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Author Topic: Reaching the Home Front  (Read 1171 times)

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Offline dokturokTopic starter

Reaching the Home Front
« on: March 08, 2015, 03:39:00 PM »
Dear Evelyn,

I am exhausted. We shuffled off the train at 2:30 this morning and here it is ten to midnight and this is the first time I've had the chance to breathe but I wanted to make sure and write you a letter. I stopped writing as I realized I'd thought to write Evelyn before my own family I am homesick already. It started when we got off the train and I saw a willow tree - it reminded me of the one by Spring Lake where we used to ice skate. Remember? I do wish I was home but at the same time I feel like I am on a great adventure and I am happy and excited to be doing something so important with my life.

As soon as we got off the train we were yelled at continuously, by noon I'd completely given up on doing anything write. We stood in a long line and got measured for uniforms. As soon as we changed into them the first thing we did was mail home all of our civilian clothes! They told us if they didn:t issue it to us, we didn't need it and believe you me, they gave us everything. They handed us each a duffel bag and started filling it. It was like Christmas at McGinty's store. All the clothes were crisp and new and they smelled so clean! They gave us shoes we were to wear for duty, for running and I even got a brand new pair of dress shoes. It actually dawned on me, I think these are the first new clothes I've ever been given in my life. They've all been hand me downs from Mark and Tom.

They showed us to our barracks and we barely had time to put our bags down before we were ordered to put on our PT gear that's physical training and they marched us around for what seemed like miles.  The food here is great. We had fried chicken and potatoes...even had ice cream - never had ice cream with supper before. It was odd. As soon as we got back they showed us how to pack everything away. Everything has a certain place and must be folded a certain way in a certain order and a certain umpteen different things. I've been working on my area since supper.

I need to get to bed. Take care of yourself and I know I've no right to ask, but would you look in on Mother every now and again. She worries so and I think some female company would do her good.

Yours,
Jack

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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2015, 05:17:00 PM »
Dear Jack, 

It was so nice to hear from you. I do remember ice skating on Spring Lake in the winter and chasing fireflies in the summer. Such fun we had as children! I'm glad you're excited, though I must admit I am scared of you going off to war. You are my best friend, Jack, and I don't want to even think about anything happening to you.

Your training sounds arduous! I'm sure it will get better, it is only your first day. Keep your chin up and remember you'll be a pilot when it's all done.

Papa is very stressed these days. The rationing board just put an "A" sticker on his car. Now he can only get three gallons of gas a week. He says that is not enough to last for him to get to work all week long, so he has to start riding with other people on some days. We also got our stamps for sugar. Mama's not happy about that, you know how she loves to bake her pies and cakes. It's a wonder Bitsy and I aren't plump girls with all the sweets we've eaten over the years!

I can't ride my bicycle any more. The other day there was a nail in the road that I didn't see and now my back tire is flat. Tires are rationed now also. Everything is needed for the war effort. It can be frustrating, but I know we have to do everything we can to support our soldiers and sailors.

Mrs. Mabry put a gold star flag on her door just two days ago. Many of us ladies went over there yesterday to comfort her. She's so young Jack, and with a baby, to have her husband killed. I can't imagine her pain.

Of course I will check on your mother. I'm sure she's lonely with you and your brothers gone. I'll help her out in any way I can.

I need to go now though, Mama wants to go to the store and will need my help carrying back the groceries. Write again soon!

Always,

Evelyn

Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2015, 02:06:40 PM »
Dear Evelyn,

I was so happy to get your letter! Only about three of us got anything at our first mail call so the fellas all thought I was something else.

I am so sorry to hear about Pete Mabry.  I was stunned. I didn't really know him that well, he was a few years older than us in school, but I do remember watching him at baseball games and he was always good to me when he saw me.  Even being in training, up until now the war seemed so far away, now it's very real and very close to home which is why I take my training so seriously. I made a decision the first day I got here that I was going to do the very best that I could to be the best soldier I could to save as many lives as I could.  Everything I've done since then has been to that end.

Sometimes I feel like I am wasting my time.  I don't want to learn to salute or make a bed, I want to be a soldier. Long marches, runs and obstacle courses are alternated with work details such as picking up trash or digging up a buried cable like we did yesterday. I am taking your advice and keeping my chin up, things should be better in a few weeks when we will be classified and learn what job we'll be doing. 

Now that I am in the swing of things - the sergeant says we're at that dangerous point where we've been here long enough to think we know what we're doing - I've been able to get to know the rest of the men in my platoon.  I've never met so many different people before. A good buddy of mine - his name's Tom and he's the funniest joe you could ever meet- he's twenty-two and just graduated from Princeton University.  When I asked him what he did for a living, he said he didn't know. He said he had something called a trust fund. Another man is a devout Catholic, a coal miner before the war and been married for ten years with five children.  He prefers to spend his weekend leaves on the base reading the bible and writing letters.  Of course we have the recluses too.  They slick back their hair and put on too much perfume when they go to town. They come back drunk and make a ruckus.  It is altogether annoying.  Tom and I usually get a steak and take in a movie. But no matter the age or background - we're all the same level in the army - which is to say the very bottom.

