Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Leyte--Nothing New

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Monday 2 July 1945, 7:00 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello Darling are you feeling better today? I got five letters today, one each from our mothers and the others from you. I got a little more dope on what happened to your vacation plans but the letter giving me the details is still on its way. Please don't let this change upset you too much. I hope you'll be able to work out some other trip. A visit with Doris might be nice but what about the kids? Who'll take care of them while you're away?
     I'm glad you sent on the cosmetics. I should be able to do some real sharp trading with the natives when I get the stuff.
     I hope you had a nice weekend and that you enjoyed your trip and visit with Deb and Dave. In another month or so you'll be an aunt again. What do Deb and Dave want? A boy or a girl? Or will they will take what they get and be satisfied?
     Nothing new out here. I worked on patients all morning and part of the afternoon. The rest of the time I spent on the wardroom books, censoring mail and a little more reading of "Strange Woman." At 5:15 I showered and dressed for dinner.
     It has been raining since 4:00 PM and right now it is really pouring. I hope it lets up for the movies. We have "Billie Rose's Diamond Horseshoe."
     I finally got a USO show for our ship. It is tomorrow night. It's an hour in a fast boat to pick the troupe up. Tomorrow, I'll leave to get them at 3:00 PM. We'll get back in time for chow and after eating we'll have the show and then movies as usual.
     That is thirty for tonight my sweet. So goodnight I'll see you in my dreams.
Loving you always,

USS Ocelot 

Movie screen in background

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Ulithi--Christmas 1944


Lt. (j.g.) Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Monday 25 December 1944, 9:30 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     After the movie last night, "Kismet" with Ronald Colman and Marlene Dietrich I went to my room and finished "Strange Fruit." There were several parties on board but with you so far away I really had nothing to celebrate. So I went to bed early and awoke without a headache which is more than most of the officers did.
     Just had juice and coffee for breakfast. This being Xmas I didn't keep any office hours. By various and devious methods I got two quarts of grain alcohol and spiked the egg nog for dinner. The drink was so good that no one knew anything was in it until afterwards. The captain and the exec had one each and still don't know it was spiked. Further, just before dinner, I called all the corpsmen and a few officers. I gave each a shot. I bought the stuff in Pearl. Is it valuable! Right on our ship a quart of whiskey sold for $36.00. I was tempted to sell the three pints I had. However I preferred using a quart as I did today and save the rest for New Year's Eve. What is money anyway? I'm enclosing the menu and it was really good. All the food was set out buffet style, and we ate all we could hold.
     Spent the afternoon resting, reading and weaving. I'm going to make identical bracelets for you and our girls. At least I started something but I won't know until I'm further along. Anyway, we'll see.
     For supper tonight we just had cold cuts of turkey and ham left over with the necessary trimmings, but who could eat? 
     After eating we had a good, old fashioned song fest. And when movie time came they just wouldn't stop singing until the captain came down to see the picture. The movie was a riot.  It was the "Dough Girls" with Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith and Jane Wynn. It is one of the most hilarious pictures we've seen and was just the thing to cap Xmas for men away from home. 
     No mail today so I have little more to add. Dear, do you remember how in past Xmas nights, the whole family came over for a drink, to view of our tree and to see our two darlings. Next year business as usual for the Steingarts.
     Dr. Bushyager got a recording from home and I can hear him playing it now. His wife and little girl (five or six) both send him love. I don't know why you had trouble sending me recordings. A package with odds and ends can be sent and no one knows the difference. One thing, pack everything well, you should see how the packages look when they arrive. Most of them are marked and many have the contents falling out.
     Good night darling, how I would love to hold you in my arms and just kiss you once. Once? Well that would be a good place to start, wouldn't it?

