Letters To My Mother From WWII: June 16-29, 1945


Betty Hutton Singing To the Troops

June 16:  I have some good news for you. I am at my new place which is in Manilla and this morning they had me over for classification. They told me they would find some light job for me around here and I could work for a while. They also told me I would be leaving for the states within a couple of months. I have an idea I will be home by the last of August, but  am not building my hopes too high.

I am going to get a pass and go back to E Troop to get my things. If they are on the line I will not go up. It would be silly to take unnecessary risks after what I have been through.

Last night I walked downtown. The town has changed since I entered it on the night of February 6th. I like it better this way, but I’ll always remember it as it was then with the sky red from fire and the people hysterical with joy. Last night I walked along the streets and looked into the shop windows where I could buy anything from a python skin to a pair of shoes and thought of the other time. I was in an ambulance that night and as we went along the darkened streets we could hear the bullets. Yes Flip, it’s a better Manilla now.

Did dad leave my reels up home? I hope so. I will do some fishing before this season ends. Wouldn’t it be great if I got there about the last of August? Perhaps I am dreaming too much.

It’s raining hard. If it lets up I want to walk down town. I think walking will build me up and it keeps my mind busy.

June 19:  I still haven’t had time to re-read all of your letters, but I guess you are in Detroit. I sent a letter to Muskegon yesterday with two pictures in it.  Editor’s Note:  Unfortunately none of the pictures dad talks about have survived. I recently searched the Civil War Trunk and the only pictures are family pictures.   I’ll send two more today. The one picture is of Clair T and myself with a couple of our girlfriends. The other picture is of Sgt.Bretta, saddle horse man from Mexico, MO. and our platoon officer (white shirt). He was killed and I want to send this picture to his wife if I can get her address. The color is perfect and notice how the chicken is trying to get the other one.

You told me your aunt rode a horse with kicking straps on and it can’t be done. Of course if she was driving him, that would be different.

I was over in Manilla last night and I decided I wanted some fried shrimp. I had about 10 of them and they cost two dollars, so I decided I didn’t want any more.

I have decided to send all the pictures in a separate envelope. You will notice the one fellow with the chickens (where they are fighting), that is James. After you have looked at it would you mind sending it to his mother? James is still in the hospital and she would enjoy seeing the picture.

Editor’s Note:  Dad included Alice James address in this letter. I am going to include the address just in case someone reads this and knows the family. I doubt the address is current, but if it is, the James family may be interested in this blog. I did google the address and there is a street view of the house taken in 2013. The address is: Alice James, 1025 15th St. S., Columbus Mississippi.

Talk about carved Ivory…I have found some and, what I mean, it is beautiful. I wanted to buy some for you, but they ask $140 for what I want. I keep looking at it and thinking. I have an idea I could trade my camera for it and don’t be surprised if I do. Remember the carved tusk we saw in Washington. This is smaller but the carving is as good if not better.

My bed is a mess. I have it covered with your letters, pictures and Thoroughbred Records. Don’t send any packages unless I tell you to. They might not get here in time.

You want to know what I want to do when I get home? I want you to meet me at the train and we will go out to the house together. Then I want to go to Bellaire. There is no need for an apartment up there. We will stay at mom’s for a week or two and be sure to have some walking shoes. You and I will hike around the country, fish and whatever there is to do. After we get back to Detroit I would like to leave Edith with your mother and then you and I will go to Lexington for a weekend. Then I will be ready to go to work. I know work will be hard on me for a couple of weeks, so I want to have a good time first We will not have too much money to spend but it will not cost us much in Bellaire. Oh yes, I want to spend a day with John and Steve.

Even though I talk about coming home this summer you must not get your hopes up too high. I am out of combat and having it very nice here (four fried eggs for breakfast) so I will not kick if I don’t get home right away.

June 20:  Last night I took a long walk. Manilla is starting to have more personality now and the people are busy building and cleaning up. The little boys shine shoes on the sidewalk, the girls sell corsages made from orchids, and the Hindus, with their turbaned heads, look on in contempt. I have wanted to stop and talk to one of them, but they always seem so reserved that I never have screwed up the courage. I will one of these days. During my walk I stopped at a tiny restaurant and had seven tiny shrimp served to me at the price of $1.25. The shrimp were good, but they should be at such a price.  It made me remember the shrimp dinners we used to get for $1.00. I stopped at the Red Cross and sweated out the line for a cup of coffee and then I came back. What a beautiful sun set there was. I couldn’t see the sun because it had hidden behind a cloud, but the clouds were all pink and gold. I walked along a street where several of the buildings had been reduced to heaps of rubbish and as I looked at the clouds and felt the beauty of the scene I guess I felt about like Noah felt when the Lord pointed out the rainbow.

