Letter from August 27, 1942

 Lester’s days are filled with activities, learning his new job, and orientation on the ship. The discussion about his assignment is crucial to his future activities. Haring must have decided to hold out for a lifeboat assignment with the diesel engine training. Lester volunteered for the refrigeration crew when no others stepped up. This will prove important in days to come.

August 27, 1942

Thursday night.

Dear Folks,

I am over in the sail locker tonight and am not busy so will start a letter. I don’t work in the sail locker very much now as we have been going on board ship the past two days. It isn’t nearly ready to go but we go on board and look around to learn where things are at.

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You have no idea how many men are working on her or how crowded it is. Everything is very compact. We were assigned to jobs today and it looks as though I would have to take care of the refrigerator system. That will be a good job but I was hoping to get on one of the lifeboats as they have the only Diesels there are on the ship. Haring, one other fellow, and myself are the only ones that know the Diesels but when they asked for refrigerator men, I was the only one that spoke up. Haring had it in school along with me but he slept most of that course.

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I have been very fortunate in getting good jobs so I shouldn’t complain. Our ship is to be commissioned on September 15th so I will start drawing sea duty pay then even though we won’t be going to sea for some time after that. Sea duty means an increase of twenty per cent in pay or about ninety-three dollars per month. That will be pretty good wages. My bond and insurance takes out twenty-two dollars every month.

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We seem to have a nice bunch of officers, however we don’t have our captain yet. My chief seems very nice. He and I went aboard another ship today to look at her refrigerating system. I am on the auxiliary crew and we have charge of the upkeep of the refrigerating system, reducing valves, air compressors, the galley (kitchen), the laundry and the lifeboats. There are only eight of us including the chief so I guess we will have enough to do.

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There are lots of airplanes flying around all the time, all day and part of the night.

 

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Haring and I went on liberty together last night. We went first to a town shop where he had ordered a suit of tailor-made blues but they weren’t ready for him. I had a suit of dress blues cut down so they would fit me better and bought a suit of tailor-made whites. The whites cost five dollars. Regular issue whites cost a little over three dollars but they are worth the difference.

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After we left the tailor we started out to find Independence Hall. On our way we heard music coming from someplace. As we crossed a narrow street, there was a merry-go-round mounted on a one-horse wagon. About eight or ten children were riding the wooden ponies. An old man, an Italian I think, was furnishing the motive power to turn the merry-go-round by operating a crank such as is on our corn-sheller. Men and women were crowded around to watch and listen to the music. I certainly never expected to see anything so old-fashioned back there though the whole town seems antique. This was out in the Italian settlement, in the older part of the city. The sidewalks are of brick or stone, rough and broken. Some of the streets are paved with wooden blocks, about four by six inches, set on end. They seem to make a good road. I think I have told you that the houses set right up to the sidewalk and are joined together. They have no lawns or separate homes. This is all the older part of town which I have been describing to you. As we walked along the sidewalk we could look right into their rooms. I wouldn’t like that, would you?

We continued our search for Independence hall. Finally we stopped and asked a cop where we could find it. He surprised us by telling us that we were looking at it right in front of us. It looked like a new building to me. It was dark by that time so I am going back to see it in the daytime and go inside. Haring and I are planning on going to New York this week-end so I’ll tell you what that little burg is like. We are going on the week-end so that if we get lost we will have time to get back. I must close now but will write again. Don’t forget to put my address as it is on the envelope.

Love to all

Lester

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