It all begins with a postcard dated January 8, 1943 from Camp Upton on Long Island, NY. In all, Dad would spend a week at Upton before being sent on his way. His initial reports are that he is eating well and is OK. In his first postcard he references that the next day they will see a “ ‘Mickey Mouse’ movie, if you know what I mean”, ostensibly in reference to the obligatory health training movie that is required viewing of all new inductees. How this gets explained to his mother, I have no idea. He asks after his four month old niece (Theresa-Marie) and assures his family that all is OK. In the letters and post cards that follow, he reports that the Army is keeping him busy and moving from one thing to another and that, ”one has nothing much to think about” and that, ”there is nothing to worry about, as I certainly have no time to do so.”
By January 11, he reports that he is “looking forward to getting out of here,” and that he has turned his clothes in to have them mailed home. He reports that Army life, so far, is a matter of, “We eat, get up early, go to bed early and get some training.” He’s already received the first of his inoculations and has his dog tags. He also wonders if his older brother Stanley has been “shipped out yet”. It seems his barracks is filled with guys from Brooklyn and there are a few Polish guys as well. He predicts that “From the activity around this camp, the guys on the other side of the sea will soon be put out of commission,” and remarks on the military’s organizational efficiency in that , “They [the Army] sure know how to handle the incoming hoards as well as the outgoing.”
As far as army food, the “food here is nothing special but there is a variety of it.” Most importantly, “I am only today getting used to army food and my digestive system is now doing fine”. We also discover that being in the Army provides for certain religious dispensations as “the priest says we can eat meat on Fridays even when on furlough” except for Good Friday.
At this point Dad is hoping to get in the Army Air Corps Ground Crew and learn radio. For now, it looks like he is settling into Army life, getting used to occasional KP duty and the constant drilling and activity. The only opportunity he has to really think about things is “in church or at night” when things are quiet.
In the next post: The first letter from home.