Letters To My Mother From WWII: August 18-31, 1944

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Time Magazine article (no date) found in letter #25.

August 18-31, 1944

Aug 18.25: At least I received a letter from you today. It was mailed a couple weeks before you left Alexandria. I enjoy the old ones and they all seem to bring news that I hadn’t heard before.

I have felt tired all day long. I had a washing to do this afternoon and I hired James to do it. I guess it was the hot sun because now that it’s down I feel swell. I am a pretty healthy cuss and I always hate it if I don’t feel tops.

Most of the boys have gone to the movies. It wouldn’t hurt me if I walked down, but I would rather talk to you. We have two movies on this island. Naturally both of them are within walking distance. The Japs don’t seem to have much fun out of being a soldier. They had these islands for a couple of years, but they didn’t have it fixed like we have it. We have volley ball courts and ball diamonds all over the place.

Guess what! I have been reading western stories. I mean the real blood and thunder kind. I never read very many of them, but I am sure getting a kick out of these. Some cowboy walks into a bar and two paragraphs later everyone in the bar has a gun drawn on him. Do they kill him? Nope! He pulls some trick and gets out. I would like to get ahold of one good book.

James is a great man for coffee. He makes a couple of trips a day to the Red Cross after coffee. We can now get ice cold Coca Cola, but not at the Red Cross. I do not drink many cokes because they are habit forming with me. That was all right in the states, but I would hate to form a taste for them here and suddenly not be able to get any more.

I sometimes wonder where I am going next. I know no more than you do. I guess if I had my choice I would take the Philippines. I think the Japs have been there long enough. Officially I have made one campaign. If I make another I hope it is the Philippines.

Golly Flip, I hardly know what else to tell you. Seems as though every time I write I have to hash over the same subjects. Most of them must seem old by this time.

I do sleep good. I wake up once during the night and sometimes before daylight I hear bombers going over but that’s all. I give them a sleepy “God Speed” and sleep on until the band starts playing. Honestly, the band plays every other morning. There is one tune I want to hear them play, “California Here I Come.”

Aug 19.26:  You can tell Uncle Ed that the 1st Cavalry was the first division to ever take a island without the help of the Marines. Not only that, but the Japs had their Imperial Marines here.

Tomorrow is Sunday. I’ll go to church at nine and don’t know how I will fill the rest of the day. Sometimes it’s a real problem. We had a parade this morning that was a lulu. The General tried to drill us as a Regiment. That seemed to be too many men to handle at once. Whenever he would give a flank movement he had men turning in all directions. It was pretty hot on the parade grounds and I was darned glad to come in. The rest of the day was free.

This evening I went to the movies. For some reason they couldn’t get the machine started. I sold a few cigars. Clair T was over a while ago, but I wasn’t here. Perhaps he will come back. John A expects to go home.

Remember me telling you about a fight I had in New Guinea. The fellow I fought with came over from Germany in thirty-nine and he is still in love with the old country. When he got here they put him in the M.P.’s but they kicked him out and he went into the 12th Cavalry. They took him on a patrol and in order to get back he shot himself through the foot. I do not know what they will do to him, but I would hate to be in his shoes.

Aug 20.27: I received letters from you tonight – August 8, 9, and 11 and one from mom mailed on the 9th.

The whole troop gets vitamin pills now.At night we line up and get one vitamin pill and one atabrine. I do not have the dizzy spells I once did.

The firm of Ellison and Ellison is in pretty bad shape tonight. This morning I bought forty dollars worth of cigars and since then the market price has gone down. If I tried to sell now I would be lucky to get back my forty dollars. Perhaps in another week they will be up again. The reason the market went hay wire was because some guy brought in 120 boxes of them today. I may be a week or two late with your money order this month, but it will come as soon as I can get my cigar business back to normal.

I hope you remember to gather up your reins before you climb on that horse. That is one thing you are going to have to remember or someday some horse is going to spill you all over. Have a good ride and ride often while you have the chance.

The International Correspondence School has a course on refrigeration. I am going to find out more about the course and if it’s what I want and not too high I’ll take it. It shouldn’t be over twenty dollars and it will be worth that when we come to build.

What is Dewey’s foreign policy? As near as I can figure out neither Roosevelt nor Hull have one. If they have one they should use it now or we may not get the peace everyone wants.

This is taken from the 1944 World Almanac. “June 25, 1876 – Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana In Sioux Indian War: Massacre of Gen. George A. Custer and 276 Troopers of the 7th Cavalry, by redskins under Sitting Bull.”  The 7th lost their colors in that campaign and never won them back until this campaign. Although this is the only Cavalry Div. in the Army there are other Cavalry that work with infantry divisions. The 112th Cavalry has had some real hand fighting over here.

