BONDS OF BROTHERHOOD

U 2 spy plane

Four Air Force buddies and their families sat together at a popular local family style restaurant.  The wait staff milled about with drink and food orders.

The mood was light with lots of laughter.  We weren’t the same brash young men we once were.  The camaraderie was unmistakable.

“That’s a new one–I’ve never seen an opossum on a leash before,” Ken said about our trip to a local zoo.

“Could you imagine someone walking an opossum on a leash in a big city like Chicago?”  Joe asked.

“People are so jaded, they wouldn’t even notice,” I answered.

“That alligator weighed close to a thousand pounds,” George said. “Nobody’s going to walk it on a leash.”

“With all the beautiful beach babes–today, I saw a naked beach guy,”  Ken complained.  “Who wants to see that?”  Everybody laughed.

A thin, older man stood at the end of our table.  As I later learned–his name was Vernon.

“Are you folks on vacation?  Vernon asked.

“Yes, we get together every few years, I answered.  We served together overseas.”

Vernon wasn’t there to eavesdrop.  I sensed there weren’t many opportunities for him to talk about past military experiences.  He’d probably said good-bye many times–friends left, never came back.

“Where did you guys get those gray Air Force caps?”  Vernon asked.

“Joe visited the Air Force aviation museum recently and bought them for us,”  I answered.

“I’d like to have one.  Did you by chance see the U2 reconnaissance plane displayed at the museum?”  Vernon asked.

“No, I haven’t had the chance to visit.  I plan to some day,” I replied.

“I served during the Korean and Vietnam wars,” Vernon said.  “I wasn’t in combat–worked on photographic equipment in spy planes. The U2 was unlike any other aircraft.  It had quite a broad wing span.”

The gleam in Vernon’s eyes faded.  “He’d buried two wives since he moved to Pensacola.”  Gloom didn’t stay around long.

“That’s my 94-year-old girlfriend sitting over there,”  Vernon’s eyes twinkled.  “Ain’t she a looker?”

We all wanted to be like Vernon–gracious, tough, still making good memories.  If we were lucky enough to live that long?

“Would you like Joe to send you an Air Force cap?  Joe’s niece offered.  “What’s your name and address?”

Vernon gave his name and address.  “I really enjoyed talking to you guys,” He said.

“If you don’t mind a slightly used cap–you can have mine,” Joe offered.

“Let me pay you for it,” Vernon said.

“No, I want you to have it,”  Joe answered.  “I can always get another one.  You don’t owe me a thing.”

We traded military experiences and listened to Vernon.  Like any good friend would do–Vernon invited us to visit.

A chain of brotherhood stretched from the Korean War to the first Gulf War.  We’d served our country proudly in time of need.

A MEMORIAL DAY SALUTE

A Memorial Day salute to those that served–and to those that currently serve in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
We did our duty when called upon.

In my own experience–it wasn’t always without complaint. Truth shouldn’t be embellished, hidden, or ignored. War is playing for keeps. There are lasting scars–not all of them visible.

In humble remembrance, these mementos are of veteran family members from WWII and the Vietnam era.

dad's cousin
Dad’s cousin, MIA after the Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The Indianapolis delivered components for the atomic bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

dad wwii
My Dad with his “Deuce and a half” WWII truck on maneuvers in the California desert. If you look closely, there’s a lizard on the truck’s fender. Perhaps Dad adopted a new mascot?  Dad served overseas in China, India, and Burma.

uncle wwii
My Uncle Harvey US Navy WWII veteran, served in the Pacific Theater. My mother and Uncle Harvey had a close relationship, since they were the youngest members of the family.

my usaf picture
A picture of yours truly in my USAF uniform. I served during the Vietnam era.  I didn’t do anything special–served in the 322 CSG, Rhein Main AB, Germany.  To those that didn’t get a proper welcome–Welcome Back!

 

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 24, Home’s Where the Heart Is, Post War Reflections

  • Editor’s note:  Cynical GI’s claimed “C.B.I.” [China-India-Burma] stood for “Confusion Beyond Imagination.”  My father headed home, further indignities didn’t matter.  The army became a blurred memory–the incredibly inedible rations, long duty hours, KP and guard duty.  Dad’s thoughts about his letters, “I know my letters make dull reading other than knowing that I’m alive and still kicking.”  He probably wouldn’t want his letters published.  These stacks of old letters represented thousands of “Pismo Petes,” “Harry Grants,” others with families that worried, prayed for good news–members of the “greatest generation.”

History of 115th Ordnance (Medium Maintenance) Company

History of Dad's Company 1

  • Questions:  I wondered if Dad [like myself] had recurring dreams of being back in the military?  Was the story about my father taking a Jeep from the motor pool to a picture show, and it being stolen, true?  There was no corroborating evidence.  Had he hitchhiked and taken a wild eighty mile per hour ride, from Chicago, in a Chrysler Airflow down Route 66?  That could have been true, since Dad was inducted at Ft. Sheridan, near Chicago.

Honorable discharge record 1945Dad’s discharge record

  • Questions answered:  The return trip took twenty-eight days compared to forty-one days for the trip over.  Dad arrived stateside June 22, 1945.  He was officially discharged at Ft. Custer, Michigan [near Battle Creek] on Oct. 1, 1945.  More questions–medical records showed Yellow Fever contracted in March 5, 1942–a year before overseas deployment?  Mom was five-foot two.  Dad was five-foot three?  …Records center screwups?  What happened to Dad’s campaign ribbons?  Fred Bratton, Dad’s army buddy, made several visits during my childhood.  When my mother passed away in 1986, Dad sought the company of his old army buddy.

Clyde at Chesterfield after war 1945Dad, at home, summer 1945

Clyde & Dorothy Adam at Chesterfield in 1945 after war.Mom & Dad at ChesterfieldFred Bratton & Clyde Adam stateside in 1945Dad and Fred Bratton stateside

  • Favorite pictures:  The pictures reprised below, captured the essence of my father.  The picture of Dad with an adopted dog mascot.  My father looked contented in the picture with his truck.  He was a stickler for proper maintenance of vehicles and machinery.  He wouldn’t accept excuses or shortcuts.

Clyde & dog in India

Clyde near his truck.

  • Similarities & Contrasts:  I had more in common with my father than I realized.  My opinions of military life were the same.  I shared his feelings of being left behind, while the world at home went on.  We served just about the same amount of time overseas.  That’s where the similarity ended.  I can never hope to understand what it was like–living in tents and bamboo huts in wartime Burma and India.
  • Man of his word:  My father was a man of his word in all aspects of life.  I can now, understand more fully, Dad’s refusal to join family camping outings–not even for picnics.  His response, “I camped more than I cared to in the Army.”  
  • Mementos: tucked away in the pages of his diary.  A souvenir inscribed Chinese 10 Yuan bank-note [mentioned in Chapter 22].  Some Japanese occupation paper currency.  A newspaper clipping announced his marriage.  The names and addresses listed below.

Claude A. Kinzel
Rt. #3
Long Prairie, Minn.

Harry Grant
825 2nd Ave. No.
9th St.
Staples, Minn.

Wm. Starr
126 Clarensdale Ave.
Youngstown, Ohio

Willard H. Wagner
167 Halstead St.
Harvey, Ill.

Kenneth Schwittan
3412 N. 10th St.
Milwaukee, Wisc.

Wedding Photo 11.14.1942From the Springfield, IL “State Journal Register

Carlinville, May 6, ’43–Mrs. Nancy Clark is announcing the marriage of her daughter, Dorothy, to Pvt. Clyde F. Adam, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Adam of Chesterfield.  The ceremony was performed Nov. 14, 1942, at Palmyra, Mo., by Rev. C. Dorris.

Mrs. Adam is a graduate of Blackburn College and for the last three years has taught Albany school near Chesterfield.  At present she is employed by Owens-Illinois glass Co. at Alton.

Private Adam was engaged in farming before entering the armed forces.  He is now serving overseas.   

Japanese Occupation Money (Front)Japanese occupation currency [front]Japanese Occupation Money (Back)Japanese currency [back]Noumea, New Caledonia visited by Clyde Adam en route to India 1943Picture of New Caledonia [port of call not mentioned in letters]

WWII Poem, clipped from “Illinois State Journal-Register” 

img018

In Remembrance:  Chesterfield, Illinois, population 300, was barely a spot on the map.  This little town with a big heart gave its finest young men and women–four, listed below, made the ultimate sacrifice.  Here’s a list of names inscribed on the veteran’s memorial in front of the Chesterfield United Church.

–John K. Flowers–Robert Jacoby–Leonard Stone–Earl J. Wheeler– 

img017From 12-1-1946 Veteran’s Memorial Dedication

“In memory and in honor of these eighty-three citizens of this community, who served the nation in the armed forces of the United States of America, the Daughters of Dorcas Sunday School Class of the United Church, solicited the willing support of the entire community for the purchase of the two white marble benches, which now and forever, shall stand on the church grounds, eternal symbols of the gratitude and high honor in which these names are held”  

  • Names mentioned in letters:  John K. Flowers, Harvey Crowder, Ansel Dowland, Wendell Dowland, Theodore Hall, Harold Huyear, Floyd Nixon, Eugene [Gene] Parker, *George Parker, Esther Parker, Armin Rigsbey, Leo M. Rigsbey, Russell Scott, Albert Wilson, Kenneth Woods
  • Afterthoughts:  The black tapestries embroidered with silver thread, a silver bracelet, souvenirs from a strange-named place called the Taj Mahal didn’t mean anything to me when I found them in Mom’s cedar chest.  They were mere curiosities to a young boy meddling where he had no business.  Now, they represent treasured memories from almost seventy years ago.
  • Memories of “greatest generation” WWII veterans will fade away–if we let them.  We all know what happened in WWII.  The enemies were defeated, the world was made safer.  It’s important to remember why.  I set out to tell the story of one soldier’s contribution to the war effort in jungles of India and Burma.  I’ve gained a new appreciation for his sacrifices made in service to our country.
  • Acknowledgements:  George F. Adam Sr., brother, for access to pictures, documents from Adam family archives.  Ray Parker, hometown friend, [son of *George Parker], for newspaper clipping with poem, veterans memorial information.
  • Other Favorite WWII Blogs:  notsofancynancy–father’s war experiences told from letters home, No. 23 Squadron–about an RAF Mosquito squadron, “Greatest generation” Life Lessons–story of an ordinary family trying to live ordinary lives during an extraordinary time frame…, Pacificparatrooper–Pacific war era information     

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 23, Roosevelt Era Ends, V-E Day

fdr's death

April 15, 1945

I’ll answer your letter of March 25th now. Today was another Sunday with the afternoon off.

It was too bad about the death of Pres. Roosevelt. Truman has quite a job ahead of him, now. I sure hope he’s capable of doing the job.

I haven’t learned much about typing. There’s a lot of difference typing out an address and typing a whole letter. Dorothy knows how to type though, and if the necessity ever calls for it, she can do my typing.

I wouldn’t mind taking a short course on farming after I get out of the army and before I start farming. I could do that in the winter when I couldn’t do anything else. I could work and earn a little as long as I could, if I’m free during the summer and fall months.

I’m afraid that the 300 dollars I get when I’m discharged, won’t do much more than buy my clothes as I’ll have to have a complete outfit. Then, too, I’ll have to convert my insurance which will probably take some time. I think I’ll have it changed to 20 year pay and then the money would come about right for the kid’s education, if there are any.

I sure want to stay in the States when I get there, and I intend to do everything I can to get to stay.

Right around here I haven’t noticed many flowers yet. things were torn up so bad, that if there were any tame flowers, they wouldn’t be here now. Wild orchids grow in some regions around here.

I’m glad you got the birthday present in time since I sent money to Dorothy to have her get you something and it just got there a few days ahead of time. Sixty isn’t so old nowadays if a person takes care of himself.

By the time you get this letter, I think the war in Germany will be over. That should make quite a difference in everything. Maybe by the time I get home, things will be sort of loosened up back there.