Xmas Dinner Menu

Autographs on Back of Menu

Friday, December 18, 2020

Leyte-Life Visits an Enchanted Isle

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O San Francisco 
Sunday, 1 July 1945, 10:45 PM 
Dearest Eleanor, 
     Today was Sunday and quite a busy one for me. I worked on patients all morning and worked on quarterly and monthly reports all afternoon. Now everything is complete except for doing the wardroom statement. When that is finished my book work with be done for another month. 
     It has been quite hot and so I stripped down to my skivvies, censored mail and read until 5:15. Then I showered and dressed for dinner. After chow we played cribbage and then to the movies. We had "Mollie and Me" with Monty Woolley and Betty Field. It was amusing. 
     After the movies we sat around in the wardroom and talked and joked until now so here I am. 
     Now that thirty days have elapsed since we left Ulithi I may mention it in my letters. The May 7 Life ran some pictures on "Life Visits an Island Paradise" and I would like a copy of the magazine as a memo of the place. Any questions you have about the place can now be answered, so fire away. 
     The mail brought me three letters postmarked 22nd and 25th. One letter made record speed out here taking five actual days in coming. Usually however it mail take seven to ten days. 
     I'm really beginning to worry about you with your gas attacks and nerves. Let's hope I can get back soon and cure your troubles. 
     The cosmetics are for trading. These items are scarce out here and will bring in exchange many times their cost in the states. No dear there are no island "beauties" here. If there were I doubt if I'd be interested. 
     Dan Graves was one of our officers. No he won't call, but as far as that goes neither have the others though they promised to. 
     A brief honeymoon when I get back sounds 4.0 but let's not decide until I arrive and see what circumstances are like then. I do want to spend as much time as possible with you and our girls--let's wait and see. 
     I'll write Libby about mother but don't you worry about it. Everything will work out OK. You know, somehow, it usually does. 
     I'm missing a couple of letters. Evidently something has happened to your Lake Arrowhead plans and I'm truly sorry. I guess I'll know more about it when the missing letters arrive. 
     Glad you got to see "Carmen Jones" and enjoyed it. I read a review of it in life some time ago. 
     The food problems certainly sound serious. Not so out here. Today we had a swell steak dinner and for dessert fresh frozen boysenberries and were they good, yum, yum. 
     That is all for now so I'll sign off with my usual thoughts of love and prayers for an early second honeymoon. 
Yours forever 

Link to photos from May 7, 1945 Life Magazine article about Ulithi 

Ulithi Children from Life Magazine Article

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Leyte--Leon's Report

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Saturday 30 June 1945, 10:15 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello Honey how is my sweet? For me today was just like any other day away from you. I had my usual program of work this morning. After lunch I joined a few officers going ashore for a few drinks.
     We left at 2:00 PM and arrived some thirty minutes later. At about 3:30 it began to rain and it poured until 4:30. However I didn't mind as we had a good place to sit and drink without getting all wet (on the outside of course). At 5:00 PM we returned to the ship
     After chow I laid down in my bunk until movie time. The picture tonight was a repeat, "The Falcon in Hollywood." There were also three shorts so we had a full program. Now here I am.
     The mail today brought me three letters postmarked the 21st and 22nd of June, so here goes. You certainly don't have to remind me of Norma's birthday. I pray that I'll never miss another of hers, Linda's or yours, ever.
     Out this way there are no purses like the one I sent Linda but I'll keep an eye peeled for something she'll like as well.
     Leon's report of the large numbers of dentists bears out my argument that I'll be relieved before my eighteen months are up.
     Again, don't worry about me. I'm very careful and I'm not falling through any hatches. Forget it! As for native girls--whether I'm drunk or sober they do not appeal to me. No one does. I just want you.
     The way they are working things now, officers get orders to report immediately for oversea duty. No leaves are being given. At most any time, Leon may get orders to shove out. As short as they are of doctors in the states, they are even shorter of them out here.
     There is nothing more for now, Honey, so I'll sign off. Goodnight and pleasant dreams.
P.S. I'm returning Linda's art. I don't want to lose it.


