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Gerald R. Rees Papers: Transcripts - MS 1007

Gerald ReesĀ Correspondence - October 1943

October 3, 1943

United States Army

Sunday A.M.

Dear Mom,

We've only had a few hours of sun-shine all week, which seems strange after three months of cloudless days.

Your Thursday letter just came. I'm certainly glad you still write, because of course we had no way of knowing I'd be here so long. Things have settled into a kind of routine so it's not so boring as it was. My ping-pong is improving. I'm reading Bellamy Partridge's "Country Lawyer" and think you would enjoy it a lot. Also looking over a French text book. The grammar looks ridiculously easy after German and Latin, but I don't see how the French people themselves can talk the stuff, when most of the letters are silent. It's interesting, though.

So the company picture finally came, did it? Hope it was in good condition. Yes, we have quite a few Mexican and Indian boys here. They are from Southern California, and are a strange mixture of Mexican and Yankee. They speak Spanish but I can pick out a lot of American slang mixed in it. They are fine boys, bull of fun and very loyal friends.

Sorry Aunt Minnie is looking bad. She has certainly had a long and strenuous life, hasn't she? It's a shame her garden isn't getting cared for. Wish I had some of that sweet corn now.

Now that I'm about to leave Texas they are sending Lee here, huh? I suppose Vernon will go to Florida, just to keep the family well scattered. Funny that all three of us should be on the move at nearly the same time. Keeps things interesting for you.

I received another letter from Jim Moon Friday-still at San Diego. he and I sort of agree on what we want to do after the war and probably will room together again; so I'm glad Mrs. Moon wrote to you. You would like her and the rest of the family a lot. One of Jim's brothers is in the Marine reserve at Wooster College, and the other started at Ohio Northern this fall.

Did Ruth Kimmel's grandmother say whether Ruth is back at B.G. or not? she is engaged to Glen Helm, but I don't know where he is.

The clipping about the Friends of Music organization was interesting, but did not say what sort of concerts they were putting on. Is the old Toledo Symphony resurrected, or do they just hire outside performers? If you run across any listings of this year's Art Museum concerts, send them along, will you? I like to hear about them-not that it does me any good. Good music seems to be helped along, rather than hindered by the war. The fact that most of the large orchestras are now being sponsored by private companies-New York Philharmonic by U.S. Rubber, for instance-could be the beginning of a whole new era in music in this country. It looks good to me. I think the N.B.C. Symphony and the Boston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland orchestras all have private sponsors now.

Well, I think I'll know one way or t'other where I'm going on next Wednesday or Thursday, so I'll write again then.


October 7, 1943

Wednesday night

Dear Folks,

Out of Camp Barkeley at last. We left at midnight last night and arrived here this afternoon. Camp Maxey is northeast of Dallas, about ten miles from the Oklahoma border, and forty miles west of Arkansas. The nearest town is Paris, Texas, pop. 18,000. It reminds me a little of Bowling Green--serves as agricultural district, and seems like a lot more friendly town than Abilene. Lots of trees, rolling country, and cotton. We saw cotton pickers in the fields, and each little town the train went through had its gin with cotton bales stacked along the tracks. A new sight to me. The farms look very poor and unkept and everyone seems to have several mules instead of tractors or horses.

The camp is just ordinary, but seems a lot pleasanter because we are away from the desert-like appearance of central Texas.

A.S.F.R.T.C. stands for Army Service Forces Replacement Training Center, and is just a short way of saying that this is where we are examined and assigned to whatever branch of specialized training suits us best-subject to their needs. Right now their needs seem to run to engineering students mostly.

Today groups left for Princeton, Rutgers, Fordham, Michigan, etc. Next week it might be California, Oregon, or Kansas. No one knows. I will be here from five to thirty days, so use this address till further notice. Of course, there is also the chance that I'll be eliminated and sent back to Barkeley for re-assignment, but as far as I know, that chance is slight. We have already gone through several elimination, and I have managed to stay.

This will be a long, lean month. We left Barkeley too soon to be paid there, and are too late to be paid here, so we'll have to wait till November. Think I have enough though.

We didn't get much sleep last night, so I'll wait till later to write more.

With Love,

October 11, 1943

United States Army

Monday P.M.

Dear Mom,

Your letter and welcome pecuniary reinforcements came today-very good time. it will be good to have mail coming in again. But what's the latest report from Lee? There are a lot of airfields in Texas, so it's hard to say where he might go.

