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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES H. PIERCE ~ XVI
Stationery Letter Head
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS, Inc.
Edgar Rice BurroughsDarling Joan:
Honolulu T H
January 10 1942
The last letter we received from you was dated Dec. 12th; the last one from Jack, Nov. 25th; from Ralph, Dec, 22nd, We are still here.
As far as I can gather, I, at least, shall be here for the duration, as they are making no provisions for the evacuation of able bodied men. If Hulbert enlists here, he also may be here for the duration.
Hulbert wants to come home and enlist there. I want to come home. The work that I am doing here is inconsequential in the extreme. There already are two other alleged humorists writing for the same page of the paper. One of us would be one too many. Furthermore, writing against an editor and a military censor leaves one practically nothing to say, with an excellent chance that that will be deleted.
The civilian morale here has been fine, but I look for it to crack one of these days if some of the restrictions placed upon civilian life are not lessened. Coop people up in their homes from 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. daily, day in and day out, week in and week out, with the assurance that it will probably be for the duration is going to play hell with morale. We are not allowed on the streets and may not even buy a little hootch with which to lessen the tedium of the long, dark hours. While I don't, myself, now drink, I hear rumblings about town concerning this restriction.
The civilians here have responded splendidly in the emergency, and they can't understand why they shouldn't now be trusted as much as Londoners are trusted over there. They are allowed on the streets at night, and they may buy liquor. It all seems to the civilians here a poor reward for loyalty, sacrifice, end co-operation.
Hulbert and I manage to get in from three to five sets of tennis every day. It helps to keep us in condition. Our partners are usually Cecil Burnside, whose husband is a submarine commander, and "Duke" Wylie, a Mainland business man stranded here like myself.
This tennis has helped to bring our weights down. This morning, Hulbert weighed 174 and I 175. If I get any closer to him, he'll stop eating entirely. I have come down 25 Ibs, and no longer look as though I were enceinte.
We hope that you are all well and happy. We are well and far from downhearted. We find a great deal to laugh about. Wish something would happen. Had four earthquake shocks at 4:45 the other morning, and they helped a little. Perhaps the Japs will come back and break the monotony. They'll get a wonderful reception this time if they do.
Lots of love to you all from both of us.
PapaMANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE 12th
Edgar Rice Burroughs
1298 Kapiolani Boul
January 28 1942
Do you know. we haven't had a letter from home since sometime in early December, except one from Ralph dated Jan. 6th? I realize that censoring and the navy's handling of our mail accounts for much delay, but that doesn't lessen our anxiety to hear from you. We feel terribly isolated here, in addition to feeling like rats in a trap! Of course Hulbert can't hope to get away until after the war is over, unless he is transferred to another station - which I am praying won't be farther west. And I doubt very much that I could get home, even if I tried to; which I am not. I don't want to leave as long as Hulbert is here.
I can't do much to win the war, either here or on the Mainland. I have quit writing my silly column and am going to work with Jack Halliday and others on a radio program for KGMB, which they hope will prove good enough for the network; so you may hear the sweet strains of my voice some day when you tune in on CBS. As this will require much of my time, I cannot conduct a column too.
That you may see how silly my column is, I am enclosing one. It has been sort of fun; but bucking a newspaper editor, a military censor, and, apparently, the WCTU and the Epworth League, and probably the PTA and the advertisers has rather cramped my well known style. Even a little "damn" was cut out of one story I told - and the damn was the whole point of the story.
I am going to ask a favor of you. On a separate sheet I am listing retail prices permitted by the military governor on certain articles of food. Will you please enter the Mainland prices of the same articles and return to me? Thanks! I noticed a front page article in the morning paper yesterday headlining that fish had been retailed the day before at a "record low price" - 35 cents per pound. My recollection is that the top price for fresh fish in LA used to be 40 cents a pound for a certain species of swordfish, the broadbill, I think, and that ordinary run-of-mine fish retailed as low as ten or fifteen cents per pound.
