The Letters: Fort Knox, p.2

16.  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,

17.  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

18.  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

19.  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.


20.  Grampa Schneider

Thursday P.M. [May 18; postmarked May 19, 1972]

Dear John:

I wish to say a Holy and happy birthday to you, and the same would be said regardless of where you are. The experience you are now receiving is, of course, something that will serve you well, and though you may not think so at the present, still it is true, for the simple reason that any activity, providing it is good and worth while, always proves at some time in the future to be for the best. Of course, there are times when one can't quite see this, but none the less, it is, in my opinion, quite true; though no matter how difficult things might be, nevertheless, the making the best of the matter, will always prove quite helpful, and very worth while, all of which about brings me to the point of my letter, and of which I am going to speak about now, and that is your FAITH.

You have probably heard it said, that one's faith is a great help to one, in ever so many circumstances; and this, too is true; and the thing about the Faith that should appeal to you is simply because of the truth contained therein; and we do not realize how marvelous it is to have the one true Faith, and to belong to the one true Church; which is altogether too often taken for granted; but believe you me, there are ever so many people who can tell you this is the truth; and the opinion is expressed from experience, and again, because they have found out they are dealing with the truth; and this is something that one should appreciate; and realize how wonderful to have our Faith and all that means. I know it is difficult to understand this, and especially, when one is still young, but believe you me, there is nothing, absolutely nothing like one's Faith, and when it happens to be the one True Faith, this is truly the pearl of great price; and it is simply not possible to tell you just what it can and will mean to a person, providing one makes himself available to the inspirations thereof.

I am going to send you the Novena leaflet to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and I don't know whether you know how much devotion I have to her, but it is, suffice to say, something, and I place Her on the top of the list, next to the Heavenly Trinity; and it should not take too much wondering why this should be so; because when you get right down to cases, if the Mother of God is not the most powerful when it comes to intercession, I don't know my marbles; but the truth again is that as a matter of history, there has never yet been a case where one sought Her aid, and went unanswered. It is just not in the books not to be heard; and I am sure that if you would resolve to make the Novena to Her, and make one right after the other, you will understand what I mean; and I am sure there are ever so many things that you would like her help in, so make up your mind to do this; and first of all, She will probably make you strong, very strong in the practice of your faith. This is about it for now, So with the best wishes for everything,

As Ever,
The Old Maestro

[Included was a Holy Card, Official Novena Prayers In Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help]

22.  Uncle Bud

Birthday Card

[postmarked May 20, 1972]

"A Lion's Share of birthday Joy!
Hope these birthday wishes
Will have all come true for you
For then you'll have
enough glad days
For all the whole year through!


Uncle Bud

P.S. I didn't forget your birthday--just forgot to send this card earlier--so you'd get it on time.

Uncle Bud

P.P.S. Hope things aren't too bad--they'll get better as time goes on--also hope you don't have too much trouble cashing this check-B

24.  Dad

Sun. [May 21; postmarked May 22, 1972]

Dear John,

It is a hot & sunny day so far. It has been a full one. I was awake and sitting in the living room when Jim came home @ 5:45 AM. He came in and announced to Lynn who was sleeping that 2 wheels had been stolen off her car out front. I got dressed and sure enough the two on the park side were gone and the hubs resting on rocks. After hunting around later on for wheel nuts I put on her snow tires which had wheels of their own.

Fortunately your former car, the Cyclone was not here, having been sold to John Neph, or really his Mother (it's in her name), Friday night. So now you don't have that debt anymore. In fact after the last month's interest was added you get another $52 which we put in your account. Also you got a refund from the City of Detroit for overpayment of taxes. All in all you now have $943.83 in your account.

The Cloutier wedding was in the Church with no Mass. It was like a homemade ceremony. It lacked a lot, I thought. The party was nice but the band too loud. The egotist leader had to sing most all the songs so it was extra loud, especially during eating. We will be missing the Neph wedding @ St. Norbert Church and Social Hall. They are serving Cold Duck's.