Monday, November 30, 2020

Leyte--Looked for Ship

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisico
Friday 29 June 1945, 9:45 PM
Dearest Sweets,
     How are you tonight? I do hope you've gotten over your blue spell and are smiling again.
     I worked all morning. But my usual routine changed with the mail. I only received the National Jewish Monthly. No letters. Guess I'm getting spoiled. 
     I had another disappointment this afternoon. I got hold of a boat to go out to see Sol. We looked for his ship for two hours; the last hour was in the rain. I returned to the Ocelot wet and disgusted. His ship was to be here until the first, but instead it sailed this morning. I think back to the states. Oh well I did see Sol for a few minutes on Tuesday. Maybe our paths will cross again soon.
     Seeing as I was drenched to the skin I drank a hot cup of coffee and went to my room to change into dry clothes. I showered and found I still had an hour before chow, so I censored some mail and began another book, "Strange Woman" by Ben Ames Williams. I didn't get very far but it is interesting.
     After dinner we had our usual game of cribbage and then went to the movies. We had "Cabin in the Sky" and though I'd seen it before, twice I think, I still enjoyed the music in it a lot. Now here I am.
     I wrapped the bracelet that I made for Ethyl and will send it off in the morning. Outside of that there is nothing else to tell.  No news--good, bad or indifferent.
     Goodnight my Darling. Please keep that chin up for me Sweet. Soon this bad dream will be over and we'll be together again.
     In the meantime I'll see you in my dreams and be with you in my thoughts.
Loving you always,


Leyte--Commodore Relieved by Rear-Admiral

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Thursday 28 June 1945, 7:20 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello my Sweet. Just as usual, here I am.  Had quite a busy morning with several emergencies and also saw three patients this afternoon. Then I made up another bracelet and will send it to Ethyl. I don't have a clasp but I'm sure Doc will be able to put one on. Then I showered and changed for chow. After eating I played cribbage with the captain and two other officers.
     In a letter I received a couple of days ago, you asked me a question that I forgot to answer. The commodore is the commander of the flag aboard our ship or I should say "was" until he was recently relieved by a rear-admiral.
     I received two letters and a card from you dated the 19th and 20th of June. Not bad service.
     I agree with you. Linda's drawings are excellent and show real talent. I'll save them. You mention a photo proof that is enclosed but no photo. Guess you forgot to enclose it.
     I'm sorry you are feeling blue again. It does seem like you feel like that periodically concurrent with you periods. Would you like me to rub your back? When I come home, I promise to do that for you any time you wish.
     Don't worry about me falling down ladders or hatches. I never get that tight. I'm very careful and quite agile (for an old man).
     Tomorrow, if I can get a boat for my own use, I'll run over to see Sol again. It's quite a way from here and it'll mean tying up the boat for a whole afternoon.
     That is all for now so I'll sign off. Oh yes the movie is another oldie, "Lucky Jordan" with Alan Ladd, but I'll go to see it anyway.
     Goodnight my darling until tomorrow, I am still
Your loving husband,

Commodore W.R. Carter's Farewell Message

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Leyte--Army Life

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Wednesday 27 June 1945, 6:45 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello my darling, how are you tonight? Last night's movie "Phantom Lady" was an oldie that we saw together. Franchot Tone is the villain who strangles people with ties, scarves etc. Another is accused and convicted of the crimes because his alibi disappears.   Do you remember it now? Of course everything turned out right in the end.
     Guess taking a whole day off is a bad idea. I was quite busy all day today and didn't finish up until 3:30. Then I went to the barber's for a haircut. After a nice shower I crawled into my bunk. In my skivvies I censored and read mail until 5:30 when I dressed for dinner.
     Because of some connections I was able to buy a case of coke (36 bottles) and a case of "Toddy" chocolate milk drink (24 cans). The whole thing set me back $3.85. Guess I can afford it.
     Today, I've been thinking more about Army life--it is really rugged. They get rationed about one egg a week while we get all we want.  They live on hard cots in tents while I have a bunk with a box spring and mattress. The water they drink is so highly chlorinated that the fumes hit you in the face when you raise your glass to your mouth; our water comes from distilling plants. Fresh meat is a delicacy while on our ship we are able to store enough fresh food for one thousand men for three months and we reprovision more frequently than that. There are so many other advantages to Navy over Army life that I often wonder why more men didn't try the Navy in preference to the Army.
     Our movie tonight is Judy Garland in "Presenting Lily Mars." I don't remember seeing it. No mail today so that is thirty for tonight.
     Goodnight my sweet until tomorrow when we'll meet (poetry!)


