Tuesday, December 26, 2006

9 - 10 May 1956

Dear Folks—

Surprise! It’s me, your long-lost son.---Roger---remember?---you know, the skinny, stupid-looking one? --- Yeah, I thought you’d remember.

Wonder what ever happened to my journal? Today’s would probably begin with "One hundred eight-eight days out of Norfolk, & no land in sight…"; sort of Mutiny on the Bounty-ish. Actually, we did sight land yesterday—two islands looking very romantic & mysterious; also a turtle, but I don’t think we could include him. The water is as clear & smooth as a tray of ice, though I doubt it is as cold. It’s an unbelievably beautiful blue, & you wonder how it can be so blue & so clear at the same time.

Oh, yes—dad’s binoculars will be on the way in the next few days—I finally got the box packed with paper tablecloths swiped from a storeroom. Also in there you will find eight or ten rolls of film (I want to see if they can get home all right via parcel post). You can look at them once if you wish, but I’m warning you it will get boring—three minutes of film, five minutes of winding & rewinding. Figured out the other night that I’ve spent well over $100 in film alone on this cruise! Oh, well, it’s worth it; to me, anyway.

Had GQ today for the first time in days (never have it in port). Worked our little rear-ends off for a change, rigging emergency power lines. This ship—or rather its designers—thought of almost everything. At regular intervals, no more than fifty feet apart in any direction throughout the entire ship, are small, round boxes with a triangular spacing of holes approximately the size of a dime. The boxes are black & by each hole is a white A, B, or C. Above each letter is a raised dot—one for A, two for B, & 3 for C; these are tipped in white, & they & the letters are luminous, & can be seen in the dark. By each of these boxes is a coil of heavy, rubber insulated cable, in some cases several. These can be attached from box to box (three wires at each end of the cable—one with one raised circle—it’s yellow--, one with two circles—red—& one with three—black.) It sounds complex, but there’s a reason—you put the wrong wire in the wrong socket in the dark & you get electrocuted.

We did it in the maximum time allowed, only to find we were on the wrong side of the ship. If it were a real emergency, the flight deck would be about sixty feet under water by the time we got it rigged.

Now only 94 days left. As I said in my last letter (dated 4 May 1834), the way the time goes is wonderful for whittling away the days left, but it’s hell on letter writing.

Yesterday morning a batch of German Admirals arrived on board—there’s more brass around her today than on a ton of doorknobs. Germany may not have a Navy, but she’s sure got a lot of Admirals. They’ve been prowling around the ship all day.

This afternoon, while watching flight operations, a landing plane blew one of the German Captains’ hat over the side. And what did we do; let it go at that? What—& lose all that gold braid? Heavens to Betsy, no! We sent out our helicopter after it—one of the crew members was lowered down on a hoist while a destroyer raced to the scene. The helicopter won, & the Captain got back his hat, soggy but intact.

Replenishment again the 20th of this month; our biggest yet—280 tons of food. That’s 550,000 pounds. Burp.

Bought myself a pair of gloves from Ship’s Store tonite. Don’t know what material it is. (Chief thinks pigskin—I can’t tell, but it doesn’t look like a football.) They’re light tan & cost $3.50. I like them. Hmmm—there’s a goat’s picture on the cellophane bag they came in—maybe it’s goat skin. How much do they cost in the States?

I only made one purchase in Athens—incidentally, their cloth was very poor quality—it all looked like flour sacks.

Word has it that there are three plane-loads of mail on board. That probably means two postcards & a newspaper. If gossip & rumors could be packaged, they’d make the greatest fertilizer the world has ever known.

Just been thinking again what a rat I am for not having written—I know how I feel if one mail call goes by without my getting a letter, so I can imagine how you feel now that four days or more have gone by without a word.

Well, all apologies being made & forwarded, I’d best close now & write to Lirf—incidentally, I see where they’ve quarantined his entire ship (the cruiser Toledo) after the outbreak of a throat infection. Oh, well….



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