Sunday, May 30, 2010

Food from home

As I read this letter and he wrote about eating sandwiches on the train that Grandma had packed it reminded me of my visits up to Denver to see the folks and the boxes and coolers I would bring home. We would have berries and jams and pickles all home made. I remember I think I was in high school before I realized that there was store bought jams and jellys. I was visiting someone and it sure did not taste the same. Our mom would make lots of pickles, zucinni and dill and sweet. Dad did the berries and we would bring some back that were frozen and thaw them out. Good memories, before memorial day.
So tomorrow morning Tim and I take the 154 panels with over 5,000 paper origami peace cranes on them to the veterans park to set up there with an ROTC instructor. It will be interesting. How do we turn the corner, turn off the war machine? Sometimes I think it will come slowly and people will hardly notice, just no one will work for war anymore.

May 31, 1943

My present address
Gov’t Survey
Drain, Oregon
May 31, 1943

Dear family,

Well, here I am. The first night out in the wilderness on the surveying crew. They just started last Fri. and they left a place for me. I was glad to get it. The more I find out the better I like it.
We are located about 9 miles from Drain which is pretty good, close enough to get mail occasionally and to get back to Camp Elkton once in a while.
There are 3, 8 man crews that are out surveying now the other teams(?) are farther north away from Elkton than we are. I don’t know about the other crews’ foremen but the Gov’t man that we have is a peach so far. He is from the General Land Office and is an Engineer. His name is Gould.
We are allowed $1.35 per man per day for food. How does that sound. The boss likes good stuff he told the cook to bake pies and cakes and stuff so we are living high as rationing will let us.
We have 4 tents in the camp. The boss has one for his quarters and office and we have on to sleep in and one to keep our clothes in and loaf(?) and one to cook and eat in. They are 12’ X 14’ 4’ wall tents. We have some tin stove and they cook on one that has an oven attached.
They haven’t done anything except set up camp yet as it has been raining since Sat. night. Our camp is about 20 feet from the creek so when we want to brush our teeth or wash our feet we just run out the door. We drink out of it too.
Maybe you’d like to know about my getting in to camp. I got to Drain about 11:30 Sunday noon (?) and tried to hitch-hike to Elkton but it was raining and so I gave up. There were some high school boys hanging around the oil station admiring their cars and so I offered one of them a $1.00 to take me to Elkton and he took me up after considering his gas and time. So I got to camp in time to eat dinner. They don’t eat till 12:45. I doubt that they will count Sunday against me as furlough but I don’t know. The Asst. Director talked like they wouldn’t.
The Asst. Director went last Tuesday to start school for the China visit they are send(ing?) a few more I don’t know when he will go across.
Beside my ring I forgot my spectacle case and little pocket note book one of those that has refills, you know. You will probably find it in that little drawer of the dresser upstairs. The glass case I’d think is on the top of the refrigerator and the ring is hanging up on a nail by the water bucket. I’d kind of like to have the glass case out here so I wish send them back. We have such good rats that Mom doesn’t need to bother to send me any cookies. You will find a sugar stamp included. The cook back at camp said that they were doing both now and it seems that they get to keep our points while we are surveying so they will get along better with 24 extra man rations. So he got generous and gave me a stamp I hope you can use it.
I had plenty to eat on the train, had one sandwich left when I got here. Those cheese really filled me up. All I bought was 2 glasses of milk. 20¢. Not bad. I had some cookies left too.
I packed up my stuff this morning and stored most of it and got to camp here in time for dinner. This afternoon I went to Eugene to get my fingerprints taken. We are working directly for the federal Gov’t I guess.
Tell me, just how hard is it to read my writing? Had I better spruce up a bit?
Well I’m getting (I should say still) sleepy.
God has been very good to me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Paton was the town that was near the farm in Iowa. As children for us it was the town where Grandma and Grandpa lived. As dad says in this card it was clean and small. I think there were a couple of churches. I remember our grandparents house there, not real big but it had a couple of rooms upstairs and a kitchen and a mudroom and a front porch and a livingroom with a piano where Grandma taught our cousins how to play. Grandma and Grandpa moved there when Charles got married and he started to run the farm. Grandpa still owned part of the farm and would go out there to help or to look around. My Aunt Betty said her 4 kids would just follow him around the farm as he looked in on everything.
I haven't been there in over 20 years so I'm sure the town and the farmlands look different now. When I read the Omnivores Dilemma I recognized the county he visited in Iowa as Jefferson County where the Aldrich farm was, it sure sounded different in his book.

