Posted by: notsofancynancy | May 19, 2015

Mockingbirds, natures early alert birds

I have been observing our mockingbirds. They are annoying birds that never stop talking, but I have come to love them. I know you are curious so I won’t hold back. They have now alerted me to the last four snakes in my yard. I now LOVE mockingbirds!

My Woman Cave

My Woman Cave, note the birdhouse on the left side just under the eve. There were babies in there

I live in the high desert of Southern California, two miles up a dirt road and have only two neighbors. Two sides of my property are nothing but desert. If you have followed me in the past you may have read my post “Snake Season.” I always know that I will encounter a snake this time of the year and once again I was not disappointed, well the only disappointment was that I saw one. I was really hoping for a snake free year. Bear with me this is good.

Snake on the fence!

Snake on the fence!

My husband and I have noticed that if there is a snake in the area the mocking birds act funny. They squawk, jump around on the ground. They throw their wings up trying to make themselves bigger. I now listen to them. Ok I am a little obsessed with them. Anytime I hear their squawk I pay attention. So was the case last week.

Like walking on a tightrope!

Like walking on a tightrope!

The day was warm and the desert breeze blew the sent of sage in the door. The dogs (I have four) were taking their after breakfast nap. All of a sudden I heard the squawk of the mockingbird and without knowing what was going on I got up to check but first I slowly walked into the kitchen and put the dog door on securing my dogs in the house.

Shoo, snake, shoo!

Shoo, snake, shoo!

Now the birds are really squawking and jumping around. I knew it was a snake even before I saw it. Snakes never cease to amaze me. I have seen them five foot up a pine tree and climbing. I still have not seen it but I know there, somewhere. I have two acres of land and we have fenced off a sub-yard of a nice size. When we got Chihuahua Roxi, she was so small she could have fit through the chain link so to keep her in and other animals out my hubby lined the fence with two feet of hardware cloth and has cemented the bottom to keep diggers in/out.

I am not closer to the snake I zoomed!

I am not closer to the snake I zoomed!

Ok it is time to go out and see what the ruckus is. I made the dogs stay in the house and pulled the slider shut, just in case. I was still hoping the it was just a false alarm, but the last three times they did this we had a snake. I watched those birds making a ruckus so my blood pressure was going up and was heart was beating faster. It was kind of like walking into a haunted house. I was that scared. I pulled up my panties and looked. AND I SAW IT!! It was on the top of my five foot fence trying to get to the birdhouse on the shed. OH MY GOODNESS!! (my thoughts had lots of expletives in it.) I may have peed a little .

The moment of truth. If it comes on the outside of the hardware cloth we are good.

The moment of truth. If it comes on the outside of the hardware cloth we are good.

I took a deep breath, lots of deep breaths The first order of business was to identify the species, well first I got the camera then I looked at the snake, Lets see. The facebook desert wildlife group I have belonged to have taught me a lot, so as I am trying to identify it as not being venomous so I have to look at it. Point tail, good sign, rounded head, ok, ok it is non venomous. My heart is still trying to beat out of my chest but I feel a bit better. Then it started to snake its way across the fence in the sub-yard. Lord please help me now. Funny, this whole time I am taking pictures until. . . That snake started winding its way down the fence. What I have not mentioned is this whole time I am trying to shoo that damn snake to the outside of the fence. Now he is almost down to the hardware cloth. I am shooing and cussing at the thing. If it goes on the outside of the sub-yard we are good. I wouldn’t have to do anything other than watch to make sure it gets out of the main yard. I am ok with them out there just don’t come in here where you can injure my dogs. I mean even though they are non-venomous they still bite! I know, I have seen it happen! Although it did get the dog out from under the shed, where she had been the last hour trying to kill that thing. But that is a whole other story. She was fine.


So where were we? The snake is coming down the fence, I am screaming and hollering, and the dogs are in the house barking at me making a fool out of myself by trying to shoo a snake out of the yard. What was I thinking? I want to make sure it did not get on the inside of the hardware cloth, but how in the hell is that going to happen? He was getting close and so I thought I am going to get the hose and try and squirt him out of the yard. It would work with a dog, It did not work on the snake. He slid right into the yard and then it curled up on the ground, looked at me and I swear it turned around and started licking the water off its back. Now it was trying to make me feel sorry for it. I am not falling for it! It did try to get out of the yard BUT THERE IS TWO FOOT OF HARDWARE CLOTH SO IT CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET OVER IT!! OMG will this day ever end? That is it I can’t win I am out of there. The mocking birds were on their own!

It is licking the water off its back

It is licking the water off its back

I am in the house now watching it come straight for the window I am looking out of. I reach up and lock the window. It lied in the shade of the porch swing for a bit and I watch it make a left and skirt the cement patio. I ran over and locked the sliding glass door and watched as the snake got with in two feet of the side of the house. I was now watching it as it was heading towards the garden. The last time I saw it, it had crawled under the box that covers the water valves. I was not  lifting it off to see if it was under there. I got the dogs settled and tried to relax. It was one o’clock and hubby would be home at three. I would just wait for him to come home and make sure it was all clear.

Home free, on its way out of the yard

Home free, on its way out of the yard

Ok I did go out and tried to look in the side of the box, without getting to close but I could not get a good view. I checked a few more times but the view never changed. In the house our old deaf dog, Max kept checking to see if the dog door was open. Click, click, click of his toenails across the linoleum in the kitchen and then back, click, click, click. Every ten minutes he checked. Doug got home a bit after three and from the window I watched as he slowly lifted the box off the valve. It was not there. Darn it I NEED to know it is not where it can encounter our dogs. My hubby located it in the garden. He got the grabber and lifted it over the garden fence and we watched as it made its way out of the yard. As I look back on this incident I realize three things. One, snakes can climb. Two, you cannot shoo a snake, like you do a dog, and three, mockingbirds ARE natures early snake alert birds. Now if I hear the snake squawk I will certainly listen. I do love my mockingbirds now.

Posted by: notsofancynancy | May 11, 2015

Where have you been notsofancynancy?

I know it has been awhile but ………………


Some things

I spent the last three years with my dad’s story and although the journey is still amazing I needed to find another hobby and take some time away from it. I have some ideas about all the information I have, maybe a smaller book. Who knows?? In the meantime I continue to have people who are connected with the 110th/35 Quartermaster contact me. I now consider myself the unofficial historian of my dad’s Division.

Made this pig headband

Made this pig headband

I am not the kind of person who follows the crowd; I am the one who will stay behind just because everyone else IS. When I was growing up Grandma Susie and Mom crocheted. Then when my sister got older she did. Then my sister Sharon did and even “My sister the Clown,” does. They made all kind of stuff throughout the years, doilies, Afghans, and at Christmas watch out. They made all kinds of little things like Santa’s, and ornaments, toilet paper and Kleenex covers. I tried a couple of time and things did not turn out straight, and hats had big holes in it. I did not have the patience or focus to do it. One time while I was sick I made a blanket, it was boring and drove me nuts, and took forever.

Ok I did make SOME Christmas items

Ok I did make SOME Christmas items


                         Princess Kiva

Roxi sports a beanie

Roxi sports a beanie

This new adventure started innocent enough. I had a friend from the dog club who lived about a mile from us. She had five cats and two dogs. I cat sat for her once (I don’t do cats) and she ended up giving me a whole bunch of yarn. Years later she moved to Texas and she gave me a bunch more yarn. Now I had a whole huge tub of yarn. I decided I had to give crocheting another try and although it took a really long time I made a nice blanket, then another, and another, then three more. I thought I would never get through all that yarn. It seemed I had a never ending supply of yarn. I even wonderer if the supply multiplied at night. This was about Thanksgiving last year and it was freezing in the high desert. I belong to a local news group on Facebook and they were collecting stuff for our local homeless, warm blankets, coats, anything to keep them warm. They hit a cord with me when they mentioned how many of our homeless are veterans. I decided to make hats for the homeless. Between Thanksgiving of 2014, until after the first of the year I made and donated close to 80 hats. I really became good at it but I still had the stigma of all my family doing it, thing, but I decided I would check for some patterns.


Then it happened! My cousin, Susan told me about Pinterest. I cannot believe how many free patterns there are out there and I am now thankful. I found a really nice lady, Zelna Olivier and her blog “Zooty Owls Crafty Blog.”. Zelna changed the way I looked at crocheting. She creates pieces of art, in beautiful, amazing colors and that is how I can justify it. I am not crocheting I am creating works of art. They kind of look like doilies but I call them Mandela’s I have opened a shop on Etsy, called “Hot off the Hook 4U.” What I love about Etsy is their Custom Order feature. With each and every Special/Custom order I get to create an item just for you. If you want you can be a part of every step of the creating from choosing the yarn colors, to the pattern as it goes along. They provide a place for us to personal message each other and I can update you with pictures. I love this! I can create and get your feedback on the thing that IS hardest for me, choosing colors and patterns. I can take any pattern and custom make it just for you. I have been lucky enough to have created two tablecloths this way. We took the basic pattern and worked it until we got it the right size. It was such a fun experience. I loved it.

Doily on Doris Cain's table

Doily on Doris Cain’s table

One of my friends contacted me and he wanted a table topper for his man cave. At first I thought he was crazy! I crochet, how am I going to make something that would fit in a man cave décor? He wanted me to try to make something that looked like a tire. We collaborated and came up with this! He loves it and there is no way my family ever made anything like this! I mean they did not have man caves in the old days. There is no way you can call that a doily!

