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Gerald R. Rees Papers: Transcripts - MS 1007
Camp Bowie, Texas
The last two evenings have been full, so my Sunday letter has been delayed quite a bit. The Houston trip was a success from the start. Left Brownwood on a brand new, not-crowded bus Thursday night, slept for a while at Austin, and hitch-hiked on to Houston in the morning. There was no one home there, so I went to Galveston, spending the afternoon and evening there. The people who picked me up outside of Houston were also going for a sight-seeing tour, and invited me along. Galveston is approached by a mile-long bridge over the bay and then a boulevard lined by flowering shrubs and palm threes. The weather was spring-like during the whole trip. We rented a boat and cruised around the harbor, close to boats of all nationalities, and far enough out to feel the ocean swells. Jim and I came back the next day and spent the afternoon surf-bathing, and ate a sea-food lunch in a classy ocean-side hotel. Jane worked all day Saturday in a down-town dep't store, but came back to cook an excellent supper of T-bone steak and French-fries. We went to a park much like Walbridge Park used to be, and rode the roller-coaster and stuff. Jim seemed to have plenty of gas; we saw most of Houston, including many of the most beautiful homes in the South. There is a lot of money in the town that has been easily come by and lavishly spent. The campus of Rice Institute is as good a surrounding for a college as I've seen. I don't know much about the school, but the campus sold me. (Coincidence: the leading hotels of Houston are the Lamar and the Rice.)
I started back at 10 A.M. Sunday, stopped in a roadside café for a sandwich and was asked to join an elderly couple at one of the tables, and they bought me a chicken dinner. Another family took me directly to the bus station in Austin just as the announcer was calling "last call for Brownwood" and so ended another and probably last jaunt about Texas, covering over 800 miles.
Very anxious to receive the cookies; they should be here soon.
Eleanor didn't put her address on the card she sent; what is it?
I won't have to fib a bit about the conditions of the cookies. They came last night in as good shape as when they came from the oven. Dee-licious. Hope it didn't exhaust your sugar supply, but it's swell to have them.
The weather continues to feel like early September instead of November. They say the rain should start any day, now, so I hope we leave soon.
I saw a piggy bank which struck my fancy in a Brownwood store last night, so I had it Christmas-wrapped and mailed to Jack by way of Toledo, in the hope that they'll come your way sometime before Christmas. The rest of the family will be quite a problem to select presents for.
Pay day finally came so I'll try to keep my credit good with you. The loan was a life-saver as you can well imagine; I arrived from Houston with nine cents in my pocket.
Saw an unusual show last night-"Mrs. Parkington." You wouldn't like parts of it, but on the whole a good show. Greer Garson & Walter Pidgeon.
Nov. 6, 1944
I didn't know it at the time, but the letter which I wrote Friday will be the last one written without someone looking-figuratively-over my shoulder. We have a temporary A.P.O. number which should get mail to me for a while yet. Finally said goodbye to Texas last Saturday, and to my surprise felt kind of sorry to leave; was getting pretty familiar with the place. Having a very pleasant and lazy trip complete with sleeping car and porter.
Tuesday, Nov. 7, 1944
We have arrived safely somewhere in the vicinity [cut out by censor] after a peaceful trip over pretty familiar territory. I'm fairly near Reyn, but doubt if I'll be able to get out to see him while we're here. It's too soon to pronounce any opinion, but the camp seems entirely satisfactory. There is a wintery feeling in the air which wasn't present in Texas; it makes one feel more like doing a day's work than does a warmer climate.
I'm wondering if Eleanor sent my camera to the factory as she had planned. I'll get mail at this address for a while yet, so I hope the camera is on its way. I can get film for it quite easily.
A lot of fellows who live here are on pins and needles because they are "so near and yet so far" so I'm just as glad I'm not near home. I've looked forward to this sort of experience for a long time and am pretty glad it is finally coming. Sorry these letters have to be so vague, but there's really not much to say at present. Hope you're well and not working too hard.
