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Gerald R. Rees Papers: Transcripts - MS 1007
I received your birthday card this noon and am waiting for the cake with a good deal of anticipation. If I can only work it so just my special friends are in the barracks when it comes so I won't have to cut it in so many pieces...
Mail service is extra good. The Thursday Blade comes on Saturday, etc. Wish my letters going the other way did as well.
Your birthday from me is very elaborate and fancily wrapped-like fun. It was the best I could do with the resources available and I hope you won't be too disappointed. May you have a very happy and care-free birthday, anyhow.
A new record was established this week. Vernon got a letter from me and answered it the same day! I wouldn't have believed it without seeing it. Neither of us are very prolific letter-writers, though. What you said about trying to write to me on time was certainly appreciated. I bank a lot on getting that letter from you, although of course it shouldn't work a hardship on you. No one else writes very regularly, so it means a lot.
You should be proud of your garden, if your tomato plans and everything are coming so good. Bet those fresh onions are delicious.
Camp Bowie is the same as ever, business as usual. Eat an extra drumstick at the birthday dinner and enjoy it for me, too. Going to Bradner?
June 7, 1944
First of all, I've got to tell you how very glad I was to get pictures of my parents after wishing for them ever since I've been away. I like both of them a lot in spite of your previous reluctance about sending them; you needn't have worried on that score. I appreciate the trouble you both took, and it means a lot to me.
The timing couldn't have been better-both packages were waiting for me when we came in tonight. Mailing didn't seem to harm either the looks or the taste of the birthday cake, and we had a fine celebration out of it. Most of my best friends got some and were duly impressed by your ability to make the best angel food cake this side of the North Pole-after I had salted away some in my footlocker for future reference. The stationery came as I was using the last of what I had, and will be put to good use. Pop may be interested to know that his fiver will fulfill a long-felt need. I'm sending an extra pair of G.I. glasses to Ft. Worth to have colored sun lenses put in them, ground to my prescription. The sun here in Texas is pretty powerful, and I broke my Polaroids quite a while ago. I've been temporarily promoted to instrument man in our survey party, and it's important to have good sunglasses.
Things are getting darn exciting in Europe, haven't they? We don't get the newspapers, but hear a newscast now and then. I depend on the Blade for the best war news; most of the fellows in the hut plus two others from Toledo down the street read the Blade before I finally throw it away. The invasion was a long time coming but what a show when it did start! Burt Frost is in Italy but pretty far back from the action. Now to bed.
The army spoiled my weekend by putting me on K.P. at the officers' mess hall today. They were a snooty bunch, and wasted a shameful amount of food. The general ate there at noon, and everyone hovered around and spoke in hushed voices. Phooey. There weren't many to feed, and only one cook, so I did a little cooking on the side-fried some corn fritters and made the salad.
We've been busy every evening this week so I'm behind in everything. We can only send 12 pieces to the G.I. laundry per week, so I have to do a washing every week. Then there is always back letter-writing to work on, and torn clothes to sew up-an arduous job for me-I'm all thumbs.
We made the acquaintance of a new insect pest last week, the chigger. It's so small you can't see or feel it biting, but hours later the bites swell up and itch worse than a mosquito bite for several days. An unexpected and odd remedy proved to be Barbasol shaving cream. There has been a lot of rain here, and insects are very numerous.
A part of our field work that I wish I could describe better is the riding around the countryside to and from work. Due to all the rain, the fields are a solid mass of color, with a greater or better-looking variety of flowers than most people can get by forking for hours in a garden. I don't know what kinds there are, expect for sunflowers and bluebonnets, but there are any number of different ones. Several kinds of birds that are new to me have been around, but are hard to see and identify. Texas wasn't like this last spring, or else the eighty miles from Abilene to Brownwood makes more difference than I think.
Tell Eleanor that the picture she sent me had "Lee" written lightly in pencil on the back, and I'll send it to him if she wants me to, since she had already sent me one. I'll write to her if I ever get time.
Monday-lights went out so I couldn't finish this last night. Maybe I can write more a little later.
We just had mail call, and all of the fathers in the hut got packages for Father's Day tomorrow. So we're eating all sorts of delicacies. There are only about 7 or 8 out of the 40 in the survey are married and having children. So we get a lot of good eats.
Best news this week was about furloughs. Mine is scheduled for July 30th for 15 days-which means maybe 10 days at home. In a way it was a mistake to announce them so early, because any number of things could happen to throw a monkey wrench in the works. The biggest possibility is if I'm sent with a group to form the nucleus of a new observation battalion. That is rumored but a fairly slim chance.
I just got a letter from Hoffy which certainly drops your worries about him. He has a job at Willys at $57.00 a week, and has normal and lively plans for the future. He takes a wicked delight in worrying his parents and relatives which is almost entirely their fault. They insisted on fretting over him when there wasn't anything wrong, so he feels he has to give them something to worry about. That's why he and I get along so well-when he throws a tantrum I just ridicule it out of him instead of humoring him. He has learned to speak Spanish pretty well by chumming around with a student from Puerto Rico, and wants to go down there. I think it would be good for him.
Tomorrow the battalion is taking us out to Lake Brownwood for swimming lessons if we need them, so I am conveniently forgetting what I know about swimming so I can go.
Did you see in the Blade that Bernie Mast was a prisoner of the Germans? I'll send the clipping to Lee if you haven't already. Today I ran around for several house in just shorts, playing soccer and basketball, so I should develop a pretty decent tan.
Predictions are that the European war will end in September; pretty good, huh?
I hope you asked Eleanor about Jack's picture; I want to write to Lee soon. Bet Jack is really fun to watch in his sand box now.
A fellow is going into Brownwood now so maybe he'll mail this for me.
June 25, 1944
For once I have captured the hut's only radio and am listening to the N.Y. Philharmonic. This morning I decided to go to a civilian church instead of the army chapel, so I went into Brownwood and ate dinner there also. The temperature is well over 100º, so I was glad enough to get back here and into a pair of swimming trunks. I don't really mind hot weather any more; after this long I'm beginning to kind of like Texas.
Yesterday afternoon we had a G.I. (compulsory) swimming party at Lake Brownwood which was good fun. They want us all to know how to swim, so I hope they'll
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