1944 -- Hollywood, Florida

The United States had been at war for almost three years, and the war in Europe had gone on for five long desperate years. Russia had fallen out with her ally, Germany, and was now desperately engaged in fighting on the eastern front with truly dreadful loss of life. The war in Africa had finally been won by the Allies, and a beach-head had been made at Anzio, Italy, with more terrible losses. The long long slog up the peninsula of Italy was under way. The war in the Pacific was not going at all well at this time. Bataan had fallen, each island had to be taken from the Japanese with great loss of life on both sides. Finally, during the period when we were in Hollywood a landing was made at Normandy on D-Day, which is almost the only reference to the war you will get in these letters and that only obliquely in the humorous letter our friend Bob Coop sent us telling us of his part in that landing. England was still being heavily bombed, Norway had been taken, it was a grim outlook.

People experienced the war in many different ways, from the professional military man for whom this was an opportunity to rise up the ladder of command in a way which had been closed to him for many years, to the unfortunate draftee in the ranks who was serving for some $21.00 per month -- until his pay was raised to a munificent $30.00 per month. The families of the professional military were well provided for, and if they were so fortunate as to live on a military base they had housing and servants provided. The family of the draftee lived on whatever he could spare from his pittance, and unless there was family able to help with shelter and food, fared very badly indeed. For the soldier there was entertainment and advice offered by the USO -- for his family nothing. Civilians had the same disparities. There were thousands of war profiteers, who made more than they had ever made before, but the working man in the war industries also made better wages than ever before, and there was almost no unemployment. The people who felt the pinch were those on fixed incomes - the elderly, teachers, and civil servants. We were all terribly aware, however, of how much better off we were than people in other parts of the world. The western hemisphere was completely untouched by the ravages of shelling and fighting.

The Bentleys led favored lives in several ways. Charles was an officer, and although he had to provide his own uniforms and pay his own mess bills, he was able to allot us some $75.00 per month even in the beginning. Since that was just about what we had been paying in rent, it was obvious we could not get along without help, but fortunately by the time we needed it my mother had a second house she could turn over to us. I often thanked my lucky stars

Just before the first of May the two little boys and I got on the train and headed for Hollywood, Florida, where Charles had found a house for us. Since we were arriving in May, and this was the day before air-conditioners, Navy personnel bringing families down could rent houses which otherwise stood empty all summer. Our landlords made it quite clear that we were welcome for the summers but that come fall they no longer wanted Navy personnel. My mother saved most of the letters I wrote to her from Florida so that I have quite a complete record of that time, and they make it clear that our trials and tribulations with a berserker Buck were over once we got to Florida and Daddy and a fairly settled life. He was again what he had once been, a very active little boy, but a friend to all, and a pleasure to know.

This entire section is taken from letters I wrote to my family and to the Bentleys. I wrote them in quadruplicate, sending a copy to Anne and Charlie, as well as to my mother and to the Bentleys. They have been considerably cut and edited.

May 2, 1944

Have just survived two days and nights on the train with the young men. It wouldn't have been too bad except for the fact that we had some 400 troops on the train, and since they were fed first we didn't get breakfast until about 1000, lunch at about 3, and we just ate cold cereal and milk, which I scrounged from the dining car cooks, in our compartment for supper. Florida is very new and exciting to us. Palm trees, ocean, flowers all over, and lots of land-crab holes. These nearly drive Bucky mad since he wants to see what lives in them, and we catch only scuttling glimpses of the occupants. Charles had found a little house only half a block from the beach where we will have ample room -- two bedrooms and a bath. We are only a few blocks from the hotel which is now the Naval Station, and I think we shall get on very well indeed. The only perceptible catch so far is that we are miles from town, and the only way to get there is to walk up to the Naval Station and then ride the bus in, which I cannot quite see doing with Tommy. Luckily Charles and Mrs. Griffin did a few days shopping for me before I got here, and a Mrs. Tolles is going to pick me up and take me into town some day soon so that I can find out what is what.

The beach at the foot of our street is beautiful, and we have already fallen in love with it. Both of the boys are afraid of the water as yet, but we find shells and stones in the sand and are enjoying ourselves immensely. Poor Buck got a bad sunburn his first afternoon out, although I thought that I had slipped a shirt on him in ample time. Tom and I, of course, wouldn't burn no matter how long we stayed out in the sun.

Charles is Assistant Detail Officer, which means that he reviews hundreds of men every month and assigns them to their permanent billets. We haven't been over to the Naval Station yet, although I understand that we can use the beach over there. There is a Ship's Service where we can get ice-cream, etc., and we can even eat in the Officer's Mess -- though we probably won't do that very often.

They had some very warm weather before we got down here, but it has been nice and cool since we got here -- almost too cool. It is wonderful to be back with Charles, and we shall keep you informed of life in the Navy as it occurs.

May 31, 1944

9 AM Wednesday morning and Buck is eating a leisurely breakfast in the kitchen while Tom tears up the back bedroom. We had some rain this morning, but it is very sunny now and will probably be hot. We have had a plague of midges lately, which is maddening. You cannot even see them when they bite you.

Buck loves to watch the squads of officers being drilled. He calls them the "Hup-Right boys," from the cadence call of the squad leaders. He is also fond of "Post Card Boats" of which we see quite a few along the shore. [Financial note: I sent my mother a check for $10.00 with which she is to pay for a lipstick which she had bought for me, a book Lois had bought for me, my Rothery bill for storing our furniture, and a bill from Dr. Horst. I then remark that if I had actually paid Dr. Horst and she did not have to do that, then she could use the rest of the money to buy a toy train for the boys.]

June 1, 1944

We have had a plague of bugs lately. Not nice big bugs, but little tiny things that come right through the screens and bite ferociously. The boys, particularly Tom, are covered with welts. You can buy an oily stuff to spray on the screens, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. What the oily stuff does is to make a sticky mess which collects dust, thus closing the holes in the screens considerably, keeping out the breeze. We also go around the house spraying like mad, but I don't think that helps much either. The only place you don't notice the bugs so much is on the beach where there is a breeze off the water which seems to blow them away.

Some new people have moved into the end house who have a little girl of four, and a little boy of two. Buck has taken quite a shine to the little girl, and has been showing off for her all evening. The man just finished Radar School and has been kept on as an instructor so they will probably be here a while.

Oranges down here are now 40 cents a dozen. Lettuce is 29 cents for the most miserable measly head. Corn was two ears for 19 cents in the A&P today. Beans and peas are hard and dry from the heat. Just about the only fresh vegetables that are at all decent are spinach and carrots, and they say that it will be much worse in another month when it gets really hot -- then the only vegetables we will have will have to be shipped in from up north. In about two weeks time our oranges will all be gone. Eggs are 60 cents a dozen. Meat isn't so bad, though I am not good at comparing prices. Chickens are 45 cents a pound. Our prices at the Commissary are a trifle better, and we get a little more variety, but the Commissary is so far away that we don't get there often. We can get any quantity of coconuts as they are strewn all over the ground, and except that they are the very devil to get open we could eat them all of the time. Charles opens one every day or so, and we eat it like candy. We have no fresh fruit at all. Peaches are little measly green things, and there are no apples or pears. Bread is one of my biggest problems. Since I get to the store only about once a week, I have to lay in quite a supply, and the darned stuff molds in this damp heat if you don't watch it like a hawk.

We live in a nest of rumors. Everyone thinks the Indoctrination Schools will close up in the late summer, but nobody knows. Princeton gymnasium burned down the other day, and that may affect us in that they may now close Princeton Indoc. School and leave this one open a little longer. If so everyone will be in a state of anxiety because rents will go up here on the first of November, and then what will we all do?

June 16, 1944

347 Madison St. Hollywood, Fla.

It is 96 in my living room as I sit down to write this.

