November 28, 1942
Camp White, Ore.
Dear Aunty Clara: 7:00 A. M.
I have only a short time this morning to type this letter up before work begins. We are busy now and there isn't any kidding about it. Ever since I cut off yesterday's letter, I haven't had a moment's letup in the office. We first were typing up Soldier Qualification cards for the Company Commander Hanton. Before we could finish that another job came up and that was to type up the laundry lists for next week and for the month of December. This was a humdinger and I am not finished with it yet. You see, the companies have some old men in them before the new ones came in. The problem was to type an alphabetical list of names and a list of laundry code numbers for each man in the company. They could use the Sortograph that Roy Miller bought from Dick Retzke for RH&R.
There is no doubt about it that the fellows who work in the office like it better than anything else and it also relieves them of special duties; but they miss out on some things they should know like fixing the cartridge belt, hearing new company regulations, seeing how the proper folds should be made in the garments that go into the foot locker for inspection. There is to be an inspection of all foot lockers by the Company Commander today and I am hoping and praying that when he goes by mine, it will be found in good order. If it isn't, it doesn't strike any good note in his heart for me.
About the eating situation: A new system is being employed where all the complement of the company comes into the mess hall and stands at their proper place until given the signal by the mess sergeant that they can sit down and begin eating.
1:00 P. M.
The eating system has been changed again since this morning. We file in, sit down and begin eating immediately. Remember, I told you that we were slung out the food by other fellows? Well that is all changed now and the food is all there on the table along with our plates, etc. The objection I had before to the system has also been corrected this noon. They had no extra spoons to serve the food from but you had to use your own utensils In putting the food on your plate. This afternoon they had extra spoons for the peas and the potatoes. I still don't like the system, however, because we are continually passing stuff from one person to another all the meal long; whereas, before we would get the stuff on our plate and the only thing that would pass around was the coffee, salt & pepper, etc.
8:00 P. M.
The order of serving the food has once more reverted to the original file in, get it slung on your plate, walk to your seat, eat, get up and walk out method.
I wasn't kidding when at the very beginning of this letter I mentioned the fact that I had only a very short time to type it in. I have been typing laundry lists, company rosters, looking for men with certain qualifications, filing cards in alphabetical order, listing to various instructions, filling out the allowances and bond deductions on the soldiers Service Records and a little bit of running around from Company A's orderly room to Head-quarters.
Well, today was just about the happiest day I have spent here at Camp White. First of all I was kept busy the entire day doing things I like to do when working. Second, we new fellows are beginning to get treated as if we are somebody instead of just things walking around. Third, I got back to the barracks this evening and the sarge was so hoarse from all his yelling that the confinement was lifted and the fellows could go to the PX and the dayroom. Fourth, we got our O.D. hats back with the piping on them. Fifth, and probably the most important I have saved for the last. Wally Moeller, two other fellows, and yours truly have been selected to succeed into the positions under which we were training this week. I kind of I knew this two days ago but only hinted at it to you so as not to break the chain by counting chickens while they are still eggs. Lt. Warner called us together around 1700 (which is 5:00 P.M. in army language) and gave us a little schedule we will follow in our basic training which we must get a little of at least. In reality it is hardly any hard training at all so your little shaver still has all the breaks, good luck, and everything still coming his way. In brief I will tell you our schedule: On Mondays we stay with our companies until l0:00 and then work in the office until 12:00; we eat and drill with our companies until 3:00 and then work in the office until 5:00. On Tuesdays, we drill until 10:30 then go to Headquarters and work until 2:00 after which we go back and drill for 3 more hours. By Wednesday it becomes still more easy; we stay with our companies until 9:00 and then spend the rest of the day in the office. Thursday is a duplicate of Wednesday. Friday we drill until 8:30 and remain In the office the remaining 7-1/2 hours. Saturday is really tough. On this day we go back to a hard and severe training schedule until 9:00 in the morning then stay at HQ until 3:00 when we must return for 2 additional hours of grueling drill. Of course, if we don't stay on the ball we are busted and put back in the line (translated this sentence reads, 'If we fail to keep up our good, work, we will be demoted from our positions as student clerks and simply be put back to routine duties in our individual companies'. This type of training will continue for two, three or four weeks. At that time we will take over the job we are training for and should at least get PFC (Private First Class) ratings if not Corporal stripes.
Did I tell you about the fellows cap I borrowed while I had mine in the supply room for the piping? He had two hats so he loaned me one. I bought a package of cigarettes for the fellow and two cigars. He doesn't smoke cigarettes but took the cigars. If you still have a few of the whatchamacallits on hand (you know what I mean), you could send them and l can pass them around to the fellows around here. Or did Mr. G. take them? It doesn't really matter but I thought that just in case they were laying around I could get rid of them. Don't bother about the chess set -- I mean my wooden one -- they have one in the dayroom.
