WWII Letters - mostly to his wife, Lib
(Undated Telegram) LEAVING HERE RICHMOND TO WILLIAMSBURG DOING FINE SO FAR LOVE BOB
3/23/43 Tuesday afternoon
Here we wait some more. Seems as though that is all I have been doing for two days now.
I just sent you a wire which I trust you will get before this note. We are in the station now - 26 of us waiting for the Richmond train. Borrowed the bag I am writing on from the fellow I met from Kinston last November. All in all this seems to be a pretty decent crowd. There are none of those young squirts in it. All seem fairly mature and settled. Met a Jaycee from Winston a few minutes ago. Thought my pin would do some good if I wore it. I donít think you saw me but I saw you on the college steps* yesterday. I couldnít get a seat on that side of the bus. We are supposed to get to Magruder tonight. If that train doesnít hurry I donít think we will make it.
March 24, 1943 Wednesday Afternoon
For some reason or another we arenít walking somewhere to get something. Our train was late 3 hours arriving in Richmond. As a result we missed our connection and had to spend the night there. A day coach was dug up for us to sleep in so most of us went up town to a hotel. We arrived here at 9:30 this morning. The boys in our group are a nice crowd. We have a couple good entertainers. The camp "bus," a 10 wheel truck met us at Williamsburg and brought us in here. We were assigned a barrack. Then we went after our bedding. At 11:30 we headed for the mess hall. It takes 1/2 hour at a fairly good pace to get there.
Back from evening chow: This afternoon we got a few clothes. Two pairs of work shoes, two pairs of overalls and a duffle bag. Aside from that we have done nothing today. Tomorrow we move to our permanent (more or less) residence. There we shall have a theatre, ship store and mess hall. There are 30 boys in our platoon.
We will also get more clothes, a physical exam and a "haircut." The haircut is quite the thing among the recruits. In fact it is a must. Our hair will be clipt off to some point above the ears and a straight line all the way around. All day today we have been walking around to the tune of "Youíll be sorry" - (musical notation: doh, doh, LA, mi) - all meaning we would get a haircut.
Met Mr. Williams at chow tonight. He is that short sailor we saw on our way to the show a week ago last Sunday. He is an instructor on the rifle range here. All the old boys are mighty anxious to meet fellows from their homes. When we march by them they ask us where we are from. My clothes will leave here on Railway Express tomorrow. There are all ages in this crowd.
March 26, 1943 Friday Evening
The address on the envelope this time is legal. We moved from the detention area to "boot camp" today. It is about two miles from the detention area. This portion is extremely new. We are the first to move into the barracks. In fact we will probably get details tomorrow to work around here. When we arrived this afternoon we had to mop out the barracks and take out all the windows and wash them. The "ships store" opened up at 4:30 this afternoon for the first time. There were no "Confused Bastards" here till yesterday. Let me go back to where I ended the other day.
In our platoon I am number two man in the alphabet. So I caught the second shift of fire watch the first night. There are three shifts: 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 - 12:00 to 4:00 a.m. - 4:00 to 8:00. Lights went out at 10:00 p.m. and we had to get up at 5:00 a.m. so you can see what sleep I got my first night in camp.
Yesterday morning we waited to take our trip through the mill. We didnít get our turn until after noon chow. That was really something. We went in one door and were interviewed for a few minutes by a psychologist. Then to another room where we stripped down to our shorts and packed all our civvies - they are on their way to you by Railway Express - check through all the pockets. Then we started through the mill. We skipped and we stooped and we ran and we walked. Every time we turned around there was a doctor or a corpsman looking at us or telling us what to do. Then we practically ran down through a warehouse lined with windows. We were given a bag and every time we passed a window something flew into the bag. When we ended up we had two pairs of shoes, one pair of rubbers, towels, two pairs of blues, four pairs of whites, shorts - winter and summer plus jerseys for each, pea jackets, work pants and shirts, handkerchief, tooth brush and paste and a whole mess of other stuff. Then we had to have all of the stuff stenciled with our name. Then through the barber shop. You wouldnít love your husband if you could see him now. He really looks like hell. Then we had to have our pictures taken for our identification. That line of stuff took all afternoon. We sure look like a bunch of convicts.
Last night we spent the whole evening rolling our clothes and packing them. Each individual item is rolled up and tied with two strings and stuck in the sea bag. This morning we took care of our wives. We straightened out our allotments and took care of our insurance. After we finished we had to get unstenciled gear stenciled and packed to leave that area. We left right after lunch and here we are. During "boot" we can have no food in the barracks. So I guess I can not have my fruit cake yet. We have had beautiful weather for getting broken into this place. Now there are only two platoons in each barrack instead of three (30 less men) so we have considerably more room.
3/29/43 Monday evening
Poor me. Havenít received a single letter yet. But so far as that goes, mighty few of the fellows have received one yet. There have certainly been a bunch of them going out of here. We have a cardboard box nailed up on the wall for a mailbox. One man has been doing nothing but handle all the mail from our platoon. He is the only one who has permission to go into the Post Office. Each time I write you I forget what I told you the last time. I shall try to keep up as I have done so far and write you every other day - would like to write every day but we are kept terribly busy. To get everything done that is supposed to be done is about a 24 hour job. We got our first drill yesterday afternoon. Twice again today. We practiced the manual of arms this morning. Couldnít do that this afternoon because we had a vaccination - tetanus and typhoid shots this morning just before chow.
Today is probably a typical day. up at 5 - exercise at 5:30 - chow at 6 - sweep and scrub the barrack and roll the bedding by 7:30 when we have muster and then go out and drill - 10:30 shots or a lecture - 11:45 mail - 12 chow- 1 more drill and lectures till 5:30 - 6 chow. In between when we have nothing to do, we have to clean our shirts, shoes, and a bunch of minor details. There are a lot of new names which we have to catch on to: chow - lunch, gear - clothes, bedding, etc., head - toilet, piece - rifle, and a bunch of other things. Time runs all through the day - 6 in the evening is 18:00.
Everyone seems to be going to bed early tonight. Drill and shots seem to have the boys down.
We found out today that we are supposed to get 48 hoursí leave after three weeks on the end of preliminary boot training. Then three weeks of advanced training and we get another 48 hoursí leave. Six weeks later we should be finished with all our training. Then we leave for our post of embarkation and get a nine-day leave. I donít know if on any of these leaves I will be able to get to High Point. I hope, though, that you will be able to get somewhere in this vicinity. I will enclose a copy of the paper that is issued down here. I donít know where it came from. Just found it here in the barrack. I better go out and take a shower. Wish the shave would do me more good than just help my appearance tomorrow. My hair is showing signs of growing.,
April 1, 1943 Thursday evening
So far I see nothing that will stop me from starting and finishing a letter to you tonight. The Seabees is not a cinch outfit. There should be about 25 more hours in a day. It is practically impossible to get done everything that is supposed to be done. I just managed to get a letter written to Mother last night. All three of your letters have arrived now. However, they did arrive in reverse order. The first one you wrote arrived today. I had expected to get another one today, but didnít. I shall try to start writing you back the same day I receive your letter if that is possible. I thought that I would get started that way today.
I have never seen a crowd that could get to bed as easily at night as this gang can. When 9:30 comes, there is not a whisper. We did not drill quite as much today as we have done on previous days. The sun was just as hot as ever. My nose is really red and starting to peel. The dust is terrible. This place goes from one extreme to another. It is either muddy or dusty. We came in this afternoon and our beds were thick with dust. It just blows all over the place.
Today we have been practicing a few combat formations. We just wallowed around in the dirt. Also had a few lectures. One reason I couldnít write you last night was because we were having a barrack inspection this morning and had to have everything shined up. They have movies and entertainment across the way plus a recreation center. No one has a chance to use any of them, though.
I donít believe I have even told you what we are wearing. Our clothes for drill the next few days will be cute little white caps, our olive green coveralls (like mechanics wear) and our brown leggings. Our dress clothes are blue denim shirts and pants. On cold days we wear a black sweater under our shirts and coveralls. We also have a blue toboggan we wear plus our pea jackets. We also have the regular white and blue uniform plus the pancake hat with which I believe you are familiar which can not be worn until we have finished boot camp. The blue denims are worn to church. The coveralls are really very practical.
Saturday is our work day again. Every fourth day we go out on work detail. Day before yesterday we did landscaping. We took dirt where there was too much and put it where there was little. I wish I was doing that in my own little garden. I can very well imagine how things are coming up. Iím glad the asparagus has not been drowned out.
The way things are going I wouldnít have time to read a newspaper. Just send me clippings of the things that you think I would be interested in. One of the boys is getting the Charlotte paper and I may get a chance to see it every now and then.
April 2, 1943 Postcard of N.C. Capitol at night
Sorry I canít write you a letter tonight. Will try to get a real long one off tomorrow, Love, Bob
April 5, 1943 Monday evening
This is one of those days when you wonder how you will get through it. We drilled for about three hours this morning and then had our second in a series of typhoid shots After the shot we drilled some more. This afternoon we went out on a special work party. And we did work - - with those sore arms too. One boy was almost knocked out by the shots. They were giving shots to two people at a time. This one boy thought he was supposed to get two shots so he stopped in front of each man and ended up with one extra shot. He was really bad.
We had a wonderful dinner yesterday noon. I think the chickens they had were capons. A similar meal in Richmond would cost several dollars. Found out tonight that you will start getting your money sometime during the first five days of May. This evening would have been a swell time to have washed some clothes. No one has been in the washroom. Arms are too sore. I could not get mine bent far enough to clean my teeth. Didnít know what I would do if I had to salute an officer.
The wind is really howling tonight. I think that I am making a lot of mistakes in spelling but I am so tired I can hardly control my pen. Everyone has gone to bed except the fire watch and me. My face is about to burn up from the wind today. This is the windiest and dustiest place I have ever seen. The dust is far worse than the soot at home.
I am not surprised that my clothes were so long reaching you. After all over a thousand boxes just like that one went out that day. Tues. morning: Just finished up my share of the deck swabbing. Everyone seems to feel considerably improved this morning after last night. Sleep has helped the arms. However they are still sore. Guess I had better shine my shoes for the second time this morning and get ready for inspection.
April 5, 1943 Monday evening: UN Victorious stationary
Dear Uncle Ed,
I shall have to write this letter to you the same as I write all letters that I manage to get written. I start them whenever I get the opportunity and finish them the same way. I have the least amount of spare time now that I have ever had. Every minute there seems to be something to do. The training that we are getting is very hard. We march for four and five hours at a time regardless of how hot or cold it is. For the past few days, it has been cool, windy, and very dusty. Our teeth are gritting dust constantly.
About ten hours have elapsed since I started this. We have really had a day. It has been very warm today. We drilled most of the morning in a big cloud of dust which we generated by ourselves. We also received another typhoid shot this morning which has made everyoneís arm mighty sore. This afternoon part of us went out on a special work detail. We really had to work hard too. It is about an hour and a half before bed time and most of the boys are already in bed. They are a sorry looking crowd. There are 60 men in our barrack representing eighteen states. They are a pretty nice crowd.
We have been having very good food. Considerably better than I thought it would be. We had a wonderful meal yesterday noon, Sunday. I hope that Lib is taking good care of you and that you are taking good care of her. I would most certainly like to be there with you both. I really miss you. Will write you again as soon as I can.
April 9, 1943 Friday night
We spent the morning crawling on the ground again. This time it was out in an open field instead of in the woods. The field was about as wide as Steele Street and we crossed it in about 35 minutes the first time. It should have taken us about an hour and a half. We had one casualty in our platoon. One of the boys tripped as he was throwing himself to the ground and hurt his wrist and one boy broke a leg the other day.
We had another warm day today. This afternoon as last Friday afternoon we had "Rope Yarn Sunday" or "Field Day" which meant the whole barrack was turned inside out and scrubbed. The wash room was full of busy launderers.
Kate Smith singing "Youíd Be so Nice to Come Home To." Yes, we have a radio in the barrack. One of the boys had a small one sent him from home. That song seems to cast quite a lonesome spell over this crowd. -- me too --- One of the boys in the next bunk had a letter from a young niece of his the other day. She started off "I hate to write letters but understand it is my patriotic duty to write men in the service."
The dogwood is just coming out up here now. Every fourth day we are a working detail. Part of the group goes on K.P., part on sentry duty, part on boiler watches, and those who are left push wheel barrows, shovels and do every other thing under the sun. We have built and laid boardwalks. Piled lumber. Dug ditches. Leveled high spots and filled low ones.
April 13, 1943 Tuesday evening
Looks as though we may have some rain - - - Before I got started on another sentence I had to go to the warehouse across the street to see about getting a pancake hat and a pair of shoes to fit me. I managed to get fairly straight on the hat but no shoes yet. The rain mentioned in the first sentence arrived and is blowing like the devil. These temporary barracks were not made for driving rains. Rain is coming in around all the windows and a few other places. One of the other places happens to be over my bunk. The bunk is out in the middle of the floor. Just before the rain came the wind was blowing and everything in the place now is gritty. Some of the boys have wet bunks.
Yesterday we got our last shots for a little while. The same boy that had to be carried to the sick bay a week ago today because of his shots had to be carried back yesterday about an hour after he got the shot. My shot this time has not been bad. Some of the boys have broken out with fever blisters on their lips.
We practiced throwing hand grenades today. We had cast iron dummies. The way we threw them we would get killed in no time. Everyone had fairly sore arms so we could not get much distance. We also crawled around on the ground for most of the morning. It is no wonder we canít get rid of our colds. There are still plenty of them around including me. I also have a sore knee from hitting the deck too hard.
We had a little bull session with our instructor and ensign this afternoon. They say that they do not know when we will get our liberty as our schedules are being speeded up. That may mean that liberty will come sooner or not at all. So as I said the other day everything is very uncertain. They told us that if we wanted our wives to come to Richmond it would be best to wire or phone them as we would probably have very little notice. They will convey us to Williamsburg in trucks and there we will catch a special train into Richmond. At least that is what has been done in the past. We are supposed to go no more than 60 miles from the post. However there is nothing to keep us from going further and nothing would be done about it unless we got in some kind of trouble.
Lights went out while I was writing "trouble." It is now next day, Wednesday I think. We will never get rid of our colds. Had to go out crawling across the fields this morning again after all the rain last night. We had a couple lectures yesterday afternoon that were about the best we have had so far. One was on the selection of base locations and the other on incendiary bombs.
Everyone in the barrack is worried and on the lookout. One of the boys came out with the crabs. I sure hope they are under control. He went to the sick bay right away and was showered and given some ointment. He has to wash every stitch of clothing that he has. They have been disinfecting the heads for over a week now. Everyone would like to know how they got in here. I sure hope they stay where they are.
April 15, 1943 Thursday evening
If my writing is worse than usual, it is because I have gone to bed. If the letter trails off into nothingness, it is because I have gone to sleep. When I tell you what all has happened to me in the past few hours, you will not wonder. Since I got up yesterday morning I have had 1 1/2 hourís sleep. After throwing hand grenades (fakes), practicing with machetes and crawling on the ground, plus 3 lectures in the afternoon. Then last night I went to bed at 9:30 as usual. At 11 I got up and went out on sentry duty at 11:45. At 4:15 I was relieved and got back to the barrack at 4:30. Couldnít see much sense to going to bed for a half hour so washed clothes instead. At 5:30 I had to report to the O.D.ís office to go to early chow and then go out and relieve the sentry so he could get some breakfast. At 7:30 he got back and at 8 I went out on our regular fourth day work party. At 11:30 I had to be back at the O.D.ís to go to early noon chow. Then go on sentry duty from noon to 4. As soon as I was relieved at 4, I went back on the work party till 5:30. Now I am on my own. Between being sleepy and my cold and cough being a little worse I feel sort of lousy. Went down to the sick bay this morning - managed to squeeze that in somewhere. They gave me a pill and something that looked like cascara that I gargled and then swallowed. Also two capsules to take before going to bed tonight. I hope I feel better tomorrow.
It was cold last night. The mops that were used to swab the decks this morning had icicles on them inside a half hour after we finished with them. There were a number of snowflakes that fell this afternoon. They never reached the ground but could be seen very easily. I got mighty lonely during that watch last night. It was very clear and the sky and the moon were so pretty.
Next morning before noon chow: Did I sleep last night. Felt lousy when I woke up this morning. Head and nose were both full. I feel better now after a good tramp through the woods. We went out to practice in the woods and some how or other we ended up on a coon hunt. Had a very nice walk down through a pretty woods. The sun has come out very nice today but the eternal wind is blowing dust. You would really dislike this place for the wind alone. Our faces are burning most of the time.
No one can see me till I break boot. While we are in boot we are in solitary. After we break we can go anywhere on the post and have liberty nights about every 4 days. As soon as possible I will let you know how we can see each other. Everyone says "Donít let your wife come to Williamsburg." The first chance we have will be that 48-hour leave as it stands now. Iíll let you know things as fast as I learn them.
April 18, 1943 Sunday
It seems like ages since I have had the opportunity to write you. I donít know now if this will get finished today or a week from today. When boot is over I trust this will no longer be happening. I forget what day I wrote you last so I donít know where to start. Guess I told you about my most recent experience with guard duty.
"Rope Yarn Sunday" was suddenly sprung on us as I finished up that paragraph. So since I started this letter I have assisted in scrubbing the barrack, cleaning the windows, policing the grounds, and washing all the dirty clothes I had on hand. There werenít so many of them. Bunch of handkerchiefs, pair of shorts, jersey, pair of socks, pillow cover and mattress cover. Last night I washed my blue dungarees and shirt.
Friday was quite an exceptional day. We went out in the morning and drilled for about two hours. We were lousy. I guess we were still tired out from the day before and all our guard duty and such. After drilling we went into the woods to practice crawling on our bellies. Instead of doing that we found a good spot and sunned ourselves. We got to talking about coons and the first thing we knew one went through the trees. We spent some little time trying to figure out how we could catch him. When we mustered after noon chow we filled our pockets with crushed stone in the hopes that we would get back down in the woods. Now back from evening chow: We got back in the woods and threw and threw but could never hit the coon. He just sat up in a fork of the tree and never moved. Finally had to give up and go to some lectures.
Yesterday we went out on one of those "Wainright Parties" again. This time our Platoon went out on mosquito control. Went down in a swamp along side the York River and worked on drainage ditches for the whole day. It was really sticky down in that mud. I was down in a ditch with the tide about halfway out when it was time to go to noon chow. It took me just a little shy of 15 minutes to pull my feet out of the muck. We were wearing hip boots. We had to work like the dickens too. Would rather have been digging my own ditches and working in my own little swamp.
Everything is topsy-turvy around this place. I donít know who makes the rules, but it seems every day one comes out countermanding the one the day before. They have told us that we could have only one pair of shoes under our bunks during the day. Today we were told that we have to have two pairs. They told us we could not have our peacoats out - had to keep them in our sea bags. Then we had to get them out but could not drive nails in the bulkhead to hang them so we hung them on the bunks. Now we have to drive the nails and hang our coats on them. It seems every day some such change takes place. The dust and the changes are really the only things that I have found that I dislike.
The box, or rather package, arrived yesterday. Havenít cut the cake yet but have started on Uncle Edís donation. Passed it around once and everyone really enjoyed it. I picked the nut ones out before I passed the box. There is one boy in the other platoon who is from California so I invited him up for some. He was tickled to death to have something from his home state. He lives about 15 miles from Vaca Valley or wherever they make the candy. It is fairly quiet here right now. Most of the fellows are out playing softball. The two platoons are playing against each other.
