Sept. 9, 1943
Well, now, like Hannibal, we have only the Alps to cross, only from the other direction, though actually the Channel is probably still considered the principal hazard. After all, we had all of Italy during the whole of the last war. It must still have been a satisfactory feeling, especially for Alexander and Montgomery, to have won such a great victory with such comparative ease. Id rather like to be sent to Europe first and get in on that show before its over and then be sent to the Pacific, but that doesnt seem very likely what with the British Navy having things pretty well in hand. Atlantic duty might mean North Atlantic patrol, which would be definitely grim. At any rate, wherever and whenever Im called, I wont be too sorry to leave Florida.
News about Squam was most welcome though tantalizing. Too bad you couldnt have been up there longer. It isnt hard to imagine a nice stimulating northwest breeze and hardly a cloud in the sky up there right now. At night now Vega should be twinkling brightly directly overhead and the air full of chirps and whistles of migrating warblers and thrushes. With a telescope on the moon, which should be waxing along, one could even catch glimpses of a few of them.
So Jan is back and also George Bigelow. This morning we had an interesting lecture by one of his associates, also just returned from the southwest Pacific. It doesnt make one feel quite right to have all ones friends coming back before one is even sent out, but Im still glad of getting this job because of the experience gained. Besides piling up the flight hours it improves ones bombing, gunnery, etc., and of course its supposed to improve the same of ones students. Even if one doesnt always set a good example, it is a rather satisfactory feeling to see improvements in said students. Weve been having another series of thunderstorms that have dampened things in two respects.They have also spoiled plans for bicycle trips on my last two days off, but the bicycle has itself misbehaved. A little while ago a sailor put on a new rear axle, bearings, etc., and even more recently I put on a new front axle, the threads on the old having worn out, causing wobbly, rubbing wheels.
Im now reading, with surprising interest, The Pocket History of the United Statescost $.0005 per page. It seems to me to be a well-balanced job and fair but frank. A lot of interesting stuff Id forgotten and some Id never known.
My latest collection, shells, grows whenever it gets the chance. Few good shells are washed up at Daytona, and few were at Jax (Atlantic Beach or Ponte Vedra), but the inlet twelve miles or so south of here is a pretty good spot for them. The southwest coast of the state is famous for shells, but is hard to get to from here, there being no east west passenger railroads. Theres a nice little book about Florida shells, a copy of which I bought, which describes most varieties. Heres something rather interesting I first noticed not so long agothat practically all spiral shells spiral to the right. Theres one local species that is supposed to spiral to the left and very rarely to the right, yet the majority of my several specimens of said species spiral to the right!
Your last two letters came in the middle of this letter. The black and white party must have been somethingright down to the incident of the missing match box. Our colored maid, who had always seemed pleasant and surprisingly intelligent, recently told me she majored in music at Temple Univ. after winning a $1500 scholarship. Shes quite a contrast (plays church organ on Sundays) to our mess hall boys, said to have been recruited from local swamps, but someone said there was steak for supper (very rare, food only so-so right along), and Im hungry as usual.