m. I still didn’t get that box and the sgt. told us it will take quite a while for our mail to be forwarded. Shortly after mail call we went out with our bags and as our names were called we got in our trucks. There were 8 of us from the same barracks in our truck. The trip took about 2 hours. We went thru Fulton, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Vallejo and of course Benicia. The trip was swell At one time we were within 26 miles of San Francisco but it is farther than that from here. You ought to see these towns and the homes. Down here the cherry trees are in blossom and other bushes are out with yellow flowers. These country homes and the towns are like something from story books. Everything is so colorful. The buildings are of all types, streamlined, old Spanish type and just about every kind. They are painted light colors with red or green or other bright contrasting colors. There are lots of palm trees too. Of course everything seems good to see after seeing nothing but army for 2 ½ weeks but the whole thing really was interesting to me. A lot of people really must have plenty of money to live in such nice homes. I am getting to like Calif. itself more and more. We came down out of the mountains and we must have been pretty high up. We passed around San Francisco bay in spots and it is really huge. There were hundreds of wild ducks in the marshes along the road and we also saw several cranes or storks. The ride was nice. I had my overcoat out but I didn’t have to wear it. Vallejo and Benicia were not quite nice though. There is a Navy yard there and it is a war industry boom town. There are rows and rows of houses tossed on the hill sides and there are lots of trailer camps. One thing which interested us was the sight of a great many of these barrage balloons all around Vallejo. They are the first any of us had seen They must be meant as a protection for the Navy yard. Vallejo is about 8 mile away. I doubt if Frisco is more than 40. Benicia is no good at all from what I saw. It looks like it is just being built but I doubt if we saw the real town itself. All I saw were rows and rows of cheap looking houses being built all over the hills. People are living in trailers. At the first sight of camp it didn’t look very inviting but it may not be bad when we get acquainted. We pulled in and got out of our trucks and stood around awhile until they got us a barracks ready. This is a small place tossed on some hills. The buildings are about like the ones at Santa Rosa. They asked us about what equipment we had been given and after quite awhile we were given bed mattress, mattress cover and two blankets. No pillow here. We took our stuff into the barracks as soon as they got the other fellows out. They moved them out to quarters right on the gun positions & we get the barracks. I put up my bed and made it. It is a steel frame bed with springs. We sleep in single beds too. There is no top deck. I got my stuff out of my bags and hung it up and then made a trip to the P.X. It isn’t much but it is a P.X. One of the fellow treated several of us to some cokes and finally I got me 5 Hershey bars and 2 little cup cakes in a package. I was surprised to find that candy bars are only 4 cents out here. I get 5 bars for the price of 4. Then I came back to the barracks and started finally to write. One of the first things I did was see if I could get my glasses fixed. I can’t get them fixed until next Mon. or Tues. We can’t leave camp until 7 days after we arrive. Then after 7 days I will go to Frisco to get them fixed. There are 3 of us in our barracks with broken glasses. We had our supper at about 7:30 or so. It was just a lunch. There was bread and sandwich material on the tables. I had a slice of cheese and two huge tomato sandwiches. Then I came back to the barracks to write to you. First I shined up my shoes. Then while I was writing Don Ewing came over and I talked with him for awhile. He just left. We thought we were separated but he turned up here too. His glasses are broken and he can’t tell the officers from the men. That brings me up to now. It is raining hard. We are evidently somewhere on the Bay because we saw a large body of water off below us when some of us went walking around a little. Our barracks is pretty nice. They have different odds & ends of linoleum covering the floor which will make it much easier to keep clean. Some of the fellows in the other battery got guard duty the first thing. I was talking with the corporal quite a while and he is taking that 6 week math course I mentioned. It is at the U. of Cal. instead of Berkeley High. He is very interested in my training in math. He says that the coast artillery will be 90 % L.S. including the officers. I’m going to do my best. We will have to work building concrete positions as well as getting our training. It looks as if I’ll be right here for the duration plus unless I go somewhere for training. Well that gives you a little idea of things here. The mess hall is small but I hear the food is tops. Our latrine is across the street. The kid with the radio is next to me in the barracks.

I don’t know if I’ll have time to ans. your letter but I’ll try. I’ve already mailed that blank with my home address but I think that is right. So at last they got the cans. You have a lot of patriotic neighbors. Your return is a joint return but his is the first type under C and I don’t think you have to sign. You had no income during the year. There haven’t been any fleas yet. You never can tell about next summer’s vacation. So Aunty finally wrote. She should have the letter by now that I wrote over a week ago. The Ewing boy got a piece of candy too. It’s getting close to lights out. I have a bar of Lifebuoy left yet plus some little pieces of other bars. I put my powder in my hand when I clean my teeth. That was the only Swing bar I had. That’s your letter.

It’s getting late so I’ll have to close. I’ll have some mail coming but it may be delayed in getting forwarded. A letter was here waiting for Ewing from McCoy. It was mailed from Lansing Feb. 5 so maybe mine will be here too. I hope so. Well tomorrow we will start what will probably be our real training. I was a little afraid of being a flop confidentially but I am beginning to get more confidence. It just seems as if they ought to have an extra set of gold bars around here someplace. I heard on the radio that they will train 800,000 officers this year. Francois has a pull in Washington he hopes to get him into Officer Candidate School. If I get here it will be on my own. Well this is the end for tonight. Write to me here.

Lots of love to you all,

Your wandering son


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