OCTOBER 1, 1943
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I have a vivid recollection of my first big native dance and song competition. Three villages competed. One girl had evidently been chosen to honor me and danced in front of me constantly, once she came and shook hands, once she came and kissed me. I was glad, since she was an appealing and attractive young thing!
A fine army band alternated with the native entertainment during the evening and all the soldiers and sailors who could get off were there and proved to be a most appreciative audience. I imagine that the men's dancing is more difficult than the women's, but I marvelled at the suppleness of the girls. I was driven all day by Sergeant Martin, he was a wonderful driver, whether we were in a car or a jeep. He told me about his little girl, whom he had left in Johnstown, New York, with Miss Bessie Miller, the superintendent of schools.
We left at 6:20 a.m. with the moon and stars still out and I had breakfast with the boys at the aviation station. This was the biggest breakfast I have seen any group enjoy. It consisted of three or four enormous flapjacks, a large spoonful of marmalade on them, sausage, a sweet roll, butter and coffee. I couldn't quite compete with their appetites, but that was just as well since it gave me time to talk and to listen to them and, finally, to sign "short snorters," photographs, slips of paper and bills of denominations which did not indicate membership in the short snorters. If I expostulated, they said, "It's one way of being sure we won't spend it and we'll have it after the war." Money has little value out there, so I was told the men were buying bonds in very satisfactory amounts. In this post office they send about 50,000 dollars worth of money orders home every pay day. The finance officer, 1st. Lt. Carlos DeLima of Fayetteville, N. C., was laid up with a broken arm so the pay checks had to wait a day or two, but no longer, for he was an old soldier who was making light of his injury and showed me how he could write if the doctor would let him. He gave me a mother-of-pearl pendant which I shall cherish, because I admired his spirit so much.
At about nine a.m. we reached a beautiful little island and some fairly high ground which we reached by a safe but very steep road. The view was beautiful and I was amused, for I think the Colonel expected me to refuse to be driven up. If I survived, he expected me to prefer walking down. He did not know my husband's love for building roads, and for being his own engineer. This sometimes results in a road which only my husband's car will climb when he, himself, is driving it!
We had coffee here with the manager and his wife from New Zealand. The natives are Maoris and the Colonel spoke well of their desire to help in the war effort in any way they could. The Red Cross representative here seemed to feel his program was going well and he was cooperating with the special services officer. Between them, they were meeting the men's needs.
One of the most important services the Red Cross renders is consultation about home problems. To do this work well, the men in the field have to rely on the home chapters. I gather that they are rarely disappointed, and I would like to extend my congratulations to the workers at home. It is not a glamorous job to follow up on a family problem, but it makes a world of difference to the soldier so far away from home.
Colored and white troops are on this island. As they stood before me on the parade ground and, later, sat while I talked to them, they both looked like grand American soldiers, doing their job as well as it can be done in these far away places.