17 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – Red Bank, New Jersey

Postmark Date – 17 May 1943

Letter Date – 16 May 1943

 

Text:

Good morning sweetheart,

How are you two girls this morning? I only hope that it is a little warmer there than it is here. It is colder than the devil here now, but my bunk is near the stove and we have a nice hot fire in it, and I am writing this letter right beside it. I’m going to try and write you a little longer letter today than I have been lately. I have nothing to do today as far as I know. The letter Clarence sent me he was telling me about the letter that you wrote to him. He said that if you wrote him six pages you must write me at least twenty. I have not wrote to him yet, but when I do I’m going to tell him that he gets longer ones than I do. But he is one hell of a swell guy and I want you to keep writing to him. He was saying that his girl was coming down to see him. I guess her school is out now and she can come down there. I would like to have you come and see me, but I am moved around so damn much that I don’t know where I will be the next week. But instead of you coming to see me I will come home and see you. I only hope it will be quicker than I think it is. I don’t know when I can come home, but I hope it is real soon ’cause I am getting so darn lonesome for you that it is getting so bad that I can hardly sleep. I think that will prove that I love you a lot more than I may sometimes sound like. If I talk or write like that once in awhile it’s just that I love you so doggone much and I miss you so much that I can’t seem to write straight. But when I see you again we can straighten all these matters out. But when I see you I suppose I will get tongue-tied and won’t be able to say nothing, just like I used to be when I was going with you. Remember how I was when that was? Or don’t you? All these brown marks on this letter that you see are made from some candy that a guy give me. I shouldn’t eat it while I am writing but I am hungry, as I didn’t eat any chow this morning. But dinner isn’t so far off, and I think that will consist of chicken and all the trimmings. Doesn’t that sound good? What would sound a lot better would be coming home from a show about midnight to your folks place, then go in the house and have hot biscuits and liver sausage. If we could just live one of those nights once again. Or else stopping at the Moose Inn for some of Ray’s good fish. Every time I talk or think about those things I get all the more lonesome for you. I know you missed those dances but I will learn to dance, or anything you want, after I come home. I want you to be the one to teach me those things. There is no dances within twenty miles of here so you won’t have to worry about me going to any of them. They have shows here every night, but for the service men only. They are only $0.15 and that is where I go when I do go out, but that is few and far between. I am going to go tonight as there is a pretty good show on – “The Human Comedy” with Mickey Rooney. At least they say it is good. Maybe I should tell you a little bit about school right now. I know the whole alphabet in code. Tomorrow I start on the numbers. After all that is done I will start to take messages. If I can receive twelve letters or words in a minute I am supposed to be pretty good. They give us eight weeks to do it in and I think I can do it, as I have been to school only a week and I can receive five words now. I am pretty sure I can do it and with you on my side I am sure of it. I bought something for you down at the Post Exchange. It isn’t much, but it will be something to remember me by. I can’t get my picture taken here right now, but if it is possible I will do it as quick as I can. I also got another piece of jewelry lined up to buy, but they haven’t got actually what I want. I won’t tell you what it is but I think it is pretty nice. You will have to wait until you get it. There isn’t much more that I can think of to write, and I still have to write one to big brother yet today. I wrote to Alvin, but as yet I haven’t heard from him. But it is quite aways  from him to me. I am afraid that I can’t think of any more to write, so we’ll have to close by now, sweetheart. All my love and kisses from Pappy

PS – I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.

Notes: Just one letter after seeming to take a more adult tone Dad reverts to the old ways, acting kind of whiney that Clarence gets longer letters than he does. Those late night liver sausage sandwiches must have left a big impression on Dad as often as he mentions them. There is a Moose Inn in Wautoma today, but I can’t verify it is the one Dad refers to. I did some searching and was unable to locate more information on it or its owner “Ray.” Maybe one of my Wisconsin cousins can help me out.

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15 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – Red Bank, New Jersey

Postmark Date – 15 May 1943

Letter Date – 14 May 1943

 

Text:

