Camp White, Oregon
23 March 1943
Dear Aunty Clara:
This letter is going to have to cover quite a bit of time. First it has to go back and review all that has occurred since last Saturday and then it must progress into the future and take care of what will probably be letterless days when I am on my three day pass. I have finally decided that I had better take the pass while I can because tomorrow may never come. At the present writing, I have it in my pocket and ready to use come tomorrow. It is made out to Medford, Oregon. I intend to come in every night to sleep and, in fact, I hope to eat breakfast and supper in our company mess hall. It would be just a little to steep to eat and live away from camp for three days. The purpose of the days off is to play golf. If the weather remains nice, I am going to play at least one round Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. By the way, if you see any spare golf balls laying around the house or if there are some fairly good ones in the pocket of my golf bag please send them in the next package you send out here. I would like to ask you to open up my box of golf balls and send out a half dozen of them but it seems like waking up the dead by opening something that was to be preserved until 1947 or 1948. Then it would be just our luck to move right after I got the balls.
You hit the nail on the head when you suspected that I must be pretty low on dough after eating in the Service Club so often plus going to the shows and buying candy bars. In fact, I missed my Sunday meal and had to drain my last resources to buy myself something to eat. Now you are probably wondering how in the world I expect to go on a three day spree with no money in the pocket. Well, I didn't want to do it but I borrowed $4 until payday from a fellow who had more money than he could spend anyway. You see, when I got in this army I never expected to spend any money and when you start it runs into quite a bit.
Another thing I must mention before I forget it. This Friday evening the Local War Department Theater #2 is showing a 'Revival' of "The Major and the Minor". I will be sure to see it and let you know how I liked it. Seems funny that the one picture you tell me not to miss comes back for a reshowing, doesn't it?
Speaking of shows, I saw "Fall In" and "Lady Bodyguard" Saturday night. Both were good entertainment. "Fall In" is supposed to be part of a regular series about the antics of two sergeants in the army. Perhaps you have seen a picture in which they have played or in the coming attractions. The one fellow is a dummy and the other fellow has a photographic mind. "Lady Bodyguard" starred Eddie Albert and Anne Shirley. For some reason or other Anne Shirley reminds me of Dolores. But Sunday night was the night we really saw a picture that was full of action. It was "Air Force" with John Garfield and Harry Carey. It is all about the Flying Fortress and its crew that took off from San Francisco on December 6, 1941 and flew into Hawaii just after the Japs had done their dirty work. From there it shows them hop to Wake Island, Manila and finally towards Australia. It is an all war picture with no women in it. It also depicts very strongly the lesson of Air Power which Seversky has preached for so long a time and which is being borne out in actual warfare. Somehow I do not think you would enjoy it a real lot because 30-40% of the picture just shows them fighting. This picture drew the soldiers by mobs and we had to stand in line a half and hour or more to get our tickets.
I received the candy bars which Aunt-Aunt sent but as yet have not written any note of thanks. And my conscience has begun to bother me that I have not written any thank you to Ulysses either. Perhaps I shouldn't go to the show tonight but how can I resist such a thrilling drama as "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman". That is another of many troubles. Since waking up and living once again and going to show, it seems as if I want to see every one that comes along.
Here is a story which you probably did not expect to hear. It is about the Army Institute course which I received last week and haven't said another word about since then. I had begun to study it in earnest and with a real interest until Edie started talking to me. It so happens that Edie has the habit of letting people in on how much he knows whether they are interested in hearing about his knowledge or not. Before I knew what he was doing he was telling me how his little army manual will tell more than all my correspondence books put together. Then he tells me it is impossible to learn surveying by book. Then he keeps heaping it on just how much he knows and can tell me about surveyors, surveying and the like. Then whenever I would try to enter upon an equal conversation with him regarding some phase of chaining of leveling or sighting he would show me up with my beginners knowledge of the subject. That kept up until I was thoroughly disgusted with surveyors, surveying and the whole course. I haven't taken the books out of my locker since then. It has always been my method to study thins on the side. I could talk my studies over with you by the hour or with some fellow classmate; but never would I bring an outsider into my school life. As an example, my entire first year at the YMCA was a deep dark secret from Ray Suchoski and the rest down at Rathborne and if it hadn't been for Gary Walroth, the inquisitiveness of the office force and that accounting course, the people in the main office would never have known that I was going to school at night either. So now when every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that I have enrolled in a surveyors course, I have lost every bit of interest in it that I had. Maybe in a week or so that feeling of exasperation will wear off and I will plunge right back into it where I left off.
