Winter Notes From Antarctica

Mr. Matt writes to the Summer School students

Pictured is the chapel at McMurdo, Antarctica

July 8, 1996
Dear Mr. Dave and Mr. Matt,

When the plane comes in are you coming back? Tell us about the Antarctic Treaty. What does that do? How did you celebrate the Fourth of July? I celebrated by going to see the fireworks at the old Mall in Salisbury MD. I still have fireworks from Fourth of July. I am sorry about the light down there. We had a big storm and the power went off. I could not see but luckily I had candles. My dog, Kelly, was scared of the dark. I saw a tree get struck by lightning.

Your Friend,
Keith Baily

Dear Mr. Dave and Mr. Matt,

Where is Mr. Matt? Is there such thing as Spring , Fall, ? What kind of research is there? What kind of games did you have? What kind of countries have been there? How wide is Antarctica do you think? When do you go to sleep because it is dark already? Does Antarctica have hurricanes? We had a hurricane called Bertha. When She hit Maryland we went into my mom's room. The winds were bad here and there were trees down everywhere. People's roofs were off.

Your Friend,
Keith Bailey

Hi Keith,

I am sorry for not writing back earlier. The first three planes come in at WinFly, beginning August 20th. August 19th is our first official sunrise. I sure will be glad to see that. The Antarctic Treaty is basically an agreement with most of the countries in the world that says countries can't drill for oil or mine the minerals or conduct military war operations. I went to a party on the Fifth of July, since most of the people worked on the 4th. They had Flintstone bowling, and a dunking tank, and horseshoes. They even roasted four pigs. That must have been neat to see a tree hit by lightning. I have two dogs in Texas, and one of them is really afraid of lightning.

Thanks for your letters. I enjoyed reading them. We do have sort of a Spring season, but no Spring flowers or green grass. Antarctica is about the size of the United States. Several countries have stations here, but I can only think of Russia, Japan, Australia, England, New Zealand, Argentina, and Germany. I guess at times there are hurricane winds here, but so far the worst winds have been about 50 miles per hour. I lived through a hurricane in Texas, and don't care to see another one.

Some scientists study the ozone, meteorites, fish, penguins, geology, the planets and stars, volcanos, and earthquakes.

Hope you have a good summer. Thanks for writing.

Matthew A. Nelson, the one with the frozen ozone-depleted brain.

July 8, 1996

Dear Mr. Dave and Mr. Matt,

My name is Michael Gale. I am from Salisbury Maryland. I'm writing with two of my classmates and their names are Kevin, and Keith. I'm new to this. Do you have telephones in Antarctica? In Salisbury we do have phones. Did you celebrate FOURTH of JULY? Well we did and it was fun. I went to see fireworks. I had fun.


July 15,1996
Dear Mr Dave,

Is Mr. Matt going to write to us because I want to hear from him too. Thank you for the letter. Do you have videos games? Well here we do. We have a sega, super nintendo, play staion, and a regular nintendo. Last night it rained so hard the road started to flood. I go to church. After church last night I found a baby kitten under a bush. I would have kept her but my aunt is allergic to cats. Do you have any pets like a snow dog or something? Well I do. I have dog her name is Missy and she is sweet. I hope you like this letter. I am putting as much heart in this letter. I hope you write back.

Your friend,
Michael Gale

P.S I hope Mr. Matt writes soon

Hi Michael,

Thanks for writing. We celebrated the Fourth of July on the Fifth, but because of the International Date Line, it was the Fourth back in Salisbury. Yes, we do have telephones here. Just a few years ago the most reliable means of communications was through Ham Radio, which Dave does as a hobby. Now, I can call out over a satellite network anytime from here in McMurdo, but they don't have good phone capability at the South Pole.

I didn't get to see any fireworks this year. Some people have video games on their computers, and some have the hand held games. There aren't any pets here, but in Texas I have two dogs. During the summer months, we saw some penguins, whales, and seals.

I participate in the Chapel of the Snows here on Sunday mornings. Everyone of the 233 people here are invited, but usually, only about 10 people show up. The Chapel was built by volunteers out of scrap materials by the 1989 Winter-over crew. If I think of it when I mail this letter, I will attach a photo of the Chapel.

Just think - school is almost out. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Your friend,

Crazy Matt - proved that by coming here

July 15, 1996

Dear Mr.David and Mr. Matt

My name is Jarrell. I live in Salisbury Maryland.I was just wondering what it was like in Antarctica. What is the temperature down in Antarctica? What kind of food do you eat? What kind of sports you play? Do people iceskate in Antarctica?. What kind of work do you do? Mr Matt how are you doing? Do you know that the summer olympics are starting? We miss you up here. I hope that you are having fun. Do they have sled races? How does your electricity work? Is it fun down there? How does it feel live in the dark?

