8 May 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – Red Bank, New Jersey

Postmark Date – 8 May 1943

Letter Date – 6 May 1943

 

Text:

My dearest wife and baby,

Well here I am at last, way out on the east coast just a little way from the Atlantic Ocean and about 50 miles from New York.  I got here at 3:30 in the afternoon and am now pretty well settled. It’s a big camp. Real nice and cool. More like good old Wisconsin. I am now a PFC, but I can’t get my mail with that address until I let you know different. Maybe I can get it that way before I send this letter to you. I got paid as a PFC and I will know by tomorrow if I can wear my first stripe. Boy, am I ever glad that I got it. I am going to school for ten weeks, and when I graduate I will be a sergeant. Boy, will that ever be swell. Then I can come home and show them off. I think I can get a furlough after I get through school, but I don’t know for sure yet. I had a nice long trip up here. Came up through Georgia and the two Carolinas, and Virginia. Then I came through Washington, D.C. and seen the Capitol. After that I went through Pennsylvania and up through to the big city of New York. We stayed over there about two hours and seen a lot of the city from the train. After that we went back down through to New Jersey where I am now. I wrote you a card from all the big cities and I hope you get them. I didn’t have much time to write them and send them as we didn’t stop in too many towns, but I did as quick and as many as I could. Say, honey, I have got to close as the lights are going out and tomorrow is a big day for me, so until tomorrow goodnight my sweetheart. Here it is six in the morning. Just got back from breakfast and I’m now ready to go to work. Had a big breakfast of eggs, bread, corn flakes, grapefruit, and coffee. Do they ever feed good here. I think I might get fat if I stay here very long. Boy is this ever nice weather here in the morning. Nice and cool. Makes you feel like working. I am in a barracks with about 38 men. There are five of us who are still together who came from Florida, so I am still together with some of my friends. I’m going to find out today if I can use my PFC stripe and address yet. I won’t mail this letter until tonight so I will find out. In about five minutes we are going to fall out and we’ll listen to speeches all day. Then Monday we will start school. That will start of schooling of radio where I will learn to send and receive messages with the Morse Code. It’s a fast course but the ratings come fast if you pass the test, and I am telling you, sweetheart, I sure am going to try. We just came back in from outside where we had fifteen minutes of exercise where we used to have two hours in St Pete. We cut it down to one eighth of the time. I can’t think of much more tonight or this morning so I will wait until later when I find out about my rating. Here it is about two hours later and I haven’t even left the barracks. We were supposed to go to some kind of (?) lectures, but the way it looks as if we are not going to do it. I can’t think of much more to write about now so I guess I will have to close for a while. I will write my address here as you might not read it on the envelope. Here it is as I know it now. I might change it later.

Pvt. Ralph Peterson

ASN 26805013

Co. B 2nd Sig Ing Rgt

(12655CSU) ESCRTC

Fort Monmouth New Jersey

That’s a hell of a address, isn’t it? But that’s where you have to send it. I won’t send this until I find out about my rating. If I am allowed to wear my stripe I will let you know and you can change it. Here it is eight thirty Tuesday night and I really can say I woked about two. The fire alarm sounded and we were loaded in a truck and took us about five miles out in the country. There was a hell of a big fire. It burnt about 200 acres. I carried a five gallon can on my back from two in the afternoon until seven tonight and am I ever tired tonight. So darn tired that I can’t keep my eyes open. I have not found out about my rating yet so I will send this letter as just plain Private. I wrote Alvin and Clarence and my stepmother this forenoon so they would know where I am. And now I’m trying to finish this letter to my dearest wife and sweet little baby. There is plenty to write about but I can’t seem to think of anything. I hope I tell you everything that I wanted to. Please write me a long, sweet letter, as I am awfully darn lonesome, as I have not got a letter from you and won’t until you answer this one. Please send it airmail so I will get it quicker. I’m getting awfully tired now so I am at last going to close this letter, which I suppose you will be glad to hear. So until tomorrow night, my dearest wife, I will close with all my love to the sweetest wife and baby in the world from their daddy and husband, Ralph

PS – I love you sweetheart and miss you so darn much and I am nearly sick. Night, darling RP

Notes: The longest letter from Dad to date by far. It seems he wanted to be able to put that higher rank on the envelope and prolonged the rambling letter in an attempt to do so. I did a perfunctory search of the fire referenced and it seems to match up with the account below from “The Red Bank Register” of 13 May 1943.