I hope that Jack does not enlist and is not drafted. Under present circumstances he should not serve. I know that he will be anxious to, but he should not. With Hulbert it was different: he has no wife and he isn't going to have a baby - I hope. He makes a swell looking soldier, and he'll make a swell soldier. You would be very proud of him.
We are both well and are anxious to hear from you that all of you there are, too. You can write Hulbert air-mail for 6 cents. His address is Pvt. Hulbert Burroughs, c/o G-2, H.Q,. H.A.F., Hickam Field, Honolulu.
Lots of love to you all, darling!
My darling girl:
February 20 1942
Your letter of the 9th reached me yesterday - in ten days. Not bad as mail goes now-a-days. Thanks for the Mainland prices. There is not much difference between these and the tops set here by the military governor. I was just curious to know. Without the military governor, some of these highbinders here would rob us right and left. In many ways martial law is an improvement on that furnished by politicians.
I was about sick when I read that you are planning on selling your new home, which you so love and with which you must have been very happy. I hope that Jim finds some other solution, but you are right in saying that you must do what seems best. I have been buoyed by the hope that we should all be together again some day in southern California, but the war may bring us far greater disappointments than failure to realize this hope. At any rate, I shall not attempt to influence you. I long since learned How to Influence People and Get Unpopular; so try to avoid it. But believe me, dear, I shall be 100% for you whatever you decide; and wherever you and Jim and the children go, my thoughts and my love will be with you.
Am enclosing a clipping from yesterday's Star-Bulletin, which I thought you might like to see. Went all through Hickam Field and Wheeler Field that day and saw many interesting things. It was a highly instructive and reassuring trip. Tuesday I went with other newsmen on an all day tour of one of our defense sectors. The air force and other army units are on their toes and ready to go. The morale is high. The highest hope of officers and men is that the Japs will come back. I saw firing by .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, 37 millimeter guns, 75, 155, and 240 heavy artillery - hitting their targets right on the nose.
Yesterday, Headquarters phoned me that authorization for a flight in a Flying Fortress had been obtained for me. I fly from Hickam Field, at one o'clock today. Am looking forward to it. Hope to see Hulbert, as I am to report to Chuck Shelton with whom Hulbert works. I saw H the last time I was at Hickam. He looks fine and is quite happy. A Pathe Newsreel man dropped in to see me yesterday. He told me that he and Hulbert are working on a motion picture of army life, Hulbert having been loaned to him by the Air Force.
Hulbert is very popular with officers and men. I get this from disinterested people. Also, he is considered the top photographer of HAF. We may all be very proud of him. As much as I should like to be with the rest of you, I hate to think of leaving Hulbert here alone; and hope Ralph will not insist upon my returning until all danger here is past.
Tomorrow I go to the pistol range to try to qualify with a .45 Colt for a permit to carry a gun - necessary for all members of the new BMTC. I can take the things down and put 'em together again, but I never have been able to hit anything with mine, largely, I think, because its action is so stiff. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow.
But it is of today that I am thinking - hoping my Fortress spots a Jap sub. Wouldn't that be a thrill?
Wish that I could buy your place if you have to sell, but right now that is out of the question. As you know, war has cut down the corporation's income and taxes are mounting. But why don't you talk the matter over with Ralph? He might have some solution. He has solved a lot o knotty problems for all of us in the past.
Shall take your letter out to Hickam today and get it to Hulbert. We swap letters from home. They mean much to both of us.
Lots of love, dear girl!
1298 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu T B
March 9 1942
I was nighty glad to have your letter of the 2rd. You are right about real friends caring only for the man himself and not for his material success. I think Hollywood gives one a wrong slant on human nature. There are a lot of damn swell people there, but there are also more heels to the square inch than any other place I have ever been.
Am looking forward with keen interest to the success of your venture in Nogales. With your setup you should make a thing of it. Can you fly over Mexican territory? Now that they are our loving friends, I suppose all that has been arranged. When I was there 45 years ago, we didn't have no friends south of the Rio Grande. I suppose the old place has changed. As I recall it, it was then an aggregation of saloons separated by an International Boundary line.
