February 14, 2011


US Naval Forces
European Waters
Spalato, Austria
June 29, 1919

Dear Mother,

Got here yesterday about 3 o'clock and tied up to a neat white stone dock right in the city. There are all kinds of ships tied up or anchored here -- even two or three Austrian ships with American crews aboard.

Spalato is composed of two kinds of people -- Austrians or Jugo-Slavs, and Italians. The Italians, as a general rule, seem to be the swarthy of the lot. All of them, however, are crazy to get soap, chocolate candy, or cigarettes, and you can buy more with a dime's worth of any of them than with six krone (or a quarter). Am enclosing one krone -- notice the difference of the languages printed on it. This is worth about four cents gold.

Williams, another quartermaster, and I went up to the YMCA last night to a dance given by them. All the girls were Italian but had been taught to dance by the gobs, so we had a pretty good time.

Wine and cake were served out afterwards. There was a dance at the K of C too, but the girls there were Austrian. They can't mix the two peoples for after trying it once at the Y, they decided they had better take time about having them at the Y and K of C. When they get together they just have a battle royal.

Met a fellow last night off one of the Austrian ships, from Houston, named Bonham.

We might as well be buried as far as hearing from the peace conferences is concerned. We don't hear a thing any more. I suppose it will be signed when this reaches you, however.

They have been after me to extend my time for a year from now, but so far I have resisted their entreaties. Mr. DeTreville told me today that we were going to hit Venice, Fiume, Trieste, Athens, and Constantinople before we went back if nothing happened. Unless I extend my time, I may be shipped home without getting to go along. I told him I'd rather not sign up again, but he said he was going to talk to me again in a day or so, and hoped I'd change my mind.

I wish I could write for your opinion on the matter. I think, however, that I will take a chance just like I did in coming over, and if I don't get to see those places, I don't. That's all.

An English destroyer, one left in Malta, the Tomahawk, just came in and tied up alongside us. I can get by after a fashion with signs, but I sure can't get their lingo.

The people here speak German a good deal, so what little I know comes in good. I can get along much better than either in Malta or Gibraltar. We are still having wonderful weather, and we all went in swimming for over an hour this afternoon.

Had a good chow of roast chicken and lemon pie today at noon, but we are still eating Italian bread. It's about the shape, size, and weight of a 20-pound rock. However, it's better than the hardtack we had to do with for a couple of days.

There are nine million kids [Ed. note: an exaggeration] on the dock at all times of he day, and most of them don't wear a stitch of clothes. They range from about three to 15 years old, but the people don't seem to care, so I'm sure we don't. They go into the water and capture any piece of soggy bread that happens to be floating around, while the women have become expert in throwing a bucket with rope attached, and capturing it that way. They stand around and wait for our mess cooks to come up on deck with the scraps from our meals, and they make a rush for them, and take them back home to eat.

I took about a 2-mile walk out in the country last evening and it's not only pretty and picturesque, but there is quite a great deal of grain almost ripe -- lots of wheat and oats.

There are Austrian soldiers still coming back here to their homes, but the town is guarded by Italians, and we too have provost guards out.

Am making a couple of pillow tops out of some different colored thread I bought from a fellow, and unless I get so hard up I have to raffle them off, I'll bring them back with me. We can't get any belt making cord, or I would make several while I'm over here with little to do.

Have several postcards taken by the fellow who has the big camera, but will only send a few home. Enclosed please find two.

Mail comes in here twice a week from the States, so it won't be long before I hear from you, I'm sure.

They won't give anyone liberty on Sunday here, for the people from miles around come to town, and gobs and their gang have battles nearly every time. We get from 4 til 9 on every weeknight except Saturday, when we get to stay as long as the dances last, which is usually 1 o'clock.

Can't say how long we will lay here, but this will be our "home" port while over here.

All the love in the world to all of you.

Your loving son,

(No postmark)

No comments:

Post a Comment