Letters to a Soldier: The Letters -- Fort Bliss, Texas - p.3

The Letters: Fort Bliss, Texas - p.3

71.  Mary Beth White

August 5th, 1972


Hi, how are you? I was wondering if they would forward my letter to you from Tenn. It did take them a long time! I'm glad they did forward it. I haven't seen your brothers so I couldn't ask them for your address in Texas & I wasn't sure if you were transferred when I wrote or not. I was so happy to get your letter. It was my birthday & it wasn't a very happy one since my uncle died the day before. Your letter made things a lot better.

For my birthday I got a Melanie album & Mud Slide Slim by James Taylor, I'm listening to them now. I also got $15, a watch, a purse, & a smock top that my sister made for me. I also got this stationary & some Chantilly Cologne.

In the mail along with your letter I got my voter's registration card. I'm now a legal voter. My first chance to vote will be Tues. Aug 8th. It's something I've been looking forward to.

Tomorrow night my sister is taking me to see 3 Dog Night, also for my birthday. I can't wait. They were here once before last year & I was sorry that I didn't get to see them, now I will.

The other night I went to the Drive-in & we saw Easy Rider, Getting Straight, & Bob, Ted, Carol & Alice. Easy Rider was good but I didn't like the ending because the good guys got killed. Bob, Ted, Carol & Alice was really dumb. It was mostly about group therapy & how married couples should be perfectly honest with one another. We didn't stay to see all of Getting Straight, it was crappy too.

I wanted to ask you, what is a Nike Hercules site? I know nothing about things like that. Also if you go to one will you be moved out of Texas?

Bliss sounds fabulous! I love mountains!! I've only seen them once live & that was the Smokies in Tenn. It's funny because of all the things I had hoped to do in my life times I did all 3 in a week. I went to the Bahamas with my senior class so I was able to fly & see the Ocean, both were all I'd hoped they would be. Then I went camping in Tenn. The mountains were the most fantastic thing I've have ever seen! I plan to do all sorts of traveling. First over the U.S. & if there is still time left the world!

The weather here is really crazy. It got real cold. I couldn't believe it, freezing in the middle of August. August used to be unbearable. I really love hot weather but we've had none.

Is Ft. Bliss anywhere near Amarillo? My parents were down there last year & said it was beautiful. With all the red clay on the way. I would love to go further south, the states there are so pretty & so different from here.

I made it through my summer classes. I have to go to orientation August 11, 12, & 13th. It should be fun. I can't wait to start in September!

Melanie & James are great! I love them both.

Well, I've got to be going now. Write soon.

Mary Beth

72.  Mary Lou

Sun 6 [August 6, 1972]

Dear John,

Today is a rainy day. A miserable day. Yesterday I got a flat tire on Helen. I had to walk it home. Today I got a new tire and inner tube. Which took pretty long. We went to Ace, Kmart and the Ace on Ford finally got it.

Know how much money I have? 11 dollars and 94 cents. By my birthday I will have enough money to buy an aquarium. Which will cost around 17 dollars. I'm gonna start out with 2 guppies. A male and female. I'll get them from the pet shop in Detroit. When I get a population explosion I'll let them eat the babies because I wouldn't be able to afford to take care of all those babies! Don't you think that's a pretty good reason?

In the St. Norbert's Messenger it said that Lawrence Suchyta is getting married to Patty Sleek. Isn't that a surprise?

If you still want Jim's camera it's going to cost a lot of money! 50 dollars! I doubt if you'll buy it.

Since Mike and Greg began to drive, I think it's getting to dad. Now when I'm driving with dad he's getting me a little nervous. You know, the way he pulls out in front of cars.

There's nothing else to say. Goodbye for now.

full image 62kb Mary Lou

P.S. I hope you like my picture. [A picture of me coming home from the Army; "Mom I'm home!" "I'm glad you're home!"]

73.  Dad

Mon. 8-7-72

Dear John,

A rainy evening, cool and quiet, to usher in a new week. Just yesterday I was thinking, only 6-7 weeks or so til Fall officially arrives. It has been a most peculiar summer; the coolest I can remember, but one that has been remarkably conformable, but which my allergy or whatever causes my nose to run (occasionally in spurts) has not left it as it usually does early in July. I hope the allergy hasn't expanded. I have been tempted to go to the doctor about it. It could be sinus problems instead. Well, maybe it's just unusual weather.

