Port of Spain Again. November 2, 1947


Dearest “Cyclone”,

What is this, “Bark from a Lacewood Tree”, business?


Twice you’ve asked me and twice I’ve asked the natives. But, I can’t make them understand me. Maybe you could describe it to me, then I could explain what I’m looking for next time I see one of the natives.

We have to stick our bow into the jungle to turn the ship around each time we go up the “Commewijne River”.

Commewijine River

Commewijine River

The last 50 miles into the jungle, the river is so narrow that we have to be towed, stern first, otherwise we’d never be able to make it.

Well, last time we stuck our “nose” into the jungle, a 26 ft. Boa Constrictor dropped to our deck, and we found ourselves with a very undesirable passenger.

boa constrictor

After we killed it, we stretched it on a board, and the third mate skinned it. The skin of a dead Boa Constrictor is very beautiful, but it sure looked horrible when it was alive. How I’d hate to have one of those things drop on me!

Anyway, the third is going to make his wife a handbag, and have shoes made to match, out of the skin when we get back to the states.

Would you like an alligator handbag? If we stop at Dominica or St. Croix on the way north Bett, I’ll see what I can find for you.

Well, my 24th birthday was spent like so many of my previous ones, at sea. At sea in a world, not at peace, but, at least not in armed conflict, as yet.

Maybe if events continue in the same direction, we’ll be fighting the war after the next with clubs and spears.

Gosh darling, the days go slowly, when you count the passing of each. I scour the endings of your letters with a searching glance, looking for one that will tell me what I want to know. So, don’t think I missed the quotation markers you placed around “home”. Thanks darling. At least it’s one step in the right direction. If we’ve taken one step, we shall walk together yet.

The heat down here is simply terrific. I could take 10 showers a day, and still not cool off. I hope I don’t catch pneumonia when I go skiing with you in December.

This is, without a doubt, the hardest working run in the Merchant Marine. In addition, there is more than enough monotony. Work comes at any hour of the day or night. But, that’s the way I want it, because the time goes by just a little, not much, faster.

Well, judge for yourself. I have been away a little over three months, and aside from my regular work (8 hours per day, 7 days a week) I have a total so far of 700 hours of overtime work. Work done at all hours of the day and night. But, at $1.60 per hour extra, that makes $1120.00 in overtime alone, aside from my monthly pay. So, I guess I can stand it. Whom’ I kidding! Of course I can stand it. I’m making that $1.00 I had in the bank when I left home look sick.

In our five dollar bet as to the length of time you would remain unmarried, months that I am away count just as much as months that I am home remember!

Oh Betty, there are so many things I want to say when I start to write, so many things that are still unuttered. So many thoughts felt so beautifully and intensely, are still, just so many thoughts unshared. Partly because I fear to reveal some of them, but mostly because, when I start to write, I look at your picture while planning what I’ll say. Then all I can think of is, “Honey, soon-soon, you’ll be my girl again! Then anything I write seems stupid and irrelevant compared to the feeling of urgently, desperately wanting you.


I’ll close now sweetheart, at the end of day saturated with disgustingly healthy and torrid Caribbean sunshine. At the end of the one hundred and second day without you.

God Bless and keep you Betty
for your

P.S. Keep my heart beating!


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