Saturday, February 27, 2021

Post #299 - February 18, 1944 I’ve Finally Completed the Package and A Meeting (Finally) in London with Eddie


February 18, 1944

My Own, 

No mail today. However, I've received mail from you inclusive to Feb. 9. I finally completed the package and it contains the following: 12 boxes of chiclets, carton of cookies, box of chocolates, two milky ways, one hanky that I found among your things, and three pairs of GI shorts (also among your things) that I'm sending along in the hope that you will be able to use them. They are size 36—I think. 

Tonight I'm at a loss for words. I did a good day’s work, ate fairly good and feel fairly good. I've finished knitting the back of Mom’s sweater and I have about half of the front completed. 

Gosh, baby, can you imagine me at a loss for words? But I can say a few more oft repeated words, “I love you so very much, my darling”! Phil, (I wish I could say it to you, your name, I mean). I always liked that name and often say it to myself to help me get closer to you, sweet. I'll say goodnight now, Phil, dearest. 

Yours then, now, and evermore 

February 18, 1944 
Hans Crescent Club 

Dearest Evvie, 

Here I am in London again. I arrived last night about 4 P.M. I rushed like mad from Liverpool St. to the Hans Crescent—I was that impatient to get to Eddie and Izzy Gutkin. I was rather dubious about the latter being able to make it, but I was hoping nevertheless; as for Eddie. I was positive that he would be waiting for me. After all— he set the date. Imagine my chagrin, then, when on inquiring at the desk, I learned that neither of them had checked in. I was downright mortified. Seeing no point hanging about Hans Crescent, I left notes at the desk for both of them, telling them where to find me, and took off for the Eagle Club. There I checked my gas mask. I had intended to eat there—I was hungry, but when I saw how crowded the place was, and having no patience for waiting around to eat, I decided to look for another place. So I wandered about Leicester Square, eventually making my way to Piccadilly Circus. In the course of my gadding about, I stumbled onto the “Criterion Restaurant.” I remembered that someone had recommended it highly. Entering, I found it to be a very attractive place; cozy—in spite of its spaciousness. There are two floors, the “street floor” where “teas” are served between meals, and the basement, which, if anything, is even more luxuriously appointed and “homier” than the top floor. I found I was about fifteen minutes too early for supper, which is at six, so I settled down to wait a quarter of an hour, getting hungrier by the minute. Finally, it was time, and a waitress came over to see what I would have. The menu was printed in French and I was at a loss as to what to order, but she was very accommodating and made it all clear to me. 

