33. Debbie Franklin
May 31, 1972
I don't know how far I will get on this letter but it's time I write so I better get busy, right? I hope you are well and taking the army as easy as possible. I am doing just fine but I'll be doing better when I am out of school. This week I have exams and that will be rough but after that I will be able to enjoy three months of nothing but relaxation, you seem to get a lot of time to relax from the length of your letters. I couldn't believe it when I got that letter that took up two envelopes. They didn't come in the same day and so I read the first one and I knew it was from you but you didn't sign it and you ended in the middle of a paragraph which I thought was kind of weird, don't you? And then when I saw the "1" on the outside of the envelope I thought you were numbering all the letters that you are sending me or have sent me already but if you were doing that then you would have been wrong because I got one letter from you before this big one! Also, I have some questions: Can I abbreviate your address like you do, which is like this: C:17:5, or do I have to write it all out like I have been? Oh, well. . . .
Now to comment on all the things you wrote in your letter! Yessssssssss-I remember when you used to call me "SWEETHEART" and I called you "ANGEL" because that is what I thought you were and you still are in my opinion!!! So there. . . . You said you left your locker unlocked and the company commander saw it and you had to be on detail; was it just because you left it unlocked or was there something in there that wasn't supposed to be in there like booze? Sally Truss said you got in trouble for that or is she talking about another time that you didn't tell me about? Guess what (pause) as I went to the next paragraph I started reading about you getting caught with booze in your locker-I guess you did mention it but I must have forgot. (Sorry!)
As soon as I get some pictures of just me and not me and my dog or somebody I'll send some to you. The only ones of me I have now are of the prom and I'm sure that you don't want any of those so when I can find someone to take my picture I'll use up the ten pictures that are left in the camera.
Yesterday I went to bake you some cookies but then I figured that they wouldn't get to the base till Saturday and then they would sit and get stale by the time you had mail call on Monday so I'm going to try and remember to bake some next week and if not them because of exams then definitely the next week because I'll be all done with school!
Didn't it hurt you when you went through the gas chamber permanently or is the suffering just temporary? That would be icky. It reminds me of what we did in Chemistry today. WE produced esters (smells) that were supposed to smell like fruits and flowers but this one group did something wrong and it smelled really rank. Well they told me to smell it and so I did and now I think that I burned some of the tissues in my nose.
What is this about one of your buddy's girlfriend being pregnant his wife is expecting? He must be really dumb or so sexy that the girls just can't resist but I would bet it's the first one, anyone who would get themselves in that sort of a fix has got to have a problem of some kind! What is he going to do now or doesn't he know? That is really dumb; I can't get over it. What kind of guys do you hang around with anyways?
Page 2 (Only the beginning)
John you will never know how ashamed I am because I forgot your birthday--I felt so bad when I realized it that it was on my mind for a long time and I still haven't gotten over it but I hope that I can make it up to you in some other way. I really feel like an --- (censored). Will you promise not to be too mad and accept my best wishes now not only on your birthday but for the rest of your life/ I am really sorry and I don't think I'll ever forgive myself . . . .
Those pictures you had taken and sent to me were just great, in fact I couldn't believe that that guy was really you. Where is your hair. Your head looked like a balloon, no--, I'm only kidding but they did skin you pretty bad. If you haven't sent your mom any pictures yet and you would like her to see those just let me know and I will take them over to your house for her to see. Were those two guys with you buddies of yours? You said that one of the rules was that you had to wear your helmet whenever you were outside but in those pictures you didn't have yours on, how come?
Those rules about lining up your buttons with your fly is ridiculous but I suppose they figure that if they can't get you guys to do simple things like that then how will they ever get you to fight in a war!!
So you don't have any good music. I know how bogue that can be because right now I am driving the Capri without a radio and I really have a hard time without it. You would think that a radio would take my mind off my driving but it does just the opposite by keeping me alert to the things going on in the road ahead of me so I can see how you would miss it. It makes time go faster if you have something other than your breathing to listen to. When I was going through Kentucky on my way to Florida we listened to WKLO, I think. . . .I love "Oh, Girl" also, but I don't know the words very well and I have asked some of my friends if they could help me with the words but they don't know them either so if these aren't right then don't say I didn't try:Oh girl, I'd be in trouble if you left me now
Well, it goes something like that but not exactly. If you want me to buy it for you so that you can have it to listen to in the rec hall, I'll get it for you.
