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Letters From the Veteran to His Son

Austin Dewitts' older son Robert (Bob) joined the Army after graduating from high school in 1945. Following are a few letters that Grandpa wrote to Bob while he was in the army. He makes a couple of comments about "the way it used to be" or what "they used to do."
  • He always dated his letters. Grandma would only put Tuesday or Friday, etc.
  • Out of 16 letters written in March through June of 1945, he mentioned guns or hunting in 8 of them.
  • He was consistently concerned about insurance and business matters, just as he was when he wrote home when he was in the army.
  • Consistently in both Grandma and Grandpa's letters, when Dad (John) is mentioned, its in conection with the cars.


Dear Bobby
I don't know if you will get this or not but I doubt if you will be moved out till next week. Everything here is about normal. John get his new liscense for the junker yesterday. Blue figures on white this year. Eerows were over last night and stayed till 12 o'clock. Your mother is baking this morning and listening to the soap opera. Did you get shoes that fit you? I was uptown yesterday and the day before feel pretty good now. How do you like inspections? Get a book with all that stuff in it you can and study it when you have time and then you will know what to do and be ready to take responsibility when you get a chance and that may mean promotion. Did you get your job paper to send back to the Cooler fixed up. Well I guess I am about run down for now
Love Dad
Write or call whenever you can

Hi "Bub"
Will try my hand at short epistle while John and your mother is at church. You should start getting the Star before you get this as they started mailing it Friday. From what you say that Radio stuff looks pretty good I didn't know that they used code that way. Thought it was all walkie-talkie. If you do well enought they might send you on to another school. Any way get all you can of it for the Radio industry is still in its infancy. How long does that radio training last there? It must take longer tha the regular Basic for infantry. John laid off yesterday and worked on that junker cleaning the rust off the rims and washed it too. Worked till about 9 P.M. then went to bed. Its been warm here and Cookie has been laying on the front porch in the sun every day. Lucille stopped yesterday brought some eggs over and got your address so I think you will hear from her soon. I have been feeling very good. Chopped up some of that kindling down stairs and painted some the attic screeens. Got to put new screen on some of them if I can find it. If I can't I'll take it off of some of those others screens we don't use. Got a new grass hook the other day so I'm going to take Davy's home to him today. Got a new handle for the hoe too a longer one so I think I will have some garden anyway. Any time you see an insturctor of officer with a Masonic ring show him that DeMoley card if you can get a chance it won't hurt you any if you do it right. Just tell him you hope to wear one some day. As you know by now it just as much who you are as what you do. But of course you must know your stuff too. Well I'm about run down I guess. Keep us informed. Love Dad.

Dear son
Didn't get to write yesterday or I didn't feel too good but am doing better this morning. Just read what your mother wrote so there isn't much for to tell. Can't mail this anyway till I get down town to get some money to put in it. I think you made too much allotment for bonds you won't have much left and pay days are a long way apart. I'm going to pay your income tax too. Next year you will get a refund of all you paid in this year. You don't seem to get to bed any earlier there than you did here. You must have your rest or you will play out when it gets really tough. Keep your chin up
Love Dad

Sun. Morn 4-8-45
Dear Son
Will try to get this one off sooner than the last one. They are getting ready to go to church and the paper hasn't come yet. Cookie is out doors barking at something. They kept the dog quarentine on again so she was tied up awhile yesteday and she didn't like that. Garvines beagle has 6 nice pups just getting their eyes open now. How did you do on the range. You should have done pretty good with the practice you have had. Do they have marksmanship and sharp shooter ratings yet? They used to pay a little extra for them. I suppose you saw where Geo. Whysall was inducted. I talked to Wren Fri. Eve. When I went after the milk and he said he had left Atterbury but didn't know where he went. Got the lot plowed yesterday and is there going to be a mess to work. I'm going to let Fred Hass have part of it. Its too much for us. Maybe I can get him to plow some for me. Did you get your $5.00? Your basic infantry training should be about done shouldn't it? Then you can start on the real thing. Don't start borrowing money for you will owe all you have coming every payday. The interest rates are way too high too. They used to pay $3.00 for $2.00 so if you are going into that you want to be on the lending end. Well I'm about run down and they are about ready to start so I will have John mail this on the way to church.
Love Dad
I got the oil changed. 5 gal.gas and a new oil filter put on the Dodge Fri and it cost $7.30 I think I will sell it and take John's junker away from him maybe. You had better cut your bond allotment than to borrow money all the time.

