NAVAL AIR STATION, PORT LYAUTEY
MAIL DELIVERY REMEMBRANCES, 1947 - 1948
The following narrative regarding general and personal mail deliveries to and from Port Lyautey between the years 1947 - 1948 are from the recollection and archived letters between Jerry Zimmerman and his then fiance and later his beloved "bride" of 60 years, Dolores. Dolores went home to the Lord on August 11, 2009 and was the love of Jerry's life.
Jerry was born and raised in West Allis, Wisconsin where, today, he remains a resident. He has been a frequent contributor of stories and photographs to this website for which I am most grateful. Jerry has two other "pages" on this website can be accessed by clicking following, or off the Newsletter, Photographs and narrative (1947 - 1948) from the Jerry Zimmerman Collection and Photographs (1942 - 1948) from the Jerry Zimmerman Collection Part Two ...................Port Lyautey Web-Editor.
As you know, I have been a long time contributor and a supporter of your most appreciated portlyautey.com web site. I am also pleasantly addicted to checking the web pages to see and read the latest entries.
With that said, and although my already listed narrative pages mention it, I do not believe the beloved Naval Air Station has been recognized as it is deserved for having been the US Mediterranean Fleet Post Office. I also do not recall that any of those involved with that Port Lyautey Fleet Post Office have ever contacted you with the details of an operation that touched thousands of Navy, Army Personal, and Military Attachés throughout the Mediterranean including their families and loved ones back home.
For the record, and to at least preserve a part of that history and what it meant to so many such as me, I can offer some of my recorded memories of the Port Lyautey Fleet Post Office. To help confirm or build on my 83 year old memory, perhaps someone directly connected to the post office service will respond to you with a more detailed record of its history.
My memories are taken from my time as the Base Photographer during 1947 and early 1948. At that time in Port Lyautey, every letter either received or delivered between the States and the Mediterranean area, passed through NAS Port Lyautey.
When I first came aboard in July of August 1947 all incoming and outgoing mail for NAS Port Lyautey came by way of a once a week "Mail Flight" from England. (Although I do not know for certain what Base or City, my letters of that time mentions the mail planes came from London.) For the "scattered" and moving Mediterranean Fleet that also meant an added delay in receiving their mail. Prior to a once a week plane delivery, Fleet mail had to be re-sorted in Port Lyautey (the only Naval Air Station hub to the Mediterranean) ship by ship.
AUGUST 5th, 1947 - TUESDAY--PAY DAY--- There must be a better way to sort out our mail from all of the Fleet Mail. The mail just gets dumped into bags for all of this Mediterranean area and then it first gets sorted here before our Base flies it out to all the ships at Sea. When you consider all the ships in this large area, from here to the Suez Canal, plus all the Embassy and Military Attaché mail, and that it comes here unsorted, I guess they have their hands full. The Postmen don't want to hold our mail back and keep putting it out as they come across it. We could wait until they tell us it is all sorted but that would be impossible.
LETTER TO DOLORES* FROM JERRY - NOVEMBER 26th, 1947 -WEDNESDAY--- I will begin a "little trip" starting Friday. A lot of it will be on my own leave time, so I will be able to tell you a quite a bit about it when I return. If you hunt up a map of the Mediterranean area you will be able to follow our flight. It is what we call our "mail run". We will leave in a two motor plane called a R2D by the Navy, and a C-47 by the Army. At 0400 Friday we take off for Bone Algeria. It is a coastal city East of Algiers by about 300 miles. We will be met at the airport by a Helicopter from the Aircraft Carrier Midway. We will take on their mail heading back to the States and we will leave a bag full for the crew that has arrived from the States. We leave the same day for a flight across the Mediterranean, Northeast and over the Island of Sardinia, and on to Rome where we will deliver mail to the Military Attaché, stay over at a Hotel, and have a small amount of time to visit the city. From there we will fly North, across Italy to Trieste to deliver Fleet Mail to ships at that Port, and then back down and across the Adriatic Sea to Naples. There we will deliver more Fleet Mail and have an over nighter at a Hotel, with some time for sight seeing. The next day we will fly over the "heel" of Italy's "boot", across the Ionian Sea, and into Athens Greece. Again, we will deliver Fleet Mail to the Military Attaché, have a night in a hotel with a bit of time for sight seeing, and leave the next morning. We will fly back across the Mediterranean Sea to Malta where we will spend two days aboard the carrier Midway, which will have sailed from Bone, where we had made our first stop. After that it will be a stop at Algiers, and from there we fly back to the Base.
*Web-Editor Note! the letters to Dolores were from Jerry Zimmenrman to his fiance Dolores
We will put on a total of at least 4,500 miles and be out about a week. It will be a nice break away. I have been on other flights, but not for as much time away, and not with the chance for so many hotel over nighters.
I will not be able to write to you while I am on the trip, so you will have to forgive me. I will see a lot of country that I have not seen before. I will write as best I can about the trip when I return.
On rare occasions incoming mail from the USA by way of England would sometimes be put aboard a plane other than the weekly scheduled "Mail Plane." Then there would be a celebration on the Base because of the unexpected but appreciated delivery. Although complicated, there were also times when a flight coming through the Mediterranean and headed back to the States would take on a limited amount of outgoing mail. The very kind and sensitive Port Lyautey Postal crew would always try to get the word out and we Sailors would rush hurried mail back home to them to have it put aboard those welcomed flights. Our State side loved ones would benefit an added mail call.
(MARCH 1993-- I recall that it was not allowed for flights not listed as "Mail Service Flights" to accept posted mail and carry it to the States. There were times that we would have a special mail plane come in that was in the Mail Service and would deliver special Official Mail to our Base, or on their way to the Fleet. In that situation our Base Postman could put a sealed bag aboard the plane and have it on its way back to the States. Federal regulations were such that when regular planes came in without mail service rating they were not allowed to take posted mail aboard. There were times that if you knew some of the crew members from past trips in, (especially the photographer!), we could depend, within reason, they would secretly do some privileged friends a favor and take on a handful of letters. These would be dropped into a mail box when they hit the States. Security was so tight that they would not risk taking a package or a large bundle like the pack of pictures I had ready to mail that night. This is why you find Jerry "getting the word" at the last minute, now and then, that someone was willing to take on a few letters---"IF IT COMES DOWN--RIGHT NOW!!).
The weekly system, via England, added up to a delay of at least a week or more in communication between loved ones. Mail and packages that were not sent first class became a very disappointing process of delivery. That mail was directed to a limited number of Naval Ships scheduled to and from Casablanca. That famed seaport was the only one capable and equipped to berth Naval Ships of any size on the northwest coast of North Africa. That kind of delivery was not predictable and, because of a sea crossing of 8-9 days or more, a mailed package could take 2 or more weeks before it arrived.
In October of 1947 the air flight delay was improved when NATS (Naval Air Transport Service) began scheduled, direct flights between the States and Port Lyautey. Then a five day delivery was not unusual and that meant mail sometimes arrived two times a week.
OCTOBER 16th, 1947 - THURSDAY--- Dear Dolores, I have your mail to the 12th of October now! It won't take mail too long to get here if some of the things work out that were discussed by the Officers that have been gathering here lately. NATS---The Naval Air Transport Service---is planning to bypass the delay of Fleet Mail that until now has to go by way of London. Can you imagine that I have a letter of yours right here in my hands that you wrote just four days ago?