You and Joan mustn't take too seriously the family's objections to your moving down there. If they hadn't been very fond of you, they wouldn't have given a damn where you moved. The thought of not seeing you all for a long time must have made it pretty hard for them, especially Emma. I know, that they will all be glad of your success, or welcome you back if something happens to prevent that success. I was much relieved that it was Arizona rather than Indiana - just a sleeper jump.
I had one of my rare flashes of intelligence when I started this letter. I am making an extra carbon copy to send to Joan; thus killing a couple of birds with one typewriter and acknowledging a nice letter she wrote Hulbert , which he just sent on to me.
You are not such a very long way from where I once chased Apaches and, fortunately, did not catch up with them. It was on the Gila near Duncan. I helped load a trainload of Mexican cattle at Nogales for Sweetzer & Burroughs of Yale, Idaho. Lew Sweetzer had gone down into Mexico and bought an entire brand. What they delivered at Nogales were about the size of jackrabbits; but by that time Lew was up in Montana, and Harry had to accept what was delivered.
Have seen Hulbert only a couple of times since he enlisted, but he writes me when he can. He is very busy. He is also very popular with both his officers and fellow enlisted men, and they are enthusiastic about the work he turns out. In a letter that I received from him today, he tells me that he has his first stripes. He is now a Private First Class, and should be addressed Pfc Hulbert Burroughs! He was, and is, immensely popular at the hotel. People are always inquiring about him, from Filipino waiters and room-boys up to Major General Woodruff, who took a great liking to him.
I am quite busy. As Public Relations Officer of BMTC, the guard regiment composed of some 1200 Caucasian citizens, I write publicity for the local papers. I have a BMTC sergeant photographer detailed to take pictures for me. I have also been detailed to drill all regimental recruits - a job I like. I instruct them two afternoons a week and on Sunday morning on this side of the Island, and this morning my C.C. phoned me and said that Kailua had asked that I come over there and drill them Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Kailua is on the Windward side of Oahu. However, I can't do that if I have to use my own car, on account of gasoline rationing; but the C.C. said he would try to get me a squad car - I suppose he meant a police squad car - to drive me over and back.
I like it here; and beside that, I want to be near Hulbert. There is just enough excitement to keep one keyed up. We had an electrical storm the other night, and you should have heard the stories next morning. That electrical storm was nothing less than a major naval engagement. People saw the gun flashes in all directions and heard the boom of the big guns. They all felt let down when they discovered that it was nothing but a thunder storm. Most of our excitement turns out to be a flop, but we're always ready for the next big thrill.
If you give up your home in the Valley, I don't see why Emma doesn't take it; as I understand that she finds the Bellagio place much too large and consequently an unnecessary burden.
Some day I hope to build me a shack on the tract at Tarzana. At present my plans consist of a tennis court and not much else. I try to play several sets a day here. We have a lot of fun on the tennis court at the hotel. Yesterday, a Colonel of Marines and I played a Navy wife and the Remington-Rand manager here, who is also a private in the BMTC. It may not be very hot tennis, but we get exercise and have a lot of fun. I have met many friendly people here, but many of them have been evacuated and more will be.
A story could be written around our hotel. There are defense workers, G-Men, Army and Navy officers and their wives, school teachers, business, bankers, and what-have-you. There is a red hot scandal going on right now; there is much gossip; and if the board of strategy of the United Nations would just come over and sit in on one of our after dinner sessions, it would discover just how to run the war. Grandstand quarterbacks aren't in it with us.
Well, so long and good luck! I'm for you both 100%.
April 15 1942
It has been a long time since Hulbert or I have heard from home, but I know that Clipper mail has been delayed. It has been over a month since we heard from you or Jack and I have not had a letter from Ralph since his of March 25rd. I hope that you are all well and that we shall hear soon.
