I know this is going to seem kind’a funny writing carbon copies but this is the best way I can catch up on my letter writing, and also try to write a decent letter. I don’t know what I’m going to say so I will say the first thing that comes to my mind and tell you a little about this country first let me say that I’m getting plenty to E even though it’s not the type of food you get back home but what there is of it I imagine that we are getting more than you are. I hope the rationing isn’t too tough on you back in the states.
When we first arrived here we had a tough time making the Arabs understand us, but no more. They don’t speak much English but they are getting better every day. The only time they don’t want to understand us his when we try to knock their prices down and then they “no spik”. You should see them a hike about 10 miles out to our bivouac area, and then set there all day with a few articles. Some will have eggs other will have nuts, lamps, knives, oranges, etc. They all charge a million prices and always try to get twice as much as the article is worth. You then have to go to work on them and make them come down on their prices. They get plenty for their things as they know that the Americans have plenty of money and no place to spend it. As I’ve told you before the Germans have or should I say used to occupy this land, and a drink it of everything they could lay their hands on. That is their policy of war, to live off the land that they capture. You can imagine what Europe is going to be light at the end of this war. After seeing the people here I sure feel sorry for the people of Europe.
What’s this country like you ask? Well, from what I have seen of it so far, if you took away the Arabs, camels, donkeys, and added a few roadside stands, you would think that you were in Southern California. The land is rolling and the trees are kind of scares. The soil here is very sandy even more than California. We do see many funny sites here. Could you imagine a man in the states to writing a donkey, while his wife walked behind with a load of sticks on her back. It’s a common sight here. The Arabs load their donkeys down with so much sticks sometimes, that you can hardly see the donkey. It looks like a walking tree. The other day I saw a man carrying a load of sticks on his back, and then right behind him his son with a load as big as the his, and the kid didn’t look over seven or eight years old either.
Civilian gasoline here is very skiers, in fact there isn’t hardly any at all. It looks funny to see a slick car going down the road with a trailer of mounting too big tanks. The tanks are really little furnaces which burnt charcoal which it is a substitute for gasoline. It looks queer to see a man stopped along the side of the road, building up a fire in these tanks so that he may get going again. I remember when I landed here, we were working on an old charcoal burning engine, caring ammunition up to the front lines. Its seem to me as if we had put a ton of charcoal in the tank, before we were ready to start the fire. Then there was a crank on the side of the tank that you would turn, that blue error up through the tank, to start the fire better. You know like a blacksmith shop, the furnace that they use to keep their irons. Well in it is done the same way with these engines here. What surprises me is that they run, but you can’t get furry much speed out of them.
For recreation here, we play volleyball, softball, badminton (I don’t think that it is spelled right) in a few other games, just a pass the time. Now don’t get me wrong and think that we do this all of the time. We only get the play these of an evening, that is if we’re not too tired. You see one of the engineers jobs is to repair and build of roads. We have had a number of rows to repair are too, as the roads here are and none too good of shape to begin with, and our trucks are hard on them. Of any evening we either play cards, or listened to the shortwave radio, and Victrola. Lately I have been learning two played chess, and do I ever get beat. I have only won one game in the last two weeks, but I am getting a little better in the games and are becoming more in arresting all of the time.
Well I guess I have racked my brain long enough to think of something to say that would be better than all of those shore letters that I have been writing. Enclosing I want to say ” for gosh sakes right when you have time as that is one thing everyone looks forward to, and that”s mail call”. You have all been doing a good job on your letter writing so just keep it up, and before you know what I will be home. Goodbye an I will be thinking of all of you.
JUST ME “CHICK”
Editor’s Note: The first part of this letter was typed with carbon paper to produce many copies, the addressee was hand written so the letter could then be sent to many people.
Well now I’ll try and answer each letter that you have wrote to me lately, the best that I can. I am also enclosing a few pictures that were taken here and also in the states before we left.
January 14, 1943
I’m glad that you received my pictures as at the time they’ve said we could say what ever we wanted to and then they put a stop to it. I had already sent the pictures so was doubting whether they would get home or not. I can just see Mrs. Grierson kidding Charlie about getting married. As for those stamps, I can always use airmail stamps. Sometimes they go faster, then again they don’t go any faster that the regular mail. I have been sending most of my mail airmail V-mail, as they have preference over all other mail.
