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September 4, 1944

Letters from Theodore Katz

Soldier sitting outside of a tent with munitions

Ted on a drier day, when he had a tent

Sept. 4, 1944 (I think)

Dear Helen –

It’s been a few days – how many I don’t know – since I’ve written a letter consisting of more than a few lines, and a couple of days when I was unable to write at all. But now I hope to make at least an honest attempt at something reasonably resembling mail, in the same length of time, from you this morning. Two V-mails tell of your returning from your vacation, so I suspect that I shall shortly hear some news of what happened at the Beach.

As I read your letter in the early hours of the morning telling of inviting Edith to dinner of your own making, I laughed, for there was Jack making cocoa for us, even as I read. I guess that makes things even. Though I must confess that the cocoa was hardly what I might call nectar for the Gods. But perhaps it wasn’t his fault. Our drinking water being so loaded down with iodine, chlorine and other chemicals that the odor and taste cannot be concealed even by an extra strong dose of powdered cocoa.

Of late our setting has been in the midst of a forest primeval, faintly reminiscent of Tennessee and Louisiana. The weather treacherous and changeable at a moment’s notice. For example, I recall bedding down at 4 A.M. one morning, with a brilliant moon shining and not a cloud in the sky. Being in no mood to pitch a tent at such an hour and in view of the peaceful elements, I merely rolled up my blankets, fell asleep immediately and awoke an hour and a half later to find myself in great danger of floating away whilst the rain beat a steady tattoo on my sleep-drugged head. Then grabbing my saturated blankets, I made the mad dash for a truck where I shivered until reveille.

I’ve just had what was supposed to be supper – a vile concoction called meat & vegetable stew in a can. One mouthful, and the remainder is tossed into the bushes, c’est ca!

Last evening was quite an experience. We are well supplied with a stock of captured cognac and brandy and it being bulky to carry about, the best solution to the problem is to drink it immediately. My tent mate is a youngster of tender years and an untried stomache and in the course of the evening drank more of this potent beverage than his capacity, resulting in that state known as drunkenness. Leaving him to his whooping in the bushes with a few others for company, I retired to my tent. He turned in a few minutes later – or rather fell in and lay there mumbling to himself for a few minutes – when suddenly my worst fears were confirmed. He became sick. Sticking his head just outside the tent, he began throwing up with a vengeance. Paying heed to my anguished cries of “Not there!,” he attempted to move a few yards away with the net results of bringing the entire tent down on my head. I lay there, cursing softly but effectively, counted ten, crawled out from beneath the fallen folds and with great deliberation began the task of setting up the tent again while the poor wretch continued to retch in the darkness. Upon my advice he eventually got up off his hands and knees and took a walk to clear his head, and I returned to my bed. He returned in a short while asserting that he was alright and climbed into his side of the tent. Thirty seconds later a sixth sense told me something was wrong. Sure enough, he was at it again, this time inside the tent. This was too much and so mustering all speed I whisked my blankets out and made tracks for a spot some distance away where I spread the blankets, rolled up, covered my head and tried to get to sleep as quickly as possible, keeping my fingers crossed against rain. This time luck was with me and I spent a dry night. I know it will be a long time before he takes another drink. This morning his complexion was a beautiful pale green and the state of his nerves gave him the appearance of a Jack-in-the-Box with St. Vitus dance.

I’m still awaiting the arrival of the pictures you’re sending, but even more anxiously awaiting the day when I can actually see you. I wonder how I’ll react. I’ll probably be struck dumb for about an hour like last time, so be sure to pinch me to let me know it’s not a dream. And if I seem to be in a trance bear with me for a while – it will all seem to be too wonderful to be true and when the realization that it’s not just a figment of my imagination comes to me I will again be my real self, and will ignore the windows like old times.

And now, I sigh and close with much –


P.S. Regards to everyone.

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