Thursday, January 20, 1944

Dearest Gee.

Well, kid, I’m practically safe and sound for awhile anyway. Have a slight cold outside of that I’m as well as the next one. How are you and that flu epidemic coming along? Sure hope you don’t get that — any of you.

The censor now tells us we can say a little more now. We can say we visited Casablanca, and Oran. The scenery all around there was swell. Saw old relics of forts. Guess each town must have been fortified sometime or other when it was build. Lord, the people tho, dirty and always begging. We traded them cigarettes for money. Got the equivalent of twenty cents a pack for them. Tried to get souvenirs but no luck. They just don’t have anything that I’d want to touch. Their huts are a conglomeration of things. Mostly sod, with tin for a roof, or else grass thatch. Don’t think any of them have washed since they were born. Their favorite expressions are “bon bon” for candy, gum, sugar or whatever you might have left from rations, and “shmuk” for cigarettes. They spoke French for the most part and we had a French-American with us so we got along fine. He acted as interpreter for us. We also had a fellow who could speak and understand Arabic so the language didn’t bother at all.

Now that we are in Italy I can say that I’ve seen Naples and Mt. Vesuvius. I have several postcards of the both of them and a folder of Pompeii. Maybe I can send them home now. I went to a town yesterday and went “shopping” tho for what I didn’t know. I bought you and Bernadine a little bracelet. They are very cheap things but it was mostly as a souvenir. For you, Billy, and L[ittle] Harry I bought three medals commemorating the landing of American troops in Italy. The Fifth Army to be exact. I also have a necklace for you with a cross on it. It’s cheap too. Everything you buy you can’t tell what you’re getting. I wanted to get Mom something but I can’t find anything. They really hang it on you for things you’d really want. I saw a bedspread yesterday that was pretty. He, after gesticulating for fifteen minutes, managed to let me know he wanted eighteen good dollars for it. I’d still have bought it but I only had eleven to my name. He finally got over to me that I should make him an offer. I told him five bucks and he like to went mute, so I strolled on my way. Would like to have bought it. Maybe I will pay day. Is that too much to pay? They had some pillow cases too but they weren’t so hot. I didn’t see any cameos. They want plenty for those too. My buying is limited both in money and in time. The Italians always call us and one another “poisone” I guess that’s the way you spell it. They pronounce it “pi sŏn”. It means anything from “friend” to “he you” or “damn it all come here.” Swell word. If I say here much longer I should be a regular dago. The Italians are really glad the Americans are here. That’s their story anyway and they’ve stuck with it. It wouldn’t do them much good if they didn’t. The harbor and city of Naples must have been pretty. Chick has already told you all about that and Mt. Vesuvius tho. It’s quite a sight. Remember how I always wanted to see mountains. Well, now I don’t. I’m what is known as a flatland mountaineer. Seen all the mountains I want to.

I saw one of the best air battles. It was something I’d always wanted to see. It all happened right over my head so I had a ringside seat. The only trouble with these fights and I’ve seen several of them, is that they never last long. [Redacted]. This one fight a bunch of bombers went over and a bunch of Heinies dove on them and their escorts. When those guys of ours took after them all hell broke loose. Needless to say, some of those German planes didn’t get a chance to run away. [Redacted].

Didn’t get any mail from you or anyone today. Couldn’t hardly expect any tho after all the mail I’ve been getting. Guess I’ll write Dad a letter. I’ve got several from him lately. I owe Jack + Hilah one too. Must thank him for that check, you know. Guess he never stopped to think I couldn’t cash it. Well, I guess I’ll quit for now. Sure love you and miss you. Hope this is over so we can be together soon.

So long now.

Snook

Commemorative medals of the liberation of Naples, featuring Mount Vesuvius in the background. Source, MilitaryTrader.com.

For some reason, I had this letter labeled January 30th, which is why a letter from the 20th is posting out of sequence. Snook has already mentioned many of the items he picked up and places he visited in subsequent letters that have already posted, which is why this seems oddly out of place to anyone reading the posts in order on the site – apologies for this mistake.

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