MARCH 21, 1944
SOMEWHERE IN SOUTH AMERICA, Monday—On the second evening in Natal, I was hostess to the Brazilian officials and Army and Navy officers at dinner at the Army guest house. After dinner we visited the Red Cross recreation room where there was a singsong going on.
Technical Sergeant Lew Kerners, who has been master of ceremonies at many posts and is just back from Ascension Island, did a wonderful job of amusing the boys and making them sing wholeheartedly. A Red Cross girl with some selected boys led the singing. The band made up of servicemen was good, and I enjoyed the singing and the playing here.
As in every other place where groups of men were gathered, I gave them a short message from their Commander-in-Chief. The two younger Brazilian ladies stayed on after the older people left, and answered questions about customs and ways of life in Brazil. They came back after having had a grand time, and they were very pleased with our boys. I think the fact that young ladies here do not often associate with young men in large groups added to the zest of the occasion.
After leaving the Red Cross Club we saw a group of fliers just before they took off, and one young man asked me to sign a new bill saying he was not yet a short snorter but would be the next day. The captain of that crew said they were "going all the way," so this boy will be well seasoned by the time he gets home. You wish them luck with a catch in your throat because you know that for the "first timer," there are experiences ahead of which he scarcely dreams.
On the morning of March 16th, accompanied by our Brazilian friends who came up from Rio to be with us, we were in the air by eight-thirty and on our way to Recife. The flight took less than forty-five minutes. I can perhaps give you an idea that transportation is not highly developed in this area when I tell you that later in the day we ran beside a little narrow gauge railway track and passed the train which, because of the coal shortage, was burning wood. That train meanders around the back country, but takes 16 hours to go to Recife.
I hope the Brazilians in this newly developing country will avoid one of our mistakes. This track of theirs runs along a beautiful beach in Recife. The road runs beside it, and across the road are some very lovely houses. It did not matter much in the old days in the USA when we laid some of our railroad tracks along our most beautiful river banks, but what wouldn't we give now to have them put further back where they would not interfere with the scenery!
A large gathering of officials greeted us in Recife, for this is one of Brazil's largest cities. After the greetings were over, we proceeded to Captain and Mrs. William Hidgman's house, where Miss Thompson and I spent the night.