Sgt Roman F. Klick 36620923
HS 1393 Engr APO 73
c/p SF Cal
25 May 1945
Well, the prevailing conditions are not exactly what one would term as being good. We are still sleeping on the ground and I am dead tired. Again, I am writing this in the dark. Today it isn't even by moonlight since we have pitched two pyramidal tents for Personnel and Headquarters and Lewis, Sackett, Norona and I are living in them. It is pitch black and I am thankful once again for knowing the touch system of typewriting.
Today was quite an exciting and active day. For one thing I might as well tell you now that we are in the Philippines. We are allowed to say that but not anything more specific. It doesn't really matter. Of course, knowing that we are on the Philippine Islands allows us to describe the natives and how they live. Last night, after writing the letters and after Moreno, the bugler was off duty at eleven o'clock, we took a walk on the road but ran into Norona at the corner delicatessen. Now don't get me wrong when I give that store such a high class name. It is made of thatch and bamboo as most of the living quarters are and there are no windows. Just open spaces. They sell anything from pineapples, bananas, avocados, pears, fried eggs, buns, coffee, liquor and other assorted food products. Naturally, we were instructed at first to refrain from eating any foods but Captain Schleinitz has now declared them safe on the whole.
Anyhow, to carry on the story, we saw Norona outside this open air cafe or grocery store whichever you might call it and he was talking to a Filipino. All Filipino's are small - very small and even I tower over the full grown men. To sidetrack a bit, everything is small out here. The horses are small, the eggs are small, the bananas are small and so forth and so on.
This man who Norona had struck up a conversation with was well dressed for the average Filipino man. He had on a straw hat, just like fellows wear in the summertime back home (the ones that look like regular felt hats), His shirt was a blue and his pants were a bluish gray. He wore moccasins but said he would prefer to have shoes and he has already broached Ike Moreno on the subject of getting him some size 4 shoes from the States. But again I am getting ahead of my story.
His shirt even had his initials in the collar, PCM, meaning Pedro C Mangubat. He speaks English well and has some of the slight mannerisms and inflections of the voice which Senor Gonzalez has. I liked that. He was completing his freshman year in college when the war ended his education and although he is striving to become a lawyer, his occupation is none other than clerk-typist. He tried getting a job as a stenographer one time but because he was unable to take dictation in English as spoken by an American, that is, take it when the American was talking swiftly, he did not get the job. He says now that he realizes the full extent of his capabilities and he will not again shoot at stars. His vocabulary is surprisingly large and, frankly his active use of ten dollar words surpasses mine after almost three years in this man's army.
Anyhow, as we were talking there, Moreno brought up the subject of wash clothes. Naturally, we did not expect him to do that because he is a white collared worker but as it turned out, his sister would be willing to take in washing and he came here to the headquarters this evening to pick up the stuff. But, we ran into a stickler on the price for the laundry. Our pal Bennett really did us a dirty trick by coming up there and saying that most of them charge one peso (fifty cents) for washing and pressing a full uniform, shirt and pants. That gave him the idea and he wanted that much for our laundry. We asked him if three dollars would be sufficient for the laundry of all three of us but he raised up the price to four bucks. That was too steep and we could not afford to pay such a price. We could go into the business ourselves at those rates. However, it seems that cigarettes have an exorbitant monetary value and we agreed on five packs of smokes plus only two dollars. For one carton he would have done the whole works. The only trouble was that we didn't have a carton of them.
He even brought us a gift. About five or six alligator pears which he said we should eat with sugar in milk after cutting them in half and scooping out the center portion. We do not have the milk but do have the sugar so we might try one or two for breakfast tomorrow morning.
So much for Pete. All day long natives, darker than Pete and seemingly of a lower class (he looks down upon "the blacks") of people come into the area to trade and sell anything under the sun from Japanese Invasion money which, of course, is worthless and they also sell eggs, bananas, purses, hats, sandals and what not. The usually fee is clothing, towels, candy bars and most of all, cigarettes. And we traded with them. I received six different kinds of Japanese money and I now have just about as much as I want of it. We do not know if we can send it home yet, so I will hold up on it. I also bought an egg but when we tore down our pup tents to move into the office, I broke it. Later on in the day I managed to purchase a pair of colorful, hand woven sandals. They are pretty. My object is to get a hat, a purse, the sandals and a doll so that I can send souvenirs to you, Pat, Eleanor and Myrtle. Myrtle will get the doll if I can get hold of one, Pat the purse, El the hat and you the sandals. I figured perhaps Pat would wear the purse but I know that she definitely would not wear the sandals or the hat. Then again the sandals are Filipino sizes and probably wouldn't fit Pat and definitely not Eleanor. Eleanor will wear the hat. You would wear none of those things so the shoes will be sufficient to serve and a memento as well as an example of native craftsmanship. Do you think that is a good idea the way I have figured it out?
As the day progressed, we found out that we could get three bananas for a candy bar and six for some of our canned rations which we none of us eat. As a result we stuffed ourselves with bananas today and boy they were delicious.
To continue with my long discourse, which I am going to try to cut down for the night is wearing on and all the other three fellows have hit the hay. We cleared away an entire area of the underbrush so that our headquarters will have a breathing space and that was work out under the hot sun. Molyneaux sat around doing absolutely nothing for half of the morning until ordered directly by Norona to get to work, in the afternoon he disappeared. At a busy time like this that guy still thinks only of himself. I'm sorry I had to throw that little sour note into the letter but thems are the conditions that prevail and it got my blood hot. Anyway, we set up the pyramidals and moved the boxes into them. Then came the office work. With work piled up sky high we worked straight thru the afternoon without a let up. Meanwhile the big boys went into town to get all the dope on payrolls, rotation, furloughs, and general office procedure as they wish it conducted here. When they returned, we all had a little bull session in which we learned about the new procedure. Things aren't going to be so bad at all.
But I've got a heck of a lot of work piled up and incidentally to all those other things we are going to be on the go as I mentioned when aboard the boat. You know, I can't understand how people operate but I knew very well what type of reaction would set in among the fellows on landing on a new island and having to sleep in pup tents. They realize how good they had it back at the last place and when they were there they griped about it. As for me, I already like this place and after the present discomforts are alleviated, it should be as good if not better (because of the English speaking population) than the other two islands were.
And we received our first letters today. I received six from you dated from the 2nd thru the 7th, one from Uncle Jack which was really humorous and one from none other than George Prokopec. I'm glad now that I answered all those letters while on board ship because he can then see I did not just write because he was sending out a tracer on his last letter which was unanswered. And he sent me a picture of himself with the Captain's bars. He is looking swell, very, very handsome, much more older (about 28) and as a result quite changed from the youthful looking boyfriend of mine back in the old days.
As there was nothing very imperative to comment on or answer, I'll skip that because of the late hour and the length of this letter. It was interesting to hear how you heard the whistles blowing and knew the war was over and also humorous about Aunty Flo wanting VE day to fall on a work day so she could have a holiday. Her wish must have come true since it was a Monday.
George works with a limited staff and with General Huglin, one of the youngest generals in the army. And he is up to his old argumentative tricks and actually has bested the general in a few of them. He believes he may go home soon and towards the end they didn't go out on flights over Germany anymore.
By the way, furlough is worse on this island than back at the old place so we might as well just forget about it until next year. It is unfortunate.
So-long, /s/ Roman Roman