I have just finished commenting on what was contained in the first part so wish me luck, here goes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here's a little treat: swear words in code--
[this line was filled with multiple strikeovers--very funny!]
And this is the truth, BLAH!!!!!!!
Our weather in Michigan was or has been in the 80's lately but right after the Memorial weekend it turned cold and now the temp's are about 40 or 50 degrees. In fact I have to type this by the heater or else my typing fingers will freeze. Please excuse all the mistakes but when you are as uncoordinated as me it's a thrill to even eat with a spoon
Congratulations all of you guys in John's platoon for receiving the "honor award" plaque two weeks in a row. That is really proud to be a member of such a fine unit. YEAH YEAH DO IT AGAIN, DO IT AGAIN, WE LIKE IT, WE LIKE IT
If you don't mind spending your hard earned money on me then by all means call if you'd like but I can't guarantee I'll be home so if you think that you might be calling then why don't you write and let me know just when so I'll be sure to be here or close by. Okay? Okay! My number in case you have forgotten is (ta-ta-ta-da (Those are supposed to be trumpets.)) 55555 666666 22 333 1 999999999 999999999 or in other words 562-3199.
Aren't you glad I am typing you a letter instead of writing it so that I can put in all these little extras?
Yep--you're an old man now that you are twenty. Gosh, that's really weird to think that I liked a twenty year old once but then you weren't really twenty when we liked each other so that is different. In case you have lost track of time, you've been in there about 5 weeks. So how many does that mean you have left?
Did your parents come down to see you on Battalion Day? Did your platoon win anything?
We all feel really bad about our brother (Peppi). Your mom must have been upset about Dusty just as my mom is about Peppi. She cries all the time and he is getting weak and not as playful as he used to be.
Yes--I still have that note you wrote me on the huge sheet of paper. You know that I keep all of our souvenirs and that includes our notes. And I remember our first kiss. It was on my couch. And even better I remember my first hickey; it was on your couch! Boy, do I ever remember that scene in your dining room at Easter with your mom and relatives; ever since then I get nervous when I am in front of a guy's parents.
Three mile marches--how many months do they allow you for each mile? I bet a lot of muscles will ache after that little journey.
That is really a good idea for you to spend your spare time reading--I hate to read but it comes in handy and you can never read too much. In American Culture we've just finished reading the "Jungle." It wasn't a bad book but parts of it were so realistic that the end which was dull was a real disappointment.
I hope you are only a spectator to those boxing matches and not a participant because they sound really rough and I don't want you come away from there in bad shape but perfect shape so that we can go out when you come home, okay? I know Steve won't mind sharing me with you!! (And so what if he does?)
I have one more letter of yours to comment on but I'll save that until my next letter which I hope will be coming your way soon after this one so be on the lookout for it. Be good and try to stay out of trouble for me . . . .Thinking of you often
34. Mrs. Neph
[Birthday card, postmarked June 4, 1972]
"It's just so neat . . . You being in the Service . . . I'd like to learn all about it!! Would you mind filling me in on a few things?How deep is the Motor Pool?
Here is the card I promised you--See I did write, Hope you are adjusting to the service. I know it is a different life but you are a big person and people like you are sure to make it. It was good to see you last weekend.
Had a tape from Jim & Pam. They seem quite happy. I miss her very much.
Heard from Rob. He is quite upset. One of his shipmates jumped overboard. Another 2 had nervous breakdowns. If you get a chance why don't you write and exchange gripes.FN Robt. Neph B689337
Thinking of you,
Tues. June 6
Just a short note so that you won't miss mail call on Thursday.
I deposited your $100 in the Credit Union yesterday--Brings you balance up to $1,471.43. Also, in packing your winter shirts away I found the small box with razor, etc. in it. Was that yours? Did you want it put away to use on your leave?
I got a call from Bill yesterday about 3:45 p.m. He just arrived in Daytona, Florida. Had a good trip. He drove 13 hours on his first day. The car ran perfectly, thank God, and he only spent $20.00 for gas which rather surprised him. If everything goes well, he will be back Sunday Night--probably at the very last minute. He works on Monday.
