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Gerald R. Rees Papers: Transcripts - MS 1007
Pvt. G.M. Rees, U.S.A.
Co.A., 1584 S.U.
Camp Perry, Ohio
Mrs. C.B. Rees
2453 Putnam Street
May 22, 1943
I'm going to like army life swell. Everything's under control. Uniforms and shots Monday, classification and shipment maybe Thursday or later; some are here a week or more. Write to address on front until otherwise notified. I haven't found out what my "limited service" means yet; that may delay me. At least I won't be wallowing in a fox-hole. Spent last evening learning to make a bed. Am in with a big gang of fellows I know. More later.
Camp Perry, Ohio
Sunday May 23, 1943
These few days at Camp Perry will be practically a vacation with pay as far as I'm concerned. We don't do anything but eat, sleep, and stand in line. They can't give us K.P. for several days-until we are "processed". Come to find out there are only a couple of shots, and nothing serious. We get some mental tests and interviews, and the rest of the time sit and wait. The chief topic of conversation is when and where we'll be shipped. Fellows leave a few at a time, some here only a few days, some two weeks or more. If I'm here over another weekend I'll get a pass and come home. I can't be here long, because June 1st the reception center is taken from Camp Perry and an Air Force group takes over our barracks.
The P.X. (post exchange) really surprised me. Prices are often a half as much as at civilian stores. They sell all sorts of things-for instance I'll send you a couple of boxes of Brillo with my clothing tomorrow. Polaroid dark-glasses are $1.00, 1/2 their retail price; the Brillo is 7¢.
Bed-making is really an art in the army. The cover must be so tight that when you touch it lightly, the whole thing vibrates like a drum-head. (No kidding!) The barracks is (are?) scrubbed shining clean every day-we spend more time cleaning the camp than we do ourselves.
The mess hall is designed only for pouring food into us as quickly and easily as possible. No frills or fooling, few dishes, but lots of good food. No milk, though. The reception center is separate from Camp Perry and is as uninteresting as a place could be. I haven't seen the lake yet.
A fellow here has a small radio so we're listening to the symphony today. This about exhausts the topics for a letter, so further correspondence will be brief until we're shipped.
Company A, Reception Center
Camp Perry, Ohio
I've received all your correspondence within one day so far and have been very glad to get it. Somehow, Camp Perry life hasn't seemed like I was hardly away from home, although as far as getting home I might as well be in California. But with lots of fellows from school here in the same barracks (including Earl Gibson) and mail coming so quickly, and the Toledo Blade, etc., everything's pretty nice. The rumor is that there will be no passes this weekend, but one rumor is as good as another. don't every look for me till you see me, 'cause you know the army! (Gee, this writing looks lousing, considering I've been learning how to write for 13 years).
This is G.I. stationery so I may as well wander on as I think of things.
There are Protestant services Sunday morning at 10:30 A.M. and I went last week. The chaplain gave a swell sermon on the text "It is better that I leave you" or something like that, and certainly gave a good interpretation of it for a bunch of kids who were just leaving home for a long time.
I had a shot Tuesday afternoon that gave me a little fever that night but was gone the next day. Instead of pumping all the shots in at once, as the story is, they are spread over a long period of time, so they won't bother us much.
We also received uniforms Tuesday-2 sets of O.D.'s (olive drab, woolen), 2 sets of suntans (summer cottens) fatigues, or work suits, which we wear most of the time, raincoat, heavy overcoat, a light jacket, mess kit, canteen, helmet, gloves, razor, 2 pr. of heavy shoes, sox, underwear, and a barracks bag to put it all in. The trick is to fold everything so it can be packed in the bag without mashing it into a thousand wrinkles. Also, anything I want is bound to be in the bottom of the bag. The uniforms fit and feel good. It's remarkable what a change a uniform will make in a bunch of fellows. Some of them were pretty cocky when they came, but when they got into fatigues they were whittled down to size, and scrubbed floors just as meekly as the rest of us.
We all have K.P. at least one day while we are here and it's a long, hard stretch-4:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. straight. I had it for a few hours Wednesday just as an extra helper when they ran short, and may not get another full day. I peeled potatoes and skinned hams-that's a lot of fun, by the way-and didn't mind it much. It's all a part of the process of taking the conceit out of us and teaching us doing what we're told without arguing. The E.R.C. (Enlisted Reserve Corps) gets a lot more dirty work than the draftees, simply because they (the draftees) are sent out at once while we are kept here longer for more careful classification so we can be sent to the place we are best suited for. Yesterday and today I was put on the cement detail-mixing and hauling concrete for new sidewalks around the camp. It was a welcome relief after sitting around for four days. I wheeled a wheelbarrow most of the time and it wasn't bad.
I was pushed into taking a $10,000 life insurance policy with the understanding that the surrender value when I go back to school will be fairly high. It's costing me $6.50 a month and I'll be mad if I don't get most of it back, one way or another. I'm not buying any bonds, anyhow.
The food is dished out cafeteria style, with several choices of things to eat. The first time I went down the line, I didn't notice this, and blithely held up my tray for everything they had, and the resulting meal would have fed several harvesters.
Seriously, the food is very good, very plain but nourishing. They do very well, considering they feed 1800 men per meal.
Mail that trig book to 459 North 5th Street, Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Address it to Jim Moon, but you'd better mark it "do not forward" because they may think it is something he wants, which he doesn't.
I'll be chagrined if I write all this and then get a pass and be able to tell in five minutes what is taking a half hour to write.
A fellow music-student from B.G. asked the powers-that-be about the army music school and they said that it was harder to get into than to become a captain, so----. When they saw that I was limited service, the first thing they said was "can you type?" apparently wanting to put me in some darned desk job, but I let on I had never even seen one, so I hope I dodged that danger all right.
Don't forward Jim's letter; I could be shipped any time and mail would take forever to catch up with me.
Company A, Reception Center
Camp Perry, Ohio
The fellow with the radio isn't here so I didn't get to hear the good programs today, and there isn't much to do around here. A lot of fellows' parents and girls came down to see them today; the camp is crowded with civilians. I was sure sorry I couldn't get home this Sunday but there just weren't enough passes to go around. I can't even get into Oak Harbor to see the Seeleys.
As you might have seen in the paper, Camp Perry is no longer to be a reception center. Starting June 1st the Air Corps moves in and we move out. The official rumor is that if we aren't classified and ready for permant assignment by that time, we'll be sent to Camp Atterbury, south of Indianapolis, temporarily. Some of the E.R.C. boys have been here two weeks or more.
As you notice, I'm writing with pencil because we can't by pens here. There just aren't any on the post. When I get an address that is permanent enough to permit mailing packages, I want a fairly good fountain pen for my birthday. Take it to Franklin's and they will engrave my name on it for a quarter. That will discourage some of the "borrowing". I think I can hang on to a pen all right, and I really need one. I already bought a money belt and shoeshine kit, but need a sewing kit and sox if birthday suggestions are in order.
Glad you could use the Brillo and I'll try to send more if I get a chance. That's irony, isn't it? People sending things to the poor, neglected boys in the service, and here I am sending you stuff.
Don't write any more to Camp Perry. I'll let you know when I get wherever I'm going.
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