1945 Coke Bottle?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Leyte--Thrilling Day

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Tuesday 26 June 1945, 6:45 PM

Dearest Darling,
     Hello my Sweet, here is that guy today. Had quite a thrilling day. I cancelled all my appointments and made plans with Dr. Law to look up Simmie. An hour before we were to leave Sol walked in on me and was it good to see him. His ship is quite a ways from where we are (fifteen miles). He came over with someone who was on business, so he had to leave with him. I'm going to find out how long his ship will be here and then plan as to when I'll go over to see him. We visited for an hour. Then my boat was alongside so we shoved off.
     We left at 9:45 and hit the beach at 10:30. We walked through a small town and got out on the main highway. We thumbed a ride and reached the 118th Hospital in about fifteen minutes. We no more than walked through the gate, past the sentry when the first medical officer we ran into was Simmie. Since I last saw him some thirteen years ago, he really hasn't changed much. He has a little more weight on him which he well needed.
     We visited until noon and then had lunch with him. After that we sat around and talked some more about old times and mutual acquaintances.
     We left at 1:30 and thumbed a ride thirty miles up the coast to another town. From there we bummed a ride back to the ship arriving at 4:30. All in all we covered about fifty miles.
     I've invited Simmie to be my guest aboard ship for a weekend. He is going to try to make it the weekend after next. Now that I've seen how the Army lives I'm twice as glad as I ever was that I was able to choose the Navy. The food, comfort and working conditions in the Army are quite crude as compared with the clean, comfortable, well equipped shipboard life. By the way it is now Captain Marcus and not lieutenant. So much for that.
     When we got back I showered. Until chow time I relaxed in my bunk and censored mail. After dinner I came down to my office and found two letters of the 17th and 18th awaiting me.
     Your report on Cappy and Edna needs no comment on my part. By the way Simmie never did see Vic Spitzer as you reported.
     What shall I make for Ethyl? A bracelet like the one I sent you or one like I made for Linda. I favor the shell bracelet, but I'll let you be the judge.
     What size film do I want? Some 616 or 116 and some 35 mm. Kodachrome (if available). Otherwise some more black and white 35 mm. film. Wrap the stuff in tin foil. This heat is rough on film
     I really forgot all about Father's Day until I received all those beautiful cards from my three darlings and they were only one day late. Pretty good timing.
     In many ways the Siegers are funny people but I do think that you'll have a nice time up there at Lake Arrowhead. However I don't see why you should put up with Ruth, Babs, and probably Harry. You don't owe them a thing and don't you forget it.
     I think tonight's movie is "Phantom Lady" and I don't' know who is in it. I'll report on it tomorrow.
     In the meantime, my sweet, take it easy and don't let everything upset you. Even if some people are thoughtless and forget you, there is one guy out here thousands of miles distant who loves you and thinks about you all the time (asleep or wake).
Yours as ever,

Gil received the Philippine Liberation Ribbon but didn't mention it.