The fellows who work in the office don't receive any mackinaw jackets so I am getting cheated out of a few things here and there. I also didn't get my gold US buttons for the corner of my lapels because I wasn't there when they dished them out. Also, went I went to the PX tonight, I discovered they were plumb out of Service of Supply insignia for the sleeves. I couldn't get a collar holder either. If you can find in the dime store or drug store a wire collar holder downer, please buy it and send it to me. It must be invisible; i.e., no part of it must be seen when it is being worn. These things that clip both collars and run under the tie (like I used to wear once in a while) are taboo.
I bought a Portland paper at the PX. It is the same one that I bought last week with This Week in it. I also bought a flock of candy bars. One was a giant size bittersweet Hershey bar and it is making me sick -- there must be a half a pound of chocolate in it. If you want any bittersweet chocolate, I can send some home. I also found an old tube of shaving cream and if you or Aunty Florence wants to start using tooth paste instead of tooth powder I will send it home too.
Corporal Censky, the Company Clerk, got a whole crate of apples from his Aunt in Washington (the state) yesterday and the line immediately formed to the right. There were 56 apples in all and I got two of them and then traded him an orange for another apple. They were delicious. Today he went around with the letter of thanks he was sending back to his Aunt and he had all of us fellows sign it.
When it all boils down to the fine point, it isn't practical to save the things you get from home all for yourself. I have changed my ideas a lot on that. First of all you haven't any place to store the stuff if it is too bulky and then every time somebody else gets something you are getting a share of it. That way every day or so you have something different. So Aunty Clara if you think you want to show the soldiers here at HQ how my Aunty can cook and bake, you have my permission and blessing to do so. Remember when I told you that I would write and let you know about this situation? Little did I expect to tell you what I just told you. However, I wouldn't go ahead and make expensive fruitcake or anything like that. I don't think it would be appreciated. Just send some of the less expensive type cookies etc., if you want to. Of course, that does not mean you can't send me a few pieces of fruit cake wrapped in wax paper. And a spare apple or orange can come in handy between meals. The stuff you send, if you send anything, can be unsanitary (that is not wrapped in wax paper individually) because these fellows don't care what they eat or how they eat it. All I am interest-ed in is that my couple of cookies are wrapped separately. It is bad enough eating with dirty hands at every meal and having a unsanitary method of serving in the mess hall. If Jennie or Mrs. Reed ever asks you if I would like any cookies, you can tell them yes. I can get rid of then easily enough with 35,000 men in camp. Of course, then again, I really shouldn't do that because then all the fellows would expect cookies from me and sooner or later you people will get tired of making them and there won't be any more. It seems as if I have wasted a good deal of space on this subject and gotten myself all tangled up in it so I'm dropping it at once. But don't forget please send me at least enough for me to eat alone. If the cooking and desserts (what desserts?) at this joint were like they were at Camp Grant, I wouldn't have to ask you for something. Incidentally, mail takes at least 5 days to get out here so don't send perishables.
We can't get milk. The mess sergeant says the entire West Coast is short of milk. Ah to be back in the good old dairy country of the Middle West. There is also quite a bit of snow in the mountains and the trains have difficulty getting thru and that slows up our food shipments. I have developed the trick of taking a good portion of cream (when they have coffee, which is seldom) first, drinking it and then taking a cup of coffee. That way I have miIk and coffee both.
O yes, about this office business, I wouldn't tell people too much about it yet because it would be mighty embarrassing if it didn't pan out although with my good looks and brains I don't see how it can. Wow, this army certainly makes me backward about complimenting myself.
You have probably noticed how I have been very erratic in my typing, punctuation, grammar, etc., well I guess I am a least bit excited over my good fortune. In a way I feel contrite because I didn't think about Clarence or about how insignificant everything all is until now. When living takes place at this rapid pace, it is hard to get away from it. If I live until Tuesday morning, my $6.60 extra for the first fourteen days in the army was not needed as insurance upon my life.
Don't think I can't die either by then because I have a heavy cold and cough which could bump me off in no time at all. The fact of the matter is that almost every guy that just came into camp has a cold or cough. Even though Chicago is damp and chilly it isn't anything like this weather. Here it is around 40 at night or maybe 50. Then during the day it climbs to maybe 60 or 70 but still you can see your breath vaporize in the air because of the excessive moisture in the air. Very rarely are the tops of the mountains visible. As a general rule they are covered over with clouds even though the valley is momentarily free of clouds. I am still glad it doesn't get below freezing. We walk around in our shirtsleeves a good portion of the time when we are outside. Either that or in raincoats or the waterproof field jacket. How has the winter been treating you I imagine you have had a cold spell by now, haven't you? Or has it been unseasonably warm?
Goobye ma chere tante Clara, /s/ Roman Senor Roman
I carried the envelope in my pocket since morning. That's why it looks so bad.