19 July 1944
Dear Dad —
I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting to write as much as I used to do – but I told right from the beginning that I wouldn’t keep up my pace.
My new company is absolutely A-1, except for the chow. The food isn’t too good – but I understand that it has been pretty poor recently all throughout the post. The fellows I’m with, on the whole, are a much nicer bunch than any gang I’ve been with yet. Of course I had my friends in other groups that I’ve been with – “Rusty” Pierce, Ray Pearlstine, Jack Feldman and George Arend – and others, but these guys in my present company seem to be pretty good all around. You’ll probably hear me speak of Tim Frazier, Jack Killian, and John Aboya. Tonight I tell you about Aboya. He’s probably the wittiest guy I’ve ever met. He used to be with UP (United Press) as a writer of some sort. He can get off the funniest remarks- with expressions added – that keep the whole bunch of us in stitches. I can think now of only two of his remarks which in all likelihood aren’t his best – but they’re the ones that come to mind now. Both of them happened last weekend in town: Tim Frazier told me about them. One was when the two of them came across a small fire hydrant – Aboya immediately piped up that it must have been made especially for a peekanese dog. At another time during the weekend they saw a lizard on the side of the road.. Aboya’s exclamation was, “Look, there’s a snake with a half-track.” I don’t guess in writing – but they were pretty good when Tim told us about them. Aboya looks to me something like Dick – but I’ve no doubt if Jean could see him she would kick me around the block for saying it – not that Aboya is so bad looking – but she probably wouldn’t see the resemblance that I see.
Aboya’s prize, in my opinion, is a little thing he wrote in the Teletype Class today – when he should have been working on regular exercises. I’ll quote it to you leaving out or changing the parts that wouldn’t look good in print – but first I want to say that after he prepared this little thing (which is of course strictly a thing of his imagination) he skipped his last period class and got caught. Tomorrow will tell us the story of what will happen to him. Anyway – here’s his fictitious newspaper report.
“Announcement of a new Signal Training Course in connection with Signal Center Communications was made today by R. Lethley Pace (Quoter’s note – Pace is one of Aboya’s buddies in Teletype School – and the following title is non-existent in the Army), Adjutant Sergeant, who said that a Special Duty School, similar in scope to O.C.S. was being organized at Camp Crowder, the resort spot of the Ozarks.”
“Requisites for entrance into the new school were stringent’, Pace said. Prospective enrollees were to be selected from among the higher class Hookey-Players in attendance at the Boy Scout Camp (You see, Dad, I’m not the only one who thinks the Signal Corps would do better in the Boy Scout then in the Army) which lies in southeastern Missouri, in the Picturesque Ozark Range.
”The men we choose will have to have made a practice of the art of being somewhere else at the time that work was imminent’, Pace asserted. ‘Anyone who has an IQ of more than seventy-five will of necessity be barred from the program, for the nucleus of the group will have to be a rugged, ignorant group that has been just stupid enough to get out of enough work to qualify them, and smart enough to have evaded any possible means of getting caught.’ (Here, Dad, I’d like to mention that my good friend John Aboya, and also his buddy, R. Lethley Pace – who in this article is spoken of as being an official of the program – gods themselves disqualified from there OWN school program by getting caught just a few hours after their school was brought to the attention of the public).
“‘Among the qualifications,’ Pace went on to say, ‘will be treachery, ability to answer someone else’s name at roll call – in hopes that said absentee will do the same at the next formation – ability to look always at ease at the Service Club no matter what the time of day, and the general quality of indifference so essential in the Hookey-players line.'”
“Headquarters for the new school will be in the Third Floor of Service Club No. 3 (Here I have the note that there is no third floor of the Service Club). Here the men will be trained to sip sodas with one eye on the door in anticipation of an approaching officer; one eye on the soda; and the other on the contours of the charming waitress, for each trainee will have been a Map Reading Student prior to his acceptance into the school.” (Another note – Everyone in the Signal Corps gets many hours on Map reading because of the possibility of his being used as a Messenger. We get so darned much of the same old stuff – review – review – and then more of it. Here, Aboya implies that a fellow might easily be qualified for his school expressly because he has had Map Reading and successfully missed a few classes – because if there was ever a class from which you would like to get away – it is one of the innumerable Map Reading classes.)
“Other courses will include – When To Volunteer For A Detail; Where To Be When The Sergeant Needs Men To Mow The Lawn; and How To Spend An Early Saturday Evening in Joplin. More courses will include the proper way to sleep in class so that attention is not attracted, the proper manner in which to appear very busy when an officer happens to look your way, and the method of speedy exit for hasty departure from the classroom when the break signal sounds.” – The End.
I perhaps shouldn’t have put in so many of my own notes, but I thought they might clarify some things. Other things that might be noted are that the Service Clubs are the favorite hangouts for those boys that skip classes. You realize of course, that even though the school is fictitious, the fact that there are boys that have devised their own systems for doing the very things that are mentioned in the article, is far from being fictitious. A man that has complete mastery over all the above mentioned courses could go a long way in “This man’s Army”. If you will recall – Aboya quotes Pace as saying that the man must ‘have the ability to answer someone else’s name at Roll Call’ – I don’t wonder that they put that course in. You see, the reason they were caught away from class is that when the Role was taken, no one answered to either the name of Aboya or Pace.
Sunday I sprained my wrist and I don’t know how I did it. I’ve got it wrapped now – and it is as good an excuse as any for the poor job I’m doing tonight on this typewriter.
We took a long hike last night – the first I’ve taken since the week I left for home. We walked some 12 or 14 miles with light field pack, gas mask, and rifle. I don’t mind telling you that I was Pretty tired when I got back – Did I go right to bed then? No – now that it’s summer down here we have to be mighty careful of chiggers and ticks. When we’ve been out in the field now – we come in and strip – take a shower and while in the shower room we go over each other – like you see the monkeys doing in the zoo – and take off any chiggers or ticks that might be feeding on our blood. – Some fun!
I guess there isn’t much more to say – as is so usual, I haven’t said much – but at least I’ve taken up some room with Aboya’s wit.
All the boys in my barracks seem to love to sing – so we do quite a bit of it. We also seem to have an equal number of Rebels and Yankees so we go over that problem every so often. The other night the lights were out and we were supposed to be sleeping and the boys got to discussing the age old problem of who won the war. I was trying to go to sleep so I got up and started to say that actually no one had won the war because the Negro was still a problem in this country – but just as soon as I got up, Aboya accused me of trying to settle the matter by saying that the East had won it – just to be different. You see, he and Killian are both from Milwaukee. By the way, Killian is no relation to Father Killian – but he’s a nice enough kid to be a very close relation.
Well – here’s the bottom of the page – I quit.
In searching for John Aboya at United Press International, I came across this announcement. The date seems probable and this John Aboya is Bureau manager of the United press there. It comes from the University of Wisconsin collection, “With the alumni”, Volume 50, Number two (Nov., 1948)
The University of Wisconsin Collection
Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 50, Number 2 (Nov. 1948)
With the alumni, pp. 23-27
Lois HAGEN and John Aboya were married last July. -31 in Milwaukee, where they are now living on N. 15th St. She is home furnishings editor for the Milwaukee Jonrnal and he is bureau manager of the United Press there. In doing research online,
In doing research online, I was able to find the wedding announcement of John Aboya in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In other research I discovered that he had passed away in two thousand and two at the age of eight to, but was unable to find any relatives.
Tomorrow I will be posting a letter from Dave’s friend, Bob Jennings, who is at the U.S. Naval Training Station in Sampson, New York.