To: The readers of what follows:
Set forth and contained herein is merely a collection of miscellaneous nonsense which may prove to be a little bit on the humorous side (depending on your existing state of mind at this moment) and should not be construed as to have any bearing on my mental condition at this writing. For some time now, I have been saving up this idle trivia and I now take this opportunity (while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage; namely, beer*) to make use of it in order to facilitate the construction of a letter. You'll find it, I believe, slightly different than any of my previous subject matter. You will, too, undoubtedly realize more and more just what I mean by that - as you begin and (if you care to) continue to read deeper into this epistle - or whatever you desire to deem it as being. Also, I might add, that I have employed very freely a large percentage of my imaginative powers and have taxed them, I'll admit, to the fullest extent.
* Editor's note: This seems to be the one period of his life in which he over-indulged in beer. His sister Yvonne said that he was not an alcoholic, and that she had never seen him drunk. He just liked the taste of beer.
< signed > E.P. Reinhalter
P.S. To the censor:
I am emphatically not Section 8 material, and so, I beg of you, please do not stipulate me as being as such - thank you.
Yep, still here in New Guinea - same base - and time stands still - it seems as if.
August 18th (I think), 1944 (is it still?)
I know that I owe you a long letter, but this is the longest paper available; except, that which is kept in the squadron latrine - "music rolls" you know (please note, dear reader - a pun - laugh if you wish, but don't get historical, or rather hysterical) - understand that they are going to issue each infantry soldier a heretofore said mentioned roll (as certified by the undersigned, alias EPR) in order to facilitate "wiping out" of the enemy - or the complete annihilation (I think that's the correct spelling) thereof - to wit - exterminate the slanty-eyed yellow "sons-a-oh, ahh-oh yeah," yellow "sons-a-guns." (Better watch my lingo - after all, this letter being edited by I, the first party of the first part - or something as to that effect - and, which distributed by you if you wish, to my friends - at least personal observations lead me to believe that I do, and I do mean that I do, have many friends; oh all right, so I may have a mere one or two - or I am exaggerating). Ho hum, so much for that - gee, just look back over what I have written - two whole real complete jokes; consecutive, too - even if they weren't original. And, again I say, so much for that.
Scene II, ¶ #2 (quote the raven)
Place: The airstrip and the immediate vicinity there adjacent to.
Well, today I cleaned my lil' airplane inside and out. It was beginning to appear about as greasy as the squadron's mess shack equipment which is un/experience/lent/ly (if there is such a word - well after all, who was Webster, even if he did write the dictionary) used by our own beloved "slum burners" [mobile kitchens - Ed.] equipment - especially the cooking (canned) ranges. The other day, the K.P.'s scrubbed the ranges down with 100-octane gasoline and, lo and behold, they actually found an identification plate which gave the Army Serial Number and the name of the manufacturing concern (The Fire Retort Corp., whose advertising slogan is, "The makers of hotsy-totsy food furnaces for the immaculate poison palace where the human (supposedly) race can gorge themselves to a toe-main (Chinese) gangrenish extent as their adrenalin operated hea[r]ts desire." Well, I got off of the subject or - sort of shot off on a tangent didn't I? And, so much for that.
Last night, I was a little hungry along about 9:30, fuzzy-wuzzy [native - Ed.] standard time; so, I casually dropped (not actually, but figuratively speaking - no, I wasn't that weak from eating bully beef and drinking dehydrated, or I mean chlorinated water).
[music symbols] Oh, she wasn't hungry, but this is what she (or I) ate. (That was supposed to have been a singing song title.) Again - this is what I ate:
Interested? Well, see next papyrus.
