February 18, 19 & 20, 1943. Dad writes a number of letters home from his new station at the Savanna Ordnance Depot in Illinois. It seems he has some time on his hands since his course of instruction doesn’t start until the 22nd. He expects to be in Savanna for the next two months. He says, “The food here is the best we’ve ever had. We eat from plates and drink from clay cups.” Even though he thinks he has time on his hands the Army finds things to keep him busy. “They assign us to details. Empty boxes out pick up cigarettes butts and paper. Last afternoon I was sawing railroad ties with another fellow. I was pretty lucky so far in getting the cleaner jobs…Other guys clean garbage cans and shovel coal.”
Life in the new camp is better than at Miami Beach. While not as warm, at least “the doctors here are very good and do their work well. It is not a crowded camp… One guy had his tooth filled and he said the doc took his sweet time about it.” He also notes that “the chow line is about 100 to 120 men instead of thousands like at other places.” He also says, “Rank here seems to carry very slightly…we do not have too strict discipline as we are…in a school and not a camp of soldiering.” Even so, having just been promoted to PFC he says, “It is too much trouble sewing on one stripe and the other fellows haven’t done it yet, so I guess I will wait till I get another stripe or two and sew them on at the same time. I’m quite the optimist.”
On the 19th he reports, “You ought to hear the noise in the barrack upstairs. The guys up there are graduating and decided to have a good time.” Of course, no good party is without a little mischief. “About 9:30 a guy came down and with an official look he told us about fire drills and how to grab fire extinguishers on each end of the room. Some of us were rather suspicious. Around 10:30 a guy comes running blowing a whistle and yelling “fire drill”. We looked out on the street to see if others from other barracks were there and as they weren’t we went back to sleep.”
Dad also suggests a solution to Anna’s problem with her husband Eddie reading comic books. “Why don’t you give Eddie’s funny books to Theresa Marie to play with as soon as she can grab and tear with her hands. That would be an innocent way and Eddie wouldn’t know whom to blame.”
He says he is coping well with Army life and says, “Don’t let papa take our going away too hard. I must have a stone heart as so far while being in the Army I have not shed a tear. I felt more lonesome while being home for my brother was away but now I am among fellows of Stanley’s and my age and we do have a good time.”
On the 20th he writes a short letter to accompany some photo negatives and other items that he is sending home. He still has a few days before classes start so the Army is keeping him busy washing windows and painting footlockers. Other than that, things are pretty quiet.