If I had known this cough and cold would last this long, I would have asked you to send me some sulfa. I thought about doing it several days ago but did not know what effect it would have on me with all the shots and the way they work us. Tonight I have a little soreness on the right side of my nose. Might be I am getting trouble in my sinus.
The rumor that we would get our liberty around May 2nd still persists so we may end up getting it then. If you want me to, I can bring my coveralls and dungarees to Richmond and you can take my picture in them for the sake of posterity. We might as well work out our plans for that liberty if and when I get it. As soon as we get definite notice of it I will let you know (naturally). You proceed to Richmond and find a place for us to stay. I expect we would rather stay at a hotel, wouldnít we? Hotel Rueger is O.K. or any one you would pick. Then you can meet me at the C.E.O. station. I believe it is the Main Street station, is it not? Seaboard comes in there too. It might be well for you to have enough money to finance the expedition for I donít know for sure how our paydays will run. I think our next one will be on the 21st. If you want to take the pictures I mentioned above let me know so I can bring the necessary clothes. It would perhaps be best to buy the film you will need in High Point. Let me know any alterations you may want to make to the plans so that if it is necessary to wire you I will only have to wire the day and time I will arrive. If May 2nd will be a bad time for you I guess we will be unable to do anything about it.
I hate to think of you having to mess with all those clothes of mine. When you get to Richmond I can show you what I wear to keep me warm. As a rule our drill or work, which ever we are doing, does more toward keeping us warm than our clothes. Guess I will try to squeeze in a letter to someone else now. Have fire watch in the morning from 4-8.
April 20, 1943 Tuesday morning
Have a little spare time right this minute. Donít know why. They will probably be around shortly with something to keep us busy. Tíaint human for them to give us a chance to write a letter. Today is to be spent in getting our clothes straight. A lot of the boys are missing certain items. Most of us had no dress
jumper. This morning we went over to small stores and got all those things. This afternoon we will exchange those articles which do not fit us. I have a pair of shoes and my pancake hat.
Had a little more definite information last night on our liberty. We filled out sheets to be used in making out our passes. May 1st is the day we are supposed to go ashore. It starts on Saturday morning and we have to be back by Monday morning. Our ensign is going to try to get us permission to leave here about 5:30 Friday afternoon. I have given my address c/o USO, Richmond. By doing that, I can wait till I get to Richmond and tell the USO where I may be found whether it be a hotel in Richmond or New York. It would probably be well for you to get to Richmond as early as possible, perhaps by Friday morning, to get us a place to stay, for there will be a terrible crowd headed for that town.
We have not had pretty weather for the past few days. Poured down rain all day yesterday. Has been overcast so far today and there are still huge duck ponds all over the place. The mud is no better than the dust. Where we were this morning there was one patch bigger than the area where the vegetable patch is that was nothing but mud about two inches deep. It was about the consistency of a pudding just before it gets real thick. Tomorrow, dust will probably blow into our faces. We were supposed to have been on work details yesterday, but because of the rain only the K.P. and sentry details went out. The rest of us were secure in our barrack to brush up on some of the things we should know. So it looks very much as though we may have two fairly easy days in a row. They will probably make up for this softness tomorrow. One boy went over the hill the other day. Donít know whether he has been caught as yet.
I have - I forget what I started to say there. It is now 9. We heard definitely tonight that we would get away from here about 5 pm on Friday, April 30 and would have to be back at 7 Monday morning. So do you want to arrive in Richmond on Friday morning, find us a room, maybe do a little shopping, and meet me at the CEO in Main Street Station some time after five? If I can give you a more definite time later on I will naturally do so.
Our clothes will soon be ship shape. I was fixed up on a hat and swapped my shoes this afternoon. Tomorrow our dress blouses will have the ratings put on the sleeves and the piping on the cuffs. We break boot the 24th. What we will do between the 24th and the 30th I donít know. No one can see me in camp till we break boot. Then only when we have liberty. I understand we will get liberty every fourth night, and twelve hours every so often. All that is however still misty.
A new batch of recruits arrived, filled out a medical questionnaire, and were in line for a bit of personal questioning. The medic asked one fellow if he had wet the bed in the last month. The fellow said "No." The medic responded that he had noted such an event on his sheet; the rookie said there was no such question. "Here it is," said the medic. "ĎHave you urinated in the bed in the last 30 days?í You answered ĎYes.í" "Hell," the fellow replied, "I thought that was Ďunited.í"
April 22, 1943 Tuesday
Had another light morning. Went out in the woods to practice some more extended order. There were quite a number of platoons in the drill. What all went on and just what we were supposed to be doing, our platoon still doesnít know. We did have a nice long walk down through the pretty pines and dogwood. This afternoon we went out for a while in the woods again. Our platoon played enemy. We took up places along a creek down in a hollow and let the other fellows hunt us down. I liked that for we had nothing to do but hide and stay hidden. We also had a lecture this afternoon on the rules of the government of the Navy. It was really dry. Most of the fellows went to sleep.
A good sound now is the train whistle when it is headed toward Richmond. It passes several hundred feet from here and has just been in operation for about a week and a half. It really does the business. I donít know how many trips it makes a day but it really goes by often.
I think a hornetís nest has been stirred up. It has been brewing for some time. Our M.A. or master-at-arms is one of the boys in the platoon who more or less has charge of it. The boy in our platoon has been doing a terrible job. How he got the job I donít know. I think he was elected the first day we were in camp on his ability to talk about himself. There have been grumblings around for quite some time. This morning the boys got together and decided to try to do something about it. They got up a notice this noon suggesting that a change be made. It was merely something to provide backing for the spokesman. Tonight the subject came before the M.A. and he about blew up. When last seen he was tearing down the street to where the ensign for our group stays. What will come of the situation I do not know. The boys want me to take the job over. If it comes to that point I will take it only if all the boys promise to stand behind me. It is a job that if it is done right would take quite a bit of time. We shall see what becomes of the situation.
Last night was payday and I was in line for no money. I found out tonight that I was overpaid when I got the $25 last pay. Out of this monthís pay comes the first money that is sent to you plus 2 1/2 monthís insurance. Some time next month I will probably start knowing how much I should get each time. The fifth of the month pay always takes care of the entire allotment to you. So my share of it will be mighty skimpy. These Navy pays are hard to figure out.
On the sentry duty they started carrying rifles (dummy) with fixed bayonets on the next shift after the last one I was on. Up to that time, we had carried billy clubs. I see where I shall have a lot of explaining to do when we get together, on all these deep subjects. The cadets are lucky to have raincoats. Outside of the officers and instructors, the only other raincoats are issued out to the sentries when it rains.
The M.A. still has his job, everything was taken care of O.K. last night, I guess. In a half hour I go on messenger duty. I might spend four hours sitting down in the O.D.ís office or out tearing all over the place looking for someone. I shall stick the Readerís Digest in my pocket anyway. Guess I had better run out to the head and see if any clothes have been left on the line. The lines have to be clear this morning from 8-12 and anything found out there gets tossed out.
May 4, 1943 Tuesday evening
Have been on K.P. today. It was not nearly as bad as the last time I was on the line serving coffee. I wish I had a nickel for every cup I drew. This evening I thought I would like to do something else so I started doing odd jobs. The mess hall M.A. thought that I was trying to get by without doing any work. So from that point on I did everything to make him think so. I had a lot of fun. Yesterday I was in a detail to clean out one of the drill halls. It was 100 feet wide and 600 feet long. Nine of us were assigned to it. We had a good chief in charge of us. That sounds as though it was a hard job but it was one of the easiest details that I have been on. The drill hall also incorporates a theatre at one end and a huge stage at the other.
Got a little more dope on what we are today. We are forming a replacement battalion for the 94th Battalion which is off somewhere. It will or rather is supposed to be some little time before we are ready. In the meantime special drafts on groups will be formed from our ranks.
Chief just came in to announce that we get a 37 1/2 hour leave starting tomorrow night. Half of each of our four barracks will go at a time. It has been quite nice today. Would have been very cool had the sun not been shining so hard. The boys who did not go out on details today had to go out and drill and did they march. From the way they talk they really caught the dickens.
Frank Raper just came in. He is all tuckered out. Been out on the drill field all day. We were discussing how to spend 37 1/2 hours. If we donít go to Richmond we may go to Norfolk. I donít like to have times off popped at me so quick. If I stay here I will have to go out the same as if I did not have liberty.
Oh me - I have about forgotten when I started this letter. Anyway this is Thursday morning and I am in Norfolk. I know one thing. The next time I get a liberty like this I wonít come to this town. I more than likely will gamble on trying to make High Point if it does not come on a weekend.
We drilled all day yesterday, did not even go back to the barrack at noon. Caught chow before leaving camp last night and four of us decided to come to this place. I guess we should have had better sense. We arrived here about 10. Three of the fellows wanted to get a bottle of beer so we chased down a place where they could get it. Then we set out to find a room. We still have not found one. We went up one street and down another trying all the hotels. Thought we might find one in Portsmouth but no luck there. We ended up at the YMCA sleeping on a string of chairs at 1. By that time even they felt good. When I woke up this morning only Frank and I were left. We are going out and look for some breakfast now. And then try to see what we can of this place.
May 8, 1943 Saturday morning
We arrived safely back in camp but what a trip. We had a good time even though we were plenty sleepy and tired when we got back in camp. After I finished writing you and Frank had finished writing his wife we went out on a shopping tour which ended up with my buying what I did for you. After dinner we decided to go to a show. Random Hearst was playing somewhere in town but we could not find the theatre so we went to see Lady of Burlesque. It was fairly good.
Our ferry left Norfolk at 7 and the train left Newport News at 8. Frank said something about going to Newport News by a different route which he claimed would take about 45 minutes. We did, but we ended up taking 4 hours and 20 minutes, thus missing our train by 2 hours and 20 minutes. The route we followed was to take the street car from downtown Norfolk to Ocean View where we transferred to the Willoughby Beach car. Then we caught the ferry to Old Point, walked to the main gate at Fortress Monroe, rode the bus to Phoebus, transferred to the trolley and went through Hampton to Newport News. The train we missed was, we were told in Norfolk, the last one that would get us to Williamsburg on time. That being the case, we stopped at the bus station in Newport News to find there was one leaving at 1:15. We decided to amble down to the C.E.O. station to see if there was a freight or something we could catch back sooner. Luckily there was a mail train loading up with a combination car on it. After checking with the conductor, he said he could carry us. We had no more than boarded when it pulled out. Camp buses run out of Williamsburg all night long - no charge - so we were in bed at 1 and did that feel good.
Yesterday morning we were confronted with Regimental Guard - a fine thing to have thrown at you after a liberty like ours. That meant we had to carry our own bedding to the Guard House and to do any sleeping that was done there. It was about a half mile from our barrack and the bedding is awkward to handle. The guard house was right next to a drill field and clouds of dust blow through the place. I was on the two 8-12 shifts which were not so bad. Slept for about three hours in the afternoon and was I mean when I got up. Found a letter from my wife and one from my mother when I did wake up though.
Moved back to our barrack this morning. We are supposed to be free till 1 now, but if we hang around the barrack we will probably be put to work. So we are all out in the woods writing, sleeping, and reading in a nice sunny spot near the river. As soon as 11 rolls around we can wash some clothes. I have a basketful soaking now, hidden under the barrack porch. Tonight we get a 12-hour liberty so I guess we will go in and give Williamsburg the once over. Monday I am scheduled to move to A-3 area which is in the advanced training section, so I may get my advanced training here at Camp Peary. On the other hand, we may just muster there and shove off for some place else.
What I said about liberties was that they could not be saved up. Two can not be run together. If two should come together you could take them but it would be an accident for that to happen. If they found out about it before you got out of camp they would change it. If you should get out of camp ok, nothing could be done about it.
May 16, 1943 Seabees Postcard
Northward bound. Filthy - All windows open - All quiet - traveling fast. Left 3 pm. Be in Washington shortly. Box lunch put on train in Richmond. Mighty rough track. Due in R.I. about 5 tomorrow morning.
May 17, 1943 Postcard
Arrived safely at 6:30 this morning. Camp seems to be very nice what little we have seen of it so far. Be sure to let me know how you want me to work the leaves such as my coming home or your coming to New York, Utica or what have you. We of course donít know yet when or how they will be.
May 18, 1943Tuesday evening
Our last few hours in Peary were terrible. On Saturday I caught K.P. That night I had to pack my sea bag. The next morning it was the duffel bag which had to be packed. We had to get up at five and have both the bags stacked out on the street to be picked up by the trucks. After chow we had a muster and then were confined to our barrack. From then on till two it was one muster after another. At 11 we had early chow and at two caught trucks to the station where a band was playing. We had all been assigned to certain coaches. There were 12 coaches and about 4 baggage cars on the train. We pulled out at 3. The first section had left at one. The coaches were filthy. You could hardly see out of the windows and it was very hot so all the windows were opened. We pulled out of the Richmond station around 5 after milk and box lunches had been put aboard. We ate those right away. The crowd was exceptionally orderly, perhaps because we were confined to the cars to which we had been assigned.
Everyone seemed happy about leaving Peary. In Washington we stopped and were permitted to go out on the station platform for about a half hour. From there on up we started to fall asleep. In New York everyone woke up and wanted something to eat. Dopes were selling for 15 cents. I didnít get one. Our C.O. had four tanks of coffee and some paper cups put on the train. It set him back $28 but we passed the hat. It was very foggy when we arrived here at 6:30.
From the first that we heard we were coming up here, the Yankees started in telling the Rebels what a nice place it was. They really painted a pretty picture. I am now, of course, a Rebel so I was on the receiving end of all that. We shot it back at them from New York up, for the weather was very soupy and we passed through a number of swamps. The Rebel choir sang "Carry me back to olde Virginnie."
Here we have two-story company barracks so there are six platoons living under one roof rather than two. There are six barracks in a group with one longer "Head" in the center. There are amplifiers all over the place, barracks, mess halls, tops of buildings over which announcements and all bugle calls are sent. That thing is really loud the first thing in the morning. All in all it is much nicer here than at Peary. Food is better and more of it can be had so long as nothing is thrown away.
We spent most of yesterday looking for our bags and the remainder of the day stowing our gear away in lockers which we now have. Today we had a lecture in first aid, judo and jungle warfare. Also a demonstration on packing our field packs. The jungle warfare was by a fellow who was taking the place of the regular lecturer. All he told us was about the bugs he saw in Panama. Last night I went over to another area to look up the boys from our boot crowd who had left in the 74th. It was like old home week.
We get our first liberty on Saturday. It will be for 36 hours. Think I will go to Utica if we have a payday on the 20th like we are supposed to have. I will have to get special permission to go over twenty-five miles from the camp. We are scheduled to get 12 hours every fourth night and 36 every other weekend. I understand that we, like the other Battalions here, will get 9 days before going to the port of embarkation, so I have been wondering if you would want to meet me up here on my last 36 and then visit with some of your friends in this neck of the woods till I get my 9-day leave. Then we could try to make Utica together and maybe High Point too. I wonít be able to make High Point on a 36 and I would like to get there and would also like for you to get to Utica. This is just a suggestion to start our thoughts thinking.
No, we did not wear whites on the trip up here. Changed to our undress blues after we got on the train. Yes, we have to wear whites on K.P. even up here. They really get dirty. Raper is still back in replacement. That is, he was last Friday.
May 21, 1943 Friday noon
We have had nothing but chilly damp weather ever since we have been here. This morning has been about the coldest so far. We spent the entire morning practicing for a dress parade and about froze to death. We have a dress parade and an inspection tomorrow and receive our Battalion colors. I forget when it was I last wrote to you. I think it must have been Tuesday night. I caught the 12-4 fire watch that night and the next night too. I donít know why I catch that shift so much. So you can see that this week I have had very little sleep.
Wednesday we went out and went around the commando course. It was not nearly as hard as I had expected it to be. There were piles of dirt to climb over, ledges to jump off, fences to climb over, mazes to run through, and swamps and suspension bridges to cross. It was a lot of fun. I didnít make it over the 15-foot wall but tried hard. After that we had a lecture on hand grenades. In the afternoon we had some more lectures. Yesterday morning we went out with machetes and cut trails through a swamp. Those things really cut even though they were very dull. There is no telling what they would do if they were sharp. We cut everything from shrubs to trees four and five inches in diameter. Of course we had to whittle on the trees for a while before they fell. In the afternoon we had some judo practice. They give us plenty of exercise before we start practicing. We learned how to push eyes out and some of the more vital points of attack around the head and neck. It is really a dirty game.
This morning we did nothing but drilling for our dress parade tomorrow. This afternoon we had to get the barrack cleaned up, go to a lecture and movie on sex hygiene and then get ready for bag inspection. It is really miserable out now. And has been all day. I hope it is nice tomorrow for I hate to think of marching around in the rain tomorrow morning and then maybe going to Utica tomorrow night in wet or damp clothes. Probably wonít know whether I will get to Utica till I get ready to leave. I have had some clothes out on the line for three days and they are not dry yet. Brought them in the barrack tonight to see if that would do them any good. We had some pretty sunsets down at Peary, also some very pretty sunrises. But here we havenít even seen the sun.
If you get up in this neck of the woods you can come in the camp between 5 and 9:30 in the evening. There are women all over the place at that time. We even have to put clothes on to run out to the head. A barrack is being made ready here for a crowd of WAVEs which are expected soon. I shall have to tell you that this place is also devoid of bathtubs. When we got around to taking our showers the day we arrived here the hot water was mighty scarce. Have had several good hot ones since that time, however.
Mighty good news just worked its way into camp about Yomamota being killed. I hope plenty more of those big shots get it in the neck.
We had payday tonight and I got a whole twenty dollars. It really arrived just in time. No one seems to be able to figure out these Navy pays. They are very variable. One time some of the fellows get a lot and the next time they get nothing. June 26 is on the schedule for the beginning of our nine days. They are posting the liberty notices at the first of each month so perhaps by the first of June we can start formulating plans. I was just checking and according to the present set up I will have three 36-hour liberties, one falling the weekend before we break up here.
May 25, 1943 USO Postcard
I could make no connection to Utica that would give me any time there at all so have called that trip off. Have been wondering if you would want to come up to this neck of the woods after the first of June. We could see each other quite often. When I couldnít get out of camp, you could come in. It would cost money however and that is no doubt an item to think of. The USO has a list of places where you could room here in town. Also you may be able to get a place closer to camp which is about 18 miles from here. You would like it around here. It is typically New England. Iíll write more in a letter in a day or so.
May 28, 1943 Friday evening
I believe that this will be a good place tonight to write letters. Half of the fellows are on liberty and most of the remainder have gone to hear Kate Smith. She is making two broadcasts from here tonight. They are worrying us to death lately with a war bond drive. The main sales talk is that we shall soon be getting an extra 20% and should invest it in war bonds.
