7 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 7 March 1943

Letter Date – 6 March 1943

Text:

Hi sweetheart,

We have got the afternoon off so I will write you a letter now.  The reason we are staying in is that it started raining at noon and it is sort of wet outside.  Now, or just about an hour ago, we were all called out in the lobby and told us that there was a hurricane heading this way from the north.  It hasn’t struck yet but they give it until midnight to come.  It looks and sounds sort of bad out right now.  Thundering, lightning, and the wind is blowing. Everybody’s pass was cancelled for tonight and some of the guys are kind of sore, but it don’t bother me as I got my cigarettes and all the stuff from the post exchange.  It’s only two blocks from here.  A guy from Michigan and I just had a little fun.  We put on our gas masks and steel helmets and went parading around the lobby.  We look like some men from Mars.  We sure look tough, even if I ain’t.  Say, I took some films up to get developed when I went to Fort Sheridan.  Did you get them back?  If you did and there is one of you that you don’t want will you send it down here?  I would like to have some more pictures of you.  I miss you so that I don’t know what to do with myself.  Please send one or two down here, will you?  How are your folks getting along?  I will drop them a line along with this letter so they won’t get mad at me.  So your dad missed the bus, did he?  Well you tell him for me that he had better get up in the morning.  Tell him that I get up at five.  Is he still working at Chapman’s? I hope he is and he keeps on  working there for a long while. You know I miss my hot homemade biscuits and smoked link sausage. When you get some will you eat some for me?  Your mother sure can make them so they can melt in your mouth. This is all for now, as the mail is yet to be delivered out.  If I get a letter from you I will write some more.  Just got the mail and the letter I was supposed to get yesterday I got today, but the first one I got, or the one I got today, I really liked.  It was nice and long and that’s the kind I like.  I am sorry that I had to get some money from you, but I had to get it. I will pay it back ten times over.  So we are going to have a baby the last of this month.  I only wish I could be there, but I don’t think I can make it.  I will be in school then, but if there is the slightest chance of being there I will be there.  I got the paper and the letter from mother, and tell her I will write them the same time as this letter.  I sure like to read that Argus. About all the guys from Waushara County have already borrowed them and read them.  I guess I will have to close now to write to mother and then go to bed.

Love and kisses, your husband Ralph.

PS – The all clear sounded just on the dot of eight and we didn’t have no hurricane. Ralph

PPS  – God bless you and our little blonde haired, blue eyed baby. RP

Notes: Obviously it was not a hurricane they were under watch for, but a tornado. Newspaper accounts show other parts of Florida raked by bad weather that day, striking the panhandle and northeast Florida.

Again, the “folks” Dad is referring to are actually my Mom’s parents. They were little people, both under five feet tall. My Grandfather, George Spencer Grant, was known locally as “Little George.” It is generally acknowledged that he was something of a binge alcoholic, but my Mom loved him dearly. By “Chapman’s” my Dad was almost assuredly referring to the Berlin-Chapman Foundry in Berlin, Wisconsin. Likely that was where Little George was taking the bus to. I never knew he worked there.

It seems like most of his life was spent working in Waushara County granite quarries. He was the only grandparent I ever met, and only once in 1966 when I was six. He was living in a dark, cluttered little house south of the railroad tracks and at my age I had little interest in talking to him, wanting to go outside and play with the kids instead. I would have liked to meet the rest of them, including my Mom’s Mom, Myrtle Bernice (Hager) Grant. I already knew she was a good cook, a skill she passed down to my Mom. She was also a very intelligent woman who was a local midwife.

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6 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 6 March 1943

Letter Date – 5 March 1943

Text:

Dearest wife,

Yah! Here’s that man again, or as you would call me, your little boy.  Well, no letter yet from you, yet, but I might get one before I finish this letter. You see the mail hasn’t been delivered out yet.  There is an awful pile of it and I hope there is one for me.  Or better still, I hope there is two or three. But I will be satisfied with one.  Today was another hot day about 80 above.  I’ll bet it is cold up there though.  I got up at five this morning, had chow, and was on the drill field at eight.  Then I drilled until noon, had dinner, and then I had an easy afternoon.  We got our gas masks today. We soon will have our first test in the gas chamber.  I guess that will be in about two weeks.  I haven’t had a hold of a gun yet but we are going to have our chance yet.  I get 20 shots with a rifle and 20 shots with a Tommy Gun.  Not much, but enough to get used to them.  Just got back from mail call and I got a letter from you – the first one I got from you in two weeks.  The way you wrote was that you and your mother both sent one but I haven’t got either one yet.  Listen, honey, I want you to write every day and write longer letters.  This one I got today was awfully short, but boy I sure was glad to get it.  I also got the money with this letter and I sure can use it.  I got this money belt in Fort Sheridan when I was there but it wasn’t a very good one so I sold the damn thing when I lost my wallet.  I don’t know if I can get home when the baby comes or not.  I don’t hardly think so.  I will be going to school then, so I will have to wait until then.  I sure hope I can.  Say, you write as if you didn’t trust me.  You know I won’t look at another girl.  Don’t ever make me think you don’t trust me because it makes me feel awfully bad.  That’s all for now. Night, sweetheart.