Dearest wife and baby,

How are my two girls tonight? I hope you feel as good as I do, and I also hope you are as lonesome for me as I am for you. I think you are, aren’t you? The reason I feel so good today is that I got all my back mail from you that was sent down to St Pete. Also one right from home plus one from big brother Clarence. I had so darn much fun reading them that I almost missed school. Boy was I ever glad to get them. While the other guys were not getting any mail I was really pulling them in. You should have seen their faces. I have so darn much to answer that I don’t know where to start, but to begin with I am sort of mad to think you would not believe me when I told you I would come back and marry you if I had joined the Navy. I know how you felt. I don’t suppose you did know if I would have come back, but if you know what had been in my mind you wouldn’t even have to ask me. Honest, honey, I love you more than life itself. It’s awfully hard having you ask me questions like that. I want you to know now sweetheart that you never have to worry about me. I am yours and Bonny’s forever, as long as I live, and I figure on living to a ripe old age. Do you think you can stand me that long? I wanted to marry you before I went to or before I try to go to the Navy, and I would do it all over again if I had a chance. And I don’t think I could love you anymore than I do now. This is the truth you asked for. It’s the whole truth, honey, so help me. I want you to believe me. When I started to read what you asked me I got so damn worried and sick that I couldn’t hardly read any farther, but I want you to ask me anything you want to. It will help clear up a lot of things. But don’t scare me so much next time. About me thinking that you and (?) we’re carrying on – it was just a crazy idea of mine. I was so darn jealous and love you so much that I couldn’t think of anything else. I see what a damn fool I was  now. I guess I am starting to grow up. Not the same little boy that left you, but grown up to think a few straighter thoughts and figure out things in a more sane way. Maybe you won’t get so mad at me then. These letters are not coming so fast as they did from St Pete and this one will be a little shorter one than I write tomorrow night. I’m going to close this one now as the lights are going in a little while. I will write you a big, long one tomorrow night. I will have more time. Until then, goodnight honey. Please don’t worry about me. I will love you always. Night now, baby, from Daddy. PS – Please keep on loving me as I will always love you with all my heart. Ralphie

Notes: I had forgotten that Dad had attempted to join the Navy at some point before joining the Army Air Corps. I don’t recall what kept him out. I don’t think it was anything health related. As for Dad living to a “ripe old age,” I would have to say that didn’t happen. He passed away when he was 70, which to me is not old. His health was good most of his life but he worked exceptionally hard without much rest for 50 years and it finally caught up to him. Smoking did not help. The overall tone of this letter is more deep and contemplative than previous letters. It will be interesting when I get to Mom’s letters to see exactly what she wrote. I can’t quite make out who Dad thought Mom was carrying on with. I know what it looks like, but I don’t want to speculate.

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13 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 – 13 May 1943

Letter Date – 11 May 1943

 

Text:

My dearest wife and baby,

I’m going to start this letter tonight but I won’t be able to finish it, as it is almost ten and time for the lights to go out,  but I want to write you a few lines each night. I miss you and that little writing I do every night makes me feel a lot better. You know, as the old saying goes, every little bit helps said the old lady as she peed in the sea. Oh, oh. I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, but it just came out and I couldn’t help it. Forgive me, honey, will you? Today was my second day of school and it isn’t so easy as it was the first day. When we came in here the guys told us we would go crazy. Down here we call it “dit” crazy. All we do all day is listen to dots and dashes until I almost go nuts. But I think I will make it if I take my time. I went to school tonight for an hour. It sort of helps me out. Boy is the weather ever dirty here now. It has been raining all day and tonight it is foggier than the devil. I think it is going to rain tomorrow, too. Well, sweetheart, I have to close tonight. More tomorrow night, baby. Good morning, darling. How do you feel this morning? I just got up, washed up, made my bunk, and cleaned up. I didn’t go and eat breakfast as I wasn’t hungry and I wanted to drop you a few lines this morning. I would much rather do that than eat. As I said last night about raining, it is still going this morning, harder than ever and it looks like an all-day rain. It don’t make much difference as I am inside all day anyway. Nothing much to write about now, honey, so I will close again. All my love and kisses until tonight. Bye, now. Here I go again, honey, but just for a few lines. It is almost dinner time. I went to school part of the morning, then about 10:30 there was an air raid alert. We had to all run back to our barracks and make a field pack. This means putting a blanket, a tent, and all are mess equipment, plus enough clothes to last for a few days. This all together weighs about sixty pounds. Then after we did that and was ready to go out the call came through for us to unpack all of this and forget about it. Boy, was they ever mad around here. All that work for nothing. It is still raining this noon and it looks like a lot more of it, too, but it has warmed up a lot from what it was. I won’t write anymore now but will finish it up tonight. Until then, bye sweetheart. I love you lots. Hello, babies. Here it is night and I’m going to try and finish it now so I can send it out. All we did was go to school and after that listen to lectures for a couple of hours. Not any hard work, though. My sun tan is getting awfully white looking up here. It’s so cold that we can’t have our coats off at all. But at least it has stopped raining, for a while, anyway. I hope so because it is getting pretty muddy around the grounds. Can’t even keep my shoes shined. I just got back from a nice warm shower so I feel nice and clean. That’s the way I like to feel when I talk to you. I can see now that I treated you rather bad. Not the way I should have, but I will be a lot different about a lot of things when I come home. This is all for now, honey. I have to close with all my love and kisses to my dearest wife and baby. Night, now.

