Wednesday, January 10, 2007

5 June 1956

Dear Folks

There is so much nothing to tell you, I don’t know where not to begin. For one thing, I have a sneaking suspicion that these will be the longest 68 days on record. I will from here on out be a virtual prisoner aboard ship—afraid even to go on liberty for fear they will call a draft away. Of course I really shouldn’t worry, since my name is 17th from the bottom on a list of over 300 names. Still---. By my name there is the mystic note "5 July." What that is supposed to mean I have no idea; since they don’t know until almost the last minute when a draft will go, it seems unlikely they’d set July 5th as a definite day just for me. I’ll still probably ride the ship back. Oh, well….

Nick put in a request for shore duty someplace in Florida, near Jacksonville. The chit was approved, & now he is certain he is leaving within the hour, even though a letter must be sent to the Bureau (of Personnel) before he can get it. As a result of his enthusiasm, the office is strewn with boxes—whole & dismantled—torn scraps of paper, two wooden crates, a pair of scissors, stenciling gear, & God knows what else.

Speaking of boxes, I mailed dad’s binoculars & ten rolls of film yesterday, insured, of course, plus Ann’s shawl. Today I sent a huge package of assorted paraphernalia to Aunt Thyra’s. She is not to open it, but to put it in a cool, dry place till I get home. More will be coming to her later—that way it removes the temptation of opening it. Also, she is home more than you are, & will no doubt be around when it arrives.

Life in the office is, to put it gently, not pleasant; Coutre & I are not speaking, Nick is all on edge, I am not in the best humor. Otherwise, everything is getting along nicely.

To say that I am not in the best of humor is a gross understatement; I can feel myself falling apart on the inside, & I am running out of adhesive tape. I want to be somewhere, do something, & my dreams do not include the Flying Dutchman (nee Ticonderoga) & her motley crew. I want to run out to the fantail & scream & holler & wave my arms—but this is frowned upon by Navy code, & so I shall just sit here, like a hollow statue, & slowly be filled up by my cracking & chipping exterior.

In front of me is sitting a medicine-brown bottle chock full of aspirin—the Chief claims they are bad for a person, yet people around here act as if they were candy drops. Never touch the stuff myself; never need it.

Which brings to mind for no particular reason the play "The Shrike," wherein the hero takes one hundred & fifty-three sleeping pills, after having read that one hundred & fifty were not quite enough to kill a man.

Actually, the bottle says they are not aspirin—they are Acetylsalicylic Acid Tablets. That sounds so much better than aspirin, don’t you think?

I am quite hungry, but after a little stabbing incident the other night, we are not permitted in the galleys. So now the cooks make box lunches to eat later at night. I don’t think they made any tonite.

Coutre just walked in, looking amazingly like Captain Bligh, with his usual cheery greeting: "What the hell does this look like—the crew’s lounge?" No comment. Aha—the story comes out—he was kicked out of the aft galley this afternoon by one of the cooks.

Nick’s relief, when & if he goes (there are 300 men awaiting transfer for discharge but Nick is under the happy illusion he’s going right this very minute!!) is a German boy—he arrived in the U.S. two years ago, was married three months ago, & drafted.

My relief, when & if I go (& Coutre is doing his level best to get me shifted back to S-1) is most likely one of the mess cooks. We shall see….

Well, I have another letter to write yet, to Harry (Ens. Harrison), so I’ll close now.



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