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206thmpco

getting drafted in '41

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This is the beginning of Dad's army experience. Of course, his letters mean a great

deal to me because they're his - but I also think that ALL Vets letters give insights into

the sacrifices these "Citizen Soldiers" and their families made. Sacrifices that began as soon

as they put their uniforms on.

 

Most of "Our" WWII vets were children of immigrants who knew hardship themselves.

My grandfather arrived in the US with $10 and started work as an ironworker for Carnegie Steel in 1893 (not a fun job). There was no "workmans comp", no health insurance, and

no welfare programs. If you got injured/sick, you were in BIG trouble. Eventually, my grandpa

got a job as a coachman & chauffeur for a wool mill owner and, my dad (his first born)worked small

"jobs" earning extra money for the family. From a young age, he was cleaning out chicken coops and the horse barn on the estate & mowing lawns.

 

In 1941, they'd all just come through the Great Depression with it's fear & struggle to

survive. My father told me that he'd seen people eating out of garbage cans even in

the wealthy town of Wellesley. My grandpa had a large garden & fruit trees & would give

his produce to neighbors with extra mouths to feed. His niece told me that they were always

so glad to see "Uncle Mike" because he was the only one with a car & would drive over

& bring them beans & carrots & apples & pears.

 

I give all this as background, because most of these boys had never been away from home

before and, in addition to worrying about being in the Army, they had to worry about their

folks at home. In my Dad's case, his parents were 67 & 61 in 1941 and his father

was the sole support of the household which included his mother, sister Mary,

and brother Joe (the "baby" who was just 21). I honestly think that my Dad worried

more about THAT then anything else. Consequently, he sent all his Army pay home

(even though his mother told him not to).

 

I have the notice from local draft board #106 in Needham directing him to report

for physical examination and also the "notification of Acceptance For Induction

into the Army of THe U.S. " that was sent to his parents. It says: Francis J. Howard was

this date March 15, 1941 accepted for the Army of the United States and sent to Camp Edwards Mass.

 

His first letter was on Yankee Division 182nd Infantry stationaryon March 16, 1941:

 

Dear Ma,

 

We arrived at Camp Edwards about 7:30. We started getting examined at Columbus Ave

at 9 o'clock and this lasted till one, with a different bunch of fellows coming in all the time.

 

There were quite a few rejections. Those who had some disability were held up till about 2:30.

Some were let go immediately, others went to the base for another medical examination.

 

According to the papers, about 20% were rejected of our 500. Baird Hodkinson was the only one from our group that was rejected ( i think he has high blood pressure).

 

They are all a nice bunch of fellows here, all in the same boat. Some of them gave up good jobs. Herb Gebelein & John Leonard (WELLESEY BOYS) went down on the train with me

so i felt right at home. (Yea RIGHT DAD!)

 

Sunday is a quiet day here - getting up at 7, breakfast at 7:30, church at 9:30 and back again

to the bunkhouse for the rest of the afternoon. Tomorrow we get our uniforms.

 

They say they give you and awful lot of walking & drill. (LITTLE DID HE KNOW HOW MUCH).

Meals are served on these aluminum cups and plates - three which you use all the time.

When you arrive, you are furnished with a towel,razor, shaving brush, soap, and a toothbrush.

 

You can't imagine such a place! As far as your eye can see, are the camps. Each camp holds

about 60 men. The men seem to be in pretty good humor because they know they have to

put up with it - all being draftees. There are some fellows with us who look to be in the forties.

 

I don't know how soon this letter will get off because we can't get any stamps. The Post Office

is closed. Don't go by the heading on this stationary, it doesnt mean anything because we won't be in our regular quarters till tomorrow.

 

There is nothing else of much importance to say, so until you hear from or see me(maybe

saturday), I'll just say goodbye.

 

Love,

 

Francis

 

:heartpump: to YOU Dad!

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Thanks for posting that M! I love to read those letters. The first chapter in my book deals with these first days; being drafted, signing up, and their initial experiences about being away from home, etc. As you stated, for many of the men it was their FIRST time away from home. A lot of people nowadays don't realize this, because we are so used to travelling. Talk about being homesick. :armata_PDT_23:

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They're great, aren't they? There's a sweetness in so many of those letters that

you don't see anymore and some of them are also SO funny & dear.

