Wednesday, October 25, 2006

19 January 1956

A very busy day—not for me necessarily; all I did was walk around & take pictures—but for the U.S.S. Ticonderoga (CVA-14). Starting at one o’clock this afternoon, we’ve had at least four ships pull up beside us—at one time there were two alongside at the same time. First came the stores ship Hyades, bringing us 116 tons of food. She had a hard time, for while she was sending us things, a destroyer pulled up on her other side, & she replenished it, too. It was fascinating to watch—I went way up to the 0-7 level (the seventh deck above the flight deck, in the island), & took two rolls of film on the whole process.

It was really a sight to remember—the huge carrier towering over the supply ship (which was no bathtub toy by itself), & on the other side of it the sleek, almost tiny destroyer, cutting a clean wake through the blue-green water.

Nothing was lost over the side or between-ships transfer, though the way some of those slings & nets were loaded & frayed, it’s a miracle. Some guy was carrying a case of tomatoes (canned) & threw them to the next one in line (storing & stacking is done on the old bucket-brigade principle), who didn’t catch it, & it dropped on the deck. An officer standing nearby proceeded to give the guy who’d thrown it a ten minute lecture on the necessity for the careful handling of food. He never quite finished, for at that moment a sling came swinging over from the Hyades, smacked into the side of the Ti, & spilled fifty cases of assorted canned goods all over the sponson deck. The officer shook his head & walked away.

Directly behind us, waiting for the Hyades to move off, was the Mercury, bringing small stores & other gear. Scattered around were oilers, tankers, destroyers, & other supply ships; and far off on the horizon, the Lake Champlain circled with her entourage of destroyers.

In one of dad’s latest letters, he cautioned me against going inland in any country hostile toward the U.S. Our next port is Augusta, Sicily, which I wouldn’t call exactly hostile—except that we must be back to the ship by sundown, & no one is permitted outside a certain area alone. They are having a tour to Catania & Syracuse, which I want very much to see, as it crops up in mythology & ancient history quite often. Here, beneath Mt. Etna (the only active volcano in the Med) lie the Titans, placed there by the Gods when the former were defeated by the Gods in a war to see who was more powerful. Their thrashing & moans cause the earthquakes & eruptions that plague the land.

I only have two money-spending ventures in mind for the remainder of the trip—one of them is going to Rome.

While talking with Nick the other day, I recalled a saying I’d heard a long, long time ago:
"He who knows not & knows not he knows not, he is a fool—shun him. He who knows not, & knows he knows not, he is ignorant—teach him. He who knows, & knows he knows, he is wise—follow him."

I enjoy digging up things from the back of my mind, as I do rummaging through my drawers & books at home, or walking down the corridors of a museum & hearing my footsteps echoing from the stone faces.

Coutre says for me to say hello to mother—everyone in the office likes her by proxy. I wish she’d send some more brownies. Which brings me once again to a favorite topic—I’m hungry. No, I guess I’m really not; eating to me is like smoking to others—I do it when there’s nothing else to do. You’d think I’d put on weight—but no.

I really have got to finish writing about Paris. I have five typewritten pages & haven’t even started—I’m telling you everything that happened. Well, onward….

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