We must remember to toast the happy couple this Saturday. Remind me won't you? We are looking forward to our visit. It seems that Ralph & Mrs. Reyes were there just a week or 2 ago visiting their son, I forget his name, on open house. Do you know him? Ralph works at the Credit Union in St. Norberts. That's not his regular job. It rained the whole weekend he said. They stayed at the Holiday Inn South @ Elizabethtown.

We got a lot of form letters and pamphlets from Ft. Knox and one said if the guest house is full they would help make reservations at a really nice place. I might make reservations myself at someplace like Elizabethtown. Or might take a chance on getting something after looking around. On the other hand, if you can make arrangements through the Visitor's Center to reserve say 2 rooms for a total of 6 people at some nice place right close by, and can let us know by Thursday night, well, go right ahead. Lynn won't be coming since Julie is coming Friday. I guess it will be just Mark, Mary Lou, and the twins accompanying us.

My writing is bad today because my control is off, after exerting my muscles switching tires around today.

I am enclosing the meal reservation in case you didn't make the one for us. Perhaps you can turn it in at the proper place. (6 + yourself)

Still don't know if we will be there longer than Saturday night. We will play it by ear I guess. Just hope it is dry down there.

Not much else now. Probably you get some repeat info anyway from others that write.

Heard that Robbie Neph hates it. Works down below as a Machinist Mate, fixing things that go wrong all the time. It is dirty and hot and this ruined his contact lens and he can't see. Either the glasses they gave him are no good or he can't get any. They are refueling ships off North Vietnam except when they go back to the Philippines for more fuel.

So long. See you soon

[Enclosed are various clippings from the Detroit Free Press, international news and Bob Talbert's column.]

Mary Lou

25.  Mary Lou

[This letter was written with a variety of marker colors. The "Dear" was red crayon, and the rest was in felt tip pen, every word colored different from the next as appears below. Some of the family are coming down to Kentucky to visit me at the end of Basic Training.]

May 22

Dear  John,

Hope   you   had   a   wonderful   birthday !   You will   probably   get   this  letter   the  day  before  we  see  you .   That  is  why  I   am  sending  it  today .   I  hope  we  have  a   good  time  there .   It  will  be  good  to  see  you   again .

How  is  your  poison  ivy  doing ?   My  teacher  had   it  once .

Mom  is  going  to  give  me  a  spelling   quiz  .   She  finished  before  dinner .   We  just  finished  dinner . We  had  stew ,   and  cake  for  dessert .   I  can't  think  of   anything  more  to  say .  Goodbye

Mary Lou

Mary Lou's colorful letter

26.  Mom

Hi John,

Man, this will be necessarily shorter than usual 'cause I am bushed! You know the feeling, I am sure. I said a prayer to St. Christopher to help you carry that heavy pack on your six mile hike. Did it work?

We just called and made reservations for 2 rooms in a Quality Motel about 20 miles away in Elizabethtown. So next Friday we will be pulling in, sometime between 3 and 6 p.m. All depending upon your good behavior, of course. It will be good to see you. I have the feeling that you are a little more relaxed about life now that the fear of the unknown is over. At least, this is my hope for you. Having this business of the car settled should also be added relief.

John Neph got the car none too soon. I am certainly glad that car wasn't parked out in front when those guys stole Lynn's wheels. They didn't touch Harrison's nor Hayes' "Triumph" but they might have stripped Bill's if it hadn't been parked in the back yard. Your dad bought one of those little alarms but doesn't know where to put it yet. With all that new equipment Bill has, he should have some part of protection on his car.

I guess Lynn's friend Julie is coming in next week end and that is one reason she won't be with us.

Well, I have to close now and fall into a hot tub--then into bed.

My love and prayers--especially for the cure of your "really big itch!"

[Beetle Bailey comics enclosed]

29.  Mike

[Birthday card, can't read postmark, 1972]

"Hi! Happy Birthday . . . and all that jazz! Many Happy Returns."

Happy birthday John! Sorry I haven't written but I couldn't find anything to say.

See you on the 27th.