We saw our slides tonight, the ones mother took up north with Mike's newest camera. They turned out very good. It's so nice to look back on things with pictures. We also viewed our Toronto slides and I think as we look back it seems better than when we were actually there. We seem to be slow about getting things to you. We delay now with the guitar til we get more info. I checked with Continental Bus & they would take it down, very carefully the young man says, and they guarantee it from loss or damage up to its value. Mother wanted to check at the Post Office. I guess the bus line would take it to the depot in El Paso and you would pick it up from there. I could pack it so it wouldn't rattle and enclose it in heavy paper and bind it. The case is rather soft but with warnings on the wrapping I think it would be ok, especially by passenger bus since they wouldn't pack the baggage compartment like a train's mail car. Since you expressed some doubt about the safety of sending it, perhaps you should give us the word about going ahead with it.

As for the camera, I expect we can get that packed safely soon and on its way.

Mother's camera takes fine pictures without flash if the light outside is fair at least, and inside with inexpensive tiny flash bulbs.

You should take a bunch so you can have this to remember and to show us for a long time to come. All those we took on our trip seemed so few and the viewing time so short when we sat down to see them tonight. Mother just reported to me what the guy at the Post Office told her today about mailing the guitar. He said it might get some rough treatment and said that shipping by bus would be very much safer. So, again, we will wait for your ok on sending it.

Jim was over yesterday, he comes once or twice a week for his mail or to wash his car. He may change jobs at Pepsi and drive a truck to get a jump up to 4 something an hour. This would be full time days so he says he would stay at school nights for a subject or two. This delay of the education he seems to want might be a mistake. This guy at work who is about 25 or 26 and has been getting turned down on job applications he has made in the Construction Dept. is now considering going to school nights. And this will cost him because he is a good mechanic and he works at a neighborhood station 5 or 6 times a week at nights and Saturday.

I am anxious to hear how the medicine for your allergy turned out and if the personnel there handled it ok. I should have thought about the Army supplying it since they are supposed to take care of your needs and you don't have any outside health insurance which would normally take care of the expenses, or partially. I can't get over the temperatures I see reported for El Paso lately. Is it really that hot, I mean does it seem that bad?

Have you taken any trips? What about the mountains? See any movies or TV lately? How does the Free Press hit you? Are there many guys from Michigan there? Is Mass celebrated weekly and are you making it? Gee, there are lots of things to write about aren't there.

Well, I guess I have about run out for now. Oh, I found those LTD emblems that were snitched off the rear top side of my car at the junk yard today. Only 1 buck & they are in perfect shape. Shouldn't have waited so long.

With Love,

Bill's birthday on Aug 17.

[Enclosed the Feature Page from the Free Press Monday, August 7, 1972.]

74.  Pat Bratcher

Aug. 10-72

Dear John.

Hi! I sure was surprised to hear from you so soon! So you ain't been up to much, eh? Not much happening here. Well, I see nothing wrong with smoking dope or "popping" a few pills-just so you don't get so hung-up you just gotta have it. Ya know what I mean? Cause I've smoked dope-didn't care for it but I still don't knock it cause lots of people really dig it. I've also "popped" a few pills-for kicks & to feel good, but I don't consider myself a dope addict or anything. A pill here & there can't do much harm that liquor couldn't do. I have nothing against dope just so long, as you say, you don't abuse it.

No, I wasn't tired of hearing you talk about dope-it's a very deep subject-that should be talked more about. I disagree to the statement that you feel "you're still the same-but only going through a few minor changes"-cause I don't think if you're not hooked badly on dope that it can change you. Understand?

No, Mike hasn't had any more parties lately. Mainly cause he hasn't had the money. You see his Barracuda quit running & it's gonna cost $700 to get it fixed, I guess. That's what I heard anyway. You're right "you don't get rowdy when you're stoned cause when you're stoned everything's beautiful."

I baby-sit from 2:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. for a 14 month old baby boy, 8 houses from my house. It's not bad-just boring, I make $25.00 a week for it. It's ok!