Love and more love, Ralph

Notes: My Mom was jealous by nature, apparently all her life.

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4 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 4 March 1943

Letter Date – 3 March 1943

Text:

My dearest wife,

Hello sweetheart.  Here it is night again and time to write.  I just got in from the drill and parade ground so I’m sort of tired.  It rained this forenoon so we didn’t have to work.  That was real nice.  Tomorrow we are going to pass in review before the Colonel and all the officers of the post.  I hope we go through it all right.  I will let you know in tomorrow’s letter.  By the way, I haven’t got a letter from you yet.  What’s the matter with you?  Maybe the mail has not got here yet.  I hope it comes  through tomorrow.  I guess it takes about four or five days to go one way so I am hoping for one tomorrow or Friday.  Please write one every day, won’t you?  Last night we got our first passes but I didn’t use mine.  I stayed in and took a shower and wash some of my clothes.  Most of the rest of the guys went out. A couple of them got drunk and busted a window in the hotel, so tonight they are scrubbing out the hotel lobby with brushes on their hands and knees.  Boy, do they look funny.  If you don’t believe I stayed in you can write to Billy Pick.  He will tell you I stayed in, and I really did stay in.  If you told Georgie Fuller my address – I mean the first one – you can tell him my second one.  Maybe someone will see it and write to me.  I mean my Aunt and Uncle – or I should say Bud Jensen’s folks.  I sure like to get mail down here.  It helps pass the time away.  I haven’t much time to pass away, but then every bit helps.  We just now had a mail call but I guess there was none for me.  You better sit right now and right about three letters to me.  Well, here’s hoping I get one from you tomorrow.  I will have to close now with love and kisses from Ralph.

PS – Say hi to your Dad and Mom for me.  I won’t write to them until I get one from you. Bye, now. RP

PPS – I can’t go out tonight as the whole hotel has to stay in on account of those two guys that got drunk. Love, Ralph

Notes: Never heard the name George Fuller before this. Perhaps someone can fill me in on who he was. “Bud” Jensen was Elmer Jensen, my Dad’s first cousin, and also a slightly more distant cousin as well. He was in the Navy. Bud’s mother [Amelia (Peterson) Jensen] was the younger sister of my Dad’s Dad. Bud’s father [Morton Niels Jensen] was my Dad’s first cousin once removed on my Dad’s maternal side. Don’t for a second believe this sort of thing is restricted to the south. It is a phenomena in all of small town and rural America. As an aside, I met my great Aunt Amelia (Peterson) Jensen once in the summer of 1982. We went up and were staying on Hills Lake. My cousin Stella (Laursen) Adams was also visiting from Colorado. Everyone came out one night to the house where we were staying on the lake, and Stella brought Aunt Amelia with her. Amelia was 86 by that time, and she was a little shaky. When it was time for everyone to leave they asked me to walk Aunt Amelia up the hill to the car. The rest lagged behind to chat. The “Minnesota Good-bye” has nothing on the Wisconsin version, so I was alone as I took this poor old gal into the dark woods, she frail and fragile, me a 22 year old cross between Grizzly Adams and Charles Manson. She was scared to death of me.

