The Letters: The Complete Chronology

Basic Training: April 23--July 4, 1972

Fort Knox, Kentucky

Company C, 17th Bn, 5th Bde

1.  Mom

May 2, 1972

Dear John,

Well here I am--an hour after your call--writing to "my son, the soldier." It is always strange, writing to some one for the first time but especially mothers to sons. We are full of family gossip, not too up on sonly interests. Of course, this way, you may get to know more about your family's goings on now.

As I told you, we enjoyed your letter, all of us and I do hope you feel the urge to write often. I copied your address and Mike took it right down to John Perk. With the message for Cindy and Blackwell. Mrs. Neff called and I also gave it to her so you may even get a note from her.

She told me that Rob is refueling many ships in "Nam" harbor which makes her a little bit nervous. He probably won't make it home for Pam's wedding. We got Roxanne's invitation this week and Sherry Harrison is being married next month. Kind of clearing the eligible girls from the neighborhood.

Mary Lou is sitting here beside me doing her report on "pearls." I hope she sends you a letter or two. Some of those she wrote to Jim were gems. He still has one of them, I think.

Must go now. I'll talk to you again soon.

Love and prayers,

[5 comic strips enclosed, from Beetle Bailey]

2.  Mom

A large greeting card with a dog in a flowered hat on the front

[postmarked May 4, 1972]

"Missing You When you're not around"


A silly cover but the sentiments o.k. Besides, it is the last card of the box I bought from Keith Becker 100 years ago.

Any way, here are some stamps and maybe a chuckle or two--

Love, Mom

[enclosed Sunday comics from Peanuts, and Beetle Bailey]

3.  Lynn

Thursday 5-4 [1972]

Dear John,

Hi! Its after midnight & Julie just went home, but before I go to bed I want to get a letter off to you. I really enjoyed reading your letters--I hope you write to us often! They're interesting and full of little characteristics of you--especially the way you refer to the guys as "jerks" and "idiots," & other familiar expressions you use!

I really miss having you around. Sisters think they can get along without their brothers just fine until the brother goes away; then you remember more about the things you always liked about him & It's impossible not to miss him! I can't wait to see you in your uniform--especial your dress uniform. What kind of shoes can you wear with the dress one? Do you miss the cowboy boots you always wore?

I had a very nice birthday today; first of all because I didn't have to work today & Friday. Julie & I spent the afternoon shopping at Southland; he bought me a purse, tennis balls, and some perfume for my gifts. I also got some beautiful roses from him! We had lunch at the Coney Island there in Southland & I thought I'd barf. In fact, our hot dogs looked like someone already had! I've eaten better ones downtown. Julie left tonight his stomach still upset.

Tomorrow I'm going to New York with Julie. He begins his summer co-op period Monday back in Rochester with Kodak. I'm going with him because I have to go to his sister's shower Sunday. It should be a great party--they're having it in a hall & lots of people are coming. I bought her a kitchen Tool Set--It's a set of spatula's, mixing spoon, soup ladle, etc. that hang on an aluminum rack on your wall. I hope she likes it. It cost me $16.97!

Well, I'm getting sleepy so I'll close now and write you again later. Maybe on the plane Sunday.

This weekend will be a combination of fun & sadness--it will be hard letting go of my Boy & Best Friend for another 4 months of co-op again. But anyway--write soon, ok?? Mom & dad especially love hearing from you--


P.S. I just re-read this & I'm sorry about the lousy writing. I'm very sleepy now & I guess I left out a lot of words when I was writing. Pardon all the mistakes!

[The handwriting was fine, and she used a carat and inserted the few missing words. Enclosed are 2 comics, Beetle Bailey and Hi & Lois.]

4.  Dad

Friday 9:15 pm [May 5; postmarked May 6, 1972]

Dear John,

It is now a pleasant evening of a rather nice day. Your mother and I have recently returned from a very pleasant dinner at the Hillside Inn on Plymouth Rd., almost into Plymouth. We haven't been there for years and the place is nicer than ever and the food was delicious. I had fried shrimp stuffed with Baltimore Crab. We came home via Plymouth and we were surprised it is quite a lively town on a Friday night.

Tomorrow morning we are going to Monroe for Sister Ann Louis silver (25th) anniversary of becoming a nun. Mass is at 10 AM and a dinner at 12 noon. I believe there are 8 or 10 celebrating some major anniversary at this time.

