This is a letter written by my Father, Frank Padden, while he traveled cross country from Sampson Naval Base to his assignment on the West Coast. It is the only letter from this period that has survived.
October 28, 1944 9:15 A.M.
Dear Mother and Dad,
|I hope you can read this letter, but itís quite hard to write while riding. About five minutes ago we passed through a small place called Marion, Ohio.
Iím in the first car in the train & there are only fifteen other fellows with me. The car has private and semi private compartments and all of the private compartments are filled with officers & Iím in one of the semi private cars and are the beds comfortable. I just happened to be one of the lucky ones to get in the car with the officers & Iím thankful that I did because they really travel in style.
All of the other cars have forty-two fellows in them & theyíre sleeping in three decker bunks while we have two decker ones with curtains for privacy and all on them. We have hot & cold water so we can wash up and shave in the morning. Our car also is the only one thatís air-conditioned the rest have a fan at each end.
When I first got in the car I thought I was dreaming because we had to walk through two of the other & they were nothing like the one were in, we even have a carpet covering the floor.
The porter told us this morning that we should arrive sometime Wednesday morning. I wonít be able to mail this letter until we get there so it should be quite long. Were strictly forbidden to mail any letter in order that we donít give away troop movements. We even have porters to make our bunks at night and to fix them in the morning too. Some class huh? The porter told us that if we were to make this trip in the car were in now as a civilian it would cost us at least a hundred and fifty dollars.
For breakfast this morning we had scrambled eggs, bacon, bread, coffee and an orange, I guess we didnít do too bad.
Iím going to continue this letter printing because I find it a lot easier to write. I just came back from dinner, we had Ė potatoes, spinach, ham, bread, butter, cake, pineapple & tomato juice! Did I eat. One thing that Iíve noticed we havenít had to drink is milk but I guess itís quite hard to keep on a trip like this.
Youíve probably noticed that this letter is cut short now and then. We had a half hour liberty in a town called Huntington, in Indiana. I had a cabinet & brought a quart of milk back on the train to drink later. I also got a cake, some apples & some magazines to read, so I guess IĎve got enough to deep me busy. Itís quite warm here in Indiana, in fact, the air conditioner is on but we still feel the heat a little, but not as much as the other cars.
Here I am back again. I decided that I had better wash some of my clothes. Right now were stopped in Chicago, Illinois. The place is just jam packed with people because P resident Roosevelt is going to speak tonight here at the Chicago Stadium & we can see the platform that heís going to speak from, from our train windows. Weíre going to stay here until about one oíclock tomorrow morning.
I intended to go to bed at eight oíclock, but weíve had quite a busy night out train is stopped as I told you right near where the president spoke. When the presidentís train came into Chicago, it stopped about four tracks away from ours. One of t he fellows spotted him & then everyone in the train was opening their windows so then we all started yelling our lungs out, until He turned around & waved at us, so I did get to see the president after all even if it was for only about five minutes. I guess Iíll go to bed now so Iíll write or rather continue this letter in the morning. Good night, Love Frank
October 29, 1944 9:15 A.M.
Here I am back again only I Ďm not in Indiana anymore Iím in Iowa. We stopped in Waterloo, Iowa for about a half hour, so I bought some post cards of the place to send home. We saw where the Sullivans lived and the whole neighborhood looks exactly like it did in the picture.
Weíve traveled for about 27 hours so far & I donít mind it a bit because we have plenty of space to move around in our car.
We had to set our watches back an hour last night or rather this morning because we passed the international date line & weíll have to set them back another hour in Denver, Colorado & then again just before we get into California, itís getting so we wonít know what time it is.
Right now were going through a village called Cedar Springs, Iowa. We donít see too many towns or villages; most of the land around here is covered with cornfield as far as the eye can see. There are also quite a few pigs in the fields eating corn & some of them are so big & fat, from a distance they look like cows.
I guess Iím getting pretty lazy because right after dinner I decided I was going to lay down for a while but instead I slept until about a half hour ago. About twenty minutes ago we stopped in a town called Council Bluffs, Iowa. We got off of the train to do exercises for about ten minutes. IĎve got to go to show in about half an hour so I Ďm going to start cleaning up. Iíll continue after supper.
Here I am back again, by now you must be getting pretty tired of reading my letter, but by the time I finish it, it will be a lot longer. Itís been pretty hot all day, but weíve had the air Ė conditioner on full force all day, so it hasnít been bad at all.
Right after I ate supper, I washed some of my clothes. They got so dirty from riding, that I thought I wouldnít be able to get them clean, but I did & now Iíve got them hanging up to dry.
We just stopped in Hastings, Nebraska for about five minutes, so I got out just for about a minute to say that I had stepped there.
I just glanced back at my writing & began to realize how bad it is, but itís about the best I can do while riding. Maybe Iíll improve as we go along.
