November 24, 1942
Camp White, Oregon
Dear Aunty Clara:
How did you know on Friday, November 20, when I was traveling thru the state of Washington that my address was to be Camp White, Oregon, eh? I didn't even know it myself at that time.
Boy o boy, I have finally been transferred to my regular company and it's the hardest. toughest, meanest, etc. outfit in all Camp White. We were kept busy until 9:00 P.M. tonight. I tried to write a letter along about 7:00 P.M. and was told --- no soap, buddy. Our company commander is a young lieutenant who thinks he has got to make this outfit the most soldierly of the whole 353rd Regiment and the regiment password is "Get on the ball". Most of the sergeants and 2nd Louies seem to want to take it out on the next fellow whereas here and there you will find a decent chap. O well, you have to take the bitter with the better and when I got put into this army, I knew it wasn't going to be bed of roses. It's just one of those things a fellow has to take and like it or if he doesn't like it just stomach it because this war isn't going to be over in two weeks. The best thing to do is adjust oneself to the most difficult and trying situations as soon as possible. Incidentally, the food has become worse in this new company's mess hall. They have cut down on almost every line of good food and several items such as tomatoes, lettuce, and coffee will no longer be served. There are no seconds on milk after the first bowl. In fact, they even ran short of water-cocoa and have taken to serving colored water. But even at that it is not as bad as it could be nor as bad as I had originally prepared myself for (remember). It seems that if you prepare yourself for the worst the half that bad is still not so terrible. The company commander is strictly G.I. and my 35¢ haircut at Camp Grant must be shortened still further without sideburns for 45¢. The hat and even the little handbag must go. They don't give any furloughs here on the Pacific. That's definite --- we are on a war footing and must be subject to call in twenty-four hours. Only in case of emergencies are furloughs given.
I had hoped I would have been placed in the H&S (Headquarters & Supply) company and then get an office job but it appears that the typing test at Camp Grant was a lot of baloney because here I am in a pick and shovel company. Didn't I wish, way back last spring & summer, that I could get to do something different in the army? I was the guy, I think, who said, "Who wants to do the same kind of work in the army as we did in civilian life at ¼ the pay"? According to that statement I should be well satisfied today.
O, let's forget the griping a minute and have some lighter news. Even though I told everyone not to write, I have received 4 letters to date. (1) From my Daddy & Rose, (2) from Mrs. Boyer, (3) from you and (4) from Dolores!!! After I get a chance to answer those letters, if ever, I will forward them to you. Dolores writes some letter and I think you will enjoy it.
By the way, we were issued gas masks, cartridge belts, etc. today and will shortly be getting hold of our rifles. AND today the sergeant told me I better shave. The fact of the matter is I am surprised that I have lasted this long without being told that. I guess that peach fuzz does look kinda bad to those who aren't used to seeing it. I remember, down at work, Al Thompson would come up to me every day or so and asked me if I shaved yet and around the time I was going into the army he would gloat and say it wouldn't be long now. He was right.
We had been told that we were under quarantine since an epidemic had broken out at the camp we had just left but were not told what kind of disease it was. Today we learned it was diphtheria.
I am still eating candy bars to fill those vacancies in my stomach so guide yourself accordingly, ma chere tante. I no longer have any ban on cookies, cake, candy etc. I would be willingly share it with the other fellows because they are in the same boat I am in.
Walter Moeller, Bill Mieir & I are all in different companies now and will not be seeing each other very much. I like them but it seems that I would never be able to become very intimate friends with them so it is probably just as well we are apart. In my new company, I have not yet spotted a sympathetic companion. I don't think this buddy idea works as well in the army anyway. It's mostly every man for himself.
In our off-duty hours we have to study the soldiers manual, put waterproofing on our shoes, fix our lockers, clean our clothes, sweep the barracks, etc. Here again, I can take it, so far. If hadn't had you to make the beds, clean the house, etc. and if I had been rooming by myself somewhere I would have had to do that stuff anyway. So you see if a person looks far enough, he can always find a silver lining.
If I can't get my cap sent out or my grip, please send me a large corrugated box so I will have a container to send it back. I don't mind sending the hat or grip back, but I would mind it if they were smashed up. I have enough trouble with that hat now --- keeping it out of sight,
If Mrs. Reed won't cooperate isn't there someone else who will? I am working hard enough for us to deserve that added increment. I haven't had time to send a permanent address to RH&R and until I do I will not get that "leetel extra two-bitses". I sure hope they send out a Xmas bonus to the service men. I thought I might save some money in the army but it looks as if I just make ends meet. I will have to send in some questions to radio programs (DON'T LAUGH) and win some money.
The reason I switched to pencil is this. I am writing this sitting on a toilet seat (we can keep the lights on in here all night) and the barracks are dark so I can't go back to fill up my fountain pen.
While I was sitting here, I struck up a conversation with a corporal. He rates the engineers just after the air force or just after the field & coast artillery. He says that as Service & Supply men we will never be combat engineers (at least not likely). Then I told him I wouldn't care to kill somebody although it was immaterial whether or not I was killed. All this took place in one room while a voice in the next room says, "A conscientious objector, huh?" to which I answers, "Yes" --- it was the sergeant. He went out the door saying, "When a guy comes at you with a bayonet you'll forget that".
You say I look like a prisoner without the fatigue hat. Well, you should see us now. Our new Camp White rules are that all fatigue hats must be worn with the brims down --- you can picture us --- the chain gang.
We put on our leggings today. They are a lot of work to put on or take off but I like them. I always did like things like that. First Jaja's putties and then my long Boy Scout boots. They make a fellow feel more rugged. We changed from Off Duty clothes to fatigues & leggings about 3 times today. The other fellows are bellowing high heaven at the injustice of it all but, as you know, I was a quick-change artist from one outfit to another this last summer. There are only two difficulties we run across in the army. 1) They want the change faster than you can do it and 2) you have to button up all shirts, coats, blouses etc. to the last button when you place them on hangars. (This last rule slows you down two ways. When taking a garment off the hangar, you have to unbutton it to put it on. Then again, when you hang up the article you have just taken off, you have to button up again.
I had contemplated having you send me various things I might need from time to time but near as I can see, thus far, the Post Exchange (which I haven't been to because of the quarantine) sells stuff for a whole lot less than you could buy it in Cicero. For example: Single bar of candy 4¢, malted milk 12¢, cigarettes (not for me) 13¢ etc. Did I tell you previously that I was glad I didn't bring along those "things"? Bill Meier smokes the brand and I would have been sorely tempted had I been continually dishing them out but never smoking them. I don't want to ever smoke.
Right now I am listening to a corporal who is trying his darnest to get transferred out of this company. It seems there are only three ways to get out without using Clarence's way. You can transfer to the paratroopers, air corps, or go to Officers School.
Your sentimental nephew (who
doesn't like to admit it, but misses
his Aunty Clara and home)