Hulbert was in the other day. He is looking and feeling fine. Like I, he would not be any other place. The only fly in the ointment is that we cannot see you people. But we wouldn't want you here. The object of my present affections - BMTC - is commencing to take splendid shape. I cannot write you the details, as those contain many military secrets. But I can give you a laugh: I am now a major. I have been for more than a week, but the inmates of the Niumalu Hotel only learned of it yesterday evening, with the result that they threw an impromptu party for me. Mrs. Schrader, the wife of a Navy captain, found me out in the pavilion after dinner with about a dozen people. She came in, shouting, "I'm looking for the major!" Then the ribbing started. She and Capt. Schrader dragged me off to Henry Mahn's apartment. The Wylies (my good friends) were there. Also Major General Woodruff and Colonel Tom Green, executive officer to the Military Governor and, in effect, the governor of the Islands, with a couple of others. Henry played records; one of the girls danced a Spanish dance, Mrs. S. did a hula. It was a nice party.
Hulbert has taken pictures of me, and I of him in our uniforms. When they are developed and printed, I'll send you copies.
We have had our typhoid and small pox immunization. I think Hulbert has to have yellow fever shots, too. Anyway, it's something disgusting. Some people were laid up after their typhoid shots, but they didn't bother either Hulbert or me. I guess the only other shots I am likely to get during my few remaining years on this interesting planet may be administered by Adolph's little yellow brothers. I'll have some of the same for them - if I'm not too damned scared. They say that everyone is scared in a blitz - soldiers and all. I just hope I don't run and hide under a sofa.
We have many shortages here. Seemingly miles of counters in Kress's are empty. No more lighter fluid. Sears, Roebuck had no pins today. Many brands of cigarettes are exhausted. We often go without butter for days. There is a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, we still get plenty to eat; and my weight remains at 168 despite my hopes of getting it lower. But a drop of 32 Ibs isn't bad at that. That was a doggone heavy load to carry around.
I'm sorry that I can't think of anything but myself to write about, but that's the way it is when there is censorship. We certainly miss you all. I think that if I ever see you and Jack again, I shall start bawling - that is how badly I long to see you. Just thinking about it brings the tears to my eyes. We have practically been separated for eight years. If I ever get back to the mainland, that won't happen again.
Lots of love to Joanne, Mike, and your sweet self; and give Jim my best when you write him. I hope that his business is flourishing.
Honolulu T H
May 1st 1942
May 4th 1942
I got as far as the above three days ago, and this is the first opportunity I have had to continue. No cranberry merchant ever had anything on me. I was about to record on May 1st that I landed here just two years before - on May 1st 1940. I expected to be here only a few months. A lot of water has passed over the dam or under the bridge, or whatever the saying is. Our lives and the lives of the rest of the 150,000,000 have been completely changed. Mine, certainly, has been radically changed; and it finds me happy and contented, in good physical condition, and still with three of the finest children any man ever had.
Hully was in a week ago today. He is in fine shape and happy. I wish you all might see him in his uniform. I took a couple of pictures of him and had prints made which he is supposed to send you. He also took a couple of me. I'll enclose one of each for you. and when I write Jack I'll send a set to him. You can just see my correspondents brassard (green with a red C). It has slipped down, as usual. Funny mans.
Last Friday, Major Steer, the regular army officer detailed assist in the training of the BMTC, took me on a reconnaissance tour of
xxxxxxxridge, where the regimental field exercise was to be staged the following Sunday. We drove in his command car up a military road to about 1600 feet elevation and then hiked down over a steep and rough terrain of lava rock, cacti, high lantana, and slippery wet grass, much of the time. (I have xed out the name of the ridge, which doesn't mean anything to you anyway, but which I really shouldn't have mentioned.) I fell three times and learned that my bones are no more brittle now than they were a hundred years ago, I fell once across a rock with all my weight on my lower leg. and nothing broke. Steer fell twice and nearly made it a third time on the edge of a four foot excavation.