 

For me, they give special insight into how my Dad became the man that I knew.

 

My parents bought our c1890 house in 1953(it's still my beloved home) and it has an

attic that 's really a third story with rooms that were used as living quarters for a cook

& maid. There's a large highboy chest of drawers up there and I asked my mother how they got it up there. She stared at me & said: " Now Mary Ann, who do YOU think got it up there?"

She told me that Dad put it on his back & hauled it up by himself.

I suppose if you walked through N. Africa, Italy, and France with those heavy packs,

you could get a highboy up a flight of stairs.

 

Intrepid by nature, the Army & the war made Dad virtually fearless.

He used to get an old wooden ladder & climb up to the third floor roof and walk

around up there like a mountain goat. He'd haul paint cans up and balance himself on the second floor gutter and paint. I'd "tattle" on him to my mother, but she'd say: "There's

nothing we can do about it, just don't look at him, dear." I suppose if you'd been

up & down rope netting on ships, landed on beaches in LSTs, and climbed mountains -

what would the big deal be about a roof?

 

I have a vivid memory of a hurricane when I was very young. My mother was

admonishing us to stay away from the windows, when my brother & I spy

Dad's long legs through the kitchen window. At the height of the hurricane, he'd

decided to go out on the garage roof and tinker with the shutters. Fran hollared &

pointed at the window: "Hey Ma, how come Daddy's outside?". I can still see Dad's

pant legs flapping back & forth in the wind & hear Ma yelling: "Frank Howard!

You get in the house this INSTANT!" :pdt12:

 

M - where can I get a copy of your book?

 

"M2" to "M1"Over. (as a child of the 50s, you must remember walkie-talkies. Email

is better, but it sure was fun clamboring around the backyards with 'em)

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M1 to M2, over. Roger that! Oh-oh, looks like I've become a dangerous weapon. I think my husband would argue that it occurred longggg agoooo. :frown: Well if I AM a weapon, then an M1 is very, very cool in my book. :pdt34::pdt12:

 

I remember when I was little (some would say I STILL am), dad had a CB radio and our call letters were, KHG 1147. I would just adore talking to my dad on it as he came home from work. Lots of great memories. He would get a big kick when I talked to his buddies too. As I stated, great memories.

 

Dad was fearless also. Used to climb the huge CB tower in the backyard like a monkey. Would scare the you-know-what out of me. Ya, don't look. :armata_PDT_23:

 

You sure stirred up a lot of things in this ol' head when you start talking about all this. Makes me smile. :pdt20:

 

The book is FAR from being completed, but of course will let everyone here know when it's done. Didn't get a heck of a lot accomplished this summer as far as the writing was concerned. Had too much on my plate with the remodeling job, which is still ongoing. I should have plenty of time to write this winter, and PLAN on it. Also thinking of taking the train to attend the PA reunion next month. It's about a 13 hour trip one-way, but figure I can idle that away and write, write, write. I think it's a great idea. Sure could use some ME TIME! :pdt:

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Breaker, breaker good buddy. 10-4. Hanging out on channel 9 tonight. It was really a fun time for me. Get some good squelch going and...

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M1 to M2, over. Roger that! Oh-oh, looks like I've become a dangerous weapon. I think my husband would argue that it occurred longggg agoooo. :frown: Well if I AM a weapon, then an M1 is very, very cool in my book. :pdt34::pdt12:

 

Hey M1! My friends always say that if I ever acquire firearms, they'd be forced

to alert the authorities. :pdt12::pdt12:

:frown:

.

 

m2

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Hey you guys! Maybe we were all watchin' too much COMBAT

with Vic Morrow & talkin' on our "walkie-talkies".

 

KLM4358 and 2Biscuit, C'mon back!

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Hey M1! My friends always say that if I ever acquire firearms, they'd be forced

to alert the authorities. :pdt12::pdt12:

:frown:

 

m2

 

Watch out for the two of us. We WOULD be a lethal weapon together... :pdt40: :wub: My hubby always tells his friends; don't underestimate her. She will kick your...

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LOL! DANGER Will Robinson! We WOULD be trouble! :armata_PDT_23:

 

 

My childhood friend has always said: " Oh LUCY, I don't like that look in your eye!"

and her Dad used to say: "That Mary Ann is EXTRA-Terrestrial!" :frown:

 

m2

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