PART TWO OF A LETTER STARTED 9 DECEMBER 1942
10 December 1942
Camp White, Oregon
Dear Aunty Clara:
(6) The net obstacle was to jump across a trench filled with water. It was formed from sandbags in the shape of a small hill with a trench thru it. The leap was exactly my limit and it was only the force of the jump which kept me upright and not falling backwards in the ditch.
(7) A log barricade which we had to leap over.
(8) Another water hazard on level ground and a bit narrower than the trench affair.
Here is the outcome of the affair: I never tired myself as quickly in so short a time. I felt as I do after I have pumped my bicycle for a mile or a half mile with my utmost speed. It leaves a person exhausted, etc. But in spite of all that it was a lot of fun. I would like to go there on a Sunday morning and practice it a few times. Another thing, my back which has bothered me considerably (not pain, you know, I just feel it there) in this damp weather was not felt at all. I could not detect that strained spot after such strenuous physical exercise. Still another thing was that we were in fatigues and leggings and I had a great deal of enjoyment out of sloshing thru mud above my ankles.
In the original section of this letter I was going to tell you how I collected 3 boxes of Rice Krispies at breakfast Wednesday morning with the idea of having a bit extra some morning. Little did I realize how soon I would use a package. I took one with me to breakfast today and while the other fellows were eating oatmeal, I had Rice Krispies.
Another incidental which I have wanted to get off my mind was the fact that so many people here remind me of people back home. Cpl. Censky (who is Bohemian) has many characteristics and looks something like Ray Bernatsky. Another fellow here looks like little (he's 15) Frankie Trefany one of Bobbie Boyers former proteges.
And just now something came up which struck me for the first time. I know our times are different but here it is still light outside before supper, yet Henry Aldrich is on the radio. You usually are ironing about that time of the evening.
The weather is back to its usual normal rainy self. There is some doubt about the bivouac Friday night. A lot of fellows are bound to get sick and over 5% of the regiment is now in the hospital (68 fellows) so they won't be able to handle them all.
Well, that's what comes from not being able to put down thoughts while they are still fresh in the memory. I know I had quite a bit more to relate concerning Dec. 9th but as the case is I can't recall everything.
O yes, we finally got our laundry back.
Dear Aunty Clara:
Between the time I wrote the first section of this continued letter and now I have been kept busy no end by something the Company Commander thought he would like typed up. They don't care when they ask you to do something or whether you are busy or not. You don't get any overtime for it that is for sure. But then again a person can always see the brighter side of the picture. For instance, I am indeed in a fortunate position. All the Lts. and the Co. Commander know me now and so does the first Sergeant. This means that for certain things and certain duties I am excused and I will get a break occasionally whereas the next man won't. That is the basis for overtime work in the army. Those special favors mean something after all. Then too, I should be thankful they ask me to do something for them. They could just command me to do it and that would be all to it.
Now for a brief discussion of what has happened today.
In the first place, I better continue what I was starting to tell you about the laundry. We got it back yesterday and everything was O.K. I now have 9 clean handkerchiefs but no more cold. I didn't use the handkerchief once today while a week ago or even three days ago I could have used it continually. It is also a relief to wear fresh underwear once again. I bet they will never get that last pair I wore clean again. Here are some of the objections I have against the laundry. They have the fancy system of threading a rope thru the stockings to fasten them together and also threading a rope thru the winter underwear with an identification tag on it. This rope makes a nice hole in the cloth. I sent my O.D. shirt to the laundry against the advice of almost anyone I told about it. It came back perfect except for the fact that being in with all the other clothes the pressing sort of came out of it.
This morning I was with the company for an hour during which we had physical exercise. One-two-three-four---up-down-up-down---across-bend-across-bend etc. I was to return to the company for dismounted drill during the last hour but Cpl. Censky saw to it that I was relieved of that responsibility because we are already working on the December payroll. I am doing most of the thing alone and asking him things only when I am stuck. This will be the last payroll he will be here to help me with.
We got our schedule for next week and again as usual, it is subject to change. As it stands, I have only five hours of drill for the entire week. These Company Clerks down here get a good laugh out of it when people say I'm getting my basic training and clerking training at the same time. Five hours of drill per week is enough to hand anyone of them a laugh. And the best part of it is that no matter how small an amount of company drill I have I always have managed to cut it down by an additional hour or two during the week itself. Next week Censky will be on his way to Wisconsin and according to that my basic training will be over. We are already figuring on getting a certain fellow in here to assist me if I become the Clerk. Beginning next week we student clerks now working in the office and the student clerks who will come in after their basic training is over will be given one hour lectures by the present Company Clerks and Lt. Warner. The lecture will be different each day; that is, the subject will be different. At the end of the hour we will be given a short quiz on what we have just heard. Another laugh in this connection is that I will probably help Censky prepare his lecture.
Two other small notes in connection with the office work are that if Army Regulations are adhered to, I will not receive any rating until three months have been served by yours truly. And then it will be PFC followed shortly by a Cpl. rating. However, other sources say that in less than a month I will be sewing the two stripes on my shirts etc. I hope so. The second thing I would like to mention is that Wally is the fellow who has gotten the honor of being the Colonel's stenographer. That is the position he was aiming at from the moment he entered the army and now he has it. He came and told me today after I had already heard it thru the grapevine system of communication. He doesn't know whether to be glad or sad about it. He begins work upstairs in the morning.
