January 13, 1943

No. 4

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

            My last letter was written, I see, 6 days ago. I shall try to write more often in the future, but as you can well realize it’s pretty difficult to write without fear of saying something censorable. However, knowing how I like to receive mail, and knowing how you likewise like to hear, I shall try to get a note off somewhat more often.

         We are getting set up here pretty nicely now, having improved the area to a great extent, so that when it does rain now we are not wallowing around in slushy mud. We have hauled sand and gravel and have put in nice walks throughout our area. We have set up our x-ray and operating room tents but so far have not used either at all. I am still working with George in Supply as their is no operating going on, and there are not as yet enough patients to go around. The Colonel has sort of taken for granted now that I can get almost anything through various channels, by requisitioning or finagling or talking people out of things, so he seems to cook up new things for me to get every day. I kind of think that some of the 1906 heritage is showing up, though to a lesser degree.

         We continue with more or less the same routine – hustling for things during the daytime and then often in the evenings either reading a bit, going to bed early, or going over to Lois’ and playing bridge or sitting in the garden there.

         It’s pretty hard to do anything around here at night as everything closes early. And with blackout it isn’t safe to walk around much (if at all), much less with a gal, and the transportation problem is a difficult one. The gals are not allowed to ride in anything except carriages or private autos when on pleasure, but the carriages are supposed to be off the streets by 8:30P.M., and private cars are hard to get (the army having bought practically all when they first arrived here.)

         Lois and I have gone into town for dinner a couple of times – eating at places approved by the Medical Dept. of the Army, and we have had some pretty good food, however meat is pretty scarce and we have so far only had fish or omelets. The split-pea soup we had, however, along with the French bread, has been worth it, particularly with such things so cheap. For instance, two meals cost only 65 Francs, and with Francs at 75/$1.00 it ain’t bad.

         One night Lois and I were lucky enough to be included in a party at the apartment of some Majors and Lt. Colonels. The apartment was on the top floor of the tallest building here, and it was really a beautiful apartment, having belonged to a French officer and his wife. With the officer away in the Army now, these majors had rented the place. One of the Lt. Colonels is Col. William Westmoreland, who is going around with Bambi these days. He is a West Pointer of only a few years ago and was commander on the boat we came on. He is one heck of a swell fellow. We are supposed to be going out with “Westie” and Bam tomorrow night but don’t know if we will be able to.

         The girls are now working out here during the day time, and Lois has been on duty for the last several days. However, she turned up with a sort throat and slight temp. today so is back in bed. She’ll be O.K. no doubt in a day or two, but there are a lot of upper respiratory, particularly sinus stuff, going around.

         We got a message from Col. Monroe the other day and he apparently was overjoyed to hear that we were in the vicinity, and he intends to come down and see us in the near future when he gets a breathing spell. He didn’t know that he was a Grandfather, so Lois sent word up to him about that.

         Just broke open the peanut-brittle can from Blum’s that I believe Tante Marie sent us a couple of months ago when we were at Pickett. Still have the CoffeeTeen can, also from Blum’s that Claude and Paulette sent at the same time. I haven’t yet had the time to open it with ceremony befitting anything of that sort from San Francisco. Anyhow, it’s here – at the bottom of my foot-locker. And incidentally, chocolate, other than that in the K-rations is awfully scarce here. We get a lot of lemon drops and some hard sugary candy, but could stand some good stuff – preferably in cans or some such hard container – nothing fancy, but could naturally use anything along that line.

         Just heard that the gals are probably going to move out here in tents in a few days, as they have to vacate the school they are now in – it is going to be used, I believe, for another hospital. It will be kind of nice to have L. out here, but it will be kind of rugged for them, particularly the bathing facilities or lack of them. Also, from here it is going to be hard to do anything or go anywhere at night. Some of the gals are definitely not going to like it as it is so far from their Q.M., Air Corps, Engineer, etc. boyfriends to come. And there won’t be any place to entertain them like they have at present at their school building.

         Yes, we are beginning to have our own little tent-city out here. In fact, the Col. was today talking about putting in a regular barber establishment and a pressing unit in one of our tents.

         We see some funny sights around here. They have a lot of small donkeys and they load them so that you can hardly see anything but the load, and by golly the donkeys are so small you really expect the Arabs to be carrying the donkey in the first place. But no, they load them up and then climb on top of the load themselves. There are some camels around, not a great many, but they are awful dirty animals and the less I see of them the happier I will feel.

         Apparently there is quite a good deal of Typhus around here in the Arab population, but as yet none in soldiers. There are also some plague and smallpox cases in natives, and quite a bit of malaria. Malaria has cropped up in a few soldiers, but not many. All of our own men are O.K.

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
January 17

Moving X-ray equipment

While René reports that “The gals are not allowed to ride in anything except carriages or private autos when on pleasure…and private cars are hard to get,” Gert Brazil managed to find a car for her to drive, as shown in this photograph near the Ecole de Jeunes Filles where the nurses are living.

Listen to what Nurse Gert Brazil had to say about Bam (Charlotte Bambino) and Westie (William Westmoreland)

View of Casablanca with the port in the distance.

René expressed his negative impression of camels, a view evidently not shared by Colonel Bolibaugh.