Feeling different resonates. Getting uniforms would seem to make one more the same. Hiding differences. Yet Dad probably meant feeling different than what he and his new buddies sensed as they rode trains to Texas from far off cornfields, distant sky scrapers and fishing docks; feeling different from where they had come, who they used to be. The uniforms would do that. Clothe them in the war and a reality of where they were. Why they were there. No claim or proof now of who inhabited a tiny apartment just a week ago, who typed railroad requisitions just a month ago, who wrote sports and editorials for the Athenian high school paper just two years ago. No country kid anymore who couldn’t tell mountains from hills, wanted his wife with him, but not with all these “naked men running from the shower.” (Feb 17, 1943 #5 letter) A uniform and a new haircut; feeling different along with thousands of others, all sensing different together.
How long did the fresh uniform aura and hair length sustain him? How long before it endured stains of Texas dust, Mississippi sweat and frozen vomit? How long before he knew he could still hold unto speckles of differences and likenesses which molded him unique, but still cast him as a World War II airman? Gazing at the “Acres of Cadets” photo, differences are not apparent. Sameness, precise military meticulousness and minutia resonate.
In the same February letter Dad discusses “There are some things we have to do that are as nutty as the things I had to do when I took the exam at Kalamazoo. I have gotten over the little homesick spell I had last night and feel considerably better. Things like that are bound to come I guess and all I can do is just face it.” Was he able to talk about the “nutty things and the homesickness?” Were these feelings too different to share? Did he endure it inside himself, alone?
Feeling different continued to resonate.