Army Life (1) – Grandpa’s Account of Lad’s Leaving From Derby, Conn – May, 1942

Trumbull, Conn., May 17, 1942

Dear Tripartite:

Spring Bulletin No. 1 – Saw mosquito, sank same.

Yesterday afternoon, my entire remaining army of sappers and Miners (accent on the sap), being awol, I had the alternative of cutting grass or cleaning oil stove burner in the kitchen, and, as it seemed to be threatening rain, I selected the latter job which I finished and then lit the fire. About 10 o’clock it really started to rain, not a little sissy sprinkle but a steady business-like downpour, distinctly audible from where I sat in the kitchen listening to Raymond Grame Swing. The drumming beat of the raindrops continued, accompanied by gurglings as it rushed down the leaders, and to its obligato, I went off to dreamland, being rudely awakened at ten minutes to three by the sound of the Trumbull fire siren, accompanied, a few minutes later, by the arrival of the apparatus itself right in front of our house. Beams of light stabbed the rain and darkness, car after car arrived, smoke drifted in through the window, men shouted outside. My oil burner flashed into mind. Was this history repeating itself? A light appeared under Dave’s door. Light blasted out from Warden’s apartment. A crowd seemed gathering in front of the house all the way from Laufer’s to Pack’s. Dave and I peered out of the windows. There was a light also in the cottage, but Dave finally discerned a ladder up against Pack’s house, which solved the mystery. Apparently they got whatever fire there was under control quickly, and about half an hour later the neighborhood returned to its wonted quiet.

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Wednesday last, Lad woke me up a little before 5 A. M. and after a hasty breakfast we started off in my car for the w.k. rail road station in Derby, from which I saw my engineer son off to the army camp. This time, however, there was much more of a crowd, the station yard being pretty well crowded with cars. I learned later there were about 80 men in all in the group. A voice said: “May I have your attention for a minute, please”, and then went on to announce that he was the leader of the local draft board, gave them a brief talk, introduced the mayor of Derby, an ex-service man himself, who also gave them a little pep talk. It was then announced that booklets will be distributed to each trainee, and to expedite delivery the two leaders who had been appointed were asked to assist. Mr. so-and-so and Mr. Gwo-yon were asked to step forward. I looked at Lad but he said it was not intended for him as he was not a leader. However, when the booklet was passed out with his name on it, the same pronunciation was given, and when later, Lad went into the station to get his ticket, the girl informed him he had been appointed a leader. His duties were to see that the men were properly entrained, etc. The only way I could figure it out was that probably, in going over Lad’s questionnaire, they noted that he had been in charge of a group of men in Venezuela and had also taken the police training course, both of which would qualify him for the job. As this seemed to indicate he would probably be busy and the absence of a father would relieve him of one additional burden, I said good-by as the train pulled into the station. I have not heard from him since, but the plan was for the boys to go to Hartford for their final physical exam, thence to Camp Devens and parts unknown. Lad did not sell his car. The Buick people would not give him even six hundred dollars for it so it now reposes in the barn awaiting more favorable days.

Tomorrow and Sunday, two Special Pictures related to Lad’s induction into the Army.

Next week, I’ll be finishing up letters from 1944 and starting 1945.

Judy Guion

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