Sunday, Nov. 12 
If I can remember to keep it up, I'll number my letters consecutively from now on so you'll know if one is missed.
The visit to Reyn's was certainly a surprise to both of us and a very pleasant one. Things seem just the same there as when I left last March. Frances proudly showed me the book which "Gram" had sent her for her birthday.
Today I was out for a while, but Reyn would have been working and anyhow I had a hankering to see the big city, so I went there instead. Was fortunate enough to arrive in time to attend the service at Riverside Church. Dr. Fosdick lived up to, or even surpassed the high opinion I had of him. His sermons are prepared word for word, and are so simple and yet thought-provoking that he has no need for resorting to dramatic or emotional oratory. He's a brilliant man but yet doesn't "talk down" to people as Mr. Haslam sometimes does.
After an extravagant but flawless dinner at Longchamps, I stood around Carnegie Hall looking wistful till they let me in. After a seven-month famine of good music, it's hard to express how good it was to be back. I hope you heard the broadcast, although the best number was played after the program went off the air. That will be another program to add to the collection in my scrap-book.
I wanted to get into Radio City Music Hall, but the line extended from Sixth Avenue almost down to Fifth Ave., so I gave it up and took the guided tour of NBC studios instead. Saw Edgar Bergen in his shirt-sleeves rehearsing for tonight's broadcast, watched a television program, and various interesting phases of the broadcasting business. Bought a Toledo Blade at the out-of-town news-stand on Times Square and was ready to call it a day. I'd like to describe the very interesting trip to and from the city, but that's "verboten" as you can understand.
It's funny to listen to different fellows' reactions to New York. Many of them on their first trip got disgusted and didn't even want to go back. I feel sorry for them.
I think all of your letters to Camp Bowie have caught up to me, and the package will probably get here soon. Hope everything's under control at home.
Hospitality Center for Service Men
Recreation Committee of the
Philadelphia Council of Defense
18 South 15th Street
Wednesday Nov. 15 
Not long ago one of the boys in the outfit said that his mail was arriving home with the name of our camp stamped on the postmark, so I see no point in any attempt at secrecy on our part. I guess it's more to get us used to the idea of having our mail censored than for military reasons. Anyhow, to satisfy your curiousity, I am at a camp just outside New Brunswick, New Jersey, a 50-minute ride on the train from New York, and only 40 minutes from Newark. Transportation to any place nearby is excellent, and after becoming used to Brownwood, which has two trains daily, both of them habitually several hours late, this seems like paradise. The camp has all kinds of facilities, and we have a fairly light schedule when we aren't on pass. We can only get 12-hour passes which limits our traveling, and we don't know when we are getting them in time to make any advance plans. Tonight on a sudden impulse I came to Philadelphia to try and see Mrs. Brown and at least get a glimpse of the city. It's now 9 P.M. and the Browns are expected back at 10, so I'm killing time to phone again then. I like Philadelphia already; people in the station and everywhere are very friendly. Of course there'll be no time to see the things I want to, like Independence Hall and the University of Pa. but that can't be helped. At any rate I'm only losing a night's sleep and $1.50 train fare. I ate in a very classy down-town restaurant-the kind where the waiter always seems to know what you want without asking-clean linen table cloths, dim lights and all. Don't be alarmed, for the prices were very reasonable.
Yesterday I went over to New York and saw some friends at C.C.N.Y. and also asked for a transcript of my grades. The work I finished there is valued as the equivalent of a half a semester of regular college. It all counts towards graduation at any school I choose. From school I took my favorite walk down Riverside Drive; up the Hudson are the Palisades and George Washington Bridge, and down the river is a good view of Grant's Tomb and Riverside Church. Then I saw the stage show at the Music Hall. They symphony orchestra played Tschaikowski's "1812 Overture" and then a program of Gershwin who is one of my particular favorites. I ate supper in a very homey little Viennese restaurant on 46th Street; had sauerbraten, apple strudel, and other fine Austrian dishes.
