Saturday, November 26, 2022

Post #658 - May 25, 1945 Don't Worry I’m Not Going to Feel or Believe Anything Until You're Right Next to Me and I Am Writing This From a Hospital Bunk*


*Coincidentally, when I had just begun to ready this post, I spent a day in the emergency room and was diagnosed with Influenza A. My husband, Saul, came down with it the day after and we both spent a miserable week in bed recovering. We know just how you felt, Dad, as you were suffering and recovering.

May 25, 1945

My darling,

No mail today, though I had been expecting some. Most everyone has had mail up to the 18th of May, so I'm just a week behind, with yours of the 11th. Saturday is usually my lucky day, so here's hopin'!

There's one question I've been meaning to ask you for a long time. I wanted to show Adele your violin and when I attempted to open the case I found it was locked. Do you remember locking it or where you put the key? Hope you’ll be able to play it for her in the very near future. I'm sure she'd like that.

I brought home a dozen boxes of camphor for Ethel and she and Al picked them up last night. Camphor is very scarce and she was very grateful for the favor, especially since she received it at cost price, I had bathed Adele and had put her in her crib when they walked in. As soon as she heard their voices, she called, "Al, Al I want to see you!” I brought her down and she gave Al his usual hug and kiss. God but she's crazy about him! In the meantime Mrs. Ochroch, our new next door neighbor caught her attention and since Mrs."Otok” always gives Adele a piece of candy, she asked for it on this occasion. So Mrs. “Otok” went to get Adele a piece of candy. While we were waiting on the porch, Ethel said “Adele, I’m going to give you a nickel for a dixie.” Adele replied, “I’m going to put the money in my penny bank”. Ethel, who doesn’t like the kid much (not much!) almost ate her up. Ethel asked Adele what she was going to do to her daddy when he came home and she said, “I’m going to give him a tiss and a hug and he’s going to buy me a tar (car)”.

It was rather late when she finally fell asleep and I finished washing. However, I still have piles and piles of sewing to do and proceeded to put up two hems on two of Adele's dresses. I ironed them, read the newspaper, corrected the mistake I had made on Adele’s sweater and was in bed by 11:45. So ended another very routine evening for me.

Really, honey, I'm finding it more and more difficult to write daily, when I have so little to write about. I shopped and shopped for a hat for Mom but to no avail. I gave her $5 instead, and told her to buy whatever she liked.

I read an article in last night’s Bulletin that stated all of the 8th men except those particular outfits of the 8th to be shipped directly to the Pacific will be flown home within 30 to 60 days. Now all I want to know is does that or does that not include you? I realize you know no more than I do, but perhaps by this time, you have been enlightened to some extent. Gosh, it doesn't sound at all believable that I might possibly see you within a matter of days!! Don't worry I’m not going to feel or believe anything until you're right next to me - in the flesh! Did I tell you that I'm just wild about you? I didn't l Well, I am, in fact I love you so much I could eat you right up. Um -

