353RD ENGINEER REGIMENT. G.S.
CAMP WHITE. OREGON
19 February 1943
Dear Aunty Clara:
Today was a day and a half. And, believe it or not, today was the first day I began to see the light of day in this job as Company Clerk and especially as Company Clerk of Company "A". There are all kind of little small details laying around and one by one I was and am picking them off. If there aren't any big things coming up tomorrow, I will write you a letter on Army time about 11:30 or so tomorrow morning and around 2:00 tomorrow afternoon. How's that sound? Boy, to me it sounds too good to be true.
In fact, I am getting ahead of them. The special order which came out this evening at five o'clock promoted one of our men to sergeant. Well, ordinarily we do not make out a report of change for that man until the next morning after it has appeared in the Morning Report which Sergeant Driscoll turns in at 8:00. So what did I do? The minute I found out about that promotion I sat down and typed the Report of Change and handed it in almost a full day in advance.
And I have gotten to the stage where I take only those bawling outs which I deserve. For instance, Nyalka detailed me to type up a first endorsement for him on a letter that was going out. It so happened that at that time I was busy and did not feel like letting my work go just to do his. I looked around and saw that the Student Clerk from Company "A" was loafing along so I had him type it up. He typed it up wrong, and how. When I strolled in here just a little while ago, Nyalka. says that I am just the fellow he wants to see and he begins his tirade on the messed up endorsement. He said he would make me type a first endorsement up 100 times if I ever turned in a piece of work like that again. So I just told him what the situation was and said that I myself knew perfectly well how to make out 1st endorsements and if he should ever hand me one to type and I typed it, it would be perfect. Furthermore, I said I would know just what to do if he wanted me to type up a hundred copies for practice. I told him I would give it to that student clerk who did the thing wrong in the first place. It turned out to be quite a humorous battle. We were trying to think up fantastic arguments by that time and it all ended by him saying that I probably did know what I was talking about anyway. Come to think of it I don't know whether you are interested in such trivial office chatter or not but here I am telling you all the details. That was the same way it was back home. Not only with me but with Aunty Florence as well. We could just keep on telling you just what so and so said and then just what they did and then what we did and said in return. The only trouble is that by letter a person can't get in that little inflection of the voice of that extra movement of the hand which helps a great deal in the telling of a story.
Right after our noon meal the entire regiment was ordered to line up to have a regimental picture taken. The way it turned out it seemed as if most of the office force of Company Clerks and the rest did not care about that business. As a result we had things pretty much to ourselves for about an hour. We were afraid for a minute that if the Colonel walked in and saw us just sitting around and not out there on the Parade Field that we would get a little talking to. He did walk in but was too busy to pay much attention to us.
Jack Molyneaux does not have any use for the "misfit" as he calls the Colonel because he figures the colonel does not know how to run the outfit. Anyhow the other day Jack had to go to the hospital with the colonel to interview one of the Company B boys who had requested a transfer to the Air Corps. He got along fairly well with the old boy and when he came back he said that as a person the colonel was quite sociable. Then today it happened again. Jack and I were standing out on the back porch of Regimental basking in the warm sun (incidentally, we did not have our hats on which is being out of uniform) when the colonel came out looking for a driver for his car. The driver was out with the rest of the regiment having his picture taken so believe it or not, Molyneaux took over the job of chauffeuring the colonel around for the next hour or so. That was a good one. Molyneaux never bothers to do all those little nice things officers are used to such as opening the door for them and talking to them as a superior. He used plain English with them, tells them were to get off at, tells them when they are wrong, and figures they don't need his assistance. He gets away with it too.
You may wonder why I start off by telling you that I have finally caught up with my work and will have time to write letters and yet this letter is like the old ones -- full of mistakes. The reason is this. When I first came in the office this evening, there were some fellows filling out forms for OCS and they bothered me so that I could not write. I walked outside and then over to my barracks. By golly, I ran into this guy and that and then ended up by talking to Morris E. Mersing for about an hour or so. Why is it that people talk to me so much? Maybe they think because I am on the inside they can get an inkling as to what's what in this outfit. Anyhow, by the time I returned it was 9:30 and that is just about the time I ordinarily begin my letters. I would like to answer a few letters tonight too so I will have to leave some time for them.