Went into East Greenwich last night on my 12-hour liberty. I came so close to talking to you on the phone that I could almost hear your voice. We dropped around to the USO for a while and ended up in a Bingo game. The prize was to be a phone call home for a service man - that was first prize. Second was to have your photograph made. All of this was decided on the final game when the whole card had to be filled. Three of us sailors went Bingo at the same time plus one civilian. That meant that the three of us were to cut cards to see who got the phone call. One of the boys dropped out because it would cost him only fifty cents to call and the other two of us were from considerably greater distances. The two of us cut. I got a five and the other boy got a six. I was really disappointed. I cut with the boy who got out for the photograph and am to have my picture made the next time I can get into town.
I checked on the rooming situation while I was there. The USO is sort of a clearing house for such and they have vacancies coming in every day. You could stay at the Colony house - a hotel for $2.50 a night until you could find a room that you would like. The rooms average about $8-10 a week and there are a number of places to eat there. As for your spare time there - it seems there is something going on at the USO most all of the time for Navy wives. They have bridge parties, movies - and you can roll bandages and still add to those three hours you have already. When the weather permits there is swimming at Goddard Park - the Bay. The USO is a very nice place. One of the nicest that I have seen by far. They have a game room in the auditorium which has a fine stage and is used for dances several times a week. They have a building all by themselves. The town is built on the side of a hill and is old and small. Has some very peculiar architecture. The people really treated us fine. That is the dope as best I can get it. If you think we could finance it I would be tickled to death. One change has been made since I wrote to you that you could come into the camp on the nights I could not get out. Some trouble came up somewhere - just what it was I do not know. Women are still permitted on the base on Saturday nights and Sunday nights. However on the other nights we could be together at a house at Gate Five. What there is there besides chairs I do not know but we could at least hold hands. I have seen women on the base on other nights since the new order went into effect and some of the fellows have managed to get extra liberties because of their wives.
As I have said before I am due a 36-hour liberty next weekend - a week from tomorrow and we could meet in New York and come on up here Sunday night. What do you think? We could at least make plans as to where to meet as we did in Richmond and carry them out whenever we could if something should come up to change then such as finances or changing of liberties. You know more about New York and places to meet than I do.
Tomorrow we move. All this week we have been practicing dry fire with our carbines. Yesterday we shot ten rounds on the twenty-two rifle range here. Tomorrow we move to Sun Valley about five miles from here where we will stay a week shooting our carbines on the range there. We took them all apart and cleaned them up today in preparation. On the 15-foot wall there is no assistance other than someone helping you and a rope that comes partway down the wall. In judo, hitting below the belt with the knee is a motion that goes with every other trick in the game automatically.
May 30, 1943 Sunday morning
We are really having the fun now. We all wish we could take the remainder of our training out here at Sun Valley. It is really nice - just like camping out. We are living in Quonset huts. They are those little round top, corrugated iron buildings. There are only twelve of us to each hut which is so much nicer than the mob affairs which we just left. The huts are built in the woods and are the only type building used. We really had a time last night at chow. There were so many lines to so many huts everyone was getting mixed up. Several fellows going in for chow got tangled up and got in the line going to wash trays. The huts are small so food is prepared in one, cooked and served in another, eaten in another, and trays washed in still another. It looked something like this last night.*
The air our here really smells good. Most of the fellows slept under two blankets last night. It was a bit cool under one. I thought we never would get to sleep last night. Several of the fellows went to the head when taps blew so we put rifles under their mattresses and fixed the cots up so they would fall down. The bugler went out on liberty sometime after taps last night so we were awakened this morning by someone opening the door and blowing a whistle. It really sounded funny to hear that whistle going up and down the street. We are having a movie after muster at 13:00. What the day holds for us after that I do not know.
We have now built a table to write on plus a bench. Found some good insulation which we have tacked on the bench to act as upholstery. So now I am outside under the trees writing. I canít get over how nice it is out here. The fellows who are not building tables and benches are out taking sunbaths.
Have been doing quite a bit of reading the past few weeks. Put Pocket Books in my hip pocket and carry them every place I go and do my reading while standing in line.
June 8, 1943 Tuesday evening
I am so damn mad at this point that I donít feel like writing but I have to so I can let you know what the score is. I should be writing you on a sheet of asbestos. I was 50 minutes late getting into camp yesterday morning. In New York I arrived at Grand Central an hour and a quarter before the train was scheduled to leave. They would not let us get on the first section of the train which arrived in Providence at five so we caught the second section which was scheduled to arrive at 5:35 and did get there a half hour later. There were about nine from our group on the train. We tried to get a cab to bring us out but were turned down so headed for the bus station where, according to the notice in our barrack, buses leave every 15 minutes. We waited till a quarter of seven before one showed up. There was a line about two blocks long at that time. I ended up getting through the gate at 7:20 and was put on report right away along with the other fellows for being late. All day yesterday and today we have been worrying ourselves sick. Tonight we are sick, two of us in particular - both expecting our wives on Friday. We had to go before our Battalion Commander at five this afternoon. I was the first one called out of the group and since all of us were there for the same reason I ended up being the spokesman for the group.
We ended up being given ten daysí restrictions which means we have no liberties for ten days and have to check in at the O.D.ís office four times a day. That means I can not get out on Friday nor next Thursday. I am going to try to see if I canít do something about it through my company commander. You can still come in on Saturday and Sunday nights and we can see each other at the Gate on the other nights. If you want to hold off coming up here O.K. But Iíll be damn glad to see you if you do. I know Iím not going to do much sleeping tonight. Let me know when you will get here so I can meet you at the gate. Inquire at the USO how to get to Gate 5. There will probably be some other wives on the way out here. Iíll let you know if I can do any good. Taps will blow in five minutes. Feel as though it had already blown for me.
June 1943 Sunday afternoon
Dear Uncle Ed, For some reason or another we are getting this afternoon off. It is most unusual to get any time off at all around here. I am mad over having this time free and not being able to see Elizabeth. She has found a place to stay in a town about five or six miles from here. She comes here on the bus every night. On Saturday and Sunday nights we can bring our wives into the camp and take them to one of several theatres that we have here. We went to one last night and I guess we shall go to another one tonight.
Elizabeth is finding prices rather high around here. She was telling me last night that oranges were seventy-six cents a dozen. The cake arrived the other day and was very good. I enjoyed it very much and the fellows I shared it with enjoyed it too. Angel food travels through the mail very well. It doesnít bang up as much as the other cakes do. Iím sitting on my bunk to write this and notice that as I get to the bottom of the sheet of paper and have no place to rest my hand, my writing gets worse than usual. It looks very much as though we shall have some rain before the day is over. It has grown cloudy and smells very damp.
We are still learning about how to fight. We spent all of last week over on the rifle range shooting our carbines. I did not do so bad for a person who has never done any shooting. Had to go up to the Armory right after dinner and clean my rifle so that it will be ready for packing in the next few days. The barrack is growing more quiet now as most of the fellows are going to a ball game down on our new ballfield.
Will write a few more letters and then take a bath and get ready to see Lib tonight. Thanks again for the food. It was swell of you to think of me like that.
July 6, 1943 USO Postcard, New York
I got over here to Grand Central by a different route from the ones we used earlier in the evening. I checked immediately to make sure your train reached Washington 1st in the hopes you would have a better chance to get a good seat out of Washington. Just been talking to one of our officers - we are to have a review in our whites Wed. morning. - 1st outgoing Btn. to have one. Glad I still have a clean pair in my bag.
July 6, 1943 Tuesday evening
The latest scuttlebutt is that we leave for Livermore, Cal. on Friday. Whether we will or not remains to be seen. I was very pleased with my getting into camp so soon this morning. We lost a little time on the way up but landed in Providence ten minutes early. Had a good air conditioned coach which you would have enjoyed particularly because no smoking was allowed. When I arrived at the bus station to buy my ticket the S.P.* was in raising hell because the bus had only 15 passengers on it and would not wait the few minutes it would have taken for the boys to reach it and fill it up. He had the number of the bus and wanted the name of the driver so that he could report him. It was one of the big buses and could have held about 30 or more fellows. Good R.I., will we ever forget it. Anyway I caught the first Navy bus out and was in camp by 6. Most of the fellows were in on time. A few have still failed to put in an appearance.
July 8, 1943 Thursday evening
Sounds like there will be a hot time in the old town tonight. I donít know when I have heard so much noise. We had another bag inspection this afternoon and now have our bags packed as far as we can till we can put up our bedding in the morning. We spent about the whole day today doing nothing but getting our clothes rolled properly and laid out the way they are supposed to be. Also getting enough to last us five days or so of whatever we think we may need. There is a terrible row on now about whether the lights should be on or off. It is already ten oíclock and the lights have been doing nothing but flickering for the whole half hour.
We are leaving here in some style. The other battalions have gone out as you saw the 87th leave. We are going out in dress blues and with our own drum and bugle corp. Evidently getting Pullmans, for only 26 men are assigned to a car. There will be three train loads of us and as near as we can learn we will leave tomorrow night at 7-9-11. I know I will leave on the second train in the thirteenth car. We will probably not know the time till we muster to leave. Canít write with all this noise. Will drop you cards.
July 10, 1943Seabees Postcard
Left last night. Went to bed before hitting N.Y.C. and woke up in lower N.Y. State this morning. Should go through Binghamton around nine. Donít know why we had to get up at 5 this morning. We sure canít go anyplace. Are traveling in a Pullman that has seen better days but is still better than a day coach. We are well stocked with mystery stories.
July 11, 1943 Sunday morning
You may have taken a long time and round about ways of getting places on trips, but nothing would ever compare with this one. The enemy should certainly be confused. We left Rhode Island and headed toward New York City. Cut off before we got there and turned west toward Poughkeepsie on the Erie R.R. through Southern N.Y. State and Northern Pennsylvania. The train crew said we were obviously headed for Cleveland or possibly south through Akron. So what did we do but end up turning north toward Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Canada, across Canada to Port Huron, through Michigan to Chicago, and now we are about fifty miles outside Chicago on the Wabash R.R. headed toward St. Louis. We may veer off and head through Kansas City. Who knows.
The trip has been fairly enjoyable so far. Only 26 to a car which puts one man in an upper and one in a lower berth at night. At chow time they put diners on and have been serving pretty good food. Yesterday morning we woke up in rough country. This morning it is the opposite - quite flat. Have never heard of any of the places we are going through. We are the last car on the train so usually get to chow last. Yesterday we had lunch at 4 and supper at 6.
The soil looks very good for farming around here but is too flat for my soul. We stop several times a day for exercise. It feels good to get out and get stretched out. We donít have to get out for air. All the windows are open anyway.
July 14, 1943 Wednesday morning
Went to sleep last night in the middle of nowhere in Utah and woke up in the same place in Nevada this morning. We havenít seen a town since Salt Lake City. The only vegetation in sight is sagebrush. The most interesting thing I saw yesterday was at Soldier Summit in Utah where the railroad went back and forth down the mountain. We went about nine miles to get less than a mile. Arrived in Salt Lake City yesterday afternoon about five and left about an hour later. One of the train crew told us we were about ten hours late. After leaving the city, we rode along the lake for quite some time. The shore line has receded terribly. Then we struck out across the Salt Desert. You could actually taste salt in the air.
Just went through Battle Mountain and from a man along the way found we were 100 miles from Reno. Early yesterday a train man said we make San Francisco in about 24 hours from Salt Lake City. The way we are going, though, I think we could establish residence in Reno while passing through.
We had a rear flag man yesterday morning who had been with us through the night and had been hitting the bottle quite a bit. He was beginning to show signs of it an hour after we got up. We got him out on the rear platform pointing "mountain goats" out to us. Going into Salt Lake City we had quite a lecture tour from another brakeman who found that he and I had the same last name. He was pointing out all the points of interest along the way.
Just checked on our map and found we are right in the center of Nevada. Iím beginning to get hungry now. Hope that diner is operating full speed. So far the Canadians have served us the best meals, although we canít complain about what we have been getting. We are the last car on the train so are the last ones to eat. We have probably had more to eat for they do not have to be afraid of running out of food and we can get about as much as we want.
A whole flock of geese just flew by. Really looked pretty. Donít know what they are doing around here. Snow in the mountains to the south of us. Just passed a pond that was alive with wild ducks. Have crossed a ridge onto another plain that has a touch of civilization - four hay stacks. Had a lousy meal this morning. Just came back from it. We raised so much fuss I thought they would kick us out of the car.
July 15, 1943 Thursday morning
Here we are in warm, "sunny" California. I think the Chamber of Commerce overlooked this place. It is 9 and no sign of any sun. Warm? Of course, thanks to the steam heat. The fellows who met the train this morning wore peacoats and our dress blues felt fine. We are at Camp Parks, California which I understand is about 30 minutes from Frisco. I donít think we are going to like this place either. It looks as though it will be very dusty. That is if we ever find it warm enough to open the windows.
Had quite a time with our meals on the train yesterday. I imagine the steward on the diner was glad to get rid of us because we raised such cain over the situation. Being the last car on the train we were always last to eat which made us very late for our meals. But yesterday we were exceptionally late. It was 9:30 last night before we were called for supper.
After we got off the wastelands yesterday and struck the Feather River in the Sierras we had beautiful scenery. Came down the side of a very steep gorge. The mountains had beautiful pines on them. While coming down the mountain we went through over thirty tunnels. Saw one place where a freight train had gone over the bank. One box car was still in the bottom.
To our trip across country and the train wreck: As always, the Army travels by day coach and the Navy by Pullman. When we boarded in Endicott, Danny,* an Oklahoma Indian, could not get his window shade up. These devices are operated by squeezing two gizmos at their bottom and coil springs take them up and hold them there. Danny solved the problem by doing the holding and squeezing from the upper position. He was sitting across the aisle from me and a few seats ahead. From Florida came a fellow afraid of heights and sitting a few seats behind me. We came to the gorge and everyone was looking out the windows on the other side of the car. It was beautiful and a tremendous drop down to the river. Gator* was on the other side looking at this huge stone wall a few feet away and being quite comfortable. We came to the wreck. Gator was enticed to move to the opposite side to see it. He moved into the seat with Danny. The wrecked cars were scattered, piled and a huge mess. They looked smaller by far than the HO gauge. Just as Gator got to the window and looked, for some reason the shade all by itself rolled up with a horrible slapping sound. Gator jumped over the back of the seat to his own where he stayed glued for hours. Could not even get him to the diner.
The first section left Endicott an hour before we did, arrived here 24 hours ahead of us, and took a more northern route. The third section has not arrived. We got here this morning at 5.
This camp is advertised as being a rest camp. What the word "rest" will mean we shall no doubt soon find out. And what we need a rest from, we donít know. We will probably be here long enough to give the fellows who have not had their leaves a chance to catch up with us - then we shall move somewhere else. In the meantime those of us who remain here will catch all kinds of work details and such including Shore Patrol in Frisco. Since this is a fairly new camp there will no doubt be plenty of work parties.
I presume that today will be given over to cleaning our clothes. Even though I do not have much to do, what I do have is plenty dirty. The barracks here have heads in them instead of going outside. Other than that they are just about the same as Endicott.
August 2, 1943 Monday afternoon
I am back in again after another "hard" dayís work. Took a turn over the commando course this morning and followed it up with several lectures. This afternoon we took a sun bath that was not what had been scheduled but we ended doing it anyway. We were supposed to have gone on a hike this afternoon but Company C was chosen to put on a demonstration of Seabees in training for an admiral, a general, a congressman. and several Life photographers who were to have arrived at 2 by blimp. The blimp came over the camp at 3:30 and at 3:45 we were dismissed and told that it had been called off for the time being. We were to have shown them how we go over the commando course and some of the judo. Then in several days we are to meet the regular Navy on the cliff for guerrilla war fare. Out of the outfits in camp, Company C was picked because the instructors in the various courses thought we had been the outstanding group. I sometimes wonder if it pays to be outstanding.
Had quite a time over the weekend. Went out with Bob Minor* - the fellow I went to Boston with. We landed in Frisco at seven and immediately set out to find a place to sleep. We had eaten in Oakland after bumming a ride that far with our battalion commander. After trying several hotels with no luck at all we headed to the USO to see if anything was available. They suggested our going down to the Harbor Club which we did, and found a place to sleep when the time to sleep should roll around. The building had - from its looks - been a warehouse. An organization of writers, actors and musicians had taken it over and really made a lovely place out of it. They had the second floor for sleeping and the third for recreation. The shriners had furnished the bunks which were quite comfortable.
We met two sailors who had a payday that morning. One was a friend of Bobís who he had not seen in about 7 years. The four of us headed for California Avenue to take a ride on the cute little cable car. We had a riot on the thing. I guess people thought we were drunk but none of us had even had a dope. The motorman let us ring the bell for him as we climbed the hill. The cars will only seat about 25 people and at all times there are about forty on them. The ends are open and the middle closed. The fastest they can go is about twelve miles an hour.
The Mark Hopkins Hotel was at the top of the hill (Nob Hill) and from there you can get an excellent view of the city. There is a bar up there on the top floor of the hotel so we went up there and had a drink so we could see Frisco at night. After hobnobbing there with mink coats and generals and admirals and buck privates we went back down to the street. One of the soldiers wanted to ride in a cab so we boarded one with the idea of going to the Stage Door Canteen. But the one soldier who seemed to be sponsoring our evening decided we wanted to go to the "International Settlement." That is a block full of night clubs and honky tonks that, judging from the one we visited, is very badly overrated. In my opinion they were clip joints. We got out as fast as we could but had to eat something to do so. The floor show consisted of a short community sing plus a hobby horse race by three service men with a bottle of wine as a prize. It was getting close to midnight so we headed for a midnight show which was not so good. Arrived back at the Harbor Club around 2:30.
Sunday morning we were served waffles at the club and they were very good. A woman in her late fifties waited on us. We found out she was quite a pianist. She had studied in Paris and Moscow and played with several symphony orchestras. After a little persuasion we got her to a grand piano and she really put on a performance for us. She seemed very appreciative of her audience which about wore her out with requests.
After checking out from there we caught the cable car we had ridden the night before - just for the ride. This time we went clear to the end which was quite a ride. The conductor suggested transferring to a regular streetcar and going out to the beach when we asked him where we could go from there. One of the soldiers happened to think he had a date in Berkeley and left us. The three of us went on out to the beach which is on the ocean and saw the seals out on Seal Rocks. The wind out there was terrific. After walking down the beach and looking that section over the other soldier had to leave.
Bob and I decided to rent bicycles and go for a ride through Golden Gate Park. Spent about two hours on that tour. Visited the museum, Aquarium, and Japanese Tea Garden plus all the lakes en route. The park covers about 1050 acres and is said to be the largest man made park in the world. It used to be an area of nothing but shifting sand dunes. You would never believe it to see it. From there we caught a street car and rode back toward town before we transferred and caught another car out to the Presidia which is a small army base on the site of one of the Expositions that came off before my day. We walked through the base toward the Golden Gate to get a good view of it and the bridge.
Back toward town again where we got off the car at a point where we could walk through Chinatown. Then on to a restaurant. Ate at the same place I ate two liberties ago. Dropped in at the USO to clean up a bit and then struck out for the Stage Door Canteen. The Pacific Telephone Company provided the entertainment. Had a very good orchestra and stage show every 45 minutes all made up of their employees. They were very good. Headed back to camp at 10 where we arrived at 12:30 somewhat tired.
