16 December 1942
Camp White, Oregon
Dear Aunty Clara:
I did not go on that after supper reconnaissance I mentioned in the short letter of the other day. Nevertheless, I was busy. The work at the office was rather pressing so I was excused from the Company Duty and worked to 9:30 at night on some MRU forms which are too detailed and involved to explain and which you wouldn't be interested in hearing an explanation of. I took a little break around 8:30 and tried to get some hot chocolate over in the PX and when I met failure there, I walked over to the Service Center only to meet the same end. Thus my parched and fever-dry throat went unslaked. During the walk thru the pea soup fog which was spread throughout the valley last night, as well as the night before, and as it is this night, I thought maybe I better send off my Christmas cards if I wanted them to reach their destinations by Christmas Day. As a result of this percolating in my brain I knocked off work at 9:30 and instead of writing to you or answering any of my other accumulated mail I sent off my Christmas cards. And it was a job, I noticed that I only had 49 cards from the box I brought with me. I did not recall whether or not I had taken 50 with me or not. Nevertheless, when I had finished with the entire lot, I noticed to my dismay that I lacked cards for Marion Kuehnle, the Eublers, and Mr. Drews. I had a 15¢ card on hand from my trip to Medford so Mary (the lucky girl) was sent that by yours truly. I then bought two 353rd Engineer Christmas Cards and sent them to the remaining two people. I mailed Eddie Cerny's card to the last address I had of him and that was in California. Bill Breiger's card was sent to the address you gave me and that is where he used to live with his mother and father. I sent Tommy's card to his home in care of his father and today I get a communication from the old boy himself; so what do I do but buy me another 353rd card and send it off to the Aviation Cadet in Nashville, Tennessee. My card to Tommy just as my letters to George had to follow the guys all over the southern part of the United States. They would both have to change their stations at the time I was entering the army. In total I sent out 56 Christmas cards. I doubt whether I will get that many in return. First, for the simple reason that most of the people do not know my whereabouts and second, I am sending to a lot of people for the first time. I even sent one to Richard and Bob Garrett down in Texas. The address I gave you for Richard is alright and if you haven't sent a card by now you can air-mail it to Pvt. Richard Lopez, 3rd Platoon, Company C, 60th Infantry, Camp Wolters, Texas.
When I pulled into the barracks at 11 P.M. all the fellows were not back as yet and the lights were still on. As I began undressing for bed, the fellow in the cot next to me, Theodore Wolinski, mentioned the fact that he could have stood a few more doughnuts. I asks the gentleman what he means when he refers to doughnuts. It so happens that to all reconnaissance-weary soldiers there is a few doughnuts and a cup of hot chocolate waiting for them in the mess halls. I promptly put my shirt and tie back on and walked next door to the kitchen and asked if there were any doughnuts left for me. One of the cooks, Pvt Petera (an older fellow in the company like Censky) looked at me and then said, "You're the Company Clerk, aren't you?", to which I replied in the affirmative. He then said, as he handed me a double ration of extra big cookies, "The Company Clerk gets extra big doughnuts because maybe someday I might be late for signing the payroll and I wouldn't want to have the Clerk go redlining me". In other words he thinks it is good to be on the good side of the CC. During the day Censky had told me that it is a good thing to be on the good side of the fellow because he goes to town every afternoon and if he takes to you he will do you a lot of favors like taking in clothes for cleaning, buying a few knick-knacks etc.
Today, I almost lost my job. It seems that several days ago when I made out the payroll, I omitted a Class E allotment of $75.00 to go to the mother of Sgt, Nugent of the messhall. This would mean his mother would get the $75 automatically yet it would not be deducted from his pay and he would receive the $75 too. The next month we would be compelled to deduct a total of $150 from his pay and he doesn't even earn that much. Had Censky not been able to go to the Finance Dept and stop the thing before they had worked on our payroll, my goose would have been cooked and I would be a line soldier once more. Personally, I have more luck than I deserve. Just now the Sgt Major, Nyalka, desired to have me do some work for him. He asked for it in such a way that refusal was easy and I did just that. After all, I already have worked and hour or an hour and a half on a little extra company work this evening and now if I were to work for him my evening would be shot and I would never get to finish this letter. I told him I worked two hours overtime for this little time to write a personal letter. I hope he doesn't get to think that I don't care to help him etc. Up to now we have gotten along rather good.
