four years ago today

January 18, 2013

My dad died. His dog, Ben, died with him. January 18th, 2009. It was a house fire. Probably smoke inhalation. No working smoke detectors in his house. There wasn’t much working in his house, except electricity, and it was likely a frayed lamp cord that started the fire. The best guess is the smoke eventually woke him up and he tried to find his phone to call 911 or tried to get down on the floor. The firefighters discovered him kneeling against his bed with his head on the mattress and his phone on the floor near his side table. You can easily imagine that he was panicking and knocked the phone to the floor and then was consumed by the smoke, which was so thick that the firefighters had to use a special infrared light to find his body. The whole thing sucked and so did everything that came after it except spending time with my family, most especially my sister, and getting to finally meet and become friends with my dad’s best friends, most especially his best friend, Joe.

I have no idea about the long arc of grief, specifically grief for someone with whom I had complicated relationship, at best, estranged, at worst. I suppose I could google “arc of grief.” It doesn’t really matter. Its still the case that I will be writing about something unrelated to my dad and and the next thing I know I’ll find myself writing him anyway. And it’s still true that when I’m  getting to know someone I want to be close to, I end up talking about my dad and my dad dying. This year I got slightly panicked that I had forgotten the date of his death. And I had to go back and look it up here on my blog. The forgetting part, not just of his death, but of him, is strange and unsettling. I’ve always had to kind of remind myself that he existed and that he was actually my dad, and that’s even more so true since he died. I think I finally realize why my Grandmother and Mom and uncles talk so much about my Grandfather — so they won’t forget him.

I’ve still not read Billy Budd. But it continues to sit in a pile of books on my bedside table. I did remove his dog tag from my key chain. It was loud and I think I wanted to take a break from trying to be close to the experience that impacted my dad’s life more than anything else. The thing I’ve noticed this year is that sometimes it feels weird to say I loved or love my dad, because loving him became such an exercise in abstraction, so separate from concrete expressions of love, like birthday phone calls or ever hanging out at his house or going with him to his favorite festival. But George Saunders said “Grief is, in a sense, the bill that comes due for love.” (his eulogy for David Foster Wallace). So by that measure I clearly did, love him that is.

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veterans day 2012

November 13, 2012

Reposting my 2010 Veterans day entry. Also, thinking of my dad’s friends, are now my friends, and are who are vets too. Vietnam vets. I bet anything, Joe goes out to visit Dad’s grave today. That’s the kind of stand up thing he would do.

An excerpt from Chris Hedges’ War is the Force that Gives Us Meaning:

I learned early on that war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by myth makers -historians, war correspondents, filmmakers novelists and the state-all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. Fundamental questions about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our place on the planet are laid bare when we watch those around us sink to the lowest depths. War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks just below the surface within all of us.

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sad dad stuff with an unexpected gay twist at the end

October 15, 2012

Should I have read Billy Budd when my dad was alive? Did I fuck up? I hope not. I really don’t think so. It is hard to imagine it would made any difference, really, that it wouldn’t have changed our relationship, right?! He never asked me about the book after he gave it to me for Christmas however many years ago.  I don’t even know when that was. Is that significant that I can’t remember that? This is maybe the most open hearted I’ve been since he died. So is this new bout of sadness and anger all just the normal long tail of grief and it feels different because I am in a different place? Heather? What do you think? Kath? (There’s some other names I’d post here, but I want to respect your all’s privacy.)  I keep thinking about Dad’s friends, Joe and his brother, Patrick, and that guy, Gary, and Delbert and his sons and how they all knew Dad loved them. And how they knew Dad would do anything for them because Dad did do so much for them. He was a wonderful friend. The best. ( Also, Mom, you can’t pipe in here and say how much Dad loved us because it was an abstract thing — all idea and no action.) God, I just don’t want to be this person anymore with these sad-ass Dad abandonment feelings. It sucks. It really does. I know I will be fine. I know these current feelings or sadness and anger and rejection will pass. But the stuff in my psyche – man, dude, not the legacy I was hoping for. (Mom, you also can’t tell me about all the great things I got from Dad, right now. I know how much we are alike. I wouldn’t trade that in, either.)

