January 13, 1945
Epinal, France

No. 4

Dear Folksies,       

            Sorry, did not mean to let these days slip by without writing to you, but in a minute you shall see where my good intentions yesterday went. We’re still sitting on our – you know what’s, and some have even done so rather dramatically in the snow. Nevertheless there are, you will find, quite a few things about which I can ramble on to fill a few of these pages today.

            To begin where I left off with my last epistle — we had quite a repast, shared by several here in the quarters. The funny thing was, however, that that nite absolutely everyone had gotten the same idea and the quarters had 5 different soup-kitchens going at once.

            At the moment we have a few people out on detached service. A team, consisting of Roy, Ed Blasdel, Helen Baker, Chris Colletti and two of the men are loaned out to one of the other Evacs – one that boarded with us just two months ago and which has had difficulties keeping up anywhere near the other older Evacs professionally because of lack of experience and training. That is what is so darn screwy about the Army system. They make up units and dish out beaucoup high ranks over in the U.S. and then send those units over here and then they find that they have to call for help – not just to help them get set up and running smoothly and all that, but help actually professionally. For instance, one large General Hospital was sent over with a guy as Chief of Surgery who had had one year of internship only and had been out in practice in some small town for about two years.

            Our friends in one of the other Evacs tell us how, when all three of our hospitals were supposedly working full blast – there wandered into their surgery a Lt. Col. M.C. who just wandered from room to room and was watching what was going on. Someone went up to him and introduced himself and the Lt. Col. introduced himself as the Chief of Surgery of an Evac hospital. Our friends were rather surprised and asked him if his unit wasn’t busy over there, for they had heard that they were supposedly just as busy as the rest of us. Well, you probably won’t believe that this reply could come from anyone, but it did come from this Chief of Surgery: “Oh, yes, my God, that place is a mad-house – I just had to get out of there!!”

            Reports about Roy are that he is doing five times the amount of work that anyone else there is doing – which, of course, is not unusual – and that that outfit not only has Roy’s team but 4 or 5 others attached to them. What a deal!

            One thing these new outfits have done to the old ones is make evident the tight bond of friendship and mutual admiration that has been set up between all the old outfits — the Roosevelt gang, the University of Illinois gang, the Stanford gang. etc.  Let anyone say anything about the old-timers and just see what happens!

            One thing that we do differently from the other hospitals (and for which we have gotten considerable praise and compliments, particularly of late from the Station and General hospitals — the credit for which goes to Eddie Welles and myself)  — yes, ‘tis the typewritten charts.  We are apparently the only ones, with the exception of some of the surgical teams at Field Hospitals, that routinely type operative notes and histories on cases that come to surgery.  If we had enough typers to go around, one for each ward, we probably would have no charts written long-hand at all in the hospital.

            Johnny Malone and Schmitty are both on detached service at the moment also. Johnny has gone to learn some more anesthesia and Schmitty to learn some Maxillo-facial work.

            Yesterday, Carroll and I went into Fadley‘s offices to get our PX rations of beer, candy, toothpaste, etc., and somehow, having gone in at 12:15, we didn’t leave there until 5 P.M., just in time for supper.  Fadley had a couple of extra cases of beer and he had offered us “one on the house” when we first came in.  But then a big mob started flocking in and he couldn’t handle the business all himself, so Russell found himself dishing out the candies and I found myself taking in the cash.  By the time that rush was over, Fadley insisted on our having another beer in payment for our services.  Well, that went on all afternoon.  Fad was dishing out beer to anyone who came in and would stay a few minutes shooting the bull for a bit.  What a way to spend an afternoon.  So, that’s where my good intentions about writing yesterday went.

                         Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for more of this letter
January 14, 1945

Quite a few of the members of the 59th Evac. Hospital are on “detached service,” helping other units in the area. Those on detached service include Ed Blasdel, Chris Colletti, and Len Schmitz – pictured below.

Ed Blasdel is on detached service.

Chris Colletti is on detached service.

Len Schmitz (Schmitty) is on detached service.