Small ones

              The infamous “4×4 Tires”


                   Showing the tread


Small ones

Big ones

Big ones

My plan is when the weather gets cold I will take all the odds and ends and once again give back by making more hats for our homeless. Who knows maybe other local people will want to get together and chat while we all make them. I can even teach you! That would be fun!

Visit me on Etsy; Hot off the Hook 4u

Some really big ones!

                Some really big ones!

Black and white ones

               Black and white ones

All different, shapes, sizes and colors

All different, shapes, sizes and colors

Posted by: notsofancynancy | December 13, 2014

My Brother is Santa Claus

Santa’s Updated 2012 look

In the past I divulged the secret of my sister in “My Sister is a Clown,” well now I have another confession. My brother is Santa Claus. Shhhhh, don’t tell the kids. Of course being Santa and all, his wife is the famous Mrs. Claus.

Santa and Mrs. Claus

He already has to disguise himself in the off season.

Santa in disguise.

But that does not stop the kids from recognizing him. A couple of years ago a young tot thought she was so special when Santa came to her house for Christmas Eve dinner. That was with no prompting from adults. He did not even have his red suit on, but donned shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. She kept saying “Look at me Santa!” and “Santa watch this!” When asked the next day, who had come to her house for dinner she cutely replied with a sweet innocent smile, “Santa!”

Some of the year he hides at the Renaissance Faire

Santa and Mrs. Claus in the summer

All in all I have quite the family. Sonshine the Clown, Santa Clause and the Seamstress who make the Emperor’s new cloths. What? I didn’t tell you about the seamstress? Well, I have to keep some secrets.

Today I am thankful for my brother, Santa Claus and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Posted by: notsofancynancy | December 3, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 14, Camp Rucker

Now with updated picture, Special thanks to the family of Marvin Cain

The Suitcase

Camp Rucker, Alabama

Chapter 14

May 1943 letter

In the last chapter we found my father in intense, or at least what he thinks is intense training and learning about Chemical Warfare in Camp Rucker, Alabama. It seems they are really trying to get all of these men ready to fight in the upcoming war. Dad has gone through marksmanship training and also machine gun training. I wonder if they are still trying to make him shoot right-handed. He mentioned it early on in the letters but has not mentioned it again. Dad’s discharge papers tell me that he got a medal for Rifle Sharpshooter in October 1942 (click here to learn more)and would go on to get his Carbine Sharpshooter(click here to learn more) in March 1944.

From Dad’s Discharge Papers

7 May 1943 he writes,

It is about time I found time to write you. Haven’t much time now. It’s about 6:40 and we have class at 7:00. I have been one of the busiest boys you have ever seen. The last 4 days. Today won’t be bad though. Chemical Warfare school was rough. I came in third in the class but it took some work. You can blame Colonel Cobb about not hearing from me. I never studied so hard in my life. 8 hours a day classes and I never got to bed before 12 at night and I wasn’t running around. We have a truck and ordnance Inspection the 12th and Personal ins.(inspection) On the 23. They cancelled furloughs for 15 days so I guess it will be a good one. It will be by 7th Corps and that means rooouuuggghhh [sic] so it will be busy for a while yet.

The Chemical Warfare classes sound like they took most of the day. So they are not doing much other than learning about this nasty way of fighting. It does not seem that they would have much time for anything else. You can tell he is in a hurry as the letter has been hastily written. I do not like that fact that my dad might need this training in the near future.

9 May 1943

I saw “My Friend Flicker” [sic] tonight it was good. Wasn’t there some good scenery in it. Boy we went up to go about 1:15 minutes ahead of time and there was a line ahead of us about a block and a half long. God I hate to waite. [sic] Nothing has happened here I filled an application for a specialist school yesterday and I guess only 2 from the Company goes so I probably won’t have a chance. Anyway it was a good idea. Go to college. Wouldn’t that be nice.

(Read about “My Friend Flicka” here.)

Marvin Cain Wrote " Camp Rucker" Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain Wrote ” Camp Rucker” Courtesy of the Cain Family

I wonder how different our lives would have been had they let him into that school? I mean I don’t believe he went as he comes out of the Army driving a truck, same as he is doing at this time.

16 May he angrily writes,

Just to show you what kind of an a-hole we have for a captain we have last week we passed three inspections and one drivers test. We were second in the division on the drivers test with an average of 97 and in the inspections we rates as excellent by our own I.G. (Inspector General) and by the I. G. of the second army we were rated one of the best QM he had ever inspected. The other one we passed satisfactory. Oh yes we had an ordnance (inspection) by the 7th corps and they said we were some of the cleanest rifles they had ever seen. Then the Capt. Have guts enough to call a non-com meeting and really chew us about 20 minutes worth. And say it wasn’t us but by the grace of God and Good luck we passed it. He was the only one who did anything to aid the cause.  So we have about all quit. He gets all the credit let him have the work too. Waite[sic] until next week until we get a chance to talk to the I.G.(inspector General) The closer the 23rd gets the harder they drive us. Believe me by next Saturday we will be going night and day. Last week I was on duty 5 nights and that wasn’t anything.  The 23rd starts our 7th Comp. Inspection and we have to be good. At least they say so. If I were as sure about some of the officers passing as the E.M (Enlisted men) I wouldn’t worry.

He sure is mad. I can understand it when he feels like he has been so cheated. Plus he has all this training in Chemical Warfare to learn. It seems as though he does not have time for anything more than what the Army is asking of him. The uncertainty of things to come and the training they are putting him through starts to show in the following letters. It is evident in the hurried script of his handwriting, but he still finds time to write almost every day.

1940 Era Gas Mask

(Courtesy of

(Click here to learn more about the 1940’s troops preparing for war)

20 May

I have been in school again. And about all we had we the same thing we learned before. Anyway we put in 8 hours and have 8 more tomorrow. Then we have a four hour test. The test consists of decontaminating 96.67% pure mustard gas. If we get burned and have to go to the hospital we flunk the test. Doesn’t that sound good. Any way I hope it [sic] good. I think I told you I had some poison oak. Well I have one hand. I am going to the Medics with it in the morning. I can hardly close it and have some good size blisters between my fingers. It is about to drive me nuts. Are they ever excited about the inspection next week. Boy we are getting everything ready. I hope we don’t even get to first base. But damnit when we all get in a mood like that we run into lady luck again and pass it. That is the way it goes. I guess I won’t make that specialist school. You have to have at least one year in college and I haven’t.   So I guess I’ll just have to wait until something else comes along. Oh well the army is the Army whenever you find it.

What does that mean! How does one decontaminate mustard gas? Does one not need to be in contact with said gasses to decontaminate them?

21 May

I have been on the range running targets. Boy what a time. We have 60 men who have to qualify and maybe we will get through this day firing and rifle marksmanship. So all the Non-Coms in the pits have made up our minds to give them enough points to pass the. In two cases this afternoon I know of a couple of scores that couldn’t have been over 6 and we gave them 20-22 to get through with the affair. They can’t shoot so something has to be done. No Bob didn’t get married but I guess she is coming down and they are then.

That does not sound like good odds. It just brings more questions than it does answers.

Marvin Cain Wrote "Camp Rucker" Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain Wrote “Camp Rucker” Courtesy of the Cain Family

25 May

Two fellows took a jeep and went to town the other nite [sic]. They got caught and were both busted and grounded. Man was that bad and one was in my squad and also a good driver. He might be able to drive later I hope.

It kind of reminds me of a day in the past in a little town in Arkansas where Dad drove his buddies somewhere other than the picnic he was suppose to be headed to. He ended up running into the front of the convoy. But they did not get in trouble. It seems that the Army is keeping a tighter rein on the soldiers.

27 May

We just had a blackout. Gosh what an experience. We had to move out in the dark and all and all that. About 2 minutes after the whistle started we couldn’t see anything. Less than four we were moved out. How is that for efficiency. Of course it was just part of the inspection. I don’t know how much area it covered. It lasted about 20 minutes of course I didn’t time it. The inspections have been going damn good. At least I think so. In the last two days I have skipped five classes on of them were at night. And one inspection. So I haven’t done so bad. You see a certain portion of the Platoon is called at a time to be inspected Well my squad was inspected on Field Sanitation and today we had 30 minutes to pitch pup tents display full field equipment and strike tents. We did it in 25. Beat the old Recon troop by 8 minutes and got another excellent for the Company. The rest I have skipped. I would have missed that too but they caught up with me. To tell you the truth I don’t give a damn anymore and I am acting the same way. So as I have said before don’t be surprised if you have to start writing a private.  The last rumor I hear today is that we are moving to Ft. Ord. But then I know we have 26 weeks more of Combat training and them we have maneuvers. By that time I will be in a padded cell so I won’t have to worry. Bob says hello.

I can still feel the desperation in his words. In Chapter 11 we hear about my Grandpop going through a “blackout” in Pasadena. (Click Here to read it)  Here is a glimpse into what the soldiers went through when they were on “blackout.”

