Again Walt mentions Harold and Dorothy and I don’t have any idea who they are, but this time Walt indicates that he met Ruth through Harold. I wish he had said more, because I have no idea how or when they met.
Then he refers to Harold as an 8 ball a term he used to describe guys in the last letter who were sort of weeded out of the horse cavalry. The closest military slang reference I could find was that it means the same thing as a “sad sack”:
The title was a euphemistic shortening of the military slang “sad sack of shit”, common during World War II. The phrase has come to mean “an inept person” or “inept soldier.”
Wikipedia entry for Sad Sack
I couldn’t find an explanation of how 8 ball connects to that sense of ineptness, but that meaning seems to be clear in Walt’s letters. I had never heard the term used as a pejorative before, but I plan to start using it as soon as I can.
A transcript follows the letter images.
Mar 7, 1942
My Dearest, Darling, Dearest:—
I just recieved the answer to my answer to your question,—Get it? It sure makes me feel good, I’ve read it about 3 times allready and expect to read it again—You sure can write a nice letter when you get down to “brass tacks”—Not that your other letters aren’t allright—there swell,—it is just that this is an extra special one.
I know Honey, that some of these days we will be the happiest couple on earth—And I hope it won’t be to far away.
Well, to change the subject, my leg is a little better but now I’ve got a hell of a cold in my chest and I mean it’s bad; when I cough
I sound like a freight train. But I’ll get better—Hope a hope.
A bunch of the fellows are leaving Tuesday, won’t be too long before I leave, wish I knew where.
I’m telling you Ruth, theres so much talking and argueing in here I can’t hardly write. A couple of the guys seem to have a comical streak tonight and are they funny. One of the guys just came off of K.P. he gave me an orange he swiped—another one gave me a half a box of raisins—they were (
sp) swiped out of the kitchen too—Ha—I’m getting a pretty good feed to-night—probably won’t be able to sleep. I don’t care this is Sat. nite, and if I can’t sleep I can dream, about my Honey,
and sleep tomorrow. I often think about you Ruth after the lights are out and it gets quiet. Thinking and planing for days that will come bye and bye and of the lucky guy I am to have a sweetheart like Ruth Dailey.
Say Ruth—you didn’t by any chance have to go to the dictionary to find this (philosophizing) did you—I tried twice before I twisted it around my tongue. Ha-Ha.
Mar 8, 1942.
I didn’t get this finished last nite, so, I will finish it now.
It’s Sun. afternoon now, I just eat “chow” and I feel like a pig, I am so full I could lay down and go to sleep, but I slept all morn.
Do you know the dumb thing I did, I started a letter to Aunt Ruth on the 25 of Feb. and thot I had mailed it—I found it a little bit ago so, guess I will have to finish it today sometime.
I was lucky today, I recieved a letter from you, Aunt Ruth and Sister Ruth. The 3 Ruths.
How’s the weather there—It’s a nice day in Kansas, Skys blue and there (illegible cross out) are big white clouds floating by. It’s very windy here tho. It is always windy—never stops blowing.
S) So Dorothy and Harold are still going to shows Unh? I suppose they are still drinking [illegible word] and bouncing around a louzy dance floor. Oh well
I give Harold credit for one thing, if it hadn’t of been for him we probably wouldn’t of met—Yet I don’t know—I’ve a hunch we would of met somewhere, somehow. And you can take it from me, I’ve seen some guys like him in the Army—(
he’d) he would just be another 8 ball.
You know (Guess Ive said this before) All we do now is wonder where in the devil we are going next. That bothers me. (
W.) When you know you are going somewhere but don’t know where it keeps “your bowels in an uproar.” Ha.
I’ve got a couple of photographs.—rather snapshots I’m going to send you one of me that looks as if I’m half asleep, One of Wilbur Hite, and one of the Troop Commander.
The clothes I’m wearing are the one’s we wear when we train—so we won’t ruin the rest of our better ones.
This is kind of funny to hear some of the fellow say it. First are (
the) some of the orders they give us before, during and after we ride.
Stand to horse
Prepare to mount
Take reins in both hands
Prepare to charge.
Pistol charge—shoot at gallup.
Prepare to dismount—take reins
take in left hand—place right hand on pomel and drop right stirrup.
Stand to horse—etc.
This is just a small (a very small) part of them.
This is what the fellows say. Ha.
Stand to girl.
Prepare to mount.
Take breasts in both hands.
Prepare to charge
Shoot at gallup.
Prepare to dismount—take breasts in left hand—place right hand on belly—
Stand to girl. etc—this could
go on forever.—It’s rather disrespectful—Just thot I tell you—Ha. Boy what they can’t think of. [(I can)—Whoa—I didn’t mean to say that]
Well Honey Guess I’ve filled quite a bit of paper—this time, better save some for tomorrow—Ok? O.K.
Hope you’ve found something to keep you busy or rather something to keep you from being lonesome.
I love you
Am sending a sharpshooters (
ba) medal—This is the kind you buy—the ones they issue are sterling—I have one on my blouse—You can “stow” it away somewhere.
Am also sending a (illegible cross out) U.S. badge—I don’t know whether you will be (
allow to) allowed to wear it—Maybe don’t want to.—But you can take it apart and use ( just) just the U.S. part of it and the lock and nut.—throw the ( p) base away, or you can throw it all away—or do anything you want with it.
Changed my mind guess I’ll just send [illegible cross out] the U.S.—Maybe it won’t get through. I’ll try it tho.
Well as I said before
See you later
I love you