Monday, May 25, 2009

Joe: Army Life

I recall that on one Sunday afternoon, about five hundred years ago, someone told me how the army made a friend of theirs so much bolder. I hope you're not drawing a parallel. If you had higher mathematics at Queens college, you show know that, according to Riemannian geometry, there are no parallels. It's not the army, Mary; it's the fountain pen for a mighty man with pen and ink, am I. In all these years it's been a hidden talent.

Since one Nolan at least is interested in the army, I should begin by describing the process of Uptonizing. The prospective soldiers arrive in Camp Upton (I can't tell you how since that is a troop movement and troop movements are military secrets) late in the afternoon , and the balance of the day and night is spent in being acclimated. This involves standing out in the open, swept by cold winds (and rain if there is any) until the body temperature is about 40 degrees, and then marched into a building to thaw out. Just so this time is not wasted, they dish out either a meal or a test.

I was lucky because my first day ended at 11 pm; if my name began with a "z" it probably would have concluded at about 4 am. The next day the process is repeated beginning at 5 am--it is dark at this unearthly hour . However, after breakfast and after the inevitable standing around being counted and recounted , we were marched into the processing unit. I entered one door as a civilian and came out a fully uniformed soldier (in fact, carrying three other complete uniforms in a large canvas bag), possessing an insurance policy, and bearing the imprints of typhoid, anti-tetanus, and smallpox innoculations. After that the entire group is marched to the cinema to see a double feature entitled, "What Every Young Soldier Should Know." Thus ends the process and the solider is usually sent to some other camp for basic training.

But you are probably saying to yourself, Joe must be still at Camp Upton because the envelope says so. Yes I am still out here in the woods. It seems that I'm on a special detail; the requirements for which seem to (1) that you wear glasses, and (2) that you pass the intelligence test (I got 151 but I always knew I was a genius). After working for a week I don't think the second requirement is at all necessary. On the whole work is rather easy--just routine clerical work handling the records of the incoming soldiers ,but there is certainly enough of it.

Because of our work we live in a special row of tents. I'm sleeping in a 6 man tent and believe it or not, my principal complaint is that it is too hot. One of the soldiers in my tent was formerly a fireman on a Coast Guard rum chaser during prohibition days: he has appinted himself chief of the tent stove and he keeps it red hot night and day. Even on the windiest days the temperature inside our tent is about 85. We use coal so we're not affected by oil rationing. Heh, Heh.

You can almost hear his voice.
May 19, 2009 03:22 P

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