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
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.