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Gerald R. Rees Papers: Transcripts - MS 1007

Gerald ReesĀ Correspondence - March 1944

March 5, 1944

Sunday P.M.

Dear Mom,

The enclosed guff from Col. Cook doesn't mean much but I'll send it for what it's worth. What's much more valuable is the fact that we get a pass every Wednesday night; the chance to get downtown some time other than Saturday night means a lot. The play I saw last Wednesday, "Oklahoma!", was a lot of fun. The setting was on a farm in Oklahoma just after the turn of the century, and it occurred to me that Pop had been in Oklahoma not too long after that. There was a typical box-social where the hero-a cowboy-is outbidded by the villain and got the heroine's box; there was square-dancing and all the old-time rural doings. You would have gotten a big kick out of it. It is the most popular show in New York; I had to stand in line for an hour to get a ticket to stand up to see the play. But it was worth it.

The "Times" seemed to like Dorothy Stahl's singing. I already had a ticket for "Porgy and Bess" so I didn't hear her. Next week I wanted to go up to Philadelphia to see Mrs. Brown, but it looks like we might be kept in for the weekend for some sort of physical examinations, so I won't count on going. You might send her address, though.

Bunny had better hurry and get here. I'd like to see her before I leave, but we still don't know how soon that will be.

Is Johnny's address still the same? If those letters were written on a boat, it probably isn't. And let me know as soon as anything is heard from Vernon.

By chance yesterday I bought a Blade downtown, and saw two items of interest which you apparently forgot to mention. One was an item about a girl coming back from the hospital after being injured in that sidewalk cave-in. Now I'm going batty wondering who the other three were, because this as a girl whom I had known very well at Scott.

The other news was that Bowling Green's basketball team is invited to the national tournament at Madison Sq. Garden, which makes it one of the eight best teams in the country. That made me feel proud.

No one is studying very hard since they said we were leaving, so I'll have more time than I did. Will write as often as there's anything worth saying.


March 12, 1944

Sunday P.M.

Dear Folks,

We were hustled through a so-called physical exam this morning down at the N.Y. induction center. It was so thorough that they said both of my eyes were corrected to 20/20, or normal vision. Other A.S.T. units have been getting physicals and then leaving fairly soon thereafter. Owing to an acute financial shortage, I'm wondering if someone at home could loan me a little cash quick, till the next payday. I went all the way to Texas and part way through basic flat broke, and it's very inconvenient, I find.

One of the fellows snapped this picture of our surveying squad out at Van Cortlandt Park, and I thought you'd be interested in it. The two standing next to me are my closest friends here, and this morning they were both rejected because of bad eyes and may be discharged. The one next to me is the apple-grower from Washington, and he feels pretty bad about being turned down.

You must have been pretty glad to hear from Vernon again. Thanks for the address; I'll write to him tonight. Did Eleanor do her skiing, or did the weather fail her?

Yes, "Gus" Nasmith is Mrs. Frost's brother. The last I heard, he was in Marion with their parents.

Last night a friend gave me a ticket to the broadcast by the Boston Symphony. It was the first time I had seen them, and really enjoyed it. It was at the Hunter College auditorium, and it's a beautiful place.

Think I've covered the subject for today, so I'll try to answer some other letters now.


March 14, 1944

Tuesday A.M.

Dear Mom,

The axe has finally fallen on C.C.N.Y. We stopped going to classes and turned in our books yesterday, and will probably leave in a few days. They let us out till midnight last night, and I went over to see Reyn and Grace. They are all well and happy.

I have sent a couple of things home; the little shoe-bag that I stole from you when I went into the army has a broken zipper and I bought another and sent my gym clothing in the old one. They are very dirty and I advise you to just leave them unopened till I come home again to look after them.

The package marked Books you might open and glance at; you might want to see some of the stuff I have saved. The horn will arrive express collect and I'll reimburse you when we get paid. It shouldn't be more than a dollar.

