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Over Hill, Over Dale . . . Over Seas April 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.

After basic training, dad received a furlough and went to Vermont for a quick visit before taking the train to Chicago and on to California:

“There are an awful lot of soldiers trying to get on the train.  All headed for Camp Stoneman.  We had reserved coach tickets this far, but from now on we will be lucky to get a seat.”

“Arrived 3 PM yesterday.  We saw some of San Francisco Bay when we came in.  We will probably see more of it in a few days.  On the way out we came over a bridge across the Great Salt Lake.  It is quite large.  This will let you know I arrived O.K.”

Wikipedia ~ Camp Stoneman (in Public Domain)

On October 1st, 1946, he wrote:

“It’s not official, but we will probably ship out Sunday for Yokohama.  That spelling is probably wrong.  Most of the fellows I was with in Alabama are here.  It looks as though we may stay together.”

Two days later, he added:

“Today is the last of our processing.  We still expect to ship out this weekend.  This morning we were issued sunglasses, insect repellent, salt water soap, and louse powder.  I now have 12 pairs of socks.  Seems as though that should last for a while.  I think I am ready to be alerted for shipment.  The sooner the better.  Last night, Healy and I got a pass and went to Pittsburg.  It is a small town, somewhat larger than Windsor. There are quite a lot of Mexicans there.”

On October 6th, he wrote:

“I received my shipping orders.  I leave Tuesday, October 8, for Korea.  Healy is in the order with me, but Gibbons has not finished processing yet.  Last night, I bought a set of Eversharp pens and pencils at a price considerably lower than the price we saw at Claremont.  I am sending them home.  You can consider this your Christmas present from me.  Speaking of Christmas presents, I wish you would look after getting some for me for Marjorie, Margaret, Aunt Lucy, Uncle Webb and Aunt Pete, and Uncle Frank and Margaret.  You can take $10-$15 from my account for this.”

He wrote his sister Marjorie the same day:

“You will probably be surprised to get this letter because I don’t write to you very often.  Healy and I just came from the movies ~ Errol Flynn.  It was quite funny.  I noticed that Northeastern has won all three football games and Dartmouth has won two.  Today, I listened to the Red Sox-Cardinal World Series game.  Glad that York got the home run.  After tomorrow, I may not be able to keep track of the sports very well.  I wish you would see that someone sends me the scores for Northeastern and Dartmouth each week.”

“The food here is a lot better than at McClellan.  We sometimes get pie and cake twice a day.  And what is more it tastes like home cooking.  The cooks are young and try to see which are the best cooks.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Continued next Monday . . . A Slow Boat to Korea


1. ericjbaker - April 21, 2014

I love how the biggest concern is missing the sports scores, not traveling across the world!

nrhatch - April 21, 2014

Yes! Having lots of socks helps ~ that and sunglasses, insect repellent, salt water soap, and louse powder.

ericjbaker - April 21, 2014

I hope I never have to carry louse powder with me.

nrhatch - April 21, 2014

Same here. Louse powder is NOT what I want to have on my packing list for an overseas excursion.

2. colonialist - April 21, 2014

I wonder what they got up to in Pittsburg? And why the Mexicans were worthy of special mention?
I love these ordinary reflections of extraordinary life.

nrhatch - April 21, 2014

Thanks, Col. I expect that, growing up in Vermont, he’d never met a Mexican before.

3. jannatwrites - April 21, 2014

I had to laugh at the Mexicans comment… living in the Southwest nearly all of my life, it doesn’t phase me a bit 🙂 Its nice he was already thinking about taking care of Christmas in October.

nrhatch - April 22, 2014

My dad traveled a lot, starting with Korea. But before arriving in CA to ship over to Korea, his life in New England had been somewhat “sheltered” ~ surrounded by WASPs.

4. Three Well Beings - April 22, 2014

I did some “googling” about Camp Stoneman. I was curious about the name because the Stoneman name is popular for streets and boulevards. I know the general area where Camp Stoneman was, and next time I’m up that way, which is at least a couple of times a year, I’m going to see if there is a museum or something to indicate where it was. I really enjoy the history connected to your dad’s military career, Nancy. This is a great series!

nrhatch - April 22, 2014

Some of the coastal depots, like Stoneman, acted like Grand Central Station to move troops overseas during WWII and the Korean War. Once the conflict abated, the camps closed.

If you find a commemorative marker (or more), let us know. I’m guessing that if there’s anything at all, it won’t be much more than dust in the wind.

5. diannegray - April 22, 2014

The louse powder inclusion is a must! What a classic, I just love these letters 😀

nrhatch - April 22, 2014

The louse powder (and 12 pairs of socks) made me “scratch my head.” Glad you’re enjoying.

6. Grannymar - April 22, 2014

Twelve pairs of socks, louse powder & sunglasses.. I love that list.

nrhatch - April 22, 2014

When I pack for trips, I do toss in a few “just in case” items . . . but I’ve never thought to include louse powder. Maybe next time.

7. Pix Under the Oaks - April 22, 2014

He just seems so grown-up and thoughtful!

nrhatch - April 22, 2014

That sounds just like him, Pix!

8. A Slow Boat To Korea | Spirit Lights The Way - April 28, 2014

[…] Once on the West Coast, dad boarded a slow boat to Korea.  On board, he got tapped for clean up detail since he was one of only a handful of new recruits who had not succumbed to seasickness.  He had a chance to practice his disappearing act: […]

9. Tokeloshe - May 7, 2014

It is wonderful that you have kept these letters.

nrhatch - May 7, 2014

My grandfather kept them until he died in the mid-80’s. At that point, dad took custody of them ~ all one sided. It appears that dad did not keep the letters he received while in Korea.

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