Letters

22 August 1943

Dearest,
Here it is Sunday evening and a week-end practically wasted. I stayed in camp all day in order to go on C.Q. for another corporal (as he thought he might not get back) and after being C.Q. from 4:00 P.M. until 8:00, he blows in and takes over: now I'll have to take my regular turn tomorrow P.M. for 24 hours (though he wants to make up those 4 hrs. to me by substituting). But what gripes me is that my day was shot; why couldn't he be man enough to let me finish the other 20 hrs. now, since I was doing him a favor by trading turns with him in the first place. However, he's been here considerably longer than I, and seems to take the matter as he pleases. I'll never help him out again - but there's nothing I can do now but take it for he had mentioned the possibility of his getting back tonight, though at the time he said it I didn't think he meant that he would take over then and there. Boy, I'm not showing up tomorrow until 8:00 P.M. - damn him! I'm mad now. But excuse me for bothering you with this trivium. I notice by the papers that infantile paralysis is striking hard at many sections of the country - in fact, it is of epidemic proportions in some places. Let me give you some general warnings (for Elaine's sake): be careful of drinking water and other liquids, as the virus evidently enters through the mucus membranes (throat, stomach, intestines) and don't take her in to crowds. It's wise to boil drinking water if there's the least doubt of its purity, and don't let people play with her (incl. Harolds' I'm afraid to admit). There's no use of taking any chances on this poliomyetitis. Notice that swimming pools have been closed in some of these stricken areas. The germ is too small to be seen with a microscope, but it is known to be present in the bodily discharges of those known to have the disease. The spread of polio in certain districts of Chicago and not others is "explained" by the theory that these areas were at some distance from the chlorinating centers of the water supply; and it is thought that leaky mains allowed infected water to seep into the water supply. Whether polio germs enter through the air passages or through the digestive tract is not definitely known, but keeping the baby away from crowds and people in general and watching carefully what she drinks, eats, or puts into her mouth - those 2 points are my advice. So much for that. Now, the other business at hand, I mailed my laundry tonight. A sun-tan shirt and pair of trousers. I can do the others. I'll not continue this practice, but I did want you to wash these - and iron them - for this reason. The shirt is slightly too long (about 1/2") in the sleeves and a washing would shrink it about the right amount; and if I sent them out here, they would have to be dry-cleaned as there are no laundry facilities available. Dry-cleaning is expensive - running close to a dollar for the 2 pieces (cleaning and pressing). Many of the boys wash their own and borrow someone's iron to press them - but that's difficult for me because of several factors - one of them the fact I don't know many of the boys yet. Most of the boys send their uniforms out for cleaning though. The landering problem is a bad one. I washed my fatigue clothes the other day: and I did so by rubbing soap on the clothes and then rubbing the clothes between my fingers - almost inch by inch. Our trouble here is partly because of the fact that the unit is a new organization and things aren't brought up to par yet. Everything's very unhandy. We don't even have lockers or boxes for our clothes but must keep all of them and everything else piled and jammed into a barracks bag. You can imagine how that gets on your nerves when you need something in a hurry; and what it does to the press in the trousers. However, the hangers will help some on the latter point. Visited the Y.M.C.A. at the "Fort" this afternoon - some place! - they got everything - but it's too far from the unit to be of much practical use to me. Also visited the "Service Club" at the "Fort" last night and is that a swell place. It's down- right beautiful; big; and equipped with every modern comfort and all sorts of entertainments. This man's army has got everything, I'm telling you, but there again I'm out here with a new Unit that is just starting and poorly equipped. This afternoon on my way back I stopped at the Fort PX (Port Exchange) and "dropped" into the beer cellar. 6%! (maybe 8%) beer! Anyway, it's powerful. I had a glass. But at the R.C. and Unit PX's it's 3.2 beer. Had a bad cold the last 2 days but it's clearing fast today - I got some big pills and medicine (to be taken every 2 hours) this morning at the M.P. battalion dispensary. But I stayed on my feet anyway this time, although the night I wrote you I went back to the barracks to bed and that night I sweat streams. What I hate worse about my being in this part of the army is that it's so danged disorganized. No lockers, and all battered wash-house, working in one Co. and sleeping in another, walking 1200 yds and back every meal and a mile or so to reach the Fort or the R.C., and the fact that they're using this unit as a "guinea pig" for every new hair-brained idea that some big brass hat gets - all this and more sums up to a feeling of total confusion and frustration. I don't have your last letter here (nothing is where you want it to be), so I'm not doing very well on this letter except to gripe. Don't misunderstand me - it's not too bad. I just have a grouchy feeling tonight. I'm going to try get a 3-day pass this next week-end, but it's fairly doubtful that I'll succeed. The danged conference here probably won't be over yet by Friday noon. I'll write Eileen a letter the first chance. I've already written Orville some days ago. Don't mind my (?) letter - it's just one of those things. Be better tomorrow.
Love,
Melvin