Monday, March 30, 2009

Sand Twisters - july 2, 1943

July 2, 1943

Dear Mother,

I got the pictures this noon. I sure wish that river went through this camp. Space in a river like that could be rented out at a nice price per square foot.

Tell Dad I feel like I got his whipping for him. We went riding out in the desert on our trucks. That desert isn't near as level as it looks, and there aren't any roads. You can ride along and all of a sudden you arrive at the edge of a ten or fifteen foot gully. We hit one of those today going wide open. Well that truck just took off into space. If we could have had wings they would have arrested us for flying low. We hit about half way up the other bank and just kept going. That was all well and good except that I didn't land in the same spot I started in. I landed on an ammunition box right on top of the lock. Tonight I can't hardly sit down.

You should see the twisters we have here. Every day about noon they start. Down through the tents and across the motor park. They pick up anything that is loose and tear down any tents not put up good. If one of them catches the cooks unprepared we eat dirt mixed with our dinner. If you happen to be standing in the path of one it dumps about ten tons of dirt down your neck. If you want to hear some flowery language you should be around when one of the twisters fills a mans mess kit with dirt. The expression on the faces is what gets you. It's pitiful but funny at the same time.

I'm going to a show now so adios til later.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Desert Training Center California June 25, 1943

June 25, 1943

Dear Mother,

It won't be long now until we start going on the ranges and shooting a little. The remainder of the Battalion arrived the other day, so we can get down to business now. When we get maps of the area we will take vehicles down to the river for a wash job. Of course we can't get our clothes wet so you know how it is. The water really feels good on a hot afternoon.

You know if your not careful that apartments is going to be fully furnished before you realize it. If that stuff ever comes from Pittsburgh you will be in pretty fair shape.

The mountains right around here close aren't high enough to sport snow. They say California has mountains with snow but they are probably in the northern part of the state.

The Needles that is near the camp here is in California right across the river from Arizona. It's also the largest town close to the camp and it's about twenty miles away. Las Vegas, Nevada is around a hundred miles north. It's a fair sized town and wide open.

You should see some of the fellows around here. They sat out in the sun too long with out any shirts on. Now they're sleeping on their stomachs. One fellow kept asking if his back was getting red and the answer was always no so he stayed a little longer. Finally he went in and about two hours later his back turned as red as a beet. I know what that sun will do to me so I don't go out without a shirt on except late in the evening.

Thank you very much for the ten. It sure came in handy. If a person gets a pass around here and hasn't any money he's just out of luck that's all. They tell you when to go on pass and it isn't often enough to pass up the opportunity.

Closing for now. Be good.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In Sunny California - June 16, 1943

June 16, 1943

Dear Mother,

Jimminy but this heat makes a guy lazy. Of course that hike Junior and I took the other day didn't help any while were not used to this weather.

The two of us decided to see how far it was to the mountains from camp, also what was on the other side. About one thirty we took off across the desert, we really clipped off the miles over to the mountains. We figured it was about six miles and we made that in about an hour and a quarter. Then we started climbing. It took about an hour to reach the top. All we could see on the other side was another valley like the one our camp is located in except that there is the Colorado River running through the other valley. Coming back from the mountains seemed lots farther than going over. But we finally made it.

I bet you could use some of this sunshine around your part of the country. I know what they mean when they say sunny California.

If I have any money left I wonder if you could send me about ten to do until the end of the month. I ran a little shorter of cash than I figured on.

I think I'll go take a shower now. Drink hot water and shower in cold water what-a-life.


Friday, March 6, 2009

First Days in The Desert

June 13, 1943

Dear Mother,

The first day here on the desert wasn't so bad. The camp here reminds me of Camp Sutton only about twice as bad. -
Called because of darkness - continued tomorrow. -

Thursday June 14,

Another day bright and sunny. It's not quite as hot here as some have rumored it, but that sun really beats down. It's only been about 100 the past few days. The one thing that helps is being up so high here we get a nice breeze most of the time. The nights really get cool. Two or three blankets are just about right to keep you from freezing.
Boy is this a forsaken looking place no trees, grass, or anything but brush and cactus. We're sitting out here in the middle of the desert about 20 miles northeast of Needles, California. On all sides of us you can see mountains, those on the east of us are the closest. They look like they are in our back yard, but they are really about ten miles away.
We live in tents, sleep on army cots and have dirt floors. All the buildings here are tents. The post exchanges, shops and everything are in tents.
We left Kansas on Thursday night and got here Sunday afternoon. We went through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. I never seen such barren country. The only trees are cedar and they look like they had a hard time existing, all twisted and stunted. About all we seen along the way was mostly Indians. I don't how they live. There's nothing to live on that I can see but there they are.

I hope this is our correct address at last....


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

June 8, 1943, Before heading out for desert training in Calif.

June 8, 1943

Dear Mother,

Well I guess this will be my last letter from Camp Funston, Kansas. Some of the fellows are pretty anxious to hit the trail, but something tells me they will wish they were back in Kansas before long. If what the advance party says is true the desert camp is like Camp Sutton only hotter. The morning they wrote back it had cooled off to 95o. The day before it was 125o and nothing but sand -Sand in your bed, sand in your clothes, and sand in your food. But that's all part of the training to separate the men from the boys.

I found a few more ticks when I started taking a shower. They didn't last long though.

We tried to get to town Sat. evening - sense it was our last in Kansas - but everyone else had the same idea. The buses were full, the cars were full so finally we got disgusted and returned to the barracks to spend the rest of the week end.

I'm going to quit now and finish packing my clothes away.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Slowest Train

June 1, 1943

Dear Mother,

That was about the slowest train from St. Louis I have ever ridden on. We didn't get into Kansas City until 6 that evening. The train for camp pulled out at six thirty but it had thirteen cars loaded to the gills, and I do mean loaded. I had to wait for the eleven fifteen train, it got into camp about three thirty.
Monday evening we got up and took a half hour of exercises then took a ten mile hike. After not getting any sleep and riding on the train that was really a rough deal.
I felt the effects of all that this morning when I got up so I went on sick call. It turned out I had a cold and a slight fever. They swabbed my throat and gave me enough pills to start a young drug store. I think the cold is broken any way - I hope.
They issued our new address I'll give it to you and you'll have it. I'll let you know when we move out and you can start using it.

Payday yesterday - $40 to replace what I spent.
That's all for now.