WWII Letter Excerpts - Robert A. Stumpf

These are taken from remnants of at least 300 letters which my mother saved. They were written by me from various locations in the U.S.   On hand as of FEBRUARY 4, 2005:

15. May 5, 1943 - Nashville Army Air Center (A.A.F.C.C.) Thompson Lane - Passed a physical and interview - lost 5 lbs. -weigh 145 lbs. We drilled a little today. We don't mind drilling as we do waiting. We wait to eat, take a shower, go to the toilet and even to get a drink, sometimes.

141.- Scott Field, Illinois - Nov.5, 1943 - at radio school - passed 16 wpm in codework.

142. - Sat. Nov. 6, 1943 - We just got done with Sat. morning inspection. I got through it O.K. - I wrote four letters last night in only two hours. That's pretty good for me. - It rained pretty hard this morning so we didn't have P.T. - I just got your swell letter with the brat's pictures. Boy, is she cute. I surely enjoyed your letters, Mom. I usually get one of yours when no others come through. - I'm going to see the show tonight to see Charles Laughton in "The Man From Down Under." I like his acting a lot. - I'm sorry Ken can't stand the army. I guess it is harder for a married guy. I don't mind it so much, though. I expected it to be worse than it is. Of course the gad-a-bout fellows don't like it at all. Ha! I'm the homely homey type. - I'll write again tomorrow if they don't work me too hard on my day off. Ha! - I hope you opened this letter right. [Fold-up envelope type letter.] - 88, Bob

152.- Nov. 21, 1943 - passed 18 wpm which is minimum to pass.

165.- Dec.12, 1943 - passed 20 wpm

169.- (Was a Christmas card.)

172.- Dec.24, 1943 (in hospital with flu)

173.- (Dec.25, 1943 - (in hospital.)

174.- Dec.26, 1943 - (In hospital.)

175.- Dec.28, 1943 (Out of hospital.)

176.- -Dec.29, 1943 - Medford, Ore. - Oakland, Calif. - brush fire

177.- Dec.31, 1943 - (New Year's Eve in St. Louis.)

178.- Sunday, Jan.2, 1944 - Dear Folks, Well, I'll try to reconstruct the last couple days activities. - On Thursday afternoon I went up to the theatre and heard Hal McIntre and his band. They came from a hotel in town. He has a very good gang. - After getting paid on Friday afternoon, I went into St. Louis with George Steiner in a car driven by a father of some fellow in the barracks, who lives in St.L. Us [sic-shame!] two went to the L.S.C. (Lutheran Service Center) to clean up and eat chow. It's all free. After wasting some time playing pingpong, we got the Cherokee bus and went to a dance floor called the Casa Loma. We decided not to go dancing when we saw the sign - $3.50 a person. Well, I thought there should be some dances at Moose or Elk Clubs in the vicinity so we asked a cop where there might be something going on. He took us all over his beat, about 10 blocks, and every place he showed us was either private or $7.50 a head. We finally gave up and went back down town. It was about 10:15 so we went bowling. It was the ten pins and I had never tried them before. The ball is a lot bigger than in duck pins which the League used to play. Anyway, I had the usual beginner's luck and bowled my highest score of all time which was 115. Of course, the second game I went down to my usual 70. I won't tell you Steiner's score as it would sort of degrade the looks of mine. About 11:30 we decided to just stand on the busiest corner in town and watch the people go crazy. Everyone had horns and crazy hats and were really making noise. We stood there just taking it all in and we felt all in about 12:10, having been up since 4:00 AM, and we went to get a bowl of chili to warm us up. After that, we got on a street car and went out to "Tent City." This is a government project providing sleeping quarters for soldiers on pass. It's sort of an army camp in itself. There's a whole block of wooden tents which sleep six men each. They look like this-[Drawing of a pyramid tent with 6 bunks and a heater]You go to the office and sign your name, rank and station and they give you a slip with the tent number. You get two blankets, pillow, a clean sheet and clean pillow case. All this is free of charge. You can buy a bath towel and soap for 10 and a face towel and soap for 5. You can sleep all day. After you are through sleeping, you hand in your bedding, of course. There is a nice PX where you can eat breakfast which we did about 10:30 on Sat. Pancakes, to be exact. We were standing, waiting for a street car when a preacher of some sort (had a white collar) stopped and said he'd take us into the USO which we accepted. He said he was in the last war. At the USO we cleaned up and looked the place over. It is really a big place. - After there, we went to the LSC again where we found the nap room crowded with sleeping GIs. One was sleeping right on the floor. Ha! It was about 12 noon then and George had a date with a nurse at the Luth. Hospital at 1:00. After he left, I went to a show. (Deanna Durbin). After that, I was walking down a street when an old man with old clothes asked me if I'd buy him a sandwich or something as he hadn't eaten in 2 days. I remember you never gave a guy money but never refused him food, so I bought him a lunch. About 4 o'clock I ate in the bus station and then got in the block-long line waiting for the bus to Belleville. I got in Belleville about 5:30 and met Syl and his new wife. She seemed like a good kid. I stopped in at the LSC in Belleville waiting for the long Scott bus line to dwindle down a little. I finally got back to Scott at 8:00 and hit the sack about 10:00 after a nice hot shower for a change. - I raised my code speed on Friday to 22 words per minute. I was out in the monitor shacks today taking code while you were at church. Speaking of church, I was the only one at the service this afternoon so Chaplain Burns just sat and discussed the sermon he was going to preach. - Reveille is at 9:45 AM tomorrow as we go on the 3rd. shift this week. We go to school tomorrow night at 7:00 PM and finish at 1:20 AM. - There was a bunch of guys shipped out today for no reason at all. They hadn't washed out or anything. Stommel was on it but was removed for some reason. His wife would have gone nuts if he had shipped right now. - Well, there's the komunickay for today. Excuse all mistakes, please. - Love, Bob

