DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Ch. 13, Midwestern Corn, Upper Assam

March 14, 1944

Clyde in India (2)Dad standing near banana tree

I received your letter of the 20th day of Feb. day before yesterday.  I went to the show last night and got wet before I got back.  It started out to be a good show, but the rain put a stop to it.  It was a picture about the underground movement in the occupied countries of Europe.  We left the hero in a mighty tough spot.  I’d like to know how it turned out.

I read about the spell of winter that you had back there in Feb.  In some parts of the country they had as much as 14 inches of snow.

Your cold storage locker should make it nice now that you can have fresh meat during the summer.  Just how much space do you have?  Is one hog all that you have room for?  About how much does it cost a year?

I had been wondering if Gene Parker had sold his motorcycle or what?  It made nice cheap transportation for him while he had it.

Yes, I suppose it’ll be tough on some of these women that have children when their husbands go into the service but no more so than others.  I know of fellows that have been in for a least a year that have three kids or more and they didn’t volunteer either.  Maybe some of these people will finally wake up to the fact that there is a war going on.

You should take the car to a garage and have the ignition system checked over good.  I have an idea that the points are pretty well-worn by now and the plugs are possibly dirty.  If you don’t do this it may quit running altogether.  If the ignition system is in good shape, it should start in cold weather the same as any other time.  If you leave it sit around and not use it, it’ll be like it was the last time I was home.  You’ll have to overhaul it before it’ll start at all.  A car is something that deteriorates faster when you let it sit in the garage for a month at a time without so much as even starting the engine.

Well, I guess I’ll close for now.  Hope you are well.  I imagine that you will be pretty busy with spring work by the time you get this.

March 19, 1944

I received your letter of the fourteenth of Feb. a couple of days ago.  It seems that some of my mail has been mixed up.  Yesterday I got a letter mailed March 7th.  this is good time in comparison to the way they generally come.  Several of the fellows have been getting their mail in a week’s time.  It seems they have speeded up the mail service.

I got a letter from Aunt Mary this last week.  She was saying that she had heard from Viola H.  and she had just heard that I was married.  I would have thought some of the folks would have told her.  Aunt Mary said that she needed to have a tooth pulled.  The teacher that boards there tried to get an appointment at the dentist’s and he told her come back in a year.  I guess they are swamped with work.

You seem to have from one extreme to the other in weather.  I read in the paper where a cold wave and storm had passed over the States.   By now thought the weather should be moderating quite a bit.

You spoke of needing moisture in the ground and water in the cisterns.  It sure is extreme to what you had for a couple of years when it was so wet.

Dorothy said that she was planning on putting in a garden this summer and doing some sewing.  As long as school is going on, she doesn’t have much time for anything.  She is taking a course in the evening out at college too, to keep up her teaching credit.

I have today off–it being Sunday.  I worked last Sunday.  I did a little washing–some socks and handkerchiefs.  I used the brush that you sent me on them.  Today isn’t a very good drying day thought and I don’t think they’ll get dry.  When the sun shines they dry fast.

There isn’t much news, so I guess I’ll close for this time.  Hope you got my cablegram.  I sent it in plenty of time for you to get it.  Hope you are well.

March 26, 1944

Here it is Sunday again, but this time it was my time to work.  I received your letter of the 12th of March day before yesterday.  Her of late some of my mail has been making much better time.

You spoke of having cold weather the first of the month but by now I imagine it is more like spring.  Here the only difference in the seasons is that it gets warmer and the rainfall increases.  Dorothy could probably tell you considerably about things like that as she has pretty well figured out.

So Kenneth Woods has been called.  By the time you get the, he should be in.  I wouldn’t doubt but what apartments are rather hard to rent now.  I wonder why Louise doesn’t live with her folds or are the old folks still living on the farm?

Yes, there are jungle flowers over here.  Orchids grow wild here and in large numbers.

