The Letters: Fort Knox, Kentucky page 1 of 3

Basic Training: April 23--July 4, 1972

Fort Knox, Kentucky

Company C, 17th Bn, 5th Bde

1.  Mom

May 2, 1972

Dear John,

Well here I am--an hour after your call--writing to "my son, the soldier." It is always strange, writing to some one for the first time but especially mothers to sons. We are full of family gossip, not too up on sonly interests. Of course, this way, you may get to know more about your family's goings on now.

As I told you, we enjoyed your letter, all of us and I do hope you feel the urge to write often. I copied your address and Mike took it right down to John Perk. With the message for Cindy and Blackwell. Mrs. Neff called and I also gave it to her so you may even get a note from her.

She told me that Rob is refueling many ships in "Nam" harbor which makes her a little bit nervous. He probably won't make it home for Pam's wedding. We got Roxanne's invitation this week and Sherry Harrison is being married next month. Kind of clearing the eligible girls from the neighborhood.

Mary Lou is sitting here beside me doing her report on "pearls." I hope she sends you a letter or two. Some of those she wrote to Jim were gems. He still has one of them, I think.

Must go now. I'll talk to you again soon.

Love and prayers,

[5 comic strips enclosed, from Beetle Bailey]

2.  Mom

A large greeting card with a dog in a flowered hat on the front

[postmarked May 4, 1972]

"Missing You When you're not around"


A silly cover but the sentiments o.k. Besides, it is the last card of the box I bought from Keith Becker 100 years ago.

Any way, here are some stamps and maybe a chuckle or two--

Love, Mom

[enclosed Sunday comics from Peanuts, and Beetle Bailey]

4.  Dad

Friday 9:15 pm [May 5; postmarked May 6, 1972]

Dear John,

It is now a pleasant evening of a rather nice day. Your mother and I have recently returned from a very pleasant dinner at the Hillside Inn on Plymouth Rd., almost into Plymouth. We haven't been there for years and the place is nicer than ever and the food was delicious. I had fried shrimp stuffed with Baltimore Crab. We came home via Plymouth and we were surprised it is quite a lively town on a Friday night.

Tomorrow morning we are going to Monroe for Sister Ann Louis silver (25th) anniversary of becoming a nun. Mass is at 10 AM and a dinner at 12 noon. I believe there are 8 or 10 celebrating some major anniversary at this time.

We have a reduced household tonight. Jim's at work, Bill is out with friends, Mary Lou is out to her friend's house for a slumber party (coming back tomorrow afternoon), and Lynn has gone to Buffalo for the shower of Julie's sister. And of course John is in Kentucky. You probably won't appreciate the state for the first couple of months but it is like being a freshman in school, a rookie on a ball team, or a beginner at a job with a new company: everything is new; you are at the bottom of the totem pole but successful toleration and beneficial learning builds a veteran who can be proud he passed the test and can go on to greater accomplishments.

The ball game is on and Tigers are one run behind the Texas Rangers. Still in first place though. Do you get the latest sports news, or any news? How about newspapers?

I am enclosing clippings of the last ad I placed in the News which got 2 calls (it was a Sunday only ad). Also the one in the Observer which ran Wednesday. It will be also in the Saturday edition. I have been taking the car out for a spin around the neighborhood every day or two to keep the engine in shape. Not being used to it I am not sure it is in top shape or not. Oh, it runs ok except it seems hard to get smooth acceleration in the different gears and when decelerating in 2nd or 3rd gear it seems to whine rather loudly so as to discourage downshifting and using the engine to slow down. Is this normal for this combination? If we don't get any action this weekend I really don't know what to do. We could continue to advertise or else try an ad in the St. Norbert Messenger or leaving it in a busy place like downtown in the Edison lot, or a local gas station, or the Cherry Hill Plaza. Well, don't worry about it. You can't lose too much on it except a little more depreciation which shouldn't be much until maybe August. Mrs. Healy looked up the book and deducting $175 & $150 because of manual transmission and the manual steering, the average retail price for the car is $2025 and average wholesale $1625. I could hardly believe that so I think I'll take it to a dealer soon and see what they would offer, just to check this out. If we keep the car for a while I'll probably have to get either a cheap insurance policy or pay the State $35 for Uninsured Motorist Fund.

Incidentally I called the Secretary of State about you renewing your drivers license. Either wait until you get home and renew here (Monday through Friday) if you won't need it sooner, or else write

Michigan Department of State
Dept. of Driving Records
Lansing, Mich 48900

And request an application for a Drivers License. You give them the information about yourself (like on your license and your license number). You can get a renewal this way without a photo.

Guess I'll close now. We pray you are well yet and things go well.

With Love,

[ad in the Detroit News, April 30, 1972: MERC '71 Montego--4spd., 351 V-8, Ziebart, stereo, exc. Cond. Drafted. Must sell. LO 3-2745.

Ad in Observer, May 3, 1972: MERCURY, 1971, Cyclone, 4 speed, 351, 4 barrel, Ziebart, stereo, tach, excellent condition, must sell, drafted. LO 3-2745]

5.  Debbie Franklin

May 8

Hi John!

So how's the Army treatin' you? From your last letter it didn't sound like you were having that rough of a time but then you hadn't been thru Basic yet. That was some letter you wrote--wow, 7 pages It took me about a half hour to read it and then I had to go back and read it again 'cause I forgot what was written in the beginning.

Have you received many letters? I hope that by now your mom or someone has written to you cause then I won't feel so bad about the delay of writing you. But see it's like this--I got your letter on Thursday and Steve's prom was that nite so this is the 1st opportunity I've had to write and I should be doing homework so feel honored. Right now I'm in 5th hour Study Hall. This is the grossest class you can imagine. Its full of spastics. Their whole vocabulary exists of words relating to dope, sex, or rock music. YUK!

Things at this end aren't that bad but they could be better. Teachers are being gross by piling on the term papers. Right now I'd like to be out riding in the sun on my bike [a motorbike]. Oh guess what--this is bad news: the bike is out-of-order until we can order some parts.


I suppose by now you've just about given-up hope for receiving a letter from me--I'm sorry; but if you were here to realize what I've been up to, it might be easier for you to understand the delay. Besides having to get ready for 2 proms (one is tonite) I've been working on term papers, sewing, looking for a job, getting outside as much as I can--and just about everything else. So try to forgive me, okay? And I'll try to do better in the future.

Did you know our dog was sick? He has cancer spreading throughout his body and he doesn't have long to live. My mom is really upset about it and now we all have to be really nice to him!

Did you sell your car yet?

I've seen the ads around school. What are you going to do with the money?

Oh--I've haven't told you about Florida yet . . . it was great! The weather was good, so were the beaches, parties, and guys; I can't wait till I have the cash to go back.

Maybe I shouldn't ask you but here goes--how's Basic. Are you surviving well or just barely making it?

If you haven't guessed yet I'm in school now. Lately its been the only free time I've had. And I've got a test to study for now so I'll end this letter and hope I remember to mail this.


P.S. You said some of the guys had pictures of girls in their barracks--if I get some good ones back do you want one?

Be good!

P.S.   Are you starting to get mail from all your friends? I hope they write you--I know how nice it is to get some letters!

7.  Greg

May 8, 1972

Dear John:

Gave Sally your address instead of John Perk since I see her every day. She didn't say anything 'cept thanks when I gave it to her.

Coming sometime next week, exactly when I forget, is Cherry Hill's prom. Hopefully next year I will go.

Had a driver's ed. Meeting today for an hour. Mr. La Scola, my teacher said that we should be getting our permit by the second week in June. Probably before school is let out. Gotta drive this coming Thursday at 4:30. We'll go down Michigan toward Ypsi, and thru it too. This would be the fourth time out on the road driving. After Thursday there will be just three more driving times before it's all over. Unless you come home for awhile on leave before July, I will have my license before you see me.

You're lucky if you're getting good warm weather. Since Sunday and for a couple of days starting this week, we are in for cold, wet, and dreary weather. Nothing at all like summer.

Too bad you car isn't getting any buyers despite all the ads as well as an ad on the bulletin board at Cherry Hill. Bill said he wouldn't mind buying it if he had the cash.

Most of next week will be filled with tests. And they're not even the finals. We'll be taking tests on Monday thru Wednesday. On Friday, for the first 3 hours in the morning, there will be an Awards Assembly. We'll have 4th hour and the remaining 2 hours we'll be watching the Senior Swingout.

Other than that, nothing much has been happening. No dances for a couple of weeks and there's only about 3-4 weeks left.