Of course I remember your mama's cakes! I don't think I could name anyone on the block who didn't.  Even as I sit here and write this my mouth is set for one of her yellow sponge cakes but there's nothing at the PX - that's the post exchange - kind of like a small general store - that comes close.  I can imagine your papa is upset, he never did take too kindly to being told what he could and could not do. To be honest, I was always a little intimidated by him growing up, even though he was always as good to me as he was to his own children. Is he still working at Monarch? Father told me it had been converted to war production.  It's too bad about your bicycle. You know, I'm not sure, but I think I still have my bicycle hanging up in our garage, I can't remember for sure how good the tires are but feel free to take them if they're good, I'll write mother and tell her you'll be over to get them.  In fact, why don't you keep the whole bicycle? No arguments. You work so hard, I won't have you walking.

Thank you for looking in on Mother. She so does enjoy your visits.  I've received letters with whole paragraphs devoted to descriptions of them.   I should go, they are playing Taps. It's the strangest thing, when it's time to go to bed they don't tell us, they just play music on a trumpet.  I don't pretend to understand it. Write again soon, letters from home are the highlight of my week.

Yours,
Jack   

 

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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2015, 03:41:07 PM »
Dear Jack,

Mama left your letter on my bed so it would be a surprise for me. I was so excited to see it and hear from you!

Bitsy has been helping out Mrs. Mabry with the baby when she gets out of school. There has been word around town of several other men who haven't made it home, but no one I know. It's terribly frightening, and I'm glad you're not over there yet. I hope this war ends before you have to go.

I'm glad to hear you're making friends! Though, those boys who like to go out and get drunk do sound quite annoying. I've never understood why people felt the need to do that. It just makes for trouble.

Oh, speaking of movies! You remember Ralph, his father owns the five and dime? He was out of high school before we started, but he's always worked at the store. I needed new hair curlers yesterday, and while I was in the store he asked me to go see a movie with him this Friday. He wants to take me to see The Corpse Vanishes. You know I don't like scary films! I said I'd give him my answer by tomorrow, but I don't know if I want to go. He's nice, but I don't want him trying to put moves on me.

Do you think we could send you a small box of cookies? Would they allow that? If so, I'm sure mama would be happy to bake up your favorite for you.

Monarch is being turned into a bomb factory. Papa isn't quite sure exactly what his new job will be, but every one is being trained in all sorts of different things right now. He says he can't talk about because it's government secrets. That's okay, I really don't want to know. It's just another frightening thing for me to think about. Too many people I know are in danger these days.

Thank you for letting me use your bike! When I go see your mother after church on Sunday I'll ask her about it. It will be so much easier to get around town and my feet won't hurt so much at the end of the day.

Write back soon as soon as you can!

Always,

Evelyn

Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2015, 05:59:08 PM »
Dear Evelyn,

Yes, I do remember Ralph. He was always kind of bratty and thought of himself as a real "ladies' man."  He would be just the kind who would try something and I don't want anything to happen to you.  Why is he still at home anyway?

I should tell you I am writing to you now from the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center.  We got in a few days ago late at night - or early in the morning.  If I have to sleep sitting up in one more train I'll, well, I don't know what I'll do but I won't like it.  My neck still hurts from sleeping slumped over.  Thank you for the kind offer, but you mustn't waste your small rations on me.  They feed me plenty well here, believe me you!

All we have been doing since we arrived is take tests.  The first day we did - well they called them tests but they were more likes games.  One I had to hold a wooden handle on the end of a long, stiff wire which went into a hole connected to a plate.  If I didn't hold my arm straight and steady, the wire would touch the circle and a lamp would light up.  Then they took us to a room that had large boards of pegs on them - NO! I am not making this up.  Our assignment was to take the pegs out of their holes, turn them to the right and then place them back in the hole.  It sounded easy enough until we had to do it. The peg had to be placed in the hole just so or it wouldn't fit.  Another test we did looked like a quarter place on a record player and we had to keep a pen on it as it moved.  I don't have any clue what this is supposed to tell them about how we can fight but I guess they know better than me. 

