Wednesday, September 14, 2022

October 13, 1944: Rare Hosiery


Letter from Opa to Grandmother, October 13, 1944.


October 13, 1944


This is Friday the thirteenth; ought to be a lucky day and sure enough, I got a nice, long letter from you. Who is Mrs. Stone? The family sounds interesting.

I guess you did the right thing by buying the silver now; how large are the monthly payments?

It's terrible how this war piles tragedy upon tragedy, like the case of that boy's stepfather. You are right, honey, we must be thankful that nothing has come to us yet except temporary separation. Also, we will have a chance to be together every once in a while, and I can hardly wait for the first time.

Right now, you are probably on the way to the doctor's, and I hope he behaves himself and won't hurt you.

Every night, especially now where I see Phil and Johnny who know you and with whom I can talk about you, I am tremendously tempted to call you. However, it does cost just a little too much money.

Thanks for forwarding the letters. The name of my friend in New York is Hanna Liebes, her address, 63 Riverside Drive, New York 24, NY. She would be very pleased if you would write her, but wait a while; she might send a present.

By the way, I am not quite as bad as you think I am. I did write to the Shelley's, even though it was just a few days go; also my soul was full of repentance for that delay.

This morning, I managed to keep from doing any work till almost ten o'clock; at that time, we were called out with cartridge belt, helmet liner, and leggins, and had a good hour and a half of drill. The afternoon has just begun; I doubt if I will again be successful in avoiding work. (It's not that I don't like to work; it's only the fact that the work they give us to do is so ghastly nonessential and designed for no other purpose but to keep us occupied.) I think I can utilize this time of waiting to much greater advantage by hunting up some quiet corner and reading a good book. Right now, I am reading a textbook on Frequency Modulation. This is a field in radio which has a great future.

Well, it didn't work. Ten minutes ago, some corporal came in and called us out. Right now, we are waiting for a truck to pick us up, which may or may not come.

Well, the truck came, and I did the first piece of real work since I have been in Camp Crowder. We went out to the anti-aircraft rifle range, fixing up targets etc. The sergeant asked if any of us could install a loudspeaker. Well, I violated one of the seven of my army principles, and volunteered. it was a huge public-address system loudspeaker, to be installed on top of a 40 - feet pole. They gave me a safety belt, a rope, and pole-climbing spurs, and I climbed my first pole. Going up wasn't so bad. Up there, I did my work, which took me about half an hour, then took off my safety belt, and climbed down. When I was about 10 feet above the ground, my spur let go and I slipped. I made the mistake of holding on to the pole with my hands, so when I landed on the ground, my hands looked like a mess. Bloody, and more than a dozen splinters in them, some of them half an inch long. It didn't hurt very much, though. I pulled out the big ones myself, wrapped a handkerchief around my hand, and kept working, so you see it wasn't so bad. When I got back in, I did go to the doctor, though, for the hand started hurting again. He pulled out splinters for almost an hour, cussing all the time, for he wanted to go home. My hands are okay now, just look like a mess.

Camp Crowder has a newspaper which in every respect conforms to the common dirty journalism practices. The P.X. is starting a Christmas bazaar today. In the paper it was announced that they had a limited number of pairs of genuine silk and nylon hosiery for sale. The bazaar was to open tonight at 7:00pm. I got there at 6:15, was one of the first, and waited till 7:30, when they finally opened. I didn't know your size, but I think I would have guessed fairly correctly. Well, they had neither nylon nor silk hosiery; the whole thing was just a newspaper gag to get people to go to the bazaar. I can't remember a time when I was quite so mad.

Saw Phil tonight again; he told me some of his experiences as M.P. Many of them rather exciting, but I know I wouldn't want the job. Phil must have been doing an excellent job, though, for his idea was to help the boys rather than to get them into trouble.

Today is G.I. day like every Friday, which means that we have to scrub the barracks. However, due to my bruised hands, I got out of that. You see, even an accident has some good results.

I think I shall keep up on my studies a little. If you should see in one of K.U.'s bookstores an inexpensive pocket slide rule, I wished you would get it for me. Don't spend more than a dollar or at the utmost two dollars for it. Or $1.50 you should get a fairly good one. Be sure it is not made of cardboard, though, and don't waste much time looking for it.

I haven't found either field jacket or cap yet and don't expect to find them. From another soldier, I got a second-hand cap which almost fits me. It is not very good looking, but enough to pass inspection.

Good night, my dear, I'll see you in my dreams.


Opa writes to Grandmother, listing the ins and outs of another day in the life of a soldier with no real assignment. His ability to get to know Grandmother's brother Phillip is a nice happenstance. 

There is something constant about the way humans live, work, and play. Here, in 1944 during a war and tragedies all around, there is a small base with men who go to shows, drink beer, steal jackets, have minor accidents, and line up for the hot commodities of the day... in this case rare hosiery. That made me laugh.

Time continues on and despite the cause and effect of the world's happenings, we still do life about the same as we always have. I'm not sure what to make of that other than to appreciate and enjoy the time I have and not get too fatalistic about the current causes and effects that surround me. 

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