Letters To My Mother From WWII: September 1-13, 1944


Row 1 left to right: Margaret Ellison Poxson, Mary Hutchens Kimpton, Edith Hutchens Norton, Jo Hutchens, John Ellison, Edith Ellison Williams.  Row 2: David Kimpton, Edgar Kimpton, P. Ray Norton, Max Ellison, Florence Norton Ellison, Roy Ellison.

Best guess is that the picture was taken about 1954.

September 1-September 13, 1944

Sept 1.35:  I had one bed partner the other night. A little lizard must have hid in my blanket and ended up in bed with me. No, I didn’t oust him. I was too sleepy when I felt him with my toe to bother finding him.

Sept 2.36: By the sound of your dad’s letter he was having a good time up there. He is the kind that can have a vacation  by picking berries and tramping around the country. I wonder what he thought of our old farm. The land was poor and it’s always been a wonder to me that my dad could make a living there. He managed pretty well until the Depression came. I suppose mom had to show you where Steve and I farmed. At the time we had little fields and every thing that goes with a farm. We used to build shacks out in the woods and I could show you the remains of a few of them. I used to do a lot of walking. I remember one Sunday morning I walked down the wildcat to the golf course, walked into town and got Fern. We walked back to the farm and then down to the golf course. We played nine holes of golf, walked to town and then I walked home. No wonder I am thin. A fellow just couldn’t fatten up with all that walking.

It rained hard this morning. I mean it came down by the bucket full. They claim these islands have 365 inches of rain fall a year. Bob Hope said that both the United States and England claim these islands. The United States claim they belong to England and England claims they belong to the United States. I am in favor of giving them to the Japs.

I managed to find a Newsweek that was dated July 10th and told about Dewey’s nomination. I have a hunch the New Deal will fold up this year. I have not decided yet how I will vote, but I am giving it a lot of thought. It can’t matter because my vote will be in Antrim County and of course they will be Dewey to the last man. It is something to think about and you have plenty of time for that. I have made up my mind that thinking is as dangerous as the Japs. Of course it’s a good thing if you have something to think about but it isn’t safe to let your mind wander.

Last night I made a deal with a fellow on some cigars. He is to sell them to me for $6.40 a box which is darned cheap.



I have been reading in the Life Magazine of a G.I. Joe who returned with only one arm and how he got started in a baking business. It makes me wonder what I would do under the same circumstances. Of course one arm wouldn’t keep a man from training a horse, but if I was handicapped by not being able to work I think I would raise, race, and train pigeons. Don’t laugh. They would require less work than anything else and if a man went for breeding stock he could make money.

No letter from you tonight. I have been to the movies and now I’ll work on my x-mas cards. I am drawing them on V-mail. I am no artist. You will get a kick out of them, I think.

Sept 3.37:  I went to church this morning. Our new Chaplin is too short for the pulpit. You can just see his head sticking over the top. He is a pretty good talker and I enjoyed his sermon. I heard a fellow say something this morning that tickled me. He said, “One more campaign and I’ll be a believer.” I guess there is plenty of truth to that.

I have the worst part of this was ahead of me. What few Japs I have seen were taken by surprise. The day may come when they will take me by surprise and that will be a different thing. I have an idea that I will be a hard guy to surprise, so don’t worry about it.

The heat was terrible this morning. It is raining someplace this afternoon and it is much cooler here. Sometimes a big rain will miss the island by a couple hundred yards. Our rain always comes from the east.

Right now is about the right time of year to fish for bass. I would like to be on the upper lake about ten tonight and I would show you some real bass. Hunting season isn’t far away and I would like to be there for that. I wonder whether or not you would enjoy hunting rabbits with a dog. It can be a lot of fun. Hunting Coon is fun. I like it best when the moon is full and sharp, but that is a bad time because the dog can’t pick up the scent like he can when there is a little rain.

Sept 4.38:  This letter may be as short as some of yours, if possible. I have been to see Christmas Holiday and my eyes hurt. The wind blew in my face through out the whole show.

