Saturday, June 17, 2006

September 1, 1954

Dear Folks—

Today is Sept. 1, 1954. It is a memorable date for two reasons. The main one is that today is the day the flies came to Pensacola. It seems they have been up in the swamps somewhere, breeding with mosquitoes. This afternoon they descended in force upon us while we were, appropriately, dressed in nothing but our PT shorts & shirts. Naturally, they would wait until we were standing at attention; one drew blood, which trickled down my leg.

Up until today, the local fly population has been conspicuous in its absence. I can’t recall seeing any at all since I’ve been down here. Of course, I hadn’t given it too much thought previously, my mind being occupied with other things than the absence of our little winged friends.

The animal (or rather insect) population around here is fortunately sparse. But one variety is present in abundance. What they lack in quality they more than make up for in quantity. These little beasties are to be found under, around, in, over, & on food in the mess hall. If sold by the pound, they would bring someone a tidy profit. But there doesn’t see, to be much of a market for cockroaches this season. ----- I got paid today! Hooray!!

For the past two days we have been engaged in PT class in doing two solid hours of calisthenics. Not of the old "1-2-3" variety. We also then must run around two hangers (two large hangers) twice in a figure 8.

Sept.. 3, 1954. I mentioned running—today we have to run three miles to an obstacle course! I only hope I make it. And after we complete the obstacle course, we must run back again. Then we get haircuts & then we can go on liberty.

(Later) Got your letter today & one yesterday—Me? Discouraged? Don’t be silly—I think the whole thing is hysterically funny (with the emphasis on hysterical). I especially enjoy little things like we did today. We ran out to the obstacle course as I said we were going to. It is located roughly three miles from anywhere, near a bay (across which can be seen a town—it may be Pensacola, but is more likely Washington, DC) . The average time for the obstacle course is 1 minute & 36 seconds. The ground is sand, which makes running almost impossible. Two men start out at a time, at twenty-second intervals. You run about fifty feet, jump over (you may use your hands) a five foot fence—about seventy-five feet from that is a maze accommodating two men—for each man there is only one way in & one way out. About two hundred feet from the maze is a twenty-foot-long ladder-wall over which you must climb; fifty feet from that is a series of five log-fence-like obstructions; under one, over the next, under the next, etc. Then comes a large low place under which you’ve got to crawl., Next comes two comparatively short hurdles (3 ft.). Now there is a clear curve, which brings you back in the direction you started; it goes slightly down-hill for about three hundred feet. At the bottom is a twelve-foot water hole (you’re supposed to jump over it, but by this time you’re lucky if you get within six feet of the outer edge). Now you’re almost back—only two more obstructions. As it is uphill, there are two straight stretches with a step-like effect to climb over (or crawl, as the case may be) A hundred foot stretch, and you’re through.

Your little boy fell flat on his face after crossing the finish line & was almost sick. At that I fared better than a lot of guys, some of whom really got sick. I made it in 207 seconds—the average for our class being 206. It is days like this that make me wish I were dead & not in Uncle Sam’s Navy. Don’t get me wrong, though—I’m not discouraged—just tired.

On the way back we walked—no one was in any condition to run, & I, to keep moving, made minute observations of the local flora & fauna. I shall never again be able to sit through a movie short in which the glories & virtues of Florida plant life is extolled.

Well, enough of that. My uniforms—I was issued three of them. Tropical, Blues & Greens. Also I got (earlier last week) six khaki shirts & four khaki pants. In addition to these, my entire wardrobe consists of two khaki fore-&-aft (overseas) caps, one bridge cap (something vaguely like dad’s old sheriff’s office hat) with four different covers (blue, khaki, white, & tropical).

Tropicals, incidentally, are almost the same color as khaki, only lighter & of a lighter material. They are the kind with the shoulder-boards. I had my picture taken in it the other day—if they turn out good (which I doubt) I’ll order a big one. My blue is for winter. It is heavy Navy blue with all the shiny buttons. I only hope I’m in the program long enough to wear it home for Xmas
I should, providing I don’t get dropped out, be through with pre-flight in early December. I wish you could come down if I graduate, but I won’t get my wings for another 14 months.

Well, enough of everything for now. I’ll send you a card from New Orleans (if I ever get there).
So long for now



P.S. I also got two pairs of shoes (black & brown) which must glisten in the sun. Kiss Stormy for me & don’t forget to send my camera (loaded).


Eric said...

I would never have lasted; did you consider just packing it in? So far, you describe in your sarcastic way the daily routine, the surroundings & weather etc, but curiously very little about your fellow inmates in HELL.

Dorien/Roger said...

No, I never ever considered "packing it in" I knew from the beginning that I probably wouldn't last in the program but I vowed (as you'll see in some future letters) they could get rid of me if they wanted, but I would never ask to get out.

And sarcastic? Me? Hmmmm.

The point about not saying much about my fellow cadets is an excellent one, and I'd never realized it before. I think I was so concentrating on just getting through from day to day that I didn't have time to think about anyone else.