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]

From THE HISTORY of the CHAPLAIN CORPS ' UNITED STATES NAVY
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.
M

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