November 20 and 25, 1943. Two letters home from Dad. He relays a story about one of the guys who had to ditch a girl in town who was taking advantage of him. He also writes a little about his work and gives a rundown on what was served on base for Thanksgiving. Finally, Dad sends home a few poems that have been circulating around the men, including one about what it’s like to be stationed in Kansas.
You may recall from prior letters a guy by the name of Womack. Back in August, Womack was AWOL. When Womack finally decided to return, he was subject to company punishment rather than a court martial. It looks like Womack is at it again, but this time he’s gone AWOL from the girls in Topeka instead of the Army. Dad picks up the story: “Womack…told us how one night when he was very short on dough he was in Topeka and somehow bumped into a girl. Any eating house they passed, she was ‘hungry’. At one place Womack had a cup of coffee and she had a bowl of chili. She ate it before he finished his coffee. Womack generally does stops at 5 different joints a night and just gets a cup of coffee. I know, sometimes I’m with him.) …They passed another eating house and she got ‘hungry’ again. They went in and Womack ordered his coffee and she ordered a sirloin steak. After drinking some of his coffee, Womack ‘remembered’ he had a phone call to make and that was the last of the girl as far as he was concerned and he skipped out. No doubt, she must have either paid for her steak and Womack’s coffee or had to wash dishes.”
As Dad is writing home on the 25th (Thanksgiving Day), he notes that he got a letter from his brother Stanley. “He sure has travelled but the best part is that he got to England safely.” Given that German U-boats were patrolling the Atlantic, Stanley’s safety in crossing the Atlantic was a real concern, and his safe arrival was something the be thankful for. Dad flashes back, “It was but a year ago that Stanley and I met two fellows from the R.A.F. on Central Avenue. If we would have looked far enough into the future, we should have taken their addresses.”
We also get another glimpse in to what Dad’s job entailed. “Lately my work included inspecting records of other offices in regard to automotive stuff. The Motor Officer sure takes it easy now. I look over records and two other fellows check upon cars.” While on the subject of the Motor Officer (Lt. Jordan), Dad mentions that they were invited to his house in town for Thanksgiving dinner where they had scotch and soda and a turkey dinner. They met Lt. Jordan’s wife “who I understand is 19 while he is 22 himself”, and got back to base at around 10:15 that evening.
As far as Thanksgiving on base, it looks like “noon chow” was the big meal of the day. Dad writes, “T’was fine. The tables were loaded with candy, grapes, peanuts. We had turkey, potatoes, gravy and what not. We had cranberry juice and for me Thanksgiving just ain’t Thanksgiving without cranberries. If you folks had no turkey dinner, I sure made up for all of you. That’s what happened to me and it sure reminds me of how Stanley described his Thanksgiving and Christmas at Ft. Logan.”
As is often the case, Dad’s niece and God-daughter Terry is never far from his thoughts. He comments on some of the news about her that is in the recent letters from home. “…you meant to tell me that Terry can eat apples? She sure must look comical when you laugh at her and she pulls out that smile of hers. I sort of figured Terry wouldn’t stand the pen long, It’s a natural instinct to love freedom I guess. And now that she is a fighter…whom do you suppose she inherits it from. You needn’t answer. Just kidding. “
Dad comments on some of the war news. “…we are up-to-date on the latest developments, even as to the point of American invasion of Japanese held islands near Hawaii.” He continues, “The news is pretty good, especially the naval victory in the South Pacific Islands where 6 Jap ships were sunk. Also it seems the German offensive is dying down again.”
Lastly, Dad includes a poem that has been circulating around base about what it is like to be stationed at Topeka Army Air Base. No doubt, the feelings expressed in the verses are driven by a longing for home. You can click on the image below for a larger version of he image. I hope anyone from Kansas who may be reading this has their self-deprecating sense of humor at the ready.