Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Postcards from the U.S. Naval Training School

I have something a little different tonight.  While going through the boxes of letters, I found that they contained a little more than just those written by my grandfather during the war. 

Tucked here and there were uniform patches, letters from other friends and family, and these postcards.  They are all from the U.S. Naval Training School where my great aunt Dorothy went for her training as a WAVE.  The school was located at the Bronx campus of Hunter College

Letter Home 05-07-1944

Sunday 2100


Hello Darling:

Today was a trifle different than the usual routine. Only because I went to church. Otherwise it was just like any other day.

It was really hot in church too. At least outside the building there was a breeze, and I did not feel quite so warm. When I got inside though I really got wringing wet in a hurry. They have the Red Cross building for religious services, and there was not a breath of a breeze in it.

This afternoon we had a lecture on weather. There was supposed to be a weather man coming to talk to us, but he was late. So the major started telling us about the weather around here. In the middle of his talk this other guy showed up. He just sat in the back, and listened. When the major got through he did not have anything to say. He just agreed with everything we had just been told.

We had a couple of fairly good meals today. Instead of the usual bully beef we had pork chops for dinner, and tonight we had some pretty nice chili. The rest of the menu was the same – potatoes, and raw onions, and greens. They must have a lot of onions here because we get them practically every day. It is a good thing I like them at least a little bit. I certainly don’t go for this bully beef. Especially when they make “ersatz” hamburger out of it. I can stand it better if the just leave it as is, and perhaps warm it up a bit.

The water is off in our little shower this evening, and as far as I know it is still off. We may have to start going to the one they have rigged up down at the bottom of the hill. It is easy going down, but a lot of work coming back up.

They have another show over in a different area occasionally, and there was one tonight. I did not go because I’d seen the picture. It was the “Pride of the Yankees.” Another discouraging feature of going is the walk over there. It is a 15 minute walk there, and a 45 min walk back. It is this hill that makes the difference.

In case I haven’t told you lately I love you very, very much.

Love George

P.S. Baker just came over and started squawking about something, and what did I do but mess up the address on the envelope. I wrote Baker instead of Clifford. I used the envelope anyway, because they are not too easy to get here. I hope you don’t mind my absent mindedness too much. I still love you – lots! I never get absent minded about that!

Love George

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Letter Home 05-06-1944

Saturday Afternoon


Hi Honey:

How are you this bright sunshiny afternoon? The sun is really boiling down here today. There are about 5 of us sitting out in this sun trying to get a bit of a tan. I never stay out in it long though. It would not take long to get a good burn.

We were having a nice little rummy game, but it got broken up. There is this one guy here that none of us enjoy having around, and he came down and got in the game. Everyone suddenly lost interest in playing and here we are out in the sun.

I heard today that we would not start flying until next week. They have some other pilots that got here before us and they are going to be finished before we get started.

We had a couple more lectures though. One was on weather. In this hot climate it does not take long for large clouds to build up, and we have to watch the weather closely. When in doubt turn around and go home.

That is one very nice thing about this area. They never holler if you decide you had better turn around. Any time you don’t like an airplane you don’t have to fly it, and no one says a word.

One of the boys had a minor mishap the first (and only) time we flew, and nothing was said. Back in the States there would be screaming and hollering for weeks. It was his own fault of course. He landed too far down the runway, and just rolled into a ditch at the end. Nothing was hurt. They simply had a bit of work getting it out.

They had the picture “Sahara” at the show last night, but I had a small head ache, so I skipped it. I hope there is a good one Monday night.

I hope you are all well and happy, and account of I Love you very, very much. Thousands of miles away or not, I still love you – lots!

Love George

Letter Home 05-05-1944

Friday 2100


Hello Darling:

I finally met one of the boys from my old outfit. His name is Anderson, and he came in here this morning. He is assigned to this Replacement pool here to help orientate new pilots. He was telling me all kinds of tales about the rest of the gang. They are still practically all there.

You know, I suppose I could tell you something about how those boys have been doing. I don’t think it is vital war information now. And I think it might help to lessen any worries you may have about me.

Anyway in the time they have been here, about a year I guess, they haven’t lost more that two pilots in any squadron in combat. A lot have had their planes shot up, but they still come home. This P47 is almost impossible for the Japs to knock down, and with all the fire power it has they are fast becoming leery of tangling with it.

Anderson was saying you hardly ever see any in fact these days, and all the boys have become utterly contemptuous of the Jap pilots. Not to the extent where they stick their necks out looking for trouble, but they don’t worry about them any more.

That rumor I was talking about last night of our having a lecture was very true. We had a nice long one. There was a major that spoke to us about rescue, and he talked for 3 solid hours. Still he did not cover all he wanted to.

Today we had a couple more, and it was at one of them this afternoon that Anderson got roped into talking a bit.