May 29, 1943

Davis Jct.
10:15 A.M.
May 29

Dear folkses,

I missed that bus by 10 min. It left at 8:29 instead of 8:55 like the schedule said. I’d have made it otherwise.
I will leave here at 10:45 on a train that will arrive at Dunsmuir at 6:30 P.M. and leave Dunsmuir at 1:30 A. M. or something like that. Then I’ll get to Drain at 11:39 A.M. Sunday. Not so bad as going up to Eugene but it would have been nice if I could have gotten to camp before 6:30 then I would have saved a day. Oh well, there will be more days.
Davis is a nice little town some bigger than Paton. Clean and new looking. I’m glad I got to loaf here for a while.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Listening to soldiers

I forgot that Dad didn't write home when he was home. this short postcard tells a lot. Listening to a soldier as he travels back to camp. I went off to Gallup, NM to a meeting of math instructors at two-year colleges. While there a group of motorcyclists on the "Run for the Wall" spent the night. It was cool to watch them as they left town in large groups, I thought that they had found a way to empower themselves. It occurred to me that we needed to empower the truths of the soldiers and not the myths of war.

May 26, 1943

About 10:30
May 26
West of Omaha

Dear Folks,

I guess I’ll dash you off a note to let you know I’m doing alright. I hope you can read it. We just went through a place named Schuyler. We are only 15 min. late. Not bad. We got into Omaha 15 min. late and left 30 min. late but have made up part of it.
I got in a very nice coach. Sat down by a soldier. Seems to be a nice guy. He is from Virginia and is going back to camp in Oakland Calif. His father had died and he had 10 days emergency furlough and some extension. Anyhow spent 10 days at home. He seems to like to talk so let him. He told me about their farming method and they are pretty backwoodsy and one-horsey. Even a one horse corn-planter.
I don’t know when you will get this. It will help to fill the gap till you get one from me after get in camp.
Well I’m getting sleepy.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring time, Travels, and oil spills

This begins a few days of Dad traveling back to Iowa. He leaves on a friday and gets there on a Monday. He manages to write a few postcards on the way. I am off later this week on a short trip to a math conference in Gallup, NM.
Meanwhile, the oil leak has been filling up the news and the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone is busy talking about sueing and money and not about preventing more harm or how it can be cleaned up. I keep thinking back to this world of the 1940S and all the trains and buses we had, so we didn't all need to have cars. How can we change our way of thinking and do more group think instead of individual think.

May 5, 1943

C. P. S. #59
Elkton, Oregon
May 5 1943

Dear Folkses,

Today is Wed. and the way it looks now I’ll be pulling out from here at 11:00 Fri. night. Ar. Portland 6:00 Sat. Morn. Leave at 9:00 am. Ar. Jeff. somewhere around 10:00 pm Mon. according to the schedual. I don’t know when it will really get there. It will probably be late. If you aren’t there I’ll call you up. So far as I know I’ll get there Mon. I have my ticket and Am sending a suitcase to Drain today to be checked and go on ahead. I recon it will be there by the time I will.

If I should by some chance not get to leave on Fri. I’ll know about it in time to send you and Airmail letter, I think. I’ll explain about my getting started sooner when I get there. I will still have 22 days away from camp. I got my ticket to return through Calif. I think that it will take me a halfday longer but I thought it would be worth it. I will go to Portland on the Bus, that will be something new.

I havn’t seen anything of the films yet and I doubt I will cause I sent to Monkey Ward and Sears both. The first time I never got anything from either of them. Sears still has my money maybe they will send me some yet. Monkey sent it back. Then I got an idea and ordered three rolls of Monkey’s own private brand of film and I got two rolls of that. I still have it and will use it on the way home.