I did my weekly shopping yesterday, and have decided to put in an appeal to anyone who may have a few spare blue points. Fresh fruits and vegetables are very scarce around here, and the stores no longer have frozen stuff. Thus we are dependent upon canned foods, and my blue points have melted as the snow. This is complicated by the fact that unless I mistakenly put Buck's ration book in with the Batchelder's the last time we shopped at Opalocka, it is lost. Not that it had any blue points left, but we shall suffer next month when more become good. I used my last blue point today, so we shall live in a state of fruit famine for the rest of the month. (Certain foods -- and other items -- were rationed and everyone, from the tiniest baby on up, had a ration book with stamps which were used when purchasing rationed items.) Thermometer is now at 102. Come to Hollywood, the friendly city, cool in summer, and warm in winter. Speaking of friendly cities -- they would just as soon skin us alive as say hello down here. I have already told you about the rent situation, I think, but it still makes me angry. I will really be mad next fall when we are all going to be reduced to packing up and leaving. It is one thing to be strong and brave to wave Daddy off to the wars if he is really called to duty someplace else. It is something else again to have to leave because Mrs. Snodgrass can collect extra rent if she puts you out. And don't talk to me about her investment. There are ceilings on what landlords can make during the season. Our landlord, for instance, can get $800 for her house during a season -- $200 per month for a four month season, or $250 per month for the three month season. Usually she must board these places up during the summer. Now, if she rents to us for 12 months at $75 per month she makes $900 for her year, a $100 increase over her usual take. But does she want to do this? Oh, no, she wants to rent to the Navy for 8 months at $75 per month, and still collect her $800 for the season.

My husband is busy interviewing this week and next. He has to see the men and try to decide what billets to assign. Some of the fellows are queer cookies who think the Navy should have some new and different billet just for them. Something interesting, but not dangerous, where they can use their special talents. The biggest quota to be filled down here is for amphibious service, which means that after two months here learning how to salute and march together, with a bit of book learning about the Navy, they will go on to an amphibious base for two months of special training, after which they will be given command of their own ship with a green crew, just out of boot camp, whom they are then to train and take to sea. The very idea scares them to death, and probably scares their crew also if they know the facts. It makes them acutely unhappy if they have a bunch of eager beavers their own age assigned to them, full of suggestions and ideas. Then all they can do is get uppity and pull rank, not because they feel uppity, but because the suggestions are just confusing. All they know about a ship is what they read in the book, and that's the way things must be done or they're apt to wind up on the way down to Davy Jones' locker.

Learning to give commands is difficult and most amusing to watch. After drilling around in the broiling sun for a few weeks everyone feels fairly confident. How can you forget commands you have been drilling to for days on end? Every fellow has to take a turn drilling his own platoon, and I gather that it is just like stage fright or mike fright. Big strong men suddenly become falsettos. They forget the most elementary commands. You don't just say "Column Right." You say, "Column right -- Harch." and on the Harch, the squad executes column right. I have seen more than one man get a whole batch of men marching down the street, and when they come to the corner he bellows, "Column -- right". whereupon they all just continue marching down the street and off under the palm trees, while he loses complete command of his wits and voice, and has a devil of a time getting them back on course. Furthermore, it leads to considerable embarrassment and red ears when a nice new officer and an enlisted man come to a doorway. The enlisted man, being properly trained won't go first, and the officer has to come to and remember that he takes precedence and must go first. Add to which he probably has also to return the enlisted man's salute and ignore his superior smirk.

It looks as though son Charles is going to sleep all afternoon. Not that I care, it is almost too hot to go to the beach. Son Thomas is pulling all the groceries out of the cupboard as I write. Are you all happy because of the invasion and because we bombed Japan yesterday?

June 23, 1944

Son Charles Albert has now had a bout with the impetigo bug. It seems that here in the sunny Southland every scratched mosquito bite can become an impetigo sore. Last Saturday morning I noticed he had a sore on his leg, but thought little of it. By afternoon he had three or four and I swabbed him off with alcohol and put some prickly heat powder on him. Sunday morning Charles went up to town for ammoniated mercury. We caught it in time, and by dint of scrubbing with alcohol three or four times daily and constant use of the ammoniated mercury, we have healed what he had and it hasn't spread. Our daily routine used to be bad enough what with baths and prickly heat powder when we got up, after each swim, and before bed. Now we have to bathe, alcohol, prickly heat powder and use ammoniated mercury. It is a wonder we have time to butter bread for sandwiches in between.

Tommy is becoming a regular little smarty pants. He is such a pig at the table that we are forever after him, and the other night as punishment for something or other I made him go out and eat alone in the living room. For the next three or four meals he insisted on going out there -- wouldn't eat with us. The other night when he was supposed to be in bed I heard ominous noises in the bedroom and opened the door and went in. He was playing in the dressing table drawer, and when he heard me comein he never turned his head or batted an eye. He just quietly put the tops back on anything open, put everything slowly and carefully back in the drawer and shut it. Still not looking up, he found he had forgotten a comb, opened the drawer and put that in. There was powder spilled on the dresser scarf, which he first brushed at tidily, and then finding that wasn't successful, he picked it up and shook it off, putting it back on and smoothing it, down before he quietly looked up. What can you do with a guy like that? You know Buck's reactions -- if he is caught he goes mad trying to show he isn't ashamed. He would have thrown the powder across the room, or pulled the drawer out until it fell on the floor. That I can understand. All I can do to Tom is to wonder at him and kiss him.

There are two children just the ages of Buck and Tom who live at the corner, and all four children play together all day long. They spat continually, of course. Buck and Connie are very funny together. He bullies her physically but boy, does she get around him. The other night he was showing her some shells he had picked up, and she decided she wanted one. He said"no," but she took it, and then putting her hands on her hips gave him a long song and dance about how it was too her shell, her father had given it to her for her birthday. She finally reduced him to tears and then ran. He ran after her, and when she got to her house he followed her in and tried to take it by force. Her family didn't know the details but assumed it was probably his shell and made her give it back to him, whereupon she began to scream, and he rushed back home, A few moments later he rushed back to her house. Her mother told me this morning that they had been very amused by him. When he got there he said he had to see Connie. They said Connie was in her bedroom. He said the just had to see her, and they said she couldn't come out until she stopped crying. Then he said, "Well, I think if I can just see her for a minute she will stop crying." So they told him to go in, and sure enough she stopped crying and they came out chatting amicably. It turned out that he told her that he was awfully sorry, that she couldn't have that shell, but he would go out and find her a prettier one.

We went to graduation yesterday -- very pretty, but about 110 in the shade. They had marched the Junior Battalion 2 miles up to the country club where they stood in formation for about 45 minutes waiting for the Captain to appear, after which they marched around the field in review, and then marched 2 miles back to the hotel. Some of the men were pale green, and some just dropped. There was work for the first-aid men who tailed them.

This is me, Charles. How can I add anything to all that. I tell Phyllis that she should write all of the letters she writes such good ones. I am in the throes of a two-week interviewing struggle that we have every month. We get them all stirred up by asking them their choice of billets, and then they get mad when they don't get their first choice, which is usually recruiting officer in Des Moines. I am sick of looking at them, but I suppose it does help to get everyone in the duty he can do best.

As Phyllis has intimated, it is hotter than the seventh level of hell down here, but personally I thrive on it -- haven't felt better in my life. I manage to get a little exercise and sunshine almost every day, which is more than all of you can say. My only regret about joining the Navy is that I didn't do it a long time ago. I'm looking forward to getting my head shot off.

Love to everyone,


July 1, 1944

I am having 12 people in tonight and I have had 5 children in my living room all morning. Two aged 2, two aged 4, and I aged 7. In a way it is a relief because they keep my son Buck occupied. Since I know where he is I can do my work without running out every five minutes to see whether or not he has fallen into the canal. We have also been to the beach, and I am now waiting for my husband to come home for lunch.

