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Dec. 13, 1942

Dear Folks,

Life continues to be rather pleasant down here, but one reason is that we are being somewhat neglected in favor of the regular students, [and] consequently are far from overworked. Another reason is that we are treated as instructors rather than students so far as restrictions, liberty, etc. are concerned, yet so far we haven’t been given any watches. Much of the time having no hops scheduled we just take up an SNJ apiece (it is still the nicest flying plane we’ve flown) and do a little cross-country flying, in formation or otherwise and at almost any altitude up to where it begins to get cold with the cockpit still open. As a matter of fact I took a TBD up to over 15,000 the other day, cockpit closed, but that was a good deal higher than we are supposed to go without oxygen, though it’s of course perfectly safe just for a minute or so for one who has passed the chamber test. Two days ago I flew a “J” southwest to Whitewater Bay, locating Royal Palm State Park, a place I want to visit soon, on the way, and then in the afternoon flew with a group to Lake Okeechobee and back, thus getting a pretty good bird’s-eye view of this part of Florida. The Everglades occupy most of the area, but have been drained in many places. Trees are scarce, grass abundant, but there are some hammocks of palms and other trees here and there. Pines are also scattered, and about the most conspicuous of these are two trees known as Brazilian and Australian pines, both of which have been extensively planted and apparently have run wild in some areas. They resemble pines superficially, but I don’t know where they really belong botanically. Around Okeechobee especially there is considerable truck gardenng, and though orange groves occur, most of Florida’s oranges must grow north of the lake. Drainage canals are more common than roads except near the east coast.

I haven’t had a good chance to examine the fauna at all thoroughly, but there are birds around. Egrets, etc., can be seen from a plane, but not well. Boat-tailed grackles (almost as big as crows) and palm warblers (summer in Canada) are the commonest birds on the station here, where there are practically no trees, but there are also killdeers, sparrow hawks, burrowing owls and a few others. I've noticed large flocks of robins flying north to-day. In a nearby marsh are coots, gallinules (no purple ones seen yet) and pied-billed grebes, and along the shore (about 10 miles to the east) are pelicans and a few shore birds. I itch to explore the all too distant keys.

You know by now that Jan and I met, by a lucky coincidence. He was here for two separate nights and the day after the first picked up a message I left for him, just for luck, at a likely airport. I had dinner with him and a friend the evening after the first night and just went in to say goodbye the night before he left, when he didn’t have time to come out here for dinner.

Yesterday a day off—sleep then a few errands in town; also two entertaining movies, “The Black Swan” and “Gentleman Jim.”

Love to All


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