It seems as if we have been here a long time, and it is only a week. We feel a little like natives by now. It doesn’t take long to settle down here.

I love you sweetheart always and all ways! Take real good care of you for me won’t you? I love you –

Love George

Friday, March 26, 2010

Letter Home 05-04-1944

Thursday Evening


Hello Darling:

I am far from sure of the day and date, but I think that it is close enough to call it Thurs. Time doesn’t mean much here. All it is is another day closer till we can (I hope) go home.

I am trying out my new stationary this evening. I just got my ration of two pads for the month. It seems a lot of things are rationed here. Tomorrow is the day for cigarettes. We are supposed to be able to buy 4 cartons a month, but lately they have been cut a bit to two.

I guess the only way you can send me a package is for me to request something. Then you have to take the letter to the post office. Anyway, will you send me some cigarettes and some #828 film if you can get it? It will probably only take a couple months to get here.

We did not fly today. All we had was a couple of lectures. I think we have another one tonight too. At least that is the latest rumor.

We have to take Atabrine tablets every day, and the boys are saying that is what makes us turn yellow. They are little yellow pills something like (quininze?) Protection against possible malaria.

Here it is 10 min to 6 and Kay Kyser is on the radio. It certainly is strange to hear these programs at odd hours like this. It should be Wed, but because of being this side of the date line we get it a day later.

We tried a new card game today. Fan Tan for a change. It is a pretty good game that quite a few can play. I made out better later yesterday in the cribbage game too by the way. I knew his luck could not last forever.

I love you sweetheart. Very much indeed. Outside of that there isn’t much other news. Take good care of you for me eh? I love you.

Love George
(a little anyway)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Letter Home 05-03-1944

Wednesday 330 PM

Hello Darling:

We started doing something at last. Yesterday afternoon we had a lecture, and then last night we had two Australian officers in to talk to us. They were pretty interesting. Both of them had lived in Japan before the war, and they naturally knew quite a bit about the Nips.

This morning some of us started flying. Most of the boys are enjoying it immensely. They can get away with a lot more here than they could back in the states. I bet there was more buzzing and low flying went on today, than has been done in the U.S. in the past 6 months.

Naturally I did a little myself, but don’t worry honey I was careful. I never got down nearly as low as most of them.

I’ve been playing cribbage with one of the boys in our tent, and I think I would do better playing for matches, or else trying poker. We were playing for sixpence a point, and I lost about three pounds. Better I should try poker.

I hope you don’t mind these fairly short letters darling. We don’t have much to say, and don’t do much. And because of the censorship we aren’t allowed to say much either.

Speaking of censorship I’ve been wondering if these letters are censored. They are subject to it of course, but as officers we seal our letters when we mail them. Enlisted personnel have to leave theirs unsealed. We just sign out envelopes in the lower left hand corner to certify that they contain no military information. Let me know some time if they censor eh?

I love you – lots and lots. I sure do hope they get going soon, and shove our mail through. I miss you letters very much. I love you!

Love George

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Letter Home 05-02-1944

Monday 8AM

Hello Darling:

Perhaps you are wondering why I seem to be always writing in the morning, but you see I have time then, and it is the coolest part of the day. The sun doesn’t really get going till a little later. It is of course cool at night, but we don’t have much of a light to be doing anything then. Usually we are in bed by 8 or 9.

Last night we had a show. It was an old murder mystery, but it was pretty good. I was thinking then that I don’t know how I will stay awake when I do get home. After a year or two of this (that’s possible, but I hope I get home in less than two) I will be so used to going to bed at 8 or 9, that I will be yawning all over if I try to stay up later probably. If course there may be a difference in the time I get up. We get up at about 6 here. They only serve breakfast from 630 to 730.

Yesterday I got ambitious, and did some laundry. We don’t have any real place to do it, so it isn’t really as clean as it could be. However it is a trifle cleaner, and we don’t worry about that too much.

I was going to write to Dottie yesterday, but I could not find her address. I can’t remember it exactly, nor do I know how she is to be addressed now since she got here rating. If you will send it to me I may be able to start writing to her in a month or two. It will probably take that long for letters to get back and forth.

Speaking of you letters reminds me that it has been a long time since I’ve heard from you. Not that I am blaming you sweetheart. It is simply because of all this moving around. And one of the boys in the orderly room said it would probably be a couple more weeks before any starts getting here. I certainly do miss your letters too.

That’s about all of the news at the moment darling. If you can call it news. It is kind of hard to write nothing in a letter.

Something that is easy to say is I love you. Easy to say, but much easier to mean. Especially to such a lovely wife as you are.

Love George

Letter Home 05-01-1944

Monday 8 AM


Hello Darling:

Here we go again on another day of leisure. At least we have not been given anything to do yet. I guess they still haven’t got their school set up ready.