OCTOBER 31st, FRIDAY--- Dear Dolores, October and another month is over. Mail goes out on NATS, so you should receive this mail on about Tuesday. Then it will be but 4 days to your Birthday. I wished you a happy Birthday a few letters back, but I do it again.
Some may find the following 1947-48 letter entries about Port Lyautey Mail Calls and Fleet Mail taken from my portlyautey.com "narrative" web pages interesting and informative. I have never forgotten how much it meant to receive mail while away from home in the Navy. This look back some 65 years latter reminds me of how the mail connections back home were truly my shipmates and my life line to peace and a cure for loneliness. J Jerry
Notes from Jerry's 1947-48 N.A.S. NAVY 214, PORT LYAUTEY, FRENCH MOROCCO Letters to Dolores Web-Editor Note! the letters to Dolores were from Jerry Zimmenrman to his fiance Dolores.
JUNE 15th, 1947 - SUNDAY-Dear Dolores
Due to a bit of an accident I lost Fridays and Saturdays letters to you, so I will try to update you.
Some boats from the Destroyer Tender, the "Shenandoah", came out to pick us passengers up from our Naval Tanker Ship, the Canisteo. Beneke and I didn't know how long we would be at Gibraltar, but we were hoping that we could get in a week end on the "Rock". But on Saturday morning we were surprised to learn that we were to have our gear packed and ready to go by 11:30 A.M. More to our surprise was that we were to fly to Morocco. The plane was a Navy C-47 Mail Plane.
JUNE 16th, 1947 - MONDAY--- Everything is just rosy here at Port Lyautey, I am all checked in, and the best thing of all is that I have a bunch of mail from you! There is nothing that can cheer me more than a letter from you.
JUNE 18th--- How are you on the day before my 19th Birthday, and after my first year completed in the Navy? A year from now we'll be saying "it doesn't seem like a year ago that we were 5,000 miles a part", right? Right! I was happy to receive letters from you, so now I have all of them up to the 13th of June. I also got a nice Birthday card from you, something I didn't expect, but I guess I will have to wait for the package. I also got a letter from Mom. Please get together with my family when you hear from me. I'll tell them the same, so in case any ones mail is slowed up while my letters are trying to find their way home you will all know I am here and that I am O.K.
JUNE 20th, FRIDAY--- I missed writing yesterday, and I missed sending the rest of my letters because I didn't know that the mail leaves at 5 IN THE MORNING! I did send a package of pictures that I had printed so far, hopefully that should pardon me for the letters not being mailed, and not writing yesterday. It is going to take me a while to get use to the routine of this Base.
JUNE 22nd, SUNDAY--- I am anxious for the mail plane to come in; I hope that you receive my letters soon. Mail your letters every day if you will, because our mail leaves the States at different times. It isn't like mail leaving here once a week. Today I was busy printing up Identification Cards, mixed some developer, and got all my mail ready to go out on time for tomorrow. I have already mailed all the letters up to today, just in case I miss out on the Mail Plane. I won't let that happen again with a week's mail!! I will also package and mail the last set of my trips pictures. I must still write the description on the backs of them.
JUNE 24th, TUESDAY--- I heard that a mail plane came in this noon, we probably will not have that sorted out until tomorrow.
JUNE 26th THURSDAY--- I have received all your letters up to the 20th now, it seems they have found me for sure. I received a birthday card and letter from Shirley, and a card and a letter from Mom and Dad. I sure was waiting for that mail call, and as usual I got the most mail of all. The rest of the fellows were complaining that I have been here but a week and already I get more mail than they do! I told them that they have to get a honey back home like I have! Perhaps that would change their luck.
JUNE 27th, FRIDAY--- I sure miss the almost daily letter I received from you in Pensacola. With only one mail call a week it makes for some lonesome days in between. I hope that my mail has come through and that you have heard from me once again.
JUNE 30th, 7:45 P.M. (FEBRUARY 1993- (This letter is in large sized script, you can tell that it was written in a rush!) Hi Sweetheart, I just got the word that the mail is going out tomorrow and I have to get this out by 8 P.M.! So a few words--I had a swell time yesterday. Rabat is a fine Town, large, modern, and also has a typical Arab Market place.
JULY 1st, 1947 - MONDAY--- The Mail Plane came in about a half an hour ago so I am patiently waiting for mail call. I am sorry I wrote such a short letter last night, but because I did, the letter should be in London by now I have to get down to the Mail Room, I am going to tease the Chief there--NO mail---NO pictures at his party!
JULY 2nd, WED.--- I am glad to hear that you have finally received letters from me, now you know that I still love you! I hope that my mail comes through regular now.
JULY 4th, 1947 FRIDAY--- I just got back from Rabat, I got the word that 3 cent mail came in today and that I had a package at Operations.
(FEB. 1993-- In 1947 Air Mail meant Air Mail, it had a separate stamp and rate and had the quickest delivery time in Morocco as it did in Pensacola. "Regular postage" was with a 3 cent stamp and that mail went by whatever means was available where ever the letter happened to be. Dolores and I learned that regular posted letters and packages could end up taking a boat ride of a week and a half or more on its way to Morocco before getting to an air delivery from England via our Navy Air Craft. When word went out that "3 Cent Mail is in!" it usually meant long awaited packages would hopefully show up.)
I went right down to the Hangar to see if it was true, and there was the box with your familiar hand writing! It kind of made the day a little more like the 4th, I thank you, and I love you! Everything came in good shape; I don't believe the chocolates even melted.
JULY 6th, SUNDAY--- I missed writing to you yesterday, I caught up with all the others that I have owed letters to. I did print up a roll of film I took in Rabat for you and I will mail them with this letter.
JULY 8th WEDNESDAY--- Mail came in yesterday, 5 from you, and one from Shirley. I read all the letters and enjoyed them very much; I sure get a kick out of your letters.
JULY 16th, WEDNESDAY--- The mail plane doesn't take out mail till Friday so I will hold these letters back and mail them tomorrow. My mail call had three letters from you, the 4th, 7th, and the 10th, so I guess I missed out on some in between. I know that you, like me, write when ever we can, so if you miss a night or two be sure to know that is O.K. Your letters are always so full of news, fun, and love. Just let me know the night you may not write so that I do not wonder if a letter got lost. Your package came, I feel a bit proud that I guessed what you were sending me. It is a lovely picture, and if I had known that you looked so beautiful at Bobby's wedding I would have gone home and locked you up! Of course I would have stayed there with you.----! All my buddies who have seen the pictures say I knew what I was doing when I got engaged to you. The fellows envy me because of my half dozen letters at each mail call, like the favorite saying around here, "THAT'S THE BREAKS!"
JULY 17th, THURSDAY--- I am worried that I missed a Mail plane this morning because the plane left unexpectedly and directly for the States. I didn't get my mail into the Post Office until after 8 o'clock because I was depending on the plane that usually carries mail to leave for London later on in the day.
JULY 18th, FRIDAY--- 4 days until mail call--I continue to hope that my mail comes home regularly now. Most of the mail that you get is flown from here to London, and then on to you from there. I appreciate the Sports pages that you send me, I enjoy them very much. Could you do me another favor and get hold of some of the Photography Magazines for me? I, as well as other fellows, would appreciate that too because we get only one Photo Magazine here, Popular Photography. "U.S. Camera" would be a good one.
