This long letter begins on 30 January, but isn’t postmarked until 3 February, and appears to continue over a few days.
There is another interesting reference to Walt’s father, this time noting that it is the first time he has read his writing and that he thinks the writing is O.K.
Then, although it’s been mentioned before, I figured I just had to make some queries into who this Beach person is who sent Walt the book On Guard. At first, I thought it must be someone other than Dr. Eugene C. Beach, the minister at my mother’s church, because I can’t think of him other than as a very old man—plus, it seems odd to just refer to him as Beach, so informal. But I think that’s who it is, now. Maybe he had a more informal relationship with people when he was younger, but it still seems odd to just refer to him as “Beach.” The book On Guard turns out to be this one, with a short review from the Journal of Religion:
This book, which can be carried in the pocket of a uniform, is for men in military service and for men and women at home. It has inspiring, stimulating brief readings for every day of the year. There are appropriate thoughts for special days and seasons. A brief selection of prayers completes the book. These daily thoughts are the kind that will build morale for these troubled times. The author is the minister of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas in New York City,—Herbert W. Hansen.
I have no idea, however, who the Harrises are in that odd story about someone seeking their death by “the power of suggestion.” That’s a very odd story with too few details.
This letter also introduces the topic of waltzes. Here Walt describes Ruth as a waltz, and in a later letter, he puns on the word as a variation of his name. It’s a nice theme running through the letters.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Rufus? I never heard that one before.
A transcript follows the letter images.
Jan. 30, 1942
I’m sorry I won’t be able to finish this tonight as the lights are about to go out—We are having inspection tomorrow—and we had to spend the night cleaning up.—and I mean cleaning—shining—dusting—etc.
Oh yes! Thanks for the picture—it’s swell—I guess you must read my mind—As you will see by the letter I just wrote and which you probably have recieved.
I don’t suppose it bothers you to have your Grandmother eating out—Ha.
Well I’ll see you tomorrow so long
Well here it is—Sat. nite—wish it was a Sat. nite back in Youngstown. Do you.—I bet—maybe—Unh?—
Do you know where I am now—I’m in bed at 8:10—Ha—And am I tired. They sure put us through the paces to-day. We run off and on for half a day. And maybe you think I’m not sore—Oh boy!
I recieved a few more compliments on you and your letter home. I just got a letter from my mother and dad today and they both wrote about the letter you wrote them. I’m getting curious—I’d like to read that darn letter myself—Ha.—
They were both glad to hear that I had joined the Church and thanks for writing and telling them, I didn’t think it would mean much but I guess it did—You usually do think of the right thing—unh?—Yep.
It was the first letter that I ever read of my Dads—either to me or anybody else—(Only because he never had much occasion to write—I guess)—But it was all right. The Ol’ man can write a better letter then I thought. (Meaning no disrespect—of course).
And thanks again for the Camels—I see you ask if I got them—I thought I had wrote and told you I had got them but maybe I just thought I did.
If we have tomorrow off I’ll write a longer letter:—make this longer I mean.
We are going to take some more snapshots tomorrow so I’ll probably send you some more, if they turn out all-right.
Starting Monday we will start training with the Automatic Rifles on the firing line—Real shooting now—they aren’t wasting much time.
One of the things I forgot to tell you about is the tumbleweed—We actually have them around here. I first saw them out on the rifle range—the wind blows them along, and over and over and over till finally they lodge against something—usually against our barracks or a fence around the stables and then we have to drag them away to be burned. Ha.
It has been gradually turning colder—it really isn’t cold—it is just the wind, it blow and blows—write through you—the only time its warm is when you are moving. I bet it will be miserable out on the range next week.—Ow wah! [or ouch?]
Boy those everyday letters of your sure give me a lift. They sure help a lot. I was just reading over some of this letter—and honestly I don’t know how in the hell you read it. I can’t hardly do it myself.
