Sunday, January 23, 2011

Umnak Island, 8 July 1944

Hello my nunny…

Your Fourth of July letter came today, the first letter I have had since reaching this post. It was wonderful.
The Dimitrios drama hasn’t been here yet. I’ll make it a point to see it. From a review I read somewhere our pet, Peter, plays the lead, doesn’t he?

The repaint job on the houseboat living room sounds a thing of beauty, a regular Fordian wall finish. But the idea of yellow woodwork leaves me a bit limp. However, I always seem to object in advance and approve in arrears, so I would probably even like jaundiced walls. Nevertheless, I cast a bashful ballot for puce. 

The rumor you picked up about servicemen’s wives being allowed in Southeast Alaska seems to be nothing but a rumor. It was circulating at 980 before I left, but officials told us unofficially that it was completely unconfirmed. Ted Godfrey, one of our local censors, married a girl in Fairbanks last year and managed to keep her there for several months. But the Army finally caught up with him and although she was doing secretarial work for the ACS—and had been before their marriage—she was sent back to her home in Seattle. However, we can hope. There is no chance that you could come here, but it would be a fine solution to the Jean problem should she go to Anchorage to be with the Esthetic Eugene.

by Don Miller, from Windblown and Dripping
Here, I spent a quiet day. Summer seems to be over after a three-day visit, and the weather made sleeping a pleasure. I must have set some sort of record for sound slumber because while I slept two of the fellows ripped up a floor and ran in a pipe to our oil stove so that we no longer have to feed it two buckets a day. I built a dream around the hammering which went on. The details have faded but it was something about building a Haj-proof gate on the houseboat and trying to keep a billygoat in the pen where the rabbit stayed on its overnight visit with us. Have you ever seen hide of the hare? 

The hut pipeline is the same project the boys at the old post were contemplating. You commented on it, asking if I thought nationals of other countries would concentrate on time-savers if put in a place where time was not at a premium. I rather doubt it, although they might be forced to for comfort’s sake. Filling an oil can in a high wind is not simple, and can be especially disagreeable if a flat rain is blowing up under your parka.
Most likely though, such mechanical refinements are purely American. Were a group of Mexicans in our hut, though would probably get together and plant corn around the front door. One man would call himself Jefe and mooch most of the maize. Another would paint murals protesting the theft,  and the thief, appreciating art, would subsidize the artist.

Were the hut occupied by Germans, they would undoubtedly elect a Fuehrer who would appoint an oil-carrier who would not complain about his duties. There would be calisthenics in the morning, a daily floor swabbing, and singing in the evening.

And if the English were plonked down here, they would probably nail the front door open, take the stove out altogether, and shiver heroically while dressing daily for dinner.

A pleasant discovery I made this afternoon is that there is an electric phonograph in the day room as well as a radio. One of the men, an individual called Pinky, whom I have not met, has a small collection of albums, including four Mozart, which are available to anyone who wants to play them. So far I have missed any rebroadcasts of symphonies on the local station. But having Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the Jupiter available at all times is a considerable consolation.

Speaking of music, Senor Juan knows that alcoholic object lesson of a song, Is Das Nicht Ein Schnitzelbank, and sings it with Craigian delight. I taught him the one about the three-cornered hat, except the tune.

The boy with the phonograph records has just brought the portable into the next room and is playing the Mozart piano concerto in E flat. I think I’ll go listen and think of white water and you, my love. All beauty seems to bring me nearer to you…


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Umnak Island, 9 July 1944

Pitzler darling…

Today rounds out my first week here, and I can make a few preliminary judgments. This is a long way from being heaven, but after 980 is at least a haven. The change is like beating yourself on the head with a rubber covered mallet after warming up for two months with a spiked mace.

The big difference seems to be that the proportion of early ACS men is higher here than at the old station. A large number of the local fellows came in just before or after Pearl Harbor. And the ACS volunteers of that period are certainly better companions than the boys drafted later from Camp Crowder and way points.
Here there is a general interest in ideas, in discussion. The talks while not brilliant (perhaps the bull sessions do not seem so because there is a local beer session) are lively and far-ranging. There are only a few men who attempt verbal compensation for their sexual repressions. News is valued here. The incredible thing at 980 was that there was no interest in the war. Or almost none. But here at least a third of the men take the pony edition of Time or Newsweek. Nearly everyone reads the daily bulletins posted in the mess hall and operations building. Maps are posted and on some colored pencil shadings mark the daily advance. The implications of each new advance are discussion, intelligently and hotly.

Just as important as the tolerance of books and ideas is the general respect for the comfort of others. I can recall no group of men more soft-spoken or considerate of the rights of their fellows. There are exceptions, of course. We have one in our hut, a noisy punk who stops and shouts from stupidity rather than malice. But the rest are respectful of others’ right to sleep and quiet. They ask permission before turning the radio on or off. They shut the door softly. The old 980 warcry, “They get more sleep than I do,” does not ring out daily. In fact, it is not even known.

Part of the difference in attitude may stem from the weather, which has been better here than it was during my stay at the old post. Winter tensions may have been present here. They may have melted in the war air. And part of the difference is undoubtedly due to the physical plant. The huts are less crowded. And the rec hall makes it possible for men to spend their leisure outside of them. (According to Senor Juan , some of the men spend so much time at the pool table they walk sideways from habit.)

I have a DH Lawrence explanation: the landscape. At the old post we sat on the side of a mountain and the wind was always trying to blow us off. We were pressed between the mountain and the sea. And while the scenery was more spectacular than here, I always felt crowded, huddled. Here the view is pastoral. The main feature is the great, level, meadow-like marsh. We have room enough to breathe.

But the basic difference seems to be this is a better bunch of men.

Tomorrow I go on KP. It is worked differently here than at the old post. The KPs work a meal a day for a week. Their kitchen chores are in addition to their job. So when I knock off work at eight this morning I’ll report to the kitchen to wash the tables, the dishes and mop the floor. Senor Juan assures me that the work can be finished by 9:30.

It looks like a sleepy day. For besides missing a bit of morning sleep with the kitchen contingent, I have join the rest of the graveyard shift in a hike down the road to the hospital at 1 pm for the monthly inspection of genital organs—the old immaculate infection deal. 

Probably the reason I feel so pleased with this place is that I am back at work on the novel [Day of the Dead]. I do a bit of work while I have free time “at the office” and then polish it up in the evenings at the hut. At least that has been my system for the last two days. I am again rewriting the first five chapters. I have combined one and two, and three and four into two rather long chapters, which should meet the main objection that Ann had to them [Ann Elmo—Murray’s agent]. The big test will be in going on from here. I may be able to send you some of it within a week. At last I feel satisfied with chapter two—the action in the car after the gunplay starts. 