Then yesterday the entire regiment hiked up and down. They didn't all get to the top. I stopped at about 1400 feet because the spikes of my golf shoes had made about a dozen sore spots on each foot. They weren't intended for walking on lava rock. I was out from 9 A.M. until nearly 3 P.M. missing my lunch. But I got in a game of tennis in the afternoon. Slept nearly eleven hours last night and feel fine today. There's life in the old carcass yet. Maybe you might be interested in the work I am doing. I am Plans & Training Officer for the regiment. I have a staff of three BMTC officers - a captain, a 1st Lieut., and a 2nd Lieut. I plan all regimental exercises and drills. We are in charge of the target range and responsible for the instruction of all recruits. This work takes up all of my time. I try to get in a little tennis every day to keep me physically fit, but many days I have to miss. I enjoy it all immensely. I feel that I am doing something, however minor it may be, in the war effort that the nation is putting forth.
How is Jim's venture going? I hope all his anticipations are being realized. Was glad to know that you and the children are well all at the same time. I fear that Mike will have a long white beard before I see any of you again.
Lots of love!
1298 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu T H
June 12 1942
A few outstanding thrills come to each of us during a lifetime. An hour ago I experienced one of my greatest. It was when I ran into Hulbert on the Niumalu Hotel grounds and saw that he was wearing an officer's overseas cap and the gold bars of a 2nd Lieutenant. I damn near cried.
I know that it will mean a lot to the rest of you, too; but I think that it means more to me than to anyone else in the world. More even than it means to Hulbert. He has achieved what nearly all or my life I wanted to achieve. It is just as though I had won a commission in the army. Only more so. I am prouder and happier than I ever could have been had it been I.
I immediately went down town and cabled Ralph to notify you all. I am so damned proud of Hulbert I could bust. Immediately after the blitz he tried to get back to the Mainland to enlist. Failing in that, he enlisted here... Two of his classmates with whom he received his original reserve commission were captains at the post where he served as a private. He was never envious of them. He was recommended for a commission by his commanding officer, and the recommendation was turned down. Not a complaint from Hulbert.
He did his work and he did it better than any one else could have done it. He liked his officers and he liked the men he was quartered with, and I know they all liked him. He has been a swell soldier. We can all be very proud of him. He will be a fine officer.
He came in from his post in a jeep with a corporal driving him. I have forgotten the chap's name, but he and Hulbert got their corporalcies at the same time. He is assigned to the motor pool at the post. Yesterday, he told me, he received orders to bring a truck "to move Lieutenant Burroughs". That was the first he knew about it, and he said he got a great kick out of it. He came in with Hulbert while he was visiting me. His pleasure in Hulbert's promotion is an indication of how well Hulbert is liked.
Hulbert says that every one at the post is terrifically elated over the Midway victory. Hulbert tried to get permission to go along on a bomber, but was refused. He does not know that any of his friends were lost. General Tinker is missing, we hope that some one, even the Japs, picked him up. He was a fine officer. Hulbert took the first picture of him at the time he was promoted, and he liked them so well that he had Hulbert make several copies for him. He told some friends of mine, where he was dining one evening, that my son had taken his picture; so he evidently remembered Hulbert - a one day private at the time. It was Hulbert's first assignment.
Your letter of the 5th came through in six days. It had not been opened, You say you get lonesome for Jim. The navy wife I play tennis with hasn't seen her husband since last October or November, nor has she had one letter from him. Just a few cables. He commands a sub, and doubtless has been in enemy waters much of the time. There are plenty more here like her.
I am glad, that I could write some one about Hulbert just what I feel or at least a vague suggestion of what I feel. My real feelings are beyond my limited powers of expression. But I can write you as I have because I know that you and Jack and now mother will understand and share my enthusiasm.
I have always been proud of you three children, and each of you has given me plenty of reason to be proud. In this instance Hulbert had the opportunity. Either you or Jack would rise to a like opportunity; I think Hulbert got the break this time and I am glad - as I know you will be. He was getting a definite inferiority complex. You will find him a very different man when this war is over. He is very well and very happy. I reel that he has changed in many ways.
As you will recall, he used to be something of a pacifist. That was a long time ago. Now he would like to go out and shoot Japs before breakfast every morning. I rather hope that when the war is over he stays in the army. I think it would be fine for him. I doubt that he will ever be a money maker, for he dislikes business as much as I. Furthermore, he doesn't care much about money. It would be an excellent career for him in which he could enjoy and develop his civilian profession without financial worries (unless he gets married).
