Dear Aunty Clara:
How does this idea strike you now having some free mail come along intermingled with the air-mail? Is it confusing? I will try my best to have urgent items and items of immediate interest in the air-mails and just any old thing which I can tell you about any old time, tag along in these free mails.
The only drawback is that as I think of things I will not be able to resist putting them down yet it will not reach you for six days and if I wait for that every other day to come around, I will be able to get it to you within four days. Well, we shall see what we shall see in regard to this mixed up mail. But please tell me how you like it and what you think of it. Straight from the shoulder too.
I can't understand what gets into the folks back home; that is, when something tragic happens like a death in the family, they have a tendency to keep it from the soldier. Sooner or later he is bound to get the news and the hurt is no less painful than if he had received the news immediately. There have been two instances of that called to my attention within the past three weeks. Jim Farley, the T-5 who works in the Morning Report and Rations Section of the Personnel Department, had a sister back home in South Bend, Indiana who died and was buried three weeks before he received the news of it. And it was left up to him to write to his other brother, in the army also, the bad news. In the first place, it robbed him of an opportunity to request an emergency furlough home for the burial and the satisfaction of seeing his sister to her grave.
Now, this evening Edie tells me of that identical situation occurring with him. For his grandmother died two weeks ago and he learned of it today only because one of his aunts had let the cat out of the bag unexpectedly. The result was that when his mother discovered that his aunt had sent him the news, she at once sent him an airmail letter with all the facts. He felt very down and out about it and I know that his feelings were genuine because on several occasions he had told me how he was the favorite grandson of his grandmother etcetera.
I know very well that you would never be guilty of such an act but suppose something were to ever happen to you and some of the others at home thought it wise to keep it from me. You can imagine my feelings when I would find out! Please, bruit it about (let people know) that you think it is a good idea for soldiers to know the conditions of their folks back home right away. That way we will be able to circumvent any such unfortunate occurrence should any mischance as that come along.
* * *
The above paragraphs were written quite hurriedly and with a surprising amount of concentrations. Now, however, I am beginning to think of what I should say next and what should I find going on besides me but a Spanish lesson. Zamora, the bugler, is teaching Cheney, the officers' clerk, the rudiments of the Spanish language. I don't mind that; but why must they sit right next to me when they have the whole office to choose from. In fact neither of them belongs on my side of the fence. O, well, that is life for you.
What I am trying to tell you is that spread out on the desk before me are twenty-one unanswered letters which I know very well I will not or could not answer this evening. Yet it represents the first signs of a smoldering ambition. An ambition which I hope will brighten into a flame before long.
By the way, two of the letters are from you and I do not know how on earth they ever slipped by me. Here is a good start:
In answer to them I have this to state:
Talking about that smoldering feeling of a cold coming on, you know very well that very seldom if ever did I take or subscribe to any counter acting remedy for a cold. And now, although the signs of that cold just before the bivouac are long since gone and forgotten, I am again in the throes of another pre-cold stage. In fact ever since the night I went ice skating with Blumenfeld. By the time this slow mail reaches you and an answer is returned I will have probably gotten rid of it.
I doubt whether I ever told you about my fatigues. You say that they are comfortable but it seems they shrunk up on me and fit rather tight in that certain spot.
To give you a brief resume of the list of letters I have lying around me this evening I have
3 letters from Ray Bernett
1 letter from Ulysses
2 from Uncle Jack
1 from Marie
1 from Jerome
3 from the Reeds
1 from Anita
2 from Aunty Florence
2 from the St. Valentine's Church
1 from that Hawthorne gal
and I should have 1 from Dolores but I can't find it.
The mess hall has originated upon the idea of having permanent K.P.s who will work in the kitchen three days and then have one day off. Three men volunteered for the duty because they would rather do that then be out on the line. Now guess what they tried to pull. They got up a collection for the steady k.ps. I certainly didn't contribute to that one. They're working in the army the same as I am and no one goes around making any collection for me.
Coming back from Medford during the daylit hours on the bus or in a car (along the Crater Lake Road) is rather interesting. Why? Because it is then that one appreciates the lumbering industry they have hereabouts. Tractor trucks with the trailers come down the road with huge logs piled high on them. Some logs are so huge that three or four make a stupendous load while others have as many as seven or eight logs. One truck after another keeps rolling towards town. You can tell that there is quite a bit of lumbering going on around here from the very amount of companies in town. They are stretched along the railroad tracks similar to the way they stretch along the river from Racine to Hoyne on 22nd street.
There are a few other things which I could rave on about but it is ten thirty and I am going to see if I can straighten out some of this mess I have here. Who knows perhaps I will get a letter off to some one this evening.