I finished Point Counterpoint today. Huxley’s controlled pessimism is so much more deadly, so much more impressive, than the Lawrence overwash: “If men went about satisfying their instinctive desires only when they genuinely felt them, like the animals you’re so contemptuous of, they’d behave a damned sight better than the majority of civilized human beings behave today. It isn’t natural appetite and spontaneous instinctive desire that makes men so beastly—no, beastly is the wrong word; it implies an insult to the animals—so all too humanly bad and vicious, then. It’s the imagination; it’s the intellect, it’s principles, it’s tradition and education. Leave the instincts to themselves and they’ll do very little mischief. If men made love only when they were carried away by passion, if they fought only when they were angry or terrified, if they grabbed at property only when they had need or were swept off their feet by an uncontrollable desire for possession—why I assure you, this would be a great deal more like the kingdom of heaven than it is under our present Christian-intellectual-scientific dispensation. It’s not instinct that makes Casanovas and Byrons and Lady Castlemaines; it’s a prurient imagination artificially tickling up the appetite, tickling up desires that have not natural existence. If Don Juans and Don Juanesses only obeyed their desires, they’d have very few affairs. They had to tickle themselves up imaginatively before they can start being casually promiscuous. And it’s the same with the other instincts. It’s the possessive instinct that’s made modern civilization insane about money. The possessive instinct has to be kept artificially tickled by education and tradition and moral principles. The money-grubbers have to be told that money-grubbing’s natural and noble, that thrift and industry are virtues, that persuading people to buy things they don’t want is Christian service. Their possessive instinct would never be strong enough to keep them grubbing away from morning till night all through a lifetime. It has to be kept chronically gingered up by the imagination and the intellect. And then, think of civilized war. It’s got nothing to do with spontaneous combativeness. Men have to be compelled by law and then tickled up by propaganda before they’ll fight. You’d do more for peace by telling men to obey the spontaneous dictates of their fighting instincts than by founding any number of Leagues of Nations.”

I think I’ll run through the rest of Huxley I haven’t read if they have them in the library: Antic Hay and Chrome Yellow. (Didn’t we read that one on the Heranger?)

No letter from you today. But one of these days, le deluge. By the way, don’t forget to keep sending the New Yorker and, when it comes out, the copy of Adventure with the last short story in it. I believe it will be on the stands when you get this letter. 

Well, my darling, a fifth of the time is in now. It seems an eternity. But someday even four more eternities like it must end. Until then I’ll find the distance between us with thoughts and letters, Nunny.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Umnak Island, 11 July 1944

Rosa darling…

I didn’t write yesterday, partly because there was little to write about but mainly because I was rumdum. The morning KP and a midday shortarm inspection dismembered my usual sleeping period and all through the evening I was more asleep than awake.

But today I carved out a solid eight hours of slumber and feel as well as I ever will until I get back to you. This afternoon, standing in front of the hut and watching the clouds roll in from the water, covering the peaks and partially veiling the meadow, I said “Lord, I wish Rosa were here.” And Senor Juan snorted, “for a man in love you certainly say funny things.” I protested that the view was beautiful and he finally conceded “I suppose it is—in its own dull, dreary way.”

In time I suppose I will come to feel the same way, after all an alabaster prison would still be a prison and in a sense the green meadow, the grey arctic water, the tundra-covered basalt hills and the snow-covered mountains are walls. But for the present I still find them beautiful.

After dinner tonight I was feeling a bit blue, mainly because of the mail. There hasn’t been any of it. I know that it will start catching up with me eventually and that the delay is the inevitable result of the shift of stations and is really little enough to pay for such a pleasant change. But I nonetheless have hopes at each delivery and, at all but one, disappointments.

So, feeling blue, I went for a walk, skidding down the sharp slope to the meadow directly below the camp. It was my first visit to this part of the swamp. At close range the meadow is less attractive then from ninety feet above. What appears to be good grazing grassland is really a huge a bog, spongy at best and swamp at its worst, cut by numerous rivulets which, hidden by the waist-high, windbent grass, are undetected until you step in them. 

Where these tiny streams start remains a mystery. A few creeks flow down the side of the same cliff I descended but they are larger and their courses distinct. One of these cliff creeks takes a spectacular fifty-foot drop over the black rocks. These falls are visible from the ACS area and they were my objective in the hike. Like the swamp, they demonstrate the deceptiveness of the local terrain. The hill on which we are perched is smooth and green and soft, except for one agglomerate outcropping, but the softness is only dirt deep. The stream has worn though the thin, alluvial skin and exposed the basalt bones of the island. I guess that the dirt surface nowhere goes down more than ten or fifteen feet and in most places it cannot exceed two or three. The muskeg of 980 is missing.

In the swampy land at the base of the falls I found some hydrangeas, white and small blossomed and sweet as a Sunday in March. I climbed the cliff beside the falls—getting soaked by the windblown spray—and in a little crevasse fund the tiny, redgreen, maplelife leave clipped on to the first page.
The stream of the interesting falls rises from the side of the hill only a few feet from where it goes over the cliff: what a short, rough life the little river has. The water is very clear and very cold. Senor Juan tells me there is a real river quite some distance from here which flows out of a crater lake. During the next nine and a half months I intend to see it. 

After inspecting the source of the falls I kept going up the hill until I could look down not only on the plain but on the little shelf which holds the ACS station. The layout is not unpleasing. The best feature is that here has been no need to build boardwalks, as at 980, and the paths go through grass instead of across land. 
The huts here are dug in deeper than at the old station. On most of them only a foot or two stick out above the top of the humps of raw dirt thrown up when the ground was cleared for laying the floors. Several of the huts were set in little hollows and sheltered steps have been run from the front doors to the ground level. These little wooden necks sticking from the tubular Quonsets and Pacifics give the huts a strangely saurian appearance when seen from above, like baby dinos stretching their necks for food. (Much more talk like that and I’ll begin to suspect I’ve been here too long.)

Which reminds me, there is an altogether different set of stock phrases here. The old station specials—“You’ve been here too long” and “Never had it so good”—are known but not particularly popular, the all-pervading profanity here is “Oh my fucking back,” a comment which can be applied to either favorable or unfavorable developments. My first day here I was a bit puzzled to see and hear our local Texan reading about Brooklyn’s tree and, with howls of laughter, complain about his back. Already I am used to it.

Except for that one spinal special, there is remarkably little profanity employed here: certainly much less than in the ACS at Seattle. As I have mentioned before, this station is what the whole organization must have been in the early days of the war—a group of rather able individuals out to do a job. The intellectual atmosphere is that of a rather rundown fraternity, one not yet gone to seed or the collection of athletes. While not stimulating it is not depressing. Yet.

