7 In Der Halde, Berlin,
5 February 1946
Just a quickie before Harold and George get home from seeing Joan Crawford in “Mildred Pierce”, which I saw in Washington and didn’t think too much of. We three are snuggly ensconced in our permanent billet (what do you think of this typewriter – it’s one liberated from the Krauts and brought home from the office by George. Really, it’s a poor workman who blames his tools, but I can do better than this). The house is just comfortably warm and I’m in pajamas and bath robe. The German radio which George and I bought is sounding forth im Deutsch on some comic opera and all’s well.
But what about you folks. Not one word have I heard from you. I got my first letter from the States this afternoon – from Burt – and I sent him my permanent address several days after I sent it to you. The trouble is that mail is all Snafu. Bad flying weather has scrambled the mails from over seas terribly. George has received a letter from his Edith written on the 25th of January, and received eight days later. But to-day he received a couple mailed respectively on January 9 and 16. I suppose my mail home has suffered the same delays. But I’m certainly crazy to get some word from you re: developments in the Garrison family. I sent you a radio this afternoon, – (10:30 A.M. your time), asking for news. I hope that it gets results and that quickly, although I realize that the Western Union strike in the States has rather snarled up both reception and transmission of trans-oceanic wires and radio messages. Meanwhile the suspense has me a bit down, for your happiness and the progress of your little family have a definite No. 1 priority in my heart and thoughts. So keep’em rolling and make the old man happy again.
I moved in here with George a week ago last Saturday, when his former billetmate was transferred to the 7th Army in the field. And just a week later Harold Sarle arrived from the States, after a remarkably quick and uneventful trip. We’re very comfortably situated and are now trying to arrange for a “B” mess, that is permission to buy food at the commissary and set up our own table for as many meals as we wish in our own billet. They’re hard to get, due to shortage of food, but we’re hoping for the best. Our home is normally the residence of the Baron and Baroness von Elverfelt, who were moved out and are now occupying an apartment in the house next door. Their maid, Else, looks after them and also is our housemaid, a situation which leads to a peculiar relationship, as you can imagine. But the Baron is a good old soul and his fiftyish wife has invited us to have Sunday tea with them in their apartment. But as I was Duty Officer that day we postponed it. I might say that the Baroness’s racial background is Semitic and she told me with flashing eyes, “I hated dot Hitler”. And she was genuinely gracious when she said, “We welcome you to our home.” The house is old fashioned and a bit frumpy, with some excellent antique furniture in it and the wall areas of living room and stairs covered with portraits of the Baron’s ancestors, dating back to about 1500. But more of this in my next circular letter.
My work is gradually getting organized. God, I never saw anything quite so completely disorganized than OMGUS. An organization which suddenly went into high gear from a standing start about last September and which, organizationally, has never been able to keep step with the job it has to do and its personnel growth. Add to this the fact that it is a shop which is being “civilian-ized” as rapidly as possible though dominated by the Army and military thinking and procedure and almost completely lacking in the necessary regulations for civilian procedure set up by the Army and based on Civil Service regulations – I’m quite sure there is not one complete set of the regulations in the European Theatre – and you can see what my job as Chief of Regulations and Procedures of the Personnel Office amounts to. I’m now starting at the lowest grass roots and setting up an attendance reporting, payroll and leave procedure and, at the same time, am trying to get regulations approved which will establish the functions of the office and which will, consequently, give me some measure of authority for the procedure. And that’s just my most pressing problem of the moment. I even have to design and draft the forms I’m setting up. But, even though OMGUS is organizationally pied, that fact is not keeping it from doing a good job in its appointed task of setting up government in the U.S. Zone. Gosh, I wouldn’t have missed this experience for all the tea in China.
Gotta sign off now, but will send out a circular soon. I’d have done so last Sunday while on duty but had to spend the day drafting an attendance reporting form. I’m looking forward each day to getting my first word from you dear ones and then having the pipelines discharge subsequent letters with hoped for regularity. All my love,