We have a reduced household tonight. Jim's at work, Bill is out with friends, Mary Lou is out to her friend's house for a slumber party (coming back tomorrow afternoon), and Lynn has gone to Buffalo for the shower of Julie's sister. And of course John is in Kentucky. You probably won't appreciate the state for the first couple of months but it is like being a freshman in school, a rookie on a ball team, or a beginner at a job with a new company: everything is new; you are at the bottom of the totem pole but successful toleration and beneficial learning builds a veteran who can be proud he passed the test and can go on to greater accomplishments.

The ball game is on and Tigers are one run behind the Texas Rangers. Still in first place though. Do you get the latest sports news, or any news? How about newspapers?

I am enclosing clippings of the last ad I placed in the News which got 2 calls (it was a Sunday only ad). Also the one in the Observer which ran Wednesday. It will be also in the Saturday edition. I have been taking the car out for a spin around the neighborhood every day or two to keep the engine in shape. Not being used to it I am not sure it is in top shape or not. Oh, it runs ok except it seems hard to get smooth acceleration in the different gears and when decelerating in 2nd or 3rd gear it seems to whine rather loudly so as to discourage downshifting and using the engine to slow down. Is this normal for this combination? If we don't get any action this weekend I really don't know what to do. We could continue to advertise or else try an ad in the St. Norbert Messenger or leaving it in a busy place like downtown in the Edison lot, or a local gas station, or the Cherry Hill Plaza. Well, don't worry about it. You can't lose too much on it except a little more depreciation which shouldn't be much until maybe August. Mrs. Healy looked up the book and deducting $175 & $150 because of manual transmission and the manual steering, the average retail price for the car is $2025 and average wholesale $1625. I could hardly believe that so I think I'll take it to a dealer soon and see what they would offer, just to check this out. If we keep the car for a while I'll probably have to get either a cheap insurance policy or pay the State $35 for Uninsured Motorist Fund.

Incidentally I called the Secretary of State about you renewing your drivers license. Either wait until you get home and renew here (Monday through Friday) if you won't need it sooner, or else write

Michigan Department of State
Dept. of Driving Records
Lansing, Mich 48900

And request an application for a Drivers License. You give them the information about yourself (like on your license and your license number). You can get a renewal this way without a photo.

Guess I'll close now. We pray you are well yet and things go well.

With Love,

[ad in the Detroit News, April 30, 1972: MERC '71 Montego--4spd., 351 V-8, Ziebart, stereo, exc. Cond. Drafted. Must sell. LO 3-2745.

Ad in Observer, May 3, 1972: MERCURY, 1971, Cyclone, 4 speed, 351, 4 barrel, Ziebart, stereo, tach, excellent condition, must sell, drafted. LO 3-2745]

5.  Debbie Franklin

May 8

Hi John!

So how's the Army treatin' you? From your last letter it didn't sound like you were having that rough of a time but then you hadn't been thru Basic yet. That was some letter you wrote--wow, 7 pages It took me about a half hour to read it and then I had to go back and read it again 'cause I forgot what was written in the beginning.

Have you received many letters? I hope that by now your mom or someone has written to you cause then I won't feel so bad about the delay of writing you. But see it's like this--I got your letter on Thursday and Steve's prom was that nite so this is the 1st opportunity I've had to write and I should be doing homework so feel honored. Right now I'm in 5th hour Study Hall. This is the grossest class you can imagine. Its full of spastics. Their whole vocabulary exists of words relating to dope, sex, or rock music. YUK!

Things at this end aren't that bad but they could be better. Teachers are being gross by piling on the term papers. Right now I'd like to be out riding in the sun on my bike [a motorbike]. Oh guess what--this is bad news: the bike is out-of-order until we can order some parts.


I suppose by now you've just about given-up hope for receiving a letter from me--I'm sorry; but if you were here to realize what I've been up to, it might be easier for you to understand the delay. Besides having to get ready for 2 proms (one is tonite) I've been working on term papers, sewing, looking for a job, getting outside as much as I can--and just about everything else. So try to forgive me, okay? And I'll try to do better in the future.

Did you know our dog was sick? He has cancer spreading throughout his body and he doesn't have long to live. My mom is really upset about it and now we all have to be really nice to him!

Did you sell your car yet?

I've seen the ads around school. What are you going to do with the money?

Oh--I've haven't told you about Florida yet . . . it was great! The weather was good, so were the beaches, parties, and guys; I can't wait till I have the cash to go back.