Take care, man

P.S. Mary Beth White asked me about you--when you were going in. I know you don't want her to know your address, so I won't give it to her. 

8.  Sally Truss


Hi John,

Wow its great to hear from you!! I've never gotten such a long letter in all my life. By the way I love long letters. Hope you can read my letters, I write really bad, and I also can't spell very good. Just thought I'd let you know. And one thing more. I can't seem to write long letters either. And I'll try to tell you everything that's going on (happening)!!

Macko and I are getting along just great. Gary didn't get his car yet. And he's dating that girl Karen. Do you know which one I am talking about? No, John's not selling his car.

We still have parties here. But they're not the same. You know what I mean? Its not the same rapping to anyone else. At the party Sat (5-6-72) there was this girl there when bent over her butt showed this much--------------------it made me sick. I couldn't eat any brownies..

Yes, I'll tell stone-face hi and I'll give her your address. She hasn't changed one bit. She's going to the Prom, its Fri. (5-12-72) . . . I'm not. I'm a Soph. And you have to be a Jr. or Sr. to ask someone. Well, there's always next year.

So tell me about the guys in your platoon!! I'm still a flirt. Same as always.

Your brother gave me your address. I didn't think you were going to write. If I didn't get a letter from you today I was going to write you a dirty letter. And I mean it.

Did you take that helmet with you? [At my going-away party my friends gave me an Army Surplus helmet and everyone signed it!]

And just what did you have in mind when you said you haven't found anyone who has got what you like? Come on, you can tell me!! It has been said around here that you're probably high all the time. But I know its not true.

So now you know how it feels to do so-called Physical Training under force. Such as Stone-Face. Ha-Ha.

Well John, I didn't have anything else to say but be good--and don't get caught next time. OK.

As Always,

PS I loved to see you in short hair. Ha-Ha.

Joe Mitcheal (I dodn't know how to spell it.) Well any ways he got in an accident. He was smoken and he passed out at the wheel. And he hit the gas [this last page ends abruptly]

9.  Dad

Tues. 5-9-72

Dear John,

I am sitting in the living room watching the Tiger-Chicago baseball game on TV. A little while ago Mother and I went over to Grampa's house. She wanted a ride and I thought I'd see about his lawn needs. It's a mess. It's weedy and needs lawn food. Maybe Greg and I will go over some weekend (Saturday) and fix it up. Since Greg is currently unemployed he might welcome an odd job. Its pretty chilly the last day or 2. Might have a frost tonight; going down to the mid 30's. Grampa has another ('64) Cadillac Fleetwood parked in his yard. My Uncle Marc left it there for a friend, to see if Grampa wants to buy it. Wants $500 and has 62,000 or so miles. Grampa had his friend at a Cad. Dealership check it out and he said it is a good buy. He would have to put maybe $150 into it repairing the air-cond. Etc. but it looks in good shape for an 8 year old car. He hasn't bought a new car since the 1934 Chevrolet which I remember seeing the first time on a rainy Saturday. Funny how isolated incidents stick in your memory.

Speaking of cars, only had one call on the Mercury from the 2 ads in the Observer, and he didn't even ask our address. I got another sign, one on each side now and 1 in the rear window. I am getting on to the shifting now with the practice in taking it out every day or two. I'm thinking of getting a 6 month policy from my Farmers agent. He quoted a basic for about $47 + $12 if I want Fire & Theft. How do you feel about the car? I mean, if you were in the position to take over the car when you get out in 2 years, that is if it were still here and in good shape, do you think you would like to have it again? Forget about money for the moment. If you still like the car as you did the past year perhaps we could work something out to split the remaining cost and keep the car. Let me know what you think--if there are any possibilities along this line. It's a shame to take such a beating on that 1st year depreciation.

As I wrote the page number it reminded me to suggest that you number your pages too. Since your letters are read by so many in this house the sheets are apt to get mixed up so page numbers would help keep them in sequence. Your letters are very welcome and interesting. We appreciate hearing from you and even minor happenings help fill in a picture for us. To tell you the truth I was surprised because Jim didn't write much and didn't give us many of the details.

You certainly are having some training. Sounds like the Marines but at that it probably isn't as bad as they get. I guess your only consolation is that millions of other guys went through it and after the first few weeks it will probably never be as bad again, at least if you stay out of combat which is really what they are toughening you up for. I just hope and pray that this latest strategy Nixon sprung on the N. Vietnamese will do the trick of bringing the war to a swift ending. My first reaction is that he has done the right thing. Now more than ever before the communists have taken unforgivable invasion on another people, just like Hitler did on Poland 30 odd years ago.

When you work @ the Mess Hall do you get to help yourself to snacks like fruit or ice cream? What are you getting to eat? Do you get potatoes, pancakes, sausage, etc. for breakfast?

You said you got your first allergy shot. When do you get another? There is no problem in having to keep it in refrigeration, is there?

We are thinking about the Open House you folks are having May 27. Maybe we can swing it. We would like to, although we can't be sure just yet. Is there much chance we would not be able to see and be with you that day? Do you know if there are motels right near the base? I suppose there would be.

Well, I'll close for now. Tigers lead 2-0.


To check delivery this is to be mailed early Wed. morning. When did you get it?

10.  Mom

Tues, Aft.

May 9

Dear John,

By now the mail must be coming pretty steady. It has been almost a week since your letter of May 4. Hope your "so-oo-o sore muscles" are getting conditioned very fast. Bet you've discovered some you didn't even know you had! That screaming before meals must let off a lot of steam and perhaps untangle some knots of frustration in more than one soldier's tummy. Don't you think that kind of conditioned reflexes make for fast reactions--a life saving technique sometimes?

I know that Lynn and Greg have written to you so that you know about her trip to Buffalo and her birthday. Everyone reads your letters so she did get your birthday greetings. Greg gave Sally your address yesterday since he sees her every day.

John Neph came looking for the platter the cake was on for your party. He evidently lost it somewhere.

Roxanne's invitation to her wedding on the 19th of May came so I went out to Hudson's and bought them a white blanket. Didn't get a wedding invitation from Nephs yet. One of Roxie's friends came over and tore up their front yard with his car last weekend. What a mess. Mrs. C. was so mad she reported it to the police. You can imagine how she felt--she is out there now still trying to repair the damage. When ever this fellow gets mad at some one he uses his car to get even. I guess this wasn't the 1st time.

Your dad told you about our going down to Monroe last Saturday for sister's 25th party? It was a gorgeous, 89 degree day--the last one we had, too.

We would love to get down for the weekend of the 27th but it is still uncertain. I certainly would like to see and hear everything. Your Uncle Bill Dillon was down at the Monastery, Gesthemeni, and said that they could hear the firing noises from your camp during their retreat.

What was the reaction around the camp after Nixon's speech last night? Anyone getting nervous?

Please keep all your cards and letters coming. We do enjoy them. Keep cool and well and safe.

Love, Mother

Couldn't close without telling you-

Haven't heard much about Philip but Tara finally told Chuck and left him standing in the middle of the lilac bushes with his mouth open.

[Beetle Bailey and Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]

11.  Debbie Franklin


May 18

Hi Sweetheart, (This means you!)

How's your body? Great, I hope. I hope the Army hasn't been abusing you by making you do strenuous work and exercise.

It's 8:30 in the morning and I'm in American Culture--the teacher, Mr. Masse (remember him) is giving notes on the causes of the Civil War. Big deal, huh?

So tell me, how's the food? Not like home cooking, I bet. It seems we never realize how much we cherish our home, family and friends till we are gone. I suppose by now you've found that out. By the way--have you talked to your parents since you left? If there are any messages for them let me know and I'll get it to them.

Is there any word on selling your car yet? If you don't get an offer or buyer soon are you gonna lower the price? Where is your car now? Do you let your brothers and family drive it?

Right now I'm in Chemistry and it's 12:00. I just found out that tomorrow 1, 2, 3 hours we have awards assembly and then in the afternoon we have swingout so why come for that & 4th hour? I'm just gonna stay home and sit out in the sun and then I might come in to see the seniors cut down everyone at the Swingout! Some real sweats are in for a surprise.

Today it's supposed to get around 83 degrees and is it ever miserable. Tomorrow and the weekend it's supposed to be in the 90's.

Oh, I almost forgot, yesterday I went golfing for the 1st time! Incredible . . . I made the biggest divots and had the most wiffs. Quite an experience!

Disaster---one of my friends just came and told me someone had ripped-off his bike (motorcycle). Could you imagine--getting a custom 450cc stolen from you. Bummer! Ours still isn't fixed so I'm shut down and does it ever bum me out!

