Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

<- PREVIOUS LETTER August 25, 1944 (light fiction)
Saidor, New Guinea

Same place; same base.

Aug. 25, 1944

Hello Ma:

      Well, this is the fourth letter, I believe, that I have written you this week. Well, the lights are again burning brightly; so, I'll as quick as possible begin and attempt to finish at one sitting. The lights are scintillating at a human pulsating speed. We have to strike matches to see if they are actually burning - sho' nuff. We used to have a two-rat power electrical generator; but we have very recently made a modification. Yep, we now have a dozen electric eels connected in a parallel circuit. Now and then, an eel or a few will wiggle out of line and shunt out or short circuit the system. Oh well, that's where the "Charge of the Light Brigade" goes to work. In due time, the electrical system is back into operation and functioning as it should, having about a candlepower rating (as per S.A.E. standards) equivalent to ten lightning bugs - all lighted at the same time - if that could be insectly arranged - sort of coincidental like, wouldn't it be?

      Well, getting back to my story; a narration which I will title "Characterization of Prominent People," which I have known, now know, or possibly will (I hope not) have the misfortune to meet - in my "Gulliver"-like travels.

      Although I will take the privilege to use actual names, I do not mean to imply that they refer to the men of the Third Airdrome Squadron, of whose brilliant victory "The Battle of Brisbane" is known the world over. Incidentally, in another letter sometime in the future, I'll give you a "black-eye witness" account of that battle. I took down my notes while on the field of battle, while dodging flying fists and female fingernail fragmentations.

      Well, getting back to my subject of characters, living (hardly possible in some cases - without simulating a moron) or dead (and that's logical - they should be - what right have they to set themselves up as true representatives of the mighty irresistible Third A.D.?).

      And now dear reader; I will discuss and go into detail somewhat concerning my first character, a member of the female species of humanity(?): Her teeth were like the stars - they come out at night; her lips bore a hue not unlike that of a sun-glazed red clay mountain; and, actually just as arid and parched. She wore shoes with turned up toes - and a nose to match. Around her giraffe-like neck hung lavender and lace - her hair, I mean, and she forgot to remember to remove the lavender soap bubbles. These solidified dried soap bubbles gave her that schoolgirl complexion - if she could have possibly gone to a school - and majored in the essential (to what I don't know) subject of "facial makeup artist" (such as Perc Westmore of the film colony is). She could have passed for an example of the classwork - as an animated Frankensteinic-like creature. It seems that her eyes were always at half-mast. They had a habit of spasmodically dilating at camera-like shutter speed. Her hair tresses/trestles (looks like a train ran through them) pointed skyward and bore out her facial expression of sudden surprise - I guess that she was always being put wise to the "facts of life" by her younger brother - a moron indeed. She had rather large ears; in fact, so large that - so large that - ... oh yeah, so large that her parents didn't know whether she was going to walk or fly until after she had reached the age of two (hours). I think that up until that time - she may have given an appearance of distilled vinegar - denatured. Well, in summing up the description of this particular personality (which she totally lacked - but completely); I might add that her "good" (how else would you term it - I don't want to insult her) looks were exceeded only by her generosity, she would unquestionably give anything away all for free, too - I hope that you understand precisely what I mean by that - you can see my preacher, assuming that I have one, that is, for character references of yours truly - no! Ye gad; don't, for my sake, don't confer with my colleague and business associate, the combination bouncer and bartender at "Ye Ol' Tipsy Tavern" where all "good people" congregate - to participate - to help delapidate - the rat's escape - so that it will revert to the proprietor - of late - from alcoholic blood dilution - or pickling of the blood plasma. He may, after all, give you certain authentic inside information as extracted from the restricted and confidential latest crime journals. After all, it would result in my being sunk to the very depths of degradation. Again, her ears were so large that she at first gave to me the impression of a taxicab with the doors open. Oh yes, she sent her picture to a bŏhoy [punk - Ed.] friend of mine (I feel sorry for him) in jigsaw puzzle form; so, that he could get used to the shock of the finished portrait very very gradually. Morphine and adrenaline are among the missing - almost - over here, you see. As a final statement concerning her, I would say, "If brains were terra firma, she couldn't physically offer a piece of territory large enough onto which a baby gnat could land, taxi, or take off without 'ground-looping.'"

      Oh heck, are you, dear reader, smiling to yourself again? Say, what's come over you? Me? Oh heck, people have more fun than anyone.