Yes, we eat very well considering everything..  We get pies and cakes occasionally.  I don’t care so much for their cake, as it is generally coarse, but I like their pies.  I’ve had lots of cherry pie.  Occasionally we get apple pie made from canned (of course) apples.  A night or two ago we had raisin pie.  I’ve gotten where I’ll hardly touch Vienna sausages (a glorified name for wieners).  I’m getting tired of Spam, too but I will eat it in small amounts.  We get fresh vegetables, such as cabbage, small tomatoes, etc.  Of course most of our food is canned.  I manage to get enough to eat to hold my own.  I’m not complaining about the food because I figure that we are getting fed pretty well.  After all we aren’t home.

Editor’s note:  Cherry pie was always Dad’s favorite.  Made from fresh picked orchard cherries–especially good.  The label on Armour’s Vienna Sausages, “America’s Favorite,” sharply contrasted with Dad’s opinion of the canned meat product.  vienna sausages

Was Charles C. [Dad’s cousin] home on furlough?  You mentioned him going back to Hawaii.  From what I’ve heard about the fellows that were stationed there, they seem to like it pretty well.  One of my buddies has a brother there.

Dorothy has been talking about spending her time this summer sewing and raising a garden and canning some stuff in preparation for our home.  I thought of the idea tha if she would spend some time there with you folks this summer it might help prepare for being a farmer’s wife.  She could help and at the same time get some experience along that line.  You could give her some pointers on this and that.  I don’t know much about  canning and housekeeping, etc.   I guess she knows quite a bit about cooking and keeping house.  I thought they maybe if you and I both suggested it, she might stay awhile this summer with you.  I think that it would be good experience for her.  Don’t you?  She could find out what it’s like to be on the farm.  I would like for her to see the house down at Uncle George’s some time so that she can get an idea of the layout.  She had suggested it to me.  Maybe you could arrange that sometime?

Editor’s note:  Ironically, Uncle George’s place changed hands.  The buyer, someone named “Green.” This was our first family home, known as the “Green Farm.”

It is possible that I could get to come home this year yet for a furlough, but I’m not counting too much on it.  Once I do get back to the States again, I hope that I don’t have to go overseas the second time.  That would mean another eight months to two years or even longer.

I guess that you are rather busy now-a-days with the usual springtime jobs.  I sure would like to see how it looks back there in the spring once again.  This is the third spring now that I’ve been away from home.  I can just see the grass starting to grow and the trees budding out putting forth new leaves.

Well, I’ll have to close for this time.  Hope you all are well.

March 30, 1944

I received your letter of March 6th with the clippings.  Dorothy Simily seems to have married quite a guy.  I feel somewhat the same way he does about Alaska and if there isn’t any opportunity around home after the war, I’ve thought about going there myself.  I’ve thought of that for quite some time since it first came into the public eye.  It would be a wonderful place to do some pioneering and wouldn’t seem so bad after being where I’ve been in the last year.

Editor’s note:  I wondered if my mother ever heard about Dad’s Alaskan homesteading idea?  Or was this just a “pipe dream?”

I’ve had my wisdom teeth pulled since the first of the year.  I’m glad they are out now so they won’t cause me any more trouble.  My teeth are like they always were–no good.  I have a few that have never been filled.  If I lose many more, I’m going to have to have some fill-ins so that I can chew steaks, if I get a chance to get any.

Yes, I wear glasses practically all the time.  If I don’t my eyes become irritated and sometimes the lids swell.  I have packed my civilian glasses away in a box and I wear my GI ones all the time.  Before I came overseas they didn’t want to give me glasses because they said my eyes weren’t bad enough.  After I gave them an argument though, they finally gave them to me.  We were supposed to get an extra pair before we came over.

I was talking to a fellow last night that was telling me about his two brothers back home farming and it made me kind of homesick.  I’ll surely be glad when I can start out the spring of the year farming again.

I suppose that you are very busy now with baby chicks if you got them on the 27th.  I sure wish that I could see them.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen any.

It seems that some of the fellows are over eager to get in the service when they sell their businesses before they know they are going for sure.  By the time they’re in as long as I, they won’t be so enthusiastic.

