June 1, 1942
I promise to be a better correspondent now that ground school is over. With a little more leisure time one has more opportunity to write, read, exercise and generally amuse oneself hence has more to tell about in letters. I must admit Im not very good at writing to anyone except parentsor young ladies, if there are any with whom one is, shall we say, on more than friendly terms, or thinks one is! Ground school isnt the only thing thats over. There was what I thought until very recently a very nice young lady in Detroit, but she got married last Friday or the Friday before! Ho hum! Besides letters, which, incidentally, I enjoy writing almost as much as getting, a fortunate situation indeed, I try my hand every now and then at writing more on my thesis and a little in a sort of diary. The trouble with a thesis is that it has to hang together, as they say, and the trouble with a diary seems to be that one writes in it less and less often.
Reading I find a very satisfactory way to pass leisure time provided Im well started on a good book. Benchleys book, thanks to you, I read a snatch of now and then and find nothing less than delightful. Inevitably it has much that his movies dont have, though the reverse is of course true too. There is a small, but not too badly balanced library here on the station, which I make use of now and then, a Cronin and the last Buchan being the latest accomplishments. Those pocket books are useful too and gave me a chance to reread Pride and Prejudice, one of my very favorites, and finally read Wuthering Heights. I try not to miss good Saturday Evening Post serials or the weekly news in Newsweek and Life.
Most happily too exercise is becoming more habitual. There are two nice swimming pools for as much of a workout as one wants and quite an area of woodland to stroll in. Ive pretty well identified the local aviforma, having in fact found about 85 species on the limited area of the station, the minority rather than the majority, however, being hitherto unfamiliar to a New England ornithologistbecause so many are just southern representatives (or vice versa) or just migrants bound for the north. The vegetation even to a forester is still very baffling, but to become even familiar to it would involve making collections, looking things up in books all the pictures of which look the same at first, etc., etc.
Generally amusing oneself seems to mean just one thing with many of us nowgoing to town (about 15 miles away), having a nice steak dinner and then going to a good, bad, or indifferent movie. Some of the boys are of course somehow able to find attractive girls to go out with, and some arent particular and just find girls. The beach, more than thirty miles away, is now unfortunately more remote than ever, but one hopes to visit it now and then.
Meanwhile there is flying and plenty of it, in a variety of planes and in formation or not.
Love to All,
P.S. Any advice about books or anything would be most welcome!
P.P.S. Since this is not strictly part of the letter, I hope youll forgive the change [in stationery]. As is so often the case when having finished a letter I remember something else I wanted to say.
You spoke of Spring and asked how the country around here compares with New England. It doesnt. If there were Hills, the countryside would be quite attractive, but there arent any. The highest point in the whole state is less than 400 feet above sea level. Florida, next after Maine and New Hampshire, has a greater percentage of its area in forest land than any other state, and the country around here is probably more or less representative. There are both isolated farms and larger farming areas and of course cities and towns, but the latter are smaller, more widely spaced and much shabbier than most of ours. The bulk of the land, however, is covered with forest or woodland of some sort. Little of this is, because of past cuttings, impressive. There are large areas of river bottom hardwoods and also uplands of hardwoods called hammocks, but badly-burned pinelands occupied by trees resembling our pitch pines, but with larger needles and usually badly scarred from naval stores operations, are the most extensive type. The sea beaches are magnificent, but the vegetation along them is scrubby. Rivers are slow, winding and very muddy, and lakes, common in places, are, because of muddiness and ill-defined shores, unattractive. It is interesting country, but attractive only in spots.