We have a 22-hour liberty coming up next week-end on which I want to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and visit Muir Woods - a stand of redwoods. Our commander told us on the way into Oakland Saturday night that we had been scheduled to leave for Endicott next Saturday and go to Sicily but that had been called off. I am going to send you a menu with a map-postcard of Frisco with my travels on it as soon as I can get it fixed up, plus a couple pictures* made in the "International Settlement." I think maybe your Mother would like one for the mantle. I did not spend the money for them. I am going to try to get a ticket to Doughgirls for next Sunday night. I have heard it is a very good musical.
I can put the (Blue) Devils on my helmet. You see everything on them around here. Yes, the San Juan Mission is one of the old ones. There is a whole chain of them a dayís fast journey apart through here along El Camino Real. Mission Dolores in Frisco is probably one of the best preserved. The boy who was 8 1/2 days late was finally given his sentence today - 20 days in the brig and a $30 fine.
August 10, 1943 Tuesday afternoon
Here we are at the famous place called Hueneme. Arrived this morning at 8 after an all night ride in some very antiquated coaches on the Southern Pacific. Although old, they had reclining seats and were fairly clean, but were dated by the gas lights. The lights were none too good. Barely lit the coach up so you could see your way through. We left Parks at 5:05 last night with our drum and bugle corps leading the way. Shortly after getting underway, we were issued a very nice little ditty bag by the Red Cross that was filled with a number of items. There was a book of the pocketbook variety - havenít seen two alike as yet, razor blades, soap and soap box, tablet of writing paper, package of envelopes, pencil, cigarettes, chewing gum, sewing kit, and several other things. Later in the evening, bars of candy were passed out also from the Red Cross. So among other things we should have a fair amount of reading material for awhile.
We are back to living in Quonset huts again. This is quite a large base. All these huts make it look bigger than what it is, too. Have seen nothing but huts on the place so far. This seems to be the port of missing battalions. Scuttlebutt is prominent. All kinds of jokes about this battalion and part of that one having disappeared last night and the night before. I doubt if we will believe anything we hear from this point on. We hear the mail service is really terrible.
Wartime censorship often prevented servicemen from revealing their whereabouts in letters. So Bob and Lib had agreed on a Code. Bob would begin a letter "Dear Elizabeth" (which he never called her). Then he would start one sentence with a couple of letters scratched out. The first letters of the following words would spell out his location. Now he offers a second system which he will also use. Code references will be in bold underlined type. Ed.
August 23, 1943 Monday evening
Have a 12-hour liberty tonight which I am spending on Oxnard. Have been browsing through some shops when I ran across these small world maps.* They gave me an idea for a new code by which you can locate Island X. I will still start off the letter "Dear Elizabeth" as we decided before. Elsewhere in the letter I will mention the time and something about North or South Carolina. The time may be in another paragraph from the mention of the state but I will make sure they both appear only once in the letter. Because there is east and west longitude and north and south latitude you will notice my notations on the map for keeping that straight. For example Port Hueneme would be, "Well, Toots, it is now exactly 3:40 pm. and I have got to get on to some other work. Sure wish I was in North Carolina now." High Point would be 3:25 pm.
How I wish we were going out tomorrow night* for a little celebration. Some of the fellows are celebrating a 5-month anniversary tonight - 5 months of this kind of life. I would a billion times rather celebrate tomorrow night.
August 29, 1943 Saturday night, USO stationery
I have never written you from here before - Hollywood. We left Camp - after I had worked in the office all morning - a little before 12, and had covered the 60 miles into Hollywood by 1:30. Am traveling with Siggy* again on this trip since we seem to have similar taste - namely wanting to see the sights rather than the taverns. By getting in fairly early, we found a room very easily just a few doors from Hollywood Boulevard and right in the heart of everything. After we had found the room, we set out to get tickets to some entertainment and then took a bus ride to Beverly Hills. It is very pretty there, mostly residential.
At 5:15 we picked up our tickets for the Lucky Strike Hit Parade. Frank Sinatra was the star at this end of the line. The whole program did not originate here. Part was from New York. Sinatra seems to have taken the women by storm out here. They about mob the poor fellow. From the broadcast we headed for something to eat. After getting filled we set out to use our passes for Orson Wellesí tent show.* A bus driver was headed that way and in 4 blocks stopped and picked up a busload of service men, keeping his hand over the cash box, and took us right to the show.
Welles has a regular big top and midway with sawdust and calliope. All service men are admitted free to the main tent where civilians pay from $1.65 to $5.50 for tickets. It was a swell show lasting 2 1/2 hours and features Orson Welles, Joe Cotton, and Marlene Deitrich. It was one of the best things of its kind I have ever seen. It was mostly magic & sleight of hand by Welles. I think he is one of the most versatile and energetic individuals I know of. Charlie Chaplin and a few other actors were in the audience and had quite a mob after them for autographs.
We managed to get to the Hollywood Canteen about 20 minutes before it closed. Kay Kaiser and his orchestra were there. He and Sal Kabbik really put on a good show too - what we saw of it. Now we are at the USO proving to our wives we donít forget about them when we are on liberty. This is really a busy town. Havenít seen so many cars and people in quite some time.
September 22, 1943 Wednesday evening, 93rd Stationery
Dear Uncle Ed - I am out on a 12-hour liberty tonight so am writing quite a few letters. The barracks we are in now are so crowded that we have no room for a writing table. Here at the USO, there are nice writing tables and I can get a lot done. I have used the USOs so much and found them so nice that I donít regret any money I have donated to it before I came into the service. Whenever I have needed a place to sleep or any information, they have always very cheerfully helped me out.
I went to Hollywood and Los Angeles last week-end and had a very enjoyable time. Next Wednesday night I start a 4-day liberty and hope to go down to Mexico for part of the time.
Have received both of your letters and have appreciated very much your writing to me. Mail means a great deal to anyone who is in the service even though they sometimes have trouble finding time to answer the letters which they receive. The ham arrived the other day. It really looked good to see it. And tasted good too. There is still some left. If I can I am going to try to get into the galley tonight and fry some more when I get back to camp.
The way things look around the camp right now, I believe that I will soon be on the Pacific Ocean headed for the South Pacific. One battalion left yesterday and another is scheduled to leave before the week is over. Then it will be our turn. I donít think we will be here for more than about two weeks now.
I think that everything will run all right around the house. I hope nothing happens that will make you want to go somewhere else for it would not seem like home to me to think of you being elsewhere. Thoughts of home are very outstanding in a personís mind when they are so far from it. I am glad to know that the place will be waiting for me when this mess is all over.
October 2, 1943 Saturday evening, Yosemite Lodge Stationery
How you would have enjoyed the trip today. It was beautiful. We left at 8:15 this morning by bus to Happy Isles where we started our muleback journey. There were 5 of us leaving here for the trip, all men. One was a soldier and one a Javanese while the other was a civilian who had never married because he had never been able to find a woman who liked to hike. He has tramped all over Californiaís mountains plus some of Europeís. Has been coming to Yosemite for the past 25 years. Included in our bus this morning was "Julie," an elderly woman from Vienna who sings constantly and likes to swim in the streams around here in her birthday suit. She was constantly saying something funny. Before we had even left the lodge, she touched Carl* and me on the shoulder to ask if we were Catholic priests. That started a near riot of laughter. She got the impression of that because we were wearing our sweaters over our shirts and they fit tight around the neck leaving none of the shirt exposed. For the rest of the day we were called "Father" and "padre."
At Happy Isles, our party was increased by 4 more plus the guide. It was a beautiful ride up the trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls. Every bend in the trail brought a new picture, and the higher we went, the farther we could see. Some places we could have jumped straight down a good many hundred feet. The trail up to Glacier Point was about 8 miles. We arrived at the top around 12:30 and were quite glad to dismount even though we had done that several times en route. The view we had from the top was gorgeous. Miles and miles of mountain peaks. In the distance we could see quite a bit of snow. We ate our lunch at Glacier Point and had till 2:15 to roam around and feast our eyes. We could pick out people in the valley but it was quite a job. They were just dots moving around.
The trail down was only 4 miles but quite steep. It was the return trip that really made the saddle felt. This trail is called the Four-Mile-Trail and comes down the side toward El Capitan. There were plenty of steep jump-offs en route that would have very definitely (been) fatal. We arrived at the bottom at 4:15. A bus met us there to bring us back to the Lodge. A most worthwhile trip. Earlier in the year would have found it prettier because of the falls which have little if any water falling now. Tonight at 9 is the Firefall. A huge fire is built up where we ate lunch at Glacier Point and after it is little more than glowing embers, it is pushed over the cliff.
October 10, 1943 Sunday morning
Dear Uncle Ed - I am very busily engaged in answering all my unanswered letters at this time. It will probably be a long time before anyone starts to get any more letters from me for we expect to leave very soon. Probably just a couple days. We will no doubt be gone before this even reaches you. I naturally hate to be leaving but still am glad for the sooner we leave the sooner we will be back and that is what I am looking forward to now - getting home.
Some of the fellows are having all their hair cut off while others are having it cut like Indians. Some of us are going to keep our hair as it is. We had a 4 day leave last week. Two of us went up to Yosemite National Park and really had a good time. It is a beautiful place up there. After the war is over I hope Lib and I can both make a trip to visit all the places I have been so far. I know she would really enjoy it.
Have just been to Church for our embarkation service. Just wish I knew where I was going to be a month from now. Guess I shall have to wait and see. Hope you are feeling good and all is going well with you.
No Date Western Union - from Oxnard
HOPE EVERYTHING IS GOING ALL RIGHT ON YOUR TWO JOBS. AM LEAVING TODAY. WILL TRY TO HAVE A GOOD TIME. BE THINKING ABOUT YOU. LOVE BOB
October 23, 1943 Saturday (Just crossed the Equator)
It is now 1:55 - have finished noon chow and am in the mood to do a little letter writing. Have had another one of our salt water showers and feel as though I had just finished another swim at Myrtle Beach. Would rather have taken the swim at the beach or, should I say, be in a position to have done so.
We are still chugging along on this pond and gazing at maps and wondering where we are. We are not such good navigators but still have a fair idea of what the score is.
Writing letters is really a problem since there is so little that we can say in them. Why we canít mention a few of them I donít know, because these letters will probably be reaching their destinations long after we have reached ours.
Have really been consuming the books on this trip. Really donít know how many I have read.
Some of the fellows are beginning to get tired of the trip but I have really been enjoying it. Would like to have a good hot fresh water bath though.
Had quite a celebration aboard ship yesterday.* Went through quite a metamorphosis. Donít believe I will be able to tell you about it till later either.
It makes me mad that now that I have a great deal of time in which I could write, I can say so little hence not much use to write.
Hope that your jobs are not keeping you too busy.
November 1, 1943 (Noumea, New Caledonia)
Dear Elizabeth -
Land almost within reach and that is all the good it is doing us. We put into a (censored) Pacific Port this morning but I understand we shall shove off for other points after a few days here. The place seems to be nothing but mountains and I doubt if we will get any closer to them than the front end of this ship. (2 1/2 lines censored)
It is 2:55 and if it were not for guard duty I know I would not be up this hour of morning. Saw a nice sandy beach this morning that reminded me of some of those we have visited in South Carolina. I am almost stuck for something to say - that is, something that I can say. I guess one of these days I will get used to censoring myself. We are expecting to get some mail tomorrow and am I looking forward to that. Guess that is all for now.
November 7, 1943
I had intended writing to Eddie* tonight, but after hearing that Duke-State score I do not know whether or not I should. I think I shall. We are again sailing the bounding main only it is not doing much bounding. Quite smooth but a very strong wind late in the day. Wrote you a good long letter yesterday but I doubt if it got off before we pulled out. We have a couple (censored) on board now with whom I have enjoyed talking. I doubt if they are connected with us. We are just taking them somewhere. There is a group of USO entertainers aboard now too. They put on a pretty good show for us tonight. We are all quite happy to be on the way again. It was getting rather monotonous in port. Another very pretty sunset tonight. Had another letter from you (censored). Will answer it after I read it a few more times.
November 12, 1943
I fear that I have slighted both you and Mother this week, but there has been little I could do about it. Celebrated Armistice Day by putting my feet on dry land again (censored) am. Yes, we have landed at last and are now in the process of unloading our ships. It will be, as it was for the Japs, only a temporary residence for us. I am on an unloading detail, working from 12-8 every night. All I can say for that is that it is fairly cool then. A pup tent in a coconut (censored) very little coolness for sleeping in the daytime. Slept for a while yesterday morning aboard the ship but only after (censored) without. Have spent most of today cleaning myself and my clothes with fresh water and is that a good feeling. Am really getting my fill of coconuts. It is quite pleasant here in spite of the heat. Have yet to see the time when a breeze was not stirring. Have a sun helmet now to help me with that nose of mine which I have been keeping covered with grease all these days. Will write more as soon as I can.
November 15, 1943 Monday (Banika)
Dear Elizabeth -
I have certainly been picking some ungodly hours to be writing you lately. Right now I have to do so when I get the opportunity. Unloading operations are rather slack tonight for some reason or another. So now at 1:53 am I sit myself down to scratch off a few lines in the spotlight of an idle crane. A whole flock of trucks will no doubt come up now. A very pretty moon tonight through the coconut palms. ĎTíwould be much prettier though, through the pines at Myrtle Beach.
As I said the other day in my last letter we have struck ground at last. Have not had much of a chance to enjoy much of it as yet. It is very quiet and peaceful, and generally a breeze in spite of the heat. Have been living off of salt tablets and water. Working nights is beginning to make itself felt mainly because of a lack of sleep. It is too hot to sleep during the daytime, so I get what I can after evening chow. It was terrible last night working in a pouring down rain and real sticky mud.
We have moved from our pup tents and sleeping on the ground to large tents and sleeping on cots. It is much nicer of course and everyone seems to be making trips to the lumber pile and salvaging used packing crates to make floors, tables and various other things to make it as convenient as possible. We had thought at first that this would be just a stopover here before going elsewhere, but are beginning to think this is "Island X" after all. One would never realize that there is a war in progress.
Most everyone by now has cut the legs off a pair of pants to make shorts. Much more comfortable. Till the galley gets set up, we are eating canned rations which are getting a bit monotonous now but were quite a change from the food we had on the ship. We are wondering now how long it will be before our wool clothes begin to rot. It is a shame that we were not able to send them home before leaving. I think now I shall walk to our shower about a mile away and get purified. We shall probably soon have water here for such. After the salt water baths on the way over, a mile is nothing to walk for a fresh water bath.
November 18, 1943
Have been holding off writing in the hope that we would receive some mail. So far we still have not. We should have quite a bit when we do get it. Am still working nights and will be mighty happy when it is all over. It is quite surprising the number of changes that have taken place in our area in the week that we have been here. We now have about a (censored) a beer line tonight and the (censored) started serving meals last night. A lot of (censored) for the latter is yet to be (censored). I notice on the bulletin board that we can now tell you that the port where we spent five days was Noumea in New Caledonia. I have a few pictures of it that I will send you. Think I shall have to go out and do a little dickering with some of the natives before long and see what I can get from them. They make several things. There is only a group of men on this island. The women must be off on another one. Think I had better go to bed.
December 25, 1943 Saturday evening, "United Nations Victorious" stationery
Dear Mom Ďn Pop Ďn Sis Annie* - A new experience - Christmas under a coconut tree. They can give it back to the Japs. Iíll take a Carolina pine or a Yankee snow. I would really like to have been with you folks. Have imagined every minute of the day in High Point. Hope you enjoyed my wife as much as I would have. To top off the day I have been spending it in bed in the sick bay with what I learned tonight is a case of acute bronchitis. Have been here three days and am improving. In spite of the landscape and temperature there has been a good attempt to create a Christmas atmosphere. There were carols being sung last night but no eggnog. We had a wonderful meal this noon and have been given candy, chewing gum, and cigars, plus two bottles of beer this morning. We in the sick bay got eggnog this afternoon without the nog however. There are about 17 in this ward and it sounds like anything but a hospital.
Have an imposition on its way to you. My seabag full of all the clothes that I have no use for over here is on its way home. Have no idea as to when they will ever reach you or what condition they will be in. We have been fighting rats and mold in them over here. I would appreciate your having them laundered or cleaned as necessary. No need to have them pressed in either case as I doubt if any of the presses in High Point would know how to press them. The Navy is a little queer on the subject of where and which direction the crease goes in. Just throw the strings back in the bag and the clothes too. To help you find a place for the bag, may I suggest that it be used for an ottoman in the living room or a bolster on your new bedroom suite.
I appreciate your sending Uncle Edís cake to me. It was pretty much battered but that is not surprising when you once see how the mail is handled on one of the ships. Libís and Motherís boxes came through in excellent shape. The other three to date have been in various stages of batteredness. Please give my belated Merry Christmas to those who you see around town. Hope I can say it myself next year.
January 8. 1944
So you spent Christmas in the hospital too. We are getting pretty good. Each has a tooth pulled on the same day and each goes to the hospital the same day. I hope that you did not have to stay in as long as I did which would mean, of course, that I hope you are back on your feet and feeling chipper. Received a Testament from the Church yesterday plus a box from Gladys, Nellie and Grace from the Warehouse. Today my first issue of Newsweek arrived. Came through in record time. It is the December 27 issue. I hope they all come through that fast. I am very glad to get it and I thank you very much. Canít understand how it got here so fast on three cents. Time really seems to be going fast over here. Have heard a number of others say the same thing in the past few days. It canít go too fast though. It seems ages since July 4th.
January 10, 1944
Bought Uncle Ed a cane yesterday from a native. It looks like ebony, but isnít. It has mother of pearl inlaid around the top. I think it is a mahogany that they fix up some way or another and call iron wood. I made a little wooden box to send it in today. The snails are gradually decaying but, oh, what a smell. I suppose Hulda* would like to have the meat too, but unless she could tell me of some way of shipping them she will have to confine her studies to the shell itself. The ones that I have not been able to clean I have put in a tree in a can where I hope the ants will work on them. There is a very pestiferous bug around here tonight. Every night seems to bring all of the old ones back plus a new variety. We must be very quiet in here tonight or else our rats are getting braver. One just walked across the floor.
January 12, 1944 (Russell Islands)
I donít know which would be worse - standing on the bus to Durham or driving the Zepplin. I guess I shall now have two pairs of glasses. The pair you are having made up and a pair that is being made up at a near-by base. Just found out that it was possible a few days ago. Donít know how long it will be before I get them or what they will be like.
IRan upon some snails eating leaves. Or donít they eat stuff like that? If they donít they sure looked like they were. The ones that I have picked up so far are smelling worse every day. Have seen only two kinds of flowers over here and very few of them. So it may be true that plants miss the flower and fruit stage. Must get a letter off to Mother tonight.
February 7, 1944
February 16, 1944 Thursday evening
I wish that I could describe to you just the way we are living right now. Had I a movie or still camera you would be laughing at some of the scenes I could show you. Yesterday the second of the Christmas packages arrived. Linen handkerchiefs are very much out of place here but if you insist I shall use them. Think I shall save them for Sundays. Sometimes a Sunday gets by without my knowing it, but I shall try to make it every seventh day if I can get started right.