Things seem to be pretty well in favor of the Allies at present and I hope it keeps on being so.  This war cannot end too soon to suit me.

Well, I guess I’ll close for now.  Write as often as you can.

4-2-44:  Sunday off. Planted 2 hills of corn (4 grains in each)

Editor’s note:  Springtime and planting season were the hardest for Dad.  Would midwestern seed corn thrive in  Upper Assam?  There was a long growing season and plenty of moisture.

corn seedlingCorn seedlings

April 2, 1944

I’m wondering how the weather is back there by now.  You should be feeling spring about now.  The grass should be starting to grow and the foliage should  be coming on the trees and bushes.  The days are getting pretty long now.

I finally planted some of the seed corn that you sent me last summer.  It looked all right yet.  If it sprouts all right, the weather is warm enough that it should grow right up.  I spaded a little space up among some stumps and roots.  I know there’ll be plenty of moisture and heat to encourage growth.  Everything else grows fast enough.  The main difference that I notice in the change of season now is the more rapid growth of vegetation and increase in amount of rainfall.

I got an Easter card from Dorothy yesterday.  I don’t know for sure just when it is, but someone said it is supposed to be next Sunday.  It’s pretty hard to keep track of dates like that over here without a calendar.  I made a calendar sometime ago but never got the important dates down in red.  I can keep the day of the month and the month and year straight as I use them every day.  Otherwise, I probably would be all crossed up.

I’ve been looking through some of the pictures that I have and ran across a family picture of the Horn family excepting Viola and her husband.  If you want it, you can have it.  Uncle John is standing in the center with his big bay window.

I saw a show last night.  It was a show that I had seen a long while back.  Most of the time there are shows that I haven’t seen.

Well, I’m sort of lost when I have Sunday off.  It’s a good to get away from my work for a day, but the environment is still the same.

Editor’s note:  Dad didn’t talk about work.  Keeping equipment and vehicles running kept him and coworkers busy.  In the picture below, Dad is in the front row [standing] third from the left.  Dad’s company was the 115th Ordnance Co., Medium Maintenance.  There will be more about the companies’ history later.   

Dad & co-workers in India

We had canned chicken for dinner today with peas, mashed potatoes and gravy and fruit cocktail for dessert.  Some said that we are to have fresh beef for supper.  That hits the spot about as good as anything.

I’ll close for this time.  I hope you are enjoying good health.

4-9-44:  Corn popped thru ground yesterday morning earlier.  By noon had grown quarter of inch.  Tonite it is up 2 in. and first leaves are uncurling.  Plenty of rainfall about now.  Willing to bet that stalk reaches an enormous height.

April 9, 1944

well, another Sunday almost gone and it was Easter too, by the way.  I would have gone to church today, but was on KP, so I couldn’t.  The war must go on and the boys must eat.

The mail has been slowing down this past week for some reason.  Consequently, I didn’t hear from you this week.  I had three letters from Dorothy and a card from Mr & Mrs. Jones.  They said that Wesley was not in Colorado.

I told you in my letter about planting a couple of hills of corn last Sunday.  Of the eight grains I planted, (4 in a hill) six came up (3 in a hill) yesterday morning.  I first noticed them coming through the ground.  By noon (I’ll swear) they had grown a quarter of an inch.  Today the first leaves are beginning to uncurl.  I’ll bet that it grows like wildfire over here.  It’ll probably grow about ten feet high and not have any ears on it.  Conditions here are favorable for growth as there is an abundance of rainfall and ordinarily the water doesn’t stand.  The ground is so loose that it soon soaks down and evaporates.

I’d like to stay in this location long enough to see how tall it really gets.  If it works out satisfactorily, I’ll try more.  Maybe I’ll be sending home for vegetable seeds next.  There’s no reason why a person couldn’t have a garden if he stayed long enough to get the use of it.

