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…

M

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