JULY 22nd, TUESDAY--- At the last mail call I received a letter from Dad, believe it or not, it was good to have him take a little time to write to me, because I know how he dislikes to sit down to write.. How long does it take to get a letter from me? Do they come as I mail them---all in one bunch?
JULY 22nd, TUESDAY (Again)--- Surprised? Or didn't you notice that this is the second letter today. Well, it is extra special for an extra special reason. I went to get my Liberty card and found out that a plane had come in from London and happened to bring down the mail. I got your letters to the 16th. Also a letter from Shirl. It was such a nice surprise, so much so I decided to write again instead of going to town. I am sorry that my mail just doesn't get through in a timely manner. I will mail letters tonight so that I will not miss any surprise pick ups. I hope that I receive some mail on the regular Mail Plane, or it will be a long wait for the next Mail Call.
JULY 29th, TUESDAY--- Mail today--from you, Dot and the Folks, mail really feels good over here, mail delivery is just too far apart and that is no good for moral.
JULY 31st, 1947--THURSDAY--- I had a surprise today, one of the boys from the fire house brought over a letter from you that had gone to their Dept, by mistake. It was from the 24th--just a week ago---so that came pretty fast. I took quite a stack of letters in for mailing last night so I know they made the Mail plane. I am watching for a package that my Folks say they sent. I hope that it gets here quickly. I hope you send me some of those magazines, and maybe once in a while some comic books, old or new, doesn't matter. If they are ones I have read I will pass them on to the fellows.
AUGUST 5th, 1947 - TUESDAY--PAY DAY--- The $50 is in the mail. I was able to get mail out on a special flight to London last night so you should have an early mail call. We hope to receive mail here today too. I hope that I get it all at once instead of a letter here and there through out the week. There must be a better way to sort out our mail from all of the Fleet Mail. The mail just gets dumped into bags for all of this Mediterranean area and then it first gets sorted here before our Base flies it out to all the ships at Sea. When you consider all the ships in this large area, from here to the Suez Canal, plus all the Embassy and Military Attaché mail, and that it comes here unsorted I guess they have their hands full. The Postmen don't want to hold our mail back and keep putting it out as they come across it. We could wait until they tell us it is all sorted but that would be impossible.
AUGUST 7th, THURSDAY--- A plane is shoving off for London this evening so I will try to get this aboard. This should be a good week for you to receive mail. I may miss a day or two of writing, but I promise I won't miss a chance to get one on board of any plane that goes out of here carrying mail.
AUGUST 12th, TUESDAY--- I didn't feel like going on Liberty this evening and the mail plane was late so I did a little sleeping. I wanted to be fresh when the mail did arrive so I could come down here to the Lab and answer each letter right off... Tell your mail man that's the breaks on my package wrapping, if he can suggest some other way to package them from here I am open to that information. Just tell him to get them to you in good shape or I will have my boss talk to him!
AUGUST 19th, TUESDAY--- Another apology for another delay in writing. We have been working long, hard, and late on Identification pictures for our fellows French Hunting License (believe it or not) so that they will be finished in time so that we can take our Liberty tomorrow at noon. It seems everyone on the Base except Ike and I must be planning on going hunting! We are listening for the sound of the Mail Plane to come in, it is something how we all learn to do that and recognize it here. It seems to have its own sound and is to me like an angel bringing love messages from home to all of us on the Base. It was due to land at 5:36 P.M. and now it is 5:50 P.M. You learn to get a bit worried when you are a part of an Air Base crew and a scheduled flight gets to be over due, ESPECIALLY when it has YOUR mail on it!
(MARCH 1993-- Many Pilots had great pride in landing on their scheduled time, it was sort of a game between them. It meant nothing to be early either; it was a test to see if they could put the wheels down at that exact minute they were scheduled to "touch down". I had been in a plane when the co-pilot called to the Pilot "NOW" as he was watching the dial of his watch and the pilot would hit the wheels to the runway! After checking in they probably collected a dinner or at least a drink from the crew that bet them who could come closest to the arrival time! As always, I say there was no one more special and fun than the Navy Pilots.
I didn't write last night, instead I put a bunch of pictures together to mail to you and I took a long time to write on the backs of them so that you know who, where. Friend Willie Moore has also been hanging around here waiting on mail. The plane has come in but the boys are not sorting it as yet. If I find the ambition I will try to answer all of your letters this evening, if not, as soon as time permits. I am still waiting on the package the folks sent me last month! I got a letter from you yesterday that you wrote the 6th of July telling me that you were sending the pictures of yourself airmail. It was an old letter by the date, but it was still new and from you.
AUGUST 21st, THURSDAY-- I didn't write after mail call Tuesday because word went out that mail wasn't to be sent out of here until next week. Now I discovered I can get a letter on a plane out of here tonight! I will work a quick answer to most of your letters so that I will keep getting mail from you.
I got a package from you today and it is rated 4.0 by everyone! The comic books went over pretty good with the fellows. Lyles, Kurrie and I are taking care of the candy!
I won't be able to get the pictures on this plane, just the letters, so you will have to wait on them. There will be quite a collection when they do come through.
(MARCH 1993-- I recall that it was not allowed for flights not listed as "Mail Service Flights" to accept posted mail and carry it to the States. There were times that we would have a special mail plane come in that was in the Mail Service and would deliver special Official Mail to our Base, or on their way to the Fleet. In that case our Base Postman could put a sealed bag aboard the plane and have it on its way back to the States. Federal regulations were such that when regular planes came in without mail service rating they were not allowed to take posted mail aboard. There were times that if you knew some of the crew members from past trips in, (especially the photographer!), we could depend, within reason, they would secretly do a privileged few a favor and take on a handful of letters. These would be dropped into a mail box when they hit the States. Security was so tight that they would not risk taking a package or a large bundle like the pack of pictures I had ready to mail that night. This is why you find Jerry "getting the word" at the last minute, now and then, that someone was willing to take on a few letters---"IF IT COMES DOWN--RIGHT NOW!!).
AUGUST 26th, TUESDAY--- I received my model airplane motor in the mail today from the Folks this week, I have it mounted and running. I will start building a model plane for it soon, when I find some free time. Mail came in - there are no questions to answer----and NO clippings from the August Wisconsin State Fair!
AUGUST 28th--- I reread you letters again to day, a nice bunch of them, I wish I could get mail from you every day of the week. Time has been slowing down a little lately, perhaps my letters indicate that.
SEPTEMBER 1st, LABOR DAY 1947--- I visited a very large Arab town on the other side of the river from Rabat called "Sale'" (pronounced Saa-lay). That city is so exclusively Arabic that we are not allowed to go into it at any time without official permission. It is a completely walled city right on the Ocean and there isn't a French section there. A Christian Missionary and his family live in a home within the walls of Sale'. His mail is directed to our Naval Air Station and the Base postmen deliver it to him. Sometimes I go with the postmen so I can see inside the white walls and visit with this interesting man of God. It is a village that has an even more mystique to it than Rabat's Medina.
