28 June 1956 (Part 1 of 2)
Our little chat for this evening should be called "Prostitutes I have Known". Granted, one does not generally discuss such things in letters—especially to one’s parents, but I have no qualms (though I probably wouldn’t be able to talk about it), being of Pure Heart & Mind.
I have no intentions of going into sordid details, sobbing confessions, or hatchet-waving denunciations. However, it is a subject which does affect the Navy in particular &, therefore indirectly, me. It is something which is as much a part of our in-port liberty as is sightseeing & drinking. In many cases it is much more important than either sightseeing or drinking.
Coming, as I do, from a comparatively isolated town with amazingly high morals—compared to what I’ve seen since—I knew there was such a thing, but had never seen it, just as I knew there was a Europe, but had never seen it either.
My impressions of Norfolk’s East Main Street have been recorded before. Norfolk, being a Sailor Town was therefore a Den of Iniquity & other trite exclamations for "somewhat promiscuous."
Not to be waving a little American flag (while a music box tinkles The Star Spangled Banner), but Norfolk’s worst only comes up to Europe’s average. I suppose a lot of factors enter into it—the war, the low standards of living, etc.—enough things to write a large & not very interesting volume.
It’s here, it’s been here a long time (the Second Oldest Profession—what is the Oldest?), & will most likely to be here for a long time.
However, we seem to be getting away from the topic—namely Prostitutes I have known. Actually, there aren’t a great number. I try to avoid the bars where the B-girls come with every bottle of champagne (in some places, they’re included with the champagne). Whenever I’m with a group of guys, though, we almost always end up in one of these bars.
Naples was where we held our divisional party. The manager of the restaurant we’d rented said he would provide "everything," & sent the word among the girls of Naples.
Most of them spoke no English—or only enough to transact the necessary financial arrangements. They simply came in, sat down, & ate. Some of them looked half starved, & ate accordingly. Almost all of them wrapped sandwiches in napkins & put them in their purse. One small, mousy-looking girl was seen scooping potato salad into her purse. They didn’t try to laugh, but just sat there, eating & being mauled & looking bored. One short, plump girl in a white sweater looked like a 1929 Betty Boop (or whatever her name was). She looked definitely disdainful & didn’t try to hide it even by looking bored. There was also a midget, whom I may have mentioned at the time. Had she been normal size, she might have been very pretty—rather like Donna Aden. I’d seen her before, in a "business establishment" which I believe I described before,-- if not, I will sometime in the future.
In Valencia, I talked with a girl whom I like to think was not a professional, or even an amateur, but then I’m pretty gullible. She gave me the story on the operations of the bar—how the girls get a commission on every drink they make the guys buy. All in all a very sound business, & quite complex, too. I enjoyed talking to her, because she was not the clinging-vine type, & was also not stupid. We conversed as much as was possible with my limited Spanish, & I had a very good time. Later that night, after we left the bar, we met a very young girl I like to think of as an apprentice streetwalker. One of the guys was fascinated by her, with the result that we followed her all over Valencia. She was definitely new at the game, & giggled quite a bit when he tried to talk to her. Then she’d shake her head & walk off down the street, only to stop at another store window & wait for us to catch up. I won’t tell you whether they ever came to terms or not.
In Istanbul, one bar employed girls under 14—I know I told you about that place! I didn’t even try to talk to them—we left as soon as we could. That was going a little too far.
(To Be Continued)