Your friend,

Dear Jarrell,

Thanks for writing. Salisbury is a neat town. The temperatures here lately range from about +7 F. to - 35F. The winds often bring the wind chill down to -80 to -100 degrees F., which is colder than I like. The food is pretty much American food, with variety such as Mexican or Chinese. It is not always real tasty, but I can buy a double-cheese burger at the snack bar sometimes, and they usually are good. Some people play basketball, tennis, or go bowling or skiing, but I never have done too much with sports. I don't remember seeing people iceskate here, but they may have. McMurdo generates its own electricity. The generators are fueled by JP-8, a diesel fuel with a cold weather additive. This same fuel is used in the C-130 airplanes. Today, the Olympics started. Some of it can be watched on one satellite tv channel.

The work the Dave and I do is to track satellites. Most of the time it is interesting, but I will be glad to leave this place. The darkness hasn't been too bad, but it sure has been long. A month from yesterday we will have our first sunrise. Sure will be glad to see it. Now the sky is gradually showing signs of getting lighter.

Hope you have a good summer.

Your friend,
Matt, the one not known for iceshating abilities.

July 15,1996

Dear Mr.David and Mr. Matt

Where is Mr.Matt because I want to know if he answers the letters. Thank you for the letter. Do you race with wolves in the snow? What Do you keep your food in? We had a Hurricane yesterday but it didn't do any damage. This summer I will be playing football. I played football last year and my team name was the green tars. Will you to go see the the olympics? Last night we had another storm and it was flooding. Do you play ice hockey?

Your Friend,

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for writing. Sorry I haven't written sooner. Hope you enjoy your football and that you have a good season. I was in a hurricane in Houston once, and that is enough. There aren't any wolves here, but penguins, seals, and whales are visible during the months of lightness. We can see the Olympics on satellite tv. Our food is stored in a warehouse. One of our friends is a refrigerator repair man, and he has to make sure the freezers maintain the proper temperature. He says he is going to write a book about being a refrigerator repair main in Antarctica. Sounds like your part of the country has been having a lot of storms. Even last winter, you had a lot of snow storms. Hope you have a good summer. Don't worry too much about having bad grades. I flunked out of college my first time around because of bad grades.

Your friend,

MaTTheW a NOSLEN, the Ancient Antarctic Explorer (Means I am over 50)

July 15, 1996

Dear Mr.David and Mr Matt,

My name is Paul owens I live in Salisbury M.D I am eleven years old. How does it feel to just have dark and the coldness? Mr.Dave, do you have any pets where you live at and do you have a son? If you do can you tell me his name. Mr. Matt and Mr.Dave my favorite sports are basketball and football. I played basketball at a place called the Salvation Army. I played for A team called the Tarheels. Also we are having the Olypics where differnt kind of sports are played. We had a little flood last night. And also do you have a dog? I have two dogs.

Your Friend,

Hi Paul,

Thanks for writing. Hope you keep with the sports. I have two dogs in Texas. They probably won't know me when I get back. It would be fun to have a pet here. Once, I heard of people having some goldfish. I was only in Salisbury for a few weeks last year, but it is a nice town. I would probably take some college classes if I lived there. Good luck with the basketball and football. Once, at the South Pole, I saw members of the New York National Guard, who flew some of the airplanes, play football against the scientists and construction workers who worked there. The scientists lost! My brother-in-law is also name Paul. Hope you have a good summer. Your friend,

M*A*T*T* - if they can do it on M*A*S*H* I can write my name the same way!

Dear Matt,

I'm 13 yrs. old my name is Tinelle. I have a baby sister who is 6 months old. Her name is Tamar shes trying to walk. I love her with my heart. What games do like to play? I like to play Clue. You guess who killed the person and when you do you win. To me you look like a person who likes to play chess. Do you look at t.v.? What things do you do there? Write back.


Dear Tinelle,

I like your name. Thanks for writing back. I don't play chess often, but it is my favorite game. Tamar is also a pretty name. Sometimes, I watch too much tv. I told people before I came here that I didn't want to continue watching Wheel of Fortune at 6:30 every night, so guess what is on tv here at 6:30 PM. They brought in tapes. I have seen repeats of what I watched before I arrived here.