The next day we had written examinations from early in the morning until the evening.  In all my years at Edison High I don't think I took as many tests as I did in that one day.  Everything was covered. General knowledge of the world, mathematics, mechanics, vocabulary, map reading, anything and everything you could probably think of.  You know as well as I do I've never been much on blackboards and book learning but it's over now and I did the best I could and there's nothing else I can do about it.  That's one of the many things this has all taught me: worrying is useless.  We were scheduled to stay at the last base for another couple weeks when one day the corporeal came in and said, "Pack your bags, we're moving out in an hour."  When someone asked where he said that it didn't matter.  So we packed up and here we are.  See, you can make all the plans in the world but in the end what's going to happen is what is going to happen.  "It is what it is," is what my buddy Tom says.

The most difficult test for me, wasn't even really a test.  We had to talk to a psychiatrist. A head doctor. I had only heard that word once before when Mother talked about my uncle Pete who had to see one once and then he went away and no one ever talked about him again.  I didn't know what to expect.  He asked me questions about what I knew about the Air Corps and then if I had ever walked in my sleep or fainted or been seasick.  I told him that I didn't recall ever doing any of those things.  Then for some reason he asked me what I wanted most out of life.  I said that I guess I just wanted a comfortable home with a loving wife and family that was raised in the same loving way I was.  He raised an eyebrow at that and looked at me like he was confused.  And then, do you know what he asked me? He asked me if I liked girls.  I couldn't believe it! I could feel the heat of the blush on my cheeks as I sheepishly smiled.  I said I did like being around girls, even if I was very shy. In fact, I told him you were the only girl I ever felt comfortable around.  He just wrote something on a pad and told me to go down to the second door on the left. 

I am glad you are enjoying my bicycle.  Remember when we used to take those long rides out by old man Miller's place?  He had that small creek running through his pasture and we would take off our shoes and plop our feet in the water? I think about those days so much more now.  It's the little details like the clover that grew in clumps, or how the dandelion spores would blow across the field when a gust of wind would pick up.  It all just seems so far away.  But I can always read your letters and that brings me back home, if only for a few minutes. 

Write again soon, please.

Yours,
Jack

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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2015, 09:27:06 PM »
Dearest Jack,

I gave in and went to the movies with Ralph. He wouldn't leave me alone about it. I made him take me to a different movie though. Didn't even get to see it, because during the news reels he tried putting his arm around me! I got right up and ran out of the theater. Only Bitsy and you know about what happened, so please don't tell your mother. I don't want my parents knowing. Ralph has left me alone so far this week, so hopefully he got the message.

I can't believe you're all the way down in Texas! Is it hot down there? It's still chilly here at home sometimes. But you know how Minnesota weather can be, even in the summer. I'm sorry you have to take so many tests, but you're smarter than you think and I'm sure you're acing them all. Just you wait Jack, you'll be the best pilot they've ever seen.

Why wouldn't a guy like girls? What kind of silly question is that? Those army doctors sure are funny. And I'm not the only girl yo


Jack,

I'm sorry my last letter got cut so short. Remember how I told you Monarch was being turned into a bomb factory? Well something happened yesterday while they were changing part of the building. Mama, Bitsy, and I were here (I was writing your letter) and we heard this huge noise. We were so scared, and of course the phone was tied up because everyone was trying to make phone calls. It was six hours and well past supper time before we heard from Papa and found out what happened.

Luckily it wasn't a bomb going off! Papa said that this big machine that is almost a quarter of the size of the building collapsed, and that's why it was so loud and we could hear it so far away. No one got hurt, thank God! But every one had to stay late to help clean things up. I thought Mama was going to faint when he came through the door that night. I'm glad we're all okay though. I couldn't imagine what it would be like without one of my parents here.

I'm sorry this letter is so short. It's really been kind of boring around here lately. I hope you are enjoying your training. Write to me!

Yours always,

Evie

Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2015, 12:02:44 PM »

Evelyn! Elizabeth! Stevens!

I told you, very specifically, NOT to waste your sugar rations on me, and what was the first package I get? I'm smiling as I write this because I can't say I wasn't overjoyed at getting them.  Thank you very much.  You always took after your Papa in that respect. Couldn't stand someone telling you what to do. I waited for a Sunday afternoon to eat them. It was a rare mild day with a cool breeze, I took an ice cold bottle of milk and sat under a shade tree.  If I closed my eyes I could almost hear our footsteps as we chased fireflies at Spring Lake. 

I was very angry to hear about how Ralph acted.  You deserve better than that. A lot better.  We take boxing lessons here and our instructor said I was a little more aggressive than usual. I didn't tell him why.  I wish I had been there. I could have offered to take you to a movie instead, and then it wouldn't have happened.  Or if it did, I would have...well, he and I would have had words. We still might.  Does he think just because his father owns the Five and Dime he can do whatever he wants?  Why isn't he in the service anyway?  As I said before I never really liked him.