What type of things do you have to do? Clean out the johns, k.p., guard, what else is there? Can you have radios or anything like that in your barracks? Is your sergeant really mean? (I asked a lot of questions, don't I; but then if I don't I won't know 'cause I've never been in the Army . . . . did you know that?)

Do you know anyone else on base? There I go again, sorry . . . .

Now it's Saturday. It's about 80 degrees outside. I washed the Capri and now I'm inside watching the Tiger game. They're losing, 2-1 in the 4th inning. There's not much more news so I'll get this in the mail. Be careful!

"Deborah Gay"

Did you get my other letters yet?

12.  Mary Lou

May 11, 1972, Thursday

Dear John:

Please send me some patches to sew on jackets. If you can't that's o.k.

Today coming home from school, Mom was locked outside. She was going to the store. When she found out she left the keys in the house. She had to wait from 1:30 to about 3:05. I had to go get Greg for his key.

I sent for some info on Apollo 13 and never got it. I sent for it 2 Mondays ago. That was May 1. I hope it comes soon.

Nothin' to do around here as usual. It's 28 after 8. I've got to go to bed.

Mary Lou

13.  Greg

May 12, 1972

PVT. John J. Schneider
Co. C 17th BN 5th TNG BDE
Fort Knox, Kentucky 40121

Dear John:

I'm typing this letter in 5th hour typing class. Today's a free day so I decided to type a letter.

Man, I was about to go out toking tonight. A friend of mine goes to Inkster High and he can get any kind of drug he wants from Over there. He was going to try to get a nickel bag and I'd split it with him. We planned on going out in the park by ourselves and toke. With any other friends we wouldn't get as much to smoke. But he couldn't get the bag because of such short notice. Thursday he asked around. Friday (today) he's not going to school because all the whites who go are asking for it. It's the blacks' national holiday as he put it.

Sally told me that she got 9-1/2 pages from you. Wonder why we only got 7 pages at one time? I'm just kidding.

Tonight is the prom. All seniors are excused in the afternoon because of the preparations for the prom. They're going to the Rooster Tail.

In case you haven't heard, we might have a buyer for your car. Mrs. Healy told Mom she'd call her sometime last night about someone who might buy it. As far as I know Mrs. Healy never called. That's all the information I know. Mom told Mrs. Healy all about the car. She (Mom) doesn't know who the prospective buyer is.

Next hour (6th) I have a geometry test. I filled up 3 cheat sheet up with stuff I need to know. I gotta get at least a high B to still hope for a B for the quarter on my report card.

The next dance here is May 26 and the last one is June 2. Mike will get guest passes for Perk and Kiester.

Mom and Dad are going to use the money we'd spend on a vacation on fixing up the upstairs bathroom. What they're going to fix I don't know. Mom ordered new wallpaper for the downstairs bathroom.

That's all for now.

Your brother,

14.  Dad

Sat evening [May 13; postmarked May 14, 1972]

Dear John,

The day started nice & sunny but now it is a drizzly, cool day end as we enter our after dinner evening. Not much but reruns on TV and no good movies to go see. So it is a good night to stay in anyway. Bill left for Gow's place in East Lansing I guess. Went with friends for the weekend. His car is still here so he got a ride for a change. Your car is still here too, but John Neph came over last evening to see what we wanted. He is very interested. As you know we have had little response in the papers and I was ready to accept $2000, or even as you said, take what you owe, which is a little less. Anyway I told John $2000. He said his parents said ok except his mother wants to try it so she might be able to take it in an emergency. I don't know if she was serious or not, that's what John said. Anyway, he went to the St. N. Credit Union and got the forms for a loan. And that's where it stands now. We shall see what happens this week. If they give him the loan with his dad as cosigner it is a good bet it will be sold.

I took it for a little spin the other day over to Stu Evens used car lot. I asked the man if he would like to buy a good used car. He said they are not buying now. He indicated a 4 speed is hard to get rid of. Says the kids can't afford the $600 to $1000 insurance, although I told him it only had the 351. I asked him what its worth anyway, to them, and he said about $1400. Well, I had heard they (dealers) offer a below wholesale price for cars anyway. I told him what you have been asking and he suggested asking $1900. Well, as I said before, I hate to see you get less than $2000. That's a big enough loss as it is--more than a lease car would have cost. But you couldn't have known you would have to let it go so soon.

Mickey Lolich won his 7th game today against Kansas City. Was on TV. Our place is so pretty now with the tulips all in bloom out front and the crab apple about to blossom--this week. I spent a few hours this afternoon replacing the wall paper on one wall in our bathroom for your mother. She had picked out a plain off-white with faint random lines in it. I still have to lick the leak from the floor in the upstairs bath that keeps loosening the paint on our bathroom ceiling below. I would like to get a tile floor up there, ceramic tile, that is.

This has been your first week in actual basic training I believe. I guess they must keep you real busy. Do they treat you any differently now than from the first couple weeks when you had less to do? Well, you are 1/3 the way through basic and well on the way to being a regular veteran. I do hope and pray they assign you to some type of job that you might like and that will make your stay fairly acceptable.

Your mother may mention this but if not, do you know of anything now that you would like to receive for your birthday? If it would be better we might wait till you're in your next assignment when you will probably have more freedom and more privileges. Anyway, let us know, ok?

We are thinking very seriously about coming down for the Open House on the 27th. We would like to see you very much, and also it would be interesting to see Ft. Knox. We would probably leave on Friday, get a motel, and then come out 1st thing Sat. AM, according to the schedule you sent. Then I suppose we would spend the whole day there, go back to the motel, and leave for home Sunday. We might even bring some of the kids along if we come. Would there be any disadvantages from your point of view or from what you know about the place, if we do?

If we do go we will miss Pam's wedding. It's on the 27th and they did get St. Norbert's Hall for the party. Roxanne Cloutier's wedding is Friday evening the 19th.

Well, John, I guess this is it for tonight. I pray daily for God to take care of you. He will, to, especially if YOU ask.

With Love,

15.  Debbie Franklin

May 15 [1972]



Hi, Army "Man" . . .you know by now that I'm not one for writing especially with all the things I have to do but I'm in school now with some spare time so I'll start a letter-no telling when I'll finish this. Today is Monday-blah! I hate Mondays! School is so gross but sometimes summer vacation is gross too.

The weekend was a bummer-Saturday a bunch of kids were supposed to go to the lake for the day but my group got lost on the way to Silver Lake and then from there to Cass Lake we got lost again. Then when we got there it rained so we all left. Bummer, huh? It rained all day yesterday too so I couldn't get out and do things.

Tuesday: Friday nite Steve and I went to Cherry Hill's Prom. It was at the Roostertail. Neither of us had a very good time though-we got there too late to sit with our friends, the refreshments were gone, the musicians were duds and didn't play any good jams and the dance floor was too small. Then we went out to eat but my steak wasn't how I like it. Also, at the prom a guy almost ruined my dress by spilling punch on it and I started crying. Oh well . . . I guess I'm used to dining at such places as Huck's; that was a great evening (agreed?). Thanks again!

This Friday is the Senior Swingout. I remember two years ago when you played at it. You (and another guy [Gary Starin]) played Scarborough Fair. Do you remember the first song we ever danced to? It was Scarborough fair. We've got a lot of good memories together, huh?

So, are you homesick yet? I guess you receive a lot of letters from home with that big family of yours. Don't worry though-I still intend to write you!!!!

What kind of rules do you have (about drinking, partying, rest and relaxation time, etc.)? If you have a camera or one of your buddies take some pictures of you and your barracks. Do they provide you stamps and stationary for letter writing? Why don't they have mail call on weekends? How long does it take for my letters to reach you? Be sure and let me know if you need anything like stamps, shaving cream, etc. Also, let me know when and where and the procedure for sending you things. Would you like some home made cookies or fudge? Anything you want, you've got . . . .

Guess what exciting thing I'm gonna do when I get home-cut the grass, wash my hair, do my never-ending homework, eat dinner, and anything else necessary to make my day. OK, also take a bath. (Speaking of grass, what happens if someone gets caught with it? You be careful, okay?)

How's the weather in Ft. Knox? The weather here has been damp and stuffy. It's not really too hot but as long as I'm stuck in school its better and more comfortable if it's cooler.

Almost lunchtime so I'll end for now. But I'll be back!

Love, Me

End of School Tuesday: Well, not much has happened between the time I wrote and now (I'm home) so I'll get this in the mail.

