Cpl Roman F. Klick 36620923
HS 1393 Engr APO 709
c/o PM San Francisco, California
19 May 1944
What do you think? No mail again. That makes merely six out of the last eight days without one measly letter and of the two days all I did was get two letters and four letters which isn't even one good day's mail. Or am I being selfish?
The Canteen operated on a full schedule today. We stopped in at noon from twelve to one for coffee, cocoa, beer and milk. Then while I drove a jeep down to one of the Engineer projects the boys are working on, Lewis, Sackett and Myers toasted cheese sandwiches once again. By the time I got back it was all over so I had to take myself down to the mess hall where I didn't eat the salmon patties but did eat the bread, potatoes, lemonade and the fried potatoes. Then, after the show, (I did go to the show this evening) we went in there and had a few more drinks. I handled the program differently this evening by putting both milk and sugar in my coffee just like you get it at the ballpark and, strangely enough, I enjoyed it for a change as being different from the sugarless and creamless variety I have been drinking ever since Pearl Harbor. Remember when I gave up sugar? And how you agreed with me that it would be a good thing to give up but that I went the limit in not putting any sugar on my shredded wheat which even you had to douse liberally with sugar before you would get that "hay" down. Incidentally, we don't get shredded wheat anymore overseas and instead there is some sort of Ralston cereal served which isn't much good. So in case you are hard up for things to send to me, you could enclose a box of shredded wheat in a package and I'm sure it would keep even if it took two years to get across the ocean. This deluge of things I have been asking for lately must certainly surprise you after my long reticence in asking for anything. It just happens that now, for the first time since being in this army, I have found a definite need or want for certain things which are unobtainable here. By the way, did I cancel the order for that two-pint pot? I would like to reinstate it for we are having additional guests in our canteen every night and just heating up two canteen cups of water isn't sufficient and, moreover, if you can send an egg-beater there will be no room in the canteen to fit it in so that we will have to mix the milk in another container and a pot would be excellent for that purpose.
The picture was extra good this evening. Here is why I went. First of all I put in a good working day at the office and accomplished a lot so I thought I ought to provide myself with the recreation. Then too, Cooley came up to me and rided me about being the Corporal of the show guard this evening but then I found out he was just trying to get a rise out of me and that I really wasn't the show guard corporal after all. However, that made me take notice of the Bulletin Board and I find that they have been going down the list of Corporals by the alphabet these last few days and my name is the next on the Hit Parade so either tomorrow or the next day is going to be my turn to dress up in khakis, leggings, hat etcetera and see that all the boys take the necessary precautions against the Anopheles mosquito. Leishman is waking up to the fact that the Company Clerk in an outfit run by Captain Hanton and his enlisted lieutenant (they often call Cooley, lieutenant Cooley) does not rate the traditional extra privileges and that he is capable of being put on show guard just as every one else. Leishman was one of the Privates of the guard this evening. The Clerks back in Dumbea Valley cursed me the night I had that show guard detail back there because all their first sergeants saw me on the job and with the exception of Jack Molyneaux, every single one of them pulled it during the remainder of their stay in New Caledonia.
I just noticed something. My typewriter is finally showing signs of two years of constant use (for it was in the regiment when it was activated). The paint job is peeling off showing the bare metal underneath. I wonder if it will last out the duration of the war as far as the mechanical end is concerned.
I took time out to listen to the news and hear that Cassino has finally fell to the Allied forces. Boy o boy, I hope they don't ever meet such a strong stumbling block again. They must have lost thousands of troops on both sides just trying to hold on and to capture that one community. When a war enters that stage, it becomes very costly in manpower. That is one thing about this Pacific war. They have their battles alright but the losses are all covered in the few days of invasion and after that the enemy is gone, the place occupied and no more losses result. I'll bet that more than twice as many casualties have taken place over there than over here. On this side of the world, they also seem to be coming closer and closer to the Chinese coast as Admiral Nimitz claimed was their goal. However, they will have to do a lot more advancing before they get within gunshot range of that coast and it may take more years than most people think. A lot of people expect Japan to surrender but that seems to be incredible for they haven't really lost anything to speak of outside of a few island bases and a couple hundred thousand troops.