Perhaps you're wondering why I don't spend more time at Reyn's, but there are good reasons. Each pass I get may be the last, so I have to say good-bye each time, which is no fun. Then too, he's at work so much of the time and doesn't feel very ambitious when he gets home. So I think it's best not to go back. He and Grace are in a rut which I'm sure they'll climb out of after the war, but can't now. (Aren't we all).
There is no indication of when we'll leave, or where. There are V-mail forms already made out which will be sent you just as soon as we land, even if I'm not able to send any mail, so you don't have to worry on that score. I could probably write a good deal oftener than I do, but the subject matter is so limited that it takes all the joy out of writing. I bought some Christmas cards which I might get addressed and sent before I go.
Please count on going to Massilon for Christmas. Take that first allotment check of mine to pay the train fare as a present from me. You certainly would have an un-merry Christmas if you didn't get out with the rest of the family, few as they may be. You are so inclined to take these traditional days seriously that if you stayed at home without any of us there it would bother me too.
Was Pop peeved 'cause I called collect? I enjoyed hearing you talking; it was worth several letters.
Today we took a hike through the country around New Brunswick. it wasn't too cold and was really a pleasant walk. There's a snap in the air that just isn't in Texas. We were issued new wool sweaters and jackets which make good hiking clothes. Although New Jersey is pretty well built up, there are still some wild spots, and this is the best time of year for hiking.
You must have been tickled to see Eleanor, Jack and Johnny. Jack has only been away for three months but it probably seemed a lot longer. Tell them all hello and maybe I'll write to them.
Just had a good visit with Mrs. & Mrs. Brown-they give you their regards and seem very busy and happy. I've got to get back to camp now.
Monday, Nov. 20 
It's a good think you told me what you and Pop were getting Reyn for Christmas. Last night when I went to see them I found out as tactfully as I could from Grace what he wanted, and she said that the only thing she knew was a tool chest, so that's what she is getting him. I didn't say any more about it, but I think you and Grace had better get together on the matter. Reyn doesn't say what he wants- is something like Pop in that respect. Comes the annual period of fussing and worrying about what presents to get what people. My efforts will be limited to cards in most cases.
This week I had good luck at Carnegie Hall again, occupying a $4.40 seat on the main floor. Wish that sort of thing could continue, but it probably won't.
Reyn has to work on Thanksgiving, and Grace may go to her Mother's house in Brooklyn. If all reports are true the army has most of the turkey, but you remember what happened to the dinner they promised us last year.
Enclosed are some snapshots taken the first time I went to see Uncle Lew. They live in Mingus now, and I'll bet they hated to leave their lake and cabin.
Rain and cold here but not much necessity for being out in it.
No package yet but should get here all right.
Tuesday, Nov. 21 
Just returned from a U.S.O.-sponsored play which as been going on Broadway for some time; it's good to see real people on a stage instead of a movie. There are so many more entertainments here than in the camps in Texas. In many ways this is an ideal camp [cut out by censor]
Today I sent out a batch of Christmas cards, which seems like of foolish. but I waited as long as I could and maybe people won't mind.
It rained all today except for a brief spell of snowing; maybe there will be a white Thanksgiving. Will you go to Pemberville or do they come to Toledo this time? Hope it is a successful gathering for all who are there.
No package yet, but they will certainly forward it, and it's a long time till Christmas.
Will write as often as I can, but can't make any rash promises, so don't be concerned if there are delays.
Riverside Drive at 122nd Street
New York 27, N.Y.
November 24, 1944
Mrs. C.B. Rees
2453 Putnam Street
Toledo 10, Ohio
Dear Mrs. Rees:
I am sure you will be glad to know that Sergeant Gerald M. Rees worshiped at Riverside Church recently. In the Narthex we have a guest book in which men and women in the armed services are invited to register; and we ask them to give us the name of a friend or relative whom we may advise of their visit here. You will be pleased that your name was given.
It has been a satisfaction to us to welcome Sergeant Rees and to establish this bond of friendship that will serve us in a more personal way to include him and his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers in these troubled days.
Harry Emerson Fosdick
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