January 18, 1943
So you are having more snow are you, well you should be here and I would give you some heat and dust,ha, ha. This country is just about like California and growing fruits. They have oranges, tangerines, nuts, and etc, etc. I doubt very much as if I will ever see Paul Wilson I again. I have received both boxes that you have sent me so far, and I think all of the mail. I am sorry here that will marry was sick, and be sure you say hello to them for me.
January 22, 1943
Did that ever get my birthday card that I sent to him? I carry it for a long time just so I could send it to him over here. I didn’t think you and dad would get any thing out of going to see ***** CENSORED ***** there, and it was probably a lot of propaganda. The mail service is very slow so don’t worry if you don’t hear from me, they will be along some day. It takes just about a month for an answer to get across.
January 25, 1943
Don’t let any one kid you on that V-mail stuff. They have preference over everything. But if you have a lot to say ride it on the other paper I will get it OK. Yes mother I think I have received all of your mail and most of the other peoples. You said that Harry Combes wrote to me but I never did get it yet, and also read a said that she has been writing to me, and I have only received one letter from her and she said that she had only received a letter and a cable Gramm from me, so there must be a mix up someplace. I just can’t picture Dan Metcalf from the description that you wrote to me. Will he can have this army, a be glad when this war is over and we are all back home. I also have received all of the clippings that you have sent in your letters. You live in a free country mother so don’t worry about them censoring your mail. The only reason our mail is censored, is because we may say something they don’t want us to, and may help the enemy. I am glad that you liked Rita’s rosary. She is a nice kid, spoiled but sweet, and of course needs to change in a few ways, but out side of that she is swell. If she waits for me OK if she doesn’t there are plenty of other girls in the world. Maybe not like her but just as good. She has a way about her though, that I don’t think I will ever forgets. I guess that’s the reason I think so much of her. So Charlie and Beth are married or are they? Oh! That poor kid.
January 28, 1943
I think I have told you before about President Roosevelt been here who, and we had a parade for him, but that was long ago no I haven’t seen anyone from home over here yet but maybe I will some day. We have a chaplain that is a major, and he’s says mass every Sunday in our area
January 20, 1943
So jack Stanford is in the engineers to is he? Well he will find it just next to the air corp of having the best branch of the service. You have a lot of hard work but there is something new all the time. I lost sister Jane’s address so I never did get two write her. I sent you a request sheet so you should get it one of these days. I wanted a watch, some funny books (you can and tear the front and back covers off of them and that will make them lighter) it’s too bad about Mildred’s sister.
I received your letter with billy’s letter enclosed also. Both boxes that you sent me were in good shape. All you have to do is wrapped and good, and tie them strongly. You don’t need a send me life savers, or gum as we get that here, but thanks just the same. Yes I sent a check all & get over to either you or dad to have it cast at Jos. Kuhn”s store. You will get it one of these days. Just put it in with the rest of the money, or use it for what ever you wanted for.
February 6, 1943
Well mom and dad there is very little to answer in this letter that I have not already answered. So Mr. Hanley is dead two? Well I guess when your time comes ages comes. I received this letter and also the next one to day. I got about six letters to day. I’ve been trying to answer them all they so maybe by tonight I will have caught up on my letter writing. Boy once you get behind you just can’t catch up.
February 13, 1943
I’ve received just about all of the mail that had has been wrote to me, and yes the air mail goes faster, but I always get them no matter how you send them. I’m glad every one write to me, as that is one thing that you can look forward to. News from home means a lot. Do you think you could have the Champaign paper sent two me all of the time? And I could catch up on all of the sports, and other news. If it cost too much just forgive it. Well in closing I want to say that I feel fine and hope you are all well also, and for gosh sakes don’t worry about me. You know I can take care of myself and just as soon as this all war is over I will be home. I bet you’ll be surprised to get this long of a letter, but I have only been writing short one as I just can’t think of a thing to say. I think I will just summarize your letters once a month so you we’ll get a long letter. My weekly letters will be all V-mail letters. Goodbye an you can show that first letter around to my friends as I can’t or don’t have time to write that long of a letter to all of them you know such people as Griersons, the gang up at the store, Al, Mrs. Fleshner, and a few others. Goodbye again and I will be thinking and loving you both. Keep praying and I will be home one of these days.
Your Son “Chick”