Coming back from the walk—I doubt that I covered more than a mile in all—I went to the rec hall for a while. It was more quiet than usual and the radio wasn’t going. So I took over the chair by the phonograph and had a pleasant time with Mozart’s double piano concerto. The r. album is almost as enjoyable as the music itself. We looked at it one day in the book store: a pale blue background on which are set two very Russian figures and a radish-domed church, the entire effect Tanguey-like or, perhaps, Chiricoish.

Which reminds me. The more I look at the late afternoon picture you took from the Ford’s porch the more I am impressed with the merging quality you caught in the landscape. The photo has the same effect that Bill gets in his watercolors. No higher compliment could I pay. I am, you’ll remember , looking forward to more of our photos and also some new ones of the houseboat. Also, Piltzer, would you mind slipping a package of phonograph needles into one of your letters. The ones used here are pretty well beaten up and I hate the thought of wearing out our local classics with stuff fit only for Guy Lombardo.

I have finished reading “Mexico at the Bar of Public Opinion,” and am well into “A Diplomat’s Wife in Mexico.” Both are profoundly depressing. 

I believe I told you about the general scheme of the “Public Opinion” opus. It is “A Survey of Editorial Opinion in Newspapers of the Western Hemisphere” on the Mexican action in taking over the British and US oil properties. The survey was made by Burt M. McConnell, identified as “member of the Literary Digest editorial staff, 1919-1929” and the finished work was copyrighted by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. 

Under such sponsorship the opus does not go out of its way to present material favorable to Mexico. The papers quoted from other countries than the U.S. are mostly English-language editions in Latin American countries. Among the “representative” Mexican papers quoted as complaining against Cardenas’s actions is “El Hombre Libre!”

Lazaro Cardenas, giving land to the peasants
But the inflammatory nature of the editorials quoted in even the more respectable U.S. papers—the Herald Tribune, for instance—and the ignorance or willful distortions manifest in others make me ashamed of my profession. From a standpoint of international relations, the editorials are almost inexcusable. The only thing that can be said about them is that the writers were just as vicious in their attacks on leaders in this country as they were upon the Mexican government. In fact most of the writers seemed to feel that to call Cardenas the Roosevelt of Mexico was to brand him as a villain. Try to follow the logic of this little essay from the Cleveland News. 

“He (Cardenas) is devoted to the lower classes, and with great skill he keeps them in tow…Among the peasants he divides the land taken from both Mexican and foreign owners. He has raised his soldiers’ pay. He encourages unionization of workers, and he lets these unions run the industries he takes in the name of the state. Mexico’s president has had four busy years. He has worked hard at settling peasants on land, at building schools and highways, and at nationalizing key industries to squeeze out foreign capital. If the United States goes on supporting Cardenas, our prestige will suffer and other countries will feel free to rob our citizens.”
There were innumerable inflammatory articles suggesting that we should “clamp down on Mexico like a trip hammer,” because the only policy that Mexico understands is that of firmness.” The good old Daily News, arguing for an imperialist solution, said, “This is no debate over national philosophies or economic ideologies; this is a fight, and the stake is the kind of power a modern nation must have to stay modern—oil.” … The Wichita Falls Record-News quotes the professor of Latin American government at the University of Texas as “declaring bluntly that neighborliness and friendliness have nothing to do with trade, and citing the figures to show that trade was better when the United States Marines were keeping order with machine guns in some of the southern republics.”
Our lack of knowledge about our relations with Mexico continues to amaze me. Not even Greuning’s book made me realize how close the United States came to a full-fledged war with Mexico in 1913-16. But  Edith O’Shaughnessy brings it out. She was the wife of Nelson O’Shaughnessy, who was American charge d’affaires in Mexico from the period not long after the murder of Madero to the time when we broke relations in 1914. Our troops at that time were occupying Vera Cruz. We denied recognition to the Huerta government (after our previous diplomatic representatives had fostered the Huerta coup against Madero). And with the country torn by civil war and no government able to function effectively without the recognition we refused to give, we massed troops on the Texas border.

 [last page missing]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Umnak Island , 12 July 1944

My Darling…

Henry Victor, Victor Henry, and Murray Morgan
What a wonderful day—five letters from you (four of them forwarded from the old post), a pair of lithographs from Bill [Fett] and a coherent letter explaining them, and a letter from Dad.

Since you were going to Tacoma for Dad’s birthday I suppose that he has told you about Vic’s assignment to an aircraft carrier. He will be ranking chaplain aboard and is very excited at the prospect. Remember we wondered who would ever buy those $125 pen and pencil sets that Eversharp advertises. I have the answer. The regiment of cadets bought Vic one. Even better, though, he says the captain gave him “a beautiful letter of commendation and enclosed another from the President of this Catholic college commending me for my work.” Vic also says, “it seems a bit odd at 47 going off to war again. Twenty seven years ago I was the same age as the boys I’m ministering to now.  I am glad to go, because I’ll be doing the thing I am best qualified to do. I have no fear of the adventure ahead.” By the way, Gail finished the second grade with special honors—a solid record of excellent and praise for her social qualities and her singing. Vic says “she is so very like Evelyn.” [Evelyn was Vic's sister and Murray's half-sister]

VOLUME TWO 1939 - 1949
Chaplain V. H. Morgan was wounded on November 25 [1944] aboard the Essex when his ship was engaged in a strike against the enemy on Luzon. Chaplain Morgan described his experiences as follows:

Empty 5-inch shell cases from the forward turrets were
rolling across the flight deck and under the wheels of the
fighters taking off during the attack. I was busy trying to
heave as many of the cases over the side as possible and did
not realize a suicide crash was imminent until a "Judy" flashed
10 or 12 feet over my head and exploded 35 or 40 feet from
where I stood. I did not know I had been injured, and
returned to fighting fire until others arrived on the scene. Then
I helped with the injured both on the flight deck and later in
the sick bay. It was not until I went to bed that I discovered
the wound on my right leg, which I then dressed myself.
The next morning I had trouble walking and reported to sick
call. The X-ray revealed no bones broken but it was 3
months before I had full use of the right knee.

Your letters were especially wonderful this time: long but sweet, to maim a phrase. And now to answer a few of the questions you asked. 

