Jan. 26th, 1942
First of all I am going to bawl you out for not taking that money which you have saved for me and buying yourself a coat if you need one. You stop reading this letter right now and take out the catalogue and start looking for the coat you want. When you have found it, you must get it. Use the money which you are saving for me. When you have bought it, put it on and say "Happy Birthday, Mother from Jim". Now don't be foolish about it. That is my birthday present to you and to you alone. You've been unselfish long enough, it's time you let the rest of the family think for themselves and you began to think of yourself. We have come to lean upon you too much. So you buy yourself the coat... and don't stop there. Go and buy yourself a whole new outfit... splurge for once in your life! Show Mrs. Sheppard that she's not the only one who can have a new outfit! If I could get the clothes over here I'd do it and send them to you so that I'd be sure you got them without coupons, so I'll have to trust you to carry out my orders. Now don't be foolish about it please. I want you to have that whole new outfit as a Birthday present from me. By the time you get this, your birthday will probably be over but "Happy Birthday Mother, and may you have many more like it!"
And another thing, awhile ago you mentioned that you would like to have some new furniture but that as you would have to buy it on time, you couldn't see how you would be able to pay for it. Well, why don't you use my money which is coming in regularly. You can always depend upon my $20.00 a month and what is the use of earning money if you can't see the pleasure that it is meant to buy? I am reading a very good book right now by GB. Shaw called "An Intelligent Woman's Guide to Capitalism, Socialism, Communism etc." and he says that one of the evils of the Capitalist system is the piling up of excess capital. I can't explain it in detail without making this letter a volume but I see from his explanation, that what he says is right. Poor people should not try to save because if they do, they have to do without or have to deprive their children of something they need and you see he is right for you - in trying to save $40.00 for me, does not make me happy at all, but the thought that you had a new outfit would make me very happy, so try to make me happy, will you? When I never had any I never seemed to miss it. I was content as long as I had a quarter for the show occasionally and a dime or two for sweets and other things like that. But now I find that if I don't budget myself carefully, I can always spend all my money and still look for more. It doesn't matter whether I have 20 pounds or 20 shillings, I still can spend it all. But one thing at least I find I can get just as much enjoyment out of 20 shillings wisely spent as I can out of 20 pounds, for I have all the enjoyment of thinking and budgeting myself. I get prickles of consciense sometimes when I think of all the pounds I have spent on personal pleasure when you at home could use the money to far greater advantage but unfortunately, there is no way I can get the money to you and there is no use accumulating it on this side so I have to spend it on pleasure. I can't save it to buy the things I really want because either the things I want are unobtainable because they are rationed or else they are so bulky that I cannot possibly carry them around with me. That is the curse of a soldier's life. Nothing is permanent and you have to do without the things you really want so that you can be ready to move at a moment's notice. For instance: I have wanted desperately a typewriter portable these past few months as my writing has increased. But I have had to resist the temptation to buy one - even when I had the money, because it would be useless to me in my present situation. I couldn't possibly lug it about with me wherever I went. If this new job I have seems to be going to settle down into anything permanent as I hope it will, I may yet have a chance to realize my dream. I don't remember if I told you about my new job. But I seem to remember that I told you about taking my IQ and then being transferred the same afternoon.
We have had a very severe winter spell just lately with six to ten ins. of snow and 30 degrees of frost which is darn cold in this country. But by hugging the stove pretty closely and wrapping up pretty well we have managed to keep warm. It is all gone now so I guess we have had our winter.
I have just thought of something, I guess the Orderly Room Stamp on this letter will be No. 5 Can. General Hosp. and in case you will start wondering and worrying about it, I had better tell you. I wasn't going to until after it was all over, but I'd better. I am going up at 10 o'clock this morning for another operation to open up the scar. It has never really closed up since the first operation and the scar has formed right on the bone instead of having a pad of flesh between it and the bone. They are going to cut all that old scar away this morning and scrape the bone clean, then draw the wound together and sew it up. I only expect to be in here about 2 wks. this time. The only thing I am worried about is my job. The officer has promised to keep it for me as long as he can. So I hope it will still be open for me when I get out. I did so enjoy the work. It was something constructive and I felt that I was actually accomplishing something at last. Well I guess that's all. Write soon.
Love to you all,
Operation completed. Slightly sore but am up out of bed again. Too hard to write now....