Baker, James

Letter
Date:
January 22, 1941
To:
Stan and Burt
From:
Jim
January 22nd, 1941

Dear Stan and Burt,

I wrote a letter to Mom last night in which I complained that I had not heard from you for weeks. Well, today I got a lovely long letter dated Dec. 15th in which was a picture of Dad with his big salmon and two letters from you. That certainly is a lovely salmon. How I wish I could have been there for the salmon fishing this past fall. I think I miss that more than anything else, for you know how much I love fishing.

I hope you two boys realize how extremely lucky you are to be able to go to school every day and enjoy peace and quiet and play games with your chums during recess without worrying about bombs and fires like the British children do over here. Do you realize that boys over here of your own age: i.e. 14 or 15 years old, start to work? They quit school altogether. Why, even your own cousin Tony who is 15 this year and very like you Stanley - both in looks and disposition, works all day long as an office boy in a firm of furniture movers... but he started when he was fourteen. Started a man's work when I think he should've been just beginning to enjoy life and have lots of time for education and play. I do not consider it right. Do you? And the children who do go to school have to work under very trying-conditions for whenever there is an air-raid warning (which there is nearly every day) the children have to leave their lovely warm classrooms and go down into the damp cold air-raid shelters. Every child - even the tiny tots, carries a tin helmet and a gas mask and they have to sit down in there until the "All Clear" blows: sometimes as long as 4 or 5 hrs. And the school rooms they have are not like yours fitted up with typewriters and stoves and everything. The schools out here are very like the country school we used to go to in Alberta for - no doubt, you know that all the children have been evacuated out of London into the surrounding country towns. Where I am now - at Godstone, there are nearly 500 evacuee London children. This is the first time a good many of them have ever seen the country and are they ever enjoying themselves! The lady with whom I am billited has two lovely little girl evacuees, one is ten and the other is seven. But during the past year they have grown tremendously, so the country life is certainly agreeing with them.

I don't know whether I have told you this before or not, but my landlady has given me a very rare and very valuable old Roman coin which has a very romantic story attached to it. The coin is of solid gold and is the size and shape of a silver dollar. On one side there is engraved the picture of a very ugly-looking Roman Emperor with long flowing beard and a crown of laurel leaves but there is no writing on this side and there is no milling around the edge as in our coins. On the other side there is a picture of a very strange-winged animal with three horns and wings growing out of the middle of his back. He carries an unsheathed sword in his mouth and his cow-like tail is looped up over his back. Above the loop in his tail on the right-hand side of the coin is a letter A and below it the letter N. The animal has dog-like feet and looks like a unicorn without the horn growing from his forehead. Instead the three horns grow from the top of the head like a cow. The animal is standing on an ear of wheat and beneath the head on the left hand side of the coin is a funny letter. I think it must be a medallion - and not a coin, because it has no date on it and no writing of any kind. But it is a very interesting souvenir and may be very valuable: who knows? Certainly the gold in it alone is worth nearly ten dollars. And now for the story attached to it.

It seems that when Mrs. Barnard was 17 she became nurse maid to a certain English lady's little daughter and went to live with them in France. Her brother was the family chauffeur and had been with the lady ever since her husband died nearly five years previously. After the husband's death this lady travelled all over Europe - especially Italy, and everywhere they went the chauffeur went too. While she was in Italy the lady met and became friendly with a certain obscure individual who we know today as Mussolini. Mussolini gave this lady many many presents and among them was this gold medallion that I have been telling you about.

Now it seems that the lady was very careless with her things and used to leave them lying about the car where the chauffeur would find them and return them to her. In this way the medallion was lost, found and returned many times, until the chauffeur - becoming tired of the game, finally kept the medallion. He gave it to his sister (Mrs. Bernard) and she in turn gave it to me. I cannot say how true the story is but anyway it is very romantic and I have at least got the coin to show as proof.

Well how do you like the new teachers? Cultivate Miss Mockridge for she is a rather wonderful woman and will be your friend for life if you know how to get on the right side of her. I know I was rather her pet at school. Remind me to her will you please? ...wish I was back taking Biology notes from her again!

Keep up the work with your paper route, Stan. I saw last month's "Live Wire" and you weren't mentioned in the list of those who had paid by the fifth of the month. What happened?

Well I can't write anymore just now - so cheerio for now. Write soon -

Your brother,

Jim



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