August 29, 1941
Fri. 7:00 P.M., 8-29-41
Dear Mom & Dad:
Hello there! How is the Alquist family these days? Kind of lonesome I suppose – this part of it is. I am, however, starting to enjoy myself in this role of soldier boy more than I did in the past. The reason is that I’m becoming more used to army life & better acquainted with the fellows here. There are some really fine fellows here in the barracks, & we have a lot of fun together on our free hours. We play horseshoes, diamondball, cards, volleyball, etc. Of course there is a lot of horseplay too. Just the other nite I came in late from a movie (when I say “late” I mean just before 11:00 – that’s as late as one can be down here) & had to sleep in a bunk full of cracker crumbs. I got even with the guilty man tho. Last nite when I came in I woke him up out of a sound sleep to say “Good Night.” He just laughed & went back to his sawing. So you see we’re getting acquainted.
We certainly are having it soft this weekend. We feel like a bunch of “goldbricks.” Every Saturday we have the regular weekly inspection, but this week we’re not having one because most of the officers are going on trips over the holidays. So we have Sat., Sun., & Mon. off – why that’s better than being at the I.S.C. I’d have to work Sat. morning if I were there. Vince & I are going into Fayetteville Sat. afternoon to get a few things we need. I intend to shoot a few pictures for I understand there are quite a few historical spots to see. That will be the extent of my Labor Day weekend travels. I’ll probably spend the rest of the time catching up on my correspondence. It’s really a job for me cuz I’m such a slow writer. I guess maybe I’ll improve with all this practice.
To Captain O.P. Alquist: (I got your little note together with the money & stamps. And boy I mean thanks – because I was really in need of that two dollars. I still think you must have a “sixth sense” about such things. You see I haven’t been paid in the army as yet & have been getting along on the money I brought from home. I’ve done pretty well too, because, up to the time I received your note, I had one dollar left ‘till payday (Tues.) & Vince was going to loan me a couple more to go to Fayetteville. Now I don’t have to borrow a cent so thanx again. I have about $30 coming, & will probably send home half of it for you to save toward my furlough trainfare. What’s wrong with your golf game? Aren’t you keeping your head down? That’s what you always told me to do, you know. Better check on that.)
Here’s a bit of good news. Last nite at retreat, the captain told us that we would all get a week’s furlough at the end of our 13 week training cycle. The cycle has been extended to 14 weeks & the last week will be a furlough for those that have shown advancement & ambition during that time. I figure that week will come about the first part of November. If it starts on a Fri. nite (I hope) it will give me about 5 days at home. That isn’t much time but it’s worth it to be home for a little while. I guess it takes about 2 full days to get to Mpls. From here. If we only get the 7 days, I’ll only be home for 3 days. But I’ll be home in any case. So get my bed ready for me (the one in my room, please).
In your letter you asked me where most of the boys here hail from. Some are from North & So. Dakota, some from Detroit, a couple from Minn. Iron range, some from Wisc., & some from around Boston. You see we have quite a “league of nations” here. You also mentioned that Geo. Werdick called to get my address. I got a fine long letter from him – all the dirt from home about the boyfriends & girlfriends. And I did receive the bathing trunks, thanks. Will probably use them this weekend. I guess that answers all your questions.
Had a real thrill last Tues. It was my biggest moment yet, as a soldier. Can you picture Dip as a gunner on one of those huge 155 cal. howitzers? Well I am – so far. Last Tues. we went out on the gun range & fired the big howitzers. I’ve often seen these big guns blast away in movie newsreels, but I certainly never realized that I’d someday be on a gun squad myself – much less the gunner. We fired two rounds at a target two miles out. My job was to command the squad, set the sights for the elevation & angle of deflection, & to regulate the piece accordingly. Boy what a roar when that son-of-a-gun goes off. I have to couch right beside the left wheel at the time of firing. We keep our mouths wide open to equalize the air pressure on the outside & inside of our eardrums. I’m telling you, Daddy, it’s a good thing your not on a gun crew cuz the shock of the gun would knock your uppers right out on the ground. The gun recoils about 3 ft. & does a lot of jumping around. Gunning is a ticklish job because I have to regulate those sights just right. But it really is the most interesting position on the squad. A good gunner gets 6 dollars more a month & has a good chance of becoming a corporal. I hope I can keep the job, but nothing is certain in this army.
I’ll end this letter now & start on one to Dot & Arlo. I must answer her last letter. Keep the letters coming & I’ll try to answer promptly. Thanks for the stamps I’ll put them to good use. Hope your both O.K. & I’ll see you soon. So long.