We didn't win any of the prizes at our Festival but that did not surprise me. The Parish made enough money to keep the school open at least one more year.Sunday night your dad and Greg and myself went downtown to the Irish festival. I was a little disappointed--not enough Irish food on display but I did have some Irish coffee and Dad had some "Hard Lager." Must go now--Love,
Friday [postmarked June 10, 1972]
Evening now and it's getting quite chilly out. Only 4 of us left here this evening. The twins are out, as is Lynn. Bill is still down South. We haven't heard from him since he called from Daytona. Time seems to go fast. School is out now and summer vacation and all that entails starts for the kids. At Edison the union's contract expires Monday night and there is strong chance of a strike. The membership votes on it Sunday. If there is a strike I have been assigned to go and work at the PennSalt Power Plant down at Jefferson near Pennsylvania Rd. We would be locked in, that is, we would have to stay inside rather than crossing the picket lines twice a day. We would work 12 hour shifts 7 days a week until the strike is over. I don't relish the idea of going there and I hope they don't strike. However it turns out, I expect we will be getting additional benefits and pay, eventually. Besides pay there are better insurance benefits they are discussing or offering, as well as an extra holiday, the day after Thanksgiving, and another week vacation a few years sooner than now; for instance 5 weeks after 25 years instead of 28 years like now. I will be there 25 years Nov. next year.
Well, what's new in your camp? Did your friend get the family car back in shape or maybe just sell it right there? If you can get out on a short pass now I suppose you will see some of the sights in your area. You should try and get to Louisville and see the city while you are there. Even a trip to Mammoth Cave would be interesting, I should think, if you can get the transportation. That probably is the problem, since none of your friends can have a car in Basic Training. I wonder if Greyhound goes down to the Park.
There isn't much new that has happened since you flew back Sunday so I'll close now and hunt up a few clippings you might enjoy.With Love,
[Enclosed are 2 Bob Talbert's pages and article about Sydney E. Smith Jr. sinking in the St. Clair River]
38. Cindy Callison
Say there. I got your letter today. I was really glad to hear from ya.
It sounds like you really love the army, it sounds like a lot of fun. I don't think I could take it.
I'm just sitting here all by myself, Debs out with Phil. There's not much happening lately, it's really kind of dead.
So how did you like the party Saturday night? I really got blasted. Then I got sick and then I crashed. (fun)
In your letter you asked about Spic, I thought you knew we broke up. The night of your party (7 weeks and 2 days ago). Oh well, enough of that subject.
I'm finally out of school for the summer, getting high every night (almost).
So do you miss everyone? I suppose you do. Every time there's a party it always feels like there's something missing cause you're not there. Remember the time at Mike's house the first time you smoked? I almost died laughing, it's far-out to see people really high. You looked pretty high out at Deb's house but then again I was a little bit high too.
So did you guys pass your inspection Monday? I hope so. When are you gonna make it home again, soon I hope, I'm always ready to party. I know you are too. Are you gonna make it home for Nels' party? That's pretty far away though. My brother enlisted in the Army too. He's leaving the same day Nels is, Sept 14. I hope it will do him some good. If that doesn't, nothing will. Right!! Perk just gave me your address the other day, but I think it's at home, and I don't go there much. But still write there O.K.?
I hope to hear from ya soon. Well there's not much more to say. Take it easy & be good (if ya can).
[The envelope was letterhead from Corden's Candy Carrousel.]
Tues [June 13; postmarked June 13, 1972]
I am on lunch break at the office. We are working from day to day now, not knowing if or when a strike may be called. The union & the company agreed to extend the contract day by day while negotiations go on, daily we hope, until agreement is reached. Last time they did this and I believe it took about ten days, but they did not go out on strike. I hope they don't. I guess I told you I would go to PennSalt if the strike goes on. Locked in @ 12 hours of work per day.
It was nice to have you home last weekend. Considering you will be in service for up to 104 weeks, the number of weekends home will probably be quite few. I suppose the location of your future assignments will determine the number of visits in the future. I see by the Army ads in the paper they give a month off per year. I think, though, that if a person is busy the time goes fast and life is interesting whether at work or play. Even living at home with nothing to do gets very boring quite quickly.