Maybe I shouldn't ask you but here goes--how's Basic. Are you surviving well or just barely making it?

If you haven't guessed yet I'm in school now. Lately its been the only free time I've had. And I've got a test to study for now so I'll end this letter and hope I remember to mail this.


P.S. You said some of the guys had pictures of girls in their barracks--if I get some good ones back do you want one?

Be good!

P.S.   Are you starting to get mail from all your friends? I hope they write you--I know how nice it is to get some letters!

6.  Lynn

Monday 5-8

Hi John,

We just finished dinner--hamburgers & 'tator tot's & broccoli. Broccoli--the treat of the week! Uggh. I was hoping mom would stop serving stuff like tiny trees, cauliflowers & asparagus cause you were the only one who ate them--but we still aren't spared!

How was your day today? You sure sound like you're awfully busy every day. Does all that yelling & giving orders get you down at all? I hope not. It seems like such an unfair way to introduce you to the military life. I can't agree with all that crap you take is the best way to make you a decent soldier. But I guess you can pull through it.--you're tough. Right? Anyway, I hope Basic goes fast for you.

I had a great weekend--I went to Buffalo with Julie. We left at noon and took a slow route through Canada--the least of 2 boring routes available. I spent most of the drive there just thinking about how this is the last weekend of his 4 months with me in Detroit--and how I was going to make the best use of these last few hours. It may sound silly, but now that he's gone everything seems really empty, & the day stretches on without any meaning in it. It's a shame--you wish you could have made better use of the time you had when you had it, but then it was easy to take each other for granted.

The old philosopher! But I can't help it--he's really heavy on my mind now. I wish it was easier to do without people--I'd love to be able to be more independent.

Anyway, I went to this shower Sunday for Julie's sister, and it was a lot of fun. All his relatives were there--150 people came. It was held at a hall--dinner & drinks were served. People kept saying: "Oh, soon we'll be having one of these for you!" And Julie's mom surprised me with: "That would be alright with us. We really like her!" That meant a lot to me to hear that. His sister received over $800.00 in money gifts & got some nice presents too. I flew back at 6:30 that night, kind of wishing that I'd never have to make that plane at all.

So today starts the beginning of a lousy summer. It was cold out and rainy. On the way home from work my engine, or something in the general vicinity, started making a loud noise. I drove it to 2 stations to confirm the trouble--I needed a new water pump! So I took it up to that Smiling Harry's Standard on Avondale and Inkster tonight--it cost me $10.97 labor & $ 11.95 for the pump. So now there's one less thing to go wrong with my Mustang! Bill had to bring his car in there tonight too cause it wouldn't start no matter what he and dad did. So he had to get a new coil.

Dad's really trying your car sold & I'm sure with his determination he'll sell it soon. I hope so. Julie got a lot of response from his ad to sell his bike & he was all excited about getting rid of it. So he got it tuned up, bought a new battery & polished it till it shone. It looked & sounded great! The guys came over, they got ready to try it out, but all of a sudden it gave them a real workout just starting it, only to die right before their eyes. The dumb bike gave Julie a lot of trouble & he wasn't able to sell it after all. He'll probably come in during the summer & try again.

I hear everyone laughing out in the living room. They're all watching a special on Laurel & Hardy. It must be awfully funny!

Well, I'll let you go for now but I'll write again later. Keep smiling & think happy!!


P.S.   Are you starting to get mail from all your friends? I hope they write you--I know how nice it is to get some letters!

PSS  John Neph just stopped by to get a cake tin. He said to say "hi" & he'll write tonight.

7.  Greg

May 8, 1972

Dear John:

Gave Sally your address instead of John Perk since I see her every day. She didn't say anything 'cept thanks when I gave it to her.

Coming sometime next week, exactly when I forget, is Cherry Hill's prom. Hopefully next year I will go.

Had a driver's ed. Meeting today for an hour. Mr. La Scola, my teacher said that we should be getting our permit by the second week in June. Probably before school is let out. Gotta drive this coming Thursday at 4:30. We'll go down Michigan toward Ypsi, and thru it too. This would be the fourth time out on the road driving. After Thursday there will be just three more driving times before it's all over. Unless you come home for awhile on leave before July, I will have my license before you see me.

You're lucky if you're getting good warm weather. Since Sunday and for a couple of days starting this week, we are in for cold, wet, and dreary weather. Nothing at all like summer.

