Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

<- PREVIOUS LETTER August 21, 1944 (light fiction)
Saidor, New Guinea

Still, somewhere in New Guinea

Aug. 21st, '44

Hello Ma:

      Everything is O.K. as usual. But since I haven't received any mail for such a long time (and you can guess the reason why), that I am afraid that when that exciting moment ("mail call") does actually come to happen, I won't be able to stand the shock - should I receive some mail, that is. Well, so much for the war conditions.

      Well, on to the next page, you will find something which might prove of interest to you. A fugitive from a squirrel cage gave it to me; and I now pass it off to you. Ready?

      Well, here we go:

Title: Short Course on the Army's Personnel Rotation (Back to the States) Plan.

Name: E.P. Reinhalter       Rank: yes, very       ASN: 10.00˝+

Mos. Overseas: too many

No. of times in New Guinea: half a dozen or so

Score on I.Q. test: I'm ashamed to tell

Good conduct medal? Well, yes and
no; no, I didn't manage to qualify
for such a medal; and, yes, I didn't
receive any.

  Note to clerk:
file in trash can

      Candidate's signature   X  

Note: This application must be accompanied by your pro (meaning profession) card. With men now leaving our organization to return to the States for, we have found from reports drifting back to us, that these men are required to attend school for two weeks. The purpose of this school is to teach those men culture and refinement (if they ever had any is not important, as the school will start from the very beginning of the subject), in order that they may re-adapt themselves to the far gentler life in the States. The men are all anxious to return home, and have a two-week's delay in the school, which is hard to take (as you can imagine, oh yeah!), so in order to remedy this, we have compiled this pertinent data:

After taking this "short (we hope) course," it will not be necessary for you to attend any other school, and you may then go directly home to see your friends (if you have any), confident that you are able to mix with any groups, be it a "saloon" or a "salon." Our course naturally carries the important identification, "The Good Tentkeeping Seal of Approval."

      Excerpts from the course:

I. - Upon arriving in America, you will be amazed at the large number of beautiful girls you will see. Remember boys, New York is not New Guinea. Many of these girls have occupations, such as stenographers, salesgirls, riveters, welders, beauty parlor operators; therefore, you do not approach them with, "How much?" A proper approach which is sure to make a "hit" is, "Isn't it a beautiful day?" or "Were you ever in Baltimore?" Then you may say - "How much?"

II. - If you are visiting someone's home, and, after spending the night, are awakened by a gentle rap at the door, informing you that the household is arising, the proper answer is, "I'll be there shortly," etc. Do not say, "Blow it out your royal ____!"

III. - Your first meal in the morning being breakfast, you will find a strange assortment of foods. Such things are "American" items such as cantaloupe, fresh eggs, and unpowdered milk, etc., are apt to grace the table. Do not be afraid of them, they are highly palatable and also do not produce indigestion. If you wish some more butter, you should turn to the nearest person and say, "Please pass the butter." You do not say, "Sling the goddam grease!"

IV. - If, while in a group, you find that a biological urge is coming over you and you find that it becomes necessary to defecate (but fast), you do not grab a shovel in one hand and a copy of Yank in the other and then dash headlong to the general direction of the garden. You will find that approximately 90% (as per Gallup Poll) of the homes in the States have one room there in the house called the "bathroom" - i.e., a bathroom in most cases contains a bathtub, wash basin, medicine cabinet, and a toilet. It is the latter that you will use in this case. (Ed. note: A toilet is a bowl-like contraption, mechanically operated from a control box usually located directly behind said bowl, which before using, is partially filled with clean water; and, after pulling or turning a lever or by pulling a chain - by mechanical action, empties the bowl of the used water; and, replaces it with clean water in just one easy swirling motion.) It is customary, among the better classes, that after making use of this closet-bowl combination (colloquially known as a toilet) for the user to rinse his hands off with clean water - not from the bowl, but from the chinaware object, usually standing next to the toilet, known as "wash bowl." It, therefore, is not really necessary to carry your helmet with you (that you probably planned to use as you know what) when you are in need of a wash (also), as both water and water containers for washing (and otherwise) are available - in most homes, anyway.

V. - You are invited to someone's home: If upon arriving, you find that all of the chairs in the living room are occupied, do not immediately proceed to squat down in the nearest corner, in a manner in an "Indian" sort of way and say that you are perfectly comfortable. Have patience, your host or hostess will soon provide you with some kind of an improvised "rectum rest."

VI. - Belching or the passing of wind in company is strictly frowned upon. If, however, you should forget about it and belch in the presence of others; just say, "Excuse me." Do not say, "It must be the lousy chow we are getting," or, "It must have been something which I inhaled - while in the latrine."

VII. - When at dinner, you will be amazed to find that each item has, in most cases, a separate dish. In the Army, you learned to eat such delightful combinations as corned-beef patties and bilge water pudding mixed together; or, lima beans and mustard; instead, bear with this strange civilian custom, and in no time you will become used to their "separation dish" system and you will enjoy your meal - maybe.

