DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 16, Jungle Corn Fail, Elephant Power

Cobbled together car in India

Cobbled together car mounted on Jeep chassis.

July 12, 1944

I received your letter of the 18th of June today and the one of the 25th yesterday and it was so hot that I was too worn out to write last night.  It hasn’t been any cooler today, but I feel more like writing tonight.

I was wondering if you would bale the hay down at the other place this time.  It’s much easier to handle that way.  Which Fenton is it that has the hay baler?

I looks like these Home Bureau meetings etc. would be too much for such a busy time of the year.

If you had some of this mosquito repellent it would keep the mosquitos away for two or three hours between each application all right, but the stuff burns a person’s skin when he’s sweaty.  Why don’t you put netting around your porch or make a net just large enough for the bed.  We have nets for our beds.  It isn’t as cool that way, but keeps out the bugs.  I never remembered the mosquitos being that bad at home.

Yes, my corn is turning brown, but it isn’t due to lack of moisture.  It is reaching mature stage, I guess.  I’ve never shucked the ears as I wanted them to mature first.  I’ve felt of them and they don’t seem to have but very few pieces on them.  It was partially under water about a week and a half ago when the water got up.

it sounds like you are busy all right with hay, wheat to cut and corn to cultivate.  I imagine Finis does have a hard time keeping up with the binder as a person can cut a lot of wheat in a day with the tractor.

It sounds like you should have some cherry pies in the future with eighteen quarts of cherries canned.  When I’m home and there is another good cherry crop, I’ll have to get Dorothy on the ball to can plenty of them so I’ll have lots of cherry pie.  Ha!

Floyd Nixon is rather lucky to be stationed at Aberdeen as an instructor and can have his wife close.  Is Dale still at home helping his Dad?

I’m not too much surprised to hear that Laura Duckels has left Ed if he still boozes as much as he used to.  She put up with it for a long time.  A lot of things and people are going to be changed by the time I get home.  It’ll be almost like coming into a strange community.

Well, I have hopes of getting to see home before another six months.  At times we hear encouraging rumors which makes a person feel awfully hopeful.  *I know that I’ve had about enough of this climate.  I hope that I can stay home the next time I come, but if I can’t I’ll enjoy the time I do spend there.

*Editor’s note:  After Dad passed away in October 1995, his army buddy Fred Bratton said in an interview, that Dad suffered repeatedly from heat related ailments.

I hope you are both well.  Don’t work too hard.  If there’s more you can do, just let part of it go because there’ll always be work to do when we’re all dead and gone.

Write when you can.

July 20, 1944

I received your letter of the 2nd.

It has been a little cooler that what it has been.  I shucked out one of the nubbins form my corn crop this evening.  The climate or soil condition or both are no good over here for raising that variety of corn.  The cob of this particular ear was about 6 inches long and had about 60 grains on it with most of them at the butt.  There might have been too much rain during pollination.  What grains there are, are beg and healthy looking.  When I get some dried out, I’ll send you a few grains.  I have one ear hanging up now.  I haven’t picked the rest of it yet.  The stalks are about dried up.  I planted it if you remember about the middle of March.

I thought maybe you would combine the wheat on the other place as you wouldn’t get to use the straw anyway.  May you can bale the straw anyway and sell it.

Dorothy sort of took a liking to the house down at Uncle George’s after she saw it.  If the new owner was on the ball and fixed things up nice, it might be a good place to rent.  If I were home now, I might consider it if the new owner made me the right kind of proposition.

I don’t see what difference it makes to Uncle George what the new owner does and the place is not longer costing him anything.

Where do Grant and Martha Wilson live now?  Things are going to sure be changed around home with places changing hands and people moving around and the older ones dying off.  By the way, I just happened to remember that Ted Dowland’s lived in the Episcopal parsonage didn’t they?

I got a V-letter from Nellie R. [Rigsbey] last week and she said that she had attended the H. B. [Home Bureau] meeting at your house and had met Dorothy for the first time.  They seemed to have made favorable on each other.  So maybe Floyd and I can renew our old acquaintance.  He’s sort of got a head start as far as family is concerned.

