Letter or Postcard – Letter
Sender – Ralph Peterson
Recipient – Phyllis Peterson
Postmark Place – St. Petersburg, Florida
Postmark Date – 22 April 1943
Letter Date – 21 April 1943
My dearest wife and baby,
Here another day has gone by and nothing much happened. Not even a letter from you, but as I got two yesterday I wasn’t too disappointed. I am hoping for one tomorrow. Well I got up at three this morning and went on KP. I sort of figured on a hard day of it, but they must know what a guy has done in civilian life, as I was made assistant baker for the day. No mopping, scrubbing, or nothing. All I did all day was help a supposed-to-be-baker make some biscuits and pies. I knew more about it than he did, but between us we made some nice cherry pies. I guess I could go to school as a baker, but I don’t quite care for it. It was a nice day here today, and the sun went down without a cloud around it, so it will be a nice day tomorrow, I hope. I’m going to stay in tomorrow and take care of a detail of men just to see that they clean up. I will be in charge of this, I think, until I get shipped. It will be kind of a vacation for me. I don’t know when I will get shipped but I expect to be within a week or so. A couple of the guys in my room are trying to sing while I am writing this. They aren’t having much luck. They start and stop, and start laughing. They act as if they are crazy. I just found out that some of our flight got reclassified and are now in the anti-aircraft. They don’t get only four weeks school and then they are liable for overseas duty. I should write about three more letters but I am tired tonight and can’t think of much to write. It is now ten to nine and I have only ten minutes to finish this letter in. Let me know everything you and Bonny do, as I like to hear what you do. This is all for tonight, so I must close with all my love and kisses from Pappy.
PS – Tell Pappy and all hello and will write them later. Night, sweetheart. RP
Notes: This letter kind of breaks my heart a little bit. Dad had already worked a few years for his Uncle Charlie at his bakery in Wautoma. Unseen ahead of him was almost fifty years of work in a bakery. I know this, but when he says, “I guess I could go to school as a baker, but I don’t quite care for it,” he does not. For those who do not know it, baking is hard work, especially back in those days. It usually meant working six days a week and part of the seventh doing cleanup and prep. In our day the back was not air conditioned, which in Florida meant extremely hot work around ovens and fryers. All we had was a ceiling ventilation fan and some oscillating or box fans. We worked 50 weeks a year and took two weeks off in August. Dad was up and at work by one in the morning. It leaves little time for social life. You are tired every day, all year, year after year. I’m not half the man my Dad was but I speak from personal experience. I worked in the bakery for 26 years, the last 12 of those years doing very similar work as my Dad. Understand, baking is not coal mining, and the bakery was ultimately pretty good to my Dad and to our family, although nobody got rich doing it. He never complained, but I think if you were perceptive you understood that working half a century at this job would not have been Dad’s first choice. In a perfect world he would have had some outside job, like a Park Ranger. But a baker he was, and a baker he remained.