Life In Alaska – Dear Parent Papa and Diminutive Dave (1) – Blow-pipe and Vacations – Nov., 1940

DBG - Dan's Self Portrait - 1939 - Cropped again (2)

DBG - Dear Parent Papa and Diminutive Dave - first page

Nov. 1

Dear Parent Papa and Diminutive Dave,

After knocking out the old bromides about “Gosh, I’m a heel for not answering sooner”, or other “sole-full” apologies, I shall dash breathlessly to the next paragraph.

Well! Here I am out of breath, and no better off than the first sentence. All of which is extremely appropriate, appearances notwithstanding, because I am deep in the throes of pipe blowing! Now, pipe blowing is likely to convey an erroneous impression. You might be tempted to think it is a contrary smoker. You might even be tempted to think! But the truth of the matter is that I am taking a course in Mining, offered here in Anchorage by the University of Alaska Extension Service, $1.60 for lab manual and blow-pipe. And there you have it! The classes meet five nights per week, two hours each lecture or laboratory, to last five weeks. It seems to be a smattering of geology, physical geography, and mining, all fused with a blow-pipe on a carbon block. I estimate there are about 100 people, men and women, enrolled in the course. The instructor, Mr. Dorsh, has been in South America… Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and I have prevailed upon him to invite me to his place some day to talk things over.

Then there is that business about my vacation. Benevolent Uncle Sam has decreed that those of us on a per diem who worked over-time on Sundays in the past are entitled to a vacation or series of short vacations to make up this time. It has befallen that I get 2 ½ days off per week. Today is the last day of my first vacation. Tomorrow I return to running levels on the Sewer Line… A job I have had for about two weeks, and one which seems to have adopted me. Since the days are growing ever shorter, we needs must go to work at 7:30 AM instead of 8, but we get off at 4 PM instead of 4:30.

That being a goodcueue to introduce Dan’s Damn Weather Comment, let me say that the sun at high noon is very misleading. It is no higher than a Swede on the water wagon, and broke in the bargain. In fact, at noontime the sun succeeds in conveying the idea that dusk is just over the next foot-hill, and long shadows etch distant mountains to prove it. Yet, the sun slides along above the horizon until about 4:30, then relaxes, and settles in the West. Today was not cloudy, yet the sun did not shine all day, because low fog has covered the land, and last night’s heavy frost still grasps the trees, and boardwalks, and grasses.

I have sent the first batch of colored snap-shots to Barbara. After she has received them, she will take them to you with Helen’s projector (if she can) and you will sit and gaze, and say ”OOOhhh!” and “AAAhhhh!” at the beautiful scenery.

I intend to send another cheque with this letter, and expect and authorize you to supplement the balance of our two thirds obligation on the upkeep of the house. That will amount to $12 per month, if Alfred continues to take the majority burden on his shoulders.

I have not yet gotten the checque, because I have not been to work for two days, due to vacation reasons. I will hold this letter until tomorrow, then.


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