I'd like to go to Vietnam. Maybe I will. I'd also like to go to Germany-it's supposed to be beautiful there. I think the war is a bad thing-and-I can't wait till it's over. Well, I'm happy that at you at least get to come home for Christmas. I really feel sorry for the guys that can't come home. Especially the ones in 'Nam. I wish they'd all just stop fighting & come home.

Well, I guess that's about all for now, John. See ya later! Write when ya can.


75.  Greg

14 Aug

Dear John,

After a lot of confusion I finally have my ride up to Pine Knob settled. Lynn will drive us up there to see Bread. I was hoping dad would let me take the car up there. But he wouldn't.

Only 24 more days until school starts on the 7th. I really can't wait to get back into school. This summer really has been drab. Last summer there were rock concerts every Friday in Garden City Park! None this year. Only one party that I knew of -Cloutier's. And when you don't have the car, it makes it worse.

This is about the fourth week since I've worked. I don't think my boss will call me in ever again. Right now I really could do with some money.

There's this guy, some friend of yours I think, who always waves whenever I see him. And I don't know who he is. He drives an orange Volk's and he's got blond hair, all combed back. He's been to all your parties I think.

Looking through the past couple yearbooks has me thinking that I'm going to miss going to Cherry Hill. All the dances, sports events, and float meetings are really what make up Cherry Hill. It really made me sad to think that I only have two more years left of high school. Up to junior year, school's been pretty fun but it won't be half as fun as my last two years. I've never really had what you call a girlfriend, like what you and Mary had. It'd really be beautiful to have a girl who cares about me and likes me a lot. I hope during this school year I can find one like that. That'd really make the year. Having the car will open new doors in my social life. No more dumb walking around Garden City on Friday nights. I am really looking forwards to school. Hope it turns out like I hoped, or better.

Getting back to the business about the girlfriend. I look around me everywhere I go and I see these kids you'd never expect they'd have a girl, and yet they do. And then I look at myself and say, why not me? There has been some girls who have liked me before but most of them I haven't. Three years of my teenage life has passed by-three practically wasted yrs. I'm determined not to waste the remaining three years. I gotta start making something of my life. The teenage years are supposed to be the best of anyone's life.

If only I had the guts to just go up to a girl I like and ask here out or to dance. But I'm afraid I'm too chicken, and that's what's hurting me. Hopefully, this school year will be different. But it's up to me. It must be nice to have a steady girl. Maybe this year I'll experienced it.

I'd be interested in any thoughts about this from you. Thanks a lot.

Your brother,

76.  Dan White

[Postmarked August 14, 1972, from Co-C 3rd Sch Bde, Ft. Gordon, GA]


What's happening brother head! How ya doing out there in Texas? Got your letter bout a week ago and decided to return the blessing. Ft. Bliss sounds like a far out joint. I'm glad you like it. We're out in the middle of Georgia. This post and this whole state is screwed to the bone. We have it real easy like yourself but I still don't dig it. Maci and Marz are in my room. Maci and I got stoned last night. It was sweet as ever. I've got about six more weeks here. Then I'll go wherever they decide they want me. All I do is type most of the day and then a few classes between typing classes. Not hard at all. I've been home about three times and that is always nice. Say, tell Austin Dan said "High."

I'm about 900 miles away from home so it is in driving distance. I'm gonna drive home next weekend. I guess I'll have to stay here this weekend. We're going to a Bloodrock concert in two weeks. That'll be nice.

I'll bet Mexico is really nice. I'd like to see it sometime. You guys are really a long way from home though. Do you make it home much? I found out what a round trip ticket from Germany costs. $500. Wow, I guess if I go over there I won't be coming home.

Well buddy! Write back and let me know how Sam's treating you. Be cool and don't let them screw you over.

