August 5, 1940
Aug 5, 1940
Mon 5 A.M. to 9 A.M.
I have awakened several times before at the least disturbance
and now again over some inconsequential noise. I know it's about time
for my shift and before I drop off to sleep two short buzzers are given
by my telephone and a light is flashed thru the (?) holes of what was
formerly a window. I dress, look at my watch (4:02 A.M.) and hurry down.
Getting a cup of boiling milk & a roll, I gulp it, scald the roof
of my mouth, and hurry out. Otto prefers to stay below so I go to the
main central tower. From this tower you can communicate with the other
three towers, the gate and all the rooms either by telephone or buzzers.
The lights & alarm are controlled from here. Most of the guns are
stored here in the daytime. The tower controls the gate electrically.
A trap door connects it with the library underneath. Emergency lights
& flares are kept in reserve here and in the guard room in the patio.
Until the new steel doors are all installed, one man will continue to
stay in the courtyard. Later he'll be stationed in tower A.
The night here is never silent, though of course there is less noise than in the daytime. The streetcars & busses pass within 4 or 5 squares on three sides of us. The roosters this morning seem to be celebrating the fact that none of those crowing were killed yesterday (Sunday). The dogs are tired by this time and are getting a few moments sleep to be ready to herald the dawn. Of course this doesn't include the total dog population, many are still barking, but these sound afar off. The alarm clock on the gun cabinet sounds almost as loud as a motortruck.
These are observations you note the first minute you are
on duty, before you have finished checking the register of the previous
day. Everyone entering or leaving the place has his name listed and the
time of arrival and departure. It serves as a checkup for the house and
in case of "frameup" establishes where you were.
The night sky is black, artificially black almost. The
stars are scattered in heaps and streaks in lavish abundance & brighter
than diamonds. No mts., no horizon is visible, only the lights of the
town and off to the north the brighter glow of the city. The huge eucalyptus
trees along the river and in our yard cut off most of the view to North
I'm unaware of the passage of time until the gate buzzer
sounds. Otto is unlocking the inner gate but can't open it to let Martinez
(the Mex. comrade who was on duty last night) out until I release a switch.
When I record his departure I notice it's 5:30 A.M. A church bell is ringing
and looking eastward behind the long white house in the next block, beyond
the line of slim
spire shaped, pencil pointed evergreens, with a lobster colored cloud floating between them, lie Popo and the Sleeping Woman. Both are in perfect silhouette, no snow is visible on either because the sky is beginning to light up on the far side. This side is still in darkness, but all the details of the Woman's profile are clearly revealed.
This is the coldest time of the day - dawn is actually less then 30 min. removed. The roof of the little building next (to) ours is wet with dew. Dew gleams on the corn patch surrounding his house and hangs thick on the grass. The path left by the policeman walking past is clearly visible and his shoes & trousers are wet halfway to his knees.
The cloud lifts between Popo and his wife. It's red hues
changing to yellow orange. Delicate cirro-cumulus mare's tail clouds glow
from yellow gold at
the horizon to cream overhead where a big bright star is shining thru. All the other peaks to eastward are lighting up and the colors first visible around Popo now glow along the whole southern range. The slight breeze washes & streaks the clouds in cobweb fashion across the view.
The pigeons are leaving their perches. A factory whistle moans. In an adjoining field a laborer is already busy with his spade. My buzzer goes again and Otto signals turn off the lights. All the lights of the town are off by now too. It's 6:00 A.M.
The base of Popo is deep purple; halfway up a slight golden haze mingles with it, but the crest, as of The Woman, is pure white snow kissed with gold because in a few more moments the sun will rise above the low Mt. peak to the north of them.
Across the valley to the west the mountains are already
brightly lighted and now streaming thru the trees, dispelling the fog,
glowing like a
resurrection, the sun bursts thru the leaves & the dew of the trees on the river bank changing it to a glowing red fog thru which long grotesque shadows of men going to work weave like shrouded specters.
The haze quickly spreads. The beautiful shades of blue
of the sky bleach white the clouds turn ashen. The whole eastern range
of mts. disappears. For a few minutes The Woman, darker than an hour ago,
looms up then slips into the fog. The peak of Popo now a cloud like wraith
remains dimly visible until a shifting cloud obscures it too. The sun
streams in thru the eastern portholes - lights up the instrument panel
on the west wall. Two native women, their breath rising in clouds, search
thru the corn patch adjoining, picking boquets of pumpkin blossoms. The
church bells set up a general clanging chorus. It's 6:30. Morning is here.
Day has arrived.