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Training in the USA

February 18, 1944

Letters from Theodore Katz

sketch of man walking through a barracks at night

Ted's sketch of Camp Forrest, Tennessee, dated 2/20/1944

Friday, 18 Feb

Dear Helen,

At last the mystery of the missing letters has been cleared up – I received one yesterday that had been sent to the wrong outfit, where it languished a couple of days before coming to roost in my waiting hands, – and then today I found two more waiting for me at mail call – one containing the explanation for the delay of the other. Tell Fannie she can’t do this to me – I’ll have her investigated for subversive activities. Anyway, the drought is over and the refreshing rain of your letters has quenched the thirst of my parched mind. I too skipped a day in writing – but of a necessity – night problem last night.

I’m glad you like the sketches, but it seems funny to be showing you my etchings by long distance – I’m sure it would be better if I could explain them to you in person. But if I were there in the flesh I am also sure that we would probably throw them into a corner and let the explanations go until a later date – much later. Due to an extra amount of work today I find that I am “sans une object d’art” to add to the collection – but I promise to make up for it soon. I see you are hanging them in the parlor. I was sure they would be placed in another gallery – namely, your famous latrine!

Sam’s status is still undecided, although it’s pretty certain that he won’t be discharged. In fact, it’s not even certain that he’ll be transferred. He may stay with the outfit. If he does leave, I will get his job. That much is certain as there would be no one else who would possibly be able to take over the duties of Company Clerk. John Hughes, the former Mail Orderly, was formally discharged yesterday. As I explained to you before, I have been taking over his job in addition to helping Sam and taking occasional excursions into the field. I now expect that I will become the official Mail Clerk and gain the rating of Tec 5 (a Fancy Corporal) that the job calls for – but thus far nothing has happened. Over at Battalion Hq, my diversified activities have mystified the solons – never in their Army careers have they ever heard of a man being assistant Company Clerk, Mail Clerk and being carried on the Table of Organization as a painter M.O.S. 144 and being a member of a line platoon instead of Headquarters platoon of the Company. If you find this all very confusing, – I thank you.

Thus far there have been no more rumors concerning furloughs – so don’t get your hopes up so far – then if it does come through it will add to the pleasure. Also, I want you to stop worrying about my impulsiveness. I’ll do my job as best I can and promise not to take any unnecessary risks. I will have much to come back to and shall bear this in mind at all times. My fox-holes shall be of the deepest, my decorum exemplary, and my luck extraordinary. So, – At ease, Galai.

Seeing as how you were impressed by the photograph to the extent that you “wouldn’t have the heart to ask me to ‘close the window’”, I must confess that I’ve been practising that expression in front of the mirror in hopes that it will remain an integral part of my physiognomy. But, as I stop to think for a moment, in that case we would have a regiment or maybe even a division instead of a mere seven off-springs. I shall stop practising this instant and take my chances on “window closing” – after all I haven’t done so bad up till now.

Your essay on Spring was read with great care. You were a gloomy one in those days, but nevertheless I found it to be sincere with plenty of thought behind it. There are technical faults upon which I could dwell but the one which aroused my ire was that I would take you for a stroll along the Coney Island boardwalk. You just don’t seem to get away from Brooklyn. How about changing it to a walk around Kelly Pool (in the summer of course).

In answer to your question on what to wear on our furlough I have found the following verse, which with a few minor personal additions I pass on to you:

“I will weave a magic cloak
Of words for you to wear. Invoke
Memories of exquisite yarns,
Finely spun in mental barns,
Drape you in a verbal dress.
I will clothe you in no less
Than a thousand words of praise,
Flowery thoughts will be your bouquets,
Threads of reason will sew up your hems;
I will give you witty gems,
Place them in your long, dark hair –
And that is all you’ll have to wear.”


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