Letters to a Soldier: The Letters -- Hanau, Germany, page 1 of 5

The Letters:

European Tour: October, 1973--April, 1974

Hanau, Germany

Company A, 503 Supply & Transport Battalion

180.  Mark


Dear John,

I've read your letter and I've looked up those prices for your stereo system. Just in case you needed it I got a little more information on the other receivers and other Dual turn tables. I just couldn't find your CX88A speakers anywhere. But here's the info:


Pioneer SX 727 - $349.95
Pioneer SX 626 - $279.95
Pioneer SX 526 - $239.95
Pioneer SX 828 - $429.95

Turn Tables:

Dual 1929 - $225.00
Dual 1218 - $155.00
Dual 1215 - $125.00
Dual CS16 - $125.00
Dual 1219 - $185.00

Of course these are U.S. prices. You save about 65 dollars buying your stereo over there. Sorry about your speakers but if I find your speakers I'll tell Mom to get it in one of her letters, since I don't write too often. Mainly because there's nothing to write about. Everything over here is pretty dull. Nothing to do because practically all my friends have moved away. The best things to do are listening to Tull, Chicago, Led Zepplin & Beatle albums because there's nothing good playing on the radio. And watching T.V. & going on bike rides after school. School's a drag, we have this neurotic teacher who promises us (the class) home-work every day, and he keeps his promise.

Jim just told me the speakers you're buying are almost just like his except yours has one more tweeter and one more mid range. He paid $64 each. That doesn't help you much considering he paid less there than in the U.S.

This paragraph might sound slightly ironic. I bought new headphones. Well, first I had those D/C headphones, remember those. And then I bought those $52 Realistic Pro/s. Then I traded them in for those $83 Realistic HP 100 Electrostats. I thought they weren't worth $83 so I took those back and waited a week for their check to come back to me in the mail. Finally I bought new $44 Sennheiser 414 headphones. [I still have a pair of 414's, excellent headphones!] Those were good but like your Fisher headphones. They had little or no isolation. Dad complained about the "noise" so I took those back and bought $60 Koss Pro 4AA headphones just like yours and Bill's. I'm really satisfied with those.

Homecoming week is next week (Big Deal) that includes some weird days like grub-dress up day, a dance & a football game. Well I shall bore you no longer and take up your time. But remember these words "Hang loose brother."

Au revoir, a bientot

(Good bye, see you soon)

Your Brother,

P.S. Please disregard the bottom drawings.

marks sketch

181.  Dad

Monday Morning

10/22 [1973]

Dear John,

We were happy to hear from you although saddened just a bit on account of your initial reaction to your new surroundings. I assume that that was a natural reaction and now that you are there a while you will be more acclimated to the strange newness and will have a more optimistic view point and outlook.

As you will have noticed I have included a copy of a map of a large area of Germany including one of 2 good ski areas in Austria, Innsbruck. Salzburg is just East of Innsbruck. Gary in our office had this book he got from the German Embassy here in Detroit and I copied a portion of the map. Gary was stationed 3 years ago at Ettlingen near Karlsruhe, just south of Frankfort. He says at least in the bigger towns or cities most of the people, at least the younger ones, speak English. And most good places to see are just few hours away, by car (rentals are easy) or by train. Another friend in the office, a young guy, vacationed there a few years (1971) ago and said the skiing is terrific at both those places I mentioned. It's nothing like we have here so if you go don't bite off more than you can chew. He went to the top and was afraid to take off, it's so terrific. So according to these sources you may have the opportunity of a lifetime while you are there. Paris about 8 hours away. So I hope the personnel are nice there, that you won't have any trouble with your job, and that you will enjoy your stay there. If I may offer just one word of advice in this letter-Don't be impatient for the things at home. You have a lifetime to look forward to here-get all you can out of your travels.

