May 12, 1942

Monday

Helen Dearest:
     Today I had a lucky break. Instead of doing KP and such I started going to gunnery school. It seems that lots of the fellows who finish school here have never even hadl handled firearms, much less fired them. So they started a school to teach these men something about rifles, pistols, and machine guns. And I am attending this school, which lasts a week. And when I finish this week I’ll act as a instructor in this school, since I have had some experience with these assorted arms. We go out in the field and play with the guns. Then we also go to the range and do some firing. It’s a lot better than KP, and I can be out in the open air. And, until I leave here I can keep on doing it, acting as instructor. I consider it all a lucky break. And it’s fun. Today I touched my first machine gun since I was in “E” battery, and the first rifle since I was in the 7th. It was fun.
     Saturday afternoon I went AWOL, and went to Miami. I went to see a friend of mothers from Shelter Island, on Mrs. Nelson, and incidentally the 22 year old blond. Darling I love you very much, and the heck with anyone else. I saw her Saturday night, and was disapointed. I all means that no one else can possibly compare with you. Every time I meet someone else who seems nice, the always develop flaws. In short you are the most wonderful girl in the world, and I love you very much. I know that dearest. And it is emphasized for me every time I meet another girl, because you stand miles over the others, all of them. But it doesn’t take other girls to make me realize just how much you stand out. Oh darling, I love you so much it hurts me inside. 
     The photos arrived from East-man today, and seem to me to be somewhat better than the other ones you sent, which I gave to the Stacks. By the way, I went by their house yesterday, but everyone except Mr. Stack was out. And so I didn’t stay long. I may go see them tomorrow night. They are now letting graduates out three nights a week, for from 6:00 to 10:00 PM. So I might go over there at six tomorrow night.
     I don’t think I’ll call you up before leaving here, as giving out such news is definitely forbidden. Iste Instead, I’ll write as soon as I get any news. It’s bedtime now.
     Love
     Tommy
     P.S. They didn’t catch me being AWOL this weekend, so all is OK. 

I have very distinct memories of shooting a BB gun with my grandfather when I was younger. We would hang out in his side yard shooting empty beer cans, and the occasional errant bird feeder invading squirrel. He never was a good shot, so the squirrels were usually pretty safe! It’s funny to hear about his time in the gunnery school, and how that experience evolved into time I spent with him.

May 9th, 1942

Saturday

Helend dearest:
     Well, this morning I graduated, and am now eligible for KP, etc. My final average was 85.7%. Now I just hope I get shipped out of here soon. Very Soon.
     This morning another tanker was sunk off here by a sub. The gunfire could be heard here, and rockets and flares could be seen. That makes an average of over a ship a day sunk off here this week. And we are supposed to be the people men trained to to combat these subs, we men who have gone through school here. So instead of sending us out, they keep us here. Why, when a sub sinks sinks a ship, it takes over an hour for them to get the necessary permission for a plane to take off after the sub. And by that time it’s gone far away. I think if the American people realized how much red-tape and official st stupidity hinder the effective conduct o the war, there would almost be a revolution. Men lose their lives and ships are sunk while the brass-has piddle. I only wish there were some way the people could be told this, so something might be done. 
     The party Tuesday went off well, with much vino and spaghetti. Everybody seemed to have a good time.
     Promotions are being handed out around here right and left, but of course no students or graduates have any. However, I should surely have a good rating very soon after leaving here. Maybe if I didn’t get sent to too bad a place, we can get married yet. Another thing in regard to the rating business, I will be doing plenty of flying, as far as I know. And so I’ll get the 50% extra flying pay. So keep your fingers crossed darling. Then The sooner I leave here, the sooner I should get a rating and the sooner we can get married, I hope. That is provided I don’t get sent to some impossible place. 
     I am now sitting around writing to find out if I can get out this weekend, or not. There are some new pass regulations or some some such coming out today, and I may be able to leave. I Let’s hope so. God, but I hate this waiting to find out about things. I think I’ve spend fully haf half my time in the army waiting for something or other. Do you remember that Saturday afternoon after the big rain, waiting to see if I could get out and see you? Of course, this is somewhat different, since you aren’t here. But still I want to get out.
     Darling I love you always.
     Tommy 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here’s wishing you the loveliest of Valentine’s Days! This is one of my most cherished holidays; although I don’t typically celebrate it with chocolates or flowers but always find myself celebrating with introspection. I usually set aside time on February 14th to remember my grandfather and all the loving (and unique) memories I have of him, because today was/is his birthday.

