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The Innlet
Ponte Vedra Beach

Feb. 8, 1942

Dear Folks,

We’ve had a pretty busy week, so I confined myself to just the letter to Nance, but now we’re through the indoctrination course that’s supposed to make us good naval officer material and will begin the regular aviation ground school tomorrow. We’re all through drill, which is nice since we had just about enough. Our platoon, under the guidance of a very able one of us, a former army sergeant, beat out the other two in the final drill competition hands down after a poor showing the previous week when several men made bad mistakes in one of our routines, which is just what happened to the other groups this time, probably because they tackled too difficult numbers. I have perhaps a little less confidence now in my ability as a potential naval oifficer since I’m afraid I didn’t take the indoctrination course seriously enough, but I’ve always had trouble memorizing a lot of stuff that I knew I’d soon forget, especially as it had little or nothing to do with the real problems in hand, in this case aviation. Some of the stuff, however, was, I suppose, good to have had even if one didn’t distinguish oneself on the final exams, as was my case. Rumor has it that ground school is pretty worthwhile and interesting and not unduly difficult, though every week-end hundreds of men get restricted because of failure to pass radio code and blinker tests.

Having hurt my other ankle by rather thoroughly bruising it with a bowling ball, whose diameter I miscalculated at its delivery towards the pins, causing it to deflect from the convex ankle bone on the inside of my left leg into the gutter, I have done little exercise in about three weeks and have apparently gone to the extent of increasing my middle at its smallest circumference from 29ʺ to 30ʺ! Evening movies have been cut out since we started the indoctrination course, and we won’t be able to go again except on weekends until as second class cadets we are allowed out on Wednesday nights.

I don’t believe my heart is anything to worry about, and perhaps it may actually be of help at high altitudes. One hears that people in the high Andes have large hearts.

Ma, you asked about birthday presents, and I have an idea. Nice as my new bag is, it is unnecessarily large for week-ends such as this. Might it be possible for me to pick one out here that suits me—a very small, but sturdy job? One definite non-want is food, though if some is all set, send it along, and it will be pleasantly disposed of. The story is that we are well fed, and that food is not allowed in the rooms. I’ve just bought one of the brand new Webster’s collegiate dictionaries if anyone wants to give me that! Oh, yes, a bathing suit too—$2.95.

I’ll send my clothes home sometime when I get around to it perhaps.

The road from Mayport that goes through moss-draped live oaks is nice isn’t it? Might look into the Ribeaux Club some week-end.

Too bad about the Dan Merrimans. Better luck next time for Edie.

No, I don’t think I need my wrapper. It isn’t cold here, but a lighter job is another birthday present possibility, but perhaps not practical.

The Y.W.C.A possibility for Merryweather does sound good, I think—a pity for the facilities not to be used and enjoyed and better by a lot of feminine muscle men than none.

Too darn bad about Ty. That is a great loss. In him there was a rare, perhaps unique combination of musical talent and quiet humor.

Evening grosbeaks—very exciting! Strange birds. They suddenly appear out of the Northwest somewhere, and nobody knows why.

Don’t worry about the telescope support. Perhaps I left it at Squam or possibly even in Michigan. Come to think of it I’m not sure I’ve seen it since the summer.

The patrol bombers are vey much flying boats. They land in the water, but are pulled up on land at night. The more recent models are amphibians. In one lecture, however, a naval aviator said he thought that the Navy would eventually be using land planes for patrol work because they are so much faster and better armed and with just as long or almost as long cruising radius.

I hope this air raid warden stuff doesn’t interfere too much with things. It almost sounds as if some people, like Grandma, for instance, were almost taking it too much to heart to the extent of wasting time that might be more valuable for other things. I suppose Nance would be right in getting into uniform. It may be that in a few months there will be planes capable of making a round trip of 6000 miles plus with a real load of bombs. If there are now, I am unaware of same. She should make sure that her specialized training, however, couldn't fit into something else equally or perhaps more worthwhile, but perhaps defense designs are a little beyond her line.

My it’s nice here at Ponte Vedra. It’s the obvious place for week-ends. Here at the Innlet cadets are charged only $1.50 a head for swell rooms with private bath. Phil and I spent the night here. Now he is somewhere with his Buffalo folks, whom he met in town this morning while I was still sleeping. Now I’m sitting in the sun writing very sloppily on the arm of a chair, enjoying everything except a heavy cold. A little plane just landed on the beach and took off again. Gannets every once in a while plummet down for some fish. Pipits chirp here and there, and porpoises or something gambol in the surf. Pelicans do the same. The temperature is around 60°F,but it’s fine in the sun. The only vegetation around consists of palm trees and scrub palms, magnolias, etc. Birds are OK (over 70 now for Florida—coots, galinules [sic], eagles, etc. added last week-end), but the vegetation is puzzling. Sorry for the scrawl.

Love to all,


P.S. Don Watson and Dick Eustis (LeeLee’s brother) were having real sun baths here a while ago. D.W. just arrived Thursday.

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