Mark said the price of the amp you mentioned is very good, comparably. One of the boys will be getting you the comparisons for all you listed. I hope if you send anything it will be well protected or insured. Incidentally, if you run into any good cookoo clocks that could be sent back I think one would be welcome here. I don't know if Mother has any particular desires but there is time for that later.

I am writing this on a picnic table along the river outside of Cobo Hall. I drove down on my lunch hour and I want to be able to get this in the mail yet this morning (it's 11:45 now). Tell me when did you receive it? Your letter of last Monday came in Saturday's mail-that's almost as good as Texas mail service.

Things are shaping up for Lynn's wedding just a week from Saturday (Nov 3). We will capture it on film for your inspection next spring. While they mostly could use money as gifts, perhaps you might find something unique that she would like for a wedding gift. If you do send her something from there you could send it to Bob's house at Morristown for that is where they will undoubtedly will live after the honeymoon until they can find an apartment.

It's nice and quiet here on the river. A fog that hid Windsor is slowly dissipating and the sun is starting to take the nip out of the cool air. It's supposed to go into the low 70's today although yesterday was beautiful, in the 60's. Went to Kensington Park. Was surprised at all the sail boats out there.

Well, I must be getting back. Let me know the delivery time of this letter, and also do you have a chapel there, Catholic Services available, a Catholic Chaplain? Is yours a big base? Get pictures (no rush-take your time).


183.  Mom


Oct. 25

Dear John,

Better take advantage of a lull in the day's activities to write this letter to you. This time next week the family should be all set for the wedding.

Now that you have had a few weeks more under your belt, I hope that the "old" country looks a bit more interesting to you. What you are calling old and antiquated most people call quaint and pay high prices to take tours over there.

You may be quiet but I have never known you to be completely anti social and when you find a buddy it may be easier to check out this new country. Get to know your money exchange so that you won't be overcharged in a shop or restaurant. That does happen to many G.I.'s in foreign cities.

I am waiting anxiously for your second letter and hoping for an improvement in outlook. Your letter took 5 days to arrive home. Not too bad, time wise.

Now about things here:

Lynn is flying in on Sunday. Bob couldn't sell the car (his) and he doesn't like to trust her Mustang on a long trip with her driving alone. So he'll be driving in on Friday. That night is the rehearsal. I guess he'll be using your bed. A bit unusual for the prospective groom to be staying at the bride's home but then, this whole affair has many unusual angles to it.

Bill bought a red jacket to wear with his red & blue slacks, so he is going to stand out like a beacon amid all the navy blues. Jim is going to rent a business suit and so is Greg if he can't find a pair of slacks to match his new jacket.

The house is just about ready. Your father painted the basement hallway and I washed and waxed everything in sight in the recreation part of the basement so that it can be used by guests.

This letter is turning into a book but I have probably left many things out too. I laughed at the picture Lynn told us of you changing into uniform in the parking lot and wearing your cowboy boots into camp! So glad, that dinner worked out. [Lynn & Bob drove me at night to the airport for my flight to Germany, and I had to change from my "civies" to my uniform--and had to do it in the parking lot!]

I'll send some odds & ends of mail under separate cover and by all means will send pictures when we get them. Bye for now, Love,

184.  Wedding invitation for the marriage of Paula Leyten and Michael McCahill

[Postmarked October 25, 1973]

For Saturday, November 3rd 1973
Mrs. Catharina Leyten and M. and Mrs. Raymond McCahill

full image 45 k

185.  Dad

Sunday 10-28

Dear John

This is a rainy Sunday afternoon and really the first rain we have had for quite a while. It started last night, just in time for the big Homecoming dance of Cherryhill High. Actually it was not too bad because both Greg and Mike said they had a terrific time. I believe it was due mainly to the fact that they each had nice dates and that the group, about 14, went to the Vineyards Restaurant for a midnight dinner afterwards. They only had a 1/2 hour wait and they got real good service for delicious dinners.