Love you, Take Care

16.  Mom

May 15, '72

Hi John,

It was good to hear you more chipper last night than you were in your last letter. I guess, though, that your letters will reflect the mood of a particular day.

Sorry about your distasteful details but if Army life was pleasant we would be at war all the time-come to think of it, we seem to have been at war forever, as it is.

Strange to hear you complain about the heat there. Our pretty days are so few and far between. Mary Lou and I have sore throats and rotten colds. We would love to bake in 80 degree heat.

John Reifle came over to see Lynn last night. He must have been feeling no pain when he left. He left his jacket in our living room. His family took Mrs. R for dinner at Marino's and he came here afterwards. I have no gory details, if any, from Lynn yet but I will!

Seven of us went to the "Clock" restaurant after Mass yesterday-a mother's day treat for lunch. Received an exotic orchid arrangement (flowers) from Lynn and the twins, Bill gave me a dozen carnations and Mary Lou made me a daisy card. So I was surrounded by lovely flowers. Just after we hung up John Neph came over. He wanted to put $10.00 down on your car. I guess his dad is going to co-sign for him so it sounds promising. I told him this was one used car he really knew about and how well it was taken care of. He agreed. Now if his loan is o.k.ed you will have your car sold. We are going to miss that wedding when we come down to see you but I don't care.

Hope you have thought of something you want or need for your birthday. I know-you mentioned the radio.

And for now-Love and prayers,

17.  Mary Lou

May 17

Dear John,

I just want to wish you a happy birthday because I don't have any money for a card.

We had a spelling bee today. I lost. You know what I went down on? Hibernate. I spelled it H-y-bee-r-n-a-t-e. We're having a spelling contest against another room. We're going to win though. We're having it Wednesday May 31. There are words like hypotenuse, coordinate, and congruent.

Today I was biting my sandwich and my tooth fell out! I had a cheese sandwich. It fell out because people don't close the cheese package tight enough. It was my baby tooth. I put it under my pillow so I can get some money.

I hope this letter arrives on your birthday. If it doesn't happy late birthday. Well gotta go now. Bye.

Mary Lou

18.  Mom

Birthday Card postmarked May 17, 19972

"For you, Son. . . with yesterday memories. . .today wishes. . .and always love. Happy Birthday!"

Mother and Dad

John, these "fancy" stamps are air-mail. These are the closest things to a Birthday gift I could get right now. Love, Mom

19.  Dad


Wed Nite [postmarked May 17, 1972]

Dear John:

It is almost 9:30 and has been a very busy evening. Mother has a cold so I took her to the store. I looked over and advised Bill in installing his cassette stereo in his car. He didn't get the kind that can be taken out easily so we found a hiding place above the other radio and behind a piece of metal on the dash that comes out. It's just slightly awkward to reach in this hole to operate it but it should protect it by hiding it while leaving it in the car.

Then John Neph came over for the serial number etc. for his loan. He expects to get the check Friday night (right after Roxann's wedding which had been called and then reinstated). So we should settle the whole deal right that night. He wanted to check the engine etc so we took it to Ford-Venoy Sunoco where John once worked and is run by a friend of the family. He had him put the scope on it and it checked out good. Just a couple points off on dwell, and a little rich on fuel. Also needs alignment of the front end I guess. Anyway that is something John will take care of after he turns over the $2000. Of course the loan will be paid off and the balance will be deposited in your account.

Sorry to hear the Guest House is all booked up. I don't know if we will get motel reservations or just wait and see what's available. Seems like there should be a lot of empty rooms between Louisville and Ft. Knox. Do a lot of soldiers leave the base on weekend passes and go to motels? Being a holiday I'll bet a lot of them will be off on pass.

Tigers are leading 3 to 1 over Baltimore after losing two in a row to the Birds. Lolich is trying for #7. (I told you wrong last time.)

I don't know who all will be coming down the 26th. Lynn probably won't. She talked to Julie tonight & he is coming down over the Holiday.

This weekend we might go to Greenfield Village for Old Time County Fair Time. And Sunday we might go to Monroe for St Mary Academy's annual fair. Guess I'll close now but I'll let you know the final details on the car this week end.


20.  Grampa Schneider

Thursday P.M. [May 18; postmarked May 19, 1972]

Dear John:

I wish to say a Holy and happy birthday to you, and the same would be said regardless of where you are. The experience you are now receiving is, of course, something that will serve you well, and though you may not think so at the present, still it is true, for the simple reason that any activity, providing it is good and worth while, always proves at some time in the future to be for the best. Of course, there are times when one can't quite see this, but none the less, it is, in my opinion, quite true; though no matter how difficult things might be, nevertheless, the making the best of the matter, will always prove quite helpful, and very worth while, all of which about brings me to the point of my letter, and of which I am going to speak about now, and that is your FAITH.

You have probably heard it said, that one's faith is a great help to one, in ever so many circumstances; and this, too is true; and the thing about the Faith that should appeal to you is simply because of the truth contained therein; and we do not realize how marvelous it is to have the one true Faith, and to belong to the one true Church; which is altogether too often taken for granted; but believe you me, there are ever so many people who can tell you this is the truth; and the opinion is expressed from experience, and again, because they have found out they are dealing with the truth; and this is something that one should appreciate; and realize how wonderful to have our Faith and all that means. I know it is difficult to understand this, and especially, when one is still young, but believe you me, there is nothing, absolutely nothing like one's Faith, and when it happens to be the one True Faith, this is truly the pearl of great price; and it is simply not possible to tell you just what it can and will mean to a person, providing one makes himself available to the inspirations thereof.

I am going to send you the Novena leaflet to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and I don't know whether you know how much devotion I have to her, but it is, suffice to say, something, and I place Her on the top of the list, next to the Heavenly Trinity; and it should not take too much wondering why this should be so; because when you get right down to cases, if the Mother of God is not the most powerful when it comes to intercession, I don't know my marbles; but the truth again is that as a matter of history, there has never yet been a case where one sought Her aid, and went unanswered. It is just not in the books not to be heard; and I am sure that if you would resolve to make the Novena to Her, and make one right after the other, you will understand what I mean; and I am sure there are ever so many things that you would like her help in, so make up your mind to do this; and first of all, She will probably make you strong, very strong in the practice of your faith. This is about it for now, So with the best wishes for everything,

As Ever,
The Old Maestro

[Included was a Holy Card, Official Novena Prayers In Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help]

22.  Uncle Bud

Birthday Card

[postmarked May 20, 1972]

"A Lion's Share of birthday Joy!
Hope these birthday wishes
Will have all come true for you
For then you'll have
enough glad days
For all the whole year through!


Uncle Bud

P.S. I didn't forget your birthday--just forgot to send this card earlier--so you'd get it on time.

Uncle Bud

P.P.S. Hope things aren't too bad--they'll get better as time goes on--also hope you don't have too much trouble cashing this check-B

24.  Dad

Sun. [May 21; postmarked May 22, 1972]

Dear John,

It is a hot & sunny day so far. It has been a full one. I was awake and sitting in the living room when Jim came home @ 5:45 AM. He came in and announced to Lynn who was sleeping that 2 wheels had been stolen off her car out front. I got dressed and sure enough the two on the park side were gone and the hubs resting on rocks. After hunting around later on for wheel nuts I put on her snow tires which had wheels of their own.

Fortunately your former car, the Cyclone was not here, having been sold to John Neph, or really his Mother (it's in her name), Friday night. So now you don't have that debt anymore. In fact after the last month's interest was added you get another $52 which we put in your account. Also you got a refund from the City of Detroit for overpayment of taxes. All in all you now have $943.83 in your account.

The Cloutier wedding was in the Church with no Mass. It was like a homemade ceremony. It lacked a lot, I thought. The party was nice but the band too loud. The egotist leader had to sing most all the songs so it was extra loud, especially during eating. We will be missing the Neph wedding @ St. Norbert Church and Social Hall. They are serving Cold Duck's.

We must remember to toast the happy couple this Saturday. Remind me won't you? We are looking forward to our visit. It seems that Ralph & Mrs. Reyes were there just a week or 2 ago visiting their son, I forget his name, on open house. Do you know him? Ralph works at the Credit Union in St. Norberts. That's not his regular job. It rained the whole weekend he said. They stayed at the Holiday Inn South @ Elizabethtown.