Well, that’s about all for this time, I guess. Everything is fine over here, except the heat.

April 21, 1945

I received your letter of the 2nd a day or two ago, but I waited until my regular time to write.

Tonight is the kind of night when a person is glad he has a roof over his head. Otherwise he’d get rather wet.

I wonder if you are still having rains? If not, I imagine everybody is busy with gardens and getting ready for corn. It’s hard for me to realize that another planting time has rolled around. I sure hope that by next year this time I’m home for corn planting or nearby.

I guess I’ll get to see the crop this year anyway, even though I won’t get to see it put in. Maybe I’ll be there in time to run a cultivator a time or two. I want to eat some of that fried chicken. If you have any strawberries, put a few away in the locker so I can get a taste of them.

I’m sorry to hear about Mr. Sawtell. He was getting pretty well along in years, I guess. There have sure been a lot of deaths around Chesterfield since I’ve been overseas.tree grows in bklynI’m glad that you two get out once in a while and see a show. I’d think you could go a little more often as you haven’t so many responsibilities now. I saw “Meet Me in St. Louis” over here a while back. It was a fairly good show. I want you to go see the show, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” because it’s very good. I read the book around Christmas and then saw the show about a month ago.

Uncle George and Aunt Minnie are pretty spry yet, I guess, if they still go to the show. I guess the “kids” take them. I don’t imagine that Greene or the other fellow living on the Gahr place, cares much about them carrying off stuff either, after giving up possession. It wold take a lot of nerve, looks to me like, for anyone to try to do that.

meet me in stl

If Uncle Val [Gahr] and Dowland haven’t any money now to pay for feed, they never will. They should have it now, if ever.

I’ll bet things are pretty around there now.

Bill Dams didn’t stay overseas very long, it seems like, but I guess he saw plenty of action while he was there.

I’ll close for this time. Hope you are well.

April 29, 1945

I have your letters of the 8th and 15th to answer tonight as they both came since I wrote you last.

I’ll keep writing you letters as long as I can, but I don’t think there’s any need for you to write me anymore as I more than likely will no longer be at this address when you get this letter. Now, don’t get excited about my coming home, as I don’t think I’ll be there before the last of June or the first part of July.

There sure have been lots of rumors coming over the air today, but so far most of them have proved to not have any foundation. The first thing this morning, we heard that Germany had surrendered and later found that they hadn’t, but had only asked for it. I don’t suppose it’ll be long, though, before they’ll actually be out of the picture, whether they ask for peace or not. There isn’t much left of Germany anymore that the Allies haven’t run over.

I was out to see Russell Scott this afternoon. I told that it would likely be the last time I’d see him for a while.

I’m surprised that you didn’t butcher any pork this year. It’s been a long time since you’ve never butchered a hog during the winter, hasn’t it?

There sure have been a lot of deaths around Chesterfield lately. I sure was surprised to hear of the death of Florence Reesor, as she was so young. Gertrude is going to be tied down now with those three kids.

So Clarence Dowland and Hazel finally got married. They sure waited a long time.

I hardly recognized Harold Huyear in the picture you sent me. I suppose after four years, one forgets faces that he wasn’t too familiar with. There’ll probably be a lot of people around home that I won’t know. Especially the kids that have grown up will be strangers.

I’m over the cold and sore throat OK now. I’m going to be awfully bad off if they can keep me from coming home.

It looks like Uncle Pete is having his share of tough luck now. He’s going to have a tough time of it this summer with no man if he’s still trying to farm the Wooley place.

May 13, 1945

Here it is another Mother’s Day in India. I believe it makes about the third one over here.

I’m sure sweating it out here as the weather is sure hot. I’m waiting for (censored).

I should be back in the States by sometime in (July). It’ll probably be hot back there too by then.

Well, now that the war in Europe is over, things should loosen up a bit back there in the States.

VE DayHeadlines announced V-E Day

Some of the luckier ones will get discharged, bit I guess I’ll be stuck for the duration. If I’d been in a combat outfit, I’d probably be getting out of the army by now.

I hope you have plenty of fryers as I’m going to want plenty of fried chicken.

I’m going to be plenty hungry as it’s too hot to eat here and I’ll lose weight.

I hope to be seeing you before too long.

Editor’s note:  That was Dad’s last overseas letter.  Exact details of his departure weren’t available.  Would things go according to plan?  After being away from home for so long, a little more inconvenience wouldn’t be a big deal.  Return transportation took time–probably less time than the trip over.  There’s more to come in the concluding chapter.

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 22, World’s Largest Service Station, Ledo Road

The American GI is really fighting, because he wants to get his job done and get back home 

–Gen. Joseph Stillwell–

As you were having warm weather in March you should be having real nice weather now in April.  You are probably really busy hauling manure and probably plowing by the time this letter reaches you.

I’m glad to hear the cattle are doing so good. Maybe you’ll make a little money on them this time.

Uncle Pete will have a time this year, if he doesn’t find a man.  Olin Trill [Uncle Pete’s bro.-in-law?] can be forced to come back to the farm, though, can’t he?  I thought agricultural workers were frozen for the duration.  Of course, if Uncle Pete released him in the fall it might make a difference.

I’m glad to hear that you were able to get the car fixed up in fair condition.  How’s the condition of the motor?  Does it use much oil yet?

If you had the tractor fixed up last year, it shouldn’t give you too much trouble this year as you won’t use it only half as much.  Do you still have trouble with the gear on the steering working loose?  I don’t suppose it gets as bad now, since it’s on rubber tires.

tractor on steelVintage 1936 Case tractor on steel wheels

It’s a good thing we got you convinced that rubber was the best on the tractor before I got in the army.  Otherwise, it would have been much harder to operate and would have cost some more to operate and repair.  Someday, I hope to have all my farm equipment mounted on rubber.  The main thing to make the tires last longer, is to keep them properly inflated.  Don’t run them too low, because they puncture more easily and also weaken the side walls.  It isn’t even good for them to sit flat.

Editor’s note:  These words spoken like a true mechanic.  When Dad later farmed, he did most of his own repairs–with the exception of welding.  He passed along knowledge of basic maintenance to me and my brothers.  Only one of us turned out to be a good mechanic.

It doesn’t look like I’ll get home before June at the soonest.  I was hoping that I could get home in May.  I sure hope that when I do get home, I won’t have to come back overseas anymore.  I guess I’ll sure find out what I’ll have to do when I get back to the states.

I guess I’ll have to get one of those loans when I get out of the army and set up for myself.  I might as well set up good at the start, and then I can benefit from the few good years that’ll follow the war.  It’ll be my only chance to get off to a good start.

Well,, I’ve about run down for this time.  Don’t work too hard.  Do what you can and let the rest go.

I’m feeling fine.  The heat is getting bad, but I’m looking forward to getting out of here.

PS:  I cancelled the 20 dollar allotment coming to you this month, so you won’t get it next month.  I did that because when I get back to the States, I’ll lose that much in pay.  I’ll need the rest to get by on as I want Dorothy to stay near me as long as I’m in the States.  Instead of getting $97.50 minus allotments, as I am now, I’ll only get $81.90 minus allotments, because of the 20% overseas pay.  I should have between 6 & 700 dollars by this time.  That should help some day.

cbi roundupEditor’s note:  The GI newspaper was now the “India–Burma Theater Roundup.”  Soldiers in China had “The Lantern”  The following is transcribed from the March 8, 1945 edition of the “India-Burma Theater Roundup.”  It described where my Dad worked.

World’s Largest Service Station Operates Along Ledo Road

Today, the world’s most unusual and largest super-service station operates along the Ledo Road,  American-built highway between India and Burma.

No neon lights or brightly colored signs clamor for patronage nor do white-coated attendants hover about.  Rude, bulldozered driveways lead to this jungle garage squatting in the shadows of the Patkai hills of upper Assam, where open-sided bamboo sheds house an impressive array of both modern and ingeniously improvised automotive equipment.

img015

Beneath these tall shelter, roofed with Jeng leaves from the nearby wilderness, sweating, coverall-clad American soldiers and Indian workers are keeping a never-ending stream of Uncle Sam’s trucks rolling to the Burma front with vital war supplies.

Nowhere else does the Army run a localized maintenance system on such a large-scale.  It is, in fact, an innovation, an example of American initiative and resourcefulness, resulting from exceptional circumstances and conditions.  It grew out of a need to lick, and to lick immediately, a motor maintenance problem which is the hardest, toughest, most heart breaking in the world.

Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Pick, Base Commander, and himself a producer of miracles, called upon his Ordnance Officer to produce a maintenance miracle.  Lt. Col. A. A. Kaufman, a hard-hitting Texan, knew what the General meant.  A firm believer in the Army’s time-tried “echelon” system of maintenance, he swiftly set about making work under almost unbelievable conditions.

Kaufman planned something similar to a mass-production assembly line whereby each vehicle could enter a shop, roadworn and dirty, and emerge completely washed, checked serviced, and repaired.  The normal maintenance personnel and tools of all truck companies would be pooled.  Indian mechanics and laborers would be employed as needed.  Every branch of the Army would be called upon to furnish the best of equipment that could be used.

With whole-hearted cooperation of Col J. A. Stewart, Chief of Transportation, the plan was quickly approved.  On Gen. Pick’s order, the Engineers started clearing the jungles, and Transportation Service Shop No. 1 was officially born.

Covering an area of between four and five jungle-cleared acres, this shop consists of a series of bamboo structures set in a square pattern around a parking lot, which is capable of holding 300 trucks.  Designed to support a vehicle population of 1,000, it can, on a 20-hour operational basis clear up to 300 vehicles.

It is operated by 110 Army soldiers, 140 Indian mechanics and laborers, and a transportation Service staff of five officers, headed by Major R. J. Keefer.  An Ordnance Warrant Officer, Motor Specialist, and an Ordnance Sergeant give technical advice and assistance.

Every effort is made to finish a repair job on the same day it enters the shop, with a driver on call at all times to deliver the vehicle to the proper organization.

The shop has its own supply room, and once parts stockage is maintained, where there might otherwise be 16 or 20 in separate companies, 16 or 20 parts clerks tied up, 16 or 20 supply vehicles going to and from the Ordnance Depot.

Success of the project, the result of foresight, improvisation, and cooperation among all branches concerned, is proved.  While many other factors contributed, it can be fairly stated that Transportation Service Shop No. 1 was largely responsible for (1) reducing vehicle deadline in this area 83%; (2) increasing by almost 100% the average vehicle life-time, thus enabling hundreds of vehicles to continue operation at a time when they are vitally needed and, (3) conserving costly replacement parts.

by S/Sgt. I. M. Sohureman and Sgt. C. M. Buchanan, Roundup Field Correspondents

Dad & co-workers in IndiaDad, at duty section, front row, right

ledo road

making a roadConstructing Ledo road through mountainsfirst convoy ledo roadFirst Ledo road convoy Jan. 28, 1945commemoration 1st convoyFirst convoy commemorative marker in English & Chinese

Editor’s note:  The following from the Feb. 8, 1945 issue of the “India-Burma Theater Roundup.”

STATISTICS OF WAR DEPARTMENT SHOW LEDO ROAD TOUGHEST JOB

Washington (ANS)  The War Department this week backed up with statistics the proud boasts of G. I.’s who built the Ledo road that theirs was “the toughest road construction job ever undertaken.” 

In an official release, the following facts about the road were disclosed:  the 478 mile highway was built at a rate of about one mile per day through some of the worst jungle in the world and over 4,000-foot mountain passes.  During one seven-month period, 175 inches of rain fell to hamper the work.  By comparison, Eastern states of the U. S. average less that 45 inches per year.

Approximately 70 acres of airstrips were built at points near the Ledo road.  The road’s builders moved a total of 13,500,000 cubic yards of earth–it would take a string of railroad cars 470 miles long to transport the 1,303,000 cubic yards of gravel spread on the road.  To top it off, there’s an average of one bridge to every three miles of the road.  So, take a well deserved bow, boys.   