However, I believe there was a little more to it than that simple explanation. For some unknown reason I have been very very restless and sitting down to study doesn't coincide with that mood.
Something made my mind uneasy last night. I was sitting in the Service Club Library browsing around through the latest Time magazines when smack dab in front of me were the important deaths of the week. John Pierpont Morgan meant little dead or alive to me so I just skipped over his name. Then I couldn't believe my eyes ---- Stephen Vincent Benet dies at 44 from heart attack! Can you beat that! He has already carved a name for himself in American literature as Miss Walker predicted he would and his works are being collected and published in volume as evidenced by two of his works on my bookshelves but that he should have died with so much work left undone seemed incredible. Had he lived to a ripe old age, he would have left such an immensity of fine work that both in quality and volume he would have rivaled any other American author. As it is we only have but a part of what might have been. In reading over some of his achievements, I ran across the last of his works which was writing scripts for the patriotic broadcasts that we used to listen to. HE WAS THE WRITER for the "This is War" series!! Remember that one? That was even better than " They Shall Live Forever".
All the same he shouldn't have died. I'm telling you that after this war is over only real young people are going to be left at the rate every one is dying now.
When I changed the ribbon on this typewriter Sunday morning, I thought you would receive the very first letter written by it, but since then it has seen official letters and incomplete nonofficial letters by the dozen. I almost thought that you weren't even going to get this letter written with the brand new ribbon because Nyalka borrowed the typewriter about an hour ago.
Last night on the way back to the barracks I heard Tattoo from away off and I made Blumenfeld keep quiet while I listened to it. I disgusted him by my admiration of a bugle call. I only wish that sometime you might be able to hear these calls so that you might know which ones I am speaking of. Didn't I tell you something about Tattoo about a month or so ago? It is similar to the tune that is accompanied to the childish words "A Tisket, a tasket a green and yellow basket". At least that is part of it.
I wrote a letter to Bob Hesser with my chess move. That was on Sunday. Personally, I think I have lost the game with him because I can't see what is going on in the game anymore. There doesn't seem to be any earthly reason for his last move and I could see no good move to counteract it. As a result I took a move which may, in the long run, prove fairly good but for the present I see nothing sensational about it.
On Sunday afternoon I began a letter to Pat. You ask about that Romeo and Juliet affair. Well, it seems her end has struck a snag or something. Or maybe the letters are still going up to Corvallis, Oregon. Just the same I haven't received any from her and she owes me an answer. I've tried to write letters to her several times now but they all meet the same end which the rest of my letters to other correspondents meet ---- the waste paper basket.
On Saturday I began a letter to Dolores and carried it through for two full typewritten pages. It was incomplete so I decided to finish it Sunday morning and I never did.
By the way, Aunt-Aunt's candy bars were eaten up in two eatings. One of the prime reasons for such an insatiate appetite for candy bars in spite of the sickening effect they had had on the bivouac is the lousy food the mess hall has been slinging at us for the past few days.
This letter was started at 3:30 and I hardly thought I could finish before 5:00 rolled around and I was right. I'll have to leave now to get my laundry ready to go out and to straighten out the laundry that came in. In addition to that, I am going to see about eating an early chow in order to get to the show sooner and then being able to come out with time enough to finish typing this letter (we shall see what we shall see) and maybe a few thank you notes which are horribly overdue. Solong for a while.
* * *
It is now 6:45. O no, not 6:45 in the evening but in the morning following the night of the 23rd. In brief, here are the details: I went to see the show. Don't bother going because it isn't very mysterious nor has it a definite ending. Then I talked with Blumenfeld and Edie. After that I walked over to the Service Club and finally (at 10:00) I came back to the office to finish this letter. I met Molyneaux and talked to him finally walking back over to his barracks to get his golf ball. Before I came back I talked to him for a while ---- until 2:30 in the morning! So you see why the long interim. I'm going to go back to the barracks, clean up, eat and leave for town now. Solong.