I both make jokes and serious comments about my longing, as in how much I love to long. I say things like I am a “longing junkie” and I date women on the other side of the continent. I write sad songs and neurotic poems and then listen to even sadder songs and read even more neurotic poems. Longing is just so much a part of me. I cannot imagine myself without it. And the irony, and irony is not even the right word (but lots of right words don’t even exist) is that it comes from this hard and messed up place of not really having a dad and then being this little baby gender queer butch who never thought she would . . . I don’t know . . . get to thrive in this world. Thrive sounds so fucking therapeutic. I mean get the chance to have as meaningful life as everyone else around me who was not a baby gender queer butch. Sometimes, when I think of my life now I am amazed, really, that it has been possible. Right up to this very minute, I am amazed to always be becoming more myself. It seemed like the most secret dream I had when I was kid – that I would be myself in this world. I guess I am posting some belated coming out commentary and potentially ending on an unexpected up note, which is not something I predicted when I started writing tonight.


sad songs and music in general and my dad, surprisingly, again

October 14, 2012

I have been listening to this handful of sad songs over and over this week. I have been listening to other stuff too, but these 3 or 4 heart breakers are on repeat. (This new band Rhye and their live version of a song called The Fall is pretty perfect.) MTB asked me if that was because everything is changing and I think that was a good intuitive guess. When she said it, I thought yeah that’s it. I like the places a really good sad song gets to and I think I’m open to having those places be gotten to right now, if that makes sense. Also, I admire immensely the craft of writing a great sad song without lapsing into cheesiness. Although it not the craft that’s getting under my skin.

I keep trying to remember if we had music on all the time growing up. Kath?  My sister is the keeper of so many childhood memories. Our parents had a pretty massive classical record collection and Kath and I started amassing our own collection pretty early on – Beatles, Jackson 5, Jesus Christ Superstar, Partridge Family, Up with People, Bobby Sherman, the 5th Dimension and the Monkeys are the ones I remember. And then down at my best friend Tim’s house his older siblings had the Spinners and the OJays and the Ohio Players and Marvin Gaye and Al Green and Chakka Kahn.  Plus, everybody played piano at our house, maybe not well, but Kath and I took lessons and our parents met in music school, so they played very complicated stuff, or at least it seemed that way to me when I was little. There is a particular Mozart sonata that immediately evokes very visceral memories for me of my Dad and our house growing up. A friend who teaches piano played the piece for me several months after Dad died. I swear for a second I could smell him and see  his fore arms (which are pretty much my fore arms)  and . . . well . . . crap, that was not where I planned to go with my thoughts. There is just not a good way for preparing yourself for the unexpectedness of always missing someone. I don’t know why I keep forgetting this.


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another amazing sunrise which somehow led to me thinking about my dad

October 4, 2012

Looking at the Cascade range silhouetted against the sunrise this morning made me think of looking at a picture in a book or a travel magazine. it was a very “this is the northwest – it is stunning” moment. It is amazing that sunrises on the tram, even with 70 people crowded in the cabin, can be so amazing to look at. I know I am repeating myself writing about this, but I can’t help it. How does one stop talking about an amazing thing?

Sometimes, during the thick of rainy season I will try to remind myself that all the amazing sunshine is still right there; it’s just behind the cloud cover. Occasionally, the trick works and this idea makes me feel less desperate for the sun. Other times it makes me feel all “dead duck,” inf act, I’d say almost wretched if I inclined to be dramatic about it, and I want jump on a plane as fast as I can and top the clouds so I can finally see the blue sky again.

There are still times I think of flying home after my dad died, leaving Portland early on a grey and cloudy February morning, falling asleep and then waking up somewhere over the upper midwest. The sky was so clear, which felt bittersweet, and I stared out of the window, looking down at the typical patchwork of farmland that makes up so much of the midwestern landscape. It was both a sad and comforting thing to look at because I had been ruminating on and writing about that landscape for many months before my dad’s death, re-remembering everything I loved about the Indiana as a place and how it was almost like this metaphor for who I am and how I go about being in the world. I had even gone that summer before my dad died, in large part, because I was worried I was just imagining that I loved the landscape and was kinda scared that I had fallen into a deep and delusional bout of nostalgia, as opposed to having real and true insight. And I’d felt so relieved and affirmed and so like, “yes, I do actually know myself,” to get home and discover that the all the places and things I had been re-remembering still did blow me away in my heart. And that quest, so to speak, was why I saw my dad alive for the last time, about 6 months before the fire.

