Letters to a Soldier: The Letters -- Fort Bliss, Texas - p.2

The Letters: Fort Bliss, Texas - p.2

59.  Dad



Dear John,

We received your first letter from Texas yesterday. It is interesting to hear of your new adventures so keep up the good work. You probably won't be getting the letter I wrote to you at Fort Knox so I will repeat the question I asked then, would you like one of the Detroit newspapers delivered there? Since delivery is sometimes erratic and tardy I would suggest a subscription to the Sunday Free Press or News. Or perhaps you would like the Ledger Star or whatever they call our local paper. Tell me (us) your preferences and we will arrange it immediately.

We just watched on TV the special about the Mojave desert. Have you had a chance to experience it? (The desert?) If you would use it I would send you an inexpensive camera which you could capture some memories for your later years. I occasionally get out my old pix of the service days, and just like a lot of usual photos they are enjoyable to see and reminisce a bit about the days of long ago. So, remember, let me know. You could take color or black & white photos.

We went to the Dillon's cottage Sunday but Grampa, Bud, and sister Ann Louis went in Bud's car. We had a very nice time and even had a ride in a speed boat which your uncle Bill recently purchased (used) off somebody. Greg got a chance to drive it a while. The lake (Erie) was just fine and I got in my first swim of the year.

They had a fine steak dinner (for the adults) grilled by Bill on the out door Hibachis.

When we got within 3 or 4 miles of the bridge on the way home about 9:45 PM we hit the traffic jam going back to Detroit. The cars just crept along and after about a half hour and only a mile or so I took a side street and got a block and 1/2 from the bridge entrance with no trouble. At that point traffic was pouring onto the entrance area from all directions. Well, we crept all the way over the bridge and saw many cars disabled by overheating. It took us one more hour and 10 minutes to go that 3 or 4 miles to the Detroit side from where we first stopped. Both uncle Al (Ambrose) and Bud had to stop to cool off or to add water to the car. I don't know why the big jam but it might be because Sunday was the first good weather day we have had for a long time, especially on the weekend.

Tomorrow is Mike's birthday and I am taking the day off so I can pick up Mary Lou in the morning. She is staying at Ambrose's for a little vacation. She went home with them Sunday from the cottage. We are also planning to give Mark an airplane ride for his birthday since there is nothing he wants (which we can agree on). It will be out to that Piper Airport out Ford Rd. They have 4-seaters.

My friend Jack (Artmill, from Inkster and also my office) is getting promoted to boss. Joe Geisinger is getting moved up to head our division and the one next door from the front office. Jack has been in the Dept. about 4 years and is a good man, plenty smart. The company, especially our department, I think, is putting a lot of stress on professional manpower; and they are going to hire 3 or 4 more engineers for our division in estimating.

We had quite a storm on the way home from work today. The wind was blowing so hard it blew a metal sign with the gasoline price (one digit) from a gas station on Michigan east of Livernois across 2 lanes and in front of my car. Passing in front of the car as I was driving slowly in the rain it knocked the "R" off the FORD across the front of my hood. I thought it had done more damage so I guess I was lucky.

Well, so long, and let us know the answers.


P.S. Hope you get the top promotion, but if not at least do your best and you will be satisfied.

[Enclosed are local/international clippings and Bob Talbert's column from the Free Press.]

60.  Dad

[Stationary used was from the Leelanau Homestead Inc., Glen Arbor, Michigan]


JULY 22, 1972

Dear John:

The above location is a resort overlooking Lake Michigan, across from Sleeping Bear Dune. We came up today for a 3 day vacation, just mother & me. It's a pretty place but the inactivity is something we are not used to. I don't mean we are out every night when we are at home but here the rooms don't have TV, no air conditioning and it's been a hot week even up here, and my little radio can't even pick up a station clearly. Oh, it's great if a person can relax and hibernate for a while. Well, tomorrow after Mass & breakfast we will go over to Sleeping Bear Dunes Park and see the Beauty that has made this a proposed National Park. It is pretty country around here and we climbed part way up the hill behind the lodge but your mother got scared off by possible poison ivy up there. It's quite high and is a ski hill I guess because there are ski racks around here. The kids all stayed home. Mike works now at Allen Lumber and is now on 7 days per week. I'm taking Monday off and we plan to return then. Don't forget the address & name of the location to which your medicine is to be sent. You don't want to louse up that program now that you're half way to completion & lifetime cure of the allergy.