Too bad you car isn't getting any buyers despite all the ads as well as an ad on the bulletin board at Cherry Hill. Bill said he wouldn't mind buying it if he had the cash.

Most of next week will be filled with tests. And they're not even the finals. We'll be taking tests on Monday thru Wednesday. On Friday, for the first 3 hours in the morning, there will be an Awards Assembly. We'll have 4th hour and the remaining 2 hours we'll be watching the Senior Swingout.

Other than that, nothing much has been happening. No dances for a couple of weeks and there's only about 3-4 weeks left.

Take care, man

P.S. Mary Beth White asked me about you--when you were going in. I know you don't want her to know your address, so I won't give it to her. 

8.  Sally Truss


Hi John,

Wow its great to hear from you!! I've never gotten such a long letter in all my life. By the way I love long letters. Hope you can read my letters, I write really bad, and I also can't spell very good. Just thought I'd let you know. And one thing more. I can't seem to write long letters either. And I'll try to tell you everything that's going on (happening)!!

Macko and I are getting along just great. Gary didn't get his car yet. And he's dating that girl Karen. Do you know which one I am talking about? No, John's not selling his car.

We still have parties here. But they're not the same. You know what I mean? Its not the same rapping to anyone else. At the party Sat (5-6-72) there was this girl there when bent over her butt showed this much--------------------it made me sick. I couldn't eat any brownies..

Yes, I'll tell stone-face hi and I'll give her your address. She hasn't changed one bit. She's going to the Prom, its Fri. (5-12-72) . . . I'm not. I'm a Soph. And you have to be a Jr. or Sr. to ask someone. Well, there's always next year.

So tell me about the guys in your platoon!! I'm still a flirt. Same as always.

Your brother gave me your address. I didn't think you were going to write. If I didn't get a letter from you today I was going to write you a dirty letter. And I mean it.

Did you take that helmet with you? [At my going-away party my friends gave me an Army Surplus helmet and everyone signed it!]

And just what did you have in mind when you said you haven't found anyone who has got what you like? Come on, you can tell me!! It has been said around here that you're probably high all the time. But I know its not true.

So now you know how it feels to do so-called Physical Training under force. Such as Stone-Face. Ha-Ha.

Well John, I didn't have anything else to say but be good--and don't get caught next time. OK.

As Always,

PS I loved to see you in short hair. Ha-Ha.

Joe Mitcheal (I dodn't know how to spell it.) Well any ways he got in an accident. He was smoken and he passed out at the wheel. And he hit the gas [this last page ends abruptly]

9.  Dad

Tues. 5-9-72

Dear John,

I am sitting in the living room watching the Tiger-Chicago baseball game on TV. A little while ago Mother and I went over to Grampa's house. She wanted a ride and I thought I'd see about his lawn needs. It's a mess. It's weedy and needs lawn food. Maybe Greg and I will go over some weekend (Saturday) and fix it up. Since Greg is currently unemployed he might welcome an odd job. Its pretty chilly the last day or 2. Might have a frost tonight; going down to the mid 30's. Grampa has another ('64) Cadillac Fleetwood parked in his yard. My Uncle Marc left it there for a friend, to see if Grampa wants to buy it. Wants $500 and has 62,000 or so miles. Grampa had his friend at a Cad. Dealership check it out and he said it is a good buy. He would have to put maybe $150 into it repairing the air-cond. Etc. but it looks in good shape for an 8 year old car. He hasn't bought a new car since the 1934 Chevrolet which I remember seeing the first time on a rainy Saturday. Funny how isolated incidents stick in your memory.

Speaking of cars, only had one call on the Mercury from the 2 ads in the Observer, and he didn't even ask our address. I got another sign, one on each side now and 1 in the rear window. I am getting on to the shifting now with the practice in taking it out every day or two. I'm thinking of getting a 6 month policy from my Farmers agent. He quoted a basic for about $47 + $12 if I want Fire & Theft. How do you feel about the car? I mean, if you were in the position to take over the car when you get out in 2 years, that is if it were still here and in good shape, do you think you would like to have it again? Forget about money for the moment. If you still like the car as you did the past year perhaps we could work something out to split the remaining cost and keep the car. Let me know what you think--if there are any possibilities along this line. It's a shame to take such a beating on that 1st year depreciation.