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7 May 1943 – Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – New York, New York

Postmark Date – 7 May 1943

Letter Date – None

 

Text:

Dearest wife and baby,

Well here I am in the biggest city in the world, New York, and still don’t know where I am going. I got to write this fast because we won’t be here for long. Boy, is this a big city. Big skyscrapers. Well, the train is pulling out so I must close now. Lots of love. Ralph

Notes: Again a penny postcard, which they probably gave free to the troops.

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7 May 1943 – Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – New York, New York

Postmark Date – 7 May 1943

Letter Date – None

 

Text:

Dearest wife and baby,

Well here I am, still going on my trip. Right now we are stopped at Philadelphia. This is a great big city, but it is just full of coal smoke. After I get where I’m going I will write and tell you all the cities I have been through. I think that we will be where we are going in a little while, in about an hour or so. One thing, I won’t be in Chicago, but this will be closer than California. Lots of love from Ralph

Notes: Dad is now down to using generic penny postcards without images. Interesting observation about the coal smoke. About this time Philadelphia neared its peak population and was the third largest city in the United States.

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6 May – Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – Washington, DC

Postmark Date – 6 May 1943

Letter Date – None

 

Text:

Hi sweetheart,

Here I am, still going. Am now in Washington, DC. Boy, is this a big town. We are stopping here for a couple hours and we are still going north. I seen the Capitol. It’s a big place. More later. Love and kisses. Ralph

Notes: I’m guessing the biggest city he’d ever even passed through up to then.

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6 May 1943 – Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – Raleigh, North Carolina

Postmark Date – 6 May 1943

Letter Date – None

 

Text:

Dearest Phyllis and Bonny,

Here I am, just pulling into North Carolina, and still am traveling. I guess I will go way up in the northeast states. It’s a nice trip. Lots of nice scenery. Hope you and Bonny are all well. More later. All my love. Ralph

Notes: Still no clues as to his final destination.

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5 May 1943 – Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard
Sender – Ralph Peterson
Recipient – Phyllis Peterson
Postmark Place – Hamlet, North Carolina
Postmark Date – 5 May 1943
Letter Date – None

Text:
Dearest wife and baby,

Here I am still traveling. I’m now in Columbia, South Carolina. I still don’t know where I’m going. It is beautiful country around here. More like home all the time. All my pals are along with me. More later. Love, Ralph

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5 May 1943 – Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – Hamlet, North Carolina

Postmark Date – 5 May 1943

Letter Date – None

 

Text:

Dearest wife and baby,

Here I am on the move again. I don’t know where I am going, but will let you know as quick as I get there. Am now traveling through Georgia heading northeast. Hope I get closer to you and home. Lots of love and kisses, Ralph

Notes: He was writing postcards on the train heading northeast and mailing them where he could. Back in this time Hamlet, North Carolina was a major rail hub.

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4 May 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 4 May 1943

Letter Date – 3 May 1943

 

Text:

My dearest wife and baby,

Here I am starting another week and starting another letter to you. I missed one from you yesterday and so far today I haven’t got none, but I am expecting one tomorrow. I might (?) get me tonight. At last I am going to be shipped, I hope. In about fifteen minutes I am going up for an examination. Then after that I will be here for maybe two or three days. Then I will get shipped. I don’t know where I am going, but it will be quite a long trip as we have to carry our mess kits. All those who went to California wore their wool uniforms but we wear our summer ones. I guess, though, they wear the summer issue all over now. We are going someplace where it is cooler than Florida or California, as we have to wear our flight jackets. These are wool jacket and they don’t wear wool where it is warm. I only hope it is good old Wisconsin that we stay at. Wouldn’t that be nice, honey? The whistle just blew for examination, so guess I have to close for now. Well, I got back at last. I have done a lot of things since I stopped writing last time. I went down and had my examination. Passed that and come back to the hotel. I washed a few clothes and about three o’clock I went down to headquarters and got that allotment all fixed up. There wasn’t much to do with it. So next month you will get $12 more. I know you can use it. I am quite sure that it will start from the 1st of May. Then, after all that happened I got two letters and that picture from you. I am telling you honey, when I seen yours and Bonny’s picture I was so damn glad to see you again that I just about cried. I can see the baby real plain – at least her little hand sticking up and part of her sweet little face. And I was so glad to see your sweet face again. It almost makes me think I seen you once more. My pals looked at it and they said it sure was nice. They remarked how you were holding the baby so gentle, as if you were afraid you were going to drop her. If you get a bigger one of you and Bonny please send it to me, but wait until I get sent to another place. If I can I will drop you a telegram when I am stationed. I would rather telephone you from Chicago, if I could get there. There wasn’t much doing today. All it was was a lot of fooling around. I did have my picture taken. The kid from Minnesota took it, but he wants it so I have the negative and I will have it developed and sent one to you. I was going to send you a big picture, but I won’t have time to get one here. I will have to make it the next post. I know most of the guys who I am shipping with. They are from our old Squadron 400s. The worst part of it is we are all going except one guy, and he is pretty down in the mouth about it. Gee whiz, darling, this is going to be a short letter, as I want it to go out on tonight’s mail and that leaves in five minutes, so until tomorrow all my love and kisses to the sweetest wife and baby in the world, from their Daddy

PS – Keep on writing to me here, as they will forward it to me. Love, Ralph

Notes: The last letter from St. Petersburg. After days if waiting everything seemed to happen at once. Dad finally sees a photograph of his first child, a photograph which I have been unable to locate as yet. He learns he is shipping out but still does not know where he is going.

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2 May 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 2 May 1943

Letter Date – 1 May 1943

 

Text:

My dearest wife and baby,

This letter will be one that will be wrote while I am on guard duty. As I am starting this it is fifteen to twelve and I go on at midnight until four. This shift is called the graveyard shift, as everybody has gone to bed all. I have to do is walk down a few corridors which are black is a cat’s ass. I think that is dark enough. You know, a funny thing happened tonight. Another guy and I was downtown after some ice cream. When we were in the store I was looking out of the door when who would walk in but Elmer Mischka from Wautoma. You or your dad will know who I mean. He didn’t recognize me at first, but when I told him who I was then he remembered me. He is a crazy drunk devil at times, but it sure was nice to see someone from up around home. He is stationed only nine miles from here at a air base. He is a Corporal and the second cook. I still can’t get over seeing him down here. We talked for at least two hours and he wants me to come over to his camp and see what kind of a place he is in. I don’t think I will, as I won’t have that much spare time. I got only one letter today and that one was from you. A nice sweet letter. Just the kind I like. Keep it up, my darling. Now, now, honey, don’t tell me that our little Bonny girl is spoiled already. I thought I would get home in time to keep spoil her. But don’t worry, I will when I come home. Why in two minutes I will have her hitting at me with her little hands. Remember how good I am at that. I just filled this pen up, as you will probably notice. The darn thing is always running out of ink. The picture I got from Alvin is the same kind he sent us when we were in Green Bay. But it still is a nice picture anyway. I am supposed to send him one back of me if I can get one that looks decent. Talking about pictures, honey, I wish you would send my camera and about three films down to me. I would like to take some pictures of this place before I leave. There is some really nice places around here, and I mean the parks and stuff like that. Don’t ever worry about me, honey, as I will be true to you and love you as long as I live. And I figure on living a long, long time. Listen honey, if you gain ten pounds more every time that your mother makes something good to eat you would be a fat little girl in a week. Say, I am going to sign off now for a while, as it is just about midnight. I will write some more later in the morning. Here it is only a hour later. Everybody has gone to bed, including a couple of guys that we had to put to bed. They will come in drunk, start raising hell. That’s where us guards come in. All we do is tell them to go to bed. If they don’t do it we can go to work on their heads with our clubs. And believe me, these clubs are plenty big and hard. Just one little whack and a guy can go to sleep awful darn fast. Tonight especially there is quite a few drunks, as payday was only a few days ago. But when they see one guy take a beating the rest of them quiet down. One of the guys in this hotel is leaving for the nut house tomorrow. He didn’t like the army and he just went sort of nuts. As a example, he didn’t even know his own name today. But I have a special guard over him. He can’t even leave his room for nothing except chow. Boy has it ever been hot down here lately. Nights and days both, it stays the same temperature all the time, and that is too darn hot. It hangs between 75 and 100 all the time. I can’t think of much more to write to you now darling, but I won’t finish until I go off at four in the morning. Maybe something will happen and I can write some more. Right now it is half past one. Until later, my dearest, (?) so long. I thought that I could think of some more to write about, but I guess I can’t, so I think I will close for now. All my love and kisses to the sweetest wife and baby a person could ask for, from your soldier Daddy

