31: Get Better Quickly, For All Our Sakes.

Saturday[1]

Dearest Gretchen,

Darling, this is terrible–good in a way of course, since it is all over and out, but to have to go through it alone–Mother says it was a close call–Thank God I got both letters at once or I would be terribly worried. As it is I can’t get it off my mind–you being there alone–what if, what if–

Mother says you are out of danger that [? -illegible] be. But somehow I can’t stop worrying. It’s natural I guess when someone so close is in any danger, whether you’re assured it’s slight or not.[2]

Nothing for it though but to while away your troubles and pains with chatter. You know, you and Mother’s summers always seem to end up the same way–the winters very gay and rushed, but the summers sultry and dull, filled with unpleasant duties with the family, sickness, and boredom. Supposed to be the other way. Or is it just New York?

Any laughs? Oh yes, one at least–I have quite unbeknownst to you all been sporting a mustache for lo these many moons. Almost three of them in fact. And so effectively that it has had to be quite drastically trimmed a couple of times. I really like it–I think you will as a matter of fact, after you get used to it. Looks exactly like a third blond eyebrow, but no matter, I’ll get a picture of it soon and send it to you.

Glad you got the radio fixed–I wasn’t having any luck (in the one radio store I was ever able to get to before it closed).

Bing is lost to us forever I’m afraid. The Commanding General noticed him one day at a baseball game and issued a special order for him alone, prohibiting him from the area. Hell of a dirty trick–although frankly he was a bit of a job to feed and house, a lot to worry about.

The two weeks of regimental problems are over, and contrary to plan the division is not yet fully formed, neither the 23rd nor the 25th regiments being ready.[3] So for the next two weeks we go back to the barracks and do comparatively little–catch up on some points missed, train the new men that are due in next week–we are only 2/3 strength now–then back again on regimental problems.[4]

I’ve gotten so that I don’t mind living in the field. In fact in some ways I prefer it. There are many discomforts, but there are compensations too–mainly the sense of self-sufficiency, the strange down-to-earth confidence that comes from the realization that you can get along quite comfortably for days with just what you can carry on your back–knowing that you can be thoroughly refreshed by a night’s sleep on hard, lumpy, sloping ground with just a poncho under you and one blanket over top–provided the stars are bright enough and the dove still [?] in the creek-bed. I’m afraid I will be a Maine woods camping enthusiast when this is all done.

Thanks a load for the stills Gretch–they were interesting as hell, especially the corny caption material, a great deal of it erroneous, of course. But the boys got a big kick out of it. I as a matter of fact could spot myself–not exactly the bravest man either! The last one in boat P-1-9. Just a blur, of course.[5]

The enclosed $10 is very little I know Mother, but it is all I have just now. I keep paying bills–no poker since I’ve been out here, and I’ve only gone ashore twice in the last two months.[6] Back bills and debts–I didn’t spare the horses for those first two months after Rusty.

Get better quickly Gretch–for all of our sakes, as well as your own. Although it is a good thing to have behind you–or out of you.

All my love and a kiss,
Phil

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FOOTNOTES:
[1] Date unknown, presumably in early August.
[2] Gretchen apparently quite sick; Phil’s tone of voice suggests appendicitis. This incident is referred to in later letters, and may have prompted an emergency leave back to New York.
[3] These two regiments were being transshipped from North Carolina to Camp Pendleton. The Fourth Marine Division would be formally activated 16 August, 1943.
[4] Phil may be referring to a large influx of men that arrived from Camp Elliott on 25-26 August, 1943.
[5] Probably referring to the upcoming film “Guadalcanal Diary,” in which 1/24 appeared as extras during landing and combat scenes. Gretchen was working for Ideal Publications, which produced film-fan magazines with titles like “Movies” and “Movie Star Parade.” It seems she has forwarded some pages with promo shots from the film–hence the “corny caption material.”
[6] “Gone ashore” is Marine slang for leaving post to go on liberty. One is “aboard” post, even when said post is a land installation.

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