love letters from the tundra (part 1)

I can't believe it's been since February that I posted about the letters my dad wrote to my mom, during their long-distance (Fairbanks, AK to NY, NY) courtship. I transcribed them several months ago, but just hadn't gotten around to sharing them. Finally doing that now.

I thought about annotating them, but I think, after all, a few accompanying snapshots will suffice. I'll let them tell their own story...


31 May 1966

Hi Pussy Kat:

I know that I'm not supposed to write again until receipt of certain photographs (gee, it must be wonderful to be so resolute and adamant...) but I have about an hour to kill before I got to work and among other things I would like to get some typing practice in. 

The weather is absolutely fabulous and has been for the past three days. By the way, weather up here is a very legitimate topic for conversation. It affects our lives in umpteem different ways; from whether or not we get a plane that week, to the operating conditions of the electronics equipment, to the advisability of going hunting. Speaking of hunting, I understand that the game at this end of the sector is plentiful and this summer I am going to see if I can get enough seal to get a new parka made up. The parka that I'm using now is the typical nylon piling, covered with corduroy, and trimmed with wolf and wolverine fur. It's a nice parka as far as parkas go but as this sort does not wear too well it is getting pretty well beat up and will have to be replaced before winter. Back to the weather; the temperature has been running at thirty and forty above zero and the snow is melting rapidly. There is only about six inches of snow left and there are patches of tundra showing through in spots. It's a funny thing; you wait all year for the snow to melt and then when it does and that green-brown conglomeration of weeds, moss, grass, etc. shows through you can't wait for the first heavy snows of winter to come and cover it up. The tundra up here is really a unique thing. Mile after mile of perfectly flat ground covered with the above sickening vegetation, that in winter lays over the country like a white velvet blanket, and in summer turns into a sea of muck and mire. Believe it or not it is easier to travel up here during the winter on the snow than in the summer on the tundra. Aside, the above tundra in the summer, although a soggy mess on the surface, is frozen solid just a foot below the top. This frozen bottom, called permafrost, hasn't softened up or melted, so the University of Alaska informs us, since the creation of the world some two billion years ago. Bring that up at some cocktail party and someone will blow the whistle for the men in white coats. As for cocktail parties, we ran out of scotch the other day and I have stumbled upon a new super weapon - vodka and creme de menthe (spelling?) - if the color doesn't get you sick, the drink will. (I'm not sure if I told you that once I cross the Arctic Circle I revert to true type - alcoholism).

Now for news on the southern front. How is the merry widow holding her own, to be nasty, let me inform you that no one has pulled a Steve Brody off the Verenazzo (spelling?) Bridge yet. I wilsh that I could see the rage and horrified look on your face at this moment. To repeat a very hackneyed phrase, you are absolutely beautiful when you get angry. And the beauty of it all is that you are so easy to get into this condition: you are beyond any shadow of a doubt the most teasible girl in the world. And me I, the perfect gentleman that I am, are so quick to take advantage of this fact. Chuckle, chuckle, heh, heh.

Aside from that, I hope that your back is killing you, or at least bothering you enough to be in the mood for my particular brand of chiropractic skills. Let the censors figure that one out. You mentioned something about an operation for an overactive thyroid, or something, please fill me in on the details. It is not that I am morbidly curious but I do have a sincere interest in you. This is one of the great paradoxes of my life, usually I am very aloof with women because I know that as soon as I become emotionally involved it is just a matter of time before I get the brushoff or a Dear John (and my name isn't even John) so I am awaiting one or the other from you as soon as you get bored with my idiosyncrasies.

Have to cut this short now and go and earn my dailly bread. To be continued...

Note: it is very difficult to reinsert a sheet of paper into a typewriter and line up ones margin, etc.

Oh, hi again. Well, word was just passed that this weeks vertical flight is up at Bar Main so there is a pretty good chance that good ol' 769 will make it Liz way with the mail after all. 

mom's the one in white

dad's the one rockin' the handlebar mustache
yeah, I'd probably drink a lot, too