White Livered Meat and Hangovers

Sunday, January 24, 1943  1:10p.m.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin


Dear Folks,

Well here is another Sunday and by latest report we graduate a week from tomorrow. It is a fairly warm day and the sun is shining now. When I went to breakfast it was still misting a little and I wish you could have seen all the evergreens decorated with frost and ice. It was awfully pretty.

Last night after I finished your letter and the others I mentioned in that letter. I wrote short ones to Hugh and to Bernice. I guess that catches me up on my correspondence pretty well. I had thought about going to the last show last night but I didn’t know what was on so I cleaned my teeth and took a shower instead and got to bed about 9:30. From what I hear, I didn’t miss anything because everybody says the show was no good. The one tonight & tomorrow night is supposed to be good and I want to see it. It’s “Powers Girl” with Benny Goodman’s orchestra.

I made sure of breakfast this morning. I got up at 7:00 and dressed and gargled and got ready and then grabbed a cat nap till breakfast at 7:45. Breakfast was pretty good. Fried egg, toast, post toasties, and grapefruit. After breakfast I came back and did my washing. This week I had 2 prs. of wool socks, 2 piece underwear, 2 bath towels, 2 wash rags, and 4 hankies. They are hanging up now but aren’t drying very fast, especially the wool stuff and the big white bath towel. When I finished I got out my jack knife and new finger nail file and gave myself a manicure. Boy that file really is swell but I’ll bet it cost you plenty. Then I brushed up my shoes a little bit to bring back the shine. When I wear my overshoes over the shoes, the shine is dulled, but a little brushing & buffing brings it back. I’ve been wearing my shoes in the barracks today and boy do my feet feel light. When I put my overshoes on to go to meals, there is about 1½  inches of room in the end, 9½ oxford, 12 overshoe. I’ve got a swell set for shining shoes except for a buffing rag and my oxfords really shine. When I finished my shoes, I straightened out my stuff a little. I’ve got some stuff I want to send home, books I’ve read, pennant, and some of the stuff they gave us at the depot that I don’t need. I looked through that Bible a little today, too. Then when I had everything sorted out, I got out that Radio magazine and read till dinner time.

I ate at about 12:00. I had mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, bread, butter, p’nut butter & pie. I passed up the meat because it was white-livered and I was afraid it was pork. They had another mess of stuff I didn’t like the looks of either so I didn’t take that. Boy was that pie swell. It was a soft pie and looked like custard but was full of puree of crushed pineapple. Oh boy! The only trouble is they don’t give seconds on pie.

After dinner I came back to mail call. I kept my average and got 2 letters, one from you written Thurs. and one from Elmo written the same day. Now I am writing to you and I’ll also write to him this afternoon. It seems as if last week my letters got ahead of me and it took all yesterday evening to catch up. Last Thurs. was my best day. I got 6 letters. I have had 13 in 4 days.

Boy I seem to have developed a touch of this Camp McCoy “malaria.” I’ve never had a real cold but I got that roughness in my throat and now I’ve got a pretty good cough. My throat isn’t really sore, my glands aren’t swollen, but when I cough it just about takes the lining out of my throat. I guess you know how that feels. Every morning and night and in between I gargle and my sinus pills are ¾’s gone. I have a cough drop in my mouth most of the time and I take the cough syrup so I guess I’ll just have to let it wear itself out. Every night I grease my throat with Vicks as a preventative measure and put some in my nose. You can’t say I’ve neglected myself. I don’t think there are a half dozen fellows in the barracks who haven’t had the same thing and I remember the fellow in Kalamazoo who said he had C. McCoy malaria. Now don’t get excited because I’m not sick at all and I’m doing as well for myself as I would at home and I get to bed early and get my sleep. I don’t think I’ve ever been up after 10. My Listerine is better to gargle with than the salt they give you at the dispensary. Don’t worry for gosh sakes because I know you want to know how I am and I’m trying to tell you without exaggerating or minimizing. Probably by the time you get this letter, I’ll be over it. And if you don’t hear from me for a day or so or even longer don’t suspect I’m sick because I may be on my way. 4 men from my company were shipped yesterday. If I have to be a long way from home, I hope it is in a healthful climate. Some fellows think this is better than Mich. but I don’t. It’s too changeable. 33 below Wed. and melting ice (above 32 above) on Friday. Well, well I just got another letter. This one is from Lenna. A lot of our mail was taken to Co. 49 by mistake and they just brought it in so time out while I read it. 2:00p.m. I can’t understand it. You wrote yours Thurs. & it was postmarked Fri. at 11:30a.m. Gram’s written Wed. was p.marked yesterday at 9:30a.m. – pretty speedy.