Viola in 1942

There are 10 letters in June 1943 on 1 May he writes,

Another day another dollar, Still nothing done to help win the war. I’m sure in the dumps. Boy what will the kids think of an old man who couldn’t even get across in three years. I am almost in the mood to take a bust and joining the Rangers. We can now. But only Pvt. And Pfc’s can though. It sure wouldn’t take much coaxing. I sure hope you had a good time at the beach. I know you did so take care of the sunburns and all the insect bites. If you find any smears on here it is sweat. Man is it hot. And I want to go to a dance after a while. I’ll bet that is a hot place. There are over 400 WAAC’s in Camp. Maybe they will come up and we will have enough women. I hope. I just found out something for sure. Today was Bob’s birthday. I knew it was soon but not exactly when. I am in a heating[sic] up mood I have another letter after I finish this and then carry on so take it easy.

8 June

Gosh Darling I sure feel good tonight for some reason or other. Maybe it’s because I got cussed out twice today. Gosh I am reforming. Bob and I have just been discussing again. Maybe I am wrong about Madeline not liking me. But I’ll take my hunch until proven not guilty. We had a bitching session about recreation today. The Special Service Officer is going to try to arrange a dance in Enterprise and invite the WAAC’s. I guess we go into the fields for a week starting around the 14. Boy will that help pass some time until I get out. I wrote home for my money yesterday. I am getting all in the mood. By the way darling what kind of chewing gum do you like best. We can buy it here two packs at a time and I sure have been stocking up. So name your favorite kind. Gosh Darling I still don’t know about getting married. I sure hate to put it off and I hate to get married and not have you with me. Lets waite [sic] and talk it over between Mom, Pop, you, and I. How about that? Maybe they wouldn’t like the idea anyway? After I read your letter I would have gotten married right then and not even thought about the things we should. I damn near cried. Baby, ain’t [sic] I. By now though I have only read it about a dozen times through. See Darling I do love you and like your letters very much. Bye Darling, Love always, Lefty.

Lefty and Vi, in Kansas Dad’s first leave

It seems like Dad has gotten some kind of encouragement from Mom. I think it is sweet that Dad wants her Mom and Dad a part of the planning process. I wonder if he ever gets the chance to sit down with Pop and Grandma. I wonder if it is true or just the dream of his to be married before he sees action. It seems like he has been teasing Mom about getting married since about 1938 and here in 1943, five years later he is still waiting in the wings to sweep her off her feet. Will she let him?

© Copyright  notsofancynancy 2012

Posted by: notsofancynancy | November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 1944

Dad Wrote "Chateau of Chow" Mr. Cain wrote " Chow, St. Max"

Dad Wrote “Chateau of Chow” Mr. Cain wrote ” Chow, St. Max”

I was reading on the Veterans Facebook page and they were asking for stories about Thanksgiving while being deployed. I wondered what exactly where dad was and what he was up to. Here is his letter from that day.

23 November 1944, near Chateau-Salins, France

My Darling Wife,

Say Mommie you don’t know how near you came to not getting a letter tonight. After chow I put on water and took a bath and washed my pinkies. Then made my bed laid down and was almost asleep. Had I completed the letter you would have been neglected, but today being Thanksgiving I just couldn’t do that. We sure had a good dinner. Turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberries, peas and carrots, raisin bread apple cobbler and of course coffee. It was really good too. But supper killed that. Spam again. Say in case you can’t read this I’m all cramped up trying to write in bed. Have to be in a bad position in order to see. Again I didn’t get any mail. But a couple of men got packages so we ate. But again that isn’t helping my morale anyway. We still have tomorrow though and when we haven’t that to look forward to we won’t need the mail. Have been looking at our picture. Honey you know you’re the prettiest woman I know. Gosh I love you so much my darling. If I don’t get on the ball your [sic] going to miss tonight-anyway. I got to thinking about you and that’s as far as I got. Gee honey I miss you so much. I haven’t anything to say now except how much I love you. I love you so much my Darling. I hope you and Jr are getting along ok. I wouldn’t want either of you getting sick now. It just won’t pay. I love you honey. I love you so much. I love you. I love you.

All my love,

your husband, Lefty

Please take a moment and say a prayer for all those deployed. I hope they are not having to eat Spam

Posted by: notsofancynancy | November 18, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 13, On the Move

Now with updated pictures! You can click on the pictures to view larger.

The Suitcase

Chapter 13

On the Move

Marvin Cain wrote "Odell, Byfield, Hayes, Blank"  Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain wrote “Odell, Byfield, Hayes, Blank” Courtesy of the Cain Family

Since shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, my father and his regiment were sent to help guard the coast of California. He remains there for a year and three months. He is a truck driver and is driving supplies and soldiers all up and down the coast of Southern California. He has been able to get quite a few furloughs and is able to visit my mom and her family who are now living down the coast from him in Pasadena, California. From Dad’s letters it seems like Mom is dating other men. I really cannot blame her with all those handsome soldiers around. According to Pop’s letters he spoke about Pasadena,There sure are a lot of soldiers around here. They have camps every place where there is any defense industry.”  So there would have been plenty of opportunity to do so. On 19 March 1943 Dad writes his last letter from the California coast. Dad has been in the Army since 23 December 1940. He thought he would only have to serve a year. It has been two years and three months.

I love that saying, “Just when you have things figured out God changes the rules.”  Now I have to say, just when you fall in love the Army will move you.  Dad is on the move once again. Is this a move to go overseas or just more training?

Camp Rucker

Picture Courtesy of Encyclopedia of Alabama

His next letter is postmarked Camp Rucker, Alabama.  According to Wikipedia,

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the War Department decided to add a number of new bases for training the military to fight.  Alabama had 58,000 acres of Alabama wilderness along with some farmlands available. Fort Rucker was opened the 1 May 1942 as “Camp Rucker.”  It was large enough to house 44,000 soldiers.

There are twelve letters just in April 1943. The next is dated 3 April 1943 and he writes,

Got your letter today. And was I ever glad to hear from you. I should have written but we couldn’t send anything from the train. So what was the use. I like the Camp here but that is all there is to like. The climate, the wind, sand, and all the rest isn’t so good. I really believe it is the best camp we have been in. I’ll probably change my mind a hundred times before we move out. I guess we have 13 weeks training again and then no one knows what will happen. Boy things are stirred up. Maybe we should have gotten married while I was there. Lots of fellows did. Our nearest town is 30 miles. Don’t ask me which way. I haven’t been there yet. Don’t think I will get there soon either. Seems to me as if I should save some money now. My vacation is over now. I think I am going to turn down my next furlough. No future in going home. At least when you can’t see the right person.

He goes on that he had a nice trip from California to Alabama and they took almost the same route they did on the way to California from Arkansas. They traveled through eight states which only left Mississippi that he had never been to so he adds that to the list he is keeping of new states he visits.

“Erceil, Byfield, Scholl, Kennedy, kitchen door on the train to Camp Rucker, Al” Erceil Sellers Collection

In his letter dated 5 April he says he has turned his furlough down because he is so far away from Mom in California. He goes on,

You see I even turned my furlough down. I am trying to sell it. Maybe I can make a little profit out of the deal. We have our first touch of what our training is going to be like. Well so far it is not bad but I bet that will change. I guess we will be wearing shirt sleeves starting on the 15 so you see we have a different climate here than there. We work year round there. We had a two mile road march and along with that we ran the obstickle [sic] course twice. It isn’t as bad as the one there, but bad enough. They say this one is the worse [sic] one in the U.S. I don’t believe it. I ran this one in 3 minutes and the one out there in 6. So you can see the difference. Anyway we took off on through the woods on our hike and it sure was like Little Rock. Boy it was like home. I mean Arkansas. After all we are the adopted sons of Arkansas.

Sell it? Did you know men sold their furloughs? Did the Army know they were selling furloughs? I have never heard of such a thing, have you?

What he says next confuses me.

Say in my last letter I aimed to ask you more thoroughly what was the matter with you and Emile. [Who is Emile?]  If it’s anything I could have caused. If so I am sorry. If not well tell him to be careful. I hate to have my future wife beaten up. Bob is well and talks as much as ever. He says hello.

I just don’t understand this and I am not sure who Emile is. Is this the rumored fiancé? Was he there when Dad went to visit Mom? It sure sounds like it to me. Just more questions.

Marvin Cain wrote "Going onto a ferry to cross the Mississippi River at Baron Rouge La. On our way from Calif to Camp Rucker Ala."  Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain wrote “Going onto a ferry to cross the Mississippi River at Baron Rouge La. On our way from Calif to Camp Rucker Ala.” Courtesy of the Cain Family

If Dad’s buddy Bob is still stationed with him I am sure he will be able to get news from home. Bob did come from the same hometown, and many of the men in the regiment were from small towns in all around them.

There is a letter almost every day, now. I want to get the most historical stuff documented, so here we go.

Man what a life. Something happening every day. Always the same though. Now we are suppose[d] to run 30 minutes before the 17th.  Well if they would promise me a 30 day furlough maybe I could do it but otherwise I don’t think I’ll be able to. Besides you do not get any more [pay] for doing it than otherwise. We can double time for about 10 minutes now and have only been trying two days. That is the most of us can. We have another road maneuver tomorrow afternoon. Besides one hour close order drill. Maybe you think that doesn’t bring up a sweat. Boy I’ll bet if I were to weigh now the scales would have to pay me. We really have a rough training schedule ahead of us. Believe me when one gets a furlough now you have to take a written examination to see if you are well trained enough. If you don’t pass no furlough. I turned mine down. Maybe later I will get a better deal. None at all.

