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I’d Like to Match His Experience

Posted by on July 13, 2015

October 2nd and 5th 1943: a couple of letters from Dad to family back home in Albany.  Dad comments on a few of the items mentioned by Anna in her last note:

  • Regarding the bananas Eddie got from a customer – “We …don’t get bananas so darn often. I think we had them once since leaving Ordnance School. At Savanna, bananas weren’t too rare.”
  • Commenting on the news that Eddie got a new shotgun from a friend who was shipping out – “Is Eddie competing with the Watervliet Arsenal or can we call him the Arsenal of Democracy? The fellow who got rid of his gun will get a better one in the Army.” Dad also mentions that he is trying to get into the gunnery classes so he can learn more about the .50 caliber rifles.
  • As far as Anna’s comments on some of the scarcities, Dad remarks “I guess our Allies are getting quite a bit of the stuff so you just have to go without it. We in the Army get just about 1/8”slice from a ¼ cut of butter….The sooner the war ends the less excuses there will be for everything.”
  • Replying to Anna’s letter of the 2nd Dad remarks “It was a great surprise to learn of Helen Reibous’ untimely death…. Reibous dies, Augie Weiss has another baby, Mary Rourke marries. You covered about every stage of life I that one letter.

As far as what life is like on base Dad remarks on the routine, “Today was a marvelous day after we have had rain for practically a week. At nights it would be foggy and sort of mysterious with the lights piercing through the haze of the night. During the drizzly days we would fall out for roll call and attend some movies on camouflage or battlefield conditions. At other times we would have a news review and today… we finally had calisthenics. I guess that’s some way to fill in our morning time before we go to work.”

His thoughts turn to his brother. “Stanley is nearing the completion of a whole year in the Army and I am just about following up and it seems the war is still going strong. …time drags and so does the war.” Dad also mentions that Stanley should be shipping overseas soon with the comment “Stanley’s red letter days begin the fifth of this month … Don’t write to him about this because the movement orders will have been out on the 5th…Throw this letter away so no one outside of the house gets it. Don’t trust anyone because spies are plentiful.” As their mother does only knows how to write in Polish, Dad mentions that if mama want to write Stanley it will have to be in English and that Anna may have to write the letters for her.

He also comments about where Stanley is being sent, “I hope he will get along fine in that “Blimey” stuff land and he should be able to tell us about seeing Churchill soon. …Now that it appears that Stanley will see more of the world, I’m thinking I’d like to match his experience. Shucks, I can’t have my children (should I get married) ask about Unk Stan and his experience while I was warming seats in America.”

Having said that, Dad realizes that on the whole he has it pretty good. He goes on to say, “Mama might not like what I’m saying. …I used to say at home that someday we may undergo worse experiences than we heard about, but as yet I’ve yet to see the same. Basic training was nothing to what I expected from the Army. I guess the boys in the infantry really have it tough.”

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