The porter is going to make up my bunk in about fifteen minutes, so I think Iíd better quit writing until tomorrow & pick up all the things, Iíve got hanging around. Goodnight, Love Frank
October 30, 1944
Here I am back again, right in the middle of nowhere, because all we can see in all directions is corn & wheat growing. Iím writing a little later this morning because right after I came from eating I layed down & in less than ten minutes I was back asleep again. Weíve padded through so many towns today that IĎll give you a list of them. Were in Colorado now we came into it during the night. As soon as we hit Denver we have to set our watches back another hour. The towns weíve been through are Nelso, Tampa, Fort Morgan, & Keensburg. In about two hours were supposed to be in Denver, I really should say an hour because Iíll have to turn my watch back an hour. Iíve got some clothes to wash so Iíll continue after I wash & eat dinner. We had quite a good breakfast this morning. Bacon & eggs, toast, coffee & doughnuts & for dinner were pork chops & what were having with them I donít know just yet but I will in about two hours. Iíll continue after I do my washing.
I just came back from dinner, we had roast pork, not pork chops, potatoes, dressing, applesauce, pineapple juice, & cake. As usual I ate too much, but I guess Iíll never learn.
In about an hour we reach Denver, Colorado. All along the way there are towns, more towns & more towns. Right now we're coming into the town of Tonville or I really should say we just passed it because by the time I finish this sentence weíll be through it. When we reach Denver we're going to be allowed to go to buy candy & magazines & walk around the town for about a half hour.
We just went by a small pond just about completely covered with wild geese & as the train went by they make one H--- of a racket quacking. Iím going to put on my dress blues now so Iíll be able to get off at Denver, Iíll continue after we get back on the train.
Here I am back again, we just left Denver, Colorado. We stayed there for about a half hour. The Red Cross served us coffee & doughnuts all we wanted. I had exactly eight doughnuts & three cups of coffee. Right now are train has been split up, that is there were nineteen cars altogether in our train, but now the train has been divided into two with two engines for each section because right now we are going through the Rock Mountain.
After going over the plains for two days it seem kind of funny to be riding in the hills. We have exactly twenty-nine tunnels to go through before we go through the largest tunnel through a mountain in the world. All I can see now is mountain that look like skyscrapers with the tips covered with snow. The tips of them really shine as if theyíre all lit up. Iíll write about them just as soon as we finish going over the first one.
Weíve been riding through the Rocky Mountains since two oíclock this afternoon & were still going through them. We went through exactly forty-two tunnels, not twenty-nine. No one could really describe how it looks its so beautiful. I just wish that you could be here to see it because I really couldnít describe it, no matter how hard I tried.
October 31, 1944
Here I am back again, I didnít write last night after supper because until about ten oíclock last night I was on the back platform of the car looking at the different mountains.
Were still riding through the mountains & will be until we hit California. In about an other hour were going around the tallest mountains in the U.S., Itís called Soldiers Peak
By the time I finish this letter, it will be as thick as a book, all I hope is, that you can understand it.
We were told that we probably wouldnít get there until Thursday Morning because we had engine trouble late last night & were delayed for about four hours, which will delay us even more, because were not going according to schedule.
I donít remember us stopping in the middle of the night, but I was sound asleep. We just came out of Colorado & were now in Utah. WE expect to get into Salt Lake City about one oíclock this afternoon. If we stop there for more than twenty minutes, will be able to get off to get more candy, magazines & what I want most of all a glass of ice cold milk. This noon for dinner were supposed to have chicken, so it ought to be pretty good. Iíll continue writing sometime after dinner.
November 1. 1944
11:15 Pacific Time
2:15 Eastern Time
Here I am back again, I didnít write too much yesterday because I slept practically all day, I guess Iím just getting lazy.
Right now were stopped in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California taking on water.
My ears have been ringing all morning because of the high altitude up here. We were told that weíll get in California about two or three oíclock this afternoon so I probably wonít write anymore for a few days, but just as soon as I can, I will.
We took up a collection today for the porter everyone but two gave a half dollar so altogether we had seven dollars to give him.
As soon as I find out just what Iím going to do I send a telegram or call if possible but if were not allowed to Iíll tell you in my next letter.
Yesterday afternoon we stopped in Salt Lake City & the Red Cross gave us all the coffee & doughnuts we wanted, thatís the third time that theyíve given us coffee & doughnuts.
After we left Salt Lake City we went across the Salt Lake itself. The lake is seventy-six miles long and is thirty miles wide, we crossed it at the narrowest point & the bridge was five & a half miles long. Iíve got to go to chow now, so IĎll continue this letter when I come back.
12:15 Pacific Time
3:15 Eastern Time
I just came back from chow. While we were eating, we came down out of the mountains & I thought my ears were going to pop from the pressure.
We just passed an orange orchard & some people were picking the oranges, it seemed kind of funny, itís nothing like Woonsocket around here. Were stopping now right in the center of some town & all along the side of the street are the funny looking palm trees it seems like a world of itís own out here.
The weather is getting warm very fast out here. Right where we are now itís just like the middle of summer in Woonsocket.
I was just wondering how the pictures I had taken in Providence came out. I hope that their better than the oneís I had taken at Sampson.
By now you must be getting pretty tired of reading this letter because itís practically a book, so I guess Iíll have to cut short because Iíve got to get my things ready to get off the train. Iíll try to call or send a telegram, but if I canít Iíll write another letter soon as possible.
Mother would you please send me a book of Air Mail stamps because I donít know how hard theyíll be to get here.
Mother would you also have my identification bracelet engraved. Iíll draw a diagram of what I would like, if possible on it. If itís too expensive to have all of that engraved on it just have the front done.
Francis G. Padden
Thanks a Lot.
I hope youíre not tired after reading this letter (book).