Our budget has hit an all time dilemma. Ont of our $200.00 per month we spend $75 for rent, $10 for utilities. We have only one utility, electricity, which is very expensive. We put a switch on our hot water heater so we could turn it off, and only on state occasions do we have hot water. What comes out of the tap is luke warm, anyway. $10 for storage on our furniture. We also pay on assorted insurance policies taken out in the days when our income was going up, plus $10,000 worth the Navy insisted on our taking out. Food is high down here, we have to do more entertaining than ever before, and yesterday the Navy came out and flatfootedly declared that every officer shall buy a $100 war bond between the 1st and 8th of July. Just before we came down here I took our all out of the bank and bought war bonds on the well-founded belief that if it was in the bank I would just spend it in dribs and drabs. Therefore we have no reserve to draw on for a bond. The Navy will fix that up, though, it will lend anyone who hasn't cash in hand the money on a three months basis! We live on a beautiful penny to penny basis. If it's the month insurance is due, we pay it off and if it isn't, that is the month we get some shoes. If we have two things falling due the same month, that will be the month we don't eat.

The war now takes second place in the Miami papers. They are upset over the fact that a group of real estate people are petitioning the OPA to get out of Miami and restore it as a tourist resort. I am pleased to say that the Miami papers are on the side of the service men and resort to words like "shameful" and "disgusting." In their petition the landlords ask that Miami be returned to its prewar status of tourist city. The newspapers are righteously incensed. Just now, at the very beginning of the European invasion and before the Jap campaign even starts, Miami, the biggest rehabilitation and relocation station in the country decides that it would like to call the war off as far as their real estate is concerned!

Our company went home at 2:30 last night and our children got up at 7 this morning. We went to Sunday School this morning, after which we went swimming. It was a good thing we did because the tide was unusually low, the water unusually calm, and the beach beautiful and it poured rain all afternoon. I am about to fall asleep sitting up. Daddy just cut Tommy's hairs and Tommy now walks around claiming he is a "beeg boee" now, he is no longer "Momma's beebee."

July 5, 1944

This week it is mango poisoning. For about a week Buck has had what looked like a particularly nasty case of prickly heat, although it didn't respond to prickly heat remedies. I was just getting to the stage where I considered taking him up to sick bay when I saw a case of mango rash and realized what it was. Too bad, since mangoes are pretty good eating, and practically the only fruit available down here. If you are really allergic to mangoes it isn't enough that you don't eat them yourself -- you can't even get near the things.

Our party the other night was a great success. My husband is a died in the wool worry-wort. For three days before the party I tried to talk him into asking a certain couple. Each day he demonstrated mathematically that we couldn't possibly seat more than 8 people in our living room, and that we would have difficulties with the 10 we had invited. Saturday noon he came home and said in an off-hand sort of way that he had seen Ben that morning and invited him, and that they were coming, and bringing guests, and that by the way, the Joneses were also coming, as was Hank Price. On the very morning of the party he had swelled the total number of guests to 17! But it all worked out fine. He also bit his nails to the knuckles about the ice problem, which I thought I had solved . . . and indeed our guests actually carried back home some of the ice they had brought with them.

I am now sitting at the Clulows' watching over their kids while they go to sleep. We are working out a cooperative arrangement about child sitting. They have two --2 and 4 -- as do we, and as we live so close together it is really simple to double up once in a while. I went to visit Betty Price in the hospital today leaving mine at home napping. When they woke up Mary Stuart Clulow took them to the beach. Clulows went to the movies tonight, leaving theirs at the beach with us. Charles put ours to bed, and I put theirs to bed. I will stay here until they are both asleep.

Here is a copy of a letter sent to us by Bob Coop, who took part in the invasion of Normandy. He has been in the Navy for two years. He spent the first of them doing personnel work and then applied for amphibious service. He is on one of the Landing Craft - - escorting other landing craft up to the beach. This is the service my nutty husband wants when he gets through this desk stuff. Letter:

"17 June, 1944 -- England

My dear Ensign Charles,

With my usual efficiency and promptness I am writing in answer to your letter of January 22nd. I trust you appreciate this.

Truth of the matter is I didn't write because I was too busy (note -- that's no good, He'll never believe that) Couldn't find my fountain pen (no good either, could have borrowed one) no ink -- ah that's it, no ink. Terrible country, England, no ink.

Well, let's see. Got me a ship (Guess you know that). Came to southern England just like Magellan or Drake, or John Cabot. Went across the Channel to a place called France. Seemed to me like everybody was going over there. I had a helluva time to keep out of everyone's way. Then, of course, they made us go at night. I don't know why they keep sending me out at night. They ought to know I can't see in the dark.

Well, anyway, when we got there there was the damndest racket going on you ever heard. People were shooting all over the place. Fellows were landing and running around, boats were going this way and that and I just couldn't make head nor tail of it. Seemed like everybody was shooting at the beach, so I did too. Nobody told me to stop, and nobody gave my any hell, so I guess it was all right.

Apparently there was some sort of argument going on about who belonged where. I never did get the straight of it.

We stayed around for quite a while. Didn't do much. The darned fools must have thought every day was the Fourth of July, because every night from about 1000 to 0400 they kept filling the sky with rockets and pin wheels and all that kind of stuff. Some of it dropped on my ship too. They might have hurt somebody.

Finally somebody told me to go home -- so I did. Only it was pretty rough coming back. We made it however, and now are catching up on our sleep, etc. It really wasn't bad except we ran out of bread and that drove the crew frantic because we still had plenty of strawberry jam left. War certainly is hell. And another thing -- just look at the stuff they ask us to use for morning performances [neatly perforated toilet paper, slick as shelf paper, each sheet neatly stamped "Gov't property."] Luckily we didn't have to return it. Am I sore! Oh well, we must all do our little bit.

Know of any personnel jobs in the Navy? I want to come home and sit on my fanny and sleep at night. Like to see my wife and Susu too. Write when you can.

Your old tennis pardner,


Well, Connie finally went to sleep and I came home. I must admit she never said Boo, but I didn't want to leave her before she was really asleep. Our Tom talks more and more, but he gets his sentences structure pretty well mangled. He says, "uh uh me go bett now" meaning I don't want to go to bed now. "uh uh" at the beginning of a sentence is a negative. His theme song now is, "atch me" as he jumps off a chair, down the steps, or tries to swim. He is a regular water rat and you have to watch him every minute. He walks out up to his neck in calm water, and then if an unexpected ripple comes along he is submerged. When it is rough all of the children like to lie absolutely flat on the sand just at the edge of the water and let the breakers roll over them. It rolls them around just like sea weed, and they come up gasping and covered with sand and water.

July 15, 1944

Tonight is the big night. Our present C. 0. is leaving and this is his farewell dinner. All staff officers and wives will be present, dressed in their best bib and tucker. As it happens I haven't a long dress within several thousand miles, but fortunately Mrs. Batchelder brought four (4) evening dresses with her, and she is of such a convenient size that Mrs. Batchelder, Mrs. Bentley, Mrs. Gill and Mrs. Jones are all appearing in Mrs. Batchelder's dresses tonight. Evening shoes being what they are, we are all able to wear the shoes which go with the dresses. We hear via scuttlebutt that great things are planned for tonight, among them filet mignon, champagne, baked alaska, a multitude of speeches, and cocktails from 7-8 preceding dinner. Ah War!

Last night the Bentley family had a picnic supper, complete with breaded pork chops, lettuce sandwiches, bananas and sand. We walked quite a way up the beach and ate, and then lay around in the sand until time to come home. The boys loved it. I can hardly wait until both boys are big enough to go places without someone having to be carried home. I really enjoy taking Bucky out to dinner or to a show, and I think it will be fun when all of us can go.

