About Me

My photo
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.

Prisoners drafted.

This is Ben’s 4th letter home describing his experiences at Camp Upton. He says, “Now, don’t get the idea that I’m homesick just cause I write you every night, because I’m not. I just thought you’d like to know what’s happening to me.” He claims that he’s not homesick but he probably is.
            Camp Upton, Long Island, NY

 June 29, 1943
 Tues Nite
 Hi Everybody,
Well, as usual, I’m tired tonight, but who wouldn’t be, especially after 14 hours on K.P. (Kitchen Patrol). Yep, they woke us up at 3:45 a.m. Monday night & marched us down to the mess hall. But I had an easy job. I was in the washing room & my job was to empty the bowls & cups, put them in a rack & shove them on to another guy who put them through the sterilizer. We would only be busy during meals & loafed most of the rest of the time except when we had to scrub the walls & scrub the floors (about 15 to 20 times)

I find that the Corporals are toughest of the lot. Always yelling & giving orders. But we had one swell corporal who told us confidentially to take it easy, don’t rush & don’t kill yourself. During a lull period, he took about 12 of us out to sweep the walk around mess hall. It was the funniest thing to see. We were all in a row, each sweeping what the fellow ahead had already swept. About every 30 seconds, we would stop & talk until we would see a non-com & then we would start again. When we went around once, we started back the way we had come. Then we started sweeping dirt up on the sidewalk for the fellow behind to sweep.

The only thing wrong with K.P. was that we were on our feet all day, even when we were loafing. If the Sarge finds you sitting down, he gives you a hard job. One kid, the kid who was put in charge of our group coming from Rochester started shooting off his mouth. He got 7 days K.P. You know, it’s funny the people you meet in the Army. Hawaiians, Philippines, Chinese, etc. In the group that I was working with was a Spaniard & 4 fellows who have served time in Prison. One fellow told me he had tried to escape but someone squealed & he was caught. Then he beat up the stool pigeon. It was funny when they were discussing which prisons were best.

I finally got to the P.X. (Post Exchange) tonight. It’s swell. Everything is cheaper than hell. I suddenly remember today that I have lost contact with the world. That I haven’t heard a radio or read a paper, so I bought one tonight. Then I found out that I don’t give a damn what’s going on in the world (excuse the language, but you should hear the way it’s thrown around camp.)

Maybe you would be interested in the way they make the food. They have great big bowls. When they make salad, they dip the salad dressing out with their bare hands & mix it up with their arms. I don’t think the food is very sanitary. One day I found a piece of gum in my bread pudding.

I don’t think it’s entirely the governments fault that there is a waste of food at Camp. They have signs up telling you not to take what you don’t want. And they have such a big variety that you can let a couple of courses go by & still fill up. But it’s deceiving, you think you can eat it all, but you find that you can’t, I know, it’s happened to me. And if there are any leftovers, they use them over. I think that the men would eat their share if the food tasted better (sorry, but I ran out of ink, but to continue). Since I’ve been here, they had coffee, cocoa, & Iced tea & they all tasted lousy - also egg plant, some tomato crap & other stuff. I must admit however that some of the food is delicious, especially the desserts, & we get a fairly decent meal, most of the time. They had Virginia Baked Ham today but I didn’t eat any. That & Bacon is probably the only meat that I haven’t eaten.

My sunburn is getting better now. The fellows had me worried for a while. They said that if a sunburn is bad enough they put you in the hospital & don’t pay you for the time you’re in. But I’m not worried about it now. This morning, my stomach didn’t feel too good so I asked the Mess Sarge for a BiCarb & that fixed me up fine.

Well, it’s getting close to 11:00 now, so I better get to bed. Now, don’t get the idea that I’m homesick just cause I write you every night, because I’m not. I just thought you’d like to know what’s happening to me. Don’t forget to write to me. It will reach me if I move on & I hope I move out tomorrow.



No comments:

Post a Comment