Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain
Writing a letter with candle on clipboard, see Oct. 16 letter

Friday, February 29, 2008

February 29, 1944 Tuesday

Hello, my Bunny,

How is my dressmaker tonite? Your designs look very, very good to me. I like all your dresses, particularly when you are in them. Square shoulders, clean cut, neat, striking but in excellent taste. Just what I like. I remember your dresses very clearly, and usually I’m not good at remembering things like that. Never could see how you could sit down and make one, and so fast. Just out of this world, that’s all.

We are learning crew drill among other things now. What each member does in each situation in light and medium tanks. Involves hopping in and out of tanks over and over. Also taking company administration, troop training, and gunnery. All very clear except conduct of fire which has us all in a healthy fog.

It is a very good idea to plan tentatively on coming to Kentucky in the last part of April or May. If things hang together, I should get some very small amount of time off. There is graduation and a lot of red tape that might well leave some time for us. The train connection to here should be much better than to Georgia – all on big lines and in comfortable cars. Hotel accommodations should be more available, too. We can see what crystallizes. I would love to see you if only for a short time, and show you a little of the place here, or just talk to you. If I get more than a little time, we will get married, natcherly. We’ll see, we’ll see. Thinking about what will happen is always fun. You thrust out tentative ideas and conjectures and watch them turn into realities you never thought could happen. You learn something new with each thing that happens and try to use that to make the next thing come closer to what you plan. That’s the best part of it. You always have another try; and there are no limits at all on what you can plan or what can happen. It’s wonderful.

Tonite I am on guard and will have a good chance to think about the future and us. Our futures we have pretty much in common, whatever they turn out to be. Being the people we are we can’t fail to find the future very rich.

I love you, I love you,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

February 28, 1944 Monday

Hello Dearest,

This stationery is a little more respectable than I’ve been able to get before, but I’m still looking for some that’s good. Bear with me, Hon.

Today I met a non-com over in gunnery who is going to be five years old tomorrow. Heck, I spoiled it – should say he’s going to have his fifth birthday tomorrow. My mother’s folks must have been English, after all.

Alden must have a technique all his own. Don’t see how he gets so much time off. Where does he go next?

We must be a striking pair if my conception of your dual photo frame is right. Where do you keep it?

This is our 10th week of training now under way. Next week we go to Cedar Creek. It is not in Iowa but still in Kentucky quite a ways southeast of here. I’ve seen it in a tactical map, but not in relation to all Kentucky. We shoot all the time out there. And wind up our gunnery. Gunnery is our most important course. I have done well in it up to now, but just between you and me I’m a little doubtful as to how well I can do the rest of the way. Conduct of all the fire of a tank and engaging multiple targets and choosing right ammunition types is real complicated and we are getting it terribly fast. Well give it a noble effort, anywho. I can spray te fire out there all right but I hope they don’t watc where it all goes. Speed of fire and coordination of M.G.’s and the cannon are the important things. Your little book on the armored command should be pretty good. As a rule they don’t show the actual models we use – like in the pictures I sent you – but for all practical purposes they are the same.

Yes, Hon, my mail is entirely private – and I’m glad to see I have an up-to-date girl. Hope it proves very effective.

I love you always,

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

February 27, 1944 Sunday

February 27, 1944 Sunday

Dear Honey,

This has been a good weekend in all respects and I am very glad to top it off by having time left to write to you. Yesterday the tension ran pretty high as I was on table waiter and so had very little time to set up my usual field display for inspection. I came thru the inspection without a gig, tho. Even babied my cosmolined rifle by it. It should be the toughest inspection circumstance I’ll come across.

Last night Tom and Herm Schofield and I went bowling – with the big balls and little squat pins. That’s all they play here. It was fun. This morning I slept, and went with Frankie Brown for breakfast at the Service Club. We virtuously headed for church, but Frank got the wrong hour, so we played pool instead. Frankie was well kidded over it, because he just gave a speech in TT on the value of church attendance in the army. If I haven’t mentioned Frankie (known as “Red Hot Frankie”) he is an innocent appearing boy who wants to teach in a small high school. He is very cheerful and very young acting. Hasn’t got a vice, but we all treat him as tho he was a Romeo, and he pretends to act the part, too. He sings us all to sleep over the P.A. system to the orderly room when he’s on C.O. [or C.C.] “No Love” is his best song. We all “swoon” over his singing, as over “Swoonatra” himself.

Saw the “Bridge of San Luis Rey” this afternoon. And was very pleased with it. I liked the book, too, tho I never did figure why the people got killed. One simple way out is to say that the bridge was just too damn old.

Heard about the rest of your trip last night. It was quite successful, don’t you think? Your doctor obviously has plenty on the ball, and from all I can see, is just about right. When he spoke of the responsibility and confinement of marriage as against the freedom of not being married, I see his point very well. It is just why there is so very little we can do as long as we cannot actually be together. If we should marry and live apart you would be much more subject to the unnatural strains than you are. Also you would sacrifice a great deal of freedom. In tactics they would say that you would lose maneuverability. You would have fewer possible paths of escape, or here, adjustment.

All married folks lose maneuverability, and that is very good if they are in the path they want to be when they are married. You don’t have to shift around if you are on the right road. Of course, we have already talked about that being one of the things we have to consider – getting bogged down before we get on the path we want to be on. At the present time, it is quite important that we retain as much freedom of movement as possible because we’ve got some big jumps to make before we can really settle down. See what I’m talking about, Bunny? The damned army’s got me so I can’t think in terms other than military ones.

Before this we have talked in a little different terms about the possibility of being married and still being able to live in circumstances not exactly as Emily Post prescribes. Of being un-established tho married. I still think we can do this is we are reasonable. It is what we’ll have to do if I am to study some more after we are married, and that’s what we plan. Most married people lose maneuverability because of a natural urge to settle down as quickly and as completely as possible. They decide it just isn’t worth the effort to be anything more than Mr. and Mrs. Jones. The second reason is that the expenses of most marriages make it impossible for them to save money for anything except family expenses. They get in a vicious circle financially.

What we plan at first then, is a marriage without losing maneuverability. This is because we want lives that are richer and more purposeful than many. We can do so many more things we want to if we are still relatively free, and can lay the groundwork for a more meaningful future. To retain this freedom of movement we must be willing to invest the effort necessary to maintain it. That isn’t hard because it’s what we both want. And we must keep in a position where we can save money, or rather make more than our running expenses. That last is the toughest part. We are doing it now. We could do it if we were married, but otherwise as we are (even more than we are saving now). If I were stationed somewhere where you could be near, we might do it. Particularly if you were to work some of the time. If we had just a room or two, you might be able to do that. Pat’s wife is working in Louisville, I hear, just to keep busy while he is away.