When I think of my grandpa, I remember fishing off the end of the dock, stealing sips from his beer when no one was looking, shooting the BB gun in the side yard, and having him show me the medals he was awarded for his service in World War II. I remember playing with the binoculars that he kept hanging by the front door, and how he always wanted ‘two fingers of milk’ with his dessert.

I have so many great memories of him, and I’m so thankful for this project and how it has given me a chance to get to know Tom in a different light. So, in honor of my grandfather, on his birthday, I’m picking this project back up. I’ve spent some time away from Helen Dearest, and am now at a point that I can reinsert myself back into the intensity and responsibility of being the custodian and transcriber for my grandfathers love letters to my grandfather.

Thanks for your patience in the absence of regular posting, I look forward to continuing this journey… And, again, Happy Valentine’s Day!

May 7, 1942

Thursday

Helen dearest:
     Well, I got through the course here allright. This morning took the final exam and got a 91 in it, making my final average here 86%. That is not too bad, but neither is it too good. But now I am through, and eligible for K.P. 
     You had better hope that I leave here soon, or I’ll be very annoyed. You’ll never know how deadening it is to hang around here doing menial, just waiting. It’s foolish to hope I won’t get sent out soon, when what I want to do is leave. I’ll be leaving sooner or later anyway, and it’s much better to leave soon than hang around and take all the stuff they hand out. So I definitely hope I leave soon. 
     I have an idea that I will stay in this country, at least for a while. And also I don’t feel that I’ll stay here much more than two weeks after this. At least I hope that is the case.
     Tuesday afternoon we had a picture taken of the graduating class, and after that I went swimming. The[n] came back for the 9:30 curfew. We are old enough to get killed, but not old enough to stay out after 9:30P.M. I really mean it when I say I’ll be glad to get away from the stupid school squadron.
     I would very much like to watch you wash your hair in the shower. I would like to be with you always, and darling, I love you. You are so beautiful and I want to know all about you, which I won’t until we are married. Please marry me the next time we are together, even if it is before we can set up a home for ourselves. I want you so terribly you see. I want to put my arms around you, and feel yours around me, and for us to be one. It will be wonderful and beautiful darling. I love you so.
     Tonight we have the class spaghetti party with vino. I am hungry, hot and thirsty now, and could do a good job on a plate of spaghetti and a cold bottle of wine. I had better stop thinking about it though, since I can’t have them now. There seem to be many things that it is better to sort of shelve the thoughts of. I want to sleep with you terribly, so much that it is better not to think of it at all. Else I might go AWOL to come see you and marry you. 
     It is about time for dinner, so I’ll close. Never forget that I love you, and that you love me.
     Tommy 

