Fifteen letters
[ Fifteen Letters ][ Introduction ]
1954: [ June 5 ][ June 15 ][ June 26 ][ July 10 ][ July 27 ][ Aug. 1 ][ Aug. 11 ]
[ Sept. 18 ][ Sept. 30 ][ Oct. 29 ][ Nov. 3 ][ Nov. 11 ][ Dec. 13 ]
1955: [ Jan. 23 ][ Feb. 20 ]
[ Epilogue ]

Wednesday AM
11 August '54

Hi Traveler

Gee, willikers, time has been scarce. Two letters out in more than a week. The old Trojan is slipping I guess. Well, here's a third.

I got your seeds. Now I don't know what to do with them. But I'll do something. There's a possibility that we will be here next summer -- altho a slim one at best.

I also got a box of books. Books that I haven't had time to even more than glance thru, but which look wonderful and which I will start working on after the lectures stop -- next Tuesday night. The writing paper came thru to. Of it I've not used any yet, but as soon as a correspondence course rolls around, I expect I'll be very glad to have it. Gracias very muchas.

How does it seem to be a wealthy land owner. Would any ladies slippers grow in the woods. I should think a natural area plumb full of wild flowers and daffodils would be pretty. What are your plans anyway, if you have any?

As for Lee. He is a comparative slave driver. He is sarcastic of Harry, when he doesn't get to work on time; sarcastic of Harry's so-often trips to Shelburne Falls. Lee can't see why another person can't work as hard as he does and why another person doesn't do things the way he does. He rides a mistake and isn't diplomatic in correcting a person's mistakes. I guess dad was the same way when he was young. Lee is a human dynamo on the farm and doesn't understand why others aren't as ambitious or capable. Despite the great love for him and the great respect I have for him, I just have to admit that as an employer, he has a lot to learn.

And you don't write too often. There's no such animal as an unwelcome letter. They has aint.

This lecture course was originally an 8 week, 2 3-hour classes per week course. Thus we had a total theoretically of 48 lecture hours and we do have nearly that many. That is equivalent to the class time of a 3-credit college course, I believe. Our lecturer is a U. Cal. Professor (or Doctor) of Anthropology on detached service to the Far East with the U.S. Army. Classes are in a Quonset hut about a mile up the road in an infantry regiment T.I.&E. Section. (Troop Information and Education). About 20 men are taking the course - all but one or two are Enlisted Men.

As for location I guess I'm just obeying the rules. Our compound covers about 5-10 acres, contained about 300 men in 3 companies and our detachment and is strictly medical. Ambulance drivers, hospital attendants and interns and a raft of administrative people. Our relation to Seoul as is yours to the summer home of the Supreme Court Justice - can't remember his name. About the same distance and direction.

You mentioned thunderstorms. Today is a rainy day - hence the letter - and I was surprised to hear some genuine thunder rumbling in the sky. For once it was nature, not man disturbing the piece. Nope, the peace.

I know one soldier and two sailors who are darned thankful for a lift. I also know one soldier and two sailors who were surprised at the courage and faith of a lone woman who would stop and give rides to young servicemen. Thanks for giving them the ride.

And thanks for the pictures. They certainly make the flowers look beautiful. You certainly do have an estate. I hope you won't miss those pictures for fourteen months. I'll look at them often.

Marsha Drew sent me a nice letter and a picture. The picture is as cute as can be and the letter - after I figured out how the symbols and lines fitted together to form words - was typical but fun to read and reread. Penny dropped a nice letter, too. Her writing is as interesting and lively as her speech.

These last two days we have been inspecting. In one outfit, the company vector control man started out with the inspection treating it as a laughing matter. His indifference and insults angered me. When I told him I was 8th Army, his face dropped a mile and when I finished the inspection – I gigged the life out of it - his lower jaw was dragging. I'll bet that next time we come around his company won't be quite such a mess. And maybe he will have been relieved of his job. As we finished one Company, the Battalion Col. walked by. "What's this, another inspection -- Regiment or Division." Sturdevant looked him in the eye and said "No, sir, 8th Army." "Oh," the Colonel ohhed, "8th Army, uh, well, how does this company look."

Luckily that Company was in good condition. Very meekly he asked for constructive criticism of which we had little to offer knowing that our comments made to a Colonel would go hard on the lower officers and E.M.

