Monday, May 22, 2017

Letters From Ray: A World War II Army Private's Letters Home - Pt 2

Sept. 2, 1942
Hi Mother & Dad,

I just received your letter and really thought it was swell.  I like the way you tell me everything about what’s going on in the gulch.  You know I feel sorry for Florence.  She was expecting so much of married life and she didn’t get it.  The whole family follows the same course her mother was divorced wasn’t she?  So was chuck.

Monday was pay day and I got a war bond.  I intend to put that $10 away each month for my first furlough.  That way I’ll have some money to spend after I’ve boughten my railroad ticket.

We were out on the firing range last Tuesday and last Friday.  We were shooting the 45 calibar colt revolver.  I got a score of 39 at 15 yards, 35 at 25 yards, and 27 rapid fire at 25 yrds.  We each had 5 shots at each distance and we counted score by the nearness to the bulls eye.  The center bulls eye is 10.  Next 9 and so on down to one.   The highest score was a 44 on the 15.  I don’t know about the rest.  We’ve been studying that 30 cal.  Machine gun just about every day and some time next week were going to have them out on the firing range.

This Saturday were going out on a dismounted road march.  Its going to be 15 miles.  They’ve been stressing the necessity for alertness in case of a shaping attack while on one of these hikes so were going to have three planes come over, while were marching, and drop flower bags on top of us.  Of course we will have ample warning and should be able to get out of the way.  You know a flower bag dropped from 200 ft. wouldn’t be exactly comfortable.  Were going to be carrying full pack.

I got a package from Fred and Kay Monday.  It had two cans of spiced ham, one pabst-?ett, a box of crackers, a package of chocolate cookies, two packs of Ralieghs, and two rolls of life savers.  She’s been sending me cards about every three or four days and she’s already send a carton of cigarettes and a ?lurck.  I know she hasn’t got much time to write.  I haven’t received a single letter from Gram or Erv.  Its almost discouraging. 

I went to Louisville, Monday night and bought a pair of oxfords.  Boy did they feel good when I put them on.  I also bought quite a few souvenirs which I’ll send right away.  Boy that’s some town.  Its about the same size as Milwaukee.  Its to bad that the Brewers wont play there no more this year.  I’d like to see them play and see how Louisville take to them. 

I read a swell article about Bill Veeck in one of the Louisville papers.  They really like him.  You know Louisville is one of the two towns Veeck hasn’t made enemies with.  Kansas City is the other one.

I might go into Cincinnati this weekend ($4.00 all expense tour) and see the Reds play the St. Louis Cards.  It would be the first major league game for me.

I was on guard duty last week.  Way yea what a job.  Were on two hous off 6 and then on two after that were of finally off.  I had the 8 pm to 10pm and the 2 am to 4 am shift.  Do you feel terrible the next day.  I fell asleep during one of the lectures we were having luckily for me the 1st lieutenant didn’t notice me or I’d still be doing extra duty.

All the boys of Jewish Faith are getting a 5 day furlough regardless how long they’ve been in.  Theres plenty of squack going on about it but it isn’t going to do any good.  I suggested (as a joke) that my name might be short for Bergstein, or Goldberg, or something.  No kidding I miss Milwaukee and ?thing Gulch.

The card I got from Kay yesterday said that Gil is just about ready to go across.  Have you heard anything about it?

There are times I wish I had joined the coast guard.  On the whole I believe that the army is better than any other service in this country or any other country of course there is a saying going around camp that there are only two ways to do thing. “the right way and the army way”.  Of course don’t take it serious.  I’m going to stop now.  Answer soon. Ray.[SM1] 

 [SM1]Page 5. Interesting to see the pride that he took in enlisting rather than being drafted.  Raymond worked through the Civilian Conservation Corps (see New Deal) and got released when he received his certification of enlistment.  From speaking to Grandma he needed to get a co-signer because he was so young.  

(end of letter)

Observations by Opa Fritz

1) A couple of take-aways from this letter: I liked Ray's description of training, especially the 'dismounted march' with flower bombs being dropped as dummy bombs. Also, did you catch his reference to 'spiced ham' You got it - SPAM! Developed in 1937 it gained worldwide popularity during the war.

2) I could find no reference to a 'Brewers' baseball team in Louisville or Milwaukee prior to the modern-era Brewers (which dates to 1970) EXCEPT for 1902 in which there was a Milwaukee Brewers team which stayed only one year prior to moving to St. Louis.

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