23 February 1943
Camp White, Oregon
Dear Aunty Clara:
Good grief! And I asked in my prayers for a let down in my work. All morning long there wasn't one single thing to do. But did I write letters? No! It is incredible to think that now that I have all this free time, I have not utilized it as I thought I would. Maybe it is because during the daytime there are those continual disturbances such as someone talking to you or something happening over in the other corner of the office.
Anyhow here is the news. Gone are my days of melancholia. My days of mourning. As I wrote to Dolores yesterday, this break in which our work has suddenly slowed up and given a fellow his first chance to relax and look around him has found me to be entirely different once again. I am back once again to the days of last summer. Suddenly I am engrossed in living, in love with life, planning for the future --- things which I never dreamed I would feel again. In fact, I think it was the summer weather, the let up in work and my letter to you from the USO which finally brought me out of a four month lethargy.
I wonder if I am the better person for it? I hardly think so; because now I am interested in myself once again (take the show going for instance) and a direct result of that may be that I will not go out of my way to make other people happy. I don't know if I have lost my philosophy of living or not. I hope not. In other words, Aunty Clara, just as I told you in those long and. sorrowful evening hours we spent talking together in October and November that who knows but that at some future time my opinions might change and alter. It is only human to change and we recognized that at the time. My transition to the old life or to some new and more cheerful outlook is not yet complete and is hazy to me so I can well imagine what you are going through trying to dope out what I am saying to you right now.
In a few more days or maybe a week from now I will be able to explain more fully just what my viewpoints are and probably by that time I will have made an amateurish analysis of how it swung.
STOP. Do you know how long it has taken me to write the above paragraphs? That may account for the incoherency too. Almost a half hour! A person doesn't how many times he is interrupted by this that and the other until he attempts to concentrate on something for any length of time.
I went to the show again yesterday and saw Dorothy Lamour (for the very first time on the screen) and Bob Hope in "They've Got Me Covered." I had a swell time yesterday. It had one laugh after another in it.
Marty and Virginia sent me a miniature chess set which arrived yesterday. It is in a small cardboard box which closes with the chess men in position. It also has two empty spaces on the sides which are for the men which are taken off the board. The men will lose their positions if the box is turned upside down but by keeping the piece of cotton Marty and Virginia packed in it the men stay in place. Gee, that was a swell gift, wasn't it? Just when the chess situation was becoming problematical. Getting hold of a chess set was like pulling teeth.
The letters are ceasing. The letters are stopping. My mail is all going to A.P.O. And while we are on the subject of letters, I might as well tell you that even though Clarence's dream girl was married she at least answered him. Mine evidently has taken delight in snubbing me. She has had six full days to answer my letter since receiving it (figuring two days to get home) and as yet there hasn't been any return.
While I am thinking of it I will tell you something which I have had on my mind to tell you for quite some time now but am continually forgetting to mention it. There is a sound at night here in camp which comes from some distance off and it resembles the noise made by crickets on a still night. That sound effect has led further to the summery background.
Another thing which has made me feel pleasant about life once again is the strange idea of mine that we are actually headed for some place such as Panama or British Guiana to do some sort of construction job. If we do, everything is going to be perfect. Our work will be all laid out for us and the clerk's job will be correspondingly lightened.
And I have failed to mention what is probably one of the most important of all and which, if it turns out, is going to be just dandy. Jack Molyneaux showed me an Army regulation, a War Department circular, which advertised free (or practically free) schooling to members of the military service. They are correspondence courses with the Military Institute at Madison, Wisconsin with a tuition fee of $2.00 per course. The three courses I am interested in (in line with what they offer) are Railroad Rate Clerk, Traffic Management and Mapping and Surveying. The first two will come in handy if I ever get back to Rathborne. I've been in almost every department of the place already and being in the traffic department would just about complete my knowledge of the business. They would have to make me a vice-president or something then. No matter in what kind of office I may get a job in, such knowledge would come in handy and it is well to be prepared for anything. As for the mapping and surveying, you are as familiar with my reasons for wanting to take that up as I am myself. I almost got hold of that course instead of Mechanical Drawing at the Oak Park-River Forest Township High School. Then too, this same Army Regulation says the government will allow the enlisted personnel to take correspondence courses in several fields with a selected list of colleges and universities throughout the country. The University of Chicago was one of those and they will give full college credit for passing the courses. Maybe I will garner a few hours for myself while in the army and I will not have wasted all my time after all. In addition to that the government will pay either half of the tuition fee or twenty dollars (whichever is less).
