Letters

15 August 1943

Dearest,
Well, I'm back in camp now this Sunday afternoon after the little trip to Kansas City, Mo. I horsed around the city a little this morning: ate some ice cream, read in the service men's canteen, and shaved and cleaned up at the same place. They furnish razor, shaving cream, towel, etc. and facilities for almost everything. Some place. Saw "Du Barry Was a Lady" last night at a big swell theatre. That was a very amusing picture. Red Du Barry Was a Lady Skelton was actually funny, I thought. You'll get a big kick out of it, if you'll go with a relaxed mind, as I did. It was just the thing for a poor weary soldier. I wanted to get away from this place. Personally, the Army's tough. I think I'm getting along all right. At least things aren't quite so disordered in my mind as before. I have to take what is commonly known as the 13 weeks basic training at the same time as I handle the other duties of my corporalsy. The basic training probably will be spread out a little longer for us rated men, I would imagine though I'm not even sure of that. Here is a typical day: 5:00 - Everbody up. Make beds, dress and in about 10-15 minutes, fall in. We march to chow (1200 yards) and back, then cleaning barracks for a few minutes. Then fall in again and we march to the drill grounds, platoon after platoon. Then group calistenics of the commando type (really tough - your legs and arms ache with fatigue). Then marching and drill by platoons or squads. This last requires patient and constant practice by the hour - and under a hot withering sun. Then special drill for the non-coms. Then classes - 2 each morning. Then back to the barracks and fall out for marching down (rather up) to chow - now it's really hot; your clothes stick to your skin. In the afternoon, 2 classes to teach; one in a military subject, (I have to keep one chapter ahead of the boys or else go awfully darn slow through the manual; I use a combination, as do most of the other corporals) then to the center area where we listen to a lecture on rifle markmanship or examine rifles or something similar. (The brass hats here for these three weeks has further complicated things, as we had to change our schedule, use slightly different procedures, and start using different procedures, and start using the Simpson System of Dismounted Drill. We're a leading unit of this kind, so we're to believe, and have to be a model unit in these new ideas as they come along.) to continue: then retreat then march to chow and back. Also throw in frequent special meetings for non-coms, and I hear I have to attend a regular Monday and Friday night class on military matters from now on. Also I've had to work on office details at the administration bldg. a couple of evenings. What's worring me is the laundry problem. We have to do our own laundering. Everything I've got is dirty; I've had no time yet for washing (except possibly yesterday!). I wonder if it would be too much to ask - say, I sent to you and you returned it, by mail? There's no way of sending it out here. The postage wouldn't be so much, would it? Mostly underwear and socks is what I need to have cleaned. By the way, please send me 3 (no more or less) coat hangers (the wire kind); they cost all the way to a quarter here. Also please send 2 changes of summer underwear (the jockey shorts), and a couple of handkerchiefs. I can very well use these extra clothes and some hangers. Before I go any further, I did get 2 letters from you. They were sure swell. I meant to mention it right away but got off on every other subject first. They were both from Mo. Valley; none from Sioux City - though it may be over at the ad. bldg. now, but being Sunday the mail room is closed. The letters did a world of good. Very interesting they were too! They're playing "Begin the Beguine" over at the PX nearby - via radio. Wish I were home.


Begin the Beguine (click to play)

Got a very amusing letter from OK; also a nice letter from Eileen B. They're both swell people. I fear I can't return their favors very promptly; I can hardly even find time for writing it seems. Delbart is running true to the form I predicted for him. It's so difficult to say everything in a letter so I'll drop the Delbert subject now. Maybe I can get a 3 - day pass one of these week-ends. I even contemplated going to Mo. Valley Sat. but my start was too late for that. I don't know how that in a 2-day pass - would work out, to go to Atlantic. I suppose you've moved now. Things are up in the air now because of the conference here. The colonel from Washington is here (head of the whole program for the U.S. of this kind); as well as a lot of other distinguished visitors. Excuse the sloppy writing, but there's so much to write I have to hurry. I do feel I'm getting a little tougher. By the way, I oftentimes take charge of a squad or platoon for exercises and drills and marching. It's a hell of a lot harder to give the right command in the right way and at the exact split-second than it is to execute it. Also, your voice must be low-placed, sharp, and crisp; like -ten -SHUN, or column right MARCH. The picture was swell. You looked quite charming. Very sweet too. Elaine was cute enough even though not smiling. The clippings were a riot!! Ha! - Ha! Keep writing even though I don't respond promptly. A letter is one solace in this hot, sweaty, fly-ridden place. Quite often I don't mind it though. I know it's good training, though very tiresome and I get so darned lonesome and homesick. At least I'm really getting hunky. The operation doesn't seem too highly priced. It's all right. How's it healing now? Like to see you in that new dress. Kiss Elaine for me.