Edward J. Thomas - World War II

On Wed. Jul 19 U.S. Marines invade Guam and on Mon. Jul 24 they invade Tinian.

Below letter in Edward J. Thomas' words.

25 July 1944

Dear Gertie, Gene & Genie: (and Wayne! He may understand)

It was nice hearing from you and interesting to learn the latest news
regarding the Zimmermans.

I had to laugh when I read your opening sentence which said that you
heard I was living the life of Riley. I looked around me as I sat on my bunk
and saw the tent in which I lived. There are about 20 bunks crowded in it,
forming two rows. These bunks are about two feet apart. Each man has a strip two feet wide on the right hand side of his bunk for his two barracks bags and a hand bag if he has one. The pressed shirts are hung at the head of the bunks which slightly protrude outdoors "beyond the rolled up tent walls. For a while I worried about rain. If it came down suddenly my shirts and pillow would become soaked, but later I found that a careful watch is kept by soldiers in the vicinity and when there is a threat of rain the walls of the tent are lowered. My clean trousers are put under the matress and in this manner are kept pressed until ready for use. Of course, the bed springs stamp their identification marks on them more lavishly than the dry cleaners, but they give a kind of checkered effect that probably could be construed as some sort of sartorial embellishment. The crease, however, is never obliterated. The springs take good care of that. In fact they are so consciencious about it that they make doubly sure I'll have a crease by making another one that is parallel or at a beautiful angle to the original.

For my floor I once had a rich green carpet of grass. It has changed
since to a well-trodden mat of broken straw and dust.

My canvas hotel offers a splendid view from all sides. On my immediate
left I see another canvas hotel just like my own. On my right I see the same.
In front there is a great open air display of all our washing facilities
which consist of long wooden benches arranged neatly in rows. Scattered. over the surfaces of the benches are pans which hotel guests are generously allowed to use for washing and shaving. There is available every modern device the proprietors could think of which would lend to the comfort of the guests. Can you imagine, there are even sticks standing up on the benches on which shaving mirrors can be hung. Ye Gods! what won't they think of next.

Water is not obtainable at the benches. Having faucets handy, I now
understand, is too old fashioned. The more modern way is to go with your
pan into the shower tent on the other side of the benches and stand under the shower head with your pin raised high as if you wish to make an offering to the gods above. Then you must pull the chain and shut your eyes as the
water gushes into the pan and cooly and refreshingly splashes on your face and clothes. I learned this method of obtaining water is more up to date because it is claimed here that guests when they are ready to get their water have not yet recovered from the groggy effects of sleep and as they hold up their pans they are fully awakened by a cold facial spray and as a result are able to perform their morning ablutions with greater efficiency.

In praising all the modem scientific accommodations I would be committing
a sacrilege to forget to say something about the shower facilities. According
to the proprietors, thermostats are gadgets that have long ago became obsolete. They claim that water can be maintained at a certain tanperature without the aid of thermostats. I surprisingly found this to be true. The first morning the water temperature was 40°, and can you believe it, the next morning when I checked it I almost screamed with astonishment when I found it still to be 40°.


Beyond the wash benches there is also the lavatory tent with screen
walls. The proprietors beamingly point out that here too they managed to squeeze out an original and ingenious idea, They eliminated lights entirely
just as they did in all the other tents but the difference here was tbat
they found a cheap substitute. Instead of having lights, they copiously sprinkle ammonia in the odoriferous holes and the fumes then rise up and contaminate the neighborhood. Because of this, no lights are necessary as a person walking in the dark doesn't really have to use his eyes to go in the right direction. All he has to do is sniff and follow his nose until he comes to a hole. Of course, he has to stop sniffing long before he comes to his destination or else he may be overcome by the strength of the fumes. Guests soon learn after staying here awhile just when it is necessary to stop sniffing by tightly holding their noses and covering their mouths and at the same time trying to breathe very gently.

The proprietors naturally want to be known as the originators of this
remarkable array of ingenious innovations which rudely confront the guests at every turn. They don't want to miss their due share of the credit. Therefore, they strut around proudly wearing conspicuous shiny bars which the guests are demanded to salute.

There is another tent beyond the benches which is called the laundry tent.
That reminds me to pick up my laundry. The porter just refuses to bring it
to my bed. I believe I'll have to teach him a lesson by cutting down his tipGenie Mid 1940s
from a $1.00 to 75¢. That's hotel life for you.

I'll stop this serious kidding now because one of those proprietors may
look over my shoulder and slap me dizzy with a court martial.

It seems as if you are in a position now to line yourself up for a refrigerator, wash machine, and probably a platinum mink coat if Gene keeps working in the evenings. After the war, I'll be ringing your doorbell with silvery pelts dangling from my arms and that Isaac Schmaltz gleam flashing in my eyes.Wayne Zimmerman mid-1940s

I understand Genie is spending some of his time the same as I am; i.e., going to the YMCA to learn how to swim. Right now I am learning in shallow water and after the war I'll have Genie teach me how to do it in deep water. I don't want to learn too much at once, you know.

I see that Wayne is now reaching that stage where he is beginning to beat me in adding words to his vocabulary. I am probably adding and forgetting one word each week while he is adding more than that and forgetting none.

Now to sit back and wait to hear more from you.

As ever Eddie

Pictures of Eddie's Family

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