Letters from Chip, Part 1

Muskogee, Oklahoma. February 14, 1941. 7:20 pm.

"Dear Folks,
Just a line to let you know I'm safe and sound and feeling great. The air down here is as clear as a bell, and believe me, we're getting plenty of it in our lungs.
...We had a great trip -- a private pullman coach all the way. We arrived last night at 1 a.m. -- or was that today? We climbed right into bed -- and a good bed, which we make-up ourselves every morning.
...We wear ordinary shoes -- the old pair I brought along and our wool socks. We have been given coveralls, a heavy sweater, and a leather sheepskin-lined jacket and cap. Our uniforms will be here in about a week. We were measured for them today.
...The food, believe it or not, is swell. Not near as good as mom's of course, but better than anything you could find in a restaurant. We are served cafeteria style and can have as many helpings per meal as we wish. I had a pint of milk for every meal and am going to stick to it.
There are about 150 men in our class and about 90 upperclassmen. Lower classmen are known as dodo birds. They estimate that 45% of our class, about 60 men, will 'wash out' during the first five weeks.
Must close now, as we have a meeting coming up in five minutes. Will write more, soon.

P.S. All flying cadets must write a letter home at least once a week or be forced to do 'gig.' (That's walking steady for one hour.)"

February 18, 1941.

"Dear Folks,
Am terribly sorry I didn't get a chance to write another letter sooner, but we've been 'on the hop' every minute here, and it just hasn't been possible. I'm working on the cadet publication here -- 'The Gosport"
[Note from Audra: forgive me if this title is incorrect; the writing is unclear] and am also writing 'propaganda' articles for various newspapers -- the last duty by order of the commanding officer.
...At the last writing, there were some 240 men here. There are about 205 now. Every day, three or five men 'wash out,' not because of scholastic requirements, but because they just can't fly good enough. There are 60 men left in the upper class out of 137. And another 25 or 30 of these will 'wash out' within the next month before they get a chance to go to Randolph.
This is the heart of the dust bowl down here, and the land is dead dry and flat as a table top. When the wind blows, it lifts a fine cloud of dust about a mile in the air and it looks like a heavy fog for the rest of the day.
...In three days we've learned to snap to attention, salute, and execute every marching movement in the books. It's a great life, and tough. Believe me, they make you toe the mark. I wish you could see the way I can make up a bed and put a locker in order. I can't believe it myself.
...Must close now to get to my studies. Will write again the first chance I get. Don't worry about me -- I'm doing great.

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