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April 6, 1943

Fortunately for us, this first letter from Johnny to Geraldine contains much information about his life and establishes context for many later letters. Because this letter was written before his enlistment, Johnny discusses his civilian activities at school and work, his hobbies, and his birthday. This is the first mention of his sister, his mother, his work experience as a metalworker for Bell Telephone, and his hobbies, photography and fishing. He also comments on his application to the United States Army, which has been delayed, and suggests that he would prefer an assignment in the Air Force.

April 6, 1943

Dear Geraldine,

I was sorry to hear of your forced hospital "siege" but I sure hope you're shipshape now. You must be rather thin to be a "32". Why even I'm a '36' and you wouldn't call me fat by any means! You must be like my mother, if she weighs over 98 lbs. she starts reducing. Women are certainly strange critters but boy wouldn't we (the males) be lost without them!

You do seem a little mixed up on the school question, probably because I didn't express myself clearly Here's how it is—I'm still working as usual but go to school at nite from 7:30-10 P.M., two nites a week. The course I was taking ended last nite so I can now take a more advanced one or start a new one or of course not take any. I'm thinking of taking some more drawing as it has always been my favorite subject, my hobby, my love, etc. Need I go on? While on the subject I might add that I'm trying for a free art course. The only trouble is that it won't do me any good if I win, as I won't quit my job to go to school at a time like this. My reason for taking it amounts more or less to seeing how good I am or "ain't."

The army hasn't given me any further news in regard to my army service but I'll be ready when they are. From what my friends, who are in the Air Force, write, it isn't bad at all. The one fellow is in California and says the people are the nicest of any he has come across. He has been to the Hollywood Canteen where, according to him, the hostesses are all beautiful. He has seen several movie stars & attended broadcasts but the important thing, at least for him, is that his wife has gone out there to be near him. So he is 'on top of the world' as you might say. The other fellows I know in the Air Force are pretty much satisfied also, so I consider myself lucky to be getting in it (the Air Force) in the event that I have to go and can pass. Of course there's no question about my going, the only thing that bothers me is whether I can pass the physical. As the song says, 'say a little prayer for me.'

My sister and her two kiddies are staying with us for a month or so. Sis is going to get a job and is finished with that jerk husband of hers. He's a no-good if there ever was one. By the way, if I get in the Army I hope you'll keep on writing, as they say letters are very important to a soldier's morale, or a defense workers', heh heh.

We've gone back on our old schedule of work seven days and off the eighth. One good thing is that I'll have Easter Sunday and Monday off. Everything you get a Sunday off you have the following Monday too. The idea is that you don't get more than six days in each work week. If the seventh day fell in one work week, they would have to pay double time. So you see there's method in their madness. Bell made a profit of over four million in '42 — see what I mean.

I wish you could see my sister's youngest child. She's the cutest kid I ever saw, always laughing and full of heck.

A fellow got killed at work to-day. He was a steel worker working on the girders. He touched a live worse, fell fifty feet and landed on his head. Tough luck.

I'm still trying to get a film for my camera, but so far without success. I was going to invest in a better camera last year, but now film is getting scarce I'm glad I didn't.

It just occurred to me that if we ever get together again we'll have plenty to talk about, won't we? Maybe it will be a case of cat has my tongue, although I doubt it.

Oh, by the way, my birthday was on the 24th and I got stocked up on fishing tackle. A new rod, reel, tackle box, plugs, hooks, etc. Now all I need is a fish to catch. In a week or so a couple of fellow from work and I hope to get over on Grand Island to try our luck. I'll let you know how we make out.

Well, Jerry, I guess I'll call it a nite. My Mother sends her best regards and hoping to hear from you soon, I remain -

As ever,

Johnny

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