I went swimming in Lake Michigan outside our building (couple 100 feet away across a lawn and beach) and the water is beautifully clear and pretty cold. The beach & sand bottom of the lake is perfect. Too bad we don't have such good swimming around Detroit. But maybe we would have if it weren't for the people & industry who have polluted the water so badly.

This paragraph is being written Sunday night in Traverse City in a motel. We both spent a miserable night at the other place in Glen Arbor. It was hot & humid with no air conditioning and even with windows open we got no breeze to speak of. There was enough though on the beach to bang the rope and hardware against the metal mast of one of the sailboats. I finally went down to the beach about 2 AM and fooled with it and stopped the banging. Even though it seemed to be nicer this AM we left. We went to the Dunes and it was really worth seeing. Pictures can hardly get across the impression of seeing and being on them--that is, Sleeping Bear. We decided to go to Traverse City before returning home Monday. It is a pretty place but really not much to do. We had dinner this evening at the Park Place motel which is where the Cherry County Playhouse is located. Pat Paulson and another actor friend came in and sat at the next table to us. Pat is playing in "Three Men on a Horse" starting Tuesday. He really is skinny and he didn't eat much tonight. On the way here today we were passing the Sugar Loaf resort area so we stopped to see it and have lunch. It really is a family place. Has a golf course, swim pool and air strip with several small planes on it. None of the ski lifts seemed to be working for the summer visitors.

Well, I guess I better close now. I'll have to wait till morning to mail this 'cause we are out on the edge of town and I don't know where the mail delivery or pickup is here. It will be faster, closer to town anyway.

With Love,

[Enclosed is a Sugar Loaf village brochure.]

61.  Mom

[Post card from The Leelanau Homestead]

Monday, 24

Thought of you yesterday while eating lunch at Sugar Loaf Mt. Maybe you can try it in December?

Take care and Love,

63.  Mom

Thurs. July 27

Dear John,

While Mark is cleaning up the basement shelves I will get this off to you. Did your dad tell you about Mark's birthday gift last week? After much thinking I came up with the idea of giving him a plane ride. We took him out to that small flying field on Lilly road in Plymouth and gave him 15 minutes in a 2 seater Cessna. He thought that it was fantastic, particularly since the pilot let him handle the controls for a good part of the ride.

My vacation is over and it was nice while it lasted. Those three days just flew by. I took Mike's Minolta camera and if I did everything right I got some lovely shots from Sleeping Bear Mountain dunes.

Speaking of cameras. Would you like me to send you my camera? It has a flash attachment if you want to use it and takes good pictures. Since photography never was a burning interest for you perhaps you wouldn't want to put 50 or $60.00 in his Yashica right now. Let me know and I'll pack whichever one you think you'll want.

Your allergy extract is another problem. I can't send it just to you when a doctor or nurse has to administer it. I wish that you could find out quickly. You must be way over due for a shot by now. Can't your C.O. help?

Your letters have been coming regularly and I am pleased that your studies aren't causing you trouble. Do you study much after classes? I remember a high school student who used to fall asleep in class. I'll bet that you don't do that any more! It would be great to be sent to the site near Pontiac, I'm sure but that sounds too good to be true. Still . . . you never know.

By the way--is that the Army's sign for peace?

Well, let me know about the base hospital address and the camera.

Also--please be careful in Mexico. It sounds unsavory and weird!


[Enclosed are a few Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics.]

64.  Greg

July 30

Dear John,

While you're busy there in the Army, things have been quite slow around here for me. I work only a couple days a week--whenever my boss calls me in. And when I am working I'm just sitting around with nothing to do in the warehouse.