Aug 21.28: John A is pretty happy. He owns half interest in “Projectile,” a two-year old trotter who set a track record at Washington Courthouse. They have the colt entered in several stakes and he is doing a good job of winning most of them. Oh wouldn’t I love to jog a trotter again.

The boys are all thrilled. Bob Hope is to be here some time this week. I never cared for him on the radio or the movies and his show better be on this island if I am going to see it. I would like to hear “Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair” more than anything else. I do like Foster’s music.

This outfit has gone parade happy. We are to have a big parade Saturday. The whole Division will be in it. I guess I’ll try for a section eight.

The war news looks good. Hitler is just about whipped. They sure are giving him hell. Things seem fairly quiet over here. I guess that’s the lull before the storm. I am anxious to get north of the equator even if I have to fight to get there. Being in the same hemisphere with you would be nice.

Aug 24.30:  I didn’t write last night. I went to see “Pin Up Girl.” By the time it was over I was sleepy. The show wasn’t so hot and I don’t like Betty Grable, but what legs! I thought the coloring was beautiful.

Tomorrow we parade for General Swift for the last time. He no longer has command of this division. General Mudge is our new Commander.

The clouds are starting to roll in and before long it will be raining. Just now it’s nice and cool. It sure was hot this morning. I was lucky to be on K.P., because I was able to keep out of the sun.

I had my picture taken last night; one alone and one with my two tent mates Jim and Joe. It will take a month for the pictures to come back and they only send back one picture. I’ll send you the negatives and you can have more finished and send either the negatives or the pictures to Jim’s wife. I have an idea you will be glad to get a late picture of me.

We had fresh eggs for breakfast. It was the first time in three months I had eaten fresh eggs. We had beef steak for dinner. It was good even though it was tough.

I am starting to get a good tan. I can leave my shirt off now all the time, but I have to shade my face. It stays as red as a beet. I shaved my head this morning for the last time. The hair seems to be growing in pretty good and now I’ll let it grow out. It will certainly bleach out in this sun.

The mail just came in. All second class mail. We only get second class mail about once every two weeks. I thought I would get some of the packages that have been mailed or else a paper or two. No luck.

Cigars are starting to sell again. I hope they pick up fast as I have about fifty dollars worth. I will hold up your money order until I sell them. The next hundred will not come in a money order as they are hard to get. The Army has a system that seems to work faster and safer. I pay them the money and you get a check from Washington.

For some unknown reason the Army will no longer sell soldiers bonds through the pay-roll plan. I only wish they would send me the three twenty-five dollar bonds they owe me. I will sure be glad when I can get back to work and make a little money. We have so darned much to buy, but I guess we will make out all right.

Do you know that I am very happy to be married to you? It’ a good thing we are married because if we were not I would not come back to the states until after I had seen the rest of the world and if I did come back I might leave again. All my life I have needed someone to keep me steady. I guess you and I both needed that.

I received a letter from Mr. Patterson today in regards to his stud Big V. I am sending you the letterhead and please save it.  He wants me to contact him after the war. You have heard me rave about Calumet’s Nellie Flag. Well Big V is one of her colts. As a yearling he was too big to train This picture as taken when he was about two and a half. You can see what a large colt he is.

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Aug. 27.31:  Two years ago this morning you drove me out to the draft board at Plymouth. That was a hell of a thing to do wasn’t it? Tomorrow I start on my third and what I hope is my last year.

I didn’t go to church this morning. I am sick with a cold. Last night I thought I had Malaria because I was having chills and fever. I took five Atabrine tablets and dashed for the dispensary. It was only a cold and I am happy that it is only that. I spent all of yesterday either standing in the hot sun or the pouring rain. It got me down.

We take the little things in life too much for granted. This was brought to my mind the other night while I was on board a ship. I washed and shaved in hot water for the first time since the 7th of March. What a treat it was to feel warm water on my face. Long after I was clean I stood there splashing it on my face.

While on board the ship the sailors gave me some books to read. They gave me a detective story, “Random Harvest,” and “Preview of History.” “Random Harvest” was an extra good movie and the story is the same as the show.

Last night I saw Eddie Cantor in “Show Business.” It was very funny and don’t miss it. I think it’s a new picture.

My cigar deal is turning out better than I expected. I guess I will clear forty dollars on the deal which will not be too bad. For a while I thought I wouldn’t break even. A couple more deals like that and your college debt will be off the books. The we can save for our home.