Oh, we can do that all right; it never looked so simple before. By all means, let’s get married!

It is understandable that you should feel a little doubtful or maybe fearful about having children. Inevitable, I guess. But we will be all over that before we have any, don’t you worry. Things always look scary before they happen, and then easy when you know about them. We will know all about this, too. When they told us about tank firing, I swore I could never do it. But it’s really very easy. Bet having children is the same way. When you think how widespread the practice is, you can see that there can’t be too much to it or the custom would die out!

We don’t want to over-estimate the handicap that unplanned children might be. After all, as long as we can save enough for one semester of study, I can probably get a teaching job that would serve as a starting point on the right road. If I get a 2nd Lieutenant’s pay we could live O.K., and of course the elapsed time before the baby was born would be more than likely to take us beyond the date that the expenses would be just out of reach. And personally, the day can’t be too soon for me. I must have a mother instinct or something. My heart melts every time I see a baby at the service club. Just a matter of what nice things come first, I guess. If we can delay children until we have had the many other desirable experiences we want, that’s O.K., too.

A couple of times you have mentioned not knowing just what to do about your contract for next year. I understand that you can break a teaching contract without too much friction as a rule. Now it will not be before April 1st that we can make any definite plans of our own, since I don’t have enough free time at present even to say “I do.” This is a long week-end and I have had exactly 24 hours since last duty, including sleep. We get no off-duty during the week, you see? Until we can make plans I’d go on planning to finish at K.T.C. and teach at Westmoreland. Unless you want to take a whirl at teaching somewhere else for a change, or even if you want to get a job out of teaching completely. You could probably do this easily in Keene. Do exactly as you wish as far as that goes. Be as radical as you want to be. I love it. I would finish at K.T.C., tho, of it is at all possible. We could study together later, but education is a bad thing to put off at all unless it is absolutely necessary. It easily becomes one of those things that are constantly planned and never get done.

If I do not get a commission, I feel we had best get married as soon as we can get you and me and a minister together, but not try to live together until the war is over. Reasons are financial. If I do, we should get married and live together at the first opportunity we see where we could save some money over expenses. Until we know which is coming, let’s go on as we are, except that you should take any job that you want that will still let you get your degree.

Thanks a lot for your nice Wednesday letter. I love you so much, Bunny, and I am sure tonite that we are doing very, very well now and that the future looks real bright.

Yours forever,

February 27, 1944 Sunday

Dear folks,

How’s youse all been? This last week for me was a good one to get thru. Busiest week we’ve had, but things went O.K. Ah, the weather here! We gave up wearing jackets this week and go around in our shirtsleeves. Just like Junior Prom weather.

In your last letter you said something about my not giving the homey details about tanks. I didn’t because I wasn’t sure you understood them enough to see what I meant. Since you have been studying about tanks enough to call a throat mike a lip mike, I will gladly carry on—

Tanks come in two sizes – big and little. A little one is like a bathtub on a tractor. The tub is upside down and has a few holes in the top about the size of Ma’s leg. A big tank is much the same, except that it is like 2 bathtubs; one right side up, the other overturned upon it. To get in, you first put on a football helmet and snap a throat mike around your neck. Then you back off and with a running start scamper up over the front end of the bathtub. Much the same way we used to climb up those big boulders in Lebanon. Then you jump down whichever hole is the one you want. This was at first awkward for even snake-hipped me, but soon you learn to put your arms over your head and sort of screw yourself in. Once inside (this is purely hypothetical for you, Ma – everything after going thru the hole) you sit down on a little stool that you can make go up and down to any height – even high enough to have your head stick out the hole if you want – like a very small barber chair. After you have done a lot of little things like fastening your safety belt and your telephone wires – one to your helmet and one to the throat mike, you press in on the buttons against your neck and report “Driver ready” or “Bog ready” or whatever you are.

You close the cover on the hole over your head and things look dark for a while until your eyes get used to it. Then you can look into the periscope that sticks down from the cover and see what is out front – it is like watching a movie and seems very far away and unrelated to you. When you get the two big motors going and a couple of auxiliary gadgets, you’d swear you couldn’t hear anybody. In fact you can barely hear yourself. But a voice comes thru the ear phones in your helmet and is quite clear. When you get going for a while you just hang on and try to relate the dips and bumps you feel to what you see in the periscope, but you can’t very well. You go over land that would seem impossible for anything, but after you see where you can go you feel as tho there was nothing that could stop you. Makes you feel very powerful and you look forward to big dips because you know you can come out all right.

You don’t move around much once you get seated, there are too many wheels, and buttons and triggers and sights all around you. When you start to shoot you start working all of them and are so busy you don’t think of anything else but where the bullets are landing.

After the motors are stopped, you unhook all the wires and belts and pop up thru the hole again and back to the front of the tank. Things seem awfully quiet when you first get out, and pretty inactive. Even the truck you ride home in sounds like an old Model T.

A few of the U.N.H. men still wish they had gone to Benning, but personally I get a real thrill out of tanks and find nothing to complain about in them. You’ve got a lot more between you and whoever you’re shooting at, and can send out a whole lot more fire power, than a rifle man can.

Yours, with love,

Monday, February 25, 2008

February 25, 1944 Friday

Hello, Honey,

My turn at table waiter is up again, and runs thru Saturday, so my hours are just that much more cramped than usual. However, it doesn’t seem the job it used to when I first came. Guess I’m getting used to it, or something.

I am very, very glad you enjoyed the Ice Follies so much. It sounded beautiful. Last year I saw the corresponding show with Quentin Theroux. It was very striking then, but your description sounded as tho it was much better this year. Am waiting expectantly to hear how the rest of your trip came out. Should be a real “break” for you – getting away from it all, you know.

Got my monthly letter for Robin Ralph today. He waxed quite enthusiastic for labor and against war proliferating by capital, and I think he is right, tho I really don’t know anything about the situation.

Our class is now studying the (you run out of ink, can’t I? [switches to pencil]) 37 mm. cannon now. It is a smaller job that goes in a little light tank. We will be on light tanks for some time now. They have 4 men crews and are crowded as the devil. You just have room to sit down, and you have no choice but to stay put once you’re in. Ah prefers the mediums. IF I get a commission it may be either in infantry or cavalry. In either case the collar insignia would be a Mark VIII tank, but in infantry I’d be with medium tanks and in cavalry light tanks. Very clear, I suppose? Anyway I love you like everything, Honey, and hope you’re fresh as a daisy when you return to school.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

February 23, 1944 Wednesday

Dearest Marjorie,

This day will live in infamy. It marked the half-way point in our cycle, and was the toughest we’ve had. Five hours of exams and my lesson and obstacle course. Three hours were in performance tests on the tank – actually doing what we’d been taught. Good day to get thru with.