July 16

The big party is over, and quite a shindig it was. We had cocktails out on the terrace overlooking the ocean, with wonderful hors d'oeuvres and soft music by the enlisted men's orchestra. Then in to dinner of brandied grapefruit, an extremely fancy consomme, filet mignon under glass (it was the "under glass" that added the culminating touch) baked alaska, a sparkling burgundy, cigars for the gents, and lots and lots of speeches. We all had a wonderful time, as did the hotel staff which had an opportunity to show its stuff for the first time in ages. They are trying to hold together as much of their old staff as possible, and most of the time the old waiters are acting as handy men, and the chefs are cooking beans and goulash for a thousand students and enlisted men, so last night they were in their glory. They put on their white coats and really enjoyed themselves acting knowing over the hors d'oeuvres. The poor maitre d'hotel, who usually presides sadly over the mess hall walked around simply beaming.

One of the speakers of the evening was Captain Rhodes, who gave us a lovely pep talk about how important the work here was. On his battleship only 5 out of 100 officers were career navy men, and all the rest are products of these new schools. He was a very clever speaker. We had already sat through about an hour and a half of amateur humor and amateur eulogies and were slightly glassy-eyed. He spoke very briefly, very loudly, and very flatteringly, and then got up on his chair and had us all stand to give the old Navy yell for Commander X. Just what we needed at the moment. The dinner lasted until 12:15, after which a lot of us went over to the officers' club and got in on the tail end of the dance.

My sons, little angels that they are, slept until nearly 9 this morning -- or at least Buck did. I don' t know what time Tom got up. He was crawling over me for some time before I had strength enough to pay attention to him, and when we began talking Buck woke up and ordered us to stop talking in there, so I got up to get Tom a cracker and found out it was quarter to nine, so everybody got up and got ready for Sunday School. I seem to have been roped in as a permanent Sunday School teacher, though just about all I do is comfort Tom and Georgie Clulow who weep every time I get out of their sight. So I have taken over all the weepers, of which there are plenty in the baby class. We are a strangely assorted lot of Sunday School teachers, and none of us know what we are doing. Those seven years old and up have officers for teachers, which fascinates them. All of this means that Daddy gets to church every Sunday, which is no doubt good for his soul.

Tom is now covered with welts wherever he is usually covered by his bathing suit. It is a very mysterious malady which has afflicted most of the children down here. It is evidently something in the water which is held in by their bathing suits and irritates their skins. It affects some more than others. Some kids have fevers and great big hives, but most of them have what Tom has which doesn't seem to bother them much, but which looks like hundreds of mosquito bites. No one, including sickbay, knows what to do about it. If it means they cannot go in swimming for a while I shall scream.

It is possible to get colored women to work for us -- Dorothy Van der Voort, who is expecting her baby any day has one every morning, and the rest of us have the same girl one afternoon a week. They get what seems like reasonable wages, but they are not allowed to ride on any kind of public conveyance, and since there are no Jim Crow public busses, they must ride the 6 miles from town squashed into taxi-cabs at 50 cents a ride. The laundry does Charles' shirts so poorly that I now wash them out in the bathtub and have the girl iron them -- she is better than I with those heavy grey uniform shirts.

It is thundering, and Tom is outside, nude, so I guess I will quit.

July 19, 1944

We are in the midst of a rainy spell, and when I say rainy, I mean rainy! Sheets of it coming down, and hot to boot. Everything is clammy, and clothes mildew in the drawers. The mosquitoes are getting so big they can almost open the door with the latch.

Our neighborhood has had a lot of noisy excitement. Day before yesterday I had just gotten the mail when I heard Virginia Woodson next door calling. I went over and found her holding their year old baby who looked just ghastly, with eyes rolling, slightly blue, and the floor covered with vomit. She had pitched out of her crib onto her head, had been unconscious for several minutes. When she came to she had come to only long enough to throw up and then become unconscious again. I got Virginia a wet towel and ran to call the Dr. By the time I got back the baby was conscious and her color was better, but she seemed sleepy, and when she was laid on the couch fell asleep. The Dr. came and took her temp. and pulse and then wanted to wake her up. It took about 8 minutes to wake her, and then her reactions were very slow for a while, but she finally came to. It turned out that she had had a mild concussion. It scared us all to death, but that afternoon she was fine. Yesterday afternoon there was a great tumult across the street. Annie Bottsow, aged 2 had a temperature and was sitting on the bed in her room when she spied Mrs. Tolles next door and got up on the window sill to call to her. Mrs. Tolles was just waving gaily to Annie, when suddenly screen, Annie, and all, pitched out of the second story window and landed with a crash on the cement sidewalk below. The whole neighborhood was immediately in a turmoil, but believe it or not, she didn't even get scratched. The only thing we can think is that she rode right down on the screen which landed first, breaking her fall. She is out and well today, and her temperature is down.

Meanwhile half a dozen more people have impetigo, and since the treatment is to scrub the scabs off with alcohol, and in fact, to wash all of the sores with alcohol several times a day, you can imagine how the kids carry on. When they are small you can sit on them and just scrub, and when they are 13 or more years old they bellow but sit and take it. The guys who cause trouble are the 8 and 9 year olds like Terry Tolles. They not only scream, they also fight. A jolly time is had by all. The life of a Navy Dr. really is fun. All of the dreary work of a pediatrician without even a chance at a Congressional medal.

Son Buck has made a present for his Aunty Lois' birthday. He sat and made it all the time I was making cupcakes and potato salad yesterday afternoon, and amazed me by sticking to the job. It has dawned on me that the reason he did was that I was so busy myself that I left him alone. If I pretend I am taking a nap with Tom, Buck is quite capable of pottering around by himself. He makes himself a peanut butter sandwich, opens a bottle of coke, finds his clothes and puts them on and goes outside to hunt landcrabs. When I am awake he pretends he isn't even capable of putting on a pair of pants.

When I first became a Navy wife I was continually amused by all of the nautical language floating around. I now find that I don't even find it strange to have someone tell me that if I take the nearest ladder topside I will find a telephone, or to be told that Charlie is on second deck. I can even ask my husband with a straight face if he is going to secure this afternoon and come ashore.

It is pouring rain again and my husband in a brand clean set of greys is out watching the Senior Battalion review the Junior Battalion. Of course, he could be doing worse -- like sitting in an amphibious boat off the coast of France in the rain -- but still, he will have to appear bright and early tomorrow morning in still another nice clean suit of greys. It's all relative. The guys on the little open landing barges are happy if they get a can of fruit, and the guys on the slightly larger landing craft with lots of canned fruit think it is heaven to get a hand-out of fresh bread from a converted liner, and the guys on the liner want fresh fruit, and the guys on shore with fresh fruit want out of uniform.

Charles just brought home the newest class book, which along with the class names, pictures, etc. has a whole batch of cartoons. Their favorite theme is portraying themselves as a bunch of pop-eyed wolves ogling the curvaceous beauties disporting themselves on the beach. The only females actually on that beach are wives, amply endowed with children already present, or to come, and we may be curvaceous, but not in the same places as the gals in those pictures. Secondly, most of the men fall all over their rifles watching not the femmes, but the kiddies.

What'll I have for supper? Yesterday afternoon at 2:30 I made 18 cupcakes and there is one left. I have some hamburger, and if it goes on raining and keeps fairly cool I could have a meat loaf and baked potatoes. On the other hand if it stops I could have hamburgers and potato salad, but at that rate I ought to get right up and make the potato salad. I have half an avocado, so that solves the salad problem. I have a can of pears in the icebox and a box of molasses cookies, so that solves dessert. I have coffee ready to be iced. Maybe we'll have hamburger patties and mashed potatoes and canned beans for our entrees O.K. that's settled.

