Friday, October 24, 2014

Letters from Esther - #10

I am writing up a series of letters my grandmother, Esther, sent "home" to her siblings in North Dakota as she traipsed around the world working for the State Department as a working woman before it was chic. Letters were chosen over phone calls because long distance calls were expensive, and it was sometimes difficult to hear well at a distance.

This letter is the next letter I have from Esther by date.

Airmail Envelope postmarked Dec 6 1961 Army & Air Force Postal Service - 7 cents stamp

E. Holien, USOM/A
APO 301
San Francisco, Calif.


Miss Jennie Efraimson

Perth, North Dakota

Dec. 5, 1961

Dear Jennie and all:

I have been waiting for my stupid check book to get here so I could send off a few checks but it looks like Christmas will be come and gone before they ever get here so will have to use some bills instead. For instance, in the package I sent you there is very little for Dad and I wanted you to buy some cigars to go with it. Will you? With the rest get something for yourself and Rudy and if there's anything left over, candy or something for the gang that will surely gather at your house.
How is everything? Fine here. I've been going to town on Christmas cards finally and the reason I really got started was that Ida has somewhere unearthed and sent to me my last year's Christmas card list with all the missing addresses. They are all fine, except Lois and Diana
have colds. The whole family had spent Thanksgiving Day together at Carole's and had a fine time, Ida Mae said. She is taking a night course in shorthand and seems to be doing very well -- in fact she wrote her whole letter in shorthand this time.

There's been a rash of illnesses around here. On Thanksgiving Day a secretary who lived in the next apartment house went off her rocker and raised quite a rumpus and finally had to be sent to the States. Our executive officer's wife fell down and broke her hip; his assistant's wife collapsed in the office and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance yesterday and we don't know yet what is wrong with her. Then there's a gal who suddenly got a terrible cough and she is in isolation as they are afraid of TB. And one man had to be sent home last week because of a serious eye infection. And my boss has had a constant head ache for the last two months and cannot find out what causes it, even though he had a complete physical. He is living on Aspirin, he says. His problem might be worry -- things still don't look good for our operation here and our staff is being cut further. Last week 11 more of our local employees got notices that their services would not be required after Dec. 30. So it doesn't look like our Christmas Party can be very merry.

Speaking of the Christmas Party, since I am the only American female in this office, arrangements for the party naturally fall on me. We are going to have it in our conference room the afternoon of the 22nd. I ordered sandwiches, cookies and punch from the cafeteria downstairs, so that will be easy but I still have to decorate the room, get a tree, buy gifts and plan some entertainment. There are about 50 locals and just 8 of us Americans -- one of whom is leaving probably on the 22nd -- so it will put a little dent in our purses. The eats alone will be $30. I don't mind but its always very hard to collect from the men, I find.

Ugh -- I just had an unpleasant incident. One of the men on my project came to me with a list of stuff he wanted me to buy for him at the PX and naturally I had to turn him down, saying that if I went in there to buy that amount of films, tapes, etc. I would get investibated and fired so fast it would make your head swim. His excuse was that they have such a limited amount of funds that it won't go very far on the local market.

Of course I sympathize with their position but would not be foolish enough to get myself into hot water. And yet there are so many Americans who do these foolish things -- and especially the GIs who have married Korean girls. The wives are in the PX in droves and they seem to know when a particularly desirable shipment of something comes in like cosmetics, or nylons, or sweaters or you-name-it and there's a long line waiting for the doors to open and in a few days you see these items being sold on the street. Everybody agrees it is a crying shame and something "ought to be done about it". Well, anyway that is by way of explanation as to why this guy thought I might get some materials for him.

Well, don't let me take up any more of your time. Anyway I should take a peak at the Korean lesson before I go to class.

I will be writing again soon -- as soon as I get through with cards for friends then I will get on to the family list.

Much love,


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