This has been a cloudy and occasionally rainy 2 days since you left; cool too. They say it may stay this way the rest of the week. We got caught with our grass high. I need a little dry spell in order to cut it.
You undoubtedly will hear about the new family addition we got Sunday. A little white kitten we picked up while visiting the Shea family Sunday evening. Your mother brought it home for Mary Lou who loves it, because she lost her 2 gold fish. She is going to raise it as an outdoor cat, therefore it will be rarely let into the house. Ralph Shea says any cat can be so trained that it won't want to be indoors even in sub zero weather.
Well, when you get this you will have less than 3 weeks to go to graduation. Do you expect that the treatment will change considerably after that, or is AIT [Advanced Individual Training] also considered a rookie status. Well, hold out and do as well as possible. As I said, I am proud of you for doing so well. You are a good reflection of your family as well as an asset to your country.
There is one point I feel I should touch on. Since we didn't see you at Communion the last 2 Sundays I pray you will value spiritual strength such as the Sacraments will give when received in the right spirit as well as the physical build up you are obviously receiving. Nothing in this whole world means anything if a person is not at peace with God. So please don't loose touch. It means as much and is as necessary for young people as it is for older ones.
Next Monday your Mother and I celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. If I am not on strike duty we probably will go out for the evening, at least to a nice dinner. I have the week reserved for a vacation week although I doubt if I will take it, at least all of it. I could use a couple days just to work around the house. I don't get as much done after work anymore as I used to. I don't know how I ever got the back room built. Just kept after it until it was done, I guess.Well, I'll close now. God bless you.
Tues. [June 13, 1972, postmarked June 14, 1972]
Wait until you see our new family member! Sunday night your Dad and I went out to the Shea's house and when we left we had a white kitten with calico markings-very small and very active. The only reason I took it was because it is going to be an outside cat. She (or he, as the case may be) will stay in the garage. It likes to hide behind the flower pot and box of skates on the black table.
Mary Lou was delighted but she may be allergic to it and that would be a shame.
Greg started his job this morning. Mr. Apple picked him up about 8:15. Short vacation for Greg but he is anxious to start making some money.
Well, your dad and I are living with the sword of a strike hanging over our heads. The union called a strike but they are working while negotiating. I really hope and pray that your father doesn't have to work that dirty job at Penn Salt.
Well-must go now.Love,
PS "Fathers Day"-June 18
[Enclosed: Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics.
41. Sally Truss
Well, to answer all your questions, let me see. First, the girl that Neph is going out is his fourth cousin. I guess they have justed going out lately. She is very weird high or not.
Doesn't it feel weird to take a drive in your own car. When you used to keep it cleaner, I guess.
The other night, me, Macko, Perk, Nels, Neph were riding around in your old car. Oh I forgot Gary. Well anyways. Neph was telling us how good the car ran. Then Perk said "Funny, when Schneider had it you thought it was a dog." I laughed so hard I almost started crying. Every one was barking.
Good old "stone face." She told me that you told he that I called her stone face.
We finished, our last exam was the 7th and we went to pick them up the 9th.
Well don't work too hard.Love,
Friday Evening [postmarked June 19,1972]
You may have heard by now that the union called a strike on Edison and at 10:30 or so Wednesday nite I got a call from Joe Geisinger that they were walking out at Midnight and I had to report for at my assigned location which was PennSalt Plant. This is at the Penn Walt Corp in Wyandotte, and this is where I am right now. However, when you read this I hope I will not be here. You see, we are "locked in" and cannot leave. (We would in an emergency or if we were not too concerned about our jobs). This is because of the picketing. The plants must be run and so they can't afford to have any trouble getting personnel in. I have a pretty good job, as jobs go. I am on maintenance as a helper and work days. We started out on 8 hours yesterday but they upped it to 10 today since most the others are on 10 or 12 hour shifts. Yesterday I helped install a Washer & Dryer, and an Air Conditioner, and I hooked up the Recreation Trailer. They have rented 50' or so trailers, panelled walls, etc. 2 for sleeping, barracks style, (I am on the upper bunk over my new boss) and for Recreation (with TV, card tables, and a Refrigerator they stocked today with beer (not for working hours)). And 1 more for dining where I am now. It is empty except for one of the "cooks" who is still cleaning up. We are lucky here. Our chief cook assigned with us at PennSalt is the Company's Commercial Cooking Representative and he has been giving us some nice meals. But this feels almost like the army except we can't get any weekend passes. That is, not unless the Negotiations are successful in settling the Strike. They talked this afternoon but we have no news of any results of these talks. My job today was helping another guy, an electrical Foreman regularly, to fix part of the Precipitators Equipment which cleans the exhaust from the stacks. We were way up on top of the building most of the day. It was a nice day, sunny & cool and you could see for miles including the Detroit River and the surrounding city and countryside. We are just opposite the North end of Grosse Isle so not much river traffic passes on this side of the island.