The show, to go back to a subject I began to take up in the first page of this letter, was very good. The name of it was "My Kingdom for a Cook" with Charles Coburn and Marguerite Chapman. Miss Chapman is a swell looker and has a figure which seems to make all the boys homesick around here and they wonder why Hollywood has to torment them by sending such pictures overseas to the boys who have been away from their wives and girlfriends for such a long time. It was a very good light comedy and had us in stitches on several occasions.
Did I ever tell you about the way the fellows go to the showers on this island? It is something picturesque and worth writing home about. They go native style, using their towel as a sarong or whatever you want to call it. The best part about it is that their towels are all different colors. Some are pink, others are khaki and still others are white. They form a very neat looking improvisation which hangs around their middle with a knot joining the ends of the towel together leaving a large portion of their calf or thigh showing. It isn't exactly what they would wear in the best circles back home. The reason for this sudden change in margins is that my typewriter broke suddenly when I banged the carriage back for the next line after ending that line in "They". The same thing happened to it now that happened to it back in Dumbea and then too the spacing lever was also broke and had been broken for some time before this sort of spring gave way. Without a typewriter repair shop on the island with reliable service, the machine may be on the fritz for quite some time. And here I was just mentioning how it was beginning to show signs of wear and wondering how soon the mechanics of the machine would go on the blink. I didn't have long to wait for my answer.
By the way, it looks as if my new job isn't going to require as much typing in the long run as did my clerking job. The main event of the month is just as a clerks job is and that is the pay of the officers which means typing up the pay vouchers for each officer. It took me slightly longer this time than it will take me in the future months when I expect to bang them all out in a day or even one morning. There is no sense in dawdling with a thing like that for the longer you play around with it the longer it seems to take you and the harder the job is to do. Other than that there will be no steady typing which suits me to a tee for while I like typing to type letters like this or to copy down things for myself, I heartily dislike earning a living by that machine and you will recall that I was glad when Dolores came in to become the biller down at RH&R and thus relieve me of that all day job of pounding the keys in favor of one in which I did miscellaneous work and pushed a pencil around a sheet pf paper.
Meanwhile Jack Molyneaux has reverted to his life of Riley once more and he has decided that every afternoon, instead of sweating it out in the office, he will go down with Lynd to pick up the afternoon distribution and what little mail there is at the post office. It is a fact that the last two or three days have been humid and even we veterans of the South Pacific perspire freely. As a general rule, however, the new boys are wet with sweat while the old hands seem to unconsciously know how to keep themselves cool. I believe I told you that story once before. And another thing, it seems to me that I have been repeating myself on a lot of things I have been saying lately. The real reason for that is that I haven't been saying all the things I've had to say in my letters and as time goes by, I can't remember if I told it to you or just had thought about writing it to you and never got it into letter form.
For instance, I've wanted to tell you about this boy Norona who is the stenographer in Lewis's Headquarters Section. He is not overly bright, so it seems, and does a lot of crazy things like going to the PX to buy a can of peanuts when we have over eight cans of salted Planters peanuts in the office which we have taken out of the jungle ration cans and another thing about pouring water into his canteen cup and then making a funnel out of paper so that he can pour the water into his canteen. He doesn't seem to realize that although the canteen cup seems to have a wide lip, you can pour water directly from it into the small canteen neck without spilling a drop. Then to heighten the effect he seems to give, he has the same small eyes and the same nose, the same complexion, the same expression and the same mannerisms of Uylesses or is it Ulysseess? But in spite of that, the fellow has a keen mind and is an expert typist and an expert shorthand man. Moreover, he has an imagination and the ability to empress himself on paper and I do believe he can beat me all hollow in writing things home about the island. He has just now finished a five page masterpiece in which he describes his "Exploration of APO 709". He tells in graphic detail the way he traveled thru the jungles, came across deserted native villages and then actually came upon inhabited places. That is something I have seemed to let slip out of my grasp. The ability to describe the beauties of nature as they appear to us out here. Either I am getting blasé about the whole thing or else I am just losing my interest in the wonderful and awesome things of nature. (By the way, the type of this typewriter is not altogether my fault. It is Leishman's machine is unresponsive in that the keys are slower and I am typing faster than the keys will hit so, therefore, they jam up and I print things which aren't intended to be.)
