Letter or Postcard – Letter
Sender – Ralph Peterson
Recipient – Phyllis Peterson
Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida
Postmark Date – 16 March 1943
Letter Date – 15 March 1943
My dearest wife,
Well today I got two letters from you. I sure was glad to get them. I guess one of them was held over from Sunday, but I don’t care when I get them as long as I get one or two a day. I can’t figure out why you missed one day without getting a letter from me. I have been writing one and sometimes two or three a day, but maybe the mail got screwed up some way. Today was a awful hot day. I guess it was about 100 degrees in the sun. We had some more drills with the guns and then to top off all of that I had to be one of the riflemen to stand retreat tonight. There is about 100 men with rifles and about 200 without. We had to march around the parade grounds in front of a couple of colonels and about 300 civilians on the side. You see, every weekend they judge who is the best squadron on the field. Whoever wins they give them award and they hold this for a week. Then next week we have another award and again the best squadron wins it. Today we were judged to be the best on the field so we are on the way to the prize. I forgot to tell you how hot it was on the parade ground. This field is about twenty acres big and is all covered with tar. When the sun beats down on this it reflects back the heat something awful. When we was saluting the flag two guys just up and keeled over. The meat wagon came after them, or I should say ambulance. Then yesterday one of our guys went swimming in the Gulf all afternoon. He got up this morning, went to the toilet about six, and we found him there at seven. He was out colder than a light. When we peeled his shirt off his back it was one mass of blisters, all broken open. He was in such great pain that he couldn’t move without yelling. Of course the Sarge give us a lecture about getting sunburned. Talking about sergeants, I got a letter from one today – or I should say I got one from Alvin. It was about six pages. He is out on maneuvers with the infantry. He said that they ate out of their mess kits, shave in cold water, and sleep on the ground. He also said that there were a lot of wood ticks that kind of bothered him a little bit, but he got used to picking them out. Boy was I glad to get one from him. He said he got a nice letter from you and he was going home on a furlough the last of this month. I wish I could get home the same time as he did. So you are getting a bed ready for our baby. I wish I was there to help you. We could have a lot of fun fixing it up together. But I will be with you anyway, if not in person it will be in imagination. I also imagine you are beside me every night when I go to bed. That helps me go to sleep. I’m going to send some papers home along home with this letter. I will send them in separate letters as there is a lot of them. They are just some papers that I want you to save. They are my insurance, war bond, and allotment papers. Then you can see what I am paying out in this Army. You know I forgot when your birthday was so I put down October on it. I knew it was that or April but I forgot which one. Let me know which one it is. I think now it is April because I bought you that watch near that time. It don’t make no difference on the papers but I would like to know for sure. When our baby is born and you get the birth certificate you send that to me when I let you know. You will get $12 extra a month for our own little babe. It will all help out, so when I let you know you can send it to me. The reason this letter is so damn scribbly is that the lights are out and I am writing by the light of a candle. It’s kind of hard to do and I am getting sort of tired, so I will have to close and go to bed. Lots of love to the sweetest wife in the world from your soldier Ralph.
PS – Where did you pick up that Ralphie stuff? I like it though. RP
Notes: Of course this letter explains the documents I posted previously, along with the mistake Dad made with Mom’s birthday. Of course he couldn’t hide the mistake, but Dad was completely guileless anyway. I don’t think he could have lied if he wanted to. Still, a risky thing to say “I forgot your birthday.” I had to laugh at the juxtaposition of Dad writing that Alvin said, “there were a lot of wood ticks that kind of bothered him a little bit, but he got used to picking them out. Boy was I glad to get one from him.” I know what he meant, but I couldn’t help but think of Uncle Alvin mailing Dad a wood tick. As for calling Dad Ralphie, that never took hold. Most of my life Mom called him “Peter.” Less frequently she called him, “you shitheels,” or some variation thereof.