WW II letters home, November 1940

Well, I found another goof. I skipped over a couple of letters when I placed them out of order. The years on the post date stamp were illegible, and I placed them with other letters of the same month, but got the wrong year. So, hit rewind on your journey through time and stop at November 22, 1940. Kenney has just left the Great Lakes and was waiting to go to Long Beach, CA from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, WA. Judging by what he talks about, it sounds like there are some letters missing between September and November 7 OR I placed the missing letters out of order also.

Envelope postdated November 7, [1940]

Mr. & Mrs. K.W. Rhoades & Family
4011 North 30 St
Omaha, Nebraska
Air Mail

Kenney Rhoades
U.S.S. Colorado M-Division
c/o Post Master
Long Beach, Calif.
Box 14

Wednesday [probably November 6 as November 7 was a Friday in 1940]

Hi Folks,

I rather imagine this letter will rather be a surprise to you, as I am writing a little sooner than I intended by my last letter. But you see there was another change. After we got all packed and set to go to Honolulu they decided not to send all of us and lucky me got to stay on here.

I really like this Battle Ship life. All I do is wear dungarees and stand a main feed pump watch about 8 hrs a day. All I do is watch a gauge and work the steam throttle.

I found images of Navy servicemen doing what Kenney did – watch gauges.  Unfortunately, they are from the 1980’s.  I don’t image much changed between 1940 and 1980.  Engine rooms remained small, Navy Firemen were still young and wiry, and the guages still look the same. 

Well my reason for not writing is we left Long Beach last Sat night and just anchored at Bremerton, Washington today. I had no stamps until yesterday when we got paid. I drew $6.00 but will get about 16 next time as I am now a third class fireman which is the same as seaman second and pays $36 a month.

I bought dad a present and am sending it with this letter. I hope he will use it and likes it. I wish it was more but I wasn’t able to do it this time. Maybe I can send all of you something swell by Christmas.

As I said, we are in Bremerton and will be here for about six weeks I guess so just keep sending my mail to Kenney Rhoades M-Division Box 14 U.S.S. Colorado c/o Post Master Long Beach Calif. If you send it airmail it only takes over a day.

We don’t know where we go from here but rumors are either Alaska, Honolulu, or East Coast. The chances are pretty good that we will spend the holidays in the U.S. though.

Up here in Wash. it is awfully pretty all hills, woods, and snow covered mountains, but it is pretty cold. We wear pea coast and flat hats.

I get along swell. The fellows on this ship are real swell and plenty helpful.

Please call Bill’s folks and tell them to write him and tell him to try for a Bremerton draft and the chances are he will get the Colorado. I would write him but I don’t have enough time and it’s hard for me to write letters anyhow. I also say hello to all our friends.

We had an awful rough trip up here. One wave went clear over the ship and down a large suction ventilator shaft and flooded no. 2 boiler room. But so far I haven’t been the least bit sick. Guess I’m a regular old salt.

According to Weather.com, the Armistice Day Blizzard that hit the midwest began with a weather system starting in the Pacific Northwest.  The system had been building up the first week of November and hit the coast on November 7 and caused the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge east of Bremerton, WA.
Newspaper headlines from Iowa on November 12 and 14.  The blizzard seems to have hit Iowa the hardest, though Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota did report some affects from the storm.  Clipped from Newspapers.com.

Well can’t think of anymore but let me hear from all of you just as soon as you get this.

All my love

P.S. If we have any friends or relatives out here let me know and I will see them or anyone you want me to see. I have lots of liberty every other night and nothing to do.

View of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 1940.  None of the ships pictured are the U.S.S. Colorado.  The exact date is not provided.  National Archives and Records Administration.
While Kenney was at Bremerton, the city conducted a test blackout from air attacks.  Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), 30 Nov 1940, Sat, Page 1, clipped from Newspapers.com.
Envelope postdated November 23, [1940]

Mr. & Mrs. K.W. Rhoades & Family
4011 North 30 St
Omaha, Nebraska

Friday 5 P.M.

Dear Folks,

Well how did the Thanksgiving dinner go? I hope you all got your fill and had a good time over it. I sure wish I had been there to help devour it. We faired pretty good here but boy I sure wished I could have been home. We had the swellest day yesterday as far as weather goes since we have been here. The sun was shining all day just like California. For dinner we had turkey, mashed potatoes, salad, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie (nothing like moms, though), and ice cream and half a pack of cigarettes.

I went over to Bremerton after dinner and went to a show and then came back to the ship.

Bremerton, Washington c. 1940.  Pinterest

We pulled out of dry dock this morning and are now tied up to the dock. I guess our schedule is that we leave here the 10th of Dec, go to Long Beach, Calif over Christmas, and leave for the islands the 27th so New Years will be spent at sea.

Kenney doesn’t mention which dry dock the U.S.S. Colorado was pushed out of, but here is an image of dry dock #5, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in October 1940. National Archives and Records Administration.

From Historylink.org: By 1940, Navy Yard Puget Sound was the principal naval shipyard on the West Coast and the only one with the capacity to handle aircraft carriers and battleships. As the United States moved closer to war with Japan, Navy Yard Puget Sound reduced its shipbuilding capacity, reserving the facilities for vessel repair and overhaul. Shipbuilding activities were limited to smaller warships such as destroyer escorts and mine sweepers. By 1942, the navy yard had five large dry-docks ranging in size from 639 feet long by 120 feet wide by 39 feet deep (Dry-dock No. 1) to 1,030 feet long by 147 feet wide by 54 feet deep (Dry-dock No. 5).

Yes as long as I am here you can send my mail direct to Bremerton, Washington, but don’t forget to put Divi[sion] M, box 14 on it. Moms last letter was delayed because of it a few days as there are about 1500 fellows on here they can’t look up our Divisions.

I got a cake from B Wend[nesday]. It must have been real pretty when she sent it according tot he cardboard bottom it was heart shaped and all decorated. I called a lot of fellows around and opened it and it was all crumbs, looked like powder. But please don’t say a word to her as it would make her feel bad. It cost her 75c to send it. I wrote her a letter and told her how swellit was and how all of the fellows enjoyed it, not saying what it was they liked about it.

Well, I’ve got to close now and grab some chow before its all gone. Let me hear from all of you real soon.

Loads of love,