Thus I was able to order to my taste, which was as follows: Hors D’Oeuvres, Cambridge Steak, Brussels Sprouts, Mashed Potatoes, Rolls and Butter, and a glass of lager (beer to you). For dessert: Cocoa Blanc Mange (like chocolate pudding). Well, Chippie, everything was delicious, and I did the meal full justice, but the big surprise was were the hors d’oeuvres. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I ordered. The waitress pushed a three-tiered trolley over to the table. I took one look at the delicacies in the dozens of trays and had all I could do to keep from drooling—no kiddin’. When I started to point out what I wanted, the waitress very politely asked me if I would leave it to her judgement. I agreed, hastily and gratefully, ’cause while I hated to give up some of the things I relished, I hated even more to make a pig of myself. I needn't have worried on either score, though. ’cause when she finished piling it on, here is what the plate contained: pickled beets, pickled carrot strings, marinated herring, kippered herring, potato salad, baked beans, green peas, pickled greens, pickled sardines, and coleslaw—no less. Lady, when I finished all that, (and was it good!!) I began to have serious misgivings as to my ability to digest the rest of the meal. However, I had no trouble, for everything was so delicious that I hated to reflect that when I finished, there wouldn't be anymore. (Silly, ain’t I?) After I had eaten—out to the Square again, where I “queued up” to see the only picture I have failed to see up ’til now. “His Butler’s Sister” with Deanna Durbin, more grown up and lovelier than ever, is definitely worth anybody's time and money. It is a pleasing comedy, with the added thrill of Deanna's singing. I have only one comment as to that—SUPERB! You must have guessed what my next move was. Exactly: Imperial Turkish baths. I inquired hopefully at the desk for Eddie and Izzy. No luck. This rather put a damper on my spirits, and I felt blue all evening. For some unaccountable reason, I was very, very tired, mentally and physically, so that by the time I had finished “steaming” and sank into one of the steamer chairs to wait my turn at the masseur, I couldn't keep my eyes open and fell into a deep sleep. I was roused much later by the masseur’s repeated calling of my number. Groggily, I might made my way to the massage table and stretched out on it—still conscious of a heavy fatigue. The masseur took the “tiredness” out of my body with his expert fingers, but I was still very drowsy when I got to bed. I “dropped off” again into an uncommonly heavy sleep. You know, Chippie, how impossible it is for me to fall asleep on my back—yet that's exactly what I did! I awoke at 9 o'clock this morning, still on my back. Evidently, I hadn't moved a muscle all night. However, I felt much refreshed this morning and wasted no time getting dressed. I was paying my bill when something about the clatter of footsteps on the stairs behind me made me wheel instinctively. I felt like shouting my joy when I saw Eddie, grinning happily, advancing on me with his hand outstretched in greeting. Need I tell you, Sweet, what our feelings were at that moment? I had just about given up hope of seeing him this trip and his arrival was in the nature of a gift from the gods. We went straightway to the Eagle Club, where we talked and talked over breakfast. After breakfast—into the lounge, where we talked some more and I showed him all the pictures you have sent me since I arrived “over here.” Darling, it was so wonderful to see a familiar face and talk of home with someone who appreciated what I was talking about. We must have “chewed the rag” for about three hours when it struck me Ed might want to see a little more of London-town.—But I'm getting ahead of myself. I was very let down when he told me that his pass was only for 24 hours—and had to see the Colonel to get that! He very nearly couldn’t come at all. It seems his organization is on the verge of moving to another base in England. Too, he is transferring into another outfit. All this made it very difficult for him to procure a pass, and he only succeeded after he enlisted the aid of the Chaplain. At that, he was lucky to get even twenty-four hours. He arrived at Hans Crescent this morning, (3 A.M.) and darn near drove the clerks daffy in his efforts to locate me. The difficulty arose from the fact that the Information Desk closes at 10 P.M. Finally, in order to pacify his outlandish demand that they check every Red Cross Club in London on the chance that I might be there, (there must be a dozen clubs in London with some several thousands of G.I.’s in each), they opened the Info. Desk Room to him. Then your “brilliant” brother pulled a lollapalooza of a boner! Instead of looking for his name on the blackboard, the dummy looked for my name instead! Naturally, he failed to find it. His own name stood out like a sore thumb on the blackboard where I myself had printed it in bold and prominent letters—if you had only looked under the “P”s for it! However, he didn't—and giving it up as a bad job, went disgruntledly to bed. Awaking this morning, he tried the Info. Desk again, complaining that he couldn't find my name on the board, although he was almost sure I was around someplace, and that I must have left a message for him. The girl suggested he look for his own name. (I can imagine what she must have been thinking!) You can imagine for yourself, Sweet, what Eddie felt like when he looked again and found his name, as big as life, staring him in the face! Hastily procuring the note I had left, he scanned it. I had told him I would be at the Baths until 9:30 this morning. I neglected to tell him that at that time I was leaving for Hans Crescent. When he looked at the time, it was exactly 9:15. There was a line waiting to get at the Info. Desk, but he broke right in and demanded to know how to get to Russell Sq. and the Baths. The clerk must have read the desperation in his mind, ’cause she obliged him with the directions. At that, he got there just as I was leaving. The time was 9:35 A.M. Poor kid, he had a hectic time of it all the way through, but all is well that ends well—and he did see it through to the happy conclusion. Of course, the fact that we had to make the 5 o'clock train this very afternoon somewhat lessened our pleasure, and we both decried the fact that we would have so little time together, but on the whole, it was well worth all the trouble. About 1 P.M., I suggested we take a stroll around Leicester Sq. and Piccadilly so that Eddie might see something of London. He was impressed with the hustle and bustle and generally metropolitan aspect of everything, and regretted afresh that he didn't have more time to enjoy it all. Passing the “Empire” where “Thousands Cheer” is still showing, I suggested that we might “take it in.” I knew he would enjoy it and I had no reluctance whatever about seeing it again—it's that good! He agreed—and afterwards was glad that he had consented. He enjoyed it very much. I did, too. We had about an hour to kill after the show—before train time, so I took him to the Criterion for tea. We weren’t very hungry, haven't eaten a pretty big breakfast, and the few sandwiches, tea and pastries were just enough. Then, reluctantly, I saw him to Euston Station, where I saw him safely on his train. Eddie was very impressed with the Underground (Subway) in general and the escalators in particular. We made plans to meet again in the near future just before the train arrived. After I saw him comfortably settled in his seat, I bid him farewell and made my way back to Hans Crescent—half-hoping that Izzy might have come in in the meantime. No such luck! It certainly was swell of Eddie to go to all that trouble and inconvenience and travel so far (app. 260 miles round trip) to see me for a few hours. I'm no end flattered—and grateful—but I guess I wouldn't be doing either him or you justice if I expected anything less of your brother, my darling. 

After the comparatively mild disappointment of the failure of Izzy to get here (I never really believed he would), I settled down to getting this letter written. As you can readily see, Baby, I have been at it for some time now, and I'm beginning to get very hungry—so I know you will excuse me if I conclude this now. 

It just struck me that I had promised to answer your last five letters. Hope you'll understand that this one precludes my doing so. I'll look through them tomorrow, though, for the purpose of answering any questions you may have put—I think there were a few. 

I’ll bid you a fond au revoir for now, my lovely, with the admonition that you don't forget to kiss the punkin for me—and tender my love to all. As for you, Chippie, I can only reiterate what is constantly and undiminishingly in my heart and mind. I adore you! As “my British Buddy” would say—“you’ve had it!!”—from 

Your Phil, 
(how true—how true!)