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Letter from Linus Pauling, Jr. to the Pauling family. December 4, 1945.
Linus Jr. writes to relay his adventures aboard a military ship sailing from Egypt to Pakistan.


4 December 1945

Dear ones, big and little

In two hours we dock at Karachi, and here I am without letters written. A sorry state. This past week has passes rapidly because there has been work to do.

We had only a couple of hours in Port Said, but a hilarious time. Paula pulled in to the harbor just after dawn; I was on the bridge, seeing everything, of course ( that's the chief advantage of my job) and noting the local small schooners and dhows. Then we anchored, and immediately the ship was surrounded by a score of small boats with characters in them holding up articles for sale. " Hello fine pocketbook, fine wallet, very fine suit case, twenty-five dollar." After twenty minutes of barganing [sic] and vacillation, ten dollars would go over the side in a basket and a rope and the suitcase would come up. Some fun.

A freighter near us was coaling. On each side were huge open coal barges with gang planks leading up to the deck. On each plank was a line of men, black with dust, ragged, bending under a sac of coal, and singing a dustone chant. And probably suffering from the equivalent of silicosis.

We went ashore and were guided around town the native quarter is out of bounds. Continually we were pestered by leech-like hawkers offering everything from Spanish Fly to blackjacks. A terrific nuisance- one couldn't move. And they wouldn't go away.

I managed to course away from curio shops without being rooked to too great an extent. I'll send my haul home, or bring it if I come.

I had a couple of cups of local coffee. Very rich and heavy, like Ovaltine, and not tasting like coffee. Rather good, though.

Then on through the canal observing the aridity, camels, irrigation canals, and the magnificence of the uniforms of the policemen and soldiers. Red, black, yellow, green.

The wind blew in the Red Sea, but since the Strait of Bab el Mandeb (of fame) the sea has been glassy. Several nights ago I watched for three of four hours the most brilliant and intense electrical storm I ever want to see. Every kind of lighting, between several layers of clouds and the ocean. And it was proceeded by the outstanding sunset of the trip.

No news, yet, of our first destination. If New York the chances are good we'll arrive the 24th or 25th. So I hope it's N.Y. But if Seattle, arrival Jan 4th or 5th. So keep the tree as long as possible. I'll get home by hack or by crack if we go to the west coast.

So, a very merry Christmas to you all, and an especially happy birthday to the best mamma anyone ever had.

Oly love to everyone,


P.S. It's N.Y.

The possibility that the ship will be laid up for two or three weeks for conversion is becoming almost a probability. I certainly hope so. At any rate I think we'll be here a week.

Again my love, Mom dear.


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