One thing I did notice today was a queer looking "moth" which had a tongue about an inch or two long which curled up and entered its mouth. I captured the thing with an old peanut can and showed it to Sackett and Lewis. They said it wasn't a moth but a bird for it had a tail like a bird with feathers although its wings looked like a moth. It also had a streamlined body and a beak although we have seen moths looking that way also. We finally decided it was a peculiar moth and let it go but by golly that thing took off like a humming bird and in less time than it takes to tell about it, it was out of sight. There is no question about it now but that I had captured one of the smallest birds you ever did see. This tropical climate sure does come up with some queer ones. I'll never get over that giant beetle I told you about the other night.
The also have caught some of these brilliantly colored paraquets or parakeets and have caged them for pets. We have small shiny brown bugs which are the same size, shape and design as a lady bug and another small thing that looks like a miniature grasshopper but is not quite so long in proportion to a real grasshopper. Someday I'm going to go down into that jungle and take a look at the things that don't get up here on the hills.
By the way, Aunty Clara, how are these letters of mine coming thru? The old timers say that the new censor officers are deleting loads and loads out of the mail. It doesn't really matter for nothing that is important such as personal matters could never be deleted and the other stuff which they may object to is just fill in to make conversation about but I guess it is funny to receive a letter with a lot of black spaces thru it. I've read over the island censorship regulations just as I did down in New Caledonia and try to stay within the limits of what can be said and refrain from going over the bounds into what is not permitted. According to my opinion, my letters should not have many deletions. Am I right or am I wrong?
The latest telephone directory for the island came out today and we are in it. In fact, the entire 1177th Engineer Construction Group has a directory all its own and we are no longer operating under the country or rural system of ringing the operator and asking for your party by name. Now if I want to call up Mike Nyalka, I don't say "Hi Nyalka, will you give me Nyalkenberger?" but rather "Eight, ring 2 please". High class, eh?
We have a Jewish fellow in the office besides Quint and he has the same boldness which is characteristic of what is called the "Jewish race". We don't know if he did us a favor or not but he went ahead and did it anyway for his own cause. He is in line for a rating just as quite a few others in the outfit and since none have been materializing, he has become rather anxious about the whole affair; consequently, he went into the executive officer and asked him what is being done about the situation and the Exec seemed surprised and said that he didn't realize that such a condition existed and said he would bring the subject under discussion at the nightly bull-session with the Company Commanders and the Staff Officers hold at six bells or so. If anything comes out of this, we have his forwardness to thank for it.
I thought I was going to be able to answer a few letters to other people this evening but I left the key to my desk in my khakis when I changed to fatigues at four o'clock so I couldn't open up my desk where I keep my letters. So I decided to sit down and make up for it by typing a few extra letters to you this evening even though I didn't get any today or yesterday.
When I get caught up on my letter writing of the personal nature, I'm going to dig in on that Army Institute course once again. I know they will forgive me for the two month delay since there has been this change of station, this reorganization and my having a new job to learn. I want to get this Business Correspondence course out of the way so that I can take a course which I can have fun at instead of learning something practical and by that I mean Mathematics. That was a study which I could devote hours and hours to and yet there was never anything which I could actually use out of it yet I had fun working the problem, learning the theory and just fooling around with. I still think that maybe someday I would like to be a Mathematics teacher in a high school or a junior college for that is all a Math teacher has to know in everything below Calculus and that is the theory. There is very little practical application in anything lower than Calc.
The boys are finally clearing out (the night shift went on the letter writing round at nine bells when the show let out) and I guess I will follow them for it is shortly after eleven o'clock. Even though I went to bed at nine o'clock last night, I almost overslept Reveille this morning. I awoke in an empty barracks and had to rush to get out there in time to hear them calling off the roll.
So-long, /s/ Roman Roman