July 25, 1944

Today was Mrs. Clulow's day to go shopping so I had all 4 children all morning. Unfortunately, just after we had gotten to the beach it began to pour and we all had to come back to the house, but it all worked out all right. While they played I made junket ice cream and about 60 Toll House cookies and got my tuna fish salad made for supper. I have decided that the ideal system is to have a large quantity of children. After the first two or three it becomes impossible to worry about whether they will break anything (furniture or themselves) or what the net results of the fighting and screaming is going to be on any one person's psyche. You just relax and pay no attention until you actually see blood. They are building block houses quietly now. Of course, Connie is a cry baby, and you hear her voice at all times. Tommie lets Georgie Clulow abscond with all of his toys, and then he weeps. Georgie Clulow adores Buck so that he is always on his heels, which means that Buck is continually pushing or slapping him, which makes him weep. Buck weeps when anyone knocks down what he is building, but I have learned to ignore all such crying and only go running when it sounds as though someone has actually lost a limb.

Last night Mrs. Benedict sent Maryalice over with a note to the effect that she would like to go to the movies while Bennie stayed with their children, and wouldn't all of the other ladies come too? So we did, and saw "The Hairy Ape" which was dull until the last 15 minutes which made up for the previous 45. Mr. Clulow had to work so Charles Bentley took on both the Bentley and Clulow children. Luckily no one had had naps, so they were all In bed by the time we left at 7 o'clock and he had only to look in on them once in a while. After they were all asleep he decided he would go and call on Jeff Auer, who was sitting with his young, so Charlie Woodson, who lives in the middle house here was left on duty with all 6 children. You see how a little cooperation works? [For the benefit of those not in the know -- these three little houses were cheek by jowl on not much more than a 50 foot lot.]

Would you like to know something about this place? I will tell you what I knows:

This is a Naval Training Station with two separate schools -- Naval Training Indoctrination, and Naval Training Tactical Radar. We are in the seventh Naval District, under the jurisdiction of the Admiral in Miami. We have a Commanding Officer who is in charge of the whole Station, and who is also C. 0. of the Tac. Radar School. There is another C. 0. in charge of the Indoctrination School, which is much larger than Tac. Radar. The C. 0. of the Station is in charge of all the general running of the Station, of the Corps of Yeomen who serve in both schools, of the Waves, who also work in both schools, and of the hotel staff which has been kept on to run the kitchens, etc. They also have a number of enlisted men who drive the trucks, guard the gates, etc. as well as a crew of enlisted men who run the radar equipment. The supply offices, medical department, etc. are all part of the Station. The Tac Radar School teaches men to interpret the information which has been obtained from the radar equipment. On a ship -- or wherever they use it -- there are two distinct radar jobs. I don't know much more about radar than you do, but I do know it is concerned with short waves, and that what happens is that they send out some kind of waves which come back in different periods of time. The technical crews get this information, which they then relay on to the tactical men who interpret it, and from it plot out the approaching enemy, or whatever. This is highly intricate stuff, and the best men turned out of Indoc Schools are sent to Tac. Radar. After they are trained they spend the war in a little room somewhere down in the bowels of the ship receiving information by telephone and making neat charts, and they dassent get excited. Men take a test to qualify for this training and I must tell you that of the group of Indoc. staff members who took the test our Charlie got the highest mark -- only he says he would loathe and despise the work.

And so we come to the Indoctrination School. The students come from all parts of the country, but most come from the middle-west and south. They come from their local recruitment centers where Officer Candidate tests and physical exams are taken. Their papers then go to Washington which either approves or disapproves. Or they are enlisted men who qualify as officers and are commissioned and sent down here for training. Most are older men who have had four years of college, except that enlisted men who become officers need two years of college and experience which compensates for the other two years of college. These men are already officers when they come here and are now getting Navy training. They used to get men as old as 45, but now the oldest Charles gets is around 38 or 40. In two months they have to be taught how to wear a uniform, drill reasonably well, learn a few Navy traditions and regulations and absorb some seamanship. They get Fundamentals, Navy Regulations, Navigation and Ordnance, as well as being polished off by the physical training department which does its best to reduce them to a pulp. They have no leisure time during the week, and out of the seven week-ends they are here they have liberty on only four. The staff is largely made up of men who were either teachers or lawyers in civilian life, and are men who like to teach and handle men. Lots of the staff are considerably younger than the men they teach, but because of the position the students are in -- stripped of their insignia and treated nearly like enlisted men -- "yes sir," "no sir," "if you please sir" -- the staff feels paternal and refers to them as "my boys.'

Upon arriving here the students are divided up into Companies and Platoons -- about 40 men to a Platoon, 3 Platoons to a Company. Each Platoon has a Staff Officer as sort of alma mater and mentor, and a Platoon Commander is chosen from among their own number. The Platoon Officer's job is quite interesting, and most of the men we know like to do it. Charles cannot be one since part of their job is getting to know the men and advising them on what billets to apply for. Since Charles is the one who assigns them to billets, he could not very well be mother-confessor to one batch of them. Of the 40 men in the Platoon there are usually about 38 who are nice ordinary guys. There is usually one guy whom the Platoon Officer ends up by admiring tremendously, and he tries to sell his boy for some special billet. And there is usually one louse. Sometimes he just stirs up trouble, sometimes he is a conceited ass, and sometimes he is just plain nuts and the poor Platoon Officer nearly tears his hair out over him. One fellow had an excellent record here, a high I.Q. score and a record of good jobs before that. When interviewed by his officer to see what billet he wanted he said he wouldn't do for any of them because he was really always a failure. He would be sure to fail at some crucial moment. Another guy not only cheated on an exam, but when questioned about it denied it for two days and then suddenly turned around and confessed to the Reviewing Board. When asked why, he said that he guessed that he was just one of those unfortunate people who had never learned to tell the truth. He has been asked to resign from the Navy. He has a wife down here who had come all the way from Iowa to see him graduate. (40 years later, familiar with Klinger on M*A*S*H I am a little curious about these two guys).

Charles says that he is getting a cold and doesn't want to write. He is now all involved in learning signalling, and has brought home a blinker set so that when I finish this I shall have to practice Morse code with him. I do not know why I do this when all he does is carp about the fact that he doesn't like the way I use the set -- not professional enough. Charlie is preparing to go to sea in a big way. He has ants in his pants. Tom has been attracted by the noise of the typewriter and the signalling set and is peeping out of his door. You would not know him if you saw him. " ' eez my do-ah o'en" he says. He is now playing with the signalling machine with his fanny sticking out of the back of his pajamas.

July 31, 1944

It is now 8:45 and Buck is sound asleep, but Tom is still prowling around, coming out here to look for Daddy, who is over at the Auer's. Tom is now not only not a "bee-bee," but he is not even a "beeg booee" any more. He is now a "beeg mahn." "Me bump het, no c'y, me beeg mahn." Buck "c-cc aught a l-li-li-lizard" this afternoon. "He r-r-ran away, but I c-c- caught hi-im." Bucky took Connie Clulow up to Ship's Service the other day to get some ice cream. It is quite a trip up to the hotel, and when they get there they have to go past the Sentry to get into the Station. They then go through the lobby to reach Ship's Service. He then has to drag a chair over to get up to the cashier to buy chits, and then drag another chair over to the counter to get their ice cream. Connie had never done anything like that before, but Buck has and felt quite confident about it all. I would love to have seen those two little things manage to get their ice cream and take it to a table to eat. They did it, went up to Charles' office to report, and then started home. On the way home they got sidetracked by the obstacle course, and in the course of trying to climb the cargo net Connie fell, so they had a tearful ending to their expedition.

