Saturday, January 28, 2012

An unscheduled stop in San Diego

Another self-styled "serial letter" awaits us today.  Maj. Gillham has left Hawaii and is now heading to Panama, but, as you will read, the ship is forced to take an unexpected yet welcome detour.

U.S.S. Alcor
28 May 46

Dearest Lovely,

This leg of my journey was going to be so long that I didn't start a letter to you right away.  However, when I don't write a few lines to you every day or two it make me feel lonesome.  I enjoy a little one-way chat with you.

We left Pearl Harbor at 0900 on 24 May.  It was a beautiful clear day and everything went off fine.  We sailed north of the other islands and they were in view all that day.  Approaching and leaving Oahu I was able to see all the larger islands in the Hawaiian Group except Hawaii.  For two or three days the weather was beautiful and the sea smooth, but now we are running into squalls and it is getting fairly rough.  This is a good riding ship and it takes the sea well.  I am in a regular routine of reading, sunbathing, exercising, sleeping and eating.  Also we have movies every night and most of them are new to me.  We took on a Protestant chaplain at Pearl and so we had a nice service on deck Sunday.

Yesterday we reached the latitude (about 21 degrees N) where the sun on that date is directly overhead at noon.  It was the first time I had ever seen that.  Also, we can see the southern cross at night now.

Our new Captain is very nice, but operated entirely different from Capt. Millard.  Capt. Millard stayed on the bridge all the time, but I seldom see him there.  He lives in his regular cabin, whereas Millard slept in a little emergency sea cabin behind the bridge, etc.

The deck chairs we got in Honolulu are very comfortable and convenient.  At present, I am reading Mixter's Navigation,  Yankee from Olympus and Forever Amber. So you see I get plenty of variety.

29 May --

It now develops that we will put in at San Diego.  We have been bucking a strong head wind ever since leaving Pearl Harbor, and the ship has a lot of barnacles on the bottom so we have been using a lot of fuel.  This morning the Captain decided we didn't have enough to get to Panama, so he radioed for, and received permission to, put into San Diego for fuel.  His officers all wanted to get it in Mexico, which wouldn't be so far out of the way, but it seem there is too much diplomatic red tape involved.  So at 1300 today we turned northeast and are now heading for San Diego.

We are due there Monday morning 3 June.  I suppose we will be there about a day, and if at all possible, I will get ashore and call you up.  I suppose I could leave the ship there and come across by rail, but I have made that trip a number of times and I probably won't have another chance to make this one.

When I get to Atlanta I will have to report in at Ft. McPherson and they will probably put me in a hospital somewhere.  If that seems like it will be long and drawn out I will try to get them to give me some leave.  I might be able to get some sick leave, which won't count against my terminal leave, but I will have to go to the hospital a few days first.  I feel fine now, but this rheumatism is still latent in me and I want to get it run down before I leave the army, if possible.

Gee! I wish we could have had a few days together at La Jolla.  Wouldn't that have been nice?  However, the location is not nearly as important to the situation as your are.  I am sure we can arrange a little honeymoon somewhere.

30 May --

Today was Emily's birthday and I thought a great deal about her -- and you -- today.  She has turned out to be a mighty fine girl and I am very proud of her.  We had a rather busy day eleven years ago today, didn't we?

1 June --

This morning I looked out on the horizon and saw my first sign of home -- the California fog bank.  We have now plunged into it and the fog horn is blowing regularly.  It is very cool now.  I can see why Bryant nearly froze to death when she came from Hawaii to La Jolla.

Col. Wilder, Lt. Cmdr. Myers and I had dinner with Capt. Doughty tonight.  He was the executive of the destroyer that sunk the Jap sub off Oahu about an hour before the main attack.

Saw a good movie tonight -- Weekend at the Waldorf.

2 June --

We are not far from San Diego now and expect a land fall early in the morning.  I saw bits of kelp floating by several times today.  We are still under a high fog and the sea is rough.  The chaplain wasn't able to finish his sermon this morning, as he got sea sick.

One quaint old order is sung out several times a day on this ship, as I imagine it is on most navy vessels.  Over the loud speaker system comes a long oscillating blast on the boatswain's pipe, followed by the order: "Sweepers, man your brooms! Clean sweep down fore and aft!"

I am going to mail you ten rolls of exposed but undeveloped film from San Diego.  I am afraid to take it through the tropical heat of Panama, and then, too, you can have them developed by the time I arrive.  They are the pictures I took during my last several weeks in Japan, including the trip to Kyushu -- also what I have taken so far on this trip.  Get them developed at a good, reliable place and remind them that some of them are on Japanese film and may require a little special attention.

3 June -- 0815

We are now anchored in San Diego Harbor.  I got up at 0500 and saw the Los Coronados Rocks, our first landfall.  I will mail this on the ship and write you again before I leave.  I don't know how long we will be here, or any details yet.

There is a high morning fog.  Everything looks mighty good to me here.

Lots of love,

As I wrote earlier, Yankee from Olympus is a biography of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.  George W. Mixter wrote a book entitled Primer of Navigation in 1940, which was designed for both amateurs and experienced seamen alike.  Kathleen Winsor's controversial 1944 novel, Forever Amber, was banned in 14 states for supposed salacious passages, portrayals of sexual intercourse and 39 instances of illegitimate pregnancies.  Nonetheless, it was the most popular novel in the 1940's and was filmed in 1947 with Linda Darnell and Cornell Wilde.
Week-End at the Waldorf was a 1945 film starring Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon and Van Johnson.  The film was based on the 1932 film Grand Hotel, which itself was based on the Vicki Baum novel Menschen im Hotel (literally "people at a hotel") from 1929.

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