LETTERS HOME 4 – 1960-1961 – from Keith Wheeler

 Not great works of literature – Devoid of refined or eloquent writing style – These letters home are presented with only minor editing for general interest and basic clarity.  They represent the observations and impressions of a 24 year old drafted GI as he wrote to parents and friends in the States.


LETTER – from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Friday, 3 March 1961


Dear Mom & Dad . . .

            And another week has passed, and the new month of March brings fair weather to Arabia.  Yes, it’s warming up now (still some strong winds though) and we have switched into summer uniforms - - - It won’t be long now till the real hot weather starts in. 

            Well, finally today we got some mail.  It had been over two weeks since the last mail call, and even this was just part of the backlog of letters held up by the strikes.  I was fortunate to receive two letters from you (dated the 13th and 19th of last month.)  It was really great to hear from you, especially after this long interlude.

            I have another favor to ask of you.  This one might be a little more difficult but I would appreciate any assistance you might be able to give me.  I need some information on a seed company.  Yes, my friends the Sharifs (both Jamal and his father) asked me about a particular seed company from California.  As I told you before their business is related to the import, distribution and sale of agricultural goods and seeds are one of their big items.  At the present they deal with several countries in Europe and the U.S.  They have heard about this California company and are very interested in it.  I have offered to try to find something out about it.  I will write the company itself as soon as I finish this letter, but I was wondering if you could give me some additional help.  Could you contact some of the local seed and feed dealers and check with them as to the reputation of this company and their products?  Incidentally, Mr. Sharif, knowing that you were related to agriculture, wanted to know your particular opinion of this company.  This company specializes mainly in “vine type seeds” – its name is LAWRENCE ROBINSON & SONS, located in Modesto (PO Box 1373).  The main company the Sharifs deal with now is the ASGROW EXPORT CORP, of Milford, Connecticut, and they are very interested in how an American would compare the two companies.  Therefore any general information about this company (as compared to Asgrow or otherwise) or particular opinions about their seeds would be greatly appreciated.  Also, if you ever happen to run across an information bulletin about seed companies in California (in particular, those that might specialize in “vine type seeds” or melons) I would be happy to get them.  Well, enough for seeds for tonight.

            I’m enclosing a couple more snaps.  The one of my EX-room mate bidding farewell to two of our houseboys is just a test strip I made while printingbills_goodbye.jpg (22543 bytes) several photos to send him.  The other is a shot I took while driving down this strange road.  It’s a dirt road, not too far from Riyadh, which leads back through groves of date palm and mud walls to the ancient city of Duriah.  This city of mud brick buildings was almost completely demolished by the Turks hundreds of years ago.  It was never rebuilt except for a few homes in which a few Arabs now live.  I and a few others have spent several days roaming around these ruins and I hope to have some good pictures of it to show you when I return. [See Duriah Mar '61 & Duriah May '61 albums.]  Although neither of these pictures that I am sending are very good, I hope they might be of some interest.  I just don’t have the time nor the photographic paper to print more.  I am concentrating all my spare time efforts in the photographic realms to building up an album or collection that I will be able to bring back with me. 

            Well, I had better close, get that other letter written and then start packing.  Yep, another trip.  This time back to Dhahran.  I am scheduled to spend about 4 or 5 days there on TDY (temporary duty).  I hope to have some dental work done, plus I hope to get my eyes checked.  We leave tomorrow – and I have a thousand things to do.

                                                                        Love, Keith


P.S. Please pardon this messy letter, but it was written in haste – with at least a dozen interruptions during the short course of writing it – ranging from a short political debate with one of the Arab interpreters to working and explaining a couple of math problems.



11 March 1961 (postmarked 14 Mar 1961, APO 616)


TO:      Ken Ellison, Manager

            Burton’s Shoes

            Chico, California  U.S.A.


     FROM:       Sp4 O. K. Wheeler US 56318690

                        USAE, USMTMSA

                        APO 616, N.Y., N.Y.


