Category Archives: Written to Wilson-Helen

06.06.1942 Letter

6/6/42
Dear Helen & Wilson:
The weather up hear along the lake is very damp. When the sun does come out, its like being in the tropics. We can’t wear our summer uniforms until July 1st.

Most of the gang that I came up with have been shipped out. Most of them went south as they were instructed to keep their summer uniforms handy. Some were shipped clean to the Air Corps in Miami. There are about 50 guys in the barracks I am in. Beds are emptied during the day by fellows being shipped out, and at night they are filled by new men coming in. They really have some system in this army. We get up every morning shortly after 5:00. Have breakfast about 5:45 to 6:15. We get our orders for the day at 7:00. But right now I don’t get the local orders as I am on the “Held for Duty” list. Headquarters is giving me a little clerical training before sending me away. At least that’s what I think.

We’ve got all of our clothes now. We’ve been issued two suits of winter underwear, two suits of summer underwear, two winter and two summer uniforms, bedding and toilet articles including razor, shaving brush, etc.

One morning our barracks was late in getting up and we had to perform all the duties around our section. You can imagine what that means.

They have a nice little theatre on the grounds. 20 cents to see a picture. But, I haven’t taken in any as yet.

This place, if I haven’t told you before, is about 14 miles from Niagara and about 35 or 40 miles from Buffalo.

I haven’t had my shots yet, but down at headquarters today one of the fellows made arrangements and I will probably get them Monday. After I get them, I might be able to get a furlough.

The Curtis-Wright and Bell Aircraft Factories are not far from here. I never saw as many airplanes before as I saw on the grounds outside Buffalo. They test them over the camp here and shoot at targets out on the lake. Those cannons make quite a racket when they go off. They zoom around here and make you duck sometimes. That’s all for now,

Russell

Fort Niagara, NY

06.28.1942 Letter

June 28, 1942

Dear Helen and Wilson:

Everything is going along smoothly. My trip back was uneventful and I have shaken off the cold you mentioned.

My shots didn’t seem to have any effect on me other than to give me a little soreness in the arm where it was injected.

Today is Sunday, the soldier’s day of freedom in the Army. We can’t do very much around here though except to walk around and look and I’ve looked at about everything there is here.

I’ve taken some pictures of what I’ve looked at, but I don’t have my good camera here and don’t know how they will turn out.

Since I’ve come back we have been transferred from the barracks to the tents which are quite comfortable at this time of the year.

There aren’t as many men around here right now as there were when I first came here. Incidentally, I will be here a month tomorrow. You know the men get two weeks furlough before they come to a camp now.

We have a fellow in this tent is in class 1-A when it comes to snoring, and he advances to class 1-A+ after he has a few beers. He goes right up and down the scale when he snores. The first night he came in I had a job getting to sleep, but by the next night I was used to it.

Tell Bob that he ought to see these Airacobras being tested around here. They zoom in here from out of nowhere and get out of sight fast. I think he’d get a kick out of it and you probably would too. I think that next week-end I will apply for a weekend pass and go down to Niagara Falls and spend Sunday. It’s getting sort of monotonous here since being unassigned to any division of the Army as yet, I can’t get off the Post. When I am assigned I’ll have more privileges.

I’ve found the Post Library, the USO Club, and the theatre since I came back and usually spend my evenings at one of these places. The Library is pretty much up-to-date, having the latest books, magazines, etc.

The theatre is air conditioned and the admission fee is 20 cents. At the USO Club you can buy sodas, sandwiches, ice cream etc, and they have a large lounge room where you can set and write letters, read, play cards, or just set.

We’ve just put the tent flaps down for the night and although the sun is pretty high yet and it being early in the evening, it is becoming real warm in here.

Howard’s mother-in-law and her daughter were up here last Sunday and found me watching a ball game. They were lucky to find me because we don’t stick around the tents much during the day on Sunday, and that is because some corporal or sergeant may come in and want you to do something. Nobody likes to do anything on Sunday.

It’s getting too hot to continue writing and haven’t got much more to write about just now anyhow.

Russell
Fort Niagara, NY

10.18.1942 Letter

Dear Helen and Wilson:

Don’t mind my writing a typewritten letter, do you? Well that’s what you’re going to get anyway.

I went down to Atlantic City a couple of weeks ago and I sent you a card. I hope you got it OK. I went down there at the expense of the good old U.S. Government. You see, that’s where men entering the Air Corps, like mechanics, welders, etc., go when they leave here. Of course, they go other places too.

It’s an overnight trip from here and we traveled in day coaches on the way down. We didn’t have any diners on the train, but sandwiches were made and placed on the train somewhere along the line and that was our only meal while traveling.

