Letters

9 August 1943

Dearest,
I'm using the typewriter in the front section of my barracks; this part seems to be an office or headquarters for some of the officers, among them a second lieutenant by the name of Haynes. Things up this way, in the Special Training unit, are a bit irregular in some ways; these just more or less starting up. Say, it's about time I got a letter from you. You don't know how much a letter means to a poor lonely rookie. This army life is sure tough. And I'm in sort of a spot because of my over-rapid promotion to corporal. Just think, I was made an acting corporal on Saturday, the 7th, and had just arrived in camp on the morning of the 3rd. I wear two stripes on each of my sleeves now. At the same time as I carry out certain duties as a corporal; teaching, and some work in marching exercises; I also have to take the regular course of 13 weeks basic training, which includes about 32 different subjects, such as drill, marksmanship, military discipline and courtesy, army organization, hygiene, etc. etc. Today, it was a tough session of marching and drilling--including all sorts of intricate formations and marching involutions. I felt like a green tomato a good share of the time. Guess I didn't do too bad though. Learned a little. It takes a little time, and this was the first day of that. We'll have marching and drilling practically every day from now on. The basic training for myself hasn't really started yet, except for the preliminary drilling. And then, I was thrown right in the middle of a group who had already advanced some ways in their training, and thy did column right, column right oblique, form single file from the right, reform lines of three from the right, extend ranks, to the right flank march, close ranks, and a helluva lot more. (Note: In the above mentioned maneuvers left is used many times as well as right.) It's so hot down here that I'm pouring sweat all the time. My clothes are quite often literally wet. The laundry problem is a difficult one, for you have to wash your own clothes and there are no very adequate facilities for doing so. O but I wish I were home now. Not that I can't take it, for I believe I can. And it's undoubtedly good for you. The trouble is the first month or two, in getting accustomed to things and learning enough about soldiery to feel like a soldier. How's Knowltons? How are things at the office--both offices? How's the new director doing? Personally, I don't believe he's much good, but don't tell that to anyone. He acted like a damned fool that Monday afternoon I saw him in the office. I tried to help him, but he didn't want help. Everything he asked me was meant merely to put me on the spot; but I stuck to my guns and made him look slightly silly. He acted like a high-powered businessman--very decisive and preemptory in his manner--but his arguments didn 't hold much water and I told him so. Art alternately grinned and blinked his eyes. He had thought everything was WW2 Coca Cola Advertisement set for a little revenge against me, but it didn't materialize as well as he had hoped. Evidently he had talked plenty to the new man; perhaps even in Des Moines when he went down one day of his vacation. This new director didn't even know some of the basic material in the manual and then trying to correct me. I didn't take it. The town of Leavenworth is more or less of a dump. Not much there. The boys around here certainly spend their money. A lot of it goes in to slot machines or certain kinds: as, pinball, juke boxes, etc. Then they drink a lot of beer or other drinks, as cokes, pop; or food, as ice cream, candy, cookies. On the last points I'm a little guilty--as a coke or a dish of ice cream tastes awfully good sometimes on a hot summer evening. The Post Exchanges in the three main divisions of this camp are certainly well-equiped. They sell innumerable things. The Camp is a mammoth thing. In fact, this unit I'm in is 1200 yards from the mess hall and we march an extra 25 miles each week just to eat. How's the baby? Wish I could see her. It's quite possible that I can get what they call a 3-day leave in a few weeks or maybe months; things aren't very definite yet, either in the set-up of this new unit or in my mind. Write some letters and keep it up. My love, Corporal (?) Johnson