Baker, James

Letter
Date:
September 19, 1941
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Sept. 19th, 1941

Dear Mom,

I received two parcels of papers from you yesterday, but no letters as yet. Thanks very much for the papers. I love looking through them and keeping track of my old school chums. So many of them are joining up now that the place must be almost denuded by now. By the way, did "The Leader" publish a letter of mine? I notice that they said they were going to but I have not seen it in any of the papers which you sent me.

I had a lovely long chat with the padre of the hospital the other day. I was feeling particularly blue and miserable and he cheered me up wonderfully. He is an RC but quite different from any other Father I have ever met. For one thing, he is young and progressive in his ideas and isn't hidebound by all the old traditions of his faith. He is the kind of faith I want, that I have been searching for. It is so hard to believe in a God who is omnipotent and quite beyond reach of ordinary mortals. His God seems to mingle, to come down to earth and lend a helping had. He is the first padre I have ever heard that used "damn" when he was roused. We were talking about conditions existing among the half-breeds in Manitoba at the time and he told me of a baby he had to baptize in Stonewall. The mother was a mentally deficient sixteen year old and when he protested to the Civil authorities, they turned the blank ear of official indifference to his pleas for aid. Oh - he was burning up! I have seldom heard a man so burned up!

He is also Education officer for the Unit and I was talking to him about courses. He advised me to take Typing and Shorthand and Literature. Well as you know, I have tried to take the first two courses but had to give them up when I came in here. But I am going to try to take a course in Army clerkship as soon as I get out of here. It means a 4 month school in London for one thing and complete instruction from competent teachers. And there is always a chance if you are good enough of getting on the staff of the WD in London. But it is usually not a case of competence (but of who you know) that gets you those jobs.

I have decided that I have been a private long enough. I am going to start looking for promotion. How I wish I had waited and joined the RCAF. I would probably be a pilot officer by now instead of ploughing around in obscurity as "one of the throng". I see all - or most of my pals, are getting into the Air Force. Are they all going to be pilots or what are they going in for? Can you find out for me?

I ran into one of my old pals last night whom I have not seen for nearly ten months. His name is Ostrom and he is an extremely interesting fellow. He is a Norwegian from Los Angeles, Calif. When I knew him last November, he was a wild daredevil, always up to some mischief. When I was out with him I could always count on something exciting happening...but what a difference now! He got married a few months ago and now you should see him... far quieter, well dressed, hair combed and clean. He never used to give a damn about his appearance. Now he is quite a gentleman. His wife is a Latvian. She speaks nine languages fluently, has travelled and lived in nearly every out-of-the-way corner of the globe, owns the factories in Latvia from which she has not had a cent ever since first Russia - then Germany, overran them. But I can't get over the change in Ostrom! If that is what married life does, it's not for me. I want to be free to do as I please. And yet, he seems quite happy and contented. He says so and I believe him.

Well, I guess that is all for now Mom. I hope I get a letter from you soon as I am missing my dispatches. Continue writing to the old address... they will forward it from there.

Cheerio. Love to everyone. Happy Birthday Grandad and Burt too. Say what is Stan doing? I didn't see his name in the pass lists for Grade 12.

Love,

Jim



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