Paniqui, Tarlac, Luzon, P.I.
Thursday, 20 September 1945.
Dear Aunty Clara,
On the way up to the office just now, I stopped off for a very brief moment to take a look-see at the picture being, shown and it is something with Alan Ladd and Gail Russell. I just took one look at this Gail Russell (she played Miss Skinner in "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay") and I decided I wanted to come back to see the second feature. I rushed up to the office, put a sheet of paper into the typewriter arid was all ready to rush through a letter in double quick time so that I could go to see the show --- when I realized what I was letting myself in for. Sure, I'd go tonight as an exception and then the next picture would just be so much harder to miss and I'd probably go see it and the next and so on --- once again throwing away my time as I did on Guadalcanal. If I get finished writing and find that I have no work to do, then I might go see the last reel; but I'm thinking that I will have plenty of work to keep myself occupied. At the last minute this afternoon a letter came in asking for the upteenth report on Surplus Personnel Men. This Sixth Army is good, while the rest of the army is demobilizing their men, this outfit keeps asking for men eligible for demobilization and men that will be eligible should they lower the scores and soon but they don't do anything, about getting the men out. Frankly, I am beginning to get worried that if they are that slow in getting out the men over 35 years old and the men with 80 points, what are they going to be like when they get down to the men with 66 points?
The Big Parade was held today with a practice in fatigues this morning and the real thing in khakis this afternoon. And let me tell you something, that little carbine, which I made sure to get last night, is the sweetest little thing you ever want to have out on a parade ground because while the rest of the boys are lugging all that weight around and going through the manual of arms, you merely have that light weight gun slung at your back and that is all there is to it.
Did I tell you about the obstacle course which was on the last turn just before we passed the reviewing officers? The turn was just a sea of mud and no attempt was made to prepare the ground for a parade so it was necessarily part of the act. We practically broke formation as we slipped and slid through that slippery mud and then desperately tried to recover our positions within about three seconds before the "Eyes Right" signal was given. Well, that little thing with other factors proved to be a boon for the parade instead of a handicap. Because each individual was forced to concentrate on recovering and holding his position at the instant they passed the reviewing party, they naturally held a solid phalanx and marched by in perfect unison. Our colonel was very impressed and pleased by the performance - really - and now we are scared stiff that we are going to have to make this a weekly occurrence. He ought to know better and leave well enough alone.
Other factors making the parade successful were that (1) we sure did have enough practice for it (2) the Flip band playing for us kept good marching time and (3) we had half the population of Paniqui out there watching us and no matter how a soldier may complain about having to go through with that stuff, he isn't going to let the prestige of the United States down in front of the Flips. You just know you've got to be your best because even our little small battalion marching out there in the square of a tiny provincial town in the Philippines represents the whole United States Army for them and you've just naturally got too much pride to turn in a sloppy job.
I was meaning, to get a haircut today from Sammie Alderete, the remaining barber, from Company B, but he had a line a mile long in his little shop set up under a canvas fly; so I decided to give the Flip my business. He was all packed and already on his way home but he came back to the tent and gave me a haircut. They don't have electric shears and they start out by hardly cutting a strand but in the end he gives you a good haircut, some thing on the order of Tom Hughes in that another person can not tell right off that you just had a haircut. If you can keep up those kind of haircuts every other week, it is okay. I paid him 45¢ American money. I picked up the American money indirectly from some of these stateside replacements we have been getting in.
John Smarrito is down in the tent now sewing on a set of Staff Sergeant Chevrons on my "good" khaki shirt --- that' s the one with all that rigamarole like overseas bars and meritorious service award on it. I'm planning to pay him one peso for every set he sews on but he says he doesn't want anything. Tomorrow I'll be able to come down to the office with the new stripes on.
We have a new laundry woman and she is a knockout. I doubt whether she is all Filipino for she has good looks according to American standards and Flips aren't built that way. When the censorship was in effect they had rules about not referring to the simian like features of the natives. But that is the truth, many Filipinos (not all) have ape like faces with smashed up nose, the same kind of mouth (extended) but that is just the way they are and I can't see what is so wrong about it or that they should be offended by facts. Anyway, back to the laundry girl. John Smarrito is already trying to date her for the week end dances they hold in the market place but hasn't succeeded as yet. Her name is Bell -pronounced Belly. The-only trouble is that she can't speak English very well. When she brings the clothes back, I'm going to let John do the paying for it because he doesn't let them, get away with the high figures my old laundry girl charged me.
The work continues to get along, pretty good. Outside of this surplus personnel report I have to get out, there is no pressing work to do. I'm going to try to whip some "efficiency" systems into shape during the next few days so that we will be better equipped to handle the next rush periods.
At first when all the fellows were going mad about Combat Boots (they are shoes with something like putties built right into then), I couldn't have any part of them because I couldn't see either wearing such hot things or carrying them around in my barracks bag. However, I changed my tune today as the Parade orders made it permissible to wear either leggings or combat boots. Naturally it is much simpler to slip on a pair of shoes and buckle a few straps than it is to lace up a pair of leggings.
I sure am glad we received those bars of Baker's chocolate. I had a good deal of trouble with me movements but last night and. again this evening, after a bar of candy I had a healthy movement. The old physic still works (just like Aunty Florence's walnuts) just as it did all the way back in the ancient days of New Caledonia.
Unconsciously we "overseas veterans" try to talk "big" in front of the new stateside replacements. We bandy about such words as 66, 70, 80 points, New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, 24 months overseas and the like and all they can do is listen openmouthed. It is wrong to do that but we will do it every time.
It looks as if I'm going to have to turn File Clerk for Personnel in lieu of Jack Molyneaux because it is becoming next to impossible to find anything that has been turned out during the last month and today, in front of Lt Kuras, I had to look through an entire sheaf of work trying to locate a letter. And Jack with his three day passes, days on sick quarters, days taking the mail run for Lynd, hours off for "coffee" and the Scraper never will do it. And I know Jack well enough that should I become supposedly "a heel" and order him to do it, he would only manage to misconstrue the orders and mess up the detail so that he might as well not have done it. Besides that I still feel funny about telling Jack to do anything. If we hadn't split up, I wouldn't be Pers Sgt Mjr today for I would have felt loyal to him and. would have acceded to him, rather than accept it. You know, yourself, that when we were buddies, he was always the first in anything..
Needless to say, there was no mail again for the I don't know how manyieth day. I hope my air mails to you are arriving okay and that they are making better time than the V-mail. Tell, me, Aunty Clara, would you rather have me continue the V-mail or is this okay by you?