59: God, But I Get Homesick.

31 March

Dear girls,

My very dear girls! God, but I get homesick easily these days–happened to be looking through Esquire the other day and came [across] a fashion plate showing Fifth Avenue and Radio City – it brought back the whole feeling of New York, God bless it–and Sunday, and you two dressed up for an excursion–up to the Modern Museum, then hunt for tea–in vain, usually–or a stroll up as far as the park–our outings to the Botanical Gardens and the Cloisters.[1] Thousands of places in the city that I have grown to love. Remember how I used to hate to go to the city, Mother?–claimed I got headaches from the car exhaust–probably all constipation. Your one mistake in raising me–other than that you couldn’t have improved on your product–was that you never emphasized athletics at all. You should have–I always feel like a million now that I’m active.

I’ve got a lot of plans about how I’m going to raise my boys–I think about them a lot–three boys and one pretty little girl that I can spoil to death. Swarthmore, of course, for two–the artistic one I want to educate myself. And they are to work together, for each other, like the Rapps.

I’m going to build my own home–I’ve got half a hundred designs–most of them drawn out, complete with interiors. I guess I get that from you, Mother.

A couple of little wrinkles, though–getting a wife being one–as time goes on, my field of availability seems to be narrowing. That really was a bit of a blow about Nancy. I had become very fond of her in those two days. No, Gretch, I can’t see pursuing the issue against a setup like that. There’s no future in it as far as I can see. But you’d better start lining up an address book of possibilities for when I get back.[2]

It’s raining again. It rains fully half the time–I fully expect Jeanne Eagels to come swinging into the tent–and it rains with a painful regularity every time we go out into the field.[3] And that is no fun, let me tell you–hiking in wet feet, crawling on your belly in ankle deep mud, sleeping in two inches of water and mosquitoes.

And when we are not out on maneuvers, we are being inspected by Colonels and Generals–and they are never satisfied, we had one liberty day taken away for it. And washing gear and clothes, then trying to get them dry. In fact, the maneuvers are designed to get our gear dirty so that we’ll have something to clean for the next inspection.

But after all, the rain does make the things grow that make this island so beautiful–I want you to see it someday–it is the perfect vacation land–I would like to spend a year or so loafing here after the war–incredible, breathtaking beauty–stirring, purple-blue mountains–tall trees burdened down by enormous flame-colored blossoms–jungles dripping with orchids–white & deep purple ones in gigantic sprays–miles of bamboo forest–breadfruit trees so thick that sunlight never gets through to the ground, and roots that spread above the ground–banana trees growing wild in the valleys–red bananas, ripe & sweet–guavas, yellow with red meat inside. And innumerable streams, clear and cold – we sleep under two and three blankets every night.

I’m sending the Marine Corps Gazette. They have a set of good pictures of Namur–the one in the upper right hand corner is A Company coming back down the beach just after the battle–the island had been secured about 20 minutes before. We spent a week right there where the picture was taken. I’m just out of sight at the head of the column. Save the picture.

Corp. Ervin–my ex-machine gun squad leader, up for the Navy Cross–is back from the hospital, and I nabbed him for my mortar section leader.[4] A hell of a good man–we work well together. And he’s squaring the section away in fine shape.

Some more sweet letters from Aunt Kit–as wonderful an Aunt as ever anyone had–one from Kitsy–and a lot from you all–more, I love ‘em!

Love, and a couple of kisses,
Phil

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FOOTNOTES:
[1] Popular outdoorsy destinations in Brooklyn and the far north end of Manhattan.
[2] Evidently the Nan Ragan situation fell apart; her name is not mentioned again.
[3] Jeanne Eagels was a Broadway and film actress of the 1920s. Her breakout role was as Sadie Thompson in a theatrical adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s short story “Rain.” (Fittingly, the play took place on a South Pacific island.)
[4] Corporal Ervin returned on March 24, 1944. That Phil appointed a low-ranking NCO with a history of disciplinary issues to be his second in command (replacing the spit-and polish Gunny, Jay Lohff) says a great deal about his opinion of Ervin.

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