Letters

6 September 1943

Dearest,
Well, I seem to be Charge of Quarters again this evening; in the Headquarters Bldg. this time, and only for part of a day-- fom 4:30 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. We've certainly been busy the past few days: moving to a new company, Company C, or commonly called the tent area. It isn't bad sleeping in those big tents. I think I'll like it better than barracks--unless it gets too cold in the winter. Each tent holds six men, but we non-coms have more spacious and comfortable quarters in that we sleep three to a tent. We've done a little fixing up in our spare minutes in our tent--we three corporals. We have some small boxes for keeping things (picked them up from the Supply Quarters), and have fixed a rack to hang some clothes. It's quite a handy little situation. Slept two nights now in then #3 in Section #5. Rained very hard last night and did I saw wood! Today was the first real (official) day of basic traiing. We spent the whole afternoon on it, and was it a work-out. Although we had tastes and bits of this basic trng. before in various phases, today we started out from scratch and went at it like killing snakes. Do the officers BAWL OUT the commands. We carried packs on our backs (with tent and blanket etc. rolled inside), carried rifles, and wore leggins and cartridge belts (We haven't seen any live ammunition yet, but we will ere long.). We marched and executed drill movements of all kinds, did some of the manual of arms, did first aid work, practiced running and falling flat (with a rifle in our hands) on the instant, and then did extended order drill. This last is squad tactics for actual battle conditions and the main dispositions are closed and extended squad columns, squad wedge, and line of skirmishers. We crawled and creeped on our bellies and formed formations in double-time for a good part of the afternoon. And in the army when an order is given you jump! One thing I don't like about Co. C is the 1st Sergeant (he's not connected with the Basic Trng. mentioned above.) This guy is always giving me things to do whenever he gets a chance, almost every time he sees me and I try to stay out of his way. Personally, I dislike him extremely, for it strikes me he's just working everybody he can for his own interests alone. I haven't yet received those two letters, or any letters this week except that letter you wrote before I reached Atlantic on that 3-day leave. Nor did I get a telegram today sending money, or yesterday for that matter. And I'm flat broke; had to mooch a few cigarettes today, though late this P.M. a corporal loaned me two packages out of a carton he had. I can't cash a check anywhere here; no one will take a soldier's check. This is a hell of a pickle, if you ask me. I feel I should have a dime dish of ice cream once in a while to keep up my morale; you don't realize what a long, lonely day Sunday was--and without a dime in my pockets. Pay-day is I don't know when--since I'm on a supplementary pay-roll with a lot of the other non-coms. Excuse my slight petulance, but this is no fun here and I was rather disappointed. I think I'll like Co. C a lot better than Co. B if I don't have to teach negroes -- whether I will or not I don't know yet--I may like it better anyway. They're increasing the trainee strength of the battalion at a rapid rate (from something over 500 to about a 1000). The new men go into Co C, and we white non-coms for Co B are bing transferred there, since the arrival of colored non-coms here for Co B. Got a card from Melvyn B. Saturday; it was a humorous postal card showing a rank of soldiers of all different sizes (The tall one was designated as myself). Hope I'll be able to find time to answer it. His reveille appeared to be 5:30 (Ours is 5:00); I'll have to kid him about lying around in bed a full half-hour longer in the morning. He asked how I liked it, and said he bet I was as tough as an iron spike by now. I'll tell him I am--almost maybe. Also received a big envelope from the Relief Office containing all kinds of relief forms and they were filled out in silly, crazy ways by way of answers to the various questions. Very amusing. Guess I told Eileen before in a letter about a certain glass of 6% beer, and so under the heading fuel dealer was this notation; "The devil, if don't leave that 6% per cent stuff alone." Well, I'd better cut this letter off some where along here. Hope to hear from you soon. How's your teaching work going? I drink damn little beer, so you needn' worry about that. Might mention, one bright spot on the horizon was the emergence, with the advent of somewhat cooler weather today, of coffee for dinner AND SUPPER today on the mess-hall tables. First time for weeks and weeks I'm seen coffee except at breakfast time. All my love, Melvin Johnson P.S. I know it's not your fault i didn't get a letter for a week or longer, or any money yet. About the tents: they have concrete floors, in the form of a square, and they're really much cleaner living quarters than barracks and probably much easier to keep clean. Haven't done any teaching this week and may not for a few days, since the company is just being organized and there's all kinds of other work to do, of which I have had a small share. Basic trng. will take the whole afternoon and some occassional hours at night; in the morning I will have three academic classes to teach, etc. Our work with the trainees will be shortened now for a while, until the basic trng. of the cadre (permanent personnel) is complete. Actually, I don't see how i can keep up with all the letters I owe. By now, I owe O.K. and Eileen another letter, and Dad one, and Melvin B.; to say nothing of Gordon Kinney. Have written a letter recently to Evelyn J. though. Won't be able to come home for six to eight weeks now; and then I'll likely have to await my turn for leave with the other non-coms. But finishing the B. Trng. will be quite an accomplishment and a feather in my cap. Surprised me to hear Gus thought you shouldn't be working now, with a child to care for. How you feel about it? I haven't much use for the town of Leavenworth; it's a crumby place and the people aren't particularly nice: they don't seem to be very interested in the soldiers, except as a source of monetary income. Was down there this Sunday trying to cash a check; no go. I've noticed too that the town theatres don't make any reduction for tickets to a service man, as do practically all theatres in other cities and towns. Will likely spend my leisure hours, when I have them, here or at the Ft. Leavenworth Post or at the Reception Center. Quite a long P.S., hey? but this job as C.Q. here is not particularly rushing, as is Co. C. Q. Do you hear the news on the radio; and music? And/or do you read the newspapers?
Love, Melvin