Your Eve

 25 May1945

Dearest Evie

Shall I take a page out of your book and say right off the bat that I am writing this from a hospital bunk - or shall I be sensible about it by starting at the beginning and telling you of the circumstances that brought me here? Since I always made fun of you for your fondness for the former course, I guess I'd better be consistent and choose the latter - On the 21st of May I left the base on my first pass in seven weeks. I had 72 hours, which I intended to spend in London. The 21st being Whit Monday, we weren't permitted to travel by rail, so I decided to spend the afternoon and night in Colchester and start out for London by bus in the morning. Neither the Woolfs nor the Marks were at home when I called, so I headed for the movies to see "Something for the Boys". I enjoyed only two things about the picture: (1) The very attractive settings. (2) Vivian Blaine who is the loveliest red-head I ever did see - and talented to boot. Carmen Miranda, whom I used to enjoy is beginning to pall -there’s so little variety about her performance. Perry Como is good-looking, and has a very pleasing voice - I look for him to make the gals forget all about Frank Sinatra. If I had a voice like Michael O'Shea's, I'd certainly never use it for singing! After the show, I went round to the Marks on the chance they might be back. They were, so I spent what was left of the night there. There were two other G.I.’s there, one of whom has a mess of points and is probably on his way home by now. The other guy, an immense hunk o’man standing about 6’4” and weighing about 270 lbs. spent the evening trying to convince us he’d go nuts if they kept him in the ETO much longer. He wanted to go home, and couldn’t think or talk about anything else. We left at 11:30 and went to the Red Cross Club, where we spent the night. In the morning, I stopped at Bert’s shop to visit with him a little while, and then went ’round to the depot to catch my bus. I had to change at Chelmsford. Bretton Wood and Romford, and made the last stage of the journey, from Upminster Bridge to Leicester Sq. via the Underground. Altogether, it took me about four hours, but the weather was nice and the landscape interesting, so I didn’t mind. Arrived at Leicester Sq., I went directly to the Eagle Club, where I filled up on a toasted cheese sandwich, hot waffles, and malted milk (not to be confused with the U.S.A. variety). Sgt. Murphy had told me that me that he might be able to come into London, and that he would meet me at Rainbow Corner at 8 P.M. if he did get in. When I finished eating, it was just 4:30, so I looked around for a move in which to “kill” the intervening time. “Picture of Dorian Gray,” playing at the Empire, looked interesting, so I decided to give it a try. I had read the story and liked it, but the picture somehow failed to capture the qualities of eeriness and suspense of Oscar Wilde's bizarre tale. Incidentally, I learned that Angela Lansbury was not the little girl who played the lead in "National Velvet", but the baby-faced blonde who played her older sister. She plays the role of Dorian Gray's first love and first victim. It is difficult to put one's finger on where the picture failed. I only know I was disappointed with it. I came out of the theater into the mellow sun-light of a lovely spring late afternoon. It was then about 6:45. Having more than an hour to spare before my date with Murph, I went back to the Eagle Club to pick up the camera I had borrowed from Karl Schoemerren, and which I had loaded with that roll of film you sent me. With camera in hand, I strolled through the bustling crowds and traffic toward Trafalgar Square. I tried to get a decent view of the crowds and general scene, but found that the range of the camera was limited. Arriving at the Square, I poked about looking for something suitable to photograph, but aside from the tots feeding the flocks of pigeons, I saw nothing that I thought might interest you. Being too shy to involve myself with the elders of the kids feeding the pigeons, I wound up taking no pictures at all. I waited at Rainbow Corner for Murphy ’til 8:30, and then concluded that he hadn’t come in, so I left a note for him and went back to the Eagle Club for a bite to eat, and to determine how I would spend the remainder of the evening. It was too late to make another movie, and I never was one to find any fun in “pub-crawling" especially not without company, so I was stuck. I was about to settle down to getting a letter off to you, when I suddenly remembered something I had often wanted to do in London, but never got around to. Klein had told me of the two big dance halls in London, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, and the Palais in Hammersmith, where there was dancing nightly. I had heard some glowing accounts of these places, but I wasn't prepared for anything like what I encountered. Covent Garden is only a few minutes ride on the UG, so I set forth for the Royal Opera House. The nomenclature of the place should have given me some idea as to its appearance, but the lavish appointments and decorations, are so contrary to what I have seen of all public places in England (with the exception of the better movie-houses) that I was completely surprised and at once delighted with it. Two balconys that extend half-way ’round the hall, and whose facades are decorated with great numbers of three candelabra red-shaded electric lights, give an air of luxurious beauty to the Hall. Rows of small tables and chairs are set up next to the balcony rails, and these provide an excellent vantage point for those who just come to watch the dancers. The floor itself is highly polished hardwood parquetry (like the flooring in the house in Chestnut Street). There were two orchestras - Teddy Foster and his band, and an all-girl aggregation, whom I liked even more. The music, like most music played by the bands over here was entirely American, and predominantly jive. The dancers (about a thousand, I figure) were a conglomeration of English civilians of both sexes, English military personnel of both sexes, and American service men, with a sprinkling of WACS. The English girls, in the main, were more smartly dressed and made up than I've ever seen them, and quite a few were good to look at. Their dancing, however, isn't in the same class with the Americans. They seem to lack the easy grace that is born of a real liking or appreciation of rhythm. Most of the girls "jitterbring" (or what passes for it over here), but I have still to see one on whom it looks good. For that matter, now that I think of it, outside of Klein and one or two others, I haven't seen the smooth, on-beat, type of jitterbugging that I used to enjoy watching back in Philly. When it comes to dancing (of any kind) our own crowd (Snuff, Bob, Yale, Phil, Bill Cooper, Jack N.) had it all over any group of G.I.'s I've ever seen at a dance - and that's not just blarney, either. After watching many, many guys in action, I can’t help but feel that I'll get along O.K. when the time comes when I'll want to dance again. It's only after watching a Jackie N. perform that I feel my inferiority in this department—but we all can't be dancers of his caliber, can we honey? A sidelight about English dances you might find interesting because the Americans have no counterpart for it - the “ladies’ excuse me" sessions, during which the gals are supposed to “cut-in". I had heard of this custom. This was the first time I saw it in practice. Immediately after the “excuse me” was announced, a number of the more venturesome girls, who had spent most of the evening on the side lines looking on, because they weren't asked to dance, made their way to the center of the floor, and after scouting the dancing couples a while cut in wherever their fancy pleased them. Unfortunately, the floor was so crowded, that my view of groups of "cutters-in" was often obstructed - and so I was cheated out of an excellent opportunity to observe something of the feminine psychology that would be evidenced from the bases on which they chose partners. For the rest, the floor is the shape of an elongated oval, the band-stand is situated about three-fourths down the length of the hall, rather than at the very back, which is a very happy arrangement, because the music is equally audible from any part of the hall, and the dancers, can dance completely around the island formed by the bandstand. To top it all off there is an elaborate system of lighting, whereby the mood of the music is enhanced and augmented by appropriately colored ceiling lights, spot-lights, flood-lights, etc, etc. Altogether, it was a very happy thought that prompted me to visit the Opera House in Covent Garden. I spent a very pleasant and entertaining evening there - and gained a myriad of lovely impressions which are tucked away in the "permanent file" of my memory.