Another big thing happened – Lt. Shalala is being transferred and we will have a new “Tac” officer. Our fourth or fifth, I guess. Most classes have only one. I never was over-fond of Shalala, but we were getting so we understood him and knew what to expect. Now the new officer will have to go thru the old routine of showing how tough he is, and putting us on the spot in turn to size us up. Too bad.

Just today I found that you were going to Boston. Here’s hoping you had a wonderful time. It is our town, pretty much. Did I ever tell you that they have a little – I guess you call it – a doily on the bulletin board at the cleaners from the Circus Room of the Bradford? I get homesick every time I see it.

So old Bob is stepping out again. That’s good. I hope he meets up with somebody that’s right for him. I think the right girl is just what Russ needs to go a long way. I’d give a lot to see big Bob – he’s the kind of a guy you miss. I’ve never met anybody like him, in the army, or out.

You’ve probably seen Mr. Dalzell by now, and I’m not close enough to see what’s best. As a policy, tho, I’d say to plan on getting your degree just as soon as possible. Don’t let it hang fire when you’re almost there. If we are able to be together we can change those plans, and if we aren’t, you’ll still be able to go to school. As for contracts and things, I don’t know how they work enough even to offer a suggestion. In the incessant uncertainty of O.C.S., “sit-tight” is the most likely path to follow. But be ready to move.

I love you always, Bunny. And think of you many, many times a day. Believe that, honey, even if there is no time for me to tell you so these days.

Yours forever,

Friday, February 22, 2008

February 22, 1944 Tuesday

Hello, Hon,

My, time goes fast. I’m keeping hauling back so as to get everything ready for my big day tomorrow, but minutes slip by and things don’t get done fast enough.

I have still to study for my exams tomorrow and prepare that lesson on War Gases. I finished up my visual aid tonite – a big adjustable poster with names of gases, and insertable strips to put opposite them containing their characteristics. Also will use the gas set to demonstrate the odor of the gases, and a blackboard diagram. High caliber pedagogy except I know very little about gases!

Today I fired our old 75 cannon from the tank turret. It makes the whole tank rock back and forth. The shell is around 30 or more inches long. We fired a lot of rounds each. It is the biggest weapon we get.

Got to run now, Honey,

All my love,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

February 21, 1944 Monday

Hello, Honey –

How is my vacationing sweetheart? Having the best time ever, I trust. Things go on as usual here – quite satisfactorily so far. I haven’t got a single gig in 3 weeks now. Really on the ball. I would go very easy on the “Lieutenant Russell” angle, however. Bad luck to talk that way, they say. And anyway, the crucial weeks are just ahead. The 10th week is a “suitability” week after which the board is active. The 11th or 12th is Cedar Creek gunnery week when we get the works on tank firing. Then the 13th is “suitability” again. About that time we will finish map reading. A flunk in map reading is automatic relief from school. If I get thru all that maybe we can start talking and planning again.

This week Wednesday is a big, big day. 4-hour gunnery test, my TT lesson and exam, and a supply exam. Whew! We have our comic relief, tho. Comments of officers during inspection are epics. They claim to find moss in canteens and have a great to-do over it. Comment that an o/c who hasn’t his shirt buttons straight “must have screwed his clothes on.” Also our fire drills are a scream. They just never seem to go right. Today most of us got caught hanging our uniforms, and had to choose between burning and falling out in underwear. We burned.

Loads of love, Bunny, bye now,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February 20, 1944 Sunday

February 20, 1944 Sunday

Dear folks,

Your birthday party must have been in pretty close quarters, considering the number of people in the Court Street apartment. Nice bunch, tho.

Yesterday’s mail brought me a lot of vital statistics. Bet Wig’s bouncing boy is quite a bundle! Gee, I’d like to see him. Wig is about the first father in my immediate generation. They are calling him Michael Kenneth, according to the gay little announcement I received.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen the Rindge contingent that the funeral you spoke is not much more than a name to me, I’m afraid. The marriages of Les Jenkins, Parker Whitcomb, and Don Tyler completed the big news, and they all interested me. Hope Les got the very best.

Laura is taking a lot lately, I guess. She does take it well, tho, and that’s a lot. I think that calling fathers like Justin is about the worst thing this war brings. Especially men like Justin, and at this stage of the war. Even if married men are able to adjust to barracks life, it is still very hard for them to get any kind of a break as far as advancement goes. The army wants to train young men, and they respect past education as much or more as they do natural ability. In basic training the older men looked pretty lost and the ones that were able to get a stab here at O.C.S. or at A.S.T. looked no better. These programs are set up like college. Men who have been out of school or who have had a lot of experience themselves find it awfully hard to keep up with the pliant, nimble, studious college kids. They can’t study or concentrate it seems and try to do things their own way rather than changing to the army way without question.

This last week we have been studying tank gunnery among other things. It seems good to get to tank-mounted weapons at last. I’m quite a whiz at spinning the turret around and lining up the turret machine gun. We fired for record yesterday with the tank-mounted 30 cal. M.G. and I got a perfect score. Hit every target in the bull within the required time. Had to line up and fire five targets in 30 seconds. You sight through a periscope and aim the gun by turning the whole turret by power or a handwheel, and elevating the gun simultaneously with another wheel. The gun if fired by a solenoid, a gadget that you press with our toe, like starting our Ford.

Our course will reach the half way mark this week. The next 5 weeks are pretty crucial. If I get thru them, you might start to think about de-mothing that R.O.T.C. outfit. But you can’t tell a thing, really. Men have been tossed out the morning of graduation – for little things, even if their whole record has been good previously.

With love,

February 20, 1944 Sunday

Hello my honey –

Our tank firing did go very well yesterday and cleared up many things for me. We worked in crews of three and fired for record with the 30 cal. Machine gun which is mounted on the turret. It is called the co-axial in case I ever use the word. I worked all the buttons and wheels with consummate (check me) skill and fired a possible. Lined up on five targets and got 5 bulls in 30 seconds. Whee! Many mysteries are now becoming clear.

Read with great interest all the vital statistics you sent me. More power to Michael Wiggin. The new generation of Alpha Gamma Rho is launched!

Weddings are pretty much the order of the day, aren’t they? Best of everything to all the lucky spouses – especially to Les Jenkins. Weren’t there a lot of familiar names in Anil and Parker’s ceremony?

You can see from my change of ink that it is later now then when I finished up there. That’s the trouble with using other people’s ink. You lose uniformity. However, it is less expensive.

