Until Further Orders

Tuesday, January 26, 1943, about 11a.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear folks,

Well I didn’t mean to scare you by the way I cut off yesterday but at first report we weren’t going to be allowed to get or send any mail and I wanted you to know so you wouldn’t wonder why I wasn’t writing. I finished the letter in a hurry and beat it out and mailed it before anything became official.

As I remember, I stopped where I said I asked the corporal if I could stay in the barracks during graduation. He said “O.K. You be barracks guard,” whatever that is; so I went back downstairs and began to write. But for some reason our company never went out for the graduation. They sat here and watched the other companies go out and then come back. Finally our co. comm., who had been a color guard came in and started blowing off about our being in 10 day confinement. We all thought it was punishment for not going out until he told us that he had heard we were going to be confined because of that kid who had contracted a contagious disease. He told us if we wanted anything from the P.X. we better get it. Well I finished my letter & got it out and let it go at that. A lot of fellows got over to the P.X. and got cigarettes and magazines and stuff. There had been no official order so the sergeant gave passes to 3 or 4 to go to town to get the radio fixed and I hear they brought back 41 pints. We had supper at the usual time. Bread, butter, potatoes & peas was what I had. I guess I was a little excited to eat too much. After supper we loafed around the barracks and I read that Radio Guide practically from cover to cover. Early in the evening they brought us 2 red flags to take with us when we went out. Later in the evening the sgt. got us all together and said we were all confined to barracks till further orders. So that was that officially.

I got to bed at about 9 o’clock I guess and was up at 6 this morning. We had breakfast at 7:00. Grapenuts flakes, toast, potatoes & grapefruit. After breakfast they started to scrub the barracks. We have to scrub every day because we are subject to medical & other inspections at any time during quarantine. Today we have Keep Out signs on both barracks.

Later in the morning we marched over to get our rifles but they sent us back and wouldn’t let us in the buildings. Now though they just brought the rifles over to us. That looks encouraging. You see we were to graduate next Monday and maybe we will after all. I sure hope so. I can’t get out of here too fast. I wouldn’t stay up here for $150 a month if I could help it.

The sgt. says he will do all he can to get us graduated and also to get our pay Saturday. He just announced that until further notice we can send and receive mail. If you sent a package yesterday insured I’m afraid I can’t get it because I’d have to go to the post office and sign for it. I hope there’s nothing in it that will spoil. Maybe they’ll arrange something though. They have a special detail coming over tonight to get us anything we need or want from the P.X. It all looks a lot better than it did last night. I sure hope nobody else gets sick so we can get out of here as soon as possible. You see they have said “until further orders” about everything so it may not be 10 days. Well I’ll stop now for dinner. They may stop mail anytime so if you don’t hear from me you’ll know why. See you later. 11:20

Back at 5:40. Dinner wasn’t so hot. I had corn fixed with bread, veg. salad, bread, butter and a cupcake. I had a meat mixture too but I was afraid of it so I didn’t eat any. After dinner we came back but I didn’t get any mail at noon. We spent nearly all afternoon, nearly 2 ½ hours, drilling with our rifles. We quit about 3:45.

Now comes the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do in my life. This hurts me more than it does you and yet I know I’ve got to tell you. So here goes. We have been exposed to a case of spinal meningitis. Now don’t get panicky because I know that just as sure as the sun rises in the east that I won’t get it. For the first real time in my life I’ve done some praying and I mean praying. And with you behind me I know I’ll be all right. You see this fellow got sick while most of us were gone on that hike. They took him upstairs so I was never around him, and even before I was seldom close to him because I didn’t know him. His name was Joe Jerome. He was about as unhealthy a looking person as you could find. His cheek bones stuck out and he only weighed 101 pounds.

Well Sunday we heard he had a contagious disease, somebody said scarlet fever. Then last night they told us the real facts. They’re not fooling with this thing though. We have to air our bedding and scrub this place every day. They open the windows at night to make sure of fresh air. Last night it froze water in here, but I slept plenty warm. Then this afternoon they gave us a medical inspection. I swear the army is making a sissy out of me. The doctor was some kind of a foreigner but he explained to us how this mengancoccus or something works. He ways it is usually started by a carrier who isn’t sick himself. He said that probably all of us, including himself, had the germ in our throats but it probably wouldn’t take hold unless there was a susceptible spot. He mentioned all the symptoms – throbbing in the head, inability to bend the neck, etc. He also said that persons contracting the common form as a rule come through O.K. All the while he was talking I was standing there and I guess little pangs of fear were running through my mind. I’ve had a cough and my throat is pretty irritated. Besides I’ve had a head and neck ache. Now I’ve blamed these on mucous in my head and on tossing that rifle around on my shoulders. Well all of a sudden I began to get that feeling I had over at the Voc. School after my blood test. I made up my mind I wasn’t going to faint and I didn’t but everything seemed to go black. When the Dr. came along with his light to look in my throat he could tell right away that something was wrong. So they herded me into a room and laid me down and as soon as I lay down I was O.K. Boy was I mad with myself. The Dr. asked a lot of questions. I told him I’d had a cold. (He had one too.) Boy he checked me thoroughly. He twisted my head around from side to side to see if it hurt. My neck was lame but thank God it didn’t hurt. Then he looked at my throat from every angle, felt my back over, took my pulse and felt for a fever. He told me to take it easy for awhile and then looked at another fellow. I went downstairs and laid down till supper and before the Dr. left he came and looked at me again & told me I’d be all right. I can’t see why I should be like that. I used to be able to stand most anything. It made me feel kind of cheap and I said so to a couple of the fellows and they told me I was crazy to feel that way. They said it wasn’t anything I could help.

