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A Far Cry from Camp Upton

Posted by on August 15, 2015

November 8, 1943. A handwritten letter home from Dad. He mentions getting Anna’s November 4th letter the day before. So if you were wondering, it takes about three days for letter to get from Albany to Topeka. He spends a good bit of his letter writing about the local weather, compares his experience in Topeka to other places he’s been stationed and discusses some personnel changes with his old boss coming back.

The weather is turning colder in Topeka and “fine snow began falling and quite a wind blew up which lasted all night and day today….The ground is now frozen and the snow look very well on the ground. It makes me feel fine to see snow even if I am in Kansas, because it reminds me of the snowfalls we used to have in New York State and Illinois at Savanna Ordnance School. These guys from the South and California aren’t exactly accustomed to it. There’s a fellow in our office from Texas who used to see an inch of snow about every 3 to 5 years.”

He continues, “The outfit I’m with now is quite the outfit. When it’s cold such as it was today, they had roll-call in the morning inside the barracks and they make sure there’s enough heat. It’s a far cry from Camp Upton where between Jan. 8th and 14th we slept in cool barracks with open windows, and had to be out on the street by 6AM for roll call and chow. Then a 10 minute rest in the barracks and then you had to fall out on the barracks streets for some shitty details such as being marched over to the end of camp and mop up the floor of some vacant shacks or one story barracks. No sooner you put the water over the floor, it froze and you could slide from one side of the floor to the other.”

He continues, but this time he is reminded of another base. “In Salina [Kansas]…the fellows who were there in the winter said they would wake up in the morning only to see a frost on the floor inside the barracks. Another guy said he had a snowdrift over his blanket and bunk. I just don’t know how much of it to believe.”

Referring to Anna’s last letter, Dad comments, “I wish to thank you all for that special note from mama which you, Ann, wrote for her. I don’t see why mama should thank me, because she has prayed for us more than we ever have had for her. Thanks, anyway.”

It looks like his old boss will be coming back. Of him, Dad says, “This guy… has gone on the record for brown-nosing, and I don’t mean a sunburn. The new captain, who is still with us, is a square fellow and everybody was treated alike… I don’t know how it will be with our old Captain, but it certainly won’t be too good… All the 3 other of the enlisted men feel the same way about it.” He continues, “You may be sure that my brain is working quite well as to how I can get myself in a more desirable environment.”

To ensure he does not close on a sour note, he signs off, “Lately I’ve been getting a lot of sleep… I feel fine. God bless you all.”

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