You have no idea how happy I am now that I know I will not have to go back into combat. When I got hit in the arm I thought I was going to be killed that morning. I will never forget the first time I was hit in the shoulder. As I ducked down into the ditch of water I realized just what combat could be like. When I got hit in the arm I thought I was going to be killed that morning. I’ll never forget how a Filipino and I hid in the fox hole during the shelling. I had my arms around that poor kid and I think we were both waiting to die and he, I am afraid, did die. When I got it in the head, well, that happened so quick that I didn’t have time to worry, but it all helps you to understand why I am glad to be away from it. You say I have done my share, but there is no way of figuring what the share is. Compared to a lot of fellows my share has been small.

I have always done what I was told to do. Once I refused. It was early in the morning, before breakfast, and they told me and two other fellows to wade across a small creek, climb the bank and look around some houses that were on the other side. I got as far as the creek and had a hunch I shouldn’t go on. We went back. Well, I was right. It took us two days to cross the blamed creek and we had to have plenty of support from the artillery.

June 21:  Talk about eating…..I had three fried eggs for breakfast. For lunch I had some macaroni fixed with meat and hard boiled eggs, potato salad and it had sour pickles in it, pumpkin pie and apple juice. I can’t find any scales, but I know this good food is shooting my weight up and I feel and look better. I did have a grim look in all those pictures. There were a couple I didn’t send to you. Since then I have made myself smile and the grim look is leaving my face. I didn’t feel grim, but there hadn’t been anything to smile about and my face drifted in that shape.

I wonder how Edith will react towards me when I get home. I will be able to win her over in a day or so, but she will always be your girl. Lets wait at least two or three months after I get home before starting to make plans for John W; sort of let me enjoy the one I have for a little while and I want to take you out a few more times before we have so many kids we will not be able to go out. I noticed a spot between Edith’s eyes in all the pictures. Is that scab from the treatments? Even though they are not very plain, I like the pictures of her standing up. It gives me an idea of how large she is and what she looks like. She may look like you when she gets older. Just now she is still an Ellison and looks like Wanda did at the same age. I tell you Flip, I put my stamp on all my colts. You can recognize them as far as you can see them. Without a doubt our first son will look like the Nortons.

June 22:  Tomorrow will find me with a job. I am not sure how much I can tell you about it. I don’t know very much myself, but it will not be hard work and it sounds interesting. My address will be the same. I don’t suppose I’ll have much time for writing letters. I’ll always manage to write to you every day.

My stomach has turned sour this afternoon. I hope this isn’t dysentery coming back. I’ll walk to town after supper and buy a pineapple.

It has been fairly cool today. We have had some hot weather around here. I have taken two or three showers a day.

It has been almost two years to the day since I was last in Detroit. I’ll always remember how blue I felt when I was last there. Flip, you sure made me worry. I guess we are both happy things turned out the way they did. I know I am.

There are two small matched vases of carved ivory in Manilla. The price is $100.00, but I think I can get them for less. I have a Filipino who is going to act as my agent. The damn Chinaman knows I want them and he is keeping the price up. I’ll get around his high price, if possible, because I know you would love them.

June 24:  This will be a very short note. I am very tired and I have to go to school tonight. I spent a part of the afternoon in Manilla’s Chinatown. It’s the real McCoy with it’s narrow winding streets and it’s many eat shops. I would have had some food, but I am a little afraid of it. They are not so very clean.

June 25: I worked this morning and have the afternoon off. However, I have to go back after supper and may not be through until one in the morning. I had lunch aboard ship. This is all we had, soup, steak, gravy, potatoes, fresh salad, raisin bread, butter, hot coffee and apple pie with cheese. I will get fat if I eat like that very often. I know I am going to enjoy this job and if it wasn’t for you and Edith I wouldn’t want to come home. After combat any kind of work would seem like heaven.

Detroit seems to be having it’s share of racing trouble. I expect they will put through the proper legislation, build a new track and they will be ready to go. I hope they do build a new track and fix it so they can train during the winter. It’s hard to get a two-year-old ready for the June meeting if you can’t gallop him during the late winter. If I am in Detroit this fall I may try to buy a young mare and breed her in the spring. There is going to be a new stud standing near Detroit next spring and if I could get a mare with Teddy blood it would make a good cross. We will see. If I did buy a mare you would be able to ride her all winter and most of next summer.