Well I suppose that by the time you have gotten this far you are pretty excited but don’t get panicky or jump to conclusions. It wasn’t because I was awfully sick or hadn’t had enough to eat. I can just hear you saying one or the other. No kidding though this is doggone serious stuff, but if you folks pray with me and for me I know I’ll miss it. I pray nobody else contracts it. They’re talking now about this confinement lasting 30 days and every new case means that much longer. I don’t want to be here when spring comes. There have been thousands of colds here all winter and when spring comes and all these germs thaw out I’d be afraid to stay here. And to think that I might have left next Tues. or Wed. Now I may be here till March. I’d almost be tempted to take myself a vacation but I know I couldn’t get away with it. Well enough of the morbid. I’m afraid that you’ll probably worry yourself sick but let’s put it into the background and try to look at more cheerful things. Maybe you better burn these letters and gargle good after you read it.  If I sent something home to you I’d never get over it.

Even though you didn’t write Sat., I didn’t go a day without mail. Yesterday I got Fri. letter and this afternoon I got Sun. postmarked Mon. at 1:30p.m. That’s pretty good service. I hope it keeps up. After I read your letter I went to supper. Potatoes, cooked carrots, bread, butter & peaches. Then I came back and went to work on this letter.

Ans. to your Sun. letter –

I’ll read the papers good if I can get them because there isn’t much else to do. Your letter sure is an improvement over the last one and I hate to spoil that cheerful mood. That sounds like a swell box but I don’t know how I’m going to get it. Maybe they’ll bring it over to the barracks but I doubt it. I imagine it’s insured and we have to sign for them at the P.O. but we’re not supposed to go out. I’d hate to get caught outside of the barracks. I couldn’t tell for sure who it was that died. Was it Alexander Woolcot? I understand perfectly about those bills. I don’t expect you to deprive yourselves for me. Just keep writing. You’ve overdone yourself in these boxes already. Well I have one money belt so now I’ll have 2 but I’ve a hunch yours is nicer. It was swell of them to do it but I don’t know how to thank them before I get the box. Maybe you better explain the situation to her and tell her a million thanks for me.

This kid is from Port Huron really and not Cheboygan. That is a swell picture of Red. Wonderful Smith is a colored boy. Did you see Eddie Green’s picture in one of those magazines you sent? Yes, green beans are green string beans. It’s quicker to write and sounds ritzier don’t you think? They are trying to break that Russian in as an instructor now but he doesn’t even know the commands. I could handle the job but I wouldn’t take it. I can make a lot of mistakes if I have to, if you know what I mean. Boy pop bit off quite a job with that desk. Thanks a lot. H.A.M. that’s pretty good and a good description of Hugh too. I guess I’m not going to be able to send a card to Gramp after all. I believe daylight is lasting longer at night but you don’t notice it much in the mornings. The moon is usually shining real bright when we go to breakfast. Remember we’re an hour later here than you and that reminds me of something. I finally did lose the knob for my watch. I missed it after this afternoon’s excitement. I told the corporal about losing it and he said he was having his fixed for the same reason. Those wool gloves are warm but nothing can keep you completely warm if it gets cold enough. I think those books will stand up pretty well on my bookcase. I’ve got about 2 ½ to read yet. I don’t think I’d care too much for skiing. I’d rather skate. I can always laugh regardless of temperature or anything else. I don’t think I’ll over grow. My shoes could stand it but my pants and blouse couldn’t. The buttons on my blouse are strained now. We aren’t supposed to wear civilian clothes but I think I’d be tempted to try it in private. The corporal said he put his civilian suit on when he went home while his mother pressed his military outfits. I haven’t any sewing equipment. I don’t have that report card with me and I couldn’t tell you where to look for it. It seems like it should be in the envelope along with the other letters and stuff. So pop got the wrong kind of cheese. I guess there isn’t much choice anymore is there? Of course cleaning the desk is all right with me. I get a lot of enjoyment out of grabbing an apple or cookie once in awhile. Those expensive dates were tops and so was everything. I still have a few cookies and some candy and fruit.

Well that’s that for today. I guess I’ve said enough for today. Its 7:10 now and I have to shave yet. For heaven’s sake don’t get panicky about what I’ve said. I came to the conclusion you might better hear the truth from me than an exaggeration from someone else. Just take it easy and keep writing. I don’t know how long they’d let us write so if you don’t hear from me don’t suspect the worst. Just be calm and pray along with me and we’ll win.

Please don’t let yourself go and worry yourself into a sick headache. My cold is getting better and the Dr. said I’d be O.K.


Love to all from



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