Bachstelzenweg 11, Dahlem, Berlin, G’y.
9 July 1946
John, and Phil Hawkins, who is an old friend of John’s, who has just arrived and who is billeted across the street, have just gone out to look at some silverware which seems to be for sale for a price, and I’m alone. Ahyaks is downstairs with Schnappsie and Erika – and the stage is set for a somewhat delayed letter to you good people, for it occurs to me that I haven’t given you any word of my well being for some time. Phil was here for dinner and seems to be a completely compatable chap. Directly across the street, next door to Phil, is Bill Richter, who has come over to be Acting Chief of the Classification Section, Personnel Office, and he has been over several times already. Our house is sort of a focal point, possibly because both John and I are naturally gregarious and partly because I still have an unusually good cellar, thanks to Heath’s departure. In any case, it’s fun.
I don’t seem to have anything to answer from 49 Curie Avenue, so I’ll launch directly into my tale. The last two weeks have been rather active. Col. Duke has lit right into a complete organization (I don’t preface that word with a “re” because it has never been properly set up, and I say that without breaking faith with Heath for his job was to start it and get it into action in the transitionary stage between military and civilian. Now it’s preponderantly civilian and needs organizing. Col. Duke seems to be leaning rather heavily on me and there hasn’t been a dull moment in the office since his arrival. He’s an old Regular Army officer, recently Brigadier Gen. and something of a pepper pot.) I’ve been making functional charts, setting up T/Os, writing job descriptions, boiling down four forms into one or eliminating them entirely (something I’ve longed to do for months), and in other ways made myself a complete nuisense to everyone in the shop (that “Nuisense” doesn’t look right but my dictionare is at the office). But out of it is coming an organization which will do more work with less personnel. My two unit chiefs are being processed now in Washington and when they arrive I’ll really be able to do policy work – I only hope that I’ll continue to please the old man. The whole set-up of the Personnel Office has been changed and George is now Chief of Civilian Personnel, a job which he has longed to take over for some time and which needs a complete Spring cleaning. Personnel is ablaze with eagles and silver leaves right now, but I have an idea that George and I, with our Civil Service background and no personal axes to grind are going to be the wheel horses.
And right here Erika came and perched on the table beside the typewriter and started in on her voluble German. So we had a few minutes of Pidgen Deutsch-English followed by my spraying the kitchen windows with DDT, then by my taking my zwei Kinder for a romp in the park just a block from the billet. Now I’m back, the dogs are, well, reasonably subdued, and I’m again at work on the old Royal. Such is life here – it’s hard to do anything in a rational, connected manner.
I can’t remember all that I’ve been doing evenings and over weekends. Saturday before last it wasn’t too pleasant, but Sunday I spent a rugged time in my shorts, lying on a blanket on the lawn in the sun, while Erika alternated picking strawberries and raspberries and dropping them in my open mouth. Pretty tough existence, this Berlin exposure. The middle of the week brought an end of the cool, rainy spell and a late afternoon thunderstorm left us an evening which would have done even Washington proud, it was that hot and humid. The Fourth dawned hot and clear (the official temp in Berlin that day was 96 degrees). More Sonnebaden, lunch at Truman Hall with Harold, then the two of us took more sun (rather a lazy day, sez I) until it was time to go to Harold’s for a cocktail party and buffet supper. Which lasted all evening and well into the night.
Saturday was Edith Pieper’s 35th birthday and George invited me over for dinner. I had some things for her from Heath and some from myself – strange birthday presents in America but appropriate here (and available to Americans), soap, gin, candy, nuts, lipstick and rouge, und so weiter. It was a quiet but very pleasant evening, – George, Tommy and myself, Edith and the two sweet little German girls she has rallied around to work for the Vadneys, one of them from the home where Ajax grew up, a girl who was born in Clearfield, West Virginia, but who has no recollection of it for her family came back to Germany when she was three years old. Quiet, but it made Edith very happy, which was the main point.
Sunday I got together a picnic lunch, using the spreads which you kids sent me, got myself an OMGUS taxi, picked up Sue Elliott and we spent the day at Wannsee. We couldn’t sail for there was a regatta on and they would release no boats unless they were to be in the race – and I didn’t make an application in time. So we sat on the porch of the American Yacht Club, formerly the Potsdamer Yacht Club, and watched the race, walked for three or four miles, and came back to her billet and whipped up an impromptu supper. Then home, after a completely relaxing day. Not exciting but lots of fun. —- And so goes the time.
I’m crazy to get at my photography and count the days when the package will come with the stuff from Willoughby’s. Gosh, I saw a beautiful camera to-day I’d have loved to have, but it cost 12 cartons, and I didn’t have ‘em. A Reflex Korelle, 2 ¼ x 2 ¼, focal plane shutter, 2.5 Xenar lens. If one has the means of barter here it is amazing what things can be picked up. Ho hum, feller, stop dreaming for the moon.
Eleven fifteen, and to-morrow comes apace. So must I send Schnappsie downstairs, take Ajax upstairs and betake myself to bed. Write soon and tell me of your health and doings.