I answered “Sgt.” Charles Sanders’ letter a short while after I got it.  He seemed to be striped happy as he ended his letter Sgt. Charles Sanders.

I hope you’ve gotten rain by now to break the dry spell.  It’s almost time you raised a bumper corn crop.  That’s one thing we get plenty of over here.

I’m not standing the heat as good as I did last year because I’m not in as good physical condition, I guess.  It hasn’t got me down yet so I guess I’ll pull through all right.

I sure hope I don’t have to go through another hot season over here.  I feel confident  that I’ll get home by the end of this year or the first of next.

I’ll close for now.  Write often.

July 25, 1944

It sounds like you are having a hot weather too.  It certainly is hot here.  I can hardly write a letter for the sweat dripping.  I have to put a blotter under my hand.

I received your letter of July 9th yesterday.  I went to the show last night so didn’t get a chance to write then.

I suppose you have finished threshing by now.  I can remember when we used to thresh around the ring for a month.

About the Dams place, I think you should try to sell Dorothy on it in a sly way.  Let her take a look at the house on the inside.

When I got around to shucking my corn, I only found two nubbins that I could anywhere near call corn.  The rest were just cobs with no grains at all.  Only one of the two that I did shuck looked much like an ear of corn.  The other one was just a cob with a few grains on it.  I’ve come to the conclusion that this climate is not a place for raising corn.  Consequently, I don’t think I’ll settle here.  Ha!

We had a meeting this evening on the set up of a company such as ours.  You may wonder why I haven’t made any more advancement after being in the army as long as I have.  Well, you might as well forget about it as it is a rather complicated matter to go into to explain.  I’ve worked just as hard as the next person, but the cards just didn’t come out right.  I’ll be satisfied to just get back safe and sound.  As far as expecting advancement a person is just beating his head against the wall.

Editor’s note:  Dad felt overworked and underappreciated.  The fact was, he and the others in his company worked hard maintaining machines to keep things going.  Where Dad worked was called the, “World’s Largest Service Station,” in the March 8, 1945 issue of the “India-Burma Roundup.”  The picture below shows Dad’s American and Indian co-workers.  Dad talked about how, occasionally, some foreign workers unscrupulously brought old scrapped out parts to exchange for new.

Clyde's American & Indian co-workers in India

I’m most interested in getting back home to the old way of living.  It reminds me that things are events are still going on at home.  It’s been so long  since I’ve had contact with home except through letters that I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like back there.

I don’t imagine that you get much out of my letters from over here, but there really isn’t anything interesting to talk about under circumstances.  I suppose though that a word is good news and that you look forward to my letters just like I look forward to yours.

Aug. 7, 1944

I finally received some mail today.  I got your letters of the 17th and the 24th.

Boy, you aren’t the only ones having hot weather.  It’s so hot here that it just about gets me down.  I’m as near all in tonight as I’ve been in many a day.  We do get cold water to drink now and ice cream several times a week.  It sure tastes good, too.  The first we had was such a shock that it made my mouth hurt, but has sort of gotten used to it by now.  One main trouble over here is the humidity is so high that when a person sweats there is practically no evaporation and doesn’t really cool a person.  At the present, the temperature runs between 90 and a little over a hundred.

I’m supposed to get a two-week furlough beginning with Friday and maybe I’ll get a chance to recuperate if i can find a place cool enough.  There are lots of places over here in the mountains where it’s cool but it take too long to get there for such a short time.  besides it usually takes plenty of do-re-me and I have to be conservative on that.  I have two hundred dollars worth of rupees but that won’t go so far over here.  Ever since the Americans came, the prices have been hiked up.

I spent over a dollar and a half today for a meal in a restaurant in the bazaar consisting of Beef steak (tough too–must have been one of those old water buffalo) scrambled eggs–2 glasses of lemon tea and a couple of hot cakes.  It was almost more than I could eat, but I was eating not for pleasure but for sustenance.