I don’t know why stuff about my dad is coming up. I don’t feel sad and there’s nothing happening that would trigger it – no special dates, no dreams, no recent contacts with his friends or his other family. I’m not working on the his ww2 letter project. I don’t purposefully look at his photo every day. I even removed his dog tag from my key chain several months ago and as of right this second, I’m not even sure where I put it and strangely, I don’t feel panicked about that. So, I don’t know what’s going. Could it be as simple as the facts that 1) I am amazed that amazing things still happen, and 2) I am truely in my heart amazed by the amazing things? How long does grief last anyway? Do you know you’re done grieving because you cry at your desk over an email from another writer and you can’t stop talking on your blog about sunrises? I thought I was done grieving a year ago, but I can’t figure out why I’m talking about my dead dad now, in the same breath as wonderful stuff, like getting to see the sunrise.

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letters from dad – letter 12 (probably the first one from the rilfe range)

May 30, 2012


Dear Granther & Granpee,

I went to church today. It was held outdoors in the amptetheater. We are now at the rifle range. Its about 10 miles from the base and is the second biggest in the United States. We live and eat out here for 3 weeks. My address however is the same. We had another inspection last Friday and out platoon was complemented which is going to make things here easier. Out here we go to the P.X. at any time and anything we want. Our bunks are always made down and we only have to shave every other day and also were issued an extra blanket, so we feel as if we were living in luxury. However we have to use our own mess gear and get up at 5:00A.M. We got to sleep late today. We didn’t have to get up until 6:00 oclock AM. We were also issued shooting pads to sew on our dungaree jackets. I received my razor and was glad to get it. We had a lecture on hand grenades & the B.A.R.(Browning Automatic Rifle) last week. We had a little map reading also last week. Our D.I.s are really very smart. The Marine Corps has the best non-commissioned officers in the world. To be a sergent you have to go to officers school. Our sergent knows algebra, trigonometry and many other things. Unfortunately a few college V12 officers have come into the Corps but they don’t have any place in it. One of them inspected us and he was seriously criticized by our D.I.s. All our D.I.s are stacked with ribbons & shooting medals. We learn the nomenclature of our M1 this afternoon. There is a lot more to shooting then just pulling the trigger Also we were told to be courteous to civilians and to say please when you want something passed is an order. We were told not to whistle at anybody when we came out here. You can be court marshalled for cursing or being drunk. I can see  the reasons for a lot of things I couldn’t see before. We can buy candy out here but they never have it at the P.X. Because when it gets hot you will get sick at your stomach and one day in sick bay and your out of the platoon. the fruits of strict discipline are Tarawa and Gaudalcanal. The Marines have the best disciplined and trained men of any service in the world. We get chicken at chow today. When we are in our last week we were issued Blouses, dress shoes and barracks caps (the kind with trills). I appreciate your letters keep them coming. Tell me how my chickens & John & the new baby are. Give my love to everybody.

Love Truman

Re-reading this letter, I think it probably was written before the previous one I posted, letter 11. I’ve tried a couple times to sort through all these undated letters to try to determine the sequence in which they were written, but it ends up a being pretty impossible task and kind of a rabbit hole that gets in the way of the actual reading and transcribing process.

Like the last letter, Dad makes a number of comments that say to me he is getting indoctrinated into the Marines, such as when he says that the Marines have best non-commissioned officers and Tarawa and Guadalcanal are the fruits of strict discipline. I was curious about the disdain he expressed for the college educated officers. Mom told me that even when Dad, himself, went to college he expressed disdain for other college guys, often calling them Joe College. I did a little research and I think the real issue is not college so much as the difference between the Commissioned Officer (CO) and the Non-Commissioned Officer, (NCO). The NCO’s, like the Drill Sergeants, work their way up through the ranks and have more combat experience and more interaction with the lower ranks. The CO’s bypass a lot of this and may go into combat with a lot less battlefield experience. From perspective, it’s easy to see where the disdain came from.