180.-Sunday morning - January 9, 1944 - Dear Folks, - Well, here I be one year older. This is the first time that I really do feel different. I have gained a good deal of confidence and wisdom in the past nine months. I can think quicker and better. I can fly a plane, fix and tune a radio, fire different guns, take orders, give orders, jump off a ship and keep afloat, and know a little about first aid. And I'm not done learning either. Ha! I just write what I'm thinkin', then shoot the breeze. Don't mind me. - I was into Belleville yesterday to celebrate. I had a big juicy Porterhouse steak with apple pie, milk, and a sliced peach sundae. Mmmm. - Before I forget, I want to thank you all very much for the underwear and the delicious cookies. The cookies weren't broken at all which was odd. Ha! - Well, after my lunch, I went to see "The Sky's the Limit" with Fred Astaire and Joan Leslie. It was a good picture. They can really dance together. - I did a little shopping in the 5&10. I got some brown ink, a lock for my foot locker and some khaki darning cotton to fix the holes in my socks. Ha! Don't worry, Mom, I know how to do it. You criss-cross like this. [Drawing] Ha! - I did intend to go back to camp about six but I said what the heck. I might as well go dancing to celebrate. I visited the LSC to wait for the USO dance at 8:30. Had some coffee and cookies there. - I went to the dance but the hall was cold and it took me an hour to get warmed up so I could move. The GSO girls from Collinsville were there. I don't know what GSO stands for. I asked one girl for a dance at 9:45 and we danced straight thru till 12 midnight without a break. That's the first one that ever danced the legs off me. Ha! She was an office girl in a dress wholesale company and she said she had worked on orders from "Balters" in Braddock. I remember the name alright. - On my way to the bus I stopped in a grocery store that was still open and bought ten tangerines which I am now enjoying. It's small things like that which we miss in the army. - The chaplain called off the service for this afternoon and I hadn't seen the notice so today I missed church. - Enclosing some negatives. - 73, Bob - P.S.-I now part my hair when I can find it. (The part, I mean.) - P.S.-I got lots of birthday cards. Did some one put some one wise?

