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Gerald R. Rees Papers: Transcripts - MS 1007

Gerald Rees Correspondence - September 1943

September 5, 1943

United States Army

Sunday P.M.

Dear Mom,

Autumn is really on its way. This afternoon while I was swimming we had a really violent rain-the first rain we've had in two months. The nights are very cool now, but it still goes well over 100Âș in the afternoon. I was tempted to try and get over to see Uncle Lew this weekend, since I discovered that Mingus is only 80 miles away, but the uncertainty of travel and shortness of time made me decide not to. Maybe I'll try next week.

Did a washing last night, since we can't send stuff to the laundry any more, and really surprised myself. It looked O.K. Judging from other groups in camp who are waiting for shipment, I expect to be in Barkeley till Sept. 15th or later, but already we are getting prepared to leave. Therefore, no laundry service, and we aren't supposed to have people write to us, but I hope you will anyhow, at least till Sept. 12th. It sure seemed like a long time between letters this last time, but it certainly wasn't any fault of yours. I'm glad you got over your cold as quickly as you did, and are feeling good again.

I'm very anxious to see my new "Key" but afraid it'll be a while before I have a very permanent address. Having the best grades of the freshman boys wasn't much of an honor this year, I guess. There weren't many boys to start with, and most of them didn't feel like studying anyhow. Got my "pitcher took" for nothing, though.

Wondering if you made that Lakeside trip or not. If so, I don't suppose it seemed much like it used to. You needed to get away from home for at least a few days this summer, it seems, just for a change.

Hoffy is home for a while between terms. Have you seen him? Maybe he'd like to see the "Key" since he seemed to enjoy himself at B.G. I'm anxious to hear when and if they'll draft him.

Mr. Tadlock's death was a shame, although I guess he had it pretty tough the last few years. He was a fine man.

I sat down to write a long letter to Johnnie, but had a heck of a time saying things that wouldn't be censored.

Jack said his dad sent a snapshot of him looking out of a fox-hole after an air-raid, so he must have really seen some action. Do you ever see Mrs. Witte?

Won't be able to write any letters this week; we'll be on bivouac till Saturday.

Love, to you and the family,


September 11, 1943

Saturday night

Dear Mom,

The enclosed snapshot is very uncomplimentary as far as appearance is concerned, but I submit it as proof that army life is not all marching and wearing a uniform. We worked all evening on that particular job after a full day.

Within the week you should receive a large picture of our company. I bought it as a curiousity, not as a work of art. The photographer made us take off our glasses, so the likeness is not good. If the picture is damaged in mailing, let the photographer know and he'll send a new one. The large smiling man directly in front is our company commander, and as swell an officer as you'll find in the army. He's throwing a party for us tomorrow-those that are left. Some have gone already.

Most optimistic about A.S.T.P. now, since everyone but A.S.T.P. candidates have gotten shipping orders; I'd know by now if I hadn't made it.

Last Monday night from 8 P.M. to 4 A.M. we had a sort of final examination in hiking-a twenty-five miler. It wasn't as bad as we expected. it was a fine, cool night, which helped a lot.

I can just see you folks at Lakeside, looking out over good old Lake Erie. It must have really been swell. Too bad some of the days had to be rainy. And what a surprise to come back and find the bathroom painted! I suppose Jack had a fine time helping paint.

Burt Frost, the lucky stiff, is at a fine airfield near Harrisburg, Pa., and gets home often. He seems to like the work very much, too. Jim Moon is about to leave with a navy band to be stationed somewhere overseas. He says it is a fine band and seems to be pretty happy.

Sorry I let the letter-writing go for so long, but you can be sure that any time my correspondence lags, it's because nothing is happening. You know that I'm not one to keep important doings to myself. So stand by for anything new.


September 12, 1943

Sunday night

Dear Mom,

The party we had tonight was really something. Started with a delicious fried chicken dinner, followed by a program of professional entertainers. The officers footed the bill and planned it as a farewell peace offering, I guess. Anyhow, everyone enjoyed it.

I hear that Marny Hunt was married Saturday. Just about all of Lee's old crowd is hitched now, aren't they? And none of them within their own group. It doesn't seem like very long since they were all back at Scott H.S.