I spent a quiet afternoon at the library, making out an extensive lesson plan for my TT lesson, which comes Wednesday. Found some good references, but had to fight the desire to do something else all p.m.

Now I find that I have spent most of my Sunday working and am sore at the world in general for not leaving me some time off. Got to go back now and rub on that rifle of mine for an hour or so.

Your vacation will be well along by the time you get this. Gee I hope you have fun and get well rested up. Tell me what you do, Hon.

I do wish I could write longer to you. I had planned to today, but things just didn’t get done on schedule. I love you more than all the world, tho. Don’t let all these other weddings make you discouraged about us. Maybe we’re right. Only time can tell. I’ve gone over our situation a thousand times and can see nothing to do but sit tight for now. Being married here would be like not being married at all except for grabbing uncertainly for a few short hours at the end of each week. And there would be nothing in between to interest either of us. The waiting would just be more intense than now, and we might easily slow up our plans for the future. Yes, we’re penned in right now, but let’s be ready to grab a break when it comes.

All my love always,

Monday, February 18, 2008

February 18, 1944 Friday

Dear Honey,

Busy Friday again, but thanks to the fact that we have to spend two hours in the study hall, I can write you. Actually, I have more to do than any ten men should have, but here we all sit, getting ready to dash at 9:30.

We turned in our M1 rifles today and were issued Springfields. That gives us time with all the infantry rifles – Enfields, M1 and Springfield. I had a Springfield the first two years at UNH and most of the time at Wheeler, so it’s an old friend to me. BUT, they have a great deal of cosmoline on them to be cleaned off before tomorrow. Cosmoline is a very heavy grease and tears the heart out of every soldier who has to take it off a rifle. This is all in addition to the regular Friday madhouse of window washing, dusting, shoe-shining, equipment cleaning, etc., etc. However, I am all oer the sickish feeling I had yesterday. Just too fantastically tought to catch cold, that’s all.

Tomorrow will be a great day, as will the first 3 days of next week. We do serious firing of tank-mounted weapons. We have fired the Cal. 50 M.G. from tanks, but that just sticks up on top and is used for anti-aircraft. Now we go down into the tank itself where you sit feeling like another piece of machinery, surrounded by knobs and dials and brakes and heavy armor, and fire the basic tank weapons – the 30 Cal. M.G.’s and the 75 mm cannon. It is just what we need to give us confidence. Right now I feel a little awed by all the miraculous gadgets we use. We have not studied them long enough for me to get real at home with them. I hope practice puts me in the groove. We infantry men are used to firing one weapon at a time. Here we get a whole slew of them and a thousand auxiliary units – stabilizers, traversing mechanisms, generators, quadrants, charts, new periscopic telescope sights. It’s all as clear as mud right now.

Today we had crew drill on tanks. More fun scampering into position. Feel very much like an athletic team. You fall in in front of the tank and take positions in the tank rapidly in a certain way. Then hook up the inter-phone (a telephone system in the tank) and report. Then spent time on a terrain board doing fire problems.

Bye, honey, don’t best your bridge opponents too much, and remember I love you.

Always yours,

Sunday, February 17, 2008

February 16 and 17, 1944 Wednesday and Thursday

February 16, 1944 Wednesday

Hello, dearest,

The sunny south is here again. Warm, springy and cheerful. I don’t mean to make you dissatisfied or anything, of course. But Kentucky is a fine state, what I’ve seen of it.

It is hard for me to imagine what you would sound like with laryngitis. Your voice is quite characteristic and I can’t imagine you with another. Don’t believe I’ve ever heard of laryngitis being a nervous reation. Bet you caught a bug or slept with your mouth open (as I often do). Hope it’s all better by now – must be a real handicap to a teacher not to be able to talk! Suppose it relieves you of responsibility for conversation. Good time to meditate.

Tom O’Donnell used to be quite a B.M.O.C. in his way. Don Richards and I classified him as a good man gone wrong. Don was particularly bitter toward him as having “sold out” (as he was toward many). “What a joker!” was his usual remark. In a way he was right, but Tom never fully “sold out” (to artificiality in general). He at least realized that he was playing games, and now has some good angles on political theory that he really believes. His bar-tending ambition shows that he has pretty much given up doing much but thinking about them, tho. He says I’ll give up someday, too. He always pulls his age on me when he says things like that and makes me very impatient.

During one of my relapses today I decided that if and when I become a tank leader, I will name my own tank “Man O’War.” I think that’s very good for a tank and for us, don’t you? [ed. Note: MAN= Marjorie Ann Nelson; WAR = Wallace Addison Russell] Now all we’ve got to do is get the tank to paint it on. Anyway, Man O’War will always be a magic word for us – it has lasted quite a while already, hasn’t it?

I love you always,*

*very much more than I can say.

Surprise, here I am again, Bun. My feeble attempts at study weren’t too good. So I might as well spend my time profitably. I am now using another pen, since mine ran out of ink.

Tomorrow I’ll probably hear how your party went Sunday. The menu sounded good, and I do hope everybody got into the apartment. How is Uncle Carl? Last I knew he was the only remote relative of the family who didn’t have a cold. Along with your mother, he is an admirable person. He has taken a lot of hard knocks. You know, he lost his first wife. And all rumors say she was a very wonderful person. “Too good to live” my mother sentimentally says.

You were close to being right on the Valentine. I had that in mind, but they didn’t have any of the little dogs they sometimes have. There’ll come a time when they do, tho.

Judging from your list, I’m way behind on popular songs. “Mair-zi-dotes” is still just a catchy title to me – I know the words some but no tune. “Star-eyed” and “Besame Mucho” are strangers, too. Maybe I’ll hear the parade this week.
Bouquets to Anil and Parker. Hope the wedding came thru on schedule! Lucky people.

Bye again, Bunny. Time to go to bed. All my love,

February 17, 1944 Thursday

Dearest Marjorie,

This is just an “I love you” line before I go to bed. I have had a busy little day, and feel as tho I was coming down with a cold or some such. Result of that slushy period I guess. So tonite I shall try to sleep just as long as I can. Have already stolen some time I should have spent at work to rest in.

How is your bridge coming on? Hope you won your match or whatever signifies success. Here we find the “Red Dog” and “Poker” outrank contract. But the gambling here is small compared to Wheeler. These Colorado men get the thrill of a lifetime shooting for a nickel. They are very likeable cowboys tho.

Here’s loving you again and always,
Yours forever,

Friday, February 15, 2008

February 15, 1944 Tuesday

February 15, 1944 Tuesday

Dear Ma,

Marjorie and I are chipping in on something for your birthday, but thought I’d send my Greetings for today in the couple minutes I find hanging loose here.

