Dear Aunty Clara:
This morning I was in good spirits; but this afternoon I am in a rather angry mood. Two fellows and their actions are the reason for my bellicose spirit. For instance, Jack Molyneaux whom I had thought to be a good fellow (I'm still looking for some such in this army) turns out to be one of those smooth talkers like George Prokopec. With George it was almost a year before I caught on to his wiles. However, my ability to discern that trait in others has sharpened somewhat and after three months, I have finally come to the conclusion that my partner from Company B is of the same nature.
About a week or so ago we had a time arranged to go to the show. I ate an earlier chow than usual so that I might get there at the appointed hour. However, I had to wait 45 minutes while Mr. Molyneaux played baseball out in the field. At the end of that time I just walked off and refused to wait any longer. Then came the climax today. About two weeks ago when we went golfing and roller skating he had said that since he had not kept his word on going ice skating that evening, he would go ice skating with me whenever I wanted to. It so happened that tonight (Monday) the USO is giving a free skating party at the Ice Arena. We arranged to go to the rink last week and I went ahead and told Johnnie Marth that Molyneaux and I would go this evening. At twelve o'clock today Molyneaux says he is going to play baseball instead of going ice skating. I was foolish enough to argue with him saying that he had promised etcetera etcetera and all I received for an answer was, "But I have to play baseball." Nice, eh?
To top that off the assistant Company Clerk for Company A decided to pull a neat trick. He is taking his three day pass starting tomorrow morning. I don't care when he takes it but at least he could have told me about it a few days in advance because I had been planning to use my Wednesday morning off this week and now I will not get that ½ day because he will not be here. That's life for you. I still think my old depressive state was the best when nothing phased me or irked me as it does now. A month ago I would have shrugged off such displays of personality but now it is making me uneasy and disturbing my equilibrium.
Five months ago I said that I had traveled to the brink of death and looked in. I knew then through insight and experience as much if not more than most people do know about what life is all about and what death means. My mental state was that of a person who had lived and was ready to die. A state rarely found in any young person. It enabled me to take life in stride because life was so unimportant. And people laughed at me when I told them how I felt and that I had struck upon as near an answer as anyone can come to that mystery of life and death. I was too young to know. I did not have enough experience. And so went the arguments. But in that state I had the melancholy happiness which made me self-confident in myself and self-satisfied that I was doing right. I could face death whenever and wherever it might have appeared. But now all that is changed. The smallness of life has once more engulfed me. Trivialities disturb me. The deep still restfulness of spirit which was mine is now gone. I am no longer happy.
After that rather bitter opening, I now intend to relate to you some of the happier moments of my life over the week-end. For example, there was the Sunday morning which did not turn out as I had planned yet which proved to be somewhat enjoyable nevertheless. We boys in the barracks woke up at 8:00 but instead of getting out of bed, dressing up and going next door to the mess hall and eating, we just lay there fully awake and carried on a general conversation. I get a big kick out of those conversations. At least ten and probably fifteen fellows were involved and each fellow gets his turn at adding something. It is one of the unusual parts of army life which comes from living together and getting to know each other so well. Ordinarily you could not take fifteen individuals and keep a rapid fire conversation filled with quick repartee going for a half hour as we did. At length we did get up only to find that the mess hall was closed and we had talked ourselves out of a breakfast. This burned us up in a humorous sort of way. Most every Sunday the cooks come into the barracks and yell "Chow" but this Sunday we did not receive the customary invitation and we griped over it.