Keep looking for the film as I’d like to have some to come back with. I heard that the drug stores get their ration of film on the 5th of the month, I don’t know whether there is anything to that.

That’s about all right now. See you Mon. night.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Troubles and Strawberries

Two things stood out for me from the following letter. One was this phrase, "most of my troubles never get to me" and the other was about saving the strawberries. I'm kind of pondering what the phrase about troubles not getting to me means. I'm thinking that it means that the things he worried about didn't happen. Kind of like the quaker phrase, way will open. Some people it seems the other way around, that troubles just keep on finding them. I've been finalizing grades which is interesting end of the semester work. there are often the borderline decisions to make. The truth of it is, I would rather not be giving grades. I did some montessori training in the hope of getting away from grades and then ended up back in a structure which gives grades. I wish we could give a two layered grade, one for effort and work and one for mathematical knowledge and ability. The second would be an indicator of readiness for the next level. I wish this was also available to me as a spanish language student. I passed the course, yet I do not feel I am ready for the next level.
Strawberries, yum. Dad was into fruit. He grew it as a hobby. I guess that my grandparents had grown strawberries as well. Dad grew both stawberries and raspberries and blackberries. I think my favorite was always raspberries. He had these berries he called Suter berrries, they were on the property they bought back in the 50's. He kept a bunch of those going for over 50 years. He bought and started newer hybrids that were big and red and sturdy, but I loved to find the suter berries, small and unpretentious and with more flavor in one berry than a handful of the newer ones. I loved picking berries, which always meant eating quite a few before we ever got our buckets into the house. Dad had made up some hooks that would hook into a bucket (really a cut off milk jug - recycled) and the other end would hook onto our jeans. We would work our way around the berries eating and picking, what a joy. there were not many troubles out in the berry patch.

April 22, 1943

C. P. S. #59
Elkton, Oregon
April 22, 1943

Dear folks,

F L A S H ! !

We got a telegram this morning from Mary Newman (Paul French’s Secretary I think) quote. “Stand away from the door. Furlough ban lifted.”

I Thought I’d tell youns right away to make up for the way I dillydallied about the first news. Now the chances are pretty good that I’ll get home at the appointed time. I havn’t bought a ticket yet cause I hardly expected to get to use it. But will get busy now. The way I have it planed I will leave here the 10th of May and arrive in Jefferson the 12th at 10:05 PM.

I’ll write when I get the tickets and am certain that and when I’ll arrive.

The surveying doesn’t look too good now, it didn’t turn out to be detached service. I think that now I can go home I’ll pass up this surveying. The larger surveying job with the Coast and geodetic Survey hasn’t gotten out this far yet but they expect it to. It will be over a larger territory and should be more interesting. They have picked some men from a couple of the far estern camps and the supisition is that the gov’t men that are picking the men are starting in the east and working this way. We don’t have much information about that either.

Well save the strawberries I’m going to get there this time.

I hope you can pick me up some film I havn’t been able to get any out here and I’d like to take a few pictures on the trip home. I have developed 5 rolls of film myself but havn’t printed anything yet. I’m going to do that before I leave and show you what I can do if anything. 620 is the number of the film I want for my new camera. They still sell it but there seems to be a lot of people buying it.

I’ve learned one thing, most of my troubles never get to me. Maybe God sort of shoves them out of the way.