I guess Edith is a real live wire. I only hope she will like me. She better, because she is going to see a lot of me.

June 26:  I worked last night and everything went just fine. I guess I’ll catch on to things all right. Perhaps I’ll hear from you today. My mail should start coming here before very long and I’ll be glad when it does.

George Brewer hasn’t many points. He can’t possibly have over thirty-four. I wonder if he will be sent over here. I hope not. There is only one guy I would like to see over here and that is Lyol. Fat Chance!

Last night I started to get on a ship and the ship’s officer and asked me where I was from. I told him Michigan and he said “well I guess I don’t know you because I am from Kentucky, but it seems as if I have seen you before.” He used to work at the Scott Hotel while going to college and Eddie and I lived there.

There isn’t much to tell you. I am still looking forward to coming home and in the meantime I am enjoying myself. I should have close to a hundred and fifty dollars when I get home and that will take us where we want to go and give us enough money to fool around on for a while. I will need some clothes, but not too many. We will make out some way and I know we will be plenty happy.

June 27:  I expect to hear from you today. I did get a little mail yesterday, but none of it was from you. Blanch wrote, she is now in the Hawaiian Islands.

We have a barber shop here and I can get a shave for ten cents. From now on I am going to let the barber shave me.

I had supper last night on board the ship. Those boys sure feed good. I didn’t have very much to do last night. There was a fellow with me all the time and he sure was a pain. He hasn’t been over here a year and hasn’t been in any combat. However, he is positive it will take several months to readjust himself once he gets back to the states. SILLY!

It is possible I am going to spend a couple of days on the west coast before I start for Detroit. I had a buddy killed here and I want to see his folks. He was with Clair and I all the way from Ft. Ord and I guess his folks feel pretty bad. They live close to Frisco and I could send them a wire and meet them there. I received a letter from Clair T. His mother sent him a camera exactly like mine.

Come to think of it I will have a little adjusting to do. It’s going to be hard to go to the bathroom and not have at least 50 guys grunting and groaning on each side of you. For the past eight months I have used nothing but a GI spoon to eat with and it will be hard to get used to a fork.

It sure is a swell feeling to know that I have a wife and a baby to come home to.

June 28:  This letter may not turn out to be much. It has been pretty hot all day and I can’t seem to think of anything to write about. Two letters for mom last night, but none from you. I am sure to hear from you today. I hope so at least. Mom said Edith liked her cat. We will have to buy her a pup as soon as we possibly can. She would be a happy little girl if she had a dog to play with. I am glad she likes animals.

It’s about time for your dad’s new “wonder man” to take over. I am glad dad is to have lots of help, because he sure has lots of work ahead of him.

I sure have an easy job. Last night I didn’t have to do a blessed thing. While I was away someone entered my tent and made off with my cigarettes. The varmint!

Still waiting my turn to come home. It will be some time before I get away. The fellows with the most points go first and I am willing to wait my turn. If I get home this fall we will hunt instead of fishing. I can hear mom telling me to be careful with the gun and asking me if it is loaded.

We will have fun, Flip. I can  close my eyes and just see how it’s going to be when we are together again and this time we will not have to worry about my leaving.

June 29:  I received your letter written June 14th.  What a mix up in your mail. I have been sending it to Detroit; now I’ll change and send it to Bellaire. Glad you are going up there for the month of July. It will give you a nice vacation and will help pass the time until I get there. I may not get home as soon as they told me. You better plan on seeing me the first of November and then you will not be disappointed.

Edith fell for Jim and when I get home she will be afraid of me. It always turns out that way. What did Edith think of John and Steve? Was John quiet while you were there?

I had a wonderful day. My job has changed a little. Now I ride around town in a car. It’s the same job though and I visit all the ships.

Did I ever tell you about Mary? She was a Red Cross girl who used to be pretty nice to me when my nerves were so bad. I saw her in town today. She was riding with a one star general and I was surprised when she waved to me. Her husband is in India.

In a way Jim is a lucky cuss, however, he may serve another year in this army  and once I get home I am OUT! I have put in my time. Some of us were talking about combat this afternoon. It’s not fun to hash it over.

There is to be a movie tonight, God Is My Co Pilot.  It may be good, that is, if they don’t wave too many flags.

So the truck drivers in Chicago are having a strike. I am not a union man, but I don’t blame the union for standing up for their rights, but it’s a bad thing to hear about when you are over here.

A WAC is what we call a double-breasted soldier.


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