This will be a very short letter, I’m afraid. This week will be the hardest we’ll have (or rather, "we’ve had") Today we marched for two hours—the sergeant bawled me out four times, grabbed me by the back of the neck once, & twisted my thumb once when I had it extended when it shouldn’t have been.
For dad’s question as to how far Mobile is, it’s 50 miles.
August 27, 1954
I don’t remember when I started this letter, but here it is Friday. We had inspection today, & your loving son went down with all hands, colors flying. It seems that the raincoat is hung in back of the pants, not in front. Therefore, "These men (my locker partner & I) are not ready for inspection." The moral of this little tale is that I am now the proud possessor of at least five demerits & am cordially invited to spend one or more hours on the "Grinder" (affectionate name for the drill field).
Tomorrow we move to Battalion II, which will, I gather, be our home till we graduate. We will all be very sorry to leave our kind, considerate Sergeants Calahan & Jones behind. I told you over the phone of my experiences with these two lovable gentlemen. One day last week, while marching our usual two hours in the outdoor blast furnace called Florida, I wasn’t up to my usual miserable par. Among the Sergeant (Calahan)’s other comments to me were "Lad," (a name he calls everyone—Jones calls us "son"), "if you don’t keep that damn thumb of yours in, I’m going to break it off." (This he punctuated by twisting it half out of its socket). "Put your feet together, lad, you remind me of Charlie Chaplin", & finally "You’re all f----e d up today, aren’t you, boy?" The language employed by Marine sergeants isn’t always, I’m afraid, of the Tea-time-in-the-parlor caliber.
Somewhere in Pensacola there is a very rich man who is getting richer every day. He owns a laundry, which is being supported for the greatest part by innocent NavCads. It has been estimated, & this is a conservative estimate, that the average NavCad spends approximately $20 a month on cleaning bills. Granted, the prices are reasonable, but every day almost everything must be sent to be cleaned.
Dad asked me the other night if I liked it—that is a very hard question to answer. It’s like when the dentist fills your tooth full of Novocain & then asks If you like the drilling—you can’t feel a thing, but you don’t like the principle of it.
I don’t know what life in Bat. II will be like, but I can only hope it will be an improvement over this.
The other day we had a lecture (one of many) on what was expected of us, & how we are graded. They grade 38% on academic work, 28% on military skills (mine are nil) & 44% on Physical Training, at which I am miserable. Those percentages may not be exact, but they’re approximate. So I can expect to be dropped at any time.
I won’t be too terribly unhappy, ‘cause two years is better than four any day.
Well, I have about five letters to write, so I’d better do it while I have the chance.
Don’t forget what I said about notifying the Red Cross in case of emergency! It’s the only way I can get an emergency leave. I hope I never have to have one, but if so, do it right.
Write soon, & I’ll see you at Xmas.
P.S. Oh, Mother, dear…it’s NAVAL, not NAVEL.