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Date: October 5th 1943

OCTOBER 5, 1943

Dear Bernice:

Now I ain't in any mood for writing, but here goes a line anyway. I never seem to be in the mood these days. It's 8:30 p.m. Came off duty at seven. Collected my laundry and took it over to be done. Came back and took a bath, which I surely needed. Now have a clean body, clean pyjamas and clean bed, and I hope a clean mind. Had a beautiful sunset tonight along with a sprinkle of rain. Guess we can expect that sprinkle at unexpected times until the rain starts in earnest. Really, the days are lovely now and the nights just right for one blanket. All in all, the climate here is quite good. Didn't suffer nearly as much here this summer as last in Florida. In the interior, I hear it's very hot nearer the desert. It beats me how the flowers and trees bloom on and on. Every time I see these high white walls covered with green foliage and thick with purple flowers, I wish you could see it. Your flowering elder has nothing on it. I stole me some wandering jew from a garden and have it growing in a vase in water in my room. It's doing very well. We swigged a little sugar, cocoa and canned milk and now have a bit of fudge a'boiling. It takes a long time on the hot plate.

Had morning time today. Went downtown to the bank to get paid, and to the post exchange for my monthly rations. Got nine rolls of [?] wafers, six packages gum, three peanut bars, a chocolate roll and some hard candy. Two cakes of Lux soap, and two of laundry soap, and a toothbrush. A few other things I could get, but didn't need them.

Had quite a little fire here in quarters yesterday, in one of the girls' rooms. Quite a bit of excitement for a short while.

I still haven't sent your parcel, but will get it away in a day or so. Had a letter-V-mail again-from Gladys yesterday. She told me she gave up her NS trip. Said she would wait and maybe next year we could go together. I hope so. The Allies are doing swell, aren't they? I wish we would move on. Haven't heard from the Browns for some time. The mails have been very poor lately, anyway.

We are getting our olive drab clothing issues now, in dribbles. Got two pairs of brown shoes yesterday, a brown handbag, three khaki shirts, a cape, and two caps for duty. When I get a complete outfit, will be sending the Civil War suit home for someone to lay away in mothballs for me. I have my summer brown suit now and am wearing it. Had Scott buy that and send. Yesterday got an olive drab uniform dress I ordered from Boston some time in July. Took it to a tailor today to shorten and take in, in places.

Now I must tell you of my five days leave I have just had. Six of us can go at a time. It's not far, about sixteen miles away. The same place I went for a day once before. The town was at one time before the war a summer resort. There is nothing to go to, or see, except the ocean and beautiful trees and parks. No stores, absolutely. However, the change was good, and I had a grand time-in fact didn't have time to do all I wanted to. The hotel is the same one, too. It's beautifully situated on the ocean. It's white stucco, with wagon wheel blue shutters. The grounds were lovely. The Army has taken it over to quarter officers in that area. Two of us roomed together. Got up in the morning for breakfast, which was at seven to seven-thirty. Then either went for a walk or bicycle ride. Yes, bicycle-I could ride some by then. Then it was lunch time. Had a siesta for an hour, then went to the beach for a swim. Had tea or coffee in our room at five. I took my hot plate, and Rosie had some tea given her. Supper was at six-thirty. Then for a long walk in the evening. I was fortunate enough to have one of the officers pay a bit of attention to me, which made my visit all the more enjoyable. He was a 1st lieutenant-hailed from Pennsylvania. All over now. Probably will never see him again. He was about my age, and very comfortable to be with. The fine days ended all too soon. We rode bicycle on the hard sand on the beach, for miles it seemed. One day we rode to an Allied military cemetery there. I had never seen one before. The poor devils buried there! It was kept very nicely, though. Rows of white crosses with a metal plaque, and some had their dog tags tacked on too. Only one from Massachusetts. I felt like writing to some of the mothers of those boys, and telling them where they lay, and how well the graves were taken care of. We have certain ones who do nothing but take care of them. A sad sight. Part of the cemetery was civilian French. The tombstones were very interesting. They go in for the mausoleums (hope that's spelled right). The tombs on top of the graves. Inside they can go and sit, and sort of visit. Some had like fireplaces in them, chairs, flowers, and always the picture of the deceased. Most frequently, there is a very ornate altar set up, with lace cloth, candles, crucifix, etc. We spent quite some time there. There is an American priest buried there, a chaplain. He was giving last rites to a dying soldier when he himself was killed. We are not allowed to give any names, or I would certainly have written some mother. I know she would have appreciated it.

Well, the fine days went so very quickly, and back to work we landed last Saturday noon. Am working on an officers and nurses ward now. Don't like it as well as the enlisted men.

Rosie is tucked away in bed, and I have the overhead light blazing, so I must hurry and put it out. My own eyes are bleary too. Five forty-five comes very quickly. Get a pass and come on up. Tell June to write me and tell me how she is getting along with her school. Is Nan in Grade 12 this year? I just can't remember. We shall soon have been here eight months, and I shall have been in the Army a year and five months. How time flies! No more dirt-I couldn't tell you if I did have any.

Love to all, Frank