Baker, James

Letter
Date:
January 7, 1940
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
K85260, Pte. J. Baker,
PPCLI "D" Coy,
1st Canadian Division, England

Jan. 7, 1940

Dearest Mom,

Please note my new address. I haven't received any mail from home yet. I guess I'll get some soon; next week I hope. I just got back to camp from a 2 day leave during which I went down to Brighton. I found Aunt Millie after a 36 hr. search. You never gave me her address and there are only about 950 Bakers in Brighton phone book. I had a dickens of a time finding her! I finally went down to see Mr. Gray - the town clerk, and it just happened that he knew grandfather personally. He put me in touch with her immediately. She lives at 14 Temple St.

I met my cousin Tony. It is very strange having an uncle younger than myself. He is the same age as Stanley and very like him in many ways. He is working as an office boy right now and he seems to like it immensely. Yet he is only 14 years old. All boys over her - 14 years and over, do not have to go to school. They can work if they want to.

Aunt Millie strikes me as being a woman inside whom something has died. She has no vitality, no spark of life. She mopes around the house, never smiles, always talking about grandfather and the wonderful things he did. I honestly believe that if something doesn't happen to wake her up soon, she will become an old lady before her time. When she opened the door and saw me standing there, she thought for a minute that if was ‘Dad' come back again. She calls me "Jambo". That was Dad's nickname.

The hospitality of these English people is simply wonderful. I will give you an instance that happened to me. It was 7 PM when I arrived in Brighton and as black as pitch. I walked up the street and popped into the first restaurant I found for supper...it just happened that is the best restaurant in town but I didn't know that. I sat down and ordered supper.

While I was sitting waiting for it the lady of the house - Mrs. Lees, came up and started talking to me. It turned out that she was from Vancouver herself; came over here ten years ago. She insisted that I stay there, eat there, sleep in her best bed - all absolutely free! Imagine that! She treated me as her own son for two days; me - a total stranger! And everywhere I go it is the same. People come up to me to shake my hand and chat. They would even buy me drinks if I wanted to have them. And we heard so much about how retiring English people were. It is truly magnificent the welcome we have received everywhere.

People are organizing sight-seeing tours in London, parties and dances everywhere, inviting us up to their homes to stay, treating us to suppers, shows, cabarets and everything. It is truly magnificent! It makes a lump rise in my throat every time I think of it.

Just to show you how small the world is, I met a man going down to Brighton in the train who knew Mr. Messenger of Paradise Valley very well. He had known him for years. Isn't that peculiar?

Please write me soon
Ever your loving son.

Jim

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