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Gerald R. Rees Papers: Transcripts - MS 1007

Gerald ReesĀ Correspondence - July 1944

July 2, 1944

July 2, 1944

Dear Mom,

If this does as well as the letter last week, it should reach you before you leave for Uncle Fred's; I hope it does. If so, give everyone my regards. Did Aunt Ruth stay long enough to go along, or did she have to go back to Danville?

I heard from Johnny today; he had just received my letter of April 1st, so his mail must not be catching up to him. He's really in some rough country now, I guess, but still hoping to get home by fall.

We went through the infiltration course as one of the final steps in our basic training this week. Glad it's over, although it didn't worry me much this time.

Lee mentioned a furlough to me when I was there, but I think he might go to Florida with Anita when she goes back to school. It will be pretty hard for them to break up house-keeping like that; I admire her for wanting so much to finish and get her degree.

It's a good thing that the Traction Co. strike was settled so soon. That could certainly tie up the city badly.

I'll write more when I can; a fellow is taking our mail into town now so I'll have him take this along.

Love,
Ger

July 4, 1944

July 4, 1944

Dear Mom,

We celebrated the Fourth of July in a very different way today-by firing live ammunition. For our own protection in battle we are issued a small, light gun called a carbine; it's much easier to handle than a rifle but packs more of a punch than a pistol. Today was the first chance I've had to get out on the range and try my hand at it, but did all right. Tonight we have a free night, which is in itself a celebration.

The wife of a hut-mate of mine sent a full copy of the text of the bill that congress passed concerning veterans' education; she works for a congressman. The fact that I could glean out of it, after all the whereases and here-to-for's had been translated, were very encouraging. I can apply for the funds within two years after my discharge, go to any approved college or university of my choices for one year plus a period equal to the time I was in the army. Even if I were discharged in six months from now, which is highly improbable, I'd have enough time to get my degree. During this time the government pays to the school I attend up to $500 per year to cover tuition, fees, books and other equipment, plus $50 a month to me for board and room. This would amply cover my expenses at U. of Michigan, Purdue, or even possibly an eastern school like M.I.T. Do you blame me for being a little excited about the matter? I'll be paying it back in taxes eventually, but in the meantime it will be a great help.

I'm writing this at the service club, and there is some sort of program going on tonight. Girls going around in summer formals kind of add a more pleasant atmosphere to the usual G.I. landscape. By the way, whatever school I go to, it's going to be co-ed; this old business of a strictly masculine environment just isn't any good, I find.

Today's broadcasts put the Russians 250 miles from German soil, and the Americans 750 miles from the Phillipines, which is pretty good to my way of thinking.

Our final test is next Monday and Tuesday, but like all G.I. tests, they've already told us all the questions and answers, so I don't see how we can flunk it. Of course, any outfit just finishing basic training is most likely moved around some, but barring any drastic changes, furlough prospects are still good. There's more to look forward to in the summer time-do you think we could have a picnic supper at one of the parks, with cold chicken 'n stuff?

Is Grandmas at Bernice's more or less permanently now? And is that address 816 Phillips Rd.?

I saw Edith's picture and article in the Blade, so she must be in Washington by now. How is Aunt Sadie?

Hope there was a good crowd at Uncle Fred's. How about Dick Pierce and Bob Bolte? I lose track of everyone.

If the "bush" limas keep on vining, and if Sunday still comes after Saturday, I'll write again soon.

Love,
Ger

July 8, 1944

U.S.O.

July 8, 1944

Dear Mom,

I had to come into town on an errand tonight, so I'll write my Sunday letter now. It usually goes out much faster when it's mailed in town.

The new prefix to my name doesn't mean anything so far-it's just a temporary appointment. As soon as these tests are over next Tuesday they are supposed to hand out the permanent ratings. The only advantage so far is that I don't walk guard or do K.P. You asked about that once before-all privates are on a list and get K.P. in their turn; it's not meant as a punishment.

I'm getting plenty of practice at sewing lately. I no more than get pfc. stripes and patches put on, and they make me tear them off and put on a corporal's stripes.

My furlough may be delayed a little, I'm afraid. There is a group going out to start a new observation battalion soon and rumor says that I'm among the group. That would be a good job and a responsible one, but I'd still like to get home this summer if it's at all possible.

It's a darn shame that "Aunt Mamie" Gordon's death had to mar the Fourth celebration. Otherwise it must have been a pretty happy gathering. Do you remember last year when I was in the hospital on the Fourth? That was a sorry place to be on that day, and this year was a considerable improvement. Don't be worried about not getting your Sunday letter written on time; I know there's always a good reason for it.

