Sunday, January 15, 2012

Maj. Gillham finishes the first leg of his trip

Today we read the second part of Maj. Gillham's "serial letter," which he had to break off and mail after the first part reached twelve pages.  In fact, he labeled this letter No. 2 to confirm this fact. 

No. 2

U.S.S. Alcor
16 May 46

Dearest Darling,

I am starting my second serial letter to you aboard the Alcor.  The other one got to where it was about all that one envelope would hold.

Yesterday morning we crossed the 180th meridian and had Wednesday 15 May all over again.  We are less than 900 miles from Hawaii now and should get there Monday morning.  We have passed Midway, but it was too far away to see it. I am again impressed with the beautiful blue of the ocean in this area.  It is a shade that is hard to believe.

I am taking about 20 minutes of sun per day now and am beginning to get a tan.

Only Col. Wilder is going on around through the Canal with me.  The others are planning to get off at Pearl and get another ride to the west coast.  He and I are going to try to see all of Oahu that we can in the two or three days we will have there.  I will mail these letters there and also will try to get one off just before I leave telling you of my visit.  Wish my friend Chun were there, but I think he is still in Korea.

17 May --

The distances in this Pacific Ocean are appalling.  We passed Midway a couple of days ago and it will still be about three more days before we get to Pearl.  After ten days at sea there is really not much to write about in the way of news.

Things have settled down to a daily routine that has little variation.  There is plenty of time to read and think and rest.

It is hard for me to picture just what I will do or what things will be like when I get home and return to civilian life.  I have lived in an artificial world too long.  You, my darling, are a fixed and guiding star -- and the children are real to me.  Other than that everything is nebulous.  After I get out I will talk to the telephone company and see what they will offer.  If I don't like their proposition I will be able to speculate for two or three months before I have to do something.  Naturally I am as anxious as you to settle down and have a home somewhere -- for our own sakes and for the children.  I think they should be allowed to stay put for a while now.  However, I don't want my desires to overrule my better judgment and cause me to do something rash.  A few months or readjustment shifting is not a lifetime.  Whatever the outcome I am sure we will make out fine.

18 May --

A Frigate Bird flew across our course today and kept right on going, heading for French Frigate Shoals to the north.  He was a tremendous big thing.

They say that the temperature of the sea water is now 78 degrees F.  No wonder it is warm.  They could use some of that water at Carmel, couldn't they?  I will have to see about getting the currents changed.

We are due in Pearl Harbor day after tomorrow morning.  The Capt. thinks he may be relieved there. He has been at sea for 56 months during the war.

I have found "Yankee from Olympus" and am finishing it. Something interrupted me when I was reading it several years ago.

19 May --

We got our first land fall this morning.  It is quite a thrill to sail over 3000 miles across trackless ocean and then find a big rock sticking up out of the water right where it is supposed to be.  We are running south of the islands and will be at Oahu early tomorrow morning.  In fact, we are only making about 8 knots now so we won't arrive too early.

We have fared very well on this leg of the trip.  Good weather and good food.  Tonight we had soup, celery, ripe olives, fried chicken, English peas, mashed potatoes, bread and butter, coffee and apple pie a la mode.  That is at the end of a long voyage from a foreign port.  It is a far cry from salt meat and hard tack.

I will close this now and mail it aboard.  I will write again before I leave Hawaii.  Gee! I wish you were with me.  I will long for you at every beautiful or interesting thing I see.

Lots and lots of love to the sweetest wife in the world.



The International Date Line is the imaginary line running roughly the length of the 180th meridian that demarcates the change of day on the globe.  The concept was created at the 1887 Internation Meridien Conference, which established the zero, or prime, meridien at Greenwich, England.  There have been various changes and deviations from the 180th meridien over the years, to avoid traversing land masses and splitting island groups.  Going eastward, the traveler subtracts 24 hours when he crosses the IDL.  Conversely, going west he adds 24 hours.  The island of Midway, which Maj. Gillham mentions, is just east of the IDL.

The book Yankee from Olympus:  Justice Holmes and his Family is a biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the long-time Supreme Court justice.  It was written by Catherine Drinker Bowen and was published in 1944.