Your Pal,


77.  Dad

Mon. 8-14

Dear John,

We got your letter of last Thursday and Mary Lou got hers also, both today. How did it feel to go get out driving in a car? I suppose your trips into town and across the border have been on buses. Am I right or do you travel regularly with a guy with a car? We are anxious to hear if the guitar arrived all right. You might keep the box and foam for shipping back even if you bring it with you when you come if it would have to travel with the luggage. We sent it without waiting for your answer when Mother assured me you didn't express doubt about wanting it. Therefore we didn't pack any albums or music but we will try and get some of your requests out. You ask for records. What facilities have you for playing them? I got the box at Grinell's downtown where the man in the shipping dept. gave me the box and even wrapped and taped it; very nice guy. I was going to send it with the case just wrapped in paper but the lady at the bus depot said it might get picked up by somebody if they could tell what it was so the box seemed safer from that and also from damage.

It happened so fast I didn't have much time to get any film for the camera. I stopped at the drug store at the Hilton on the way to Grinell's and they only had black & white film-I was going to get color. Well, if you use it you can take a lot of pictures. Black & white make good pictures anyway, and they are a lot cheaper to print. Color, of course, is really the thing to have, especially for scenery.

Are you saving any of your income? I hope you don't come out of service like Jim with nothing in the bank, or very little saved. Well, maybe he felt it was worth it to spend it all. It is really difficult to advise young people any more. Who is to say which is the correct thing to do. And, even more, maybe most things are more a matter of personal opinion or preference rather than a question of right or wrong or wise or unwise.

What made me realize I'm getting older [dad is 48 in 1972] is last week at work these guys in the office who are 28, 29 years old were discussing the party one was having Saturday night. And they, or he, invited one other 29 year old and a few of the young girls in the next office, too I guess, but no mention or apparent thought of asking me and your mother (they are married too) or Jack Cartmill or the others my age. Even though we all act equally toward each other in the office and even had been at a Christmas season party at Cartmill's last year.

This doesn't bother me because I wouldn't want to go to their party anyway, not because I don't like them, but because they probably do things differently and have different tastes. This judgement is from hearing conversations in the office, and they are real nice people, too.

Anyway, a parent still has to try and help, advise, guide, and maybe even lead his offspring. And all parents will make some mistakes along the way but their experience and whatever other assets they have makes them someone to reckon with and their words should not be taken lightly. Generally a parent has the son or daughter's best interest at heart.

I see you are still getting the hot weather. I thought it would not be as bad as you indicate. It has been hot today but the night is cool now, we had some rain today, and tomorrow promises to be pleasant.

The Power Club Annual Picnic to Bob-Lo is Saturday and Ma, Mark, and Mary Lou will accompany me for a day down the river.

We went to the Polish Festival behind Cobo yesterday. They had a big crowd, nice dancing entertainment, and lots of booths with good food and games.

Well, try and not think of the 2 years as a drag and a waste. It will be all gone soon and the balance of your expected lifetime will be a long road ahead. You have much to look forward to so stay and be patient and take a step at a time-


[Enclosed is the feature page of the Free Press, Monday, August 114, 1972.]

78.  Debbie Franklin

Tuesday, Aug 15

Dear John-

Hi, what's new? Not much is happening here in fact if I waited until something really exciting happened before writing, you wouldn't hear from me til Christmas or after. Yes, things are pretty dull here in Inksterville. I really shouldn't complain though, at least I'm not in school yet but that begins in 3 weeks. Bummer . . . .

Let's see now-okay; ready for a big rundown on my not-so-exciting summer?

First of all, we had to have Peppi put to sleep June 7 because his cancer got uncontrollable.

The week after we went to New York to see my step-sister and her family. We had a good time and they were really beautiful people. The weather was a disappointment though. We had planned on doing some sunning and swimming. They surprised us with a new poodle puppy, Piere'. He takes after me; in other words-he's a brat.

I got home from there and had just enuf time to rest and repack before leaving with a girlfriend and her family to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That place was fantastic, better than Daytona Beach or Ft. Lauderdale. There was an Air Force Base nearby so there were a lot of eligible males to choose from. That has been my best 2 weeks so far this summer. We swam, sunned, golfed, drank, hussled, partyed, went to amusement parks, drank some more-really a tits time!

But when I got home things were a bummer again. No job, no money, a broken scooter and nothing to do. I did go boating and water skiing a couple of time. And I've been to a couple shows and out to eat. Now the bike is fixed but I always ride Elie's 450cc custom whenever I go some place. They other day, Sunday, we rode 100 miles down Edward Hines and to Kensington. Really a mind blower.