Our Christmas cards were cute, but my Christmas card was beautiful. I have almost memorized the verse. I was just showing it to some of the boys here in the tent and each one has copied it. Your airmail of February 5 arrived today, which is very good time in my estimation. Am glad that you did not have too much trouble with the identification of the leaf eating snails. Before the week is out I shall have another for you to identify.* It too is quite common. I know that it is not of the same family group but very close. I have a few more for Hulda too. Have not sent that box off as yet but will have to do so within a day or so. Will include a few trinkets that Carl (the boy I went to Yosemite with) and I collaborated on - also a grass skirt for Marion. Have had quite a bit of beautiful coral that I could have sent you but it loses its color so fast that I hardly thought it worth while.
Yes, all of your letters show up sooner or later. Havenít missed one yet even though I sometimes think that I will. Almost thought twice that I was going to have to do work tonight but both times it has been canceled. Am pooped out enough from the running around I have to do in the daytime.
February 25, 1944
(Censored) uneventful trip and have found in a very short while that our new home makes our old home seem like a paradise. From what I have been able to learn from some of the fellows who came up ahead of us there are very few japs (I canít make myself use a capital J) left on the place. We are living in one of Uncle Samís (censored) in the middle of a jungle. I guess that until we pay our street assessments we shall not have paved streets but will have to contend with ankle deep mud and haul our own water. Was very much surprised to find hot fresh water on the ship coming up. So proceeded to take the first hot water bath since the night before we left the States. It was really a pleasure. Less than an hour after I sent your box of shells off the other day I got a hold of one I wanted very much.
February 29, 1944*
Tomorrow we are scheduled to get some mail. I really hope that it comes through. Just how soon it will be coming in here daily I do not know, but soon I hope. Have moved again, this time to a different part of our camp. Had to clear a hole big enough to put a tarp to live under. I doubt if it will leak - at least it wonít be any worse than the tent I was in. Every time I rolled over last night I found a new puddle in my bed. Tried to dry my blanket and mattress today but it was not clear enough to do much good. Caught a couple buckets of rain water so that I did not have to take a salt water bath in the harbor. Rain does have its good points. However if there was not so much of it there would not be so much mud and I would not need the water so much. Maybe rain does not have any good points after all. Am beginning to wonder if the clothes we wash will ever get dry.
March 4, 1944 (Nissan)
Dear Elizabeth -
Noticed some pictures in Life today of Jeeps and trucks mired in the mud in Italy. The captain gave the mud as an excuse for the slowness of the war over there. If they call it mud over there, I wonder what they would call this stuff we wallow around in here. It is fully 3 times as deep and the war seems to be coming along pretty good, too. Someone who was not supposed to be in the dump* just got stuck. When we asked them what they were doing out there, they answered, "fishing." We let them sit there in the jeep in the mud for about 15 minutes before we would call for someone to pull them out. I doubt if they will do any more fishing there. They would not get out of the jeep because the mud was about knee deep.
I Nearly identified some snails at noon. They were a few that I picked up the other evening. When the fellow looked at them they were not what he thought they were. As soon as I have a chance to do some boiling I will get them out of their shells. Will try to save the operculum this time. Some are quite small, though.
March 22, 1944 Wednesday evening
Woe is me - Connerís Chronicle (published every other day - limited circulation) has been scooped by the Associated Press - United Press and all the other presses. In fact they have beaten ye editor - and publisher - by a little over a month. They told the world where the 93rd was hiding and what they were doing in just so many words. Clippings began rolling in here from the States telling more about us than we knew ourselves so now we can tell about ourselves ourselves.
Nissan Island of the Green Islands is now our temporary home. On my map - one of them, Nissan is the only one of the Green ones shown. I donít know what happened to the others. Maybe they were sent back to Japan. And as usual we have built an airstrip which is in operation and was finished ahead of schedule. Have even heard a number of jokes about their landing ahead of schedule. Are we the only ones who are in a hurry to get home?
The funny part about being able to write about where we are is that we can not tell you where we were or what islands we passed between here and New Caledonia. Even our censors get disgusted some times.
You have been wondering what I am doing - the ban is up a bit on that too. As you know I am with the supply department and there is never a dull moment. Just before and after moving I have to receive and make up packing lists on all cargo and see that it gets loaded in priority order - that was particularly true on this last move. Then after we get where we are going I have to run all through the jungles and find our stuff and get it in its proper dump. That really is a job. In between moving seasons there is always something to straighten up and stuff to be issued. Sounds as though I do all that by myself, doesnít it. Iím only part of the crew. Every now and then - not very often - we get called off on another job for a day or so.
Donít let the Fighting Seabees movie get you too stirred up. Most reports have that it was definitely a B movie and played up the officers. None of us have seen it to pass judgment. Some of the shots were supposed to have been made at Hueneme. So far as fighting is concerned I have not seen a Jap yet alive or dead. Heard one of their planes one night down at the other island. We have an alert every now and then but to date I have managed to sleep through them all. I guess if we have any trouble the boys will wake me up. I donít know where the woman fits into the picture. We have not seen any yet. The last we saw were sitting on a roof top waving to us when we pulled out of Hueneme. Iíll have to take that back - we saw a barge load of them at Noumea. Someone with binoculars guessed they were WACs.
One of the storekeepers* we work with is quite a horoscopologist or whatever you call them and reads palms too. He really believes in it and hits the truth quite often. I am happily married - extra healthy - recover from sickness better than average, found it tough going when I was 18-21 years old, have no desire to be famous or wealthy just a desire for a good living - see no point in doing anything unless there is a good reason for it (only a fragment of Page 6) - will live to be 80 or 90, and so on. According to his horoscope, we will be moving again between April 9-18 to a place where we will find a little social activity. All of which remains to be seen.
April 5, 1944
I shall have to think hard to fill up this sheet tonight. Uncle Sam seems to be letting me down the past few days. Very little mail has come in and none for me. The weather may be having something to do with it. I believe that there will have to be some changes made in texts on this part of the world with regard to the wet and dry seasons. I am about to decide the wet season ends one day and begins the next. At this point there is no need to wash clothes for the longer they hang out the wetter they get and the ones that are dry inside the tent are now quite damp. Have just finished the Nutmeg Tree, a very screwy book. I believe I will start a book of short stories next. We did not have too hot chow tonight so I just dove into one of my peanut butter jars. It would have been better with some bread or crackers but under the circumstances it tasted pretty good. Think I shall do a little cleaning up in my house now.
April 15, 1944 Saturday evening
Six months and one day ago we pulled out from Hueneme. What we would not give to be pulling in there now. Have had to do very little the past few days and have developed the feeling that it is the calm before the storm. I wish we could send packages out but a Fleet P.O. has not been set up here as yet. I have a bunch of shells to send off - enough I believe to keep Hulda busy for a while. Have about twenty different kinds with operculums and I donít know how many different ones in the miscellaneous pile. The ants are still doing a little work on the ones I gathered last week. Doubt if I shall be able to do any more good here although there is a type I would like very much to get and have been hunting ever since we arrived here. Found out only last Tuesday where I could get them, but now do not expect to have any more opportunities to do any hunting.
I would not be surprised if some of my letters are a bit "confoosiní." I still have the habit of never reading one over when I finish for fear I will find so much wrong with it that it will never be mailed. At times when there is little to write about I keep pushing my mind to think of something else to write while I am still writing on something else. Have had a spell lately of getting letters in words mixed up. Why I donít know unless I write too fast.
Atabrine is a synthetic. As I understand it, it is a neutralizer and not a cure or what have you. Malaria can still be in the system while atabrine is being taken and will show up when stopped. If it has fewer queer effects than quinine, I wonder what quinine would do. When we first started taking the atabrine we had headaches, didnít feel like eating, and felt lousy in general. Some fellows wonít take it, but I would a lot rather have malaria crop out on me back in the States than way out here.
Yes, I wear a hat outdoors - if the sun is shining and I am going to be out in it for a long time. We were issued sun helmets shortly after landing at our last Island X. My nose has not peeled since we have been over here. This is not an atoll, just a queer shape. We have been told it was a former volcano crater which would not be hard to believe. The five-legged critter I described seems too limber to be a starfish and the legs too delicate. When it puts its body in a hole the legs hang out and flap around like seaweed.
Have you read in Time about the soldiers and the native women on Makin Island. It was really funny. An experience none of us have had yet. It was an issue toward the last of Feb.
May 4, 1944Thursday evening
For a change we have had a rather pretty day today. I guess the only reason for it is because all of the waters in the heavens fell last night. Have spent most all of today out canvassing the island in the name of shoes. They are one of the biggest problems out here. Back in civilian life I had trouble getting shoes big enough and then came out here to find conditions in reverse. My size and up are quite plentiful. Somewhere, somehow the supply system has been messed up for the other day we received a case of navy blue, 100 % wool, elbow length gloves. I wish you had some of them. I think you would like them - that is, when the proper season rolled around.
May 6, 1944 Saturday evening
You have been wanting a picture of me. Now you can have one. So far this is the best I can do for you. If you cannot guess which is me, you might hold the picture real close to a light where the ink spot can be seen and see my guess. Not knowing too much about what we look like from the rear, two of us have picked out what we think to be each other. We are in a native cemetery at the base of a huge cliff. Some of the crosses marking graves can be picked out. The building just on the picture is a small native chapel. It is very plain and inside is a square room which is in reality a building by itself since it has its own four walls and roof which are not connected to the main building at all.
Tomorrow night the movie will be a moving picture of the 93rd and what it has done so far. That, I guess, will be the way we will celebrate our 1st birthday.
Am glad the box reached you ok. The general story on aluminum is that it came from a Jap Zero (plane) but it all comes from junked parts of our own planes. The bracelets were a rather feeble attempt to do something. The best way to shape them is a broom handle, being particularly careful when the wide part and the narrow part come together. I hope Hulda is not disappointed with the shells. There is really a mess of them in the box I am getting up now, with opercula. Have done a better job of segregating these. Have the different kinds in envelopes and cloth sacks which I made. Donít worry about making a necklace. That has already been done and will be in the next, or present, box. I have been able to get a few more of the greens and yellows - about a 150 anyway. I have a few more cat eyes for you too - white, brown, and green brown. All sizes from (diagram: approx. 1 cm diameter to 1/8 cm). The three I sent I tried to match as close as possible and thought they would make a nice bracelet or something. They are the operculum and nothing has been done to them. I have been able to get hold of one shell from which they come. I got it about two hours after I sent that box off, so will include it in this next one. It is by far the prettiest of any shell I have found. A pretty green. The green cat eyes here have a touch of brown in them. Have found a number of them in the sand.
As yet I have not been able to get any of the shells, although I have seen some. They have almost identical markings of the green shell but the predominant color is brown. This species must grow beyond the coral reefs where I have not had nerve to go yet because of the pounding surf. The eyes I have found here I have dug out of the sand where I have been able to find bits of the broken brown shells. One of the boys makes beautiful rings mounting them. Unless you have sent the bottles I would not worry about them for the small shells as I can use match boxes which I have done with some from here. I have a few more pieces of coral for you. Find it on the beach. The branched pieces are from the ocean side. Flat pieces similar to that elongated pancake I sent you are in lagoons. The coral reefs I speak of are monolithic affairs.* No individual pieces. The white cat eyes with their shells live along the peak of the reef while the tiger eyes with their similar green yellow relation are in the nooks of the reef between the peak and the beach.
Uncle Ed will probably not smoke the pipe but I thought he would like it. I guess I told you the history of it. Did you see his cane while you were home for Easter? All the incisioning on the brass and aluminum was done by Carl - the boy I went to Yosemite with.
Scuttlebutt is really thick around here about the future travails of the 93rd. A half a dozen different stories come out every day. In fact I have made up one or two myself. Being in the supply dept. we are supposed to be a barometer of future activities which gives our scuttlebutt a little prestige.
May 10, 1944Wednesday evening
I believe this will be a rather long letter tonight. I really hit the jackpot today. Received quite a lot of brand new mail including an air mail from you that was only seven days old. Also one from April 27, plus a package which contained Headhunters. From a hasty glance through it I believe it will be quite interesting.
I guess the first thing to write about tonight would be the results of a little foraging party which ended up by about eight men having such full bellies yesterday noon that they did not feel like going to work in the afternoon. Several fellows went out Monday afternoon and shot a number of doves. We cleaned them, cut them up, and put them in a refer* till yesterday noon when we boiled them for a while and then fried them. By doing a little begging in the morning we produced several loaves of bread, flour and salt, and two pounds of real, live creamery butter. We really had a feast. Tomato juice, dove fried in butter, buttered toast and pineapple for desert. I did not know anything could taste so good. The dove reminded me a great deal of guinea. I suppose next we will try to barbecue one of the pigs roaming around here.
This noon two of us made a little trip down to the beach as the tide was quite low and found a few new shells. Every time I think I have this box ready to send off I find something new to add. While at the beach I caught what must be some sort of a jellyfish which I have never seen before. I could watch him swim around the jar by the hour. He is quite transparent with a bluish cast and rather complicated in his structure. I wish I had something to put in the water so I could find out where what he eats - if anything goes. I will attempt a picture but am afraid of the results.*
That is really some beautiful sketching isnít it. Glad I am not in one of your classes.
Our tent is really popular with the Island bat population tonight. On the presumption they are blind, ask Miss Jeffers if they use radar or something else to keep from bumping into everything. I know her main work was not on that end of them but maybe she knows about them anyway.
The pictures you sent of Guadalcanal I understand are quite typical. That place really is a notorious mine hole. We donít have it quite that bad, but the two season idea - a wet one and a rainy one seems to be quite right for this country. Nemo* made a Motherís Day card for your mother too. It will probably be a few days getting there. He makes very good water colors, at least I think so.
May 12, 1944
You have a very tired husband tonight. Fay* will no doubt have a hard time getting me out of the bed in the morning - perhaps I should say an exceptionally hard time. I have no idea how far I walked and waded but I certainly covered the territory. I went way out to one end of the island where I had heard there were a few shells which I do not have. Now I do. The rocks are pretty well turned over but I found some. I donít know how many hundred pounds of rocks I turned but it was a pretty good workout. The walking portion of the trip was somewhat more than I had counted on because I missed the last ferry at one spot and then had to push through some jungle to a road where I had to walk several miles before catching a ride. The shells I found I believe will please you very much. Found a new color cat eye which I think very pretty. It is more of a purple than anything else I guess. I am still missing a few odds and ends which I hope to get. It was a beautiful day for tramping around. I am not the same color now that I was when I left this morning.
"Protoplasm Joe," my jellyfish, is still swimming around in his bottle. I have thought several times he was on the verge of dying but he is still swimming around. Saw a beautiful native canoe today. There was a little live entertainment at the show tonight so I went. It was good. Stayed for the picture and wish I hadnít. I Married An Angel was a flop to me and seems to be the general opinion. Need I add that in my own case it has been a huge success.
May 13, 1944 Saturday evening
Very little has happened since I wrote you last night other than the fact that I learned today that I am to be a witness in a summary court martial to be held Monday afternoon. It involves the theft of a washing machine from the dump. I know very little about the case and can do no more than verify that there was a theft. It was supposed to have been stolen and swapped for a case or two of beer. While I have little use for the man involved and would not be surprised if he were involved I still think they have made a mistake and have the wrong man. In fact I seriously doubt if they will be able to convict him.
I sure hope we do not have any storms where the rain blows parallel to the ground. I have to keep a cover handy to throw over my bunk when it rains and the wind blows just a little bit. Our "tent" is just a large tarp that is thrown over a bamboo pole between two trees, thus leaving us with two very open ends.*
Since you have already sent the little bottles maybe I will be able to catch something like "Protoplasm Joe" and try to get him through. He is still swimming around although his tail section seems to be growing smaller. Have been wondering if he stores food there.
Will be looking forward to the gum. If we can get to the chow hall early enough we can get about one stick a week. Have really been enjoying what you have been sending. Dentyne keeps perfect. The little tin can you filled with candy in the Christmas box keeps the other in pretty good shape. When you eat raw onions think of me. We get some every now and then. I never knew so many people liked them. Coming over on the ship a guard had to be put on those which were carried. The chow was so lousy we would make a meal on onion sandwiches - if we knew the guard. Several times I have done the same thing.
I delivered your message to Fittsy* about the snapshot folder. He asked that you not worry too much about it. He says it is probably just his Seabee attitude - that he wants everything he sees. I know he would appreciate getting one though. He is a very likable fellow and would do anything for someone he likes. Toward the end of last month he came to me to borrow two dollars. I knew that the day before he had about 5 dollars so kidded him about getting caught in a poker game. I found out that one of the boys in his tent wanted to send some clothes home and was broke. So Fitts went broke to help the other fellow out.
Hulda really went to town on those shells didnít she? I really have a bunch of beauts to send when I get this box full. Went out this morning to the lagoon with a crow bar and managed to get a few more by prying chunks of coral up and looking under it. I will certainly have had a lot of experience in collecting between these skills and the summer with Don. I forget whether it was by my palm or the numerology business that Perry told me I was a collector. Maybe we will have to take Miss Jeffers* up on her expedition idea. We would have to wait for about five years after the war though so that life on the islands where Seabees have been can grow up again.
May 16, 1944 V-mail
I guess I talked myself out the other night which with no letter to answer tonight I guess I shall have to resort to this type of letter (V-mail). Have been wondering just when you will be landing in Beaufort.* Have to keep a close watch on the shells I have in the cleaning process. The crabs seem to think I am running a real estate agency and swap old shells for new ones when they get the chance. Am enjoying Headhunting and keeping a list of some of the expressions to try them out here. Too much sunshine lately. Running low on rain water. While walking through the dump today I chanced to look up for a moment and stepped into a rut of one of our abandoned roads. I stopped but only after sinking in mud halfway between my knees and hips.
May 18, 1944 V-mail
Guess it will have to be another one of these dinky things again tonight. Have been reading Headhunting in as much of my free time as possible and have been enjoying it very much. Am now in the process of making a grass skirt by the method she described out of banana tree leaves. I suppose the rain that started today will continue for a while and the leaves wonít dry. It will make a good experiment anyway. Now that our buckets are full from todayís downpour we are ready for more sun. Our friend the bat has come back tonight after several daysí absence. He is really bouncing all over the place catching bugs.
May 20, 1944
Uncle Sam has certainly been keeping me in the dark this week. Very little mail has come in to me. I guess last week was my week. Have received two Newsweeks, my State absentee ballot, and an Easter card from Marion. The ballot has arrived too late for me to use. At least I can not possibly see how it could reach Greensboro by a week from today. Fay and I both have tomorrow off so I imagine we will get off to an early start on a collecting tour to see if there is anything left on this island. We had hopes of getting off to another island but doubt if we will make it. Have finished Headhunting and after it makes a few rounds will try to get it back to you. If you thought that skirt I sent you was skimpy you should see what becomes of dried banana leaves. I have four leaves drying in the sun and all put together would not make very much. Our hot dry spell is still continuing after its brief intermission the other day. I think I shall beat out a few other letters now and maybe someday I will get some answers.
