October 23 & 27, 1943. Two letters home from Dad while he is stationed at Topeka Army Air Base. The 21st Bomb Wing celebrated the first anniversary of its formation. Never one for big parties, Dad decided to stay back in the barracks with a few of the guys while the rest of the guys went to the celebration in town. Dad provides his commentary on prohibition in Kansas. It is important to note that even though Prohibition was repealed nationally in 1933, other than for the sale of 3.2% beer, Kansas would remain a dry state until 1948. Dad also has a few words to say about the issue of personal responsibility and VD. Cover the kids’ eyes and ears, these letters are a little PG. Here we go…
After a few initial formalities, Dad writes, “Things around there have been on the noisy side the last few days. They celebrated the 1 yr. existence of the 21st Bomb Wing at a hotel in Topeka. I didn’t go and instead hung around camp with a pal of mine who was on CQ. The guys came in the night as drunk as drowned rates. Kansas may be a dry state but there’s more liquor flowing around than pop soda. In my estimation it’s some crooked political gang who backs the prohibition so they can be the only source of liquor and charge how much they want. They enforce the laws so’s nobody can cut in on their racket. That’s how the U.S. loses money on the amount of taxes… Shucks, if prohibition were off, the soldier could buy liquor cheaper.”
Dad turns his pen to the issue of V.D. too. “Two fellows have wound up in the Hospital because of getting darn good connections with diseased girls. One is out now and the other is still in a V.D. ward. Now in order to go to town, we have to have a pocket prophylactic kit and 3 rubbers and not because of getting caught in the rain neither. …They are trying to crack down on the venereal diseases which these darn guys, who ought to get shot, bring around. The have about 5 Pro Stations in town but the jerks don’t use them.”
In the second of the two letters, Dad writes that he had CQ in Squadron Headquarters the night before. “This time I had the opportunity to run through the barracks at 6:15 AM and blow air through the whistle, put the lights on, and make enough racket to wake everybody up. You also wake the K.P.kids a little before 5:00 AM. There was nothing more I detested than to be wakened up by C.Q. for K.P while everyone else sleeps an extra hour.”
In other news:
- Dad mentions that they will be offering a course on conversational German if there is enough interest. He is planning on signing up for it as are two of the ordnance clerks that work for him.
- He will be going to the base theater for the 8:00 PM show to see Judy Garland and Mikey Rooney in Girl Crazy. He notes “Judy Garland ought to be pretty good in it. I’m about fed up with Mickey Rooney (Macaroni)”
Dad wraps up his letter on a bit of a homesick note. I like to think that the thought was brought on when he heard a train whistle in the distance as he was writing home. “When a train passes near here and blows its whistle, it sure sounds good to the ears. It is a slightly different sound from NYC RR. Between Western and Eastern trains, the East has it over everyone else especially in the New England States.”
I leave you with the trailer for the 1943 film “Girl Crazy” starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney and featuring the music of George Gershwin played by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.