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Training in the USA

January 31, 1944

Letters from Theodore Katz

woman waving from the steps of the US supreme court

Helen in Washington DC. Photo courtesy of Richard Katz.

Monday, 31 January 1944
7:30 P.M.

Dear Helen,

Another day, another $1.63, less insurance, less Laundry, less War Bonds, less the Infantile Paralysis Fund. The Army has a song, one of the verses of which goes like this:

“They call you out on Pay-day,
They stand you in a line.
They give you Fifty Dollars
And take out Forty-nine.”

All this talk of high finance comes from the fact that today was Pay-day and here I am with my pockets bursting with doubloons and my soul coming apart at the seams with ennui. I must admit that the time went a little faster today due to my being over at Battalion Headquarters with Sam today. They have a new clerical system now whereby all the Company Clerks work at Bn. Hq. instead of being in the Company Orderly room as was formerly the case. Poor Sam has been swamped with work – getting all records ready in preparation for our forthcoming travels. He practically had to sandbag our stupid, puerile C.O. to let me give him a hand. I wish the scene could have been recorded on film – I’m sure it would have won the Academy Award.

Our secret (sh-h-h-h) mission training starts in earnest tomorrow – and it’s being made a secret to the extent that we are not allowed to carry any documentary evidence that we are the 603rd Engr. Cam. Bn. – no letters, insignia, etc. – in fact nothing to show that we are Engineers, let alone Camouflage Engineers. Also – we’ve had orders to send all excess clothing and persona equipment home – but don’t let that worry you for the present, at least, because it’s almost definite that we’ll be here until the end of March and then to another camp for a while before we’re on our way. I hope that all this news won’t make you feel too bad. If it does, I want to remind you again to take your own prescription Dr. Galai – i.e. that we both knew it would happen sometime, that it can’t last forever and we both have faith, each in our own way, that nothing can happen to me – on second thought I see that this last phrase is selfish and what I really mean is that nothing detrimental will happen to US. All I ask is that we get our furlough before I go.

And now, this department answers the mail: (Ed. Note: Please do not send gifts of scrap iron, fruit cake, limousines, milk shakes or the like. This department can be bribed only in the usual manner.) These seven theories, books, and questions of a technical nature you would like to discuss with me have aroused my curiosity no end. In order to embellish my mundane and prosaic existence I have given great deliberation and thought to the question of what is the subject matter – especially that of this question of a technical nature. So, for the past two days I have been turning it over in my alleged mind. But every time I turn it over I see there is a picture of George Raft on the other side – and you know how he affects me. Therefore, I must ask for at least a hint as to the direction the workings of your mind have taken you lately.

I’m writing this from the Orderly Room with the radio at my side and suddenly the announcer takes me to the Capital Theater in Washington for a visit with Dr. I. Q. and I can’t help but think how much nicer it would be if he could only take me to you instead – the man must be a fool to think that I’d go to Washington to see Dr. I. Q. – so I promptly change the station – and hope I can find an announcer who will take me to you.

I miss you.


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