Hi Ken –

            I received your letter and have been trying to find time to write, but without much luck.

            Just got back from spending a week TDY at Dhahran on the Persian Gulf – where I picked up this card.

            Will write as soon as I can – and thanks for all the news from Chico.


LETTER – from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

12 March 1961 - Sunday


Hello Mom and the Happiest of Birthdays to you .  .  .

            Yes, I hope this gets to you by your birthday.  I only wish I could do more.  I picked this scarf up while I was at Dhahran last week.  It might not be too practical or useful, but at least it is unusual - - - The silk is from India and the design and name is put on by hand by a Pakistani man in Saudi Arabia.   The way it artist.jpg (13939 bytes) is put on is rather unique - - - the material used for the design and name is a sap from a tree that grows in Pakistan.  It’s a gooey substance (looks like well chewed gum) – the fellow has it smeared on one hand, and with the other twirls a pointed stick in it, then pulls it away slowly, making a stringy tip on the stick.  Then he artistically writes or draws on the silk (all free hand); when he’s through he pats it into the cloth and then sprinkles glitter on it - - - drying it over night, we have this artistic masterpiece.   It’s worth it just to see him do it.  I tried to take pictures of him in the process, but ran out of film before he finished the process.  I hope you can use it, if for nothing else, a conversation piece.  I couldn’t find out how (or if) it can be cleaned. .?  I also hope that it gets through the mail alright.

            I got two of your letters today (the 5th and 7th.)  First of all I’d like to make a hasty comment on the mentioned impression of the Arab people.  No, Mom, they aren’t basically cruel or filled with hatred - - they are human beings like you and me, of course their culture, society, and religion give them different personalities, values and behavior patterns.  To many of us Westerners they seem “odd,” but by the same token, we in our civilization seem “odd.”  I think one of their “basic traits” would be one of friendliness and hospitality, again with the sometimes suspicion of the “invading foreigner” this might be suppressed.  I don’t have the time to say more on this subject, but one thing that gives a very false impression of these people in general is the effect of one of the biggest propaganda programs in the Western world.  This is the story as told by the powerful Zionist organization to further their interests in Israel and justify their actions.  I’ll explain this better (I hope) when I return.

            In reference to Ramadan and your query as to if it corresponded with the Lent period - - -No, not exactly.  This year it happens to fall at about the same time, but as the month of Ramadan is a lunar month on the Arabic, lunar calendar, it comes at a different time (in our year) each year.  It might have a relationship in a round-about way though - - - It is believed by some religious scholars that this month of fasting had its origin in the Jewish faith.  Mohammed is believed to have spent much time in the “Bible Lands” hearing the teachings of both the Christian and Jewish religions (in his early years) and many of the customs and practices of these faiths were later incorporated in the Islamic doctrine.  To quote from a book on the topic: “He (Mohammed) . . .further exchanged the ‘Ashura! Fast day, with Jewish overtones, for Ramadan, the month of fasting, possibly with ancient Arabian religious associations.”  I might add that this month of fasting is just one of five duties laid down by the Prophet Mohammed for the true Muslim.  The five (as I have understood them) are:

1.      To bear witness that there was no God but God and Mohammed was his Prophet.

2.      To be steadfast in prayer - - i.e. pray five times a day.

3.      To give “zakat” (legal alms to the poor and needy.)

4.      To fast for thirty days during the month of Ramadan.

5.      To make a pilgrimage to Mecca if he had the means.

Well, enough of my preaching on the Middle East for tonight!

            Must close for tonight.  Tell everyone hello for me.  And a very Happy Birthday to you - - - I wish I could be there to help you celebrate!

                                                            Love   Your son –  Keith

LETTER – from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

19 March 1961


Dear Mom & Dad,

            Another fast letter to say “Hi” and to answer your letter (13 Mar.) which I received today.