Dear Son
I didn't get at writing this morn so I will try now. Rained about all day yesterday and cloudy and cool today. Got a fire in the furnace. Was glad to hear you done so good on the range may be you can beat that when you get anouther chance. Does that pay more now? It used too. I ordered a front sight for the rifle this week but won't get it for a long time. Got a card back saying that if the delay was more than a few weeks they would notify me again. John went to Columbus yesterday to a Hy-Y doing and hasn't got back yet. He may have to walk as he went in the junker. Get some of the storm windows out and the screens in painted some screens again. Will have to take some more off of those windows as one I took out took part of the window frame with it.
Glad to hear Whysall is with you. Talked to a boy who was with Gen. Parron in the channel invasion and got clean into Germany before he got hit and he says that the radio men that operate the bigger sets have t good job, that they stay at head quarters so you had better get busy where you get on that: I thought you were to get paid on the 10th of the month or did they say what month? What did the boys think of Roosevelts passing on? Have had a lot of inquires about you Homer Huffman sent his regards to you. He says he is a poor letter writer his making garden over here every day or so. Well I guess this is about all for now.
Love Dad

Dear Son
Just recieved your card and will enclose the Ten Bucks ($10.00) you asked for. It looks like you were going to catch up with the other fellows allright. I paid your income tax with the money from John las pay day ($13.08) And he has to pay his next payday so he won't have anything to pay on the junker it takes all he can make to keep it running. Your mother is cleaning the kitchen so I got elected to this job. I've been feeling pretty good and am going down town soon to post this. It looks like you could buy soap cheaper there than we can mail it down there. Did you get the box with the clothes in? It been cool here. Fire in the furnace all the time and rains a lot too. Well I'm run down for now
Love Dad

Dear son
Got a card yesterday and one today. You had better spend you money for something besides presents for us. Sent you soad and rags yesterday will send more rags later. I don't believe you have gotten all the letters I wrote. We have sent $25.00 all together. Did you get all of it? Your mother get hod of some sugar today so I expect you will get some thing more to eat before long. I will be glad to learn how to shoot a rifle (ha ha) I cleaned up the guns upstairs lately the ones you left your finger prints on when you put them away. John is still walking.. He hasn't got a coil for the junker yet and he han't got a connection rod for the bike either. He got his finger hurt last nite at the shop but not bad. He gets in too big a hurry. I've got the kindling pretty well cleaned up. Don't work long at th time though. Since there is a paper shortage I will use both sides this time. Old Sliver Metzger was planting his garden last nite. Will plant ours Sat if it don't rain too much. Cary is going to help I think. Cora Weber got me 10 packages of Bull Durham out at the Depot yesterday so I am all set for awhile you can't buy it in the stores at all.
Got another box of oranges and grape fruit from Howard yesterday and they are very good. Are there any groves near you? You should get plenty of that stuff to eat anyway
Well I've got a good excuse to go up town now and mail this. I will try to get in a little pinochle at the temple too. Fred Berg was asking about you the other day. That bugle is still here. I think I will take your hown up and have Dawler fix the spit hole. Do they have any musical organizations or band there? The card we got today is dated Feb 21-1945. Are you that far behind in writing. Well I guess I'm run down
Love Dad

5-1 45
Dear son
Just a few lines to let you know that everyting is all O.K. Here. I guess your mother told you about the cigarettes pretty well supplied right now. I don't think you are supposed to send them from there any way. Can you buy issue clothes there? I would buy a jacket like that one Fred Berg gave you if I could get one reasonable. If this one was a little bigger I would swipe it. How was the rags? Do you need any more? John hasn't got the junker running yet it is down at the school again. Dick is working on it. He put his on the burn last night. Broke that fork in the gear shift but it can be welded I guess.
Who are you buying insurance from down there? Haven't got the policy yet. Remember pay days are a long ways apart in the Army and it takes money to travel. If you get a chance to come home, Congress passed the six months training bill but the President hasn't signed it yet. Maybe he won't . You want to study and not get washed out like them other fellows. Radio is better than a rifle co. As you know now. Well its pretty near time for the mail man so I better quit and get this out there.
P.S. On second thought you better forget that jacket as I can get one here probably just as cheap as your gip joint down there.