Maybe you wonder why I got away from camp when the eats aren’t any better.  Well, I occasionally am away from the outfit at noontime and it’s a case of necessity of eating out, or doing without till supper and that isn’t so good.

I’m afraid (as you’ve probably noticed) that I won’t be able to send much more money home while I’m over here except for the allotment that you are getting at present.  Let’s see–I have went about 440 dollars counting the allotments so far.  I thought maybe I could make another rating which would help a lot, but I’ve given up hope.  Maybe I’m lucky to have what I’ve got.  Some fellows are more fortunate and got ratings last month.  You can’t say that I didn’t work hard and try.

I suppose you remember that yesterday was an anniversary and not a pleasant one either.  I’m starting on my 4th year in the army.  It sort of scares me when I think of the time a wasting and I’m just counting time and not accomplishing anything.  That is where those other young fellows back home have it over me.  May I should hand it to them for being smart enough to stay out of this mess.  If I had it to do over again, I sure would do things different and knowing what I know now, I sure wouldn’t have any guilty conscience.

It sounds like you might have had quite a time with threshing, if the machine broke down so much.  Does Kallal have a separator now?  I have the impression that he has.

That’s OK about the Dams place.  I suppose there’ll be plenty of time for that.  I would like to have a little time to sort of get readjusted before I start right out again.  It’ll be quite different at first as I’ve been in the army so long.

Maybe Dorothy and I can get us a house to live in for a while?  I’m sure that she’ll want to sort of get out to ourselves as soon as possible.  If I don’t want to rent another place maybe I can find work somewhere and farm the home place along.  I’m not going to worry about it.  What’s bothering me more now than anything is getting home.  I don’t believe I ever was so tired of one thing as I am of army life.

I was rather surprised at Susan Carter leaving her property to L. Banks.  She must have had it in for the relatives.  That sure is a lucky break for Push and Stella.

I wondered what Ed Kallal was doing now or is planning on doing?  I was wondering what Kallals would do with their big place as they are getting too old to carry on so heavy.  That’ll make a pretty good set up if Ed builds a house right on the place and lives there with the folks.  If Ed and his woman settle down and work, they should be able to do pretty good.

Well, I believe this war will be over sometime next year and then we can all settle down to the regular way of living again.  When I get back and all the other young men, the older folks can settle back and take life easier.

I don’t think that I’ll ever be interested in any world cruises.  Ha!

Goodnight, and I hope this finds you all well.

Editor’s note:  Dad was about to leave for Calcutta on furlough.  In Chapter 12, there was a picture of elephants being used in road construction.  Elephants were used as replacements for power equipment.  Below is a picture of elephants being used to shuttle railroad cars.

elepant power

Author: warturoadam77p

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

4 thoughts on “DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 16, Jungle Corn Fail, Elephant Power”

  1. You have a very inspirational and educational blog. I have a lot of respect for the valuable information that you put into it. The pictures are amazing. You are doing a great service by letting us have a nice peep into the past and it makes us appreciate how easy our lives are today. And we do owe a lot to heroes like your dad who fought for the country. The difficulties they went through speaks of their courage and determination. I will keep coming back to read more and more. Thanks so much for sharing such lovely posts with us. God bless you.

    1. I will say a humble Thank You, for I have learned much about my father and others in the CBI theatre. Reading these letters with Dad’s sentence construction, agricultural references, word choices, was just like the way he talked. I finally figured out how to pronounce that strange-named place “Myitkina,” they pronounced it “mich-i-naw.” I recalled Dad mentioning that name several times.

  2. Thanks for this; great piece. My wife lost an uncle during 1944 in Burma. Just obtained a photo of his name on the Yangon War Memorial. During the war, her grandmother used to take her to the movies and when the then-ubiquitous newsreel was shown, the old girl would yell at the footage of the Japanese, as did many of those in the audience, The air would turn blue with cuss words. The old lady would take my wife over to the Cenotaph every November 11th to see the march-pasts. Eug.

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