Editor’s note:  Road building was a cooperative effort of American, Chinese, and Indian workers.  Chinese soldiers fought alongside Americans to drive the Japanese out of Burma.  The following is a souvenir Chinese 10 Yuan bank-note with an inscription [front and back], found among Dad’s effects.  The inscription written by a Chinese Lieutenant:  “[Back] Have you hear [heard] the Victory Voice of China?  Help China some more!”  “[Front] We advance side by side and gloriously occupe Japs capital–Tokio!  Victory for you!  Souvenir from Chinese Army in India 2nd Tank Bn. Lt. Yuan.”     

Message on Money (Front)

Message on Money (Back)

 

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 21, Spring, Friends From Home

March 4, 1945

Here it is March and usually back there this time of the year a person on the farm thinks of farm work.  I wonder if your winter weather has let up?  This is the month usually for lots of wind.  Over here the days are getting where a person doesn’t need any blankets.  The flowers are beginning to bloom.  The vegetation seems to be coming out of its winter dormant stage.  Even though it’s green all winter, the vegetation doesn’t grow much, although the native to grow vegetables, etc.

This is my morning off and I had to work this afternoon.  Things were kind of slow though, and there wasn’t so much to do.  Last Sunday afternoon, Russell Scott came over and we had quite a visit talking over our experience in the army and of old times.  He lacks almost a year having been overseas as long as I.  He is a medic attached to another outfit–in other words he’s on D. S.

I received your letter of Feb 12th the first of the week shortly after your letter of the week before.

You’re sure having quite a time moving chicken houses and fences for your chickens.  I can’t see why you don’t slow on the chicken raising.  I think you’ve raised your share and it’s about time you took things easier.Dad’ll probably have about all he’ll want to do to keep the place going.

Forty dollars for 30 hens is a fairly good price.  I can remember when an old hen wouldn’t bring a dollar.

raising chickensRaising chickens

I’m surprised that Olin G. [Gahr] has lost interest in the farm.  I thought he bought a small place out there near the home place.  I understand he’s running a tavern now.  I guess a person can make money at that racket if he has the right location.  I’m a little doubtful about that now, though.

What did Gov. Green have to say about the returning veterans?  I sort of doubt though, if we can get ahead of those that have stayed behind as they’ve gotten their start during prosperity.

I would like to take a short course of schooling on modern farming methods the winter before I go into farming in the spring, if possible, and it doesn’t cut too deep into our savings.

It looks like the Government is going to make it possible for a returning veteran to borrow money at a reasonable rate of interest.  I’ll have to borrow some probably to get set up.  A person is going to have to get off to a speedy start in order to reap some of the profits before hard times come again

Dorothy and I can furnish our home pretty good, I think.  I don’t know, but I think the war will be over by the end of next year.  Of course it depends on a lot of things on how much longer I’ll have to stay in the army.

I’m doing all right with the exception of a cold right now.  I’ve put on weight during the cool season.  I don’t know how long it’ll last thought in the hot season.  Write.

March 9, 1945

Here it is already well into March.  Spring is just around the corner.  I’ll bet the farmers are beginning to think of their spring work.  the weather is changing here too in respect to heat.

Yes, in Feb, it was a little early to think of putting in an early garden.  The trees in the orchard must be getting rather few and far between, unless you’ve set out some new stock.  Is your berry patch still in existence?

I wish I could see the cattle before they’re sold, but that’s impossible this time.  Why don’t you take a picture of them and send it to me?

You seem to be doing pretty good with your hens.  They must be bringing in between two and three dollars a day.  Of course the feed has to come out of that.  A person doesn’t notice the feed so much when it comes off the farm, but if you buy it, it eats pretty heavy into the profits.

Russell Scott’s address would have helped out a lot, if I hadn’t already seen him.  I’ll have to go see him or I may not get the chance again.

There just doesn’t seem much to write about tonight and I’m rather tired, so I’ll close for this time.

I sure hope to hear something about coming home before long.

Oh yes, I got a letter from Mrs. Kallal yesterday.

March 18, 1945

I didn’t get a letter from you this week.  I had four or five from Dorothy.  From what she said, you were still having winter weather the last part of February.

I had a letter from Wendell Dowland and he’s in England.  He seemed to be seeing the sights and enjoying his stay there.

He wanted to know if I’d been there.  I guess he doesn’t know that I missed that a long ways.

I guess by now, you’re beginning to get the spring fever, as surely as the weather had gotten milder.  Here it is the latter half of March already.  You’ve sure had a tough winter this year.  According to tradition, there should be good crops this year.

spring flowersSpring flowers

I guess, unless it’s rained by now, there’s sort of a water shortage.  My buddy, Fred B. [Bratton] said that his home town (Arthur, IL) was having a water shortage and were thinking of digging a new well.

The weather is getting warmer here.  The days are getting hotter and the nights are getting warmer.  There still isn’t any rain, except a few occasional showers.  We sure managed to get where there was a long dry season this time.  It’s the longest we’ve been dry since we’ve been over here in Asia.  Some of these days though, it’ll start raining though, I guess.  I’m hoping to get out of here before much of that.

I’m figuring on getting home in 2 or 3 months.  I don’t know for sure, but I think I will.  I’ve been over here over two years now.

Things are going about the same here.  I hope they are the same back there.  Write.

March 19, 1945

I wrote a letter last night, but since I got yours today, I’ll write another tonight.

It sounds like you did pretty good on your clover crop last year.  You must have cleaned up somewhere, if you had to pay that much income tax.  Taxes are awfully high now I guess.  I guess the sale was what made your taxes so high this time.

How are you making out on the payments on the place now?  You must have it whittled down considerably by now.  You should do fairly good on the cattle this time as you had all that corn from the other place that you otherwise wold have had to buy.

One good thing , you won’t have so much to worry about this year with the other place out of the way.  You’ll still have plenty to keep yo busy, though.  Not having any hay will help out.  Although you won’t have any to feed next winter, unless you have plenty left over from last year.

You sure won’t have much corn this time.  It’ll make a lot of difference in the corn crib, too, unless you have a good yield to make up for the acreage.  Why don’t you sow a few acres of sorghum to help fill the silo?  You could get a lot more tonnage to the acre or you cold get a special corn silo.

I’m figuring on getting home sometime this summer to look around and see how things are going.  It’s about time I was getting back.  Looks like as it was 26 months ago today since I set foot on US soil.  I hope that I can get back before it gets too hot back there and here both.  It’s already getting hot here.

How’s the old car running?  Is it still in running order?  How are the tires holding up?  I suppose that you could get more if you needed them.  Dorothy got three and has another on order at the ration board.  I’ll probably be wanting to drive it some when I get my furlough.  It’s going to be a little hard to get enough gasoline, I guess, as I hear they give only a gallon a day to soldiers on leave.  That wouldn’t be enough to make a trip a day to Carlinville and back.  Maybe you’ll have some you haven’t used by then?  Ha!

Well, that’s about all for this time.  I’m feeling fine except it’s getting too hot.

March 26, 1945

Today I had KP and that’s over again for another couple of weeks I hope.  I had planned on going to see Russell Scott yesterday afternoon as I had off, but I couldn’t get the transportation.  It’s too far to hitch–hike in half a day.

I received your letter of March 4th a few days ago.  No, I guess it doesn’t make much difference whether I send my letters free or air mail.  A person might as well send them free and save the six cents.

I guess by now, you are beginning to have spring weather as it’s getting toward the last of March.  By the time you get this, the leaves should begin to come out on the trees as I believe they do in April.  I sure hope I get home in May, as that’s always a pretty month.  Everything is always green and the weather is nice.

So you are bothered with a stiff neck, too?  I get one, too, once in a while.  The climate over here gives a person colds and such.  I’ll be glad to get out of here.  A person doesn’t get the right kind of foods either.  There’s plenty of starches, but not enough variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.  We haven’t had other than fresh fruit for a long while.  I traded some cookies out of my PX ration once for four eggs and one was spoiled.  They’ve  gotten where they won’t accept anything in exchange, but cigarettes or money and they want a preposterous price.  The trouble is some guys will pay it and then they always expect it.  Consequently, I just do without.

I and another fellow visited a native village yesterday afternoon, and the natives were friendly.  They gave us a cup of tea and the head man showed us some pictures of his family.  We couldn’t converse with them as we couldn’t understand each other’s language.  He understood only a few words of English and we didn’t understand any Shan.  Their homes are made of woven bamboo and grass.  They moved out there in these places during the invasion.  They had bomb shelters to go to during the bombing.  I was all very primitive the way they live.

It makes a person appreciate the US after seeing how these people still live like they did 2,000 years ago.  As long as they don’t know any better, I guess they are contented.  In a way, they are more satisfied with life than the average American.  He sure can’t get as much out of life, though, living that way year in and year out.  There’s never any chance for betterment.  Someday, I suppose, they’ll improve as the world grows smaller and communication improves.

April 1, 1945

Here it is the fourth Easter away from home.  I wonder how the weather is back there?  It’s hot here.  I had intended on going to church this morning, but I have a sore throat and don’t feel like eating all that dust coming and going.  I can’t seem to rid myself of colds.  For a while, I wasn’t bothered with them.  My resistance must be down.  It looks like I’ll lose the weight I gained during cool weather before I get home.  I just don’t have much of an appetite during hot weather.  I was hoping that I’d get home before it got hot back there, but it’s getting to look very doubtful.

By the time you get this, the leaves should be out on the trees and the grass green.  That’s always a pretty time of year and a person feels full of ambition.  It sure isn’t like that here.

I received your letter of March 10th yesterday.  It and a V-mail from Getz was about the only mail I’ve gotten for about a week.

It seems like a lot of farmers are selling and cutting down on farming.  There should be a lot of farms to rent when the boys come home.  The first one there will probably get the best places.

When it comes to household duties, etc.  I don’t think I’ll want anything to do with it.  Anything that reminds me of what I’ve had to do in the army, I don’t want anything to do with.

Well, there just isn’t much of anything new to talk about.  The war in Europe seems to be in the final phase.

April 11, 1945

I’ve been waiting to write thinking I’d get a letter to answer, but since I didn’t. I’ll have to write anyway.  There’s nothing new.  It’s the same old thing going on day in and day out.  I know my letters make dull reading, other than knowing that I’m still alive and kicking.  There just isn’t anything over here to tell about.

Of a morning I get up, eat breakfast, go to work, eat chow at noon, go back to work at one, quit in the evening, take a shower, eat supper and then go to a show, if there’s one, or play a game or two of ping-pong, and then settle down to writing letters or reading.

One day last week, we had six girls and some male members of a USO troupe here for dinner.  That sort of broke the monotony for the day.  It was the first time since we’d been overseas, that we’d been honored by fair guests.  That night we saw the show they put on.  It was very good.  One of the fellows in the company knew one of the girls which was the reason we happened to have them here for dinner.

USO Photo taken 1943Dad’s third from right in the last row

Editor’s note:  Were any of the six entertainers recognizeable?  I couldn’t tell from the picture.

The cooks went to a lot of trouble and made up a very nice dinner with ice cream for dessert.  I think they appreciated it as I heard afterwards, that they remarked it was the best meal they’d had since they left the states.  it was the most elaborate meal we’d had since Christmas.

I suppose everyone is busy around there now getting their spring work done.  It must be getting nice back there by now.  It’s been quite a long time now since I’ve been home to enjoy the springtime.

It doesn’t look like I’ll get home before June or July and then, it could be later.  Some of the boys are already gone.  Some are just more lucky than others.

What kind of condition is the car in?  I’ll be needing some kind of transportation when I do get home.  Dorothy has been having lots of trouble with her car this winter.  After they get so old, they need so much work done on them.  Now, it’s pretty hard to get anyone to do things like that, no matter how minor they are.

Well, that’s all I can think of this time.  Write.

