Yipee, Hooray and Stuff!



Saturday May 29, 1943

4:30 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well I don’t know if I should be congratulated or not but I’m in. I go in as a Basic II in Chemical Engineering. That is somewhat equivalent to being a sophomore in college but we cover a year’s work in about 3 months. I’ll go into it in full when I come to it in my chronological report of the day’s doings. After I wrote to you last night I put a little more oomph on my buttons and polished off my shoes again. Whenever I take off a pair of shoes I try to leave them with a polish. That way I nearly always have shined shoes on hand if I need them. Then I went down and got a ½ pt. of milk and drank it. I am averaging a quart of milk or more each day now. Maybe I’ll fill up these pants again in time. I’m sleeping and eating regularly again for a change. According to the scales I’ve gained a few pounds since I’ve been in the army but I’d swear my belt was getting longer for awhile there. I came back up here and took a shower. I redressed and made my bed and walked around the dorm a little. Finally I went to bed at about 9:10. I get plenty of sleep. I was awake before the whistle and got up at 6 this morning. I find I am awake mornings waiting for the whistle to blow. I dressed, made my bed and we swept out the room before we fell out for breakfast. It was oatmeal, milk, scrambled eggs, applesauce and cinnamon roll this morning. After breakfast we came back here and mopped out the room and then waited around for inspection. The captain made a hasty survey and found a few things wrong but nothing serious. The mirror was a little dirty and we had a couple of dust rags tossed in a corner of the closet. After inspection we fell out and heard instructions. Then we changed to fatigues and marched out to the drill field. They had a soft ball game and some of the fellow played with footballs. I was content to sit in the sun. I’m trying to slowly get a little tanned without burning. My back seems to be coming along a little but I really burned my face. My forehead and nose are peeling from it now. That Woodbury lotion feels good. I am getting a little low on it and I’ll have to get some sometime soon. I’ve got to get me some shaving cream in the next couple of days too. I bought a small bottle of Vaseline hair tonic last night. It’s the first stuff I’ve bought to put on my hair but it’s been a little unruly so I thought I’d get it. It doesn’t smell and you don’t need a lot of it. We were at the field until about 10:45. Then we tromped back and changed to our O.D.’s again to fall out and march to dinner. No kidding, I’ve done more marching in the last 6 days than I have in the past 3 months since I finished basic training. No matter where we go we march in formation. Dinner today was pretty good. I had hash, vegetable soup, crackers, biscuit, butter, beets, milk and rhubarb.

Back from supper at 6. After dinner I came back here for mail call and got 4 letters – your Mon. letter and ones from Amelia, Elmo, and Dick Hollingsworth. I read them and then we had to fall out to hear announcements. All of us who have been taking these tests together were scheduled for interviews at 3. I came up here and shaved, washed, and cleaned my teeth. It’s getting so I have to shave every day and a half now and it’s a nuisance but I guess it can’t be helped. I shined my dusty G.I. shoes and then I took a quick shower. I wanted to look O.K. for the interview but I guess it wouldn’t have made much difference. I put on my new underwear and the socks. The shorts are a trifle large around but if they shrink any it will be O.K. The shirt and socks are O.K. I put on my freshly cleaned O.D.’s that I have been saving and my oxfords. I still have them all on. I may take off and see what Palo Alto looks like after I finish this. I have this one clean set of O.D.’s. The other set is pretty dirty but I don’t dare get both sets dirty at once. It’s a risk to send them to the cleaners because they tell us we may be here 2 or 3 days or 2 or 3 weeks. It’s like the reception centers. I’m beginning to accumulate a lot of dirty socks and underwear too so I guess I’ll have to rinse some out in our little corner sink before I run out. When I got dressed I went down and ate an Eskimo pie while I waited for proceedings to proceed. They took us through by alphabetical order so I waited about half an hour. I really didn’t think I’d flunk out because anyone under 22 who is brought here usually has the qualifications for basic engineering. I walked in and saluted and sat down. The officer says, “I see you are 20, that gives us a lot of leeway.” He looked over my record of past studies in high school and college and came to the conclusion I should be in Class II of basic Engineering. I asked him if he were sure I was capable of handling it and he said he saw no reason why I shouldn’t. As I figured I did very poorly on the physics test. But he said I must have a very good knowledge of basic math because I did excellently on the math test and that I must have really remembered high school chem., because I did unbelievably well for having had only 1 term of general chem. in college. He asked me if I were interested in the program or if I were just here because someone told me to come. I told him I was interested. He said that I should be able to do very good work and not just average. I let him know I have never been content with just the average. He asked me what I liked and I told him my interest was in chem. so he said he would recommend me for chem. engineering. He also said I will have to do some make up in physics to refresh it but that with a math basis such as mine I could pick that up as I went along. That was that and I saluted and left. I came up here and wrote on this until time for supper. We marched over and had potatoes, gravy, pump. and white bread, butter, carrots, salad, cake and milk. Then we came back and here I am.