            The lights here in my room are dim and my eyes a little weak, so please overlook any mistakes.  Yes, we are having electrical difficulties again.  The cause of this lies in the unusual switch in the weather we’ve had.  During the past few days we have had quite a bit of rain (for this country.)  The streets are flooded (not very deep) and the power has been going off frequently and in between times it is very weak, yielding just enough power to give off a dim glow from the lights.

            Fortunately (or maybe not,) we have had the past three days off from the Ministry.  The reason for this mainly is that we are now in the Muslim holiday period (or as many of them call it – “Christmas”).  This is the “I-ead Al-Fihter” or the “Breaking the fast.”  This marks the end of Ramadan and the month’s fasting.  The holiday is supposedly for three days but actually lasts from five to seven days.  It is quite a festive occasion for the Arabs. [See "Id al-Fitr" Mar '61 Photo Album]  We went to work at the Ministry this morning to find that we were the only ones there in this huge building, and this will probably last for several more days yet.  During the so called break from our normal work, I found myself busy here at the house.  I’ve had some time to catch up on my photographic work (both personal and otherwise).  Part of the time was visiting and escorting around Riyadh some ARAMCO people who came here to visit.  Also, we had the U.S. Embassy plane breakdown here, so I was involved with helping them get set up for this unexpected stay.  Anyway the three days passed in a hurry and I still find myself with a lot to do.

            Getting back to your side of the world, tell [my sister] Claire hello for me and that I have been planning on writing but just haven’t had the time.  I wanted to ask her about an Arab fellow that I think is now going to Chico State.  His name is Mamdouh A. Ashour.  He’s from Egypt and his father, Doctor Ahmed Ashour, is presently a big engineer here in Riyadh.  I met Dr. Ashour at a banquet a few months ago but never knew than that he had a son in the States.  Since then I have been told by my Arab friends that his son is going to Chico State. 

            We have been trying to make connections, so that I might be able to give him information on Chico, etc, but have not yet met.  You might tell both Claire and Jim to see if they can look him up at college - - - The world isn’t so big after all.

            Well, it seems as though I had better bring this letter to a close before all the lights go off.  Thanks again for everything and I love to hear from you.

                                                                        Love, Keith

LETTER – from DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia

4 April 1961 - Tuesday


Dear Mom & Dad –

            Well here I am in Dhahran with high hopes of flying to Beirut tomorrow morning.  I arrived here Sunday and have made all the preparations.  Now it’s just waiting and hoping that I don’t get bumped from the flight.  A change in flight schedules has upset my plans a little - - instead of leaving the 3rd, it will be the 5th – which will cut two precious days from my trip.  I shall return on the 11th to Dhahran where I will stay about a week before going back to Riyadh.  Needless to say, I’m anxious to get underway.

            I received your letter of March 26th and was glad to hear that the scarf got there okay.  I was also glad to hear that you had a nice time on your birthday.  I also got the letters from the Craigs and their pictures. It was real nice of them to write.  I am taking their pictures with me to Beirut to show Marla Ann and Samir (who both were very interested in Janice’s family the last time I saw them.)

            Well, I must close now and get ready to go.  I think you will understand if I don’t write much from Beirut – (so much to do in so little time) – but I’ll at least send some cards. 

            Bye for now – Love, Keith


P.S.  A late happy Eater to you all!  I had forgotten almost all about it.  – No – Not much of an observance of this day was held here.  As a matter of fact I celebrated the occasion by bouncing across the desert in a “Goonie Bird!”