SEPTEMBER 2nd, TUESDAY--- I am feeling 4.0--mail had come in, and the only letters were from you! I think that it is the best mail I have had from you so far, I am glad to hear you so cherry. I do know that my letter writing has not been as regular, I do write every chance I get, and then you always come first, only then do I ever write to anyone else. With mail going out but once a week it sometimes seems that all the days of the week sort of roll into one. So much of my week is the same here on the Base that I feel I would bore you with a daily report. It is not like Pensy where every day meant there was something new. Now it is like I am going on a regular job each day and going to sleep at night. There is a temptation to break up some of the letters so that I could fill out everyday between mail plane pick ups just to save my skin, but I think it is important for you to know exactly when I am sitting down to write to you, and also for me to give reason why I have missed a date. I guess it kind of takes the pressure off too, to see one, two, letters sitting here on my desk, written, but unable to be mailed, and knowing that I have not forgotten you.
SEPTEMBER 5th-- You were the only one that I received mail from today, but it made up for all the ones that could have written and then some! I must close, I am anxious to work on my latest experiment. If I can I will try to get this on board the mail plane. All my other letters are already there. Parcel Post comes in tomorrow so I may have a package from you, I hope so.
SEPTEMBER 10th, WEDNESDAY--- I got a lot of mail last night, from you, the Folks, and Dot. I sure like that Niece of yours; her letters are nice, and sweet, just like she is in person.
I was surprised to find a lock of you hair in one of your letters! I wish you could have seen the expression on my face when it slipped from your letter to the floor. It must mean that you have cut your hair again! Speaking of presents, I had better get busy and mail your Birthday present. I will try to mail it as close to your Birthday as I can.
SEPTEMBER 11th, THURSDAY--- The weather remains nice, no rain since that last rain in Rabat that I mentioned. I got the range finder for my camera from the Folks and it is really neat, and really looks sharp! I got another letter from you that had missed mail call, so I was glad to hear from you again so soon, whether you knew it or not.
SEPTEMBER 16th, TUESDAY--- The mail is in and I have finished all of it, yours is the best of the lot, and then there was a great letter from Dad, it sure makes me feel good to hear from him. It is hard for him to write, and when he does it is extra special. I consider one letter from him as good as all the letters the rest write in a month. You are not on that list though, I can get along without everyone else's mail, but I could not make it without yours. Dad said that they were counting the days until I get home, so I guess he doesn't give any thought about the possibility of me signing over. It is still a little on my mind, but it is a very long shot. If I did it would probably be to start a 20 year stay so as to rate a retirement and I know that you would be against that
I am not going to the show tonight; I want to answer all of my letters so I can mail them tomorrow before I go to Rabat. I really have a lot of letters to mail
P.S. Check with the Folks to make sure they have mailed my civvies---!--Thanks.
SEPTEMBER 18th, THURSDAY--- Mail is to go out tonight so I will write a few lines. I had a good time taking pictures in Rabat yesterday I have mailed five one hundred foot rolls of movie film to the Eastman Kodak Company to be processed. One roll, the very first one I took, jammed in its magazine so I developed it myself.
SEPTEMBER 23rd TUESDAY---Mail is in and four letters from you. A little early to be thinking about Christmas isn't it? I am wondering what Christmas will be like here without snow on the ground, without you and family. There will be no presents to open under the tree and no chance to ride around town to see windows all lit up. I will just have to wait and see how it is in North Africa.
SEPTEMBER 26th, FRIDAY--- Did I tell you that I have a Pass Port? It is so that I can travel in other countries in civilian clothes, which is one of the reasons it is important to get my civvy clothes here. I don't want to buy any here because I will wear them so seldom. It is possible that, in time. We will be allowed to wear them on Liberty here in Morocco, just as it is now in the States.
SEPTEMBER 30th, TUESDAY--- That is all of the dope for now, because of the Mercy Planes flying in for the Far East epidemic and needing ready clearance, the Mail Plane will be 24 hours late, so no mail until tomorrow----and then I plan to be on Liberty in Rabat! So it goes here in Africa.
OCTOBER 7th, 1947 - --- You may have guessed why I would write two letters in one day, MAIL came in! I just want to thank you for the nicest letters and to let you know I miss you more each day.
OCTOBER 8th, WEDNESDAY--- I am listening to the Bing Crosby program and Margaret O'Brien is his guest. My new radio is really a break! Mail is going out tonight, it is a surprise to me, so this has to be short. I did a lot of picture printing today. I will have some to send home.
OCTOBER 12th, SUNDAY--- Two days to mail call, except for you, I didn't do too well in letters last week, so maybe there will be a good mail call this time. Parcel Post hasn't been delivered for two weeks, so I will be expecting packages in the next call on that.
OCTOBER 15th, WEDNESDAY--- I have sent your Birthday present to the Folks so they can get it to you on your day. Now that I have it in the mail I am hoping that there won't be any problem with it going through Customs. It doesn't seem fair that we Navy men should have to worry about Customs, and especially for a gift, but that's how things are.
OCTOBER 16th, THURSDAY--- I have your mail to the 12th of October now! It won't take mail too long to get here if some of the things work out that were discussed by the Officers that have been gathering here lately. NATS---The Naval Air Transport Service---is planning to bypass the delay of Fleet Mail that until now has to go by way of London. Can you imagine that I have a letter of yours right here in my hands that you wrote just four days ago?
I got the film in the mail today, thanks, and that should hold me for awhile. I have worked out a source for Verichrome Film, and I can hold out on the Super XX film that you have sent me for the shots that I can't afford to miss.
OCTOBER 21st, TUESDAY--- No news, no mail, Parcel Post is to be in tonight, and I hope that my civilian clothes are on that ship. The mail trucks went to Casablanca to pick it up and should be back by midnight. I also hope that I get a set of printed movie film to see how that worked out. I have a lot more to send to the States if it does work. I am also hoping for the Clarinet music that I asked the Folks to send, plus some more instant soup mix would be appreciated.
OCTOBER 22nd, WEDNESDAY--- Things just didn't work out for me today, Parcel Post was delayed, and now it should be in tonight. I am going on Liberty to Rabat and had planned to stay over at the Royal Hotel, but now I have to come back on the 11:30 P.M. train. The good news is that I can check on Parcel Post and the mail.
OCTOBER 24th, FRIDAY--- I just finished a letter to the Folks thanking them for my civvies that finally came in. I received mail from you and I was glad to hear you feeling chipper. I am glad that your work is going good and that you like it.
OCTOBER 30th, THURSDAY
I got a LOT OF mail Wednesday. Your wonderful letters, a letter from Dad, from Shirl, two from Mom, a few other friends
The Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) Plane brought in only our Parcel Post today. I sure like that plane---a R5D! All I received was newspapers, but I do thank you for that. The fellows get a kick out of it when I get such a "little bit" of mail because of the usual batch I receive. It is a nice kind of teasing because they are happy for me that I do receive so much mail, and I wish they could be so lucky.
OCTOBER 31st, FRIDAY--- October and another month is over. Mail goes out on NATS, so you should receive this mail on about Tuesday. Then it will be but 4 days to your Birthday. I wished you a happy Birthday a few letters back, but I do it again.
NOVEMBER 5th, 1947 - WEDNESDAY--- A gang of us went into Lyautey about 6 last night, and then most of us came back by 9 to get that all important mail. I got all of two letters, and both were from you. Today Parcel Post came in and I got the roll of movie film that I had been worried about. That gives me a total of 500 feet from the Medina and the Old Sultans Palace. I expect a roll of color film on the next plane.
