Letters

29 November 1943

Dearest,
Had an easy day today. Since my firing practice was completed, I stayed in the Battalion area and just did detail work of one kind and another. Took it easy and got off early. Tomorrow we start transitional fire, that is, shooting at moving targets at unknown ranges. It's an entirely new idea of training. We get all the new things in the way of training as based on experience gained from battles. I'll be working in the pits tomorrow, operating the targets. Think I'll write Gus and Margaret Brosy letters tonight. Saw a very good show last night, "Guadalcanal Diary". It was quite realistic and a very good picture of the life of a soldier. Lots of details in it had meaning to me that I wouldn't formerly had noticed, now that I've had much of the soldier's training. It was a very interesting picture. I wonder if they'll require us soldiers to stay in the Army 6 months after the end of the war. The officers here talk as if they would. At the STU. it was the other way. I don't believe they know yet anyway. I hope I'm right when I say it looks as if big things are nearing on the war fronts of the world. It's hard to even guess just what, but I believe the war is coming to its climactic phase, that is, in Europe; and we seem to have plans for the the Pacific too. Speculation for the layman is rather useless, but it's interesting to follow the day-by-day developments, for each day adds a little to the total score of final victory. How many days and how many months is impossible to determine though. Did I tell you, the officers here consider this camp to be as tough and rough as any Army camp in the whole United States, and they frankly tell us so. They say, "You won't be any pansy when you finish the infantry training course here". This talk about the Army getting all the food isn't true. Our meals at Ft. Leavenworth were culinary masterpieces, but that was a reception center with 1 1/2 rations per man because of the variable number of men there. The food here is quite plain and such things as meat, milk, butter, cereals, and oftentimes other things, are very limited. But we get enough to eat, that is, on the whole, although some meals are a little small, and the food is of the right kind; and it's simply delicious at all times because of our hypersensitive appetites (or ravenous hunger) because of the hard outdoor work. There's always vegetables and fruit, meat once or twice a day sometimes, eggs, cheese sometimes. By the way, I love pork chops, fat and all now, and jello salad is divine; but my favorite dessert, believe it or not, is chocolate pudding made with canned milk (also butterscotch pudding). Imagine it. I eat anything and like it. Fried eggs is my favorite breakfast - that and cereal with milk. If you're at the wrong end of the table the oatmeal bowl is empty by the time it reaches you. We usually have dry cereals, 8 or 9 boxes to a table seating 12. The result is a mad scramble for cereal when the order "Seats!" is given. these things probably strike you as quite strange - no? There's very little food wasted here. I oftentimes buy a little ice cream or candy after hours at night. We all do, to sort of finish off the diet with the desired dessert courses. We never have toast (too much work attached to making it), and I dream of the days when we had eggs, coffee, and deep brown, heavily buttered toast - and with jelly. How things do change. But I'll be back to make up some of those inadequately appreciated joys of living as a peacetime civilian. Other impressions of a soldier: Music has powerful effect on my feelings, when I have the occasion to hear it. It causes exuberant happiness, or deep unfathomable sadness, according to the kind of music it is. Some weeks ago, I heard a violinist formerly with a great Philharmonic orchestra (New York or Boston), at the Service Club here at camp, play Schubert's "Ava Maria". It was indescribably beautiful, and every tone seemed to be rich with sublime meaning. I believe I realize I'm not the kind to make a howling success out o military life. But I do intend to be a good soldier. I could make some progress as a non-com, with the right breaks and so forth, but the Army has a full quota of what may be called key men. I would have done better as far as advancement is concerned, in the Navy. But after all, in the final analysis, the private is just as important as the general, if not more so. The letter I wrote yesterday was rather unnecessarily "blueish" in tone. It's hard for me to write at all sometimes when I feel the wrong way, and the longer I write under such circumstances the sadder grows the letter. Perhaps you may understand that once in a while I won't write because I would rather wait until I could give a little brighter picture. At night when you're tired you're also inclined oftentimes to be a little depressed in feelings. Well, some day we will play with the baby, ride around in a sleek black car, listen to good music, eat roast beef and other good foods, go to visit the Knowltons and other good friends, and hold each other in love and respect. We are indeed fortunate to have such a wonderful child. She seems so bright and happy and pretty, and so filled with stubborn adventuresomeness.

Will close now. write.
Love, Melvin