January 12, 1944
Adele has a new cute habit when asked to show someone her new dress. She picks her dress up daintily (as if to curtesy). I worked 4 hours from Miss Hahn and she would like to have me again—if I can arrange it. Your letter (with two pictures), Dec. 26 arrived plus you Jan. 1st V-mail. We also got a V-mail from Jack S. wishing us a happy New year.
Goldie and Harry just got back from town—Goldie got two outfits—maternity—both lovely. One is a lavender wool tailored jumper, the other a gray print pinafore style, the former $13 the latter $9. Goldie plans to resign about Feb. 15th or March 1st.
Not much else to write, baby, so I'm going to cut this really short. Not however, til I tell you that I love you, sweet, the old but dearly loved words. See you tomorrow, sweet. All the other folks also received your pictures. A million kisses, darling
from Your Eve
January 12, 1944
My Dearest Darling,
Here is the first of what I hope to make a veritable series of letters during this furlough in London. The logical place to start of course, is at the beginning, and the beginning starts yesterday morning. On arising, instead of the customary fatigues, I donned my class “A” from the skin out and lucky I did, for on learning that there was a 10:20 bus into the town where I catch the train for London, I had to dash like mad to make it, nor would I have attempted it, had I had to change. As it turned out, I missed the bus anyway, but luckily as I reached the gate, a Jeep drove up and since it was going to town I had a swell ride in and got there in plenty of time to catch the train. The train was jammed and it was only because three of “my British buddies” kindly “squeezed up” to make room for me that I sat instead of standing all the way of a pretty long trip. I took out my book of detective stories and resumed reading where I left off on my last trip. The “Tommies,” though, were recounting their adventures in Norway and Iceland, whence they had recently returned to England. For a time—I read with one eye on the book and one ear on their conversation. However, what the one ear heard was entirely too intriguing to be shared with the book, whereupon I closed it and turned my frank attention to what they were saying. During a lull, I offered my “Yank” cigarettes and gum around. Over here, both are usually gratefully received by civilian and soldier alike, and this particular occasion was no exception. (Did I tell you about the time I absentmindedly took a stick of gum from my pocket while walking down a London Street, only to have a very well-dressed and respectable gentleman approach me with an almost fanatical gleam in his eye, and unashamedly ask for a piece of gum? I've often read of people “gaping in surprise [or wonderment],” but I think this was the first time in my life I was guilty of it. No kiddin’, Chippie, I was literally stupefied!) I only mention the incident to illustrate the state of mind of the average Englishman where “Yankee” gum is concerned. Indeed, it is rumored that an indispensable item of equipment of the “G.I. wolf” is a few packs of gum; seems to have the hypnotizing quality of catnip for the English lassies. Anyhow, to get back to where I was, from then on the attitude of the Tommies was one of eager cordiality, and when we parted at Liverpool Station a few hours later, it was almost a tearful occasion, so “thick” had we become. Having missed both breakfast and lunch [and supper the previous night], I was just about famished when I arrived at the Eagle Club. I straightway preceded (after I had checked my things) to get on the outside of a toasted cheese sandwich, a toasted peanut butter and jam sandwich and a cup of coffee. Feeling better, then, I preceded to walk around the corner, to the “Odeon,” where “Jane Eyre” is being featured. It goes without saying that I enjoyed it immensely. It is on the order of “Rebecca,” even if it doesn't approach that classic in worth. The suspense angle is its chief attraction, but the plot itself is not nearly as intriguing as was “Rebecca.” John Fontaine gives her usual excellent performance. Orson Welles is wonderfully cast as “Edward Rochester,” and while he is perfection itself in the morose and moody phases of his personality, he fails somehow to inspire in the audience the love and adoration that “Jane Eyre” evidently feels for him. (Or maybe I'm mistaken.) The afternoon was still young when I came out, so I hied myself back to the Eagle, ate a couple more sandwiches, and went directly to the “Warner,” where “This is the Army” is just starting its run. I enjoyed it ,of course, but it wasn't the wonder of wonders I had been led to expect. I've seen many musicals that I've enjoyed more. Back to the Eagle again for a bite and a bit of (am I kiddin’?) relaxation. After eating, (I forget what) I strolled down to the lounge, sank into one of those very comfortable easy chairs I once told you about, and listened and dreamed to the music of a very