NOVEMBER 7th, FRIDAY--- We have been swamped with work this week, it has meant some long hours. Parcel post came in by ship at Casablanca Tuesday, and it finally got sorted out yesterday. I received a package from Dorothy Lukas. Then, yesterday, the NATS plane brought in both mail and Parcel Post, and I received a package from you today. I also got the newspapers; I really like them, especially the pictures of home
NOVEMBER 8th, SATURDAY--- One year ago---Pensacola--2 years ago in your arms,---one year from now---back in your arms where I belong! Happy Birthday!!! Today is the day!! I heard that I can get mail out on a morning plane--so I thought I would rush a special letter out to tell you that I love you.
NOVEMBER 11th, MONDAY--- I did get right to the films after my letter to you Saturday. I went to supper chow and met my pals from the Post Office. They invited me to join two of them to drive to Casablanca by truck. I said sure, and they said we'd leave at 3:30---in the MORNING!!
I went to the Welfare and Recreation Department to pick up a bunch of "Suspense" program records, also "Mystery Theater" records. I slept in the Lab, set my alarm clock and set it for 3 A.M. I listened to programs until about 1 A.M. and then slept until the alarm rang.
(MARCH 1994-- The records were called "Victory Disks". They were the first of the 33 1/3 records and, if my memory serves me correctly, held 2 1/2 hours of music and programming. It was for the Armed Forces only and not for sale. Radio was the form of entertainment and these records held all the favorites. They were recorded live performances and a real favorite to the overseas servicemen.)
I packed a Speed Graphic and my camera and took them along. We went in the truck we call the "10 wheeler", of course that is the number of wheels on that truck. It is an open cab and it was fun riding in it. It was dark as heck and there was quite a haze when we started off. We rode through Rabat before things started to clear up, and then on through Casablanca where the sun was shinning. On the way we stopped to break up the trip by doing a little target shooting with our 45 automatic pistols. I took some pictures too. We got to the docks early and went to the Post Office. We found out that we had to go to a ship that still had our mail aboard. Once there we shot the breeze with some of the crew while we waited for the mail to be loaded on our truck. When that was done we had to make a stop at the American Counsel's Building to leave their mail off, and then to the Casablanca airport to deliver the Army Transport Officers mail, and we had a nice visit with some of the officers before we took off. From there we drove around Casa and then went for chow at a restaurant
From there we drove out to the Anfa Hotel, drove along Casa Beach and the Ocean, and after the sight seeing we thought we had better take the mail back to Lyautey.
The postal guys (Eddie and Viewbower) had to stop at the Rabat S.P. Office. Then we took off for Lyautey and they gave me a chance to drive for awhile. That was quite an experience. When we hit Lyautey we stopped at the Rec Center and had chow. Then it was to the Base where we finally unloaded the mail. Now I know why it takes so darn long to get our parcel post and mail out of Casa!! After that, Viewbower joined me in the Lab, and I developed the film I had shot. The fellows around here really enjoy seeing the negatives so quickly after they have been shot. By the time we finished that, and the Lab was put back in order, I headed for the sack!
NOVEMBER 13th, FRIDAY-- Mail is in, a great mail call this time. My movie film came back too, the color roll worked out beautiful. Please try to check and see if you can get some color film for me, if you can, mail a hundred or two hundred feet, it would be worth it. I need 16mm 100 foot spools for a "CINE KODAK MAGAZINE LOAD CAMERA" or 50 foot magazine loads for a 16mm "CINE KODAK MAGAZINE LOAD CAMERA". That is if it isn't too expensive, I have no idea what the film costs.
I had to read the letter you wrote on your birthday first, I had to know what you thought of your birthday presents. I don't know if you realize that the pin knife comes out of its shield. I am sorry to hear that you are unable to wear the slippers, but then they will make a nice souvenir. (MARCH 1994-- They hang on the wall on the upstairs stairway today, beside a "White Hat" of mine that still has my stenciled name inside.)
NOVEMBER 19th, WEDNESDAY-
The first B-29 in the history of our Base landed successfully today. They were not all that sure, that it would be a safe landing, so all the crash crews, the Fire Department, and even me, the photographer, was alerted. I shot stills and movies of the whole thing
Last night my best French Sailor friend, "Dayday", was over to the Lab and we had a nice evening together. He helped me with my French studying, and I helped him with his English. He is an officer, but a regular fellow. I took a couple of portraits of him and told him that he could pick the one he liked and that I would print some up so he could mail them home for Christmas.
I hope this makes a letter of interest for you because there is nothing else of news here. There is no movie tonight because the mail plane has not come in, and they probably thought we would be filling a big hole in the runway where they expected the B-29 to have crashed! I did get the newspapers from you though, and as always I am glad to receive them, I have all the October issues now---thanks!
NOVEMBER 23rd, SUNDAY--- Finally!! The mail plane is in, but LATE, which means you will also be getting delayed mail at home from this trip. Two letters from you, one from Shirl, and one from Lois. (Cousin Lois from Rockford Illinois, Aunt Betty's daughter.)
NOVEMBER 25th, TUESDAY
I received a package of newspapers from you today---always nice--thanks. It is a bit of home, so it seems.
I have mailed out packages to you for the folks. Keep them at your place until Christmas Eve, then call them and tell them that Santa left something there for them.
DECEMBER 4th, 1947 - THURSDAY
I am back from the Mail Plane trip, I will write about it in another letter. I am waiting on a new batch of developer to cool off. Everything went good on the trip, and I had a nice time. I was so happy that I was able to telephone you while I was in Rome. That was the most exciting thing about the entire flight. It was on my mind that this would be the first Birthday, Christmas, and New Years that I would miss saying person to person "happy" greeting to you. When I got to Rome and found out that they had an International Telephone center, I JUST had to do it! It was so nice to hear your voice. It was a new kind of a thrill for me. I had to place the call 8 hours before I wanted to make the connection, and I picked a time I thought would be the best for you. I was up at three in the morning when I called, so you should thank me for that! I was also living in a different day than you, it was 8 o'clock Friday evening by you, and it was 3 o'clock Saturday morning in Rome.
I want to get a copy shot of a map so that I can trace the trip for you. We got back last night, and this morning I am developing film from it, unfortunately, most of it is Official.
I had a package of newspapers waiting for me when I got back, and they tell me the Mail Plane is in, so maybe there will be a few letters.
DECEMBER 5th, 1947 - FRIDAY--- I just haven't been able to sit down to write, but I know that you are looking for a bit of a story about my trip. It is one of those things that I don't quite know how to go about getting it down on paper. It has been all I have been talking about to the fellows since I've been back, but it has been all about the funny and good things that we had as a crew together, I didn't have much daylight time to sight see, most of the crew have been on the trip a number of times and treat it like a bus ride to work, and I feel a bit strange because I haven't much to share with you for all the miles I have traveled.
We slept in the best hotels, eat in the best restaurant, drank the best wines, and as the Limies on Malta say---"we lived like Kings!!" In Rome we had the most wonderful meal at what is said to be the finest restaurant in all of Italy. They had a couple of guitar players, and a mandolin player, walking from table to table, playing and singing beautiful music. They would play requests, take "Lire" as a tip, and play just about any song they were asked.
From there we went to a number of the big night clubs. Our Pilot and Co-Pilot have been through this area so many times that they know just where to go, and most places called them by their names. Even where it was super crowded we always were able to get a good table and close to the floor shows. Leonard, the Third Class Mail Man, and I were quite impressed. We didn't head back to our Hotel until the last place we were in closed!