Our information is not only snafu down here, but is fubar. If you are not up on your Navy slang "Snafu" means situation normal, all fouled up. "Fubar -- fouled up beyond all recognition." Ever since it was known that our skipper was leaving scuttlebutt has been rampant about what was going to happen down here. When we first came this school was supposed to end by October. Then came word we would be here through January. then word that it would close soon, then that it might be an advanced Indoc. School. Now Charles says that the most reliable information is that several of the other schools will close and that this will remain as both primary and advanced Indoc School. Lots of our staff wouldn't qualify as advanced Indoc. teachers. Oh, we always have something to talk about.

I had three guests for lunch today. Bucky has long wanted to have Connie for lunch. Bunny Woodson's family was in the process of moving, as was Maryalice Benedict's, so I had them too. All they got was vegetable soup, peanut butter sandwiches applesauce and a cooky, but we had chocolate milk with ice-cream in it because I happened to have almost a full pint of ice-cream left from Friday night's dinner, and that was quite a treat.

I will be glad to get away from here, if only for the reason that I am sick and tired of doing my wash in the bath-tub. I not only do all of the boy's and my things, but I also do Charles shirts because the laundry does such a lousy job, and those grey working uniforms are very heavy. After washing them out and wringing them by hand I go out to hang them up in the yard, and the mosquitoes just about carry me off. It is 94 in the shade, and I have to wear a pair of Charles' pants, a long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled down and the collar turned up, and then I almost go mad. They sting right through the shirt, they buzz around my head, and it gives me the heebie-jeebies to see 10 or 12 of them on my leg, even if I cannot feel them bite. They even light all over the wet clothes and I have to brush them off to hang up. They are so bad that the children make no attempt to play outside, but go right from our house to Clulow's and back. Tommy screams all the way to the door -- "bies bite me, bies bite me." This is the rainy seasons and it rains at least some every day. It is warm rain, and the minute water isn't pouring down the bugs are back. The ants are quite bad too, although I don't mind ants so much. We have grease eating ants instead of sweet eating ants down here -- or rather, we have both. Drop a crumb of buttered toast or a bit of vegetable soup, and the spot is just brown with them. We also have a very minute brown ant that bites like fire. I don't know what attracts it, but it is found in the strangest places. It bites Tommy's feet, and twice there were some in my bed. They got Charles on the couch tonight. They say that farther inland they do not have the sand flies we have, but then it is about 204 in the shade over on the other side of town. You can't have everything.

August 6, 1944

For about 4 days last week I thought that I had been maligning Florida. Such balmy days, such zephyr-like breezes, such sun sparkling on ripply waves. Except for the bugs it was heavenly. But, alas, it didn't last, and we are again a mass of prickly heat with the thermometer at 92 at 8:45 this evening.

On Friday night the Bottzow's gave a party. A simply marvelous party. In theory people were to have come and gone, but as always happens, they came and stayed. Luckily, the liquid refreshment, which was the only kind offered, was concocted of real champagne, claret and brandied peaches, which, combined with the heat, made everyone beautifully light headed without making anyone nasty, sick, silly, or amorous. Jazaree, our community maid reports that she took 41 bottles out and deposited them in the canal on Saturday morning. Everyone was there from us lowliest of Ensigns to the Commanding Officer, and by 10:30 the walls bulged from the noise. The men soaked their shirts politely for about two hours, after which they removed, by degrees, their ties, then their shirts, and finally their undershirts. I came home to look at the children (it was just across the street) at about 10 o'clock and found Mrs. Clulow sitting here reading our magazines. She had wandered over to see how Tom was getting along and she maintained she could hear every word uttered. By 12 o'clock when most of the people left about 20 of us went skinny dipping in the ocean under a full moon. It was lovely, and we were home by 1:30.

Saturday night we had Mr. Hyde, who worked with Charles in Chicago, and who is now a student here, to dinner and had the Benedicts, Van der Voorts and Clulows in afterwards, but no one stayed late. On Thursday we took Bucky to officer's Mess for dinner while the Jones fed Tommy. He just loves "Mizz Jones" -- meaning either Mr. or Mrs. Jones -- and they also love him. Today we didn't do nothing, and I hope that for a week we don't do nothing, which is a forlorn hope.

Hello everybody -- how are all my good Republican friends? Phyllis thought I should be able to add a few words to this, but I am too tired to think. We spent all day at the beach, and the hot sun takes a lot out of you. Today was a wonderful day for beach duty, especially this afternoon when the tide was out, leaving large sand bars exposed for the kiddies to play on. Bucky was stung by a man-of-war, which they say is just like having a hot iron pressed against your skin.

On Tuesday I am going to Fort Pierce, an amphibious training base about 75 miles up the coast. We are going to spend a day or two there just to see what it is like so we can convince the ensigns that it is just the type of duty they should have. Now I have to go to bed so that I can keep my eyes open tomorrow without the aid of the usual toothpicks.

August 10, 1944

You should see my little water rats. Both boys can swim under water now. Buck can swishle around on the bottom for some 30-45 seconds, and even Tom can lie down with his face in the water and splash for a second or two. Tom is now a problem. Both boys go out in the water up to their chins, and since Buck can swim a trifle, he can keep clear of the waves. When Tom is out that far he is all right as long as the waves just break over his head and leave his head exposed after they have passed. But when there are a series of good sized swells with not much break between them you can see his little face under water struggling away, and someone has to go to rescue him. It doesn't faze him a bit, though. He comes up beaming and shrieking, "'atch me, me eat dis bathah, ha, ha."

I think I have spoken of the Ketcham boys who sit with children. We are invited out for tomorrow evening and I thought I would try a Ketcham as a sitter, so I spoke to his mother about it. He came over to say he would be glad to do it. (He is 12 1/2 years old). Meanwhile, Mrs. Clulow, who is going to the same party wondered whether he would double in brass and be willing to keep an eye on her two also. So I presented the problem to him. We are going to dinner, so I wanted him to come at 7, to take over my two and put them to bed. At 9 the Clulows would leave, at which time all 4 children would be in bed. He said he would be glad to do that, but he could not come before 7 since from 5 to 7 he was feeding and taking care of the Tolles children! He quite frequently handles supper and bed for several kids. The night of the Bottzow party he got dinner for the Tolles and Bottzow children (two 4 year olds, a 3 year old and a 2 year old) put them to bed, and then watched over them while they slept. And they talk about the softening up of the younger generation. At the time I was 13 or 14 my parents and relatives had strong doubts as to whether I was capable of changing the diapers on my young cousin.

Before going to bed I will say that I am delighted that my mother is considering buying the Boldenweck house, which is a fine move. It is enough bigger than her own that in years to come the Bentleys can go to visit Boggen without driving Boggen and Lois right out of their beds.

Wednesday, August 16, 1944

It is impetigo time again. This time we are trying sulfadiazine powder after the alcohols and it seems to be successful. Tonight Tommy is running a temperature and I am brooding about whether he is coming down with the cold that Charles is nursing, or whether he is having a sulpha reaction. All of this means that we have not beached for several days now, and will not for several more and Buck has stored up such quantities of energy that he is about to drive me insane.

Young Mr. Clulow, who lives on the corner is in the process of having a nervous breakdown. I must say that a nervous breakdown is most incomprehensible to anyone just looking on. Here is a brilliant young man of 30 who worked his way through college and then through law school. He has held down good jobs, has a pretty wife and two nice children, got a Commission in the Navy, got through Indoc. School with colors so flying that he was sent to Radar School. Got through that so well that he was asked to stay on their staff. Then in the next 2 1/2 months he goes quietly to pieces. And I mean quietly. His breakdown has taken the form of now wanting to see people. He dreads going to work, feels he just isn't getting the material across to the men he is teaching, although his superiors say he is doing a fine job. He can't sleep, just broods. He is now in Miami at the psychiatrists for the second time, and if they cannot straighten him out he will be sent to the Naval Hospital in Washington, and then surveyed out of the Navy. His wife says that the funniest thing is that he is so terribly changed. He doesn't seem queer to me, just quiet and pleasant, but she says he was one of those super cocky people who could always tell everyone how to do everything, very outgoing and bossy. She said today that when he went into the Navy she worried about lots of things -- but never in the world did she imagine his having a nervous breakdown. My mother thinks it might be nice to have a nervous breakdown because you get a good rest. They aren't resting. When they go into those silent states they are just going round and round and round mentally so that they can't even talk to people. Pretty soon they are going round and round so fast that they don't make sense even to themselves, and get wound up so tight they can't unwind themselves.