It sounds like things are exciting enough back home. I'm glad no one was hurt and I hope everything is getting back to some kind of normal. I have to admit, I am getting nervous.  Nervous and frustrated.  The Army can be so efficient in some ways and maddeningly inefficient in others.  It really hasn't been that long since Pearl Harbor and they still don't know how to handle all these new recruits.  Right now we are doing "on-line training."  It means we do anything they can think of to keep us busy while they sort through the tests we took and for our advanced schools to be set up.The war isn't even warm yet, but it still aggravates me that I am here snapping greenbeans and making my bed while my country needs me.  I am nervous too. They are also sorting out who is going to be washed out.  I couldn't take it if they didn't take me, Evie.  I mean there's nothing wrong with the regular Army, but there's just something about the possibility of being considered to fly. It just makes me feel like I have a little something extra going for me. 

The only thing that breaks up the monotony is they do have dances here once in a while.  We look sharp in our dress uniforms and the girls there are very nice. I find I enjoy dancing and regret not having taken it up earlier.  The dances the school had always seemed like a lot of fun.

I need to get to bed, thank you again for the cookies.  I still think about how good they tasted and it brings a smile to my face.

Yours,
Jack

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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2015, 03:21:26 PM »
Jack Thomas Miller, if I want to send you a box of cookies, then I will send you a box of cookies! I'm not the only one if us who can be as stubborn as an old mule, you know that. You're most welcome, and I'm glad you enjoyed them. It makes me smile to know that.

I don't know what Ralph was thinking, or why he's not in the service, but I really don't care. I just want to forget about it and move on. Don't go getting mad and hurting people because something happened back here that you have no control over! You have to focus on your training, Jack. That is what's important right now.

Of course you won't wash out. I've known you my whole life, and you're one tough boy. I can't remember you ever failing at anything when you put your mind to it. So just keep trying, and do what they tell you, and soon, very soon, you'll be flying in a plane of your own. I can't wait to see a picture of you all decked out in pilot's gear! You'll look so smart.

You're mother and I had a great time together after church last Sunday. She's teaching me how to sew a quilt. We've been cutting up my and your father's old shirts and using them to make patterns. She said it's for me to put in my hope chest for when I get married. That made me laugh! I don't have a hope chest, and I'm entirely to young to think about getting married! Still, I'm enjoying spending Sunday afternoons with her and learning a new skill.

There are more and more of our friends leaving every day to go into the army or navy. It feels like pretty soon no one will live here anymore. And every couple of days there is news of someone else who won't be coming home. They've started up a volunteer ladies group at church to call on families who've lost loved ones and offer support and help. Every time a black car with a white star on it drives by, a wave of fear washes over the neighborhood. Promise me you'll make it home. I couldn't stand losing one of my best friends.

It's late and I need to get to bed. I hope to hear from you soon!

Always,
Evie

Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2015, 02:35:45 PM »
Dear Evie,

I did it. I made it.  They called a bunch of us in about a half-hour ago and gave us our assignments. Aviation Cadet Jack T. Miller at your service, ma'am. I wasn't assigned as a pilot, and I will admit I was a little disappointed until I talked with the CO. That means our Commanding Officer.  Wow, I must really be getting use to the Army, huh? He sat me down and asked why I had wanted to be a pilot.  I told him because I had grown up watching movies about the Red Baron and Gervais Lufbery.  He smiled and said he had felt the same way when he first joined, but that the Army Air Corps is completely different than it was in the Great War.  Back then, all they had were pilots who flew fighters, now there are airplanes with entire ten man crews on them, each with a very specific job.  He explained to me that all the tests we had taken were scored and then organized on a scale of one to nine. Nine being the best.  I received a 5 for navigator, a 6 for pilot, and an 8 for bombardier.  I had never heard of a bombardier before but from what I understand, if when I pass my training, I will be the one aiming the bombs over the target.  That interested me very much.  The CO slapped me on the shoulder and said, "Just remember, all that flying would be wasted without guys like us."  So, I am going to be a bombardier.  I don't exactly like the idea of being the one who pushes that button, but if doing it brings me home to you and Mother and Father, I'll do it.  And I will come back. I promise.

Maybe I shouldn't have gotten so upset about Ralph, but I just couldn't help it.  I've always been protective of you, Evie, you know that.  Maybe it would be a good idea to keep making that quilt, you know, just in case.  You were always so good teaching the children in Sunday school I know you would make a wonderful mother, and it goes without saying any fella would be lucky to have you as a wife.  He'd have to meet with my approval, of course, which will be a difficult task. 

I miss you, Evie. Even just the littlest things.  I could always talk to you about things I could never talk to anyone else about.  I mean, the guys here are great and the girls, well they're nice and everything, the ones I can talk to anyway but, there's just certain things a guy needs his best friend to hear, you know?  I don't know if I'm making any sense, but I do know I miss you.  I don't know how many times I've had a free moment here and there and I've had to stop myself saying, "I think I'll go see Ev..." and then it hits me. 

