Friday, November 20, 2009
It rained for weeks while we were in Italy. I dug a hole in my tent so in the morning I could stand up while I dressed. In the morning the hole was full of water. Luckily my biggest mistake as a signalman happened in Wales, not Italy. Part of the company was on service and they sent for twenty-two haversack lunches. I sent on the message and they were sent two lunches. I was a pretty good reader, but not the best sender. The best readers would read whole sentences, not just each letter or word. Usually the sentences were pretty simple. They were often repeated messages. Some trainmen were in our unit. The Morse code used on the trains was different than the international code we used. At home their code was used to send telegrams. But the trainmen learned quickly. Knowing the letters wasn't the hard part of being a good reader.
Blackie once called the house about a telegram for Malcolm McKinnon. When you were young, Malcolm was often at our house. He was a good carpenter, and a good baby-sitter, too. Blackie called and told me to tell Malcolm that a friend of Malcolm's had sent a telegram from Illinois. Blackie said the friend was sick. Blackie had looked through the window on the envelope containing the telegram and had been able to see a bit of the message. It said, "Muskogee Ill."