This is the rest of the letter I began yesterday.
“Dear Gang,” Dave writes on Jan. 13th, “today is my anniversary. One year ago today, and about 4:30 P.M., I arrived at Fort Devens and became a-a-a-“soldier”! I still don’t believe it. At breakfast this morning the Sgt. got hold of this bit of information and burst out with “Happy anniversary to you”. Of course the whole gang joined in and when the “music” subsided, Mac said: ‘May you have many, many more anniversaries to come’ (cute kid) – what a thing to wish on a buddy. Anyway it was good for a hearty laugh after finishing a rough night (midnight to 8 A.M.) of wrestling with pencils, incoming and outgoing logs, secret messages, urgent messages and a host of other nightmares. As I write this letter it has been 32 ½ hours since I’ve closed my eyes in sleep. So, if you’ll pardon me, now I’ll get to bed.”
Ced, after mentioning receipt of a Christmas box with thoughtful comments on the contents, says: “I wish I could have spent Christmas with you, too, but the fact that things went so well there transmits some of its pleasure all the way up here and kindles a little of the New England Christmas spirit in me. I am very happy for the fact that Marian is able to be with you, as it seems she radiates a little of the California sunshine which she has forsaken for the traditions of the East. What with Jean and Marian holding up the morale of their soldier husband’s father and Aunt Betty to spread her cheer and goodwill, “Babbling Brook” (The name Grandpa and Grandma gave to the Trumbull property after they arrived in December of 1922) must be a pretty grand place to be, even if it is a little feminish – (do I coin a word?) Tomorrow (Jan. 12th) is Juneau Day, and as is my wont on Tuesdays and Fridays, I shall arise at 4:45 A. M., cook some mush, toast, hot chocolate, eat some fruit and breakfast and Buick out to the hangar, not forgetting to don some appropriate clothing before leaving home. I arrive at the hangar shortly after 6 o’clock, put the heater on the engines, firepot the oil which is in cans, having been drained after the last trip, clean off frost from windshields, remove covers from wings and tail surfaces, etc. In this work I have an assistant.
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At 7:30 or so the oil goes into the engines, baggage and passengers arrive and at 8 P. M. (I believe he meant to write 8 A.M.) The ship is supposed to leave. At 3 in the afternoon I am free to go home and go about any other personal business which I might like to do.
I am happy to report that poor old aged Big Ben has again made a miraculous recovery from a severe relapse. For two days I slept at its side pampering it no end, and was only able to keep the spark of tick alive by the ruse of placing the poor patient on one side and applying artificial tickulation intermittently for several minutes. After two days of this reclining pose, it’s beat seemed stronger and I tremendously placed it in its normal position – – and all went well. He has at this very minute throwing both arms around at a surprisingly correct tempo and smiling, awaiting the hour of 4:45 to once again perform his special service. By one so worn by hard and roving years, he has certainly given a wonderful and faithful account of himself. And to think that all watchmakers turn up their noses in disdain when approached on the possibility of giving professional service to such a fine old timepiece.
Last week there was a new paper issued in Anchorage. It is small and distributed free, depending on advertising for its source of income. On the back page was this little riddle. There was no answer anywhere and I am still trying to figure it out. Mary is 24 years old. She is twice as old as Anne was when she was as old as Anne is now. How old is Anne? A says she is 16, B says 12. Who is right?
History indeed repeats itself, Ced. Long before you opened your eyes on this old world as the little stranger in the Guion household, this very riddle took the country by storm. “How old is Anne?” Was the big question of the day. It was on everybody’s tongue. I’ve forgotten whether anyone ever found the correct answer but for a while it was the all absorbing topic of conversation. Yes, the filters had an imaginary Christmas tag affixed to them “with love from Dad”. As to the finances, I must have been a bit psychic, as I answered your question in last week’s letter. If you are putting a bit of your income away regularly in some local institution, well and good. If not, better make regular remittances home so that I can get ready for your next Anchorage to Trumbull trip. And while being generous with your money to people in general, don’t forget to be generous to yourself.
Time marches on and the approach of bedtime coincides with the exhaustion of topics which form interesting subjects for comment. We are heartened of course by the good news this week of Russia’s forward surge on the Eastern front and MacArthur’s progress in the Pacific, but having grown cagey and been already bitten once by the optimism bug, which resulted in the setback on the Western Front, I am wondering if the foxy boche are not trying to play the same trick over again, lulling the allies to let down in effort by creating the impression that they are ready to quit and then, when the Russians are offguard, pull some sort of comeback stunt that they did in Luxembourg. Once bitten, twice shy, applies in this case. On the other hand, there’s that little bright HOPE that Pandora let out of the box along with all the other disagreeable little ills, and maybe the Russians will reach Berlin where we did not – – well, anyway, I can dream, can’t I?
I’ll finish out the week with another letter from Grandpa to his five sons.