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.


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