I left the dance just before it ended at 11 P.M. in order to a void the rush to the cloak-rooms, where I had checked my caps and ditty bags. Taking the UG, I went directly to the Turkish Baths in Russell Square. There I followed the usual relaxing procedure, which you already know, and was in bed by 1:30. I slept until 9:00 A.M. (23rd), when I rose, dressed and checked out. When I came out-side, I was disappointed to find that it was raining, chilly, and generally miserable weather. My first stop was at the Eagle for breakfast. After eating I loafed for an hour in the lounge listening to a performance of "Tchaikovsky's 4th", (one of my favorite symphonies) on the radio, and glancing over the news. I had promised myself a show (at least one) on this pass, so I went ’round to the booking office of the Prince of Wales Theater and inquired about a seat for either the matinee or evening performance of “Strike it Again", the sequel to "Strike a New Note" 
which I saw last year, and for which I sent you the programs, and which I enjoyed so much. Well, Sid Field is again the star of the show, and he is a great success here in London. The show it self is doing a tremendous business, and tickets are always hard to get. On inquiring, I learned that the only seats available for that day were a few in the first row at 14/ (don't bother converting Chippie, I'll tell you in a minute how much it is in American dollars and cents) for the matinee, and nothing whatever for the evening performance! Well, 14 shillings is about $2.80, and more than I had meant to spend for an afternoon's entertainment, so I tried a few other theaters in the vicinity. It turned out to be just so much wasted effort - they were all sold out, some for weeks ahead! By the time I finished the rounds, I began to feel that those seats "for "Strike it Again" were a downright bargain at 14/. I was even relieved, when I got back, to find that a few were still unsold! Without further ado, then, I bought a ticket and headed back to the Eagle to wait the hour or so ’til 2:30. I was feeling uncommonly tired about this time, but I didn't suspect anything was wrong until I passed a place advertising ice creams for sale. When I was almost a block past it, I found myself wondering why I didn't respond normally to that sign. Concentrating on this unprecedented behavior of mine, I had to admit to myself that I didn't feel like eating ice cream, or anything else for that matter. Back at the club, trying to relax, I felt uncommonly restless, then weary, then chilly, then too-warm. It finally dawned on me that I was sick and, very likely, running a temperature. When it came show time, I hardly felt up to it, but I would have to be half-dead to give up going - so I went! It may be said to the eternal credit of Sid Field and the company of "Strike it Again" that I thoroughly enjoyed the show in spite of my indisposition. Sid Field has a great talent for comedy, and he can make me laugh as no one else can. But you'd have to see him, Sweet, to appreciate his cleverness. The two feminine leads (you'll find their names in a program which I will include in another letter - [this one will be bulky enough] - I didn't pay too much attention) were a hard-looking but beautifully built blonde, who sang and acted at least to my, entire satisfaction, and a lovely, oriental looking brunette, who danced and sang most pleasingly. The whole performance was marked by the vivacity of the cast, which was made up of a bunch of talented, good-looking, dancing kids in their teens. If you'll save the programs, Sweet, I'll someday try to describe some of the action to you.