Yours as ever

April 21, 1943

Mon. nite 4/21/43
Dear Famli,
There’s not a lot of news right now but may be soon. The surveying is getting closer. This is just in Washington and Oregon for the General Land Office, we’d be surveying public lands in the wilderness. I don’t know yet what I’ll do. My job here is about petered out maybe a month more. The surveying is supposed to start the 1st of May. We haven’t heard any more about furlough, so I don’t suppose I’ll get home till fall.
I’m glad to get letters from you and hear how things are going. I guess I’m pretty much a farmer at heart yet.
Your Son

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Frustrations of war

I was trying to think of a title for this set of post cards and a letter. Seems there is a bit of frustration as furloughs are canceled. I've been reading my way through Agatha Christie books begining in 1920 and I'm up to the 1940's now. She has many people displaced by the war in England in her stories. I think we have become so mobile that we do not realize that this much movement of people was unique.
The big news this past week has been the reaction to Arizona's law allowing police to ask about peoples immigration status. Speaking of people relocating. I am off to Tucson in a couple of days to attend a war tax resisters gathering. There is so little resistance to the continual wars of the US, perhaps a bit like the British Empire, no draft no resistance.

April 12, 1943

C. P. S. #59
Elkton, Oregon
April 12, 1943

Dear folks,

Have you heard any rumors from Wilsons about CPS furloughs being cancled? Well they are. The 31st of Mar. we got a telegraph from Gen. Hershey saying that there would be no more furloughs till further notice. I never said anything about it to you because I hoped to hear something of the reason and perhaps when we would get them back. But we havn’t heard much as yet so I figured I’d better wise you up. We have had some scanty information from Paul French. As I understand it about all he can get out of Hershey is that this is war and that Seclective Service does not propses to tell everything it does and why. Paul French seemed to think that Hershey acted for the best interested of CPS. He hinted that transportation had something to do with the furloughs being cancled. We have had all sorts of Ideas, from all of us going on farms to everyone being re-examined. None of them have any real grounds. The transportation one has about as much chance of being right as any. We heard a rumor that there was to be a large movement of troups some of these days which ties up with that. Of course this work of fight programs might have something to do with it too, they are trying awfully hard to get COs on farms. The NSBRO has been sort of divided on the deal. The Bretherns and Menonites are ready to eat dirt from SS and the service committee isn’t The service comm. has tried to hold out for our money to be used in relief work but the comptroller general deems to think it belongs to the gov’t. They finally agreed to hold it till after the war but no one seems to know what will happen to it then. I think it should be used for relief work right now cause now is the time when people are starving and by the time the war is over they will be gone. Also after the war it will take them a long time to agree to let the Service Comm have it. This money I’m talking about is what is left of a farm detached service man’s wages after his maintance has been deducted. That is to be 50¢ a day. The balance of the wage is to be held but the Gov’t till after the war. And I’m not crazy about working on a dairy farm either. I think if it comes to a move I’ll hold out for something else. But we shall see when the time comes.

What I started out to tell you is that the chances are that I’ll not get home for some time they way things look at present. If furloughs are started again it will have to be soon to do us any good as the first of July is when we have to start staying around close in case of fire. The month of June is filled up with applications now and I had mine in for May which is also full now. But we probably won’t have to worry about. I look for Hershey to keep us corked up for half the summer.

I havn’t heard anything about Surveying either. I don’t know whether if fell through with in face of all this farm fuss or not.

Another thing Paul French in his last letter said that they ahd requested a meeting with Hershey to examine their realations, It seems that French and the NSB are pretty burned up about the furlough thing. Well here’s hoping.

I recon that you are finally over the mumps by now. I have said that for a month now but now there’s no one left to get them. That was some mumpy poem Mom. I hope you didn’t have any trouble getting them out of your “tummy”. Maybe I’ve got them in my tummy to cause the food here tastes crummy too. We blame it on the rationing are you having trouble getting anything? It seems that everything is rationed and the things that I like least like macaroney and carrots count the least points so that is what we have most of. We have several beans too which I like very much but some grype about them. I eat lots of things that I never did before tho.

I heard from Ab the other day and he said that Coshocton was down to 53 men now. He didn’t say much about his furlough jus that he went home again. He let on like he didn’t use it all the first time. He said that some of the guys at Coshocton were plenty hot about the fourlough business. And I can imagine, we had some good agitators there.

I was glad you opened Kingsley’s letter. It will save me telling you about it.