I'll be shipping out to pre-flight training soon, but until then it's snapping peas and mopping floors.  Please write again soon, Evie.

Always,
Aviation Cadet Jack T. Miller


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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2015, 08:33:57 PM »
Dearest Jack,

I am so happy to hear your news! I just knew you would make it! I'm sorry you won't be the actual pilot, but bombardier sounds really important. You'll still be on a plane, and that's what you've always wanted! What kind of plane will you be on? Will you be in Europe or the Pacific? Do you get to come home for a little bit after your training? You have to tell me all about it if you do.

Your mother got her letter a couple of days ago, so I knew before I got your letter. Mama made a chocolate cake, and Saturday night your parents came over to our house for dinner to celebrate. It was so nice to have them over. Mama made her delicious baked chicken, and your mother brought that yummy vegetable casserole she makes. I wish I could send you a piece of the chocolate cake! Mama is getting really good at baking using less sugar and butter and making it taste the same. After dinner we listened to the radio and played some cards, and then your father got a bug in him and wanted to dance. So we had a little impromptu dance right there in the living room with my parents, your parents, Bitsy, and me. It was so much fun!

Oh will you stop talking about me being married and being a mother? I blushed when I read what you wrote and Bitsy asked me what was wrong. I'm only eighteen, for pete's sake! I'm still just a girl. Besides, with everyone gone off to war, it's not like there is anyone here left for me to date anyway.

Even with the setback, the construction crews are almost done turning Monarch into a bomb factory. Papa doesn't talk about it, but he comes home every day looking more and more weary. I don't want him to work there, but I guess there isn't another choice. He hides the newspaper from Mama so he doesn't cause her even more stress. She knows he does it, but just keeps smiling for him. Some days I think she prefers to be blissfully ignorant. I know there are days I would rather not know what's going on in the world.

I'm sorry this letter is a bit of a Debbie Downer. I'm just sad thinking about everything that's going on. I will write to you again soon, and it will be much happier!

Always,
Evie

P.S. I miss you too, Jack. Every time I'm at your house it seems empty without your voice ringing in the halls. I haven't even gone to the lake since the last time we went before you left. It just wouldn't feel right to be there without you.


Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2015, 03:12:16 PM »
Dearest Evie,

I dreamt about you last night. It was a fresh spring day at our willow tree. I turned around and you were there picking those small flowers and putting them in your hair like you did when we were kids. As I rushed towards you, you looked up at me and I could see your face so clearly. When I reached for your hand, I heard a loud, piercing screech and I was jolted awake by the motion of the train pulling into the station. I was so disappointed, Evie. Just like a deflated balloon.

I am still in Texas, unfortunately. It is so hot here, sometimes i can't even sleep and it isn't uncommon for us to shower two or even three times a day. I itch constantly from the mosquito bites. They are huge! One fella even bet one could carry off a baby lamb if so inclined. They wait outside our barracks in swarms that I swear are as thick as fog. We line up four or five at a time to go inside all at once to minimize the chances of them getting in. They still do, but not as many.

Even with all of this, deep down there is part of me that revels in all the adversity and I am sure its the same with the other fellas too. It's like we're being initiated into a very secret club that few are privy to. I feel myself changing, Evie, growing. When we first got to basic we could barely do the calisthenics, now we run five miles before breakfast everyday and don't think a thing of it. We even bond over how nervous we are. Shaving before we go out onpass creates great grist for the rumor mill. A buddy of mine said he heard one of the upperclassmen say a guy was in class one day and he quit. He just stood up silently and walked out. Another says a buddy told him he heard if you dropped your pencil in class by the time you picked it up you would be so far behind you'd never catch up! I don't know if any of that's true but I am always going to have extra pencils ready.

I am glad you and mother enjoy your time together. I admit I thought it would be quite an inconvience for you, I still worry it is.  Are you still working on your quilt? I hope so, please promise me you will. Tell you what, we'll use it on the first picnic we go on under the willow tree when all of this is just a memory. Promise me.

Speaking of which, what do you think you will do when this is all over? I guess I ask because I hadn't thought about it for myself. If you're not going to get married would you be a teacher? A nurse? Maybe work at Lowe's department store. I honestly never thought about it before. Right now I feel like my real life is on hold so all my energies are focused on winning the war.

I don't know what kind of plane I will be on yet or where I will be going. They keep us in the dark for the most part, but I will keep you as informed as they will let me. I must go though, our classes begin in the morning and from now on it is going to be one mass of studying. Please continue to write, your letters remind me there is something more to all of this.

Always yours,

Jack



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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2015, 05:06:15 PM »
Dear Jack,

That sounds like such a wonderful dream, except for the end. Sometimes I wish we could go back to those days, before this horrible war, before all this fear and uncertainty. We were so innocent and didn't know there could be so much hatred, killing, and death in the world. I long for those times again.