We had some tense days here until our boys knocked 'em for a loop at Midway. We thought they were headed for Hawaii, as they may have been. The BMTC stood guard every night. I got off easy on account of my exalted rank. Was Regimental Officer of the Day every other day - or rather night. From 3 to 6 A.M. one night; from 8 P.M.- to midnight another night. Just before I was to go on duty from midnight to 5 A.M. we were called off. We are still ready, however, and are expecting the Japs eventually. They've got to save their face. Why anyone should be so anxious to save a face like theirs, I don't know.
Yesterday I moved to a new room. It is much nicer and cooler, I spent about fifteen potatoes and several hours blacking it out. I hope never to move again, until I move back to California.
Lots of love to you all!
1298 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu T H
July 18 1942
Found your letter of June 25th at the hotel when I went up for dinner last night. A very sweet and welcome letter.
If you don't get anything but weeds, exercise, and fresh air out of your Victory Garden, you will still be ahead of the game. Then you can go to the market and buy radishes for half what they cost you to raise them, but with nothing like the fun and excitement. You will doubtless recall some of my futile efforts to make Tarzana Ranch self-supporting. For instance, the potatoes I planted twenty years ago that haven't come up yet. Then there were the Angora goats we inherited from General Otis, that required two full-time guardians with Winchesters and dogs to protect them from mountain lions. And after all that and more, they left all their expensive Angora fleece on the sage brush and chaparral in the hills. And the pure bred Guernsey cows which gave birth to nothing but bull calves - worth about $2. But we got exercise, fresh air, fun, and excitement. I think it was worth it. People spend lots more in night spots, and get nothing but headaches and hob-nailed livers.
Don't think for a moment that you children ever "lost" me. You were in my thoughts and my heart constantly. It was not my fault that we didn't see more of each other. Those years are past, and I like to forget them.
Hulbert hasn't been in since the 3rd. When he comes, they put a cot in my room for him and charge $5 a day. Hully says he can't afford that often out of his 2nd Lieutenant's pay, and he won't' let me pay it. It is a subject that we nearly come to blows over. I really think that it is rather dull for him, anyway; but he says he enjoys it.
I hope that if you wish to give up your house, you are able to rent it rather than sell it - unless you can get an exceptionally good profit on it. There are so many things to take into consideration and it is so impossible to foresee what conditions will be after the war, that whatever you do will be a gamble. If you sell at a profit, most of your profit will be eaten up by your increased income tax. Also, if you sell, you may find yourself without a home or money to buy one after the war is over. If you rent, you will have a regular income from your investment; and after the war you will have a home. If you take out War Risk Insurance, as you should, you don't stand to lose if your house is bombed. And I should not be at all surprised if the West Coast got it before the war is over. The Japs have taken about everything they've gone after except Midway, and Yamamoto has boasted that he will invade America and make peace in the White House.
You will enjoy the dude ranch. Especially the riding. That will be fun. When I was down in that part of the country forty-five years ago there was a lot of country to ride in, and I presume there still is. I don't know what else it could be good for.
Hope Mr. Pierce is elected Mayor of Shelbyville. Will you go on for the inaugural ball?
Haven't heard from Jack since John Ralston's arrival. An glad to learn that he bids fair to be as handsome as Mike, who was much like Johnnie's father. Yes, Jack has been a splendid brother, son, and husband. He is a fine man. You should hear Hully rave about him. I know that he will be a good father. In the process, he will probably lose the rest of his hair.
I still give all my time to BMTC. The five battalions and the recruits drill three times a week at different locations comprising an area of some fifteen square miles, not to mention rifle ranges ten miles apart. I am supposed to cover all of this. In between times I have enough paper work to keep me fairly busy. I also have to study manuals to brush up on a lot of stuff I hadn't given a thought for twenty-four years, as well as to learn the modern training methods. I am still many jumps behind. There is also much pilikia, caused by jealousy, petty politics, and inefficiency. But the corps is fundamentally right, with many fine men; and we have developed a real military unit upon which the military governor has more than once told us that he will depend in an emergency.
