Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 9, 2012

World War II, chapter 24, Getting Ready to Wait

World War II

Getting Ready to Wait

Chapter 24

US Army Letterhead 1943

In the last chapter Dad sewed himself  a bed roll.  I was mighty impressed that he sewed it all by hand. Before finishing it he and his buddy Bob then quilted all the material together. I know that Mom quilted a lot of old blankets when she was older but I never knew that Dad honed this craft while in the Army. Now Bob Winter and he are not sure whether they will be allowed to take it with him when they leave camp to go on their next maneuvers. It seems there are lots of rumors on when they are leaving and where they will go.

9 November 1943

Dearest Vi, Gosh things happen around here. I got your letter today that was the best. Gosh I certainly glad to get that. I had answered the others so much you’ll think I have a double writing that I have repeated so much in my letters.  I hope you had a nice time at the lunching [sic]. It sure was dead around here Sunday. I could have stood something to do. It is rumored here now that after maneuvers we either go to Ft. Ord or up around Lake Michigan. Either place isn’t bad. I would rather go north because it all means the same thing and I would like to see that country also. We probably wouldn’t be able to get away anyway.

You can really see here how important these letters were to him. Once in a while he mentions a letter from home but my mother’s letters mean the most, they really keep him going. They have been engaged since July 1943 and have not been able to see each other since. The 1500 or so miles to California from Alabama must seem so unattainable especially in pre-war United States.

Dad is keeping track of all the new states he has visited. On the way to Camp Robinson in 1940 he had been in only eight states. Now he is up to eighteen. If he heads to Fort Ord I am not sure he will head through any new states but I know he has not been to Michigan yet. Either place will be too far from Pasadena, California where Mom is living so it does not matter which to Dad.

Dad in Pasadena

So Gosh how did I get off the subject. I do hope you had fun and enjoyed it. Oh yes our maneuvers will be (unreadable) Nothing has been said when we leave so I imagine about Monday. Anyway I had better write when I find out. I’ll always get your letters. We have a beautiful moon here tonight. Bob was saying he wished he had had a moon like that when he was home. Maybe he would have gotten married. It always helps you know. We were going to a dance tonight but found out it was at the field house instead of the service club. So we went to the show. It wasn’t worth going down there because probably neither would have danced. The show was good. I have slept almost all day. This morning I got off because I was on guard last night and this afternoon Bob and I cleaned one machine gun and then we went to bed again. Gosh all the trucks are gone and there is nothing to do. Maybe I should go to bed now darling. Wish I were out there going to be. Anyway I love you so that’s that. All my love, your Lefty

This letter shows how boring it can be to these soldiers.  Thank goodness they provided movies for them, but that is only two hours out of a long day. He never says where the movies were shown though. As far as the dances he seems a little disgusted by the fact that, more than likely, they will not get to dance.  It seems as though the Army is in short supply of woman.

January 1942

10 November

Dearest Vi, Now hows [sic] my future wife this fine winter evening. Gosh I do mean winter too. I almost froze my feet this morning. We had frost and everything. Then to top that off we went to the range to fire. On this range all they have is a bunch of fox holes and you get down in them to work targets. Think of getting into one of them at about 8:00 this morning and laying all cuddled up until 10:30. It was cold too. We got to fire after that and both Bob and I fired a possible 24 points out of 24. In other words 6 bulls eyes. Not bad. It was an easy range though. Madeline wrote and told Bob she had bought them a bed room suite. He was quite enthused over it. Say honey even I think she has a good idea. Do you think if I sent the money you could pick up few things we might need sometime. Of course on my allowance it would have to be a little at a time and then save it until it was enough. Well anyway sweet it was an idea. I know you haven’t any place to keep many things. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea anyway????? I went to town on a truck detail. Coming back we met a convoy and did we have a time. I couldn’t pass it and they were only driving about 10. I sure was disgusted. We have a division review tomorrow. I’ll bet that will be good. Its [sic] so cold out there you have to stand so long. I imagine we’ll have to wear field jackets and I sent mine with my “B” (Barracks) Bag. What a mess.