30.  Dad

Tues. [May 30, postmarked May 31, 1972]

Dear John,

I am writing this on this slightly used paper to show you the place we stayed at (over). It was nice, really, and I think the kids got a kick out of their first stay in a motel. We arrived home at 12:30 your time, 11:30 our time. We were going to drive right into Louisville but the traffic was getting heavy and 31W had lots of lights close to town, so we took the 204 arch bypass to get over to 71 and Cincinnati bound. Had an uneventful trip home and ate at Sharonville, Northern suburb of Cinci. I am really glad we went down there. It means so much to see the surroundings you are living in and it is a relief, too, to see you looking so well and fit. So although it is probably a tough life it doesn't seem to be doing you any harm, physically or psychologically, and as they say, you will undoubtedly be better off for your experience. So, I am proud of you, that you can take what they dish out, and also that you are doing what so many before you have, preparing to defend your country and your people from the savages that run some of the countries in the world.

This might sound corny but it is as true now as it was for our ancestors who started up this country, and especially the ones who fought W. Wars 1 & 2 where there was no doubt we were doing the right thing. It's hard to believe that I was in your shoes 29 long years ago. Time flies when you look back on it, especially when you get older.

But I was in for 33 months and I know the time dragged on then, or seemed to. The point though, is that a couple years out of one's life is really short, in comparison, and we should really try and make the most of life as it comes along. I for one really know that it is difficult, because I continually find myself thinking ahead and not really enjoying or concentrating on the immediate moment. I try to correct this bad habit but habits are difficult to change, but recognizing the need for change is half the battle. I admit to the same trouble with my temper which too often causes me to yell or say something I wish I hadn't, or didn't mean. Well, at least we can try to correct our faults, (if we see and recognize them).

On the way home we stopped in Findlay Ohio to mail our films. That's where the Kodak processing is. So maybe we will get them back sooner. I still have a few feet on the last roll. I would like to make some titles with it. This is a busy week. St. Norbert's Festival is Fri. Sat, Sunday and I have a dozen people I have to get ticket collections from, after they have each collected from about a dozen people they are responsible for.

We are sure of school again next year but I'm afraid of after that. More people keep moving away from Inkster School District section of the Parish and financial support of the school is not up to par. The parish owes so much and expenses are so high I don't know if we will be able to afford a school after next year. The Loftus family moved to Dearborn two weeks ago and Sonnenborns and Weltis are ready to go, too, I guess.

I'll see if there is any newspaper clipping you might like. There isn't much news since we saw you. Hope you enjoyed the weekend 1/2 as much as we did. Reminds me of when my Mother came down to Gulfport, Miss. To see me, and my Dad came all the way out to Seattle on the train to be with me one Christmas.

Keep up the good progress, John, and be strong in mind and body. This old world needs all the good people it can get.


[Enclosed are Bob Talbert's column and the International news from the Free Press]

32.  Mom


May 30 [May 30 was a Tuesday, Wednesday was May 31. Postmarked May 31, 1972]

Hi John,

Look at that-the end of another month! How fast they go, unless, of course, if you are trying to push them by.

Our trip home was tiring for everyone. I figured with that extra trip to the Mammoth cave we had about 10 hours of driving. I saw an Army bus stopped by the side of the road in Kentucky and a bunch of civilian-dressed 20 year olds sitting on their luggage. It must have broken down.

Your dad and I were both so pleased with our visit. Hope it did you as much good as it did me. You know-that kind of grumpy look was gone and you seemed more like your own self. Not that I expected "Mary Sun-shine" but a more relaxed attitude about your life will make things easier for you. As a little guy, we always thought you were the best adjusted. Hope that you didn't lose that flexibility. Of course there will be rotten days when you wish you hadn't gotten out of bed. I just pray each morning for a good day for you.

After all that gorgeous hot weather down there it is back down into the 40's and 50's and rain here. Ugh!

Went to Hudson's this morning to buy Sherry Harrison's wedding gift. The last for a while I hope. Mary Lou bought a goldfish at Kresge's yesterday-named him/her "Sparkle." She was quite brave about the death of the other one. She buried it out in the back yard beside the baby bird that fell off our window. We have quite a ceremony out there.

Well I am going to run over to the Post Office with this so that you'll have it by Friday. Be good-Be careful and Be assured of our love and prayers.


[Enclosed 2 comics of Peanuts, Rerun is named, and 2 of Beetle Bailey]

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