Paniqui, Tarlac, Luzon, P.I.
Wednesday 3 October 1945
Dear Aunty Clara,
It just doesn't seem possible that I have gone a full week without writing to you once again but thems are the prevailing conditions. About the only reason I've had the opportunity to begin this evening is because the lights in the office went out just a while ago and instead of sitting in the dark doing nothing, I decided that here was the opportunity I have been waiting for - a break. But, now that I've started I'm going to keep on at it until I finish work or no work --- even if I have to let it go until tomorrow.
In brief I'll give you a summary of the days since I last wrote on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. To begin with I might as well tell you the remaining PART OF THE UNFINISHED STORY OF LOLITA. The next day, I asked her if she had been able to find out whether she could go to the dance or not. She could and it was a date. I didn't stay long - just long enough for her to tell me that she is going to go to the dance on her Mother's permission and she is not asking her father because as a general rule he refuses her requests along that line.
Anyhow, Saturday night came along (and that was the reason for my not getting a letter out that night) and the big Battalion Dance. I was all spruced out in my special khaki set with the overseas bars and the meritorious service award and, in fact, about the best dressed I've been since coming overseas. After all, wasn't I going to go to the dance with one of the prettiest Flip girls in the neighborhood? And best of all, we had been worrying about what kind of transportation to get and instead of going in a cartello as we had planned, Lt Kuras offered to drive us over in a jeep. That was class. Of course the jeep was a bit crowded with Lolita, her compadre (more about that later), her cousin, her sister, Lt. Kuras, John Smarrito and myself. I forgot to tell you that she said she would bring a girl for Smarrito.
So we drives down to the market place and pile out. But we did not go in, rather than that, Lolita said we would now pick up the girlfriend and it was about a block or so down the road. We all went into the house and they gave us only two chairs in the place to sit on. Like most Filipino houses, it had just one room with everything in it. The gal was fixing her hair and putting the finishing touches to her face in front of the mirror and her mother was sitting on the floor smoking a cigarette. We talked about this and that - and seeing as how the store the people owned was connected with the one room house and it was a dress shop, Smarrito, the New York clothing worker was right in his glory telling them which was rayon, taffeta, and all different kinds of goods.
Then just as we were ready to go came the funny part. Two more girls all dressed up fit to kill suddenly popped into the room out of nowhere and Lolita turned around to us and said I brought three girls for you to dance with. So then we went to the dance, five gals three fellows and a little girl all on one invitation.
Lolita told me that she wasn't a good dancer and that she would just watch and I could dance with the others to which I answered that I would sit out the dances with her then. Well, we made a good start in sitting them out until it was becoming rather embarrassing having everybody that knew me in battalion coming up and wanting to dance with Lolita and she telling them that she was with me and they in turn giving me dirty looks for hoarding a gal on the sidelines like that. But more embarrassing was when we decided to get up and dance to a Tango. I dance very little and she doesn't dance at all. You guessed it, we moved in perfect unison - in hitting each others feet at every step or when not hitting feet together we would both be stepping in opposite directions.
Then we would sit out a few dances and she would ask me if I wanted to dance and we would go out on the floor again and mess up the detail all over again. At last, however, there was one number we really swung out in the groove. "A Sentimental Journey" and all we had to do was tap out time with our feet in sort of a shuffle and we did ourselves proud.
The other girls went home right away because some of the GI's were getting drunk and if there is anything a Filipino girl detests is a man who drinks to an excess that it begins to show in his actions. You can just notice how they stir clear of that type. At one time during the course of the evening somebody I knew came up and was insistent that he dance with her and I told her that it was "Up to you," and I guess she was just trying to be polite and danced with the fellow. When she came back she told me he was drunk and she said it in such a tone that, it was my fault for letting her dance with him. After that no one else got to first base.
We had refreshments of apple cider, tea and lemonade with chocolate cake to go with it. After a time, near eleven o'clock the band got a couple of singers and most of the people were crowded around the back and things were becoming uninteresting so we came home. I left her off with her sister, cousin and compadre and when I reached the tent I hit the hay immediately and didn't get up out of bed until twelve o'clock Sunday morning. And that was the last good rest I've had since then, but that is a separate story in itself.
A closing word on the dance is that I didn't have a very good time seeing as how we didn't dance so good and I have no idea how she enjoyed herself. I haven't been over to see her since then but have waved to her a couple times on my way to the office. That is the essence of my escapade into Filipino romance.
Now for the compadre. That was the husband of the cousin and they came along not to dance but to chaperone Lolita. Any good girl doesn't think of going out anyplace alone but has a chaperone along. The compadre is the person whom you are a godparent to their child. Complicated? My Dad is your compadre because you are my godparent.
With knocking off from work Saturday night and Sunday morning I was really floored with the work when I came down Sunday afternoon and it wasn't until past two o'clock Monday morning before I could leave work only to be back at the grind again at six-thirty. And so it has gone every night, working every possible minute from morning until almost midnight with me getting more tired by the minute. A person is fighting a losing game in this job. Especially when you can't accomplish much during the day time with all the interruptions.
