9 December 1942
Camp White, Oregon
Dear Aunty Clara:
I am getting interested in this army. A lot of things we do are just like Boy Scouts, Morton, or work. For example: This evening we were learning how to tie the different kind of knots. I never paid much attention to knot tying when I was in Boy Scouts; but now that I am in the army, I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to learn them. I did alright for myself and I only hope I can remember them until tomorrow. We only were taught about a half dozen of the different types this evening and will probably have to work overtime tomorrow night learning the rest. However, that is not all I was doing tonight.
Just before the knot tying episode I was ACQ (Acting Charge of Quarters) which simply means that Corporal Nick Amormino, who was CQ had other duties and I subbed for him. The job consists of sitting in the Orderly Room outside of the Company Commander's office. You just sit there and wait for people to come and knock after which the CQ "sounds off" --- "Come in". We ask the people their business and take care of them if we can. I started a letter to you while on this job but 1st Sgt. Driscoll came up and wanted to know how much I knew about Family Allotments and Government Insurance. I told him I knew a little bit about both and that in any case of doubt I knew of a little book which had all the answers. He told me to study it over and then I might take care of the situation for him over in the Day Room. After stopping the letter and brushing up on the above mentioned items, I discovered he wasn't going to do those tonight but perhaps some other evening.
Prior to that business I also took a typing test this evening right after chow. The whole thing was a farce as far as I was concerned. The idea was that the Colonel wanted the best typist and best stenographer in the Regiment to work directly under him. His orders were to get hold of any person who typed or took dictation and put them thru a test. All Company Clerks and student clerks were to be included. This is the payoff: A Company Clerk has a Corporal rating whereas the Colonel's assistants are only Technicians Fifth Grade . A Colonel's assistant remains a Colonel's assistant and a T-5 while a Company Clerk can advance to Sergeant Major or Staff Sergeant . Naturally the clerks and the students do not care for that type of promotion. Lt. Warner did not care for us to do well on the test because then he would lose us, Sgt. Nyalka came up to me and said, "If you do good on this test, I will blow your brains out", and Censky came up and said, "For the love of Mike don't turn in a good paper". With such encouragement and the fact that I was working on a Standard typewriter while having been used to a portable and copying work done on a portable, I actually did mess the thing up. Nyalka, Censky and I had a good laugh after our group of 13 had completed the test. Walking back to the barracks, I said to Censky, "That is about the worst bit of typing I have done since coming into the army", and we laugh. "But", says I, "suppose they get the wrong idea and dispense with me as student clerk". He frowns and then lightened up saying that he would see to it that such a catastrophe would not occur. Even 1st Sgt. Driscoll smiled when I told him I messed the thing up. I guess they must think your little shaver will make a good Company Clerk. I hope so.
I received 5 letters today. 2 of yours. One was mailed from Chicago on December 5th and the other from Berwyn on December 7th. Don't you live in Cicero anymore? I also received a letter from Jerome Barta, Marie Volenec and RH&R Co. The one from Rathborne had a Christmas check in it for $5.00. It is a Postal Money Order made out to the Postmaster at Medford, Oregon. Frankly, I expected more than $5.00 although I realize I have a lot of nerve expecting anything. After all I did work 11 months of the year and the ones who work 12 months will probably get at least $25.00. Just the same I can reconcile myself to the five bucks since I told you in previous letter, I am "busted".
The letter from Marie was a distinct surprise because I have not corresponded with her from Camp White. I hope I get the opportunity to answer these letters soon. I don't know whether I will be able to send the letter from Jerome home or not. It contains some very revealing information concerning a certain somebody. We shall see.
(If I don't find time to answer your letters in this mail, I will in the next. I might forget the stuff that's now in my mind if I don't write it down now.)
We ran the obstacle course this morning during my hour with the Company. If Clarence had to run one of these, I can easily see how he might have become injured. We weren't rushed around it today but were told to take our time. All the same it was still tough for a lot of softies and especially a fellow who comes into the army like I did and immediately resumes his soft living. I'm telling you, ma tante, I was winded and puh-lenty. The course consists of the following:
(1) Small 1-1/2 foot barriers ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? which we are supposed to crawl thru but because of the 2" layer of mud we zig-zag thru.
(2) We jump over a small row of logs.
(3) We scale a 10' wall and drop down on the other side. (This was my stumbling block. I kept slipping down the first 5 or 6 tries.)
(4) Run thru a wire barricade. This requires a series of short two or three step runs and a small jump.
(5) Crawl over a fence similar to the fence on a Western Corral.
(6) Climb a 20 foot ladder and descend on the reverse side.
(to be continued)