The High Price of a Night on the Town

May 30, 1943, Sunday

Dear Folks,

Here’s my usual Sunday letter. It’s quarter after three and in two hours I’m going on guard duty. The weather has been pretty rainy for the past couple of weeks and it’s been coming down steady all day. I don’t envy myself for having guard duty tonite, but there’s nothing to be done about it.

Our camping trip was quite successful and all had a good time. We had a forced march on the way back and we really walked. We got back in record time. I was an advance guard and had to keep well ahead of the company to watch for the enemy, or gas.

Yesterday I was picked for a detail which I really enjoyed. We had to take apart and clean garand rifles. It was quite an experience and I gained some knowledge about them. We’ll probably be issued rifles pretty soon to drill and shoot. That’s the part I’ll like and I hope my marksmanship that I had on the rifle team will come back to me.

We went to the dance at Taylor again last nite and had a pretty good time. I’ve found out that you can’t go to town for less than five dollars, because of car fares & meals, etc. You get pretty restless if you stay in camp all week long so we usually try to go out somewhere every Saturday. Being near the end of the month I’m broke and had to borrow to go out last nite. June 5 is payday so I think I can last till then. I wish we were nearer town so it wouldn’t cost so much. They say that Southern hospitality is unbeatable but give me the north any day.

I got Dad’s letter last week and appreciated the $2. I think I’ll wait for my suit, Dad, so you can forget about it for awhile.

The rain has stopped now. Too bad about Bob MacLean’s mix up. I’ll bet he loves K.P., and Fort Devens it the place where you really get it. He ought to have left there by now, maybe down this way.

Have you heard from Tim yet? I wonder how he is making out? I got a card from Paul but since there’s no return address on it I can’t write to him.

I have to eat early chow so I’ll have to close now, with Love, Moe.

Desperate Cookie Situation!

May 26, 1943, Wednesday

Dear Folks,

Please excuse the pencil as I am now sitting in my tent and forget to bring my pen. We are out on bivouac again, but this time we only hiked about eight miles. This is another all nite affair and we’ll be back to camp sometime tomorrow morning. This state is pretty nice for hiking. Although you sweat quite a bit there is always a good breeze to reward you when you stop. This hiking and camping is good for a fellow. It develops in you a feeling of self security. I like it quite a bit, as you probably know from my days at Westwood. [Okay, Dad, how come you never took Mom and your FIVE daughters camping???!]

Talking about windows, every Friday nite we have to clean all the windows in the barracks for inspection. Besides we have to get down on our hands and knees and scrub the floor. So you see I’ll be quite useful when I get home. If and when I do get home I want you to make me wait outside the kitchen about fifteen minutes before meals, as I might get too lonesome for the army. We have lines for everything, even when we go to town. When I get home I might get too soft if I get right into a movie or can eat immediately. [Fortunately for Dad, that all changed when he met my Mom years later!]

The candy & cookie situation here is quite desperate, as the P.X.s have very little stock and what they have is bought up by fellows leaving for overseas. Any donations will be most gratefully received.

I suppose you’re relieved to get away from the old sermon at St. Margaret’s. How do you like St. Mark’s? Are the priests any better than at St. Margaret’s?

I got a card from Paul but as he put no return address on it, I can’t write back to him. He says he can’t stand the heat and wants to know how I stood it so long. Enough for now. More later. Love, Murray

Rainy Days in May

May 23, 1943, Sunday

Dear Folks,

Here it is Sunday again and very nice after a heavy rain early in the morning. We’re having some unusual weather here now. Thursday nite was so chilly that during the outdoor movies half the fellows left. I put on my jacket and was still cold. I slept under two blankets and a comforter. We also had about three nites of rain during the week. Anyway it’s a change and we all appreciate it.

I got your letter yesterday with the dollar in it. Thanks a lot. Paydays are few and far between in the army. You seem to think that if I go to school, my permanent address will be changed. This is my address and any mail you send to me will be forwarded to me when I go to school. I’d appreciate a box of cookies and candy, as the P.X.s here are always running out of stock. I’m also dying to know what Dad has for me. Send it along for I’ll always get it.

Haven’t heard any word yet about school. There are two repeater schools, one at Monmouth, and t’other at Crowder. Whichever one is open first, we’ll go to. We all hope it will be Monmouth.