I'm sending a few letters and stuff that I'd like to save; just throw the package in the closet some place. It's pretty hard to pack all my junk into barracks bags, and they get thrown around a lot on the train.

I have guard duty tonight from 10 to 12 o'clock so I guess I'll take a nap.


September 16, 1943

United States Army

Thursday P.M.

Dear Mom,

Your mail is still coming through; I'm sure glad you are still writing. Fine thing-you telling me I'm in the path of a hurricane and I didn't know anything about it. It lost itself in the Gulf of Mexico, I guess. No self-respecting hurricane would come this far inland, anyhow.

It's too bad the Toledo postal system is so slow. Every week you write a letter on Sunday and it doesn't leave Toledo till Tuesday night-I get it Thursday noon. Don't worry about those old letters I was going to send. The postmaster guessed what was in the package and told me it would have to go 1st class, so I didn't send it.

A new bunch moved into the barracks today-a bunch of prospective officer candidates. The difference in actions and speech is certainly noticeable after the bunch of draftees we did have. It makes things a lot pleasanter.

They get all the K.P. and other duties, so we A.S.T.P.'ers live the life of Reilley-which is darn monotonous by the way.

There is no indication that I won't make A.S.T.P., but don't go around telling everyone that your little boy is going to college. This delay is making me pessimistic. Anything can happen in the army.

That picture made me look very thin, but I'm actually filling out, and should gain weight when cool weather comes. Still eating like a horse.


P.S. Try and get to see "Phantom of the Opera."

September 16, 1943

U.S.O. [card]
Thurs. P.M. [9/16/43]

Dear Mom,

Don't put in any time wondering about me-it isn't worth it. We were all set to go Tuesday but orders were cancelled and I'm still here. Transportation problem seems to be the dealy. A.S.T.P. seems well assured. We are just laying around biting our nails and waiting. I received your Sunday letter today, but it hadn't left Toledo till Tuesday night. I was glad to get it.

Not many left here now. it keeps us hopping to avoid getting on K.P. or something. Successful so far.

As long as you don't hear from me, I'm still here.


September 18, 1943

United States Army

Saturday A.M.

Dear Mom,

I am writing this from the guard-house---no, that's not a good way to start! Anyhow, I'm here as a guard, not a prisoner. We have to stay at the guardhouses when not walking our post, and we are on for 24 hours, so I should get quite a few letters written. They make us carry rifles, so they had to go to work and teach us poor medics the manual of arms. it's vurry confoozing. I prefer a hypodermic syringe or a littler or sumpin.

We are all through with the tests and interviews, and are all set to go to college. I'll take chemistry, physics, algebra, calculus, English, geography, engineering drawing-the whole works. We will get a four-year engineering course in eighteen months, which gives you an idea of how much work we'll do. A few courses have been left out, but on the whole it is a complete course. After the first nine months we will specialize in either chemical, electrical, or civil engineering. No one knows what we will go into when we graduate, but they intimated that the program would continue even if the war ended soon.

So I don't really know what I'm getting into, but it looks mighty good. It will be anywhere from two weeks to a month before I know what school I'll go to. So until then, we'll sit tight and take our K.P. when it comes.


September 22, 1943

United States Army


Dear Mom,

No developments. I don't even send these airmail because you'd get all bothered when you saw the envelope. I'm on a fine job now. We work for an hour cleaning up the recreation building, and spend the rest of the day playing ping-pong.

Maybe it's foolish to make any post-war plans, but I've already made one for sure. It's a summer in the west. One of my closest friends here lives in the heart of the Sierras in Washington-in the center of the apple country that Washington is famous for. he can see snow-covered peaks from his porch all the year 'round. Another friend is a game warden from northern Washington; one has a cattle ranch in Oregon. One is a wheat-farmer from Montana; another a miner from Utah. All of them assure me that there is a lot of seasonal work in their respective occupations, and to hear them talk about Grand Coulee Dam, Yellowstone Park, and the West in general... can you blame me?

The fellow whose father owns some apple orchards says there is good money in the business even for an inexperienced worker. So I've got it all planned out. These boys are a different, and much more likeable a type than the others in the company, the California know-it-alls. They are so set on California that you can't talk to them. I believe the best fellow I knew was the son of a small-town grocer from the North Carolina hills. He left for overseas several days ago. How many of these boys do you suppose we'll see again after the war? I can understand now why the American Legion has national conventions. By the way, did I ever tell you that Hoffy joined the Legion. He very solemnly goes to the meetings down in Lexington every Thursday night. Seems funny, doesn't it?