As I wrote the page number it reminded me to suggest that you number your pages too. Since your letters are read by so many in this house the sheets are apt to get mixed up so page numbers would help keep them in sequence. Your letters are very welcome and interesting. We appreciate hearing from you and even minor happenings help fill in a picture for us. To tell you the truth I was surprised because Jim didn't write much and didn't give us many of the details.

You certainly are having some training. Sounds like the Marines but at that it probably isn't as bad as they get. I guess your only consolation is that millions of other guys went through it and after the first few weeks it will probably never be as bad again, at least if you stay out of combat which is really what they are toughening you up for. I just hope and pray that this latest strategy Nixon sprung on the N. Vietnamese will do the trick of bringing the war to a swift ending. My first reaction is that he has done the right thing. Now more than ever before the communists have taken unforgivable invasion on another people, just like Hitler did on Poland 30 odd years ago.

When you work @ the Mess Hall do you get to help yourself to snacks like fruit or ice cream? What are you getting to eat? Do you get potatoes, pancakes, sausage, etc. for breakfast?

You said you got your first allergy shot. When do you get another? There is no problem in having to keep it in refrigeration, is there?

We are thinking about the Open House you folks are having May 27. Maybe we can swing it. We would like to, although we can't be sure just yet. Is there much chance we would not be able to see and be with you that day? Do you know if there are motels right near the base? I suppose there would be.

Well, I'll close for now. Tigers lead 2-0.


To check delivery this is to be mailed early Wed. morning. When did you get it?

10.  Mom

Tues, Aft.

May 9

Dear John,

By now the mail must be coming pretty steady. It has been almost a week since your letter of May 4. Hope your "so-oo-o sore muscles" are getting conditioned very fast. Bet you've discovered some you didn't even know you had! That screaming before meals must let off a lot of steam and perhaps untangle some knots of frustration in more than one soldier's tummy. Don't you think that kind of conditioned reflexes make for fast reactions--a life saving technique sometimes?

I know that Lynn and Greg have written to you so that you know about her trip to Buffalo and her birthday. Everyone reads your letters so she did get your birthday greetings. Greg gave Sally your address yesterday since he sees her every day.

John Neph came looking for the platter the cake was on for your party. He evidently lost it somewhere.

Roxanne's invitation to her wedding on the 19th of May came so I went out to Hudson's and bought them a white blanket. Didn't get a wedding invitation from Nephs yet. One of Roxie's friends came over and tore up their front yard with his car last weekend. What a mess. Mrs. C. was so mad she reported it to the police. You can imagine how she felt--she is out there now still trying to repair the damage. When ever this fellow gets mad at some one he uses his car to get even. I guess this wasn't the 1st time.

Your dad told you about our going down to Monroe last Saturday for sister's 25th party? It was a gorgeous, 89 degree day--the last one we had, too.

We would love to get down for the weekend of the 27th but it is still uncertain. I certainly would like to see and hear everything. Your Uncle Bill Dillon was down at the Monastery, Gesthemeni, and said that they could hear the firing noises from your camp during their retreat.

What was the reaction around the camp after Nixon's speech last night? Anyone getting nervous?

Please keep all your cards and letters coming. We do enjoy them. Keep cool and well and safe.

Love, Mother

Couldn't close without telling you-

Haven't heard much about Philip but Tara finally told Chuck and left him standing in the middle of the lilac bushes with his mouth open.

[Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]

11.  Mary Lou

May 11, 1972, Thursday

Dear John:

Please send me some patches to sew on jackets. If you can't that's o.k.

Today coming home from school, Mom was locked outside. She was going to the store. When she found out she left the keys in the house. She had to wait from 1:30 to about 3:05. I had to go get Greg for his key.

I sent for some info on Apollo 13 and never got it. I sent for it 2 Mondays ago. That was May 1. I hope it comes soon.

Nothin' to do around here as usual. It's 28 after 8. I've got to go to bed.

Mary Lou

12.  Greg

May 12, 1972

PVT. John J. Schneider
Co. C 17th BN 5th TNG BDE
Fort Knox, Kentucky 40121

Dear John:

I'm typing this letter in 5th hour typing class. Today's a free day so I decided to type a letter.

Man, I was about to go out toking tonight. A friend of mine goes to Inkster High and he can get any kind of drug he wants from Over there. He was going to try to get a nickel bag and I'd split it with him. We planned on going out in the park by ourselves and toke. With any other friends we wouldn't get as much to smoke. But he couldn't get the bag because of such short notice. Thursday he asked around. Friday (today) he's not going to school because all the whites who go are asking for it. It's the blacks' national holiday as he put it.