I can’t tell you where Perry “commandeered” the storm porch for the hut at the old station. It’s a military secret—at least as far as Perry is concerned….I remember, after being reminded, that you had told me about the bas relief type of work Morry was doing. But I had not connected the shipshots that Ed was making for Associated with the mildly pornographic pics that Morry turned out by the same process. I’ll copy the positive-negative stuff and send it to him since I am no longer where I can read your letter to him…The cookies  came from Phyllis but so far I have been spared the hand-knitted socks…I am glad that Myrtle [James] is coming to live with you. Not only is she a swell person but it seems certain that her arrival will bring the problem of Jiving Jean to a head. I can’t imagine Myrtle and Jean remaining in the same houseboat for long without an explosion. And Myrtle has a certain Scandinavian immobility which makes it seem unlikely she would be the one to leave when the showdown comes…you needn’t worry about my sleep, darling. I don’t miss much. In fact, I don’t miss any here expect on rare occasions like today when I got up early to go for a walk and didn’t get a post-dinner nap because of a bullsession. I put on 15 pounds while at [deleted by censor], weighing now 172 in stocking feet and OD pants) and am taking pains to be active so as to work it off. But all I seem to be doing is building my appetite…I’m sorry you like the Sims. He still sounds a bit unprepossessing to me, although she doesn’t sound bad.  …[The Sims were  the Adamses. Sim (Robert Simeon), a poet and longtime headmaster of the Lakeside School in Seattle, and Mary; Murray had the chance to reevaluate his view of Sim in the years before his death in 1950, and Mary became a dear friend and Harstene neighbor, the “Mayor of Point Wilson.”] So far the packages with the pajamas, socks and vitamin pills haven’t arrived. They will probably take some time getting  here, what with travel time from the old station to this one added to the age it always takes packages to get up from Seattle….I liked very much the Grafton and Marquis Child’s columns you enclosed about the Republican convention, but even better your bitter bit about Dewey’s campaign as Mr. Average man. I’m afraid we are going to have vote for FDR again. Too bad it isn’t Wallace against Willkie…I also enjoyed the remark about Ray Howe very much—the one about liking Rabelais best between bookcovers.

Before I forget, I must confess an extravagance. The boy with all the phonograph records expects to leave here before long. He is selling his stock and taking back to Seattle what he doesn’t sell. One of the kids bought most of the best—all the Mozart, for instance—and is going to keep them in the rec hall for all to hear. But there were $16 worth that I could not bear to think of leaving this post, so I bought them. Beethoven’s Third, Mendelssohn’s violin concerto and another violin concerto by a guy I’m so sleepy I forget his name. He is a minor composer of the twenties, a German I believe. The concerto is charming. 

Bill’s lithograph I like less than his watercolors but they are very good, especially the first one—“Notes on the Creation of Man.” The other is no. 3 in his series and he said that you did not have a copy of it. In it the figures are much larger than in No. 1 and the landscape less familiar—which is probably the reason I like it less. I’ll write tomorrow when at that hut so that I can give you a better description.

"Some Notes on the Creation of Man" April 1944
After dinner this evening I rebuilt my clothes cabinet, putting a door on it. I also mounted Bill’s two creations on plywood and put them up for all to see. First comment:
“Some of your work, Murray?”
“No. I sure wish it was.”
“I’m glad it isn’t any of mine.”

"No. 3" April 1944
One of the kids here who comes from West Seattle but did commercial art work in New York and knows Pomander Walk came over to see the pictures and was impressed with Bill’s draughtsmanship. This boy, incidentally, will be coming down in a month or so and I hope you’ll meet him. His name is Pedersen or something similar and he a mild-eyed, mild-mannered Dane with a spike mustache and a short haircut which would go well on an old fashioned barkeep. I like him a lot and think you would enjoy him.

I’m still reading the book on Mexico by the diplomat’s wife. If I ever take any more school work I’d like to do a thesis on the press in US-Mexico relations.

Oh, my darling, how I would like to talk to you…there is no way to say what I feel. I love you so.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Umnak Island, 14 July 1944

My darling…

I must have been tired. I slept nine hours today, almost missing dinner. Seldom have I slept more soundly. Reger, the one man in our hut who makes no effort to let sleeping GIs lie, mopped the hut out, moving beds and stacking duffel bags on them, without waking me. In fact I didn’t wake up until Senor Juan arrived bearing a letter from you which he used to tempt me out of bed in time for chow.

Unlike the last post’s library the one here is a bit fussy about books being returned on time. Today was the last day for those we took out last week so we had planned to hike over to the main area with them. But after dinner we felt lazy and decided to wait until tomorrow. We went instead to look at a couple of fox holes—the genuine kind, not the GI variety—behind my hut. 

The foxes had dug into a bank about fifty yards from the hut. The entrance is concealed in tall grass. It does not look as though the hole is being used now, although be reaching down into it I was able to get a little fur, rather like that Haj leaves on the sofa. There is a second hole in the back about ten yards away. Jack says that the two little tunnels are connected and that a fox chased in one will emerge in a few minutes from the other and scamper down the hill. Last winter the fox who lived in that hole was quite friendly with the men in our hut. One of the boys has a blurry picture of her coming to be fed. --this is a wonderful photo of a fox on Umnak

Speaking of holes in the hill, there is a sort of super foxhole even closer to our hut, about five feet high and seven or eight feet long. I thought someone had dug it as an air raid shelter but Senor Juan assures me that one of the local lads with religion dug it as a sort of chapel. He used to spend two hours a day in it, praying. But during the winter it caved in and since then he has done his praying in the hut. Senior Juan says this character’s prayers that he quit smoking were all that kept him from quitting smoking for several months. Since then the character has ceased praying that Juan quit the evil weed and Juan has quit it. 

There was a sort of showdown on the praying business last winter. The boys were using the GI skis which are available for local ACSers. And the God-touched lad stood at the top of the hill praying mightily for their safety. He was praying for Senor Juan when that worthy tangled with a telephone pole. After that he was warned to keep his prayers to himself. 

This individual is named McCracken, or something similar. I have only run into him once as we work different shifts and meditate in different manners and that time I only noticed he was quiet and blond. But I would like to meet him again because he undoubtedly knows Dave and Grace. He was a missionary in Mexico for a short while and, although he hates Mexico, hopes to go back after the war. 

Senor Juan has relayed the information about his missionarying and my data is incomplete. But Mac was down there in 1940 or 1941. He spent most or all of his time in Mexico City, and most of his time there in the missionaries’ boarding house that Dave and Grace told us about. He did not want to leave the house because he was afraid of polluted air, polluted water, polluted food, polluted people. While the rest of the missionaries were out doing the things they do, Mac kept up the house in Mexico City for them. He was there two or three months  and then came home, presumably to the Army. Having inspected the cliff dwellings, we climbed a little farther down to pick some flowers we had not seen before. They are of the same family as tiger lilies, gold with reddish brown flecks in the throat, and quite beautiful. We kept going farther down the hill after them until we reached the marshlands. So we went for a hike and found several more flowers including what seems to be a wild sweetpea, purple with small, brilliant flowers. 

All flowers here seem to be exceptionally fragrant. The wind off the meadowland reminds me of the walk on the heather we took with Joan and Geoff while down at their farm—remember climbing the hill with the old oak trees and coming out on the hill, the essence of all English countryside? I suppose one reason for this fragrance is that there are so few competing city smells. But I suppose it is a compensation for the short season. Each plant smells strong to increase its chance of attracting pollen bearing insects. It is a plausible hypothesis but my botany is shaky enough so that I would hate to have to uphold it. 