118th Army Hospital, Leyte, Philippines

Friday, November 20, 2020

Leyte--$15 for a Piece

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Monday 25 June 1945, 6:45 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello again. I've had quite a busy day today. To begin with I had a full morning and even had a couple emergencies from other craft. Then I had an early lunch, a steak sandwich from the general mess.
    At noon both doctors and I went over to a hospital ship to attend a meeting of Medical, Dental, and Hospital Corps officers. There was quite a mob. I'd guess over four hundred. They served a light lunch which I didn't partake except for the dessert, ice cream. Then several papers were presented on various Medical and Dental problems occurring in forward areas and under battle conditions. All in all it was an interesting and educational meeting. We are supposed to have another soon.
     I got three letters today marked the 15th and 16th. I see you taught right up to the end. Well now you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
     Don't worry about Norma's not talking so well yet. Many youngsters are like that and it is no indication of native intelligence.
     I do remember the Council House, but very vaguely. After the war we will observe more of the Jewish holidays for the sake of the kids. I always got a bang out of them and they should too.
     Don't worry about me doing anything foolish. I have good duty here and I'd think twice before asking for a change except back to the states of course.
     You ask about the natives out here. Well all the buildings and residences occupied by natives are "out of bounds" to military personnel. Of course there are many whose houses operate in spite of this order and many men are indulging and some to their sorrow later on. Several men from our ship went ashore and paid $15 for a "piece of ass." One did it three times in one afternoon for $45. Practically all the women are infected. One medical officer ashore stated that 100% of the women he had examined were infected and many with more than one venereal disease. I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole. It is too bad for the people but it seems that any place you go where the Japs have been before us, the same condition prevails. No female was spared if she was old enough to give them satisfaction.
     The clothes the natives wear are typically American, so there is nothing to buy.
     Last night's movie "Two Girls and a Sailor" is the best movie we've ever had aboard. Tonight we have Olsen and Johnson in "Crazy House" and I can't recall if I've seen it or not.
     No more for now so I'll sign off. Goodnight my Sweet, I love you.
Always yours,

 Market in Leyte
Clothes natives wear are typically American


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Leyte--Photos of Kids

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Sunday 24 June 1945, 6.45 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello Sweet, here it is Sunday again. It really isn't any different than any other day.  I did begin work at 9:00 AM instead of 8:30 AM but that was the only difference.
     After a busy morning and chow I finished reading "Postman Always Rings Twice" and began Thorne Smith's "Passionate Witch." Then I had to arrange Catholic and Protestant services on deck and before I knew it was 5:15 and time to shower and dress for dinner.
     No cribbage game so here I am a little bit early. The mail brought me one letter from you postmarked the 17th. I've still to receive the 15th and 16th but that's the ways it goes.  Today's letter really thrilled me. Those three photos of the kids are swell. My how they've grown. I'd better hurry home or my two little girls will be grown up young ladies. Oh well something should pop in the next month or two. Maybe I'll get home long before Xmas.
     I guess Norma's party was on the 17th instead of the 20th. The package I sent probably didn't get there in time but you should have received it by now. How long is it taking for my mail to reach you now?
     We have a good movie tonight, "Two Girls and a Sailor" with Van Johnson, June Allison and Jimmy Durante. However I always go, good or bad.
     So darling you are blue again. Now dear I'm lonesome and miss you and the kids but I try not to let it get me down. I know it's hard to do but I do, and I'm making the best of it. The letter I received from Dr. Ivie's several days ago indicates that he is quite homesick and unhappy. It's got the best of him. It does no good to feel sorry for yourself. In any case no one else will feel sorry for you. So the thing to do is to be cheerful and make the best of this situation. It can't be long now before there'll be some changes.
     In the meantime Honey, think about how much fun it'll be when we are all together again. Keep smiling.
Loving you always