184.- Sunday, Jan.15, 1944 - Dear Quartet, (I forgot Nix [our dog]), - Just after mail call, and I got two letters from home. Cath sent one. I got the airplane book, Dad, and it looks pretty interesting. I'll read it in my "spare" time. I also received the operator's license and am enclosing it signed with remittance. - I haven't seen Ralph Gilliard yet and may not get around to it as he is in another area and I don't have time to get over there and back during the day. - Syl Stommel's wife is in Milwaukee, Mom. Don't you have enough people to worry about? Ha! - Thanks for George W's address. I'll have to write him soon. - I got into Belleville yesterday at noon. I wasn't very hungry, having gotten up at 10:15 so I just had a chocolate malt for lunch. I met a red-headed corporal from my old class who was in town to pick up a dress his wife had bought. I accompanied him into the dress shop as moral support. Ha! He had to be back at camp by 3 so I went to the show and saw "The Kansan" and Lum & Abner in "So This Is Washington." Pretty good. - After the show I went to another restaurant than the one I usually went to as it was closed. The people went on a trip to Michigan and then they are going to make Valentine candy. Well, at this other restaurant, which is just next door, I got a T-bone steak, shrimp cocktail and apple pie. Strictly class. - I did get my picture at the studio. It's not too bad. I'll send it to you soon. - I couldn't decide whether to go back to camp or go to the USO dance. You see, I had worn my rubber-soled GIs in instead of my leather jobs. Well, I went down to the USO and tried them out on the floor alone and they didn't stick too bad so I decided to stay. I'm glad I did now as I found a girl who could actually follow the Penna. style of rug-cutting. She was a school teacher of the sixth grade in East St. Louis. I learned new steps from her in exchange for the jitterbug steps I showed her. I certainly had to bring all my small powers of wit to bear in order to keep up with her. Ha! She went to college of course and taught all kinds of subjects. - After the dance, an instructor (GI) at the school here, and I went to a cookery and got a hamburger, glass of milk and apple pie a la mode. - My stomach filled, I was now ready to hit the sack so I hopped the bus to camp. - There are lots of times I want to buy you all presents but I feel that you all have all the junk you need so I forget it. Ha! I did see something at the PX that I'm going to buy and send for the whole family's use. That'l be in a month or so. - I went to church service in the day room this morning at 10:30 which is just at the time Dad is pounding the pulpit. There were a dozen or more out which is pretty good. I don't think they wasted their time. The chaplain's message consisted of letters of men in the service from his old college and also his seminary. They were all Christian men who had made good in the service. Many had the Purple Heart, Silver Stars, etc. Chaplain Burns then said that we should practice our religion, so that we can have the winning faith when we get to combat. - I was marked absent from reveille this morning so was called over to see Corporal Thompson. He asked me why I wasn't at reveille. I said I was. He said to get my Barracks lieutenant to come over to see him. It's just little things like that which irk me more than the big things. Ha! - I'm listening to "The Shadow" right now. It's the first time I've heard him in months. - I think three pages ought to hold you for a while. I want to try to write another letter before school. - More later. Love, Bob

191.- Jan.26, 1944 - passed 25 wpm, the fastest offered.

193.- Sunday Jan.30, 1944 - Dear Mom - I'm sending this to DuBois and it should get there with you. When you go a-traveling it just taxes my letter writing as I have to write home, too. I'm glad you can visit Grandma like that really. - I went into town yesterday in the afternoon after mail call. I'm glad I waited, as got five letters and your swell banana nut bread. It really hits the spot after school. Thanks a lot, Mom. - After I got into town, I walked around and shopped. All I bought was a tube of glue. Ha! I then went to a cowboy picture which was the only one I hadn't seen in town. I still find a little thrill in them. Ha! - After the movie, I had a supper of breaded veal steaks, potatoes, tapioca pudding, milk and apple pie. Earlier in the day I had had a banana split but I still did the dinner justice. - I went up to the USO and here they had a "Funs-a-poppin Party." At certain intervals, a soldier who came in the door was ushered right to the microphone where he was interviewed a little. After that he was given a prize such as a bowl of gold fish, a live chicken, a dead fish, a pound of coffee and a dozen rolls (toilet paper, Ha!), a kiss from a girl, etc. It was a lot of fun. After this, all the guys went into the dance floor and then all the girls came in, being ushered across a skirt-blower by two clowns. Boy, how they screamed. Ha! - Then the dancing began. At certain intervals, a football was thrown out in the crowd and the fellow who caught it would take his partner up on the stage. There, they were given crazy presents and toys. Two or three crazy-looking scrubwomen were always milling through the dancers bothering them purposely. Once, in the middle of the dance, a clown came out to the center of the floor and emptied a sack on the floor. Believe it or not, it was a live little pig. Ha! A prize was given to the girl who chased and caught it. It was really a very funny party and I had a good time. I only danced a couple times because I didn't want to break open the sore which is healing nicely on my foot. - After the dance, I went to a restaurant and had a cup of coffee (yes), a couple donuts and apple pie a la mode. - I went to church this morning but first had to sign out at the orderly room so that I wouldn't be marked absent from P.T. which is held about the same time. There was a new chaplain there who was pretty good. - I have to go to chow now and then off to school for another week. - Hope everyone is OK up on the hill. - Love, Bob

