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Feb. 5, ’43

Dear Folks,

So the big news is that Nance is now a 2nd Lt. or more correctly, I suppose, a third officer; and that Henry is in Miami. Being a full-fledged officer won’t do Nance any harm, in fact is the best thing in the World for her, but I’m afraid things may be pretty grim for Henry for a while. I wouldn’t know about Roger, but very likely it is the Navy since they’re still handing out commissions and then training some of their officers, and there’s some sort of a school for same in Miami.

Local news centers around one’s day off, since daily routine has gone on as usual. Tomorrow, however, we have a “Captain’s Inspection” and have to get up earlier than usual and dress in blues—not to forget the grey gloves—which means hops start an hour late—rather silly if you ask me, certainly no way to win a war, but it may help to keep the enlisted men toeing the line.

For the evening before my day off (yesterday) I had asked Mrs. Reid’s daughter, Caroline, for a date, but she had already been asked to go and hear the Don Cossacks yet admitted there was a possibility that her beau might be transferred. He was and gave her the tickets, so I heard the boys from the Steppes sing, which was very nice. Such range, control, etc. of voices and such chords, harmonies, etc., are really superb. Fine songs too.

After the concert and a drink or two with the group the males of which started from here together, we went out to the beach by bus. The next day was just warm enough and just sunny enough for a loll and a romp on the beach. In the afternoon I started to bicycle back here, taking a back road from Ponte Vedra. All went well for the first 20 miles, which brought me to Route 1. The road I intended to follow from here turned out to be dirt, though the map showed otherwise, so I took another, which brought me out near the east bank of the St. Johns eleven miles north of the bridge just south of here. It was one tired lad that pulled in at 10:15 last night having ridden just about 50 miles since 3:30, much of it well after dark on completely strange roads, through very wild country and without a light! I had figured on 35 miles—plenty far for untrained legs moving heavy-type bicycle and small bag. It was just before dusk when in a virgin hardwood swamp I spotted the first decent-sized cypress I’ve yet seen—seven feet through chest high by actual measurement (it was near the road and in not too wet a spot). Though it was at times a very monotonous ride, with straight stretches of several miles through thin stands of pine, there were other things of interest. A dog bit me, but in the confusion I rode over one of his feet, causing him to complain. The small piney woods cattle were often in the road, and I felt uncomfortable riding right by full grown (and large enough) bulls, which usually have wicked-looking sharp horns. Most of them, however, seemed actually afraid of the lonely cyclist and moved rapidly out of the way, as did the especially wild pigs, some of which look like wild boars. There were several fires, right by the road. These move rapidly through the grass, seldom catching the crowns of the trees, which, however, they frequently kill by burning the trunks. The trees are too widely-spaced for real crown fires, but bad fires (those going through country not recently burned before, hence with more undergrowth) can kill everything in their paths. Frequent fires in one area permit only grass to grow, which makes better pasturage and makes the trees more accessible for naval stores operations, which, I guess, are the main reasons the fires are set, as most of them are. Timber and game suffer, but I suppose the scrawny cattle benefit. The main trouble is that once a fire starts there’s practically nothing to stop it—except fogs at night. There are fire towers, but probably when people report fires from them, others say, “So what?” It’s not unusual to see over a dozen fires from the air between here and St. Augustine these days. Enough about fires and enough anyway. L. to A., T.R.

P.S. Hold [sic]

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