May 3, 1942

Saturday

Helen darling:
     Today I had my last test before the final exam. My average up to date is 85.6, but the final counts 40% of the final grade, and if I got a 69 Id have to repeat the last week. So hope for me that I’ll get through all right, so I’ll be eligible for K.P.
     The pictures arrived at last, and I think I know maybe what the trouble was. The woman used a coarse-grained paper, in what seems to be a sort of sepia-color. I think if they were printed on a black and white paper that’s finer grained they would be better. So I think I’ll have new prints made according to this idea, and I’ll take the Stack’s prints over the first chance I get, probably Monday. By the way, I don’t thin think the pictures are so very bad.
     Thursday night after school three others and I went to town to drink a little beer. We got back about five-thirty. Went to Wert’s, etc. You might be interested to know that they have changed the floor show at the George Washington Hotel, and different dancers are there now. Also that different soldiers sing there now. Otherwise, all is the same. We sat in front of Wert’s about half an hour and watched the ocean. There was a full moon and the surf breaking in the moonlight was beautiful. I missed you very much darling. I love you terribly.
     You say you wish we were only twelve inches apart actually, instead of twelve inches on the map. Well, I wish we were zero inches, and in fact were next to each other preferably in bed. That may be an immodest thought, but it would be very very pleasant. I think that even you will have to admit that. I love you, and want us to be one in every way. 
     Today I got a letter from Daddy. He wants to see me very much, but doesn’t see any way clear. If he did come down it would have to be this week, as I’ll be restricted after this week. It’s good you came when you did, as they are really coming out with the restrictions fast and furious.
     This morning I had to move from downstairs to up. It was one of those rather dopey army changes that don’t have much reason. It is about the same upstairs as down, but moving was a nuisance.
     Tomorrow is Sunday, so I guess I’ll go to the beach. Next week I go on the early shift. And that is about all the news. That is except the very important news that I love you more than anything in the world.
     Tommy 

May 5, 1942

Tuesday

Helen dearest:
The school has come through with a brand new rule now. The men on the early shift have to be in at 9:30PM, so they will get plenty of sleep for the next day’s work. As they say, they want us to be “mentally and physically alert and awake.” But it’s sort of tough to have to be in every night at 9:30, when next we will be restricted. This all gets me very mad. Personally I intend to go out illegally if necessary, and if I get caught, then it’s just too bad. Please hope for my sake that I leave here soon, no matter where I may go. 
At about 1:30PM yesterday, a tanker was torpedoed off the coast here. The master of her made for shore, and got her aground before she sank. I didn’t go to the beach yesterday, but they say you can see the wreck from shore. That sort of stuff is getting to be too much of a habit.
Sunday I went over to Palm Beach, after going to the Stacks. They liked the pictures, and were glad to see me. They had your salt and pepper shakers, and seemed to like them very much. They were all well. Then later in the afternoon I went to Palm Beach, but as it was about five o’clock I didn’t go swimming, but went to Wert’s for a beer. There I ran into a fellow who went to Choate with me, a fellow whom I didn’t like very much there. I still don’t like him.
Then I got talking to a couple of women at the bar, one pretty nice, about 22. The other was about 40. They were driving down to Miami Beach that night. So still another soldier (not the one mentioned above) and I drove down to Miami Beach with them. The young one was driving the car, a big Cadillac. When we got to Miami Beach we had a couple of drinks and then the other soldier and I returned here, arriving at some weird hour of the morning. I think I’ll go to Miami one day soon and see the young one. She was a nice girl, a Wellesley one. Hope you don’t mind my having a little fun before I’m restricted. In other words, don’t be annoyed, for there is no reason.
Yesterday I slept. (Not in school of course) After Sunday night I needed sleep.
There is no new news to write about. It is very hot. So I shall close. This afternoon at three a class picture is being taken, and after that I’ll go to the beach, I think. I’ll be all shaved and dressed up, so I might as well go to the beach. Remembering of course to return at 9:30PM.
I have figured out a scheme to get out of here allright, even through I am restricted and can’t get my pass. It is slightly illegal, but should work. Don’t you think I have a genius for figuring out ways to get away with things. The idea of being cooped up here doesn’t appeal to me, hence the schemes.
Darling, I love you. Please don’t worry about what will happen to me, and worry about where I’ll go. One of these days I’ll com back, and when I do we will get married. So until that day comes, there isn’t much we can do but sit tight. Until we do see each other again, let’s just not forger we love each other.
Lots of love
Tommy 