We didn't make it to the ground for a landing in Trieste. Weather was terrible when we took off from Rome, and got worse as we flew North. I have never been on such a wild and rough flight. We had to get to as high an altitude we could without the need of cabin heat or oxygen, and we still couldn't get out of it. I went to the refrigerator and dug out a frozen steak and fried it the best I could over the electric hot plate used for cooking. It was not very efficient and takes quite a long time to cook even eggs! I had to put one arm in a strap hanging from the ceiling to try and keep on my feet because of the bouncing of the plane. With the other hand I tried to keep the frying pan in contact with the burner. I might add that I was dying of hunger at the time or I wouldn't have tried it. The fumes from the slow cooking steak, plus the bouncing of the plane, started to get to me and my stomach. About the time I had the steak ready, I tried to butter the bread, but it was like trying to chip concrete, and it was impossible to spread it on the bread. I walked back to my seat, best as I could as the planes floor raised and fell from me, it was like walking in the revolving barrel at Waukesha Beach, and when I finally made it I sat down and strapped myself in. It may have been an hour that had passed by, I don't really recall, I only know it was longer than I had wanted it to be. As I was cooking I looked out the planes window and all I could see were clouds right up to the plexi-glass. The Pilot came walking through, looking like a drunken sailor coming home from a great Liberty, he was whistling, he stopped by me and asked if that was a steak sandwich I had, I said "yes, I made it for you", and handed it to him because I would have chocked if I would have tried to eat it.
I believe we were in the air for 12 hours, if not that long it seemed like it, and guess where we landed.......back in Rome where we had started from! The pilot said we just did not get the kind of "in the air" help we had needed, and he just didn't like to pass up getting the mail to and from the ships up that way, it meant at least a week, maybe more, before NAS 214 would be flying back that way. He certainly tried, and I could tell he was really disappointed, but not with the waste of 12 hours in the air, but because of many breaking hearts that had been waiting on that mail call.
We stayed at the airfield in Rome over night and had to fly to Naples the next day to keep on our schedule. Weather had cleared and it was a thrill to fly over Mt. Vesuvius, and then the Isle of Capri on our way down. I enjoyed what I did see of the city, and it was there that I wished I had more money to have spent on gifts.
The Co-Pilot took us to the night clubs of Naples. Leonard and I had a window view from our Hotel right to Mt. Versuvius, and that seemed a bit unreal. "Old Mac" (MacDugall, our Aviation Machinist Mate) came to our room after he left his gear in his room, and we went to dinner. He is quite the clown and has us laughing all the time. We were trying to discover where to turn the lights on in our big main room, and it seemed that every time we pulled a cord, thinking it would turn a light on, it would be the room service bell instead, and a cute room maiden would show up and want to know if we needed something. She did not speak any English, and Old Mac had a little Cognac in him, and it was a real killer watching him trying to make her understand that he wanted a bottle of water to go along with his bottle of cognac. The poor maid must have come back three more times before we learned which cord was for the light switches, and which one was for room service.
The one experience we will all remember the most from this trip happened that night. We were eating supper at a very fancy restaurant, and like in Rome, there was a guitar and a mandolin player going from table to table, playing and singing songs by request. Our Pilot, Mr. Schlac, noticed that the guitar was cracked and not in very good condition. By now Old Mac was really feeling his Cognac and Mr. Schlac teased him that he should break down and have all of "US" chip in to buy the poor guy a new guitar. Mac, being one who likes Hill Billy music, said "HELL I'll buy him TWO guitars myself if they can play and sing "The Wabash Cannon Ball!" The rest of us, along with Old Mac, really had a good laugh; we all knew the two Italian singers couldn't do that! The two musicians walked off to the side, both with very serious faces, for a couple of minutes, we figured Old Mac had got them pretty good, and our laughter had settled down. Then they came back to our table with big smiles on their faces, and began playing the hottest rendition of the Wabash Cannon Ball you ever wanted to hear! They really floored us, especially Old Mac, and it was all we could do to restrain him from tipping the guys enough out of his own pocket to buy two guitars, he really felt that he owed them that.
There were a lot of things I saw that you must see to appreciate, like famous mountain ranges that I had read about in geography classes for instance, and I was able to see them as I flew over and looked down at them. One of my big thrills was when we were picked up by the Military Attachés driver and 4X4 at the airport in Rome we actually drove along the route, and could even see some of the actual Roman Apian Way. Can you imagine that the sections of stones that I saw were put there by the Romans in 312 B.C.? Again it is probably more important when you are there for that moment, then it is for me to write about it for you. Our Hotel is but a couple of blocks from where I could stand beneath the balcony Mussolini had given so many of his speeches. I went back there late at night, by myself, to stand all alone, I could remember seeing thousands of Italians standing where I was, cheering and saluting, Mussolini rambling on and on how they would rule the world with Hitler and Germany, looking down from up in the balcony above me. Another unbelievable moment for me, if there had been even a handful of people in the square it would have seemed more possible that it was the place. It was down these same streets that they had dragged his body and hung him from his heels, and now it is all but forgotten it seems. Although we did not have the time to make a stop, we drove through the Vatican and I was able to see all the important buildings. Still another surprise is to all of a sudden find, on one of the busiest streets, loaded with traffic, takes you around the Coliseum! The Christians that had died there would never believe what the city is today.
Naples was the prettiest city of them all. It is built beneath large hills that grew into mountains that drop down into the sea. Mt Vesuvius is over 3,000 feet high, and can be seen from just about every where in the city. The most beautiful view is from the drive that goes up the steep hills and you can look down on the city of Naples and the sea. The drive is right to the edge, which has a stone wall about 2 1/2 feet high and a sidewalk that lets people walk and take in the view. Small shops line the side of the hill to the other side as the road winds its way upward. Near the top of the drive there was a jewelry store that the Co-Pilot knew about and we all went there to buy gifts. He said that we would not find a better place in Italy, and that all of our women back home would love whatever we bought. I hope that he is right. I did buy you gifts from there.
(MARCH 1993- Dolores has a cameo "Seven Day" bracelet, a necklace, broach, ring, and ear ring set that I bought for her at that jewelry store. (It is true that you could look out the front window, and see all of Naples below, with Mt. Vesuvius in the distance, I have not lost that beautiful sight from my mind. The jewelry is on display in our living room's corner cabinet.) The bracelet I sent to Dolores has the seven Gods and Goddesses of the week carved on them. The other set has Napoleon's wife, Josephine Bonaparte, carved on them. I had the Jeweler write the description of each on a scrap piece of paper for me, and Dolores still has that.
I was thrilled when I was told that I was flying over the Isle of Capri, I never gave any thought that it was but 5 square miles in size, and mostly mountains falling into the sea. It was, of course, much smaller from the air, and I felt like I was seeing a part of a fairy tale coming to life below me. I thought it was great to see something that we had sung about on the old player piano back home. ("T'was on the Isle of Capri that I first met her.......")
