4 December 1945
Dear ones, big and little
In two hours we dock at Karachi, and here I am without letters written. A sorry state.
This past week has passes rapidly because there has been work to do.
We had only a couple of hours in Port Said, but a hilarious time. Paula pulled in to the
harbor just after dawn; I was on the bridge, seeing everything, of course ( that's the chief
advantage of my job) and noting the local small schooners and dhows. Then we anchored, and
immediately the ship was surrounded by a score of small boats with characters in them holding
up articles for sale. " Hello fine pocketbook, fine wallet, very fine suit case, twenty-five
dollar." After twenty minutes of barganing [sic] and vacillation, ten dollars would go over the
side in a basket and a rope and the suitcase would come up. Some fun.
A freighter near us was coaling. On each side were huge open coal barges with gang
planks leading up to the deck. On each plank was a line of men, black with dust, ragged,
bending under a sac of coal, and singing a dustone chant. And probably suffering from the
equivalent of silicosis.
We went ashore and were guided around town the native quarter is out of bounds.
Continually we were pestered by leech-like hawkers offering everything from Spanish Fly to
blackjacks. A terrific nuisance- one couldn't move. And they wouldn't go away.
I managed to course away from curio shops without being rooked to too great an extent.
I'll send my haul home, or bring it if I come.
I had a couple of cups of local coffee. Very rich and heavy, like Ovaltine, and not tasting
like coffee. Rather good, though.
Then on through the canal observing the aridity, camels, irrigation canals, and the
magnificence of the uniforms of the policemen and soldiers. Red, black, yellow, green.
The wind blew in the Red Sea, but since the Strait of Bab el Mandeb (of fame) the sea
has been glassy. Several nights ago I watched for three of four hours the most brilliant and
intense electrical storm I ever want to see. Every kind of lighting, between several layers of
clouds and the ocean. And it was proceeded by the outstanding sunset of the trip.
No news, yet, of our first destination. If New York the chances are good we'll arrive the
24th or 25th. So I hope it's N.Y. But if Seattle, arrival Jan 4th or 5th. So keep the tree as long as
possible. I'll get home by hack or by crack if we go to the west coast.
So, a very merry Christmas to you all, and an especially happy birthday to the best
mamma anyone ever had.
Oly love to everyone,
P.S. It's N.Y.
The possibility that the ship will be laid up for two or three weeks for conversion is
becoming almost a probability. I certainly hope so. At any rate I think we'll be here a week.
Again my love, Mom dear.