Letters to our boys

(Editor’s Note: This is another installment of The Express’ “Letter to Our Boys,” written during World War II to let “our boys” know what was happening back in their home towns. We will bring the letters to you occasionally, thanks to the efforts of Fred and Anna Snyder, who compiled the letters over several years of research and donated a full copy of them to the Clinton County Historical Society.)

Saturday, March 27, 1943


There is quite a “Lock Haven Colony” at Miami Beach, Fla., according to Pvt. Darhl Andrus who is stationed at the Grossinger Hotel there with the 37th M. Squadron of the Army Air Force.

County “Dotty”–that is Andrus’ nickname which became widely known here among the softball fans when he played with St. John’s Lutheran team in the Church League–the group number ten. There are seven others from this city and two from Rote–Daniel Berry and Glenn Hackenberg. The Lock Haven boy include: Ralph Johnson, Frank Morasco, John Brobst, John Hagan, Learn and Edward Hoffman and Merrill Grabner.

Dotty, who has been receiving The Express since he entered the Army, and “don’t know what I would do without it” writes to Col. O’Corn that he has been stationed at Miami Beach since shortly after his induction last Aug. 5. He says: “It’s a nice place but it is too darn hot for me.”

“We were getting ready to write a pretty hot letter about the people of Lock Haven (concerning the honor roll board) but I see that they have finally made up their minds to put one up. We all think it is about time.”

Tech. Sgt. Lester Livingston, ASN 13030042, APO 617, c/o P.M., Miami, Fla., has written a lengthy letter to the senior class of the Lock Haven High School in answer to one of the letters the students sent out to old grads some time ago.

Lester left Lock Haven in 1941 to enter the Army. He tells of his trip to Africa by clipper. He is now stationed somewhere in the Middle East, having been transferred from another African base where he was located for some time.

The first night of his arrival in Africa, he slept in a grass house. When he arrived at his base the next day he found it “surprisingly modern.” He says: “We had good late shows in camp and our mail was usually quick to arrive but our supplies of cigarettes and good American beer did not arrive for a long time. Food was fairly good and we had fresh fruit all the time. It seemed funny to walk up to a banana tree and help yourself.”

One of the things that surprised him was the number of cars and also telephone and telegraph wires even in the dense jungle. “The countryside put me in mind of Pennsylvania. At a distance the mountains appeared like those at home.”

Now that he is in the Middle East, the abundance of green and heat give way to scenery of rocks and rugged hills and cool climate.

“I have been here since November and we have the only ice cream parlor in Africa. Another nice thing is the public address system which plays music, gives the news and all bulletins for the day. We are close to home by way of radio. Have heard Bob Hope and others this way.”

Lester is in code communication work and likes it very much, having been at it since January, 1942.

Harry H. Pinge, Sr., who served in the Army in World War I and is now in the Navy while his son, Harry J., is in the Marines, writes from “Lost Island”: and just where that is the Colonel doesn’t know.

“I often think of you people back home, even though we are miles away on Island X,” says the veteran who was a member of Troop K way back in 1917. He is now one of the Seabees, the Navy’s Construction Battalion. “Keep them printing and we’ll keep them running,” he writes.

Included in the letter which had a six cent air stamp (and six cents postage due for which old Col. O’Corn had to open his purse to let out the moths and a half dozen “Lincolns”) was a copy of the Seabees 31st Battalion mimeographed newspaper, “Scuttle Butt News.”

Never having been a Navy man myself, I had to look up the origin of Scuttle Butt. Col. O’Corn found out that the word was ancient Navy for gossip. When gobs of old met for a drink at the water keg of “scuttle” they exchange gab or “butt”–hence Scuttle Butt.

Lt. James E. Quigley, who was home on leave some time ago after an operation, writes that he has been transferred and now is receiving his mail at the following address: 1st En., 331st Engineers, Group X, APO 462, Minneapolis, Minn. How are all the girls, flour and Swedes in Min-uh-sow-tuh, Jed?

From somewhere in the South Pacific comes a letter form Corp. John J. Shade, of Flemington. He is a member of the Army Air Force. Corp. Shade wrote despite the fact that he had his thumb bandaged after a very bad cut. Like every soldier, sailor and marine, Johne “always enjoys reading the news from home.” His address: APO 929, c/o P.M., San Francisco, Cal.

Pvt. Joseph M. Moran, former Express reporter, who has been ill with meningitis at Camp Croft, S.C., is recuperating. Seaman (2/c) James A. McDermit is back on duty at Elizabeth City, N.C., after a serious eye operation which had him in the hospital for three weeks. Jim will be 21 on Monday.

Sgt. Kenneth Barner, of North Bend, is home on a 20-day furlough after four years of service at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Five local sailors were home all at one time this week and Main Stree wags thought that the “Fleet’s In.” They are: (All seamen, second class) Henry M. Ryan, stationed at Newport, R.I.; Bruce M. Verrier and Kenneth Hoy, Bainbridge, Md., and Donald (Spitz) Gehret and David Decker, Sampson, N.Y.

Two former local newspaper employees got promotions this week. Ray F. Kreidler, formerly of The Express, became a corporal and Eugene Shultz, formerly of the Clinton County Times and Centre Democrat (Bellefonte) was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Air Force. Ray is on desert maneuvers in the Far West and Gene is stationed at Moody Field, Ga.

Meat will also be available only for ration stamps (and hard cash)….Flemington’s council passes on first reading an ordnance legalizing the raising of pigs in the borough and thus helped the war effort as more meat will be available hereabouts (I hope)…Mill Hall’s Firemen’s Social Club which was refused permission to transfer its beer license from one spot to another in the borough has appealed the decision to the Clinton County Court and the case will be heard next week…Meanwhile, no one is going too dry.