OCTOBER 4, 1943
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I am now concluding my recollections of my trip to the South Pacific. I am sorry I have not been able to identify all of the islands that I visited, many of them so very small that they look, even on a huge map, like pin points. The identity of these islands is kept secret for security reasons, but I tried to visit every spot where our soldiers were stationed.
My first impression of the Pacific Ocean was that it was a wonderful blue, with, near the shore, bits of water like a dark green emerald. The first islands I saw had fairly high mountains, green fields, and dazzling white beaches. Here and there the shores were rocky with water swirling over them and brown sea weed which reminded me of the coast of Maine. Little white clouds floated around us in our airplane, but did not obscure our view of the ocean.
The world is a small place or, at least, the U.S.A. is. One boy who was on our plane for a little while, told me he came from Oklahoma and remembered my coming to speak at a college near his home when he was in high school. Since then, he was a pilot for Braniff Airlines, until he joined the Army. He says he has seen a good bit of the world but not all of it. He evidently means to keep right on till he does.
Another youngster came from Yonkers, and went to Colgate, and said he had often passed through Hyde Park on his way back to school. Somehow, when you are away from home and meet someone who knows your part of the country, you feel you know them right off and talk flows easily.
On the first island visited, we ate breakfast under a thick green bower and I was struck with the brilliant color of the flowers. The houses seemed close to the ground and almost a part of the outdoors. Birds were plentiful and unafraid. I had never been given a whole pineapple before, and when the top was removed it was full of a variety of cut up fruits. I enjoyed it and felt very extravagant and could not help thinking what such a profusion of fruit would mean to anyone in Great Britain today, or for that matter in any of the northern or central countries of Europe.
When I first saw one of the islands which our men now occupy, I confess I felt that a fair sized wave would wash over it with great ease. From the air it is impossible to realize what you will find on the ground. Once landed, I found that the island contained several lagoons of various size and color. Some are a deep green, some a lighter green, some red. The men may swim in the lagoons, but not outside, since there are treacherous ocean currents. There is much routine work for the men to do. For free time the most exciting sport is fishing, and this is real fishing for big fish, the kind my husband enjoys. They need more heavy fishing gear, so if you have any you are not using, get in touch with the Red Cross and let them have it for use out here. The men want most I was told, "a chance to go home on leave, letters from home, good movies, music, news, sports."