We of the Congregation

Sunday February 28, 1943

4:45 p.m.


I’m not out of stationery but I thought I would use this to show you your money does go for good use. [letter written on U.S.O. stationery]


Dear folks,

I’ll start this while waiting for supper. I’ll finish some time after the alert probably. This is Sunday but I have been on the go all day. I got to bed a little after 10 last night. Because it was Sunday they let us sleep until 5:45 instead of the usual 6 o’clock. I got dressed and got part of my bed made before reveille at about 6:15 but I couldn’t seem to get awake very fast this morning. We had breakfast earlier this morning too. I came in and finished making my bed before I went to breakfast. I put a good shine on my oxfords and one pair of shoes last night so I didn’t have to bother with that this morning. For breakfast I had oatmeal, scrambled eggs, toast and butter. After breakfast I came back and lay down and I was just about asleep when the whistle blew for the morning alert at a little after seven. Supper!

Back after supper. Charlie McCarthy just signed off. We were out on alert until about 8:15. It wasn’t foggy this morning and the sun rise was awfully pretty. When we first went out, the lights were still twinkling in Martinez and Pittsburgh. When we left the sun was high. We spent the time as usual, practicing with dummy rounds of ammunition. We got back to camp at about 8:30 and I washed a little and changed to my O.D.’s. I put on my pants, shirt & blouse and wore my green (or khaki, whichever they are) socks for the first time with my oxfords. Then at 8:45 we fell out and the chaplains, one Catholic & one Protestant, invited us to attend church. I had already changed my clothes so I thought I would go and see what was cooking. The services are held in a building where they have a table for the preacher and folding chairs for we of the congregation. The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes. We sang a few songs (I imagine I was decidedly off key) and then we had a prayer and a short sermon and a solo and more songs and finally the benediction. I imagine it’s hard for a man to give a sermon to men of all kinds of Protestant beliefs. His sermon was general enough so that he couldn’t be accused of favoring anybody. When we were leaving he stopped us and shook hands with each of us. I am sure he appreciated seeing all of our shining faces. Certainly it did me no harm but I can’t see where it did a lot of good either. About all it did for me was to give me a tinge of homesickness again for a little while. We finished there at about 9:45. I came back and got into my fatigues again and began the major construction problem of making a wall locker. [sketch] Really all it is is a box on end with two shelves nailed in. I have a foot locker, a small trunk 12×24 inches, which was given to me. It could stand some improvements but it is probably better than anything I could build for myself. First I got measurements and then started hunting for lumber. I found some pieces when one of the corporals suggested that we go get a truck driver and have him take us out to get some empty ammunition boxes. We hunted around until we got a truck driver. He took several of us out to look for boxes. We found some and I picked one out for myself. When I got it back it was much too short so I went to work to rebuild it. It was also a little deep but I decided that wouldn’t hurt anything. By this time, it was time for dinner so I put my stuff to one side and washed. For dinner I had chicken, a nice big piece of breast, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots and peas, salad, bread and butter & pears. Boy that was a swell meal. The only trouble was that the chicken should have been cooked a little longer. I don’t suppose you listened to One Man’s Family tonight but they gave a pretty good explanation of how to use these food ration stamps. The thing they emphasized was to use your 5 & 8 point stamps first so that if at the end of the month you wanted to buy a 2 or 3 point article you would have small stamps to pay for it. There is no change given with these stamps like we used to give with the old surplus foods stamps. I imagine that setup will be a headache to customers and clerks both for awhile. After dinner I hurried back and went to work on my carpentering again. The Manhattan Merry Go Round is on now. It’s 6 here and 8 there. I’ll soon have to go out for the alert I imagine. I worked about ½ hour and had to leave to go out and help clean our gun. That only took about an hour and we were back at 2 o’clock. Boy that gun was really dirty. The parts are big though and easy to clean once you can get at them. When I got back I stuck to my cutting and nailing until I finished my wall locker at about 4:00. It has to fit between a ledge on the floor and another one just below the windows. If it had been a 1/16 of an inch higher it would have been too big. It isn’t a very fancy job but it looks pretty good. I used the ends out of that old ammunition box and cut boards for the sides. It was pretty hard to find two boards around here that were the same width. One fellow came along and cut up one of my boards after I had it all set and that threw me off a little. I think that on the whole I did pretty well for me. I even ripped a couple of boards about 3 feet long and Dad knows that is no cinch to do. I think mine looks as good as any of the others. I finished and cleaned up my mess in time to start this letter before supper. They have been building a garage near here so we worked over there and used their tools. We have a stiff inspection coming up March 11 and everything is supposed to be ready by then. We have to have wall lockers and they are to put our toilet articles, etc. in. I like the idea O.K. if we can trust everybody else. It makes things a lot handier. I had supper at about 5. Sunday night suppers are never much. I had cold meat (which I mistrusted and gave away), slices of cheese, potato salad, celery, sweet pickle, bread, butter and a cinnamon doughnut. I went back for the first time tonight and got more salad, celery, pickle, 3 ripe olives, bread, and 2 doughnuts. I don’t care much for ripe olives. I got stung on our drinks. They had bottles of milk on the table so I quick filled up my cup and started to drink. Guess what—Buttermilk. I drank what I had but I didn’t like it very well. That brings me up to the present so I’ll quit before the whistle blows for the evening alert.

