October 19, 1942

Camp Pickett, Virginia

Dear Folksies,

      ‘Tis now a beautiful Monday afternoon after a likewise beautiful Sunday. Yep, at last we have had an eclipse of the rain and horrible weather and for the first time in a week, we saw the sun attempt to appear on Saturday afternoon.

We had a funny experience when we were sitting in a restaurant the other day. A somewhat slightly inebriated fellow from the 3rd Div. came up to our table and having seen that I was an M.C. (and I don’t mean Master of Ceremonies), wanted some advice. He has been in the Army since 1934 and recently he has had trouble with his heart – trouble that being noticeable coincident with his hangovers. He wakes up in the middle of the night and feels his heart kind of stop for a second and he feels pressure from below pushing his heart up. He occasionally get this also when it isn’t from a hangover and when he had gone to the dispensaries they have never found anything wrong so he has never landed in the hospital for a check up for it. Now, he is worried about himself, particularly because his outfit is going overseas and he doesn’t want his heart to bother him.

He kept repeating and repeating himself, over and over again, so that it got monotonous. At first when he came to the table, apologizing for interrupting – that he had so much respect for an officer, etc. but saw that I was a doctor, too, so thought it might be O.K. for him to come up, etc., etc. etc.

When he first came up, I stopped eating, but soon found he was going to stay all evening, so continued to eat while he talked – and next thing he was seated along with us for the duration. The funny thing is that he was an apparently intelligent fellow, and well mannered, despite the alcoholic content of his blood. And if he had not repeated himself so many times, we would probably not have considered him under the effects at all. Anyway, I repeated several times about ectopic beats, advising him to take bisodol for his hangovers, etc. until it got monotonous. Finally he left us as we finished dessert.

Actually there isn’t much to report on the last few days, except that Bill Newsom and I have been at a new job. Saturday and today we have been working at the dispensary that is run for the 2nd Army over in their area. It has all been a funny deal. The outfit that was running that dispensary is no longer around, so they had to have help over there immediately on Saturday.

A Capt. was left in charge and Bill and I went over there at 7:30 A.M. on Saturday with five of our enlisted men to help. When we first got there, there was a Col. a Major, the Capt. and 4 or 5 Lts. They showed us where the very inadequate stuff they had was kept, how the dispensary was run, and were then gone mit de wind – even the Capt. who was in charge.

Bill and I saw over 50 patients in the following two hours and sat around wondering what we were supposed to do next – no return of any of the officers as yet. Finally we sent for our transportation to come back to our headquarters – as we had been told that we would only have to work there about 3 hours.

This morning we went over to the dispensary we found the Capt. Arriving about 10 minutes after us, and by golly there was another Capt. M.C. and 3 Lts. M.C. from other outfits who had also been detailed to work there. Pretty soon the Col. who is the Post Surgeon showed up and he asked which groups the enlisted men working there were from. And when told that our men were with the 59th he darned near blew up, saying, “Why, we don’t want the men from the 59th here, they’re too busy packing up and getting ready to leave!!! He wasn’t talking to us, so Bill and I kept quiet and laughed to ourselves and our men.

The thing was that the Col. in charge of the 2nd Army had ordered us there and now the man in charge of all Medical units on the Post was countermanding the order. It was all very funny and the Capt. In charge was in a muddle. He is going to the 1st Col. this P.M. to straighten things out and probably we won’t go back there. If the three men they now have there do some work they can easily handle the job, but if some of the stuff we saw this A.M. is any indication, they will be having their lunch brought to them instead of being able to quit around 11 A.M. as they did today.

One of the Captains and one of the Lieutenants saw a couple of patients this A.M., but Bill and I saw about 150 of the 200 patients that wandered in for sick call between 7:45 A.M. and 11 A.M.

We ran into some rather interesting stuff and the only part we regretted was the inability really to follow many of the better cases. We had a fellow with a thrombus of a small vein of his foot that produced a pitting edema of his lower leg (no varicosities); another man with extremely mobile pattelae that get locked on one side or another at times; another fellow with a dislocated cartilage in his knee; several sprains, backaches, epidermophytoses, etc. And we picked up a couple of pneumonitises, also. All in all, it was fun today, though Saturday we just had a lot of athletes feet and minor, uninteresting stuff.

Sunday, yesterday, we went to visit Col. Monroe (Tom) in Victoria, which is about 23 miles from here. That is where Clara, his wife, is staying and Tom gets out there a couple of times a week.

They are staying with an old settled family in that little town and we had met the lady and her husband at the party for the 15th infantry on October 9. They are a kick. The lady, a Mrs. Woodring, is one of these talkative but intelligent women who can talk rapidly besides continually. We found it awful hard to keep up with her because of her speed, her southern drawl and the words she used that we were sort of unaccustomed to.

We had some wonderful waffles there – the first since leaving home. Though their iron was a circular one, instead of a rectangular one like ours, the waffles were every bit as good.

How long Tom will be around we don’t know, but he is hoping and so are we, that we will be going along with him. There seems to be pretty good indication that we will be, though we may leave a bit later. It would really be swell to be going along the same area, as Tom is awfully nice and so are some of his men.

                    Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
October 20

“We had some wonderful waffles there – the first since leaving home. Though their iron was a circular one, instead of a rectangular one like ours, the waffles were every bit as good.”

Bill Newsom and René have a new job.