November 25, 1942
Dear Aunty Clara:
Maybe your letter wishing that I would get a job in the office as a clerk did some good; because here I am - - a student clerk. It is only for this week. Next week we begin our basic training which everyone has to take. I was called out of the ranks this morning and sent to the orderly room and from there sent to Regimental Headquarters. In time I may become the Company Clerk and a Corporal. I only hope the army isn't like Rathborne, Hair & Ridgway Company and says something without ever meaning it. It has been a relief to get away from that sergeant of our barracks. No other company in the entire regiment has kept its men confined to their barracks during off duty hours nor do the other companies require the G. I. haircut which makes us look like bums. I pr1
November 25, 1942
Camp White, Oregon
Dear Aunty Clara:
If I don't get time to write any more from my barracks tonight, I will have to let this short note suffice for the day. Here is what happened in a nutshell..
- I am a student clerk in headquarters.
- This is only introductory and will break when my basic training begins
- If at the end of my training, they still want me, I will become Company Clerk and maybe a Corporal.
- I am in the toughest company as I said before. The only one to demand G.I. haircuts and the only company that still restricts its men to the barracks.
- But had I not been assigned to that company, I would not be typing this now. So as I said yesterday, "You have to take the bitter with the better".
- I am working overtime in the Headquarters Office tonight and will work on Thanksgiving Day because a new shipment of 500 men came in today.
- Its just like working for Eddie Dietrick in the Personnel Department.
- I shaved this morning for the first time in my life and it must have been a flop because a Corporal told me I should have shaved closer.
- I am still in the experimental stage as yet and will probably get better as I go along.
- I have sent the official letter to RH&R, a copy of which I enclose, and I hope it gets the desired results.
- I am typing this spasmodically. I don't want to be caught "off the beam" as they say in this regiment.
- This is regular office work, eh? Drink cokes when we want to, talk when we want to, and type letters when we can find the time. And here they can't fire you. Some stuff.
- I am cutting things so short that I am getting my old letter writing habit of not knowing what to say next and how to say it.
- My cold disappeared while I was en route west. The usual lingering cough was there then nothing. So now two weeks later I have caught my 2nd cold of the winter. That is the only thing I regret about coming to this climate. It isn't very conducive to a healthy condition.
- Walter Moeller is on the general staff here at headquarters; since he belongs to the Headquarters and Supply Company.
- Had I been with that company, I probably wouldn't have this opportunity; because he types 61 words a minute and takes shorthand.
- AND, believe it or not, once more I was wrong on the results of an intelligence test. It seems the more I brood and worry over something the better it turns out. I got a C.I. of 145. Imagine that. It stupefies me. I'm a genius - no less. Tommy had something around 135 and Johnny Miller from RH&R had an exceptional 137. Frankly, I don't know how I do it because I'm not that smart. 145 - one hundred forty-five - its unbelievable!!
- I got the 114 on the mechanical aptitude test and that put me in the second class of 'mechanical aptituders'.
- And on the Signal Corps test I did as lousy as I suspected. A 90 was enough to get me in the third class.
- That 145 was class I, of course.
- The way things are turning out it seems I will never get the opportunity to write letters to my friends. I have been squeezing in these letters to you whenever I could get the chance.
- I'm still looking for a box to send my grip and hat home in before the Company Commander finds it and burns it as he threatens.
- Neither Wally or I have heard how Bill is coming out.
- He has freedom to go to the Post Exchange and has had the Engineer piping put on his hat. The Engineer colors are red and white.
- Just as I typed this he came up and talked to me. I like him a lot better now than I did before. He seems to like me better too. It's like seeing an old friend. After all we slept together for four nights on the train and I guess people can't become much more intimate.
- How my attitude does change from day to day, eh?
- Everybody around me is busy as a beaver but here I sit typing along. In the army idleness is the thing. You don't do anything until told to but when you're told, YOU DO IT, and quick.
- This office work is so congenial and familiar that I am not homesick. It is just like being away to work during the daytime. At night, before falling asleep and sleeping or just waking up in the morning I feel the best. At that time I feel free of the world and everything in it. It seems as if my spirit is released and goes back home to sleep.
- Queer sort of psychology, n'est-ce-pas, mademoiselle?
- The corporal I told you I talked to yesterday turned out to be the Company Clerk whom I work for and he told me not to tell anyone about my C. O. to killing. He said like as not, this outfit will never have anything to do with that end of the war.
- As soon as I can get the Insignia for Service and Supply (which is a blue star on a white field and framed in red), I am going to send one home for you so you can have something to show people. People like things like that, don't they?
- Tell Aunty Florence that my barracks sergeant is just as bad, if not worse, than Henry but that it is easier to stomach him when he's around and forget him when he isn't.
- I have already felt a bit of thievery. Some louse stole one of my wire hangers today. Now I have to put more clothes on one hanger.
- Tonight's mess was the best yet here at Camp White. 2 slices of raisin bread, pineapple and peach slices, breaded steak, string beans, noodles and eggs and potatoes cooked together. Also water-cocoa.
- I don't think I'll ever finish that book of mine, War and Peace.
- I don't get much news out here. I haven't seen a newspaper since Saturday. If you notice this Saturday, in the Daily News, there is a "Letter From Home" column in the first section. This letter gives a brief summary of all important news events of the week in and around Chicago. If you get a chance, I could stand reading some of Robert Yoder's column or a good editorial or two.
- Send those things by slow mail if you send them. There is no hurry. I'll still be here.
- When I bought a Portland, Oregon paper last week, little did I suspect that This Week was going to be part of it. I read all about McGarry and the other stories.
Solong for now,
39. I can't get out to get Airmails.
Author's annotation July 2004: 1. The first letter was interrupted and started again later.