I have discovered that a great many fellows have kept their utility kits. They are handy things to have but I would hate to have it taken away at the port of embarkation. I would rather do without those things, I sent home, for these few weeks than have kept them only to have them confiscated as contraband.
My haircut is already coming in for some sharp remarks here and there. I never have gotten a real G.I. like the other fellows, as you probably remember my telling you. The last two times the barber only trimmed my hair and cut off the sideburns which grew in. As a result it looks as if I haven't had a haircut for some time. If you or the others back home saw me, however, they wouldn't think that at all because it is shorter than I ever had it as long as I can remember. When we were at the roller rink I noticed the difference between the trim military clip and the civilian violinist style. For the first time, I have been convinced that a short trim looks better than a shaggy mane. When this war is over, the barber is going to see me once a month at least.
Beginning March 1st or 31st we are going to be piled up with war bond work. It seems as if the soldiers are taking out too many subscriptions of the $1.25 per month kind and that is more bother than none at all. As a result the so-called Class A Pay Res is being discontinued and a Class B Pay Res will take its place. This will call for approximately 170 cancellations in war bond subscriptions and the issuing of the same number of new subscriptions.
I thought I was going to be able to inform you of the fact that I was now beginning to go down in weight towards my usual summer trim; but no such luck. I just topped the scale at 158. It is beyond me but that is what it reads.
Here is an odd fact. You know my build, size, height etcetera, well Jack Molyneaux, clerk for Company B is almost identical in those measurements. Kenagy, the clerk for Company C, is a bit taller and has a little more weight but is still within our class. Donald Griffin, the clerk of Company D has the extra chubbiness but is in the other general category of size. The E Company Clerk is a little taller than the rest of us but of slight build. Company F's clerk has the same stature but has quite a bit of extra meat tacked onto his bones. On the other hand, all the student clerks, with the exception of Louis Cava are tall, rangy and lanky fellows. Odd but true.
When I mentioned Louis Cava in the last paragraph, I was reminded that he told me that his sister wrote him and told him that my Dad told his Dad that I was overseas. Then his Dad told my Dad that Louis wasn't overseas. So then our respective parents decided we were now in different regiments or something like that. Is my parent straightened out yet?
Well and well even Lt. Warner is getting interested in this correspondence school. He even suggested that once we get to where we are going we ought to start up a regular school (because we will not have much to do) and have the best ones out of us teach the various classes. The whole office is beginning to get interested in the thing. What an office. Personal letters, loafing, talking . . . . . why it's just like Rathborne!
Tomorrow is only a half day. In the afternoon a special athletic contest is being run with almost everyone participating except Company Clerks. We are all supposed to be at the athletic field either as participants or spectators. If I can get out of it I will. That's what you don't call the good old team spirit.
They have a swell movie at the show tonight. It's all about the Chetniks. In fact, I think that is the title of the picture. And that movie you spoke of --- The Major and the Minor ---- was at the local theater just before Thanksgiving.
I waited for Molyneaux to go to show this evening and he never came. He went off early and I didn't wake up from my snooze until 8:15.
It is good to have friends. Lawrence Y. Isaacson now works in the R. S. 0. which is the supply house for our regiment (Regimental Supply Office) and has stocked up on these small NBC boxes of fig bars. One of which he gave to me this evening.
I have the blank forms for the Army Institute School and am enrolling in Mapping and Surveying for a starter. I will fill out the form tomorrow and send it to you as a stopover to add the $2.00 tuition fee.
Every Tom, Dick and Harry in this outfit is applying for 0. C. S. When these fellows who just pass the mark of 110 on the I.Q. test start applying and are accepted, I see that it is the time for me to make an attempt. The forms are difficult to obtain and the chances are very slim of ever making it after being accepted because of the limited quotas for each camp. Especially when we are due to pull out, the chances of ever going drop considerably. Nevertheless, tomorrow I am going to see what I can do. I will put in for The Coast Artillery school.
I really should wait though until we are overseas a few months end then attempt to come back home through that means. But then the boat may sink and I'll never get the chance.
I am now going to write a few letters to some other people I know.
Once again I add a continuation (2/24/43). This morning I went out early to get in the chow line before it was any too long. I was the third or fourth man from the door. Then, after waiting fifteen minutes, Censky, Thompson, Roach, Kruger and a few other non-coms walk right up to the door and go in when it opens up. Somehow they think they don't have to stay in line. There should be some sort of rule against that sort of stuff. The other fellows wait and wait only to see somebody come in ahead of them.