Monday, January 29, 2007

8 - 9 July 1956

Dear Folks

And then it was Sunday afternoon---& here I am, all wet-nosed & bushy-tailed, eagerly looking forward to the 35 days I have left in the Navy.

Last night I spent in the U.N. Bar, on Shore Patrol. There were two of us assigned to "keep the peace," but they needn’t have bothered—that was the only bar in Cannes where the Shore Patrol outnumbered the sailors. The only excitement of the evening came during one of the times the place was fairly crowded. A bunch of guys came in to see the floor show, but they didn’t want to buy anything. The manager told them they’d have to buy a drink or they couldn’t stay. They were completely loaded anyway, but got highly indignant when the manager called off the show in the middle of a dance. Words flew hot & heavy, & we were asked to tell them to get out. Within two minutes, the place was swarming with Shore Patrol—chiefs, officers, & whitehats. Where they’d all come from I can’t guess. At last the insurgents left (calling the owner "A Communist; that’s what y’are; a Communist—won’t serve American sailors. Shore Patrol ought’a lock up the place"), & the Shore Patrol left, & all the other sailors left, leaving just the two of us & the five barmaids.

The "floor show" consisted of a belly dancer who came out in a grass skirt & a lei, & another dancer whose object was rather vague. Prices were terrific, I understand—beer was 275 Francs (about 80 cents). Fortunately, they closed at 12, & we got to come back earlier than the roving Patrol, who stayed out till three.

Cannes late at night is very pretty—the night was warm, & along the boulevard beside the sea, colored lights projected in & from trees & bushes—greens, pinks, blues. People strolled along, not at all in a hurry; out in the water the spangle of lights from an ocean liner glimmered on the water….

The next day was Monday, that being the way things went in those days, & as we look in on our hero, we find him hunched over his pen & paper after a long hard struggle with two sets of whites & an iron.

The movie for this evening is a Hollywood extravaganza called "The Cult of the Cobra" starring no one in particular. It deals with a voluptuous young woman (always good material for a movie) who has the rather annoying habit of turning into a cobra at the most opportune times. She runs (or slithers) about biting people until there is just her, the hero (with whom, as a woman, she is madly in love), & the hero’s girlfriend—of whom the cobra lady is not overly fond. I will not tell you who triumphs in the end, for that would spoil it for you, & I am sure you will want to see it next time it comes to your neighborhood nickelodeon.

One month from today I should receive my discharge, if all goes well. You must excuse me if my letters become wider apart; I honestly don’t feel like writing—no gloom, no nothing—it’s just that if I try to find something to do every single minute, the time goes by so much faster.

I’m sending off another roll of film today, most of it on the Riviera. By the time you get it, I should almost be home, so I’d rather you didn’t look at it. I’m not in it, anyway.

The first week I’m home we’ve got to go to DeKalb so I can pre-register. The first few weeks we’ll have to stick together like glue to make up for the two years I’ve been away.

It is comforting to look at the calendar & know I have more leave time accumulated than I could possibly use.

Tom Dolan loaned me a book of Aldous ("Brave New World") Huxley’s short stories, & I am considering sending Mr. Huxley a shovel so that he can dig a hole & bury himself alive. If life is so terrible to cynics, why do they bother living it at all?

It is now ten minutes till nine. Above the office, in the barber shop, they are weight lifting. Every time they drop one, it is as though we were inside a bell tower at the stroke of midnight.

You will notice this letter has a 9 cent stamp. I’m desperate. Now to take a shower & then to bed.



P.S. Tell me, do you think Roosevelt really has a chance at a fourth term?

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