Don’t worry about the cigar shortage in Detroit. I don’t seem to suffer any shortage here. Editor’s Note: Google Detroit Cigar Shortage 1944. The shortage is covered in the Detroit Free Press.  I have had chances to buy as high as 50 boxes at a time. I hardly dare invest three hundred dollars in cigars at one time.

Don’t give me too big a snow job on my letters! George Washington and I are alike in that respect. He found it hard to write. That is the only way we resemble each other.

Sept 5.39:  Your letters # 6 and 7 came today. They are the first numbered ones to reach me.

There isn’t much to tell you tonight. This day has been very much like all the rest. Once a week we go to the chapel and an officer gives us the news of the past week. We went for a talk today and the news sounded darned good. Yes, the thing will end in a hurry. Right now things sound very quiet in this hemisphere. Perhaps it’s the lull before the storm. Although Hitler has been no real material help to Japan I feel that Japan will give up once they have to carry the fight alone. That is going to be very soon.

Sept 6.40:  Letter #10 just came and I am glad to hear of your plans for the winter. At least I know where you are and what you will be doing. With a hundred a month you will be able to get along fine and be sure to buy clothes once in a while. I have some friends in Muskegan and I will get their addresses for you.

I am waiting for chow right now and I go on guard tonight. This letter may end in a hurry, but I’ll have tomorrow off and will be able to write a long one. I am afraid your dad didn’t get many fish. I will have to show him how. The incident about the deer is funny, but I would have done the same thing myself. It is beautiful around the point and I used to get some nice bass around there. I don’t suppose you ever followed the river to Bellaire. Florence Culver and I used to canoe on it. It is a very pretty river and at night it is very dark.

Did you enjoy your trip to the farm? I hope that it didn’t look too bad. Farms have an uncanny way of running down when there is no one there to take care of it. I have memories of the orchard when it was beautiful and an old cherry tree that grew out by the walnut grove that used to smell so nice when it was in bloom. Now the trees are old and the sod has choked the life out of them.

Isn’t the view grand from my father’s grave. I’ll always remember the day we left him there. Yes when we go up there I will show you where I used to play. Jay Dewey and I had a water wheel that was at least six feet high and worked like a charm and we spent many a Sunday working it. I went back a couple years ago. The dam and flu were still there and I found the wheel beside the stream. Someone had replaced it with a ram. A ram is a little machine that uses the power of the stream to pump water.

The guard has stood inspection and I have a little time before I am posted so I will write more to you. The moon is full now and I hope it comes out tonight. It will make guard so much easier.

I voted today for Dewey. Editor’s Note: That may be the only time dad voted Republican.  I dislike the present administration’s attitude in regards to our foreign policy. There is too much fighting within the Democratic Party and to settle any disputes after the war we must have a President who has both the house and the senate behind him. In the last war Congress was not with Wilson and look what happened. My whole argument amounts to this. When any President reaches the point of over confidence to the extent that he no longer feels it necessary to have a foreign policy it is time for him to be removed. If our whole peace aims are based on the Atlantic Charter we will have lost the peace.

I received a letter, no eight, telling me why your Aunt Mary wanted someone to keep house for her. I think you would be better off that way and it would leave you more money.

If you were here you would be able to hear me holler HALT! WHO IS THERE?  As BJ would say, Advance to be mechanized.

Sept 8.42: John A’s colt, Projectile, is sure turning out to be a great colt. His family has received $20,000 for him and that isn’t hay. Today John received a picture of his colt and a pretty fair write-up that was in the paper.

I had a streak of real ambition today and not only washed my clothes, but I also washed my bunk, rifle belt, and every thing else I could find that was dirty. I hope I get in that mood again right soon.

Last night I got to thinking about my dad and the farm and wondering where he made his mistakes in farming. To tell you the truth he didn’t make too many, but his health was always bad and mom was always after him to give it up. There is a long story to it which I’ll have to tell you some day.

