Transcribed by James Fox, August 2004|
from the Deposit-Coach Fox WW2 Letters Collection
Private Clayton M. Axtell Jr. (Letter 1/3)
Deposit H.S. Class of 1933
Fort Niagara, N.Y.
August 11, 1942
Perhaps it should be considered a lack or courtesy to call you "coach" not that you have been promoted and though I have no doubt you will really fill the bill in the new job, I prefer to stick to the salutation of the past. Any salutation stemming from your new title would embody a stuffiness that I refuse to recognize.
By the time this letter reaches you I hope you are completely recovered. Mother wrote me so I should have been able to get a letter to you while you were still in the hospital but unfortunately I was on a bivouac and did not receive it until about a week after it was written.
This last week has been a full one for me. I have been WORKING as a co-company clerk i.e. another fellow and I have been sharing the duties. In addition I have been guarding priseners while they work and standing main guard. The last consists of patroling the post by sentries. For the last 24 hours I have been on post #1. This post is the area around the guardhouse. I walked for 2 hours and rested 4 for 24 hours.
I haven't been doing duty long enough to know whether I will be able to rise above a private or not. The work however certainly doesn't require one with 7 years of college training but someone has to do it & at present it is my lot.
I hope you were able to salvage your summer school. If there is one thing concerning which I can speak from a depth of experience it is the effect of sickness on school work. At times I found the going plenty tough but I guess it didn't do me any harm and perhaps toe hardship did me good.
If you have been able to sleep as well since your operation as I am going to tonight you will be better that even in another week..
Corporal Clayton M. Axtell jr (letter2/3).
Los Angeles, California
I've been going to write you for a long time but have been so busy I just haven't gotten around to it. I doubt if I'd have found time even yet but I have a request to make which has a slight degree of urgency attached to it.
After my year in New York I'm now out with a division getting some tactical training. I still have my former affiliation but I'm wearing an olive drab suit now. One advantage is the shift is now I can apply for O.C.S. i.e. if I can find a school that is still open that I care to go to. (I would rather be a corporal in what I am in than a 2nd Lieut in a lot of things.) If I apply I would like a letter of recommendation or two to attach to my application, I thought perhaps you have had as good an opportunity as anyone to observe my capabilities, outside of the law, and that I might prevail upon you to forward me a letter to be used for this purpose. If your secretary types it would you have her make an original and two copies.
It is a pretty rugged life to hit the Arizona desert almost directly from N.Y. especially when you join a group that has a lot of training behind them. So far I find I can keep up with them all None of my childhood afflictions seem to bother me & I'm as healthy as can be at this writing.
How does the job at school go? I don't suppose that it is very easy to keep teachers with wages the way they are & with a teacher shortage for other reasons in addition.
I saw by the paper that Beefy* also has ventured into the realm of matrimony. I hope he regards this venture with a bit more seriousness of purpose that has been his custom in other lines of endeavor.
Margaret wrote me that she saw Mrs. Fox one weekend in Deposit and had a talk with her. I hope that she and the rest of your family are enjoying the best of health.
Though I live in tents with dirt floor, no electric lights; though the latrine is 100 yards away; ant though tomatoes are poured on potatoes, and beans on top of all three at mess, we do have sunshine and a blue sky all day with the temperature never going below 25 at night and during the day hovering around 60 to 70.
It is now time to pour a little water in my helmet & rake off the whiskers so I will close.
*[Albert "Beefy" or "Sonny" Steinman]
Corporal Clayton M. Axtell jr. (letter3/3)
APO Los Angeles, Cal
Your letter & inclosures arrived safely and I certainly appreciated both their content and the speed with which I received them.
I am trying a long-shot i.e. to go to Judge Advocate school. Men with much greater experience have failed to make the grade bit I thought it worth the try.
As I've read the 'Courier' I've noted all the attempts to legislate morals and manners into children & also am attempted to force parents to do their duty by making accessories to a crime out of their children. Perhaps makeshift measures are needed but nothing will ever succeed until the home performs its function. With proper interest and common sense exercised by teachers over the years the school can do much but alone even its job is difficult. The type of behavior that went on for too long in the local school I'm afraid has added up with the dereliction of the parents to cause in part Deposit's present problem. The parents are beyond hope but I'm glad to hear the school is making progress.
I'm still with my old connections but WORKING along slightly different lines in much more reeged surroundings and in a far less flashy suit of clothes, namely Olive Drab. After this I don't know what but I'd guess it would be a boat ride before too many months have passed.
Christmas here was quite different from that in Deposit. Needless to say I missed the gathering at the Smith's & the other bits of Christmas festivity. Here is hoping (against hope) that next year will find us all at home.
I hope all your duties haven't prevented you from giving the thought of a commencement speaker further thought.
This letter seems to approach the irrational but time here is so short that letter writing is done at top speed during odd moments with no guarantee as to the product.
Thanks again for the letter.
Please give my regards to Mrs Fox
P.S. Your steno did & excellent job of typing.