My goodness I thought the mosquitoes here could be bad. Those sound awful! I'll ask your mother to send you some of her balm. I know it won't keep them away, but you know how good it is at stopping the itch.

Five miles every morning! I couldn't even begin to imagine doing that. You must be getting so strong, I fear I won't recognize you when you get back. Not that you weren't strong by any means before, that's not what I mean...but all that exercise! The girls you meet at the dances must really like you. Please be careful around them. I've heard stories of girls who chase men in the service so they can get married for the money. I wouldn't want to see you get hurt by some tricky girl who fooled you.

Spending time with your mother is no inconvenience at all! I really enjoy it. We talk and laugh while we sew, or we sing along with the radio. I've come to look forward to our visits and wait eagerly for Sundays to arrive. Of course I'm still working on the quilt! It is a bit slow going because I make a lot of mistakes, but I am becoming better each time we do more. A picnic under the willow tree sounds lovely. I love hiding underneath its branches with you, tucked away in our own little world. Remember all the places we would pretend it to be when we were kids? I think when we turned it into the Cave of Wonders from Arabian Nights was the best!

I don't know what I'll do when the war is over. I'll get married eventually, silly! I'm just way too young for it now. Though, being a teacher does sound like it would be nice. I do so like helping children learn. But I don't know if I could be away from my family for the schooling.

Ralph tried to ask me out on another date. This time he had the nerve to call and asked Papa! Luckily Papa asked me before he gave Ralph an answer and I was able to say no. I sincerely hope he leaves me alone from now on. There are plenty of other girls he can choose from. I don't know why he tried again with me, after what happened the first time.

Bitsy went to the end of year school dance with a boy from her class named Tom. He's quite a nice boy, and he's taken her to the movies a couple of times. But both Mama and Papa think she's to young to date, and they make her go with other friends. She's only 13, you know, so I hope this doesn't turn into more than what it is now. I do agree that she is too young.

Papa's mood is becoming more and more dour. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because he can't work for several days while they finish up turning Monarch into a bomb factory. Mama is forever wearing a cheerful face, and I try to, though sometimes when I think about what's going on in the world, and people being in so much danger, I can't help but become sad. Especially when I think about you, Jack. I do not like the idea of you being in harm's way.

You must send me a picture of you by your plane when you get assigned to one! I know you can't wait to fly, it's always been your dream. I need to sleep now. Mama and I are going to the market first thing in the morning. I'm hoping they have some oranges, I've wanted one all winter! I look forward to your next letter.

Always,
Evie

Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2015, 05:47:13 PM »
Dearest Evie,

I can't seem to do anything right, Evie. If something is good enough, it's not fast enough, if it's fast enough, it's not good enough. Just as soon as I learn one rule, I turn around and break another. I am constantly "walking tours." I have to get in my dress uniform and walk at a quick pace with a rifle on my shoulder. I walk about a hundred and fifty yards, turn around and walk back. This is repeated for hours on end. All I do is worry.

Things started out good enough. We have to learn Morse code - all it is is a series of long and short beeps that represent letters. We were supposed to supposed to be able to decipher a hundred characters at five words per minute. I did seven. Only two of us out of a class of eighty did that well.

We have so much to do here, so much more than we did at basic or even classification. I thought there would be a greater emphasis on study, and there is! We go through three chapters a day in our mathematics classes. But there is even more physical training. We have to jump over four foot walls, then slither under chicken wire mesh, then there's a twenty foot wall to climb, then we run on top of logs that zig zag, then we jump in and out of three trenches each five feet deep and come to another twenty foot wall. After that we finish with a mile long cross country track.

We must also stand guard duty. The upperclassmen told us punishment for falling asleep on guard duty is death! Because this is a military base and it's war. I would never let that happen but I always drink extra coffee just in case. We have brass to polish, shoes which must constantly have on them a high shine, even if they are just sitting in our lockers! We even have to scrub our barracks floor no once, no twice but three times a week! Inspections are unbelievably rigorous.  They look for dust in the most ridiculous places.

That's actually where I had my first real big screw up: inspection. It was a Friday afternoon and we were all eager to go out on pass but our barracks orderly saw something...I couldn't tell you what...wrong with my bunk so he ripped the sheets all off and tossed all my belongings out of my locker and foot locker. He found some things wrong with other people too so he confine us to base for the weekend. I still feel like the rest of the guys blame me.

With all the extra duties here and the class work, I am lucky to get three or four hours of sleep a night.  When I finally sit down to study I can barely keep my eyes open and I have to go over things again and again just to barely understand them. I took a test the other day and when I left I thought I would get at least a 95%. I ended up with 65%! Careless mistakes, just like Ms.Osborne always used to tell me.  I constantly wonder if I am going to be here at the end, or even next week. Guys a lot smarter than me are dropping out all the time. I continue to do the best I can, I fear my best isn't good enough, but I don't know how to do better than this.

