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A Chow Line a Mile Long

Posted by on November 4, 2015

February 4 and 9, 1944: Two V-mails to Dad from Stanley in Deenethorpe. Aside from work, Stanley’s days are filled with routine chores like laundry and diversions from the routine including USO shows and the ever present radio broadcasts. Aide from that, it is the dead of winter and Stanley writes about what it is like to face the cold in the morning.

On the fourth he mentions that he finished doing some laundry and his “fingers are sort of cold and stiff. We found some chunks of wood lying around. So we chopped them up into small pieces and now it is nice and warm in the barracks.”

He continues, “Just heard a rebroadcast of Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians. I hear that program almost every evening.  Would have gone to the movie tonight but I guess they called it off.”

He also notes, “It is almost nine months since my last furlough. Hope to get one in the future sometime, I hope. … I haven’t had a pass in so long that I forgot how it would feel to be on a pass. I wish I had enough time off like some fellows have so I could see what England looks like.”  

As the ninth rolls around, his comments about Fred Waring on the fourth ring true. “I’m still trudging along as ever. The Fred Waring program just went off the air and Kay Kyser’s College of Musical Knowledge is on. It is pretty good. It’s kind of quiet in the barracks. The rest went to the movies on the base.”

“Last night we had a USO Show here and it was pretty good. They had a girl singing western songs and playing a guitar. She was really good. Also had two tap dancing girls. One joke they cracked was that a baby was born with a moustache and almost ticked his mother to death.”

Being away from home in the dead of winter in England, Stanley recognizes and appreciates the simple pleasures when they come around. “It feels good to sleep under several covers with your overcoat on top of that. It sure is warm. But in the morning when the stove goes out and you stick your head out from under the cover and feel the cold you get back under the cover and you don’t feel like getting up.”

Even though the cold is making it tough to get motivated in the morning the new mess officer seems to be doing his best to give the men something to wake up for. “Some mornings when they have flapjacks for breakfast there is a chow line almost a mile long. Now we have a new mess officer and the food is pretty good. He is doing his best to give us the best food possible under the circumstances. Today we had good pork chops for dinner.”

With that he closes, “Well, so long for a while”

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