Athens, like the rest of the stops, was too short of visit also. Whenever any one of us would wish for a stop, as we hurried about, we were always reminded by the Pilots that the purpose of the trip was to deliver Fleet and Official Mail, and not a pleasure trip. The regular crew was indeed bored with scenery and was more interested in taking time to visit restaurants and night clubs. They were certainly more than anything available in Morocco and that was what they found to be exciting. Again, a White Hat is to be seen and not heard! When we came in sight of Athens from the air there was no doubt as to where we were. There, high above the city, was the Acropolis, just like I had seen in the history books in school. At our Hotel we could look out to see it high on a hill above us. It could be seen from all over town like Mt. Versuvius in Naples. A special thing about Athens, I was able to get a real bottle of state side Coca Cola for the first time since leaving the states. You could also buy the latest American magazines just like back home in the states, printed in their good old English. (We can, at times at Rabat news stands, find magazines such as Look, Colliers, and Life, but they are printed in French! They are nice if you want to look at the pictures.) We stayed at the Hotel where the U.N.O. (United Nations Organization) is staying.
When I stop to think about it, it seems a bit to me like I was always in the same city, just a different kind of food being available in the restaurants we went to. The major monuments and land marks we saw let me know where I really was. Flying by plane, and not driving to see the change of country side, you lose the understanding of being in a different country, a different city.
Our flight to Malta from Athens Greece was one that I had looked forward to almost more than going to Italy. I had heard and read so many stories during World War II about that little Island and I wanted to see it very much. The Carrier Midway dressed its Harbor, it looked like we were flying into a movie set and I would find John Wayne greeting us after we landed. The airfield is a long distance from town. I remembered that Malta was known as the most bombed place during the War, but what we saw was unbelievable. From the remote airfield, all the way to town, there was nothing but rubble---chunks of concrete of all sizes---stones from buildings and as far as you could see. It was like it was a crop, such as the standing corn in the fields of my grandpa. It wasn't here and there, it was ALL OVER! The city had been bombed so many times by the Germans that the stone buildings of the city had been blown piece by piece out and over all the country side, and it was as far as you could see. It would be like all the buildings from the Riverside Theater on Wisconsin Avenue were blasted piece by piece all the way out to Mitchell Field. We delivered the mail to a set of Destroyers that had come in to escort the Midway. We had a nice experience as we stayed in the British Petty Officer's Quarters during our stay, the first and only visit to quarters of a different country. The "Limies" are a swell bunch of boys and were good hosts.
Algiers was like coming back home, (Lyautey), we knew that we were back in Africa again, sorry to say it---but after the beauty of Rome, Naples, and Athens, we again find un-kept Arabs, and the filth of their quarters. The European cities seem more like being in the United States, Africa (except for the French sections that have a sort of peaceful, simple sameness with their all white look), appears like you have walked back hundreds of years into history. I find that I have begun to take that all for granted without realizing it. Now that I have returned from this trip, I am suddenly aware more than ever of how backward this part of the world remains. Without the French being here I wonder if there would be anything modern about Morocco at all.
It was a good feeling to get back to the Base. I do wish that I would have had more time at each place, but we had a lot of fun and we did see a lot. I picked up a Christmas present for myself from Naples, a Cameo ring. It is of a portrait of a Trojan Soldier carved and mounted on mother of pearl and set in silver, I sure love it.
I got mail and all of your letters. I am sorry that you had such a hard time hearing me on the telephone from Rome. I could hear you perfectly, clear as a bell, a little faint, but I heard every word you said. I know it was expensive, but it was worth it, and I feel nothing was lost at all, I am satisfied.
There is so much more to this trip, but that will have to wait on me getting home and back to you so that I can tell you all about it in person, it will be nice to go over it all on nights when we have nothing to do, or on one of our long walks.
(MARCH 1994-- It is unfortunate that Jerry made this decision, the time to record your daily history is at the time it is happening, no matter what your age is. Too many precious moments will be lost forever. Today my only recollection of those Mediterranean flights is what I have found in these letters. I am certain that there were too many other things for the young Jerry and Dolores to talk about when he got back home, the least was anything that had happened while he was in the Navy. That was "old news" by that time, and would not become important until I began re-writing these letters 43 years later.)
Santa's Brownies have told me that you have been a very good girl since I have been away, so I have sent some presents home for you, and I believe that you will like them. I send them with love from Rome, Naples, Athens, Malta, and French Morocco; in gifts that you will always be able to remember that I have loved you in all of these places. The telephone call I made to you from Rome was an extra Christmas and New Years gift for you, to remember on New Years Day that we will celebrate our forth anniversary of dating one another.
DECEMBER 7th, SUNDAY, 9:30 A.M.--- I had taken all of my Christmas presents to the Base Post Office for mailing, they were to go out on last nights NATS plane, directly to the States. Because there were so many passengers they did not put any Parcel Post aboard!! Now I will have to hope that the presents get to you before, or by Christmas. (NOTE Feb 2012 - Unfortunately most of my packages were sent to Casablanca for ship delivery. Many of my Christmas gifts were not delivered until late JANUARY 1948!)
DECEMBER 8th, MONDAY--- We had a surprise mail call last night, so I heard from you again ---- you know ---- come to think of it, I can not remember a single mail call since I have been here that I haven't had a letter from you!
DECEMBER 11th, THURSDAY, 11:30 P.M.--- Mail is in --- so more words from you, I got the poems and I thought they were really super. I like your girl friends even if I haven't met them All the Christmas presents I had to mail are out, we were told that we should have them in before 1600 today and they would all get delivered back home for Christmas. I have also been busy mailing out all my Christmas cards and that will be done soon.
(DECEMBER 20th, SATURDAY--- Mail and packages came in today. I really have a lot of "eats" to keep me going for awhile. I am pleased to get the canned goods, I am planning on a day out in the country, near by, and I had no way of packing a lunch to picnic along the way. I will use the stuff I have received, buy some Arab bread, and it will work out great.
I thank you for everything, including the magazines subscription to Popular Mechanics too. I will wait until Christmas Eve to open the envelope from you. I have Christmas decorations out in the Lab Office and they add a little spirit to the place. I only opened the packages because I will not be here for Christmas. I wanted to make this a special holiday for myself here on the Base, enjoying the things from home.
I was able to finish and mail the pictures today to Mrs. Piering, the ones of her brother's grave. I hope that I was not wrong to send them at this time of year. They seemed very anxious to make the contact, so I am guessing it may put them a little more at peace during the Holiday to know that someone has been to see him, and that they know what his resting place looks like.
DECEMBER 21st, SUNDAY--- I was able to "steal" some of my mail from the Post Office by way of one of my buddies, there by not having to wait until Monday's mail call. I gave our mascot, Pistol, her bath this afternoon and then gave her a shampoo, she really looks sharp. I may still try to bring her back to the States with me, she's become quite a pal.
Jan. 2, 1948 - Fri. 7 P. M.
I'm back now but only for a little while. Mail goes out in minutes. I'm very tired, Friday never comes too soon. I'm always "all in" on Friday. I can just about make it. So we have a 2 day vacation again.
JANUARY 5th, 1948 - Tuesday
I am still wondering if the presents got to you and the folk's, word is all the same with everyone around here---we feel that they must have put our packages on a ship instead of flying them out like they said they would. I wonder how Dad will like the pen and pencil set. I think it is really a honey.
I didn't think that I was too lonesome for Christmas at home until mail call, then all the letters telling me about the Christmas everyone had back there made me feel VERY lonesome. I sure wish that I could have been there. Let's hope it will be that way next year.
