Bachstelzenweg 11, Berlin, Dahlem.
8 September 1946
A gray Sunday – but the best weekend weather we have had for a number of weeks, for at least it isn’t raining. I’m not sure when I last wrote to you, but I believe I sent you my circular letter #11, written on 24 August. The deuce of it is I sent out three of the six copies I transmit and am not sure to whom they went – but believe it was you, Heath and Melvin. This business of writing personal letters to go with the circulars means that some of them are always held up for a week or two – or three and I’m apt to lose track of myself as a result. And I do not recall whether I have acknowledged and thanked you for the two packages which came the same day several weeks ago, namely the little one containing two rolls of 120 film and the larger one with the various delicacies in it, including mayonnaise, angostura bitters, cigarettes, etc. Gosh, but they were all welcome. I’ve been trying for weeks to get mayonnaise at the fancy foods store but they’ve always been out of it. I know, however, that I’ve not thanked you for the subsequent package containing eight cartons of Luckies which came several days ago. So thanks a million for them all. Mail from home is always the highlight of the day over here, and people who get packages in addition to letters are the envy of all of their friends. Now I’m eagerly awaiting the package of photographic supplies about which you wrote, sweet, in your letter of 26 August. It is amazing that such articles are still in such short supply in the States. It was mighty good of you to take so much trouble getting them for me and I appreciate a lot of the effort you went to. The filters are now being put to good use. I manage to buy orthochromatic film here in more or less quantity (German film) but it is almost impossible to get panchromatic, which gives much more satisfactory sky effects. I’ve been crazy to get going on my printing (enlarging), so last week I tried out the package, nearly a full gross, which I brought over in my foot locker and which arrived soaked through. And, having no paper developer, I used film developer, which is a somewhat different formula. When I opened the box of paper I was enveloped in a heavy smell of mildew, which still clings to it. The paper was stained and imperfect in a large degree, but I was able to draw off some prints which were all right as tests to indicate how good the films were – and some of them are excellent, particularly some I took around the Compound. But many of the films were too thin and lacked contrast, and need the high contrast paper which I have asked for. You do not say what day the package was shipped, but I should have it very soon. Again thanks for sending all of the things.
Thanks also for the clippings. The one about Joe Dumond and his monkeys was interesting – he certainly has had a lot of publicity out of those simians. Yes, in many ways the life here is pretty cushy and the pictures of Capt. and Mrs Key are no exaggeration – but they do not show the other side which is not so lovely. I was very glad to see that Fred Brownlee has at last gotten his D.D., he should have had it long ago – and it took Oberlin to give it to him. Good for your old Alma Mater. I was most interested to see the article on Boxers. I presume that many of those which have started the fad for them in the U.S. were brought home from Germany by returned service men. Truly, it is a grand breed. It’s fine to have the latest pictures, to see how the youngsters are developing, to see Nan and her hubby and to get some idea of what your home looks like. George says the latter is almost an exact duplicate of the one in which he and Edith started housekeeping when they were first married about 12 years ago.
I’m delighted that Jeff’s wagon is so acceptable and that it can be put to so many uses. Funny that he remembered about the can opener. Good for Dickie and his dental equipment – I imagine he’s very proud of his choppers. —- I don’t know just how effective I can be about tracing Ellen Vezin, but I’ll be glad to try. The only way I can do it is through a letter sent via the Deutsche Post (formerly the Reichspost) and it takes almost as long and is almost as uncertain to get letters from one part of Germany to another as it is getting them from the States by regular postal channels. I’m also trying to track down folks for Donna Danielson and Nancy Holmes, so far without success. If they were in the U.S. Zone it would be much simpler. I’m mighty glad that Ellen has apparently come through the war safely – how about her husband and family?
Your Sunday sounds just a big hectic – do you ever get any chance to relax? To-day is about the laziest of my Sundays. We had a bit of a party last evening, starting here at Bachstelzenweg 11 and ending at John’s new family billet, which he is occupying alone pending the time his family arrives. John, Charlie Collison, who lives across the street, Major Walter Brown and I had been out to the Olympic Stadium in the afternoon to see the Inter-allied Track Meet, which was quite an event and most colorful in all of its details, and Charlie came home to dinner with us. While we were eating a gal who was a friend of Meriam Francis (Mel’s old next door neighbor) in the Department of Justice in Washington gave me a ring on the ‘phone. So I invited her, her sister and a friend, all of whom have just arrived in Berlin, to come over for the evening. By a strange coincidence Betty, the one who called, is to be John’s secretary. Shortly after they arrived Walter blew in with a couple of German girls. It turned out to be quite a party and didn’t end until some time after two this morning. Erika awoke me for a 10:00 o’clock breakfast, after which I went back to bed and dozed until 12:30. Since then I’ve been sitting around, mostly typing, still in pajamas and bathrobe. It’s now about 3:00 and in another three quarters of an hour John will appear to drag me over to a tea or something at Frau Hoch’s house up the street. I’m uncertain whether I’ll go or not as there are several other things I should do and I feel too stupid to-day to be very good party company. I’ve put in two or three weeks in the office which have been a bit trying on the nerves (things aren’t going so well there under the new management) and I’m more in the mood for just slumping for the rest of the day.