Returning to the hut laden with lupine, tiger lilies, sweet peas, daisies and a lidless aluminum coffee pot Jack found in a creek we felt so refreshed we decided to go to the library after all. We caught a ride down but made the long walk back, a hike I really like. 

I renewed the two books on Mexico I have been reading—the summary of editorials because I have not copied all my notes from it, and “Diplomat’s Wife” because I was not quite through. I also took our three more: an account by Bemelmans on his experiences in the army in the last war (“My War with the United States”) which Lieutenant Bernnard had recommended; “Scum of the Earth,” another book by Koestler, the reformed communist whose “Darkness at Noon” I liked so much; and “King News” by the head of the international news service. “Scum of the Earth” should be exceptionally interesting—it is the story of disillusionment among the political refugees in France after the Hitler-Stalin pact was signed in 1939. I think Koestler is as convincing a novelist as any now writing and one of the most intelligent in his approach to the work. 

Remember in my last letter I commented on finding “The Murderer’s Companion” on the hobby shelf of the local library? Today I discovered “How to Become an Officer.”

In telling of our trip on the marsh, I forgot the high point. We saw two ducks, rather small but definitely ducks. They were dark brown and although one seemed to have a darker head than the other seemed to be of the same sex, probably Mallard hens. 

Juan mentioned that there might be ducklings around so we watched the water closely. Sure enough, we spotted a tiny bird swimming in the reeds. But when we came closer we saw it was not a fuzzy duckling. Instead it was a fully developed little bird, about the size of a robin. It had a brown back and breast of the grey you so admired on our houseboat helldiver. It swam with little jerky movements of its head, like a coot. That would indicate it does not have fully webbed feet. When it took off it walked the water for a short distance and had the usually duck difficulty in gaining altitude. But once in the air it flew like a swall9ow, in spurts and bursts and climbs and glides, all very unducklike. It has rather swallow-like, V shaped wings. The wings have a broad brown streak along the forward edge and this merges in to light grey toward the back. It seemed to have a brown head, although I am not sure. The bill is long and Jack is sure it is pointed. I couldn’t tell. The bird was the smallest I have ever seen in the water. 

By the way, the tall grass by the creek is very like the tule in Lake Patzcuaro. It made me long for the canoe and the long paddle down to the Fords’ place for Sunday dinner. I suppose I felt the paddling urge more than usual toady. I have the picture of the Fords’ house and the views of the lake from the porch on the wall above my typing desk, and last night I told Senor Juan and Pete Pedersen about the duck hunts and the weekly visits we used to make to the far end of the lake. 

And then, just before going on today’s walk, I read your letter about the paddle on Lake Union and the visit to the Guinness Yacht. I especially enjoy the idea of the big Cornell crewman getting a stiff shoulder from our little paddleboat. Remember when I wore Pete [Pete Antoncich, former UW football and basketball star] out on Lake Quinault.

I’m glad you got to see Lou Cooley. He wasn’t one of my favorites at the old station, but he is a well meaning kid. If he can make the grade physically he will probably be a good officer, but that is a mighty big if. … Lou considers himself something of a wolf, although his appearances are certainly against him there. The picture of him spending an hour combing Jean’s hair raises the old problem of pursued and pursuer in my mind. I hope that nothing gets in the road of Jean’s trip to San Francisco. But I will take your advice about writing to her and not do it. Nor to Gene. 

The idea of Gene taking a transfer from Anchorage to my old station in the hope of being able to get more creative writing done strikes me as almost tragic. If ever there were a place calculated to keep a man from writing that was it. The physical and mental difficulties in the way of creative work are almost insurmountable. Every day I say a little prayer of thanks about the transfer. As the local saying goes, “I’ve found a home in the Aleutians.” I dislike being here so much less than being there that I almost like it. 

I am glad that you liked the passage in my last letter from there on the stupidities of Army terminology and also glad that you showed it to Bos. He is one who would appreciate it. As a matter of fact I liked that passage particularly myself. It came at a time when I was particularly peter oboed about the lousy writing in some directive or other and I tried to get my anger down on paper. The reason I am glad Bos saw it is that the only thing of mine that I can remember his reading was an early draft of the story due out in the current Adventure [“A Job for Joe”], and I am not particularly proud of that. Is Box still on permanent duty at Fort Lewis? I thought he thought he was due for an overseas assignment.

By the way, Nunny, what does Jean want to go to San Francisco for? Does she think she can write better there? I liked the phrase about her “tremendous aimless drive.” In fact, my Nunny, I like your letters so much that I am wondering very much who is supposed to be the writer in this family. I like your reporting better than mine—and could such a smug mug as I pay a higher compliment? 

I do so long to be with you. I have stopped counting the days because they went by so slowly. Now I just try to forget the present and pretend I am not really living it away from you. Keep dropping around for my dreams, Nunny.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

To Phyllis and Otto Goldschmid: Adak Island, 25 June 1944

Dear two…

This will serve as a requisition for socks in whatever state of repair and of whatever strangeness in construction. Have you considered darning them with built-in holes at the heels to save wear and tear and also time? 

One of the quaint characters at large on this outpost already has a pair of purple stockings, a first pair at that. He wears them as a scarf. And one of the kids in our hut—Perry, the misplaced MP—got a pair from his girl. They were so small that he put a piece of pipe in one and has it hanging by his bed as an improvised billy stick.

As for the fudge, there is nothing I like better than fudge in my stockings. Christmas or otherwise. But what do you people use for sugar these days? I do not recall any beets blossoming in the backyard, or even a good government printing press in the garage?
Your letter, dated June 19, and the letter you and Rosa wrote from the houseboat, dated June 19, came in the same mail. I suspect tequila, or maybe the U.S. has gone on a doubletalk calendar since I drew this term of exile in Estatiland. 

Life up here is exactly as it was at the time I wrote before, only more so.  As one of the more profound philosophers in the operating room recently remarked, “There comes a time when monotony gets damned monotonous.”

We don’t hear the Corwin show up here. Why, I don’t know. It is the only one outside of the symphonies and “Information Please” that I really would like to hear. The shows that we hear are mainly those broadcast over a local station run by the army. The music and general amusement programs are sent up on records with the advertising removed. So far we are still getting shows that I heard while in Seattle. They sound much better with the blather about buying abridged.  …

The news programs that we hear are shortwaves from San Francisco and transcribed for rebroadcast over the local outlet. We hear them about an hour after they originate. Since these shows also serve as our shortwave propaganda news they are a bit strong on the sugar and leave one feeling mentally diabetic. Whenever possible I try to get a CBS outlet at home. I feel very possessive about the job Columbia is doing on radio reporting.
Down from the tree in August 1944: Bill Walton is at left, Robert Capa at right, and Ernest Hemingway in the middle.
(Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, Kennedy Library)
Remember the time you came up to the Time office with Rosa? I believe you met one of my roommates there, Bill Walton, a big, blue-eyed, baby-faced blond who looked as if he would be a bit afraid crossing a busy street. I see in the current Time that he jumped out of a place with a bunch of paratroops in the Normandy Invasion and got stuck, typewriter and all, in a pear tree. He had a nice boxed story in the War News of the edition with Eisenhower’s picture on the cover.

