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They Played a Joke on Him

Posted by on May 18, 2016

July 29 and August 2, 1944: Dad writes two letters home from Topeka Army Air Base.

The big news is that his boss got a promotion. As Dad tells it, “…I now work for Major James Lawrence Chenault. They played a joke on him. Capt. Chenault and Lt. Col. Cotter, his boss who got a hold of the promotion notice, called in Chenault and bawled him out on how Transportation was all fouled up and they did everything to try to scare him and get him mad. Chenault got a little red under the collar only to have Lt. Col. Cotter hand him the paper with his promotion to Major. They always pull a joke like that on the officers here. Once a Major who didn’t know he was promoted …had a joke played on him…with the assistance of the Police. The Major was arrested and a whiskey bottle was found in his car. He was taken before a judge and fined so much money ($60) with which, after the joke was revealed, they bought liquor and treated the boys…and had a big party.”  

Dad mentions in passing that he was also decorated, not making too big of a deal of it. “Yesterday the orderly room supplied us with good conduct medals to wear. Practically everybody has one of them good conduct medals nowadays.”

Image of the U. S. Army Good Conduct Medal

Image of the U. S. Army Good Conduct Medal

Dad got out and played a round of golf with a couple of his friends. He lists them as “Glenn B. Adams Jr. (Sgt.) from Syracuse, NY…Gordon Huner (Sgt.) from Rochester, NY and ‘Oscar’ Nelson (S/Sgt. from Orange, N.J.).”  He shot a 96 for 18 holes.

In other news from Topeka, there was a U.S.O. show with the highlight being a rendition of a song from Oklahoma which was performed by one of the girls in the show. The base theater has been featuring the movie Sensations of 1945 starring Eleanor Powell and Dennis Morgan.

Lobby Card Art for Sensations of 1945 (c) United Artists

Lobby Card Art for Sensations of 1945 (c) United Artists

Dad comments on some of the news from home, specifically about his niece that she is “growing up as fast as a mushroom does overnight.” He also observes that little Terry “has quite a family with the three dolls…”

Having heard the news that his friends from back home have received overseas orders, Dad comments that “They at least they know where they are going, but I still have no idea of myself and am still hanging around here fighting the Battle of Topeka.”

As Dad closes out his letter, he writes about what he is doing now to better himself and looks toward the future. “I’m still working on my Physics lessons and when I get out of the Army I’m going to go back to school in as much as the government will finance my schooling to a certain extent. I plan on going to Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute or a school along similar lines. I don’t care going back to Interstate if I’m supposed to just be another clerk… At one time or another I may be the head of a family and that would be a lousy job to help support a family. If I can get technical training, I’ll probably get treated better even by Interstate. A heating and plumbing engineer isn’t a bad job or an electrical or mechanic.”

He wraps with “That’s about all!”

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