Dear Aunty Clara:
Well. And well again. I went out on the rifle range this A.M. and fired ten rounds of ammunition. With ten rounds it is possible to garner a total of 50 points. I had a score of 47. This is the entire story.
We left the barracks at about 7:30 in the morning and climbed aboard the big shuttle bus trucks they used to use around the camp to relieve the congestion on the buses to Medford. These trucks took us right out to the range inside ten minutes. As I was getting on the truck, I spotted Lt. London, who was in charge of Company 'A's contingent at the range and asked him if there was any chance of my coming in as soon as I shoot to zero the rifle. He said he would see what he could do for me. And he did quite a lot.
We were lined up in columns of four. I was in the third column and was scheduled to go into the pits and set up targets for the other fellows who were firing. Lt. London kept his eyes open and saw what had happened. At once he ordered another fellow in the first squad to change places with me. Then he saw to it that I shot first. Then after coaching one fellow I was sent back to camp in a 2-1/2 ton truck with a few other fellows. Within 25 minutes after quitting the rifle range in fatigues, leggings, rifle and all that, I was planted in my spot in the office hard at work on war bonds.
If that is the way it could work all the time, I would not mind the shooting so much. Essentially it is a waste of time going out on the range and waiting for the others to finish before going back to camp.
The firing went off very well this morning and although I didn't like it any better, I did dislike it a little less. The gun which I haven't thought much of and never bothered to clean assumed a new value in my eyes. It worked like a charm without any kick at all nor any flaws in the movement of the parts such as the bolt action or the trigger squeeze. The entire affair was similar to firing in an indoor target range with electric guns.
To zero in a rifle it is shot from the prone position. That is the position in which your body is entirely at rest and your arms are braced against a sandbag and the ground. With such support the gun is securely mounted and it is almost impossible to miss the target. My first shot was a bull's eye. Lt. London walked by at that time and I remarked that my rifle must be zeroed in alright and one shot was enough for me. However, he said that I had better shoot out the rest. I shot five which has been the standard up until today. I got up and prepared to leave. London said I should shoot ten altogether. And so it was. I, who haven't the slightest desire to shoot the lousy thing, got to shoot it a little extra again.
All in all I had 7 bull's eyes and 3 fours (right next to the bull's eye) 2 of which I had purposely aimed rather low.
The truck was not ready to leave at the time I was finished shooting so I coached a fellow who was beginning to zero his rifle in. That's a laugh --- me coaching on how to shoot a rifle. Anyhow, the fellow's rifle turned out to be a lemon and we had the worst time trying to get him to shoot one in the center of the target. When we got to the ninth shot, London said that after the fellow shot his ten rounds I should take over and see what was the matter with the gun and stick with it until I had the problem ironed out. Can you beat that! What does he think I am? A pro? Boy o boy, I practically guided that fellows hand on his next two shots so that he could drive one home. Success came on the tenth and last shot which went into dead center. Triumphantly I announced to Lt. London that the rifle had been zeroed so he promptly forgot about me having to shoot a few extra through it to set it right.
Who knows, that may be the last time I'll have to fire a rifle in this war. Let's hope so.
I received your letter of April Fool's day today and also the dates with the golf balls. Thanks for the letter and the dates; but as for the golf balls, I think I will with-hold my thanks. You meant well, I know. The only trouble is though that I can't go out and play with Columbus Park yellow balls. In the first place they are no good and in the second place they are too hard to find in the grass when you do play with them. What they are good for are water holes and there are no water holes on the Rogue Valley Course. When you had told me that you were sending the ones I kept in the golf bag, I immediately had my suspicions as to which ones they were. Remember when I first mentioned your sending me them, I said that those that might be left in the bag were probably no good? Don't take this all too seriously because it is all my fault for not telling you to go ahead and open up the box of golf balls and sending me some of them. Don't send any for a while because I think I will be able to get along on those I now have. If we stay here for another month I will be able to use a new shipment.
Say, those dates were excellent, super and everything else plus. That coconut was just enough to offset the extreme sweetness of the date even though the coconut itself was sweet. Blumenfeld was around while I was eating them and he tells me to tell you thanks for the swell dates. I don't think there is anything which could have so satisfactorily filled the place of cookies as well as those dates have.
I did not save them for tomorrow when I hope to go golfing all day long. That had been my original intention. However, with the officer's dance coming up this evening and me in the kitchen, I will either eat enough tonight to last me all day tomorrow or else I will be able to take a few snacks back to the barracks with me for tomorrow.
