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The Great Work Which Lies Ahead of Me

Posted by on July 8, 2016

September 1, 6 and 10: Dad writes several letters home from Topeka Army Air Base. The letters are fairly short. He even writes, “I haven’t much to write,” and reports that he is in “the best of health.” As with the weather back home in Albany, it is getting cooler in Topeka. Dad reports the first was his day off and “It is nice and sunny with a cool windy breeze blowing. I played some golf but the wind was very annoying. When it blows it just blows continuously.”

He continues his letter of the first the next day saying that he worked so hard that he had a headache and took two aspirins to make the headache go away. “After I got out all correspondence my headache disappeared. My boss and the Ordnance Officer were sinking battleships on paper. Someday I’ll show you how that kid’s game is played. Then they left and went out to play golf.”

Dad is also dealing with a mechanical malfunction that is affecting everyone in his group. “Our Coke machine is really out of order now. The fellows sure banged it up. It’s very aggravating to put in a nickel, hear some mechanical noises and have no Coke drop out. I myself lost around 10 cents and got a big bang out of the machine, if you know what I mean.”

As he writes the letter of the 6th, Dad notes that …it is close to 12:00 midnight now…” He encloses a picture of “a pin-up girl which appeared in our camp newspaper.”

Clipping of "Miss B-14 1944" from The Gremlin, the newspaper of Topeka Army Air Base.

Clipping of “Miss B-24 of 1944” from The Gremlin, the newspaper of Topeka Army Air Base.

In the letter of the 6th, Dad reacts to a lot of the news from home that Anna has been writing to him. At one point he begins to reminisce about his high school days at St. Joseph Academy. He then catches himself and writes, “…those days are over with now and nothing but memories can bring them back. …we must remember to think in the future, enjoy the present and not relive your past which has passed away into eternity. …I do hope that Stanley has changed too so that if it is meant for us to get together after this war, we may get together on things and really enjoy living…”

In his letter of the 10th, Dad writes about going to the Kansas State Fair in Topeka. He writes that “there were more gambling devices than you could or would want to see around.” Aside from that, what really impressed him was the motorcycle exhibition. He writes, “I just stood there with amazement while the men and girl exhibitionists were riding on a vertical wall in a bowl shaped arena on their motorcycles. One young looking fellow…rode his motorcycle while standing on the left side of the motorcycle with his hands off the handlebars. They only charged 30 cents but it was the best I’ve seen that evening.”

Dad gets back to his sister about her finding a nice girl for her back home. “Thanks a lot for the information on the…young lady; however, I believe I’ve got quite a bit of work ahead and try to make a success of myself first. I won’t be satisfied being an ordinary laborer and I’d like to concentrate on the best way to accomplish the great work which I still believe lies ahead of me. I don’t know just yet where I’ll fit in this world, but I fit someplace and I’ve got to find it like a jigsaw puzzle. One thing is certain, I don’t intend on spending my life as a stenographer.”

Before wrapping up the letter, Dad writes, “I’m still determined on making arrangements for a furlough by the end of the month.”

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