Letters from Chip, Part 2

Tuesday, February 25, 1941

"Dear Folks:
Just a line to let you know that the army isn't a half-bad outfit to live in. The screws are tightening down aplenty both in ground school and on the flying line, but it's still a great life, and don't anybody try to tell you different.
...These instructors are the best that can be had, and believe me, they know their business inside out. They stay right up in the front cockpit until you can fly as good, or nearly as good, as they can. I was up again today, my fourth time, and am learning more and more every day. We only fly when the sky is clear -- never fly when it's raining. We have missed about four days due to fog and murky weather so far.
...All the gang from Wisconsin really hooped it up over Wisconsin's win over Indiana last night. We follow the sports pages of the Chicago Tribune like a bunch of hawks.
Thanks loads for the prayer and the cards. The typhoid shots made every body's arm sore, but I didn't get sick at all from it. A lot of the boys did! Must close now with love, regards -- and don't worry!

February 28, 1941

"Dear Mom and Dad:
I've finally taken time out to get off a letter long overdue.
...We are settled pretty comfortably now. Dellas has the house cleaned to a sparkle, and we are entertaining on Sunday evening. I am barred from snooping around in the kitchen while Dellas fixes supper, because she is set and determined to surprise me -- every meal. Been doing a right good job too. In fact, I have been so pleased with the home cooking that I help with the dishes without being asked. I am gradually working her into the idea of buttermilk soup.
...Dellas comes to the field on the nights when I am "on alert" and we visit at the officers club together with the rest of the married officers, or go to a show.
We are very happy together. For me, especially, it has destroyed all the old lonesomeness. If only I can get her to make buttermilk soup.
Love to all,
Tuesday, March 4, 1941, 8:00 pm

"Dear Mother and Dad:
Just a few more days and I'll be soloing. I hope you won't worry, because our instructors won't let us solo until they are absolutely sure we can do it. Today we practiced landings and take-offs, which is the sign that always comes just before our solo flight. We've been working hard, all of us, and you can notice the strain on the men at the end of the day. We are busy every minute from 5:15 am to 9:45 pm, and when it's over, you're ready for bed, and no doubt about it.
Some of the more advanced students -- those who have had previous flying instruction -- soloed today. There were five of them -- and each one was shoved under a cold shower, clothes and all, which is a flying cadet tradition. After a man's first solo, he gets ducked. Then he rips the piece of white adhesive tape off the top of his helmet, to signify that he is no longer a fledgling. It's all a great ceremony, full of horseplay, and I believe the instructor gets just as much of a thrill out of it as the student does.
Mrs. Pickering sent me a copy of the Dane County News in which she printed my first letter home. If I would have known that, I might have polished it up a big. I'd rather that she didn't print any of my personal correspondence -- just makes me feel uneasy is all. I blush easily, you know. Which reminds me -- you should see my freckles. This Oklahoma sun and wind is really bringing them out in fine shape.
Must close now, and get to my studies.
Love to all, "


Anonymous said...

Loving reading these letters again Audra! Got a good chuckle this morning at my Dad's reference to buttermilk soup...Mom always HATED making it but did it anyway because she loved my dad so much:)

Keep up the good work!


Jon G said...

Thanks for sharing these, Audra. It may have been a different time, but military life hasn't changed as much as regular life over the years - these hit home to me (and probably to others like me)!