We have been eating extra good this week. Fried eggs for breakfast and a lot of beef and fresh potatoes. I need it because every afternoon we double time around the island; not all the way around.  My wind is good. In fact I am surprised. By starting out slow and taking deep breaths I can make a real dash at the finish.

The boys have fixed up a rat trap and I am wondering how it will work. They buried a gallon can in the ground leaving the top flush with the ground. They have put a false top on the can and woe to the rat who steps on it.

Sept 9.43:  I wonder if you can remember two years ago tonight? You and I had dinner at Wanda’s and she went out and left us there for my last date with you as a civilian. Two years have passed. We have a daughter and even though we are ten thousand miles from each other I feel very happy about the whole thing.

We had some cherry pie at dinner that was very good. I sure love cherry pie when it is made right. I never bragged too much on mother’s cooking, but she always could make a good cherry pie.

Today was our Sgt’s birthday. He thought of it this morning and for a while he was pretty lonesome. We sang Happy Birthday for him and I dug up two cans of beer and we celebrated with that. Sometimes I wish I had a bottle of wine. Sometime when you and I can afford a fine place I am going to try my had at making “Flips.” They were George Washington’s favorite drink. You mix rum and honey and then heat it by pulling a red hot iron out of the fire and sticking it in the Flip. You will have to admit that it sounds as good as your gin and milk. Editor’s Note: Wikipedia says a Flip is a class of mixed drinks and was first used in 1695 to describe a mixture of beer, rum, and sugar heated with a red hot iron. The iron caused the drink to froth, also known as flipping. For more Flip drink concoctions google Flip drinks.  

Jim and I have been to the Red Cross Club for our afternoon coffee. We stay down there for a half hour and sort of plan out the war. It’s fun to try to figure out what will happen next even if it is next to impossible. On the way back I stopped at the library and picked up Edna Ferber’s  Cimarron. I have Jane Eyre too, so I will have plenty to read for a day or two.

Did mom tell you about the time John, Uncle Steve and I picked blackberries on section five? I have a special place to pick, but it’s back in the middle of the section five and not easy to reach. I took Doctor Gervers back there one time and he often mentions it.

You wondered why I sold a ten dollar pipe for $9.60. Two reasons. First, by the way we figure our money in pounds it was easier to sell it for just three pounds which came to $9.60. That still left me a profit of six and a half. Second, to these fellows a pipe is a pipe. They can’t see the value of a good briar. I sold one, kept one for myself and I am raffling off the third. I am selling thirty-five tickets at a florin each  and tomorrow at noon we will draw to see who gets it. I will make eight dollars and someone will get a pipe for 32 cents.

I am not going to send the hundred and fifty I said I would send next Friday. I have too much money tied up in cigars just now. I will be sending more than a hundred. I don’t want too much money on hand now because I might have to put a postscript on a letter to you one of these days. Editor’s Note: Not sure what he means by putting a postscript on a letter. I am wondering if they had arranged a code to fool the Army letter censor and to inform her of an upcoming campaign. There have been no letters so far with a “PS”.

Do you realize that when I get home I am going to have to spend a good deal of money on clothes? I haven’t any clothes at all – nary a rag. I will not want to wear the uniform any longer than I have to.

Sept 10.44:  This will be a good night letter. I have been to the movie and I’ll write this and then hop into bed. I have a fried pie to eat while I write. So if there are any spots on this letter you will know why. The picture tonight, Gas Light, was a holy terror. Between the picture and the pie I will have a nightmare tonight for sure.

It rained all day long. I didn’t even go to church this afternoon. I cleaned my rifle and read Jane Eyre. I have learned the trick of reading fast. When I come home I’ll prove to you that I can read the average novel in a little over an hours time. Sounds impossible? It isn’t once you find the trick of it.

I am anxious to hear all about your new home and just what you have to do. I will not worry about you this winter because I know you will be alright. I had to laugh when you mentioned pumping water and chopping wood. I couldn’t picture it in you, but I’ll bet you would be equal to it. Glad it isn’t necessary.

