Letters

14 November 1943

Dearest,
Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells, TX Postcard This is my favorite day in camp - the soldier's day. The only time we have a few hours to do what we darn please. Before I forget it, send me $10.00 (cash) by the speediest way possible. I want it before Saturday, as I may get a chance to get out of here Saturday afternoon and Sunday and go to Fort Worth perhaps. We have a night march Friday and get Saturday P.M. off. Recreation is rather scarce around here - what with rifle cleaning, and a dozen other Mineral Wells, TX Postcard duties after our regular hours. I didn't get paid this last payday and will have to wait a full extra month - because of the fact I was transferred. I'm down to a few dollars (about $2.00), but haven't been spending very heavily. Can you get it to me in a hurry. Don't telegram it, for I'd have to go to town for it and couldn't get off in time. Saw the town of Mineral Wells (Home of Crazy Water Crystals) for the first time last night. First time we were allowed to leave the camp area. Not a whole lot there. Had 2 beers. The Baker Hotel, built in 1929, is the most famous landmark of Mineral Wells, TX sporting Mineral Hot Springs that brought both the ill and the elite from around the nation. First for a month or two (it seems anyway). Brother, this camp is tough. I get along all right. But it's really almost a form of slavery here. No let-up in the constant pressure of work, drill, practice, run, hike, climb, exercise, etc. Yesterday, practiced climbing down 40 feet of rope nets off side of ship (debarkation Debarkation Exercise, Camp Wolters, TX exercises). Went through tear gas chamber twice; once with mask on and then without mask, at slow walk, to get discipline in gas conditions. Following that, we walked (without masks) through explosions of small gas charges to learn to recognize their smell. They were chloropicrin, phosgene - lung irritants - and mustard and lewisite - vesicants (burning gases). They do everything here. And the non-coms are really tough. In fact, I don't think I would have the necessary mental makeup to fill the position of many of these non-coms. They're unduly rough in their treatment and language, and I don't quite see it that way: However, don't misunderstand me; I'm getting along fine. I generally know what to do and keep pretty well out of trouble. You may not be able to realize what a hard life a soldier has - or maybe you can. Anyway, I can understand Gordon's feeling of extravagance with money when he was home in Atlantic on furlough. However, the worst is the loneliness, homesickness, and longing for loved ones, and you know that same feeling as well as I. Don't forget the $10.00. Try to get it to me by Saturday. Send it as a bill. Maybe will write O.K. a letter today. Wrote post card about a week ago. My chances of promotion in the army don't look very good now. Most of the good non-coms are overseas and positions on this side are pretty well filled up. It doesn't matter much anyway perhaps though; I'm not planning on an army career any longer than I can help it.
Love, Melvin