My big shoes are great. The camera I got is dandy but I havn’t been able to get any film yet. They still make it but it si like any other film the drug stores are rationed and they sell it when they can get it. If Dad wants to keep his eyes open when he’s in towns he might be able to pick me up some. It will use either of two different numbers. Eastman 620 or Agfa PB20, they are the same size made by different companies. I’d sure be glad if I could get some. I have one roll of the little film left, I have been hiking around the last few Sundys taking a few pictures of things. The more I take the more I want to take.

We are making a prefabricated building to be used as a warehouse in Eugene now. We make it in sections here and then will take it to Eugene and set it up. It is 20 by 30. I am doing some of the engineering on that but not much of the work. There are 4 other guys that are working on it. When I’m not helping them get started on a new section I work on the drafting tables. Did I tell you that we are going to make 5 more.

That’s about all I can think of right now. I got some modern tracts that I don’t like so well, some of them are alright.


April 5, 1943

Mon. Morn. 4/5/43

(Text obscured) – youns by now? It is raining here again but (?) it hasn’t been too steady. We know that the sun can shine here cause it did once.
I got to figure up my accounts and found that if you have not sent in the $35 for April I have just $50 left. I was figuring on keeping 50 for clothes & things. If you have sent it in it won’t wory me much. I have probably all the clothes I’ll need for some time and we will wory about some more when the time comes. So don’t give them any more 35s for me whether you have sent on for April or not. I should have got busy and figured up sooner. Well, so long.
Your son

April 1, 1943

Thur. nite. 4/1/43
Dear folks,
I got your letter today, this will let you know. Sure sorry that so many of youns had to get the mumps, I’ll bet there no fun. I’m busier than a cat(you know where). Guess I’ll have to get away from this camp to catch up with my reading. I certainly hope Charles can stay in high gear. And Harry don’t get the mumps too. I keep saying that I suppose that you are pretty well over the mumps by now and sure hope this one finds you that way.
I got the big shoes, and they are dandies. I got a camera too. $4.75, that was mostely Christmas money I hadn’t spent yet. I got one that I’m pretty sure of getting film for.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I haven't yet found anything I couldn't do

Dad does a bit of bragging in this letter and postcard. The family has mumps. I'm not sure of all the illnesses they have during these three years but it seems like quite a bit. I think Dad had this ability to quickly learn new jobs. My sister Bonnie has had the same talent and got a position once not because she was the most qualified but the one they thought could learn jobs the quickest. I think that approach to learning is one that is not appreciated as much now, we expect everyone to have credentials and be trained in a specific job, instead of letting someone figure it out.
Our semester is about finished and in one of the math classes I teach I took more of a let them figure it out approach and was impressed by the students abilities to solve problems and how their methods worked and were often different from my approach.
It is amazing for me to read about his thinking of going to China, when he never left the US, except for some short trips to Canada. They also considered going to Costa Rica in the 1950s when the Quaker community in Monteverde was starting up. Quakers were discouraged by the nuclear arms build up and also the McCarthyism and blacklisting of people and friends of theirs moved to places like New Zealand and Costa Rica. My parents bought land west of Denver with a couple of other families and planned on having a kind of co-housing unit there. During the 50s, my sisters and I also remember hearing a tall skinny guy playing the banjo in a church basement and all us kids sitting round listening to him sing 'froggy went a courting' and other songs. That was Pete Seeger who was blacklisted at the time. I just googled 'Pete Seeger' and found wonderful clips on youtube. Not skilled enough to put the link in here.

March 27, 1943

C. P. S. #59
Elkton, Oregon
Mar. 27, 1943

Dear folks,

Time sure does skitter by doesn’t it. Here is is the last of March.

Guess I’ll stick to the bare facts this time. That was a nice fat letter I got from youns. I think it was Fri. that’s yesterday.