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 20, Burma, Another Year, Another Birthday

Jan 4, 1945

I received your letters of Dec. 10th and 17th today.  It’s the first time I’ve received any mail in a week besides a package from Dorothy that came three days ago.  I don’t see why you haven’t been hearing from me.  I’ve been writing all the time and I usually get your letters OK outside of maybe they don’t come one week, but the next I get both of them.  I certainly hope that you’ve heard by this time.  I’m glad that you got my Christmas card anyway.

You must be having real winter weather.  Dorothy said that she was having a time getting to school in the drifts.  Harvey had been driving her.

So Mrs. Senior outlived Lila.  I thought sure that Lila would be left alone.  I guess the old Senior place [later called the Hick’s house] looks mighty lonesome now, with no one there.  I’m glad to hear that Myrtle Rigsbey is improving.  She must have had quite a time of it.

I got a letter from Evelyn Getz here awhile back and she said that Wendell was headed overseas, but she hadn’t heard where yet.  She was awfully anxious to hear.  If he happens to land in the thick of things, she’ll wish she didn’t know then.

Esther Parker is getting to be quite the career woman.  The picture of here in the clipping doesn’t look much like her.  Those printed pictures don’t always turn out so good though.  Maybe she’ll capture herself some big shot in the army.

I got the Christmas boxes OK.  I got the one the Farm Bureau sent me.  I’ve been using the pipe you sent me and in Dorothy’s package there was some tobacco so the two go together.  Surely the letters I have written you will get there eventually.  They may have ben held up for some reason.  I’m nursing a cold now, but it’s improving, otherwise OK.

Editor’s note:  Apparently, there was frustration on the home front about regular mail from overseas.

Jan. 13, 1945

I wonder how you folks are tonight?  I’ll bet you are sitting close to the fire toasting your toes.  It’s nothing like that here, although, a fire does feel good in the evenings and early mornings.  I have a little fire going now in one little stove.

I hope that by now you’ve heard from me.  Your last letter said that you hadn’t heard for three weeks.  I guess the mail just got held up somewhere along the line.  If these letters don’t get through, I’ll have to try V-mail as it seems to always get there.

Christmas is over and New Years is over and here we are about the middle of January already.  Time seems to go pretty fast.

I spend my leisure time writing letters, reading and going to movies.  I don’t find much time that I don’t know what to do with.  I heard from Gene Parker about a week ago.  I answered his letter a few nights ago.  He is prompt in answering.  I get his letters in three days.  I guess he’s glad to hear from someone from home.  I know that I am and sure wish it were possible to see him.  He’s doing about the same kind of work that I am.

My last letter from Dorothy was Dec 29 and she said that it was cold and slippery out, then.  I’m glad that it was during her vacation, so she wouldn’t have to drive over the slick roads.  She said that she’d gotten another new tire for her car, which makes three, now.  She needs one more to make a complete new set.  She’ll have to get it before school is out, as the ration board probably won’t let her have one, otherwise.

Editor’s note:  Worn tires, slick country roads, a dangerous combination.

I’m wondering what I’m going to do for gas when I get home?  I’ll want to do a little getting around when I get home, as it’s been so long.  I guess a person can always manage as long as there’s any tractor gas, if you know what I mean.  I’d sure like to get home in time to help a little bit in corn planting.  A person never knows for sure, though.  In ’42, I got to help sow beans and that’s the last time I got to do anything like that.

From the news broadcast, it sounds like some of these younger farm boys that so far have been deferred, are gong to have to change from overalls to uniforms.  Well, I can’t see that it’ll hurt them to do some of it, too, rather than let us older ones do it all.  That’s going to hit kind of hard around home, I’m afraid, as there are several boys below thirty.  Let’s see, there’s Burns, Leach, Woods, Chism, and probably several more that I can’t think of at the present.  Families sure aren’t keeping them out.

Editor’s note:  Dad frequently compared his situation to boys at home that had escaped conscription.  Was it just his bad luck and their good fortune?

Well, I’ll close for tonight, I guess, as I want to write to Dorothy yet, before bedtime.  It seems like bedtime is here before one knows it.  I hope you are well.

I received your letters of Dec. 25th and Jan. 1st.  From what you said, you did have a white Christmas and also a white New Year’s Day.  I’m glad that you finally got my letters before Christmas.  I got two of my Boxes before Christmas and two more shortly afterward.  Charles Clements didn’t have to go back overseas, then, after his furlough.  I heard somewhere that Ammie Zimmerman died last fall.

I was wondering what Clarence Dowland is doing now?  I wonder who Bill [Rigsbey] will get on his place, now that Floyd’s gone?

Finis [Wade] is eligible for a pension, isn’t he?  Along with the work he gets, he should be able to get along.

It seems that the war is starting to take its toll from Chesterfield.

The 14 states and regions of Burma
The 14 states and regions of Burma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bud Scott (Russell) must be around here somewhere.  If I knew his address, I could probably find out his whereabouts.  He could probably be close around and I’d never know it.  Yes, It’s much nicer here than any place we’ve been located yet in this theatre.  We have a bigger and nicer camp with more conveniences.  It seem that the food is getting better.  We have more fresh meat now.  I’m not worried about the Japs.

Kallals seem to be having quite a time.

Your hens are doing good for this time of the year.  Eggs around here were so scarce that some of the fellows were paying 30 cents an egg for them.  They’ve dropped now to about $2.14 a dozen or 7 rupees in native money.  Lots of fellows buy them so they can have fresh eggs to eat.  I satisfy myself to eat the army grub, as I feel it’s too much to pay for extras.

Everything is going on as usual over here.  Camp life is getting more like garrison every day, in spite of the fact that we’re in a foreign country at war, and there’s plenty of work to do.  So long for now.

Jan. 30, 1945

I went a little over time in answering your letter this time because I was on the move again.  I’m still in Burma, though.  I’ve seen quite a little of Burma now, and I like it much better than India.  It seems that the country is more beautiful.  There is plenty of jungle in Burma, but I’ve seen more open country here, than in India.  I guess it just happened that I was in those parts.

I hate this moving, because there’s so much hard work to it, and then a person is always unsettled.  That’s the army for you, though.

Well, the one month of the new year is almost gone.  The Germans seem to be coming out on a limb right now.  I sure hope it’s over before long.  Maybe then, I’ll have more of a chance of staying home next time.  After 3 1/2 years, this is getting old.  Whoever said a year wouldn’t be long was altogether wrong.  It’s been the longest year I ever spent.

It looks like you’ve been having plenty of winter this time.  Dorothy said it has been the toughest she’s had to get back and forth to school.  I guess it is better for the cattle when it stays cold as it doesn’t get muddy.  I sure hope you do good on the cattle this year as it’ll be the last time you’ll be able to feed as large a bunch.

I guess it was the right thing to do to sell the horses if they were eating their heads off.  Is the team of old white mules all you have in the horse line now?  Whatever happened to old Joe.

Well, I’m still figuring on coming home this summer.  I don’t know yet whether it’ll be on schedule or a month or so later.  I think I’ll still make it, though before winter starts again.  I sure hope so.

Its getting chilly here as we haven’t any stoves and I guess I’ll have to go to bed to keep warm.  I have a light rigged up so I can read in bed.  That’s a good deal.

I hope you are all well.  I’m fine, considering this climate for 24 months.

Feb. 3, 1945

I received your birthday card on a very appropriate day–on my birthday.  All the celebrating I did was to go on guard that night.  That’s my fourth birthday now, in the service.

Dorothy has some snap shots of me that were taken during the summer.  I sent her the negatives and thought she would give you a print from them.  Not having a camera or film myself, I couldn’t get many pictures.  If I’d had them I sure could have gotten lots of interesting pictures from over here.

I’m glad that you don’t have to do much more than chores this winter.  It should be sort of a change and rest not to have to worry about the other place.

It looks like Pete Burns has stalled off now until he’s above the age bracket where the army doesn’t need him.  I think that’s a dirty trick, since his brother has to go and has a family.  Some people, though don’t have any conscience when it comes to saving their own skin.

Our morale has gone up recently as several of the boys from around here that came over at the same time have gone home and others are leaving shortly.  So, if everything worked out like it looks like it’s going to, I’ll get home in the spring.  That makes me feel more hopeful as I was beginning to feel sort of doubtful about it.  I had known some to be over here as long as thirty months.going my way, bing crosby

We are being entertained tonight by music from our amplified phonograph.  We have a handy radio man who rigged it up.  A record sounds like it’s coming from the radio.  It helps cheer up the lonesome evenings over here.

As I sit here and smoke my pipe, I can just see the two of you sitting in the living room reading.  It’s funny after being away from home awhile, a person can visualize those old familiar scenes just like it was only yesterday.  I think I’m going to be a home loving body from now on.  I’ll have to close for this time.

Feb. 11, 1945

Here it is the 11th already.  Seems like the time sure flies now, that I’m so busy.  I have this afternoon off, it being Sunday, and I get the afternoon off one time and the morning the next.  We even sometimes have to work at night if necessity calls for it.  So a half day off is quite welcome.

I received your letter of the 21st of January this week.  I’m surprised to hear that Uncle Elbert [Clements] is working in Hawaii.  I’m glad he likes it.  Maybe he’ll get a new lease on life now.  Lots of the fellows that have been in Hawaii have liked it.  It sure must be nicer than the country over here.

It seems hard to realize that Harold Clements is old enough to be out of high school.  He and some other kid is the same age.  I can’t remember who it is, unless it’s Val Adam Jr.

It certainly be fine, if I could get located in the States, but I haven’t much hopes of it until after the war with Germany is finished.  The present system has been to give the boys a 21 day furlough at home and then ship them to another theater.  It’s beginning to look like I’m just going to be an old army man.  If I’d started out when I was eighteen, I’d have some time in by now.  It wouldn’t have been so hard to take either, then.  I sure don’t intend to stay in any longer than necessary.  Even at that, it’s going to be kind of late to get a fresh start in life, especially if I have to pile up two more years overseas after this.  I sure hope that I get to a better theater than this has been.  Another two years, like the last two, would about drive a person nuts.

You have the wrong slant on an only child being held in the States for the duration.  That is in the event that one or more sons have been killed in action and in order to spare the last son; he’s either left in the States or sent to a theater where there’s no action.

Well, we got our weekly roundup this afternoon, so I guess I’ll sign off and read the news in it.

Hope you are all well.

P. S.  I’m sending some Chinese folding money.

Chinese Gold Unit Note (Front)Chinese money

Feb 18, 1945

Here it is Sunday morning and my morning off.  Next Sunday I’ll have the afternoon off and Russell Scott is supposed to come pay me a visit then.  I guess I didn’t tell you that the other day, I got a letter from Carl Getz and he gave me Russell’s address.  From the address I know of an outfit of that number.  The first person I saw from that outfit, I inquired if there was a Scott there, and he said, sure, he knew him.  He said he’d bring him down the first opportunity.  One morning a couple of days later, Russell walks in and we shake hands.  I was so busy, that we had to talk in between times, except finding a date for him to come down next Sunday afternoon when I’m off.  It seems he had something to interfere with his coming this morning.

It seems good to see someone from around home after all this time.  Of course, he looks like another GI, but he’s still someone I knew before I knew the army.  I sure wish I could see Gene Parker before coming home.  There’s not much chance of doing that, though, unless I could happen to make a trip into China and he’d happen to be at the right place at the right time.

It’s sure cool here in the barracks here this morning.  the sun outside is nice and warm.  This is about the coldest place I ever slept in, I believe.  It’s so big and there’s nothing but mosquito net around sounds [?] and the damp air comes right in.  I use all my blankets, sleep with my pants, socks and heavy undershirt on to keep warm.  During the day after the sun gets up a person starts peeling off, and if he’s right out in the sun, he peels right off to the skin.  The temperature doesn’t get low enough to freeze (in fact I haven’t seen any freezing weather since I left home), but the air is so damp when the sun is not shining.  I much prefer actual cold weather.  A person can wear enough clothes to keep warm then.