Now probably you are wondering the same thing I have thought of. Will I like engineering and can I make a go of it? It isn’t exactly the thing I think I wanted. I never thought I had much aptitude for engineering. But on the other hand I never had much aptitude for K.P. or shoving shells into a 90mm. This is I believe my best bet. If I wash out I’ve lost nothing and certainly gained a little. I had no rating to lose. Julius is now taking chem. engineering so if he can make it so can I. The only trouble is the speed with which they shove it at you. It comes in 5 units, 1 and 2 as basic and 4, 5 and 6 as advanced. Each lasts 3 months or in other works [words] one if he went clear through would get a complete engineering course (4 years normally) in 15 months. If I start in Class II it means that if I go straight through I’ll come out a chem. engineer in one year. It is most likely that the war will last a year and if Churchill is right, much longer. In all probability I would come out with a commission. On the other hand, as I said the course is split up into 3 month terms. At the end of each term one has to go before the board. They may and probably will put him back if he is doing good work. On the other hand they may send him to O.C.S. or reassign him to some outfit as a trained technician with a no-com rating or if he has shown exceptional ability along some particular line they may send him for a different type training. In other words all I am in for is 3 months. Then I may go back for 3 more, I may be sent to O.C.S., I may get away from the engineering and get into chemistry maybe, or I might be reassigned to some outfit and given a rating. Personally I think I’d like to go on through and finish. It’s very probable we’ll finish with commissions as high as captain. Of course that’s in the future a long way but then a lot of things that were in the future are now in the past. At any rate I’m going to do my best and it will be no cinch. I’ll be assigned to refresher courses next week so I can be getting things in mind until I am shipped. I reckon it will be out here someplace. The school I’ve been mentioning was Ohio State at Columbus, about 400 miles away from you, but the shipment for there is already up and since not many go there my chances are relatively slim. Basics go there, to Univ. of Cal. at Los Angeles, to Univ. of Cal. at Berkeley near Frisco and to Oregon State. Of course, other schools may need men by the time I leave. You see the number of men available here is sent to Washington and then requisitions for different schools are sent here. Michigan trains engineers but I guess it’s advanced and the units are probably full. I remember you sending a clipping once which said M.S.C. was training a few engineers as well as the 1500 air cadets. At the time I had no interest in engineering but that’s too much to hope for anyway. The point is I want to get as close as possible to home because I may get time off at the end of the 3 mos. which is some time in early September. Well I guess I’ve said enough about that and about all I know now anyway. I hope I am at last getting a break.

Now to your Mon. letter. Those flowers were very pretty. I see I am one of 15 from the class of 1946 who is now in uniform. It looks like a lot of boys aren’t going to finish school. That is a very bad thing. They tell us one reason for putting us in school is because many of our educations were interrupted and statistics indicate most of us won’t go back. Old man Sohn went out in a hurry too like his boy. Monday was quite a day for you and also for me. I wonder if Gram’s birthday had anything to do with Gramp’s coming. I got a letter from Amelia today saying she was over to see you. She always answers in a hurry. I’d like some of that pudding again. How old was the keepsake? Did he mention the rest of it? I never write very nice letters to them because I can’t think of anything to say but then I don’t know what kind of letters he is used to getting from his folks. It’s nice I didn’t disappoint him although I can’t see where I’ve done anything to make him have feelings of either kind. I haven’t done anything to surprise him that I know of unless it’s because I didn’t do a lot of sobbing about being drafted. I don’t know about the desk job but so far I’ve done O.K. by myself in some things. I hardly think you need worry of my being different in the wrong way. There probably will be a noticeable change because I am at the point where a person makes a turn over. I’m at that 7th year point you mentioned a lot. I would have done the same changing at home but it would have been gradual and less obvious. I don’t think I’ll be going to the dogs right away though. I am getting the mail O.K. and in sequence now. If I move any distance I should know a day or so in advance and I’ll send a telegram telling you to hold the mail. If it’s just to Santa Clara or U.C.L.A. it’s not far and they can easily forward it to me. I hope it’s about 2500 miles northeast mostly east. That was my first so-called blind date but he is a pretty decent acting fellow. Plain t-shirts are O.K. by me because now I am no longer in the coast artillery or won’t be much longer. At Frisco I was on Special Duty. Here I am on Detached Service but when I’m shipped I will no longer be on D.S. but will be reassigned to an A.S.T. Unit. I’ll have to take off my red piping on my hat and my Western Defense patch and my crossed cannons. No insignia or chevrons but I won’t have to take off any chevrons.

Yes my pen goes pretty steadily but it is a very good one. All it needs is good ink and an occasional cleaning. I didn’t do so bad on my socks but a couple more pair need fixing now. If I ever got within 100 miles of home I’d dump the laundry and patch work right smack in your lap. I won’t change anymore going to school now that I would have done at M.S.C.  C.A. (AA.) is a combat outfit in the sense it would go into action in case of an attack. Also it is possible some units may be moved to Hawaii, Panama, and Alaska where we are in control and no fighting is in sight. That is purely rumor but I can see where it is very possible. Maybe by the time I finish with this training the war will be over. I see no reason why I couldn’t use those shirts regardless of where I go. If I get where conditions are favorable I want to play some tennis. If I go to Oregon it’s north but not much farther from there. I rather doubt if I needed the army to make something of me. I was doing pretty well by myself up to the time I was drafted. I have no reason to be ashamed of anything that we did or you taught me so you just forget that kind of stuff. C. I guess that answers your letter.

Amelia wrote about being over to see you. Fred will finish in New York on June 15 and be sent to Cleveland. He hopes to get a leave then. Russell is still in San Diego. Jack Niklas and Bill Webb are also coming or I should say going home on leave soon. Bob Niklas is at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. Elmo wrote to find out why I hadn’t written. By now he probably has my last letter. Dick just answered the letter I wrote. We don’t say much to each other but just write a lot of junk and flowery language. Judging by his letters one would never picture him as he is. Well I guess I better quit before I exceed my 6 cents worth. It’s now 7:30. I don’t know whether I’ll go to town or just loaf around here and read funnies I see here on the table and maybe answer those letters. I can see very clearly that once I hit the real work my letter writing to outsiders will cease. A card is all they will get and I expect about a page a day will be my limit to you. I’ll see when I get to it. Well good night and take it easy. I’m glad I’m not a disappointment to anyone.




MSC ‘46


Let me know as soon as that new delivery set up for mail becomes effective so I will be using the right address!

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