Hope you go on a whale of a bat and have a memorable day on all accounts.

Today your valentine and maple sugar leaf came. It reminded me of the day I bit into a fellow’s eraser thinking it was a big piece of maple sugar candy. I bit it right in two.

Also thank Carlton for his valentine. I got quite a batch, all considered. The most for several years.

About time to fall out now. So many happy returns. I hope you live your weight in years.


February 15, 1944 Tuesday

Dearest Bunny,

Tonite I am starting a new pad of this stationery. Am not too proud of it but it is the quietest they have at the P.X. Some men get some real dignified armored O.C.S. stationery, but it beats me where they do it.

We got the tag end of the snow storm you told me about. About an inch of slush. But it was warm and sunny today, so it has about gone now, except for occasional patches.

As an example of the G.I. teacher training course we are getting, here’s what happened in a TT exam. They asked us to list the four steps in asking a question. That was one list I hadn’t memorized, so I made up an answer – like ask it, have it answered and evaluate answer. Well, I did pretty well, but found that it was wrong because the book lists ask it, PAUSE, have it answered and evaluate it. Looking at the whole situation – from the question itself to its silly answer, you can see why I dislike TT more than gunnery. Even if I do plan to teach.

Well, glad you got home last week-end, after so many people were worrying about getting the “schoolteacher” home. Good idea to see your mother when you did. And thank her for the letter she wrote. I liked it a lot.

Today is my mother’s birthday. She was born in 1894, so this makes an even ½ century as I figure. How is she these days, anyway? She only writes me about Carlton and home things. Her letters are very characteristic, tho, and would make an interesting book, I think. Reflect all kinds of moods and a basic attitude that is lovely.

Nite now, Bunny. Sleep tight, and remember I love you like everything.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 13 and 14, 1944 Sunday and Monday

February 13, 1944 Sunday

Dear folks,

Old Kentucky is bearing its teeth the last few days. Went down to considerably below freezing, and we spent some pretty chilly mornings on the range.

Spent most of the week studying and shooting mortars. They shoot quite a distance and, of course, explode when they strike. As observers, we have to judge from the burst of one shell just how far to move the gun to bring the next shell on target. We stand on a hill with field glasses and estimate ranges up to 3000 yards. My crew put on the best demonstration of getting onto a fixed target I have yet seen. We get on in four shells the first time we took a problem. We kept a good standard of quality after that, too.

We are going into our 8th week now, so soon the cycle will be half over. Time goes fast here. I believe I have learned more in these 7 weeks than I did all last year. I feel as tho I was trained now in the subjects we have had. After basic training I still had some doubts as to what good my training would do. What we learn here, I can use and feel confident in.

I am convinced that Carlton is a very good and very intelligent boy. Let’s all see that he gets a chance to develop his abilities as much as possible. Education and training mean an awful lot. Having talent doesn’t mean a thing if you’re not in position to use it, and it’s very easy to lose the chance to use it if you don’t get started along the right road.

I am not so convinced about my dear mother, who still uses only every other sheet of stationery in a pile. Must be very expensive.


February 13, 1944 Sunday

Hello Honey,

Another Sunday, and here we are at the library again. It is a very clear and sunny day here, but colder than it has been all year. Actually seemed like winter yesterday.

Last night your valentine and package came. It was by far the best valentine I’ve seen, including the poem on it. Most valentines are so hopelessly gooey that it makes you wonder at the taste of people in general. The ones at the P.X. are so much along the lines of that army stationery I used to use some at Wheeler, that I decided in favor of sending my wishes by compact and by letter. Someday when we can call time our own, I’ll write some poems for the valentine manufacturers that show how I feel about you.

It has been quite a time now since I wrote to you. Two Days, I guess. That is a long time at O.C.S. Since then, I have mounted two guards, walked a post, passed a formal inspection, fired the 60 and 81 mm mortars, and dozens of other things. The mortars are very fascinating. If you watch you can see the shells flying thru the air. They look something like an arrow shot almost straight up from a bow. But they keep on climbing right out of sight into the clouds. Then you count to 15 quite slowly, raise your field glasses and set them on the target some 1200 yards or more away. For a fraction of a second you see, or almost “feel” where the shell explodes. It is called “sensing” the burst. Then you see the smoke drifting away and seconds later you hear the sound of the explosion. Finally you yell down the correction to make on the sights to the mortar crew, who are down in a gully somewhere where they can’t see the target at all. We have a crew of four to a gun. An 81 mm shell weighs around 13 pounds.

I don’t suppose that you’re very interested in all that, but I’m sure you would be if you could see it once. Aside from the science involved, it is very beautiful. Particularly to lay down a smoke screen with white phosphorus shells. Next week we will study 37 and 75 mm tank guns. That is a 75 you see on the tank above. We will have a lot on that.

Honey, I do hope you and Dr. Kendall can find some way for you to get some real relaxation. Why don’t you plan something big for your week off? Just think of what you’d like to do, and do it enthusiastically. Maybe you can find someone to go to Boston with and spend sometime taking in music and drama for a while. Let your imagination run. Think yourself out of Westmoreland. Whenever I want to get my thoughts stimulated, I find that just wandering thru a library and thumbing thru books is good. It reminds you of all the things you want to do, and brings new fields of thought to mind, that put new ways of doing things into your head. Sharpens up your interest, and makes you realize what a big, big world this is and how many things there are to be done in it. Most people forget that and come to think that their town and problems are the whole world.

Speaking of libraries, reminds me that you mentioned getting “Western Star.” I have never read all of that. The one I recommended was “John Brown’s Body.” It is one of the most absorbing things that I have ever read.

One of the more colorful episodes at O.C.S. was last night. They put on a party instead of supper. They had a big room fixed up like a beer parlor, and served potato salad, potato chips cheese, hot dogs and rolls, peanuts, cold meat, cigarettes, olives, pretzels, and beer. All cafeteria style. It was a very unusual masculine and military atmosphere in which the officers joined us. It was the biggest party I’ve seen the army put on, and we didn’t know it was coming until Saturday p.m. That’s the way things go here at O.C.S.

The standards are high. They give us the best and expect the best from us. I really like this place, it is very invigorating. Two things make it imperfect. You can’t relax if you want to, and you go around all the time with three or four swords hanging over your head. (Of course, this is all aside from the fact that what we study is fundamentally wrong).