I guess they are really cracking down on getting the soldier’s educated.  I read somewhere that once they drafted all these men into the Armed Forces their education level was not where it needed to be to understand the Army’s written instructions. Somewhere Dad talks about how they want them all to be educated through high school and one year of college under their belts. I wonder how long a year of school is in the Army.  It seems to me Dad has been in school for 2 years and five months and he is still in school learning how to fight in a war.

April 1943 letter

Dad is using paper provided by the Army, and it is very thin and could be used for toilet paper

10 April

You talk about missing me. Well I miss you probably a lot more—not because I am away from home but because I have no place to go.  I mean of interest. If I didn’t keep myself busy all the time I would probably go nuts. When I come in at night I am just dead. That tired. Therefore I go straight to bed and don’t have any time to lay [sic] around and think. Saturday afternoon and Sunday are the worse. And I sure hate for them to come around. But within a limited time we will be busy then also. So all we have to do is waite[sic]. And I guess if 5,000,000 others can do it I should. Maybe sometime we can catch up on lost time.

He goes on to talk more about his training.  He does not seem to think that the obstacle course is as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It seems the reason it is not so bad is the two hour hike they do afterward. They have to trudge through thick Alabama underbrush and he feels like this is harder to get though than the course. He goes on to write,

“Vi” are you sure I didn’t just catch you on the rebounds from John. I was afraid that was the way when I was there. That is why I really didn’t want to get married then. It happens that way a lot and marriage doesn’t last. When I get hitched I want it to be the one and only. And everyone has to enjoy it. That is everyone envolved [sic] therefore I want someone whom I can trust and that trusts me. Other wise no deal.

Wait! Who is John? This is the first I heard of a John. Man, I cannot keep up with Mom. And what is up with the statement about trust. Why is he bringing it up now and they talked about marriage? This is really a side of my parents I have never known.

Is this one of the men Mom dated?

This is definitely not my dad. Could this be John? Is this one of the other men Mom dated?

13 April 1943

Most of the New Yorkers are here but they are in the Service Platoon and I am in the third truck Platoon so we don’t see much of each other. (Goody Goody) I guess we loose [sic] the whole service Platoon though so that will be O.K. A new T.O. [Training Officer] is coming down and that breaks the Company again and forms a railhead Company. It will be better that way because there will be more men envolved [sic] and can take care of the railheads. Man can you figure that out. If you do tell me what I meant.  Don’t wreck yourself on those skates after all I want something left when I get to see you again. Bob and I went to a show here in Camp last night. Man was there ever a crowd. One time I was going to pick up my feet and see if I could stay there with out them. The crowd was that thick. Well I couldn’t pick them up. They were standing on them too. It was a good show though “Happy Go Lucky.” Only I am on CQ (Charge of Quarters) today and can’t get out.

The Army terminology has thrown me off a bit. I am not up to par with what all the letters mean, such as CQ. When I was reading articles on Word Press one day I came upon an article called “CQ.”  It was written by blogger, Chris Connell on his Falling Down to You, Word Press blog. I knew I had seen those letters in what I had read that day. Was this fate? How was it that that exact poem was in my blog reader that day? Did my father have anything to do with this, I wonder? I was going to research a few of those letter combinations just as soon as I finished with reading posts and I did not have to go any further than the Word Press Reader. Now I have a firsthand account of what CQ meant in fact here there was a whole poem about it. I read it and could not believe how his words fit exactly with the way Dad talks when he is Charge of Quarters. I don’t know much about blogster Chris, other than he can capture feelings only a soldier who has served has felt. I do know he is a Paratrooper in the Army and he has served in Afghanistan. I will take a moment here to thank him for his Service.  Thank you Chris!

 CQ (Charge of Quarters)

Such a long night

Worse than them all

I’m losing focus

Just staring at the wall

Getting groggy

Now my pants are soggy

What the hell

What did I do

Okay, nothing to worry about

I just spilled my Mountain Dew

But I’m starting to see things

Like dancing flowers

Are you sure it’s only 24 hours?

Things are bouncing around

Careening around my head

I just want to beg

Sarge! Just let me go to bed!

Waking up

Watching the drunk ones come

Can’t help but laugh

They look so dumb

Queen Mab keeps calling me

Taunting me with sleep

In which I want to flee

Away to her dreamscape

I would love to go

Instead I am stuck staying up late

It’s been a tiring week

My legs hurt and my back aches

Though it should

It’s not helping me stay awake

Half past two

Only six more hours to go

But be glad it’s not you

Because this really sucks

Being on CQ

15 April

Bob leaves on his furlough tonight. Man is he a happy lad. He will probably come back a married man. He hopes. He has been going to Catholic school and all that. Maybe he won’t though. He says maybe. But he thinks he will waite [sic] until after the war.

So it sounds like Bob is serious about his girl, Madeline. Dad goes on to talk about how if all four of them get married they can all live in the same neighborhood and how all their kids would grow up together. Dad seems to think Little Rock, Arkansas is just the place to do it.

April 1943 letter1

Mom wrote on each letter, “ans” to make sure she answered each one.

16 April

Remember that training schedule I told you about. We have to be able to run 30 minutes by the 17th. Well three of us ran 32 this morning. Man that is a long time. In high school 1 mile seemed long but we ran about 3 this morning. Overall it didn’t seem to hurt us much but our legs sure knotted up. I am a little stiff but I believe I can do it again. Altogether I sent home $52 out of my base pay last month, 7.70 for insurance and 1.50 for laundry. About 3 for dry cleaning. Not bad huh. Had 5 left to start with. Have 3 left of that. So I have not done to [sic] bad.

If you add up those totals you come up with $69.20 cents. I am not sure how often he gets paid but that sure isn’t a lot. It is a good thing the Army is picking up his room and board. How long does he have to make that three-dollars last?

Marvin Cain Wrote "Camp Rucker"  Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain Wrote “Camp Rucker” Courtesy of the Cain Family

19 April

The pictures were grand. Only one thing. What makes you think you would get any back now. We had to send our cameras home .I have been over to the Chemical Warfare warehouse. I might get a chance to transfer there. In case I do I will get a Sgts. [Sargent] Rating and be in charge of supplies not bad huh. Boy that will be interesting anyway. Issuing gas and equipment. This isn’t supposed to be out but I sure hope I can make it. You see a staff Sgt is all I can get here and there I can make master if I have luck. And it can’t take any longer to [get] somewhere than here. Have been here 2 ½ yeasr and only a Cpl. [Corporal] Anyway I live in hope. My legs were sure sore for a couple of days after running that 32 minutes. O.K. now though. I guess I am going to live after all.

Chemical Warfare?  I don’t think I ever thought about the soldiers needed training in Chemical Warfare before. From what I have read about it Mustard Gas was used in World War I. It was a horrible chemical that was used to injure people but this gas caused death. That is sure a scary class but they would need all this training. I sure wish he would go into more detail about what he saw or did while he is there. It is also interesting to note that they had to send their cameras home.

24 April

We got a man back who went A.W.O.L. for about 25 days. He only got 1 year, a D.D. and a forfeit of all pay. Not bad for that long. We thought at first he was going to get away with it but they laid it on, Think if you had something like that to look forward to. He went and got married while he was gone.

Interesting I wonder who this was? He got a D.D. which assume was a Dishonorable Discharge or maybe Drunk and Disorderly but still ended up doing a year behind bars. It makes me wonder how many others had gone A.W.O.L in the years leading up to this war.

27 April

I figured out what I would be making if I got married. $107.33. Not bad huh. Of course Dad would get $20 my insurance would get $7.39 and laundry and dry cleaning about $4 the rest would be practically clear. We haven’t gone on any maneuvers as such as yet. We are training though and that means a lot. We have had the same thing about 60 times. Why in the hell don’t they just send us across. We could shoot our way out then.  I am getting so damn disgusted.  I told one kid in my marksmanship class today I hoped the first jap he saw got him. He really boiled me over. I guess Bob will be back about Sunday. Anyway he should be. I wonder did he or did he not get married. If he did I will. How’s that?

That would be a big payday? A little over one hundred dollars and he would be clear a whopping 76 dollars a month? Wow that sure puts things into perspective.  Can you imagine having 70 dollars to spend for a month?  Dad has mentioned several times throughout his letters that he expects Mom to work when they get married.  I can see why he thinks she would have to by looking at these figures.

30 April

I have to go to Chemical Welfare school all next week.  That should be good. If Colonel Cobb teaches it I know I will. I have heard him before and I know what he is like. I’ll tell you what we will have one boy and a girl and see how that turns out. Say maybe you might say when you said if I got back out on the coast we wouldn’t waite [sic] anyway the latest rumor is will be there in about 4 months. Of course that is just a rumor. But one can pray can’t one. God darling I hope so.  This place is sure getting me down. I believe that if I really let myself go I could really get some good fighting done. It is about to drive us all nuts and the officers ain’t much better. In fact a hell of a lot worst [sic].

