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Aug. 6–7, ’44

Dear Folks,

It’s most reassuring to hear that Ma and Jack got up to Squam and that things are as they should be up there (within striking distance of perfection).

I sometimes wonder what woodchucks did when there weren’t any vegetable gardens to devour, that is, when the primaeval forests covered all of New England. Of course it wasn’t all deep, dark forest, but certainly the woodchuck has prospered with civilization as few animals have.

It seems that we won’t be going out to sea, except for a short cruise of a few days on a baby flat-top for qualifying landings possibly within a week, for some little time now after all, which makes this strange person begin to wonder, among other far more vital things, what sort of an early season southbound bird migration they have out here. Probably it isn’t marked like that at home often is, especially following cold waves, and it may mostly come too late. We’ll be getting training all along, by the way, though much of it will be to keep our hand in, and we may get more elsewhere after we leave — even if some of us have demonstrated some dive bombing ability (five out of five it was — not often done, but under such good conditions not deserving of much more than a P.S., one or two others in the squadron having done it). Our insignia is being worked on, but so far as I know the final design has not been decided upon. I’ll try to remember to send a picture or a snapshot or two, but we’re not even supposed to have cameras aboard the station, to say nothing of the hangar area, where we can do all the unposed sitting in planes we want. Too many silly things like this would make a navy career for this Joe a rather remote possibility!

Our weather has been improving, and we’ve been able to get out to sea for gunnery exercises. We were really all set this morning — no fog or anything — when one gunner was so accurate as to shoot the tow line attached to the target sleeve, which of course immediately tumbled into the sea.

+           +           +

Another day passes so I’ll try and conclude the news from here.

The “Merry Widow” was most enjoyable, the hero’s voice making up for his smug strutting and the heroine contributing not a little. A week ago Tuesday I managed to get to the final of a series of Beethoven concerts by the Budapest String Quartet, having also been to one of the earlier ones. This last program, like the other, consisted of an early opus, a middle one and a late one, the last two, to my delight, turning out to be two we have at home (Opus 59, no.1; opus 131). Yes, San Francisco is obviously the cultural center of the Far West and must be flourishing as such during the winter with its said-to-be-excellent symphony orchestra, etc.

Last Saturday I went for a pretty good bike ride from almost downtown Oakland. Heading more or less northeast I soon hit the hills, “pumping” for quite a while, but finally resorting to wheeling the bike except in the less steep places.

Woods, largely pine (species?) and eucalyptus (picturesque, non-native now so characteristic of much of California) covered the final slopes leading up to the ridge though suburban houses extended almost all the way up. “Round-top” turned out to be a convenient objective. It is 1750 ft. above the Bay not counting a fire tower, and the view would have been fine except for the haze. That to the east of the very barren remainder of the coast ranges was better. What a coast coming down!

Night flying now and unfortunately no likelihood of the fog rolling in to spoil it.

Love      Toots

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