After Guard Mount Tom and I went to a movie. Orson Welles in “Jane Eyre.” Then a long sleep until this noon. Of course, I woke up quite early this morning but I layed in bed and thought about us. Quite in detail too. How I’d love so much to be married and living with you, and how much I’d like to have you in my arms and love you. That is the only answer to our main problems. And, valuable as it is, writing letters is a very poor substitute. But granting that, there is still little we can do except re-direct our interests where possible until we can be together. I am lucky enough to be saturated with the study and practice of military matters. And that is a professional study, I can now see. I never stop loving you, but the desperate feeling of not having you is generally worked off by physical activity. That is, until I go to bed at night. Then I always imagine you beside me, and understand how truly I love you more than anything in the world. We will never be able to live fully until we can live together. Until then, let’s show how well we can accept circumstances and adjust to them in the best way for us.

I love you always,

February 14, 1944 Monday

Dear Honey,

Happy Valentine’s Day and all. Did you have a party at school? For some reason we didn’t make much of it here. We did move over to the Tank Gunnery Department, and start our last phase of gunnery. Study cannons now. This puts us back on the tanks daily. That is good. If I’m to be a tank man I’d like to know a lot more about them than I know. We get a thorough course in tank gunnery. 3 weeks, I guess, one of which is a week of practical work at a place called Cedar Creek. There we fire and fire all week with every type of target and conditions.

Got a letter from the University today, telling how I stand on credits. I have 109 credits and need 128 to graduate. 19 still to get. 6 of this 19 is automatic, being credit for English 1, from which I was excused. I get the credits when I graduate. Also I will get 6 credits if and when I graduate from here – for senior R.O.T.C. That leaves a paltry 7 credits to earn. Pretty good. I could finish up easily in one semester and get some credits towards a master’s degree to boot. I could get all 19 credits in one semester if it were necessary. They say I need 9 more credits for a major in Education, or I could get a major in history for 3 or so more credits. We can no doubt save enough money to support us both for one semester anyway. Would you like that? We could live together and study together and live quite an ideal life to my mind. School with you and without a part-time job to take up time sounds likea close approximation to heaven. Gee I hope it works out that way.

Glad to hear that you feel better, Bunny. Please don’t let Westmoreland get you down. Just refuse to be restricted by it. Heck, you’re a civilian – you can go anywhere without being A.W.O.L. Enjoy it. I love you with all my heart all the time,

All yours,

Sunday, February 10, 2008

February 10, 1944 Thursday

Dearest Bunny,

I received two letters from you today, which is unusual. But it was because they were sent at irregular times. In a way, I was sorry to hear that you missed some school, but only because it meant that you weren’t feeling well, not because you missed the teaching.

It is the most natural thing in the world for you to feel the way you do, Hon. I wish with all my heart that the situation that causes it did not exist. But since it does exist – thru no one’s fault except the “war,” which is the most earth-shaking and powerful force ever to influence people – we can only do what seems the easiest until it is over. I am so glad you found Dr. Kendall. You need some one to confide in personally. Get all you can from his advice, and let him help you as much as he can.

No doubt he can tell you how to get over that tired feeling; how to become interested in something, and to sublimate our much-thwarted desires. I hope he can and will. Also, things will be easier if we understand each other very well. We do, I think, on almost all points. I always, always love you, Honey, without any reservations at all, and what you do or do not do has no effect on this. I know you exceedingly well, and you are everything I want. I don’t think you could change that, Honey. You’re stuck with me that’s all. All I want you to be is yourself, Bunny. You don’t need to be a bit more “wonderful” or cheerful or happy than you really are. I love you, not how you feel.

Now in order to make me completely satisfied, there are just two things to do, or rather, continue doing. One is to be completely sincere in what you say and do for me. The other is to love me. That goes two ways. With you, I always mean what I say. And I always love you. I don’t ask for anything more, Honey.

Do wish I had more time to write tonite, but I know you’ll understand how valuable time is this part of the week.

With all my love,

Saturday, February 9, 2008

February 9, 1944 Wednesday

Dear Bunny,

I have my garters on! Feel like an old, old man and am trying to find a heighth where they don’t feel too tight. This is my impression of how I feel [drawing! Image coming soon]

Tonite I found a very delicious chocolate bar at the P.X., called an “Echo.” Funny how I’ve missed it for so long. It is spherical, with a thick chocolate-nut outside and a maple filling. Ever seen one? Was quite enthused by it. Also I did a very worthwhile job of reorganizing my notebook. I filed some notes on courses that are over and got my active sections on top. I have a stack of notes filed in my foot locker already, that is quite impressive. They will be valuable someday, I hope.

We must have talked on the phone a long time on New Year’s Day. The call I made Sunday was only $2.04, but it was a very short talk. It was worth at least twice as much tho. It seems so good to really hear you. Almost as good as seeing you for a short time. Let’s me know you’re real and the same as I picture you.

Time does go fast, doesn’t it, Honey. Here we are in the seventh week now – in the middle portion of the cycle. We aren’t the youngest class any more, and it won’t be long before we’ll start doing “senior class” jobs – Officer of the Day, etc. Means we are continually getting closer to the day when we can be together, and will have another chance to break up the army’s apparent design to keep us apart. That’s what I’m waiting for, Honey, and it’s worth the wait.

I love you always,

Friday, February 8, 2008

February 8, 1944 Tuesday

Dearest Marjorie,

Today I proved that I am willing to give my all to O.C.S. An order came out requiring everyone to wear “sock supporters,” or garters. To most men, this is what an order for bustles would be to women. Well, I bought some tonite. To be sure, I haven’t yet put them on, but no doubt I will soon. Be assured that I will wear them no more than usual, however.

Today we started our work on mortars. We’ve had the 60 mm at Wheeler; now it comes with the big one attached – 81 mm mortar. (The series of humps after 81 means millimeter.) These weapons go up high. Shoots over a hill you see. I like them. Tonite I bought a little notebook for “army officers,” so called. Has a lot of stuff we will need in gunnery and tactics – ranges and frontages, et al. Guess that brings my professional career up to date.

As to my private life, what there is of it is in these letters to you. Thinking of you is all I do that is not strictly military and what the rest of the outfit does. I refuse to share or let go of those thoughts, Bunny. Makes me feel like a civilian to think of you and the things you are doing at Westmoreland. And I do love you more every day.

All yours,

Thursday, February 7, 2008

February 7, 1944 Monday

Good evening, Sweetheart,

Got two dandy letters tonite and enjoyed them very much. The pictures look a lot like the outfits here – the hat was what we wear, but the patch was not quite ours. Now they wear a triangular 3-color patch with the same picture as the one you sent.

I used to play contract some with Ralph Rieth and gang. Could see that it would be fun if you put a little time in it. Glad you have a chance to relax a little, Honey.

Will you see about getting my mother something for her birthday? I will enclose a dollar so that you can tell her honestly I had a hand in it. Get her something nice, she deserves it.