I hope you’re satisfied with the new house, and I like it just from the description.  I’ll write again soon, Love, Murray.

 

Your Still in Texas Son

 [the envelope for this letter has a scratched out “10 Pon…” then the new address, 79 Centre Street.  Still Dorchester, Mass., no zip code]

May 18, 1943, Tuesday

Dear Mom, Dad, Kay & Jake,

Here’s a few lines from your still in Texas son. Fellows are leaving here weekly for school to Camp Crowder, and my hopes of Monmouth are fading. However there may yet be a chance.

Well how do you like the new house? I’ll bet it’s swell compared to the old on. It certainly seems funny not to be addressing my letters to 10 Pond anymore. I suppose you miss it already. I won’t know anybody when I go home now. You must be happy to be down there because you’ve always wanted to be.

I haven’t heard from the fellows lately, except Carmie. He’s written me twice in a week so I’m going to write to him next. When you were at Pont St. I figured there wasn’t any need of writing to them because they were always up the house. Now you’ve added names to my list by moving.

I had a fairly busy weekend. Saturday they had five inspections. That’s quite a record for here. They are really clamping down on us. If we had any more inspections I would have dropped from nervous exhaustion. We have to shake our blankets out daily and five minutes later they are full of dust. They should call this Camp Dust instead of Camp Swift. I bought a summer Garrison hat and today they came out with an order that we can’t wear them. Nearly all the fellows here got stung that way. [While Mike and I were in the Army, there were frequent “uniform updates” which, I suppose, kept people employed.]

Everything was satisfactory on the fifth inspection so we all headed out of camp. We went to Taylor and had a nice time at a dance there. The next day I went swimming and had a swell time. There’s a little pool in Bastrop and it was really enjoyed.

Monday I was hit with my old faithful “K.P.” I would rather walk twenty miles than do K.P. It’s really rough. [hyperbole?] Today I had all I could do to keep awake. We’re eating out in the field to give the cooks experience and to train us how to camaflouge (sic) ourselves while eating.

I got Kay’s letter yesterday and really appreciated it. What about my big brother? I haven’t heard from him since he sent me the fudge. Did you get your shirt yet Jackie? I hope it fits and you like it.

Time for lites out now so I’ll close with Lots of love, Murray.

p.s. I’m kind of short. Could you send me a couple of dollars?  Thanks. [How I wish “a couple of dollars” would fit the bill today!]

For Mom and Dad in the Year 2012

Don’t leave me.

This is not the pathetic whimper of
     a helpless child,
but the heartfelt plea of
     an adult who knows what she now has
          and fears the fleeting nature of existence.
But you are unafraid, and teach me still.

And I know that I left you first.  But still,

Don’t ever leave me.

It’s not that I need you anymore,
Except for the occasional, insistent need I feel for your voice
     Your recipes
          Your jokes
               Your laughter
                    Your advice
 Your praise

And the confirmation of our connectedness.

Why do I still care that you accept what I have chosen?
Is it because you are the parents of three new generations and I, just one?
Is it because you have lived more,
     know more,
          love more,
               hope and pray for so much more…for me…and I fear that I might disappoint?
Is it because I am you—but more…and less?

You must never leave me.

I am still your child,
     Still your little girl, though I’ve kept her hidden deep inside,
          Yet now a grown woman who recognizes and appreciates you increasingly each day,
Becoming more like you—and more like me…and contented with this new composition!

You will always be with me.

I will see you in my mirror,
     Will hear you in my dreams,
          Will feel you in my blood,
And will hold you…forever…in my heart,

So I smile, inside and out, knowing you will never leave me!

Remembering Mom…

May 9, 1943 [written on beautifully scenic Camp Swift, Texas stationary with borders of local flowers]

Dear Mom & folks,

Here’s a few more flowers for you on Mother’s Day. I hope you had a nice one. I said some extra prayers for you at Mass this morning. We went to Austin over the weekend and it was the first time I’ve been in a civilian church since leaving home. It was small but nice and reminded me a little of home.

Our hike was a success and as far as I’m concerned, I got off easy. We left camp about 4:30 and had supper on the road at six. We set camp about seven and settled down after dark. About five thirty Sat. morning I was awakened and told I was appointed to the trash detail. I got a ride back to camp, had breakfast in the mess hall and was thru work about 10. At that time the outfit came dragging home, tired and ringing wet with sweat. So, as I told you, I got off easy.