I wandered around camp last night and it's really huge. I didn't even try to cover nearly all of it. Saw some WAC officers so there must be a detachment of them here. Today I caught my first glimpse of our "superman" enemies. We have a German prison camp next to us, and today on a hike we went close enough to see some prisoners. They are still wearing the same uniforms they did when they we captured in North Africa, and are pretty bedraggled. The barracks looked clean and well-kept, and my guess is that they are better off here than before they were captured.

We probably aren't doing much to help the war along, here and in the A.S.T. united, but they sure don't let us forget we are in the army. We have infantry officers who are plenty tough, and are even more strict than at Barkeley. We hiked for twelve miles today-without packs, though.

Hope Eleanor's job turns out all right. There won't be any days off like there were at Addressograph. And won't she be "frozen" at her job for the duration? Good money, though.

There's a record concert at the Service Club now, and I thing [sic] I'll go, so "continued in next installment."


October 14, 1943

Camp Maxey, Texas
Service Club


Dear Mom,

Your letter telling of Lee's trip came today. I half expected you to say that they tied the 14 chickens, one cat, two dogs and five puppies on the back of the jaloppy. What a trip that must have been. Certainly wish you had told me his address, though; if you get it to me right away I might be able to get a three-day pass and go down to see him on the week-end of Oct. 23rd. They have been giving some passes lately and I think I could make it, although I haven't looked into the matter of schedules very closely. So send that address soon if you can.

Johnny's letters must have been exciting. Sometimes I wish I were getting a little closer to action than college is. He will really have some interesting experiences to remember.

In a couple of days we start wearing O.D.'s again. They seem a lot more dressy than the khakis, although cleaning a pressing will cost more. The wool clothes will certainly feel good now; it's really cold mornings and evenings.

The usual rumors are floating around, but there is still no more chance that I'll go to Ohio than I will to Vermont or Arizona or any place in between.

The money certainly was appreciated. I hope you could spare it all right. The treatments at Dr. Durbin's must be kind of expensive. Sending a Sunday Times was a swell idea, although I haven't gotten it yet. It should be forwarded soon.

If I stop now this will go out tonight so you'll get it soon. Nothing else to report.


P.S. New address a little preferable, but not necessary. The other one will reach me O.K. Co.F 3887th S.U. (STAR) Specialized Training And Reassignment
Service Unit

October 17, 1943

Sunday P.M.

Dear Mom,

I'm having a real civilian Sunday today. Came into town (Paris) at about 10:00 and looked up the First Baptist Church. Went into a men's Sunday School class and all the Judd Richardsons and Ford Webers came and shook hands and were very chummy. then went into the regular service-good choir, large congregation. The church is about the size of Ashland and very nice. The whole thing was a pleasant change from the camp chapels. Then I went to a restaurant and had a steak dinner. Now I shall listen to the symphony, read the Sunday paper, and consider it a day well spent.

The U.S.O. here is not as fine a place as the ones in Abilene, but they are still a mighty good place to go to. The one here has a travelers aid bureau which helped me figure out my trip to San Antonio, in case I can get a three day pass. That is still doubtful.

If I can't go to S.A. there is something to look forward to anyhow. The Houston Symphony is giving two concerts here next Friday and Saturday-free-and I hope to attend both concerts, which should be a real treat.

Had to use a "Post Office" pen, so I hope you can read this.

Love to you-all,

October 25, 1943

Monday A.M.

Dear Mom,

So far my trip has worked out just about perfect. Left camp Friday night at 6:00, arrived in Dallas at 10:30 and talked to Jane and Jim on the phone. I only had an hour and they live pretty far out, so I didn't see them then. Got into San Antonio at 9:30 Saturday morning and went right out to Lee's apt. He wasn't to get out of camp till evening so I just talked to Anita-or rather she did the better share of the talking-until lunch-time and then wandered around S.A. all afternoon. The Alamo is right in the middle of town, and has been made into a beautiful park and museum. There were pictures and souvenirs of Davy Crockett, James Bowie, and all the relics of Texas history. I enjoyed it very much. The Alamo itself is a monastery which was made into a fort, surrounded by a stone wall. Now it's all covered with vines, and palm trees and fancy flower beds fill the whole place. There are a lot of palms around town, and they sure look strange to me.

In the evening Anita cooked up a fine supper and we just sat around comparing notes. Lee looks same as ever. Anita is small, about 5 ft. 4 in.; comes just above Lee's shoulder. She has long dark hair and is really pretty. I saw several of her paintings, and thought they were darn good. As if that wasn't enough, she was an A student in college and worked nights as a riveter in a defense plant. And her cooking is very easy to take.

Sunday morning we went to a large Methodist Church downtown. They had a huge congregation and a good choir, but it was the kind of church you could attend for ten years and still not know anyone.

