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Chief Clerk of Everything

Posted by on May 12, 2015

August 24 and 27, 1943. A letter home to Albany from Dad while stationed in Topeka.  It looks like he is back into the swing of things having been back at camp for a week since his furlough, even though he reminisces “when I was home mama fixed up such eats which I never get in the Army such as “kielbasa”, “golomki” and other such things.” He also writes that he is happy to hear that Stanley was promoted to Staff Sergeant.

As you would expect, Dad has been paying attention to the war news. He mentions that “today’s news has been pretty good wherein Berlin has been bombed even though 58 bombers were lost.” While on the diplomatic front, he comments “The Quebec conference between Roosevelt and Churchill seems to promise a lot of fireworks for the enemy and the sooner they get down to finishing the war, the better everyone will like it.”

The front page of the Johnstown Tribune on August 24, 1943 reporting on the bombing of Berlin

The front page of the Johnstown Tribune on August 24, 1943 reporting on the bombing of Berlin

He writes that the co-worker that was missing “finally came to work …he was AWOL for 4 days. He accepted company punishment in place of court-martial. He is restricted only for a week to the base and for 2 hrs. after 5 PM he does ‘fatigue’ duty during the week such as pulling out weeds around the barracks. …the fellows got a kick out of this guy Womack as he had a wheelbarrow with him as he pulled out weeds in the sun, he would sit ’neath the shadow of the wheelbarrow while doing it.”

He goes on to explain how hot it is on base during the day. “It was so warm down here yesterday that…the roof of a small empty shack… burst into flames spontaneously. It is on an empty lot across the road from us…  the whole roof from every point just seemed to burst into flames at one time.”

He mentions that soon all of the men will be back from their furloughs and at that time he hopes “to attend some Ordnance school, mainly carburetor and ignition, as ASTP seems more or less indefinite as to a subject… If I could attend this automotive school and still be in Ordnance everything would be fine. I like mechanical knowledge of any type.”

He writes that he brought up the idea of automotive work in the office “and by the end of the day [Sgt.] Ball… decided to have me be chief clerk of Automotive Sec. of 21st Wing, but that is just an invented title as Ball is Chief Clerk of everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Sgt. rating were thrown my way. I am now to work with our Automotive Officer and he knows as much about autos as a canner would, as he used to be in the fruit canning business… I guess that is why I wound up in Ordnance as I used to work for warehousers of plumbing supplies.”

As for going overseas soon, the prospect is indefinite at best. “…we had an overseas examination but I understand it was a routine matter. Maybe something may come of it… I don’t know.” He said that his pulse and blood pressure was high but attributes it to being “quite nervous inside of me when someone focuses attention on you especially in these physical exams.” He continues that they “had me get an X-ray of [my] chest and check out if I had a big heart. Shucks, I had an X-ray when being inducted and I passed O.K.”

No matter what came up on Dad’s physical, he’s got nothing on one of the other guys. “One guy in our Squadron was discovered to have some growth in his testicles and ball area which made the Docs believe he had 3 nuts. Excuse the language, but that’s the situation. I said he could open a pawn shop as he had those 3 balls which you find hanging over the hock shop doors.”

In other goings on, he saw Heaven Can Wait with Don Ameche and Gene Tierney. He reports, “It was very good. The state of Kansas was mentioned a few times in the picture and you couldn’t hear much through the boos and howls for a minute or so.” I guess it was just the soldiers blowing off steam.

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