Feb. 4-7 1956
Excuse the large space of daylight between this & preceding letters, but I just haven’t been able to even think straight for the last few days. Started a letter two or three days ago, but when I went to continue it just now, my pen blobbed ink all over, so here we go again.
Before I forget—stop in at the post office & get some 1040-A income tax forms sent me. About four, if you will, in case I goof.
Saw six rolls of the film I’ve gotten back; on the whole, they’re excellent. On pan shots they blur a little; I’ve got to learn to go slower. So far, I’ve got about 300 feet of film.
Yesterday I and one of the other mess cooks, a kid named Stevens, decided to go to Nice to take some pictures. Nice is about a forty-five minute train ride from Cannes, & the scenery is pretty, even though everything had snow on it; even the orange trees with fruit on them & green things in gardens. Evidently it doesn’t snow too often around here. Far in the distance were the French Alps, & on the right the beautiful tri-colored surf (brownish-grey along the beach, fading into milk blue, finally the ink-blue of the deep sea).
One reason for going to Nice was to see the Mardi Gras, or at least the decorations. Nice struck me as being a clean town, more like America than most other European cities. Since the sun has been hiding ever since we got to Cannes, I took only two shots of the decorations on the main square.
We found our way, completely by accident, to the USO, & there had free hot dogs served on delicious French bread.
After that, we meandered back to the railroad station, stopping in one or two places—once to play a pinball machine because Steve liked the girl behind the counter, another to buy some little wine-bottle salt & pepper shakers. Somewhere along the line we started drinking white wine. When we got back to Cannes (pronounced Kahn), we stopped in at a small bar, where we ran into Mordeno, who was well on his way to extinction. He insisted on buying us several drinks, all the time telling us, like a reverse Elizabeth Barrett Browning, how many ways he hated the Navy.
After awhile he decided to move on to another bar, far across town, & wanted us to join him. I said thanks just the same, but we really had to be getting back to the ship—we didn’t, but if we stayed with him we’d never get back. But we got in the taxi with him—he said he’d drop us at fleet landing. He got out first.
To shorten a lengthy tale, as it’s near taps—we went from bar to bar, wound up with a six year old bottle of wine—dusty bottle & all, talking Spanish to a nice blonde who is engaged to a guy off the Yellowstone—one of our replenishment ships.
By the time we left the bar, Steve could still walk, but just barely. He wandered in to another bar, sat down & ordered another glass of wine (at this point we had 120 Francs & an American dime between us). So we had one last drink & I half-dragged, half-carried him back to fleet landing. A large crowd had gathered there, waiting for a boat. One finally came, pulled up to the dock, & shut off the motor.
"Boating has been secured for the night."
And us with 10 cents!!
Thank Allah for small favors, we found another Mess Cook who still had money; he loaned us 500 Francs &, after five hotels, we found a single room. Steve & I took it, & the other guy went on to another hotel. We were lucky—200 guys ended up sleeping in bars, in Shore Patrol headquarters, the USO, or walking the streets.
Ah, such fun! First time I’d slept on dry land since November.
Well, hate to cut this short, but if I don’t mail it tonight, it’ll be another six months.