Baker, James

Letter
Date:
May 26, 1941
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
May 26th, 1941

Dear Mom,

I have received your letter and parcel and Burt's lovely letter. He is developing a remarkable literary style all his own, isn't he? Did you read his letter to me? I was really surprised. Look at this sentence...he is talking about the tremendous increase in the population of White Rock. "Even the kids I used to go to school with seemed pushed into the background by the whirl of new faces that come." That certainly doesn't sound like the little brother that I know. He must be growing up and I will have to try and adjust my mind to the change. It seems so hard to realize that they are both growing up and I am not there to see. They are my brothers and yet they are complete strangers to me. Even I am changed. My mind's empty spaces have been filling at such a tremendous pace that I sometimes wonder how I can possibly pack away a single new idea. I am bigger than I was and much, much older in my mental outlook. But my soul is young and that is the way it is going to stay as long as it can. I am never going to grow old in the accepted sense of the word if I can help it, for I think that growing old means to lose the power of learning new things and discovering new joys in life and in that direction, I am determined I shall not grow old. I have had to build up a new life for myself in the past two years and the content to which I have succeeded; I think you can gather from my letters which I have tried to make as graphic and all revealing as possible. I have had to fight many battles with myself - and with the world, and I have received many bruises and shocks which were very painful at the time, but most good for my soul. I have learned to tolerate things which I cannot understand and determine for myself whether they were for my ultimate good or ultimate evil. I have learned to choose the good and in the choosing, I have been very greatly helped by my many friends. And as for the greatest of all life's problems - SEX - that has as yet past lightly by. I have been told by several girls whom I know well that I am "the most completely physically sexless man they have ever met" and I am afraid the charge is true. I do not seem to have the same interest in the opposite sex that so many men do. I like their company - yes, I like to talk to them, play with them, sing with them: but the physical attraction seems to be nil at present. My main aim at present seems to be the satisfying of my intelligence and higher emotions such as love of music, painting, historical places etc. The baser appetites will come later I suppose but until they do, I am not going to worry my head about them. I am rather glad they have been restrained from me for they - or rather the lack of them, had led me to a greater appreciation of beauty in every shape and form then I otherwise might have had. I am consumed by an overwhelming wanderlust and desire to see new things and places and learn about the world in general. But at the same time I am restrained by a great reluctance to forsake the old friends I have made. This reluctance has led me to become a great letter-writer. I am always writing now to someone. I write as many as twenty a week. Right now, I have nearly seventeen to answer; all from different people. I have found it is good practise and I enjoy it.

Enclosed you will find some pictures of Hampton Court which Mrs. Sayers took me to on my leave last Friday week. I got 48 hrs. especially to go up to London to see Jean Louis - her son. I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Sayers for Mr. Sayers was home on leave too, but Jean couldn't get away from his job so I was very disappointed. But we had a jolly time without him! They had an informal birthday in the afternoon for me. I took Kim up to meet then and we had a lovely time together. Your cake graced the festive board for I had saved it especially for this grand occassion. Say, am I twenty or twenty-one? I told them twenty-one...I have it wasn't a mistake. I'll have to be twenty-one from now on for I could never tell them I am only twenty after a festival such as that! It was lucky we had the party when we did for I spent my birthday in anything but happy circumstances. It was the last day of a three day - eighty mile route march and I was dirty, tired, sick and my feet hurt so badly I could have cried. But they are better now. That is twice in a row I have spent my birthday on scheme. Last year in the trenches at Salisbury, this year on a route march, what a world!

I have just finished reading a remarkable book which I would like you to read if you can. It helped me a lot. It is "Lyndessy" by John Connell. It is very shocking in some ways but very vividly written. Mrs. Sayers also presented me with a copy of "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" translated by Edward Fitzgerald for my birthday which I am busy reading. Another book which has been recommended to me by Renne (Kim's friend) is "Testament of Friendship" by Vera Britton.

And now I make again my eternal requests. Please may I have lots and lots of snapshots, photographs, tintypes - anything of my family. Please! Please! Please!!

I was terribly shocked to hear about Ross Munro... whatever made him do a silly thing as that. I cannot imagine doing that, for my life is so full and rich at present that I would dread the thought of leaving it. And how is Gerald now? Better I hope.

I am glad to hear that you have at last bought yourself some new clothes; for being as I have lately among smartly dressed, manicured, marcelled women it has been impossible for me not to contrast them with the way you dress. And then I have thought of the terrible sacrifices you must have made, of the suppressions you have had to apply to your feelings which we have never known of or never thought about; for I have learned that women above all else love to appear smartly groomed and as lovely as possible. So I say "Hurrah for you Mom!" and applaud loudly from the background. I wish I could see you in your new outfit. I'll bet it is really wonderful from your description of it and I bet you can still ‘knock ‘em all for a loop' to descend to the vulgar.

No, I will not be able to settle down to the "humdrum of earning a living" for I have decided that my way of earning a living will not be humdrum. I am going to travel. I don't care if I make a big splash in the world when I am going now. I have learned that there are other things which are much more important: Happiness, Contentment, Beauty, Comfort among them. And Marriage is still a very long way ahead for me. Thank God I got out of my entanglement with Sadie as easily as I did. I had a letter from Blake the day before yesterday and she is happily married. Her husband is now over here in England somewhere. Arrived in the same convoy as your letter. So that is that.

I wrote a letter to Bob Sheppard this morning. I hope he gets it OK. Desmond Simmonds gave me his address. He is over here in England now according to the letter Des got just recently.

Well cheerio for now. Write again soon. Love as always.

Jim



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