[Walton went on to become a painter, a good friend of John F. Kennedy (whom he encouraged to run for President) and the head of the federal arts commission. His New York Times obituary is here:

His Time column about the landing is at,9171,1101440619-640079,00.html
It starts like this:
I plunged out of the plane door happy to be leaving a ship that was heading toward flak and more Germans.The jump was from such low altitude there was only a moment to look around in the moonlight after my chute opened.
The fields looked so small that one couldn't miss a tree or hedge. Anyway I couldn't. I landed in a pear tree-a rather good shock absorber. But the trouble was I didn't filter on through to the ground; instead I dangled about three feet above ground unable to swing far enough to touch anything.
My chute harness slipped up around my neck in a strangle hold, covering the knife in my breast pocket. I was helpless, a perfect target for snipers and I could hear some of them not far away.In a hoarse, frightened voice I kept whispering the password, hoping someone would hear and help. From a nearby hedge I heard voices. I hung still a moment, breathless.
Friends. Then I heard them more clearly. Never has a Middle Western accent sounded better. I called a little louder. Quietly Sergeant Auge, a fellow I knew, crept out of the hedge, tugged at the branches and with his pigsticker cut my suspension cords. I dropped like an overripe pear ]
Getting back to the radio programs for a moment – I think it would take Corwin to make Wolfe bearable. Let me know if he does a number on my man Steinbeck.

You mentioned “Lady in the Dark” but do not say what you thought of it as a movie. Rosa and I saw it not long before I shipped out. We found it wildly amusing. The idea of an editor of a smart New York magazine being naively surprised at the basic elements of psychiatry, of a psychiatrist shouting at his clients, and of a girl who didn’t care about clothes wearing those tailored creations that Ginger Rogers had curving around her were all edging toward the surreal. And the dream sequences had all the dreamlike quality of a rare beefsteak or a two ton bomb. I did rather like the touch, though, of having Jon Hall appear in a dream standing beside a symbolic stallion.

Here is a dream for you to practice on. I had a dream that an order came out that everyone on Alaskan duty had to walk on his hands. And we all found it very easy to do. But I had great difficulty in typewriting while standing on my hands.

Speaking of shows, don’t miss “Gaslight.” In the first place, Ingrid Bergman. But besides that , it is a beauty of a job, just as good as it was as a play. …

Thanks again in advance for the fudge and footgear. And don’t forget the letters. (And here’s a hint for economy—it only takes six cents to airmail letters to an APO number.)
Best to both,