Dear son,
Haven't seen that Ins. policy yet. Who was supposed to send it? Maybe it woill come today. Got the picture yesterday and it is not too bad, but I have seen better. Your mother was just talking to Damon's mother and she had just got a letter from him saying there were to move and she had just got a letter from him saying they were going to move and had turned in clothes and equipment. Said they were going to make a rest camp out of it. Maybe so but sometimes I think she dreams some of that stuff. Its raining here now has been for a week. Some water came up in the cellar last night. Every thing is soaked good Can't get in the garden for a week. The weeds are growing to beat the band. I suppose you know the president singed that draft law that required six months training for 18 year olds. I don't know what they are going to do with all the men they have now. That Dodge in is running O.K. Now all it needs is gas and oil. The junker is doing all right too. He has been driving to school when it is raining. Do you get that Demoley paper? I called Peg Solinger about it again. I thought you were going to try to go down to Howard's some week end? Do you have to learn wig-wag signalling too? You should remember some of that from the Scouts. Was just down cellar and cookie pretty near caught a mouse there by the bench but he was too fast for her so I set a trap and will have him by night. Haven't been ground hog hunting yet been too wet and cold but will get started pretty soon. I fixed the rifle so the bolt will come out without bothering the rear sight. Sawed a little piece out of the reciever I guess thats what a sharp shooter would call it. I made a front sight that little inset I mean out of some
I have the rifle that Grandpa is talking about here in this letter. Its a Springfield Mod. 57, pictured above
gavalialized(sic) iron. It can be seen better than the other one. There is a crows nest down here in the grove that I am going to get when they get hatched maybe we can get the old ones too. Just read your letter of the 14th. Glad to see your taste in churches is improving. The cardio graph didn't show but a little improvement but that is better than none. Do they have Old Gold cigarettes there? Guess I'm run down now. Will you get a better rating when and if you finish radio training? Dad.

Dear son
This will have to be short so it can go uptown with your mother. I got that Ins. Policy and didn't think much of it so I took it uptown and had a cuple of Ins. Men look at it and nobody had ever heard of that company. Then I took it over to the Ohio State life office to see if they had any record of any such Co. And the didn't but they said they would write to the State Division of Insurance and find out what they know about it. They just called a little while ago and said they had nothing on it either but would continue the investigation futher and I would hear from it in about another week. I don't think that company is any good because it is not a legal reserve campany so there is no way of collecting if they don't want to pay, but we will find out for sure when we hear from that Ins division at Columbus. Did any of the other fellows buy it. How did you get in contact with this agent. Was it through some body in the camp? Please answer this right away because if that bunch is gypping the boy they should be stopped. If you haven't signed an allotment to them don't do it, and if you have let it go till we get the real dope on them. Got a pig over at Ralphs Sat a young one. Got the new sight for the rifle and put it on this morning but haven't got it sighted in yet. We have some green and will try to get some more before we send ti and by then you will have plenty there. Keep up the good work and get all the schooling you can.

Dear son:
Got card yesterday and letter today. I got some more dope on that Ins. today and will enclose the letter. I till don't think it is a good poicy as it has too many loop holes and the premium is too hight. If you want to save money put it in the Army banmk or make an allotment to the bank here for your account. Got 2 Bonds yesterday. I suppose they will come regularly now. Well the impossible has happened. John put and add in the Star Sat and had only one bibbel and he came out Sat eve when John was working and I showed it to him didn't start it or anything and he gave me $1000 deposit on it and came back yesterday with the other 6500. So he got $7500 for a 30 cent motor bike and got the money too. I told him that I had to sell it for himand he owed me a commision but I haven't seen it yet but I got him plowing in the garden or he was till some kid came along and stopped him.
Things are growing now. Set out 50 straw berries plants yesterday. Won't yeild till next year though. The grass comes up over night in the lot. Cary has been out and plowed and hoed some. You better practice that code all you can and maybe you will be sent to an advanced school. I was out with Erow all day yesterday riding around hunting a place to put his been and finally found a poor one took the rifle along but didn't see anything too shoot at. He sure is windy getting worse I believe if possible. Are they shipping any body out now?
Do you drive yet? Can't you get enough obstacle course in the daytime?
Well I guess I'm about run down for now.
Love Dad

Dear son
Will try to write a liettle while the ground hog is cooking. John killed one yound one yesterday over at the Infirmary and missed 4 or 5 I didn't get a shot which kept me record clear. The Steam Shovel has been out on strike since last Friday and John has been painting the junker. Red fenders and skirts, radiator bumpers head lights and wheels cream and the rest black. Will look more like and easter egg than an automobile. I've had him working in the garden too and his mother had him cleaning the attic too so he's been busy anyway. She want him to work down the fron porch too. Dick bought a 31 Model A and they have it all tore down fixing it. It was in worese shape the this one. Its been awful cold and wet here for this time of year but its nice and warm today. Cookie goes to the Vetinary this afternooon for another worming. I took some poopy-kac down and had him anayl analyze (I guess) it. How is Geo. Whyusall making out? He ought to do pretty good.
The Corwins went over to Akron to Mary James graduation. Haven't heard from them yet. I wanted Ruth to go with them but she wouldn't do it. You know her. Well its 1130 AM so I had better get this out to the mail box. What do you hear about moving? Did you cancel that Ins. Policy? Haven't heard anything from the guy who bought the motor bike so I guess he isn't going to damnad his money back.
So Long for now
Love Dad