Notes: I was curious about the phrase “dit crazy,” which appears, perhaps, to be a take on “shit crazy.” I found a reference to it in the book “No Forgotten Fronts: From Classrooms to Combat” by Lisa K. Shapiro, which is a collection of World War Two letters. This particular letter was from 1943, written from another radio school by a another solder, so the phrase may have been widespread. I was also curious as to what led to Dad’s epiphany about treating Mom badly, or exactly what he meant by that. By all accounts Dad was kind of an ass when he was younger, some of which can be seen already in these letters.

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11 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 – 11 May 1943

Letter Date – 10 May 1943

 

Text:

My dearest wife and baby,

Hello sweetheart. How are my two babies tonight? Hope you are both swell. I am feeling good, even after my first day of school. Yes, I actually started school again today. It seems kind of funny after not going to school for so long. I start in the morning at eight and work until 11:30, start again at one and work until 3:30, then from then on until five we have to drill. All we do is learn a code over the telegraph. I would like to tell you what kind I do but it is all restricted, so no secrets must be let out. I think, but I don’t know for sure, that they check through most of the mail. And don’t send my camera here because they aren’t allowed on the post. This is one of the few posts that they won’t let a guy have a camera here. There is a lot of stuff here that they don’t want anybody to know about. I could tell you now but I have to wait until I come home, and after four weeks of school you aren’t allowed to leave the post. I will tell you all about it as soon as I can. There is one thing I can tell you. The main port, which is only six miles from here, was shelled some time ago. Some of the men have wound stripes. They might cross this out, but if they don’t please don’t let anyone else know about it. Let it be just a secret between you and me, right honey? Boy was it ever cold this morning. Must have been close to freezing. The coldest I have seen it since I left Wisconsin, but it seems better now at least. I am at least 400 miles closer to you. It isn’t much, but every little bit helps. There isn’t much to tell you about tonight, but I’m going to try and write you every night. I have a chance to go to night school for a few hours every night and get the jump on some of the guys, and I think I’m going to do it. It will help me out if I want to get a better rating. You would want me to do that, wouldn’t you, sweetheart? I think this is all for tonight, honey, so I will close until next time. Goodnight babies. All my love to the sweetest wife and baby in the world from Pappy

PS – Give my love to the folks and kiss Bonny girl for me.

Notes: Well Ralph doesn’t seem to have a great handle on this whole military secret thing. “I can’t tell you now, but as soon as I get home I’ll spill all the beans.” Okay. And I am dubious about the whole “a port in New Jersey got shelled” thing. A cursory check of online sources does not turn up any ports in New Jersey that came under enemy fire during World War Two. I think either someone was pulling the leg of a green soldier or he misheard the details of some other incident.

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10 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 – 10 May 1943

Letter Date – 9 May 1943

 

Text:

My dearest wife and baby,

Well, this is my second letter to you. I couldn’t write one yesterday as that same fire that I had to help fight yesterday started up again, and I was out fighting that for about twenty hours straight. When I came back I was so darn tired that I slept for about fifteen hours without waking up. I hope you forgive me, sweetheart, because I didn’t write, but I will make up for it now and later. Gosh, honey, I sure miss you more than ever now. I am not so far away, but I am missing you more each day. The minute I ain’t doing nothing I almost go nuts thinking about you. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I see you again, but if I do something wrong just forgive me, but listen, baby, I want another picture of you and Bonny. That one I got was one thing that sure made me feel swell, but I would like to get a big picture of you and the baby. One that I can see more of Bonny on and one in which you look towards the camera. I want to see your face and I want you to write me lots of long letters. Please do that, won’t you honey? And tell your mother to send me the Argus as well. Well, I will tell you something about this camp. I am living in wooden barracks. We wake up every morning by the bugle. Then have breakfast. The one thing about this place is you can get all you want to eat and it is darn good chow. We are only about 50 miles from New York and about six miles from the Atlantic coast. A big bunch of guys went to New York for the weekend, but that is one thing I am not going to do, as I am saving all the money I can. And I am doing pretty good, too. The officers and men are awfully nice here, so in all it is a pretty swell camp. Lots better than St. Pete. Now about the school I am going to, it  isn’t just talking over a radio. The first thing we have to do is learn the Morse Code. Then we have to be able to send and receive thirteen words in a minute. That don’t sound so easy, but you can bet your last nickel that your little husband is going to make it or die trying. I know you will back me up on that. Then after all that, if you are extra good you will be sent to another radio school for advanced training. And if a guy is just normally good he will be sent to some air base. That’s about all there is to it. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. This is about all for now, as I have to go to bed and get a little sleep tonight, as tomorrow will be my first day of school. Just like starting my life over again, but now I have a lot more to fight for – my dearest wife and our little baby daughter. And all my own. Nothing much more tonight, sweetheart, so guess I will close. All my love and kisses to my sweetest wife and baby from Pappy

PS – Excuse all the mistakes and scribbly writing, as I am racing to get done before the lights go out.

Notes:

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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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