Letters

18 September 1943

Dearest,
Guess I owe you a letter. But have I been busy this week. Never saw anything like it. Rush, rush, rush. I'm stealing a little time now from another duty or two. Taking care of a section of tents and a platoon of men, besides basic training all afternoon, and chores to do at night, is no easy matter. Things are happening fast out this way. The battalion is increasing in strength by bounds. From somewhat in the neighborhood of 500 when I first came to over 1000 today. That means work and a certain amount of confusion. (Keep this last information secret though - it may have military value, I wouldn't know.) It's been hikes and road marches this week - with full packs and rifles. Next week a forced march through the afternoon and into several hours of the dark. Today we pitched tents and half field inspection of all pack articles. Everything has to shine, mess kit, etc. Wore helments on our heads. My particular gripe now is that at present I'm in a tent with a corporal who strikes my fancy like a dead mackerel. He's quite uncooperative toward me, likes to act like the leader of the tent section, and I believe he's a bit jealous that I'm the designated leader there. Acts like a know-it-all school-teacher; talks with a dull hollow tone (must be coming through his nose); and has about as much vitality and personality as a wet towel. He does well though in keeping after details seeing that things are done in the section, etc. - which details bore and annoy me. So much for that. It relieves my mind. I hate prigs, prudes and schoolteacherish people. Not referring to you, of course, in the least. Our tents will be abandoned soon anyway, as we're moving into barracks within a few weeks and I'll probably be placed with another corporal. As a whole, I think a lot of my fellow non-coms. They're a great bunch. I'm doing all right in the B. trng. Holding out well in the double-timing although some of the men fell out of formation because they couldn't stand the pace. I trust I'm beginning to feel and act and look like a real soldier. Irvine Berlin's THIS IS THE ARMY This is the Army Marquee Saw "This is the Army" the other night at the Port theatre for 15c; it costs from $1.50 to $2.25 in regular theatres thoughout the country. Pretty good show. Like to have you see it. Only short-coming was the no-female cast, and I believe women could have lent better reality to some of the scenes. I'm beginning to get worried about my laundering, and also about holes in my socks. I can't keep up with it. And - damn it - the cleaners ruined one pair of trousers that I had sent out. Shortened the legs by an inch or two, besides doing a lousy pressing job and leaving chemical (white) stains all over it. And I can't find time to do all the laundering. I'm out of clean handkerchiefs and socks again after washing last Sunday. Better send me some more handkerchiefs (this pencil isn't worth a damn). I doubt whether I can wear those trousers now that I sent to the cleaners. They look funny. I believe if you fully realized my difficulties here you would be a bit more willing to do the laundry for me and send it by mail. The cleaners evidently don't care how they do their work. I'm actually out of several items of clean clothes right now. 2 weeks of the B. trng. are over. 4 to go. Rifle marksmanship is what I'm most worried about. Hope I can qualify. But believe I will. Excuse my irritable tone. These troubles should be ironed out though, some way or other. For instance, if those holes in my socks get any bigger, my feet will suffer on these long hikes, and I don't mean maybe. Got $5.00 money order from you and finally $5.00 telegram from Gus. It was delayed (the telegram) a full ten days. Don't know why, but they evidently held it at the downtown office all that time before notifying me. I had called for it twice the first couple days after that Sunday. You only sent one money order didn't you? Got paid the other day - a net of $12.33 from Aug. 2 to the 31 or Sept. 15 - I don't know which. They say all sorts of things about Army procedures and you often don't know which is the correct answer. Heard that "two payments (2 months) on insurance are taken out of first check" - don't know. Yes, I got the picture of the baby - and you too! It was very good. A wonderful picture. Glad you like your teaching and your pupils so much. And you can't realize how much I miss you and the baby. Laundering, polishing mess kit, cleaning rifle, making out reports - would seem to shorten the leisure hours of this Sunday quite a bit. But boy, am I doing all right as a "drill sergeant" with the trainees. My group is learning remarkably fast and they're snapping into the exectuion of commands like regular soldiers. You ought to hear me now. My orders crackle with briskness, I get a little tough if occasion demands (not necessary very often) and they seem to like it. Really though. I feel I know how's it's done if I'm not a bit bashful in showing and telling them how to do a movement. The boys seem to like me, and showing it in hundreds of little ways. But they also want to see a certain military type of authoritativeness in a corporal's tone and attitude. Excuse me for bragging about myself, but that was one of those "bright spots" we all look for. I'm a little surprised at myself, myself. You say you got $62 from the Gov't? On what date? (Since you say it was exactly on time.) that would be the 1st of Sept., wouldn't it? Boy, you're making more money than I did! Your teaching salary is swell. Hope you like the work and that the baby gets along all right. Wish you could get to town more often. How's Clella like the baby by now? Boy does it get chilly down here at night. I sleep in a tent with the sides rolled up - because I don't want to be bothered with rolling up the darn sides every morning. Sleep warm though - though the cold makes it somewhat unpleasant getting in and out of bed. Keep the flies (if they're any left after the cold spell) away from the baby. I'll be home on a pass sometime, I hope, after a month or so. Can hardly wait to see you and the baby again. Strange though how a man comes to a dull acceptance of his fate - this being separated is too bad - but we go ahead with our work and try not to think of it too often. Maybe it's a good thing they keep me so darn busy here. Forgive my irritation of the first few pages. I'll get along.
Love,
Melvin