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5 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 5 March 1943

Letter Date – 4 March 1943

Text:

Dearest wife,

Hello sweetheart. Here I am writing to you again. That’s one thing I won’t forget to do. I didn’t get a letter from you yet today but I am hoping for one tomorrow or the next day. There is a night mail coming about eight and I only hope that there is a letter in that bunch for me, but I won’t start worrying until Saturday and then I will start to wonder what’s wrong.  But I bet you I will get one tomorrow.  Well, today I had one hell of a day.  We started drilling this morning and drilled all day.  When we got up this morning it was only 40 degrees above but by two it was only about 85 degrees above.  Then, after a bunch of drilling of close-order and more drilling we took physical exercises for about two hours. Then to top all that off I had to run the obstacle course.  Boy am I tired out.  My pal from Coloma got a letter from his wife today and so he is writing one back right beside me.  He sure feels good about getting a letter from his wife, but nothing is going to top my joy when I get my letter from you.  I think I will frame that first letter from you.  Sweetheart you don’t know how I miss you.  When I go to bed at night all I do is dream of snuggling up to you like we used to do and going to sleep in each other’s arms.  When I get my first furlough I think I might make up for lost time and sleep a couple of days and nights right in a row and I know you feel the same about me don’t you? I know you miss me as much as I miss you.  The Colonel wasn’t around today so we didn’t have to parade in front of him.  I was so tired that I couldn’t have marched a step anyway.  By the way, our song for our squadron is “On Wisconsin.”  At least it is that most of the time. The other song we sing is the Army Air Corps song.  They are both swell marching songs.  How is everybody up that way?  All your aunts and uncles?  Tell them hello for me and also tell them to write to me.  I know I can find time for anybody that writes to me.  Well, I will have to close as I have to write to my brother Clarence and my stepmother.  That’s all for now until tomorrow night. Bye, sweetheart.  Love and kisses from your soldier husband Ralph.

Notes:

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3 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 3 March 1943

Letter Date – 2 March 1943

Text:

Dearest darling wife,

Hiya beautiful. How are you feeling?  I hope you are swell. I feel good.  There are quite a few sick down here with colds.  I had a cold when I come down here but I feel good now. Well, I got my first basic training today.  I mean the first real drill I have ever had.  I marched about six hours today so I’m sort of tired, but not too tired to write to my wife. That day will never come.  We are supposed to drill for three days steady and then we take our first one in front of the commanding officer of the post.  If we pass that all we do is turn around and march and drill for the next three weeks. That sounds like quite a long time down here but I guess it will go faster after I get some letters from you.  Then after that we will get sent to some radio school in the United States for our 20 weeks training. There is a slim chance I will get sent up to the University of Wisconsin at Madison for my training,  but that is so slim I don’t like to think of it.  Boy that would be swell if I could get up there, wouldn’t it?  The Sergeant just told us we would get all of our basic training here instead of moving into tents for part of it, and that’s what I call swell, too.  We got everything here – radios, musical instruments, and showers and bathtubs.  Everything is real classy.  We even have a nice dresser with a big mirror on it in my room.  When we was out doing physical exercises today Bill Pick kind of monkeyed around when he wasn’t supposed to, so they made him stand at attention in front of about 500 of us for about two hours.  He felt kind of cheap about it.  I also run the obstacle course today for the first time.  This is about a half-mile around with 20 foot walls and a lot of smaller ones,  tunnels to crawl through,  wide creeks to jump,  and a bunch of ropes to swing across a deep ditch with.  The hard part of it was in that we had to run all the way and it was all washed sand about ten inches deep.  I was pretty well tired out at the end.  A bunch of them didn’t make it and one of them fainted.  It was funny  some more of them didn’t, as it was about 90 degrees in the sun.  I’ll bet you wish you had some of that heat up there.  I got a letter from Clarence today.  He was glad to hear from me.  He sent me a letter my stepmother sent him telling him that she was living in or near Redgranite.  I also wrote Alvin about two days ago but no answer yet.  Well sweetheart, I guess I will have to close now as I am getting tired and have to go to bed.  Lots of love and kisses and pray every night that I will get sent to Wisconsin.

By your Ralph

Notes: Clarence was Clarence Henry Peterson, my Dad’s oldest brother. Pretty sure he was already in the Army by this point. Their Mom [Esther Serena (Hansen) Peterson] had died in 1930, scared to death by lightning [see newspaper clipping below]. Their Dad [Henry Peterson] had died less then a year before this letter, in 1942, leaving his second wife [Evangeline (Parsons) Peterson]. She is the stepmother who had moved to Redgranite with Dad’s younger siblings, Florian Frederick Peterson [later Scott Peterson] and Lorraine Peterson. Alvin was my Mom’s oldest brother Alvin Grant, who was also probably in the Army by this point.