212.- Mar.2, 1944 - Dear Condenser Kate, - I think you got your French mixed a little. You wrote quote -"Ecriris avec un stylo, porte avec un occulum, J'aime le garcon qui ouvre cette!" My translation (and the French book's) is - Written with a pen, carried with a kiss, I like the boy who opens this. - Of course you meant to put in "ferme" in place of "porte." Right? - Friday Mar.3, 1944 - I just got back from graduation exercises. Very simple as noted in the program. Vendreyes and I went over together. He's from Queens, New York City. - Today was really our last day of school. I had to get a blood test and X-ray at the hospital this morning to complete the gunner's physical I took yesterday PM. I got back to school in time to hop the bus out to the field. I got my crystal for my transmitter and was assigned to No. 72 Piper cub. - (I really have to go to sleep now (10 AM) as we have K.P. tomorrow (2 AM) as our graduation present so I'll only have a couple hour's sleep. GN (goodnight, radio slang.) - It's 11 o'clock in the morning and I just woke up. Since I woke up so late I have to go to church tonight. I'll continue telling of the plane ride. - I found plane 12 and got into the little thing. The pilot, a sergeant, asked if I had been up before. I told him yes so I guess he didn't worry about me getting sick and ruining his upholstery. Ha! Anyway, we took off and then I got my little radio in operation. I tried to call up the ground station, but he wouldn't come in. I listened to the other fellows try to contact him but got no reply. We finally found that the ground was off frequency. We flew for two hours. After landing we handed in our crystals, went to camp on the bus, handed in our logs, then got some chow. - Thurs. night Vendryes and I went to the squadron dance in the 2nd, area gym. There were some French radio students who had washed out of cadets. I talked with a couple of them and it was very interesting. They had only been in the states about four months. One was from Tunisia and the other from Paris. I tried some Miss Stewart French on them and they understood me. Ha! I didn't dance hardly at all. There were too many GIs there. Each time I'd start dancing some guy would cut in. A very good soldier band made with the music and they had a singer who had a good voice. - I forgot to say that I took a gunner's physical in the afternoon. The next morning I had X-rays and blood test at 8:00 AM but got back in time to go flying at 9:20 AM. - As I said on the phone, I had KP yesterday. We got up at 2:00 AM, started work at 5:00 AM and finished up about 7:00 PM after which I took a cold shower, dressed up a little and went over to the 3rd. area service club with Vendryes as he was calling home also. In fact as we were washing pans (not our faces) he said he thought that he would call up that night. I said " I think I'll take a chance and give my folks a ring. About fifteen minutes later someone said I had a telegram over at the barracks, so I got it and it said to call. Ha! - As part of my KP, I passed out butter at the serving line. I suppose I passed out 20 or 30 pounds during the day. I just wanted to tell you about it. Ha! - It's about 2:00 PM now and I'm sitting on my sack waiting for some one to come upstairs and catch me here. I think I'm supposed to be at work call but I wanted to get the letter finished. I think about all they can do is put me on KP and I get that every other day anyway. Ha! - I can only spare you half the dough this time as I want to send Dad about the only thing he doesn't have. However, I'll send a radio patch that you can have. It goes the same place that the cadet patch is placed. As:[drawing showing patch 4" from bottom of right sleeve.] Well, I guess I've said enough for now. You mispelled [sic] "friend" in your last letter. Please tell Ray Kysel to take a short break and write me a note. Also give Rex a kick or two. Ha! Also Johnny Gazdacko. - CUL (see you later), 73, Bob - P.S. - Yes, they stopped giving us Pfc. and I'm still or yet a buck private. Ha!


next page