It seems the Nixon family, including the in-laws (some of them), have managed to escape the realities of war.  Maybe it’s all right to keep out of it, if you’re smart enough, but it’ll never look right to me.  In some ways, I wish I would start out fresh in some new community, as I’ll always be more or less of an outsider.  There seems to be plenty around home that have avoided being called and there’ll always be friction between the ex-servicemen and the others.

It sounds like your hens are doing all right regardless of the cold weather.  I’d sure like to have some of those fresh eggs to eat.

About my pictures, I was quite a bit thinner then than now, because it was hot weather and I always lose weight then.  Of course, the fellow standing next to me is a 200 pounder, and is a little bit larger than I.  That fellow is Fred Bratton, the fellow that Dorothy and I went to see the Sunday after we were married.  We’ve been together now for three years and he’s about the closest buddy I guess I’ve ever had.

We’ve been through a lot together.  I get Christmas and letters from his folks.  You couldn’t find any nicer people.

You are mistaken about the mustache being gone.  I still have it and have shaved it off only once in over three years, and that was when on maneuvers, and then I let it grow right back out.  Anymore it seems as much a part of me as an eyebrow.  I’d feel naked without it.  the Jap flag was a borrowed one.  The rifle is a Jap one, that Fred acquired.

Fred Bratton & Clyde with captured Japanese battle flag and Rifle (2)Fred Bratton [left] and Dad with Japanese rifle & flag

I think I’ll go to church after a while.  It’s quite a little ride from here.  It’s held in a stone chapel that was spared from the war except for one end, a few window glasses, and the roof.  the roof has been covered over with tarp.  Another church not so far from it was pretty well shot up.  There isn’t much left of the rest of the town, as it was really blown up.

Editor’s note:  The previous paragraph was Dad’s first mention of war destruction.

Well. I’ll have to close for now.  I hope you are well.

Feb 24, 1945

I received your letter of Feb. 4th a couple of days ago.  I did pretty good this week on letters.  In all, I heard from Dorothy, Gene Parker, Viola Bigelow, and Helen Barnett.

Helen wrote a V-letter, and didn’t say much, except she said that Carla was a big girl now, and was two years old in November which makes a person realize how time flies.  Viola was in California in December during Christmas with Vincent.  She said it didn’t seem like Xmas as she went swimming at Long Beach.  I spent a couple of Christmases in California myself, so I know how it is.  Vincent is at Pearl Harbor now.

Gene said that he had talked to a fellow that had heard of my outfit.  I’m expecting to see Russell Scott tomorrow afternoon as he talked like he’d come to see me then.

I guess that’s about the first of my letters that was opened by the army examiner as I never heard about it.  I’ve only received one so far that was opened in the same way and that was almost two years ago.  It was one of Dorothy’s letters.  They spot check then and very seldom get the same person’s mail.

How old is Uncle Pres’s baby girl, now?  I’m sure getting behind the times.  I’m sorry to hear that Uncle Pres is selling off his cows.  If he doesn’t have feed for them thought it’s about all he can do I guess.  I wonder what kind of job he’s figuring on getting in St. Louis?  He’s getting sort of old for a job like that.  He’s sure had a tough time of trying to keep things together and raise a family.  It looks like I might be in the same boat as I’m getting such a late start.

Myrtle Rigsbey is sure having a tough time of it.

I didn’t know the Ida Lockyer was sick.  Edgar [local grocery store proprietor] must be having a tough time of it trying to run the store himself.  Everyone has their troubles, I guess.

Grandpa Adam [Great-Grandfather] must be getting pretty well up in his eighties by now.  This winter has been a tough one for old people as it’s been so cold.

Well , that’s about all I have to say this time, I guess.  I’m pretty busy nowadays.  Hope you are surviving the cold weather OK.

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 19, Cherry Pie Dreams, Christmas Venison

Nov. 27, 1944

I received your letter of Nov. 6th. It’s getting hard to find time for my correspondence.  I usually write your letters on Sunday if I have one to answer, but this time I just couldn’t squeeze yours in as I had some laundry to do after supper.

I’ll bet the old ears of corn are really bumping into the wagons back there now, unless everyone is finished shucking corn and I doubt it very much.  I imagine that you folks have yours about finished though.

It sounds good to hear someone talk of canning fruit.  We get canned fruit, but no near as much as I could eat, especially during hot weather when I don’t eat so much of other things.  Our usual fruit diet is pineapple, fruit cocktail, peaches, pears, apple sauce or apple pie and occasionally cherry pie.  I hope you have some cherries all canned just waiting to be made into a nice, luscious pie.  I have hopes of eating some of those home cooked pies before too many more months.

cherry pieFreshly baked cherry pie

I never did learn to eat sweet potatoes.  They have them once in a while for chow.  Neither can I go for these dehydrated spuds.  This dehydrating process is a failure as far as I am concerned.  I’ll take my food prepared the old-fashioned way.  It’s possible I might get to eat some of that beef.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had any good corn-fed beef.  I sure wish that I could have seen the twins [calves].  I’ll bet they were cute.

Your hens are making a few dollars for you now.  Forty three cents a dozen sounds better that twenty.

I guess Uncle George hates giving up the place.  He’ll sure miss the farm chores although, I guess Aunt Minnie will find enough for him to run him ragged.  Next summer they’ll probably take care of all the neighbor’s gardens.

Dorothy said that she took the kids out to the Pitman sale for dinner.

I’m surprised to hear that Floyd and Nellie [Rigsbey] are moving off Bill’s place.  I’ll bet that Bill is upset.  I suppose they wanted a better way out.  Is little Bill old enough to go to school already?  Maybe they’re just getting set.  What’s Clarence Dowland doing now?  I heard that Myrtle was in the hospital.  She was always so healthy looking and full of pep.

Yes, I voted, but I don’t know whether it was legal or not, as one of the fellows from Chicago got his ballot back today.  I sent mine to the county clerk,so that may make a difference.  Anyway, I tried.

I had a surprise today in a letter from Ab [Albert] Wilson.  He was in Belgium when he wrote it.  He didn’t say anything about anything there, but just inquired about Dorothy and old times together that we naturally think of while we are far away from home.  I had written him a letter and he got it while he was still in England.  He seems to be getting around quite a bit.  In that respect he’s doing better than I.

I’m expecting some of my Christmas packages any day now, as some of the fellows have received theirs already.

It’s getting close to bedtime, which seems to roll around awfully fast.  So, I’ll have to close for this time.  I’m well and hope you are both the same.

V-Mail Christmas Card to Mom from Burma 1844Dad’s V-Mail Christmas card to Mom

Dec. 4, 1944

I received your Christmas card and your letter of Nov. 14th.  I wrote a letter to Gene Parker using the address you sent me.  I also heard from Ab Wilson last week and I answered his letter.  He was in Belgium when he wrote the letter.  He didn’t say much about anything over there, but just talked about old times and discussed some of the fellows in the service.

Editor’s note:  Ab [Albert] Wilson, was Mom’s cousin.  When we visited the Wilson farm as a child, the place seemed beset by tragedy.  His father, Bruce Wilson, passed away, leaving his mother a widow.  Ab Wilson returned from duty in Europe after the war, lived with his mother, never seemed to make a go at anything.  The house and farm slowly deteriorated, until their deaths.

I’m glad to hear that you’ve been having nice fall weather.  That should give the farmers a chance to get their corn out of the field.  I suppose when the weather does break, it’ll really be rough.  How’s Mr. Kallal getting along?  Ed mush be having a time trying to keep things going.

I’ll bet that it looks quite a bit different around the house there now, with those trees cut out.  I imagine it does make it quite a bit lighter inside the house.

You don’t need to worry, as I’m still interested in farming and intend to do some of if I ever get out of the army.  Even if I should get out during the middle of a year, I imagine that I could find plenty of work to do to keep me going until the following spring when I could rent me a farm.

I expect I’ll need plenty of help when I first start in for myself because it’s been so long ow that I’ve probably forgotten a lot of things and I can use some advice on a few things.

It looks now like I’ll get home for a furlough sometime the fore part of the year.  If things don’t change a lot between now and then, I’ll probably have to go over for another two years.  That part I hate to think of.

I haven’t heard from Dorothy yet, since she received the flowers.  I’ve been expecting to hear of it.  I received an anniversary card which was awfully sweet.  (Of course I’d think so).  From your description, it sounds like what you ordered should have been a nice bouquet.

Dorothy told me she wore glasses now.  She kept talking about that she thought she needed them and I told her by all means get them, it she needed them, because a person should take care of their eyes when they’re young.  I have to depend on my glasses all the time now.  My eyes bother me too much if I don’t wear them.

It sounds like the horses you’re working must be awfully cagey.  I’ll never forget the time the old gray and black mares of Uncle George’s ran away with me one fall when I was shucking corn.  I was lucky to not break anything.  You should have a nice lot of corn if you haul from the other place.

I hope you’ll excuse my scribbling this letter as I’m writing it rather hurriedly in order to get it done before bedtime  We had a meeting tonight and after that, I had a chance to get my haircut.  Barbers are hard to find over here at the present–anyway, the tools are the scarcest.  I certainly needed a haircut as the hair was growing down my tail bone–as you used to say.

Hope to hear from you again soon.

Dec. 10, 1944

This is a nice peaceful Sunday morning.  We get Sunday mornings off instead of afternoons.  A person can sleep now all morning if he wants to, but I’d rather get up as there is always something or other i have to do.  I was on KP yesterday and I had enough time to wash out some things.  We can hire our laundry done by some natives, but if a person has them wash everything, it doesn’t pay.  It runs into too much money.  They don’t do a very good job on white clothes and often times lose handkerchiefs and socks.  Consequently, I wash out the socks and handkerchiefs and sometimes shorts myself, and let them wash coveralls, shirts and pants that are dirtier.

I got Christmas cards from Aunt Catherine and Aunt Mary T. [Trill] this week.  Uncle John and Aunt Catherine are in Jefferson City, Mo. now as the card was postmarked such.

I received your letter of Nov. 19th this week.  So Clyde Lee is a baker now?  I had the impression that he was a supply sgt.  I don’t know why I thought that, except for what someone said in a letter.  It seems that store clerks turn out to be cooks when they get in the army.

It seems strange for some of these young guys to be getting married, but they’re getting at the age now where they do such things.  Howard, Bob Kallal, & Peachy [Edwin] Leach will be 24 their next birthday.  They are six years younger than I, and that’s hard for me to realize that age is creeping up on me.

I’m glad to hear that you almost finished with the work.  I guess it’s been a good fall to get things done.

It sounds like there are going to be lots of farms for rent next spring.  I wonder where they are going to find renters for them?  It looks to me like all the farmers now have all they can handle without taking on any more.  If i get home next spring on furlough, I wonder what chance I’ll have of working my way out of the army, and back on the farm.  It looks to me like, they are going to have to let some of the men out to take up the farming that the older men are retiring from.  If they don’t, they are going to have lots of farms laying idle pretty soon.

Editor’s note:  Farming wasn’t mechanized, it was still labor intensive.  Draft animals were widely used.  It was no wonder those on the home front felt the additional strain.

Olin Trill has quit Uncle Pete to start trapping.  Some people don’t realize that there is a war going on.  Some day though they are liable to realize it, especially if it lasts another two or three years, which it looks like it might do.  Uncle Pete is going to have his hands full, looks like.  If he should have a sick spell again, he would be up against it.

P. S. Dorothy went wild over the roses.  Thanks a million.

rose bouquet

Dec. 17, 1944

Her it is Sunday morning again and is a nice day as usual this season of the year.  I just got back from church service which we had in our mess hall.  It is the first time I’ve gone since I’ve been up here.  It’s the first time we’ve had church in our own area.  I should be able to make it every Sunday now.

I received your letter of Nov 27th in yesterday’s mail.  John Flowers is the first loss of the men in the service from right around home, I guess, as I’ve never heard of any others so far.  I’m sorry you don’t hear from me regular.  I write every week.  I’ve been hearing from you weekly now for quite a while.  I’ve gotten several letters from Dorothy this week, but for about two weeks before, I only got one letter and a card from her.