It seems as though Dad wants to do some nesting. He knew the weather would be cold. Why would he pack his field jacket where he couldn’t get to it? Maybe he did not realize that it would be so cold when he packed it. How many times in my childhood would he tell me not to forget to take mine? Many times dear reader, many times.

Remember the dance I was telling you they had at the field house. Well I guess it was the only dance they have had here that was any good. They had enough women that they let the 98th Div men in also. The field house is a large place and it was full too. Darn it. I knew I should have gone. I guess its [sic] all the better I didn’t. I got some writing done even if I didn’t get any letters. That’s something.  It seems that I only hear from you about every 3 or 4 days anymore. But I guess that is enough. You’ll be darn lucky if you even hear from me for the next two months. You probably wouldn’t be now if it wasn’t for Bob. I must quit now honey. Guess it is my bedtime. Besides I am getting a low down mood. Love Always, Lefty

Do I feel another quarrel coming on?  Dad seems quite insecure in being engaged to Mom. But he has loved her for a long time.

Dearest Vi, Gosh it was swell to get you letter today and was I ever in the mood to get one. In other words I was in the dumper again. Why don’t you ask me. I guess I just get that way. Got a letter from home yesterday and my Sister-in-laws brother had gone across (overseas) of course that didn’t hurt me a bit I guess it sure had her worried. She said that we were always welcome if we came out. She also said that she wanted me to come home if possible. I’m still waiting until that time. Then maybe I’ll know something about it. Tonight anyway at midnight all passes and furloughs are suppose [sic] to be back. I know they won’t though. They’re coming back happy though. Bob is working tonight we got 14 new trailers and he has to help put them together. What a time that will be. They have to be ready to roll by tomorrow. I guess 25 trucks load then. We have been eating out of the mess truck since noon. Had to clear the mess hall check dishes and such. I guess we leave Monday for sure. Darn it. I still hope we get to take our sleeping bags along legally. I’m taking mine anyway. But it would be much easier the other way. I sure get off the subject easy tonight. I think I have about three things in this paragraph.

Dad on the left in the Color Guard…. sometime in the 1940’s

Dad is really torn on where he should go if he does get a furlough.  It seems he will be going only wherever Mom will be. I hope they get to take their sleeping bags too. I wish I knew which sister-in-law he is talking about. Dad has three brothers and two sisters. Since we grew up in California I did not have a lot of contact with my dad’s family.  The last time I was in Nebraska was in the late 1960’s.

About Xmas. I’m going to tell you as I have told everyone else don’t send anything. I haven’t any room for what I have and maybe later if you want it will be OK. I’m going to be in a darn cold place about then and all I’d want is a fire and you couldn’t send that. So forget Xmas this time. I guess I’m getting something cause the fellows coming back make me feel kind of bad and not like they use to. Maybe I’m just lonesome. I don’t know. I don’t feel I want to go home. I just want to come out there. God how I’ve longed for that. I sure worked today the trucks came back from Tennessee yesterday and believe me they were in bad shape. 22 out of the 26 froze up and one busted the hose connections on the radiator It had to be one of mine. Anyway when they got up there it was snowing.  That’s how cold it was. They had quite a time. Maybe it will warm up by the time we get there. I hope. I must stop now honey. It’s getting about time for an old man like me to go to bed. So sweet dreams darling. I love you, Love always, your lefty.

I sure am glad they did a dry run into the snow with the trucks. They will get into some snow once they get overseas. If they had 22 trucks break down out of 26 it sure does seem like a lot. What if that had happened when they went overseas it makes me feel a little scared for them.  How many would break down overseas, would be catastrophic.  It was up to these men to transport the soldiers and their supplies where they needed to go.

