Camp Grant, Ill
November 16, 1942
Dear Aunty Clara:
I managed to wake up at 5 this morning and needed every minute between that time and 5:30 to get fully dressed and washed. We then went to breakfast. The breakfast was good, but I couldn't eat much of it although I wanted to eat it all. First, the other fellows eat too fast for me. Even though I try to go as fast as I can without bolting or gulping my food I never finish before them. I guess I am naturally slow going. Second, I reached a saturation point where I just couldn't put another mouthful in me if I wanted to. Third, I have decided to tone down my appetite a bit before I am too full. You see, as I suspected, going on the toilet is not one of my habits when I am working. Here we are at work 24 hrs; so you see. If I don't get rid of some by tonight, I will see what I can do about getting a cathartic remedy.
I still haven't told you what kind of food we had this morning. There was the usual morning milk (with me taking a full portion of that), toast, donuts, an apple, puffed wheat (in those little boxes), and chipped beef (this was prepared and thrown on the toast in the way you fixed a similar dish on Friday nights).
Now to go back to last night. We all hit the hay a 9 o'clock when lights went out. The fellows in the next bunk set up such a jabbering that they kept me awake until ten. Then I hear marching feet and terrific noises, I stir in my sleep, try to brush away the sounds (but they don't brush) and then I am fully awake at 1:05. It turned out to be the fellows who were out on weekend passes coming back. So I goes to sleep again. But by golly, a few hours later you would think the Kotek's were moving the joint for all the noise --- and "sure enough" it was the fellows leaving for Camp "A" & "B" moving out at 3:00 A.M. (HERE I PAUSE TO INJECT A LITTLE NOTE: I didn't realize that they can send us off in the middle of the night. Maybe we better skip the whole thing I wrote you about yesterday.) After that, I went back to sleep and slept soundly until 5:00 A.M.
By the way, the washbowls have two mirrors. One is a regular looking glass mirror while the other which is below the first and also below the ledge which separates the two and holds your washing items is a metal affair and is purposely put there so that you can bend down low and brush your teeth. The only trouble is that during duty hours only part of the washroom is available.
This morning was the important morning. After breakfast we were hauled off to the Classification Station. We were all seated and then they asked that all those who knew the touch system of typewriting and had speed of over 35 wpm should step forward. So me and three other fellows stepped forward. We were given a two minute speed test and I got 51 wpm. After that we went back to where we came from and received an envelope with all our personal records. We took this envelope to a desk where a fellow extracted a yellow card, typed some general data on it and placed it back in the container.
Our interview came next --- this was most important. The typing speed was noted, just what types of work was done was also noted, and our educational record was recorded. The interviewer said at this time that I shouldn't have too hard of a time in the army since I had office training, a good mechanical aptitude test (?), and a good classification index (I believe my score was 114 which just makes the wire for Officer's School; if I can get a recommendation). Of course, you know the full story of that test. My C.I. in Wilson was 123 and in the Air Corps I got another 123. If 114 is it, that's a new low, but so what!!!
Dear Aunty Clara: If you notice that this letter is incoherent and duplicates statements, I hope you will forgive me. Since the last line on the other side of this paper, I have not had one moment's rest. I finally got around to seeing what the army can do when it wants to keep you on the go. It is now 9:00 P.M. and my first absolutely free time. I am writing this from the recreation room where can remain up until 11.00 o'clock.
Now to get back to my original narrative. After the private interview, we were sent to the Chief Interviewers Desk. This fellow asked checking questions and then made a recommendation as to where I shall finally fit into the army picture. I don't know what his recommendation was.
The insurance and allotment desk was next. I ordered $10,000 worth; however, they objected strenuously when I named you as my beneficiary. As you have probably read, in my letter to Mrs. Boyer, aunts are not considered part of one's family. I countered with the fact that my mother was dead and you have taken care of me all of my life. That makes it legal. You are what is known as AUNT (LOCAL PARENTUS). I could not make Aunty Florence the 2nd beneficiary since she did not take on those duties of "local parentus" as did you; and moreover, it stands to reason that a person never has two mothers at one time even if they are "lp's".
Then they asked me if I desired to make an allotment --- which I did. Again aunts as just aunts are ineligible but as "lp's" fall under the Class B allotments. Of course, they asked me if I support you 100% and I said yes. This situation is similar to the income tax returns. I doubt if I can claim head of the family because even though you are a dependent it is you and not me who exercises control and has the final sayso about most matters. The $10 weekly, the former additional $6.25 weekly at RH&R in your name, and the #200 or $300 per year put in your name also constitutes 100% of your support. I imagine the total amount per year ran close to $500 or $600 solely for your support.