VIII. - If you are entertaining at home and plan on serving any stimulants, you must be very careful. It has been your experience while overseas that such drinks as: "under-ripe vino," "alcohol and grapefruit fermento juice," "the essence of ferment of lemon extract," or - a combination of gasoline (100 octane), bitters and chlorinated water, which the Italian natives probably call "cognac," and which the New Guinea inhabitants (natives - not U.S. Army personnel), I think, term liquified "kai-kai" ("kai-kai" meaning to eat); are highly acceptable. You will find, however, that your civilian friends are a little more discriminating, so - do not serve any of the above - if you want to keep your friends - assuming that you have some, that is.

IX. - When a person has erred back in the "States," he is informed of this by his associates with such statements as, "I believe you made a mistake," or, "Perhaps you overlooked this," etc. If by chance you feel it is your duty to inform someone of the blunder, do not accuse him or them of having "Fouled up." Any of these are considered suitable.

X. - If, upon leaving a friend's home after a visit, you find you have misplaced your hat, it is highly probable that it has been placed in the closet for you. You meet this situation by turning to your host or hostess, whichever the case may be, and then say, "I don't seem to have my hat. Could you help me find it?" Do not say, "Don't anybody leave this tent (or rather, room), some S.O.B. has swiped me 'at!"

XI. - If, in your travels in the States, especially in a strange city, you feel that it is time to find a place to "snooze," you should enquire as to the nearest "flophouse" (or rather, hotel). Upon arriving there, you should immediately register, after which you will be shown to your room. But remember, you are not in combat. So, do not go up to the nearest house, throw out the occupants into their yard, and then lie down to sleep - maybe.

XII. - You do not need be afraid of bombs or poisonous gases in the "States." So, do not wear your helmet, gas mask, and protective clothing while in the house - or elsewhere in the States.

XIII. - Upon arriving at home, you will no doubt be offered real "American" whiskey. It is at this time that you will be called upon to exercise the peak of control. Merely accept the drink and in due time, your glass will be re-filled. Do not get a wild fanatical look in your eyes, snatch the bottle from the hostess, and proceed to drain the bottle, cork and all.

XIV. - You will no doubt go into the motion picture shows in the "States." You must remember that seats are provided. There is no need to take your helmet along. Do not whistle every time any female over 8 and under 80 walks across the screen. If your vision is impaired by the person in front of you, merely move to another seat. Do not say, "Move your head, jerk, I can't see the goddam cartoon!"

XV. - Do not go around hitting everyone of draft age in civilian clothes. He may have been released from "service" on a "medical discharge." Ask for his credentials, and if he can show you none, then - "Go ahead and hit him!"

XVI. - Upon retiring, you will no doubt find a pair of pajamas laid out on your bed. (Pajamas are a sleeping garment of two pieces, which you are to put on - after all of your clothes have been removed.) Upon seeing these pajamas, try to act as if you have used them before. A remark such as, "My! What delicate shades of blue they have," would show that you're used to them and are not "taken aback" by their presence. However, do not say, "Now how in the stem-winding hell do you expect a man to sleep in a 'getup' like this!"

XVII. - Several times during the day, you will have to urinate. Do not walk behind the closest tree that you can find or/and also, you do not stand alongside of any automobile you find to accomplish this. Toilets (see para. 4.1, page 18 of "Army Regulations") are provided for this purpose - in all public buildings. Use them!

XVIII. - Never blow on your soup to cool it unless you can at the same time whistle some popular tune of the day. The song "I Get Along Without You Very Well" [a hit in 1939 - Ed.] whistled with the accompaniment of "Bully Beef Stew" will be considered quite appropriate.

XIX. - It is exceedingly bad form at any time to attempt to open a beer (or "jungle juice") bottle with your teeth - false or otherwise, regardless of how anxious you are to get at its contents. In the event that your hostess asks you to "Please pass the nutcracker," you do not hand her a beer bottle.

XX. - Always be sure to tip your hat before striking a lady.


Plus many more - which I cannot think of at the moment.

      Well, in conclusion, Ma: I might add, for your information, that this literary classic originated in Italy. I changed or added a few words here and there in order to make it applicable to my particular case - also, to make it fit for you and others to read (all vulgarity removed). [Editor's note: A version of this article, with bad language intact, was published in the 2003 book WWII Journal #1: War In the Pacific from Merriam Press. You can read an archived copy at Google Books. The story begins on page 37. No author is listed. The original source is unknown.]

      Thank you for your kind attention and for your uselessly occupied time. So, "so long" for now -



“I Get Along Without You Very Well” by Red Norvo [vocal Terry Allen]


The Kindle book includes the letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.


This page established: November 11, 2018             Last updated: February 23, 2023

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