LETTER – from DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia

16 April 1961                                                                                   ~ Beirut hotel stationery ~


Dear Mom & Dad,

            Well, finally, I have a few moments to sit down and try to write you.  Yes, I’ve been busy!  As you see, I am now in Dhahran.  I returned from Lebanon on Tuesday the 11th.  As you might expect, I had a fabulous time – mere words and a few pages wouldn’t do it justice.  I’m sorry that I don’t have more time to go into detail and tell you all that I did and saw – but I’m sure it will all be still fresh in my memory when I return.  Again, as last time, the most enjoyable aspect of visiting Beirut was visiting with Marla Ann, Samir and their family – and this, fortunately, I did much of.  We spent hours talking on everything from Corning and playing in fig trees to Middle East culture and literature!  Even with a full week, it didn’t seem like I had enough time.  Of course aside from just talking, they had me over for dinner and lunch several times – they took me out – showed me around – and arranged things so that I could see some of the country and enjoy my stay. 

I spent one day with Mrs. Khayat, Samir’s mother, as she had an English doctor and his wife visiting her and was showing them around.  We went south of Beirut to Sidon and almost to Tyre, having a wonderful picnic lunch amongst the picturesque, costal setting.  Then inland, up in the mountains to the fascinating mountain top palace of “Beit-Eddine.”  It was truly an enjoyable and interesting day – especially just getting acquainted with this remarkable woman and her friends from England. 

Another day I spent visiting “Baalbek” – one of the most ancient cities of the world.  There now stands the unbelievable ruins of the grandiose Roman temples.  Such things as this never impressed me before as I read or saw pictures of them, but when I was there, looking up at 70 feet tall Roman columns, I started to see (and feel) the significance of all this – not only the engineering accomplishments of that time – but the art, culture and development of the people who built all this.  I could never come close to proper description here, but I have some books and (I hope) some photos to bring back to you.  Almost as impressive as Baalbek itself was the wonderful drive out to it (it’s located northeast of Beirut almost on the Syrian boarder).  I might mention here that I didn’t get to Damascus as I had planned – due to visa difficulty (and my own stupidity!).  To top a wonderful week off, Samir and Marla Ann took me, on my last night there, to the world famous Casino of Lebanon.  There, with a group of their friends, we saw a tremendous floor show!  Also, to fill the week out – I spent some time with some of my Lebanese friends – having dinner at one of their mountain homes one night.  Also, I spent a good deal of time on the campus to the American University – enjoying its picturesque location and talking with some of the students that happened to be around.  (Actually the school was still on Easter vacation the week I was there.)

            Well, again, I can only say that I’ll tell you more about it when I return.  I just can’t express well enough how impressed and honored I felt getting acquainted with the Khayat family.  Regardless of country, they are one in a million (no pun intended).  I just wish you could meet them.  Aside from the few pictures I took while visiting the scenic places, I hope to have some color shots of Marla Ann & Samir and where they live, etc.  I also took some black & white shots, which (if they come out) I hope to send to her parents there in California.

            And now returning to the present --- I have spent a busy five days here in the eastern province.  Aside from trying to rest up from the trip, I have been running around trying to clear up some olds & ends.  I spent one day working for our Supply & Liaison Office here at the base – one day was spent visiting the city of Damman near here and other coastal villages to the north.  One day was spent on a trek out to the desert oasis city of Hofuf (about 60 miles across the desert southwest of here).  It was an interesting but tiring day.  Today I spent taking my separation physical --- that is to see if I’m still healthy enough for civilian life!  We are going to return to Riyadh this Tuesday (18th) by car across the desert – that is if everything goes as planned.  It should be an interesting drive ..!?

            I received your letter of 4 Apr. and the seed catalogs.  Thanks for everything.  I didn’t mean to start a major project back home – but I really do appreciate all of your wonderful efforts.  I will give all this info to the Sharifs when I return to Riyadh.  I’m sure they will be very much impressed with all the efforts shown.  I might add that I received a nice letter from Mr. Robinson (the company in mention) enclosing their company’s info.  Also I got a letter from Mr. Ernest Howard of Lodi.

            Again, I really appreciate all that you have done in these realms.  The big trouble now is that I am running short on time!  In just about five weeks I will be leaving Riyadh for good – and I have a multitude of things to windup there - plus many personal things such as packing and shipping my hold-baggage, etc., etc.  Yes, I hope you won’t mind too much but I am going to have to cut down on writing you --- and I still have dozens of letters to write before I start my return journey.

