David Peabody Guion
And Dave was in a left-handed mood when he wrote on April 30th: time is going by faster than ever here. This is the last day of April. Everything here is green. I’ve seen blossoms on the fruit trees here. This is excellent farm country except for the stones. Camp Crowder is filled with apple and peach orchards that the farmers took care of until they were bought out by the government to make the camp. I think this camp is supposed to cover 90 sq. miles. The orchards have been let go since the camp was built – – the government would rather spend thousands of dollars buying fruit from the farmers (and making it so the civilians can’t get decent fruit) than spend a few hundred dollars for spray and equipment to keep up the trees which are already planted and bearing fruit. They’ve got the manpower to pick the apples and keep the trees in good condition. The idea of growing our own fruit, with everything we need for doing it right here, is far too practical for the government or the Army. So, instead, you civilians get no fruit and we get battered and bruised apples, some of which aren’t fit to eat, that have been shipped halfway across the country, taking up valuable shipping space and using up valuable gasoline. This is the Army. The end.
I am in a rut at radio school. They call it a plateau of learning. When you first go to school you start with Z speeds – – Z1 to Z6. These are all to teach the alphabet. In other words when you get through with Z6 you know the complete alphabet and a number of different signs such as a long break (between messages), repeat back, end of transmission, etc. After you pass all of the Z speeds you go to the 5W (5 words per minute), 7W, 10 W, 12 W, 15 W, 18 W. To pass the course you must be able to receive 18 W (18 words per minute) and send 13 words a minute. The course is five weeks long, four of which we have completed already. I’m on 10W and as I said before, I can’t seem to get by it. I have been for two weeks now on that one speed. I haven’t been able to pass any sending tests yet. I have only one week to get 18 W receiving and 13 W sending. This sounds bad but it’s almost average – – but then, too, there are a lot of boys being transferred to other schools. Just keep your fingers crossed – – I’ll work – – you hope and pray for me, and maybe I can make it – – O.K.?
I only received one letter all week long. I’ll bet you couldn’t guess in the thousand years who it was from. Dad? No. Eleanor? No. Jean? No. Aunt Betty? No. One of my brothers? Yes, you’re right. I got a letter from Dick! Am I proud! He wrote me that he saw Nick Halsack (Peggy VanKovics future husband) in S.A. He said Nick is a radio operator in a B-24 and was on his way to Scotland.
Now an explanation as to why I don’t get any other letters, including yours, and any that Eleanor might have sent. The mail clerk up at A-36 (my old outfit) is the sort of guy who would pull a Mortimer Snerd. If you asked him his name he’d say “Duh – duh – uh – lemme tink.” So, naturally you couldn’t expect him to get our mail transferred from A-36 to D-26 for two or three months, therefore, no mail. I don’t know why he sent Dick’s letter through – – he probably didn’t mean to. By the way, the mail clerk I’m raking over the coal is, of course, a Sgt. If a guy is a born soldier and always on the ball, he remains a Pvt. – It’s only these Snerds that can get ahead. Boy, I guess I sound like my old self today, don’t I?
All kidding aside though, they’re retaining all the men not physically fit for overseas duty. These are the men who get the ratings and stay on in the camps as cadre and instructors. It’s logical enough, but it hurts me. (I don’t know how the other boys feel. When I was younger I was pretty puny. I never had any diseases but I was never very robust either. I never did the things other boys did, swim, hike, ride a bike. In general, I didn’t really live until I was 13 or 14. Now I’m healthy – – full of spunk (at least I feel that way) and in general I feel like living. I came into the Army with high hopes – – Air Corps, Cadre, O.C.S. but truly (I don’t want to get cynical again) the jobs I would like best seen either to be taken or are being taken by man who, in peace time, wouldn’t be allowed even to join the Army. It hurts my ego (or sumpin). At any rate I’m Class A (overseas combat) material, and if I don’t flunk out of radio or get transferred to another part of camp (which isn’t likely) I’ll be home sometime in June or July, and then it will be “Over the Waves”. And then I’ll get my rating by doing something really worthwhile. – “A dreamer.”
Two pages – both sides. There is quantity, even if it isn’t quality. Please, will it pass for the negligence on the part of your youngest son last week? I’m to be on guard tonight so I’m in camp this weekend.
Tomorrow I’ll post Grandpa’s comments about these letters. On Friday, another letter from Grandpa to his boys.