Last night one of the inmates at the Niumalu asked to hold a poker session in my room I don't enjoy these games, as a couple of the fellows are better fitted to play slap-jack than poker. Their idea of poker is sixes, tens, and one eyed jacks wild; spit in the ocean, and baseball. Furthermore, you can't play poker with guys who meet every raise even though they may hold nothing higher than a bob-tailed flush. I held four of a kind against one of them last night, and after exhausting all the chips I had in front of me, I called his last raise; because I felt sorry for him. He held a royal flush! You just can't figure 'em.
Outside of dat, der ain't no news.
Love to all!
Just as I finished this, I got a swell letter from Jack telling me all about John Ralston's advent. I certainly appreciated it. Oh, yes! I forgot that you might not know: "pilikia" means trouble.
1298 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu T H
September 11 1942
Your very welcome letter of September 4 came through in six days. I think this is the best time since the blitz. It was very welcome, as the last letters I received from Jack and Ralph were dated August 1. I know that you are all busy and haven' t much time to write, but that in no way lessens our desire to hear from you.
It would be nice if each of you would write Hulbert, so that he would find several letters awaiting him when he returns, I imagine that will be some time in October, although I am only guessing. He is a lucky boy to get this wonderful assignment. I wish that I night tell you something about it. Chuck said that it is so important that they had to send their best man. He said a lot of nice things about Hully - about his conscientiousness, ability, and intelligence. It was nice to hear this, coming from Chuck who knows more about Hully and his work than anyone else. But it didn't surprise me. Not only Chuck appreciates these things in Hully, but he tells me that both their immediate commanding officer and the commanding general do, also. Fortunately for Hulbert, his assignments often throw him into immediate contact with the brass hats. And that helps.
It was cute of Mike to buy Victory Stamps. I don't know where he gets that trait. Certainly not from the Burroughs side. I show his pictures, as well as Joanne's and yours, with great pride. Also Hulbert's, Jack's, and Jane's having recently acquired a large album in which all the snap shots I have are mounted. Of course I never inflict it on my visitors. I just haul it out to show them a picture of themselves or some friend of theirs. It is not my fault if I have to explain, that "This is my daughter and these are my grandchildren; and here is my other son and my daughter-in-law. My daughter used to be leading woman in a stock company and my son is an artist - he illustrates all my books, etc., etc," Of course I have to tell them what a lovely trained voice you have. Chuck asked to see them.
I had a sweet letter from Joanne. She has probably received my reply by this time. I am delighted that she liked the little lei. I thought it was cute.
You ask how I am. About once a month I go to my doctor for a sort of check up. I went this morning. I have been suffering from insomnia. Can't seem to sleep more than eight to ten hours a night. Last night I slept only eleven hours, with the result that the dining room was closed when I awoke. Had to go down town for breakfast. The doctor says he is afraid that I shall live, not being able to find anything wrong with me. I told him that I was worried because I felt so well. I have no business to feel so well at my age. I think he agreed with me.