            It’s hard to say just what my itinerary for return will be at present – but it looks now as though I’ll leave Riyadh around the 24th of May and leave Dhahran possibly on the 29th.  The flight across the Orient & Pacific takes from 5 days to a week, but I will most likely stop off for a week at Bangkok.  When I do get back, I will have to go from Travis AF Base to the Oakland Army Terminal.  It’s hard to say just how long it will take to get separated – maybe a couple of days, maybe a week or more …?  Then I have promised that I would go down to Pacific Grove to see dear friends.  If and how I will be able to do this, I still don’t know!  About the only thing I can say is that I should be home in June --- and that isn’t for sure! 

            Well, Mom & Dad, I must close for now and get a little shut-eye.  I hope everything is going well for you there.

                        Goodnight – Love - Keith

LETTER – from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

6 May 1961


Dear Mom & Dad -

Well, I haven’t been much for writing lately – and this one will have to be a fast one.  Yes, time is going just too fast to get everything done that I want to before I leave.  Only 18 days left in Riyadh!

            Right now I am trying, among many other things, to get all my JUNK boxed up so that I can ship my “hold baggage.”  This is 200 pounds that I am allowed to ship from here other than what I will carry with me on the plane.  It will be shipped in a wooden crate home to Corning.  As it will be coming by commercial carrier across the States (from East Coast,) I will probably be home before it gets there, but if by chance I’m not there, at least you will know what it is.  It’s a heck of a job getting it all together and crated.  Boy! Can I accumulate the junk!  Most of it will be odds and ends that I’ve picked up here in Arabia and on my trips, plus some of my personal belongings. 

            Also, I have sent (and most likely will be sending) some packages thru the mail to you.  A box of 10 head scarves which I sent by first class mail should be reaching you before too long.  They are not very fancy, but at least they are a souvenir of Arabia.  By the way, they are for you women folk in the family.  I guess you can get them distributed for me. .?

            You also will probably soon be getting my processed slides there, as I am using your address because there is not enough time remaining to be assured of getting them here.  The majority of them, though, I have already had processed and will be bringing them with me or sending them hold baggage.

            Here’s some more stamps for the Craigs and also some Lebanese Pounds for Dave, Steve and Johnny.  They’re worth about 33¢ (and about all I came back from Lebanon with!)

            Well I must close for now - - - Please excuse my not writing very often.  I guess I can now say that I’ll be seeing you “next month” – just a little over one month and I should be back in the States and heading home. 

                                                                        Love & Happy Mother’s Day Mom –


LETTER – from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

22 May 1961


Dear Mom & Dad,

            Just a VERY FAST note to say HI and GOODBYE (from Arabia, that is.)  I am leaving Riyadh in 2 days – the 24th – for Dhahran.  It looks like I will be spending a few days there at the Base clearing up everything and clearing out my records etc.  Then I am scheduled to fly out Monday morning, the 29th of May, on the Embassy Flight.  Yes, unless there is a very last minute change, I will be coming back to the States via the Orient and Pacific.  (I can’t remember if I told you that there was a chance that I would have to come back across the Atlantic to Charleston AFB, S.C., and get separated on the East Coast.  However, that possibility is pretty slim now.  As it stands, I leave Dhahran Monday, stopping briefly at Karachi, Pakistan, arriving in New Delhi, India, that afternoon.  There we spend the night, the next day and that night, leaving New Delhi Wednesday morning for Bangkok.  There I will stay for a week on leave, and then head for Manila in the Philippines.  After a fairly short stop there we hit a few of the islands (including possibly Hawaii) and landing at Travis AFB probably on the 9th of June (Friday.)  Of course this is just the schedule and is subject to change for many reasons (i.e. weather delays, winds, current flight plans, and a dozen other things.)  From Travis, I will most likely have to report on either the day of arrival or the following day to Oakland Army Terminal.  No telling how long it will take there – possibly just a few hours, maybe a day or two, or it may even run into weeks.  Anyway, don’t look for me until you see me coming (to use an old expression)  - - I’ll give you a call as soon as I can when I hit the States.

