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Pitch Black

Posted by on August 17, 2015

November 12 and 15, 1943. Two handwritten letters to Dad from Stanley. Even though Stanley says that he still has a lot of work, it looks like he has settled into things at Deenethorpe enough to have time to write letters to Dad that are long enough that they exceed the limits of V-Mail forms.  After a few perfunctory comments about his health (”…my nose keeps leaking. It seems I just can’t get rid of my colds.”), and the Stars and Stripes (“…a pretty good paper. It has a lot of news in it.), he gets down to relaying a few stories about life on base. Stanley also provides some insight into how long it takes mail to catch up to him. He notes in his November 15th letter that he received three of Dad’s letters within two days. Dad’s letters were dated October 16, 20 and 23.

He tells about one night when he and a few other soldiers were going to the movies on base and the blackout conditions made things difficult. “…it was pitch black outside. Well one fellow said he knew a short way of getting to the movie. So we followed him. He went up a small hill and over the top. When he got over the top we heard a splash. He fell into the swimming pool. The pool looked like a parking lot in the dark. That’s what he thought. The water was up to his neck. They told him the next time he wanted to swim in the winter to try the swan dive.”

After having been in England for about two weeks, Stanley writes that he has yet to go to town. “When I quit working its time to eat and by the time I finish eating it is dark out and by the time I finish washing up it is pitch black outside. With this blackout you can’t get around so easy. I don’t know the way to town and I would not like to roam around through the dark trying to find the way back.

Stanley writes that the incoming mail is not censored, only the outgoing mail. Stanley notes that Dad’s letters are sealed when he receives them and assumes that “I guess the only time they are censored is when you get to an APO.” Whether that is the case or not, a word has been physically cut out of Stanley’s November 12th letter. There is a sentence that reads, “The Germans sure had their country ______ on Armistice Day.”

He also writes, “I used to save letters I received and sent them home but now it is impossible for me to do that. I usually now read them over and over a few times and then answer them. I carry them around in my pockets, till are ready to fall apart. When there is nothing to read I just pull them out and reread the again.”

A few other notes:

  • The tooth that Stanley had filled before leaving Montana doesn’t bother him anymore and “will probably last for another few months.”
  • Stanley is glad to hear that Governor Dewey is cleaning up the situation in Albany (the state capitol) with civil service jobs going to unqualified friends of insiders. He hopes that as a result “…maybe taxes on our property will be reduced.”

Stanley signs off  “…for now till the near future.”

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