August 2, 1941
Sat. 2:30, 8-2-41
Dear Mom & Dad:
I haven’t received a letter from you yet but when I do I spose you’ll reprimand me severely for not writing you a long letter sooner. Well if you knew how busy they kept us down here you certainly would see my side of it. We don’t have more than 15 or 20 minutes freedom at one time throughout the day and most the time it’s only 10 min. That is from 6:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (Reveille to retreat). From 5:30 to 11:00, our time is our own, usually. In the last postcard I sent you I said I’d write a letter the next evening. It so happened that I drew K.P. duty the next day and finished up in the kitchen about time to go to bed. Then Friday we had to clean our rifles & barracks in preparation for inspection on Saturday. The rifles had to be cleaned on our own time so that knocked Fridays correspondence into a cocked hat. [drawing] The whole preceding paragraph boils down to this. Don’t be angry and here at last is the letter I’ve been wanting to send all week.
Well I’ve been here at Fort Bragg for one week now & I’m just getting into the swing of things around here. It seems that a person entering the Army life has to go thru a period of adjustment that’s kind of bewildering. Everything is so different from civilian life. Your time is not your own – things are done on schedule & with a snap – you have to conform to certain rules of military courtesy – or else – and you have to become acquainted with so many new fellows. I met a lot of fellows at Snelling that I liked & it so happened that most of them came along with me here to Fort Bragg. We had a good time on the train and became better acquainted on the way down here but as soon as we got here they split us up & sent us all to different regiments & I haven’t seen any of them since. I’ve been palling around with a fellow named Vince Larson, a big bruiser about 190 lbs. over 6’ tall, who I met first out at Crooked Lake (by Anoka). He was drafted at the same time and came down on the train with me. He was also put in a different regiment but when we parted ways we decided on a meeting place so that we could get together nights. So now when the day’s maneuvers are over I eat chow grab a quick shower and meet Vince for a bottle of Coca Cola at the canteen, a strawberry sunday at the service club or a bit of reading at the library, etc. It’s kind of nice having a friend to chum around with – keeps your mind off that 1500 miles between here & home. I never thought I’d feel the pangs of homesickness but the first part of this week I walked around here with a perpetual lump in my throat – especially when they separated all of us fellows that came from Snelling. Then about Wed. of this week I had a slight headache & felt generally punk, so that didn’t help my spirits any. But I feel swell today and, as I say, I’m starting to get into the swing of things so I think things will start to brighten up for me.
One thing that made me perk up a bit was the Service Club we have here. You should see it. It’s a large building made of wood & looks like a regular large barrack from the outside. But on the inside it’s like a large club room. It’s plenty large enough for dances & has a balcony all around it. It’s furnished with comfortable leather chairs & sofas, tables, 2 pianos & large electric fans to keep it cool. Just off one side of this main lounge is a cafeteria & soda fountain, + in a room just off of the balcony is the library. Here we have a really fine selection of fiction & non-fiction books. It’s not as large as a regular library of course but I’ll bet we have a better selection of recent books than most libraries. It’s a cool & comfortable place to come & write letters or to read & it’s where I’ll probably spend most of my spare time. Fact is that’s where I am right now. I’ve tried to write in our barracks but I found that its too noisy & hot for any kind of concentration. The Service Club is only about 2 blocks from our barracks and its one place you can go and forget that your in the Army for a few hours.
Boy is it hot down here! Two days ago we had 99 which was a record high this summer. That doesn’t seem hot does it but it must be a different kind of heat because you should see the way I sweat down here. I took a shower last night & put on a dry shirt & just cleaning my rifle my shirt got sopping wet. It’s nothing to see fellows (especially these big boys like Vince) sitting around doing nothing and their shirts looking like they just had a bucket of water thrown over them. We have to take doses of salt each day to keep up our energy because we drink & sweat so much. We can’t go outside of our barracks without a full uniform either so I guess I’ll just have to get used to this heat.
Well I’ve written four pages and I haven’t even touched on the things they’ve been teaching us about warfare, but I’ve got writer’s cramp and it’s time for chow. So I’m going to close now and try to write you again tomorrow all about everything & stuff. In the meantime please write to me & let me know the lowdown on good ole Mpls & how you’re vacation came out, etc. I haven’t had a letter from anyone yet & I’m sorely in need of some news from home. I certainly hope everythings O.K. there & take care of yourselves. Don’t worry about me I’ll get along & try to get home in a few months.
How’s the golf & bridge game?