Monday, December 6, 2010

Umnak Island, 5 August 1944


Hello Lover…

I had a nice letter from Phyllis today. Actually it was from Phyllis and Otto but since Otto didn’t write any of it and it bears the mark of Gallup I think of it as Phyllis.

She was properly appreciative of the type of literature that Adventure Magazine is carrying these days. She also promised to send me the previously pledged socks as soon as she bakes the cookies to go with them. But most important she talked about a house that could be bought very cheap in Mason County. It is on the waterfront (Hood Canal, I presume), seems to be somewhere that can be reached by car because she drove one of her clients to it one day, and has a brook. She did on go into details but I suggest that you write to her and find out if there is any possibility. More and more it seems a swell idea to me to have some little place like that to fall back on in case the dollar does a few flipflops a year or so after the war. And far about the idea of an investment, I want some place where we can get away from people. 

I could have used such a place this morning. A pair of the guys in the hut rolled in at 8 a.m. stunk to the gills. How they do it on 3.2 beer I don’t know but they manage to get shaker than this bloody typewriter. One of them was my Irish pal from the YMCA, Minneapolis and way points which include Spokane and assorted guardhouses. They were very talkative and very determined to give me a bad time. For more than an hour they were either sitting on my bed and mussing my hair or carrying on a surprisingly accurate parody of the type of bullsessions Jack and I have been having. The parody saved the day. I had read until very late and was sleepy. Being mauled had me seeing red and I was set to climb out and step a few slow rounds, but every time I reached the boiling point they would go into the amateur intellectual act and I’d blow off my steam laughing. 

In the afternoon I had my revenge. I played the radio, pounded the typewriter, sang and joyfully packed and unpacked the barracks bag which had just arrived from APO 980. This gave me many opportunity to prop my many pairs of boots. I timed each thump to match the start of a snore and in that way kept the celebrants from getting any rest. They suffered through the swing shift and I helped matters all I could by managing to find two pieces of metal I could scrape, causing a sound like a giant’s fingernail on a super blackboard. By midnight I was so pleased with myself that I even helped the Irishman on his KP shift. He was really hung over and felt quite bad. We talked boxing, which he knows. He is an old admirer of Billy Petrolle, the Fargo Express, who was once Frank’s Number Two idol. We had a picture of him in the Kincaid apartment. He saw that famous fight in which Jack Kracken, the Northwest heavy, had his win streak stopped at 23 straight Kayoes by the colored kid just out of the amateurs—Joe Louis. 

When not warding off the drunks or revenging myself on them, I read Raymond Chandler’s “The High Window” cover to cover, like a good Time fan. The boy writes good, solid corn. His plotting was exceptionally tight, his characterization both pulpy and solid (which is possible), and his dialogue good. He has a weakness for extravagance in metaphor, but at times it can be good. For instance, of a guy somewhat like our Pete [Antoncich].

“A great long gallows of a man with a ravaged face and a haggard frozen right eye that had a clotted iris and a steady look of blindness. He was so tall that he had to stoop to put his hand on the back the chair across the table from me.”

Also I liked this little passage: “I looked at the ornaments on the desk. Everything standard and all copper, a copper lamp, pen set and pencil stray, a glass and copper ashtray with a copper elephant on the rim, a copper letter opener, a copper thermos bottle on a copper tray, copper corners on the blotter holder. The was a spray of almost copper-colored sweet peas in a copper vase.
                “It seemed like a lot of copper.”

I wrote some more on Day of the Dead and almost have the present draft up to where you saw the first draft. The plotting is not changed much but the action, and especially the dialogue, seems more convincing to me. I am writing with less effort on it and it feels rather good again. Manic-depressive stuff, I guess.

I enjoyed the clipping you sent in the last letter, although Grafton’s excessive praise of Wallace almost turned me against our Henry. Wallace is, after all, a man and his feet touch ground and he probably eats and digests food. Personally I’d hate to think I had tried to root St. Peter into the White House. He’s still needed at the Pearly Gates. Seriously, I think it is stupid to put halos on your political heroes. Wallace probably lost more support by his reputations for unworldly good than by his support for Negroes. Too many people were afraid that if through some accident he were elevated to the top and put at a peace conference, Churchill and Stalin would talk him out the Mississippi, the Empire State Building and three dozen Idaho potatoes. Personally I don’t think anyone who is not a shrewd politician can get 400 votes for anything at any time at a national nominating convention—even though he loses them later….PM had a Democratic campaign slogan the other day that amused me: Chaos comes quicker with Dewey and Bricker.

God how I wish something would make the day come quicker when I would be with your again ….
M

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