2:15. I finished reading gram’s swell letter but I still can’t figure out how her letter finished on Fri. & postmarked yesterday morning could get here today. I don’t expect Friday’s letters till tomorrow. You should get Thurs. & Fri. letters tomorrow. Boy if we could pick up a day like that right along, answers would be 2 days sooner.

I’ll try to write to Gram and Dad soon but you know by now that my letters are for everybody and just keep writing.

I just heard that one of the fellows in our barracks has got scarlet fever so I wouldn’t be surprised if they put us in quarantine. Personally I think they should because a disease like that could spread through this whole camp. Thank goodness I’ve had it. We all signed our names to a greeting to him. I don’t know him personally and although he is in the hospital I hadn’t even missed him.

Enough dismal news for now. Boy some of the fellows were happy enough last night if you know what I mean. This morning all they had were headaches and plenty of empty bottles. Boy if we get paid next Sat. it’s really going to flow. I hope they hold our pay back till Mon. I still have plenty of money.

Elmo was sorry not to have written for 12 days in answer to my letter but he has been pretty busy working and shoveling snow. The snow in Michigan must be awful. He mentioned his trip to Lansing and thinks that 4:00 is too early to get up. You see I wrote and told him about K.P. at Custer. He mentioned reading some of my letters to you and couldn’t see how I could write so much every day. He liked my bookcase too. He is very cheerful about world conditions. He says he is glad I like the service although I can’t remember what I said that gave him that idea. He ways he hasn’t a single 5 cents worth of candy or gum in his usually full show case. He is doing his part by buying bonds, he says. That about summarizes his letter.

Now to answer yours. So pop belongs to the 4-14 now. Good for him. I sure would like to be able to paddle home every once in awhile. I ate the fried corn meal but I don’t think it was very good. It was too flat. I sure would like a picture of you and dad.

The most important people...

The most important people…

The most important people on my mailing list are my folks, then my friends and finally interested strangers. I don’t think that John Wayne is the same one you are thinking of. You mean the one in Big Sister don’t you, and that was his character name. I guess he only frosted one ear because his other was covered by his cap or collar. Also the wind on one side will make only one ear cold sometimes. You’re doggone right I want to be a corporal or anything else I can but I want to be a real one and not an acting one. You see an acting corporal gets $50, a real corporal gets $66 and wears [2 stripes] on his sleeve, a sgt. [3 stripes] gets $78. If Fred is 1st class seaman he corresponds to a corporal and gets $66. We were supposed to learn those orders because they are what we are supposed to do while on guard duty. If we are on guard an officer might come along & ask for no. 1 or no. 6 and if we didn’t know it we would be jerked off guard duty and probably get K.P. This stuff is a cinch after what I’ve studied & learned. For pete’s sake if you want jello & can get it, eat it. I eat it every chance I can get. I have had potatoes in skin or baked 3 or 4 times. I doubt if the fellows who feed us know me from the other 250 or so. So you cut up the gray pants. Those were the ones Nate wore in the Senior-B play, weren’t they? We won’t do any shooting unless it gets a lot warmer. We can’t shoot a lot of those rifles anyhow. Boy there’s one thing sure, never call it a gun in the army. It’s either a “rifle” or a “piece.” I stood back and watched the others fool around with the rifle learning the manual of arms and then when I got the rifle I already had learned it from watching and only had to practice a few minutes. None of the classes go for 13 weeks. Only those men who are put in 1-A. These are the ones with simple defects such as varicose veins, piles, and ruptures. Men with bad eyes are not re-classified. Ask all the questions you want and I’ll do my best to answer. Nobody is as interested in me as you. We both know that. I liked their hamburger loaf but there wasn’t any heart and it didn’t have that cooked through taste of yours. This is the first time I thought you thought I was easy to cook for, what with that daily discussion “What’ll we have for supper.” Heh! Heh! M.P. means military police & that’s one thing I don’t want to be. He’s the soldier’s best friend and yet they all hate him. I sure would like an apple pie but I don’t know how it would get through. That would be hard to keep hidden. You see I am pretty tight. I gave out a couple pieces of candy and 2 or 3 flat cookies but no fruit. One kid, the one I gave the cig. got some chocolate chip cookies and gave me one today and the kid from Saranac has been passing out candy. His girl friend sent him 2 lbs. He’s talking about getting married and he is barely 19.

(The sergeant just came down at 3:15 with his underwear on only. He looks like he had a big night. One of the drunks brought in a swell little dog last night.)