Sally told me that she got 9-1/2 pages from you. Wonder why we only got 7 pages at one time? I'm just kidding.

Tonight is the prom. All seniors are excused in the afternoon because of the preparations for the prom. They're going to the Rooster Tail.

In case you haven't heard, we might have a buyer for your car. Mrs. Healy told Mom she'd call her sometime last night about someone who might buy it. As far as I know Mrs. Healy never called. That's all the information I know. Mom told Mrs. Healy all about the car. She (Mom) doesn't know who the prospective buyer is.

Next hour (6th) I have a geometry test. I filled up 3 cheat sheet up with stuff I need to know. I gotta get at least a high B to still hope for a B for the quarter on my report card.

The next dance here is May 26 and the last one is June 2. Mike will get guest passes for Perk and Kiester.

Mom and Dad are going to use the money we'd spend on a vacation on fixing up the upstairs bathroom. What they're going to fix I don't know. Mom ordered new wallpaper for the downstairs bathroom.

That's all for now.

Your brother,

13.  Dad

Sat evening [May 13; postmarked May 14, 1972]

Dear John,

The day started nice & sunny but now it is a drizzly, cool day end as we enter our after dinner evening. Not much but reruns on TV and no good movies to go see. So it is a good night to stay in anyway. Bill left for Gow's place in East Lansing I guess. Went with friends for the weekend. His car is still here so he got a ride for a change. Your car is still here too, but John Neph came over last evening to see what we wanted. He is very interested. As you know we have had little response in the papers and I was ready to accept $2000, or even as you said, take what you owe, which is a little less. Anyway I told John $2000. He said his parents said ok except his mother wants to try it so she might be able to take it in an emergency. I don't know if she was serious or not, that's what John said. Anyway, he went to the St. N. Credit Union and got the forms for a loan. And that's where it stands now. We shall see what happens this week. If they give him the loan with his dad as cosigner it is a good bet it will be sold.

I took it for a little spin the other day over to Stu Evens used car lot. I asked the man if he would like to buy a good used car. He said they are not buying now. He indicated a 4 speed is hard to get rid of. Says the kids can't afford the $600 to $1000 insurance, although I told him it only had the 351. I asked him what its worth anyway, to them, and he said about $1400. Well, I had heard they (dealers) offer a below wholesale price for cars anyway. I told him what you have been asking and he suggested asking $1900. Well, as I said before, I hate to see you get less than $2000. That's a big enough loss as it is--more than a lease car would have cost. But you couldn't have known you would have to let it go so soon.

Mickey Lolich won his 7th game today against Kansas City. Was on TV. Our place is so pretty now with the tulips all in bloom out front and the crab apple about to blossom--this week. I spent a few hours this afternoon replacing the wall paper on one wall in our bathroom for your mother. She had picked out a plain off-white with faint random lines in it. I still have to lick the leak from the floor in the upstairs bath that keeps loosening the paint on our bathroom ceiling below. I would like to get a tile floor up there, ceramic tile, that is.

This has been your first week in actual basic training I believe. I guess they must keep you real busy. Do they treat you any differently now than from the first couple weeks when you had less to do? Well, you are 1/3 the way through basic and well on the way to being a regular veteran. I do hope and pray they assign you to some type of job that you might like and that will make your stay fairly acceptable.

Your mother may mention this but if not, do you know of anything now that you would like to receive for your birthday? If it would be better we might wait till you're in your next assignment when you will probably have more freedom and more privileges. Anyway, let us know, ok?

We are thinking very seriously about coming down for the Open House on the 27th. We would like to see you very much, and also it would be interesting to see Ft. Knox. We would probably leave on Friday, get a motel, and then come out 1st thing Sat. AM, according to the schedule you sent. Then I suppose we would spend the whole day there, go back to the motel, and leave for home Sunday. We might even bring some of the kids along if we come. Would there be any disadvantages from your point of view or from what you know about the place, if we do?

If we do go we will miss Pam's wedding. It's on the 27th and they did get St. Norbert's Hall for the party. Roxanne Cloutier's wedding is Friday evening the 19th.

Well, John, I guess this is it for tonight. I pray daily for God to take care of you. He will, to, especially if YOU ask.