We had another shot today. This one must have been for something else than typhoid because we received it in our left arm instead of the right one. At the same time they asked us if our vaccination took. Well, you know that story, my vaccination did not seem to take. I got two during the small pox epidemic at Morton and now one in the army but none of them have left a mark nor did any of them produce the after effect which a vaccination should. I suppose they will go ahead and give me another one anyway. The last time I had a shot I never even felt the needle, nor did I feel the slightest discomfiture afterwards. Today, the story was different. The first two minutes after the shot my arm, while not in pain, felt terribly sore and weak. After that and up until now I have not noticed anymore symptoms of having taken an injection.
I mailed two packages home by first class mail today. One has a picture of our regimental insignia in it and the other has the mirrors. I tried to send them parcel post which is a lot cheaper but I had them sealed and I wouldn't open them. I wanted to register it so it would get home faster but it so happens that the way I wrapped it up wasn't in strict compliance with certain regulations so I let them go just like they were.
Cpl. Schubert C. Censky leaves on his fourteen day furlough (which begins Monday) Friday night. He managed to get permission from Lt. Hanton and Lt. Warner to be off duty from 5:00 Friday night. That, in effect, lengthens his furlough by 2½ days. I told him to stop in at Aunt-Aunt's shop and he will. Now if I don't make anymore of those mistakes, I will be the Company Clerk come Saturday morning. The trouble with me is that I don't make many small mistakes, I make the one or two big mistakes which destroy all the work instead of just small portions.
Remember, I told you that perhaps the 5 hours of basic would be cut down? Well, yesterday I went out of the office at ten for a three hour period. During the first two we had organized games and I played volleyball for two hours of basic training. The third hour was eliminated by my Clerk's School.
I am down to my last two Rice Krispies and will most likely finish them off this evening when I go back to the barracks.
Now that the house is in condition once more are you going to set up that Christmas junk?
Shop everywhere and get all the 620V you can. The ceiling price is 32¢.
By payroll day the total attendance in the hospital had risen to 90 and today it is up to 120. That represents almost a full 10% of the regiment in the hospital and does not include those sick in the barracks. The medical dept has finally taken over and the mess hall is now being conducted in strict adherence to rules of sanitation. The officers have given instructions to the men on how to dry their shoes and wash and dry their socks every night. All bivouacs, hikes and work in the mudded sections of the camp have been done away with for the time being. There are three distinct types of colds prevalent in the camp one of which the entire company seems to have.
The boys are very obliging and when I get up to leave on mornings we have had boxed cereals at mess they give me their package if the haven't eaten it. I collected 5 this morning.
When that error on the payroll occurred today and I noticed how serious the situation seemed to others, I snapped back into my condition of a month or so ago. I have been going along by just not thinking of how I should act but just letting events around me govern my actions. But then, at that very moment, I felt once again the utter uselessness of everything, of life, of things, of living. Once again I walk through life with the calm assurance ever present in my mind that probably the next instant my life could end and I would be not the one less bit unhappy for it. I could at any instant die perfectly happy. When I go to sleep tonight, I can almost conceive of my never waking up again. In other words, life has once more relinquished its grip on my conscience and I am beginning to think of the time after the war, if I survive, there will not be a Clarence to talk to and all the former thoughts keep welling up in my consciousness.
But I will soon pass out of that mood when things start whirling again and that little pause goes by and the interlude is over.
Until then, I remain as always
your sentimental kidlet,