I suppose you will be writing home telling what exciting things you did this weekend. Isn't this the one which you were to get off Friday?
I guess it won't be long now until you know what your next assignment will be. If it is further training it could be a good opportunity. 1--to learn something at the government expense, 2--to keep busy at something other than combat type activity. Whatever your road is to be occasionally say a little prayer that God will guide your destiny for the best for you.
One of the fellows here said that today's meeting resulted in some kind of agreement that would be voted on by the union next Wednesday. I can't figure why they would wait so long to vote on it and I don't trust the union to really want to go back to work. I'll just pray that it will be over by then. The pay is good but I don't like being here 24 hours a day without even being home for the weekend. I was told we would get 8 hours @ regular time and 1-1/2 time for 6 hours which means 17 hours pay per day for about 10 hours work, but they still have us here 24 hours /day.
And then they say we get 1-1/2 for 14 hours on Saturday & Sunday which is 21 hours pay. I hope this is so because it will help make up for this keeping us inside.
It really has one other advantage by staying in. That is that the other guys who are filling in at other jobs at Warren Service Center, offices and warehouses, have to pass picket lines coming & going, and that can get quite hairy.Well, I guess I'll close for this evening, so good nite.
Monday - 19th [postmarked June 19, 1972]
Just got back from E. Dearborn's Western Union office. Wow, it is expensive to send money that way. It cost $5.67 to send your fifty dollars. There has to be a cheaper way to do it the next time. You know, I suppose, that you have to check with the Fort's P.O. if you are in an especial hurry to receive it.
Today is your dad's and my anniversary. First time in 24 years we have not been able to celebrate it together. He left for Penn Walt at 6 a.m. this morning. He took the station wagon this time and is planning to sleep in it instead of the trailer. Did he tell you about having to sleep in the top bunk--over a fellow who snores? That is why he is going to take his trailer bedding out to the car. He would think that he had been gone for weeks--he was so glad to get home for one day after being gone for three days.
Makes us understand your wanting to come home a bit more.
We miss your letters lately but if you are so tired we do understand. Hope you aren't as whacked out as you sounded last night.
Mark had a good time last night sleeping in your bag. The only trouble they had was--the tent kept falling down. The Army could teach them a thing about camping out. Right?
Greg & Mike are working over at Apple's house today so it is very quiet around here--just Mary Lou and me.Bye for now--Love,
[Peanuts & Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]
44. Pat Bratcher
Hi! How's life? I just thought I'd write you while I still have the right address. So how'd you like the party? Pretty good, eh? I had a real nice time. Well, I don't really know what to say to you, cause I don't really know you well enough to just talk just about anything. Do you think you'll have to go to Vietnam? I hope ya don't. What are you trained to do or are you trained to do any specific thing? Did anything happen between you and George-Ann? Just wondered. I gathered from last nite you don't like beer--eh!? How come? I also gathered you really dig weed. Well that's ok. Do you do any kind of chemicals, aside from T.H.C.? I'm only asking you all these questions for something to talk about or I should say to write about. Well, really must go! See ya around. Be good & be carefulLove,
45. Mary Beth White
June 26th, 1972
Hi, how ya been? Sorry I haven't written sooner. You're probably moved by now. I really haven't had time. I'm in summer college & there's so much studying to do.
Greg & Mike told me that they went to see you & your beautiful hair is about 1/4 inch long. Oh well, it will grow back. Eventually?
I've been seeing your friends around a lot. John & John & Gary etc. It seems strange that you're not with them.
