12 May 1942

Walt tries to convey in this letter the experience of having shells fired over your head and the speed of sound versus the speed of light, or something like that. At least the training is getting more interesting.

I had to look up “haversacks and shelter halves,” which are apparently real things. You can see one picture of such equipment here: http://www.hardscrabblefarm.com/ww2/m1928pack.htm

I think Walt might have eventually had trouble convincing Ruth to go to Alaska and sew clothes by hand with thorns, because I think she longed to be a city girl, but I really wonder what she thought of shooting “redheaded Indians.” Turns out Walt might have been referring to some Native American legends of ancient redheaded giants, proving that odd stories could make the rounds long before social media. Here’s one video about such a legend:

A transcript follows the letter images.

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Transcript:

May 12, 1942

Dearest:—

I feel sorry for you if it is as hot there as it is here. I am sitting on my bunk without a shirt and would just as soon be without my breeches. I’m telling you it is really warm. Last night it rained the hardest I believe I’ve ever seen, the sun came up this morning and it had been sweltering this day, all day.

We went to school this morning and went to an Artillery demonstration this afternoon. They were behind us and were firing over our heads, there target was a ledge of rocks running (around) along a hillside. The shells were close enough to us that you could here them “swish” as they passed over.

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First you would hear the gun go off (a 75mm.) then you would here the shell go over, then you would see it hit and explode and then you would hear it.—You see where it hits before you hear it explode.

They “swish” thru the air—sound like an airplane with the motor cut off and the wind whistling thru the wires—You look up, but you can’t see anything—Funny —unh. Makes you think a little—Ha.

Say, you must really be putting in the hours on your dress—I’m glad you can sew—when we go to Alaska you might have to make your own—Ha. Now wouldn’t you like that —you could make me a shirt or two and rugs out of

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bearskins and so with thorns for needles and shoot redheaded Indians—and “gosh,” most anything.

Goodness me, that was an (allful) awful lot to say just to tell me that you wanted a mug of beer or a gin fizz or Blackberry wine—Shut my mouth—that makes me thirsty and they don’t have such things in Kans.—at least we can’t find them. That was like W.C. Fields—he said he was in a town once where they lived for days and days on nothing but food and water.

From some rumors I’ve heard, I think we are going on an over night hike Fri. They are giving out Haversacks and Shelter Halves tonight. I suppose that means some more

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fooling around. There will be some fun connected with it tho, I hope-imagine. Well Honey)—Oh yeah—Twila ought to have spent 10 or 12 more bucks and got a piano—Ha. No: what did it play.

[arrow from previous Well Honey above] Well Honey—as I said before I reckon I’d better shut down the press for tonight—have to shut down to oil it up once in awhile—

So

Until Tomorrow

Goodnight Sweetheart

I Love You

x Walt x

Inside back of envelope:

Love me Honey?
I love you. a whole bushel.

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