            My friends down on the Peninsula will want me to come down there as soon as I get back, and as I probably won’t be able to afford a trip up to Corning and back down to Monterey and then back up again, I will possibly stop down there before coming up.  Of course I would like to come home and see all of you as soon as possible, but it is just that I do want to see my friends there and this would be a fairly convenient time to do it.  Well, I still have a thousand things to do, so must close out on this end.

            I’m enclosing some photographs of Marla Ann for the Millions.  These were all taken in her home.  Also I am trying to send some copies up to her in Beirut.  I’ll be sending the negatives home in one of my packages, so that they can get more copies (and better ones.)  Also tell them that I have a couple of color slides that I will be bringing with me.

            And so, my year’s tour in Arabia is just about over – I can truthfully say that I am glad to be returning home.  I wish I would have had more time to write you, but it won’t be long until we can talk it over in person.  Thanks again, Mom & Dad, for all that you have done for me this year.  Getting anxious to see you.

                                                            Love, Keith

LETTER – from Dhahran Airfield, Saudi Arabia

25 May 1961


Hi Mom & Dad –

            Just a short word to say “hello” and to let you know that I have started my journey homeward.  I flew from Riyadh to Dhahran on the 23rd – one day earlier than I had expected.  I will be here until Monday the 29th, when I catch the “Embassy Flight.”  My time here is now spent clearing the Mission, chasing down my records and papers, and getting ready to leave.  However, this is greatly complicated because of the fact that Saudi Arabia is now observing the “Hajj” holiday (the period of Pilgrimage).  Almost everything is closed or on reduced hours, including our Air Force installation here.

            Well, so far, there has been no change in my orders or itinerary for return.  I am anxiously looking forward to the trip home and visiting the various countries along the way.  The 9th or 10th of June is still a good guess as to my arrival in Calif.  I might mention that I will be flying in a four engine, C-121, Super Constellation – a good, fast, safe and dependable plane – so no worries – Okay?  I must admit that I am very glad to have taken my last desert flight on “Guts Airlines.”

            Well, I must close.  Here’s wishing you the best of everything.  Will be seeing you soon.

                                                                        Love – Keith


The Eve of 8 June 1961 - “Saturday Night"


GREETINGS        Oh, Ex Room-mate and fellow veteran of "Sandsville

           Well, Me thinks it is about time I should take the proverbial pen in hand (or rather - typewriter keys at finger tips).  So many days, miles and experiences have transpired since last I tried to communicate with the "Old Sack Rat" that I hardly know where to start. I guess I should start at the beginning - and so, to the melodic strains of Beethoven symphonies booming from the HiFi, I'll give it the old college try.

            Let's see - - - Obviously I left the desert, T’was on the mournful day of May 23rd that I left the quaint village of Riyadh (on the Wadi) - and then the required few days of vacational bliss at that place of romance on the Persian Gulf (you know so well), Dhahran.  On the morning of the 29th, Monday, I was winging across the waters, heading east on the Embassy Flight.  A few hours and we were in Karachi, Pakistan.  Here we only stayed an hour and were not able to leave the airport.  Then about 3 ½ hours flying over the Indian Desert and we were in New Delhi, India.  Here we had aTaj2.JPG (78964 bytes) scheduled crew rest. That night two Air Force lieutenants  and myself saw the "non-touristy sites of Old and New Delhi from Motorcycle cabs (India's modern version of Gerry Carts).  The next morning the same two lieutenants and myself were up early and on our way to Agra, India, (about 126 miles from Delhi) to see the Taj Mahal and the other sites of interest around the area.  It was a hard drive due to the crowded condition of the road, having to stop quite often to let the car cool off, and the fact that it was just damn hot.  Still it was definitely worth it.  The Taj Mahal is a fabulous place and, even though we saw it in 113 degree temperature (plus high humidity), I can now readily see why it is one of the wonders of the world.  Impressed was I.

