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Training in the USA

March 27, 1944

Letters from Theodore Katz

sketch of soldier standing with rifle

Ted's sketch, titled "Easter Parade," 3/24/1944

[postmarked March 27, 1944]

Sunday – 4:15 PM

Dear Helen –

Today my well-being knows no bounds. It’s been a delightful day. No one has bothered me – the barracks are quiet – the weather is warm as summer and not a cloud in the sky. I spent most of the morning casually reading the Sunday papers – magazines, a book or just sitting in the warm sun.

This afternoon – I took a nap at 2:00 P.M. and just woke up – and the first thing I thought of as I opened my eyes and lazily stretched – was that I wished you were here at that precise moment – I felt so rested and so full of “pep & vigor”, the barracks empty but the radio playing “Smoke gets in your Eyes” – So – to complete this rare “my cup brimeth over” feeling – all I needed was for you to be with me.

And now I am sitting out on the steps writing to you – incidentally I received letters marked “6 & 7” today – including the one written from the ladies room – an odd place I admit but – no matter – just as long as it was written.

This camp and vicinity is undergoing an amazing change. Up to now it has been practically deserted – but in the past few days – thousands of troops have been pouring into here. They’ve been coming in so fast that in some cases the barracks haven’t been prepared for them and it’s not strange to see tents pitched and men practically sleeping in the streets.

All this means a change which will affect us in many ways – for instance – we went to the movies on Post here last night to find an line of troops extending for blocks all waiting to get in – Reports from other men say that transportation to and from camp is like the N.Y. subway rush at 5:00 o’clock. And Tullahoma and vicinity look like the Yukon during the Gold Rush. Impossible to get into a restaurant – or store – same for most of the other towns around here. So – I think we’ll be sticking around the Post more than ever now.

The rumors are flying again – they seem to crop up in cycles – our next camp has been rumored to be Camp Pickett, Va., Ft. Belvoir, Va., Camp Davis, N.C., Ft. Jackson, etc. (Take your choice.) – I know which one I’d choose – but, I’m afraid the Army cares not for my choosing.

Yes – Sam did get your letter – I didn’t get a chance to read it – but he gave me the gist of it. He asked me this morning if I’d heard anything about the situation from you.

Also – a letter from home tells me that my fortunate brother is home on vacation from his studies – Also – Max, my “pater” was quite taken in by the picture of us taken at Kelly Pool and is waiting for the time when he can charm you away from me. Maybe he can do it – he’s got a twinkle in his eye that gets ‘em.

The chow whistle will be sounding off soon – there it goes. I’ll be back soon. Don’t go away –

Here I am back after the usual imaginative Army meal – hot-dogs. When this war is over I never want to see another one – By the way – did I tell you of the new chow system we’ve had lately – Although we have a mess hall – we don’t use it. The cooks do all cooking on field ranges outside – and we eat out of our mess kits sitting on the ground. It’s not bad when the weather is nice – but, on cold mornings in the dark – it’s not very appetizing. So there sits an empty mess hall with big stoves, tables, china and silverware. The authorities think we need more practice and experience at this sort of dining – we’ve only been doing it for the better part of a year and a half – Also – of course, these same authorities will eat at the Officer’s Mess with flowers on the table. This is but one of the many things the men are disgusted about. To show you how strict things are around here – one of the men was “gigged” for sewing a button on with white thread. For this infamous crime – his week-end pass was taken from him and he was given three nights of extra duty. So – while the world is upside down, suffering and misery are rampant – men are dying on the far flung battlefields. This inspecting colonel has nothing better to do than inspect buttons.

Speaking of sewing – I’ve been trying to sew on my new chevrons – as well as I can – I’m afraid I could never become a tailor – but then you wouldn’t want me to be a tailor anyway – would you – And if you don’t like the way the stripes are sewed on – you can change this when you see me.

In lieu of a sketch – I’m enclosing a picture taken on that “hot” bivouac. That monstrosity in front is Sgt. Gluckin. It was taken just as we were about to leave the woods for camp – so, naturally we’re kind of tired and don’t look so “purty” but it’s a good photograph just the same.

And now I’m off for a shower and shave – I wish I would then be on my way to see you – It’s going to be a warm night –

Regards to your folks and the “Sleeping Roommates.”


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