Meanwhile I've been receiving letters from you right along with the air mail coming in good style but I'll be darned if I even know where I've put the mail. They are in my wallet, pockets, underneath my mattress, or in my desk in out of the way corners. I had to read them on the fly and then just put them somewhere.
Things such as Surplus Personnel Reports, Anticipated Losses Reports, Lowering the critical score to 70, records going in and records coming out or versus-vice, soldier deposits, Personal transfer accounts, payrolls, the Colonel bothering me, Lt Suiter bothering me, having to watch all the work Frazin turns in because he invariably does it wrong the first time, preparing records on hospital men and on and on and on. I guess I like it though because the only time I get mad lately is when someone takes away big gobs of time from my work. I'm going to leave this army just like I got into it, in one deluge of work. It gets tiresome sometimes but after continuing at this pace for over a month now, it is becoming part of my existence and I'd probably crack up with nothing to do.
The rest of the battalion gets three day passes, days off, recreation and all we in the office get is a regular working day, six days a week, plus overtime, plus parades. So when two clerks both wanted to get a three day pass today - Moscowitz to go to Okinawa to see his brother - and Hipp to take a trip around the island - I said we could get along without them when Lt Suiter asked me if we could. I don't know how much influence I had in the affair but he let them go. The Lt Suiter (good old hot headed GI Joe Blow) comes running over wanting to know how come Kuras was giving two clerks days off at one time. Then Kuras stuck up for them by telling Joe that maybe inside of a week we will be shoving off for Japan and there won't be any more passes and they work hard and all that until he blew the Blow right away. Teddy is okay in my books and a regular fellow.
Here is the latest dope on our movement. We can't be hanging around here much longer as everything is approaching the last stage in planning for the movement and we are to reach the target area (Nagoya) during the Phase II (while the weather is still warm enough for khakis) and that won't be for much longer. Our APO will change the minute we hit White Beach on Lingayen Gulf from where we will embark on to LST's. The new APO is 713 and I'd say that you could address your next letter to it instead of 198 since by the time it gets back to me, I'll most surely be on my way or maybe in Japan.
This Japan deal is getting to look not so good. Why? Because they have printed an orientation on reaching the objective and they state that besides malaria and dengue fever, we will now encounter, filiarisis, scrub typhus, lice, fleas, dysentery, plague, trench foot and goodness knows what including biting rats, poisonous snakes, infected water, polluted wells and all in all it seems that life will be very hazardous in Japan. At least the cold weather ought to kill the mosquitoes (I hope) - although for that matter I may have malaria right now and not know it.
If things ease up when we get to Japan, it may be possible for us to take three day passes to visit both Tokyo and Hiroshima. I would like to see what is left of both those cities. If I do get to see Tokyo, I'll have been in the capital cities of New Caledonia, the Philippines and Japan which would be quite the thing in my estimation.
It is getting later again and I'll sign off in a few minutes after giving you a few more pertinent facts of this and that.
Lewis came back today after spending almost three weeks in Manila and he has a brand new set of store teeth. They are okay too since they have been matched to the same color as his lower teeth and are not so rigidly even but have a lifelike tilt to some of them just the way teeth in the mouth of a normal person grow.
He owed me 80 pesos so I was very glad to see him back. I am quite flush now and probably have more money on my person than I have ever had since being in the army. (Except for furlough) So what did I go ahead and do, I bet some of it on the world series. I don't know why, I just did, that's all. And here it is: 20 pesos with Lynd, 20 pesos with Osis, 5 pesos with Welch, 5 pesos with Smarrito, 10 pesos with Burkholder and 4 pesos (1 per game) with Lynd in addition to the money on the other bet. That is a grand total of 64 pesos or $32 solid American dollars which is the most money I have ever laid on the line in my lifetime to cover a wager. The highest before this is the one I still have to pay off to Bob Miles and that is the ten bucks on the War. I finally got hold of a ten dollar American Bill I can send to him. We can't get money orders any longer and the P.T.T. doesn't take anything less than $20.
By the time you receive this letter you will know whether I am a poor man or a wealthy one for the World Series will be over. But for me it begins at 0315 tomorrow morning. Andy Mathis himself has a bet for 100 pesos on the Cubs and he is staying up tonight to hear the first game which will be short waved at 0315 and if they win, he is going to wake me up along about five-thirty in the morning and tell me so. If I wake up at Reveille, I'll know that we might have made a bad bet. One thing that surprises me is that the Cubs far overshadow the Tigers yet the Tigers are the betting favorite for games and for the series.
For once I think the Cubs are going to make the grade.
That is all for tonight and I hope that I'm not going to become submerged for another spell. I give up making promises because events rule your life. Incidentally, I caught a peach of a cold yesterday and my head has been the size of a balloon - or so it feels. My nose is red and running (short title "So Red the Nose.").
Yesterday I had one of the worst days yet. Everything I touched my hands to went bad until it was disgusting. Lt Kuras was taking bawling outs for me right and left and at noon I talked to him about it and he said that that is the way things go, Good for weeks and then suddenly nothing is right. Again I say he is ace high. He has enough points to get out now too since they lowered the point score for officers to 75. However, this Sixth Army guy Gen Krueger is messing up the detail and so far none of our 80 pointers or 35 year olds have gone home. The longer they hang around, the longer I'll be in this lousy army.