Tuesday 4 May 1943
Camp White, Oregon
Dear Aunty Clara,
Because of my little escapade to the show last night, I have received Lt. Hanton's personal attention He sent down Morris Mersing to the office about 3:00 this afternoon to tell me that I am still in Company A and that Company A is restricted tonight Moreover, this morning, I was greeted by Sgt. Driscoll with the words that I was AWOL last night and that hereafter I must inform them of my whereabouts and will go no place without permission. Evidently they are trying to make those orders doubly emphatic for Lt. Podelwitz was next on the parade of Sgts and Lts reminding me of that fact.
So our company is different than other companies. That is what it all boils down to in the end. No other company has so many useless inspections and no other company has so many restrictions. No other company but company A would think of keeping track of the Company Clerk. I sure do hope, though that before 8:00 the restriction for the company will be lifted for I sure would like to go to the show this evening to see Lana Turner in Slightly Dangerous.
Just about 10 minutes ago, Molyneaux got some mail from Johnson and one of them was another shipment of lessons from the Army Institute Course. I really hadn't expected anything from them because I hadn't sent in but one lesson. Nevertheless, this may prove to be the impetus which I need to send me off in the realm of surveying once again. A funny part about this was that one of the four books which they mailed this time was nothing whatsoever to do with surveying. It is about Automobile Bench Work. Jack and I laughed that maybe an odd incident like that may send one of us off into that field. Something neither of us would ever dream of actually taking up.
In view of the fact that I am not allowed to conduct myself differently than the other 179 men in our company this evening, I think I will confine myself to headquarters. Perhaps I may get some work out, or some letters or catch up on some magazine reading.
Last night saw me hit the hay at 2:00 A.M. I turned in quite a few items to the Bulldozer so I imagine several of them should find their way into the paper. Now it takes on an added interest since I have a hand in producing it. Louis Cava has accused me of plagiarism in a joking fashion because I turned in all those little quips about God passing out things.
I finally received a letter from you today. The delivery coming this way doesn't resemble the speed of the outgoing mail at all. The mail I received today was from last Friday. Those last letters of mine mailed on the trip certainly came in a mixed up order. Great Falls, Seattle and Medford all at once while the Portland mail wasn't there yet. By now you know the story of my tiredness after the trip and you also know that I spent most of Sunday in bed.
Last night at 5:47 I looked up in the skies for the Portland plane and 'sure enough', there it was winging its way downwards towards the airport. I then saw from the ground, the exact course the plane took in the air coming into the valley, going to its far end, turning around and finally settling down on the runway of the airport.
Say, did I tell you that the Northwest Airlines charges only $4.15 for a one way trip to Milwaukee? Maybe with the enclosed Mother's Day gift you can take a trip up and back some week end, eh? By the way, the Mother's Day cards in camp are lousy and besides, now they are all gone, so that is why there is no card. In fact, when I was home it just didn't dawn on me that it was coming up so soon; otherwise I would have taken care of the details at that time.
O, here is some good news. Mike and I are getting a little better acquainted once again. It feels a lot better knowing that he is not so antagonistic towards you than before. That little bit of 'taking it' for a while when he becomes despotic on occasion is worth it in the long run. Starting immediately I am going to try to see if it might work with the company commander of that most famous company in the regiment. Think it's worth the try?
The time now is quarter to six and they should be serving supper. I partake thence now.
* * *
Eleven o'clock at night.
Much has happened since quarter of six. Both for the good and the bad. For one thing, as I walked into the Mess Hall, Lieutenant Hanton was just beginning a little speech. He mentioned among other things that when the company was restricted there were definite bounds to that restriction and that a man must be found in the company buildings or surrounding area. That was one statement almost aimed at yours truly directly.
Then he proceeded to state that the company was free to do and go where it pleased until 8:00 at which time there would be a company formation. Aha, I beat it out of the mess hall immediately without even going up to the chow line for the food I had originally intended to get. Straight to Molyneaux's room in B Company and from there we hiked it over to the show. And it was just ten to eight when the show was over so I had just time enough to make it. Yessiree, that Lana Turner is the very first movie actress that I ever thought worth raving about. But then you don't like her, do you? In that first picture I saw her in "Johnny Eager" I liked the front view of her face but didn't like her profile for some reason. In this picture her profile didn't seem to detract from her appearances. O yes, the story was fairly good too.