With Love,

14.  Debbie Franklin

May 15 [1972]



Hi, Army "Man" . . .you know by now that I'm not one for writing especially with all the things I have to do but I'm in school now with some spare time so I'll start a letter-no telling when I'll finish this. Today is Monday-blah! I hate Mondays! School is so gross but sometimes summer vacation is gross too.

The weekend was a bummer-Saturday a bunch of kids were supposed to go to the lake for the day but my group got lost on the way to Silver Lake and then from there to Cass Lake we got lost again. Then when we got there it rained so we all left. Bummer, huh? It rained all day yesterday too so I couldn't get out and do things.

Tuesday: Friday nite Steve and I went to Cherry Hill's Prom. It was at the Roostertail. Neither of us had a very good time though-we got there too late to sit with our friends, the refreshments were gone, the musicians were duds and didn't play any good jams and the dance floor was too small. Then we went out to eat but my steak wasn't how I like it. Also, at the prom a guy almost ruined my dress by spilling punch on it and I started crying. Oh well . . . I guess I'm used to dining at such places as Huck's; that was a great evening (agreed?). Thanks again!

This Friday is the Senior Swingout. I remember two years ago when you played at it. You (and another guy [Gary Starin]) played Scarborough Fair. Do you remember the first song we ever danced to? It was Scarborough fair. We've got a lot of good memories together, huh?

So, are you homesick yet? I guess you receive a lot of letters from home with that big family of yours. Don't worry though-I still intend to write you!!!!

What kind of rules do you have (about drinking, partying, rest and relaxation time, etc.)? If you have a camera or one of your buddies take some pictures of you and your barracks. Do they provide you stamps and stationary for letter writing? Why don't they have mail call on weekends? How long does it take for my letters to reach you? Be sure and let me know if you need anything like stamps, shaving cream, etc. Also, let me know when and where and the procedure for sending you things. Would you like some home made cookies or fudge? Anything you want, you've got . . . .

Guess what exciting thing I'm gonna do when I get home-cut the grass, wash my hair, do my never-ending homework, eat dinner, and anything else necessary to make my day. OK, also take a bath. (Speaking of grass, what happens if someone gets caught with it? You be careful, okay?)

How's the weather in Ft. Knox? The weather here has been damp and stuffy. It's not really too hot but as long as I'm stuck in school its better and more comfortable if it's cooler.

Almost lunchtime so I'll end for now. But I'll be back!

Love, Me

End of School Tuesday: Well, not much has happened between the time I wrote and now (I'm home) so I'll get this in the mail.

Love you, Take Care

15.  Mom

May 15, '72

Hi John,

It was good to hear you more chipper last night than you were in your last letter. I guess, though, that your letters will reflect the mood of a particular day.

Sorry about your distasteful details but if Army life was pleasant we would be at war all the time-come to think of it, we seem to have been at war forever, as it is.

Strange to hear you complain about the heat there. Our pretty days are so few and far between. Mary Lou and I have sore throats and rotten colds. We would love to bake in 80 degree heat.

John Reifle came over to see Lynn last night. He must have been feeling no pain when he left. He left his jacket in our living room. His family took Mrs. R for dinner at Marino's and he came here afterwards. I have no gory details, if any, from Lynn yet but I will!

Seven of us went to the "Clock" restaurant after Mass yesterday-a mother's day treat for lunch. Received an exotic orchid arrangement (flowers) from Lynn and the twins, Bill gave me a dozen carnations and Mary Lou made me a daisy card. So I was surrounded by lovely flowers. Just after we hung up John Neph came over. He wanted to put $10.00 down on your car. I guess his dad is going to co-sign for him so it sounds promising. I told him this was one used car he really knew about and how well it was taken care of. He agreed. Now if his loan is o.k.ed you will have your car sold. We are going to miss that wedding when we come down to see you but I don't care.

Hope you have thought of something you want or need for your birthday. I know-you mentioned the radio.

And for now-Love and prayers,

16.  Mary Lou

May 17

Dear John,

I just want to wish you a happy birthday because I don't have any money for a card.

We had a spelling bee today. I lost. You know what I went down on? Hibernate. I spelled it H-y-bee-r-n-a-t-e. We're having a spelling contest against another room. We're going to win though. We're having it Wednesday May 31. There are words like hypotenuse, coordinate, and congruent.

Today I was biting my sandwich and my tooth fell out! I had a cheese sandwich. It fell out because people don't close the cheese package tight enough. It was my baby tooth. I put it under my pillow so I can get some money.