More rain here today. The stuff that was baked into a hard pavement in the summer is now mud, and the grass we planted around the barracks is growing like mad. This camp was just another piece of Texas desert two years, but now it has been built up into a really nice camp. I still would prefer the trees and lake of Camp Perry, though.

Remember the shoe-shine cloth you sent? If you happen to run across any more, they would be good things to have. They really do a fine shine job.

Sunday will be World-Wide Communion Day, won't it? I'll be having communion in an army chapel, if we aren't traveling. The army uses dehydrated bread which looks like soap chips (and tastes that way) and real wine in the service. But the idea is the same. The perfect agreement among Protestants, Catholics and Jews in the army religious set-up should be a lesson to civilian churches. The thing I like is that there are no Baptists, Methodists, Holy-Rollers, or what-not. It's all just Protestant. Perhaps that sounds too revolutionary, but I never did go in for so much denominationalism, anyhow.

Do my letters sound like Uncle Charley's? I can remember how he used to ramble on.

The radio's blaring as usual. The comedian just said "If I went into a hen-house, why would the hens all keep quiet? 'Cause I have a face that would stop a cluck!"

In two more weeks we change to woolen uniforms, and it's a good thing because our khakis won't last much longer. Laundry is really a problem now. I can make everything else look pretty good, but without an iron I can't do pants and shirts.

I wonder how much of our stuff we'll get to keep after the war. I want my steel helmet-you can plant an ivy in it and I'll hang it in my window at Kohl Hall. It sure looks like a flower pot.

Speaking of Kohl Hall, I hope Jim Moon comes back to B.G. He and I certainly agreed as room-mates.

Maybe Eleanor could take you folks over to see don and Vera Chikadroff sometime to sample some of their ice cream. Ask them if they know where Bob La Conte is.

Having wandered from Oregon to 1014 Starr Avenue, I'd better wander up to bed. You can see I'm getting pretty hard up for things to write about, but we'll keep trying.


September 27, 1943

United States Army

Monday evening

Dear Mom,

We seem to be the army's forgotten men yet; we can't even find any decent rumors as to when we leave. Two weeks of nothing but eating, sleeping, and reading whatever happens to be around. Your Friday letter came yesterday noon-48 hours, which is pretty good. You've mentioned a couple of times having a "feeling" that I might get home, but don't encourage the idea. Remember that I am the smallest and most unimportant buck private in the medical corps, and can't even hope for a furlough for another four months. How Lee got one so soon, I still don't see. Darn shame Lee will have to leave Boca Raton. I guess someone must have heard how well fixed he was there, and decided to change it. That's the way the army seems to work.

Some of the Christmas suggestions I have to offer are don'ts. Don't fall for most of the ads you see for service-men's gifts. A lot of them can be bought at the P.X. for half-price. For instance, bill-folds, toilet kits, ties, belts, etc. Remember that large things are hard to pack, and anything very elaborate might get stolen. One thing that I would rate at the top would be pictures-snapshots of the family, fixed in some kinds of small booklet or holder. That would mean jarring Pop out of his camera-shyness, but that sort of present would mean more to me than anything else. A writing folio would be another welcome one. A good thing to send-believe it or not-would be some sort of very durable edibles, such as hard candy; something that can't be eaten all at once. It seems like I get hungriest when the P.X. is closed so I can't buy something. I'm only doing this because you asked; it would really be better if there was very little present exchanging this year. Can't imagine what I'm going to give people.

It has been cold and rainy the last couple of days. it seems funny to have to wear a jacket again after all the hot weather we've had. They say it really gets cold here, too. All the barracks are heated automatically with natural gas, so that's no problem.

Headlines look better every day, don't they? I can't believe that the war will last more than another year.

I've known George Gahan well ever since the 3rd grade. It's hard to think of him in a battle at Kiska. If you see him be sure to tell him "hello" for me.

That seems to take care of things here in Texas. Don't lose any sleep wondering where I am-it's not worth it.


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