Jan. 18, 1941
Carrajo, hombre! Porque no me escribe? No puede comprender mis cartas? Quiere olvidarme?
If you are at a loss for what to say, give me the low-down on your social life and secret passions. What do you do with your spare time, or don’t you have any? All the news we hear from you is indirect references to your meteoric rise to fame, seen through the doting eyes of a proud father. We have been so long out of touch with your mode of living that we don’t even know if you are still at Pariaguan or not.
Of course, there are two sides to the situation, and I have made hardly any greater attempt to keep you posted on life in the rugged North than you have made to enlighten me. It is probable that you would never recognize in me the callow youth who grinned a warm welcome to you in arid Carora nearly 2 years ago.
I have acquired another mustache, and with it, a sort of rugged sophistication that comes from mouthing a wad of Copenhagen “snoose”, and spitting in the stove, and wearing smelly muk-luks, and changing long-handled underwear once a month in conventional
sourdough style. This apparent lack of culture and intellect is prompted by the Annual Fur Rendezvous in February, when all the trappers and other Alaskan natives from miles around converge on Anchorage for several days of the most flagrant hell raising, whiskey-drinking, crap-shooting dissipation that ever was seen north of 54. All male citizens must prove themselves virile enough to wear at least a vestige of facial hair, or pay a fine of five dollars in the “kangaroo court”. The threat of losing five dollars, plus the opportunity to win a prize in the beard contest, has had a most unbelievable effect. On the streets, under the tables, entering brothels, reeling along the sidewalks, are seen scores of men, variously embellished with assorted blue-beards, wiry brown patches that put a chestnut burr to shame, finely tailored Van Dykes, gaily flounced sideburns, suggestive little pimp pushers, brazen handlebars, effeminate fuzz, etc. There is one aggressive fellow who has pruned his beard into the word “ALASKA” which reads down his right cheek, across his chin, and ends in the vicinity of his left ear! But the judges of the beard contrast will learn with dismay that a bearded lady has qualified! It is doubtful that she can sway the decision with any sex appeal.
In normal times, however, Anchorage is just another overgrown town. I spend a large part of my time at the ice rink. I have purchased a pair of figure skates, and apply them to the ice alternately with my nose and more bulky parts of my anatomy. Occasional carousing at the local hot spots round out my amusement, with even a spot of poker or dice in my more vicious moments. Ced and I sing in the local choral society, and in the cantatas given during holiday seasons (Christmas and Easter).
The Army is looking more and more business-like as the Air Base takes on shape. What was a dust-ridden smoking flat last July has become Alaska’s number one defense spot, Fort Richardson.
Speaking of the Army, next week we must register for the draft. If, as it may happen, FDR declares war on all his enemies, and tells me that I am proud to be an American, and I say yes, aren’t I, and he says, well, good, then here is your uniform which makes it legal for you to kill all those nasty old Germans, Italians, and Frenchmen and so forth that you want to kill, and I make a lot of vague abstractions about being a conscientious objector as I don’t know any Europeans I want to kill, and he says, is that the way you feel about it, and I answer, yes, dammit, and he says, well, now, we’ll just see about that, and I reply, yes, won’t we now, and we do, and I am put in a concentration camp to learn how it is wrong to go against the wishes of a democratic country that is fighting against dictators who put men in concentration camps against their wills, and while I am absorbing all this, how about writing me a letter?
Tomorrow and Sunday, Special Pictures.
Next week, I hope to complete the story of Lad’s induction into the Army in 1942.