            The next morning, Wednes­day, we rumbled out to the airport and were soon roaring off into the wild blue yonder.  Next stop – Bangkok.

            And so it was on the memorable day of May 31 that I arrived in the oriental country of Thailand, late in the afternoon.  I caught a cab into Bangkok and then made arrangements to stay  in one of the rooms at the JUSMAAG villas.  Also I was able to utilize the facilities of the MAAG group there, including the Villa Club (NC0 club), PX and Bangkok_K.JPG (42466 bytes) commissary.  That evening I got together with the same two lieutenants (who were just staying overnight with the flight crew) to go out on the town. … Later I did get out to see more of Bangkok and some of the country side.  I got acquainted with a Thai fellow who works for a tourist agency and he took me around to the sites of interest - and they were of interest.  Actually, I was more impressed with the scenic places and rich culture in Thailand than in any other country which I have been in.  We saw most of the famous Thailand temples, the float­ing markets (where the people live and work on and along a system of canals), some of the villages out in the country, the farming areas, the Thai classical dancing, Thai boxing and many of the great number of interesting sites.  … This littleBangkok_water.JPG (44355 bytes) country is really fabulous - the people friendly - the women beautiful - and the art and culture fascinating. This is one place I would really like to go back to - however, I doubt whether this wish will ever come true.  So you can see that my one week stay in Thailand was more than enjoy­able.  I truly hated to leave, even to cone back to the States to get out of the Army (and that's saying something).  … And, so, again, when I boarded the Embassy plane on Thursday the 8th I was really sad and hated to leave.

            Next, we flew from there to Saigon, where we stopped only a couple of hours.  Conditions were too tense to leave the airport - Then to the Philippines and Clark AFB.  There, being back on a military instal­lation, everything got fouled up.  I was scheduled to leave the next day on the same plane that I came in on, but it seemed as though they didn't have me booked for a seat.  So I stayed in the Philippines for two days.  This wouldn't be too bad except that I didn't have a Philippine visa - Yep, I had to stay on base.  This unfortunate aspect was somewhat compensated for when I found out that I was rebooked on a civilian flight from there.  It was a MATS contracted flight, but still a civilian plane, civilian crew, comfortable seats - And good looking hostesses.  Across the Pacific, we just stopped at Wake Island for fuel and then at Honolulu International Airport, where we went through customs and had a few hours.  So, on 11th of June (gained or lost one day across the date line??) I hit the States, or rather the Continent, as it is now called in Hawaii.  We landed at Travis Air Force Base and it did seem damned good to set foot on real American ground and to have all that flying behind.  To make it short - I stayed that night at Travis and the next morning went to Oakland Army Terminal where I was separated by 5:00 that evening.  Shortly after I was out (and what a great feeling that was) my cousin and his wife (a young couple that I went to college with) picked me up and we all headed straight for Carmel. 

            After Carmel, I started headed for Coming, stopping along the way to visit friends and relatives.  In Corning I spent a lot time with the folks and rested. Then it was to Chico to find a car, a place to live and get things straightened out there.  Well, first I got the car (1959 Fiat 600). …  Then I got my little house.  It's nothing fancy.  It has one bedroom, kitchen and living room and small yard, plus car port.  The main thing is that it is a house rather that an apartment and has privacy.  Right now it is rather bare, being an unfurnished house, but I have my camel saddles, brass tray, packing crates and junk.  At least it’s home and no inspections!  Back to the old grind and the shoe business.  … I have school to look forward to this fall. …

            And so, Bill, this has been the recent existence of one OKW.  What about you? ….



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