18 February 1956
Tonight am Armed Forces Entertainment group came aboard to present a sort of musical variety show called "Go West Young Man." Most of them are English & some, I suspect, French; but they sang & danced to American songs & wore western costumes. They were not, by far, the most polished of theatrical troupes, but they certainly boosted the morale of a bunch of America-sick sailors. They had eight girls, two of whom I fell in love with—both brunettes, for a change; it was wonderful to look at some half-civilized women after these plain rag dolls one sees here in Europe. At the moment they’re eating cake & drinking coffee on the mess deck after the show, but naturally the MAAs are out in force to keep the peons away.
I had toyed with the idea of going ashore today—Nick & Cou did—but changed my mind to save money for Rome. Even at that, I’ll only have thirty dollars to take with me.
Peter Paul caught me on the ladder leading from the after mess deck to inform me he was all ready to go, except for getting Lire exchanged.
"I'm gonna take along just one pair of blue pants, & a pair of dungarees to sit around in at night. We won't want to wear blues all day & all night, too."
Now, just what he means by that, I have no idea. I can't imagine what he thinks we'll be doing just 'sitting around,' but for myself, I plan to do other things than sit in a hotel room & stare at four blank walls & Peter Paul's face.
Ah, woe is me….
A moment’s reflection on my health shows that, aside from a case of the snorts, my cold remains firmly entrenched somewhere between my nose & the top of my head. While walking down a passageway this afternoon, I rammed the back of my hand—just below the base knuckle of my middle finger—into a hatch-dog. Now the whole hand hurts, especially when I move my fingers. However, if that is all I ever have to worry about, it will be all right.
Yesterday we had a vendor come aboard to sell us 400,000 pounds of flour, tons of meat, & a great quantity of cheese. Nick took an immediate dislike to him because he was impatient & carried an umbrella (he was quite young, wore large glasses & one of those hideous horse blankets they have the audacity to call overcoats). With him was his assistant, or side-kick, or accomplice, or whatever, equally well attired. This one spoke no English & looked as though he’d just gotten out of school.
The Commander’s signature was required on one of the contracts, & the Commander himself was in his stateroom, sleeping. "When will the Commander wake up? When will he be able to sign the papers?"
We tried to explain that one does not go bounding into a Commander’s stateroom gaily waving a set of contracts, but it didn’t seem to penetrate. Finally, saying he had business ashore but that he would return shortly, he took his umbrella & departed, leaving his cohort to hold down the fort. So he sat. I looked at Nick; looked at the kid, & the kid looked at the floor. Nick brought him a sandwich, which he ate with great relish (it was on an Italian roll we’d gotten that morning). After an hour or so, he decided "I go." Cou had called from the Supply Office to hold him there. It took us awhile, but we finally got it across that he was to "wait for our boss."
The umbrella man came back at last & said for Nick to tear up all the contracts. Then he & his friend left.
Mr. Clower came in shortly after & said he’d found out that they were not affiliated with any government recognized suppliers—that they’d been fired six weeks before.
Nick was pleased. Then, as an afterthought, he said: "And to think I gave that crumb a sandwich."