It feels great to be graduated & the partying was a riot. The only thing is I have 4 more years of college to go. I'm going to be an R.N.
I hope you remember me but, how could you forget? I'm the one at the dances, the crazy one!
Gotta go now. I hope you'll write if you have time.Love,
P.S. Take care!
Tues. a.m. [postmarked June 27, 1972]
I am sitting here at the desk in the basement writing this letter. After hours of cleaning and changing, this end of the "wreck" room looks 100% better. Got the file out of the kitchen and put it down here. But you'll see for yourself next week end.
Your dad ordered 5 tons of black dirt yesterday, so he and Mike & Mark have been working hard in the back yard. The walk is in and they are filling in the low places where it usually floods during a heavy rain.
I had a humorous conversation with an Army recruiter this morning. It seems that he just received the word that you had an Army physical last September. He was so surprised to hear that you have been in service since April. Some guy down town is going to get torn in half, he said. Any way he wants Bill to come in and see the wonderful films on the "New Army" and hear about all the really great options the enlisted men have now. I laughed and told him no way would I come down for that and not to hold his breath waiting for Bill either. It really gave me a chuckle.
Nothing else new except that maybe the cat ran away. We haven't seen him since last night. I have mixed feelings about him--Mary Lou is so allergic to him that it is pathetic to see.Bye--see you soon? Love,
[Peanuts & Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]
47. Georgeann Vigil
Dear John, Hi
Wow! That was a long letter you wrote me. Surprised to hear from you. Well like you said it was awful hard to write much because we only seen each other once & only talked a little bit & it wasn't too much of anything. But I'll try to write something good alright? When do you come home on leave? Every weekend or whenever you have 3 or 4 days off? How long does it take to get home? When are you going to Oklahoma? After your two years I wouldn't go back in and reenlist, but it really is up to you, you know. Thick As A Brick was just on the radio, wow, I swear that's all I been hearing now is songs from that album.
I work in a convalescent home, I been working there for one year now. What did you do when you was home Sat. thru Tues.? Just curious. My friends either call me George, Georgeann, but most of them call me Georgy.
I really don't know why I was quiet Saturday. But I know I shouldn't of mixed drinks & grass. It must have been good grass because I got a buzz off it the first joint we passed around. Remember we had 2.
You know one paragraph you wrote I didn't understand what you meant so I just read it the way I thought it was supposed to be. How many brothers & sisters do you have? You wrote me a super long letter, I was shocked because for 2 reasons why I didn't think you would write so soon, & because I didn't think you had a lot to say. Felt good to hear from you.
I hope my letter makes sense. I'm just writing what comes from my head & trying to answer your letter as much as I can. I hope you didn't get mad at me for asking you all them questions. How long have you been in now? I'm sorry but I don't have a Senior picture. And I don't have a recent one, so how about one that's a year ago or so. Seriously, I don't have a recent one. Would that be alright? I'll send you it next time I write, alright?
How long have you been living in Inkster? We used to live there back ten years ago. We used to live near Parkwood school. You know where that is. Now we live in Romulus. When's your birthday? How old are you?
Well, I'll close for now, because I have to get up for work & its pretty late now!! Talk to you later.Bye,
48. Georgeann Vigil
How you doing?
Wow, there isn't really much to say or write about, but just to write a few lines to let you know how I'm doing. I'm off from work today and tomorrow. Don't know what I'm gonna be doing tomorrow through. I'm supposed to go down for my car sometime this week to get it for a oil change, and have a few other things done to it. There really isn't much happening with me, beside work, and just more work to do when I come home from work. Having a car is just a pain (to me it is anyway) because I have to make sure its running well always, keep it in good condition, finish paying all the payments, & pay for insurance. And after paying for all that I have to start saving for next year's insurance. I always have to be working in order to keep it filled with gas. But I guess I'm not the only one that feels that way. And besides I wanted the car so I guess it's my full responsibility, right!
Today is really beautiful out, the sun is out & it's not too hot.
So how you doing over there?Sorry if I sounded bossy & demanding in that last letter I wrote you. I really didn't mean it that way, after I wrote it I read the whole thing and it sounded that way to me. I'll send you a picture in the next letter I write, okay? Well, I'm gonna close for now, & I'll write you later. Write back when you can.