My husband brought home word today that he had talked to a man from the Bureau of Personnel in Washington who said that he, Charles, would be at sea before long since when they close all these schools there will be a surplus of personnel men and the Ensigns will be tossed to the waves. Charles says he is going to bed. I am not so keen on it since I will have that little hot box of a feverish Tom in with me in a very short time.

Monday, August 21, 1944

I am writing this under slight difficulties. Johnny Auer, aged 1, is fascinated by the action of the typewriter. Maryalice Benedict, aged 5 1/2 is interested in why and what I am writing. Thomas Bentley, aged 4 1/2 wants to throw the carriage for me, and Buck Bentley, aged 4 1/2 is being very good and building with blocks -- and just at that moment Tom knocked down the most magnificent edifice, which precipitated first tears on Buck's part, and then a slapping match between the Bentley boys. Furthermore, everyone is hungry, but I can't do much about lunch until Nora Auer comes back to collect Johnny. She has gone to the Dr. with Dorothy Van der Voort, who has been due to produce child for some 12 days now. Remember Mr. Clulow? He went to Miami to the Dr. on Wednesday, and on Friday his wife went down to try to see him, only to find out that they had sent him to Jacksonville, where he may be for a month, after which there is a pretty good chance that he will be sent to a hospital in Washington. On the spur of the moment she decided to go home to her mother's in Virginia. So we have had a great to-do getting the Clulows off. Everything is too confused for words. Nobody let her know they had moved him from Miami, and then she couldn't get in touch with him to let him know she was thinking of going home. She has a car down here and had to get gas coupons to get home, and then she had to get packed and organized enough to get herself and the children to Virginia, and at the same time to get his clothes to him in Jacksonville. Virginia Woodson kept the kids Friday while Mary Stuart (Clulow) was In Miami. Martha Benedict and I watched them on Saturday while she packed. On Sunday Martha fed them, and this morning I fed them and packed a lunch. So, finally they are off.

Thursday was a rainy day, and while washing Bucky he was gallumphing about in the bath- tub, and as he stepped out fell and smashed his face on the ledge of the tub. He cut and bruised both upper and lower lips terribly and loosened three front teeth, which have, however, tightened themselves up. At four o'clock Bennie Benedict came by and said that my ever-lovin' husband said to call him, so I got dressed and went over to Auer's to call. What he had to say was that he wanted to bring his Washington boss to dinner. I groaned since Friday is my shopping day, and we were going to eat left-over pot roast. So he said, "O.K. just try to park the boys and come over to have a drink." Nora, (who was having some 15 people in that night) said she would watch the boys, so I dashed home and got dressed, gave the boys a pep talk about behaving for Aunty Nora. By that time my conscience was bothering me on account of my dear husband almost never invites strangers home to dinner, so when I got to the station and had my drink I invited the boss to dinner anyway -- and also Ernie Staub, who is temporarily a bachelor. I fed them waffles and chipped beef and leftover lime chiffon pie. The boys were little angels and ate in the kitchen and went to bed without a quiver. This morning I put my clothes to soak in the bath-tub, and just as I was starting to wash, Nora came over to ask if I could keep John while she went to the Dr. with Dorothy Van der Voort. Luckily, at that moment Martha Benedict came by on her way to town and took Buck with her, so while Tom and Johnny played I got the wash done and hung up. We have been having lovely windy weather lately, hot, but no bugs. It has even blown the mosquitoes away. On Friday Bucky went up to the Hotel to attend Claren Jones' Ordnance Class, and learned all about 50 mm. guns. When we go out now we have the Commander's 11 year old daughter to sit with the boys. As the sitter situation gets progressively worse and worse we are all using younger and younger sitters. The Auers hire the little Twitchell girl, who is 10, and Jeff suggested the other night that perhaps next time it would be a good idea to hire her young brother who is 8 to sit with Tom, while the Auer's hired Buck to sit with their Johny. (joke.)

August 28, 1944

We have just returned from a visit to Otto, the sea cow, who now frequents the beach -- or rather the canal -- at the end of our street. This is a large rubbery animal about four feet long, with a face like a pig, flippers like a seal, and a broad flat tail. It is a young one and very friendly. The kids poke it and scratch its back as it browses in the shallow water. It has a skin like an old suitcase and a nose with shutters, which it opens when it comes up for air. We also get sharks and porpoises which play most gracefully in the water.

Last Wednesday there was a USO show at the Hotel which Charles had seen when it was here before, so I went, taking Bucky. For the first time he sat down in front with the big kids. The place was simply packed, and once the show had begun I couldn't get at him. He was entranced at first, and luckily the spell held during the broadcasting period. Then he began to get rowdy. I could hear his voice screeching with laughter from where I was sitting in the back of the room. A couple of student officers sitting up in front finally took him under their wing and kept him fairly quiet, so he had a wonderful time. It was really a pretty good show. I do not know whether it was on national radio or not.

Charles is fretting about our code of ethics in re Patton. The newspapers made a lot of the fact that he slapped a hysterical boy in the hospital and the Army didn't do any more than ask him to apologize. He has his permanent appointment confirmed as Brigadier General. What you had was a whole batch of people who had been through too much physical weariness physical dirt, noise and danger, whose nerves were all upset. The kid in the case had collapsed and been sent to the hospital and during the General's review broke down and had himself a few hysterics. The General, who was probably in very much the same state as the kid, likewise broke down and had himself a few hysterics in the form of slapping the kid and cussing him out. The big difference is that Mommies and Generals are not supposed to let go and have hysterics, even at the end of a long hot day.

My husband is out giving a test. I don't know just what for. Radar aptitudes probably. They are getting scads of young engineers in Indoctrination School lately, due to the new draft policy of not exempting men under 26, no matter what their jobs. Here he comes now. Just as I thought, it was the tactical radar aptitude test he was giving. It was a timed test and 30 of the dear creatures got lost and didn't show up in time, so he had to give it twice, running back and forth between the two groups, so he is hot and sweaty. Speaking of hot, you should see these poor devils when they drill. They march violently around in the hot sun, and their shirts from collar to cuff and tail are just soaking wet. Of course there is some kind of psychological change that comes over men when they get here to school. Something like going to Boy Scout Camp, I gather. Successful men over 35, used to wearing a nice clean white shirt to work every day suddenly become enamored with seeing how long they can wear their grey shirts. It is said that their own noses can stand it for 5 days, but someone else's for only three.

We are having civilian neighbors. The first was a man with a family who thinks Miami will be the coming place after the war, and he is coming down to settle. We now have tourists in the Clulow house.

September 4. 1944

Today my husband sent in his letter requesting change of duty -- to active sea duty. He says that definitely he will be sent away from here, and he has merely asked for the type of duty he would like. Amphibious training, United Kingdom, was his first choice, transport duty the second, and then Landing Craft Infantry. So, long about November 1st I will drag my little tropical kiddies home to pneumonia in Chicago weather. Although I must say it is just as easy to get a cold in Florida as it is in Chicago, and much harder to get rid of. Sunshine is debilitating in such large quantities. My Mother says I should eat more and get bigger than a size 11. I eat like a horse, as do the children. I always wondered how southern cooking became so famous when no one wants to eat much in hot weather. But that is only for the first month or so. After that you eat like a stevedore. The boys can snack all afternoon and still eat a good supper of baked potato, roast lamb, spinach, salad, apple pie and milk. But nobody puts on weight.

