September 22, 1942
Camp Pickett, Virginia
On Sunday evening, being Yom Kippur, I was going to go to Services, but found out that they were only given on the Post at the opposite end of the place from where we were and since it was raining, I decided to go to the A.M. Services instead. But woe is me!! All good plans of mice and men go awry.
I was over with Lois, just sitting, talking and reading some letters, Sunday evening, around 8 P.M., when the Colonel came bursting in and said to start packing, as we were leaving by 11:30A.M. the next morning. He didn’t say where we were going, but one of the gals ventured that we were probably going to Camp Pickett, Va., to join the 3rd Division which had gone there and that had missed us so badly since we left Ord. Some of the girls had had letters from some of the fellows in the 3rd Division, and they had sort of anticipated our joining them — or at least it was wishful thinking on their part. Anyway, the Colonel’s face was a picture when Del said we were probably going to Pickett. He wanted to know how she got her information so soon — as, by his face, she was correct and had hit the nail, or the picket fence, on the head.
Anyway, I went back and packed up my stuff, got to bed early as we were to have breakfast at 6 A.M. A lot of good getting to bed early did!! The officers who lived in the barracks above us Lts. were also moving at the same time and they proceeded to pack in shifts apparently all during the night. They made noise all night, had their radio going the whole time and, I think if it hadn’t been so cold that none of us were ambitious enough even to get out of bed, we would have formed a gang and gone up there and shown them how to pack by throwing their things plus themselves plum out of the window. At any rate, I believe we managed to get an hour of sleep during that whole night.
Just as we were thinking of getting up at 5:15 A.M., what do we see but Bryner and Stratte sauntering, or staggering, into the barracks. They had been up in N.Y. and had overstayed their 6 hours by another 6 hours. They were two surprised cookies when they saw us getting up – being all packed – at that hour.
As usual, the 59th gets up early so that they can hurry up and wait. We sat around doing nothing until 10:15 A.M. then leisurely walked down to the train. Train finally pulled out after box lunches were thrown on at the last minutes – at 11:20 A.M.
This time we had no nice Pullmans but had chair cars with two to a wide seat – no room to stretch out and no air-conditioning. It wasn’t terribly hot, but the car got awfully stuffy at times. Then if we opened the windows, which we did, we got awfully sooty as these darn trains in the East burn coal and even wood, instead of oil like we do in the west. Of course, they have a lot of nice Diesel engines, but they don’t seem to use them to pull the Army around.
What a ride – there were other trains ahead of us and we waited in various spots so that we were on that bloomin’ train for 14-1/2 hours, for a trip that should have only taken 7 hours.
Our meals were prizes – we were given 5 bum sandwiches for lunch and dinner combined, an orange – and that is all. As it happened we weren’t given enough boxes of lunches so the officers gave their dinner sandwiches to some of the men for their lunch and then Marv Kahn arranged to get some more food – sandwiches and ice-cream — at Washington. These sandwiches were a little fresher but hardly any better.
We arrived here at around 2:45 A.M. and amazingly enough, were met by trucks. We had fully expected to have to walk to wherever we were to stay. In fact, when dumped out at the barracks that were even lit up for us, we were told that there was some food awaiting us over at the Mess Hall of the Station Hospital. Well, that was 10 times more than we expected and we thought right then and there that we might even like this place. Certainly no place could be much worse than Kilmer as far as camps go – for, as far as camps go, Kilmer went.
They even had sheets and blankets on the beds for us here and as we didn’t get our bed rolls or foot-lockers till this A.M. all we had to do was make our beds and crawl in.
This morning, awoke at 11 A.M., showered, got the soot out of body and hair and had a GOOD lunch. At the moment we are eating at the Officers’ Mess at the Station Hospital, and, to reiterate, it is GOOD. We are soon, however, going to have our own Mess, right next door to our barracks.
This camp is a large one – about 60 square miles. Most of the camp seems new – streets so much nicer and not as muddy as Kilmer. Some trees around too, and all in all looks like a nice camp. Treatment here is much different from Kilmer – they try to be nice here!
Plans?? Nothing at all definite. Anywhere from 1 to 7 weeks, is the latest rumor, but nothing definite.
Love from de both of us,
Loads of love,
Watch for my next letter