May 2-3, 1944
Now that I’m finally reasonably settled down and have bought some notepaper, I can easily drop you a line. “Easily” sometimes seems to be a necessity to me.
The trip out was uneventful, though it almost got off to a poor start with one piece of baggage missing for a while in Grand Central and others to be repacked to get down to 40 lbs., which meant not getting out to Great Neck and seeing only a minimum of Ham. There were stops at Washington, Nashville, Little Rock, Dallas, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, and one other somewhere, though I got out only at Washington, El Paso and one of the Arizona stops, I forget which. There was a lot of magnificent desert scenery from down in western Texas on. No one threatened to put me off, though one of the several pretty stewardesses we had (one at a time) mentioned she had once put off two major generals for a couple of second lieutenants, who as ferry pilots had higher priorities. So despite a late start we dropped into San Diego about noon on Wednesday, less than 18 hours out of New York and, incidentally, 36 hours early for me.
The next three nights I spent at the Del Coronado Hotel, a relic (sp.?) of the eighties or nineties though half taken by the Navy. Everyone in the World from people I hadn’t seen since college days to others also just up from Daytona was there. They pretty well took up the evening. By day I waited, first to check in, then to get orders to check out, and the most enjoyable way to do that seems to be to hire a Mercury and drive all over the countryside, interesting in itself, but naturally especially so for the birds. I could have used my monocular spotting scope and one of my bird books to advantage had they arrived. Long-billed curlews, shovelers and phalaropes were the most exciting new species for me. The country around San Diego is very rugged, coastal hills for instance soon giving way to peaks several thousand feet high a little way inland. All is pretty barren of trees, what few there are occurring mostly singly or in small groves.
Down there I was assigned to VB-17 soon after checking in and sure enough Mr. Ware was listed as the skipper. It was just when finding all this out that I ran into Archie, who should now be aboard his small carrier. He seemed in good form and helped me get squared away with baggage, etc.
Well I came up here by train, nearly missing a vital connection at Los Angeles because of having boarded a milk train at S.D. by mistake. They told me it was an extra, which was erroneous, so I assumed it would follow right behind the other hopelessly crowded (not even standing room) one. Since I did make it (by about three minutes, after a five hour ride up) and did not get a seat, it turned out all right except for the sweat.
For a while I wondered about addresses and thought at first to disclose our present location wouldn’t do, but here’s the notepaper heading, and you have a map, which will show that we are just south of Oakland and across the bay from the truly fascinating city of San Francisco. What you have is my permanent address. It does look as if we might be in this country for several months yet, but we very likely will move away from fog to do most of our flying. There is considerable organizing to do, though we are fortunate in retaining some of the members of the old Bombing 17, and I’m just glad to find quite a number of them and others senior to me. I’ll tell more as I find out that it’s OK to do so. There are more trees here thank God and still plenty of hills, but so far I’ve only seen a bit of “Frisco.”
Love to All,
P.S. Just got better. Don’t want cap covers. My leave of course was up to scratch. It couldn’t help being under the circumstances.