Friday, December 29, 2006

14 May 1956

Dear Folks

I went to "quarters for entering port" as a participating member for the first time since we left the States. It was a nice day, the sky cluttered with nondescript clouds that never seemed to get in the way of the sunlight.

We entered Rhodes, Greece, close on the tail of the heavy cruiser Newport News, & were among the first ships in. All day long the other ships came—more heavy cruisers than I knew we had over here—four of them in all; cargo ships, supply ships, transports; in the late afternoon the destroyers came, precise as a drill team & graceful as a ballet; all looking like mirror images of one another. Landing craft & their mother ships, submarines, & odd little semi-destroyers. God knows how many are here; from a mountain we counted 22, & later saw more on the other side of the island.

Rhodes itself is shaped something like a ship, with the bow pointing toward the massive, shrouded hills of Turkey. Rhodes (the city of) is located at the end of the island, & at the very tip, which comes to a distinct point about twenty feet across, is an aquarium, standing all by itself since there is no room for much else.

At 1300 today, Lloyd & I decided to go over. It was almost 1420 (2:30) by the time we got there, & the first thing we did was hunt a bicycle shop. One of the mess cooks, a kid from the south—at the base of the hills if not in them—named Thompson came with us.

We rode. And we rode. And then we rode some more—most of it uphill. We must have been at least five miles from the town. From a flat mountain on which someone was growing wheat, we looked out & down at the ships & the town. It was very pretty, but I had chosen to run out of film a few moments before.

The road we had originally intended on taking ran along the sea; we obviously made a wrong turn somewhere, & ended up in the mountains. A little gravel road, like some country lanes back home, sprouted off the main road & meandered into the trees. We followed, hoping it might go down—it did, through pine trees, past small farms where the people stopped work in the fields to watch us go by—down & down; we had to keep constantly on the hand brakes or we would have gone splattering all over the countryside.

After four happy hours in the saddle, we got back to the ship. Oh, my poor legs!

Mail closed out ten minutes ago, but I’ll see if I can make it.



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