[This is the continuation of a series of posts which began January 15, titled "Daddy and the Big War." This winter family history project is based on letters written by my dad, Vance, to his parents on the farm in Idaho, while he was in boot camp. Vance, 38 years old, is now stationed at Camp White, 13 miles north of Medford, Oregon. In this letter, written December 12, 1942, he mentions the Montgomery family. Aunt Mabel Montgomery is his mother Ina's youngest sister. Mabel's adult children are Grant (married to Ruth), Fay, and Mavis. Grant is now also stationed at Camp White, and Aunt Mabel, Fay, and Ruth, live in Jacksonville, not far from Medford. Having family nearby will hopefully afford Vance the opportunity for diversion and comfortable leaves. Continuing now with the letter of December 12:]
I got your letter yesterday and was most glad to hear from home. The postmark was the 9th and I got it the 11th which was very good. I have not received the package but it will probably be here tomorrow. Packages seem to be slow.
Now for my tale of woe – We have been on [a dead run] for 8 days. I have not had time to write a card before "lights out" at 9 p.m. They have been throwing classes at us twelve hours a day to get us caught up with our permanent companies and we are to be assigned next Monday, so perhaps the pressure will relax. I can really find it in my heart to be sorry for the officers for they are taking a beating along with us. Day before yesterday we hiked 8 miles under field pack and rifle, got back at 5 p.m., pitched shelter tents, ate out in the field and slept out on the very wet ground. We picked up an extra blanket and quilt when we got in from the hike so had plenty of bedding. We put our rain coats on the ground and made our beds on them. Fortunately there was no rain that night and we kept pretty warm so our colds weren't much worse. There is hardly a man who hasn't a cold, myself included. But don't worry – I feel convinced mine is on the mend but many men have been hospitalized.
You may know by now that Grant [his cousin] is here at Camp White. He's in the 362nd Inf., so isn't so very far away but I've had no time to look for him. I beat you to the draw. I wrote Fay and Aunt Mabel right away and had a "so thrilled" letter from Fay with all plans outlined for Xmas. She said there was no bus to Jacksonville but they have a car and gas and will be only too glad to drive into Medford for me. I think I will not try to get off until Xmas for we are supposed to get 3 days a month and I'd like to have mine in a bunch and have a chance to let down a little. As you see there is no chance to come home.
I have been too busy to be really homesick but it really is tough on a lot of the married men and most of the men in my outfit are married. There are lots of funny characters in the bunch that I could write reams about but I haven't time for I want to get this mailed tonight.
It is the first evening we have had all week and we are scheduled for classes all day tomorrow, Sunday. We hear we are to be introduced to the rifle range tomorrow. We have had hours and hours on guns – tearing them down and putting them together again. However, I have been assigned to communication squad and am slated for a switchboard operator. [So much for being a cook or a baker. One wonders why they even ask.] I believe we are to start going to school Monday. I may have to learn the Morse Code also. But more of this when I know more about it.
I hope Al will be able to get home but I can shed no light on this permit to travel business. By the way, you'd better order a battery [for the radio?] from Sears immediately for I think it is your only chance. This friend of mine in Frisco works in a radio shop and she says batteries are a thing of the past – so lose no time.
I will not have time or opportunity to shop for Christmas and I am going to miss it, too. I am enclosing ten dollars and use it as you see fit. You may want some fixins for Xmas dinner or you can try to buy batteries. I must stop for I have some work to do on my bed before I can go to sleep in it. Love, Vance