My sister and John are in California and my parents just got back about 3 hours ago from a week visit down South. I stayed here with the dog. Every nite people were over, drinking, smoking, having sex, you name it. It really makes me nervous and wears me out worrying about things so I'm glad they're back. I can't believe I'm actually glad to be restricted again but it's kinda good.

Not much else new here so I'll sign off. Take it easy . . . .

Debra Gay

Hope you like the enclosed picture of ya!

79.  Mom

Tues. Nite

Aug. 15

Dear John,

Just got in from evening Mass. Hope you made it to Church on this holy day of obligation.

Wow-has this been a busy two weeks for me! That is why I haven't written in the last few days.

First of all, though, let me set the record straight and "make it perfectly clear"-I do not want you to buy me any silverware (e.g. knives, forks, spoons). The silver I meant was jewelry silver-you know-silver bracelets, aquamarine (turquoise) and silver earrings, etc. I can remember my brother, Paul, buying me a solid silver pin from Texas. Anyway-I was just thinking that perhaps you might find something pretty for Mary Lou's birthday. She will be 10 and that is so much more grown up that 9! She was so pleased to receive a letter from you.

I am sorry about the medicine. What a waste! Was the letter that came with it ant help to the Army to make you up some more or shall I call Wilhelm's back again? Let me know, o.k.?

I have been busy painting for the past week. Greg gave up on the dining room job-shelves, wall and cupboards-so I had to take over. Gave them two coats of pale blue to blend with our new blue shag rug. I still have the insides of the cupboards to do. Maybe tomorrow.

I have also started my hex sign for the garage. Remember the Pennsylvania Dutch "distelfink" bird over the kitchen table? Well, I am doing it as a 3', 10" good luck symbol for our garage. Enamel on enamel, a slick combo to work with but so far it looks o.k. (at a distance).

Mike is here in the basement building a box for his camera equipment. Just like Bill made a box for his tapes. Hinges & locks and all done with Allen Lumber. Very nice-but heavy.

full image 62kb

Bill passed his physical. The Army didn't think his bad skin on his back was bad enough to disqualify him. So he decided to grow a beard, etc. before he has to be shaved like you. He expects a call from Uncle Sam in April but I hope not.

Until later-Much love, Mom

P.S. Got your request for your records after we sent the guitar. Pretty music to you!

[Enclosed are Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics.]

80.  Georgeann Vigil

Aug. 16.72

Dear John,

Sorry for not writing. I was really surprised to see that you were still writing, because I haven't wrote you at all for a long time. I just got your letters today, because they were over at my Aunt's house and she just mailed them to me, & I got them today. I moved to Lansing with my sister, it's been three weeks now. I found a job in one week, that's pretty good. I been working lately. I work at Imperial 400 a hotel. It was ruff at first, but now it's easy. I guess it's okay for now, until I find a better job.

I been toking up lately. I met quite a few kids up here. The kids up here are really friendly & nice. They're mostly school kids. Sure are a lot of freaks, & strange people here.

They have quite a few bars here that are for the young ones, or teenagers, or whatever, you know what I mean, don't know. Have bands every night, & old flicks, I can really get into a flick when the band plays cos it looks like the movie goes with the music. I got the album "Thick As A Brick." That's really a heavy piece of work there.

No, I didn't go see Alice Cooper. Bummer if ever one. Yes, Pat smoked before but not much that I know of. Do you play chess much? That was a steal [my buying an onyx chess set in Juarez]. You were pretty lucky with the chess & the boots. How do you like basic training? What do you like best out of all of it?

That's nice now you can have your guitar to play. I bet that made you feel good, eh? Who's Barbara Jane Mackle? What happened to her? Did you hear from Pat? Do you hear from Mike or write to him? I went to go see "The Last Picture Show." It was pretty good, but grose at some parts what they said & done. Did you ever see it? Do you get to see any flicks there?

Well, I haven't written much, but it's better than nothing because I can never get my stuff together. That's pretty good for me anyways. I'll write later. I can't think of nothing else to write about for right now. It was good to hear from you, thank you for writing. Sorry for not writing.

Stay High,

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