April 30, 1942

Thursday

Helen dearest:
          Yesterday morning they came around and said we had to carry our gas masks all the time now, as there was danger of a raid or some such. Also the guard was doubled everywhere. And also once more we were restricted to the post. Only the two school squadrons had these restrictions, and they have been lifted in the other school squadron, but the stupid 40th still persists in being stupid. I am so sick of the schools in the Air Corps that I wouldn’t stay here as an instructor for anything in the world. I’d rather go to Australia or anywhere, rather than stay here. From all I can gather school squadrons are all about the same no matter where they are. So just pray for my sake that I leave here soon after graduating. But all the fellows so far who have graduated have been kept here for about four weeks or more, waiting to be sent out. And while they are waiting they do K.P., guard duty, sweep up details, dig ditches, etc. It seems to require eight months of schooling to qualify a man for these duties. God, will I be glad to get away from these stupid schools. I wouldn’t go to another one if they made me a general at the end of it. What is the sense of going to school for all these months, when all it seems to do is qualify us for K.P. And when we see a draftee in three months made a corporal over us. I almost wish I had never gone to these radio schools, and surely wish I had never gone to this one. Down here they won’t even let the students use the athletic equipment, such as balls, bats, and gloves, which the War Dept. provided and the people paid for. But enough complaining.
          I finally go[t] my radio so it works, and it seems possible that it might really keep on working. It is now playing a program of Noel Coward, at this moment “Zigeuner.” (The spelling is doubtful, but it’s not as bad as the carrotts and bannannas.)
          Noel Coward is now over, so I have a Cuban station on. Down here the Cuban stations come in as loud as the local Florida stations. Most of their programs are pretty poor, third-rate orchestras trying to play American dance tunes. About as bad as Sammy Haye trying to play a good rumba. But once in a while a good native band and singer get[s] on the air, and that is what is on now. Lots lots of those funny rattles, drums, etc. In fact, this band is quite good. Now they are spouting Spanish, and it is all a great mystery to me. Once in a while their programs are very funny. You should hear “Pepsi-Cola hits the spot” sung either in Spanish or with a horrible accents. I shouldn’t have written that. Just as I finished a man cut loose with “Pepsi-Cola” in Spanish. It’s quite amazing.
          The mail down here is getting all messed up like it was at Scott Field. I get your letters in bunches two or three at a time. I wish they were spread out normally. So far the pictures haven’t arrived, but I wish they would hurry. I want to see the pictures of you washing your hair. After we are married will you let me watch you wash your hair, and take pictures of that very interesting process. I love you so very much darling. We will never stop loving each other, will we?
          Why doesn’t this war get over with so I can come home and so we can get married and lead normal lives. I’d like to be able to walk down the street with you and not think that I’d have to be back at the field at such and such a time. I want to get away from this strange distorted Army life, and be normal, like other people. I pray to God it won’t be too long until we will be together again.
          Yesterday morning early I went over to Wert’s and got the bathing trunks which we left there after the debauch of Sunday night. Then I came back here. It’s funny, but it’s been ten days since you left, and seventeen days since you came down. In some ways it seems like yesterday that I saw you. I guess it’s because when we are together my sense of consciousness is greater, and everything seems much realer. Oh, but I love you. You’ll never comprehend how much. I was thinking as I fixed the radio that it just seemed like a day ago that I bought that tube, and you waited for me. I love you, dearest, more than anything in the world.
          Tommy
          P.S. Fort Devens is not on Cape Cod, as you locate it, but is NW of Boston. I see you have no sense of direction as well as no sense of spelling. If you don’t improve immediately, I’ll divorce you. 

April 28, 1942

Tuesday

Helen dearest:
     This is a bright hot morning, but I feel too lazy to go to the beach. Sunday I went over and became involved in a a little beer drinking after going swimming. Somehow or other swimming makes me thirsty. Maybe it’s the salt water I swallowed. So a friend and I drank beer at Werts until about 2:00A.M. I felt quite poorly yesterday. But I met a lot of people Sunday night, all of whom were quiet. Or at least most of them were. 
     Yesterday morning I slept all morning, and went to school the rest of the day. Nothing too exciting has happened to write about. All I do is think of you, and how much I love you. It is very nice loving you and being loved by you. Yes, it’s very nice.
     For the five weeks out of the seven I have completed in the course here my average is 86%, and I stand fourteenth out of thirty men in the class. In short I stand just about in the middle of the class. At least I’m not at the bottom of the class.
     Thank you very much for taking care of the films. Let me know how much they will cost you, and I will send you an equivalent amount in Air Mail stamps so you can write me more often. As if you weren’t writing me very often already darling. You are so wonderful and so good to me. And I love you so very much.
     I think that I shall now put that tube and resistor in my receiver. You remember when I bought the tube and resistor, I guess. After fixing the darn thing, I’ll try to sell it to someone before it bursts again. Payday is Thursday so there should be a little money around available to buy a radio. It’s too much trouble to try to take it with me wherever I go from here.
     Well dearest, I love you. And loving as much as I do, I won’t subject you to any more of this writing.
     All my love
     Tommy 