June 4, 1944 Sunday evening
What a lazy day this has been. Donít remember having spent one like it since before I came into the service. Modie and I were going out to do some sketching today and had planned on a early start. When I woke up this morning the rain was pouring down. After a short doze I woke again - answered a few urges and drank a can of tomato juice then grabbed a magazine and crawled back into the sack again. There I stayed until dinner time. This afternoon I saw the weather was not going to break, so to do some comfortable reading I took a few minutes to convert an empty crate into a rather comfortable lounge chair and when finished spent the afternoon reading. I am glad we rigged up our new water supply system late yesterday afternoon. By doing so we were able to collect about 150 gallons of water last night, all off our own 20-by-20 roof. I expect we could have caught that much again today but had no place for it. Our drums were flowing over early this morning. Fay and I feel quite aristocratic with running water - we canít say hot and cold yet. We split bamboo to form an eaves and tied it to the edge of our tarp. They carry the water into two gasoline drums on which we have faucets. There is no way for dirt to get into the drums nor can the mosquitoes lay eggs there. Now when it rains we do not have to worry about running around and setting buckets under the drips.*
June 16, 1944 Friday evening
Two V-Mails and an air mail tonight. Air mail - June 9 - only one week. The V-Mail is May 29 and June 1. We must be getting considerably better service on air mail now. Back on the main skyway again. It really seems good to have it come through so fast.
Sounds like a very musical show tonight. Have heard nothing but songs so far. We get movies so long after I have read the reviews I have forgotten which I want to see. I read an article the other day which mentioned the men in foreign service getting the shows before they were released in the States. That sounds good to the fellows back home I guess. We saw a newsreel the other night which included scenes of turkeys being killed for the Armyís Thanksgiving dinner. I am quite sure they have not started getting ready this far in advance for next Thanksgiving.
So the Atlantic coast has something named after this part of the world. I was just curious about the bougainvillea vine. Have not had a coconut in quite some time. There are no trees close to us now. Canít say that I am fed up with them. I like coconut pie, cake and candy too well to over eat out here. Yes, the moon was full here last week. I see the same one you do. The only time it is different in different parts of the world is during an eclipse. That is so far as phases are concerned. If I remember right it is upside down south of the Equator. Right off hand I canít think of a way to prove it to myself though.
June 30, 1944 Friday evening
I have it. But what I have I do not know nor does anyone else. Most everyone else has it too but that does not make me feel any better. To keep from scratching is exerting every bit of will power I possess. Most of us have broken out with a rash which the general opinion seems to be is caused by pollen. It itches and burns to beat everything. Everything we have tried seems to afford only temporary relief. Gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, alum, G.I. Soap, and what have you are being tried. It is another use for my foot powder.
Sunday Siggy and I are planning on a cruise over the lagoon by sailboat. I shall try not to fall out as you did. And hope we do not have wind trouble as you did on your last trip. No Coast Guard here to help us out. I hope Sunday is a nice day for I want to use up the film. Everyone kids me about my beard - I believe that at this point it is the only one left in this outfit. But when I tell them it is coming off on Sunday so I can send pictures to my wife of a natural face they plead with me to leave it on.
July 2, 1944 Sunday evening
I have grown to be very lazy on Sundays for the past few weeks. Today has been no exception.
Have been spending a few minutes off and on taking shots of me for you. Have two to go yet and donít exactly know what to use them on. All so far have been on how we live and no scenery. Will save that portion for the next roll you get me.
This afternoon after the Supply Department had its picture* taken, Siggy and I went for a boat ride. It used to be a sailboat. But it is now back to its original status - a native canoe with out riggers. We bailed it out and started to paddle only to find it leaked like a sieve, but we kept going anyway stopping at the shore every few minutes to pour the water out. We went nowhere - just down the shore of the lagoon. On our way back we were about fifty feet from the shore when Siggy suggested we put in and bail out again. We had hardly turned when I looked around and the tail end disappeared. I was thrown out but Siggy was able to stay in. I made for shore and never got my glasses wet. I should know soon how waterproof my watch is. Siggy brought the boat in and claims he knows what a submarine ride is like. He lost both of his shoes in the deal. After bailing out again we were able to get back to camp.
Managed to get five large cowries from the natives today.* Fay gave them a nickel apiece for the ones he got while they settled for my pennies. We threw in a plug of tobacco a piece as a gift. I get a big kick out of the natives. Several came around this afternoon and wanted to trade some shells for a box. We found one for them but they did not like it for it was not like mine. Had no hinges or lock. One of them seemed quite interested in pictures. He looked yours over and wanted it for a shell but I explained that was my Marie and I couldnít let him have it. He saw Motherís then and wanted to know if that was Marie too. I told him who that was. Then I showed him a Life and thought I could trade that. He looked slowly through it, sucking on a pipe that had no tobacco. He seemed interested mostly in the babies and pointed each one out to me. If there was a woman on the same page he wanted to know if that was the mother. He decided he did not want the magazine and tried on a pair of glasses of mine. They did not work so good. He left then and said he would be back next Sunday.
July 11, 1944 Tuesday evening
Dear Elizabeth *
Had to put in a little extra work tonight. I guess since it is 1:50 am, I put in more than just a little. Feel a bit weary but will write you anyway since I feel in the mood. Have had a feeling today that I would like to be at Myrtle Beach. That probably sounds funny coming from me. Wish I could let you in on some of the scuttlebutt that is making the rounds these days. But I guess that would be impossible.
I pulled a good one yesterday. Had a chance to buy a whole box of Milky Ways. I dug up a large can to put them in to keep the ants and rats out of them. Then had the idea of setting the works in a bucket of water to cool them off and keep them from getting too soft. The idea was fine but when I went to get out a bar last night I discovered the can had a hole in it so I now have some rather damp candy. Last night a rat ate two holes through my shirt pocket to get a partial pack of lifesavers I had there.
I see by the news that Durham had quite a fire in the past day or so. "Practically an entire mid-town block - and several hundred thousand dollars." I guess it will be quite some time before I will get the details.
July 13, 1944 Thursday evening
Had wanted to go over to the show this evening - Stage Door Canteen - but was afraid it would rain. I should have known though that at the rate the rain came down late this afternoon there was no more left to come down. Work is moving rather slow for me right now and it should be moving fast. Will probably end up going night and day before long. It usually works out that way. Have a rather sore arm tonight as a result of a cholera shot. Guess I shall have to sleep on my right side for a change.
Fittsy was very pleased with the cellophane do-jigger and thanks you very much. He said he would try to make you something. Donít look for it too hard as I have seen him start a number of things and always ruin it as he puts the finishing touches to it. I will see what I can do to get permission for Moedeís charcoal paper, so if you have not sent it hold up on it for a few days. Happened to think that if I could not get permission for Moedeís paper you could send it to my old Port Hueneme address and then they would forward it.
July 16, 1944Sunday evening
Spent today doing nothing but enjoyed doing it. Fay and I woke up this morning - rather late - to find we had callers. A couple of the boys came down to see us for a while. For most of the remainder of the morning we entertained natives. There are two who come to see us every Sunday now. I noticed this morning they left the group to come see us and spent about an hour here. They are very friendly and more polite than another bunch that comes by and wants to see everything in the tent. The first mentioned seem to give us the choice of their shells when we trade with them. I believe they like the fact that we have not tried to out trade them. While we do not give them much for what we get, we have given them a few odds and ends and not asked for anything in return. This morning I gave them as did Fay, a nickel apiece for some shells. One of them held up a couple cat eyes and I held out a penny. He took the penny and gave me both cat eyes. To ease my conscience I gave him another penny.
We all smoked some of my cigarettes and then started talking about some of the trees and nuts around. There are three or four kinds of nuts falling around our tent. Fay and I have looked them up in the book you sent me and have enjoyed eating them. I looked up some of them in the book and wrote down the native names as best I could. One nut is not in the book so I drew a picture of it on a blank page and was quite surprised to find that both the boys recognized it. They decided they had better go so I gave them each a plug of tobacco and asked them to come back next Sunday. Just before leaving the most talkative of the two looked in our tent and said, "This place belongs me," so I guess he likes it here. Fay and I both seem to be catching on to this pidgin English lingo.
My office furniture designs are quite functional and adapted to the materials at hand. They serve the purpose which is the main thing. I have a new problem to work up tomorrow. Along with my other chores I am to work out a plan for a stronger shed similar to ones we put up here. The pieces are to be cut here and bundled up so we can slap it up in a hurry whenever, and wherever and if we ever leave here
July 20, 1944 Thursday evening
Just back from a show. Went to see White Savage which gave me a most vivid description of life on a South Pacific Island. It must really be nice on one of them with all those beautiful princesses and most appetizing fruits. Some day we must take a cruise out in that vicinity.
Everyone seems to be quite elated over the war news today. The European end of it really sounded better to me than the Japanese. I have not been able to figure out for sure just what all the meaning is behind Tojo and Company. I think I shall wait till I learn more about it before I do any more thinking.
I guess Durhamís fire created a little excitement in the old town. Imagine that will put quite a crimp in sales space for the fall market. From the news report we received here I had thought it was one of the store blocks on Main Street. Yet I could not figure out how a fire covering a block in that section could get by with the proportionately small loss. Didnít an old horseshoe nail change hands on that vicinity one time?*
There is a sow that has been hanging around here lately. She is really hanging close to the ground. Just a few minutes ago she passed by with one of her last children who still follows her around. Tonight she must have bogged down in the mud nearby for there was a mud line running from the top of her front legs to a point above her tail on that end. She hangs so close to the ground I fear portions of her anatomy will be worn off and her children starve to death.
July 22, 1944 Saturday evening
Just ate a toasted cheese sandwich and drank half a bottle of Fayís beer. I gave my two bottles away tonight to the fellow who printed and developed the roll of film for me.
When I mentioned the native wanted your picture for a shell I meant that he wanted to trade a shell for the picture - a shell similar to those large cowries in the box. I doubt if he is a native of this island although he may be. Last Sunday I asked if he had a Marie. He replied yes and when questioned as to where she was, he said the Solomons. That covers a lot of territory. The two of them will no doubt be around in the morning and I hope to find out more about them. I have still not seen a "Marie." Most of the natives here were removed on the same LSTs which brought in the second wave and I came on the third.
The two biggest trading items here would be scissors for cutting their hair and bright red dye that I could color some cloth with. Mother asked what she could include in a box she was getting up for me. I asked for some small bottles of loud cheap perfume. You might stick a packet of dye in a letter sometime if it comes in something small enough to be put in a letter. Scissors would, I know, be out of the question. I wish I had thought to save some popcorn to pop for them. Quite a few of them each Sunday want to trade me out of my red and blue bandannas.
July 24, 1944 Monday evening
Moede is washing tonight and said "Hello" to you. I expect we will all be following in his footsteps within a day or so. The natives were around yesterday morning and we had our usual good time with them. Was able to get a few shells from them but gave them to some other fellows who have had not as good luck as I have. In the afternoon Fay and I worked on a box for Mother (he did most of the work) similar to the one which is on its way to you. For the time being it will be postponed, but I hope to get one made for your mother too.
Film will spoil in this climate. It gets moist and sticky unless exceptional care is taken of it. Am supposed to have my picture taken tomorrow noon with the fellows from the two Carolinas and Florida. So many state pictures are being taken right now that it will probably be a year before they will ever have enough prints made to go around.
I think I know what was censored in the letter you mentioned but you will learn about it before long. The war news seems to be looking very good of late. There seem to be a few fellows around who would like to bet on our being home by Christmas but I fear that this like last will find us just dreaming of a white Christmas.
July 26, 1944 Wednesday evening
Tommy the most recent of our animal friends seems to have left us as fast as he came. He was a beautiful large black and gray cat with white paws. It has been a long time since I have seen a cat or any animal as clean as he was. He came in yesterday morning and we gave him some breakfast. He followed us around for a while and then left till noon when he appeared ate some more and begged to be rubbed. Almost took over my chin. After work yesterday afternoon he was back and spent the whole evening here. When I went to bed he was asleep. This morning he was gone and has not returned. Fay and I had both hoped he would stay a while. We had dopes today. The first since we have been here, Have been trading my future beers for them.
August 2, 1944 Wednesday evening, Typewritten
It has been a long time since I have done any pecking on one of these machines, but tonight it has become a necessity if I am to get letters to you and Mother. As a rule I have quite a time pecking with my first two fingers, but tonight it is a bit more complicated since I have to use the first finger of my left hand and the second finger of my right hand while the first finger of my right hand is tied to a stick and as a result sticks up in the air. It all boils down to the fact that yesterday I grazed the above mentioned finger on a nail and this morning found it a little festered. I went to the sick bay with it and it is now immobilized with a bandage and a tongue blade. I was wondering how I would get you two written tonight when I could not get the finger in question wrapped around a pen or pencil. Doc expects the finger to be alright in a couple days. And I see no reason why it should not be.
Mail has been very light this past week. In fact we had been wondering if we were the Lost Battalion. Our little dry season is now quite definitely over. I believe that I mentioned it was raining the last time that I wrote you and it still is. All of our cans and buckets are running over and have been for several days now so that all the rains that fall now are wasted so far as I am concerned.
Bob Hope finally showed up on the island yesterday and gave several shows with his troupe. There were five with him - Jerry Colonna, Frances Langford, Patty Thomas, and two others. The arrival of the femininity (that does not look right but I trust that you will know what I mean) involved was quite an occasion. The clothes that they did not wear in the show brought forth a good many oohs and ahs plus the usual whistles and shouts. They really put on a very good show, perhaps because it was different from what ordinarily takes place around here. The show that we were to attend was scheduled for up on the strip at 9 pm. At 5, a general exodus from our camp had begun. The fellows really looked like a bunch of refugees with their ponchos (a must in evening wear here) plus boxes, cans, camp stools, or anything else which would serve as a seat. I arrived on the strip with a book to help pass the time. After dark, my flashlight served as a light for my reading. At 7:30, it was announced that the show would be an hour late in starting. We really began to settle down for a long wait then. It turned out to seem not quite as long as we had expected that it would. I was in with quite a congenial group. One of the boys living fairly close, went to his tent and returned with a blow torch and all the ingredients for a pot of coffee which was cooked on the spot. Got to bed at 12, the latest in some little time.
I should have started this earlier in the evening, but there was a movie on at our theatre that I wanted to see, Human Comedy. I believe that you mentioned having seen it quite some time ago. It was a very good picture, but so sad.
The war news is looking so bright right now that there are some who doubt if we will ever do another job. And some even going so far as to expect to be home for Christmas. I wish that I could share their optimism. Of course I am always ready for that kind of surprise. I think that it would be a good idea for me to turn in now. It has grown quite late.
August 6, 1944 Sunday evening
Have almost forgotten when the last Sunday was that I did much of anything. Today has followed right along. For the past three days I have really been receiving the reading material. Each day brings a few more Lifes, Greensboro News, Digests, and Registers. As a result I read till late last night and have done nothing but that all day today. Stayed in the sack all morning reading. It was raining and I saw no need for getting up. The natives generally get here around the middle of the morning but the rain held them off till early this afternoon. They seem to have quit shells and gone in for grass skirts. The ones they make here look better than those I sent you from our last stop. Two of them today rather thought they were stuck on some trading they had done. One pulled a watch out and said, "No good." It had stopped so I wound it up and set it and it ticked away. He put it to his ear, smiled, and said "Good," then put it in a little can that went in a little basket that went in a ditty bag. Another one seeing that pulled out a cigarette lighter that would not work. Tightening the flint and a little lighter fluid put it in operation. I get quite a kick out of watching their expressions and talking with them.
You can send pictures if they pass censorship but we can not ask to have film sent to us. So I guess we are not supposed to take pictures, but nothing is said about it if we do. I had not noticed that my eyes were closed in the group picture. Our shanty is in quite a shady spot which may account for the underexposures. Prints you would have made would of course be better than those I sent.
Noticed a few wigglers in our water buckets today. A good shower just came up so I dumped them out and they are now full again. It has rained so much lately that our roof is clean and we are really getting clean water. Must crawl into bed now. Will certainly be glad when I can get into a bed that smells clean and dry and where I do not have to worry about a mosquito net.
August 18, 1944 Friday evening
We are being invaded here by the woolly worms again. They did not bother us much the last time they were here but this trip they have really established a beach head. I go all through our tent several times a day to kill them but they keep throwing replacements in. Where they come from I canít figure out. Whenever I think about them I think of Leslie - "they just create." Any spot they touch forms a welt and itches and burns for hours.
Am enjoying dopes now. We have received two of six that we have coming. I wish they would get them all the time instead of beer but guess on that score I would be in the minority.
August 20, 1944 Sunday evening
Six cute little pigs have been running around this neighborhood this evening. Sometimes they are with a sow and sometimes alone. I doubt if she is their mother for they are too young to have a mother who is about to be a mother all over again. They do no end of squealing and look like six black streaks when they run. Their legs are practically invisible.
Have had a big day. Put out what little laundry I had this morning and then aired everything I own. I had clothes, blankets, mattress, mosquito netting, cot and all out in the sun. Now everything is ship shape. Moede came by last night and left some stuff with me to trade with the natives when they came around this morning. I took him a sack full of shells this evening which seemed to please him very much. For two nickels I was able to get a little trinket for you. I will get it off one of these days when I have a box headed your way.
We are still fighting the woolly worms or co-lo-tahn as the natives called them today. When I showed them one today one of the boys said "Colotahn, no good." and then gave his leg a vigorous scratching. One of them is quite a talker. Another one stops each Sunday to have me wind and set his watch. I fixed another cigarette lighter for him today for which he gave me a shell. I did not want to take it but he insisted. Spent last evening making a gavel for the Jaycees. May make another one for your Father to give to the Civitans.
High Point, N.C., July 12, 1945
Mr. Robert W. Conner, CM 2/c., 93rd C.B. C-2, Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, Calif.
My Dear Young Friend,
The Civitan Club of High Point has instructed me to convey to you the thanks and appreciation of that organization for the suitable and appropriate gavel which you so thoughtfully fashioned and forwarded for presentation through Mr. E.A. Hatcher, our highly esteemed Secretary and Treasurer.
The gavel fills a real need as we have not possessed one for quite some time and I am sure that our gratitude equals that of your own Club, which we are informed was also the beneficiary of your generosity.
We are looking forward to the time when we may again be honored by your presence at some of our club meetings. In fact, we are quite anxious for you and several other young friends to get back home for keeps.
We shall not try to give you any news as we know you must be kept up to date on matters in this area in which you are interested by some one who is thoroughly capable and knows exactly what you want to know.
So until happier times when we can see you and tell you face to face how genuinely grateful we are for the lovely and timely gift, good luck, pleasant duty and prompt return home.
Sincerely yours, B.G. Leonard, President, Civitan Club of High Point
August 29, 1944 Tuesday evening
Yesterday the invertebrate book arrived. As long as you had a copy of it around the house I canít remember ever looking at it. Now I will probably eat it up. Am quite anxious to finish up with the book I am now reading so I can start on the new one. Fay is not much of a reader but he is spending quite a bit of time on it tonight.
If your Mother is worrying about the bed slanting she should sleep in mine. Every few days I have to pull the mattress back up into position. I could level it up with some blocks but it doesnít bother me so I see no reason for bothering it. I made a ten by twelve picture frame yesterday to provide a sanctuary for your pictures. Still have a few extra spaces and of course I could always make another one.
I hope the woolly worms reach you safe and sound. Am anxious to learn all you can find out about them. They eat the leaves on the trees then drop to the ground on a thread. After they reach the ground they go back up anything that gets in their way and are not content till they reach the top of it. If they end up on something round they go around in circles never trying to get down to go up something else. Am inclined to believe they are a jumping spider in one stage of their life. Wherever they walk on the flesh they raise welts that both itch and burn, Yellow soap and such seem to neutralize it somewhat but that Mexana you sent does wonders. They are beginning to leave us now.