I got a Christmas card from Aunt Katherine and Uncle John.  I also got cards this week from the Hounsleys (both) Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Wilson [Ab Wilson’s parents] (they attached a note saying it was about time I was coming home), and from Aunt Mary Trill.

Dorothy sent me the picture this week of you two standing by the new brooder house.  She said that she had sent it to me several months ago, but I guess the letter got lost as I never received it.  So she sent me another, and this time I got it.  It looks like quite a fancy brooder house.  You both look about the same.  Mom, you’re not getting any thinner and you, Dad aren’t getting any fatter.  Ha!

img011

Grandma’s new brooder house

You are probably having genuine winter weather now.  I wonder if you’ll have a white Christmas this year?  Yo;u should have the cribs bulging with corn now.  Is Uncle Val buying corn for Dowland?

I’m glad that you got to go to a nice turkey dinner for Thanksgiving.  It would have been kind of lonesome if you’d had to stay at home.  I hope that I can be home next year at that time.

It seems strange to think of Ed Kallal as a family man, but I guess it happens sooner or later to everybody.

If Uncle George moves the brooder house to town, the next thing they’ll start raising chickens again.  Aunt Minnie will find some excuse to do it.

We just had mail call, but I didn’t get anything today.  I can’t be fortunate every day and get mail though.  Mail call is one of the most important events of the day over here.

I’m sure getting homesick.  I have high hopes of getting back there in the spring.  That’s the best time of year to get back there, only I believe I’d be satisfied to go anytime.

It’ll be chow time in about forty minutes and I’m sure hungry.  I could sure go some nice fried chicken with cherry pie for dessert.  A nice juicy steak would sure taste good.  I don’t know what there is for chow, but it sure smelled good while ago when I walked by the kitchen.

So long for this time.

Dec. 25, 1944

Merry Christmas!  It is almost over for another year.  I started out the day with sunrise church service.  Then I had lb reakfast and worked till noon.  I had the afternoon off.

I did pretty good today on mail.  I got four letters and five cards inclluding your card and letter.  I had cards from all three Horn girls and one from Kallals.  It made me feel full of the Christmas spirit.

We had Deer meat for dinner that some of the boys killed while out hunting.  Tonight we had canned chicken and ham which sure tasted good.

According to reports, you must be having a white Christmas back there along with some cold weather.

I’m glad to hear that you got your standing corn out of the field before bad weather started.  It sounds like you are gong to have everything full of corn by the time you are through with the shock corn.  That’s what looks good on the farm though–all the cribs full of golden corn.

Stock cattle must be awfully high now.  It’s going to be sort of a gamble unless the price holds up good in the spring.  Your hogs should bring a few dollars when you sell them.  I guess you’ve bought corn to feed them.

You say you have four horses and mules to feed.  Do you mean you have two horses and two mules or four horses and two mules?  I didn’t know you had any mules.  I hope that you can hang onto four of the best ones until I get home in the spring (which I hope to do) and find what I can do, or whether I’ll have to go overseas again.  I’m hoping that I can get out of the army and take up at home where I left off.

I’m in good health and am sweating out the remainder of my time over here.

Write often.

PS:  I don’t remember whether I told you or not that I received your package and thanks a lot.  I got one from the farm bureau since.

Jan. 1, 1945

Here it is a brand new year.  I have high expectations of this year.  I’m planning on doing something that I haven’t done in over two years and that is coming home.

I didn’t get a letter since your card and letter.  I postponed writing this a day, thinking maybe that a letter would come today, but decided I’d write anyway.  I try to get off at least one letter a week and more if I happen to recieve another letter in the meantime.

Tonight is show night, but I didn’t go tonight as I’d seen the picture already.  I see quite a few shows just to pass the time.

There is a show somewhere around almost every night.

From reports and letters from back there, you must be having real winter weather now.  I read reports of a blizzad htat swept across form the east coast and caused some damage.  It must be like one of the winters we had befor I came in the army when a big snow came awhile beore Christmas and the weather stayed cold and there was at least a month that the snow never melted off.

I’d sure like to see a winter through back home like that again, although it is awfully inconvenient to do farm chores.  It’d be nice though just to be there.

Since I’m figuring rather strong on being home in the spring or early summer, I’ve been wondering what chances I would have in getting out of the army and getting settled back on the farm.  I know that I can’t find out anything until I get back there, but I want to have the stage all set so that I can go into action immediately after I hit the States.  I won’t have any time to lose, because in some cases, the boys are being whisked right back overseas immediately after getting their furloughs.

What I want you to do is to find out if anything can be done about it.  Maybe the Farm Bureau could advise you.  As soon as I hit a camp back there, I’m gong to see someone that can advise me and see what they advise.  I can’t see coming back overseas for another two years, and then if the war is over having to figure on starting out on my own.  By that time, I would have in six years of service and I certainly don’t want to make a career of it.  It doesn’t seem right that some should have to devote all their time while others don’t devote any of it to the service.

Things are the same as ever over here.  There’s nothing new that I can tell you.  I hope that you are surviving the winter weather in good shape.

Editor’s note:  When was the war going to end?  Every soldier wanted the answer, nobody with a lick of sense was going to ask.  Soldiers didn’t call attention to themselves.  The army did what was convenient for the army.  Excessive griping would be met swiftly with extra duty, or gems of wisdom, “Don’t like it?”  “Then, go to the chaplain and have your TS, (tough s**t), card punched!”  It was better to keep quiet, hope the war ended sooner, rather than later.  Letters home were Dad’s only sounding board.

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 18, Sgt. Stripes, Farm Sales, Bang Boards

October 8, 1944

I didn’t get a letter from you this week, but I’ll try to write anyway.  I just finished cleaning up from a day of KP.  This being Sunday and being on KP will mean a week two weeks long.  It doesn’t make much difference anyway though as one day is like the other, except we usually get a day off on Sunday.

I’ve been unusually busy here of late and will probably so for some time.

I suppose you noticed that there have been a couple of changes in my address.  I finally stepped up a grade higher after I had given up hopes.  It was quite a surprise to me.  The change in APO doesn’t mean anything except that you’ll have to address my letters different.

Here it is fall again.  The time seems to go by pretty fast.  I’ll soon be away from the states two years.  Sooner, yet, it’ll be two years since I was home.  It’ll soon be Dorothy’s and my wedding anniversary which is on November 14th.  I’m sending a money order along this time, and I wish you would do me a favor by ordering some flowers for me  to have delivered to Dorothy on that date.  I believe roses would be as good as anything for an occasion like that.  You don’t have to make a special trip to Carlinville to order them, but you leave the order sometime when you are going.

Mom & car during warMom visiting Grandpa & Grandma during WWII

We had fried chicken for supper last night and it sure was good.  It was the first we had in quite a while.  We all chipped in five rupees apiece to get them as they didn’t come in the rations.  We also had ice cream for dessert.  For the majority of the time we eat pretty good considering the conditions.  Potatoes are a problem over here as they usually so small that it takes forever to peel enough for a mess.  Over here we eat what we would call culls back home and throw away.

I suppose you are progressing with your fall work and preparing for winter.  I wish I were there to experience such goings again.

Well, I’ll close for this time and hope to hear from you soon.

Sgt. stripes

Sgt. Clyde F. Adam
115th Ord (MM) Co.
APO 218, c/o Postmaster
New York, N.Y.

10-17-44

As I haven’t received any mail for quite some time, I’ll write a V-mail tonight.  There isn’t too much to write about so this space will hold about all I have to say.

The nights are getting noticeably cooler now.  I’ve been using a blanket the last few nights.  It makes it much more comfortable to not sweat through a person’s clothes all the time.  A person has to be covered in the evening because of the mosquitoes.

We’re pretty busy now.  It makes time pass much faster.  The evenings are the worst to pass and they are getting longer now.  We have movies three times a week.  A person can read to pass the time although I get tired of that at times.

It won’t be too much longer before we’ll be eligible for rotation, Although I don’t put too much stock in it.  I hope to hear from you soon.

October 19, 1944

I received two letters from you today after over two weeks, so it looks like our mail is sort of messed up.  I’ve written to you every week and if you don’t eventually receive all of the letters you’ll know that they’ve been lost.

Editor’s note:  Receiving mail was the only connection to home life.  There was no internet or instant communication.

I wonder how a fresh peach would taste?  We get quite a few canned ones.  The last week or two we’ve had fresh grapefruit a few mornings for breakfast.  They must be a native variety as they are full of seeds and are hard to get the juice out of.  The juice is good though.  Last night for supper we had a banana pudding that was sure good.

Wish we had some of those fresh eggs over here.  They sure would taste good.  All we get are dehydrated and they don’t taste like much.  Last year we had fresh eggs occasionally.  If you buy them in the bazaar, they ask about four rupees for them which is the equivalent to dollar and a quarter.  You can see that these Indians are getting rich off the Americans.  I don’t buy anymore than I have to because of that.  After the war is over and prices go down to what they normally were over here, they can live the rest of their lives in luxury on what they made off the GI’s.

cows & calvesCows and calves

I wish I could see your calves.  I’ll bet they are really cute little rascals.  I’m hoping that I do get to eat some of the beef that you put in the locker this fall.  I don’t know though.  I don’t think I’ll get home before March or April, if then.  Of course I’m hoping for the best.

I didn’t even know that Myrtle Rigsbey was sick.

I wonder what it would be like to cut corn again.  I’ll bet it wouldn’t last long now until I get hardened in to hard work again.  I figure that it’ll take me six months to get toughened up again like I was before I came in to the army.

I’ll bet Mrs. Viola Nixon is relieved to know that her boy is back in the States.  I know that she did a lot of worrying about him from what she said when I was home last.  He’s been through a lot and deserves a good rest in the States.

I wish I knew Gene Parker’s address.  I would sure like to write to him.  Maybe you can get it and send it to me.

Well, I’ll close for this time, hoping you are all well.  I’m pretty busy, but healthy.

October 24, 1944

It hasn’t been quite a week since I wrote to you last, but since I got two letters from you last time and I only answered one, I’ll answer your letter of Sept. 24th now.  I have to answer them one at a time because I can’t always get one and then I don’t have any to answer.  It’s almost impossible for me anymore to write any kind of letter without one to answer.

Here it is getting along towards the latter part of October and by the time you get this, it’ll be the first part of November and the snow starts flying in that month.  My memory of snow flying is a pleasant one as it has been so long since I’ve experienced such, If I had to actually go through that, it probably wouldn’t seem quite so nice.  Although I think my first year back at home will ba pleasant one as it’ll be so much different from what I’ve been used to for the last three years and over.

I sure hope that I can eat some of the stuff that you’ve put in the locker this year, but it’s more probable that I’ll be eating some of next year’s crop at home.  I’d like to see home anytime now but then again, it I thought I had more chance of staying home, I would be willing to spend six months to another year over here.  Anyway, I’ll be eligible for rotation anytime after the first of next year.

Editor’s note:  Many people had refrigerators, but few had deep freezers.  I remember the locker plant and people renting locker space–just like rented mailboxes at the post office.

I suppose I’ll get my box around Christmas.  It doesn’t seem like it has been anytime at all since last Christmas.  Of course it hasn’t been, but ten months.  Even that they have passed rather quickly, seems like time does seem to pass more quickly when a person is busy.  The older a person gets the more he finds to occupy his mind and he doesn’t notice the passage of time.  When I was a kid, a year seemed like a long time.

I guess Aunt Minnie wants to stay on the old place as long as possible.  How long have they lived there?  I’ll bet it is sort of tough to move off a place like that after having lived on it for so long and there are lots of memories attached to it, too.  Even yet, I dream of the place at Getz’s.  I don’t believe I’ve dreamed yet of the place at home.

