Tuesday, January 23, 2007

26 June 1956

Dear Folks

Now that’s an original beginning. I’ve been sitting here for three minutes, staring at it & wondering what was going to come next. I still am.

I suppose I could tell you what we had for supper (stew, & not very good), or go from there into a brief resume of the week’s menu, but somehow I doubt that it would hold your interest—or mine—very long.

My admiration for Benchley grows by leaps & bounds. He shares with other writers that ability which I covet & lack; to ramble on at great lengths about almost anything. In the case of the first person singular, it is an impossibility; had I been designated to write "The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire" it would have been about three pages long--& then only by using short paragraphs.

My mind is rather like the little ball in a pinball machine, bounding from one thing to another & remaining on none of them long enough to do much good.

In line with the idea-duration in the physical makeup of my sentences, most authors write so fluently that the reader is scarcely aware when one sentence ends & another begins. With me there is no doubt; they are as conducive to smooth reading as a brisk gallop over a stone quarry.

Just went out & bought a box of candy bars, which I will regret, even though they don’t last long. Since I had to get up from this letter to do it, I bawled myself out for running away just because there was "nothing to say." It is wonderful the lengths to which I will go to avoid work. It is so much simpler, when stymied, to say: "Well, I’ll do it later" & go off to something more pleasant & less exacting. By sheer will power (badly underdeveloped), I dragged myself back.

No one ever "forgets" anything. Just by sitting here concentrating, all sorts of things come back—First grade in Loves Park; the long white building with the porches onto the play-yard. Miss Johnson, my teacher, about whom I remember very little except that she lived in a big frame house on a corner, which had been there when most of the rest of the town was its farm. The little colored boy whose mother died of a heart attack trying to chase him out from beneath a bed, where he’d hid to avoid a spanking. David Wrena—poor, ugly David, whose parents wouldn’t allow him to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag—and this in the thunderstorm first days of the war. We used to sit in his unfinished basement & build sand houses until his father (E-ville Personified) came & chased us off. What an unhappy life he must have had.

One thing, no matter how I may have turned out, I’m glad I had you for parents. Several things could have been arranged so that the end result came out differently, but it’s too late for that now.

Then there was the time I fell backwards off the outhouse roof & was saved from a broken neck by being caught on a nail halfway down. Of course, I stayed there, upside down, yelling like mad until Mother came out & picked me off like an overripe banana (they grow upside down, don’t they?).

The"185" stamped on the side was put there by Andy, who has been playing with a numbering machine. He tells me a number, clicks it furiously, & then asks me what number he’s on now.
They’re having a tour to Paris, & I must say I’m tempted. But $69 will buy a few clothes, which I’ll need pretty badly. And besides, there’s always that "maybe they’ll send you home" possibility.

Latest rumor is that now something has happened to the Intrepid & that when the Randolph arrives, she will relieve the Intrepid instead of us! One more extension, & I’m afraid this crew has "had the course."

We are now into our third extension (from 23 May to 17 June to 27 June to 3 August to ???)

I’m writing this at Mr. Clower’s desk—mine I haven’t the energy to try & find amid all that rubble--& staring out at me from the protective safety of the plastic top is a paper on which is printed the following "Ship’s Schedual" (their spelling, not mine).

May 29 - 1 June – Naples, Italy
June 4 - 7 – Gibraltar
June 7 - 16 -- Enroute to States
June 17 -- Norfolk.

Oh, well; guess I’ll go to the movie.



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