Umnak Island, 15 July 1944

Hello Childbride…
[Mom loved elephants, and this 14-page letter starts out with a Bemelmans story about an elephant cutlet…you probably had to be there.]
I didn’t write yesterday. I was so sleepy I could not stay awake. Again I did not sleep myself out before dinner and again Jack Martin and I started on another short walk after dinner. This time we headed for the nearest PX to buy soda crackers and cheese to go with our 10 p.m. tea, which has become a tradition. We ended by climbing half way up our local mountain.
It was a walk to remember, up a series of undulant wavelike slopes broken by a few short, steep hills. A red fox barked at us, another followed us for a while, doglike. We went through patches of violets as large as pansies, and across fields of the white weedlike flowers that are ubiquitous in this area. In one field the weeest of williwaws was blowing and the white flowers and the blue lupines bowed in different directions. It reminded me strangely of the pizzicato section of the third movement of the Tschaikowsky Fifth.  [See some of photographer Bill Stevenson’s images of Umnak, which I cannot reproduce here, at]
How little I remember of the courses I took at Washington ten years ago. SeƱor Juan and I were debating the age of the Aleutians—how long they have been above water and whether they are rising or sinking. He seemed to think they had risen from the ocean in the pretty much their present shape within the last few thousand years. My memory about the subject is vague but I think I recall Professor Martin sticking out that long neck of his and saying something about 50,000 years. Since one theory of the arrival of the ancestors of our Indians from the Orient is that they came across a land bridge it seems this land must be sinking, not rising. But then it may only the area up around the Bering Straits which sank. It would be handy if the Information Please people would try, and mistry, one of my questions for an Encyclopedia Britannica would be a real help up here.
Which reminds me, I remember reading a review within the past year of a life of Bering.  … I would like it very much, as living within sight of his cold, opaque sea, makes me ashamed of not knowing about hi. If you can’t find the one about Bering, see if a book on the economic geography of the Pacific Northwest (including Alaska and the Aleutians) is available. I believe that Prof. Martin and another geographer edited on in 1940 or 1941—an anthology. If the section on the Aleutians looks like anything, I’d like to have the book.
Another course I have almost forgotten is weather and climate. The cloud effects yesterday were marvelous, especially at sunset as we came down the mountain around three o’clock. But I had a hard time remembering more than the names of the formations. In fact, about all I can remember on weather and climate is the rhyme from the New York Times Magazine article: “Fish scales and mares tails, make tall ships furl their sails.”
After reaching a ridge where we could see both the sea and the ocean we sat on a moss patched basalt hummock, pried off the lid to a can of cheese (using my tostone as a lever) and spread the Roquefort on the crackers with a big paper clip. Jack wished for wine and I wished for you. He recalled a cartoon printed in the Saturday Evening Post recently showing a GI sitting under a tree with a book of verse in his hand, a bottle and a loaf at his side and saying “well, you can’t have everything.”
Jack is an extremely interesting companion, and I am sorry that his tour here is almost over. While on the ridge he was telling me about his relationship with Roger Mastrude. Or should I say Major Mastrude?
As I have already mentioned, he met Roger at Fort Lewis. They became inseparable.  Jack would go to Mastrude’s place in Tacoma. Roger’s folks considered him a second son, and Jack stuck up for Mr. Mastrude in his arguments with Roger. He even listened to the old man playing the violin, which is not a pleasant experience.
Jack used Roger’s car and they wore each other’s clothes and drank each other’s drinks. When Roger needed some money to help Tarz [Tarz was one of mom’s oldest and best friends, from junior high school on] get home from Chile, Jack offered to loan him two hundred.  But Roger said, “Why don’t you buy my car.” Raj was soon to be transferred and wanted to get rid of the old Studebaker. Jack gave him a hundred some dollars and agreed to pay the rest in convenient chunks.
Roger was shipped east. Jack stayed behind—he was in a different outfit—and was so blue he thought e was going crazy. One day he went to Kent on a pass, got drunk, overstayed his leave and turned over the car racing back to the fort. It was badly dented but still ran. That same day his transfer to the ACS came through and he left for Seattle.
He was quite broke and could not get the car repaired. He took a room at the Virginia Hotel and shared it with a girl he met in the lobby. He believes she used it professionally while he was out and her presence, he said, made him drink even more. At the time he was twenty and had been in the Army two years.
When his orders came to go to Fairbanks, Jack still had not repaired the car. He took it in to a garage and asked how much the bill would be to leave it for a year. He told the man he would send him the rent after his first month in Fairbanks. He had not told Roger or Roger’s folks (in whose name the car was still registered) that there had been an accident.
When the month was up the man in the garage sent Jack a bill for $27 for the year. But he also sent a duplicate bill to Mr. Hartwick, who went to Seattle to see what the score was. He found the car wrecked and Jack gone and decided that Jack had taken a runout. He paid the bill and told Jack about it and Roger told Jack in a letter—but plenty. He implied a runout and Jack, angry, answered only by wiring him another hundred. He has not heard from Roger since.
They were very close. Jack feels the break badly. He wants to send Roger the rest of the money he owes him but doesn’t know his address. And he hesitates to write to Roger’s folks.
Jack is far from perfect. He is almost morbidly moody and his dislike for one of the officers here borders on the pathological. I believe it is a psychological transference by which he fixes his feeling of frustration after four years of army life upon one individual. The officer in question is popular with a majority of the men I have talked to here. 
Speaking of Jack’s moodiness reminds me of my own and that reminds me that Jack and I look alike. Or rather, he looks like a mixture of Craig and me. He has a long Irish face with brown wavy hair and pyramidal eyebrows which shoot up when he furrows his forehead in conversation. His eyes are brown, his nose long and straight, and his teeth rather poor—all there but too small and a little bent in. Until today he had a mustache, and he still has a stubborn chin.
I have a considerable admiration for him. He has managed to retain his individuality in the Army and yet the boys say his is one of the most efficient operators in the system. He gave up smoking six weeks ago because he “had enough of those things” and stuck to it. He is about the first person I have known personally who quit so easily. He seldom swears, and the only time he has mentions his sexual conquests was a casual reference to the girl he lived with in Seattle. About her, no details. This, too, is a reaction to the banalities and brutalities of army life. He has respect for his own privacy.
He is very efficient. He refers to most of the men as either “the bastards” or “the little men.” The former are the characters, the Brooklyn boys, the loudmouths. They are the ones who find stimulation in Betty Grable, who subscribe to nudist magazines and have pornographic accounts of St. Bernard sodomy in their wallets. They shout in the movies and spit on the messhall floor. The little men are what at APO 980 are called the Boy Scouts. They are Army Babbits, collectors of merit badges, solid citizens in embryo. And they are the most important and helpful men in an outfit like the ACS for they do their work well and bureaucratically. They are efficient clerks but poor companions for one who is at all contemplative.
Jack despises the little men for their lack of intellectual interest. He is very young so his intolerance of banalities is very strong. Further, it is a buffer he uses to protect himself. By feeling himself different he is able to remain different, to keep an interested in ideas and abstractions.
One of his tricks is to start arguments between the little men. I saw him in action on this front one. He pretended to be reading “The Robe” by Lloyd Douglas when one of the men came into the hut. The man was a connoisseur of cowboy stories and spoke disrespectfully of Mr. Douglas. Whereupon Mac, the missionary from Mexico, defended Douglas and all his works. Jack said just enough to keep the argument going. He was immensely pleased to follow this trivial debate between simple souls over mediocre authors.
He plays this trick on anyone. The other day he got Johnny Hazen, whose gods are Weyerhaeuser and the Republican Party and who thinks Time Magazine is pro-New Deal, into an argument with John Pedersen, a Henry Wallace Democrat. Jack, who has no interest in politics, considered this debate as unimportant as the literary debate. I tried to convince him otherwise, but my heart isn’t in it.  I can’t get particularly worked up over Dewey vs Roosevelt.
I intend to vote for FDR again, of course. But I do it without particular enthusiasm. If Wallace gets the second spot on the bill I will be happier but I cannot help believing that the best of the New Deal is dead. It was a product of emotional drives which have spent themselves.  Between the 1944 Roosevelt and Dewey there is, I believe, less difference than between the 1936 Roosevelt and Landon; or between Cox and Harding in 1920.
Dewey’s campaign has a stench. He is appealing to tiredness and mediocrity. But he is not tired or mediocre. He promises to be different than the current administration and does not define the difference. But there are many, many differences which would be beneficial.