      Excuse me a minute - some of the boys wanted to know if I cared to go to the movies with them. I, however, replied in the negative - it is not such a short walk to the show location, you see. I never was much of a "globetrotter" bipedically speaking, that is. They are a pretty good gang of boys though. Hoodlums don't come any better; especially characters like, for instance:

      "Rah-rah boy" Mike (he went to collisch); "When do we eat?" Jones; "Do you think it'll rain?" Mickey; "I love my wife, but oh you kid" Johnny; "I wish that I'd catch malaria so's I could get a rest leave" Jerry; "We went to different schools together" Porky (he has a tonnage displacement of approximately two or three tons); "The pants, you cut too short" Rosenbaum; "I'll pound the heck outta you" Larry (he never does, only verbally); "Lend me your snowshoes, it looks like a hailstorm's brewing" Melvin; "The infantry has it rough, too" lt. so-and-so (he's allergic to the infantry, we think); "Due to the rough terrain" maj. so-and-so; "Give him salts" Marty (he's a medico); "That's a direct order" buck sargeant so-and-so; "I have spent more time in the chow line than you have in the Army" Curly; (he's the 1st sargeant - practically bald).

      And, there are other such notables as:

      "Bring me a cup of battery acid to quench my fire singed vocal cords" Owen; "She's so sweet that she ought to be protected by the Pure Food and Drug Act" Smitty; "I think that I can promote a bottle" Pop; "Don't let the water burn" Angelo (he's a cook); "No seconds" Carl (he slaps slum [slumgullion, a kind of beef stew - Ed.] into your mess kit at chow time); "Are we still in combat, or is that the mosquitoes making their nightly raid?" Slouch; "Did you hear the latest news? If so, the war is over" Fred; "The Golden Gate in '48" Chic; "You got any spare corpuscles?" Albert; "I received a sugar report" Romeo; "Do they have bully beef again? Ughh." Joe; and, finally "Did the mail come in today?" everyone in general. Oh heck, we have more fun than a barrel full of monkeys, after they each had swallowed a chicken feather. If some of the above-mentioned Army personnel had half a brain, they still would only be a "half-wit." (What's a whole wit anyway? I'd rather just be a "cracked wit" or wheat.) Cereally speaking, I wish that we would have corn flakes some morning to accompany the "corny jokes, fresh off the cob." Such as "Ho, ho, ho, and a bottle of jungle juice on a Section 8's chest."

      Well, there are a few more characters who probably deserve mentioning:

      First, there is that tall lanky mountaineer having one leg a trifle shorter than the other. He is, it is said, supposed to have developed this way physically because he lived in West Virginia. Ah yes, it must grow on you and become quite fatiguing at times, walking or staggering around those vertically sloped mountains which are very prominent in that section of the country. He should have reversed his direction of circling these towering obstacles. Yes, he should have staggered clockwise - instead of otherwise. We call him "Ridge Runner" for short.

      And, then there are the "underground farmers" from the not too immaculate Pennsylvania coal regions. Also, a few greasy personalities from Oil City, Pa. The boy from the coal regions, it is said, first saw the light of day in the year 1926 - although he was actually born in '22. It was at that time (1926) that he was so rudely ejected. He promptly put on dark sunglasses upon reaching the next town - although the sun was slowly sinking below the horizon. I don't know just what he did the next day at noon - possibly it rained. I hope so, for his benefit anyway. Anyhow, it wasn't always "ceiling zero;" none of the time, but always before.

      Just now, the voice of a friend faded away into the din of rattling mess kits (chow time). It was unmistakable to whom it belonged. It (the vocal cord articulations) had that certain total lack of a rise and fall of voice inflection - although the volume at times reached that whereupon the speaker merely emitted a mere hemi- demi- semi-quaver. (Are you up to date in your musical terminology?) The person to which this voice sadly belonged had less hair on his pate than a peach has fuzz. He was clipping off his hair, as rumors have it, as fast as it grew in. You see, he had to have something to stuff his "homegrown" pillow with.

      Well, I don't want to overload the mail boat or plane, I now see the end of another book drawing to a sudden close.

      As a final paragraph, I would like to reiterate my point of view as I begin to write a letter. Now is the time, if never before, to spread what joy and humor to you, dear readers, as if left in a soldier's mind.

      Oh well, all in all, I have a fairly good imagination and I think that you have noticed it to some extent throughout my last few letters. I always was an admirer of the writer of cartoons, Buck Rogers. He even, in my estimation, surpassed Jules Verne when it comes to originating out of mere imaginative powers. I wish that I could come up to their level in that respect, and still at the same time continue, which I think that I have been doing thus far, to write a little bit on the humorous side of life.

      And now, I must discontinue, for the time being anyway, this bit of graphite on white. The night is no longer young and has about reached the retiring stage - for me, too - sleep, I mean. So, so long for now -


P.S. Gotta run down to cool a beer bottle in the squadron's Coke machine.


The Kindle book includes the letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.


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