Dear Aunty Clara:
Another day, another dollar but I'm still broke. First I give Driscoll my book to take to Hanton and I haven't seen either the money or book since; then I work at the officer's dance and I have yet to see the folding money that was promised for the job. As a result, I have been forced to stay in camp today - a very warm and sunny day - which is perfect for golf.
The job at the officer's dance was not what you would call a job at all. It ended up that I was a waiter. Molyneaux and four other fellows from B company, Walston (Clerk of F Company) and I were the waiters. Our first job when we got there was to put out four bottles of mixer and two bottles of coke on every table. Then we put some ice water on each table and chunks of ice. Just before the officers began coming in, we opened up all the bottles. There couldn't have been more than two bottle openers in the place. Once the dancing and the drinking began all we had to do was to walk past those tables which we had charge of and keep them supplied with the above mentioned drinks and ice chunks.
Food was served about twelve o'clock and it was a buffet style lunch. It was really not our job to get the paper plates and bring them to the officers; but it just so happened that two of B company's officers had a full table load of guests and asked the company B mail clerk and I to get them their food.
It was unfortunate that they did that because by the time we were finished getting their plates for them most of the good sausage meat was gone and we had to do without it in our own snacks.
Molyneaux on the other hand certainly took care of himself. In a way I resented his tactics which were purely selfish and completely disregarded his duties of the evening. For instance, when we first came into the hall and began preparing things he went over to the side with Petrie and Yizzi (two sergeants from his company) and started matching pennies and nickels instead of working. Then when the program began do you think he waited on tables? No! He stayed next to the marimba player and the orchestra almost all evening long admiring the music and their ability to play. Then when it came time to eat, who should be the first one to have his plate filled first. None other than John Jack Molyneaux.
The eats consisted of potato salad, olives, summer sausage, pickles, liver sausage, bread (raisin bread and plain bread), crackers, cheese and the coca colas. I filled myself up on the potato salad and the liver sausage. In connection with the food, I must say that it was one of the most unsanitary servings I have ever seen. They had little small wooden spoons and forks with which it was impossible to pick up the food. Naturally, every one used their hands. I heard two officers talking about one of the girls who must have been squeamish about such things as mishandling of food (and I don't blame her). To top it off, however, the officer began filling up her plate with his hands and said to the other officer, "What she doesn't know won't hurt her." You can rest assured that the food I ate was as nearly untouched as it was possible to get it.
Sometimes I wonder why films on food sanitation and the like are ever shown to people. It appears that no one ever takes them seriously.
There were no officers from Company A present or accounted for at the dance while company B had a representation of four officers. Towards the end of the affair one of the Company B officers got up into the orchestra and began playing the drums while a second directed the affair, a third (the C.O.) danced and the fourth watched the goings on.
The dance was just about washed up about 2:30 in the morning and at that time Lt. Stilwell (Special Service officer in charge of the dance) took us back to the barracks. I didn't get to sleep until after 3:00.
The 353rd Engineers Orchestra has been highly touted as the best band in Camp White and some say that it could give any name band in the country a run for its money. I think there is some truth in that now because their music was good.
To my amazement, this morning at 6:30 they began waking everyone in the barracks up including me. All I did was turn around and go back to sleep breakfast or no breakfast. The other fellows had to go out to the Beagle range and continue their work on the pill box fortifications they have been erecting. Personally I think that is a lot of nonsense having those fellows work on a Sunday on a job like that. Especially, when there may never be another Sunday in camp the next week (we can never tell now when we will leave). At 8:30 I heard Sgt Driscoll talking very loudly and he gave orders to get every person (who didn't go out to the fortification area and was still asleep in bed) up and have them report to the Orderly Room in five minutes or else they would get a full week of K.P.
Cpl Thompson and Sgt Landdeck soon made their appearance at my bunk; but after some discussion they figured that Company Clerks were exempt from that order and passed me by. Then not ten minutes later Sgt Driscoll is standing in front of me and I slowly open my eyes, stare at him a second, then say "good morning" in my sweetest just getting up voice and he walks away. It looks to me as if everyone would like for me to get out and work instead of having life so nice and sweet and easy; but none of them have the nerve to transgress that unwritten law which protects company clerks from menial labor.
Shortly after the Sgt Driscoll incident, Blumenfeld came up and asked me to go golfing with him and then ice skating afterwards as we had anticipated doing earlier in the week. I refused for two reasons. One was that I knew my game wouldn't be any too good not having had much sleep at that time and second I still didn't have any money.
For the third time I tried to get back to sleep and was awakened by S/Sgt Curry who was looking for a chess partner. I refused to get up to play chess and after a lengthy discussion he also went away.
It was 12:05 (just before lunch) when I finally crawled out of bed.
After eating quite a bit of food to make up for the breakfast I missed, I went back upstairs and made my bed. And not a minute too soon either; for as I finished, Driscoll went from one barracks to another shouting, "Everyone fall out and this means you." All I had to do was grab my hat, slip out the back door and walk over to the Service Club. It seems he was up to some trick or something and I wanted no part of it.
That is almost bringing our story up to the present time. At the Service Library I read a half of one of Joseph Conrad's story End of the Tether; but soon saw that it was too long to finish within the next hour or so and quit reading it. From there I walked across the street to the athletic field where the youngsters from Medford were holding a Model Airplane show for the soldiers. They had some nice models with small motors inside them which carried the planes for some distance. But when you see one of them you have seen them all; so I left the air show and came here to write this letter.
And now, here is a complaint which I have often thought of registering but haven't done so before this. Why is it that the logical conclusion of my letters does not coincide with the bottom of the second page but must continue for the first two sentences of the second page and then end leaving the rest of the page blank?
While reading Joseph Conrad's story, I came across a passage in the book where an old sea captain mourned for his wife with whom he had spent fifty years of his married life. And of his re-awakening to life Conrad has this to say:
"He was not likely to forget; but you cannot dam up life like a sluggish stream. It will break out and flow over a man's trouble, it will close upon a sorrow like the sea upon a dead body, no matter how much has gone to the bottom."
That is a part of life which I did not believe existed for me until just a few months back.
Say, Aunty Clara, why don't you read some of Joseph Conrad's works? They are in the big book in the desk part of my bookcase. It is one of the best books I have and I think it will end up by being one of my so-called treasures.
That idea of sending airmails every other day just to save a few pennies is a lot of humbug, I think. I don't know how you reacted to it yet; but I know that it is confusing for me to try to keep some continuity in the letters. Perhaps I may let something get into a free mail which should go into an air-mail and then the next day or so write something in the air-mail which refers to that in the free mail which you haven't even received yet. It is even confusing to explain it.
There are two things which I have regretted doing but not rightly so. How was I to know that we were going to stay here so long after the alert had sounded. Just think, Aunty Clara, we were placed on the alert away back in January on the eighteenth. In another two weeks it will make it three months of uncertainty. The two things I have regretted were sending home the other jar of shoe polish and the utility case that Mr. Gonzalez gave me. I don't think there would be much sense in sending back the case at this late date; but I do think that if you still have that polish, you can send it back in your next package. You see, at the time I sent the polish we hadn't gotten into this nice weather and it was impossible to polish shoes then. Now when I go out on these fine days I find that I could use a good polish on them.
There is now about two hours before the fellows come back in from work (mess is held up for them); so I will try to write a few letters which are long long overdue. Do you realize that in almost a month I have written but one letter to any one else but you? That one was my chess move to Bob Hesser after a delay of a week.