There was a street dance last night on Morely Street. The one section of the street was blocked off. Two live bands played in someone's driveway by the garage opening. The first band played some of Black Sabbath, Mountain, Hendrix, and of their own. It was pretty cool. The first band was better than the second. There were a lot of Cherry Hill kids there. It lasted from 7-11.

Friday night I went out with a couple of friends and we went out in the park across the street behind the woods and toked up. I smoked five "j's" and was stoned. We heard that the street dance was that night, but we soon found out it wasn't 'till the next night. We were going to go.

Last Monday morning, while Mom & Dad were still up north, I took the car out and a friend of mine and I went and bought a dime bag off a cousin of my friend. Then we split it up. I still have about worth.

Couple weeks ago I bought some rolling paper from the WarehouseII. Kevin Newell asked me about you.

Some friends, Mike, and I are going to see Bread at Pine Knob Sunday, Aug. 27. We're going to sit on the grass for $2.50 per. Starts at 7:30. I hope I can get the car for that night.

Signing off,

65.  Dad

Sunday AM [postmarked July 30, 1972]

Dear John,

Mother just left for Mass with Mary Lou & Mark. Greg is watching TV. And Mike is at work at Allen Lumber (10-3 on Sundays). Bill, I guess, is out at Gow's and Jim, who may be over for a birthday dinner, is ?

It is a beautiful day in Inkster which reminds me I saw that yesterday the Hi-Lo in El Paso was 100-70. How do you feel about the weather. Is 100 there like 100 would be here? Is everything air conditioned. You mentioned the cooling of your barracks. How was that, by fans? Do any swimming yet?

I forgot to tell you about the paper subscription til mother mentioned it this morning although we got your answer you'd like it a few days ago. I'll call them in the morning and order a Sunday subscription. Let us know what kind of delivery they (Free Press) give you. On our trip I lost the chrome strip that is along the bottom length of the LTD. Must have come off in the wind as we drove along. The front end had been bent and the refastening must have come loose. Anyway I went over to the junk yard on Middlebelt, north of Michigan you know, and luckily I found one in good shape on a wrecked '66 LTD 2 door. Funny but they were the same length, that distance between the fenders, on the 2 door & my 4 door. I also got a "R" to replace the one that got knocked off my hood in a recent windstorm. Only cost 3 bucks and it looks even better than before, since the old trim had that crease in it.

Lynn could probably replace her fender fairly cheaply the same way. We will have to look into that. Last Sunday at this time we were just about through with the Dunes trip. When I told you about Sugar Loaf in the letter I didn't have the brochure which I picked up at Traverse City Chamber of Commerce office before mailing, Monday AM. I also got another piece on the place which describes all the rates and stuff.

We got 3 of your letters this week. I guess we didn't miss any. The time between your writing and receiving an answer by us of that writing can take well over a week to 2 weeks depending on how soon we reply.

Mike was going to be working 2 days but they decided to give him a day off which is Wednesday.

Last night Mother & I decided to go out dancing, seeing as how I was all dressed up anyhow, having been Lector at 4 PM Mass. So she got dressed up in her new long green dress and we went over to Westwood (on Mich near John Daly, you know). Last time we were there they had a nice 4 piece orchestra which played "our kind" of music. We were surprised to see that they had a young band and a young crowd which dressed very informally. We had one drink and left before the band came on. But the recorded music that they played in the meanwhile, well, you would have liked it. So not getting any dancing there we went to Dearborn to the Topper. It's a nice place on Michigan at Oakwood I guess where there was a 3 piece combo who played some nice music although not completely the old style. They did play one fairly slow set. Not too much of a crowd there, though.

Our new rug came yesterday. Plush, blue, and pretty, for the Dining/Family Room. I finally painted the ceiling, the acoustical tiles. 1st time, and the room is 16 years old now.

Well, keep your nose to the grindstone. It may be dull and the work after graduation might be boring, but an assignment in the infantry, artillery, or whatever would be just as boring or worse. And lets pray there is no more war to liven things up. So, as they say, keep the Faith, (and if you pray occasionally, you will).

With Love,

[Enclosed are a couple of Bob Talbert's columns.]

