Friday, October 15, 2021

October 9, 1944: Sad Shift


Letter from Opa to Grandmother, October 9, 1944.


October 9, 1944

Dear old lady,

Three minutes just aren't enough. The call just came through, and in my mind are still all the many things I was going to tell you when we were so rudely interrupted.

When I came home late last night from a long visit with Johnnie, today's K.P. list was posted, and I was again assigned to the Officer's Mess. So, I wound a towel around the foot of my bed and was awakened early in the cold, dark more. The work wasn't bad, in fact I think the horrors of K.P. are vastly exaggerated. Not that I like it, but I bet thousands of boys overseas would give their paycheck to get K.P.

Last night, Johnnie and I went to a Service Club. We played chess for a while (Johnnie beat the life out of me), and then, while Johnnie danced, I had a good look around the library.

Today, shortly after dinner, I was called away from K.P. for processing. First, they gave us a test in electrical work; out of 50 questions, I got 43 right. That gets me in the highest group; the average is 20 and less. Afterwards, we were interviewed and classified. After basic, if there should be any openings, I would get into radar work. As second choice and most probable, they listed me as radio repairman; third choice, repeaterwant. (not sure of this transcription?) Radar would let me go to an Eastern school right after basic, while both other possibilities take two to six months training our even more right here at Crowder. I may have had a chance to apply for O.C.S., but for the time being I turned it down. It would mean at least one or two extra years in the service.

Well, I have to admit that I am rather tired today, so I will quit and get a good night's sleep. My sergeant must be slippery, but I am not listed for K.P. tomorrow. (He probably has some ditch he wants dug, or some latrine he wants cleaned.)

Lots of love,

When Opa mentioned that he bet thousands of boys overseas would give their paycheck for K.P., I had a brief moment when I thought he was talking about Europeans. Then I realized he was talking about American soldiers, which of course makes absolute sense. But for some reason this realization made me sad. 

Opa's mind is off of his past and those from home, and on the present, in his new country. Sympathy and perspective was gained by comparing to US soldiers, not European soldiers, or  citizens. It's a shift for Opa. It makes me a little sad. I know he still cares for folks back in Germany, still worries about his family, but something in this shift shows me that Opa is beginning to forget. 

When we were growing up, Opa didn't talk much about Germany to us. He didn't ever mention his friends, we barely heard about his family. Even in his autobiography, everything was written as a prelude to him joining the army, as if he were hoping and planning to have the opportunity to be in the US military and fight against the Nazis. He certainly never mentioned his past pacifism. 

This is one of those subtle moments when Opa moves into his new life, leaving the old behind. 

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