Well, here I am - deep in the heart of Texas. 51 miles west of Fort Worth. It's an Infantry Replacement Training Center. Got here yesterday evening. Saw plenty of different kind of country. This is the wildest, loneliest, most isolated, and most barren land I ever saw. It's warm here and the vegetation is fairly light. There's a lot of prairie grass, scrub oak and a few cacti. Right here the land has a few hills, gulches, and rocks. Most of Texas I've seen is quite flat with only a few slight slopes. Very little land in cultivation; mostly grazing land. This is one big camp; I've only seen a bare fraction of it so far. I have to take the regular course of Basic Training - 17 weeks - and I understand it's a bit rough. Quite frankly, I'm quite lonely and downhearted. I won't get a leave now I don't know when. Can't even leave the area for about 2 wks, I guess. I enjoyed the train ride down here very much - saw lots of scenery, etc. - even though the troop train was very old, dirty, and rather uncomfortable. Slept enroute overnight in a seat with my legs crossed and propped up in the window. I thought Ft. Leavenworth was big, but to this it was only a pipsqueak. It strikes me thought that there's more of an air of impartiality and fairness down here, and for that reason I may like it better when I get used to it. Well, there's little more to say right now. Keep your chin up and we'll be through with this war someday. I'll be seeing you.
P.S. Write soon. Am enclosing a recent letter from O.K. that I thought would interest you. MJ
23 October 1943
(A letter from Orville Knowlton "O.K." to Melvin)
It's 930 P.M. and I'm having a good cup of coffee before going to bed. I still can't look a cup of coffee in the face without wondering how a certain other coffee fiend is getting along. So instead of just wondering, I'm going to write and find out for myself. I'll bet you are getting to be quite the soldier by now. Pen and Hackett, the ape in the top of the tree when you first did the county a good turn by coming here, is in the army! He was sent from this county as he registered here. I believe his wife is nursing in D.M. someplace. He was in the Receiving Section when he became a Rookie for his dear old Uncle Sam. Esther Artist says R.E.H. will soon be there too. So you'll have plenty of good company. We have just recently been placed in a new administrative district of 9 counties. 3 counties each way. Harrison, Manons and Woodbury on the west. Esther Artist has both Supervision and Child Welfare - Jane Ham Crook (and boy she's both) has the 9 counties south of us - glad to be rid of the "Crooked Ham". Esther seems to be genuinely interested in helping wherever she can. Of course, she plays her cards very cautiously, revealing such information which in her opinion I already know. Loty's sister Eleanor, is still a very sick woman, being either in or near the hospital for about twelve weeks now. It seems every so often an abcess forms internally and they have to drain it off. That means an operation and she's had plenty - those abcesses are still forming the last we heard. Haven't heard from your family for some time, but I suppose she will write before long soon she gets around to it. Wish we could see you when you have your next leave, but your leave will probably be so short you will have only time to see your family. If you had the old car now, it would be much more simple to visit. If you can't find a way down, we will try and make it for a half-day or so. However, we wouldn't want to interrupt any plans you and Dorothy have - shall I bring Art Noxon along just in case we do come? Maybe our mutual friend DeHart will be anxious to seek your advice also???X! Grandma has been ailing with arthritic wrists and hands, altho she is some better now. She sends her regards and best wishes. Well, old top, here's mud in your eye; I'm on my third cup of coffee, and the pot's empty. Can't write any more on an empty pot!
Orville and family