Tonight Lynn gets in for her final week of single life. She has several presents to open when she arrives. But they will be starting life together on a shoestring as the saying goes. I hope they will be able to afford an apartment of their own soon but they are going to start out at Bob's folks place, which won't be an awfully different situation from before.

We got the last of our vacation slides back this week and they make a nice program. At least I enjoy them.

Your 2nd letter from Germany arrived yesterday and was quite interesting, particularly the part about delivering in the dark. I hope the places to which you make the deliveries have lights so that the contents and addresses can be confirmed. Also I would think that flashlights would be provided. Reminds me of the stay I had at the Air Base at Salt Lake City. We were awaiting orders for shipping out when I was included in a work detail taking a truckload of material to some other location up in the Wasatch Mountains. It was a nice warm sunny day when 3 or 4 of us piled into the back of the truck for the trip up. Well, it was after dark when we got there, but we unloaded and headed right back. I suppose we stopped to eat, I don't remember, but I do remember just about freezing in that truck. It got quite cold and I just had a tee shirt on (top). They should have warned us, but that's the army.

You should be relieved now about the Arab-Israel situation. I doubt that we will get involved with anything of any consequence. The U.N. seems to have been able to handle this very nicely, although it is only because the U.S. and Russia have deemed it in their best interest not to interfere militarily. As for Nixon, I am not quite sure. It is hard to be sure of what the papers say. He and the media don't get along very well and he could be right when he says they have lied and blown things out of proportion and stirred up the pot unnecessarily. Of course, he could be lying too, at least in part, so it boils down to having faith in our system in this country. This is difficult to do due to all the scandal and problems we have been having. But we know that we also have many honest and dedicated people in our government, our papers, TV and radio, as well as the ordinary folks, and these people will not let the crooks run the country down the drain. The problems being international are not easy to solve, therefore, the solutions are not going to be easy to determine and quick in coming.

I do hope you get to enjoy at least some of your stay in Europe, and also that you don't get to Asia or Africa, unless it is just a pleasure holiday.

The house is pretty well set for the Wedding Saturday. I worked yesterday on the basement which we expect to use for the overflow crowd. I took all the extra plywood, lumber, and even the ping pong [table] top out to the garage and I must say, it looks pretty good down there now, what with the new paint on the stair well and post. I hope to recover the pool table top this week. Which reminds me, I must go put another new tip on one of the cues.

They are rearranging our department's offices now and the Estimators will be further to the West of where we are now, sort of in the middle of the building's north end. You will enter one door over, I guess. I don't know why they are bothering because we are supposed to move to the G.O. Bldg. when that had been modernized; probably in a year or two. They have already started on that. And there is also a lot of rumors about changing the method of operation and the engineering dept. possibly partially merging. It isn't clear anyway or even firm..

Hope you are getting the Free Press in a reasonable time but the Stars & Stripes goes back to my day and I thought it was pretty good for information.

Guess I'll go so for now, so long.

P.S. Evening: Lynn got in. Said they found an Apt. 3rd floor just down the street from Bob's parent's house.
No P.F.C. yet? What is S. & T.? [Supply and Transport]

Lynn's Wedding Invitation

186.  Mom

Wedding invitation for Lynn Schneider and Bob Wisnweski, November 3, 1973

[Postmarked October 30, 1973]

187.  Bill

[This letter arrived in a Post Office envelope bearing the stamp "Damaged In Handling In the Postal Service" and the three sheets of paper were burned along the right edge and in a couple spots on the folds. Only a word or two was indecipherable in the letter itself due to damage. A postal date on the envelope states 19 NOV 1973.]

Thurs [November 1, 1973]

Dear Brother John:

Whutsa, whatsa happenin'? I can smell your sweet hash all the way over here. It's too bad you miss your guitar, but patience, the time will come faster than you think.