Right now I owe letters to Dolores, Virginia, Ray, and Aunty Florence. I sent Bobbie Boyer a short letter this afternoon.
My boy, Harvey, catches on fast or else he isn't a worker. But here I was getting rid of this and getting rid of that when I turn around and he sits there writing personal letters. I don't believe in writing letters during working hours until all the other stuff is cleared up and at that time it wasn't. The kid (he's older than I am) wrote three letters today. Of course, Company B sets a bad example for him. Both the Clerk and the Student were writing personal letters today.
The moon was swell this evening. About 6 o'clock right after chow it came up out of the mountains and hung in the horizon. After it grew dark and a thin film of clouds veiled it, it presented one of those water colored picture effects. An hour later every cloud in the sky had disappeared and the moon was brighter than anything. It was that bright that the faint outline of THE mountain was visible 90 miles away. I am pretty sure that there is a partial eclipse of the moon going on right now too. I have seen two or three eclipses of the moon in my day and the cut which is taken out of the moon just now is just about the shape of the earth's shadow during an eclipse. I recollect that earlier in the evening it was a full moon and now it is less than full. I will take a look out there now to see if the area which is blacked out has changed any in the hour or so that I have been in the office since looking at it last. W0W --- almost half of it is gone. I believe that from the looks of it that it should be visible in Chicago (should have been visible -- by the time you get this letter).
In another half an hour or so I will go out and see if it is a total eclipse. I shouted so much in the office about it that I managed to get one of the Lts. and the mail clerk outside to take a squint at the moon. Do you know that there are a lot of people who probably would miss it just because they are not interested in how the moon looks at night or in seeing an unusual chunk taken out of it?
The eclipse hasn't reached the stage were the rest of the moon which is in the dark begins to cast that faint coppery light. That's was a good one wasn't it just chancing upon a lunar eclipse like that without reading about it for a few days in advance in the newspapers.
This afternoon we were read an order by the Colonel which said that all personnel of the regimental headquarters would stand Retreat tonight. Well I had a nice half hour snooze on my bed during that time. Company Clerks just haven't got that 'old school spirit' somehow. I could hear the commands of the different company commanders and their assistant lieutenants shouted out. And then the 353rd Engrs band struck up with some kind of stirring military marches. It lulled me to sleep.
Jack brought in a part of the Liberty magazine called the "Old Sarge" which had to do with Company Clerks this week. It told how they have to be bookkeepers, accountants, stenographers, personnel men and still know their line duty all at once. It went on to state that there aren't many jobs in the army which calls for such unearthly hours and such vital work and such a degree of skill. In other words it was plugging the Company Clerks for a Sergeants rating. And we agreed. There is a general campaign going on in these States which are United to get the Co. Clerks a higher rating. Jack has shown me articles from time to time which clamor for that change, Jack and I have little cards typed up which we intended to send home (him to his wife and I to you) so that you could send them to the War Department etcetera and get them on the ball for a change. That would be nifty wouldn't it? And I think we do a job which is important enough for that extra stripe and pay if I do say so myself.
Can you imagine that it has taken me a full hour to type this mere page and a half? With all these errors and extra spaces and lined out words I suppose it has taking you almost as long to read it. Right? Gee whiz, Aunty Clara, I can't get over this climate. It hasn't rained in such a long time now and it is so swell. No more fogs. Just clear sunshine from morning until night. It seems almost unbelievable after spending those last three months in this very same place. I come down to work in my blouse in the morning and never wear it the rest of the day. At night when I go home I carry it back under my am. (Seems funny calling the barracks home, doesn't it?)
Well, I leave you now to type a few other letters. It is 10:30.
P.S. The moon is ¾ gone and is beginning to turn red. Maybe a total eclipse, eh?