The one good thing about this town is the U.S.O. I'm in now. It's off in a residential section, and is a large and complete center. The entire front part is French doors opening on a terrace, with library, music room and writing rooms opening on this terrace. There's even a branch post-office that is open at all hours and even on Sunday.

I hope that after this week our schedule will get back to a normal pace so I can do a little reading and things not connected with the army. They are starting a band in the battalion, but I don't think I'll send for my horn; it's done enough traveling for a while.

Tomorrow our battery is sponsering the church service and the captain is going to read the Scripture lesson. That ought to be good! At first when the new men came here and felt pretty strange in the army, they all came to church. But now that they're old-timers they aren't turning out so well on Sunday morning. So the chaplain has hit on the idea of getting a unit to sponser a service each week, and so the boys all come as a matter of pride. Pretty smart. I've even talked a Jewish boy into coming.

It's swell that Lee is going to hit Toledo on his furlough. I didn't think he could make both Florida and Toledo this time.

Love,
Ger


July 11, 19444

U.S. Army

July 11, 1944

Dear Mom,

Today was a busy one, and I'm glad all of this test business is over. We came through with flying colors-if I do say so. My party did some top-notch surveying, and I was proud of them. Yesterday wasn't so good; they asked us lots of questions on little details of basic training that are just as well forgotten. A colonel in the chemical warfare dep't. caught us all on some of the things; we have to be able to recognize several kinds of poison gases by their smell, and that's tough.

The chaplain had some pretty classy programs printed for Sunday, so I thought I'd send you one. Our battery commander stood up there like a born preacher when he read the Scripture; a pleasing contrast from week-days.

That garden of yours hadn't better dry up before I get there; I'm strictly looking forward to some home-grown tomatos and stuff. To bad there aren't any roasting ears.

Give Lee my regards when he gets to Toledo. I certainly wish you could get to know Anita, but I guess they couldn't manage it.

My Blade subscription expires this week, but I don't know where I'll be from now on, so I guess I won't renew it.

Love,
Ger

July 16, 1944

July 16, 1944

Dear Mom,

This week they're really making me earn my pay-I make $66 a month now. All week I've had a fire-fighting detail and haven't been able to leave the area; last night I was charge of Quarters, which means I had to stay in the battery office all night; and since noon today I've been corporal of the guard. None of the jobs have involved any hard work, but it gets monotonous. Being corporal of the guard is a 100% improvement over walking a post, because I can sit in the guard house and write letters. We're on good terms with the cooks, so we have lemonade and rolls to keep us awake. One of the boys had a radio, so I heard Beethoven's Seventh Symphony this afternoon; that's about my favorite of his works.

Friday the battalion let down its hair and celebrated the completion of basic training. We went out to Lake Brownwood, had cold chicken and potato salad, and generally loafed all day. It was similar to the day we spent at Jones' Beach just about three years ago this time. I got a pretty good tan.

I'll be anxious to hear if Lee made it all right. When does Pop take his vacation? Our furloughs are being typed out now; it's only two weeks from today if nothing happens between now and then.

We have another 13-week period of training to go through now. I hope it will be at some other camp, but maybe not. This camp is pretty poor in a lot of respects; mutton is almost always substituted for beef now, and our rations are pretty skimpy. I think it's because of poor transportation rather than lack of food. These Texas railroads are pretty sad.

This won't get into town tonight, so I don't know when it'll reach you. Don't let those "bush" limas strangle your tomatoes.

Love,
Ger

July 24, 1944

Monday P.M.
[7/24?/44]

Dear Mom,

I didn't write yesterday for a very special reason. Saturday noon I got a pass and took a sudden notion to go and see Uncle Lew. Mingus is about eighty miles from here, and although there isn't much traffic, I hitch-hiked it in about five hours. So if you had your family re-union yesterday, you can know that there was a miniature one going on in Texas, too. I won't go into the details of the trip or the very beautiful place he has to live in; you'll hear all about it next week sometime when I get home. He and Aunt Dora are both very remarkable people, and I had a wonderful time. She killed a chicken yesterday and we had the first honest-to-gosh Ohio dinner since I was home last.

Thursday we were out all day surveying along a state highway. There are nine of us in my party, and we flagged down a farmer passing by and bought three watermelons. We all felt a little stuffed after that, but it hits the spot on a boiling hot day.

We had a very good rain Friday night, something unusual at this time of year. All the farmers who picked me up on Saturday were beaming and quite happy about it.

Don't look for me till you see me-sometime next week.

Love,
Ger

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