Dad has also been insistent he only wanted two kids. This month, one of each sex is his choice.  It seems as though each time it comes up Mom always chooses the bigger number. It is interesting but I have always been under the assumption that Dad wanted a bunch of kids and Mom only wanted one. I guess you will have to read the whole book in order to find out how many they end up with. I will never tell, well not until the end of the story.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Posted by: notsofancynancy | November 8, 2014

8th of November Documentary

Early on in their career Country Duo, Big and Rich spent some time in Deadwood South Dakota. In fact most of the songs on their first album were written there. While there they met Niels Harris and heard his tale of being in Vietnam. Niels was sent overseas with the 173rd Airborne and found himself and fellow soldiers in the middle of a jungle and ambushed by 1200 enemy soldier out numbering his unit three times. According to Deadwood Mountain Grand,”

Just 19, Niles was assigned to the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade. On November 5, 1965, he and his fellow soldiers of C Company landed in Vietnam’s War Zone D near Bien Hoa. Three days later, on the 8th of November, B and C Companies found themselves in a fierce battle with 1,200 Viet Cong soldiers equipped with machine guns, claymores and sniper rifles.

At the end of the battle, 48 Americans and more than 400 Viet Cong were dead. Many more U.S. soldiers were wounded, including Niles. His right leg, from knee to hip, was hit by machine gun fire.

Here is Big and Rich’s 8th of November Documentary

Join me in Honoring Niles Harris 173rd Airborne and the tragedy that happened on the 8th of November 1965. This is their story. Let us never forget!

Here are the Lyrics

{Hello, I’m Kris Kristofferson On November 8th, 1965, the  173rd Airborne Brigade on Operation Hump War Zone D in Vietnam were ambushed by  over 1200 V.C.Forty-eight American  soldiers lost their lives that day}

{Severely wounded  and riskin’ his own life, Lawrence Joel, a medic Was the first livin’  black man since the Spanish-American War To receive the United States Medal of Honor For savin’ so many lives in the midst of battle that  day}

{Our friend, Niles Harris,  retired 25 years, United States Army The guy who gave Big Kenny his top hat Was one of the wounded who lived This song is his story}

{Caught  in the action of ‘kill or be killed ‘”Greater  love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend”}

Said goodbye to his mamma
As he left South Dakota
To fight for the Red, White, and Blue.
He was nineteen and green with a new M-16
Just doing what he had to do.

He was dropped in the jungle
Where the choppers would rumble
With the smell of napalm in the air.
And the sergeant said, “Look up ahead”

Like a dark, evil cloud
1,200 came down
on him and 29 more.
They fought for their lives
But most of them died
In the 173rd Airborne.

On the 8th of November,
The angels were crying
As they carried his brothers away.
With the fire raining down
And the Hell all around
There were few men left standing that day.
Saw the eagle fly,
Through a clear, blue sky
1965, the 8th of November.

Now he’s fifty-eight
And his ponytail’s grey
But the battle still plays in his head.
He limps when he walks,
But he’s strong when he talks
About the shrapnel they left in his leg.

He puts on a grey suit
Over his Airborne tattoo
And He ties it on one time a year
And remembers the fallen,
As he orders a tall one
And swallows it down with his tears.

On the 8th of November,
The angels were crying
As they carried his brothers away.
With the fire raining down
And the Hell all around
There were few men left standing that day.
Saw the eagle fly,
Through a clear, blue sky
1965, the 8th of November.

Saw the eagle fly,
Through a clear, blue sky

On the 8th of November,
The angels were crying
As they carried his brothers away.
With the fire raining down
And the Hell all around
There were few men left standing that day.

On the 8th of November,
The angels were crying
As they carried his brothers away.
With the fire raining down
And the Hell all around,
There were few men left standing that day.
Saw the eagle fly,
Through a clear, blue sky
1965, the 8th of November.

The 8th of November
The 8th of November

He said goodbye to his mamma
As he left South Dakota
To fight for the Red, White, and Blue.
He was nineteen and green with a new M-16
Just doing what he had to do.


Posted by: notsofancynancy | November 5, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 12, Training Year Three

The Suitcase

Training Year Three

Chapter 12

1942 was a big year for my family and with both Mom and Dad ending up on the California coast at the same time; it has to be far more than a coincidence. Hum, Divinely orchestrated, I would say. So far in their relationship it seems like Dad is doing all the chasing. I sure wish that I had Mom’s letters. To me it sure seems like she is leading him on but I would be speculating. Thank goodness my brain decided to forget what I had been told growing up because as with you, this is all new to me. And at the same time I am thankful I am writing it down now so I don’t forget it again.

Left-All of the letters Right With 1937-1942 missing = how many I have left

This is where it is going to get hard in putting this story into words.  There are 132 letters in 1943, So Dad starts writing a lot. There are sixteen total in January, February, and March. My Dad is stationed in San Luis Obispo, 200 miles from where my Mom is living in Pasadena. He had told Mom that he was going to come down over New Years Eve but he did not get off until 8:00pm.  He would have had to find a way to get there, and by the time he did it would have been time for him to start back to the base. He wishes her a happy birthday which is on the 11th and in 1943 she turned 20. Is that not old for back in those days?

Dad begins to speak about a fellow soldier by the name of Robert “Bob” Winter quite a bit at this time. I am not sure if he has just gotten there or if he has been with the unit all along. I don’t remember my father speaking to me about him but Bob’s name comes up quite a bit in these three months and from now on in my dad’s letters. I get the feeling that Bob has met my mom somehow as dad is acting like they have met. Interesting enough Bob is from the same small town my father’s family was, Cozad, Nebraska. It makes me wonder if they might have known each other before the war. It is very possible.

Robert “Bob” Winter’s note written on Dad’s letter 20 March 1942

January on the coast of California can be pretty wet and 1943 was no different. My father complains he threw a towel over his shoulder and went to the wash room which was only 40 steps about from him and the towel was soaked with rain.  When he tried to dry off after the shower he was still wet.

In his letter dated 25 January 1943 he writes,

Know I wasn’t the one who got mad. Not Mad “Vi” just a feeling as usual of playing second fiddle. Only this time it won’t work. Friends yes, but nothing more. You see if things had turned out right Sat. nite [sic] it might have been different but why should I carry on with the feeling that someone else has you and I haven’t even a smell. I thought the world of you until Sat. nite [Sic] but somehow it has changed now. Everyone was in the story but me. I was miles away. So again have lost. But me I can take it I guess. Have lived all my life that way and so why change now. Anyway as in three faces before I held my end up and will continue to do so. Remember we are still friends.

I guess he told her or she told him? I am really not sure. In this letter Dad includes a cartoon and a newspaper clipping. The clipping is a poem titled “We got the Basin Blues” Written by Private Eddie Cherokose, Fort Mc Arthur

A sleepy Latrine,

A pastoral scene, with two at a basin,

The Job isn’t fun,

The mirror is one you can’t see your face in.

The lighting is bad,

It’s driving you mad. That’s half of it brother,

The farther you go,

The first thing you know, you’re Shaving each other.

A sleepy latrine,

Where soldiers convene, with Natural intentions,

And then hang around,

And finally should like seven Conventions.

One fellow “heard this,”

And another “heard that,” and that’s

How they start,

For rumor careens,

In sleepy latrines,


Dad notes in the top right had corner that you can sing it to a song that was popular in the 40’s called “In the Sleepy Lagoon” by Eddie Cherkose.  Fun Fact, Mr. Cherkose would go on to write several songs for Roy Rogers.

“How can I get rid of pests?”

Oh dear, Now that I am looking at this cartoon could it be that my father felt like the wolf in the cartoon,  and felt like Mom thought of him as a pest? Or is that just the way he was feeling?

He complains how hard it is to keep his truck clean and has washed it three times in the last week. Then someone else drove it and got it dirty again and is frustrated he has no time to wash it again.

It seems Dad has gotten both a card and a letter from Mom in the same day and he is once again inspired to keep writing back. He goes on to write,

Bob and I had quite a time tonight. Our stove wouldn’t work right so we slipped over to some vacant tents and got one. The darn thing hadn’t been shut off and when we lit it it [Sic] blew up and we spilt oil all over the floor. So we took it back and changed it for another. While coming back a guard stoped {Sic} us and did we have a time explaining. We got the stove and it works so everyone is happy. Had to mop the whole floor though. Took about a half a can of bleach. More fun. Anyway we are set here in peace now.

Ok how many times it he going to try to light things on fire?  (Click here to read about it) First he tries to catch his truck on fire and now his barrack! Oh dear!

On 30 January he writes,

“Vi” in your letter you mentioned something about the time I came down. You remember that so maybe you remember me asking if I was butting in on someone else. In case I am wrong and didn’t ask you that stops me. If I remember right you said no. In fact you didn’t even mention your going with Dale the whole time I was there. So whose fault was it if someone was being let down. On the other hand several times you asked me to come down-UH FORGET IT.

Wow Dad!  He does add a postscript, “Tell everyone hello from Bob also.” First he is mad and then he ends like nothing is wrong.

Oh gosh, in the next letter he goes on,

Thanks Vi, Now that the whole damn is settled lets forget it. From now on It can’t make much difference anyway. Possible I won’t get down by the time the duration is over you’ll have someone else on your string and then I’ll have to start over again-anyway. But one never knows does one.

In this statement I get the feeling that Dad thinks he may be going home soon or at least hoping he will. I believe he may mean for the duration of his time in the Army or the duration of this training he is doing I am not sure.