I must sleep now, please write again soon


Always yours,
Jack

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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 10:11:46 PM »
Dearest Jack,

You mustn't worry and stress yourself so! If you stop trying so hard, I think things may come just a little bit easier for you. I know that is difficult to do, because you want to be your best, but maybe you are over thinking things? Just try and relax. And I know you're eager for free time on the weekend, but why not use that time to study, so that you're able to get a little more sleep during the week? You shouldn't wear yourself out so bad.

You WILL make it. I have complete faith in you. Just remember why you're there, what you are doing all of this for. This is your dream Jack, don't let anything get in your way or stop you, especially yourself. I wish I could be there to help you. I think about you every day, and pray for you always. So does your mother, and mama. Know that we're here, cheering for you, your own personal fan club.

A lot of soldiers have been moving in to town to oversee operations at Monarch. There must be about fifty or so. All the girls are flirting with them and vying for their attention, but I'm not. I wouldn't want to get involved with someone who could leave at a moments notice. I don't really want to be involved with anyone right now.

I'm just so melancholy today. I'm not entirely sure why. I think I'm missing my best friend too much. We've never been apart from each other like this. I am going down to the lake, sit under the branches of our tree. Hopefully that will help.

Always yours,
Evie

Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2015, 10:46:20 AM »
I am sorry this letter is so late in coming. I thought a lot about what you said. I thought long and hard about it, and decided my attitude wasn't helping my situation at all.  Even if you're not here, you are helping me, believe me, and I will never be able to thank you enough.  I tried talking to one of the upperclassmen,  I told him that if I just had more time I could do well. He said that I had just as much time as everyone else.  As I was walking one of my many tours, I realized I would have to make time for the most important things.  For once, walking tours went by quickly as I added up how much time I spent on each particular task.  I realized the most time I spent was getting ready for inspection and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if it could be just ready all the time?” Then it hit me, I went to the post exchange and used a whole month’s pay buying new uniforms.  I then spent the rest of the weekend preparing for inspection.  I tore apart both lockers and scrubbed them down, then I prepared my new uniforms and organized my area so it was picture perfect.  I haven’t worn those uniforms since I put them in my locker.  I put my uniforms I use on a daily basis above the ceiling tiles.  Some of the other guys have been doing the same thing. That alone has saved me about eight hours a week!

I also thought about what I said about not knowing how to do better and I realized that I didn’t know how to do better, but other cadets did, so I went and asked our top cadet for help in mathematics. He didn’t seem much interested in helping anyone…until I told him I would make his locker permanently inspection ready if he did. He came around. For two hours each night we study together.  He really is a great guy. Do you remember David Evans? He could always crack a joke. Never took anything seriously but could ace every class without so much as cracking a book?  This cadet reminds me of him so much!

To tell you the truth, it all kind of snowballed from there.  I had another cadet  tell me he needed help in morse code and offered to make my bed in the morning if I helped him. I never could get those hospital corners right.  My idea of being permanently inspection ready has really caught on and now I have a tutor for each of my subjects in exchange for that service.  My overall average went from 70% to 85% and I want to do better. 

Believe me, I know about soldiers being married for money.  Unfortunately a couple of the guys in my squadron are going through it.  We've all tried to tell them but they're in love, or at least they think they are. It won't happen to me though, I spend every minute of my time studying (I guess that makes you the only girl in my life! HA!).  Thank you again for reminding me that is why I am here.  I figure if I practice and study and try harder I will have a better chance of making it.  It amazes me how some of the guys complain they have no money - not to judge but it is mostly the guys who go out catterwallling on pass - to me it's about impossible.  The Army gives us food, a place to sleep, clothes, everything we could possibly need from razor blades to pants AND we get - and you're the only one I'll say this to, and only because I am so proud - fifty dollars! Fifty dollars a month! Free and clear! I have been putting most of it into war bonds - don't tell the Army, but I really don't know what else to do with it! We even get to go to free movies on the base, and not even old silent movies either, but the same ones you would see in town.  I was two lessons ahead for the week in my studies so a couple of the guys 'dragged' me to see the movie Casablanca. Have you seen it? It has Humphrey Bogart in it and I know how you feel about him!

I am glad Bitsy had a good time at her end of the year dance but it is good it isn't her main focus. At that age she needs to be thinking about picnics and catching fireflies by Spring Lake.  Maybe I just don't like the idea of her being so close to being ready to date.  I've always been real protective of both you and Bitsy.  I remember the day she was born, you came and got me and took me to the hospital to see her.  Your mama even let me hold her. It wasn't that long ago, but it seems like a lifetime ago, when we still had our innocence. Speaking of dating, I hate that Ralph keeps harassing you, I wish I could be there to do something about it.  Perhaps one day he and I will have a talk.

