Friday, December 17, 2010

Umnak Island, 21 July 1944


My darling…

I finally found out who the Democrats nominated to run with Roosevelt. If feel something like Cassandra must have when the Greeks took Troy, justified but unhappy over my prediction. Remember the letter I wrote you in answer to Bill James’s idea that Roosevelt would have Wallace kept as No. 2? That was six weeks ago and my guess at that time was Truman. 

The Democrats could have done worse. They could have picked someone like Byrd or Smith or Rankin. Truman is slightly better than Bricker. But as a man he couldn’t carry Harry’s boomerang. 

Maybe I’ll vote straight Prohibitionist. But seriously, I suppose there’s nothing to it but to give it to FDR yet another time. 

Jack woke me up about five o’clock this afternoon. He had been to the main PX and there picked up the August Adventure. He was properly enthusiastic about my story [“A Job for Joe”], which means he did not rip it to rags. He found the plot weak—but at least he found a plot there. He liked the background, dialogue and pace. A man of discernment, no less.
The illustrations that Adventure whipped up for the story are indeed peculiar. The Rumanian soldiers look like a cross between Bulgars and bad comic opera. And Father Titu belongs on a Coca Cola ad. I liked the blurb for the story on the contents page: the one about Joe’s changing clothes in church. It was also nice to have the story in the middle of the book instead of at the end. 

I finished another short story today. It is the one I have mentioned in the last couple of letters, about the anti-Semitism I ran into the other day. Jack has read the first draft (the second draft I completed just before starting this letter). The story has to clear some sort of special censorship. I am sending you a carbon under separate cover sot that the letter won’t be slowed up along with the story.

So far I have done little on the novel, but it was so much fun to be writing again that I may get back to serious work on it now. By the way, we have never seen a copy of the article I sold to the Rotarian. It seems to me that Jean said something about her mother or brother or someone taking Rotarian. Will you ask her about it and if she does take it see if you can get hold of a copy. I would like to show that one to a couple of our local Carnegie disciples, especially Johnny Hazen.

I enjoy John. He is the peak plodder of all time. I don’t think he could fall fast. A former employee of Weyerhaeusers, he is as robust a Republican as Russell Mack, and about forty years younger, too. He has no close friends and no enemies. He does his work well, listens to symphonies with silence if not deep appreciation, and except in comments on Roosevelt and unions speaks with measured restraint. The boys call him “The Great Stone Face.”
John knows a lot about the Aleutians. He listens well and never forgets. There was a forest ranger here for awhile and Hazen talked with him about the local flora and fauna. From John I keep getting fragments of frustrated woodsman’s lore. The yellow flowers which grow in the swamp and keep so well when put on the desk in a glass of water are not tiger lilies. They are, instead, some form of snapdragon. The local sparrows are called Aleutian Song Sparrows and they have a double set of feathers, only one of which gets ruffled in the worst williwaw. The eagles on this island are a browbeaten lot, suffering from an inferiority complex because them the time they are big enough to fly they have to defend themselves against the flocks of crows which steal their food. One story is that a flock of ravens chased an eagle into a guard house where the MPs protected him.

You may see John before too long. He has been picked as an OCS candidate and will head south soon. So if a big, blond sergeant with a Prussian bob and twisted moustache shows up, don’t shoot. He’s in our army. Even more, he’s from Tacoma. So join with him in tippling some tequila and drink a toast to those who only sit and wait. 

Market day
Ted Godfrey joined our tea party tonight. I have finally figured out who he looks like—a society edition of Norm Corwin. Or, perhaps, Robert Montgomery in a smirkie. He is not a bad kid, although he seems exceptionally young for 25, probably because his folks are quite wealthy and he has always worked for his father. He just passed his first wedding anniversary the other day and has been away from his wife for four months now. He is desperately lonely.

He was duly delirious about your Mexican photos, which I have taped on the wall over my desk and by the cot, and we had a long bullsession about ideal honeymoons. He and his Dorothy intend to take off to somewhere or other as soon as he takes off his OD’s. 

Lake Patzcuaro



Lyle Deckard, a sergeant who has the bunk directly opposite mine, got interested in the talk of canoeing and told me that he has been along most of the Salmon in Idaho. That’s the one the Indians call “The River of No Return.” He says it would make a marvelous canoe trip and that it has about 200 miles of fast water without major rapids. He also knows the grand canyon of the Snake, including the Hells Canyon section, but I didn’t have a chance to talk to him about it.

Lake Patzcuaro
However my number one postwar paddledream is still the trip down the Mississippi. …

Well, my little one, it’s time for me to get to work. No letter from you today, so I’m even lonelier than usual. I wish I could think of some way to say how much I love you.
M

All photos by Rosa Morgan

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