6 February 1943 he writes that he got a magazine and card my mom sent. He does not seem so mad at her. He goes on to tell he is the Cpl of the guard that night. He goes on,

I am going to have to get up every two hours to relieve the guard. So you know how much sleep I am going to get. On Saturday and Sunday too. The whole deal came when a guard was caught asleep last night. Up until then we had a deal they could relieve themselves and the Cpl could sleep straight through. New we can’t and we even have a prisoner to guard. He goes to the stockade tomorrow though. Ain’t [Sic] it awful.

On the 13th Dad has been down to Pasadena to visit mom and had a heck of a time getting back to camp. It took all night and morning to get the 200 miles back to base.  He does not explain why though except he went to find his cousin and went to the wrong address. Then when they got back to camp they had a two hour drill followed by a two mile hike. He was beat when the day was done. He does not say more of what happened with Mom. But on the 16th he is back to calling her “Darling.” And is back to signing “with love.”

It seems that at this time my father is spending most of his time being a soldier with a routine of driving people and things up and down the coast, inspections, guard duty, hiking, and drills. Then when they are not working taking care of the truck Bob and him are going to dances, the USO, and to see movies. The two have also finagled it so that they can both go on furlough together. But he warns Mom to not hold her breath because they Army can change their mind at a moment’s notice.

Mrs. Ann Howard, Bob Winter, and Mom-Courtesy of the Winter Family

Mrs. Ann Howard, Bob Winter, and Mom-Courtesy of the Winter Family

Then on 10 March he writes,

A rumor is out that Bob leaves tomorrow. Hope not. I have been trying to get to go and he hasn’t and he might get to and I won’t for sure.

At this time he is still unsure whether he will get his furlough on the 20th. He goes on to tell that they are having a machine gun problem. He does not go into detail but it has happened two nights in a row and they are working on it for that night’s exercise where Dad will take on the gunner role. He goes on to finish by saying “everyone is all hyped up about this machine gun. I guess it is some stuff.” In the next letter he is still talking about the machine gun. Dad will get to fire it the next day. Given 98 rounds he is excited to get his chance, “rain or shine,” He boasts. Then he writes

I sure hated to leave on Sun. Boy you don’t know what went on in my mind. I guess all good things come to an end. I beat Bob in Sun. He didn’t get here until after 7 Mon. Good thing they didn’t check up on him. Everyone is happy now though.


"Obstacle Course, Camp San Luis Obispo Riley-Sellers, Ladder " Erceil Sellers Collection

“Obstacle Course, Camp San Luis Obispo Riley-Sellers, Ladder ” Erceil Sellers Collection

He then goes on to write a list of all the ways he is planning on getting back to see her which included a lie about an emergency to get him off base. Then this,

I am getting use to leaving also. But every time that same empty feeling and all is there. Maybe I shouldn’t be such a sissy. But I do love you. Wish this war was over so we could carry on as planned. Probably then we wouldn’t get along.  That is about the way things work. You wanted to know what went on in my mind. I wanted to go back to you and never leave. It took a lot of will power not to too. I sure wish we could be married and stay together always. But it is not in the card just yet.  So will have to make the best until later. Maybe then we will make up our minds. Lots of water will pass under the bridge. Please write soon.

Ok that touched my heart. She must be encouraging him in some way for him to feel this way about her. 19 March 1943 Dad writes while he is on guard.

Here goes nothing. I could have started on my pass tonight only I was on guard. So now I have to start tomorrow nite[Sic] You will know this before you get his letter so why should I write it.

Oh my goodness! He goes on to tell a dirty joke. Since I hope my Grand kids will read this someday I will refrain from sharing that with you.


Bob’s girl name is Madeline. Funny I graduated with her. She was the most bashful girl in the class and I the most bashful guy. Therefore we did not get along. Bob might get married if he gets home this time. He probably won’t though. Sounds like the Army is agreeing with Dale. Like it is with lots more. Wish I could same the same for myself. It is making a damn sissy of me. I am sure not a in a writing mood. Waite[Sic] until next tour and see then.

Wait is this the same Dale that Dad thought was spending time with Mom when he is not with her? I don’t get it! But here is the good/bad part; this is last letter Dad wrote on the California Coast. He is on the move again.

Copyright notsofancynancy 2012 ©

Posted by: notsofancynancy | October 24, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 11, The Big Move



The Suitcase

Chapter 11

The Big Move

Up until now my father has been writing to my mother in Brookville, Kansas. He has been stationed at Camp San Luis Obispo located 200 miles up the coast from Los Angeles. But it seems a big change has happened for my mother and her family.

2 July 1942 I find my Dad’s letter postmarked from Ventura, California which is 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

Mr. Sellers wrote: "I'm setting slightly back of Sgt. Charlie Hancock (Mess Sgt) on a rock on top of Cero-Renaldo Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif, Jan. 29, 1942. Out tents are in the right hand corner of the picture. X is our tent. This is the Mt. I spoke of climbing a while back. Erceil, The buildings in the background are farm buildings and then the hill on back of them." Erceil Sellers Collection

Erceil Sellers Collection. Mr. Sellers wrote: “I’m setting slightly back of Sgt. Charlie Hancock (Mess Sgt) on a rock on top of Cero-Renaldo Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif, Jan. 29, 1942. Out tents are in the right hand corner of the picture. X is our tent. This is the Mt. I spoke of climbing a while back. Erceil, The buildings in the background are farm buildings and then the hill on back of them.”

Guess what address is used for his next letter to Mom. I find it very humorous but yet interesting, yep my mom’s family is now in Pasadena, California. Pasadena is located only about ten miles from Los Angeles and only 55 miles from Ventura which is where my father seems to be driving between. Their fate has been sealed. What are the chances for this kind of coincidence? Who knew that when these two who first met at a barn dance in small town in Nebraska would lead to having both of my parents living in Southern California in 1942 at the same time and due the war. My grandfather is welding in the shipyards and Dad is driving up the coast with the Army. I know that it is just a coincidence but it just seems divinely orchestrated. What are the odds? I just had another light bulb moment. My grandfather is complaining about driving in California and my dad is a truck driver becoming experienced in driving all over California. I grew up here in Southern California. Pop never drove anywhere when my Dad was around, Dad always drove. Now, I am laughing again. It just seems I have written a whole paragraph of what could be interpreted as “signs” from above. But sadly we have another year to get through before my parents finally tie the knot.

That first letter in July shows that Dad has been to Pasadena on a 24 hour pass to visit Mom and her family, so he has somehow found out that they have moved. I have to assume they have a phone in big town Pasadena. I am not sure at this point how he found out she is there. That first letter there is written explaining that he has a date and has been dating other girls. It makes me wonder if he actually is dating or if he is just making up a good story to make her think he has been. He says that he wanted to come over but thought she would be “busy.” He then goes on to explain that he has been “Red Lined” by the Army. That means he has not been paid yet. I am sure he is broke as he is still sending part of his pay home to his Dad.

The next letter is not written until 13 July 1942.

Glad Pop is working and Likes It. I am doing OK up here but I think someone else is taking my place. But who am I to argue. I have no strings tied and besides that I have no proof of it. In case there is he hasn’t anymore[sic] time than I have. I have been here ever other day. And it has been one grand time after another. Believe me going to her place is like going home. I can have as much fun. You know I am getting as well acquainted here in Ventura as at home. Everybody knows Lefty. Or at least about everyone.

Those sound like fighting words. This whole time I have been looking from my father’s point of view. I would imagine that my mother was having a good time with all the service men around. Between my Grandma Susie inviting soldiers over and now Grandpop working in the shipyards they had to have invited quite a few soldiers over. It was the way they were, always supporting our troops.

Dad goes on to explain that he heard through the grapevine that his sister has had a baby girl. He has not heard from anyone at home but has run into someone who knew. It sure does not seem like he is getting any mail from home, or at least any that he mentions.

He writes again on the 20th stating that he has quit writing to everyone but Mom and Madelyn (whoever that is) and he has not really been anywhere. He talks again about how there are lots of girls around that like him so for her not to worry about him. Then he asks,

Why didn’t you drop on up when you were in Oxnard? That is only nine miles from here and I was home all day on Sunday. Could be maybe I’ll be down sometime this week. Who knows?

Dad is not signing his letters with love at this time. This one he signs, “So long worthless, Lefty. “

Marvin Cain wrote "Main Gate at Camp Luis Obispo" Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain wrote “Main Gate at Camp Luis Obispo” Courtesy of the Cain Family

He does not write again until 4 August,

I was coming up there but decided not to. I was in L.A. Sat. nite [sic] and Sunday. Sure had a grand time. Went to the Palladium Sat. nite [sic]and danced to Woody Herman. Boy was he good. He sang one song named “Fan it Baby Fan it.” I really liked it. We really have been driving lately. Since I saw you. I have driven 700 miles. And 300 of that has been blackout. We bent up one truck and trailer. Boy what luck. Not much damage was done. Bob (Robert Winter) is back with us again I guess he and I are going to a show tonight. We were going last night then they decided they needed some trucks. See we being the only one here had to drive and I had to break a date with Dorothy (now who is Dorothy?) That was bad. It was the first day she had off in 2 weeks. And it may be that long again. I hope not though. They tell me I am to be make a Cpl. Don’t count on it though cause I hope not. And there is no order on it yet. That was the word of some of the men back at the company. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Love Lefty!

Robert Winter was from the same small town my father’s family was from, Cozad, Nebraska. I am not sure if they knew each other before he enlisted or not. But there are many references to “Bob” throughout my father’s pictures and letters.