Now for the beginning of the bad. The formation was for the purpose of reading the articles of war to the soldiers. This must be done once every six months and the half year mark has now been reached. It is a long dragged out affair both tiresome to the soldier and the lieutenant that is reading them. At the end of that, we were told to have full field packs rolled tonight, get GI haircuts and a mess of other things. That was the limit with me. First they take away our comforters and then they want us to pack one blanket in a field roll before going to bed. I froze last night with the two blankets and my overcoat on top of me what would I do this evening. (Incidentally, we have had a strange turn in the weather of late and it is very cold at nights). Naturally, I returned to my bunk and began reading a Reader's Digest which happened to be laying around. Then Emery (T/4 Emery, I might add, the next rank above corporal) who had a few drinks in him did not like to see me taking it so easy. In a few moments we were exchanging words loaded with dynamite. My motto of live and let live and what the next guy does shouldn't interest me and what I do shouldn't interest the other fellow, is the only thing which saved the situation ----- somewhat.
He asked me when I intended to roll my full field pack. I said tomorrow morning. He said his orders were to see that all field packs were rolled this evening. I said I was not going to shiver all night long and have a blanket rolled up uselessly at the foot of the bed. I jokingly said that I would roll it up when I came in again around one or two in the morning. He didn't take it as a joke and said that the light stays out once it is out. I became serious then and asked him if he ever remembered a time that I ever turned the light on when I came in late or if I ever even woke him up when I did come in. He couldn't answer that one so he harped on the fact that I never once have helped sweep or in other ways clean the room. I countered with the fact that I'm not the one who dirties it up and that it was the thousand and one fellows that walk into the place during the day and evening.
All this while he was willingly to turn it into a first class tiff whereas I tried to sooth it over but to no avail. I finally got up and walked out. He followed me thinking I was going to bring the subject up with Sgt Davis but I headed towards Headquarters. That is where I got a bright idea. I would take the c.q.'s. place this evening. It was Walston and he agreed to the change. As a result of that little negotiation I brought all my pack equipment and my blankets etcetera over to headquarters and will pack my pack after I finish typing this letter and then I will retire to the bed upstairs with a total of three blankets instead of just one.
Meanwhile I am rapidly winning the enmity of T/4 Emery; but I do not mean to. It is a little stubbornness in me which makes me walk out that way and it is the way out of an argument. As far as I'm concerned, I never wished to argue with him and I realize that those fellows in the company are getting to be a bundle of nerves with all the restrictions, orders and counter-orders which they have to put up with all day long in Company A so that his argument with me was just one way of releasing some of that pent up emotion. To digress a bit, I even saw Larry Isaacson blow up this evening and his temper is one of the smoothest and mildest in the company. I talked to him later in the evening and he agreed that the nerves of most of the fellows were getting jangled. Then a fellow like myself comes along and gets them all hopping mad (subconsciously they are a bit resentful of my philosophical attitude towards all the commotion).
Here is something else which is going to run me into a little bit of trouble. How deep I do not know. But it is too late to worry about it so I am not doing so. I laid out my winter underwear on the bed and told (asked) Emery this morning if he wouldn't take it down and turn it in sometime today. He didn't and as a result I now am the only one in the company with two pair left. If and when I do turn them in there will be a big hullabaloo, that's for sure. So the next best thing is not to turn them in and get soaked for the price of the two garments. I think I'll find out how much they cost and if they are reasonable, you can expect a set of winter underwear home in the mail.
By the way, the box of Peanut Brittle which Aunty Stella gave to me are now coming in handy as a late midnight snack in lieu of a supper.
Just now I happened to think of telling Davis that I would not be at Reveille in the morning because I was c.q. at hq; so quick as a flash I ran down there and told him. He said "O.K."
You know something Aunty Clara, I've heard so many stories about these last minute moving days from the fellows who were in the old 36th Engineers that I have expected this and more; therefore, I have taken it more or less as a necessary evil which in the course of perhaps a few days or weeks will end and things will be back to normal once again. The other fellows, on the other hand are continually moaning low about this that and the other. They do have some kick coming, though, because of the rough way Company "A" is handling its last minute moves.
In a way this week has been downright humorous. The first few days back, I hated the office. People were becoming all nerves and Mike was in a bad mood. Now it has switched completely around and it is the fellows back in the barracks who are on edge while the work in the office has settled down to an even pace once again with the resultant happy faces.
I believe this letter could ramble on and on now that I am just gossiping but rather than have it go to those extremes I will close at this point.
Harvey and I cut little slits along the seams of the flaps on shirt pockets and now they resemble officers shirts with our pens and pencils clipped onto the pocket through the slit. Before this we couldn't clip the pens and pencils in (except those with a military clip on them.)