- jam sandwich, peanut butter sandwich, cheese sandwich, coffee. Sooooooooo. I left the mess hall somewhat bloated (I was, not the mess hall) and staggered heavily leaden with you know what, toward my canvas covered castle. But guess what? I never got there. No, I was rudely stopped by a fellow carbine-carrying character and vigorously invited into a "sly grog" (that's Australian lingo, meaning something on the Q.T. - and that's English, meaning a bit on the secret or "shady" side) feed. How secret it was, I don't know. If the "bohoys" [punks - Ed.] in the nearby pyramidal tents couldn't smell the cooking, it was probably due to the direction from which the wind was blowing at the time. The latrine isn't located too far from the camp area, and it doesn't have the odor of "chenille" number - ahh - number, you take a number from 1 to 10, double it [referring to Chanel No. 5 perfume - Ed.] and - oh, what am I saying anyway? Now, getting back to my experiences (interested?) - my fine-feathered (he flies) friend happens to be a crew chief on a "fat-cat." (NOTE: The author will explain the meaning and too, elaborate on the "Army coined" phrase, "fat-cat" later on in his book - signed, "ye-old-editor.") Well, I further increased my abdominal girth by eating (I'll tell you how the acquisition of said edibles came about, or was "promoted," later on in the story) and - again this is what I ate: French fried potatoes and several "chunks" of golden crisp butter toasted bread. Oh yeah, also another glass, or rather a discarded vegetable can (of vital importance for "Guinea" cooking) of coffee. [Here the can is used for making coffee. In Australia, it would typically be used for brewing tea, the “billy” that is mentioned in the national song “Waltzing Matilda.” - Ed.] Well, now feeling quite satisfied with the night's happenings, I retired to my "sack" (bed - to civilians). It was a happy day indeed - even if I did stay up half of the night - not because of indigestion. (I cannot understand how I contracted such a horrible disease; what disease did you say? - Why! Indigestion. Say - this is getting more lunatically, to coin a new word, as I continue on.) Oh well, to write sensibly is one thing; but to fill up a letter is another - and, I believe, that the latter is of prime importance in this case.
Now that this letter has overgrown itself in length and has assumed preposterous proportions, I will endeavor and strive to end it all as quickly as possible. In that way, I'll accomplish two things; save myself the difficult task of writing in total blackness (the lights are about to be turned out, the rats running on the treadmill which drives our two-rat power electrical generator are beginning to become fatigued - it seems as if) and also I'll maybe keep you from going "plum" (fruit) berserk from reading all of the preceding information - if it isn't too late.
I promised you somewhere in this letter that I would tell you what the Air Corps (Air Corps: an extinct body of a gaseous nature being usually composed of oxygen, nitrogen, etc. - I didn't go very far into the subject of chemistry, you see) here in New Guinea. (What's new about it, I don't know. It looks rather old and primitive to me. I would hate to have seen the Old Guinea. [Early European settlers called the island New Guinea because they thought the natives there resembled the inhabitants of Guinea in western Africa. - Ed.] But personally, I don't see at all how there could possibly be such a place - even Baltimore isn't that bad, at least it wasn't when I left.) Again I begin: Here in the New Guinea, the main constituents of our breathing medium are a mixture of latrine gas and "bully beef" fumes in undetermined proportions - which, if anyone were interested enough, could by chemical qualitative analysis, calculate exactly the amount of each - maybe.
Fat-cat - a heavily armed aircraft, cable of hauling precious cargo; i.e., food.
Incidentally, that's how we acquired or "promoted" our food (fresh butter - canned - and potatoes) on that particular night. I mentioned it pages ago. Remember?
Well, at last (it's been a long road, hasn't it?) I can see the end of a letter in view - it's just come over the horizon. And so, my dear audience, we bid farewell to the balmy (bomby) paradise. (I would like to have a pair of dice about now - I need money for my date tonight with the curvaceous native queen - she should be crowned - on the head with a coconut.) And, again I say - we bid farewell to that "fair" (personally, I don't see one thing "fair" about it - the jungle is dark and the people have complexions to match - all the time, never before) desolate mountain-studded Australian annexation, the land of silvery shores (we are off of the gold standard) where the white-capped waves daily play "leapfrog," and - that's about all for this time. (Was this letter too long? If so, write your congressman.)
P.S. To the censor:
Oh heck, I better not say it - might lead to bloodshed - or a change of rank - in a negative sort of direction - wish I was an officer; but I guess I lack that certain nothing.
Afterthoughts: (shouldn't be written)
- glued the extra postage stamp on the envelope with Guinea mud-sticky.
Gee, it was hot today; especially, the weather.
People have more fun than anyone.
Don't get worried, Ma
- New Guinea isn't
affecting me to any
mentally, that is;
physically - yes, somewhat.
[Editor's note: Scroll down to the original scans of this letter to see the author's creative way of numbering the pages, some of which could not be recreated as ordinary text.]