We got a lot of form letters and pamphlets from Ft. Knox and one said if the guest house is full they would help make reservations at a really nice place. I might make reservations myself at someplace like Elizabethtown. Or might take a chance on getting something after looking around. On the other hand, if you can make arrangements through the Visitor's Center to reserve say 2 rooms for a total of 6 people at some nice place right close by, and can let us know by Thursday night, well, go right ahead. Lynn won't be coming since Julie is coming Friday. I guess it will be just Mark, Mary Lou, and the twins accompanying us.

My writing is bad today because my control is off, after exerting my muscles switching tires around today.

I am enclosing the meal reservation in case you didn't make the one for us. Perhaps you can turn it in at the proper place. (6 + yourself)

Still don't know if we will be there longer than Saturday night. We will play it by ear I guess. Just hope it is dry down there.

Not much else now. Probably you get some repeat info anyway from others that write.

Heard that Robbie Neph hates it. Works down below as a Machinist Mate, fixing things that go wrong all the time. It is dirty and hot and this ruined his contact lens and he can't see. Either the glasses they gave him are no good or he can't get any. They are refueling ships off North Vietnam except when they go back to the Philippines for more fuel.

So long. See you soon

[Enclosed are various clippings from the Detroit Free Press, international news and Bob Talbert's column.]

Mary Lou

25.  Mary Lou

[This letter was written with a variety of marker colors. The "Dear" was red crayon, and the rest was in felt tip pen, every word colored different from the next as appears below. Some of the family are coming down to Kentucky to visit me at the end of Basic Training.]

May 22

Dear  John,

Hope   you   had   a   wonderful   birthday !   You will   probably   get   this  letter   the  day  before  we  see  you .   That  is  why  I   am  sending  it  today .   I  hope  we  have  a   good  time  there .   It  will  be  good  to  see  you   again .

How  is  your  poison  ivy  doing ?   My  teacher  had   it  once .

Mom  is  going  to  give  me  a  spelling   quiz  .   She  finished  before  dinner .   We  just  finished  dinner . We  had  stew ,   and  cake  for  dessert .   I  can't  think  of   anything  more  to  say .  Goodbye

Mary Lou

Mary Lou's colorful letter

26.  Mom

Hi John,

Man, this will be necessarily shorter than usual 'cause I am bushed! You know the feeling, I am sure. I said a prayer to St. Christopher to help you carry that heavy pack on your six mile hike. Did it work?

We just called and made reservations for 2 rooms in a Quality Motel about 20 miles away in Elizabethtown. So next Friday we will be pulling in, sometime between 3 and 6 p.m. All depending upon your good behavior, of course. It will be good to see you. I have the feeling that you are a little more relaxed about life now that the fear of the unknown is over. At least, this is my hope for you. Having this business of the car settled should also be added relief.

John Neph got the car none too soon. I am certainly glad that car wasn't parked out in front when those guys stole Lynn's wheels. They didn't touch Harrison's nor Hayes' "Triumph" but they might have stripped Bill's if it hadn't been parked in the back yard. Your dad bought one of those little alarms but doesn't know where to put it yet. With all that new equipment Bill has, he should have some part of protection on his car.

I guess Lynn's friend Julie is coming in next week end and that is one reason she won't be with us.

Well, I have to close now and fall into a hot tub--then into bed.

My love and prayers--especially for the cure of your "really big itch!"

[Beetle Bailey comics enclosed]

29.  Mike

[Birthday card, can't read postmark, 1972]

"Hi! Happy Birthday . . . and all that jazz! Many Happy Returns."

Happy birthday John! Sorry I haven't written but I couldn't find anything to say.

See you on the 27th.

30.  Dad

Tues. [May 30, postmarked May 31, 1972]

Dear John,

I am writing this on this slightly used paper to show you the place we stayed at (over). It was nice, really, and I think the kids got a kick out of their first stay in a motel. We arrived home at 12:30 your time, 11:30 our time. We were going to drive right into Louisville but the traffic was getting heavy and 31W had lots of lights close to town, so we took the 204 arch bypass to get over to 71 and Cincinnati bound. Had an uneventful trip home and ate at Sharonville, Northern suburb of Cinci. I am really glad we went down there. It means so much to see the surroundings you are living in and it is a relief, too, to see you looking so well and fit. So although it is probably a tough life it doesn't seem to be doing you any harm, physically or psychologically, and as they say, you will undoubtedly be better off for your experience. So, I am proud of you, that you can take what they dish out, and also that you are doing what so many before you have, preparing to defend your country and your people from the savages that run some of the countries in the world.

This might sound corny but it is as true now as it was for our ancestors who started up this country, and especially the ones who fought W. Wars 1 & 2 where there was no doubt we were doing the right thing. It's hard to believe that I was in your shoes 29 long years ago. Time flies when you look back on it, especially when you get older.

But I was in for 33 months and I know the time dragged on then, or seemed to. The point though, is that a couple years out of one's life is really short, in comparison, and we should really try and make the most of life as it comes along. I for one really know that it is difficult, because I continually find myself thinking ahead and not really enjoying or concentrating on the immediate moment. I try to correct this bad habit but habits are difficult to change, but recognizing the need for change is half the battle. I admit to the same trouble with my temper which too often causes me to yell or say something I wish I hadn't, or didn't mean. Well, at least we can try to correct our faults, (if we see and recognize them).

On the way home we stopped in Findlay Ohio to mail our films. That's where the Kodak processing is. So maybe we will get them back sooner. I still have a few feet on the last roll. I would like to make some titles with it. This is a busy week. St. Norbert's Festival is Fri. Sat, Sunday and I have a dozen people I have to get ticket collections from, after they have each collected from about a dozen people they are responsible for.

We are sure of school again next year but I'm afraid of after that. More people keep moving away from Inkster School District section of the Parish and financial support of the school is not up to par. The parish owes so much and expenses are so high I don't know if we will be able to afford a school after next year. The Loftus family moved to Dearborn two weeks ago and Sonnenborns and Weltis are ready to go, too, I guess.

I'll see if there is any newspaper clipping you might like. There isn't much news since we saw you. Hope you enjoyed the weekend 1/2 as much as we did. Reminds me of when my Mother came down to Gulfport, Miss. To see me, and my Dad came all the way out to Seattle on the train to be with me one Christmas.

Keep up the good progress, John, and be strong in mind and body. This old world needs all the good people it can get.


[Enclosed are Bob Talbert's column and the International news from the Free Press]

32.  Mom


May 30 [May 30 was a Tuesday, Wednesday was May 31. Postmarked May 31, 1972]

Hi John,

Look at that-the end of another month! How fast they go, unless, of course, if you are trying to push them by.

Our trip home was tiring for everyone. I figured with that extra trip to the Mammoth cave we had about 10 hours of driving. I saw an Army bus stopped by the side of the road in Kentucky and a bunch of civilian-dressed 20 year olds sitting on their luggage. It must have broken down.

Your dad and I were both so pleased with our visit. Hope it did you as much good as it did me. You know-that kind of grumpy look was gone and you seemed more like your own self. Not that I expected "Mary Sun-shine" but a more relaxed attitude about your life will make things easier for you. As a little guy, we always thought you were the best adjusted. Hope that you didn't lose that flexibility. Of course there will be rotten days when you wish you hadn't gotten out of bed. I just pray each morning for a good day for you.

After all that gorgeous hot weather down there it is back down into the 40's and 50's and rain here. Ugh!

Went to Hudson's this morning to buy Sherry Harrison's wedding gift. The last for a while I hope. Mary Lou bought a goldfish at Kresge's yesterday-named him/her "Sparkle." She was quite brave about the death of the other one. She buried it out in the back yard beside the baby bird that fell off our window. We have quite a ceremony out there.

Well I am going to run over to the Post Office with this so that you'll have it by Friday. Be good-Be careful and Be assured of our love and prayers.


[Enclosed 2 comics of Peanuts, Rerun is named, and 2 of Beetle Bailey]

33.  Debbie Franklin

May 31, 1972

Dear John,

I don't know how far I will get on this letter but it's time I write so I better get busy, right? I hope you are well and taking the army as easy as possible. I am doing just fine but I'll be doing better when I am out of school. This week I have exams and that will be rough but after that I will be able to enjoy three months of nothing but relaxation, you seem to get a lot of time to relax from the length of your letters. I couldn't believe it when I got that letter that took up two envelopes. They didn't come in the same day and so I read the first one and I knew it was from you but you didn't sign it and you ended in the middle of a paragraph which I thought was kind of weird, don't you? And then when I saw the "1" on the outside of the envelope I thought you were numbering all the letters that you are sending me or have sent me already but if you were doing that then you would have been wrong because I got one letter from you before this big one! Also, I have some questions: Can I abbreviate your address like you do, which is like this: C:17:5, or do I have to write it all out like I have been? Oh, well. . . .