About eight of us decided to go over to the Service Club and eat; which we did. However, while I was eating, who should walk into the dining room but Curry, the chess fiend. He had gone over to the barracks in search of me and followed my trail to the Service Club. I agreed to play him a game or two although I knew immediately that as far as my correspondence was concerned, my morning would be shot. And it was. We finished the last of four games at 11:45 just 15 minutes before chow. And now for a brief (and I mean brief this time) synopsis of our games. I won three and drew the fourth. The first one was a quick affair and he conceded the game within a few minutes after I had run rampant by getting a knight advantage at the onset. The second game was a stiff battle with he having the advantage throughout. In fact he was ahead of me for the most part of the game and just as he began concentrating his forces for the telling blow, I slipped him one of the more dazzling checkmates. It is simple and throws a fellow off guard but it is still a checkmate. The third game was a pushover. I got my horse working and inside three minutes I had one of his horses and a rook without any damage to myself. He gave up. The fourth game began with his statement that, "If I only watch out for your tricky plays, I'll be alright. I'm on your play now." And I thought he was too. He had me pinned against the ropes all the way down and I began on desperate plays to put me across until he helped me along by sacrificing his advantage to engineer a checkmate which did not materialize. He still had the game as I pulled three terrible boners and became hopelessly mired. But then he slipped up once again and I took advantage of the situation by placing him in perpetual check. In other words it was sort of a moral victory for me because it prevented him from winning the game.
After lunch I strolled down to the PX and bought a pint of ice cream which I carried over to the library with me and began reading a few magazines and books. It just so happened that what I read that day in the library all concerned Japan. It appears that the White Man's domination over the globe is something of the past and win or lose in this struggle, it will be the Western Civilization (or us) who will have lost something never to be replaced. Another book went on to like Japan's startling rise to a dominant world empire to that of another insular nation, England. They also showed how Japan, the nation and the people, are instilled with the faith that they are to be the masters of the world. That is a kind of faith which no Western people have but just a belief in that the best men should rule and that they are the best men. It is rather depressing and eye opening to read the history and progress of the Japanese nation and people.
The book "How Odd of God" was still not back in circulation.
From the interim in the library I went back for another short space of time filled with music. What kind of music? Why the best kind of music! It was the Camp White Service Club #2 Sunday broadcast. That band was tops. Out of 35,000 soldiers it must be a selected group. The soldiers run the whole show. They are the band, the announcers, the dramatists, the radio technicians and just everything. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that those guys left some big money back home when they had to come into the army at $50 per. But they aren't just earning $50 anymore. Every one of them has a 4th grade technician rating which is the equivalent of a sergeant in pay and chevrons (with the exception of a small T below the three stripes indicating technician and not a line sergeant).
With the broadcast over, I thought I would make it a full day by watching the baseball game between the 353rd Regimental Baseball team and the Medford High school team. However, the rain was too strong and it was called off in one of the early innings.
I went back to the barracks, laid down on the bed and slept right straight thru supper. As a result it was another trip back to the Service Club for some supper. Following the good food I ran into a full evening of talking with everyone and anyone in my barracks. So you see, there were no letters and no nothing Sunday.
This morning was a rush rush affair. The payroll was not completely signed so before the company went off to work, I had to round up the fellows who had been out on pass and have them affix their John Hancock to the book.
We clerks had banded together (as I probably told you) and agreed to come down in fatigues this morning. All but one did. However, in the noon hour I became fed up on wearing the rags and decided to dress up for work once again. I took a quick shower after chow and changed into O.D.s. Of course, they didn't seem to like it a bit having me come down that way and even now they are a bit put out about it. I told them I was going to town this evening and I wouldn't have time to do all that after work. That quieted them down a little.
But now I am not so sure that I will go into town tonight. Someone just mentioned that the ice arena will most likely be jammed to capacity with all the soldiers in camp storming to get in free. I hardly think that is what I want. Roller skating in a crowd isn't very enjoyable and I imagine that ice skating which I know less about would be worse with such a mob.
And that bivouac is on again. For this Thursday. It will probably go thru this time. Now if Harvey wasn't taking his three days I would take mine and get out of the hike. But then again it will be a lot of fun so maybe I will enjoy it. I have already suggested to several of my fellow soldiers that they should take their three day leave with me and make a short tour of the countryside. We could take our half tents and full field equipment and have a whale of a time. Somehow they haven't agreed with me. I still think that when you do it on your own and go where you please that walking and camping would be alright. Do you agree with me?
I'm going to try to get this in the evening mail so will close now.