Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Car - July 21, 1943

July 21, 1943

Dear Dad,

One thing you can say about the weather out here is that it's persistent. We don't have to worry about it raining on our Sunday swimming trips.

I've been trying to figure out what the best thing would be to do with the car. I don't think I'll have you bring it out. I only go to town once or twice a month, that's about all I can afford. Of course if you want to drive it out for a vacation, well write and I'll see if I can get a letter from the C.O. If you can sell the car for about $150 well sell it. I don't think it should go for much less than that as high as cars are now. Thirty fours bring from $100 to $250 around here. Use your own judgement, what ever you do will be OK with me.

Congratulations on the raise. I believe as you do that now your best bet is to stay with the depot. Most of these defence plants aren't exactly enjoyable places to work.

Let me know what you decide to do. So long.

Love
Kenneth

Monday, April 13, 2009

Clearing cactus for a firing range

July 20, 1943

Dear Mother,

Speaking of staying in bed, well they have the darnedest habit of getting us up just at the time a person can sleep the best. We get up between five and five thirty and out here from then until seven is the best time for sleeping. After seven the sun comes over the mountain and then it gets hot.

Evidently the big shot decided we had enough rest, so they put us to work. We are doing construction work on firing ranges over by the mountains. Say if you think you have been hot you should try swinging an ax when that sun beats down to the tune of 140. The hottest I got was last week down by the river cutting willow trees. After half an hour my coveralls were so wet that it looked like I fell in the river.

Up on the range we are building we have to clear off all the cactus, sage brush, mesquite, and what have you. You don't realize how much vegetation there is until you try cutting it all off it. At least I'm getting a lot of good practice swinging an ax.

Cutting cactus is rather a dangerous job. Every time the cactus is hit the jar knocks off round balls of cactus about an inch and a half in diameter. The ball bristles all around with sharp needles about an inch long. All you have to do is barley touch those needles and they stick in. They are twice as sharp as a pin and once they stick it is almost impossible to pull out. One boy got one stuck in his wrist and we had to use a pair of pliers to get it out.

Three of us anti-tankers went to Las Vegas over the weekend. The main street of that town is mostly gambling casinos and cocktail bars. All of them must be making money because they are sure fixed up nice inside and out. There isn't a joint in the whole bunch. We played the slot machines a little and drank beer. Las Vegas is alright for a short visit but it's too expensive to stay very long.

Time sure goes by fast of an evening. Here it is bedtime and me with a bath to take yet.

Love
Kenneth

Friday, April 10, 2009

Three Day Pass Into L.A.

July 12, 1943

Dear Mother,

This pens eye view into the life of a soldier will probably be rather short. I had a hard day today after a hard weekend. I have to catch up on that shut eye that has been so scarce sense Thursday.

I got a three day pass over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and took off for Los Angelas. The army even furnished transportation there and back. We left camp about 7 P.M. Thursday night. We road in the back end of a army cargo truck to San Bernadino. It was about five in the morning when we got there. From San Bernadino we road a trolley car the remaining sixty miles into Los Angelas.

Quite a place L.A. Uptown it reminds you of St. Louis, but out a ways it's quite different. The worst thing about the town is the fact that spirits can be bought at hours from five until eight. That's not good at all, or is it?

Six of us saw the town together, at least we were together most of the time. We visited Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and several other suburbs around Los Angelas. The main trouble with a three day pass is that about the time you start finding your way around it's time to go back to camp.

I'm going to cut this trip short because I have to shave and shower yet before bedtime.

Oh yes, I won't be sending the watch home for a while now. I took it into town and they put it into running condition for a nominal fee of too D---- much.

Love
Kenneth

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Quiet 4th of July

July 5, 1943

Dear Mother,

You should have about a completely furnished apartment by now. That is if your furniture got in as it should have by now. You won't feel at home now with all that stuff underfoot.

Did Dad enjoy his dinner date? I hope he ate a T-Bone steak for me. I haven't had a good steak for ages. Are you sure you didn't slip over and crash the party. I'll bet you thought of it anyway.

Did you know that mail gets here quicker from Springfield than it does from St. Louis. Mail takes about five days from St. Louis and four from Springfield. I think the mail going to Los Angelas causes quite a delay. Those air-mail letters take about three days.

I spent a very exciting fourth of July sleeping. This is the first time I can remember ever spending such a quiet 4th. Did you enjoy the show that you intended to see? They had a U.S.O. show here in the evening. Supposed to be some movie stars. There was one star (not very well known) and the show was so corny that the fellows would hardly let it go on. If they don't bring better shows they might just as well stop them all together.

You know this desert makes a guy awful lazy. I sleep all night and then want to sleep all day. Of course the officers have something to say about that daytime sleeping. You crawl under a truck, scatter tools all around and then stretch out and relax. That old buzz saw just hits a lick or two when the officer pokes his head under the truck and asks "are you working or sleeping" to which you naturally answer, "Working sir - that last trip loosened all the bolts under here and it's quite a job tightening all of them." Sometimes it works and other times it don't.

I'm going to send my watch home in a few days when I find something to pack it in. It stopped the other day. I don't know whether it's just dirty or maybe I hit it on our wild ride across the desert. I'm sending it to you maybe you can have it looked at and if it's not too bad have it fixed and cleaned and return it. If it's too bad just forget about it.

I've got to quit now and do some sewing. They changed me from a technical corporal to a line corporal. It's the same pay but a few different duties.


Love
Kenneth

Friday, April 3, 2009