According to Wikipedia ( Woody Herman was an influential Jazz musician who was popular in the mid thirties. He got his first professional gig when he was 15 years old. His first record was recorded in 1936 and the group was known as “The band that plays the blues.” He was also known as a bandleader, saxophonist, clarinetist, and singer. He continued to perform well into 1980 when he passed the torch to the leader of his reed section, Frank Tiberi who continues to make the same type of jazz music as he had. Woody Herman passed away in 1987 and was buried in Hollywood, California.

Oh my goodness! The next letter is not from my dad! It is from someone I never heard of. Is this why Mom was so distant from Dad at this time? I am almost afraid to open it. Who is this? How did she meet him? Why has she kept this letter? What does this mean? Is this the guy she was engaged to?

Pvt. R.L. Metzger
Victorville, Calif.

I was pleased to read your letter in the Echo this issue and as I never think of the few weeks I spent in Brookville without thinking about you. I just couldn’t keep from saying “Hello” and welcome to California.” I hope you like it and I know you will soon have lots of friends out here. But let’s always remember those swell ones in the friendly little village. It is ever this—we lose friends, gain new ones, only to lose them again, to make new ones, for in cycles are we whirled, [sic] but fond memories we can always keep. I find good old Lynn on every page of the Echo, then I think of the few people who took an interest in my work bad as it was, and there I have a picture of Vi sitting on the extra box watching a bum drawing a bum reproduction. Brookville and area is now undergoing a great change due to the war. I suppose all this is vital in our war effort, I am rather glad that I’m not there to witness the peaceful country side change into a huge war machine. How is Rose and Vance? Tell them hello for me. Hope this finds you well and happy. I remain
Your friend,
Leroy Metz

Well it was not what I expected. It is a really nice letter. He knows my Grandpop and Grandma by their first names so I am left once again with more questions than answers. What is the Echo, who was this Leroy, and will I find more letters from other people maybe other men hidden among these letters? I searched for a magazine or newspaper that in 1942 was call Echo with no luck I then searched for the man’s actual name in case he was someone famous and again no luck. I guess that is one question that will never be answered. Interesting that he knows my mom’s family and Brookville, Kansas.

Dad on his 23rd birthday 1942, Bob Winter on the right

The 13 August 1942 letter finds him back in Van Nuys.

They are running me to death or if it isn’t them it is me. I have been made a Cpl. As much as I hated it. It isn’t so bad though. At least not yet. I have only been here a few days. Had to go on guard to catch up on some sleep. Am coming over as soon as I can get there. Boy they sure got me the other morning. Lt. Smith called on me to give mass commands for the exercises and I didn’t know a darn thing about them. I guess I did OK for the first time. But my knees were sure shaking. That was the second day I had been with the company. And things sure have changed.

There are three other letters in August. Dad was just trying to make small talk in all of them. He is driving all over Southern California with little rest. It seems if he isn’t on guard duty or sleeping he is driving.


On 29 August he writes that he will be getting a 15 day furlough in the next couple of months. It seems as though he goes back and forth from Van Nuys, California, then the rest of the time the postmarks are from Ventura. He must have gotten the furlough as there are no letters from 29th August though 7 October He also writes that he had a good time at Mom’s house so he must have been by there for a visit.

Furlough pass 20 October 1942, Dad’s birthday was on the 22nd

Furlough Pass for 20 October 1942

There are three letters in November, quickly written and not having much news.

6 December 1942 he writes that he has not written because there is nothing going on. Then he goes on,

Verlin [sp?] went to Van Nuys and came back with heaps of it (news.) First, sometime next week I am to be transferred back to L.A. somewhere about it anyway. I am going to like that though. I probably won’t be in Van Nuys long. But waite [sic] I haven’t told you the best news yet. Under the new set up I wasn’t assigned a squad and that means only one thing. Maybe in Jan. Around the 10th Wont that be a good birthday present getting rid of me. Nothing is definite yet but someone has to go and I sure hope it is me. As I told you I was about first on the list for Cadney. Maybe I’ll have a tale to tell the Grand Kids after all. I hope. Well if you don’t write soon maybe the next time you hear from me I’ll be in Africa. I hope.

Christmas card 1942

Africa? When does Africa get into the equation? According to Wikipedia ( The North African Campaign, lasted from 1940-1943. My husband just told me that was where Patton and his German counterpart, Edward Rommel did battle. Gosh I must have missed that day in school. I really did not remember. Why does Dad want to go there?

Dad's Best Buddy, Bob Winter

Dad’s Best Buddy, Bob Winter

The last letter that was written in 1942 was from Ventura. Dad is talking about how fast the year has gone. He is also complaining that the weather here in California is what he believes is unseasonably warm. He goes on,

Bob (Robert Winter) and I went to a USO party last nite. [sic] We hit several places first and was in a good mood when we got there. But that soon wore off and the party was dead. Pardon the delay had to go to a show. The last one before he leaves. I guess there isn’t much more to talk about anyway so I had better go to bed. I am sitting here in my underwear anyway. Love Lefty.

And that letter ends the year 1942. My parents have been writing to each other for five years now. It does not seem like Dad has gotten anywhere with Mom. We started the year off feeling like they were in love and Dad was going to spend the rest of his life with Mom but it does not seem she has the same feelings as he does. Also he mentions that he is estranged from his family. I know that his father was neither healthy nor well-educated and it was probably hard for him to read or for him to write a letter to Dad. He does not talk about getting any mail from anyone else. It seems like this was a lonely time for him.

Copyright 2012 notsofancynancy ©

Posted by: notsofancynancy | October 20, 2014

The Suitcase, Chapter 10, California

The Suitcase

Chapter 10


Marvin Cain wrote "Breakers at Fort Ord" Courtesy of the Cain Family

Marvin Cain wrote “Breakers at Fort Ord” Courtesy of the Cain Family

Dad has been in the Army a year and three months and he has been stationed with the same men up until now. On 1 March 1942 my father is pretty upset as he writes,

I guess at midnight there ceases to be a 110th regiment. We are getting smashed. Anyway that is the way I put it. Some of us here and some of us there and who knows where the rest goes. I guess I stay with the same outfit. Only it will be called something else. I am not sure just what that will be. They gave us drivers test and a lot of the men couldn’t pass it so they go to a different place. Some say it will be the Camp Army and others say the service troops and others say in a QM someplace.

1 March 1942 – QM reorganized from QM Regiment to QM Battalion.

Various Stations and Area's Occupied

Various Stations and Area’s Occupied


I know that my father is facing a big change. When I was working with a Victory in Europe Day roster, I found that 80 per cent of the revised 35 Quartermaster Battalion was from small towns all over Nebraska. All being from the same state made the men feel a bond. The other soldiers were from other states and now I understand how they got there. It had to do with this reorganization of the 110 Quartermaster Regiment which became the 35th Quartermaster Battalion 1 March 1942.

Up until now I have been confused with the Army’s “numbers.” My father’s discharge papers have him with the 448th Anti Aircraft Artillery Weapons Battalion and he never mentioned this battalion. I asked my siblings, who do remember more of Dad’s stories and they had never heard of it. We knew he was very proud to be known as 110th Quartermasters. Now the men are all mixed up and they will get a new name. It seems as though the Army continues to keep the soldiers guessing about what was going to happen next. And as I sit here in 2012 I have just confused myself more.

Next he writes,

Now maybe I can continue writing. Had to go get ready to go to a parade or something. I guess we are going to parade for the general. Or maybe he is going to tell us goodbye and how good or bad we are doing. Anyway I have been figuring all day how to get out of it and as yet haven’t done it. We lost probably the best officer in the Regt. Last week. He was transferred to S.F. (San Francisco) Boy we sure liked him. He was a Major before he left. He came over to say goodbye. By the looks of it he hated to leave as much as we hated to see him go. Anyway he said he would see us over there. We have to fall in 5 minutes so I better quit for now. Maybe I can tell you what the general says.

Dad writes again later that night,

The general didn’t have much to say about the same thing they have been since we started. That we are the best regt. In the U.S. Army, and that he hated to lose any of us. I’ll bet you hate to see your dad go. I believe I would too. He will only be about 200 miles from here if he go [Sic] to L.A.

Where is Pop going? Is he coming back? Is he going to Los Angeles?

7 March 1942 postmarked from Pasadena California

Well this letter is not what I expected. I am holding in my hand, with tears streaming down my cheek, a letter that my grandfather wrote in 1942. I cannot believe it but it is true. There are others, I see six in total. My grandfather passed away in 1972. He was sick for a long time so I do not remember much about him. A family story passed down was he lost his farm in Kansas when he could not raise wheat because of his severe allergy to it, but how did he get to be in Pasadena, California?

Pop in his cornfield

Dear Sonny Boy:-
Well here it is I just got back from town. We walk down almost every afternoon. I live just fourteen blocks from down town Pasadena just a nice walk have not used the truck since I drove in last Mon. I go down to the welding school around 10:30 at nite [Sic] and get back around 3:00 in the morning sleep till about 8:00 get my own breakfast and dinner most of the time. Sure is a nice climate just cool enough to want a coat in the morning and evening and nice and warm during the day. There are mountains all around this town you can see snow and the Mt. Wilson observatory from the house here most of the time.