Now to comment on all the things you wrote in your letter! Yessssssssss-I remember when you used to call me "SWEETHEART" and I called you "ANGEL" because that is what I thought you were and you still are in my opinion!!! So there. . . . You said you left your locker unlocked and the company commander saw it and you had to be on detail; was it just because you left it unlocked or was there something in there that wasn't supposed to be in there like booze? Sally Truss said you got in trouble for that or is she talking about another time that you didn't tell me about? Guess what (pause) as I went to the next paragraph I started reading about you getting caught with booze in your locker-I guess you did mention it but I must have forgot. (Sorry!)

As soon as I get some pictures of just me and not me and my dog or somebody I'll send some to you. The only ones of me I have now are of the prom and I'm sure that you don't want any of those so when I can find someone to take my picture I'll use up the ten pictures that are left in the camera.

Yesterday I went to bake you some cookies but then I figured that they wouldn't get to the base till Saturday and then they would sit and get stale by the time you had mail call on Monday so I'm going to try and remember to bake some next week and if not them because of exams then definitely the next week because I'll be all done with school!

Didn't it hurt you when you went through the gas chamber permanently or is the suffering just temporary? That would be icky. It reminds me of what we did in Chemistry today. WE produced esters (smells) that were supposed to smell like fruits and flowers but this one group did something wrong and it smelled really rank. Well they told me to smell it and so I did and now I think that I burned some of the tissues in my nose.

What is this about one of your buddy's girlfriend being pregnant his wife is expecting? He must be really dumb or so sexy that the girls just can't resist but I would bet it's the first one, anyone who would get themselves in that sort of a fix has got to have a problem of some kind! What is he going to do now or doesn't he know? That is really dumb; I can't get over it. What kind of guys do you hang around with anyways?

Page 2 (Only the beginning)

John you will never know how ashamed I am because I forgot your birthday--I felt so bad when I realized it that it was on my mind for a long time and I still haven't gotten over it but I hope that I can make it up to you in some other way. I really feel like an --- (censored). Will you promise not to be too mad and accept my best wishes now not only on your birthday but for the rest of your life/ I am really sorry and I don't think I'll ever forgive myself . . . .

Those pictures you had taken and sent to me were just great, in fact I couldn't believe that that guy was really you. Where is your hair. Your head looked like a balloon, no--, I'm only kidding but they did skin you pretty bad. If you haven't sent your mom any pictures yet and you would like her to see those just let me know and I will take them over to your house for her to see. Were those two guys with you buddies of yours? You said that one of the rules was that you had to wear your helmet whenever you were outside but in those pictures you didn't have yours on, how come?

Those rules about lining up your buttons with your fly is ridiculous but I suppose they figure that if they can't get you guys to do simple things like that then how will they ever get you to fight in a war!!

So you don't have any good music. I know how bogue that can be because right now I am driving the Capri without a radio and I really have a hard time without it. You would think that a radio would take my mind off my driving but it does just the opposite by keeping me alert to the things going on in the road ahead of me so I can see how you would miss it. It makes time go faster if you have something other than your breathing to listen to. When I was going through Kentucky on my way to Florida we listened to WKLO, I think. . . .I love "Oh, Girl" also, but I don't know the words very well and I have asked some of my friends if they could help me with the words but they don't know them either so if these aren't right then don't say I didn't try:

Oh girl, I'd be in trouble if you left me now
'Cause I don't know where to look for love, I just don't know how.
All of my friends call me a fool;
They say let the woman take care of you.
So I try to be hip and think like the crowd,
But even the crowd can't help me now.
Oh, girl, tell me what am I gonna do
_____________________________(I can't understand this line.)
Girl, I've gotta get away from here.
O, girl, pain will double if you leave me now
'Cause I don't know where to look for love and I
I don't, I don't know how . . . .

Well, it goes something like that but not exactly. If you want me to buy it for you so that you can have it to listen to in the rec hall, I'll get it for you.

I have just finished commenting on what was contained in the first part so wish me luck, here goes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's a little treat: swear words in code--

[this line was filled with multiple strikeovers--very funny!]

And this is the truth, BLAH!!!!!!!

Our weather in Michigan was or has been in the 80's lately but right after the Memorial weekend it turned cold and now the temp's are about 40 or 50 degrees. In fact I have to type this by the heater or else my typing fingers will freeze. Please excuse all the mistakes but when you are as uncoordinated as me it's a thrill to even eat with a spoon

Congratulations all of you guys in John's platoon for receiving the "honor award" plaque two weeks in a row. That is really proud to be a member of such a fine unit. YEAH YEAH DO IT AGAIN, DO IT AGAIN, WE LIKE IT, WE LIKE IT

If you don't mind spending your hard earned money on me then by all means call if you'd like but I can't guarantee I'll be home so if you think that you might be calling then why don't you write and let me know just when so I'll be sure to be here or close by. Okay? Okay! My number in case you have forgotten is (ta-ta-ta-da (Those are supposed to be trumpets.)) 55555 666666 22 333 1 999999999 999999999 or in other words 562-3199.

Aren't you glad I am typing you a letter instead of writing it so that I can put in all these little extras?

Yep--you're an old man now that you are twenty. Gosh, that's really weird to think that I liked a twenty year old once but then you weren't really twenty when we liked each other so that is different. In case you have lost track of time, you've been in there about 5 weeks. So how many does that mean you have left?

Did your parents come down to see you on Battalion Day? Did your platoon win anything?

We all feel really bad about our brother (Peppi). Your mom must have been upset about Dusty just as my mom is about Peppi. She cries all the time and he is getting weak and not as playful as he used to be.

Yes--I still have that note you wrote me on the huge sheet of paper. You know that I keep all of our souvenirs and that includes our notes. And I remember our first kiss. It was on my couch. And even better I remember my first hickey; it was on your couch! Boy, do I ever remember that scene in your dining room at Easter with your mom and relatives; ever since then I get nervous when I am in front of a guy's parents.

Three mile marches--how many months do they allow you for each mile? I bet a lot of muscles will ache after that little journey.

That is really a good idea for you to spend your spare time reading--I hate to read but it comes in handy and you can never read too much. In American Culture we've just finished reading the "Jungle." It wasn't a bad book but parts of it were so realistic that the end which was dull was a real disappointment.

I hope you are only a spectator to those boxing matches and not a participant because they sound really rough and I don't want you come away from there in bad shape but perfect shape so that we can go out when you come home, okay? I know Steve won't mind sharing me with you!! (And so what if he does?)

I have one more letter of yours to comment on but I'll save that until my next letter which I hope will be coming your way soon after this one so be on the lookout for it. Be good and try to stay out of trouble for me . . . .

Thinking of you often
And loving you all the time,
Deborah Gay Franklin, Girlfriend!

34.  Mrs. Neph

[Birthday card, postmarked June 4, 1972]

"It's just so neat . . . You being in the Service . . . I'd like to learn all about it!! Would you mind filling me in on a few things?

How deep is the Motor Pool?
How long is a Parade Rest?
Is the Orderly Room ever disorderly?
Is the Ammo Dump really a dump?
How many foxes per Fox Hole?
What is a Full Colonel full of?
How drab is Olive Drab?
Does M.P. stand for Mother Pig?
Is shingle really a gourmet dish?"

Here is the card I promised you--See I did write, Hope you are adjusting to the service. I know it is a different life but you are a big person and people like you are sure to make it. It was good to see you last weekend.

Had a tape from Jim & Pam. They seem quite happy. I miss her very much.

Heard from Rob. He is quite upset. One of his shipmates jumped overboard. Another 2 had nervous breakdowns. If you get a chance why don't you write and exchange gripes.

FN Robt. Neph B689337
USS Chipola (A.O63)
M Division
F.P.O. San Francisco, Cal 96601

Thinking of you,
The Nephs

36.  Mom

Tues. June 6

Dear John,

Just a short note so that you won't miss mail call on Thursday.

I deposited your $100 in the Credit Union yesterday--Brings you balance up to $1,471.43. Also, in packing your winter shirts away I found the small box with razor, etc. in it. Was that yours? Did you want it put away to use on your leave?

I got a call from Bill yesterday about 3:45 p.m. He just arrived in Daytona, Florida. Had a good trip. He drove 13 hours on his first day. The car ran perfectly, thank God, and he only spent $20.00 for gas which rather surprised him. If everything goes well, he will be back Sunday Night--probably at the very last minute. He works on Monday.

