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Getting to Feel Like an Old Man

Posted by on February 1, 2016

April 14, 16 and 19, 1944: Dad writes a few letters home from Topeka Army Air Base. He attempts to calm his sister down a bit regarding a comment in a previous letter about his wanting to volunteer for overseas duty. He also relays a story about a practical joke that was played on one of the privates and shares some other news about what is going on at the base.

Dad starts the letter of the 14th getting right to what is worrying his mother and sister the most. “Received your letter or April 10, 1944 and special note to me for which I thank you. Don’t worry too much over me about this overseas business. After spending as much time as I have here in Kansas, I think I should be put in for a Congressional Medal. I know it’s better here than over there but mama and daddy in their youth went around to see the world too and I’m getting to feel like an old man. However, I doubt whether I’d volunteer so let’s forget the matter right there.”

It seems that some of the staff are not above playing pranks on the new guys, as Dad explains. “A Sgt., who is a carpenter in our Squadron, asked Pvt. Davenport, unschooled basic, to find him a board stretcher because he had two boards placed on a boardwalk which lacked a couple of inches in meeting each other. Davenport rounded the whole Army Air Field asking all departments such as up on the line where they service planes, in Tech Supply, for a board stretcher. Only 3 days later did he find out that a joke was being played on him The Major here was in on it, too”

Apparently, things are a bit loose on base as far as off base passes are concerned. As Dad writes on the 17th, “Last night I went to town on somebody else’s pass as mine got mislaid somewhere while I was being transferred back into the Wing. I behaved myself in town so nothing happened… I doubt whether anything would have happened to me anyway. It reminds me how back at Savanna Ord. Sch. I used to get to town on a pass that was just stamped but not signed by the Commanding Officer because my other pass disappeared and I didn’t intend to stay in camp always. This morning I had my pass located so everything is alright. Incidentally, the pass I borrowed last night was a different color which meant I was married and lived off the base.”

On the 19th he mentions that he “had another overseas exam which I passed without any trouble. This does not mean that I am going over, it just means I am in good condition and qualified for helping them over there should they need me.” He also writes that “I saw in a movie newsreel the parade of American troops past the Trafalgar Square and no doubt that must have been what Stanley saw in London and described in his letter.”

As far as other things going on at the base, Dad writes that there is a dance at the Service Club, so the barracks are empty. He also passes along the news that the choir on base is breaking up and that he has the day off tomorrow.

As far as some of the news coming from home, Dad comments:

  • “I guess Billy [Lubinski] is very close to my place now since Oklahoma is located just south of Kansas.” And,
  • “Finally Vicek (Vincent) got his tonsils out. I doubt whether he will get a chance to go over there.”

He closes “Best of luck to all of you and may the blessings from above be with you.”

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