December 3, 1942

Camp Kilmer, New Jersey

Dear Folksies,

       Sunday night we went to bed early in preparation for an early start on Monday. I got up a little before 6 A.M. on Monday and after getting ready I walked over to Lois’ barracks and with Lois, Bam, Fran, and Pat Barry and Gert Brazil, I took the bus to N.Y., leaving their area at 7 A.M. and arriving in N.Y. at about 9 A.M. We could have taken the train, but probably wouldn’t have gotten to N.Y. much earlier. Furthermore, the nurses have been told some screwy thing about a rule that they are not to ride on trains except on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. ??why??

       At any rate, we had breakfast, the 6 of us – me and my harem, at Toffenetti’s on 42nd and Broadway. After breakfast we went shopping. The gals were looking for some raincoats and also some uniform dresses, so as I had nothing better to do, I went along with them.

       We traipsed around to a few places and then finally landed up at Sak’s 5th Ave. where a couple of wholesale houses had referred them to. The store there had recently opened a new dept. for nurses uniforms, etc. and the woman who was in charge of the department was very nice.

       While I was sitting down and the gals were preparing to try on things, this manager came over and asked me where I was from. When I told him, “California” he asked, “Where in California?” When I said, “San Francisco,” he proceeded to reel off a couple of names asking me if I knew those people. And, by golly, of course I did!! When I told the gals afterwards that the manager and I had had quite a conversation, they were amazed. The people this man knew were Jim Ransohoff, Bob Ransohoff, Jerry Simon, Harry Camp, and the Levi Strauss gang. ‘Tis a small world, ain’t it?

       After whopping around a bit and walking up Fifth Avenue, it got late in a hurry and so Lois and I went to the Essex House to meet Helen and Mischa. After a good lunch with swell oysters, we left and went looking in shops for a few other things that Lois wanted, shoes, slacks, etc. We also went to Macy’s and got some groceries for the gals, as their food at their mess hall is so lousy they have taken to eating most of their meals in their barracks out of groceries that they get plus cookies, etc. They get their thermos bottles filled at the PX and manage pretty well. They go to maybe one meal a day, or at least some of them go and bring stuff back.

       At 6 P.M. we met the gang at the bus station and got back here at camp a little after 7 P.M.

       On Tuesday morning I loafed in bed until almost lunch-time. Then at 11 A.M. we all went over to the gas chamber and went through with our gas masks on. The man in charge wanted us to take off our masks and go through rapidly with them off, but as we had done that once at Ft. Ord, we very nicely refused. The gals took off their masks and went through, however, but they hadn’t done it at Ord. The concentration of the gas in the chamber here was only about 1/10th of what it had been at Ord when we went through, and I remember how we cried for hours after that little experience.

       Tuesday afternoon we had a hike – about 9 – 10 miles, skirting the camp and going along the banks of the Raritan River for a while. It was pretty cold, but not terribly windy and we walked pretty rapidly so we kept warm enough. Wally Greene and I were in the lead and we kept up a good pace the whole time.

       Tuesday night we went over to the Officers’ Club where there was quite a mob. The club is now a two-story affair, the second floor being a balcony all around the room. There was a juke box providing the dance music, but the pieces were old and bum, so it wasn’t so good. However, for a change it was better than sitting around in the barracks playing bridge, etc.

                    Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
December 8

“René’s Harem” – minus one. René went to New York City with nurses Bam (Charlotte Bambino), Fran (Trembley), Lois (McFarland) Gert (Brazil) … and Pat Barry (not pictured here).

René and his “harem” had breakfast at Toffenetti’s

Wally Greene and René were at the head of the group all the way back from their hike.