Camp White, Oregon
41 11 February 1943
Dear Aunty Clara:
I have lost track of how many candy bars I ate today. Never again will I buy myself four dozen candy bars again. I know for certain that I ate four bars in the morning and started off the afternoon with two bars. Then this evening I just squeezed in a few of the prize ones of them all --- the mallow delights --- which arrived today. Aunty Clara and Aunty Florence, I thank you. Of course I have been eating those rather sparingly. So far I only ate half of the box in the six hours I have had them. And to think that I was the fellow who liked my candy back home but could do without it.
I received my G. I. glasses today. There is hardly any strength to them but I am not very used to wearing them and I took them off after having them on for a few hours. I do not look bad in them even if they are a plain silver rim variety. One thing is definite and that is they are not going to break very easily with that heavy silver rim around them.
Send all my mail to me from now on at my new address. By the time your return mail reaches me, I will be in 'Frisco'. I sure do wish I knew definitely where we were going. It is like a surprise package and you can't wait until it is opened. It will probably turn out like this Oregon deal. This was the last place in the world any of us thought we would wind up but here I be. Wishful thinkers still have it that the A. P. 0. number and the preparations for moving overseas do not have any significance on the movement of our troops and that we yet may wind up in Louisiana or Dayton, Ohio. From all other indications and office rumor we are headed for one of these five places: Africa, Hawaii, Brazil, Panama or Mexico. Take it for what it is worth. Then there are the prognosticators who predict our eventual base in such outlandish places as: Australia, the Solomons (Guadalcanal), and India!
I wouldn't worry too much about this going overseas business because there are countless of non-combatant areas to which we may be sent. I can still recall quite distinctly the little dramatizations I went thru in our parlor in the weeks before I left. I would sit in the chair near the Victrola or I would be on the stool in front of the radio. First I would enact, "Romeo, the soldier, drowning," and then, "Roman, blown to bits by a hand grenade," and then, "Our hero, Roman, strafed by enemy gunfire," etcetera etcetera and etcetera long into the night. Somehow it seems as if nothing like that is ever going to happen.
You know, sometimes when I walk back to the barracks very late at night when all the buildings are dark and I am all alone, I think that this whole thing just isn't so. It seems impossible that the life of all of us back in Cicero of ten years ago is no more. The fact that Clarence is dead still is impossible to comprehend. That Bob is in Scott Field, Tommy in Alabama, George in Texas, Fritz (Bata) in Florida, Harold (who knows where), Jimmy in Kentucky, Junior Barta (?), Eddie in California, and Roman in Oregon is all an unreality. Now, when and why did we get to these places so far from home. And for you at home. Worries, rationing, lonesomeness (maybe), war news, less of this and less of that, a substitute here and another one there. No cars, no radios, no refrigerators, no high standard of living.
That nations, ruled by intelligent people, should degrade themselves to such a foolish practice of war is almost impossible to comprehend. People work twice as hard, produce twice as much during war time than during peace time but have nothing to show for it when it is all over.
Frankly, I am disgusted and tired of working this hard for the Army. There is no point to it. I have nothing to gain and all my health and ambition to lose. The only thing that keeps me going is the thought of you back home. I can't let you down by not doing my best and what I think is right. In the mood I was in when I entered the Army I would have just as soon not reported for induction and let them lock me up for three years. Life had no interest. And the idea that it would cause you embarrassment kept me from such a foolish measure and even now keeps me from just quitting on the job. I have reached such a stage that I would not care in the least if I did or didn't do my work or obey orders.
I realize this attitude is due to the continuous amount of work with little or no rest.
For the amount of hours I spend at the job and for the amount of responsibility that is incurred, I am receiving a sad recompense. In civilian life the same amount of work and the same relative importance or work would net me a very pretty sum.
I used to bemoan the amount of time I wasted each day back home and say, "One more day in which I failed to accomplish that which I intended to". In this life I now lead, I say, at the day's end, "One more day in which I have given much of my talent to slavery without reward or appreciation and one more day in which I have not been able to do that which I wanted to". Of course, I know very well what the story will be when (and if) this war is over and we are returned home. Without that push behind a person, he falls back into the old, soft, slow and easy tempo of living. There is no such thing as becoming accustomed to hard work that it is a habit. I only hope though that for about a year after I return, I manage to put forth the same amount of effort on my activities as I do now.
It almost seems vain and fruitless for us to hope that a day may come when this will all be over. It is not certain that such a day will ever come. With man embattled against man the world over, with hate, greed, vice, fury, anger, lust and all the primitive emotions being sharpened and tempered in the flame of war there is no promise or hope of a cessation of hostilities.
And then, if the day dawns when peace again reigns and the world is serene and calm, will we enjoy it? Or will we have lost faith?
I wish this were the year 2000 A. D. Why? Because by that year most of us would be dead and gone. Do you realize that I am well on my way towards the completion of my 23rd year of life. In two more years, if we both live, you will have reached the half century mark and I the quarter century. That is such a long time to remain alive. Just think, Aunty Clara, there haven't been 41 half centuries since Christ lived! And it was just another while before that when all this business of man began. (Funny how the mind can muse from one thing to another)
By the way, I think those G.I. glasses will be a help after all. Back about a typewritten page ago my right eye began feeling tired and foggy. I put on the specs and it seems to have eased the strain.
I wrote 15 postcards in the last 1½ hours and now do not owe anyone anything. Postcards are lousy ways of answering letters but this is time for action not a debate of principles.
It is 2:00 in the morning so I guess I had better amble over to the barracks for a short nap.
I may type a bit more in a few hours.
It was 2:30 in the morning when I finally got into the barracks and here it is 6:30 and old Roman is on the ball again. This time I did not bother undressing for bed but literally 'took a nap'. I just spread the comforter over me and went sound asleep until the light went on in the building.
I wonder if I will work anybetter now that I have the pressing problems of my correspondence off my mind?
I am sending home the two Reader's Digests that I am finished with. No sense in taking them along as extra baggage and all the fellows around here have read it or had the opportunity to read it. Perhaps you or Uncle Joe may still get some more use from the book. I am building up the home morale.
Well, once more we are faced with a big day at work. All companies but A, B and F have either begun or are finished with their payrolls. That is going to be a tough problem this month. First of all there are a million promotions which must be entered in and then there are all the new insurance policies, bonds, and allotments which must be taken care of in addition to about 16 replacement troops (some who haven't been paid since August of l942) all adding up to one of the most screwy payrolls a person ever saw.
I have about l5 minutes before breakfast left (and for some strange reason I do not feel the slightest bit hungry) so I guess I will pound out a few more of Company A's last minute work.
Toodeloo, solong, goodbye,