28 January 1956
"When you come to the end of a perfect Menu…"—it’s an "eh" Saturday night aboard the dear old Ti,. I’ve just come back from the movies ("It Came from Beneath the Sea"--& you could smell it, too), finished typing the Bill of Fare for the week of 6 February 1956, & thought I’d sit down & have a little one-sided talk with you. I won’t say " the way we used to do," because we were very seldom under the same roof at the same time, & when we were, TV was always on. What on earth did we used to do before TV came along.
I remember vaguely the days when radio was the Messiah we bowed to; Lux Radio Theatre, Bob Hope, Fibber McGee & Molly, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, Truth or Consequences. But that was so long ago, when I’d sit on the floor at the little house & build card cities.
Funny the things that rush up—little memories that crowd to the front of your head & peek out through your eyes. I remember cocoa, & how cold my bed used to be when I’d crawl in at night, & how good it felt when it warmed up—Momma & Lucky & Jerry Moore & climbing trees. So much to remember.
I’m like a miser, only I try to hoard time. But, like quicksilver, it slips through my fingers & I can’t hold on to it. I try to catch it on paper, but it is like carrying water in a sieve.
Odd—I begrudge every single instant of it that passes & I lose, & yet I can’t wait until 196 days are up & I’m out of the Navy.
I’ve been cheated—something vital has been left out, or something extra added that I can’t control. Even in my relations to you---Mother, you remember when we were coming back from New Orleans—we were driving through Mobile & I tried to turn the wrong way into a one-way street—you teased me & I snapped at you & you started to cry. You knew then that I’d grown up, & I knew it too, & I wanted to cry, but I didn’t dare.
Men don’t cry—men must never cry. It is a basic part of our society & a really silly rule. Several times I’ve wanted to cry, & tried to—but it didn’t do any good.
And you, Dad—remember the first night in Norfolk, when I wanted you to sit down & look through my annual with me? You didn’t want to & I felt quite bad, because I wanted to show you everything that was familiar to me & make you understand them as I did.
How people should act & how people do act are entirely different. You know how it is—you build up a picture in you mind of something & it’s always perfect because it isn’t real.
It’s terrifying, in a way—you both know how I worshipped Uncle Buck. The last time I saw him, while home from college, my mind said "you will never see him alive again." And it didn’t faze me at all. It was as if I’d thought "Well, that finishes that tube of toothpaste." The last time he was Uncle Buck—my Uncle Buck—was that night we visited him at St. Anthony’s. After that, it was as if it were someone else.
As usual around this point in my narrative, I’d better say that I’m not at all in a bad or unhappy mood. I had no intentions of rambling on like this, but am glad I did.
Well, on to the more "news-from-a-happy-serviceman-writing-home-to-his-happy-parents" type thing.
Received the Anise at long last—they’re delicious & could set me off on another remembrance binge (especially those donut machines in the dime stores years & years ago). Sure would like some brownies. Sure would. Yep. Sure would. Also got the pocket books—which were all good—I’ve read two—send some more Science Fiction if you can.
Coutre is very fond of you, dad, ever since you agreed with him that I shouldn’t write "treason." He says next time he comes to Chicago, he’s going to drive out to Rockford with a fifth of Scotch, give me fifty cents & send me off to the movies while you & he rake me over the coals.
Be looking for a package around the end of next month—I forgot to insure it & only pray it gets there intact—several other guys have gotten gloomy letters from home telling of smashed dolls, tattered clothing, etc. Received by mail. I’m hanging on to your binoculars, dad, till I get home—only used them once, as I promised.
Well, mail closes out at midnight, & the Clan is gathering for our Saturday Night scuttlebutt session. More later.