As soon as I came out of the theater, I knew for certain that I was a pretty sick boy. Chills ran up my spine and se
emed to explode in my head - my hair felt as if it were standing on end - my head was spinning at every other step, and I felt as though I were walking in a dream. I've had fevers too many times not to be able to recognize the symptoms, so I stopped at the Eagle's information desk to inquire where I might go for medical attention. I was directed to the dispensary at Rainbow Corner, five minutes walk away. There, a nurse took my temperature and confirmed my suspicion. I had a substantial fever - 102° to be exact. The M.P.'s took me and two other fellows to another U.S. Army Medical center in London, where I was further examined by a Medical Officer, who thought I had the flu. From there I was taken in an Army ambulance across town to the 150th General Hospital, where I was put to bed, examined by another Medical Officer, who confirmed the original diagnosis, and where I spent a pretty miserable night. The fever kept me awake most of the night, and I ached in every part of me. In the morning I felt no better. About 11 A.M. (24th) I was given my clothes, told to dress because they were moving me to the 7th General Hospital about 20 mi. away in the country. Then followed maddening periods of waiting - waiting for the ambulance - waiting to get to the other place so I could lay down again (I was feeling miserable and impatient with everything) - waiting once we got there after what seemed an interminable time someone gave me a ride, to be assigned to a ward, while the G.I. clerks in the office fooled around with one thing and another, and I fought myself to resist the urge to lay down on the floor, and finally attaining once more to the unexcelled luxury of a crisp, white, hospital bunk, which, at the moment, was the one thing in all the world I wanted. I remember thinking, while I was waiting in the office, that if someone gave me the option of a bunk or an immediate start for home (without the bunk), I should probably choose the bunk! That, honey, should give you a pretty good idea as to how I felt at the time. Since then, though, I've had a much better time of it - (it is now 8:30 A. M. Sunday 27 May). The Medical Offices here examined me shortly after I was between the sheets, said I had the flu (as if I didn't know), and assured me that I'd “be O.K. in a coupla days". I was given four tablets, which I washed down at one gulp (to my own amazement), and which that evening and during the night literally sweated the fever completely out of me. I've felt almost normal, then, since the morning of the 25th, when I embarked on this tale of giddy up and woe (all right- so you don't get it - I know what I mean!). What have I failed to cover? Oh, yes, I'm in a ward of some thirty beds, with a bunch of guys recovering from various kinds of pneumonia, bronchial, and sinus ailments. The crew of ward-boys (G.I.’s) and young American Nurses (some pretty, but all well appreciated) are constantly on the ball, and the care and attention they lavish on us is a thing to behold! Our bunks are made up afresh two or three times each day, our backs are rubbed with a mixture of camphor and alcohol and then dusted with talc an equal number of times, etc., etc. - until one realizes he's going to hate like hell to leave this place to go back to camp! But I am rather anxious to get back for a number of reasons. First, there must be quite accumulation of your letters waiting for me that I'm most impatient to see. Then, there is so much of my work that shouldn't be permitted to go undone, and I doubt if Sgt. Stegman will have time for, what with the numerous other things he has to see to - and finally, I'm due for furlough on 1 June, and unless I get back soon, I'll probably have to forfeit that. I was planning to go up to Meadowcroft again, as I feel more at home there than any other place in England. The Yorkshire moors are at their best this time of year, and I wanted particularly to see them. If you remember, there was that invitation of Comdr. Bower's to stay at Sizgher castle in the Lake Windermere country, which is reputed to be very beautiful, but I find myself reluctant to give up this opportunity to see the Davies' again. I don’t know, Sweet, how long I'll be hospitalized, but I have little hope of getting back to base before 31 May, and that won't give me time enough to make the necessary arrangements to leave on the 1 June. However, if there are any dates open a little later in the month, I'll be able to go then. Anyway, here's hopin!

All this palaver, darling, when I know you are only concerned with the answer to one question - when I expect to come home - Ev, baby, don't think for a minute that just because I try to find some meaning or divertissement in things like trips to London, the Theater, and plans for a furlough in Yorkshire, that getting home isn't almost constantly in my thoughts. The suspense and uncertainty surrounding the prospects for going home is maddening - that is why I must keep myself constantly occupied - on the go - anything to keep that growing yearning within me under control. You, too, Chippie, must be under something of a strain trying to guess whether or not I'll be coming home to you within the next few months, but I remember being reassured as far as your own feelings are concerned by a statement you made in one of your most recent letters to the effect that you are hoping for the best and are prepared for the worst. That's the kind of talk I love to hear from you, darling - It makes it so much easier for me to know that you can face up to anything that may come your 
way. If it's any comfort to you, sweetheart, I haven't heard or seen anything since I wrote last that has done anything to shake my optimistic attitude one little bit. I might even add that my hopes are being constantly strengthened by certain shapings of events, So don't begrudge anyone the cheeriness of your smile these days, honey. You have more cause to wear that expression than any other -believe me! Don't start to “build up” the punkin just yet tho’, she's too young to be able to check her impatience or to have a dream fizzle out without too great an emotional repercussion. If I didn't think you are adult enough, my darling, I wouldn't allow you to entertain hopes, either.

Well, baby, I think I've told you just about everything you'd want to know (and no doubt a lot that you don't give a damn about), so I'll close this with all my love to you, a kiss (on account) for Adele, and love to all from

Your adoring Phil

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