Baker, James

Letter
Date:
February 13, 1940
To:
Mom
From:
James
February 13, 1940

Dear Mom,

Well yesterday certainly was a red letter day for me. I received you two letters dated 24th and 30th, your parcel, Sadie's portrait and Valentine, and a letter from Blake. Mrs. Arthur also wrote me a letter the day before. Parcel was in good condition when it arrived but I'm sorry to say that is was in anything but good condition five minutes later. "The troops were cut off by a large detachment of the enemy's patrols, completely surrounded and annihilated," might be the epitaph erected over the remains of my parcel. It is absolutely impossible to believe how quickly those eatables disappeared. But seriously that cake was swell!! and the cookies too. The socks fit perfectly but I guess that after all these years you ought to be able to knit a pair of socks so that they fit me. I liked the papers best though, please send more of them. Also all my poems. I'm going to buy a good leather book and put them all in it and carry it around with me. I want it thick and/but small so that it will fit in my tunic pocket.

Sadie sent me a wonderful picture of herself and a wonderful Valentine so I'm completely happy and satisfied for another week.

Today I got paid 2 pounds - 1, so I'm going into Aldershot tonight to see a jeweler about getting your brooch made. It will be awfully late but I'm afraid I can't help that. You'll know I was thinking about you anyway.

That ship you say Mr. Hostler wrote about was the "Andes" and she was indeed a beautiful ship. That was her first or her maiden voyage so the Sea Forths were rather luckily in getting her. By the way did I tell you the rumour that went around camp about the second week we were here. It was to the effect that the "SS Orama" the boat on which we came across was torpedoed off the coast of Liverpool while preceding into dry dock and sank with all hands. If it was true we can certainly thank our lucky stars that we weren't on it. Poor devils, think of those men going to their deaths and we had been talking, laughing and joking with them just a few hours before. It often make you stop and wonder what this war is all about. It seems such an utter waste of money and men that could be turned to some useful purpose for the betterment of mankind.

I think that one of my later letters tells you all about my leave. Please mention the dates of all my letters so I'll know if you missed any. Just in case you don't get the one in which I described my leave, I'll tell you in this one. I got a two day leave on Jan 3rd or 2nd - I don't remember which, and decided to go down to Brighton. I only started out with 70s and my fare was 8s, so you see I was not exactly looking forward to having a rip-roaring time. But when I got down there, I fell in with a fellow Canadian from Vancouver who moved over here almost 20 years ago and now owns the Savoy Cafe - the best restaurant in Brighton. He insisted that I stay with him for 2 days - as his guest. I ate all my meals there, slept there and was generally treated as one of the family. I certainly enjoyed myself. On the first day, I tried to get in touch with Aunt Minnie, but there are only 200,000 people in Brighton and only about 150 Bakers and, as I had no address, it began to look like a hopeless task. But on the second day I had the good luck to fall in with Mr. Gray - the Town Clerk who happened to have known Grandfather for years. He told me where to find Aunt Minnie so I went around there at once. Boy was she surprised and happy to see me. She had no more idea who I was than she had of flying, but when I introduced myself she suddenly remembered that I looked so like my father as he had been in 1914 that she kept on calling me "Jambo" which was her nickname for Dad. I spent all afternoon with them but had to go before I really got to know them as my leave was up. I'm going to try and run down there for a weekend again sometime.

Yes it certainly has been cold here and it still is. It has been snowing intermittently for the past 3 days and looks suspiciously like it might snow some more.

Jessie Young told me not to tell you about the operation so I didn't. Young Fred Snell and I are quite good friends but he is in another company so I don't see as much of him as I would like.

How is Dad getting along? I'm glad that he got in at last. If I had my way, he'd stay there every spring for 3 months. Perhaps in that way, he'd get better. Tell him I'm going to write him a letter: if I just address it Shaughnessy Hosp., he ought to get it.

I've got a new job now. I'm a waiter down in the officer's mess. I work from 6:30 AM to 8.00 PM but I get off between 9.00 AM to 11.30 AM and from 2.00 PM to 6.30 PM, so it's not so bad. Every 4 days I get a half a day off and every fortnight I can get a 2 day pass without asking for it. I get much better food and $10 a month extra so I'm in clover. With all this spare time I think I'll begin to think seriously of these free courses. I'm going to write away and see what I can find out about them. They should know something about them at BC House in London.

I meant to write some more of those articles but then I decided I had better wait and see if they wanted any more first. You say they do so I'm enclosing a description of "London in the Blackout".

I'm glad you sent me Guy and Jessie Weston's address. I'm going to write to them and see what they have to say. All these people you mention I know. I met them all through chumming around with Guy and Jessie. La Ronde is Jessie's boy friend and Frank Beir is Hazel's husband.

Well I guess that's all for now. Thanks again for your lovely parcel and until next time.

Jim



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