We got to Atlantic City before daybreak and the first thing I noticed there was the way the lights were blacked out. The street lights are painted black on any side that faces the ocean. Car lights are either painted black or else they drive on dim lights. They are trying out some kind of a yellow light down there too.

The soldiers stay in hotels along the boardwalk and the curtains in the windows of these hotels are regular blackout curtains. It really doesn’t look much like a city at night. The main thing that I wanted to see while I was there, outside of the ocean itself, was the boardwalk, and that was about the first thing that we marched down after we got there.

We didn’t get much sleep on the way down because sleeping in seats no matter how well they fix them up is not very comfortable. The way they work that is to take the back off one of two seats that are facing each other place it between the seats, tighten it up, and then you have a place to stretch out anyway.

We had our breakfast in the hotel dining room which is not fixed up Army style. They have long tables in rows with an aisle in between and you go down and pick out your place. But before you have done this you have picked up your cereal, milk, (2 half-pints), toast, butter and some other stuff that you’d get for breakfast and take it with you on your tray. We had dinner in this same hotel (The Ambassador) and it was chicken. So they get fed real well down there also.

We left in the afternoon and came up to Phila. and left there about 8:30PM and had Pullmans for our return trip to Buffalo. The railroads were so short of cars for their regular passenger travel that they put on some old cars that had been fitted up with park-like benches with two old oil lamps for each car and no heat.

We are supposed to be working this Sunday morning but our work isn’t coming in like it should, so I’m writing letters while my buddy here is tantalizing me about the nice day outside, an automobile, gasoline, tires, a ride etc.

Outside of the movies that I’ve seen lately, like “My Sister Eileen”, “Tales of Manhattan”, “Wake Island”, “Desperate Journey”, “Holiday Inn”, etc, there’s nothing new.

Russell
Fort Niagara, NY

11.17.1942 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace:

I received both the neck piece and the soap powder. I am wearing the one and washed my undies tonight with the other. Thanks.

Yes, I saw Don and showed him about the Fort here. We took in a couple of shows together. It was really cold while he was here. I got him a phone where he could call home without having to sand in line while here. I think he sort of liked it up here, but if you haven’t already heard from him your next word from him will probably be from Alabama. He’s with a Medical Detachment.

Well, I’ve got my Christmas furlough coming up next month from the 12 to 16. Everybody gets one, but they’re spread out from the end of November to the middle of January. So we take them when we can get them.

I took in the picture “Forest Rangers” the other night in technicolor. I thought it was a pretty good picture. It featured Fred MacMurray, Paulette Goddard (woo-woo) and Susan Hayword (woooo).

Well it sort of looks as though I have this addressed to Willard and Grace and will send it to Helen and Wilson and since yo live so close together now, you can pass it between you.

Russell
Fort Niagara, NY

1.31.1943 Letter

Dear Helen and Wilson:

Guess it’s about time I utilized this writing paper to drop you a line. Right now I have a grandstand seat on a huge crap game. Sure it’s payday. Tomorrow some of the boys will be broke until payday again.

But there isn’t very much new. You’ve probably got the same kind of weather as we have up until now. Right now the ground is covered lightly with snow and the wind is really howling outside, so maybe winter is here.

I saw a picture today at the movies that was really something. It was called the “lifeline”. It dealt with the treatment given wounded soldiers from the battlefront to the general hospitals. In fact, the highlight of the thing showed them cutting off a leg. Gruesome!!!!

I’ve seen quite a few movies in the last couple of weeks and among them were “Song of Russia”, “The Desert Song” and the funniest was “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” which starred Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken. By all means try and see the last one if you want to see something funny. The others are good too.

Tell Willard and Grace I’ll drop them a line in a couple of days; then you can all swap stories. With that I close.

Russell
Fort Niagara, NY

03.28.1943 Letter

Dear Helen and Wilson:

Got your letter OK the other day. Smitty and I got back to camp OK the other day, and this time on time.

So Bob wants to know what A.S.N. means. Well, it’s just Army Serial Number. And ASF means Army Service Forces which formerly was SOS or Services of Supply.

You should see our new washing machine up here. It does everything but iron the clothes. It’s all hooked up by rubber hose to the water faucets. You put your clothes in, close the hatch, pour in some soap, turn the switches, and let it go. In about 45 minutes, the clothes have been washed, rinsed and dried up enough to that you can iron them. It’s a Westinghouse.

Our conversation sometimes centers about which is the best soap powder to use. I have reached the conclusion that Rinso makes you sneeze. What a conversation for an army camp.

Well, this is sort of a short note, but I’m writing short ones trying to catch up.

Russell
Fort Niagara, NY