Am sending along something for you for Valentine’s day. It has been a few months now since I have given you one of these, so I thought I’d get back on to schedule. They didn’t have much to pick from, but all my love is inside it, so treat it well.

Yes, Honey, we definitely will be married at the very first opportunity, and will live together at the earliest possible time. All we need is a few days together to get married – when we can get them we will be. If I can get an assignment that would enable us to live together even for only a part of a year, we will do it. The thing that keeps coming to me is that maybe I’ll get assigned to classification here at Fort Knox. That would be swell; you would be very fond of Kentucky. Nice to dream about. I have no real basis for it. I love you more than I can ever say, my Bunny, and regret very much that there just is no way we can be together now.

All yours always,

P.S. I’d encourage this correspondence with J.P. Morgan – good man to know.

February 6, 1944 Sunday

Dear folks,

I’m back on schedule this week with my letters. I have had this wee-end more to myself than any in a long time. Slept until nearly eleven this morning, and took a long hot shower before dinner. Feeling great now. Am writing this in the music room of the Service Club.

I got by inspections and all last week without a gig and had a lot of fun in our gunnery course. We have all our mornings devoted to gunnery, and I am very interested in it. We fired the big machine gun Cal. 50 last week and yesterday we fired a lot of new weapons. Started our course in grenades, mortars and rockets. Got right down to business and shot hand grenades yesterday, as well as rifle grenades and the new rocket gun called the “Bazooka.” It works on a very different principle than all other weapons and has a lot of power at close ranges. Will go thru almost any armor plate.

Gave my speech in military courtesy last Friday for Teacher Training. It went very well, but so do all the talks. There are no duds in this class. Every man has a lot on the ball and each one is trying his hardest all the time. Consequently, we have been here 6 weeks now and still no one stands out as being particularly better than the rest. They are all good. There a very few who for one reason or another aren’t up to the standard of the group, and they are the ones that stick out – not the good ones.

Aside from the fact that we are under pressure all the time, we have a lot of fun here. The instruction is the very best – they prepare the most elaborate demonstrations for us, and we see just the presentation of it. They have a demonstration regiment that gets them ready. We don’t get the hard work. When we go to a range, it is all set up. We just get down to firing immediately, then leave and they pick up after us. They have too much to teach us to take our time doing non-essentials. I have fired more in 6 weeks than I did all the time I was at Wheeler.

And, of course, the class is very much alive. Plenty of wits and humorous situations, as well as a lot of intelligent dicussion.

Now, how are all your colds and such coming at 23? Hope Bob’s is better. A cold that hangs on is miserable. I would advise moving to Kentucky. They do have colds here, but the weather is so mild you can get over them. We are having early May weather here lately. It is beautiful country – plenty of hills but different from New England hills in that they rise right out of flat valleys; stick up out of nothing. The woods are good clean pretty hardwoods. All in all, if New Hampshire was obliterated, I would live in this part of Kentucky.

Yours, with love,

Dearest Honey,

Well, here’s another week-end. No gigs, no guard, no nothing. So here I am at the Service Club, waiting to get a call thru to you. I have no way of knowing whether you’ll be home or not. But then, there is no good reason for calling except that I want very much to hear what you sound like again. Felt very thrifty in that I didn’t go to Louisville this week, so I’m being good to me and calling you.

There, guess the Keene folks were some surprised! Seemed that way to me, Hon, anyway. Very, very good to hear you, and Grammy, too. You know, I love you a very great deal, Bunny? Even more than that. Every time I finish a job and relax for a minute, I think how lucky I am. Just thinking of you and pretending you are near makes me warm and comfortable inside. Makes it so I don’t worry about a thing. Course, I always think how much better it would be if we were together. But the main thing is loving you. It makes all the difference in the world between feeling depressed and lonely when things go wrong and feeling fundamentally contented and relaxed all the time. And I have felt that way since last April.

Last night Tom and I spent a typical evening that we both enjoyed. We went to a P.X., not the O.C.S. one, and drank beer and discussed things in general. We are kindred souls in a way. We can talk sincerely together about anything, and are agreed that truth is the important thing to work for. We are not agreed on many other points – but we do not argue, we discuss. Tom’s Irish-Catholic background and years spent among factory workers – he worked 10 years after high school before college – have given a different twist to his thoughts. He thinks politically and is all for labor, while my thinking is more theoretical and less tempered by experience. Some day we will go to Haverhill and visit Tom on his home ground – the “Tally-Ho.” It will be an interesting experience for us. There are so many interesting people that we will enjoy together.

Six weeks of O.C.S. are now complete. Every thing is satisfactory so far and I’m in good condition to keep going. Strange and unpredictable things happen at O.C.S., so it isn’t a good idea to plan on anything. It takes such a small slip up to break a good record. But I am more confident and more interested in getting thru than when I started. After 17 successful weeks, we graduate and are commissioned. As I understand it we then leave almost immediately for a month of practical work among replacement trainees. Then furloughs come. That should be in May sometime, or maybe June. It is possible that we could be married at the time I graduate, or if it’s only a week-end, as some get, we could be married in N.H. during the furlough. My, my, it isn’t everybody that gets a chance to plan their wedding as often as we do. It sure will be a good one when it comes. Until then, remember I love you as much as if we were married now. I look at your picture, Bunny, and tell you how I love you every day.

Always all yours,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

February 1, 2 and 4, 1944

February 1, 1944 Tuesday

Dear Honey,

Tonite I have a slight case of the blues, for no good reason. Many little things make me feel down, tho. Guess the main one is that Phil Doucoumes, no less, dropped in on me tonite and I had only 10 free minutes to talk to him. He must have walked quite a ways to find me and it must have seemed to him as tho I was scarcely civil. You can’t get out of study period evenings, so there was little I could do except say hello and tell him what there was to say about the place. Told him I’d have more time on the week-end if he could come then. Fine thing when you can’t speak to a man from “back-home.” I don’t realize how tied down I am until something like that comes up. There just is no time to do anything except O.C.S. training, so it is lucky that there is nothing else I want to do here, usually. I have no distractions as a rule, so I don’t feel as tho I was being hemmed in very often. Phil is here in a casual company, waiting aviation cadet training. Hope I see him again at a more auspicious time.

Also I spent all my time after supper moving my bunk again – back to a spot just beside where I used to be. They closed up the squad room I moved to and moved us all into the big room I was in. Ah, futility. Also picked up a gig today, which gives me two this week. Had charge of the platoon during drill today and did about the best I’ve done. Lt. Shalala wasn’t there, however, so don’t know as much good came from it.

