Monday, January 23, 2012

Maj. Gillham buys a deck chair and sets sail

Maj. Gillham writes his last letter from Hawaii after he boards the Alcor, ready to set sail for the Panama Canal. 

Aboard U.S.S. Alcor
Pearl Harbor
23 May 46

Dearest Lovely,

Have just come aboard and expect to pull out tomorrow morning.

Have had a fine visit here and seen most of what I should, I guess.  It is a lovely place and the climate is ideal.  We had fine quarters at Ft. Shafter and they didn't cost us anything.

Yesterday we prowled around some of the shops, had lunch at Ft. De Russy Officers Club, went swimming at Waikiki and watched the surf boards and outrigger canoes.  It was all very interesting. Had dinner at a night club and saw some hula.

Today we did some more prowling and shopping, and went to the aquarium and saw many unusual fish.  Also went to a botanical garden that had full-size trees from tropical areas all over the world.  Enclosed is a leaf from the sacred tree of India.

I am sending the children some picture folders of scenes and the flowers and fishes. I also mailed a roll of color movie film. Other things I am bringing with me. The Col. and I both bought a deck chair. He is going to buy mine when we get to Boston. They were made in Maine and he is taking them back there. He is assistant to the President of Bowdoin College somewhere in Maine. He came from near Boston.

I hope I will get some more mail from you when I get to the canal. It was certainly a pleasure to get a letter from you here.

Well, here I go -- off to see my darling. It may be a long, slow trip, but each day brings me closer to the one I love. I sent you an orchid today, just because I love you.



Fort DeRussy is actually one of five such-named forts in the U.S., all named after General Rene Edward DeRussy, the oldest general to serve in the Civil War (on the Confederate side).  The fort is located adjacent to Waikiki Beach and is largely unfenced, allowing public access.

Bowdoin College is a small private, liberal arts college located in Brunswick, Maine.  It was founded in 1794 and currently has an enrollment of 1,777 students and a faculty of 213.  The president at the time of this letter (and thus the Colonel's boss) was Kenneth C.M. Sills, who served from 1918-1952.  Interestingly, the college is the alma mater of both President Franklin Pierce and the fictional surgeon Benjamin Franklin Pierce, a.k.a. Hawkeye, from the novel, movie and television show MASH.