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letters from dad – letter 11 (rifle range)

May 28, 2012

positions – scanned drawing from letter; click on it to see larger version


Dear Granther and Granpee,

I recieved your letters and the candy and certainly appreciated it. Everybody in our hut also thanks you. It didn’t last long but it was good while it lasted. I have just got back from church and it is raining hard now its pretty cold out. The first week in the range has been pretty tough. We get up at 5:00 and have leave for our school range at 7:00. This is the 3rd biggest range in the world. It covers about 15 or more miles. There are 10 M4 ranges 2 22 cal. ranges, 5 Carbine ranges 3 or 4 pistol ranges and several school ranges. There are 100 targets on each M1 rifle range and 25-50 on the others. This place is about 10miles from the base and is back in the mountains. It is beautiful country and the ranges are terraced and have green grass and little streams running through them. Our rifle coaches are really swell. There are 3 for our platoon. Coach Allen is a Daniel Boone sort of person from Oklahoma. He can knock a spec of dandriff off a midget a 1000 yards. He never gets mad at us and never swears. There two are Cooch’s Moore and Willis. We go to the range which is about a 5 mile march from our hut 1st thing every morning. There we snap in. We get in position with our rifle. There are four positions. (This is where Dad drew of the positions I scanned in) 1. Offhand (standing) Sitting kneeling & prone, These are really painful to get into. You have to bend and twist till it hurts. One of the coaches twisted my arm so far under my rifle I thought it would crack off. At first I had awfull sore muscles but I hardly notice any pain now. We get 10 min. rest periods after every ½ hour. In the afternoon we shoot the 22 range. The target looks like a penny. We also shot M1 carbine 2 times this week. Once in the morning & once in the afternoon. Its 30 cal. and has a big kick. I did pretty well on the prone at 300 yds. On record day we shoot are M1’s (Garand’s) at 200, 300, and 500 yds slow and rapid fire. We 68 shot. Bullseye counts 5 pts 4 ring, 3 ring, duece & 0. 268 pts. makes marksman. 292 – sharpshooter and 300 expert. Shooting is a lot of fun. The food out here is terrible. Everybody has a cold too. Our coach brought 2 platoons thru that landed at Tarawa. Every dead Marine on the beach was lying in a shooting position. It wasn’t the air corps, navy, army, or any big guns that took Tarawa. It was just individual riflemen. He told us how one rifleman can destroy a tank, airplane or pillbox. When in combat in the Marines, they just say “you 2 men go over and take that gun crew of about 20 men.” And if they aren’t pretty good riflemen they send two more over so I’m trying to make expert. I suppose you heard the good news about Truk. That hand to hand fighting is right up our alley so the Japs might as well leave now. It’s a good thing the “dog faces” (army) aren’t there or they still be trying to establish beach heads. If they’d send the Marines to Italy I’d be willing to bet it would be over in a few weeks, Rifle marksmanship is what does it. And every marine just has to be a qualified marksman. Two platoons had 100% qualifying last Thursday on record day the rest had 98.9%. When the other fellows get food they pass it out to so we get some candy once in a while. I’m not sure about any furlough in fact it looks doubtful because you don’t know your going to get it until you get your furlough papers. I have to fill out income tax stuff so please send anything I would have to put on it. Give me the dope about my stock & war bonds that would have to go there. If you want to send me something, I would like some fudge, hard candy, cookies, & handkerchefs. Also a picture of my chickens. We get paid today, but only about $5. Take care of my chickens & yourselves. Lots of love to everybody.

Love Truman

P.S. Don’t send the hard candy in any kind of glass container.

It seems fitting to resume this project on Memorial to honor my Dad’s service.

There is a lot going on in this letter. First off it’s written in pen, whereas most of his letters are in pencil, and I wonder where he got the pen. I imagine that pencils were a much more pragmatic and reliable tool, not having to worry about ink or the nub being messed up, and pens would have seem like a luxury, certainly not something you would have taken out with you into combat. So it’s interesting he’s at the range and using a pen.

I had to look up some of the Marine jargon, like “snap in”, which means practicing aiming with an unloaded rifle, and “record day,” which was a high point in recruit training that occurred during the third week on the range, where the recruits fired shots in the all 4  at the 200, 300 and 500-yard lines for a maximum score of 250 points. Also, I had never heard of Truk before Dad’s letter. It was a Japanese naval and air base that U.S. attacked and decimated in February, 1944.

Some of the euphemisms and slang Dad uses in this letter, like “shooting a spec of dandruff off a midget” and  “give me the dope,” make him seem more seasoned than he is and give a kind of casual tone to an account of being trained to use a weapon to kill someone, which of course, is the exact opposite of anything in the realm of casual. But there is something almost summer-campy in the tone, “Shooting is a lot of fun.” Maybe that casual approach is purposeful to allay the fears of his family and/or maybe it’s part is how Dad made it through that kind training,  to kind of shut down to what it would actually mean to use a rifle and the other guns. Also, maybe shooting up a lot of shit is fun. I’m sure its a combination of things, some I probably can’t ever imagine quite right.