Well, I suppose you folks are very nearly finished with your busiest work.  You probably still have corn to shuck down at the other place.  After you are finished with that place, I hope you both go easier and take more time to enjoy yourselves.  You are getting up in years you know, and you might as well enjoy the rest of them to the fullest.  You should be pretty straightened out financially now.  As for me, I should have enough laid aside to get a pretty good start.

I don’t think I’ll go in for anything heavy after I get out of here.  I think I’ll sort of take things as they come and make a comfortable living and enjoy life as I go.  The main thing si to keep a person’s head above water, because I don’t think anybody is going to get rich after this.  I’ll close for now, hoping to hear from you now.

Oct. 30, 1944

Tonight is regular show night, but I think I’ll stay home and write some letters.  I went to the show last night and saw “Life Boat.”  It was taken in a life boat when a cargo ship was sunk by German U-boats.  It was a pretty good show.lifeboat“Lifeboat” movie poster 1944

I have two letters from you to answer tonight (Oct. 2 & 7th).  I sort of got caught up on my mail now.  There for a while I just wasn’t getting any.

According to the clippings you sent me, John Pitman is going to retire from farming.  Is he as old as that?

I guess it begins to look like beginning of winter back there by now.  Two years ago, I was home by this time (by the time you get this).  I wonder how much longer it’ll be before I get there again?

Do you still have the separator [cream separator] and still use it?  When you are rid of the calves, you should get quite a bit of milk.  I sure would like to be situated where I could milk cows again.  I’d a lot rather do that than what I’m doing.  I think I’ll have several cows when I get back to farming again, if there’s any money in it.  I don’t want too many, but four or five wouldn’t be so bad.  I don’t know yet, though, just what I’ll do.

A lot depends on how much longer I stay in the army on what I do when I get out.  Sometimes I think that it might be just as well to get a job at something or other for a while and then farm the home place when you folks get too old to take care of it.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to have to start out farming too big.  I wish we had about another forty acres on the home place with another house and then Dorothy and I could settle down right there.  Maybe I’ll feel different though, when the time comes and I get back there.  I know one thing for sure, I don’t want to have to invest too much capital right off in stock and machinery, which a person would have to do on a large farm.

I wish that we could fix up the home place such as tiling it, fencing it in all around the farm and putting up say one large barn instead of two small ones.  It would be better to have one with cribs more convenient.  I suppose a person can tell more what can be done after the war is over.  Oh yes, something else that could be added, and that is a good *machine shed large enough to hold all the implements instead of leaving them out in the weather.  That’s something that pays for itself in no time.

Editor’s note:  The previous paragraph alluded to tiling–that would have been for drainage.  The southeast corner of Grandpa’s land drained slowly after heavy rains.  *A machine shed was constructed circa 1956.

I suppose I’ll have to study up a bit on farming before I take hold of it again.  I’ll have to be more or less my own boss next time.  After being in the army so long I’ll be more or less a stranger to the farm.

I’ll bet Kallals are having a tough time of it as there is so much to do around there and now they have no man.  I’m afraid that Ed will really have to buckle down to hard work this time.  He can afford to do just that since he’s been lucky enough to stay out of the service.  It would be much better if the old folks move off, I’m sure.

Do you mean the roses on the trellis on the porch are the ones that are blooming?

I’m sure glad to hear that you got your wheat sowed.  It didn’t take long to get it done this time, did it?

I’ll bet it looks rather bare in the yard without the mulberry tree.  Things will sure look a lot different around there probably when I get home.

Are you going to haul our half of the corn from the other place up home and feed it out, then, or sell it with Uncle George’s half?  You’ll probably keep it, is my guess as corn is probably scarce and you usually have to buy some.

I’ll close for this time.  Hope you are all OK.

Nov. 11, 1944

Here it is Armistice Day for the third time in this war, but it doesn’t mean much now.  By this time next year, I hope it does, though.

The nights are sure cool now, but the days are warm.  A person can sleep good if he’s got a couple of blankets over him.  Otherwise, it gets rather uncomfortable along towards morning.  This time of the year over here reminds me of the season of the year in southern California.  The temperature doesn’t get so low, but the dampness makes it feel so chilly.

I’ll bet the corn sure breaks out nice, now that the frost has nipped it good.  I sure wish I could shuck some.  I used to sort of like to shuck corn.  Maybe I’ll get a chance next year.

Yes, I remember the trip we took to Uncle Carl’s and Aunt Bertha’s one Sunday.  That was a pretty good trip for one day.  Three hundred miles is quite a way to go to spend the day.  A trip like that now by automobile would be an impossibility and I suppose it will be for quite some time.  Those were the good old days.  I look for times like that to be a long way off as I suspect that rationing will continue for a while even after the war is over.  The US will play sucker and try to supply the world.  You may get the impression that I’m not in favor of this lend-lease.  Well, I’m not, since I’ve seen what goes on in the world.

Dorothy told me about the boys coming home on furlough.  Nixon is rather unfortunate to have malaria as bad as that.  I’ve seen similar cases though, in this outfit.  They keep having to go back to the hospital.

I have hopes now of getting to come back to the States during the first half of next year.  I’ll have my time in by then.  As for having to come back overseas, some of them have to.  I have hopes of getting to stay in the States.  I’m going to try to I have several reasons.  I sure would like to run across Gene Parker.  I haven’t the slightest idea where he is as I don’t know what kind of outfit he is in or his APO.  Why don’t you get it and send it to me.  Who knows, he might be close to me.

I’ve been getting lots of mail the last week.  I makes up for the weeks that I’ve gone without.  I sure hope that you are getting my letter OK, now.  I received your letter of Oct. 22nd today.  I’m glad you got the money order OK as I’m not sending any greetings this year other than letter and Dorothy would sure be disappointed if she didn’t get something.  Ten dollars isn’t so much to make someone happy that deserves it when millions are being spent for destruction.  Thanks a lot for taking care of it for me.  I appreciate it and I’m sure that Dorothy will be tickled to get them.  How’s my bank account coming?  I should have around 500 dollars in there by now, shouldn’t I?  I’ll be able to send some more before too long.

The way I feel about getting a better rating, is that I’ve earned it and might as well have it as the next fellow.  My responsibilities have certainly increased the last few weeks, which was due to circumstances other than my rating as I still have the same job plus other work.

I would sure like to attend the sale [at Uncle George’s farm] for sentimental reasons.  Now’s a good time to sell, I guess, as things bring a good price.  I hope things go down a little before I have to start buying.

Yes, maybe it is just as well that Dorothy and I didn’t start out on that place.  It was a good place to farm, but I guess every good thing has its seamy side.  I always knew that Aunt Minnie demanded a lot of attention and was awfully cranky.  She had better be careful, as she’s liable to live a long time yet, and I don’t think Uncle George can go the gait much longer.

I’m glad that you have cut down your farming now, as you don’t have to work so hard.  When I get back on the job again, maybe we can [have] things fixed up satisfactorily for us both.

It seems like all the young around home are getting their families started.  I guess I’ll have to see what I can do on my next furlough.  Ha!

We had coffee and doughnuts for refreshment about 30 minutes ago.  It helps out on such a cool night like this.  My main trouble over here is not having enough appetite to eat enough to give the energy I should have.  I’m doing better now, since cooler weather, though.

I’ve sort of over stepped my usual self tonight in writing.  I guess I was just unusually full of gossip.

Nov 18, 1944

I received your letter a couple of days ago.  I’m glad to hear that the things sold good at the sale.  now is a good time for a sale, I guess as prices are high.  From the figures that you gave me in your letter, I figured that you must have cleared about 1500 dollars.  That should come in handy.  I know that if I tried to set up in farming now, it’s sure to cost a pretty penny.

I figured that you would keep your part of the corn from down there to feed out your cattle.  you usually have to buy corn anyway.  I sure wish I was there to help shuck some corn.  I’d like to feel the old ears and hear them hit the old *bang board again.  I believe I could still shuck 80 bushels a day easy enough.  It’d probably take me quite a while to get toughened up though.  Right now, I believe I’d poop out pretty easy.  It’ll probably take 6 months for me to get this Asiatic lethargy out of my blood.

picking corn

*Hand shucking midwestern corn using wagon with “bang board.”

Editor’s note:  Bang boards were high side boards on the back side to deflect thrown ears of corn into the wagon.  Thrown ears hit the boards with a solid “bang.”  They also used a shucking peg–a device strapped around the hand with a flat metal blade.  In the first part of the process, the corn ear was cut from the stalk.  Then the husks [shucks] were twisted off, leaving only the ear of golden corn.

You won’t have more than forty acres left to put in corn and beans next summer, will you?  That’ll be enough to keep you busy next summer along with your other work.

My days are longer now and the nights are shorter, even though the daylight days are shorter.  The hours of work are longer now.

I like this part of the country [Burma] better here, I believe.  There isn’t quite so much jungle right around here as I’ve been used to.  The days are rather warm and the nights rather cool.  a person can sleep under a sheet and two blankets and be comfortable.  I sure hope that I can get out of this country before another hot season.  that is what gets a person down.  According to rumors floating around, some of the men are supposed back on rotation around March. Of course a person can’t put too much stock in that.  That probably won’t include all the older men, but I might be one of the lucky ones.  That’ll make me 2 years in this theater and that is certainly long enough in this climate.

It looks like I have a day of KP ahead of me tomorrow, as I see my name is on the duty roster.  It seems like I just can’t get away from it.  Maybe I’ll get away from it when I get out of the army, and then, Dorothy will have me washing dishes.  Ha!  So long for this time.

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 17, Calcutta, Back to Work

taj mahalThe Taj Mahal

August 19, 1944

Well, I’m enjoying a fifteen day furlough.  Anyway I’m enjoying it as much as a person could in this country.  I’m in a rest camp and am free to come and go as I please.  It is located in one of the nicest spots that I’ve seen so far in India.  It isn’t so cool always here at night but the days are usually cool here in the camp.  We have a PX here and a recreation center.  We have a pass to go to town anytime we feel like it.  There are no duties.  The only thing we are required to do is to report when the time is up to go back.

I’ve been here five days in a row now and it’s beginning to get a little bit old.  Some of the fellows don’t even stay here, but get a room downtown.  That costs a little too much.  I’ve eaten downtown a few times and a person can get steaks that aren’t as good as they are back home, but they taste better than corned beef and viennas.

calcutta key bookletSoldier’s guidebook to Calcutta

The camp here feeds a lot of fresh meat.  We can buy all the ice cream and cold drinks we want.  They sell cold beer at the PX.  The first few days the weather was nice for going around seeing things.  Today though is one of those rainy days.

A day or two ago I went on a Red Cross tour and saw some native temples and places where they burn the dead.  I had heard a lot about how they burned the dead but was the first time I actually seen it.

It takes a lot of rupees to have much of a time down here but it’s worth it after being in the jungle so long.   It might be the last chance I have for a long time.  I hope that my next furlough will be in the States.

I hope you are well.

Sept. 2, 1944

I hope you don’t think that I’ve forgotten you.  I got back from my furlough in Calcutta last night.  I got my mail (14 letters in all) this morning and now I’m trying to catch up on some of it.

GI's at newsstandSoldiers at Calcutta newsstand

It’s nice in a way to be back, but it was hard to leave a nice place in civilization to come back here in the jungle again and go to work again for no telling how long.

I got to eat lots of steaks, ham and eggs while I was down there.  I got to ride around in taxis which reminded me of home more or less.  I rented a bicycle to ride  a couple of times while I was there and that was quite a sport.  It was the cheapest way to get around as they cost the equivalent of 16 cents an hour.

It’s no telling just where I’ll be for Christmas, but more than likely I’ll still be over here.  You need not send me any soap or tooth powder or shaving cream as we can get plenty of it.  You could send some after shave lotion.  You could send me a fairly good pipe (one of medium weight).  Oh yes, if you could get hold of some small scissors, I could use those.  There isn’t so much that I need right now and there’s no use sending stuff that a person can get over here.  It’s better not to send anything to eat as it usually gets stale by the time it gets here.  I’m hoping this will be my last Christmas overseas or away from home.  Let’s see.  I’ve been away from home for three Christmases now, and this’ll make the fourth.  If I think of anything else, I need I’ll tell you right away.

calcutta 2Calcutta streets

I’m sorry to hear that it’s so dry back there.  It’s too bad you can’t have some of this moisture we have here.  I guess you have enough heat the way it is.  It is cooler here today than what it was when I left.  It may just be one of those days, but it should get cooler now before long and I’ll sure be glad of it.

