The first letter to Richard (aka "Dick") in this collection is actually not a letter at all, but rather a Christmas card sent in December of 1954 from his army buddy Carmine. Carmine appears to have been stationed in Germany and was inviting Dick to come for a visit. I don't know how they met, but I would imagine it was in the military, perhaps at basic training.
Carmine congratulates Dick on the "extra stripe" suggesting that he had recently been promoted (to Corporal.) And at the end of the letter, he notes that he had also been promoted. He also invites him to come visit Hammonds Barrack, near both Heidelberg and Manheim. Though this letter is relatively mundane, there is one reference in the letter that interests me. Specifically:
“Call Hammonds Barracks 875 [to get in touch for a visit]. The CO or whoever is on duty will contact me either at the section I work at here on post or in the billets over the bitch box.”
Which very quickly led me to the question, what is a bitch box? Some judicious research initially turned up only the strangest websites ever, but eventually I tracked down a reference to the phrase as used in the military. A bitch box is a idiomatic phrase for "a public-address system loudspeaker. (Military. Because it is always nagging.)" I have to say, I was braced for something way more sexist then just a fairly harmless joke about women being nags. And I have a new found sympathy for Carmine because, if I'm reading this right, it looks like his sleeping quarters (billet) were right above the public-address system, which would certainly have driven me crazy