I read in the Bellaire Blot where the home town is to have a freezing plant. Mathew is a friend of mine and I plan on writing him to find out a few things about it. You and I may live in a tar paper shack but we will have a Bendix washer and freezing unit.After spending a few months over here a tar paper shack would seem like heaven.

I expect John A will soon be leaving for the old country. I’ll have him write to you when he gets there because he can tell you what it’s like over here.

Aug. 29.32, V-Mail: At last I have seen a Court Marshal. They tried a fellow who was on guard with me. I guess  can’t criticize the Army, but I wonder if they know the difference between the meaning of the words prosecution and persecution.

Aug. 30.33:  In a way I am sorry I wasn’t there when you went up the Wildcat Road to the old school-house. You are meeting all my friends through other people, but that was the one thing I wanted to show you. Perhaps if I tell you a little bit about it you will understand. Of course you must know that the whole lower half of the lake shore belongs to my father’s half-brother. That land has had no other owners but members of my family and you might have noticed the small graveyard where my great grandparents as well as some great aunts and a baby brother are buried. Editor’s Note: The baby brother is Morton Ellison who died in the first month of life.

My great-grandfather brought a bunch of oxen up there one summer  to use in lumbering and decided to stay. Perhaps you noticed the ruins of the “Old Ways Lumber Camp.” The night I was born my uncle made a hurried trip down that Wildcat Road to the lumber camp so he could call the doctor. I was in third grade when I kissed my first girl and it was on the same road. I was always afraid, as a little boy, to go down that road alone and the first time I did it I ran all the way. A few weeks later I had to go down it alone after dark. I was terrified and have never been afraid of the dark since then. The first time I ever rode a horse at a gallop was once when I rode a bay mare named Fanny from our place to the Breaker. How I managed to run a horse through there without a spill is more than I know.

I have fished and trapped that creek (Shanty Creek) and I have hunted all through there. My father never liked his grandfather and after the old man died they gave him two large pictures, one of his grandfather and one of his grandmother. As he drove home that day he stopped and threw the old man’s picture in the creek. Hurrah for Dad! Someday we will walk up that road together and I will make you understand why I love it.

The chamois bay that your grandfather had would tickle me pink. It’s exactly what I wanted and being that it was his would make it all the nicer to own.

Today was one of those days. I waded in mud up to my fanny and climbed a hill that seemed impossible. The sailors that took us over were fresh from the states and they had plenty of American candy bars. We bought them by the box. It seemed darned good to eat some candy.

I am going to have thirty-five dollars of my pay sent direct to you each month. Here is the reason. I don’t ever expect to get a Court Marshal, but if I did they would be apt to take two-thirds of my pay for six months. That is their favorite way of punishment. The two thirds they take comes out only from the pay you draw because they can’t touch anything you are sending home. I would rather give them two thirds of five dollars than two thirds of forty dollars. I don’t need the money anyway. I made four dollars tonight after supper.

If I could write everything I see the letters would be interesting. So many things happen that I can’t tell about.

I have been suffering from insomnia.

Aug. 31.34:   I’ll start this letter early in the afternoon and that will give me plenty of time to write. It rained all morning, so I have had an easy day. Right now I am at the Red Cross Club, but I can’t stay here too long because the troop is paying off this afternoon.

Did you know that my dad used to go to the same school back in the woods? The grounds were beautiful until a couple of years ago when they cut the timber off it. There were nearly a hundred trees there and most of them were large. Did you ever notice a small log cabin on the left side of the road as you go into Bellaire? I guess it must be a mile from town. My dad used to go there to learn his ABC’s. Two or three years ago I planned on building a log cabin near Bellaire. At that time I tried to buy the old school grounds, but an oil company had a lease on it. It would have made an ideal hideaway  for a few months of fishing, trapping, and hunting.

Did you ever wonder why I call him Clair T? At Fort Ord we had a mail orderly who didn’t know enough to pour water out of a boot. It took him at least a half hour to call out the mail because he called everyone’s name in full. Max M Ellison, John A Harrison, Clair T Enge and Anton R Boon. We got a big kick out of it and ever since we have used the middle initial in speaking to one another.

Tomorrow is September and fall will be starting back home. I will miss the smell of burning leaves. Guess I’ll just have to read “The Death of the Flowers.” Did you ever read it?   …..”wailing winds, naked woods and meadows brown and sear.”  Editor’s Note: Poet is Williams Cullen Bryant.

This clipping was found in  letter #34

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