It’s nice that Kallal’s are able to take a little vacation.  When I get home you can take a vacation while Dorothy and I look after things.

It sounds like you are going to have some beef in the locker this winter.  I hope I get home in time to eat some of it.  Well, I may not get home quite soon enough for that, but I do have expectations of getting home by spring.  If not they surely don’t expect much out of me by then.

I can just imagine how Uncle George is puttering around getting everything fixed just the way Aunt Minnie wants it.  It sounds like the high school and grade school are having a time this year trying to get teachers.  I guess the shortage is getting critical.  The schools will be opening again in a few days as this is the first of September.  I guess everyone has their troubles in war-time.  Maybe the European situation will soon be settled.  I sure hope so, as that’ll simplify matters considerable.  That should give us older fellow more of a chance of getting back to the States sooner.

Uncle George should have a place like the old Barr place so that he could keep a cow or two and chickens to have something to piddle around at.  The way it is, he won’t have much to do and he won’t know what to do with himself.  I suppose though, that he’ll take of Opal’s garden as well as their own, and besides helping Aunt Minnie, that’ll keep him busy anyway during the summer.  I just can’t picture him sitting down and taking life easy.  I suppose Aunt Minnie would just as soon continue living out there on the farm, but she’s lucky that she got to live there as long as she did.

I don’t remember just what was the trouble when I told you I wasn’t feeling so good.  I’m OK now since I had a vacation.  I think I gained a few pounds because I seem to fill out my pants a little better.  A person gets off feed once in a while when it is so hot continuously.  The weather will be getting cooler now along and I hope to be out of here before the next hot season.  Don’t worry about me because if I do get sick, they have good hospitals and equipment to take care of a person.

After you get the crops all in this fall, you’ll be able to sit back and take life a little easier.  That takes quite a bit off my mind as well as yours.  I’m not going to worry about what I’m going to do till the time comes.  I think I’ll just take it easy for a while at first when I get back.

Write when you can.

Sept. 6, 1944

I received two more letters from you today.  The latest was mailed on the 28th of August.  That makes three of your letters I have to answer now.  We sure are getting some nice music on our radio now.  I think I told you that we have one in the tent now that one of the fellows fixed up from salvage parts.  It’s a pretty nice one too, even though it was made of pieces from here and there.

It isn’t quite as hot here now as it was, but is still hot enough that a person still perspires quite a bit.  The reason a person notices the perspiration is that the humidity is high.

What are you planning on doing with the cattle you have on pasture?  Are you going to sell them this fall or feed them through the winter?  Seed clover must be a good price now isn’t it?  I’m not going to worry about renting a farm until I get home and am ready for it.  Something else may come up by then.  The only thing I have to worry about is having enough laid away to get set up in farming.

The picture of Armin Rigsbey and his dad show quite a contrast between the way the soldier was dressed last war and this war.  There is as much difference between the wars, too.  I was sort of surprised to see the clipping showing the picture of Armin’s wife to be.  Seems like all those young fellows that were kids whin I was around home are getting married.  It makes me feel like an old-timer.

I’m glad the weather has cooled off some back there.

Yes, sometimes a person gets pretty discouraged being way over here and at times it seems that the war would last indefinitely.  The longer a person stays over here the worse it is.  Things look better though, now, and I’ve had a furlough. and feel a little more like carrying on.  I just hope I don’t have to endure another hot season over here.  I’ve picked up a little weight since I was on furlough.  I had some steaks and ham and eggs to eat while I was down there.  I’ve had a better appetite since I got back.

Snake Charmer in IndiaIndian snake charmer

As for feeling patriotic, I don’t feel so much so, after being over here and seeing what actually goes on.  I’ll tell you more about it when I get home.

I don’t put much stock in the good things that are going to be done for the returning soldiers.  I’ve been in the army too long and seen too many promises fall through for that.  I think the fellow that looks out for himself and grabs off what he can get will be the one that’s best off.  The ones that stayed home are getting the cream now.  They won’t have to worry so much about the future if they provide for it now.

It would be nice to take a short course in agriculture when I get back.  I don’t want to have to spend much time or money trying to get an education at this late date, though I’ll have to get down to scratching for a living as soon as possible.

Editor’s note:  Dad’s letters reflected realistic views of army life, the post-war world.  What he couldn’t talk about was army waste and corruption.  Dad felt left behind while life at home went on.  After the war, Dad took an agriculture course at the local high school, under Prof. Klaus–also my high school agriculture instructor in the sixties.

As for bookkeeping, I’ve learned quite a bit about it these last eighteen months.  I’m beginning to get tired of it.

Mary Sawtell sure made a nice looking young lady.  She’ll make all the boys run a temperature that she takes care of in the line of duty as a nurse.  Ha!

Well, I’ll close for this time.  I hope you are well.  Write as often as you can.

Sept. 10, 1944 Letter from India (2)Handwritten Sep. 10th letter

Sept. 10, 1944

Here it is another Sunday almost gone.  I worked this morning and this afternoon.  I passed the time by playing a few games of cards.  I played a few games of table tennis this evening.

We had ice cream for supper tonight. We have it quite often ow that we have a way of making it in the company.  We have cold drinks most of the time, too, except when we have coffee.  It sure us quite different from when we first came over here, when you couldn’t get anything like that.

I’m glad that it has turned cooler now.  It isn’t quite as warm here as it was.  The nights are cooler now.  A person has to cover up with a sheet now where before a person wore as little as possible all night.  Before too many weeks we’ll be looking for blankets to cover up with.  It seems like when it does turn cool, the dampness chills a person through and through.

The cow you bought is doing her part to step up production.  i imagine the veal calves are a pretty good price aren’t they?  Boy! I’d sure like to milk a cow again to see how it’s like.  It seems like it’s been a long tome since I’ve done anything like that.  I’d probably have to learn all over again.  i believe I did milk once when i was home last.

By now I suppose you are either in the middle of silo filling or else you’ve finished.  It shouldn’t take too long this year as you’ve got only one silo to fill.  Some of these days you’ll be starting to shuck corn.  that’s something else I haven’t done in a long time.  It’s been about four years since I’ve done any of that.  I think I told you that my corn over here didn’t amount to much.  The best I could get out of the two hills I planted were two small nubbins.  I was going to send some grains home to show how it turned out, but somebody threw it away when i was on furlough.  I had it tied up on a string drying out.

I’m glad to hear that you were able to get some new tractor tires.  Are they any heavier than the others?  What make are they?  You didn’t have to get new ones for the front, too, did you?  It seems like the old ones didn’t last very long as they weren’t on quite four whole seasons.  I guess they did a lot of work though and they weren’t hardly heavy enough.

I was surprised to hear that Uncle Alvin died.  I knew that he was poorly too.  I got a letter from Dorothy written on the 31st of August and she said she was at Dixon at the time it happened.  She was out there, though, after she got back and met some of the folks.  She said that Aunt Minnie was sick in bed then.

Mr. Banks death was rather sudden.  There sure have been a lot of deaths in and around Chesterfield since I’ve been over here.  There have certainly been a lot of changes made.  I’ll feel like a stranger around there.

Ed Kallal must be figuring on running the home place.  Mr. & Mrs. Kallal are getting pretty old to keep up the gait they’ve been going and i suppose they hate to move away and leave the place after they’ve worked so hard to fix it up.

I see by the clipping you sent me the Ed Jacoby family is having their share of trouble with their boys in the service.  I hope I don’t have to spend as long a time overseas as Eldon Miller before I get home.

I’ll close for this time.

Sept 17, 1944

Here it is another Sunday.  It isn’t so nice today, but is cooler this way.  I had guard duty last night so will be through with that for a few days again.

You must have gotten to see a lot of the folks out for Uncle Alvin’s funeral.  Yes, it’s too bad that it turned out that Dorothy was gone.  She met a few of them later after she got back.  I suppose you know by now the reason they were gone, and didn’t get back as soon as expected.  It would have been a good opportunity for her to meet a lot of the folds.

I imagine that by now everyone has their silos filled, unless it is someone who has some exceptionally late corn.  I had a letter from Carl Getz and he said that he had quite a bit of corn to cut up if he got it done.  It’s pretty tough now on the farmers that have to cut up so much corn for the shock as help is so scarce.  He could use a binder though unless the corn is down too bad.  He did talk like some of it has gone down.  I hope you enjoyed the show that you went with Kallals to see.  I don’t see why you don’t go more often.  Maybe you can go after you get through with the busy work.  You might as well enjoy life while you can.  I’m surprised to hear that Jesse Peacock is still out there with Mrs. Costley.  I guess that’s the only way she has to take care of her place.  I suppose she doesn’t want to rent it out and leave the place.  how do these boys court these girls so far from home in times like these?  I guess I’ve been gone too long to figure things like that out.

Will close for now.

Sept 25, 1944

The mail hasn’t been coming in so good the last week or so.  That’s usually the way it is though.  It comes in bunches and I received a bunch of it here a while back and am caught up for a while.

The weather also has been warm again for the last few days.  I’ve had a cold and you know how that is during warm weather.

There was a show tonight, but the weather was uncertain that I didn’t go.  I can’t enjoy a show much in the rain although some of the fellows go anyway.  Well, September is soon going to be gone.  I’ll bet the leaves will soon be turning pretty colors.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen anything like that.  Most of the time since, I’ve been where the vegetation stays green the year around.

The other night I got to thinking of the old Rigsbey place where we used to live.  I quite often dream of the place but it is never about anything that happened there.  It’s been fifteen years since we moved away from there.  It doesn’t hardly seem like it’s been that long.  The years that followed sure turned out to be hectic as far as financial troubles went.

After things straighten out after this war, I hope things run a little more smoothly.

Well, there isn’t much to write about seems like so I’ll close for this time hoping I hear from you soon.

Sept 30, 1944

I received your letter of Sept. 11th.

I sent you a letter telling you what I wanted for Christmas.  You’ve probably gotten it by now.  Yes, I’ll still be over here by then.  That’s for sure.

Well, by now I guess you are finished filling the silo in the neighborhood and are thinking about sowing wheat and shucking corn.

It’ll be quite a comedown for Ed Kallal’s wife to move out on the farm in an old makeshift house after having lived in the city.  I guess he wants to hurry up and get settled on the farm before the draft board catches up with him.

Who is the mail carrier now that Myron Parker no longer does it?

The new principal sounds like he believes in large families.  He’ll have enough kids to start a school of his own pretty soon.  It sounds like Chesterfield is going to be a strange place to me when I get back.

It seems like there’s a lot of sickness and deaths around there.

Uncle George will get a taste of what we had if he goes back and forth to feed this winter.  I guess they figured that as long as they didn’t own the place anymore there wasn’t any use of fixing it up.  If Green doesn’t get some one on his place that’s interested in keeping the place fixed up he won’t have much as he lives so far from it.

Editor’s note:  First mention of the new owner of Uncle George Gahr’s farm.  As I remember, the new owner lived in Detroit, Michigan.  Grandpa previously had crops and cattle on the place for several few years.  It was about three miles west of town.

Uncle George’s place in town may not make them a living, but they should have enough to live on now after selling the place.

I wish I could have seen the crops on the old place once again before someone else took over.  Oh well!  By the time I can start out it’ll be like starting out fresh in a new neighborhood anyway.

It’s rather indefinite when I’m going to get back there.  I first thought I would get home for a furlough the first part of the year, but it begins to look doubtful.  Oh well, the later I get back there, the more chance I’ll have of not having to come back overseas again.

Well, I’ll close for this time, hoping you are well.