Camp White, Oregon
2 March 1943
Dear Aunty Clara:
I wrote another letter to Lana this evening but it was no good. I just seem to get tongue tied and very serious when I begin writing her letters. The first ones I wrote were a lot better because I did not have any inkling of what to expect in return. O well, maybe they will improve as time goes on. I wrote this one out in long hand.
I played Curry two chess games today and beat him in both. They were close contests. The first one was a humdinger with the advantage lying with him. It was a fight to the finish and when it comes down to pawns against pawns I am very seldom beaten because Capablanca has helped me out on that end of the game. The only fellow that seriously threatened my end game was Gary Walroth and even he admitted that I usually had the upper hand in it. Nevertheless, Curry was very weak in pawn development and let me walk away with a game he should have had in the bag. The second game was a slugging contest with both of us lashing out from the very beginning. It so happened that my development was such that I could trade with him and get the better position. So I did. Then came a set up which was very peculiar. In a wasted move on my part he would be able to seize the initiative and there would be no telling when I would be able to wrest it back; so my problem was to keep going at all costs. The costs were going to be terrific I soon saw. That is if he played his move correctly. The situation was such that a misplay on his part would lay his king wide open for a checkmate. And that is exactly the way it turned out. But it was at this stage of the game he disappointed me. He turned out a bum loser and wanted to replay the game to the finish once again. Of course, I obliged but since the old college try was out of my game, he easily took the replay.
Now I think he can be beaten all the time. Maybe I'll get too cocky and have myself handed a drubbing in the next contest.
Wednesday is my morning off and I have already seen to it that I will get an uninterrupted sleep through Reveille. The only trouble is that I will have to do some work in my off morning. The colonel has insisted that all our clothes be in just such a nicey nice order. That means washing this that and the other which can't be sent to the laundry and sewing stripes and stars on my khakis and (can you beat this) on my fatigues. Why I don't even remember when I last wore those things yet the stripes must be sewed on them.
Remember the long finger nails I used to have? Well, I have fallen into the habit of tearing them off and now they are usually short.
Here is the story on that clothing check. My clothes were given a special check by Sgt Davis at 1:00 this afternoon. Then this evening they said the company is restricted once again for a clothing check but I wasn't going to be pestered by that again so I just took off.
I received your letter of last Friday, today. You never tell me what Mike has to say to Aunty Florence. Incidentally, you said Lana wouldn't know what a remarkable fellow I am. Well, you are right. From the miserable letters I am sending her it will be a wonder if she continues to write answers.
I wonder if I should tell her I think she looks like Lana Turner. Or should I keep that sentimental gush out of the notes?
It's only fifteen to eleven right now but I think I will go back to the barracks and really make a night's sleep of it. Maybe I'll read a few bits in the Reader's Digest or the French book before turning in.
Say, I didn't tell you what happened today. I blew up when Mike found two technical errors in the war bond applications that Harvey and I had spent three days typing up. He wouldn't listen to reason and wanted them just so (that's the Army way). I've cooled off now but at the time I was so provoked that I destroyed quite a few applications which might have been salvaged. As a result Company A is in the same boat with all the rest of the companies who weren't "on the ball". We now have 70 applications to be typed up with no forms to type them on. Before Mike had started on his little inspecting tour Company A was the only outfit in the regiment who was up to snuff on the new bond situation. Don't ever let Aunty Florence write anything back to Mike about what I say in a situation like this.
Personally, I think I lost something by waking from my past listlessness of spirit. I now get het up over petty details and life seems so important and earnest. In the old philosophy nothing was important, I never blew up, and it took a lot to get me peeved. People may have thought I was crazy to think in the morbid and pessimistic way I did; but let me tell you this, I was a lot more happy in that frame of mind than this worldly atmosphere I have now entered. Of course, in my present attitude I want to get back home, am impatient with every minute I spend in this army, I want to study again, I want to live again and all that. In fact, I am like a lost soul now. I had hoped for a much better outcome to the change than that but that is the result. Take it or leave it. I go to sleep at night and try to think of dying but dread the thought. My new person doesn't want to die and doesn't even want to include that possibility in things that might be. My old self keeps trying to regain control over my person and bring me back to the strange peace and quiet which was mine but is no longer with me. Beginning tomorrow, I am going to try to be good and kind again. I have been thinking too much of myself lately and with the dawn of the new day I hope once more to revert to the Roman Klick who first understood the real sadness and spiritual peace of life and death when his closest friend died on October 12, 1942. It just isn't possible that Clarence has died in vain leaving an impression which has only lasted for four short months.
We shall speak more of this later as time goes on.
I have found that I sleep better on the army beds without using my pillow. One morning after a very good night's sleep I discovered I had discarded the pillow during the night. Since then I make it a point to get rid of the pillow the minute I climb into bed.
Solong Aunty Clara until mañana,