This is the first letter, I believe, I’ve ever written from Nevada. We are at an auxiliary air station that is, despite the distance, attached to N.A.S. Alameda, and are here merely because it seemed to be the most convenient place (most available) with facilities to handle certain phases of our flying syllabus that could not be handled at the main station. Actually we’re one of the few air groups that has not been based at an auxiliary air station most of the time. True, Alameda is large and growing, buty that means of course that there is an awful lot going on thereabouts and much air space being used.
I had an idea that perhaps you would be around Great Neck a little longer. Perhaps it was a space problem that caused you, Pa, not to linger there until Ma picked you up on the way back from Washington, an otherwise logical thing to do seems to me. I may say it was rather typical, reminding me of the pathetically short Florida trip not so long ago. Now that the Reas have gone and Jack is at school, couldn’t you afford to linger a little longer on trips? At least you can when this bloody business at hand is over. Selfishly, I’ve been thinking what I’d like to do in the way of vacationing when the war is over, but much if not most of it I’d like to do with you, especially if, as seems more than likely, I’m still a bachelor.
First of course I’d prefer to do nothing except play around Groton and Squam, chasing birds and perhaps golf balls, climbimg mountains and in the evenings, except when occasionally chasing something different, listening to Beethoven, Brahms, etc., and to one of you reading aloud. Yes, that would be about as nice as anything for a while.
Well, it would not be surprising if after a few weeks or so this person became restless, and why, unless the season of the year were too unfavorable (if possible), wouldn’t that be a good tike for a trip somewhere? You two and not me should be the first to go, though I’d like to if still unsettled. Perhaps Nance would like to come if still unattached and Jack if it’s summer. I’m assuming Henry will be married. In any case I’m thinking of something fairly ambitious that would pretty well cover our West and include even parts of both Canada and Mexico. If along, I could of course show you much, but in any case could advise you of places not to miss, etc. Good idea all this?
Perhaps you’ve been wondering if I’ve any more permanent plans, and certainly I have no intention of wearing out the old tweed jacket before deciding what to do with my life. Perhaps you’ll agree that when a civilian once more I should not worry too much about being thirty odd (!) and not settled down into a nice substantial job. At any rate I have no intention of so worrying and taking the first or second thing that comes along even if it does look pretty good. I’m rather inclined to think that in spite of seven years of college and in spite of my age the best thing I could do would be to go right back to Michigan or somewhere and pick up where I left off, not, however, omitting much refreshing. I’d look for an assistantship and further help only from my war bonds or Uncle Sam, especially in the latter case, if I can let my conscience persuade him that my education was interrupted by the War. Whether I could ever work up to a Ph. D seems doubtful in view of all I’ve forgotten and all the new material I’d not only have to expose myself to but absorb—that is and make it worth the time—but it’s something to think about for someone who would rather like to become connected to an academic institution. I’ve gotten so that I think I’d actually like teaching, though the right kind of research would probably appeal to me more. This should perhaps best follow a practical field job of a year or two or three with some such government agency as the Forest Service or the Biological Survey. It might even be best to stay with Uncle Sam if one could ever get far enough up to earn a decent salary, to say nothing about the difficulties getting started what with depression coming along, etc. Oh for a beautiful heiress, the ability to write or something!
For the moment I forgot about Henry, another reason for your wanting to get back to Groton. Those days in N.Y. and D.C. must have been pretty hectic. Too bad you couldn’t, as I hinted before, have enjoyed them at leisure. Again I kick myself for sending my last letter to Great Neck.
There’s only a chance in a million of course I’ll see Henry. Fresno is pretty far for one thing, and it’s obvious Air Group 17 is not going to linger around much longer, which reminds me that I never told you the name of our commander, which is Konrad. He is of course a full commander and the immediate boss of the three squadron skippers. His job is largely a coordinating one, and he usually has part of the fighter squadron with him being in a Hellcat himself, though he could fly independently. He is the highest ranking officer aboard a carrier that flies ordinarily, speaking of group commanders in general, and Comdr. Konrad, who looks fortyish, speaking of one in particular, seems a very fine man.
Before I go I hoipe to stock up on a few substantial books, especially recognized classics that I not only should have read, but probably would enjoy, like “Vanity Fair,” “Tom Jones,” “Moby Dick” or at least that sort of thing. So give me a book store with a good Modern Library section, and just in case there is still a chance to get some of them (not necessarily buy, perhaps just borrow from the ship’s library), how about some sort of a list, Pa, of the best works of people like Fielding, Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, etc., in other words something that would include the novels (most anything non-fiction except of course poetry, which I intend to partake of also, would be dull, wouldn’t it) generally recognized as the most significant ones of the period from whenever novels were first well written (late 18TH cent.?) through the last century or the first part of this. A list of strictly modern books would be too much to ask for from even an English “professor,” I’m afraid.
Of course I’ve read some of the “classics,” but only “Pride and Prejudice” and “Wuthering Heights” at all recently, and how I did enjoy the former especially.
I might conclude with a brief description of our location here. It’s pretty much desert except that there are considerable irrigated areas nearby, all the land for miles around being so flat as to be what must have once been a lake bottom. There are barren mountains in the distance on all sides. Poor drainage in certain places has resulted in swampy areas that teem with ducks and geese (including snow geese). Magpies are common, and we also seen [sic] a coyote and a badger, both very close.
Well, the next may be censored!