Yesterday, I resigned from the BMTC. I have been contemplating it for months. I found it increasingly impossible to work efficiently under my immediate superior. The regimental commander said that he didn't blame me for feeling the way I do, but that he wouldn't accept my resignation. It looks like an impasse. I have turned in my equipment and surrendered my pass. I can't serve without them and he can't make me take them back. We seem to have an irresistible force meeting an immovable body. Since February I have worked continuously and conscientiously for BMTC. I have given it a lot of thought and study and worked long hours. Now, I feel like a schoolboy at the beginning of long vacation. I think I shall try writing a story. Perhaps you would like to meet a new friend of mine. "Joan, this is Lieutenant Bird. Phil, I want you to know my daughter, Mrs. Pierce." 1st Lt. Phil Bird of Oklahoma is a twenty-five year old artillery officer with the overwhelming personality of a 240 mm gun. For some reason he has attached himself to me as a sort of Seeing Eye. He takes me all sorts of places to see all sorts of things. With him, I have inspected many anti-aircraft batteries, had the intricate details of their aiming and firing explained to me, have fired one, have lunched with colonels, majors, and captains. I have been shown all over the great Naval Air Base at Keneohe, inspected a PBY, spent a forenoon on Ford Island (in Pearl Harbor), been entertained by the officers of a tank company and invited to drive one whenever I wished. I have been out by day and at night to watch anti-aircraft firing at a target towed by a plane. I have had a series of most interesting experiences. Today he phoned me that he would call for me at 2:00 P.M. tomorrow, but he wouldn't tell me where we were going. Said it was a secret. A military secret, I suppose. Phil is one of the most likable fellows I have ever met. Why he wants to drag an antiquity around with him, I wouldn't know. Perhaps because we both like to laugh. In that respect he is much like Hulbert and Jack, and you, too. For me, it is like being with one of my own children. Perhaps I remind him of his grandfather. Anyway, we have swell times together. He has a cute wife here. They have been married about a year. She has a government job at the post where he is stationed. She lives in quarters assigned to the women, and he lives in bachelor quarters in another part of the post. We had dinner together at the officers' club the other evening and then went to her quarters and played bridge after succeeding in roping in a Navy lieutenant as the 4th. I never did find out what he was doing in the women's dormitory on an army post. Probably had a sister or a wife there.
Gosh! How much we'll all have to talk about when we get together again. The trouble is, I spill everything I know in my letters home. I won't have anything new to say. But as you folks never tell me anything, I can settle down and listen. Hope I haven't bored you too much.
Lots of love to you all, and if you take any new snaps, send me prints.
PapaTell Ralph to write me.
1298 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu T H
October 31 1942
Just learned your address the other day through Hulbert. I knew you had gone to Nogales, and that was all. I was there 46 years ago. Imagine the old town has changed. Don't remember much about it. There wasn't much to remember.
You have probably heard all about Hulbert's exciting experiences at Guadalcanal. Sent copies of a Honolulu paper, recounting part of them, to Jack. The plane he was in was under anti-aircraft fire from land batteries over Buka and from thirty-eight Jap warships over Shortland harbor. It had running fights with Zeros, two of them, with a total of about twenty-five Zeros participating. The plane was hit with machine guns and one shell which failed to explode, but remained in the plane. After they got back to Guadalcanal, they were bombed from the air, shelled by shore batteries, and by Jap warships all the rest of the day and all night. The latter dropped 14" shells, among others. They took off the next morning while the shore battery was shelling the field. Some experience!
I am impatiently awaiting to be sent down there "somewhere". My correspondent's credentials finally came through from the War Department. and I am now fully accredited as a United Press correspondent. The UP bureau chief here has received cabled instructions from New York to send me out. He is only waiting for a spot to send me and a place on a plane. If my lifetime experience runs true to form, the war will be over when I arrive. I always get to a fire after it is out.
Have been outfitting for the past week or so. There were many things to get. Fortunately, the correspondent's uniform is the same as an army officers. Same as I wore as a BMTCer. So I have plenty. Phil Bird, who was recently promoted to captain, has been very helpful. I am sure that he would give me his shirt if I asked for it.
Things are dull here. I shall be glad to get away. Playing bridge or poker in a hot, stuffy, blacked out room filled with cigarette smoke no longer charms me. Had it not been for Cadmus or the Phoenicians, I should be bored stiff.
Just talked with the UP bureau chief on the phone. He wants me to go out with him Monday to see Chuck Shelton and Hully, to decide the best place to send me. It looks as though I might shove off at last. Perhaps I can bring you back a Jap as a memento. All my life I have wanted to be a war correspondent - to really see things first hand and write about them. After all, I am a professional writer; Not a professional soldier.
If you have the time, write me. It will be nice to have a few letters awaiting me when I come back. Am enclosing a small check, with which Please get yourself and the children some little Christmas remembrance from me. I send it now, as it might be too late after I return. I simply can't find anything here.
Lots of love,
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