Friday, September 22, 2006

7 December 1955

14 years ago today, on a chilly but bright Sunday afternoon, I stood in Aunt Thyra’s living room & listened to the tall, ornate wooden radio announce that United States military bases & ships in Oahu Island, Hawaii, had been attacked by planes of the Imperial Navy; no one knew the exact number of casualties as yet, but the death toll was undoubtedly high. And so a stunned & shocked America saw herself thrown into the longest, bloodiest war in her history.

Today, aboard the USS Ticonderoga anchored off Genoa Italy, a ship where 345 men died in one day of that war, not a word was said—none remembered. Wars are forgotten so soon, as are the lessons they taught….

My cold is much better today—that is to say, I have it under a semi-control; it only bothers me when I cough.

I neglected to mention yesterday that in the brief time I was in Genoa, I manage to throw away 600 Lire! For this fabulous sum, I bought one pizza, one beer, one glass of wine, one Time magazine, & four chocolate covered cherries (unpitted), one of which is still in my peacoat pocket & must be disposed of. It is a little less shocking to consider that 600 Lire equals roughly 90 cents in American money.

Just checking my drawer, & found about six pages of accumulated scrawlings not mailed home yet. I’ll do it tonite. Of course, the six pages does not include my Paris adventures. I’ve finished it up to the point of the first half of the first day, & already have eight pages. By the time I finish it, it should about equal Gone With the Wind in volume.

No weather report forthcoming in today’s entry, as the only time I stuck my little head outside it was very early & almost dark.

The major problem of the day seems to be the Christmas Present Situation. Oh, woe—what to do. As for myself, I’m already resigned to the idea that there just won’t be a Christmas this year—just pretend they left it off the calendar. But what a dirty thing to do to the folks back home—it will still be Xmas for them. But I’ve decided I won’t send anything home, though I have presents for everybody. A present will do no good if it doesn’t get there, or if it arrives in forty or fifty pieces.

Nick was rummaging through my billfold this evening (with my permission) & when he got through, everything was lying in a huge mound in the center of the MAA’s desk. So I sorted through it, & put away all the movie ticket stubs from Los Angeles & Miami & New York, & my entrance pass to the Louvre Museum in Paris, & my special request chits (one requesting to go to NAS in the Uniform of the Day for band practice—the other asking to get off early to meet dad at the airport in Norfolk), & dozens of other things. Not one of them is worth anything, but to me it tells a story (of great depth & pathos) of my adventures & misadventures in this cruel world. Every single scrap of paper means something very special to me, if to no one else.

Nothing of vital interest to write about today’s activities, for I am sure you care little about how to type up menu cards, or the procedure for running off stencils for next week’s meals.
Mail arrived on board tonight, but since it is now almost 9:45, there is not much chance of there being a mail call.

Ah, to be a civilian again. If this trip does nothing else for me, it will be a constant reminder to me how wonderful America is, with all its faults.

So, with the playing of the Star Spangled Banner in the background, I will bid you goodnight….

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