Dear Son;
I am going to try this old corn sheller but I don't know how far I will get with it. The keys want to stick all the time, I guess that I am jsut too fast for it. I got a rubber band across it now and it brings the back pretty good but the spacer dont work right yet but maybe you can read it.. Got your letter and card today and you had better keep you r head down when you get out there next week and the other end too if you don't want it perforated wit a 30-30 which wouldn't be so good. Your mother sent those books back to you and I mailed the letter without putting extra stamps on them as I suppose you know by now. That junker is doing allright now and so is Cookie. I took her over to Ralphs last Sat. And when I shot a young ground hog and he fell back in the hole she dived and got him and run way out in the field and shok him to beat the band and growled and didn't want to give him up at all. I got two and give both to Lucille to cook for Raplph as his stomach has been on the bum and he is not supposed to eat pork at all bet he does some. This don't look like a very big letter so I guess I will wait till morning and maybe I can think of some more to put in it. Before I forget it that address of Jacobs is 749 E. Church St. You should have been on K.P. When they had the chicken. I thought you were to get a T/5 rating when you made radio operator?
Did you cancel that Ins. Policy? The Coller is out on strike now as I suppose you have heard. We renewed your Star subscription for three more months this so you can keep up with the news if you have time. Maybe you can get a chance to go to Tampa later when your training is about over. How is the money holding out?
Thu. Morn. Well I guess I am all done for this time
Love Dad

P.S We have a major mystery here we can't find the north cellar screen that we took out when we put that kindling in the cellar. Do know anything about it?

Thu - 6-24-45
Dear son
Its raining again this morn after a couple of days of sunshine. John plowed part of the garden yesterday and was going to finish today but it will be too wet again. The weeds are getting away due to the rain. Charlie Shively is here while the Goodyear is on strike and is going back this afternoon. The Government is going to take over the radio said this morn. There isn't much to write about. Ray has been working every day at the slaughter house so I don't see much of him. Eron is working there too part of the time and is chasing beer the rest of the time. Dick Garvine hasn't got his Ford fixed yet can't get the piston till the 4th of July. He has to get them in the rought and have them turned down to fit the cylinders so they are pretty badly woan. He is working at the Goodrich store changing tires and so on. He gets to drive the truck to pick up tires and fix them so that suites him pretty good. The Dodge has a leak in the radiator so I'm going to put some X liquid in it. It worked good in the Easter egg. Foster Resches boy was home after 4 months in Georgia and then went back for 2 more months training in Louisiana. Sent a box of junk yesterday. Won't put any money in this because you won't need it out in the jungles I hope. If you get a chance for a furlough and don't have the money telegraph at once and you can get it back pretty quick. Well I'm about run down for now. Answer some of those questions in the letter before this if haven't lost it. How much do you weigh now? Your feet will stick out of a pup tent farther than that unless they have made them longger than they used to.
Love Dad

Dear son
I expect this will be rather short for there isn't much news here. I was up on Church St. With Lucille & Lizzie this morning. They got 44 qts. Cherrys at Bookwalters. I didn't pick any just stood around and held the ladder and had to come back home and get a bushel basket as they didn't bring enough vessels to get them all in. John is going over tomorrow and help Ralph pick up baled hay. I don't know if I will go or not. There is plenty of ground hogs here I've never seen so many young ones. I've killed five all young ones. John has got one. I got one Sat at better than a hundred yards so you had better practice up if you want to keep up with the old man. Ray is off work for couple of days and we may to out awhile this afternoon. Ruth is washing this morning but is about done now. She had better be or it is almost time to eat. I suppose she told you I changed doctors but I don't see much change yet. Why don't you snswer some questions? Did you cancel that Ins. Allotment? What about your T5 rating? How long do you expect to be there in that camp? Do the have any Bull Durham there? Is it rationed too? I'll hold this till after the mail man goes and see what we get.
Well no soap today so I will mail this when I go up town. Be sure and answer those question when you write.
Love Dad
Is chewing gum and candy available there yet?