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
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
Co. B 2nd Sig Ing Rgt
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.