We didn't win any of the prizes at our Festival but that did not surprise me. The Parish made enough money to keep the school open at least one more year.

Sunday night your dad and Greg and myself went downtown to the Irish festival. I was a little disappointed--not enough Irish food on display but I did have some Irish coffee and Dad had some "Hard Lager." Must go now--Love,

37.  Dad

Friday [postmarked June 10, 1972]

Dear John,

Evening now and it's getting quite chilly out. Only 4 of us left here this evening. The twins are out, as is Lynn. Bill is still down South. We haven't heard from him since he called from Daytona. Time seems to go fast. School is out now and summer vacation and all that entails starts for the kids. At Edison the union's contract expires Monday night and there is strong chance of a strike. The membership votes on it Sunday. If there is a strike I have been assigned to go and work at the PennSalt Power Plant down at Jefferson near Pennsylvania Rd. We would be locked in, that is, we would have to stay inside rather than crossing the picket lines twice a day. We would work 12 hour shifts 7 days a week until the strike is over. I don't relish the idea of going there and I hope they don't strike. However it turns out, I expect we will be getting additional benefits and pay, eventually. Besides pay there are better insurance benefits they are discussing or offering, as well as an extra holiday, the day after Thanksgiving, and another week vacation a few years sooner than now; for instance 5 weeks after 25 years instead of 28 years like now. I will be there 25 years Nov. next year.

Well, what's new in your camp? Did your friend get the family car back in shape or maybe just sell it right there? If you can get out on a short pass now I suppose you will see some of the sights in your area. You should try and get to Louisville and see the city while you are there. Even a trip to Mammoth Cave would be interesting, I should think, if you can get the transportation. That probably is the problem, since none of your friends can have a car in Basic Training. I wonder if Greyhound goes down to the Park.

There isn't much new that has happened since you flew back Sunday so I'll close now and hunt up a few clippings you might enjoy.

With Love,

[Enclosed are 2 Bob Talbert's pages and article about Sydney E. Smith Jr. sinking in the St. Clair River]

38.  Cindy Callison



Say there. I got your letter today. I was really glad to hear from ya.

It sounds like you really love the army, it sounds like a lot of fun. I don't think I could take it.

I'm just sitting here all by myself, Debs out with Phil. There's not much happening lately, it's really kind of dead.

So how did you like the party Saturday night? I really got blasted. Then I got sick and then I crashed. (fun)

In your letter you asked about Spic, I thought you knew we broke up. The night of your party (7 weeks and 2 days ago). Oh well, enough of that subject.

I'm finally out of school for the summer, getting high every night (almost).

So do you miss everyone? I suppose you do. Every time there's a party it always feels like there's something missing cause you're not there. Remember the time at Mike's house the first time you smoked? I almost died laughing, it's far-out to see people really high. You looked pretty high out at Deb's house but then again I was a little bit high too.

So did you guys pass your inspection Monday? I hope so. When are you gonna make it home again, soon I hope, I'm always ready to party. I know you are too. Are you gonna make it home for Nels' party? That's pretty far away though. My brother enlisted in the Army too. He's leaving the same day Nels is, Sept 14. I hope it will do him some good. If that doesn't, nothing will. Right!! Perk just gave me your address the other day, but I think it's at home, and I don't go there much. But still write there O.K.?

I hope to hear from ya soon. Well there's not much more to say. Take it easy & be good (if ya can).

Write soon!!!


[The envelope was letterhead from Corden's Candy Carrousel.]

39.  Dad

Tues [June 13; postmarked June 13, 1972]

Dear John,

I am on lunch break at the office. We are working from day to day now, not knowing if or when a strike may be called. The union & the company agreed to extend the contract day by day while negotiations go on, daily we hope, until agreement is reached. Last time they did this and I believe it took about ten days, but they did not go out on strike. I hope they don't. I guess I told you I would go to PennSalt if the strike goes on. Locked in @ 12 hours of work per day.

It was nice to have you home last weekend. Considering you will be in service for up to 104 weeks, the number of weekends home will probably be quite few. I suppose the location of your future assignments will determine the number of visits in the future. I see by the Army ads in the paper they give a month off per year. I think, though, that if a person is busy the time goes fast and life is interesting whether at work or play. Even living at home with nothing to do gets very boring quite quickly.

This has been a cloudy and occasionally rainy 2 days since you left; cool too. They say it may stay this way the rest of the week. We got caught with our grass high. I need a little dry spell in order to cut it.

You undoubtedly will hear about the new family addition we got Sunday. A little white kitten we picked up while visiting the Shea family Sunday evening. Your mother brought it home for Mary Lou who loves it, because she lost her 2 gold fish. She is going to raise it as an outdoor cat, therefore it will be rarely let into the house. Ralph Shea says any cat can be so trained that it won't want to be indoors even in sub zero weather.

Well, when you get this you will have less than 3 weeks to go to graduation. Do you expect that the treatment will change considerably after that, or is AIT [Advanced Individual Training] also considered a rookie status. Well, hold out and do as well as possible. As I said, I am proud of you for doing so well. You are a good reflection of your family as well as an asset to your country.

There is one point I feel I should touch on. Since we didn't see you at Communion the last 2 Sundays I pray you will value spiritual strength such as the Sacraments will give when received in the right spirit as well as the physical build up you are obviously receiving. Nothing in this whole world means anything if a person is not at peace with God. So please don't loose touch. It means as much and is as necessary for young people as it is for older ones.

Next Monday your Mother and I celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. If I am not on strike duty we probably will go out for the evening, at least to a nice dinner. I have the week reserved for a vacation week although I doubt if I will take it, at least all of it. I could use a couple days just to work around the house. I don't get as much done after work anymore as I used to. I don't know how I ever got the back room built. Just kept after it until it was done, I guess.

Well, I'll close now. God bless you.

40.  Mom

Tues. [June 13, 1972, postmarked June 14, 1972]

Dear John,

Wait until you see our new family member! Sunday night your Dad and I went out to the Shea's house and when we left we had a white kitten with calico markings-very small and very active. The only reason I took it was because it is going to be an outside cat. She (or he, as the case may be) will stay in the garage. It likes to hide behind the flower pot and box of skates on the black table.

Mary Lou was delighted but she may be allergic to it and that would be a shame.

Greg started his job this morning. Mr. Apple picked him up about 8:15. Short vacation for Greg but he is anxious to start making some money.

Well, your dad and I are living with the sword of a strike hanging over our heads. The union called a strike but they are working while negotiating. I really hope and pray that your father doesn't have to work that dirty job at Penn Salt.

Well-must go now.


PS "Fathers Day"-June 18

[Enclosed: Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics.

41.  Sally Truss


Dear John,

Well, to answer all your questions, let me see. First, the girl that Neph is going out is his fourth cousin. I guess they have justed going out lately. She is very weird high or not.

Doesn't it feel weird to take a drive in your own car. When you used to keep it cleaner, I guess.

The other night, me, Macko, Perk, Nels, Neph were riding around in your old car. Oh I forgot Gary. Well anyways. Neph was telling us how good the car ran. Then Perk said "Funny, when Schneider had it you thought it was a dog." I laughed so hard I almost started crying. Every one was barking.

Good old "stone face." She told me that you told he that I called her stone face.

We finished, our last exam was the 7th and we went to pick them up the 9th.

Well don't work too hard.


P.S. W/B

42.  Dad

Friday Evening [postmarked June 19,1972]

Dear John,

You may have heard by now that the union called a strike on Edison and at 10:30 or so Wednesday nite I got a call from Joe Geisinger that they were walking out at Midnight and I had to report for at my assigned location which was PennSalt Plant. This is at the Penn Walt Corp in Wyandotte, and this is where I am right now. However, when you read this I hope I will not be here. You see, we are "locked in" and cannot leave. (We would in an emergency or if we were not too concerned about our jobs). This is because of the picketing. The plants must be run and so they can't afford to have any trouble getting personnel in. I have a pretty good job, as jobs go. I am on maintenance as a helper and work days. We started out on 8 hours yesterday but they upped it to 10 today since most the others are on 10 or 12 hour shifts. Yesterday I helped install a Washer & Dryer, and an Air Conditioner, and I hooked up the Recreation Trailer. They have rented 50' or so trailers, panelled walls, etc. 2 for sleeping, barracks style, (I am on the upper bunk over my new boss) and for Recreation (with TV, card tables, and a Refrigerator they stocked today with beer (not for working hours)). And 1 more for dining where I am now. It is empty except for one of the "cooks" who is still cleaning up. We are lucky here. Our chief cook assigned with us at PennSalt is the Company's Commercial Cooking Representative and he has been giving us some nice meals. But this feels almost like the army except we can't get any weekend passes. That is, not unless the Negotiations are successful in settling the Strike. They talked this afternoon but we have no news of any results of these talks. My job today was helping another guy, an electrical Foreman regularly, to fix part of the Precipitators Equipment which cleans the exhaust from the stacks. We were way up on top of the building most of the day. It was a nice day, sunny & cool and you could see for miles including the Detroit River and the surrounding city and countryside. We are just opposite the North end of Grosse Isle so not much river traffic passes on this side of the island.

