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Mail call!

Mail call

Mail call!

Camp Wolters TX, April 8, 1943

4th Platoon, A Company, 57th Bn.

     Typical Army nonsense: All mess cooks are issued GI whistles with the same sound. As a result, our barracks stampedes out on perhaps three false alarms whenever the "wrong" whistle is blown. See how efficient that is?

     But the main daily mess-up here is with mail call, when some eager beaver says, "Mail call yet?" to no one in particular.

     Two guys then say, "Nope." Then some clown vehemently (and probably profanely) adds, "No, no mail call."

     Immediately some guy with jackrabbit ears perks up at the end of the barracks and says, "Who said 'mail call?' I didn't hear nothin.'"

     Promptly the furor starts as plaintive voices protest, "I wasn't told about it," and a babble of intelligent draftees seethes upstairs: "is it . . . is it mail call? Hey, mail call yet?"

     By the time the last whine has faded and the last inquisitor is content that no, there's been no mail call (the toad that first yelped about it has forgotten and is now in the latrine shaving and singing, "I looked at him because he looked at me because I looked at him . . ."), the most acute-eared of the second floor has spread the word. A flying wedge of dressed and undressed, mail-hungry soldiers pours down the stairs, hot on the trail and all bawling "Mail call! Mail call!" as they strive to trample the man ahead and trip the man behind.

     Chagrin is theirs as they mill around the lower barracks seeking the mail orderly. Then, as the falseness of the false alarm spreads, some say bitterly, "No mail call." Some damn fool got wise."

     Just then, Whistling Willie emerges clean-shaven from the latrine. Hearing the magic words, he naively asks, "Hey. Was that mail call?"

     Naturally, that starts it all over again.

      — (From a 1943 letter home written by Elliot Wager, M/393.)