About Me

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In 1943 I was drafted into World War 11 right out of Madison High School, Rochester, NY. This is my story as told in the letters I wrote home. They’re all here, all 192 of them. Spend some time with me as I describe my experiences in basic training and then off to war. They were written in an attempt to help me feel close to my family and to let them know what was going on in my life. It’s the first time I was away from home and I have to confess that I was homesick. My folks were Esther and Jacob Kaplow. We were four children in this order: Arnette, Ruth, Bob, and myself.

1100 Recruits Today

We begin to see Ben’s sense of humor when he writes, “ Boy I get such a kick out of saluting the officers, They haven’t taught us how to salute but I get a thrill or rather a kick of making them salute us back."
June 30, 1943
 Wed Nite
Hi Civilians,

How’s the world treating you? Are you still bothered by ration trouble? You are? Well join the Army. Boy, did we have a swell dinner today. It was super. But that was the only meal since I’ve been here that they wouldn’t give us second helpings. Expecting more recruits, so they said. About 1100 came in today, so I should go soon. Practically all the fellows that I came with have left already. Perhaps, you’re wondering why I’m so interested on leaving this camp. When I’m at permanent camp I get Sundays off and every nite. Here, we are on call at any time.
 Boy I get such a kick out of saluting the officers, They haven’t taught us how to salute but I get a thrill or rather a kick of making them salute us back. I was going to the U.S.O. dance tonite. I’m even all dressed up, the first time I have been. But I just found out I have to have a ticket to get in and they’re all given out. And the line to get into the show is a mile long. “Bombardier” was playing - “Five Graves to Cairo” is playing more - So I might go down to the P.X. again after I finish this. I had an easy job today boy. I was sent down to another P.X., the one where the warehouse that supplies the other P.X.’s is located. All I did most of the time was sit on my fanny. I just unloaded a truck of cigarettes, candy, matches, and loaded two small trucks.
The rest of the time, I sat out back in the shade. I seem to be getting all the easy jobs. You should see all the Nestle Bars and Gum they got. Maybe I should send some home to you! Incidentally you should see the two WAC’s (Women’s Army Corps) I was working with! Surprised? Maybe I forgot to tell you that there’s a WAC camp right next to us. It’s the funniest thing to see them driving big (great big) trucks around while we had to shell peas in the kitchen.
 I also swept all the office and overheard an officer dictate a letter going to Rochester. You should see the beautiful civilian gals working in that office. WOW. Especially the two that were in the Canteen. I actually enjoyed my job today. Who wouldn’t? While I was at the Canteen, a prisoner escaped from the prison down the road. All of a sudden there was a lot of shouting and running MPs with the siren in the background. They finally caught him. They’ll probably make him eat every bit of food from all 3 meals. That’s about the worst. Don’t forget to write. (Regards to everybody. I don’t feel like writing to anybody.)
Private Ben

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