They may be waiting till they get more of the boys in here, and have their personal affairs straightened out. Such as going to the finance office ect.

Nearly all the rest of our boys arrived yesterday afternoon. We feel like old timers now that these guys are here. Even if we don’t know much about what the score is; they know less than that.

The boys are sitting here cleaning their 45’s. Maybe I had best take a look at mine to see that it is not getting rusty. I may want to go hunting with it some day.

I was thinking yesterday how I had been talking to you on the phone two weeks ago. I guess that would be today back home. I sure wish I could do it again, but it will probably be a little longer before I get the chance again.

Since we are not doing much, I don’t have much to say. Except that I love you – but definitely!

Love George (a little?)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Letter Home 08-19-1944


Hello Darling:

It is early in the morning for me to be writing, but I missed last night. We had a double feature at the show, and it took till 11:15 to finish. By the time I got back to the house the lights were out. I have to fly this morning, but one of the boys in the flight is just going over to eat breakfast, so I think I have time. It is 8 o’clock now. Ten o’clock last night to you. You are probably thinking of going to bed about now. Wish I were with you.

I hope you aren’t too surprised when you get the money I sent home to you yesterday. I haven’t heard what you may have had to say about the $450 I sent before, but you seemed to think the $270 I sent from Frisco was quite a bit, so no doubt the other was a bigger surprise. Well yesterday I topped it all with $1000.00. I don’t ever expect to be able to do that again, in fact I am still not quite used to it myself.

I have to fly – See you later. I love you darling – lots and lots!

Well here I am again an hour and a half later. Things were slightly SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fouled Up) and we did not fly. There were 3 flights there, and we had a time even getting enough planes for one. A lot of them were out for inspections and plug changes. Lots of fun, but no flying.

To get back to this conversation about money – filthy subject isn’t it. I don’t mean to dwell on it so, but I though you might expect a bit of explaining. Anyway I won most of that $1000 playing poker. And I’ve also got 3 money orders for #100.00 each that I think I will have Hayes endorse to you and just send them in this envelope. They can only be transferred once, so I won’t even bother having them endorsed to me. I will also have to mention this in another letter in case this one gets lost. I will keep the stubs so I can send you the serial #’s on them if such a thing does happen. You can perhaps mention receiving both of these amounts in a couple of you letters too, so I will know you got them.

Now I suppose I better say something about my winning such a number of pickets for the fence around the hut? That was very unusual for me (or anyone) to win that much. I was just extra lucky. Usually no one wins more then 3 or 400 bucks. And every one of them is still ahead of the game. For instance Hayes (who lost the 300) has sent home over $2000 since he has been here, and Ford has won quite a bit, and so on. And I do not intend to be losing a lot of money myself, because I won’t have it to lose. I keep just a little to play with each month. If I win – fine! – I send it home. If I lose I won’t lose much, and then I can wait till the next month to try my little bit again. For instance right now I have $50 in case I play again. If I lose I quit, and I will still be way ahead.

This is not changing me in any way as far as my getting gambler’s fever or anything either. All of us over here kind of lose our sense of value of money, because we can’t spend any, and it is also in this Dutch money. It is almost like play money. For $50 I get about 100 of these cigar coupons. If we had American dollars we probably would never have very big games. Also, it doesn’t matter to me if I play for small amounts or large. I just like to play cards. Nearly any kind for that matter. Also I never expect to play very much poker of any kind when I get home. Then I will realize what money means and I will have you, xo I won’t have to look anywhere else for entertainment. Naturally I like to win like this to give us something to start on when I get home. Especially since I have no idea what I will do for a job. In case you have to support me I may at least hold up my end for a short time at any rate. (Just kidding darling.)

I am not out for blood in these games either. I hope I win, but it doesn’t matter. If I don’t have any money at all when I get home I will have you (and that is worth more than any amount of dough), and we will get by somehow. Just being with you will make me happy, and I intend to do everything in my power to make you happy too.

This had been quite a long discourse on gambling and money. I hope I haven’t left you with the impression that I’ve become so mercenary that I can think of nothing else. Rather I hope I’ve made you understand how I feel about the whole thing. How about it? What did you make of it?

By the way if you or the folks, or the folks in Detroit need any money of have use for it, don’t hesitate to use it. Nothing would please me more than to see you get some enjoyment out of it. It doesn’t mean anything to me as far as using it goes. You don’t have to use it on necessities either if you don’t want to. Spend it foolishly or anyway – like buy yourself some shoes for instance. This is probably the only time I will ever feel that I have enough to even think of satisfying my darling’s fondness for shoes. Again, I am kidding, or did you know that already.

I guess I won’t have to mention this subject again. I’ve covered it exhaustively I think. A much better subject for conversation is my love for you. That is reall great! It doesn’t seem right to crowd such a lot of love into such a small space, but I am out of paper again. I love you!

