Friday, March 30, 2012

Adak Island, late April 1944, “Letter No. 3”

Dearest Nunny…

My last letter,  a thirteen page opus entitled No. 2, probably will not get to you. It was written before I understood the censorship restrictions. These include no discussion of means of transportation. Just in case the letter does get to you, that one taboo should explain why ten or twelve pages are blank. From what I have been told of the local censor’s rules they are almost exactly the opposite of those under which my last two letters were written.

This place is surprisingly pleasant, at least today. The scenery is tremendous combining the best of Rucar, Patzcuaro and the Monterey peninsula, although there are no Rumanian women serving corn mush, Mexican gals serving tortillas or John Steinbeck serving Tortilla Flats. 

My duffle bag is now under a steel cot in a Pacific and I have the typewriter on a nice desk in another hut. I also have an impromptu desk, an overturned packing box, beside my bed. Tomorrow I have off to complete some of the details of getting established in the hut, but the next day there will be work in earnest.  

Bill Usedane, one of the Elliotts’ closest friends, is more or less looking after me here. He is frightfully busy at present, running one of the sections in the absence of its commissioned officer. But already we have established a rapport on the merits of Thomas Wolfe, an understanding reached over the fervent protests of Joe Miller, who thinks Wolfe the best modern writer. Joe is at another typewriter in the room, batting out a letter to his wife. 

I had four letters today: two from you, the first announcing Carmen’s [Rosa’s houseboat housemate, Carmen Fett] arrival and the second her success as a tortilla tippler. … One letter was from Ann Elmo saying she liked the story on the Huts and hopes to sell it very soon. She also asked where she should send the check for the piece in Adventure. The fourth letter was not really a letter at all. It was a pamphlet, reprinted from Journalism Quarterly, entitled: “Importance in Content Analysis: A Validity Problem.” The Author? Milton D. Stewart. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks terrific, with footnotes quoting such publications as “Sciometry, August, 1943,” “The Nazi Newsreel,” from Wartime Communications No. 61, and “Public Opinion Quarterly, VIII.” And so far into the addendum. Milt is identified as a former newspaper and magazine man, has worked with the Office of Radio Research , and with both the Bureau of Intelligence and the Overseas Branch of the Office of Information. God, when I think that kid is only 22 now I feel like crawling under a blanket and calling it a day. 

There is a local paper published here and the editor of it is Dashiell Hammett, the mystery writer. One of the kids that Bill Usedane introduced me to has had some stuff published in Esquire but has done very little writing since coming here. This kid, incidentally, was kicked out of the University of Chicago, for, it is rumored, radicalism.
Well, darling, although my cot does not look as comfortable as the one in the houseboat, it is inviting right now and I think that I had better turn in. This has been a rather busy day.

You are much loved, Nunny, and forever thought of.


For a short summary of Milt Stewart's career:

A good short history of Dashiell Hammet's paper, The Adakian:

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