I am glad you are going to the willow tree.  Don't feel like you have to wait for me, it makes me happy knowing you are there.  In fact, last night I had another dream about it.  We were playing Nights of Arabia just as the sun was setting, it was mild and balmy, you could hear the locusts in the distance.  You put your hand on mine and said, "Mama's calling me to supper."  I woke up feeling almost giddy. It wasn't as good as seeing you in person, but it was close enough.

I must get to studying, but write again soon - and skip some stones at Spring Lake for me.

Always yours,
Jack


P.S.  I have enclosed a picture of me in my aviation cadet uniform, hope you like it.


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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2015, 02:49:07 PM »


Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2015, 06:27:48 PM »













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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2015, 12:59:57 PM »



Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2015, 12:24:49 PM »
"Thanks for the ride, Mac," Jack said, jumping out of the bed of the shiny red truck. The old man simply waved, gravel crunched under his tires as he slowly pulled away. Tom closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. Honeysuckle. Turning towards the lake, he could hear the tinkling splash of a large mouth bass break through the water snapping up a mosquito and the balmy air kissed his face as it whistled through the grass. He smiled in contentment. In the last six months, his world had been turned upside down, but right now he knew one thing for sure: Jack Thomas Miller was home.  For ten days he  was going to live as if nothing had changed.

Crickets chirped. Soft, sporadic chirps as if they just had the idea to start chirping for the night. It was a little cool for early June as if spring was trying desperately to cling to its last wisps of existence. The fireflies meant it was a losing battle.   

As he made his way up the small slope, the first thing he saw was an old, frayed rope. Hanging from one of the tree's highest branches, it was about three feet long. Years ago - a lifetime ago Jack thought, it had been much longer.  It had only been used once when he tried to be Tarzan and fling himself into the lake one hot summer day. It snapped and broke his shoulder. The remaining three feet was left as a reminder. A testament to his stupidity. Well, that and she wouldn't let him climb up there again.

He didn't know why, but he knew she was there. She had to be.  He didn't miss a beat when he saw her black Sunday shoes from beneath the drooping willow trees. He sighed. He was home.


"Who dares disturb my slumber?" Jack's voice growled. "Tis I...Aladin..." his voice turning to a coo. "Proceed," growling, "And touch nothing but the lamp."

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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2015, 11:07:22 PM »
The day hadn't been bad, necessarily, but it could have gone better. Before church, Bitsy had dropped their mother's cake plate and it shattered. While helping her clean up the pieces, Evie cut two of her fingers on some of the glass. Seeing the blood caused Bitsy to be sick, and she threw a small fit about going to church. Their mother finally relented and allowed her to stay home, but it made the rest of them late.

She struggled through church and the following pot luck with a pounding headache. As much as she wanted to visit with Jack's mother that afternoon, Evie needed to be alone in a quiet place. Directly after the potluck, she told her parents that she'd be home in a few hours, and walked to their tree by the lake. Laying down in the grass under its branches, in the peacefulness of the outdoors would definitely help her feel better.

Without realizing it, Evie dozed off. It wasn't until she heard the faint sounds of someone walking toward her that she began to rouse. And once the familiar voice of her best friend rang in her ears, she was fully awake, eyes looking between the branches to see if it was really him, and she wasn't just dreaming as she had so many times before.

The shape of him highlighted by the sun and the sound of his voice combined let Evie know that Jack definitely was home. Immediately she jumped to her feet and flew to him, wrapping her arms around his neck and embracing him in a tight hug. "Oh, Jack! Why didn't you tell me you were coming?"

Offline dokturokTopic starter

Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2015, 02:12:17 PM »
Jack picked up Evie, squeezing her tight as he spun her around, laughing.  "I didn't know myself until two days ago when they told us. First thing I did was hop a train and here I am. Mother and Father don't even know I'm here yet!" Jack grinned so wide his face ached. He took Evie in his arms again, "Oh, it's so good to see you."  He took her hand, "Come on...let's surprise'em!"

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Re: Reaching the Home Front
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2015, 12:09:37 AM »
Giggles filled the air as he spun her, Evie's excitement radiating through the brightness in her eyes and smile on her face. Upon seeing Jack again, she realized just how much she had missed his presence in her daily life. He was her best friend and they'd been together since childhood. Though she was happy for him that he was pursuing his dream, Evie truly was sad that he was gone so far away.

She felt his hand tugging on her and stopped, holding firm in place. She wasn't ready to go visit his parents just yet. Instead she wanted to spend more time underneath their willow tree, just the two of them, like it had been before the war started. Carefree and full of laughter.

"Wait," Evie said softly, slipping her hand out of his. "Let's just stay here a little while longer. Please?"