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2 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 2 March 1943

Letter Date – 1 March 1943

Text:

My darling,

Night time again and time to write to my loved one.  No letters yet today and I’m getting kind of worried if you are going to write or not.  Still, it takes quite a while for the letter to go up there. Maybe you could have sent it up here with a carrier pigeon,  if you could catch one.  I suppose I will get one tomorrow.  At least I hope I will.  Well, I will start from this morning and tell you what I did.  Got up this morning at five this morning,  had chow, then I went up to the classification hall and got classified.  Now after three weeks more training here I will be sent to school for about 20 weeks.  When I graduate from there I will be a full-fledged radio technician,  whatever that is.  I know what it is though.  I will learn everything about radio – the repair and the running of them.  I guess that isn’t such a bad job.  I had my choice between that and a lineman.  I took radio, but my bunkmate from Coloma took  lineman, so when I go to school I guess we will part. But Marvin Roeske is going with me.  Billy Pick is training for a truck driver.  He will be sent to a different camp, too.  This afternoon we had physical [?] for about four hours. It was about 80 degrees above in the sun down here and two of the guys went under with the heat, but your little blonde Dane stood it all right.  I feel good now except that my back is getting sort of red all over. It’s starting for a nice tan.  There are six guys in my room and five of them are married.  Three of us are 19 and the other two are 20, so we all get along pretty good. All five of us were married last November so after the war we are going to get together with all of our wives and take a trip around the states.  The funny part of it is we are all from Wisconsin.  They are real swell fellows, too.  We all share pictures of our wives and my picture of you was noted to be the nicest looking.  I really think it is the sweetest girl in the world.  I guess three pages is all I can ever think of to write so I will close with love and kisses to my darling wife from Ralph.

PS – PLEASE WRITE EVERY DAY

Notes:

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Undated Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard [wwii postcard 03]

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – none

Postmark Date – none

Letter Date – none

Text:

This is the hotel I am staying in now. It’s a real nice hotel, bigger than the Beverly. I sleep way in the back in here. There is a big yard in the back right off my room.

Notes: Presumably this was sent along with the prior postcard of the Beverly Hotel.

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Undated – Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard [wwii postcard 02]

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – none

Postmark Date – none

Letter Date – none

Text:

This is the first hotel that I stayed at. It held about 400 men. The place where I took my sun bath his way in the back on the top floor. I slept on the first floor.

Notes: This postcard was enclosed in a letter rather than being mailed. It would have been one of the letters from late February 1943. The Beverly Hotel was originally known as the Hollenbeck Hotel, according to “St. Petersburg: The Sunshine City, by R. Wayne Ayers”. It was located at the corner of First Avenue and Second Street North.

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2 March 1943 – Postcard from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Postcard [wwii postcard 01]

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 2 March 1943

Letter Date – none

Text:

Dearest wife,

I guess this is just an afterthought, if that’s what you call it. I just got my letter mailed and we got a new address. I will write it in the upper corner of this card. I will still get the letters that are already on the way, but when you get this address, change it. Love from your husband Ralph.

Notes:

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1 March 1943 – Letter from Dad to Mom

Letter or Postcard – Letter

Sender – Ralph Peterson

Recipient – Phyllis Peterson

Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida

Postmark Date – 1 March 1943

Letter Date – 28 Feb 1943

Text:

My dearest wife,

Well it’s night again and here goes another letter. I really am tired now. I got physical exercise this morning and this afternoon. I listened to lectures for about four hours. Tomorrow I go to the classification hall and get my job picked out I am best suited for. I don’t quite know what it is yet but I am pretty sure it will be the Signal Corps in the Air Force. I am still living at the hotel but I will be moving in tents in about another week. I think the address will be the same. Even if it is different I will still get my mail if you do send it here. I will let you know if I do change camps. I just got a little information on my stay here. I guess I get my basic training here for about one month. Then I will be shipped to some place where I really start my training. It could be anywhere in the United States, but I hope it is in Chanute Field, Illinois. There is still a chance that I will be shipped there, but that chance is pretty small. I have only been down here about five days but already I am beginning to talk like a southerner. If you see Barney and Thelma tell them that Billy is talking more like a southerner then a southerner does. He talks more like a Negro than anything else. You know this is kind of hard writing when you don’t get no answer. I only hope your letter comes tomorrow. I don’t know what I will do if I don’t get one from you pretty quick. I miss you so much, one letter from you will raise my morale to the top.  I will have to close now as I want to send it with the night mail. Send about three letters in one day. Close with lots of love from your husband Ralph.

PS  – If Don and Marian [?] home yet send me their address. R.P.

Notes: Barney and Thelma were Barney and Thelma (Schruck) Pick. Thelma was my Mom’s first cousin. Don and Marian are Donald and Marian (Grant) Leigh. Marian was my Mom’s older sister.

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