Sunday, November 19, 2006

1 March 1956

Dear Folks

Just been talking over "old times" with a kid who wants to join the NavCads. I have an awful lot to be proud of—things most other guys would never dream of doing. Up to the point, that is, where they ask "Well how come you quit?"

In my locker I still have a box of stationery from Pensacola & in it an unfinished letter saying I didn’t think I’d be with the NavCads very long.

July 15—that’s an awful long time, Mom—it will have been over a year since I saw you last—that’s a year too long.

I hope you’ve received (probably one with this letter) the two large envelopes I sent yesterday & the day before. You know, at times I think: "Now suppose you got off the boat at Fleet Landing & there were Mom & Dad." Then I think of all the things I’d show you & everything we could do--& wonder if you’d be as thrilled with it all as I’d want you to be.

Let’s face it, parents—you have a weird son. But personally, I’d be bored green to be average.

Chief Sewell & I spent a good two hours today hotly debating whether, if war came & we were cut off in the Mediterranean (it would be very easy—there are only two ways out—Gibraltar & the Suez), & if we had expended our bombs, planes, & fuel, we would surrender the ship intact or scuttle. I claimed that rather give the enemy a potential weapon to be used against us somewhere else, we would most definitely sink ourselves. The Chief contended that we wouldn’t dare sink 200,000,000 dollars of the taxpayer’s money—that we should put into port & surrender, having first disabled all our guns & instruments, in hopes that we’d be able to take it back by force or it would sit in port till the American armies (victorious as ever) should come & recapture it. He claimed I was very stubborn because I couldn’t agree. What do you think?

"What in hell good reason would we have for sinking it?"

"So they couldn’t get it."

"There are 3,000 men on this thing—what are they supposed to do?"

"We have lifeboats & life jackets."

"You know how long they’d last in that water? We haven’t got that many lifeboats to begin with."

"So you’d going to sail blissfully into port & say: ‘Here we are, take us’? Oh, no, Chief. If you were kicking me in the face, I wouldn’t offer you my shoes."

And so on into the night. We finally agreed that we would make a run for it, even if we knew we could never make it, & go down fighting.

The United States Sixth Fleet—consisting entirely of thirty-five ships, including two submarines, & two aircraft carriers, is right now in the awkward position of a sacrificial lamb.

But we only have 107 days until we get back to the good old U.S.; & only 163 until I get out.

Still plowing through poetry—I’m some 746 pages deep now, reading Shelly. I especially like his

I met a traveler from an antique land,
Who said: Two vast & trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, & sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well that visage read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, & the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, & despair!:"

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless & bare,
The lone & level sands stretch far away.

And on that cheerful note, I leave you with




Eric said...

My Dad read me Ozymandius when I was akid - never forgot it. Kind of humbling, ain't it.

Dorien/Roger said...


Humbling, indeed. It's always been one of my favorites. Glad you like it, too.