When they find out that we are 8th Army, they really get humble - oh the power of a Private in the army. So much for our work.

Poor neighborhood in SeoulLast weekend I went to Seoul. It was a wonderful trip. Of course the road was all dust as thick as heavy fog and as washboardy as Strong Street by the cemetary, but we did get back to civilization. We saw civilian buses and automobiles, saw some paved streets, but not many, we saw civilian homes, about the same, tho, as the ones in villages that are springing up around here. The most noticeable thing about Seoul is the universal stench, unlike any American smell, but something like a rotting dump and open cesspool combined.

Downtown Seoul Transportation varietySeoul is a big place. It has three or four great wide dirt streets. Some are even divided into 3 lanes, the center one containing trolley tracks. Trolleys are numerous in Seoul and packed tighter than any subway train in New York. In downtown Seoul are many buildings of cement as high as 6 or 7 stories. And some of them aren't empty shells. One is the main Seoul PX and is nice inside, like a stateside department store. The streets are crowded with a conglomeration of people walking, carrying A-frames, pulling 2-wheel carts, leading horses (small ponies) or oxen pulling 2 or 4 wheel carts, bicicles, 3 wheel motorcycle vehicles, cars, some new ones, many old ones, some civilian trucks, many buses, a few taxies and many many military vehicles, both Korean, U.S., and a few of other nations.

All the homes are small, about the size of Joe Rogers garage, but lower. They mostly have tile roofs and anything for walls. They are filthy, diseased, crowded, and treacherous fire hazards.

Wide dirt streetsAs you ride along, in the crowded streets, small boys will run along beside the vehicle, open the toolboxes, and steal anything therein. When you are parked, one group will distract your attention while the others steal everything but the paint job. One group wasn't distractive enough and the theif gained a bloody nose for his efforts.

You leave the vehicle in a military compound and walk. But you don't walk alone. 8-14 year old boys walk with you, selling, selling, selling. They promise the best and guarantee the most. At night it's not the boys, it's the girls for whom they were working who escort you down the street trying to drum up trade. And so at night we walked. As long as a girl wanted to walk beside us, we'd let them, trying to string them along just for the sake of holding a feminine hand and hearing a feminine voice. Eventually they would decide that there was no prospect of business and would leave and we'd walk on until another girl came out to accompany us until she too was discouraged and turned back in search of a dollar elsewhere.

Grocery Store BookstoreAnd everywhere are the small shops. They are open to the street and are of various sorts. One type aimed at GI trade sells fatigue hat, stolen aerosol bombs, chains for truck tail gates, stripes, patches, souvenirs, and other things that a G.I. would buy to use or send home. Aimed at civilian trade are groceries with their dried whole fish, dirty rice, grain, meal, assorted canned goods, often stolen, and native fruit and vegetables, all promising a stomach ache and maybe bad disease to any foolishly adventuresome G.I. who wishes to try native "food." We even saw one bookstore, hardware stores, one small machine shop with actual overhead-belt driven machinery, we saw innumerable bicycle shops and odd-shops and in downtown Seoul a few "luxury" places selling such things as cameras, hose, hats for ladies, suits, shoes, and baggage. My bet is that very little of that is sold to Korean civilians, but rather to a few people who have grown wealthy on the war and to foreigners.

A fellow and I spent Saturday night on mattresses in the back of our 3/4 ton truck while the third fellow was sleeping off a bout with vodka in one of the billets at the Seoul Preventive Medicine Company where we stayed. Waking up in the open, looking at the sun and breathing open air, with not too much oder after a warm, but not hot, night reminded me in a very nostalgic manner, of some time long ago when I went on a trip and slept in the open. And perhaps it was of the night we slept by Lake Champlain. But it was a wonderful sleep. And then late Sunday afternoon we returned. It was a wonderful trip. Not that Seoul is wonderful, it definately isn't, but that I was once again traveling, seeing new sites, drinking up (and not literally) new adventures, new things. Rubbing elbows with a different type of people, a different way of life.

But the return, too, held a surprise. One of the 3 or 4 surprises of it's sort that I will get in the army. And it is recorded on the front in the form of a new address.

And best I stop this now while it is convenient