It’s strange to read Dad so totally buying into the Marine indoctrination and the glorification of the Marine rifleman. I know it’s essential to his training, but he was so cynical later in life and was not at all a gung-ho kind of guy. It makes him feel like such a kid to me, the way he seems both earnest and eager in paying homage to the wonder and glory of the Marine rifleman and Marines in general. I would guess he aspired to be bad ass Marine, which I’m sure was part of the point of training.

I’ve never understood the inter-service rivalry and how that makes for a stronger all around fighting force, but I’m not shocked to find echos of it here in Dad’s comments, like the one about the dog faces (army) and sending the Marines into Italy. It’s pretty hubristic stuff and from a distance it’s hard not to wince a little because everybody was fighting their asses off and so many were being killed. But I remind myself that whatever hubris is there in Dad’s comments comes from his naivety and combat innocence, married with the thrill of Dad discovering that he can make it through this training.

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letters from my father – letter 10 (still in basic training)

February 14, 2012


Dear Granther & Granpee,
I received your letters & enjoyed them very much. Next week will be our last one before we go to the rifle range. I went to church this morning. This week has been pretty good and I have had a lot of fun. We have had alot of bayonet practice this week. We were instructed by a captain back from Gaudalcanal who taught us all the latest tricks. We went thru the gas chamber Friday afternoon. We wore gas masks inside and then took them off.  Our eyes watered and noses stung but we were all right a few minutes after we got out. We had a rifle inspection by the colonel Friday morning and our platoon did very well. We were out on the Boondocks twice this week. We had another shot Saturday and will get one every Saturday we are here. The Tetnus will be the last. Things will be better at the rifle range as we can go to the P.X. any time out there. We were told this week that we could receive candy by mail so I would appreciate some. But make it enough so I can pass it out to the hut. There are 21 in a hut. Some of the other guys have received packages. We went to the movies Monday & Wed nights. They are outdoors and its pretty cold. We had a lecture on the Reising sub-machine gun Wednesday. Our D.I.s have been better this week. all except Sgt. Chaney but he’s an old veteran. He has been in the Marines 8 years and has fought with the Japs. Our uniforms are very nice. Our overcoats & overseas caps & trousers are very good but our shirts & ties aren’t so hot. We don’t get a blouse(coat) and barracks cap until the last week. If we want Dress blues we have to buy them in town after we get out of here. Don’t send me money because I can’t spend it & will just probably lose it. Don’t come out here because I want to come home just as soon as I’m thru here. Everybody in our platoon is seriously religious which surprised me. Most of them have bibles & prayer books & use them a lot. Keep the chickens & yourselves well, & keep the letters coming.

Love Truman

It’s clear here that Dad’s adapting to the routine of boot camo and figuring out how to be part of the platoon (getting enough candy for everybody). He talks about his day nonchalantly as though going to a gas chamber or practicing with a bayonette is normal stuff and as though the reader knows about D.I.’s and boondocks and submachine guns.

The two two things I want to point out that I know will be a theme are 1) church and religion, which is going to come up during the entire course of his service, and 2) the idea of a furlough, seeing his family and or going home, which will continue to come up while he’s stateside.

After this letter I’m going to have to go back and do some sorting so I can try to get a bunch of undated letters in order. There are thread to follow and clues that can place one letter close to another, but Dad also talks about the same things over and over again. Plus, I think some days he wrote more than one letter.