Maybe one of these day’s I’ll get a chance to write on a desk instead of lying on a bed and I’ll write you a good letter. Yessir! “I shore will.”
I don’t know whether I’ve told you or not but we have facilities for writing and reading in a reading room.—a library—dance hall, pianos, restaurant. etc. in the Service Club.—A theatre.—A gym, etc.—But I never have time to use any of them—By the time I take a shower, shave, and write a letter it is time to turn out the lights—Oh I could go out and stay at one of those places till 11:00, but I think getting up 5:00 A.M. calls for sleep—So—that is just what I’ve been doing ever since I got here.
Well I’ll see you tomorrow—
x Walt x
Sunday Morn 8:45
Got up at 6:00—Eat—smoked—sit around and “shot the Bull” for a while and here I am again.
Sun is shining brightly—Maybe it won’t get cold for a little while yet. I think it will be a good day for taking snapshots. It was payday yesterday for almost everybody but me—And almost everybody but me is “shooting crap” or playing poker. But I’m to near broke. Ha. One guy won $18.00 last night but lost it again. Ha. I think that is one thing I will leave alone. Good idea—Unh? Yep.
I just took the shoe shine boys’ picture a little while ago—I’ll send it to you if its any good.
Do you know—I haven’t had time to read “On Guard” yet—But don’t tell Beach that—He’d think I
didn’t appreciate it. I’m going to try and read some of it today.
I just looked out of the window and I see it is clouding up a little I hope not to much.
I’ll see you later “Honey” Probably this afternoon.
I love you, Walt
Well Ruth—Here I am again. In case you don’t know what some one is trying to do to the Harrises or I tell you—It is someone who is trying to obtain their death by the use of suggestion—I’d bet on it—and you would be surprised how often it works—especially on someone who is inclined to be superstitious—Oh Well—You probably know that already.
I am very sorry I didn’t get this out sooner but I thought I would get the pictures tonight but they weren’t finished—Maybe I can send them tomorrow. I hope.
I am glad you told me why you like “Because” I didn’t know—You sure expressed a sweet thought—Especially sweet to me. And believe me “Dearest” you’ll hear it. You know I kind of guessed your ideas about children and it may sound funny coming from me, but I sure do like a little child. You had me guessing for a while on the subject, although, anyway you could of thought would of made no difference to me—nothing could seperate us—First assurance was when you told about helping kids and teaching them in Church—Next you would point out some kid someplace—And then you clinched by telling me about that school or whatever it was—And anyway I knew it to look at you—Anyone who is as sweet looking as you are just has to have a heart. You know—you do write a little nicer—then you talk—What I mean is (No one could be nicer) that you say a little more—And I like it.
By all means, if you can, go up and see Mom—she’ll like to see you—tell them all Hello from me.
I’m very glad that you like my home—all though we may never live there I think it is the nicest place in the world—excepting wherever you are at—And you could change Hell into Heaven.
I would like to sit again with you and listen to a waltz, I love them—You are a beautiful, soft, whispering waltz in yourself,—Maybe that is partly the reason I love you so much—You know—that is the nearest that I ever came to describing you—As a beautiful waltz it is almost perfect. And yet it is not—for you are alive—A living waltz. You know—[erasure]—if I keep on in this mood this will be another night I won’t be able to sleep.
I’m sorry you haven’t been feeling well—what seems to be the trouble I’d like to know.
You know—It always made me feel bad when you had a headache or something—but I used to go to your place and I was pretty sure you didn’t want to stay home—So we’d go, and I know it was quite a “chore” for you—but you’d never say a word—Like good steel—bend and bend and bend—but never break.
Well it is 8:50 and I had better say good night as in 10 min. the lights will go out—See you tomorrow
“To my wife” Ruth,
“a sweet kiss”
You know another thing I think of when I think of you.
The verse in the Bible about Ruth—you know.—It always seemed to fit you very well.
x Love Walt. x