I received a letter from George and a letter from Aunt-Aunt today. You will receive both of them in due time. George enclosed a picture I will send to you but you must return. Aunt-Aunt handed me a laugh when she said she sent my letter to her to you because, "I know how she must love reading anything that comes from you". I guess you have read everything that I ever wrote in my life. That is correspondence. As you will see when I send you the letter, Aunt-Aunt gets very maudlin and sentimental about the army. That is Aunt-Aunt true to life.
I still have to answer these people: Frank Drews, RH&R Co., Marie Volenec, Jerome Barta, Aunt-Aunt, George Prokopec and, come to think of it, I still haven't answered your last two letters. I will proceed to do that now.
Your news about the wallpaper and the paint interested me a whole lot. I could just imagine myself back home while I was reading about it. Someday in the future you will have to take pictures of the "new" interiors and send it to me. It was too bad Aunty Florence couldn't be around to help decide on the question of what kind of stuff was to be put on the walls. She sure does enjoy things like that, doesn't she?
Going to the stores past 12:30 is really late.
When you told me about the dedication, I couldn't help thinking about the dedication of the flag on Clarence's block. Although it makes no difference to me whether I am dead or alive, I was still glad that you could receive the corsage knowing that I was alright and well as you want me to be. I know, Mrs. Boyer suffered a good deal during that ceremony and so far you have been spared that fate. When and if that time does come that I am gone, keep on thinking that I am happy and that if I knew you were letting it get you down I would be unhappy. Of course, all this is old stuff but it doesn't hurt to repeat it once in a while. As I told you before, I have been feeling contrite because I hadn't been thinking as much of Clarence as I did when I was home. First of all, I am kept so busy that I haven't got time to stop and dwell on that and second, when I do think of him it is usually, "I wonder if he did this" or "just think he probably saw or did these very things I am doing". However, I have once again got to the point where I can go to sleep at night and say to myself that were I never to awake from my sleep I can enter that void of death without doubt, fear, worry, and with a clear conscience.
That was mighty nice of them to present the mothers and in loce parentis with those service pins. Are they nice pins? Or are they those kind where the star is blurred? Was that Mr. Scott who managed the ceremony the fellow from WHFC radio station and who is the father of that fellow who used to help Kotek's move? Clarence would have gotten a kick out of that little speech Mr. Hunsaker made.
I haven't received Uncle Joe's letter yet. I am still waiting for the Rice Krispies Candy. I think the smell would have gone thru too had you enclosed both things together in one package. Yes, a soldier can chew all the gum he wants to except when he is in ranks. Sometimes from things you say in the letters it seems that either one of my letters has not yet gotten home or that maybe it has been lost. For instance, before I told you not to mention the office job too much but then I gave you leave to tell anyone. Then you write to me that you still do not tell people too much about it. Is that your own discretion or have you not received the communication which I mentioned? With this Air-Mail business we stand a good chance of not getting every letter. Perhaps we should have a system of numbering the letters in consecutive order or at the beginning of the next letter mention what letters we have received and then we will check them that way to see if every letter has arrived. For example, this letter is dated Dec. 10 and I will make a note that I sent one so dated. In some return letter make a note in the upper left hand corner of the first page like this: Rec'd ltr dtd 12/10/42. I will do the same. Of course, each of us will have to keep track of the dates we have placed at the top of our letters.
Have you noticed how lousy the ink has been on this typewriter? Well, the ribbon is somewhat smaller than it should be and it doesn't always strike the way it should.
I am glad to hear that the Infiesta's, Gonzalez and Mrs. Reed have asked about me. I only wish I could find the time to write to them. To make matters worse, we are going to work this Sunday in order to get the payroll in by Monday morning. That makes things just dandy with 6 or more letters to answer my only writing day is taken from me.
Yes sir, I must be a pretty popular fellow around Cicero. I am gone three whole weeks which seems to me like a lifetime ago and there are still people who think I am at home. For the love of Mike, when I told that to Censky and Molyneaux they laughed their respective heads off. So did I. Didn't I even advertise the fact that I was going by putting a star up in the window ahead of time? I notice the Life spelled my name with an h. Thanks for the clippings. I imagine Uncle Joe gave you the clippings for the Bears score; so thank him for it will you? Boy, those Bears sure did dish it out this year. That's a team for you, eh? The Hawks are surprising me. And I suppose everyone for that matter. That new goalie PURPUR must be some backstop at the goal post.
I may as well prepare you well in advance for the possibility of not receiving any Christmas card from me. You know, I took 50 with me but I figured on buying one out here or wherever I would wind up. That is, for you. But that is easier said than done. First of all, my cards are better than the things they sell in the PX. Second of all, they ran out of Christmas cards. Third of all, if I don't get into town this Saturday (which I don't think I will) I won't have the opportunity to get one. So you see, Aunty Clara, my hands are tied and even though I want to I may not be able to send you one. Maybe I ought to have you buy me one in Cicero and send it to me so I can mail it to you.
Say, "Hi ya", to Aunty Florence for me and say, "Hello, Uncle Joe", to Uncle Joe for me, eh, Aunty Clara?