29 January 1955
Well, here I am per order. I’m afraid I have neither the time to make it a short novel nor the talent to make it a literary masterpiece. Nevertheless, I am doing my best to keep you informed as to my life & hard times.
Enclosed find a gem from Time Magazine—its coverage of the Shah’s arrival. They seem to have taken a rather dim view of the Sans Souci’s valiant efforts. One or two slight mistakes slipped in in the rush—he didn’t drive up in his $23,000 Rolls Royce—it was there when he got there. I didn’t notice the red carpet, but then I didn’t notice much of all. Fortunately, there was no mention made of the band. Oh, by the way, the Marine Commandant (Lemual Sheppard) was the one we played for at Birmingham..
I think I did see the frantic press agent, though. He was bouncing up & down & waving like mad, evidently to get their attention.
I actually got to fly (once) last week. Thursday I couldn’t because my instructor had some duty or other; Friday he had to go to Los Angeles. I have hopes for next week. You know, I like to watch the weather around here. Usually it comes up fast—the day will be perfectly clear & all (or almost all) of Corry’s 208 planes will be out. Then, in the northwest, black clouds will start rolling in, & all the SNJs will flock in, like yellow chicks hurrying home to the mother hen.
And when you do get into the air & look around, all you can see are varying size yellow blobs. It’s a wonder they never collide in mid air—especially since the instructor sits in the rear cockpit and can’t see a thing.
My phonograph is on the blink—I’m going to have to take it down town today & see what’s wrong. Also have to buy another needle, & an O.D.Jacket. And you wonder why I don’t save money!
Yesterday afternoon while on our way to band, we noticed a huge, billowing cloud of smoke rising from somewhere in the city. It looked like pictures you see of volcanic eruptions. When we got to Mainside (Pre-Flight) we could look across the bay & see flames. Several freight cars of chemicals had exploded in the railroad yards—firemen who knew a lot about fighting wood fires but very little about chemical fires, poured water on the flames which only made the chemicals burn more fiercely. The reaction caused by the water on the burning chemicals (Sodium-something-or-other) threw another chemical into the clouds of smoke. It turned out that the result was a dust which could eat paint off cars. So all that night the radio kept broadcasting to the area residents to wash their cars & put them away. Fortunately, though, most of the smoke blew out over the gulf—the government would have been very unhappy if the smoke had blown over their pretty yellow SNJs.
Tonight, lucky me, I have a watch from 0200 to 0600 (a.m.) And I also get it next weekend; same hours.
Oh, in case I forgot to tell you—I passed both my finals (just barely). I don’t get it—I’m not stupid, yet I just can’t get some things right.
Well, short as it is, this will have to do for now. I’ll try to write again soon.
Till then, I am
P.S. I’ve decided I can’t wait till I get my wings to get a car. When I get to Saufley Field & Barin, I won’t have any way at all of getting into town. So I’ll just have to start saving my money & buy some old heap—anything that will run