Dear Aunty Clara:
This letter is being written under very novel and unusual conditions. I am standing up underneath a tree on the side of a mountain typing this note. It took us about an hour to march out here. From my site we can see Camp White stretching out in the distance. It is about 5:00. More unusual than that is the entire personnel department is just laying around doing nothing but Company "A" is on the ball as usual.
As an unattractive incident to my march out here, I believe that for the first time in my life, I have managed to get a blister. Naturally since we were hiking, it is on my foot. I am not certain of this and am not going to try to find out today. When I reach camp tomorrow I will know if my fears were grounded.
What is even more unusual is that Molyneaux's desk (field) is on top of the same portable desk mine is and at this present time he is surveying (disgustedly) the scene. Several airplanes have flown overhead within the last few minutes and with the situation as it is we are as close to simulated war conditions as it is possible to be with this outfit.
As far as chow is concerned, I am not in the least concerned or worried over it. For the first thing I did not clean out my mess gear and sterilize it before coming out here and for the second thing I plumb forgot to bring my canteen cup so I couldn't get any milk or anything even if I wanted it. Third, I have amply supplied myself for this bivouac by bringing along 9 Tango candy bars, 6 stuffed dates, 1 orange, 4 apples and a box of Rice Flakes. Of course, I have already begun to share that supply of candy bars but the other stuff will keep me going until tomorrow morning.
I remembered to bring extra paper to write letters but I forgot about envelopes to mail them in. I hope I don't do that during the real thing. During the past few minutes, I have been eating the stuffed dates and now I have only one left. They came in better than you ever expected them to, right?
I have no intention of unrolling my full field pack and setting up a tent because it isn't any joke putting them together again. I have a quilt and a blanket which I can easily curl up in on the ground. I hardly think having a tent over my head will allow me to sleep any better. (Unless it rains)
I anticipated a cold evening and it looks as if it is well on its way our side of the mountain is already in the shade and it isn't warm. The drawback to switching over to winter underwear for a hike like this is that on the march they walk so fast and with forty pounds of equipment a person sweats himself all up. Then you fall asleep on the cold ground with wet winter underwear. It doesn't make sense but then a lot of things in this army don't make sense.
Before we left the office today (that is, in the morning) I typed up a letter to you which I did not mail. It was a summary of all the small details of the past two days. When I finished it, I didn't like it and tore it up. Now don't write back and say that anything is okay with you because this was just lousy. And you're getting another letter today anyway so you haven't lost anything by it. However, I will say that when those little comments of a days activities are let go by for a few days they no longer seem to have that spark of life and realism which makes them interesting. An example of that could be this letter. Written tomorrow, it would be flat and not as living as I hope it is now.
The other clerks have left the "office" and just Majors, Captains and Lieutenants are walking around me now. They must think I'm slightly batty actually setting up my desk and typing out here in no man's land.
That is going to be one of the beauties about being a company clerk. No matter what the conditions are I will most probably have access to writing material and equipment.
The spot we chose to sleep tonight is full of poison oak but we are going to try sleeping in between the leaves. We've a good hunch that most of headquarters will be on sick call for the next week or two getting salve put on irritated parts.
Another curious feature about this setup is that this mountain we are on (Upper Table Rock) has actual rocks coming out of the ground all over the side and with scrub trees under which our desks have been placed it makes a very well camouflaged setup.
It is getting rather chilly now and it isn't warming up. If I do not finish anymore of this letter on the bivouac you will know that conditions made it impossible. I will try to jot down items of interest as they come up from time to time during the next twelve or sixteen hours. Right now I am going to head back to my pack where my overcoat is (about a ¼ mile away down this rise across a flat space and up the side of another rise).
* * *
Ten to nine, Aunty Clara, and I am typing this in the nature of a noble experiment. There are no lights but that given by the moon. I can see the typewriter very plainly and if I bend down close to the print I can see the words and letters themselves. There was a guard standing mount over our desks when I approached them at what seemingly was an unearthly hour to him. We had to halt, tell who we were and advance to be recognized. By we, I mean the Student Clerk from B Company, Bert Jolley, and myself. One of the main reasons for coming here was to get the field rations I had stored away.
I ate a chow consisting of two slices of raisin bread and a huge slice of American cheese. Just about fifteen minutes ago I filled my canteen with hot coffee and drank it for a wash. Well, I will see you again in the morning before we pull out, I hope. The night was very cold at first but here at the desks it seems rather warm. I just suggested to Jolley that we trek back the ¼ mile and bring our stuff here to sleep. Remember the way I said we wouldn't have to unroll the pack but Molyneaux had it unrolled for me by the time I got there.
* * *
Whew, eleven o'clock in the A.M. and we are back in camp. What a night, what a hike. I am going to mail this now and will give you a full account of the evening, the clear sky, the cold of the mountain, the morning activities and everything else. Chances are I will not get to a typewriter for quite some time (at least until tonight) so this will go out in the noon mail.
The only thing that saved me from giving up on the way in was the thought that no matter what we go thru here on earth, Clarence has gone thru more and some day, when all is over, we will realize how trivial everything has been. At least I saved one part of my philosophy.
Well, solong once again until after a change, a shower, etcetera etcetera.