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a letter Max wrote grandma Norton and dated 9/12/1944. I am going to tell you something now and you must not tell Flip. I first met Florence at Dean Hall. It was in the spring and you no doubt remember how I came to your place that summer to see her. Of course I didn’t know her then. Your father was in the living room and when I left I carried a far greater impression of an old gentleman with a beard than I did of Florence. It’s funny how a man meets his future wife. In fact, on our first date I didn’t say “Tell me about yourself.” While we were waiting for the car I said “Tell me about your grandfather.” Florence used to tell me that her grandfather wouldn’t approve of me, but the old gent and I seemed to get on first rate.

Sept 12.46:  I am at the Red Cross Club waiting for them to hand out some coffee. You must never confuse the coffee you have with this that I am always drinking. It is bad stuff, but each afternoon finds me over here waiting for them to put it out.

Your husband has a thick head. For the past week I have been stuck on a problem that involves turning mils to degrees. Editor’s Note: A milliradian (mil) is an angular measurement which is defined as a thousand of the unit circle (full circle = 360 degrees) and is used for precision sighting. If you really want the formula go to google. This morning one of the officers helped explain it to me and at least I have it. Now that I can change degrees into mils or mils into degrees I wonder why in hell any one would want to do it in the first place.

I hope it doesn’t rain tonight. I have three boxes of cigars I want to sell by Friday and if it rains there will be no movie. I halfway enjoy the movies now. It’s about the only thing there is to do.

Sept 13.47:   I have been to the fights tonight. They only had four 3 round bouts and it didn’t take long. There was a colored boy from Detroit who sure was a fighter. They don’t put enough rope around the ring to hold me in with a fighter like that.

I had tomorrow figured out for my day at KP, however, it wasn’t on the board tonight. Guess Friday will be my day. KP is downright easy over here.

I wasn’t going to tell you this, but it will help fill the letter. Did you ever try to figure out what Heaven would be like? Now I am the sort of guy that would prefer anything to a heaven that would have nothing more to offer than a harp. Can’t you imagine me playing a harp? The other night I couldn’t sleep so I let my mind wander right slab dab into heaven. I was met at the gate and I was told that it would be my home for eternity and while there I could do anything I pleased. Not to be rushed I asked for time to look around and see what the other fellows were doing. That’s where the fun came in. I watched a man paint. As he painted his picture became real life and the artist not only painted, but he created real living people. To the artist it was heaven. I saw a scientist who for the first time in his life was seeing all the laws of science blended into something he could understand. He was able to see what laws were holding the Universe together. He was seeing laws and forces that the earth would not discover for another hundred thousand years. He too had found heaven. I will not tell you where all my imagination took me, but at last I found what I wanted to do and started in. I then found your grandfather doing the same thing. I wonder if you can figure out what we were doing? Try it and see how close you will come.

Editor’s Note:  OK folks any ideas? I don’t know much about the man other than he was a Senator and liked to read. There also is the above excerpt from the letter he wrote to Grandma Norton. Anyone have a picture of him or even know his first name? I don’t know if there will be any mention of this in future letters. I guess time will tell.


2 thoughts on “Letters To My Mother From WWII: September 1-13, 1944

  1. J. Weston Hutchins senator from 10th district to Michigan senate. Born in Pulaski township, Jackson county Michigan June 14 1854. Went to public school in Pulaski and Hanover township an attended Hillsdale college. Taught school in the winters and farmed. Married Sarah Lambert on November 24 1880 and had 3 children 1 son and 2 daughters. From 1898 till 1906 he was a lecturer for Farmers Institute in Michigan , Wisconsin and Rhode Island. Member of the Methodist episcopal church and the Michigan Grange where he held the office of state secretary. Member of the national progressive party and was elected to senate in 1912 by a the largest margine of anyone in the progressive party at that time. Won by 1150 votes.

    Source.. Michigan manual 1913

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