The Letters:

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 going 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,
Mom

[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"

Hi--

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]



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.]



15.  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,

Mother



17.  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



26.  Mom

Mon. 22nd

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' 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' 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!"
Mother

[Beetle Bailey comics enclosed]



32.  Mom

Wednesday

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.

Mother

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



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,

Mother



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.

Love,
Mother

PS "Fathers Day"-June 18

[Enclosed: Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics.



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 you 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,
Mom

[Peanuts & Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]



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,
Mom

[Peanuts & Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]



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