Love George

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

George M. Barnes and the "Little Edie"

Here is a great picture of my grandfather and his plane, the "Little Edie" which was named in honor of my grandmother Edith.

Letter Home 06-30-1944

Friday 1900

Hello Darling:

Still doing business here at the same old stand, although (can’t spell tonight) we haven’t been flying since they told us we were being assigned to the 348th. We certainly are ready to go join them whenever they give the word.

I had hopes that I might get a letter or two from you before we left. However for the past few days no one has received any mail. I know that once we leave here our mail will very likely be balled up for almost a month.

There seems to be a extraordinary number of bugs buzzing around here tonight. The worst of are the little flying ants. We always have a lot of little brown ants here, but tonight they have wings, and they keep bothering the dickens out of us.

I went over to get a hair cut today. My hair was getting about an inch long. First thing I knew it would be getting in my eyes. Mostly what bothered me really was the way it was starting to curl over my ears. Now that is remedied now.

Junior is cussing New Guinea tonight, the bugs, woods and everything. He is very disgusted, and wishes he was back in England. He is a really good kid, and will be ok, all of the boys are telling him he is crazy. Everyone else is glad they are here. His real name is Wurtz, and he comes from Dearborn. He is the youngest one here, and that won him the moniker of Junior. Usually he is one of the best natured boys I know of, but he is disgusted with this place tonight. In much different words of course. I couldn’t write the actual language being tossed around here at the moment.

However he feels about it doesn’t change our opinion. This is where we want to be, other than to be at home. Since we have to go somewhere to fight this is the best in most of the boy’s opinion. Don’t get me wrong Darling. I am not praising the jungle life. If we were over in England we would find plenty to be griped about too I think. This to my mind is the lesser of the two evils.

These ants are getting in my hair too much darling, and I don’t have too much news tonight, so I think I will sign off for now.

I love you – always and all ways. No matter how far apart we are you are always here with me in my heart. Take good care of you for me won’t you? I love you.

Love George

Letter Home 06-27-1944

Thursday 1900

Hello Darling:

It seems like everyone was pretty busy while Dottie was home. I bet everyone had a good time though. Too bad she could not stay longer.

I got three letters from you today. The mail situation is a lot better here. I also got the Vmail you sent by the way.

What is this you tell me about these 4F wolves keeping an eye on you in some bar? I can understand it though in a way, because you are a very lovely gal. So any man might be intrigued! However don’t pay any attention to them will you?

I can imagine Betty getting a big kick out of it. I’ll bet she teased you unmercifully. She is a pretty good sport I think.

I just got Dottie’s address, so now perhaps I can write her a little note some evening. In fact tonight is as good as any I guess.

You asked me to elaborate on going to town business I spoke of back where we were. Well there used to be people live in these towns in New Guinea. From what a few Aussies have said it was pretty much a summer vacation spot. They had a few hotels and a few houses there. There aren’t any civilians around now though. It is all Army, Navy and Aussies now. The only thing of any interest there was the Allied Officer’s Club. They did not have anything much to sell. In fact nothing in the line of drinking material. All they had was some cold drinks. Not much taste to them. Just circus water. During the day we could get tea and cakes. I think I told you about doing that one time. They also served dinners there, but I don’t know how they were. I was never in for one.

There aren’t really any towns as you know them at home. Every place is simply an Army or Navy base, or an air strip. There probably wont be any civilians around till long after the war is over. Any time the boys get leave here they fly down to Austrailia in transport planes. On the Army naturally.

Most of the boys are a bit disgusted about the leave situation. Usually, the leaves are given to the boys every three or four months. On a rotation system, so there is always someone on leave.

However in our case we have not been assigned to any outfit yet, and all this time we spend does not count on any leaves. That doesn’t bother me so much. I’d just as soon keep right on the job here till it was over. What I hope is that this time does count on how soon we get home.

One of the boys in the tent is from Detroit, and he just got a copy of the Detroit News today. It is the April 29th issue. We found a poem in it and a cartoon we got a kick out of. He kept the poem, but I copied it for you.

Only a Woman

If you might rest a moment in my arms
Only a moment fee from fact and fear
All of my soul would crumble at your wish
All of my heart open, to find you near.

If you could pause, even a second’s breath,
Forgetting time and reason and our duty
What might we learn of wonder and of depth
What cadence full of vast, eternal beauty.

But we must stand, separate and long apart,
Hallowed for things larger than self and time
Only a woman turns her eyes away,
And longs to set a holocaust to rhyme.

The poem I am serious about sweetheart, but I am only kidding about the cartoon. You will look good to me no matter what.

I will be running out of things to say soon, and won’t be able to write much to Dottie. Maybe I better sign off for now.

I love you darling very much. Every day is possible I love you more. I love you