SWEETIE 2ND LETTER
Am having a swell time in here. It really is ok for a man alone– but as I have already told you it would be tough on you and the baby–and Toots would go nuts. So you two keep out. Mike and Pete would have a field day–there are gangs and gangs of kids their age roaming everywhere and as wild as Indians. The kids eat 3 meals per day, stay dirty and independent, and will regret the day they will have to go out.
Last night they had boxing bouts, all kids Mike’s and Pete’s ages taking part. It was fun. The kids also had a barn dance last night.
I still sleep in the goldfish bowl–the mezzanine–with one other man and five women. Sally and Ann are still my roommates (not as good as it sounds). Actually the mezzanine is the staircase landing in the main building between 1st and 2nd floors–where everyone must pass when going up or down; so that I am sitting at 42nd St. and Broadway and see everyone sometime or other. To me it is amusing, and I sleep like a log whenever I please irrespective of the traffic, but Sally and Ann and a couple of the gals, feel the lack of privacy a bit. The rooms are so crowded nowadays that we shall be in this Plaza Goiti for sometime.
I have pitched a tent in one of the 3 shanty towns–the one where Gilly Gilmore is the mayor–next to Claude Russell’s shanty, so am well fixed during the day. When Carriaso sends the floor I shall have a swell place
I sleep until 8:15 every morning–get up just in time to hit the breakfast line which closes at 8:30; then spend an easy half hour shaving and grooming my beard; then sightseeing until noon when I have been eating around. Yesterday I took my bucket of grand chow to Claude’s and we combined–the steak was grand. Could you get for me and send a kilo of tenderloin one of these days so that I can share a nice cinder grill with the lads.
I also need a fresh pillowcase, I failed to bring a spare. I have spare sheet and towels, but no spare pillowcase.
Otherwise I don’t need a thing. Don’t be too particular about the chow as the food supplied here twice a day is actually enough to gain weight on.
I’ll bet you were worried the other night when the houses on San Luis burned. I am glad it wasn’t Robert. I also hope you are not being bothered with visitors. If you are left alone, I am sure you all will have a swell thing–and I am 100% sure you will not have to come here, as ladies with children are given every consideration. It is men my age (?)[sic] and health that they want out of circulation–and I really don’t blame them.
Writing notes thru the center is not recommended by the inmates so I shall try this way for a while to see how it works out. You may try the same–put the note in the bottom of the bucket don’t sign it and don’t say anything about the military news and I think it may work. Anyway, we can take a chance, Steve Brodi did, you remember.
Love to my pal, and Mike and Pat and Toots–and for you a sweet katoos. All your friends send their love.
Notes to second letter: References to Gilmore and Russell are apparently to polo playing friends of Parsons’. It seems that Parsons was eager to make the most of this experience; in a later letter he refers to his having a “picnic” while in jail. His letters to Katsy are replete with requests for additional food—several requests for peanut butter—so that he could contribute to the fare being consumed with his friends.
My own recollection of those early days of the Occupation is that we were still making peanut butter at home from the peanuts from Toots’ small farm on the ridge at Tagaytay. We also had a lot of camotes from the same place, as we had spent Christmas there before returning to Manila, after burying all our Christmas presents there before leaving.
A reference to “visitors” probably means visits by Japanese military personnel of any rank. At this time there were already four Japanese sentries occupying the Parsons’ house and grounds. The military had taken away the family’s two Doberman pinschers, but had left behind Peter’s dachshund, Baby. The sentries it seems were supposed to keep an eye on Parsons’ activities (the comings and goings of his friends and contacts) as well as to protect them. At one point they apprehended a pair of Filipino thieves who had come in and tried to make off with what they could pull off the laundry line. Our mom, Katsy, was trembling with shock at seeing Filipinos shot (wounded) and tied up; but the presence of these sentries undoubtedly kept the family from being robbed by Japanese soldiers as well as Filipinos. The stories of wanton and gratuitous thievery by the military abound.
Reference to “my pal” is to son Peter.