66.  Pat Bratcher

Monday, July 31-72

Dear John,

Hi! I'm ok! How are you? So, how do you like the army? Most guys I know don't particularly care for it. Are you majoring or involved with any particular subject in the army? I mean are you going to jump from planes or work on planes or tanks or what are you doing? Are you going to go to Vietnam? Or will you go to Germany? Or just stay here in the States?

I'm doing ok. I see George once in a while. Yes she talks about you. Says you write long & extra ordinary letters for a guy. Says you're very interesting, too. I've known her about 9 years & I still don't understand her. To me she's really a strange person. Yes, George told me about Alice Cooper-sounded Like you had a really god time. I consider all pills chemicals no matter what's in them. I myself would rather pop a pill, than smoke some weed. I don't know, I guess dope just isn't for me, cause I always go back to beer. I tried Choc. Mesc. & didn't get nothing but a body high, so back to beer. I really was digging on blue T.H., but I can't never find any, so back to beer.

Are you going to be able to be home for Christmas? I hope so-I wish all the guys in the services could at least be home for Christmas. Yeah, we had fun at Bob-Lo-it would have been more fun, if she wouldn't have gotten rid of all her pills so quickly. It would have been a riot if we were high. Oh well-it was still fun. From the letter I got from you-I assume you didn't get my first letter-did you? Well-I wrote one to ya. I can't remember what it said, but I did write it. Well, not much happening here-so see ya later.


Write when ya can,
Be good & always smile!

68.  Mom

Wed., Aug 3 [should be the 2nd which was Wednesday; postmarked August 2, 1972.]

A gloomy, rainy day here. Greg is washing the kitchen wall for me and grumping about it. Mark says that I would make a good drill sergeant-the way I give orders. He did the stairwell. Mike painted the downstairs bath so every one is getting a turn at something. Lynn is away so many Saturdays but one of these weeks she is going to be drafted for her room. So you see-we all have complaints once in a while.

We haven't heard from you in 10 days or so. Maybe today? I hope classes and studies are going well for you.

Jim came over Sunday and stayed for dinner. It was his birthday & luckily I baked a cake just in case he showed up. It was a small, what you might call intimate, dinner with you and Lynn not home. Grampa and Bud didn't come because we didn't know if Jim would show up. Each one of you leaves a big space when you're not here for family celebrations.

Yesterday a man from Sonatone Corp. came over to test my hearing. Someone called their office last May and told them that I had a hearing problem. No one around here will admit it. The test didn't tell me anything I didn't know already but it was interesting for Greg & Mary Lou to watch. Greg asked about teenagers getting deaf from loud music and he verified my position. Not only are they going deaf from loud music but also from much snow mobiling and motorcycle riding. He said most rock musicians now put their amplifiers out in front of them on stage and also wear ear plugs. Did you know that 3 of the 4 Beatles have hearing aids now.

Wish I could convince Mark about the loudness he tolerates with his earphones.

Well, we are going to the zoo tomorrow-weather permitting. Mike wants to get some animal pictures for Mary Lou's birthday (on the 23). By the way . . .Bill's is the 17th of Aug.


[Enclosed are Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics.]

69.  Mom

Thurs. Aug 3.

Dear John,

Just got back from Wilhelm's Clinic with your extract! Tomorrow A.M. I will send it out Air Mail, SPECIAL DELIVERY to the dispensary at Fort Bliss. Please be on the look out for it. Inside the package will be the sheet of instructions with your dosage listed. Remember to tell the attending doctor or nurse that you missed a dose (or more, if that is the case).

I called the Red Cross here about where to send it & he (whoever "he" is) didn't advise me to send it at all until you had contacted the Red Cross at Ft. Bliss. I do hope that my way does save you about a week and that there is no "snafu" down at your end. Your name & serial number will be on the letter and I wish you luck. Please let me know right away, will you, when you receive this note & your arrangements with the dispensary? You will tell them right away that the extract is coming, won't you?

More about your guitar in a few days. I told your dad to look into it.

Wow! What a day!

Much love & easy breathing.

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