About school, I heard you might want to go to Eastern Mich so you can get an early out. Later on I can, if you want, send information about applying. But first, a few things: what about your job at Edison? In order to have both, you can take night school. But if you want to major in music, you (like me) need sufficient background to qualify. I figure at the pace I'm going, a few years should be good enough, but I'm not really sure what I'm going to do. Also, like you, I'm just going for guitar class. There are about 12 different classes that are required to take (science, English, etc.).

I'm going to quit piano, because both guitar & piano is getting difficult. Just by turning a page in the lesson books I have to practice twice as much for each instrument. Since I'm a bit more proficient at guitar (and it is getting more difficult; different strums reading strictly the music, as if you were blind, [burn mark] like it is suggested to keep your eyes on the music, not at your guitar and play fast.) I think I might want to teach it some day. Anyways, right now, Eastern hasn't much in music night classes. But I can check it out.

[drawing of Bill in handcuffs:] Sigh! My mug shot, for details, read on . . . .

That's right! (if you can tell.) I've been busted, for grass of course. Nobody knows except for Chris V. (he was with me) and Greg (I told him when he asked me for some dope).

I got caught by some of the strangest circumstances only television could reproduce. Here's what happened. Today is Thursday. It happened Monday night, the worst weather, rain/drizzle for about 2 days straight. That night Chris & I went up to S. Lyon to see the Gows. I had just previously bought a 3 fingered dime bag of the greatest, most potently devastating weed I had in years. Gows weren't home, so we cruised (I was driving) to Ann Arbor. My headlight was out, but no one pulled me over. After some time we got back to Garden City and stopped at Ferminio's pizza to indulge in some Italian munchies. If you can remember Ferminio's is on Ford & Harrison, across from Big Boys & Burger King. Just as our pizza was delivered to our table a guy our age comes in and asks us if we could, when we got done, help him move his car. It stalled on Ford Rd., across the street in front of Dance gas station. Well, the pizza was hot, so we decided to help him now. After we pushed it into the station, I ran back across to eat; Chris rapped with the dude for a minute and ran back. Now, the G.C. cops saw him run across into Ferminio's and waited for him. After we were thru, we came out and we saw two police cars parked near mine. The time was about 12:30 AM. Because my stinkin' lock on my side of the door, I have to unlock the passenger side first. After Chris and I went over to see what they wanted (if it was my car) we both went back to the mighty Mustang. The cops observed our unorthodox way of getting into a car and I was fumbling for my keys, still buzzing quite nicely. All of a sudden one car pulled up behind me and shinned his light inside. The thought never occurred to me that they would search me, for I thought they were going to ask some more questions. Just as we both got out they ordered us against the car. Well, they found the dope on me and away we went, to jail. You see, those gosh darned cops thought we were the guys who just busted into a house two blocks away, for we resembled the crooks. Anyway they let Chris go, for when we got to the station and after a few questions, they came to the conclusion that we weren't the thieves. But me, I had my picture taken, with my U of Hawaii T-Shirt, relieved of my possessions including my shoelaces (so I wouldn't kill myself) and threw me in solitary. It wasn't like a normal jail cell with bars and a soft cot. It had an iron door with tiny windows, the room was cinder block with cement floor and a one foot wide bench to lay down on. Next morning, a detective talked to me for a while and Chris came in. Chris knew practically every cop there (except, of course the two that busted us. They were novices). Well, I guess I handled myself alright, for he said I can go, free, 'cause I look like a nice kid (oh brother). All I got was a ticket for possession, a misdemeanor. I go to court 21 of November. I asked the jerk what might happen. He said I could be fined, or jailed, or both. Or I would be let free with nothing except a warning. But I know the judge. His son used to play ball with me during the summer on the team. I hope everything works out alright. Mom and dad know nothing, of course, & I hope they never will.

Well, Mike is bothering me to drive him to the barbers for the wedding Saturday. Besides that incident Monday, nothing has changed. By the way, your records and headphones are safe under your bed. Gotta go. Toodle-oo
brother bill

Next: page 2