12 - 13 May 1956
I am deeply puzzled—our Captain spoke over the intercom a while ago & said he would give us the rest of our schedule. We’re returning to Rhodes, which I was glad to hear; we get there Monday. But that isn’t what bothers me. June 18 we arrive in Gibraltar for one day, to take on Attack Squadron 66; from there, on the 19th, we will proceed to the United States, to arrive there on 27 June.
"Where" I asked Coutre, "is the United States?"
"Far across the sea, my son" he said.
"Is it nice there?" I queried.
"They probably won’t give us any liberty," he answered.
"Why? Are we at war with them?"
"No, but they say human beings live there."
"Gee," I said, my voice in an awed hush: "I’ve never seen a human being before…."
Tonite, after the movie, I walked out to the foc’sle & watched the stars, as I did when I was little and allowed such things as dreams. And I thought again how little they were, & how very far away—so far that it takes millions of years for their light to reach us. I never fail to think: "Around some of those stars are planets, & on some of those it is night, and someone, somewhere is looking up at their stars & see our own sun as a dot of light."
And then I get…homesick?…for the stars, & feel cheated & hurt to think that I won’t be around when man steps out of his playpen & goes calling on his neighbors. Someone once said "Everyone has 20/20 hindsight." When someone has a dream, & it is fought for with minds & bodies, & generations have died—some of them violently—for their dreams; then, when it is finally accepted, those same people who laughed & threw stones say: "Why sure, I saw it all coming years ago…."
When we began this cruise, there seemed to be lots of time for writing letters (& there was—six months), but now with only 45 days until we get back, I have no time at all. Oh, well, the mail didn’t go off yesterday, so it doesn’t really matter—you’re getting two letters in one envelope, that’s all. As you may have gathered, it is now Sunday (or rather one day later than the previous paragraphs).
Tomorrow we pull into Rhodes, & I want to go over & rent a bicycle. We won’t have much time until it gets dark, but it should be fun.
Oh, yes---Oh, yes, what? Left the sentence there for three hours’ fruitless attempt at sunbathing. You should have seen that flight deck—all we needed were Confederate uniforms & Scarlett O’Hara & it would have been exactly like the railroad station scene from Gone with the Wind. I’ll bet there were more guys above decks than below.
Of course after three hours of sunlight reflecting off white pages (I was reading) & having no sunglasses, everything here below has a nice yellowish tint.
Took a shower this morning, & looks like I’ll have to take one again, since I smell of suntan lotion (57 % alcohol—some guys drink it). You think they don’t? I know for a fact that certain cooks have an arrangement with Sick Bay whereby they get & drink the alcohol used to clean surgical instruments!
Just came back from another shower & clothes-changing. I can still smell that lotion. Oh, well, maybe it’ll wear off in a few weeks.
I can see now I’m going to be a busy boy tomorrow—Mr. Clower has presented me with 12 letters to type, plus the next week’s menus, plus 135 Replenishment Orders (13 pages each) I’ve got to assemble.
Speaking of money—let’s.. By the time we get back, I should have almost $300 saved. For souvenirs & film, I’ve spent already about $300 or more. When I get out, I’ll get credit for 43 days leave—about $170, if they pay me full time for it. Plus my $100 getting out pay, plus travel pay. The way I figure it, it should be about $600. That’s the way I figure it—how the government figures it is something entirely different,.
Mail closes at 1000 tomorrow morning, so I’d best get this mailed. It’s Mother’s Day, I see—hope you got the flowers.
Well, enough for now. See you later.