45: What A Wonderful Feeling It Is.

24 February[1]

Dear Girls,

My own–dear–girls–you cannot realize, until it has happened to you, what a wonderful feeling it is to have such a mail call after having been completely cut off from home for so long–almost a month and a half–no letters, no word, worries about what might be happening, but nothing definite–and then suddenly you are able to sit down and really feel the full impact of the love of a family. It’s an astounding, wonderful thing–to see how unquestioningly your family loves you, and in your own heart, in your own response to their letters, you can feel the warmth of your own love for them, the strength of those ties that do not bind but simply give a man strength and support.

I sat over my hatful of letters for an hour and a half–reading every word and thinking of the memories evoked by every phrase, chuckling, then laughing aloud. There is nothing like it for pure pleasure and to realize just how much I love my family.

There are innumerable comments I want to make on the news–on what you all have been doing and thinking–­the one that springs to mind first though is that damned monkey! I can see it now, and mother’s frigid look as the poor beast tries to be affectionate. How do you talk to it–like a dog, or like a naughty child? I can just imagine it sitting in the “newly painted blue hall” (which I can’t imagine) chattering and pestering Mother as she comes puffing up the stairs, loaded down with “marketing.”[2]

Gretch, on Carl–I think that you acted quite correctly. As you maintained, you had gotten to a state where anything above companionship with him paled on you, you had to give him the gate. There’s nothing else you could have done, because it seemed quite obvious even to me that he wasn’t able to let it rest at the just friends stage. Nobody ever is, outside of Noel Coward. Carl was sweet, but boring. It is a thing which can be so serious to you that you must be a little bit ruthless. And you don’t really mind being looked upon as a femme fatale, do you?

And as to Al, you’re on your own there sister.[3] Carl is a relatively simple type. Though I know Al well, knowing him only serves to underline his complexity. My best advice is none at all–I don’t know enough about it, I haven’t seen you together enough. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it if I had any, because I know how much that one letter of yours helped me when I needed it badly. I just hope you realize that you do have heartaches in store–whether you marry him or not. Don’t lead with your chin, babe.

Awfully hard to think of you all wrapped up in another blizzard of ‘88–it’s been so long since I’ve seen a good snow–one light one in New River in ’42.[4]

About your mail to me–it isn’t censored, though mine is. So you can say anything–write on two sides of the paper, as I am supposed to, etc. And don’t fuss with V-Mail. I got one of yours airmail Mother, sent the 16 Feb.–got it yesterday. V-Mail can’t be much faster, and I don’t like its impersonality. Occasionally I’ll use it, mostly for speed though. I have to write the New Yorker. And will you circulate my address around as much as possible? It ought to be good for some time to come, now.

My limitations are more severe here than they have been so far. I cannot even intimate where we are, or when we got here, or names of casualties or tactics of the operation. I can still say a lot, but it won’t be very newsy. Just what I’m a-thinking, but it suits me fine when it comes from you, so–

Think I’m missing a few of your letters–there are references to things that I don’t know about, but then you may have forgotten.

It’s getting dark–I’m sitting outside now, so I might as well get this one off and try and write tomorrow afternoon. We don’t have lights in yet, but they’ve been promised.[5] Have to stand the guard watch from 12 to 4 tonight, which is a hell of a note.

My love though, and write, God bless you, write!

Phil

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[1] The Fourth Marine Division arrived at Camp Maui, Territory of Hawaii between 21-25 February. The Robin Wentley suffered a damaged screw on the return voyage and was among the last of the transports to arrive.
[2] Perhaps the Dear Girls obtained a new pet–although it is not mentioned again.
[3] Al Tate, Gretchen’s former beau.
[4] Reference to the Great Blizzard of 1888.
[5] Camp Maui was barely operational when the Fourth Marine Division arrived; amenities like electric lights, showers, and tent floors still needed to be built, leading to many sarcastic remarks about the “restful” nature of this “rest camp.”

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