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letters from my father – letter 9

February 13, 2012

Dad’s platoon


Dear Granther & Granpee,
I received yours Aunt J’s & Uncle Harrys letters. Tomorrow we have rifle inspection by the Colonel. This has been a very busy week but much better than last week. I’m begining to like the Marines a lot now. I have gotten used to being bawled out, so I don’t mind that any more. We have been having bayonet practice this week and more “extended orders.” We were running up a hill with our rifles and I hit the ground so hard on the signal that I cut my hand. While we lay there we have to sight another foxhole and run for it. We have also been practicing security on the march.” I was one of the rear guard. So far I have never had a dirty rifle & I hope it keeps up. We had to get all dressed up in our “greens” today and go to Company parade with transport packs. We marched with the Band & the Colonel received us, then we had inspection of packs & display of equipment. I had another haircut today. All clippers. Next week is our last one before we go to the rifle range which is about 20 miles away. We get gaurd duty next week. We are now doing the marching manual of arms. If I get a 10 day shore leave don’t come out here because I want to get home if just for an hour it would be worth it to see Indianapolis and everything back there, The chaplains aren’t very popular with the D.I.s and don’t have any assistants. If our platoon breaks up at the end of the month we get 30 days mess duty. But it will break up in the middle & we will probably get a few days gaurd duty instead. Don’t send me money as there is nothing I can buy & would only loose it. Everybody in our platoon is swell and we have had lot of fun being together. The quarters are crowded but you don’t mind it much. You can’t find Camp Pendleton & Camp Elliot on the map as they are only Marine Corp Camps out in the desert about 25 or 30 miles from town. I am sending you our platoon picture. Give my love to everyone.

love Truman

Dad is standing at the left end of the second row. He looks young, a little bit pudgy. He’s squinting into the sun. He’s wearing his cap straight down on his head, and not tipped to the side. For some reason that makes him seem like more of kid to me, a kid with gun and bayonette and one who’s learning how to run from foxhole to foxhole.

I like it when Dad says “give my love.” It’s more sentimental or emotional then I’ve ever thought of him as being. It’s like he’s revealing his tender heartedness. Or I just want to find that tender hearted part of him.

I have to get my brain wrapped back around this project. I’ve been heads down writing a couple other pieces and working on a web project and doing yard work and going on walk in town and in the woods with RU.

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letters from my father – a postcard & letter 8

January 20, 2012


Postmarked January 24, 1944

Dear Grandmother & Granpee,

Do not ever send me things in glass jars, candy, cakes, chewing gum or money. I don’t need the money and we are not permitted to keep the other things. I am well & happy. Say hello to everybody, also my chickens write me soon.

Love Truman

Letter 8

Dear Granther & Granpee,

Today we went to church at 7:00A.M. It wasn’t very good but it was better than nothing. I just got back from washing clothes. I have received all all of your letters and have certainly enjoyed them. I had another shot yesterday and all of our arms are so sore we can’t move them. Last night the other guys went to  a boxing match but I had to stay back and sweep, mop, & wash the windows of our hut because I forgot to bring in one of my shirts from the clothes line. There is no use of you coming to seem me before I get thru, as the only time we can have visitors is from 2 to 4 on Sunday. This California weather isn’t what its cracked up  to be. Its so cold in the mornings & evening that you shiver. It rain about every other afternoon. There isn’t hardly anything you can send me. I already have more soap than I can use and there isn’t nay place to spend money as we can’t go to the P.X. while a “boot.” Don’t send me candy etc. as all packages are opened and these things are confiscated. However I would appreciate a razor as I lost mine and am supposed to have one. The boy who marches in front of me is very funny & is always out of step. I get to laughing at him and both of us catch hell. I had to have my picture taken last week and if I get one I’ll send it to you. We also had out platoon picture taken today. We ran the obstacle course last Wednesday. Its about 1/4 mile long and pretty tough. The Boon docks is the worst place. Its a big sandy, hilly plane. We have to run in the sand zig-zagging & crouching and fall flat on our faces in foxholes. We had a lecture yesterday morning on chemical warfare. We had to take notes & memorize them. My watch has held up very well and keeps good time. We had our transport packs inspected this morning. Mine wasn’t fixed very well and I got bawled out. I now have to clean my rifle for inspection tomorrow, memorize my general orders & clean my bayonet. So I’ll have to end my letter. I am sending my insurance policy.

Love Truman

In letter 8, Dad is definitely sounding more settled in and to some degree resigned to his fate as “boot.” He still sounds overwhelmed too, but less scared.

The postcard was so abrupt and single minded. I wonder if he was getting a lot of flack for the things his grandparents were sending them.

I also noted that Dad and his grandparents seem to have started a conversation about whether or not they will be able to see him before he ships out.  He says something about there being no use for them to come out there. Having read ahead through a bunch of  letters that come after this one, I know that this conversation about visiting, either him going home or them coming out there, will continue for a while. It’s an emotional thread to follow and I want to mark it’s beginning.

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