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PAGE NINEWe picked up a Free French soldier. We couldn't understand him, nor could he understand us. He wanted to go to St. Louis (not Mo.), so I took him ten or fifteen miles beyond. We also picked up a couple of Melanesians. Which didn't revive the conversation. Everybody should speak American. There should be a law! Ramsey said the natives stunk. He was sitting in their lee. I didn't notice that they smelled any worse than I.
Noumea, St. Louis Mission, South Tip, Palace: December 20 and 21
There were a lot more nurses at the hotel for supper. They come in batches to rest. They nearly always want to meet me. I am getting to feel like the two-headed boy. Lt. Ruth M. Lang of Brookline, Mass., was quite a glamor gal. "Oh, to be seventy again!" as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once remarked to Justice Louis D. Brandeis under a like stimulus.
After lunch that day, Ramsey and I drove to south end of island -- a beautiful drive along the shore of the bay. As my gasoline gauge was running true to form and not registering, it occurred to me to see how much gas I had before going farther. We looked in the tank, and couldn't see any gas. Then I got a stick and poked around. Finally I managed to wet just the tip of it. Two soldiers in an Army truck came over and joined the conference.
Their names should be memorialized. They deserve memorialization. They gave me five gallons of gas! Meet Pvt. Frank Bognar, Jr., of Garfield, N.J., and Pvt. Johnny Anderson of Keystone, W.Va. No gas coupons needed for Bouncing Baby. There are gas dumps spotted all along the highways where I can drive up and get the tank filled. No coupons. No cash. I can see Hulbert about to deliver a lecture on this. He will think that it was all wrong. Doubtless. But why should I attempt to reform at my time of life? Especially when I am having such a swell time being consistently wrong.
December 21: I went up to the palace and interviewed Col. Henri Montchamp, Governor of New of Caledonia. Capt. Jean Talu, the Governor's aide, acted as interpreter. The Governor was very cordial. Also met Major Max Vivier, Chief of Staff of New Caledonia. He speaks excellent English. We had something in common in our mutual respect and admiration for General Walter C. Short. I mentioned this in my story about my interview, and the censor cut it out. I told him he had no business to, as it was purely a personal matter and had no bearing on the war.
Saw Capt. Hamner Freeman at G-2, USAFISPA about transportation to Australia. He said he would have an answer for me in the afternoon. He did. I was booked for passage on a plane leaving Tontouta on the 24th, and was told to see 1st Lt. A.A. Sanford of Jarratt, Va., about transportation to Tontouta.
Lt. Ramsey and I drove out Rue de Sevastapol to Motor Salvage Pool to see Maj. Brown about letting Ramsey and his photo unit have Bouncing Baby after I left. We finally located Brown in town, and found that Capt. Fordham had already made arrangements for Bouncing Baby. Brown said he would fix me up with another when I return.
After dinner I drove out to the 905th Eng. A.F. and had a pleasant visit with Capt. Hines who is from Hollywood. When I told him that I was from Tarzana he said, "Oh, yes; that's were Edgar Rice Burroughs lives." I allowed that it was.
When I located Capt. Hines he was sweeping crushed rock into . . .
Ship Repair Unit, Ile Nou, Noumea
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