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Feb. 23, 1943

Dear Folks,

That’s good news about Skipper. I hope that it means he is definitely on the road to recovery. If so, how remarkable!

Those of us who have been instructors for only a few scant months still don't know what the immediate future holds in store for us. The present squadron, which is to be replaced by one for fighter training, will be disbanded in a very few weeks at the most—as soon as the last students have completed the course. Most of the “older” instructors, which includes some ensigns, are getting orders to report straight to new squadrons to be attached to new ships, so it’s quite possible the same may happen to us. The two other likely possibilities are to go through operational training then report to a ship or to do the same continuing as an operational training instructor. The second possibility wouldn’t be a bad deal, but I don’t know how likely the last would be since authorities obviously prefer men with fleet experience as instructors in the most advanced types of training. Of course they could send us back to Miami—as pre-operational instructors, as we’ve been here, or they could make us primary instructors—grim thought. Going straight to the fleet with only our present experience, even to be supplemented by even fleet training at Norfolk or San Diego or somewhere, might also be a little grim.

News about Arthur Gardiner was interesting. Conclusions drawn from his remarks seem logical enough. I must admit I’m glad I didn’t sign up for V–7—to get stuck on a cruiser or a destroyer. A carrier will be bad enough for a land-loving landlubber.

The publications I referred to on the back of that envelope are the ones Pa mentioned—Wilson bulletins and a publication from Mich.—to be saved, but not sent here please!

Tell me more about the cold spell—official low temperatures in Boston, New Haven, N.Y., Mt. Washington, coldest spot in the East (Owl’s Head, N.Y.?).

The Oie situation sounds typical. I wrote her what I thought was a nice letter shortly before Christmas, but didn’t get any answer until this month, so I guess the long-haired one and the whole post war world is “right in there.”

The word just came in this minute that we are to get operational training (probably at Cecil Field, 15 mi. west of N.A.S., Jax.), and since the orders (seen and just reported by one of the boys) say nothing about instructing, it’ll propbably be the fleet after that. I just hope they don’t treat us quite as regular students (white cap covers, practically no liberty, etc.).

The head of N.A.S. Jax, by the way, is a Captain Price, just nominated to be an admiral (rear—ranks with major general because of no naval equivalent to brigadier), but as such he’ll probably go to the fleet. There’s already another admiral on the station, and there are several captains, so you see we rate more than a commander.

I’ll try not to break any bones so you’ll not have to come to Florida, or should I perhaps break a few?

Life is pretty easy these days (the schedule is easy (few students left), and on top of that great accumulations of smoke from forest fires have cancelled many hops.

On my last day off I bicycled from St. Augustine to Atlantic Beach, around 33 miles. It’s getting so the old legs are suffering less and less. I had hoped to ride most of the way on the beach, but it was too soft at first, and so until I got on the beach at Ponte Vedra for the last seven miles, it was a rather dull ride (except by the St. Augustine marshes, where there were a good many birds). New birds (totally new ones for me) are scarce these days, though there are still a good many to see if I knew where to look and how to get there. The other day I did see my first red-cockaded woodpeckers, but that should have been long ago. I’d like most to see a swallow-tailed kite and then a wild turkey, but just a few days ago I saw something even better.

While walking down the road just below here looking for birds I stopped to watch a pair of Florida (subspecies of Carolina) wrens playing with a large insect something like a May fly, now apparently letting it escape, now catching it again, almost like cats with a mouse. That in itself was an interesting sight. All of a sudden I noticed a commotion going on just across a hyacinth-clogged creek. It was not more than 150 feet from the road, and in a moment I saw that it was two animals, apparently fighting each other. It couldn’t be, yes, it was two otters. They weren’t really fighting, but playing like two very large puppies and most energetically. Actually they were as big as medium-sized dogs, only longer and with much shorter legs. Their broad faces, sleek, wet, dark-brown fur and clumsy antics made them almost resemble seals. What delightful animals, and what a wonderful time they were having, and quite oblivious of the almost constant procession of trucks working on a nearby project rolling noisily by, and the roar of planes almost directly overhead that had just taken off a nearby runway and were not yet much above the treetops.

Creeping closer with binoculars glued to my eyes I watched, fascinated. The otters, probably a mated pair, were tumbling all over each other, almost catch-as-catch can. Every so often they wearied and rested a moment, and once one of them, now half in the water, caught a fish only to let it go a few moments later as casually as he had caught it. As I got within roughly 100 feet, they began to notice my presence, sniffing the air suspiciously, but obviously they were not really alarmed. After a bit both animals slipped into the water, there to disappear under the hyacinth, their heads to suddenly pop up in another place. They gradually eased up the creek away from me, and when they began to disappear around the bend I left them, quite envious of their happy existence.

Many happy, book following.

Love to All,


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