PS – Don’t let Bonny cry too much. Maybe it isn’t good for her. RP

Lots of love my darling.

Notes:

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2 May 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 2 May 1943

Letter Date – 30 April 1943

 

Text:

My dearest wife and baby,

Got your nice long letter today and I am answering right back. How are both of my girls tonight? I suppose you know by now that you have some competition, or hasn’t anybody told you yet? I have to admit there is another girl that I am beginning to love a lot. I think you know that I mean this girl is name Bonny Louise. Just to hear you talk about her in your letters has made it seem that I have already seen her. Did I have you worried a little bit? I bet I did. Don’t ever worry about me loving anybody else. There is only two girls in this world that I love from the bottom of my heart. You know who I mean now, don’t you? And don’t think that your letter writing is silly and that it makes me mad. I just love to get your letters. You right such damn sweet and nice ones it’s about the only thing that I really can say I enjoy a lot down here, so keep on sending those kind of letters. Well I got paid today, the whole sum of $17.75. Do you think I can live on that much? I know I can, as I will make myself do it. I suppose you will be getting your check soon. I bet you can use it, too. So Don and Marian want you to come up there and stay. Well I want you to stay right where you are. Take your pick between us two and I think that I will win, won’t I? I don’t care if you go up there for a day or so, but don’t go up there for any longer than that. I am glad that you and Bonny are getting along fine. So the little dickens is getting cuter everyday. She must be getting to look more like you all the time. I bet when she grows up she will be the exact picture of you. I’m also glad that your folks like her a lot, as it will make it easier for you to get along with them. I know how your Pappy likes kids and I bet he is just twice as bad with Bonny girl. Does he jig for her yet, or hasn’t she took notice of anything like that? But I bet he will be doing it as quick as she is old enough to notice him. I only wish I was home to see your pop come in from a day’s work from Chapman’s with his face all dirty and so damn tired that all he would do is plunk his rear down in a chair and stay there until supper was called. I remember that happened lots of times. I only wish I could see it again real soon. By the way, I am going to get my picture took tomorrow downtown and have it sent to you. That is, if I can take a good enough picture to have made. Maybe if you would show it to Bonny she would smile at my picture. Try it and see if she will, then let me know how she takes it. I only hope she don’t laugh at it. This is about all I can think of now, so I guess I will close with all my love and kisses to my sweetest wife and baby, from Daddy

PS – I could tell you a good joke, but your mother might see the letter. Dad

Notes: Dad keeps playing with fire when it comes to his sense of humour. He also seems to keep lobbying for a bit more of his pay. For the record, Bonny looked much more like Dad than Mom. Her hair, her eye colour, her look. In later years you could pick out areas where she resembled Mom, like around her mouth, but those resemblances were few and far between. By all accounts my Mom’s Dad was apt to do a little jig for the kids, made more quaint by his small stature.

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