Dear Grams

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Ray Hahn

Dear Grams

Dear Grams,

            I guess by now Mom has told you that I got drafted into the United States Army. The notice came in the mail early last April and I was ordered to report to the induction center at Frankford on September 10th. I left home on the 9th and got to the induction center in plenty a time. There were 92 of us gathered there and we managed to all get onto four big buses for a ride to the trainstation. It was only my second train ride and it was a very nice ride through the mountains. It took 18 hours and we arrived here a little hungry cause the only food on the train was cheese sandwiches and coffee.

            I been here at Camp Pickett now for three weeks, and they really keep us busy. Our days begin at 5:30 – it is still dark in the mornings and we get a halfhour to shower, shave and assemble at the mess hall. The food is pretty good, but they don’t know how to make pancakes like you do, but on Sundays we get scrambled eggs. They give us toast on some mornings, but mostly its biscuits and real salty butter. The coffee is awful strong but if you put lots of sugar in it, you can drink it.

            My assignment is guard duty. Me, and three other guys – all first timers are in charge of the front gate of the whole camp. We work six hours at a time. When someone comes up to the gate, I gotto step out of the guard house and face them with my M1 in guard position like when an officer says ATTENTION and then I have to ask them to state their business. I have to listen to what they tell me and decide if they are friend or foe. If I think they are friends, I step out of the way to give them directions to the camp office and tell them to go to the receptionist. So far everyone we see is friendly, no foes yet.

            Grams do you know how heavy an M1 is? Probable not, so I’ll tell you. It weighs almost ten pounds. Its like doing your job while you carry around two bags of sugar. My sergeant tells us we are healthy and strong so we shouldn’t worry about it.

            Grams you know I love you and Poppop and I think of you often, but you should not worry. You know we have the color of the day, right? It changes all the time, sometimes, Mondays are blue, but other weeks Mondays are green. The way it works is that usually I have duty on blue, green, red, and orange days. On yellow days I have fitness training. Sundays don’t have a color but if you want to go to church, you can. I do cause at home we always go to church. Aint got no reason to change.

            Color days are easy to learn and remember. There is always a stack of Color of the Day cards at the front of the breakfast line. You just take one and keep it in your pocket so you don’t never forget. So don’t you forget too. You never have to worry about me on yellow days, and on the other days, I don’t do anything dangerous except ask people what their business is or aint.

            Not all of us get leave at the same time, so I don’t know if I’ll be home for Christmas or not. If I do get home, I’ll be sure to come over to Bardstown to see you and Poppop. If I get there I sure would like to taste your sausage biscuits again.

            Grams, I know I’m all grown up now – like being in the army is not for kids but I will always be your “Little Larry” and I hope that never changes.

                                                                                                  Love to all,
                                                                                                  Lawrence Whiteford
                                                                                                  October 29, 1942

When we send letters to family we got to sign our letter with our whole name and the date so in case something happens to us they know where to mail the letter to. They always wave their fingers in the air when they say “in case something happens.”

PS: I got some extra Color of the day cards and am sending them to you so you can see what my days are like. Today is a yellow day. When you get your color of the day card, you should write the date in the space where the word Today is and then on the back your write down the things you do that need reporting. I usually write down things like 2 trucks loaded with supplys for the mess hall arrived at 9:45 AM.

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It would be interesting to know if Whiteford ever saw combat and, if so, whether he survived the war.

I love the personal nature of this.

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