Dad and Bob

13 November

Gosh Maybe our last night in camp. What a night too. We ain’t just sure about the weather. We leave tomorrow or Monday. I’m sure I haven’t figured it out yet. I imagine it will be Monday and we will sleep out.  Anyway we worked this afternoon and have to work tomorrow. Isn’t it awful. Having to work on a Sunday?  I guess we will get use to that thought. I sure worked myself into a job this afternoon. I walked up to watch Bob put up trailers and just started helping and kept it up. It was hard work but sorta fun. I was hammering on a piece of steel and a piece flew off and landed in my finger. Of course it wasn’t big enough to get excited about but I couldn’t get it out. So I went to the medics and had it removed.  The Doc had guts enough to ask if I wanted it as a souvenir. Now what would I do with anything like that. Have too much junk now. Guess what after all the work of making bed rolls around here. Bob had to sell his. Of course it was not a home made  one but we had to make him one. So he worked tonight on it. He has fine Army blanket quilted together and a canvas around them. After he rolled it up it looked it like he took a mattress and rolled in it. It looks like it will be warm though. I only hope he can find some buttons to sew on it. He got $15.00 for his and only gave $4.00 so he did not do so bad. The Colonel gave a speech today. I wasn’t there but I guess he put up quite a threat. I can see these maneuvers are going to be like the last. As hard as they were we had good officers and now a bunch of ass holes. Gosh I can’t think of anything to write. Almost seceded to go home if I get another furlough. As a matter of fact that’s the way I think it will be. Guess I had better stop now. Must be about time for lights out. I’m too lazy to look to see what time it really is. So I’ll say I love you Darling and I wish I could see you. Love always, your Lefty.

This is a great example of how my father was throughout his life. If someone needed help he would be the first to step up.

Fifteen dollars seems like quite a lot of money for those days. It seems like Bob got a good deal on his sleeping bag.

Those fine wool blankets Dad was talking about were the worst blankets ever. Dad came home with a couple of those blankets and I will never forget them. They were gray, small, scratchy, and made of wool.  Dad always was proud of those blankets and saw nothing wrong with them. To me they were itchy and I could never figure out how my 6ft 1in dad fit under them because they sure were small. I always tried to get out of having to use one they drove me nuts with all there itchiness.

A funny side note is my mom eventually made quilts out of those fine wool blankets.

© 2112 notsofancynancy

Names mentioned in this chapter

Robert “Bob” Winter

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Responses

  1. Fantastic stories – again. Good grief it has got to be sooo difficult to not know what is in store for you in “any” case – personal or professional. Your Dad’s mood is certainly lightened by your mom, eh? How wonderful – but painful. Very interesting about the final destination of those wool blankets. TTFN

    • I am not sure who my dad would have been if had not been for Mom’s letters. He does rely on them and his mood shifts when he receives them.

      TTFN

  2. His letters show what a soldier’s life stateside was like (outside of special units like the airborne). It was interesting to read his opinion on his soldier’s pay. Those that made it to Occupied Japan were not quite millionaires there but were sure kings with the “Army pay”. He also mentions the cold in the foxholes. Let us remember thousands of young men – on both sides – froze in their foxholes during the winter of ’44-’45. Lefty’s exposure to this cold was just an intro to the horror to come for hundreds of thousands.

    • That is one thing I do remember Dad talking about. How cold it was. Some of the pictures I have overseas shows that snow. I wonder if he will be able to talk about it in his letters, with the censorship and all. I guess we will see.

  3. Reading these letters gives you a peek into a different time. It is very cool that you have this piece of family history.

    • Yes I am finding the journey very interesting. I am learning things about Dad that I never knew, I feel like I know his so much better now and I LOVE the era!

  4. What a great blog. Thank you for reading John & Cait, we are looking forward to the Field of Honor Event on Saturday at Miller Park.

  5. My heart goes out to your dad, it is as if I can feel his loneliness. On a lighter note, I barely remember those blankets, but I do remember them “scratching” me. I bet they made out better as quilts! 😉

  6. And, those army blankets made me sneeze. And sneeze.

    • I liked them better after Mom quilted them into nice soft blankets. But if you are allergic to them that probably would not help.

  7. Reblogged this on Heil World Wars.


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