Camp White, Oregon
15 January 19431
Dear Aunty Clara:
I sent you that telegram so that you would still send mail to me at the Camp White address. You see, I did not realize that the Army was conducted on a similar basis to that which Rathborne operates on. In otherwords they tell you they are going to do something and then you can wait around for another week, two weeks (they don't care how long) waiting for them to carry out their plans. You know that I thought we would be gone last week and now it looks as if we are leaving this Thursday or later. If that is going to be the story I still want to get some mail here.
That last letter you sent with the jeep making a three point landing was just about one of the best letters you have ever written, Aunty Clara. You seem to have injected that quality which makes a letter ageless. There are parts to it, which I believe you will recognize for yourself, which strike the chords of human existence. To be specific, that sentence starting "Duration, what a word with it's uncertain meaning . . .:. You see what I mean now? There, in one sentence you have placed an epitome of our time. I could keep on commenting upon the other parts but I'm afraid I would become quite maudlin.
Can you beat what happened tonight just before chow? I was talking to Pfc Lawrence Isaacson (Jewish) who lives around Lawndale and 16th. We got around to Columbus Park and golfing. He is a regular golf hound too. By gosh, before we were finished talking we had covered the entire West Side of Chicago, Cicero and all the local golf courses. To top it off, right across from us at the table sat a man who informed us that he had worked for 14 years at the Mohawk golf course. Small world this is.
The big headlines came today RUSS TAKES ROSTOV (and Vorishilgrad) in addition to being 7 miles outside Kharkov. That is the kind of news which does the heart good. Maybe someday we will see Germany invaded and the end of the war. I only wonder if the people will know what to do with the peace that will follow. I wouldn't doubt for a minute that the reaction from this war will produce a result twice as mad as that which followed the last one. The very idea that the world is again free to return to its normal course may set a lot of people off on a tangent.
They had a sing-song today by order of the misfit (colonel to you). All the companies and every man in them was ordered out in O.D. uniform and marched over to the theater where the colonel gave them a pep talk and then sang songs. Jack Molyneaux and I went up to his room in the Company B barracks and stayed there talking from 3:00 until 5:00 when the bunch came marching back again. We thought that was a lot of monkey business and it was.
Do you realize that it is now almost 11 bells? What took me so long this evening was the letter to whatshername. I have often thought about writing but didn't know whether it was just the thing to do. Thank you for straightening me out my Aunty Clara.
O gosh, I ruined things for myself once again. Here I sat working on my payroll and Warner comes up to ask me if I could close the field desks and prepare to leave at that very instant with all the records complete and up to date. Naturally, I, being an honest guy, says "No Sir." For that crack I was given the works. The get on the ball business and all that. Then Mike came over and yelled some more. I really argued back too. I said that all I had to do was enter two blood types when the men gave them to me and that the Medics had not notified me as to any adjustments in the last immunization records. The other company clerks having wised up to the game just said that their records were in perfect order and got away scott free. My records are probably in just as good if not better form than half of theirs. I'll smarten up to this tricky bunch yet. About an hour later they wanted the date on which a man was discharged. It was inconvenient for me to go to a file and find it so I guessed at the 11th of February [This was an obvious error in naming the month as February]. Later on I found I was wrong and that he was discharged on the 9th. Here was an actual error which they had something to gripe about and because they didn't know it, it didn't hurt them.
If we go down to Frisco, we will be restricted tighter than a drum. No phone calls, no passes and even no letters. At least that is what is said now.
They also say that sometimes Company Clarks are left behind for about six weeks or so and follow their companies in another boat. It has been done before so it may happen again. That way we would have the opportunity to roam around California for a while. Even you could come out then, right? But that is more than we can hope for.
We have a scale in the office now which was used for weighing the crates and boxes which all the equipment was sent out in. It weighs all the other fellows exactly to what they figured but when I step on the thing zooms up to 156, 158, and with my blouse it goes to 160. The funny part is that I don't feel heavier and every last person is amazed to see that weight for a fellow of my size and build. They all say, "Where do you keep it all?" My bones must be packing lead. The pictures I had taken last will tell if there is any noticeable change in my physical appearance. I don't think there is.
If she answers, I will send my carbon copy along with her letters. Otherwise it will be a closed affair. Right?
1. Author's correction July 2004: The date on this letter is incorrect. It should be February 15, 1943. The letter references the Russian recapture of Rostov, which did not take place until February 1943.