Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Letter 5- October 20, 1943

October 20, 1943

(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder and Pappy,

I was so sure that this would be my last day in the hospital that I went to the supply room this morning and got clean bedclothes (this is necessary before one can leave). The shock was terrific when the nurse said, “Too bad but you ain’t on da list.” I couldn’t figure it out until I read the work list, but then it was perfectly clear. I was given the great honor of mopping the floor, again. I’m positive that they’re keeping me here because I’m the only one in the ward that is strong enough and willing enough to do any work. (war is hell)

I’m perfectly convinced a this time that the Army is the most inefficient organization in the whole wide world. If a person works hard and gets a job quickly it gets him “nottin’”. As soon as he finishes one job they hunt another for him. Here’s where the great art of “goldbricking” comes in the Army. One is shirking your duty so the other fellow has to do your work. That is bad. The other is merely stretching a job out until it takes all day. That’s good. Well, although at home I was a first class goldbrick of the latter type, here I’m a rank amateur. It’s too cold to loaf on the job. Therefore, they’ve got me spotted as a good worker. That’s bad.

Well that’s about all. Outside it’s raining, hailing, sleeting, and snowing all at once.



  1. Am enjoying the letters and drawings very much. It's reassuring to know that nothin' ever changes in the Army. -- wg

  2. I've never heard a better description of "the art of goldbricking".

  3. Welcome to the world, Bill. As he is learning, there are always people who will spend every waking hour figuring out how to get out of work. But if the weather is as bad as he says, isn't mopping indoors better than the combat engineers outside? I can imagine some junior officer explaining to his men that they have a marvelous opportunity to practice their inclement weather technique.

  4. It's true, Bill is warm in the hospital but sooner or later he needs to get to his unit. As we shall see, he is going to be set back in the training cycle and as Bill would say, "that's bad".


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