I hope this letter arrives on your birthday. If it doesn't happy late birthday. Well gotta go now. Bye.

Mary Lou

17.  Mom

Birthday Card postmarked May 17, 19972

"For you, Son. . . with yesterday memories. . .today wishes. . .and always love. Happy Birthday!"

Mother and Dad

John, these "fancy" stamps are air-mail. These are the closest things to a Birthday gift I could get right now. Love, Mom

18.  Dad


Wed Nite [postmarked May 17, 1972]

Dear John:

It is almost 9:30 and has been a very busy evening. Mother has a cold so I took her to the store. I looked over and advised Bill in installing his cassette stereo in his car. He didn't get the kind that can be taken out easily so we found a hiding place above the other radio and behind a piece of metal on the dash that comes out. It's just slightly awkward to reach in this hole to operate it but it should protect it by hiding it while leaving it in the car.

Then John Neph came over for the serial number etc. for his loan. He expects to get the check Friday night (right after Roxann's wedding which had been called and then reinstated). So we should settle the whole deal right that night. He wanted to check the engine etc so we took it to Ford-Venoy Sunoco where John once worked and is run by a friend of the family. He had him put the scope on it and it checked out good. Just a couple points off on dwell, and a little rich on fuel. Also needs alignment of the front end I guess. Anyway that is something John will take care of after he turns over the $2000. Of course the loan will be paid off and the balance will be deposited in your account.

Sorry to hear the Guest House is all booked up. I don't know if we will get motel reservations or just wait and see what's available. Seems like there should be a lot of empty rooms between Louisville and Ft. Knox. Do a lot of soldiers leave the base on weekend passes and go to motels? Being a holiday I'll bet a lot of them will be off on pass.

Tigers are leading 3 to 1 over Baltimore after losing two in a row to the Birds. Lolich is trying for #7. (I told you wrong last time.)

I don't know who all will be coming down the 26th. Lynn probably won't. She talked to Julie tonight & he is coming down over the Holiday.

This weekend we might go to Greenfield Village for Old Time County Fair Time. And Sunday we might go to Monroe for St Mary Academy's annual fair. Guess I'll close now but I'll let you know the final details on the car this week end.


19.  Debbie Franklin


May 18

Hi Sweetheart, (This means you!)

How's your body? Great, I hope. I hope the Army hasn't been abusing you by making you do strenuous work and exercise.

It's 8:30 in the morning and I'm in American Culture--the teacher, Mr. Masse (remember him) is giving notes on the causes of the Civil War. Big deal, huh?

So tell me, how's the food? Not like home cooking, I bet. It seems we never realize how much we cherish our home, family and friends till we are gone. I suppose by now you've found that out. By the way--have you talked to your parents since you left? If there are any messages for them let me know and I'll get it to them.

Is there any word on selling your car yet? If you don't get an offer or buyer soon are you gonna lower the price? Where is your car now? Do you let your brothers and family drive it?

Right now I'm in Chemistry and it's 12:00. I just found out that tomorrow 1, 2, 3 hours we have awards assembly and then in the afternoon we have swingout so why come for that & 4th hour? I'm just gonna stay home and sit out in the sun and then I might come in to see the seniors cut down everyone at the Swingout! Some real sweats are in for a surprise.

Today it's supposed to get around 83 degrees and is it ever miserable. Tomorrow and the weekend it's supposed to be in the 90's.

Oh, I almost forgot, yesterday I went golfing for the 1st time! Incredible . . . I made the biggest divots and had the most wiffs. Quite an experience!

Disaster---one of my friends just came and told me someone had ripped-off his bike (motorcycle). Could you imagine--getting a custom 450cc stolen from you. Bummer! Ours still isn't fixed so I'm shut down and does it ever bum me out!

What type of things do you have to do? Clean out the johns, k.p., guard, what else is there? Can you have radios or anything like that in your barracks? Is your sergeant really mean? (I asked a lot of questions, don't I; but then if I don't I won't know 'cause I've never been in the Army . . . . did you know that?)

Do you know anyone else on base? There I go again, sorry . . . .

Now it's Saturday. It's about 80 degrees outside. I washed the Capri and now I'm inside watching the Tiger game. They're losing, 2-1 in the 4th inning. There's not much more news so I'll get this in the mail. Be careful!

"Deborah Gay"

Did you get my other letters yet?

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