August 31, 1944 Thursday evening
The bugs around this place are about to drive me nuts. They are harmless but get all over me, up my nose and in my ears.
It is a good thing I saved two of your letters from the first of the week for I have had no mail since other than a 1st class letter today from Mr. Higgins - pres. of PPG Co. informing me that there would be a job waiting for me. We have certainly had our share of rain this week. I am ready for it to stop any time now - buckets are full and that is the main thing.
You sound as though your Mother did not approve of my living quarters. She does not realize how spacious and advantageous they are. Lots of fresh air - only a few steps in any direction to the toilet, running water - in fact it sometimes runs right through the place, never have to sweep the floor, for whatever trash is not washed out when it rains is picked up by the pigs on the swing shift.
October 15, 1944 Sunday evening
Scuttlebutt has now changed from a lot of little streams to one river. But we are still at the head of the river wondering where the mouth is.
The USO show last night was one of the best that we have had out here. The fellows really enjoyed it. It was composed of only four men who have been on tour for only a few weeks short of a year. The master of ceremonies was a short Italian fellow who had enough ambition for five people. He sang, did some acrobatics and tap dancing and a bit of everything. There was also a magician, an accordion player, and an excellent tenor by the name of Clark Davis who was formerly with Duffyís Tavern.* After the show there was a movie, Dragon Seed. It was really good.
I donít know whether you remember meeting Joe Duffy* back at Endicott or not. He was the ring leader of a lot of yelling at us one night when we were going to a show. Anyway he has a large sign on his tent down the road from me "Duffyís Tavern - South Pacific Branch"* although he has nothing to do with the original one. The four troupers of last nightís show have been spending their days visiting around the various camps. As does everyone they had their picture taken at "Hollywood and Vine" (which I will send you a shot* of in a couple days). Then someone suggested some shots at Duffyís Tavern for the benefit of Dennis. They spent several hours in our neighborhood shooting the bull and with ad lib performances. They were really an enjoyable group. Dennis is going to send some of the shots of our Duffyís Tavern back to the originalís publicity manager. One of the boys found out that the M.C. lived within a few blocks of him in Chicago. There was a story around which the M.C. verified which of course the enlisted men enjoy because it is about one of the more "popular" officers. During the magicianís act this officer sent a note to the M.C. requesting three lights at the back of the stage be turned off because they hurt his eyes. The M.C. replied that he was putting on a show for the enlisted men and until it hurt their eyes the lights would stay on.
The pictures I finished taking last Sunday I hope to be able to enclose in the next edition of Connerís Chronicles. They should provide you with some interesting views. One in particular I am quite fond of and I believe would make a very good enlargement. I succeeded in getting a little composition into it. It is the cause of my not being able to send the prints tonight. A number of the fellows were wanting copies of it. Baker,* the boy who does my work for me, wanted to buy the negative for $10. He sells a number of prints to fellows who do not have cameras. I told him to just go ahead and run off a bunch of prints while he was doing the others.
October 27, 1944 Friday afternoon
At present there is very little to write since we are once again on the move. Instead of an army transport we are now riding on a Navy Transport. The most outstanding difference is in the food. To date our meals here have been consistently above anything we have had in the past year. Our quarters are, of course, very crowded but that is to be expected and we have fresh water for bathing if we donít take a shower which is salt. Just where we will terminate this voyage we do not know but there is plenty of scuttlebutt which is just about the same as before we left. Writing on a knee is ordinarily bad enough but when the knee and everything else just rolls back and forth it is still worse.
November 11, 1944 Saturday evening
Seems we have gone as far up and down as we have forward the past few days for the water has been rather rough. Tonight, however, the seas have been very calm and a beautiful color for there has been a gorgeous sunset. Quite the prettiest that I have seen in some time. There were really some beautiful colors in it. The Captain of the ship announced yesterday our destination which merely confirmed our beliefs of the past few days.
The football scores of the past weekend never reached us till yesterday. The Georgia Tech score was certainly a big surprise to me. Instead of ducking around this ship like a mouse I have more nearly resembled a proud rooster. Am quite anxious to learn all the details now.
With Commander L.C. Farley aboard the Cape Johnson:
10/22/44:The diversion of the officersí booze . . . We in the Supply Dump received a request for a wood crate of a certain size - it was delivered to Officersí Country. Later I saw the crate go by on a large truck with a driver and an officer with side arms. We were traveling with two ships, one for troops and the other one with all our equipment. The box was to go on our ship, I guess so it could be better watched. If anybody knows how the heist was made, it has always been a secret. Our second in command went to the shipís skipper (Cmdr. L.C. Farley) to request a bag inspection. Our officer was told that yes, there could be an inspection, but by Naval regulations all liquor that was found would have to be placed in the custody of the shipís doctor. That ended it and it was a great night.
10/25/44: The skipper was marvelous as noted when the booze disappeared. When Japs were spotted and we were confined to quarters, he got on the PA system and acted like a radio sportscaster at a basketball game . . .constant appraisal of what was going on.
11/13/44: When we boarded ship I discovered bunks were five high. I made for a top bunk under a ventilator on the deck. These were like the old Victrola horns. This way I could get some fresh air and would not have others climbing up my bunk. One morning I woke up (I had built up a reputation of being difficult at this) and discovered my bunk and I were covered with charred paper and stuff. Asked my mates what had happened and when they stopped laughing they said I had done it again. Was informed "Piss Call Charlie" and some of his cohorts had paid us a visit. General quarters had been sounded; everyone except me had gotten up and put on life jackets. All were hanging around listening to the deck guns. The trash had come from a gun right along side the ventilator. All of which proved they could have won the war without me.
November 18, 1944 Saturday noon
There seems to be just as much mud here in the Philippines as there has been anywhere else. I suppose you had guessed we were here in Leyte. Our trip up was not without its air raids but they were without incident. We have several alerts here a day but the Japs seem more concerned with other spots than ours. We have not been troubled at all. A favorite pastime seems to be to go to the beach in the evening and wait for the alert. It is quite a sight to see the tracers go up and the planes come down. The Filipinos seem to be very happy that we are here and are constantly running through the camp looking for odd jobs for which they want clothes more than anything else in payment. The women - who are quite cute - seem to be the best off on clothes. The men are quite ragged and the small children wear dresses that sometimes donít even reach the navel. The fellows already have the women doing their laundry and they seem to be doing a very good job. No one pays much attention to the women when it comes time to taking a bath or what have you. If they did they would never get anything done. Our camp is gradually getting into shape. The night of our second day here our bakers were putting out hot rolls. We have been very much surprised by the climate for it is very hot during the day and quite the opposite in the evening.
November 28, 1944 Tuesday noon
The skies have really been cutting loose today with rain. Will have to dig out my boots again for the afternoon. Boardwalks were made for some of the muddier portions of camp but they have all disappeared for making foxhole covers. The honorable Nipponese still pay us frequent visits but we are thankful that they lay their eggs elsewhere.
We were able to get a little margarine and salt this noon after chow so now my belly is full of pop corn. It tasted very good. We have a new stove now which does a very good job even though it is somewhat dirty. It is some shoe dubbing which comes in a can and works very much like canned heat.
December 3, 1944 Sunday noon
More mail had better come in or I shall have to be resorting to V-Mail again which I do not like to do. This outfit is really a messed up affair and seems to be growing that way more and more each day. I wish I could tell you just what is going on now, but believe that would be out of order at present. It has gone beyond the disgusting stage.
I thought you had realized I had made the (grass) skirt. When I started out I thought it would be a small job but it turned out to be a major undertaking. I collected my materials and started out. How many trips I had to make for more before I finished I do not know, but I certainly had to chop down a bunch of trees to get it all. I started several but did not like them so tore them apart. One time some rats chewed part of one of them to help build a nest in my pack. I must have been over a month making the whole works.
There is a Strauss waltz coming over the amplifier now, which really sounds good. One of the boys just brought a small monkey into the tent. He is having a big time eating some chocolate up on the tent pole.
December 13, 1944 Wednesday noon, Filipino Christmas Card*
These just came out today and I thought you would like one. The man leading the buffalo carries water in the bamboo on his back and it looks like my laundry on the womanís head. The stamp situation is growing critical out here, so you might enclose a book of air mail every now and then. If you have to send loose ones they should be folded in wax paper. If you would also send some larger denominations - say 10Ę and a couple dollars worth I could send you a package.
December 16, 1944 Saturday morning
About all this day is good for is staying in the bed. It is one of those mean drizzly affairs. It sounds good falling on the tent but does not feel good when you walk under a leak, and there seem to be lots of them. A little Filipino came into the tent a little while ago to get out of the rain. As is usual, he had not been here long before he started wanting things. First it was a deck of cards so he could play blackjack. A little bit later it was a pencil for school - now it is money to buy a pencil and a tablet for school. I did not give him any of the things for they can become too pestiferous. Up in our other tent a 15 year old boy came around for our laundry but he never asked for a thing. He was really a nice kid and we gave him lots of odds and ends.
This tent was taken over by a bunch of bugs last night that were most peculiar to watch. They had tobacco juice brown wings - flew in - swarmed around the light - sat down - shed their two pairs of wings - rolled over on their backs and just wiggled. This morning they were gone.
December 20, 1944 Wednesday noon (Samar, The Philippines)
This is really a hot day. Everyone is complaining so I know it is not just me. Most of the fellows are keeping the fronts of their tents down which makes them very hot. They claim when a storm comes, it really comes. We are going to gamble though for the sake of coolness. A nice breeze blows every now and then but that still does not seem to be enough.
Ō Suzy and Mary are returning. They are the two girls who do our laundry for us. What their names are I do not know. This place is growing into a chicken farm. Everyone seems to be buying them. One fellow is putting up quite a coop. Most just tie a string to a tent stake and their leg. We are still having to go about a mile or more for chow. In a few days though - perhaps tomorrow - our newest chow hall will be in operation. It wonít be hard to hunt second hand shells here for the area is lousy with hermit crabs hauling shells around. They even get into my shoes.
Donít believe that when I wrote you the other day that I mentioned the little town we came through. It was the first time we have seen a paved street since leaving the States. Children lined the streets making a V with their fingers and yelling "Victory" and in the same breath "Gimme this" or "Gimme that." They always seem to be begging for something. Passed a church that is reported to be over a hundred years old and was complete with flying buttresses.
December 27, 1944 Wednesday noon
We had very nice weather for Christmas but it is making up for it now for the rain has really been pouring down. There was more Christmas atmosphere around our camp this year than last. Christmas Day we worked as usual with the exception of about a two-hour respite late in the afternoon when we got two bottles of beer, carton of cigarettes and a small Red Cross box. Our evening meal was as good and with as much quantity as Thanksgiving. I will have to admit that I ate entirely too much, for several fellows who sat near me had to be assisted with their turkey, ice cream and pie. And who am I to refuse assistance in such an hour of need.
Christmas Eve, small groups of four or five Filipinos went through the area singing carols in English and their dialect. Some were very good and some not so hot. All during the day there were Filipino dance groups, singers and bands roaming around. All their instruments were obviously handmade. One drum had the Something or Other "Swingmasters" painted on the side. We, of course, gave them a few centavos or something else that we had around. The "gimmes" of the Filipinos have grown to such proportions that we all wondered if it was the Christmas Spirit or the "gimmes" that brought them around. We could hardly turn around all day without bumping into a "Gimme Merry Christmas."
Last night we had a huge illegal feed. All chickens were to be removed from the camp area the other day. Some of the fellows in my immediate area built a pen just outside the area and last night we ate. When Fay and I came in from work, the boys were cleaning them. The two of us were assigned to cutting them up and frying since we seem to be the only two that know much about that end of it. About twelve of us ate the ten chickens we fried and everyone seemed more than satisfied when the job was done. I know I ate at least one myself. Some ate more and others less. There certainly was no trouble in getting rid of them. We were afraid for a while that the grease would not hold out. but it did.
Have a little start on the snails from here but will be unable to do much good till we begin to get days off. The beach upon which we are located seems most uninteresting from that standpoint to date. But I have had no opportunity to get out on the reef.
January 4, 1945 Thursday evening
Everyone in the tent has gone to the show tonight which means I should be able to rip off several letters before the evening is over. I went last night and saw Deanna Durbin in His Butlerís Sister. Quite a few Filipinos come to the shows and squat along the edges of the group. They seem to get a great kick out of the smooching scenes. We have a number of Filipino crews working in the camp. Two of them are in the Supply Department. The foreman of one group told one of the boys I reminded him of Robert Taylor. So you see how much they get from a movie. I was tickled yesterday noon when several Filipinos walked into the tent and wanted me to buy some of their baskets for my children. When I told them I had no children they wanted to know if I was married. I replied that I was and showed them your picture. After looking at the picture for a minute they said, "Pretty - is she your permanent wife or just temporary?"
The postman you mentioned is nuts when he says the cardboard boxes are better than the plywood. He obviously has never been a mail clerk overseas. The more rigid a box is or is packed the better it is. However I will agree that the cardboard ones and even the plywood ones should have a wrapper around them. I believe that he could get into trouble handling things the way he does. A little idea Jim Eagle uses is a good idea too and that is to put scotch tape over the address. Right now there are about a dozen notices on the bulletin board from our mail clerk giving what information he can glean from packages that have come in contact with water and addresses so obliterated that he cannot make them out. Mail is not handled with kid gloves in this part of the world. I have seen sacks of it fall into the water while being unloaded from ships and fished out, as well as barges piled high with it and a stevedore crew sitting on top to keep dry from the waves bouncing over the sides. It is handled as best it can be under the conditions though and I think the low loss is amazing. The only package I know of which I have never received is one Mother sent me a year ago last October.
February 6, 1945 Tuesday afternoon
The past few days have really been very bright and hot so perhaps the long talked about but never seen dry season has at last caught up with us. Tomorrow it will probably pour down. This morning I rode the water wagon all around the strip and brought myself up to date on activities there. After lunch this noon I rode the garbage truck (It was all fresh and the wind blew from the right direction so the odor was negligible). Even if the odor had been bad the trip would have been worth taking. The dump is about twelve miles from our camp and passed through what for us now is pretty country. There were numerous Filipino "houses" along the way of every description. Two story frame buildings with their ornate trimmings as well as thatched buildings of all sizes. One spot reminded me of a stateside tourist camp for there were a number of tiny buildings clumped together.
We passed one school which was in session with crude seats and desks. Donít know what was going on in one of the second-story rooms for a girlís dress was hanging out the window. All along the road were men and women carrying huge bundles on their backs and heads - some trying to bum rides on the passing trucks and jeeps. Little naked boys (never any girls) were playing everywhere. The banana trees were numerous and grew out of the brush where there were also a lot of flowers. The dump itself was from a bridge in the middle of a dirt causeway. It too was a very pretty spot. The water was a pretty blue-green and the far bank was quite a high cliff. There were about a dozen boys there diving into the water for chunks of meat and bread which did not sink immediately and which they ate on the spot.
February 14, 1945 Wednesday evening
My day off yesterday turned out to be very pretty and I spent the morning in town looking around and taking a few pictures. It would be interesting to know the sort of picture which goes through your mind when I mention going into town. Once you saw it you would no doubt wonder why any one would go near the place. Other than the fact that it is something different I wonder myself. The filth and squalor is amazing and the number of people sitting around doing nothing makes me wonder what we are doing out here. There are some fairly substantial frame buildings there which when they were new were no doubt quite nice. But everything is run down and now there are thatched huts everywhere, even on the first floor of other buildings which have been moved in from outside the town where there are now camps and such.
The thatched buildings are small affairs, three or four of some of them would fit in our living room. How many people would live in one of them is hard to say. Furnishings are negligible and where they keep food, clothes and such I do not know. The cooking is done on the floor with a fire built on a few pieces of coral. Every other building seems to be a shop selling either doughnuts, fried sweet potatoes, hats or baskets. The prices now are atrocious. The people and their clothes seem very clean but how they stay that way I donít know.
I rested yesterday afternoon by reading Hemingway. The Sun Also Rises is very good, I think. His descriptions of trips through the country are so put that one can picture it very clearly and yet he does not go into any monotonous details.
February 28, 1945 Wednesday evening
Was very glad to hear that you and Moede have at last caught up with each other. I was quite certain that you would enjoy meeting him and like him. He is one of the few people I know whom everyone liked who came in contact with him. Those of us who knew him quite well and correspond with him are always being stopped by someone asking how he is doing. It is interest on their part and not curiosity.
We had a terribly hard wind and rain last night. Canít write much about it from my experience for you know me when I go to sleep. However I woke up once with a real fine spray blowing over me, but must have lost no time in falling back to sleep for the dream that was going on before I woke continued when I went back to sleep again. Donít believe I told you in my last letter that we put a concrete floor in our tent Sunday afternoon.
It looks as though you will be on snow shoes next. You no doubt know more about skiing now than I do, for it has been a long time since I have been on a pair and I remember the last time. It had been the first time in several years and I wore the results of it for several weeks. I took a spill going down a hill of crusty snow which was really too slick for skies in the first place. I landed on my face and rode on it for several hundred feet. Couldnít get up for a minute or two and everyone thought I had broken my neck. There was a loud crack in it when I landed but nothing happened there. The side of my face was burned from the friction on the ice. That was not serious but it took some time for it to clear up.
March 25, 1945 Sunday evening
I know you say these big envelopes get crushed in the mail but I have nothing else that will hold the enclosed order of worship for the church services* this afternoon. There was really a mob on hand for the service including three women. - nothing to look at, however.
Had hoped to get some colored pictures today but was foiled. Never having used a 35 mm camera before I was looking the one I had borrowed over to get acquainted with it and in so doing discovered the shutter was sticking and staying open most of the time. Now the fellow to whom it belongs is wondering how his last roll turned out.
After Church, Fay and I went visiting again as we had done last Sunday and again are very full of ice cream. The only fruit available was a can of figs so we had fig ice cream. Moede is at Notre Dame now in midshipmans school and is very, very disgusted with the way they are treated.
6/20/45: On our last island there was a very tight clump of trees in the neighborhood of the dining hall and our outdoor theatre. It was about 15 feet in diameter but it housed a still that was producing quite a bit. Trees were so tight at their tops that the smoke was dissipated. It was in business for quite a while.
June 22, 1945 Friday evening
Tonight it was Mexican Hayride which couldnít hold a candle to Oklahoma. There was really a crowd on hand for the show. The part the fellows no doubt appreciated the most was the dunking of our officers with flour. A dozen or so women in the cast ate in our chow hall and caused quite a stir. The smell of their powder and perfume was almost sickening.
I donít know how the fellows are handling my story about the shells. I have told them that I believed different islands had their own variations of land snails. I was told that was true of the Florida Hammocks while I was there with Don. And I believe you have mentioned that since I have been out here.
The fish gun was only a miniature - some small children use that size but ordinarily they run six feet and better long, in which case the arrow has a length of rope to the gun so the fish will not carry it off. They catch some fair sized fish with them. The goggles are worn at the same time for underwater. The shells will no doubt cut through the string they are on in a hurry. The buttons were just a whimsy. I wanted to carve a C on them - the reason for their shape but the wood was too hard. The picture frame base is a little off center and the whole thing should be waxed. That was made at our last stop.