The job will be to prepare the sandwiches or something on that order in the kitchen. The uniform is O.D. trousers and khaki shirt. We meet in Hqs at 8:00 tonight and ride over there in a jeep or truck. There will be a floor show later in the evening which we are allowed to watch. Molyneaux says I will be glad I worked there since there is really no work to it and all it amounts to is watching the officer's get drunk. He says it is funny watching them get plastered. I'd like to see what our pickle-puss colonel acts like with a few drinks under his belt.
About those score cards: I weighed the letter before mailing it and knew very well that it needed an extra 6¢. I didn't have any stamps so I took a chance on its getting through without it. By now you know that the shows cost 15¢ and 12¢ when you have a book of tickets.
I think the picture of the company ought to flatten out rather well because I had kept it folded for a week before sending it and it unraveled in a short time.
I always told you Chicago's weather was no good. Here you are only three weeks away from zero weather and now it is in the 80s.
I haven't heard from Marty or Virginia either and it was I who last corresponded.
Those war bonds probably will be a long long time in coming. I had hoped that we might have proved an exception to the rule and received them faster than the other soldiers but I guess it just isn't going to be. Sgt Davis has waited a half a year and has been buying a bond a month yet he only has received one of them. Molyneaux hasn't even received any and he has been buying them for the last six or seven months. I've definitely decided that I will no longer purchase war bonds thru the government. I may have told you that, I do not know.
Come to think of it, once Jack Molyneaux was talking to me about the time he spent in the army before war was declared one day about a month ago. He told me that he used to write to his mother every day and keep saying, "Well only 235 days left, Mom!" and then the next day, "Only 234 days, Mom, and I'll be home again." That went on until the first week of December when he was saying, "My year will be up in only 114 days, Mom!" And then a week later he had to say, "Well, Mom, guess I won't be coming home for a while after all."
Those were the days when I used to count how long the war was going on. Come to think of it, I haven't once thought of it in the old terms. It seemed that every morning as I crossed Ashland Avenue at 22nd Street, I would say to myself that the war was now so many months old, then so many years and so many months. And I'd wonder if it would last as long as the other one or if it would ever reach four years. Now all I think of is "It's been five months since I was inducted on October 31 so that is five months closer to being out of this thing. It used to be dramatic to think of the actual length of a war but being in the thing itself takes away that dreamy philosophical attitude.
But just for the record the war actual began September 1, 1939 and it is now April 3, 1943, 3 years, 7 months and 2 days old. The last war lasted from August 2, 1914 to November 11, 1918 which is a total of 4 years, 3 months and 9 days. That means in less than a year's time or 8 months to be exact, this war will have surpassed the last one in length.
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By the way, this is Saturday afternoon if you haven't been aware of the fact during my preceding paragraphs and we are working because of the colonel's orders. But by working all we mean is just sitting at our desks doing what we want to do and neither Nyalka or Warner is bothering us. In fact they are part and parcel of this silent rebellion at working on a nice warm sunny Saturday afternoon. Warner has allowed one clerk from each company to be absent during the noon hours. Most of the student clerks have taken off first and when they return from an hour or so of siesta, the clerks themselves will get their chance to disappear.
We have another crazy idea going on. The regiment shelled out exactly $315 dollars for a regimental standard. Every day from the hours of ten to twelve the American Flag is unfurled to the right of the regimental front door and the regimental colors are unfurled to the left. It is required that every one entering or leaving the building by that exit must salute the colors ten paces in advance of them and hold the salute till ten paces beyond them.
I'm not the only one who is now using the other exit exclusively during those ceremonious hours. Saluting every officer in sight is silly enough but saluting flags is carrying it to an extreme.
Funny the way people will make such a to do over something like that. Perhaps my antipathy in any outward signs of loyalty such as saluting flags and the like goes back to the fact that I will very seldom show any of my own personal affections by outward signs. With some people that comes easier and evidentially it is alright for them.
Most of the boys who come from the old 36th Engineers say that they had to put up with a lot of nonsense like that in the old days themselves. However, they had been fooling themselves that you only do that in this country and forget all the tomfoolery in the war zones. Now they get word that the 36th in Africa holds 4 Retreat Parades a week.
The Africa spot can't be such a terrible place when movie stars take trips over there to entertain the boys.
It is just about time for Harvey to come strolling back again so I will close this letter and mail it out. FLASH --- by golly, speaking of the devil and in he walks