I am almost finished with the things that you and the folks sent to me. Right now I am picking hard candy from my teeth. I liked all the things you sent, and the way they were wrapped as separate packages made it truly like Christmas. I got a great civilian shirt from Mom. Clothes are very expensive over here and I really needed a new shirt. It is a strange feeling to come in and leave the base in civvies; as of now none of us have gotten use to that. I kind of flinch when I unexpectedly see the Shore Patrol!
JANUARY 7th, WED. Mail is supposed to be in from London, and I am hoping that I get mail from you and the scoop on the rest of the packages that I have sent home.
JANUARY 7th, WED. EVENING--- The word out is that bad weather has our Mail Plane grounded in England, so here's hoping for some good flying weather for those boy's tomorrow!
JANUARY 10th, 0900 SATURDAY--- I continue to worry about the packages I have sent to you. I have sent a package to you with an expensive locket for Mom and one for Shirl, and a Schaefer Pen and Pencil set for Dad---I have your letters up to the third of January, I would have expected to be there by now, they should have been there before Christmas! The reason I worry is because most of the gifts can not be replaced by me. This holds true for the gifts I have also sent to the folks for you. I did not insure them anywhere near their values so as to get them into the states without duty, and through Customs. I will wait on the next Mail Plane and hope for the best.
JANUARY 16th, 1947 -FRIDAY--- Dear Dolores, Some good news in the mail today, you said that you got the pen and pencil set. That means, perhaps and because I mailed them all at the same time, you have all of your presents by now. I got a big box of cookies from my favorite niece, Dot, and it sure was what I needed---HOME bakery!...
I have the weekend duty, so I will work on my model plane and write some letters. This week's letters will be mailed tomorrow.
JANUARY 22nd, THURSDAY--- Mail came in this morning, one letter from you and still no word that you received my packages! This afternoon we have the word that we will have mail aboard the NATS plane that is coming in --- so MAYBE that will have the good word.
JANUARY 23rd, FRIDAY - Dear Dolores, It is raining like mad today --- and I mean like mad! I just came back from chow and it is really miserable out. Mail came in to the 15th and STILL no word from you on the mail except a bawling out and how to mail my packages.
Jan. 24, 1948 - Letter from Jerry's Mom
Well, Dolores' Christmas package still hasn't arrived - but our Mailman figures it didn't all get sent on the same boat, so patience. & you still didn't mention the Cherry Chocolates & if you didn't get them yet they surely didn't come to you by Airmail as we sent them - & if so they won't be fit to eat - & we will be mad if they came by boat - cause we paid high postage for them to come there by airmail.
FEBRUARY 3rd, 1948 - TUESDAY--- The Mail plane didn't make it today so that means "hopefully" tomorrow. I have Liberty and that means the plane will come in after I leave the Base and I will see my mail on Thursday!
FEBRUARY 5th, THURSDAY--- I received mail off the London plane last night when I arrived home from Rabat, wonderful letters from you. I like your letters because they are alive and I feel every word you write..
NATS came in today and they have mail aboard, but it will not be sorted until tomorrow, the CROOKS! I am still sweating out those Christmas packages --- it gives me a second reason to go crazy waiting on mail call.
FEBRUARY 6th, 1948 - FRIDAY--- Dear Dolores, WELL!!!!! IT IS ABOUT TIME that your Christmas presents have arrived! I sure am happy that they arrived safe and sound. You mentioned the ear rings, broach, necklace --- well everything but a locket with the word "Rome" on it. Check to be sure that it is there. That doll from Athens Greece is cute, isn't it?
Payday, mail call, and now weekend Liberty, it makes for a pretty good week after all!
FRIDAY 13th--FEBRUARY 1948--FRIDAY the 13th--
I knew that there would be some bad luck for me today! I must begin the letter with the hope that I may be forgiven for forgetting one of the most important days of the year! It wasn't until yesterday that I received mail from you and there was a card, I wondered, "what the heck is this for," and I thought that it must be one of your sweet "I miss you" cards. Was I ever surprised to find a valentine! Don't think I was the only one that was surprised, I didn't run into anyone here that remembered it was Valentine's Day coming up this Saturday. There are no cards for sale around here to remind one of it, and with everything so busy I just didn't have it in my mind. I will make up for it when I come home, you are my valentine, and I love you for not forgetting me. If I were home I would still have today to make it in time, but with 5,000 miles ---- that puts me on quite a spot!
FEBRUARY 14th, SATURDAY Dear Dolores, Happy Valentine's Day!! With my Christmas gifts arriving so late, this greeting should not be that far out of order! I DID remember Dad's birthday, the 7th, and sent him best wishes, so I don't forget everything. I guess I should feel a bit important, they have put in a call to the States for my relief, and just in case you don't think I have been a bit overworked! The request is for one Third Class and one Second Class Photo Mate. Some cold winters night, when I am back home, I will take the time to tell you all that I have been doing here, it is more than I can write about. Whatever --- with that request for my replacement I will have no trouble leaving here, as far as I can see. At least they are not going to make me work a Striker in here, which is a relief in itself. Just 19 Sundays MAX in this Navy --- ta-ta-tata-taaaaaa! Word is that the NATS plane was forced down by weather in Argentina --- so no mail call from them today.
FEBRUARY 15th, SUNDAY---The week after next I will be on a trip to the Mediterranean area again. You will have to miss a little mail call from me at that time. The trip works out so that it falls on my duty weekend --- nice break.
FEBRUARY 17th,TUESDAY--- Mail came in, two from you, a valentine and a letter from Mom, and believe it or not, a valentine from Dad, one from Dot, and a letter from Mrs. Kueng, (Wally Kueng's mother) and a few others. Also three boxes of chocolate covered cherries from Mom, Shirl, and Dad, and the last two rolls of color film that I had sent to Eastman Kodak for processing.
FEBRUARY 19th, THURSDAY--- Just a bit of a line to tell you that I love you. I received more letters from you today, I have really been fortunate in the mail department lately. You will not be so lucky, because mail out of here has been delayed, and will head to the states late.
NOTE February 2012: This was the last of Jerry's available and recorded letter collection. Below is the Final Post Scrip from Jerry's portlyautey.com Narrative:
Final PostScript This is the end of the letters, there should be more, but they are not with this beautiful collection of memories. Dolores and I have no idea what may have happened, or what has become of them. It was a surprise to have gone through 20 months of letters, discovering so much that has been forgotten of those days, and then find that we are missing the final story, the end of February, March, and about my early discharge and flight home to the States in April of 1948. But because of the letters we do have, so much has been recalled, and some of that recall has brought back memories that would have been otherwise forgotten and lost forever. That brings a certain amount of sadness in not finding the letters of those last 53 days of my Navy service. I believe I can read in between the lines in some of my February letters that Jerry has a pretty good idea already that he has an early discharge in the wind. My recall is that all two year enlistments became eligible for an early discharge after the first of 1948. It was set for two months prior to the signed up date, with full pay for any accumulated leave time. My June, 1946, 2 year enlistment was one of the last accepted by the Navy, the shortest enlistment time became three years for general duty, and a four year enlistment to receive any school assignment such as I did for Photo School. I had been lucky to have received what I did in 22 months. The Armed Forces were continuing to "thin down", and this early discharge meant all two year enlisted men would be out of service, or would have to ship over for three year hitches by the end Of April 1948.