The soil here is of a yellowish color, but is rich in vegetable matter as it was jungle up until the time  parts of it was cleared for army camps.  I find weeds and grass similar to those we have back home.  Some may vary a little in looks but there is a resemblance.  The bamboo is new to me of course.  The trees are all strangers.  Banana trees grow abundantly and wild.  The bananas are shorter than those you buy back home, but have a rich flavor.  I think I’ve told you that orchids grow wild.

We have some pheasants close to camp.  We can hear the rooster crowing in the mornings.  I think there a bunch of hens setting close by.  They are probably feeding out of our garbage pit.  Some of the fellows the roster was fighting off a bunch of crows this morning.  The crows around here are plentiful.

We have a volleyball tournament scheduled for this week among teams picked from our own company.  Each man participating is putting up one can of his beer ration for this month and the winners take all, while the losers will have to be satisfied with what they have left of their ration.  Weather permitting, it is to start tomorrow right after chow.  It gives us diversion as well as exercise.

I guess you are putting in garden to beat the band by now.  I wonder who plows the gardens around the town there now?  Ansel Dowland used to do quite a bit of it when I was home.

Well, I guess I’ll close for this time.

April 16, 1944

Today is one of those days that a person doesn’t venture out very far.  A person is content to stay inside.

I received your letter of the 20th and your V-letter of the 27th this week.  The letter came first.  My latest from Dorothy was postmarked the 30th.  I hope by now that the weather back there has changed from winter to spring.

The corn I planted two weeks ago has gotten a good start.  It is up now to the size where if a person had a field of it, he could cultivate it nicely without covering too much of it.  I had intended to plant some more today if the weather had permitted as it is my day off, but will have to wait.

Does Tedy D. [Duckels] have anyone working for him now or does the other Duckels boys help him?  I guess Tedy had to really buckle down to it now since he has more land to take care of and no one to help much.  I guess Beulah keeps him stepping.  Ha!  I suppose the draft gives him some incentive, too.  Maybe he’s too old for that though on second thought.

I guess Peewee Keele (What a name) has quite a time.  How’s Bob K. and his family getting along?

I can’t understand quite this business of calling men off the farms while they are worrying about the manpower shortage on the farms causing a food shortage.  Why don’t they sharpen up in Washington?  They’re going to have the country so badly messed up that we’ll be better off to stay in India after the war’s over.  At least we wouldn’t have to worry about the tax collector catching up with us.

Editor’s note:  Dad was obviously frustrated with “catch-21” governmental policies.

The news in some sectors sounds pretty good.  This war certainly has turned out to be a long drawn out affair.  I don’t believe I was ever so tired of hearing so much about one thing.

I can’t understand why Robert K.’s eyes should limit his service.  He must have some pull somewhere.  Physical deficiencies like that seldom have any bearing.

I’m glad you received my birthday greetings in time.  It is hard to tell sometime just how long it’ll take for them to reach their destination.  I hope it didn’t give you a shock before you opened it to find out what it was.  I sent Dorothy some greeting too, as her birthday is this month.

We have a volleyball tournament going among teams in the company.  My team played last night and we won our fifth straight game.  We lost our first, but all the teams have been defeated once or more.  All we have to do now is to stay undefeated and  we’ll win the beer.

I went to a show last night, but was disgusted because you couldn’t hear but very little of what the actors said.  It’s like seeing a silent picture without any explanation of what’s going on.  The picture was good.  Do you go to the show anymore?

We should get our supplies tonight as they are here and there’s no show or anything.

We had creamed chicken for dinner today which was a change.  My appetite has been failing here lately.  I guess hold of some vitamin pills and see if I can’t get sharpened up a little.  I guess what I need is some good old fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, etc. like what comes off the farm.

Well, I guess I’ll say so long for this time.

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Author: warturoadam77p

65 year old married retired communications worker with three grown children, transplanted from the Midwest to the sunny Gulf Coast.

One thought on “DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Ch. 13, Midwestern Corn, Upper Assam”

  1. I agree with his dad’s opinion of Vienna sausages! The technical troops were the backbone for the ground forces – it couldn’t have been done without them.

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