Labor Day John and I went to the Philharmonic concert with our two Viennese-British girl friends, following which they took us to dinner and we spent the evening in their apartment. They work for Berlin District (U.S.) and live in quite a different part of the city. It’s pretty well bombed into ruins and is most depressing. They want to get into OMGUS, but I don’t believe that’s possible for General Clay prohibits engaging any foreign nationals – just Americans and indigenous personnel. The girls are most interesting and one of them, Mrs. Purvis, is very attractive. We’ll have to have them over here to dinner some evening. They’ll probably be at Frau Hoch’s this P.M. Last Sunday morning I was duty officer – and last Saturday I worked until about 7:00, so my Labor Day weekend was rather curtailed.
I mentioned the situation in the office. The Personnel Office under Col. Duke has been pretty completely taken over by the military and strong Regular Army personnel, and is being drastically reorganized. The old friendly atmosphere which existed under Heath Onthank is gone and army methods, red tape and discipline hold full sway. George Vadney and I are the only two of reasonably high rank and importance who are left of Heath’s crowd and we are about as popular as the plague with the new regime. So far as we can see the reorganization is going to eliminate both of our jobs, which may mean that we will be declared surplus, which is one way of getting us out of the way. We are waging a losing fight for Civil Service and civilian procedures, and what is going to happen is anyone’s guess. Possibly we can find jobs somewhere else in the OMGUS organization or in one of the field offices, which latter alternative wouldn’t displease either of us, for “Berlin claustophobia” is making both of us restless. The alternative would be to be sent home, which neither of us want, naturally, particularly George, with his family newly arrived here. The whole spirit of the Personnel Office is one of dissatisfaction and unrest, from the top right down to the clerical staff. I always swore I wouldn’t be a civilian under the Army or Navy, and I’m finding out now just what it means. I’ve been under a heavy strain trying to keep up my regulations and procedures work, which should have my full attention, but the reports and statistics work, which I didn’t want in the first place, has been a nightmare. OMGUS is so disorganized, due to its rapid growth, changing nature and shortage of personnel, that gathering veracious statistics relating to personnel has been almost impossible. And in the face of that, USFET and Duke have been both hounding me for more and more personnel reports of fantastically varied sorts until I’ve been nearly crazy trying to handle them.
The civilian employees of OMGUS have recently organized an Employees’ Council which may be effective in altering the picture here somewhat, and which has already made itself felt in improving our situation – for our civilian troubles are not confined to the Personnel Office. George and I were the nominees for the Council from the P.O., but I withdrew, inasmuch as my position as writer of regulations and procedures would have made a dual situation a very awkward one. So George is it – which doesn’t make him any more popular with the powers that be. Heath is very much concerned by the way things are going and counts on George and myself to uphold the rights of the civilian, but we are in such a weak spot that our efforts don’t count for much. Nevertheless, we’re in there fighting – and will probably go down fighting.
So I haven’t been much in the mood lately for gayity and social life. I’ve come home evenings pretty well whipped, had a few drinks – and just slumped. Heath bawls me out in a humorous way for not writing him more (I get a letter from him about every four days) but I just haven’t had the letter writing spirit.
All of which sounds pretty blue, I’m afraid, but one of these days the tide may change and the situation may improve. We’ve had an excess colonel floating around the office for the past couple of moths doing practically nothing and I’ve persuaded Duke to give him the reports function. I’ve put the section in much better shape than it was when I took over and have recently gotten in a crackerjack head for it – an ex-chief yeoman, and as Dorfman will have little else to do he shouldn’t have as much trouble as I’ve had. But he keeps coming to me for help and to date, the load hasn’t perceptibly lightened. Also, Duke has asked me to continue the job which I’ve started putting personnel data on machine records (I.B.M.) and I won’t have that task finished for another month. When the new system is once in working order personnel reports and statistics will be pretty much duck soup.
John has been by and I’ve asked him to give my regrets to the good Frau Hoch. But now I must get dressed and make myself presentable for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Best love to you all, as ever,