I suppose you will be writing home telling what exciting things you did this weekend. Isn't this the one which you were to get off Friday?

I guess it won't be long now until you know what your next assignment will be. If it is further training it could be a good opportunity. 1--to learn something at the government expense, 2--to keep busy at something other than combat type activity. Whatever your road is to be occasionally say a little prayer that God will guide your destiny for the best for you.

One of the fellows here said that today's meeting resulted in some kind of agreement that would be voted on by the union next Wednesday. I can't figure why they would wait so long to vote on it and I don't trust the union to really want to go back to work. I'll just pray that it will be over by then. The pay is good but I don't like being here 24 hours a day without even being home for the weekend. I was told we would get 8 hours @ regular time and 1-1/2 time for 6 hours which means 17 hours pay per day for about 10 hours work, but they still have us here 24 hours /day.

And then they say we get 1-1/2 for 14 hours on Saturday & Sunday which is 21 hours pay. I hope this is so because it will help make up for this keeping us inside.

It really has one other advantage by staying in. That is that the other guys who are filling in at other jobs at Warren Service Center, offices and warehouses, have to pass picket lines coming & going, and that can get quite hairy.

Well, I guess I'll close for this evening, so good nite.

43.  Mom

Monday - 19th [postmarked June 19, 1972]

Dear John,

Just got back from E. Dearborn's Western Union office. Wow, it is expensive to send money that way. It cost $5.67 to send your fifty dollars. There has to be a cheaper way to do it the next time. You know, I suppose, that you have to check with the Fort's P.O. if you are in an especial hurry to receive it.

Today is your dad's and my anniversary. First time in 24 years we have not been able to celebrate it together. He left for Penn Walt at 6 a.m. this morning. He took the station wagon this time and is planning to sleep in it instead of the trailer. Did he tell you about having to sleep in the top bunk--over a fellow who snores? That is why he is going to take his trailer bedding out to the car. He would think that he had been gone for weeks--he was so glad to get home for one day after being gone for three days.

Makes us understand your wanting to come home a bit more.

We miss your letters lately but if you are so tired we do understand. Hope you aren't as whacked out as you sounded last night.

Mark had a good time last night sleeping in your bag. The only trouble they had was--the tent kept falling down. The Army could teach them a thing about camping out. Right?

Greg & Mike are working over at Apple's house today so it is very quiet around here--just Mary Lou and me.

Bye for now--Love,

[Peanuts & Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]

44.  Pat Bratcher

June 25--72

Dear John,

Hi! How's life? I just thought I'd write you while I still have the right address. So how'd you like the party? Pretty good, eh? I had a real nice time. Well, I don't really know what to say to you, cause I don't really know you well enough to just talk just about anything. Do you think you'll have to go to Vietnam? I hope ya don't. What are you trained to do or are you trained to do any specific thing? Did anything happen between you and George-Ann? Just wondered. I gathered from last nite you don't like beer--eh!? How come? I also gathered you really dig weed. Well that's ok. Do you do any kind of chemicals, aside from T.H.C.? I'm only asking you all these questions for something to talk about or I should say to write about. Well, really must go! See ya around. Be good & be careful


Always smile!

45.  Mary Beth White

June 26th, 1972

Hi, how ya been? Sorry I haven't written sooner. You're probably moved by now. I really haven't had time. I'm in summer college & there's so much studying to do.

Greg & Mike told me that they went to see you & your beautiful hair is about 1/4 inch long. Oh well, it will grow back. Eventually?

I've been seeing your friends around a lot. John & John & Gary etc. It seems strange that you're not with them.

It feels great to be graduated & the partying was a riot. The only thing is I have 4 more years of college to go. I'm going to be an R.N.

I hope you remember me but, how could you forget? I'm the one at the dances, the crazy one!

Gotta go now. I hope you'll write if you have time.

Mary Beth

P.S. Take care!

46.  Mom

Tues. a.m. [postmarked June 27, 1972]

Dear John,

I am sitting here at the desk in the basement writing this letter. After hours of cleaning and changing, this end of the "wreck" room looks 100% better. Got the file out of the kitchen and put it down here. But you'll see for yourself next week end.

Your dad ordered 5 tons of black dirt yesterday, so he and Mike & Mark have been working hard in the back yard. The walk is in and they are filling in the low places where it usually floods during a heavy rain.

I had a humorous conversation with an Army recruiter this morning. It seems that he just received the word that you had an Army physical last September. He was so surprised to hear that you have been in service since April. Some guy down town is going to get torn in half, he said. Any way he wants Bill to come in and see the wonderful films on the "New Army" and hear about all the really great options the enlisted men have now. I laughed and told him no way would I come down for that and not to hold his breath waiting for Bill either. It really gave me a chuckle.

Nothing else new except that maybe the cat ran away. We haven't seen him since last night. I have mixed feelings about him--Mary Lou is so allergic to him that it is pathetic to see.

Bye--see you soon? Love,

[Peanuts & Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]

47.  Georgeann Vigil

July 1

Dear John, Hi

Wow! That was a long letter you wrote me. Surprised to hear from you. Well like you said it was awful hard to write much because we only seen each other once & only talked a little bit & it wasn't too much of anything. But I'll try to write something good alright? When do you come home on leave? Every weekend or whenever you have 3 or 4 days off? How long does it take to get home? When are you going to Oklahoma? After your two years I wouldn't go back in and reenlist, but it really is up to you, you know. Thick As A Brick was just on the radio, wow, I swear that's all I been hearing now is songs from that album.

I work in a convalescent home, I been working there for one year now. What did you do when you was home Sat. thru Tues.? Just curious. My friends either call me George, Georgeann, but most of them call me Georgy.

I really don't know why I was quiet Saturday. But I know I shouldn't of mixed drinks & grass. It must have been good grass because I got a buzz off it the first joint we passed around. Remember we had 2.

You know one paragraph you wrote I didn't understand what you meant so I just read it the way I thought it was supposed to be. How many brothers & sisters do you have? You wrote me a super long letter, I was shocked because for 2 reasons why I didn't think you would write so soon, & because I didn't think you had a lot to say. Felt good to hear from you.

I hope my letter makes sense. I'm just writing what comes from my head & trying to answer your letter as much as I can. I hope you didn't get mad at me for asking you all them questions. How long have you been in now? I'm sorry but I don't have a Senior picture. And I don't have a recent one, so how about one that's a year ago or so. Seriously, I don't have a recent one. Would that be alright? I'll send you it next time I write, alright?

How long have you been living in Inkster? We used to live there back ten years ago. We used to live near Parkwood school. You know where that is. Now we live in Romulus. When's your birthday? How old are you?

Well, I'll close for now, because I have to get up for work & its pretty late now!! Talk to you later.


Write Back

48.  Georgeann Vigil

July 3

Dear John,

How you doing?

Wow, there isn't really much to say or write about, but just to write a few lines to let you know how I'm doing. I'm off from work today and tomorrow. Don't know what I'm gonna be doing tomorrow through. I'm supposed to go down for my car sometime this week to get it for a oil change, and have a few other things done to it. There really isn't much happening with me, beside work, and just more work to do when I come home from work. Having a car is just a pain (to me it is anyway) because I have to make sure its running well always, keep it in good condition, finish paying all the payments, & pay for insurance. And after paying for all that I have to start saving for next year's insurance. I always have to be working in order to keep it filled with gas. But I guess I'm not the only one that feels that way. And besides I wanted the car so I guess it's my full responsibility, right!

Today is really beautiful out, the sun is out & it's not too hot.

So how you doing over there?

Sorry if I sounded bossy & demanding in that last letter I wrote you. I really didn't mean it that way, after I wrote it I read the whole thing and it sounded that way to me. I'll send you a picture in the next letter I write, okay? Well, I'm gonna close for now, & I'll write you later. Write back when you can.