Steak is plentiful and cheap here so we had a big steak dinner and then drove out to Breckinridge Park, about like Walbridge and Ottawa combined. We took a couple of snapshots which may or may not turn out.

The old Willys coupe has a lot of wheezes and rattles, but it gets around all right. Lee drives it out to camp every day.

I left S.A. last night and got into Dallas early this morning. Jane works in a very classy store downtown, so I didn't stay there long. Jim doesn't get out till six tonight and my bus leaves for camp at 6:30, so I won't see him for very long. It's good to see them even for a little while, though.

I received a very interesting and entertaining letter from Johnny Friday. Maybe it's from long practice or something, but he certainly has a gift for writing letters-and for saying things in such a way that the censor won't cut them. He sent a crisp new 10-shilling note also.

Well, I have the dubious distinction of being the only one in the family who has met all the in-laws now. This should end my gadding about for a long time now.


October 27, 1943

Camp Maxey, Texas
Service Club


Dear Mom,

It seemed funny to get back in the grind again after three days away. The vacation did me a lot of good, I think; the army has been telling me what to do for so long I almost didn't know how to act. Monday night I talked with Jane and Jim for a few minutes before my bus left. They both like their work, but don't know anyone in Dallas and seemed glad to have someone to talk to.

I went into a record shop in Dallas and played some of "my" records for a while. That convinced me that, if it is at all possible, I want my radio and phonograph with me. So I'm going to ask you or Pop one more thing although I've already troubled you enough. could one of you talk to a radio man and find out if they would pack it for mailing? Tubes are impossible to get now, so it would be necessary to have it packed just right. I think that a radio shop would be willing to do it for a price, and they would have the materials. As you may have noticed, I had a switch put in so I can plug my record player in the radio, so I'd like it sent too. By the time you have it packed, I will be shipped to a school and you could send it as soon as I get my new address to you. It looks as if we'll be going in about a week, now.

You may well be wondering where the money came from for my trip; the government came through with a supplementary payroll last wee, so I came out all right. Tell Eleanor her installments will arrive as usual. The train fare was only around ten dollars, and I figured it was worth that.

Has Vernon written any more about what he'll do now? You said he was to have finished school the 26th, so something has probably developed by now.

It is really cold here now, especially early in the morning. I had K.P. today and rolling out an hour early in a cold barracks was as hard a thing as I'd ever care to do. We did K.P. in an officers' mess, and boy, did we eat. They have fancier food, of course, and more of it. The work was easier than usual, too. Between K.P. and guard duty, we manage to keep busy.

Only nine o'clock, but if nothing else, the army's teaching us to go to bed early.


October 29, 1943

October 29, 1943

United States Army

Dear Folks,

YIPPEE! City College of New York
Nov. 1, 1943

Mr. & Mrs. Frost
Carnegie Hall (Phiharmonic)
Metropolitan Opera (extra)


October 30, 1943

Sunday noon

Dear Mom,

Yessir, we're off to the big city tomorrow. I still can't believe my good luck. My friends from Washington and Montana are going around with long faces because they won't see home for a couple of years, and you can't blame them. One fellow from Mississippi who hates the sight of a yankee is really appalled at the thought of crossing the Mason-Dixon Line. We kid him about it all the time, but he takes it all right. C.C.N.Y. is on Manhatten, up at 138th St., and fifteen minutes from Times Square by express subway. There are no dorms, and we may live in swanky apartment houses or hotels. It really looks like we have a swell break. It's been a long wait "deep in the heart of Texas", but it was worth it.

The fellows here from New York say that they treat the soldiers very good. There is some U.S.O. near Times Square where we can get free tickets to all the plays, concerts, and operas.

The way our schedule runs, I think we will have free time from about 4:00 Saturday afternoon till 7:00 Sunday night. The Philharmonic gives concerts on Saturday nights and Sundays, and so does the Metropolitan Opera, so I'm going to attend all I can. "Life with Father" and some other plays I've always wanted to see are going on now, so that's something else to look forward to.

What do you suppose ol' Reyn will say when I walk in next week? I think I can still find the place.

I received a letter from Burt and he gets 3-day passes every couple of weeks and can make New York easily. Also Jack gets there sometimes.

The army does strange things. Some of the Jewish boys here will be going to Manhatten U., which is a very ultra-ultra Catholic men's school. Tsk, tsk.

Has Vernon's address changed? Glad to hear he has an instructor's job. Is his rating Chief Petty Officer?

Went to a good service at the Baptist church this morning. The churches here are well filled every week.

Well, I'll get all packed up; will probably be en route three or four days. Will write at first chance.


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