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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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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