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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Letter from Catherine Katopes to Dena and Jimmie, 1942

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Object ID: WV0122.4.002

Description: Katopes describes basic training at Fort Des Moines to her sister and brother-in-law, including the base movie theater, kitchen patrol, doing laundry, a typhoid vaccination, and a blister that prevents her from marching.

Creator: Catherine Katopes

Biographical Info:

Catherine G. Katopes (1912-1979) served in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and the Women's Army Corps from 1942 to late 1945.

Collection: Catherine G. Katopes Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text:

Dear Dena and Jimmie:

Just received your letter about an hour ago. We get mail on Sunday too.

It was sad about Mrs. Pandely's passing but it undoubtedly for the best. She must have been suffering a good deal. I know who you meant.

I wouldn't worry if I were you about Charlie. What's the use. When the Army says, "Go there." you go and no if and buts about it.

We have a movie on the post or rather a theatre and believe it or not, I haven't been to see a movie yet. I wrote a letter to Koko just now, so get her to read it to you. I may have mentioned things in her letter that I have forgotten to tell you.

I wasn’t very tired after my first K.P. duty because I got a break. It only lasted for four hours and I merely rinsed the dishes and swept the kitchen and cleaned a little around the sink.

I have K.P. tomorrow at Consolidated Mess #1, and the girls say it is the nicest one to work in. They have an electric dishwasher there, but the dining room seats four or five hundred people. We probably will do mostly waitress work for out K.P.

I haven't had any time to write to hardly anyone but you, Charlie and Johnnie.

My laundry is all caught up. Everything is clean and so I shall have more time next week I hope.

My blister is getting better and I have been walking around in one oxford and my leopard skin oxford.

The doctor (a woman) has been dressing it every morning, putting Sulfanilamide Ointment on it to dry it up. It isn't at all painful. Just inconvenient cause I couldn't march in the Parade yesterday. I watched the Parade again and it was beautiful. The sun was shining and the girls looked so trim and neat in their khaki uniforms.

I'm going on "Sick Call" again tomorrow morning which means that at about 10 minutes of seven a whistle is blown before each barracks and those having colds or sore feet or anything else come out and go to the orderly room. From there we go down to the Infirmary in a column of two’s.

If we get to the Infirmary early, we get taken care of as we come in and can return to our barracks before they "fall out" for classes or drill at 8:00 A.M.

The blister is coming along fine. The doctor said we could put a dry bandage on it Monday. It probably would have been all better now but for the fact that it looked okay Friday and the doctor said it would be all right to wear my shoe. But all day yesterday and today I've been wearing my slipper and that will help plenty. It's nothing to worry about though.

I think I got the blister from my overshoes. I'm going to change them tomorrow night.

I had another Typhoid shot yesterday and the only effect I had was a sore arm, which all of us have. There is one girl in our barracks, who passed out last night. A couple of the girls carried her in to the barracks and got her into bed. She moaned all night long. We have come to the conclusion that she was quite homesick and probably was very spoiled. I got up a couple of times but all that was bothering her was her arm and all of us had sore arms. Some people just can't take it I guess.

I haven't written to Geo and Contillo yet. And it's too bad about his piles. And I was sorry to read in your previous letter that you had such a bad cold and yet had to work.

Why don't Jimmie and George close on Sundays 'til five or six? This war is going to last a long time and goodness you have your health to think about. Make them think about it seriously. You can at least try it.

If Evelyn hasn't left yet, and you give her my typewriter to bring out (by the way did you find the key to it) give her a notation to check it through to Fort Des Moines, Iowa with her baggage and when she gets here, to call me on the telephone. To ask for Co.13. 3rd Reg. Barracks 102 and I'll go and pick it up. Have her tie a tag on it with her name and Ft.

Des Moines, Iowa on it.

I can't get any film for my camera on the post and so I'll have to try and get some in town next week.

However, I think I'll borrow someone else's camera meanwhile.

I have a couple of negatives of me in those soldier overcoats and they are a scream. I'll get those developed right away.

Hope your cold is all gone by now.

I had a letter from Johnny K. too. An order came through that we cannot send our mail Free as we are not yet attached legally to the Army. However, there is a bill trying to go through Congress to accomplish this.

As for something from Elena, I'd like a subscription to Reader's Digest or maybe the Post Standard. However, the Reader's Digest is much cheaper than the Post-Standard. Do you think that's asking too much?

Well, this will be all for now,

Love, Cathy

P.S. Please give my regards to all who ask.