Photos of Kids in Cowgirl Outfits
Norma and Linda
6 May 1945


Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Saturday 23 June 1945, 10:30 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello my darling, how is my sweet wife tonight? Today was another typical work day. I was busy all morning. I've got my afternoons booked up with prophys; my corpsman takes care of those so that gives me a little extra time.  However I'm afraid it is just a lull before the storm and soon I'll be as busy as I ever was.
     I read a short but interesting book this afternoon. "The Postman Rings Twice" by James B. Cain, the author of "Double Indemnity." The next book on my list is by Thorne Smith, "The Passionate Witch." These are both from a shipment of thirty-six books the library received. I choose my reading matter before I break the books into the library. Once they get into circulation it's hard to keep up with them.
     Today I got two letters postmarked the 16th, one from Ruth and one from your mother. Guess I'll get yours of the 15th and 16th tomorrow.
     After dinner tonight we played cribbage as usual. Then we went to the movies. We had an oldie, "You Were Never Lovelier" with Rita Hayworth, Fred Astaire, and Adolph Monjou. Quite good even a second time. Of course it's so old I couldn't remember a thing about it.
     There will be some changes made in our set up soon and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. No one knows what's going to happen because the Admiral isn't here yet. Here's hoping.
     There is no more for now Darling, so I'll sign off. Goodnight my Sweet. I'll see you in my dreams.
Yours always,

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Leyte--GI Honeymoon

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco 
Friday 22 June 1945, 11:15 PM 
Dearest Eleanor, 
     Today has been just the usual thing. I worked all morning and from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. I was just in time to catch a boat going over to the beach and had a few drinks there. We got back at 5:30. I just had time to wash up before dinner. 
     After chow we played our regular game of cribbage. Tonight's movie was amusing but because of poor direction (I think) it missed being a swell sophisticated comedy. It was "G.I. Honeymoon" with unknown leads. The lines are good and in places quite suggestive. Either the Hays office turned over a new leaf or fell asleep. 
     After the movie we sat around in the wardroom discussing the post-war economy and then our educational system. If I hadn't quit we'd still be at it. 
     I got another letter of the 14th today so here goes. You've had quite a steady teaching assignment and I know the money will come in handy. Talking about money, I'm getting $352 a month now. Deduct $7.50 for insurance and the $225 I send you and I still have considerably over $100 left. When I get home I'll get $20 less (my sea pay) and will be glad not to get it. 
     We haven't had the movies you mention yet but should soon. 
     I do hope Betty isn't picking up any money left lying around. If she'll steal money, how do you know what else she'll walk out with one of these days? 
     It's late, I'm sleepy and I still have a stack of mail to censor so goodnight my darling. I'll see you in dreams. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Leyte--Hotter Than Hades

Lieut. Gilbert Steingart
U.S.S. Ocelot, F.P.O. San Francisco
Thursday, 21 June 1945, 7:00 PM
Dearest Eleanor,
     Hello Darling, how was our baby's birthday yesterday? I'm missing so much now that it'll take years of catching and making up for it all.
     I had my usual busy morning and early afternoon. I found out just where Simmie is and will look him up in a couple of days.
     There is really nothing new or different to talk about. I haven't been ashore lately because the clubs have been so mobbed that there really isn't much fun in going over. In a few days things should quiet down a little and then I'll make up for last time.
     The mail brought me six pieces today. A letter marked the 14th, the Outlook which you sent and letters from my mother, Libby, Charlie Blume and Dave.
     My cold only lasted two days which is amazing because you remember how my sinuses would drain for days after a cold. It must be the climate but I'd still give it back to the Indians or Japs or anyone who really wants it. In the past few days, there has been no rain or overcast skies. It's been hotter than Hades. I sure miss the refreshing breeze we used to get at our last station.
     Last night's movie "The Great Mike" was a stinkeroo of the first order. Tonight we had an oldie but a good one, "Dixie" with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.
     Graves was only out of the states for a year and he has gone back, so I'm still optimistic about being home in the fall.
     No more for now so I'll sign off with love and kisses to you and out sweet girls.

The first few pages from "Leyte Lays," U.S.S. Ocelot song sheet. The Naval Censor Stamp is "signed" by Kathleen Windsor, the author of the sexy, racy novel "Forever Amber."