Oh, I could complain forever tonite, but I really don’t feel that bad about it all. I just don’t get enthusiastically despondent anymore. Just have periods where I care less what happens than at other times.

Still haven’t got that letter to the folks written yet. If I didn’t have to move every night I might get to it.
Well, bye for now. I always love you,

All yours,

P.S. I hope this ray of cheer does much to brighten the corner where you are! I’ll do better soon, Honey, you wait and see.

February 2, 1944 Wednesday

Dear folks,

I deeply apologize for not writing before this week. Now I see that the reason that I was waiting was to get the income tax blank. It looks pretty complicated, and a thing that only a civilian could figure out, so I’ll fiddle with it and return to Jay Russell for processing.

Life here has been zooming along as usual here. We go on studying one gem after another, each one bigger than its predecessor. We are up to the Caliber 50 machine gun now, which is a bigger gun than I have ever fired before. We’ve got some coming that will make it look like a pop-gun, tho.

Am taking a course in teacher training a couple of hours every day. It is very G.I. but you learn a lot of practical stuff that is necessary for teaching. We are going to give talks and lessons to the rest of the class for practice.

This week I have been acting as the Candidate Lieutenant of our platoon and have had some fun being official at it. It is a very easy job with quite a lot of power.

Was glad to get your letter. Guess there’s nothing I need, Ma; things run pretty smoothly here.

This is a very short letter, but I’m stealing the time to write this much. So just pretend it’s a big, long letter and I’ll send a good one as soon as I get a chance.

With love,

February 2, 1944 Wednesday

Dear Mrs. Nelson,

Marjorie did not tell me that you are going to have a birthday this Sunday. I have ways of finding out, tho, so I decided this would be the time to send my log over-due letter to you.

I went over the P.X. tonite and looked and looked for something that would make an appropriate remembrance. They didn’t even have a good birthday card, and I don’t know as you could use a “dog-tag” chain or a pair of brown socks. So I’m sending some pictures of George Washington I had, and hope you will like them.

Hope you have a swell birthday and a big celebration.

By the way, they say that anyone born in February is bound to be famous. That’s what my mother always told me, anyway. Maybe she is prejudiced, tho.

With love,

February 2, 1944 Wednesday

Hello Honey, it sure seems good to get writing to you tonite. Just seems good, that’s all. Guess it’s because I can write anything I want to now. Anyway, I love you very much and wish I could write more than I’ll have time to.

Tonite I found out that to date my marks in D&D have been satisfactory or better for so far in the course. That makes me feel rather good, since I know that should be my low course. Haven’t had anything else yet that threatened to get seriously tough. Teacher training might kick me in the teeth if I don’t do some work in it soon. I will.

Today we had some fun on an anti-aircraft gun that is indoors and shoots little plastic pellets by air-compression. We use it to practice A.A. fire. Fire at toy planes the size of Carlton’s white transport. There is a control board that has a switch to supply gun sound, recoil and battle noises. Turn them all on and you’ve got quite an uproar. We also crawled around some new vehicles – an M7 assault gun carrier, an enormous M10 tank with turret armor as deep as an arm’s length, and a big tank destroyer. A good many others, but these were outstanding.

Your dress sounded very attractive, but I still can’t see how you made it so fast. It takes me that long to sew on a button. Enjoyed your week-end letters very much, Bun. In fact, I’m still re-reading them. I’m all thru as platoon lieutenant tonite, and can return to the background for a while. I love you, Marjorie, you can always be sure.

Al l yours,

February 4, 1944 Friday

Hello Honey,

Frankly I’m surprised to get a chance to write tonite. The week-end rush closed in on Thursday this week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we are busy; Thursday, Friday and Saturday we are busy and getting a little panicky about it all. I couldn’t write last night because I had to prepare for a test on the 50 cal. Machine gun and get up a ten minute talk on Military Courtesy. Had both today. I had very little preparation for the talk, and it went quite smoothly in spite of that. Noticed that my voice is improving. Getting my tone better, I guess, with all this command practice and speech training. Sometimes my own voice frightens me! In this Teacher Training course each man gives a short talk and a prepared lesson to the class. Each candidate writes out a complicated rating form for each talk and lesson, one gives a critique of the talk and then there is a discussion of each one. Eventually I will see all the rating sheets on today’s talk.

Got surprised today again, Hon. This is really a war of the future – bumped into a whole lot more new “Buck Rogers” weapons today. We finished machine guns when we fired at anti-aircraft targets yesterday with the big 50 cal. That was my weapon! Scored a possible on stationary targets and riddled the moving targets at 500 yards. It is fired from a tank turret. But I was going to talk about Buck Rogers – after leaving machine guns we started on grenades, rockets, and mortars. [That’s] where we find the new stuff. We began work on the “Bazooka” today and will fire it very soon. That is strictly a futuristic job, and powerful. They say it will pierce 3 inches of armor plate – and it is fired from the shoulder! Whee!

Speaking of Buck Rogers, I have also been playing Buck Jones. Those moving targets we fired at are run on rails around a big circle. They go by a gas engine at about 15 mph. They go around all alone, but when you want to stop them you jump on to the side like a cowboy, kick, the clutch into neutral and pull back on a side break. It is almost as thrilling as firing. You run along side of them, grab a rail and jump. Pretty soon a foot lands somewhere on the side and you hang there with left arm and leg flying free. With your left arm you reach over into the thing and turn off the motor and then coast in working the break from the side. If you don’t work fast you ride right by the scoring platform and have to push it back. I piloted all mine into the right spot, tho. They look something like a railroad hand car with a big sail on them.

The reason I can write tonite is that there is not much to study for tomorrow, but we have to spend 2 hours in the study room. I have 94 things to do to get ready for inspection tomorrow but can’t start at them until 9:30. That gives me time to write you, anyway, so that’s good.

In one of your recent letters you said that you couldn’t become reconciled to us being separated. That’s easy to see. I feel the same way, when I think about it. The only thing to do is accept it and not think about it. Nothing is more unchangeable than the past. Being exasperated at what has happened is like thinking how near you came to not getting gigged, after the gig list is already posted! There’s just nothing you can do but forget it and work toward not letting it happen again. It doesn’t seem fair and should never have happened. But it did. Don’t try to fight it now. We’ve got a future. That’s what I keep telling myself. No matter how lousy things look – and they look pretty glum sometimes – I just say I can’t expect anything now – I can just wait it out and someday things will be valuable again. And that’s not just whistling in the dark. Things will look up. That’s more certain even than that they aren’t so good now. Our future will come. We can’t tell how soon, but it will. It doesn’t matter much what happens until then, really. We can wait it out. It’s interesting, even if it doesn’t mean much.

I love you always, Bunny,