Rick Thomas:* I do not know if Dad taught the Filipinos to fish with dynamite but he did some of that with them. He said the charge would detonate, then the Filipinos would dive in the water and collect the fish. Occasionally one would rise to the surface and talk excitedly, then others would dive in. Soon they would come up with an octopus that they had pried from the rocks. The natives would butcher it on the boat and eat it raw. Dad tried it but just could not make himself swallow.
Harold Collins* told me of climbing a tree that overhung the water at Green Island. He lowered a bag of corn meal into the water with a stick of dynamite and watched the fish congregate around it. He thought that one stick of dynamite might not be enough so he put two more on the rope. Later he thought a sufficient number of fish were feeding on the corn meal so he set off the charge. It blew him out to the tree and disintegrated all the fish. I guess 19 year olds were as dumb in 1944 as they are in 2002.
June 24, 1945 Sunday evening
Went to church this morning and for a long walk this afternoon. Started strolling up the beach knowing there would be nothing to see. Must have covered about ten miles all together. Going up, I stopped to watch some of the Filipinos fishing. Some were using their guns, some their hands and others, nets. The fellows using the guns were catching the biggest and prettiest. They were every color imaginable. When they cleaned them, all they removed were the intestines. Everything else remained. One little kid in the crowd would pick out what looked like the livers and eat them on the spot. There were three little boys and a girl catching what looked like eels and snails. They caught one of those puffer fish for me. In the water it was about two inches long but when caught, it blew up to better than the size of a tennis ball. A few minutes after he was turned loose he collapsed and went merrily on his way. One of the kids caught an eel and ate it then and there - I guess there is nothing wrong with that - high school and college kids a few years ago were swallowing gold fish and we like raw oysters. It is funny how one can get used to some things.
September 1, 1945 Thursday evening
The censorship has been lifted from our mail and now I wonder what to write about. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.
Left the States October 14, Ď43 on an Army transport on which the chow was lousy - undoubtedly the worst I have ever faced, while the officers had cereal, fried eggs, and cantaloupe for breakfast. On November 1, we pulled into the harbor of Noumea, New Caledonia. We were there for six days awaiting orders to move on. During that time the officers were free to come and go as they pleased while we stayed aboard and watched. We had been there about two days when liberty parties were organized for the enlisted men and what a party. About two hundred men went in the morning and a similar group in the afternoon until the ship pulled out. The groups went to an isolated and deserted beach where they could sit in the sand and drink two bottles of hot beer if they were in uniform (dungarees) and clean shaven. I didnít or rather couldnít go because I was in the process of growing a beard which is permissible according to Navy regulations. About an hour after we pulled into Noumea an ammunition dock blew up and caused a great deal of excitement. From there we headed north to Guadalcanal where we stopped for several hours to let off a little mail.
November 10, just before sundown, we pulled into Banika in the Russells which are part of the Solomons and only 10 miles from the Canal which we could see most any day. We left the ship that night in a pouring down rain for our first camp site which was in a commercial coconut grove on the edge of a jungle. While we were at Banika we built a hospital and roads as well as maintained a strip while another outfit went to New Zealand for a rest. It was in January that we heard our first bombs drop - that is those who woke up. I slept through the affair so it is all hearsay with me. Each month on the 13th a lone Jap would carry a load to the Canal and once in a while left part of his bombs in the Russells. This one time they all landed on another island and in the bay. The Japs had given up the Russells without a fight so that when we arrived there the front lines were to the north at Vella Lavella and Munda.
We left Banika in February in four waves aboard LSTs, each wave leaving five days after the preceding one, with the first going out on the 12th. I was on the third wave leaving on the 22nd. This was our first trip in a convoy. We were a fair sized group of LSTs with a destroyer escort. During our whole trip to the Green Islands we were never out of sight of land - we passed on the west side of the Solomons all the way. On the morning of the 25th we were off Nissan of the Green Islands. We were awakened quite a bit before daybreak and instead of seeing a dark piece of land, we saw what looked more like Coney Island. The first two waves were really working on the new strip. After sun up we entered the lagoon of Nissan through a very narrow channel. New Zealanders had been with the first wave as the combat troops and had done an excellent job of clearing out what few Japs were on the island.
I believe I shall stop here and try to finish up this long winded story tomorrow night. This has been a rather drizzly day and I have done absolutely no work. We are sort of stymied on my crew till we find out what is going to happen to this outfit.
September 8, 1945 Saturday evening
Shall continue on tonight from landing in the Green Islands
The first wave had contained New Zealanders for the combat troops. They were excellent jungle fighters and with their camouflage suits could barely be seen in the jungles. There were only a couple hundred Japs on the island and they were cleared out in short order. There were only a few left by the time I had arrived. To date I have not seen a Jap dead or alive. Whether any have seen me I donít know, but after we had been on Nissan for several weeks I found two igloo style huts about three hundred yards from where I was living that had been built and lived in while we were there by a couple of Japs. Also found evidence that they had been coming within thirty feet of the tent to steal K rations to eat.
Everything that was built on that island had to be cut out of thick jungle - that included every spot where a tent was pitched. The mud was terrific. The worst that I have ever seen. We built a fighter and a bomber strip there plus miles of roads and innumerable facilities for other outfits. We had little fresh food of any kind all the while we were there. When I say we, I mean the enlisted men. The officers did all right for themselves. Since there was no fresh water on the island we drank distilled water for eight months.
On October 25th we boarded the Navy Transport Cape Johnson which was a pleasure. We had wonderful meals while on board and fresh water for bathing. The skipper left a great impression on the minds of all of us for he was very friendly and gave us running accounts over the speaker of what was going on at the time when we were having to stay below decks during air raids. Our trip from Nissan included a stop at Emirau (north of Kavieng), Manus and Hollandia. At the latter we stopped for several days and were permitted to go ashore for four hours. It was very hilly and rugged country. I spent my time trying to track down some fellows I knew who were in that vicinity. From Hollandia we went north in quite a large convoy of all types of ships. Near Palau, we were joined by another convoy and from then on we had troubles. We were attacked several times but no damage was done on our side although the Japs canít say the same.
On the morning of November 14 we dropped anchor in Leyte Gulf just offshore from Tacloban. A few of us were to stay with the ship until what little cargo we had on it was unloaded. Everyone else left the ship that morning in landing barges but never reached shore as they were recalled because of a change in plans. The following morning the ship was unloaded and I went ashore. There was no jungle in the vicinity but plenty of coconut trees and Filipinos everywhere. We put our 16 x 16 tents up that day as well as dug fox holes. Our area at no time was subject to an air attack but our fox holes saw duty never the less. The Japs were after the shipping in the harbor and the air strips on Leyte. Our position was such, however, that when the Japs came in to do their work we caught the falling flack and dud shells fired at them from the ships and shore guns. We were very lucky in that we had only one man hit by shrapnel and one man who was killed by a falling shell which had not exploded in the air but did so when it struck him. The rains also came while we were there and a portion of our camp had to move because of high water.
About the time we had our camp fairly well built up it was decided that the area was unsuitable for a naval base so we began moving again. We had two LCIs assigned to us to do the job and the first group left on them Thanksgiving morning for Guiuan on the western extremity of Samar. It took about a month to move but it certainly was worth it to get away from the mud and air raids. Our first job here was a strip which was built in a swamp - a spot where one should never have been built, but it works and will no doubt become a permanent base. Our camp is only about a quarter of a mile from the strip and in a beautiful spot except during the typhoon season. The construction work which has been done here is too much to mention. Because of censorship regulations we have never been able to say we were on Samar - only that we "participated in the Leyte operations" which has created the false impression that we have been on Leyte.
When we will be heading home we have no idea but all the rumors, and they are numerous, are rather optimistic, however they are often wrong. Fellows eligible for discharges seem to be leaving most every day, and in most cases those from this outfit have been flying as far as Guam. How they are making out from there we donít know. In the meantime the rest of us are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that something will happen and happen soon.
September 16, 1945 Sunday Evening US Navy stationary
I guess this will have to be a short letter tonight. No mail has come in today at all. In fact it has been several days since I received any mail. We have still not been secured from our jobs. And have not had any official word on our status. By word of mouth comes the news that we may secure tomorrow night. Our disbursing officer is in Manila now trying to dig up enough American money to hold a payday for us which it is presumed will be held on Tuesday.
There has been some talk too that we will be leaving in a draft which would mean going to the receiving ship at Tacloban and waiting there for a ship. Then someone else pops up and says that NATS will take all of us to Pearl Harbor - So that is the way we are living today. Have spent today catching up a lot of odds and ends - washing out this and that and tossing out a few more things I wonít be wanting. Did quite a bit of letter writing this afternoon including letters to my various publications notifying them of a change in my address.
Pat was over for just a few minutes last night. He expects to be back again to spend the evening tomorrow or the next night. He is being transferred to the 64th CB which is scheduled to leave for China around the 28th. He has all of twenty-six points to his credit.
I have all of my blues in shape now even to campaign ribbons which amount to two with two stars on one and one star on the other. Do you suppose ďjuniorĒ will like to play with them.
We have been having a very strong wind blowing this afternoon. I guess Florida is having an even stronger one at the moment.
I am so sick I donít know what to do. All I can think about is that I hope I can get the fastest means of travel to get to you. Iím certainly weary of all this business. Time to knock off, I guess.
September 19, 1945 Wednesday Evening Navy stationary
I am still here and still wondering for how long. If the battalion would only release us or tell us when they will. This is going to be a payday for those of us scheduled to leave in a few days. This tent has so many irons in the fire right now that we will be in a jam if more than one gets hot. We have even gone so far today as to fill out applications for air travel. We will be nervous wrecks if something doesnít happen soon. This evening we went through all our stuff again and did some more throwing away. I believe we are each down to fifty pounds on our baggage now. It would only take us a matter of minutes to be on our way.
This morning I had a chance to talk with one of the Red Cross girls and discovered Scotty Slingsbe was here and has been since July. So I took this afternoon off and went to see her. She is working at the canteen on the strip feeding flight crews and transient passengers. She was really having to put out and the perspiration was running off her. I guess she realizes how the boys felt in the dope shop and at the Goody Shoppe on Saturday night. Our conversation had to be rather intermittent. It really seemed good to see her. I took a couple pictures of her. Expect to go back again tomorrow and take her a few Registers. The mail has certainly been lousy this past week.
Pat was over again last night for a few drinks - he supplied the main ingredient and we the rest. He has nothing to do and seems quite restless. I suggested that he write letters and tried to hint about writing home regularly.
So Uncle Ed wants to pay for my first suit. I wonder how close my old clothes will come to fitting me. It would be swell if your family could make the trip to Mass. Guess I had better turn in now.
September 21, 1945 Friday Evening, United States Navy Stationery
Am back to playing the old Navy game of waiting. We managed to get the ball rolling yesterday and now we have done all that we can do ourselves. Our papers are in at N.A.P.O. and we have nothing to do but wait for them to call us and tell us that a plane is waiting. The way it looks now we are expecting to get away from here some time over the week end or on Monday. It will depend mainly on how the planes come in. This is a terminal point for N.A.T.S. and the planes go out as soon as they have been serviced, so we are apt to leave at any time.
This place has nearly been a madhouse for before you can get papers to apply for transportation all GI gear has to be turned in and a bunch of signatures collected on a card. This tent had the edge on every one else because of manipulations.
We have never been secured from work but have all stopped anyway.
Our food has been pretty bad lately mainly because there has been no fresh meat available for the enlisted men. That was taken care of last night though. A big party was held down in officersí country last night with an orchestra, dames, dancing, and lots of food. In the butcher shop of our galley were laid out trays of sliced turkey, beef, and ham as well as some that had not been sliced. Some how or other a whole baked ham weighing, I guess, around fifteen pounds appeared in my neighborhood. The boys tried to get a turkey too but couldnít quite make it. We really had a feed and without a guilty conscience.
I have a few pictures to include that have been taken in the last few days under not too ideal circumstances and processed by a fellow who doesnít know too much about what he is doing. There is a negative without a print of some Filipino kids taking a bath. One of the fellows wanted the print so I gave it to him.
From what I can gather, upon our return to the States we will get a thirty day leave and then report to the nearest separation center, which in Northampton will be Boston, for our discharges.
September 24, 1945 Monday Evening, NAVY Stationary.
Here I sit - in the same old spot and still waiting. The suspense is really terrible. Heard today that there was a possibility of a boat taking a few of us. And as I have said before, I should take the first thing I can get aboard that is headed east. Only one fellow so far has been called and that was Saturday. He had all of three quarters of an hour notice. I certainly hope that something happens and fast.
Received quite a bit of mail today for a change. Two letters from you - the checks and package of books. The books have arrived just about on time. For some time I have been holding onto reading material that was fairly portable for this trip. We have been waiting so long now that I have read most of what I had set aside.
Pat has been transferred to his new outfit and now believes they will stay here. He and the officers live about a mile down the road from me now, although the rest of the outfit is about seven miles from here.
I saw in the news today where Duke started the season against S. Carolina with a bang.
I guess you beat me to the draw on the change of address to the News. You should be getting the Digest and Newsweek too before long.
I wonít be needing any money when I hit the States for I had $280.00 on the books the other day and drew it all out. A little over half of it I had put in a government check. So should be ok for a while. The Navy will pay my way to Northampton but I wonít be able to collect that till later. They have changed their policy somewhat on transportation, thank goodness. I am all fixed on clothes enough to get me to you at this point. I bought a second hand uniform. It began to look as though we might land anywhere on the west coast and even on the east coast so I would not know where to have you send my stuff.
If we would only get away from this place. Canít understand why some of us have not begun to move.
Yes I still have the Diary and am still hoping that I can get back with it for to keep one is against Navy regulations.
There are a lot of Seabees who donít have enough points for a discharge. The main thing that seems to hold them down is the ten they donít have for being married. An amazingly large percentage have been divorced since being overseas. Some whose wives held power of attorney suffered in a financial sort of way rather badly. The Chaplain claims almost a third of the married men have been divorced in here.
September 27, 1945 Thursday Afternoon Navy Stationary
Wait, wait, wait. My reasons for wanting to get out of the Navy grow more and more every day, but waiting is way up near the top - and in capital letters. Between the waiting and not knowing anything we are all slowly going nuts. Most of us have been more or less unofficially secured from work - not that we have been doing much anyway.
The past two days have been mighty hot. They no doubt feel hotter than usual because we had had several days of coolness and dampness.
The snapshot in your last letter really had the cute stuff in it. Canít wait to show it to Pat. Those who I donít know I think I can guess at. You - Annie, Eddie - Pat and his sister. I would go down to see Pat one of these evenings but hate to risk not being here should I be called to go to N.A.P.O. I donít want to miss out on a ride at this stage of the game.
I had thought this pad of paper would get me home but only one sheet is left. Guess I shall have to do something about it tomorrow. Guess I shall take a bath now.
October 1, 1945 Monday Morning,
I can think of some mighty pungent expressions this morning to voice my opinions of the Navy. But I guess I might just as well keep them to myself. I have never seen anything so completely fouled up in all my life. Since we canít have applications in for both air and surface transportation at the same time any more we all withdrew our requests for air travel yesterday. It rather looked as though we might stand a better chance of getting out sooner that way. I hope my silver dollar did not let me down for I flipped it to make up my mind. From the stories we get I shall no doubt return via the Panama Canal. Nothing official ever comes out so how true the stories are no one can say. We are all absolutely disgusted through and through.
The 123rd and 88th battalions are being decommissioned and all men not eligible to return to the States are being tossed into the 93rd. Which means that we are becoming very crowded. It is the pressure for living quarters that we hope will be the means of someone getting us out of here - and soon.
The last few days have certainly been hot and today is starting out even hotter. Picked up a little sunburn yesterday from walking on the reef for several hours in the morning and playing horse shoes all afternoon. Time is really hanging heavy and we are all too restless to do much about it. It is surprising how many fellows are complaining about having trouble getting to sleep at night and strange as it may seem I am no exception. All seem to have the same trouble - thinking of home.
I expect if you continue to travel north and south you will be doing as I have done and boycott the Pennsy. When we were transferred from Peary to Endicott the Navy took us on the Pennsy and even that made me mad. It might be a bit inconvenient to take the B.E.O. but it is better on my morale to do so.
I had thought you would like Mr. Eyre. I know I did even though he was not overly ambitious as a supply officer. Why he knew you went to Duke and I didnít I donít know unless you look and act like a Duchess and I donít like a Duke. (I gather Eyre didnít know Bob went to Duke)
We have all realized that we shall no doubt freeze to death when we get back. Which is one of the million reasons why we are so anxious to get away from here.
October 2, 1945 Tuesday Evening Navy Stationary
Needless to say - we are still waiting. Have just returned from a state show which was put on by the 111th CBs and was no doubt one of the best if not the best stage show we have seen. The boys did a wonderful job. They even had a tumbling team. As would be expected there were some rather raw jokes and skits scattered here and there. There were about eight nurses in the audience who if they didnít blush at one time or another certainly should have.
Have already finished The Late George Aply. The way it started out I rather thought I would not like it but found as I went along that it was most interesting. It was the first time I had ever read anything presented that way. Had a lot of fun reading to Joe Duffy some of the passages about the Boston Irish and politics. The type of life had by Aply certainly left much to be desired for me, although his essential attitudes over the changes in the times was commendable.
After messing around the library today for a while I dug out a book which I should think you would enjoy. It is a reprint of a series of short stories from the New Yorker. I have also seen some of the series in volumes of short stories - ďThe Education of H-Y-M-A-N K-A-P-L-A-N.Ē Ross the author certainly knows dialect. You should appreciate your students after reading it.
Am sorry to hear that you are being stuck with some courses which you donít like. Canít figure out why you are not getting any mail. If I hit the States near Frisco I shall look up Barbara. She lives in a very nice little town. It is seventy cents round trip on Greyhound north of Frisco across the Golden Gate bridge on the edge of a redwood forest and near the foot of Mt. Tamal pass. Did she tell you that much about the place? I went there on my last liberty from Parks to see the redwoods.
October 23, 1945 1 hr. from Spokane
Riding on a train is the most wonderful feeling. We left quite suddenly last night from Portland. Had one of the boys send a wire to you last night. We are traveling via Pullman and most comfortable except for eating facilities which are quite the opposite from elaborate. As soon as I reach Norfolk I will call you up sometime prior to 10 pm. After waiting three hours Sunday night trying to get a call through to you, the operator was able to get Northampton only to learn that the college exchange refused to accept a call after ten pm. I was really burned up for I had counted so much on hearing your voice as soon as possible.
Since I was unable to get in the Boston draft due to the suddenness of our departure I am wondering what you want me to do when I get my discharge. Should I go to High Point for a couple days while I am in that vicinity or head straight for Northampton? It seems a shame to not go to H.P. while I am down there and at the same time I want to make haste to see you. We shall probably reach Norfolk around the first of the week and it will no doubt take several days to get out of the place. The Navy has broken down on its ruling of only one man to a bed for on this trip there are two men to a lower berth. I am with a sailor by the name of Rape!
Lib hastened to Richmond to secure her discharged husband (See Diary). They returned to the dorm at Smith where she was supervisor and pioneered the concept of co-ed dorms. In January, he headed for Raleigh, NC to study Architecture at NC State and to finagle living quarters in the tight housing market. Lib joined him there in a tiny trailer when her teaching contract at Smith ended. They have lived happily ever after.
And yes, the hat still fits!