If elected, I doubt that he would do disastrously. He is more capable than Harding. Bricker would have been used by those who have pulled his political strings all along. But Dewey by reason of his very ambition, his ruthless personal ambition, is not likely to allow himself to be a cat’s paw. He will want to be reelected.
After all, Dewey is intelligent. (It is intelligent politics on his part, for instance, to play down his intelligence, to pose as Mr. Average Guy, in a period when people are tired of brilliance and want desperately to be let alone.) And his is intelligent enough to realize that internationalism is now a popular fetish. He would be unable to repudiate it as Harding did. I don’t believe he would try.
He has already committed himself to cooperation with Great Britain. And the wealthy conservative opinion, which would be more influential with him than that of any other economic class, now appears to be all for cooperation with Russia. They have their eyes on a postwar market of 180 million people in a rich but ravaged land. So with “the best people” from the editors of the Saturday Evening Post to the president of the Chamber of Commerce recommending that he play ball with Russia, I think he would try.  And if we get along with Britain and Russia after the war we got her made, as the Aleuts put it. There is no one important left for us not to get along with. France is through as a major power. Germany and Japan will be crushed, their war potential broken and their people very likely broken too. The rest of the world bloody well has to get along without us.
As for domestic actions, the biggest thing will be employment and reconversion. The Republicans cannot deny the responsibility of the federal government in this field. They cannot again say it is a matter for state’s rights. Part of the campaign is that they can handle demobilization better than Roosevelt. Admitting that the responsibility for employment rests on the national government, they have broken from the Hoover past. Dewey elected would have to try, and try to the fullest of his abilities, to find a national solution to the problem or face political disaster in 1948. He would have to extract guarantees from whatever firms get the war plants which have been built by government funds that in operating them certain minimums of employment would be maintained. Failing to do so would be courting the fate of Hoover. And Dewey’s cold, lusterless, implacable ambition should keep him from making that mistake. It would drive him to the same decision that Roosevelt would make for warmer reasons.
I hate to think of some of the Congressmen who would ride into Washington on Dewey’s blue coattails. But then Roosevelt has brought in his share of Martin Smiths and would carry some back with him this time too. And Rankin and Pepper and their ilk are sure to be there. The Democrats do not have a very liberal supply of liberals these days.
It would be wonderful if U.S. political parties split so that all the Tafts and Vandenbergs and Rankins and Brickers were on one side, and the Wallaces and Willkies and Roosevelt on the other. Then the issues would be clearer. But a lot of other things would be wonderful too, things that won’t happen.
So I’ll vote for Roosevelt again. But it won’t be a passionate ballot. At best it will be a hopeful vote, at worst a mere tribute to a tired man whose heart is in the right place.
If I sound particularly disillusioned about politics, it may be because of reading “A Diplomat’s Wife in Mexico.”
The O’Shaughnessys were intelligent people, Catholics in a Catholic country, genuinely fond of Mexico, anxious for peace between our country and Mexico. And yet, for all their good intentions, they were unable to escape the prison of their environment—they were at best diplomats when what was needed was at least a statesman  or, better yet, a human being.
O’Shaughnessy came to Mexico on October 8th, 1913. Madero, with covert U.S. support had overthrown Diaz. The Henry Lane Wilson had aided and abetted Heurta in overthrowing Madero. Madero was murdered, perhaps with Wilson’s approval. Certainly Wilson did nothing to save him. At that time the Democrats took office and H.L. Wilson was recalled. For a time we had no representative in Mexico City., the O’Shaughnessy’s came as charge d’affaires. Their work was complicated by the presence of Henry Lind, Woodrow Wilson’s personal observer on the scene. Lind and O’Shaughnessy did not see eye to eye.
O’Shaughnessy had a diplomatic background. He had been stationed in Turkey, Russian, France. He had met all the best people, and he considered them the best of all possible people. He had a diplomat’s respect for power and those who wield it. All these traits his wife echoed.
In Mexico City he dealt with the government of Huerta, which Wilson would not recognize because it was stained with Madero’s blood. To the north, Carranza and Villa marched with rebel armies. Lind advised Wilson to arm these rebels and see that they got power: O’Shaughnessy advised him to recognize Huerta because (1) he had a legitimate claim on the presidency; (2) he had proved he could keep order. 
How great the appeal of legitimacy and order to the diplomatic mind. One or the other or both have been responsible for our major diplomatic blunders of modern times—our recognition of Franco, who could keep Spain quiet; our dalliance with Bagdolio, who was the legitimate premier; our support for George of Greece, who is as legitimate as he is anti-democratic.
But it is understandable. A diplomat’s function is to deal with governments, to make binding agreements. And for a binding agreement it is necessary to have a stable government. Legitimacy is an asset to stability, and stability is the sine qua non. So the diplomat thinks.
O’Shaughnessy thought that way. Very deeply. For example, his wife writes, “we visited the statue of Hidalgo, commemorating the spot where he met the viceregal forces in 1821. It always seems to me a sad spot, for when the Spaniards fell, with the exception of Diaz’s thirty years, the last stable government of Mexico also fell.” Later she says, “I keep thinking what a grand thing dictatorship is if it is on your side.” Dicatorships are stable and O’Shaughnessy wanted a stable government to negotiate with. So he pressed his recommendations for recognition of Huerta on Washington. Lind leaned just as hard upon the opposite wheel. So nothing happened, and Mexico tore herself apart with revolution.
In all this however, there is one gleam of hope. We did not take over Mexico. We did not commit the final aggression. And now, a quarter century later, we are firmly committed against such actions. We are fighting a war against those who commit them. We still feel a faint warmness toward Finland because she stood up to a nation that made demands which infringed upon her sovereignty. That we feel kindly toward Finland in spite of the fact that her fight against Russia then and now indirectly damages us is, I believe, a feather for us. We indirectly affirm the ideals for which we fight.
Feeling as we do, then, fighting aggression in two hemispheres, disapproving, at least tacitly, an aggression which has helped us, I hope we will never again backslide, we will never again arbitrarily use our power against the helpless. 
(After that I almost feel like an, “Amen.”)
I haven’t told you much about the hut because I am so seldom in it. I do most of my letters to you in the operating room in the quiet spots of the graveyard shift, and most of my reading in the recreation hall. The rest of the time I am either sleeping, eating, or going for a hike or to the library.
The only time that I am just sitting around in the hut—as I was so often just sitting around in the one at 980—is after sundown when we come in from the hikes. That is usually around ten or ten-thirty and Jack and I have a ritual of tea. We haven’t missed a night yet. We always drink a potful between the time of our arrival and the time for me to go to 11:30 chow or, in case I skip the meal, to the graveyard shift. Over the tea we swap stories, trading an account of Christmas dinner at the Ford’s for a bit about Fairbanks nightlife, or matching a bit about life in our pup tent with a piece about his life in a wanagan (a one-room sled-house) in Fairbanks. He lived in the damndest places. When the housing shortage was at its worst he spent two weeks in a big wall safe.
I had two letters from you today—the ones written July 10 and 11. Your mail is coming very regularly now and is the biggest part of my current lack of unhappiness. …
Haj’s passing Dr. Hartwick’s inspection please me greatly. Has she eaten anymore ducks or fences?
I am jealous of Bert Bogue’s visit to Bosham. Somehow it seems that little bit of England should be all ours (except for the English, of course!) the thought of a bombhole in the roof of that beautiful little house angers me. It is a personal affront, a gratuitous insult to humanity. To attempt to destroy a life so complete as that represented by the Hamblings is to strike at the essence of gentleness. And there could be no mistaking of anything near there for a military objective. Almost as bad is the thought that the great, impersonal war—not some very personal, individually hated Luftwaffe pilot—has browned that beautiful lawn.
I wonder who has Joan and Geoff’s house now. And I wonder about Karl and Hanni almost as much. And Jack and Mary still owe us a letter. You know, he probably was in on the invasion, “picking sand from his fingernails” on the Normandy beaches. Remember how he loved Mont  St. Michel?
I am sorry Myrtle isn’t moving in with you and hope that circumstances make it possible for her to make a third in the houseboat. But if not, I am at least glad she is so near. It should be a place of refuge, to you as well as to her. Does anyone know yet where Bill is going? Or is it a secret.
I still haven’t received any of the packages that are en route. For that matter, none of the second class mail has started reaching me yet. I should get a tremendous stack of newspaper and magazines and packages one of these days.
Don’t bother about the jackknife. It is not in the least important. If you run across a little turning can opener I might be able to use it next winter when they say the hotplate will be handy for making soup.
There are a lot more vegetables in our food here so I don’t need the lime and vitamin tablets so much. …But I’ll take them if you want me to.