My grandparents only had one child and it was a girl. With all the nicknames in Grandma’s family it is only natural for them to call Mom by a nickname, was this it? My sister told me that just after mom was born Grandpa said something to the affect of “well that foolishness is over and we won’t have to do it again.” I guess he did not want more kids, or was it just he did not want Grandma to go through that pain?

He goes on to explain that there are a couple of German brothers living where he is and asks what Mom has been doing. Then,

Please write and tell me all the news and your troubles. I haven’t heard from Susie (Grandma’s nickname) guess maybe I have not had time but it sure seems like a long time. Well it smells like something is cooking so maybe we better go down and see. With love, Pop

So it is 7 March 1942 and my grandfather is in California going to welding school. My sister also told me that after losing the farm he saw an advertisement in the newspaper offering free government training in California to get his license to be a welder. So Grandpop takes advantage of this and drives his truck from Brookville, Kansas to Pasadena, California and gets settled in a rooming house. Coincidentally, my father is just up the shore a mere 200 miles away.

Pop and the tuck he drove to California

14 March 1942 there is another letter from Grandpa; He calls Mom Sonny Boy twice in this letter. Mom has been sick and he is worried about her. He actually is sick himself but he is doing a lot better now that he is in California with its warm weather. I wonder if this is part of the reason he came to California. Since I am not sure I have to let it go. He is surprised that his landlady is so trusting letting him use her brand new Chevrolet to drive to get groceries. What I found interesting is he is afraid of the roads here. I guess Pasadena was busy back then because he talks of the two and three lane highways, but everyone drives in the middle of the road. Some things never change only I am sure there are bigger highways and a whole lot more people now days. I think he scared himself as he never teaches Grandma Susie to drive. She did not learn until he passed away.

He goes on to say,

I am going down to the California shipyards with Bill tomorrow. He is going to take his test. He has been going to the school for seven weeks. Says he is going to marry me thinks I am a better cook that the landlady. Seen former President H. Hoovers house yesterday. It sure looks like a big house it is out on the side of the mountain north east of Pasadena.

It is good to see this side of my Grandpa. I don’t remember his personality because he was sick for so long, but, I can see he had a sense of humor. He would have had to have been humorous because Grandma was such a joker.

I cannot find any mention of Herbert Hoover living in Pasadena but I do find evidence that his son, Herbert Hoover Jr. lived in Pasadena, so maybe that is whose house he saw.

Mom does not get another letter from my dad until he writes on the 17th. Boy he sure is in a sour mood.

I am glad you said we are good friends. You know it could have been a lot worse. I kind of figured I was getting away a head of myself. But I wanted to be sure. One reason I have no intentions on coming back. Why should I. I am worth more dead than alive. Besides the chances are only about 25 to 1. Anyway in a short time we will be over there and then things will be different. The sooner the better for me. At least I will get out of the Army even if it is in a box.

This is killing me. Why don’t they just figure things out. It seems like Mom might not be ready to settle down yet. I feel bad for Dad but I know how this story ends. He goes on to confirm that he is only 190 miles from her Dad.

Viola in her play, standing far left

31 March Grandpa writes a letter to her once again.

How is my little family? What has become of my dog? I sure am glad your play was a success and wished I could have been there to see it I haven’t been to a show or anything since I came here. One of the boys that stays here big Bill has gone to work at the shipyard it is quite a drive 40 miles from here and there is so much traffic it takes 2 hours. Our land lady is trying to rent a house in Long Beach which is 30 miles closer to the shipyard if she finds one we are all going to move down there. There doesn’t seem to be many places for rent down there. I went and looked at a trailer yesterday didn’t like it there a lot of people live in those here. There sure are a lot of soldiers around here. They have camps every place where they is any defense industry. I got to see the search lights chasing a plane around the other nite [Sic] he was awful high but they sure held the beams right on him didn’t look any bigger than a fly. I quit working the hours were so long it interfered with my welding to much only got to sleep four or five hours after a few days it wasn’t enough. It is five thirty and somebody had Fibber MaGee [Sic] on the radio.

I wonder how many people saw that same plane and thought it was the enemy coming to bomb them. How many of them did that plane scare? I know I would have been scared.

The “Fibber McGee and Molly” radio show was on the air and popular beginning in 1935. According to (, a husband and wife vaudevillian team, Jim and Marion Jordan, were listening to a radio show in Chicago with his brother in 1925. They said they could do a better job than the person on the radio and Jim’s brother bet them $10 they could not. They all went to the radio station and announced the bet. The station manager let them audition which resulted in Jim and Marion going on-the-air immediately at a beginning rate of $10 per week. After several years on various local and regional programs, “Fibber McGee and Molly” became a national radio show in 1935.

He ends the letter with “Whatever became of Lefty?”

So it is interesting to see that Pop was wondering if my dad was still in California.

9 April 1942 Grandpa writes again,

I went down to the welding school last nite [sic] at 8:00 o’clock and around nine there was a black out. I was busy welding when all at once my arc disappeared and there I was in the dark I stumbled around and found my way out on the street and the only light in sight was a neon sign a couple blocks down the street and it only lasted about a minute. We sit around about an hour and a half and then started to walk home it is sixteen or seventeen blocks about every other block there is a air rade [sic] warden every other one wanted to argue seems you are not supposed to go anywhere in the dark. When we were three blocks home we were told a plane was the cause of it and you couldn’t even hear a plane here so never even got a thrill.

What would that have been like? Living through the mandatory blackouts? Being afraid every plane that flew overhead might bomb you. In the aftermath of 9/11 I felt that fear. We have a heck of a lot more planes than they had back in 1942. On the evening of 12 September I sat outside and it was eerie not having a plane flying overhead. I guess now I do understand how helpless Dad, Grandpa, or anyone in the United States felt in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the United States. Wow! Breakthrough! It has only taken me ten chapters to come to the conclusion that the attack on Pearl Harbor WAS a terrorist attack!

I find another letter from Pop dated 27 May 1942. He talks of looking for family living in the vicinity of where he is staying. Is he planning to move the family to California? He asks about my dad and says the two brothers who live in the rooming house with him have family in San Luis Obispo and they want him to go along with them up the coast to visit them. He is going to try to find Dad when he is there. Grandpa is starting a government welding school that day and continuing the one he is taking at night. He figures he will be learning twice as fast and be twice as good by continuing both classes. Pop is wondering how Mom is doing in school and is wondering when the graduation exercises will be. He really wants to come home to attend them if he does not get work by then. So he is actually looking for work? Will he go to work in the shipyards? How weird is it that my Pop is in California at the same time my father is here? Wow! This is starting to sound like it would make a good book!

Viola’s graduating class

15 May 1942 letter starts by congratulating mom for getting her diploma and he wants to hear all about the fun time she is having as a senior in high school. He goes on about visiting a friend of his and he is living in a tent a half a mile from Warner Brothers Studios. He uses candles for light and has a portable radio and “the cutest little wood stove you have ever seen.” How was your play? He wonders. He has talked with someone from home who went to see it and truly enjoyed the production.

15 May Dad writes “I heard you are going to get married, is that true?” Wait! When did that happen? Oh dear me! That is hard for me to read. That must be why she has not written him. It seems as though Mom’s Uncle George, the one who introduced Mom and Dad is now in the Marines and is stationed not far from Dad. My father does not go into much detail other than George is expected to pass through where Dad is stationed.

George Vance

In the same envelope he writes to Grandma,

I am sure I would have enjoyed the play. I always did like them. I sure have enjoyed the last nine days though. I have been in Washington so that adds two more states to my list. I sure fell in love with Oregon. Boy there is so much more there for one to see. I guess California has a lot of things but to me they stink. You see I don’t like Calif. or what they stand for. As soon as we got in Oregon we started enjoying ourselves and did all the time we were there. I cannot say that about this place. Really Mom I am not too low you see I really meant what I said. And I wasn’t in a bad mood either. I have a lot to live for but what is the use. When I get out of here I am going to have to go to work and I am afraid I won’t like that. And I have $10,000 worth of insurance that would really be used in a good way back home. I am serious. I am quite sure I am going to be in Calf. When you get out I am just not sure where. I can’t get off to see Pop. They have taken all the passes away from single men. And here I was going to a dance tonight.

I just remembered I was in Oregon when I was 22, the same age my father is in this letter. I stayed about a year and a half. I remember how it looked to someone who was just passing through when I visited the first time. Not that my dad would have had time to stop and visit. He told of driving and sleeping 24 hours a day to get to the assigned location so sightseeing had to have been done from the windshield of the truck.

I remember Mom and Dad driving to Oregon in their camper when I lived there. They camped with my daughter on the Rogue River. I will always remember Dad had her fishing when I got there after work. She was about five years old and sat with her Grandpa holding her pole. Dad got up to get a beer and Tania was standing with the pole when she hooked one! That child threw her pole in the river, ran into the camper slamming the door before anyone could react! I will always remember how tickled he was to tell that story again and again throughout the rest of his life. It will always be a happy memory.

Well this is quite a shock there are no letters for the next two months. With so many letters left how can that be? In looking at how many letters I have read, and how many are left I cannot see him skipping a couple of days. These letters are very odd to me because Dad was always a quiet person. He never talked to me about his time in the service so I am totally surprised to find that all these letters exist.

Maybe that is why he was always so quiet, because he was writing a “book” while he trained in and then attended this war.

Copyright 2012 notsofancynancy

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