Breeches + Boots

Ft. Riley, Kans.
Sept. 17,* 1942

Darling:

Excuse the stationery, please. [Ed. Note: narrow-ruled loose leaf sheets rather than his usual watermarked Hammermill] I’m writing this during study hall period, as I have no assignment to turn in tomorrow.

There isn’t much to write, except that I’m still crazy about my own wife, and I miss her something awful. Thought there would be a letter from you today, but none came.

I mean to get some air mail stamps every time I go to the Post Exchange, but I always forget it or they are just out. Four times now I’ve tried, and have forgotten about that many more. Usually, when we go to the P.X., it is for about 5 minutes between class periods, and we don’t have a chance to do much of anything except to catch a quick coke and take off again. I tell you, darling, time around this place is really valuable. We get out of one class just in time to get to another. We get back here about 12:15, check to see if there is anything in our boxes, such as mail, or school work, wash, eat dinner, and leave about 12:50 for school again. We get back again about 5:15, bathe + wash, check our boxes, change clothes, and eat supper. Then study hall from 6:30 to 8:30. From 8:30 to 9:30 we have all to ourselves for letter writing, boot polishing, etc. We don’t wear our boots very often, or at least we haven’t so far. Wear coveralls to school all day. Wear cotton shirts + cotton slacks to supper. So I’ve had my boots on only once since being here. We went to school in uniform yesterday on account of the fact that they took our class picture at noon. When we do wear breeches + boots, we have to wear spurs, which I don’t like too well. We don’t wear any insignia at all except a round black patch on our left shirt pocket. It looks something like this:

img_0426 See the O.C.S. in it? (You didn’t realize that you married an artist, did you?) Guess we go into uniform the first of October, though, and wool at that.

There’s a Lt. from the 115th who is going to communication school here, and he is going back Sunday. They are planning a stag party, a sort of meeting of all the “Powder River” boys in Manhattan Saturday nite. Don’t know yet whether or not I’ll go, for several reasons.

We were firing the rifle day before yesterday, and I had a funny thing happen. You see, when firing the gun, you hold your cheek right down against the stock. There’s quite a little kick to that baby, and it jars your face a little on each shot. About the second or third shot, my store teeth jarred loose, and all at once I felt my mouth full. They sure felt big for a moment. So I had to take them out for the rest of the firing.

Darling, I do wish I could see you, but that’s out of the question, I guess. Only 2½ months now, and I’ll be out of here and we can be together. After that, if I’m transferred every day, you’re going with me, aren’t you? That is, as long as we’re able to make it. We’ve known each other for 7½ months, but we’ve spent very little of that time together; and we’ve been married now for nearly three weeks, and have spend only about 34 hours together since then. But, darling, you have been on my mind all the time since we met. I don’t know that I did right by you in marrying you before coming here, but I’m not a bit sorry if you’re not. Knowing that we are man and wife is a greater comfort to me than you will ever realize. I hope and pray that the next 2½ months go swiftly for both of us. I’d give my left arm if I could take you and hold you close to me right now, kiss you, and tell you how much I love you, and how proud I am to be your husband. It’s still hard for me to realize that my luck actually took such a good turn as it did when you became my wife. I was so darned scared that you’d change your mind about wanting to be my wife during the time I was here at school. Guess I can admit that now.

Darling, I hope you will always be as happy with me as we have been during all the times we spend a few moments or hours together. The weekend in Seattle, the Sunday at Silver Creek, the week-end when we went to Seaside, all of them were little bits of heaven to me. Especially the week-end when we went to the coast. Of course, our few hours of married life are set apart entirely—they’re extra special hours, always to be remembered. Darling, I’ll always love you. And whenever I think of the way you smile, the way you walk and talk, everything you do, keep bringing themselves before me, and when they come up, I get so darned lonely I could almost cry. Mrs. Hopkins, you’ve really done something to me as well as for me.

Sweetheart, I must close for now. Write as soon as you can, and remember to keep on loving your

Jim

_________________
*No, it’s the 16th.

Ed. Note—This letter has a bit of shorthand at the end. If you can read Gregg shorthand and you’d like to take a stab at what it says, please do type it out in the Comments!

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