11 - 12 June 1956
"You know, I’ve always wondered—how come you can touch the rails on an electric train & not get a shock?"
The train the Chief was speaking of was of the Lionel variety. This led into further mysteries, such as "What makes the whistle blow?" & awesome observations along the line of "I saw this one once, where it had a cattle car that made noises, & then when it stopped the cows came out on a ramp & went back in again. No they didn’t walk, they slid."
Oh, well, as has been said before—it’s been a long cruise.
As for myself, after having read another book, I sit chewing the skin around my fingernails—the nails themselves are more or less intact. The movie on the mess decks tonite is "The Gun that Won the West"—a light situation comedy, I gather.
The USS Ticonderoga Literary & Letter-Writing Guild is gathering for its nightly meeting, armed with ink-less or leaky pens, pencil stubs, & writing paper of varying quality. They use these only as props, however, & their motto appears to be "Silence is Coal."
Andy, one of the members, has a cold—I keep waiting for the next sniffle, which is on the same level of mental agony as the Chinese Water Torture.
One of the mess cooks, Andres (a boy from Durand, Ill.), fell asleep while sun bathing & now resembles a cherry popsicle. He’s in agony, but since it is a court martial offense to become sunburned so badly it interferes with your work, he’s working.
News is that we’re planning on playing games tomorrow morning about 0430 (again). If it would be all right with them, I’d just as soon not join in, but that would dampen the "camaraderie" & jolly good humor which is expected of eager young sailors of His Majesty’s Fleet.
My name is back on the list at Personnel—only about fifty guys ahead of me. By my name is "5 August," which means I must be back in the States by 5 August—one week before discharge. We get back on the 3rd. Oh, well….
New day, & I’ve decided to go to Venice & to hell with sitting around chewing my nails. I know when my discharge date is, & have enough confidence in the Navy to think they can get me back before that time. Just to make sure, I’m going to ask Mr. Clower to check with the Personnel Officer to see if he has any ideas. The more I think of it, the more sure I am.
Cities I have visited up till now—Paris, Cannes, Nice, Genoa, Rome, Naples, Beirut, Istanbul, Athens, & Valencia. That’s only the bigger ones. Venice will just about top it all off.
Another nice day, only not as sharply defined as yesterday—the sky was a milky-mist, & the water was choppy (beautiful blue-&-white contrasts in the waves) but not too high.
Oh; we didn’t play games at 0430, but my sleep was ruined nevertheless, because I kept waking up every half hour waiting for it..
Glancing down at my shoes, I see they are badly in need of a shine. They look as though everyone had walked on them but me. The designers of this ship are largely to blame. Every hatch combing is exactly one half inch higher than I think it is—with the result that I almost never fail to stub my toe.
The decks around here are actually dangerous—it’s a wonder several people haven’t been killed or seriously injured by falling down on them. The least little spot of water makes them as slippery as ice, & with nothing to fall on or against but metal. Twice I have fallen (with poise & dignity, of course) flat on my face. It’s especially dangerous if you happen to be stepping through a hatch & slip—I still have the scars from the time it happened to me.
Before me sit two Special Request Chits, requesting that I be allowed to go on a 3 day tour to Venice, which I filled out between the first page of this letter & this one.
Oh, well, such is life.
A book I would like to get ahold of (a literary phrase from the ancient Gaelic) is "The Search for Bridey Murphy"—a true story of a modern woman who claims, under hypnotism, to have lived in the 18th Century in Ireland as one "Bridey Murphy." Though a Reader’s Digest article pretty well disproves it, it seems like it might make interesting reading. Why do you see if you can get it for me, mother?
And speaking of getting things, what happened to Tchaikovski?
Oh, let there be singing & dancing in the streets—two months from today I’ll be out!!
And so to bed.