Today seems like Sunday; they let us sleep as late as we wanted, and had a fine breakfast-french toast, bacon, grapefruit halves, corn muffins and coffee. Didn't even have to make our beds, although we did anyhow from force of habit.

It is beautiful spring weather outside, but we can't go out. Over across the street the college looks dead and deserted, except for a few civilians.

It will be interesting to see where the next letter is written from. I hope we know pretty soon.


March 16, 1944

Thursday A.M. - en route

Dear Mom,

Talk about things coming in the nick of time! We left at 4:15 yesterday, and your letter came at about 4:00 with Eleanor's check. Thanks very much for the prompt action. We pulled out of Penn Station about 7 P.M. in a very super duper Pullman car. Traveling is a lot of fun this way-not knowing where we are going. This morning when we woke up-believe it or not-we were gazing at the bridge over Niagara Falls. Somehow we switched from the Penn. R.R. to the Lehigh Valley R.R. and apparently are following the northern route through Canada to Chicago.

The thing that gripes me is that we were in plain view of the falls, but the fog was so thick we couldn't see them. Now it is clearing and they country is beautiful. There is a lacy frost on the tree branches and grass and seems to be very cold outside.

It is hillier than I expected. Always wanted to take this northern route. Of course, when we reach Chicago, we could be heading anywhere, but I think it will be south. There are some interesting things along here. Just crossed the Wellington Ship Canal; went over a narrow neck of Lake Ontario over a huge bridge.

More later,


March 19, 1944

Saturday night
[Camp Polk, La.]

Dear Mom,

Just a note to let you know that I'm here and O.K. Camp Polk is in the western part of Louisiana, near Leesville if you can find it on the map. We got here in the dark and it's raining, so I'll reserve opinion till later. None of the traditional swamps are in sight, and what I've seen of La. is pretty nice.

Don't be alarmed by the A.P.O. number; lots of army camps in this country have them. We'll be classified and assigned to regular units tomorrow; don't know what I'll be put in yet. Interesting trip and I'll have a lot to write when we get time.


P.S. Did you get the letter I mailed en route?
P.P.S. Write to this address soon-will help morale. OVER

Have been assigned, so mailing address for sure is

Co.D, 291st Inf.
A.P.O. 451, c/o P.M.
Shreveport, Louisiana

We've been changed overnight into infantry soldiers-we're all packed and are leaving for maneuvers in a few minutes (6 A.M. Sunday). We'll be out for two weeks, but will be able to send and receive mail in the field every day, so be sure to write. I'm in the 291st regiment of the 75th Infantry division of the 4th Army.

March 30, 1944

U.S. Army
Thursday P.M.

Dear Mom,

Tomorrow we start on our next and last problem of the maneuvers, so tonight will be the only chance to write for a few days. I hope that last letter was readable; before I had a chance to mail it there was a heavy rain in which me and my belongings were thoroughly soaked. That also accounts for this letter being somewhat blurred. We were riding in an open truck without raincoats and were a bunch of sad looking specimens when we went to make camp that night. A roaring fire does wonders for morale, though. This next problem is supposed to last only three or four days, and then we can just loaf around till they get all the equipment loaded onto trains and then off to Kentucky.

We only have one set of clothes here in the field, and today they said they had to be clean, so everyone is standing around the campfire with nothing but a raincoat on, holding clothes up to dry. We had to wash them with face-soap in a muddy creek, so you can imagine how clean they are. This is still the army, even in the field-today I perched on a stump while another fellow with barber tools hacked off part of my hair.

Part of the training these last few days has been on malaria control. I guess all the troops have work on it now. Anyhow, it sure looks funny to see guys wearing these portable mosquito nets around their heads. They also have some repellant to smear on our hands and faces, which seems to be good stuff.

Has Johnny been getting mail? Last I heard, you said he wasn't; I'd like to write to him.

Fire's getting too hot to sit by so I think I'll go to bed.


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