Uncle Joe, as you know, was cautioned by the gov't that he was not actually a member of the family and so he is discounted. Aunty Florence, although a member of the family, does not contribute towards your support. The affidavits I enclose should be filled out and sworn to by some friends or neighbors. Perhaps Jennie, Gonzalez, Mrs. Reed, Mae Matcha or someone. 2 people --- one on each form. When you get the forms notarized, send them to Allowance and Allotment Branch War Department
20th and B Streets NE
Type the forms or use ink on the forms.
I will be contributing $22 and the government will contribute $15 making a total of $37. I know this is not enough for you to get along on so I will send you an additional allowance from my pay.
However, if you think you can get along and starve without this allotment just write and tell me so and don't bother filling out the forms. My $50, of course, is cut by $6.60 each month for insurance. Then there are the expenses which will naturally occur as time goes on so I will probably wind up with $30 to $35 cash per month.
WRITE ME WHEN I SEND A PERMANENT ADDRESS
Eyebrows were raised when I requested that my insurance take effect immediately; i.e., today. My first pay, which may not even amount to $25 will have a $13.20 bite in it. I am paying a full month's rate for 14 days. However, we both know that death may come at any moment and it is not very good to chance living until Dec 1 just to save $6.60 and lose $10,000.
We were also requested to set aside a certain portion of our pay for U.S. War Bonds. I did not authorize any deductions at that time. It will depend on how our finances make out to see if I have any money to spare.
Incidentally, I was asked for how long I supported you and I answered 5 years. This is not 5 yrs of total support. The NYC in MJC, of course, began the initial period of partial support in 1937. Total dependency and support began August 1941 or thereabouts.
As we left the Classification Station we were given a service manual with all the information we need to know, written in it.
I may want to study a bit of it tomorrow and if I have a full day like today, I may not get much of a chance to write a good letter.
From the C. Station we went to the Dispensary to get "harpooned" which means in ordinary language --- vaccinated and inoculated. Some of the fellows actually dreaded it. After I was inoculated, I was still waiting to feel it and he said "C'mon, beat it", The vaccine was even less noticeable.
We were allowed about ½ hr to ourselves in the barracks before chow (that's what they persist in calling any meal). This time was mostly taken up with small talk and writing a letter for Nick Paulos.
Chow consisted of green peas, orange jello with peaches, coffee, donuts, meat, mashed potatoes, olives & chicken soup. They give you so much good food that I am giving up my resolution to eat everything and anything and getting just as picky as I was at home. I hardly touch the meat and won't eat the cold slaw much longer. I can get my fill on soup, jello, ice cream, donuts, & cake & mashed potatoes.
From chow we went to the Supply station where we finally got our barracks bags and complete uniform & equipment. I haven't much time left to tell you all of this so I'll save it for another letter. The Supply station makes you take off all your civilian clothing and then starts dressing you as a soldier. The whole process does not take more than a ½ hr. This includes the waiting in line.
The bags weigh about 80 pounds. Ouch --- we walked a block with them.
In the barracks for 3 minutes and then out to listen to a 2nd louie talk to us (Army courtesy, laws, Articles of War, Hygiene, etc). Then a corporal talked to us some more.
From there we went to a movie --- 4 reels. 1 on Military Courtesy, 1 on general sanitation, 1 on sex hygiene and another on something or another. They really throw a scare into a guy when he finds out that he can contact venereal diseases by common contacts at mess, washroom, and latrines from infected persons. 1 person out of 10 in the army is sick. Even though we don't believe the Spirit of the Universe does not bother with insignificant man, I hope He puts a lucky star over me in the above regard.
Supper with raisin slice, coffee, cold slaw, pea soup & meat (smallest dinner so far but didn't eat the meat --- had some fat). And you said the army was going to teach me how to eat. Haw, that's a laugh!
When we got back to the barracks, we were given a regular hazing & initiation by the old-timers who have been here since Thursday, We had to get into fatigue outfits and scrub, mop & sweep the barracks. It was real work. Of course, now we veterans and will do the same things to the new guys.
That was finished at 8 and from then to 9 I was checking over my equipment and putting it in order. I have everything set so I can come in & get ready for bed in the darkened barracks. It's 10:30 now so I guess I'll make it by 11 when the sergeant checks to see if we are in our bunks. I am all dressed up right now in the winter outfit. If I hide my long hair under the overseas cap, I now look like a soldier. Of course not a handsome one because of mild congenital atrophy of the left side of my face and a shrimpy appearance among these giants.
Nick Paulos is leaving for Camp B tomorrow. I may be next.