September 19, 1955 Started at 6.35 p.m.
I have a very few minutes before I must begin "hitting the books" again, so I’ll take this time to write you. I didn’t get a chance to write Friday night & here it is Sunday already. The week goes too slowly, & the weekends go too fast.
Before I forget, there is one thing I neglected to mention about New Orleans that I thought was odd—almost every single-unit house is narrow, one-storied, & has three floor-length windows & a door, which is usually on the left side. Most of these also all have shutters which are generally closed. And they invariably all have pillared porches.
This week in P.T. we’ve been having swimming, as I may have mentioned. Friday we all jumped off a twelve-foot platform into twenty feet of water. It was so much fun I sneaked back in line & jumped again. We also got a chance to see the "Dilbert Dunker" in action. At the far end of the pool there is a steep ramp made of what appear to be two railroad ties or I beams. About twelve or fifteen feet up is the "Dunker." It is an actual airplane cockpit, cut off just in back of the engine. It sits atop the ramp, with pulleys keeping it up. I’ll bet you can’t guess what it’s for, so I’ll tell you.. A few weeks before graduating, you get all dressed up in flight gear, which includes parachute & all accessories; you climb up & get in the cockpit. They strap you in, as in a real flight. Then when you’re all nice & cozy, they pull a lever which releases the dunker & you go roaring down the ramp to smash into twenty feet of water. To make things interesting, when it hits the water, it overturns. Now all you have to do is get out of there. They give you one minute & then they come under & get you. Doesn’t it sound like jolly-good, all-around, rip-snorting fun? I can hardly wait (but I’ll try).
Today I wandered over to the Survival Training Building, which is just ahead of the swimming pool. In front of the building is a crashed Corsair. Inside are all sorts of Survival exhibits, from one-man life rafts to an entire PBY (large water-plane). The building is literally built around this plane; one half is inside & the other is out (it is the oddest effect from the outside—the building runs right down the middle of the airplane). The plane is cut away so that you can see its entire interior—they have dummies at the controls & at the various stations throughout the plane.
There are exhibits for survival in the sea, in the arctic, & in the jungle. Attached to the building is a greenhouse, wherein grow as many jungle plants & trees as they can fit in, including two banana trees. And out in back, in a large cage, is a six-foot alligator named Herman.
I really wish you could come down & see this place. Which reminds me—I’m going to have a devil of a time getting home Xmas—for one thing, I don’t know when I’ll be getting off, & for another, I don’t know where I’ll be. By December, I should be through with pre-flight (I hope, I hope, I hope) & when pre-flight is completed, they send you to any one of five bases located between here & Mobile, Ala. And I’ll have to have reservations ahead of time, because around Xmas everything that moves, crawls, or flies will be jammed with servicemen.
Well, it seems as how this is my week to be room captain, a nasty job with entails cleaning up everyone else’s mess. If anything is wrong in the room, no matter who did it, the room captain is put on report.
So, with your kind permission, I shall answer the call of the doorknobs. Until next time I am
P.S. Enclosed is a hymn the NavCad choir sings in church every Sunday. It is much prettier with the music, but I though you might like it, so I tore it out of the hymnal and am sending it home.
Undated and unknown: part of a letter? Just notes to me?
One instance I always remember about this time—It was a favorite pastime of the kids in my neighborhood to lay in the back yard & look up at the clouds. There is nothing so wonderful as a child’s imagination—it is relatively "untouched by human hands", and possesses a true magic; nothing is impossible. The clouds are elephants and ships and trees and dog—anything. One afternoon, all the other kids were called in to lunch—I stayed in the yard, watching the clouds..
To the Northeast was a large, billowy cloud. Suddenly, the cloud split down the middle & parted.
There in the center of the rift, surrounded by blue sky and the broken cloud, was a face. I can still see it—I am positive I did not imagine it, & it could not possibly have been part of the cloud.
He, whoever it was, had a black curly beard, & very rosy cheeks—his eyes, I think, were blue—he was smiling. He wasn’t looking in my direction; his gaze was to the Southwest—slowly his eyes moved, & at last he looked directly down on me. I can never forget—he stopped smiling; the cloud came together, & he was gone.