Back after alert. It seemed quite long tonight. Every day I see the sun rise and set while I am on an alert at the gun position. Tonight we didn’t do any practicing. We just took rags and wiped the outside of the gun off and then stood around the rest of the time waiting for the Orange 2 signal. I really enjoy the view at just dark and just daybreak from our gun position out across the water to the towns and mountains on the other side. These are just remarks for you folks of course. There is a boat that goes up and down the bay all the time. I don’t remember if I mentioned it before or not. It must be meant as a protection for the big railroad bridge. It looks like what I would call a mine sweeper. The Kaiser ship yards, part of it, is down the bay about 8 miles at Vallejo. I got this stationery at the day room and I thought I would write on it so you could see what USO money goes for. I need to shave tonight and I should take a shower but the water is off now. I didn’t take a shower last night. The water was cold so I just washed my face and hands. I still haven’t got any forwarded mail from Santa Rosa. It sure will be nice when all my mail gets caught up with me. I wonder when that will be. I wrote to everybody from Santa Rosa so if they answered before I sent them my newest address I’ll have a lot coming. I’d like most of all to get that box. That is most important. It will be 2 weeks tomorrow since you sent it. It’s a good thing there was no fruit in it. I expect to hear from you direct to here by Tues. or Wed. Well I guess I’ll try to get something resembling a shine on these shoes and arrange my stuff in my wall and foot lockers. I like it better that way. It seems a lot more like home to have stuff out where I can grab it in a hurry. I could write more if I had a letter of yours to answer. Probably I’ll get about a dozen letters at once and then not have enough time to answer them. I can see now why Ray and fellows didn’t answer very soon. There are a lot of things to do. If and I said if I ever get to any kind of a school I don’t imagine my letters will be worth much. I want to start studying for a rating but I just don’t seem to be able to have half enough time for things. If I ever get a furlough I’d like to be something besides Pvt. when I get home. Pfc. is better than nothing but I hope it can be Sgt. someday. I said 6 months before I got in the army but I doubt it now. I was thinking today of all the times I would like to get home for a furlough. I doubt if I can get one by July 1. I think they are issued on a rotation basis with the older men first so I probably won’t be due for one until late Aug., Sept. or maybe Oct. October would be nice but it would mean I couldn’t get home for Xmas. But there’s no sense in worrying about all that. I’ve got only 8 weeks in so far but it is the longest 8 weeks I have seen yet. In four weeks I can apply for O.C.S. but I think I’ll wait until I am sure I know enough about the gun and about the handbook. There are too doggone many things to learn. Well this is enough of this and about all for today. By now you should have my first letter from here. I wrote it Tues. & sent it out Wed. morning. Mail deliveries are better from here I believe. Well good night for tonight. I hope those heads aren’t acting up too much on you folks. Until next time so long and love to you all,



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