What would I do with my sugar book? I imagine I could get shoe strings at the P.X. if I needed them. I told Chris who I was and he knew dad. Said he had seen him a couple weeks before, I think it was. He was an easy guy to work for. So far I haven’t gotten any compliments for anything. Boy it must be really hard on Dad to try and work in that snow and cold. Although I had thought my feet were frosted, they aren’t swollen and don’t itch and burn. Don’t let a telegram scare you. That way you would know my whereabouts a lot sooner. Sure I can have an army scarf or a sweater too. I don’t have to buy them myself although they have them at the P.X. Just so they are the right color. The cough syrup was O.K. and I’ve taken quite a bit of it. There are no registers to stand by. The hot air comes from 3 registers in a square hot air pipe overhead. It isn’t any warmer than at home. I won’t coax anyone to write and it doesn’t look as if I’ll need to. I don’t get the most mail but I’m far from the least. They were kidding a couple of fellows about writing to each other so they could get mail. Nearly everybody gets at least one letter a day. I peeked over one fellow’s shoulder & his letter was postmarked Lyons. His name is Hodgman & he sleeps upstairs. There is another fellow here from Mulliken but I don’t know his name. I haven’t been weighed yet. Is Fred married or did she marry somebody else?

Well that covers your letter.

Gram’s letter – I don’t know of any camp closer than Custer & I’ll settle for that. Has Ricket’s son in law got any chevrons on his sleeves?

drawing of Chevrons

drawing of Chevrons

I ate some of the fish and it was pretty good. I don’t mind fish as long as it doesn’t taste like the fish mkt. smells. When it leaves that kind of a taste in my mouth I don’t want any. Those cans in the picture are for all kinds of trash. For a barracks they are for paper, apple cores and any other rubbish the men might have. At the mess halls they are used for garbage, paper, ashes, etc. I don’t think I’d care for any cream out of them. This is no little town. 65,000 people is a good sized city. This camp stretches for several miles. We don’t have nearly so much snow as you must have. We don’t have any bugler here. I heard from Aunty Thurs. & from Elmo today. I like to get these “books” from people.

Well that brings me up to the present all around I guess. I have gotten a total of 28 letters, half of them in the last 4 days. I have 2 more sheets of stationery left so I’ll have to get some more at the P.X. I got this last Tues. I think I’ll just buy a tablet this time because I am accumulating a lot of envelopes. Boy Sundays seem to go fast here it is 4:00 already and in an hour supper will be ready. It seems like about all we look forward to is meals, mail call, and evenings. I just took down part of my washing but the big towel and wool stuff don’t dry very fast. There’s nothing much I can say right now so I’ll stop till after supper. 4:25p.m.

Back at 5:03. They surprised us and gave us an early supper tonight. Potato salad, tomatoes cooked with bread, cabbage salad, dill pickles, bread, butter, & fruit salad. Pretty good except for the spud salad. Our only complaint is that they dump everything together on your plate. I forgot to mention we had cocoa to drink too.

Well I haven’t got much more to say today. I think I’ll write a short letter to Elmo and then around 6:15 go over to the P.X. after a tablet and go on to the show. When I get home I’ll shave and probably get to bed at about 9:45. We get rifles tomorrow and I am looking forward to sore shoulders. They (the rifles) have to be cleaned every night too. Something else to fool with. One fellow made the remark today that we’ll just nicely get accustomed to the cold and they’ll send us where it’s hot. I’d rather wade snow than mud myself.

I just thought of something that we get quite a laugh out of. There’s a little Armenian named Sam in our barracks that the fellows are always kidding with. Every once in a while somebody will yell with a Jewish accent, “Hey Sammy, turn on the green lights. The man wants to buy a green suit.” Do you get it?

Well that’s not much of a joke but it’s the best I can do. We had a radio for awhile today. One fellow got one of those that operate on electricity or batteries. The only way they could make it work was to hook up the batteries & then plug it in so the kid boxed it up and is going to send it back home I guess. I think a radio is a trifle impractical until one gets stationed because we have enough stuff to drag around now.

I hope its quit snowing there by now. I don’t see how dad can get around his route at all. I sure hope he’s feeling better and that you will start getting away from those headaches. Don’t worry so much about me. Of course that’s easy for me to say and I should know better knowing you like I do.

Well this is the beginning of our last week of training I hope. So take it easy and don’t worry too much. Write as often & as much as you can. So long for now. 5:30p.m.


Love to all





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1 Comment

  1. Al
    Apr 20, 2014

    I enjoyed the ‘stream of consciousness’ .

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