Dad, I’ve been looking over the gabardine suits and as I don’t know one cloth from another, I wonder if you would get one at Boston and send it to me. You could get it a lot cheaper and most likely a lot better. I wear a size 14 shirt, 33 sleeves. Have them take the shoulder straps off, as they are for officers. Pants are 31 waist and 32 leg. Down here you have to pay about $20 for one that’s worth probably only $12 or $14. I’m in no rush for it, but if I should go to N.J. I’d like to have it to wear home. Try to get one which will hold the press and won’t wrinkle easy. Use your own judgement on how much to pay for it and take it from the bank. If you think that tropical worsted is better or cooler, get that one, and let me know one way or t’other.

As soon as I make a change, I’ll telegram home so until then keep writing here. That’s all for now, Love, Moe.

 

Horseshoe Sunday

[a brief note from a tired boy who appreciates getting a dollar in the mail!]

May 6, 1943, Sunday

Dear Mom, Dad, Sis & Jake

Sunday is here along with a very hot day. Here is my schedule for the day’s doings.

8:15-Arise, 8:30-9:30-Church

9:30-12:00-pitching horshoes (sic)

12:00-1:00-lunch, 1-3:30-nap

3:30-5:00-horse-shoes, 5:00-6:00-supper

6:00-7:00-now writing this letter,

7:00-? going to the show.

This program is my typical one for Sundays.

Today I received your letter with the dollar and the license, which I am enclosing. I got quite a burn today while playing horse-shoes. It doesn’t seem to be too warm here but it really is.

Bob Mac was quite lucky to get to Monmouth. Some guys get all the breaks, but good luck to him. I also got a card from Tim from Devens. I could scarecely read it. If you get his address, send it on. … The candy you sent me was swell. I’ll try to write tomorrow.  Good Bye, Moe.

…it was a lulu!

[…a typical Sunday in garrison]

May 2, 1943

Dear Folks,

Here it is Sunday again and a very beautiful day. We’ve had quite a warm spell here for the past week and it’s getting warmer every day.

I haven’t heard when we’re going, but according to rumors, we may be here for at least another week. Now that I know I’m going, I can hardly wait.

We finally had our dance Friday nite and although it was nice, it wasn’t quite as nice as I had expected it to be. At any rate it was nice to get out of camp. It was held in a club similar to the Columbus Club. The girls were nice but kind of old for us young squirts. [I would love to know how “old” the nice girls were! Are we talking “Cougars” here?]  It seems that the young girls are either away at school or are employed in defense work. We got back to camp about 12:30. At 5:30 I was rudely awakened and told to report to the mess hall. Immediately I knew that I had the honor of being a K.P. for the day. The day went by fairly fast but not without a lot of hard work. Nobody can say that they’ve washed dishes until they’ve washed them at an army camp. There just doesn’t seem to be any end to them. As soon as you get the breakfast dishes done, the dinner dishes start pouring in. [K.P. is “Kitchen Patrol,” a fancy name for busser/dish washer!]

Wednesday is pay day and I’m anxiously looking forward to it. I’m going to buy myself a new summer suit to use on Sundays and when I go home (?).

With all this warm sun down here, I’m gradually acquiring a nice tan on my face, neck and hands. As we’re not allowed to take our shirts off during the week, Sunday is the only chance I get to sun the upper half of my body. As far as I know I haven’t gained much weight, but I am getting a little harder, which is more important. We have an obstacle course here which is a lulu. It’s a natural, a deep, twisting gulley with sharp turns and mud puddles and all that sort of stuff. We go over it the first thing in the day and you really work up a nice sweat. [How many things have YOU done today that you would consider to be “a lulu”?]

Dad asked me about the ring. I received it and all the contents of the box in good order. The ring was all shined up and looks swell.

This weather makes you sleepy but I don’t know why. I’m so sleepy tonite I laid on my bunk at 3:00 this p.m. and awoke at 7:00. As I’m running out of words, I think I’ll bid you all good nite with Loads of love to you all, Murray. [It sure would be swell if I could fall asleep so quickly! Perhaps I need to have more “lulus” in my day!]

p.s. Mom I received the card and sent it out Friday. It was swell of you to do it.