November 4, 1944
Finally I have found a spare moment in which I can drop you a line. I hope you received the two cards I sent on the train, + if you did that you could read them.
I haven’t looked at a map because there aren’t any available, so I don’t know exactly which route we followed. After Chicago we went through Gary, La Porte, South Bend, + Toledo. We were outside Toledo when we went to Led, + woke up in Schenectady. We followed the Hudson from Albany to N.Y.C. The scenery didn’t amount to much until quite a distance south of Albany. Then the river becomes wider, the shores very steep + wooded. We were gypped because of the fog which limited our vision, + have discovered on each morning afterwards that the fog is so thick you can cut it with a knife. On the way down the Hudson we saw West Point, Sing-Sing, the Gripsholm at anchor, the Columbia U. + the N.Y. Giants stadiums, + of course pulled into Grand Central Station, at about 12:30. There were just hundreds of girls on our train + we filed through the station by twos, causing even New Yorkers to stare at us trudging along with all our baggage.
My suit case proved to be very heavy + before the day was over I had two blisters on my right hand + very sore shoulder muscles. The other suitcase arrived the next evening in good shape.
We took the subway to Hunter which is 197 blocks north. We really didn’t see anything of N.Y. or the Bronx even though the subway is an “EL” long before we got here. About all I’ve seen of N.Y. is the sky + Hunter.
We had mess immediately when we arrived, + right off the bat they started drilling us. We always march in formation wherever we go – to mess, to get our luggage, to class, every place.
Yours truly was appointed section leader which means I call out all the directions when we march or drill. I walk separately from the group, yelling “Hup, two, three, four, column left, etc.” What do you know, CAP has benefitted me in at least one way. I’m also Catholic group leader so I lead the 7 kids in my group to Church.
5 Nov. 1944
After we had mess we were issued our hats + havelocks, which are rainproof covers that fit over the hats + down on the shoulders. I look like the very devil in the hats because my hair is so short on the side that it looks as if I don’t have any. Our stockings are called “G.I Nylons” which is a big laugh because they’re icky heavy lisle stockings.
Next we were assigned our billets which are apartments of two bedrooms, bathroom, gallery, + two closets. They were formerly civilian apartments + there are 510 girls in our building. Four girls are quartered in our room, four in the other, so that eight of us share the same bath. We were lucky since some of the apartments have 10 or 12.
The big thing is that Mavis + I are in the same room, in fact we’re bunk mates. She’s my upstairs neighbor, meaning she has the top bunk + I the lower. Our other two roommates are Jean Kanne from Rockford, + Marilyn Mc Claren from Chicago. They’re the ones whom we mett [sic] on the train + liked them, so we tried to get together + succeeded. Marilyn is 20, lives in Rogue Park, is a Catholic, + attended the U. of Minn. + Mundelein. Jean is about 26 or 27 + has been a teacher for the past three years in Downers Grove near Chicago. I like them all + we get along fine in everything.
After we were assigned our rooms they called a meeting of all the girls in our section (40) to explain some of the general rules governing us. After that we went to mess, came home to another meeting, broke up about 9:00 (2100) + had to be in bed by 9:30. Our beds weren’t made, nothing was unpacked, + we weren’t washed, so we all went to bed dirty, tired, + somewhat mad about the whole thing.
Friday morning after mess we all took our aptitude tests which consisted of book-keeping, exams, spelling, etc. In the afternoon we were fitted for regulation shoes, tennis shoes, + galoshes. The shoes, of course, aren’t much to look at, but the important thing is that they’re comfortable. Friday night we had another meeting concerning rules. Saturday morning, I woke up at about 5am + was sicker than a dog. The rules are that in order to report for sick call you have to go to mess first even though you’re so sick you can’t stand up. I went but sat it out in one of the lounges, losing my stomach a few times. I finally got to the dispensary only to find about 200 girls ahead of me, all sick with the same thing – upset stomach, diarrhea (sp?), + a bad stomach ache. As it turns out, it was all caused by food poisoning, presumedly [sic] by the fish we had Friday night. By Sat. night there were some 500 girls sick from ptomaine. I never felt so low in my life + never saw so many others sick. It really lays you low. Today I feel pretty good, although a little weak. They sent food over for us yesterday so that we could stay in our rooms since the hospital was too full to accommodate us.
It is now 9:15p.m. Monday night + as you can see I have been interrupted many times. I’ll ring off this diary mon + write soon. By now I’m feeling all right except I just can’t choke that food down they serve us at mess. I really miss home cooking! Hope you are all fine.
Lots of love,
Talked to James [uncle] Sunday, but we aren’t allowed visitors, so I’ll just have to wait for our first liberty in order to see him.
Got your mail tonight – first I’ve received. Sure was good – keep it up!
No airmail stamps will have to send this free!