April 26, 1942

Saturday

Helen dearest:
         Your letter containing penguins, and the card with the variable nose both arrived today. Thanks for both. I’ve tried to arrange the nose so it looks like a penguins beak, but without much success so far. 
         Today I did nothing but sleep and read, as I felt too lazy to go to the beach. Tomorrow I intend to go and spend the day there at the beach, provided the weather is good. It had better be.
         Speaking of weather, have you had the films developed yet, the films with the flood indelibly engraved upon them, after that rain I know how Noah must have felt. How would you have liked it if we had had to built and ark and float away on it? Just a cozy little art for two though? I love you and want to be alone with you.
         This is being written in the classroom, which is full of bugs. Big bugs, little bugs, medium bugs, and even mosquitos. You would be quite definitely uncomfortable if you were here with me and the bugs. But I would protect you darling. Never fear, no bug is a match for me. Even a pesky bug like you is no match for me, as witness the way I have managed to keep you in line. I really feel that we have hooked each other darling, and it makes me extremely happy, for I love you tremendously.
         The reason I wanted to look at rings with you that afternoon was to see just what your taste in engagement rings is. Then when a propitious moment arrived, I could buy one in the type you like and the right size. As for the actual buying of a ring, I think it would be better to wait until we see what happens to me. If it is at all possible, I want you to be with me when I get it. And I definitely want to buy it out of what I earn myself. After all, we have got to live off what I earn, so I want to start out by buying the ring with what I earn. I suppose that is sort of silly, but that is how I feel. So let’s wait for a while before doing anything definite about the ring.
         I said I would phone you after payday, but have changed my mind. Instead I’ll phone you after I graduate, when I find something out about where I am going. I feel that that would be more sensible, since it is a little expensive to phone often, like Dan’s girl does. Much as I want to talk to you, I’ll wait until I find something out about my future destination. I know you are as interested in that as I am. 
         Goodnight now darling. I hope I dream of you tonight. I did dream of you last night. Someday when we are together I’ll tell you about it. It was a very nice dream.
         I’ll always love you
         Tommy

April 24, 1942

Friday

Helen dearest:
         You must have gone through an awful peculiar part of Carolina to think it looked like New England. I have lived there and can say it definitely is not like New England.
         I’m glad you had a pleasant trip up to New York, and am also glad you restrained yourself in the matter of pickups. Only two is very definitely restrained and is below par. And only one soldier too. You had better get out to Fort Totten and raise your self esteem, otherwise you might get an inferiority complex.
         Yesterday I got a letter from Daddy which contained a dollar bill. It was very handy, because all I had left was 95¢. Wednesday I signed the payroll, and should get paid on next Thursday, the 30th. That too will be a happy day.
         Darling, I could keep on forever telling you how wonderful it was to see you, and how glad I am that you could come. But I’ll sum it all up by saying I love you more than anything in the world. Come down again next week.
         It was a little cloudy today, so I haven’t gone swimming. Think how disappointed all the blonds are going to be, after they came to the beach just to see me. Not to speak of the redheads and brunettes. Bless them all, but think how disappointed they will all be.  
         I just had a terrible thought. Suppose that with all this rationing, they should start to ration coffee. Then you would really be in trouble, wouldn’t you? That is just a passing thought, however.
         One thing that is not a passing thought with me is loving you. I love you now and always will. I guess we will always love each other, and some day we will have each other and will be able to be together forever. That will be a wonderful day..
         All my love forever
         Tommy

It seems that I’ve inherited my love (addiction) to coffee from my grandmother!