There is now a great fence all around the Hotel because of that very hush hush radar. It makes it most inconvenient when we want to go swimming up there. There is no real reason for going swimming up there other than that the children love to get beach balls from the athletic office and play with them, and it is something different to do during the afternoon. My son, Buck, is becoming such a swimmer that I can take him by the legs and heave him up into the air, head first into the water in a real dive and he loves it. Son Tom is a sight to behold in the water. He and little Buddy Benedict go out until only their noses and eyes are out of water -- and even those are not out when a wave comes. There they stand with their arms outstretched to give them balance, hopping up and down in the waves. This is all very well, but all of a sudden they come down in the middle of a wave. They have learned to keep their mouths shut, and they evidently hold their breaths, but you can see their eyes getting rounder and rounder as they try to bob toward shore. If someone didn't grab them they would be in trouble, but they go right back for more. By the way, I have discovered ideal refreshments for a couple of two year olds -- two empty coke bottles of water, and some animal crackers in two boxes. You can divide one box of crackers between them, but you must have an old box to put some of them in so that they each have a box.

September 11, 1944

I have carped so much about the ants down here that I must now give them their due. It is annoying to have these grease eating ants around in such hordes, but they are really the salvation of Florida in that they are our scavengers. In a climate like this, where there are such masses of animal life being killed all the time, we would all be driven out by the stench if it were not for these carnivorous ants. We have 100 or so land crabs living in our little pocket handkerchief front lawn, and during the full moon thousands upon thousands of them crawl along the canal and the streets going toward the beach to breed. By morning the road is just covered with great big squashed land-crab, not to mention the hundreds of them that die from various other reasons. In this broiling sun they have an odor you wouldn't believe - - but within a single day the ants have picked them clean, and it is all over. We hunt for conchs to collect their shells. If you catch them alive and boil them you can get them out of their shells fairly easily, but if they die first you have a most ferocious stink. Just set the shell out on the back steps and a day later you have a nice clean odorless shell. When you think of the dead fish and roaches and palmetto bugs, and all the dead and decaying coconuts you decide that maybe the ants are all right -- but look out, they bite like fury.

My husband is sure now that we will be leaving Florida by the first of October. His successor's papers are all down here. We spend from May to October, the season only an idiot would spend in this place, and then go back to Illinois for the winter. Such luck. There is a hurricane out to sea and we hoped it would bring us some breezes, but so far we are in a dead calm.

September 12, 1944

I as sitting here writing in a perfect hot box with the living room windows all boarded up, waiting for the hurricane which is supposed to arrive this evening. We will look pretty silly if it doesn't come. Charles is busy carrying his good uniforms and my woolen suit, together with his good suitcase filled with our papers and books over to Benedict's second floor apartment. Bennie Benedict is sitting out on a Y. P. boat someplace, and won't be home until it is over. Charles will soon take the Benedict's car over into the center of town for safety's sake. And now there is no 9 p.m. broadcast about the storm. It is probably all a false alarm.

More exciting than the storm is the fact that Eddie Duchin, the one and only, is a radar student at the Station and is going to play for us some time.

We all took a trip last Friday night in Woodson's car and got a look at Miami Beach. It is really something out of a movie colossal -- rows and rows of super-modern splendiferous hotels. In the past few weeks the army has taken them over for their rehabilitation program, and all those miles of beautiful hotels are now housing G. I. Joes and their wives and kiddies. The streets and lobbies are filled with boys in uniform and boys in maroon pajamas. They can bring their wives and children down and house them at extremely low rates. But the price is still too high, considering that it also involves at least two years in service overseas in the most dangerous places and a nice purple heart, or a good case of malaria or dysentery.

There is a big labor shortage in Miami and they are advertising for help in the northern papers. So people are selling their places up north and heading south. They get jobs, but have no place to live. Nobody wants them here any more than they want the Navy. What they want is TOURISTS, oh, magic word. Our landlady is hatching plots to get rid of us and the Woodsons. Legally we can thwart her, but she is such a nasty so-and-so that we probably won't want to unless it is really necessary.

September 18, 1944

I see that the hurricane we were waiting for went on up the coast and upset the younger Grimms in North Carolina, the Bentleys in Trenton, and tore the daylights out of the Senior Grimm's place on the Connecticut shore. As the Florida papers smugly report, if people up north would just learn to take hurricane precautions as they have learned to down here not nearly so much damage would be done. I would rather see them hit down here than up north as far as ruining the landscape is concerned. The palm trees have almost no roots, and when they fall down a small child with a wooden spade can almost reset them. All those nice big oaks and maples are just lost when they go down.

September 21, 1944

Yesterday morning my husband received the following communication:

PRIORITY                   ROUTINE                    DEFERRED 

Reading: 191809



191809 20 Sept 44


Which roughly translated means that Ensign Charles Bentley is herewith detached to report to the precommission school in Seattle, Washington for temporary duty in connection with the conversion of the APA vessel Cottle, and for permanent duty as assistant navigation officer on said boat, or such duty as his Commanding Officer may assign him to. He is to report after 10 days delay, and four days proceed time, plus 5 days travel time.

Therefore, he is being detached this Friday and we leave Hollywood, Florida next Wednesday morning for Chicago where we will have about 8 days to get settled, after which he will leave for Seattle, and as soon as his boat is commissioned, for sea.

We are leaving here at 9 o'clock Wednesday morning, due to get into Chicago at 7 on Friday morning, but we don't expect to get in quite that early. I think that the first thing we will do is check our bags and take our boys over to Marshall Field's to get them some shoes since what they have will never do for even a few days of October weather. The Auers are having dinner for us on Saturday, and the Van der Voorts are having a party on Sunday night. Since I cannot think of anything more at the moment I will cease.

Our address in the near future will be c/o Opper, 1215 Prairie Ave. Des Plaines, Ill.

October 5. 1944

On Wednesday last we were taken to the train and left Hollywood amidst tears and cheers from the assembled multitudes. It was approximately 90 degrees when we left, and fittingly enough we were on the west side of the train so that the hot sun beating in through the windows kept us slightly fried all through the first day. On Friday morning, however, we arrived in Chicago on a grey, chilly, rainy day and as a result we all have colds.

We doubled up and slept in layers at Boggen's for the first three nights we were here, and on Monday evening the movers moved our furniture into the new house. Boggen had changed and rechanged her mind three or four times, but had finally decided that she didn't want to move out of her own newly decorated house into this place just now, so we are alone here, and when Charles leaves will add Little Harry to our household. He can have his choice of the three upstairs rooms, or he can spread out all over them for all we care, since the boys and I will stay on the first floor for the time being. Rediscovering all of their old toys has been better than Christmas for the boys, and they have been delighted by the whole business. Then there is that 7 day wonder of Miraculous Cousin Harry. Boy, the milk we drink to beat Hawwy, and the lovely, lovely wrestling matches. Tonight after supper they were chasing Harry madly around and around Boggen's house. Harry, with his long legs, can get far enough ahead to completely disappear into some closet, after which there is much shrieking and giggling over finding him. It is deliciously exciting. Buck rushed up to me all agog over where H. might be. I suggested he try the hall closet, and he said, hugging himself in horror -- "Oh, no, he's in there. I'm scared to look there." We have to eat all of our meals at Boggen's so far since we have no stove or icebox yet, though I have a priority for a stove and will try to get one tomorrow.

Charles is rapidly working himself into a physical breakdown trying to get all the storm windows up for us before he goes. He has seen all of the people in his office, and we are going to the south side tomorrow. We saw "Oklahoma" last night. Charles walked over and got tickets the day we got in.

We are still far from settled, but we have made the place livable, and are now waiting until Daddy is gone before doing much more.

New address: 1221 Prairie Avenue, Des Plaines, Ill.