I enjoy writing (when I have a chance), and like to read. Lately, I have been reading some books about the early Antarctic Explorers. When it is light, I can look out of my window and see the historic Scott Hut. I have better living conditions, but I can also appreciate some of their feelings when they write about the darkness.

Hope you have a good summer. Your Friend,

Butch - that is what my family calls me

July 16, 1996

Dear Mr. Matt,

Hey my name is Darryl . I wish I was there with you. I heard it is cold and dark. You are my friend even though. I don't know you. I have the same plaid shirt as you. Please write back. One day I mighte come and see you and your friend. Tell your friend I said hi. I heard lots about you and friend. I heard the hottest it gets is 30 degrees.


Hi Darryl,

Thanks for writing. So, we have the same kind of shirt? It has been cold and dark, but from what I understand in talking to other people, this has been a mild Antarctic Winter. Maybe so, but I will be glad to see green trees and colorful flowers and pine mountains. Once, I was here about Christmas time. It was warmer here one day than in Houston, Texas. It was 37 F here, and 7 F in Houston. I am hoping to visit Mrs. Weeg sometime after I leave here, but I don't know when that will be. I will be staying here until November, then travelling some, arriving home about Dec. 7th. At least, that is my plan now. Hope you have a good summer.

Your Friend,

help, I am being held prisoner in McMurdo Antarctica
M A T T H E W A. N E L S O N

July 16,1996

Dear Mr.Matt

My name is Andrea. I am 12 years old . My birthday is November 19,1983. I like to skateboard. It's pretty cool. I live with my dad and my brother. I have a dog and some fish. My best friend's name is Corrine. We are very close. We love to go to the mall and shop but some times just hang out if I don't have any money. I have a 1996 black Pontiac Transam Firebird.

your friend,
P.S write back

Dear Andrea,

You have a pretty name. Thanks for writing. Tell Corrine hello. My birthday is April 4th. Just 3 days after April Fool's Day. My youngest daughter, Cheri, grew up in a mall. Once, my family went to Alaska, and instead of enjoying the outdoors, both of my girls went to the mall. I couldn't believe it. Good luck skateboarding. I never had the courage to do something like that. Your Firebird sounds like a moving machine! I hope you have a good summer. Your friend,

the real MATT, the one with the garbage truck that has pink pokka dots and purpol stripes.

JULY 17,1996

Dear Mr. Matt,

My name is Brandon Whitley. I was born in Brooklyn, New York. I am 13 years old. I live in Salisbury, Maryland. My favorite Sport is basketball. I love to go skating, fishing, bowling, swimming, jogging and boxing and I love to read books. My favorite subjects in school are math, reading, science and gym.

Please write back see yah
Your friend,
Brandon Whitley

Dear Brandon,

Thanks for writing. I was born in Tacoma, Washington. It sounds like you are really active in sports. I never was, but I do enjoy swimming, and I like to read. Since I have been here, I have read a few books on some of the early Antarctic Explorers. Boy, were those guys ever tough. Keep up with your studies. It is hard to do sometimes, but eventually, it will be worth it. Hope you have a good summer. Your friend,

Matthew A. Nelson, Esquire (what ever that means!)

JULY 16 1996
Dear Mr Matt,

My name is VAUGHN DONALDS0N. I live in Salisbury M.D I am 13 years old. I'm in summer school. I like sports like basketball and football.

your friend,

Hi Vaughn,

Thanks for writing. Your name is spelled amost like Norman Vaughan, who was one of the dog sled drivers for Admiral Byrd in 1929. I met him last September. He is 90 years old, and really interesting to talk to. Salisbury is a nice place. I grew up in Casper, Wyoming, and when I retire, I hope to go back there. Keep up with the sports. I have never been involved with sports, but my daughters both have been. Hope you have a good summer. Your Friend,

Matthew A. Nelson not the third or the second or the fourth.

July 16, 1996

Dear Mr.Matt

Hi my name is Marquis I heard that you're in total darkness. Do you have enough food? Do you have any games? I like your mustache. I am 13 years old. How old are you? My favorite color is red.


Dear Marquis,

Thank you for writing. We have been in total darkness, but the sun is showing signs of coming up. Today, the sky was a lighter shade of blue, and I could make out the mountains. Blue is my favorite color. We eat pretty good, considering all the food was brought here last summer. There are a few vegetables from the greenhouse. In April, I turned 50. I have a daughter age 23 and another one age 19. You have a pretty name. Hope you have a good summer. Your friend,

Matthew, the Iceman

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