Sunday, April 19, 2020

Post #3 - May 12, 1941 - The Beginnings of Basic Training at Fort Meade, Maryland

May 12,—8 P.M.

My Dear Ev,

Bathed, shaved, and ready for bed, I am now at liberty to write, and believe me, after the dust and sun and toil of the day it feels swell to be fresh and clean and able to relax long enough to write. We rolled into camp about 11:30 and hit the hay immediately. One fellow was "short sheeted", which means that someone folded his bottom sheet in half. You can imagine his discomfiture when he tried to stretch out. For a few moments there was bedlam in the barracks, what with his cursing a blue streak and everyone else in stitches. Things finally quieted down and the last thing I remember was tucking my feet beneath the sheets. I must have fallen asleep before my head touched the pillow—I was really knocked-out. We were up at 5:15 (base time) and the same old grind was taken up once more. Rush like hell to get dressed in time for Reveille—rush to get “chow” before it was all gone—rush some more to get ready for the field-hike to the field-calisthenics, instruction on the B.A.R. (Browning automatic rifle)—extended order drill—back to barracks for chow, back to the field, more instruction—close order drill—more extended order drill, tactical maneuvers, etc, and back to barracks at 4.45; more chow (the meat was absolutely inedible). Everyone raised the roof about it. It was “beef hearts” or something equally gruesome and so tough we damn near broke our knives on it. We couldn't even begin to chew it, let alone digest it. However, there was also Coffee, Spinach, tomato sauce, bread pudding & syrup (which I spread on the bread and had with my coffee. Tonight there is a minstrel show at the movie house, but I’m passing it up for a chance at a bath and shave, and the privilege of writing to you, my sweet,

I really appreciate it when I have some free time in the evening. Tomorrow we don't even have the evening free, as we are leaving on a hike at 6.30 P.M (imagine). We are to hike out some place, erect pup tents, tear them down and hike back again. We are due to return 10.30 P.M. So you can see, Ev, that I'll barely have time to blow my nose, let alone write. However, I'm trying hard not to complain, although it is a pretty tough proposition. As you know, I just can't gripe about something that can't be helped. I didn't like the whole business from the very first, but my fatalism is beginning to assert itself, and I don't get upset about anything anymore. As a matter of fact, I'm feeling better and better each day, both physically and mentally and I'm beginning to feel deep down that I'll be able to endure anything that may be in store for me with equanimity. I take great comfort, sweet, in the fact that those nearest and dearest to me are well and comfortable. As long as they continue that way, nothing in this wide world can cause me any worry or hold any terrors for me. So it's up to you, Ev, and Mom and Harry and Jackie to keep things rolling. My greatest anxiety is that my absence may cause any of you any hardship. These aren't merely words that are meant to sound pretty. It's the plainest way I know to tell you that as long as you all are well and happy, so am I, and vice versa. It was more wonderful to see you all again than you'll ever be able to appreciate. I can hear you all talking and saying that I seemed a little strange while I was with you - that I seemed subdued, perhaps, or a little reticent. I just couldn't help myself. The desire to absorb as much of the atmosphere of "home" and all the word implies; the warmth that comes to one in the midst of his family, was too great to resist. In a word, I was too busy "feeling" to talk or think much. So please excuse me, everyone, for being a little selfish. I especially want to apologize to Mom (I hardly had two words with her). Ev dear, you know exactly what I felt and what I'm trying to convey here. See that Mom understands, will you? About this week end—it's too early to say, but the chances are 50-50. Kiss Mom for me, Ev. My love to all—and next time I visit you, I hope to be the same old


9:10 P.M.