competent G.I. who was playing something by Chopin on piano. This pleasant interlude lasted for an hour or so. When I looked at the clock, finally, it said 9:00 o'clock. Whereupon I gathered up my overcoat and my small musette bag, which is ever-present (I carry soda, glass and spoon in it), and by the light of my torch (flashlight to you, Sweet) made my way to the U.G. at Leicester Sq. and thence to Russell Sq. and the Turkish bath. Chippie, how can I begin to describe the luscious feeling of well being I experience in that intense, but oh-so-delicious, heat? In order to appreciate it fully, one would first have to put up with three weeks of mud and damp cold and that “unwashed feeling.” Never was I more thankful or more appreciative of the luxurious comforts of the bath. I lingered long in the hot room, reading the while the glorious and heartening news from the “Dnieper Bend.” When my very bones were pervaded with the delectable warmth, and after a briefer session in the “steam room,” I gave myself over to the capable ministrations of my old friend, the bewhiskered masseur. He preceded to wash and knead me into a pleasant state of drowsiness. After he had literally tucked me in and turned out the light, I lay for a long while thinking of you, my darling, and Adele and Mom and things too numerous and too intimate to mention. I remember, among other things, that I reminisced at length on some phases of our courting days, especially the chair behind the French doors at 4920. I remember a particular night in that connection—when an ivory pair of shoeless and stockingless limbs of heart-stirring perfection were, for the nonce, the delight and wonder of my universe. God, Chippie, but you were lovely that night. That night you made heaven seem very close. You have kept it close for me ever since, my darling. I recaptured the image of 4906 in all its warm color and well-loved familiarity. Then I mentally tried to rearrange the furniture, but failing to devise a happier arrangement, resorted to populating the living room with new accessories, such as a drum table (beside “my” chair), a “coffee table” (in front of the sofa), and a landscape in color to fill the empty frame above the fireplace. I even filled the white vase on the landing with fresh flowers. I think that's about where I fell asleep—no, the last thing I remember was trying your name on my lips just to hear the sound of it. Hearing my own voice utter your name brought me very close, Sweet, and feeling you close—was inspired in terms of endearment. I don't know how many times my lips whispered “I love you, Baby,” before sleep overtook me.
This morning I woke feeling fresh and (clean for change). By 9:30 I was breakfasting at the Eagle Club. From there I went to the “Carlton” in Haymarket to “book” a seat for tomorrow evening’s showing of “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” By the way, are you familiar with the quotation that fathered the title? It goes something like this “—Ask not for whom the bell tolls.—it tolls for you and all mankind.” I like that, don't you Chippie? On the way over to Haymarket, which is only a short walk from Leicester Square, I passed “Let's Face It” and “Lassie Come Home.” (Do I sound as though I have eyes only for the movies? I'll admit it's far from untrue. On the other hand, it isn't strictly so.) After I had sweated out the queue for 20 minutes or so, I finally bought my ticket. All the way back, I was debating with myself which of the two pictures I would rather see. I finally decided on the latter. Nor was it an unhappy choice. “Lassie Come Home” is a sentimental story of a dog, (primarily) his master (Roddy McDowell) and a few other characters incidental to the story. It is a lovely story and a lovely picture. Being in Technicolor, the scenes have the quality of beautiful paintings in oil. A thoroughly entertaining and relaxing picture. If you see it, Honey, and I recommend it strongly for Mom as well, look out for the little girl who answers to the name of Priscilla. I don't remember where I ever saw a more beautiful child (And don't forget—I'm prejudiced!)
From then (after the show), ’til now, I can tell you all my activities in one single sentence. I ate lunch at “Lyons Corner House” (more about that later), took the U.G. to Knightsbridge and the Hans Crescent, “booked” a bunk for the next five nights (hallelujah!), and commenced this letter—which brings me right up to date. At present, I am in the writing room where the radio is inducing an almost unbearable nostalgia in me by giving forth currently with The Andrews Sisters singing “Apple Blossom Time.” Before that—Judy Garland singing “For Me and My Gal,”—and before that Bing Crosby making me very blue indeed with “Stardust.” Pardon me, Sweet, while I go out and find myself a “crying towel,” I cry for you—I ain't singing! Hasta Manana, Carissima.
P.S. Re that quote from “The Bell”—skip it—I was misinformed. Still—it does make sense, doesn't it?