I’m not certain about getting home yet. We don’t know much about the surveying yet. We do know that some men have been picked from some of the eastern camps to work in Texas. We out here figure that by the time they get out here with their picking they will be ready to go to Alaska. I’m getting a little doubtful as to whether I have enough on the ball to get in. There are quite a few that are interested go to Alaska. Because we had a hard time to get a carload to come out here. But I have a lot of confidence in myself and have had some experience which a lot of these College guys haven’t. You’d be supprised what a bluffer I turned but to be when it comes to getting jobs. I just barge in and keep my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut. The usually nobody finds out how little I know. I havn’t yet found anything I couldn’t do ( I recon there are some tho) I suppose I’m at little conceited. Say what would you think of my going to China? Don’t get excited, I’m not ready to go yet. Beside there are a lot of more qualified men than I. But China is a long way off and if they should want a lot of men they might have a hard time getting them, that’s where I’d come in. It isn’t actually cinched yet but we got confidental news from AFSC about a month ago that 70 men would be sent to do transport work. I’m not jumping anywhere till I know what I’m getting into tho. That goes for surveying too.

I got the check but havn’t done anthing yet. I’ll have to get it chashed first. That much would scare the agent at drain. I don’t suppose they would take a check anyway. I was a little surprised too at the amount. I don’t expect to spend it all tho. I recon that I had just as well use your money as to have it spent on bonds, of course there is a posibility that you will get that back but I’m a little skeptical. Maybe I’m getting so I don’t trust the Gov’t like I should.

Don’t worry about Ab guying any furlough. Nobody could get by with it. If he hadn’t earned it, he might have been granted an emergency furlough. That is supposed to be only used in case of a death or severe illness in the family. They might have thought that it was necessary if there was a possibility of his getting out. That’s one possibility of getting extra time. Or this might be what happened. He works in the laundry and that is on CPS overhead. Overhead men can get by with working on Sunday and then taking leave if the director approves. Ab might have worked a couple of Sundays and the added that to another Sunday that would give him three days. He could hire someone to work overtime in his place if the director didn’t mind putting a fib on the records. I don’t think that very much of that would be allowed by any camp office because there would have to be at least three or four men, that would have to find it out and it would be taking a chance of giving the CPS setup a bad rep. The regulations that we have state that no man shall take more than 30 day furlough per year and that the director may take any of that away if he chooses for disciplinary purposes. Leaves are supposed to start from the lose of the work day on Sat and end on Midnight Sun. but Overhead men that have to work on Sunday are allows by consent of the director to take leave in the middle of the week and if it seems a worthy cause they have been allowed to pile up as many days as three that I have known of, and taken them in the middle of the week. That is not according to the regulations that Selective Services has set up for us but was done when the director saw fit. Ab may not have used up quite all his furlough when he was home the other time and he would have earned about 3 or 4 days since. He could have gotten some one to worked for him on the last half day and started a little early that is done some times but isn’t exactly according to regulation either. Well the point is I don’t think Ab could have bought any furlough cause there are reports of us and what each man does every day that have to be filled out and the office help is picked pretty carefully and wouldn’t let it by. Also I wouldn’t stand a ghost of a chance getting any extra time and I would buy any if I could cause it isn’t fair to the rest or fair to the CPS system or my ideas of the way to get along with the Gov’t.

I suppose that everyone is pretty well over the mumps by now. Now don’t go and work too much. Take time to enjoy your work and you’ll live longer and be happier too. You know who I’m talking to now. I’m more impressed all the time with how little we really know about what will happen tomorrow. We just flatter ourselves don’t we. It seems to be the natural thing to wory, and sometimes I have to talk pretty loud to myself to keep from stewing cause CPS is so uncertain. But the best thing I have found is to let the guy that made us and lets us breathe take care of all the arrangements. He’s the only one that can see ahead of today and knows what to do about it. I mean God.

As ever,

Attached: pamplet entitled “Me” and “Which”

March 21, 1943

Mon. Nite, 3/21/43
Dear Family,
Not much to say. Got your letter Fri. Sent for shoes today.
Furlough application in for May 10-31. Don’t know any more than I did as to whether I will come then.
Things going pretty good here. Got a new man to help me. A good guy. From Cedar Rapids In. Thirty-seven years, name, Heshel Browser.
Mighty sorry about youns getting mumps. But you won’t have to run from them now.
This card is to let you know I havn’t forgotten you. SoLong-----
Your son and brother