Monday, November 8, 2010

Umnak Island, 12 September 1944


My Nunny…

Two wonderful letters from you today and I have been wandering around the area looking peace pleased and even saying nice things to Robbie the Cook. 

My little one, I did not think you could ever be worried about my loving you. Even with a couple of thousand miles of cold and windy Pacific between us you should be able to feel the warmth of my love. When I wrote before about “staying together when all this is over,” I meant that you were hoping too high in expecting me home by Christmas and that my prayers are all that when this term in isolation is over the war is in such shape that we can sit out the last few months in Seattle, that I do not have to go north again or that if another trip should be necessary that the restrictions be relaxed against wives on the mainland. I am reasonably confident that the war will end in time for this to be my last rip up, but when I was writing that I was thinking of Tim, who is doing his second tour of isolated duty, and of the absolute impossibility of leaving you a second time. I am not just staying in love with you, I am getting more so every day. 

I am sorry I did not understand about the seagulls when you wired, but I did not know they had been away. It seemed to me that they were always around Seattle, but I suppose that they do move north for the summer. Traveling with their mates, it is not a bad idea. I suppose one reason the telegram bothered me is that I looked on it from a censorship angle. I know if I had been on duty in Seattle I would not have let anything like it go through, and I am not at all surprised that you got a call from the censor. In fact the only thing that amazes me is that you convinced him. Ted Godfrey, out chief censor here, says he wouldn’t believe the message was okay if the originating party sounded sober. Perhaps you were tequillad up? Anyway, little one, I’m glad the gulls are perched on the piling again and I hope that you have enough spare time from your photo exploits to feed them their daily bread.
The story of your photo work in the bowling alley fascinates me. I have visions of you straddling the alley with bowling balls whizzing past the Rollei and the Abbey. I await with held breath the result of the first pictures with the new equipment. You know you still haven’t sent the pictures of yourself that Otto took on the sailing trip.

It seems impossible that you are bothered by the heat in Seattle. Somehow I always think of the weather there being what it is here. And here is it far from hot. There is fresh white on our mountain and winds recently have been huffing and puffing at the walls of our Pacific. 

A new operator came in the other day. He was just in from a furlough in Southern California. He expected it to be cold and, finding it only chilly he talked himself into thinking winter was already here. All through his first night on the graveyard shift, while the rest of us were running around in shirtsleeves, he was wearing his wool underwear, a wool shirt, a wool sweater, a light field jacket and his lined parka. 

This same lad made the mistake of moving into our hut. We are the fresh air fiends and our doors are always open. Since Mac finally gave up his fight to keep the joint as hot as the kitchen backshop, no one turns on the stove. Our cool Californian lasted quick. He spent one night in the hut and when it got light and he found he could see his breath and that the doors were not only open but braced open, and the stove not only low but off, he got out of bed (parka and all) and wandered off toward the furnace room. Luckily he found a vacancy in one of the huts which is traditionally so overheated that it is sometimes called the huthouse.
I mentioned earlier that I had even had a good word to say for Robbie the Cook. He is really rather pathetic. When he is not in a bad humor he tries very hard to be friendly, but he has made so many enemies by his pranks when he is in a pet that he is often rebuffed. Sometimes when there are vacancies at two tables and Robbie is ready to eat he stands between the two and waits for someone to speak to him before he sits down, for he does not like to eat in silence, without being included in the conversation.  The other day I said something to him when he was standing like that, so he sat next to me. He wanted to talk about books and finally thought of a question, “Did Ivanhoe write Lady of the Lake?” He was quite serious, and I very seriously explained about Scott. Robbie comes from the same town as Jack: Inglewood, California. Because of that he goes out of his way to be nice to Jack and Jack, who is usually extremely sarcastic and short with those he considers stupid, takes it easy on him. A while back Robbie wrote to his girl and asked her to send him a street car transfer, it had been so long since he had seen one. She sent him two envelopes full, and the next day he shyly approached and offered Jack half. 

My darling…I know of no way to tell you what you mean to me. You must read my love between the lines, for it seems to me I write it into everything I do. Whatever you do down there is right with me, and my worries about unimportant things like finances are really not so much about the money as just about not knowing. I hope that is clear; it is rather poorly said. What I mean is I want so much to know what you do and say and think because it brings you closer. And being close to you makes the difference between living and existing.
… M

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