The USO referred to in the letter is the United Service Organization a private, nonprofit organization that provided, and still provides, recreational services to members of the U.S. military.
An "A-card" was a WWII ration card which allowed the purchase of 4 gallons of fuel per week.
This letter is dated merely Monday, January 29th. In the WWII time period, January 29th fell on a Monday in the years 1940, 1945 and 1951. January 29, 1945 must be the full date of this letter.
Camp Cooke is now Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Dear Mom & Pop,
Boy! It seems like a long time since I wrote to you last. I finally have found a little time though so here it comes.
I went up to San Jose Saturday to see the Valentines. I found them right away too. Hilda looks swell no kidding, and I met Uncle Presgard and cousin Paul and his wife Barbara. Paul is 27 now and is a great big solid six-footer built like a boxer or a wrestler. His hair is a perfect white blond (and no holes in it). His wife is a girl from Boise, Idaho and pretty too. She's full of life and is always on the go or doing something. She can shoot too! We all did some target shooting Sunday morning out in back of the folks' ranch (apricots) and she really can hit that target (an old shoe polish can). Presgard and Paul popped it from quite a long way off too, and I held up the Anderson reputation OK, but I had to hit everything as did Paul and Presgard to keep from getting beat by Barbara!
Hilda and Presgard came into town Saturday (evening) when I got there to take me out to their place. She recognized me and I thought I knew her about the same time. You see, I had called twice after the bus had gotten into San Jose and was at a USO the second time I called and they came into town and got me at the USO. They live about 7 miles out from the center of the city and it would have been a real job for me to get out there all the way unless I knew the way beforehand. Hilda still looks nice and doesn't look her age much at all. Paul doesn't seem to take his looks much after either one of his folks but he is probably more like Presgard when he was younger. Paul and Barbara have their own house a mile or two from Aunt Hilda's and they have 3 prize collies out in a kennel by their house. It's right at the foothills to a mountain range at the edge of the valley there (the Santa Clara valley). Aunt Hilda's house is nice too, and is what I would call a wonderful, typical California home. It is white mostly and not too large but plenty big enough to have more than enough rooms. Plenty of hedges and flower gardens outside, and they have a orange tree, a fig tree, lemon, prune and I don't know now what else! There are almost 1000 apricot trees out in their orchard - or ranch as it's called. I slept in a great big wide bed and don't remember lying awake for 15 seconds after I pulled the 2 inches worth of blankets up around me! I was tired though - I had stood up in the bus for 2 hours on the way from Salinas to San Jose, and I had walked about five miles that (Saturday) afternoon here in Monterey, since I went out here 1 1/2 miles to the (Navy) Air base to try to get a hop, either towards San Jose (75 miles), Salinas (25 miles), or even just out over the Bay here and down to Camp Cooke and back. The planes were giving some simulated ground support action to some maneuvers down there that the Army is having. I could have at least gotten a short hop down there and back but the flight of Torpedo Bombers (3 man) and (2 man) observation planes had already taken off so I couldn't go up that afternoon. I'll try it again as soon as I can though but the only trouble is that I probably won't be here much longer. Unless something comes up new, I'll be moving again by the end of the week, and if I don't go then probably won't be any longer than the next group to wait for - about 2 weeks only. I expect to go to either San Francisco or Texas (Chorpus Christi). I'll let you know where I go when I leave if I leave this week.
It's too bad you couldn't have come out here to California to see Elsa and Olof and Hilda and Presgard when I was out here but I guess there were a lot of things to consider. But, if you ever do come out here, make sure it is in the Winter back home, and you can be sure you won't want to leave California when you get here!
I'm still eating apricots (real ones too!) and figs that Aunt Hilda gave me (also grapes, pears & oranges!) to take back with me to eat myself and also for the roommates. They always have food, cookies and candy & fudge etc sent to them so I was glad to have something nice to bring to them to make up for all the things they've given to me.
That reminds me, when I write to Aunt Elsa again I've got to be sure to tell them how the fellows liked the cookies and nuts and everything she sent back with me after Christmas - I'm not sure if I told her how fast that was put where it was put where it would do the most good! I think I did, but I'd better be sure.
Aunt Hilda and Presgard took me back here in their car, they only had a A-card, but they wanted to get me back on time and also to spare me the trouble of either standing up all the way back or thumbing a ride part way, and they wanted a ride, and also to see the Del Monte Hotel. I took them all around the grounds when we got there, and showed them the two heated swimming pools and everything.
I liked Aunt Elsa's house as much as I did Aunt Hilda's I saw a few of Henry Mattson's paintings when I was up in Chico. They had two new ones and one was for Daisy & Harry to pick for their own. I've told both of them that you have been painting too, and Aunt Hilda gave me a bunch of flowers to press and I'll be sending them home for you to paint if you want to.
P.S. Daisy's going to have a baby in April & I hear that Vivian had a baby too!