Baker, James

Letter
Date:
October 28, 1941
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
Oct. 28th 1941

Dear Mom and Dad,

I received your letter and parcel yesterday and though I am not feeling so very good today, I am going to write and let you know. The parcel was in first class condition and is truly wonderful. The sugar granulated a bit with all the knocking about and has spilled a little over the rest, but that doesn't matter very much does it? Would suggest that if you send sugar again it should be wrapped and tied in brown paper before being parceled. But are you sure you can afford to send me so much? I mean five dollars must be quite a hole in your finances. It is wonderful to receive such beautiful parcels but I would feel a lot happier about it if I was sure that you could afford it. You must be having a hard struggle right now with Stan off the pension and not working yet. And Burt will come off soon too, won't he? That's only going to leave about forty dollars for the five of you. And you aren't as well off this time as you were when we had $45.00 before, for then we at least had cows and chickens and pigs and fuel. I don't see how you are gong to make it for the next year or two unless I start getting promotions and send more money home.

I said at the beginning of my letter that I wasn't feeling so well and I guess you are wondering what I meant. Well, yesterday I went to the dentist and he pulled out one of my teeth. It was impacted: which means that there wasn't enough room in my jaw bone for it to grow in properly and hence it had only half-emerged. It was quite a ticklish job, he had to cut away the gum and chisel the jawbone before he could cut it free. Of course, as soon as the freezing wore off it began to hurt like blazes so I went and lay down. And then about two o'clock yesterday afternoon I began to shiver and shake like an aspen leaf. I was cold all over so the Sister sent me to bed with hot water bottles and extra blankets. I trembled for nearly an hour and when that wore off I began to burn with fever. Then about 8 o'clock at night I felt fine again. So they took off the blankets and I went to sleep. Then about one o'clock in the morning I began to tremble again. I was so bad that my whole bed shook. But as soon as the blankets were put on I began to burn with fever again. I never slept from 1o'clock on and then just at reveille the fever passed: but I was weak as a kitten. Yet after I had some breakfast I felt better. I am still in bed but am absolutely OK now. I guess I must have caught a chill. My arm is still discharging but is all coming from a tiny hole about this big (example) so I don't believe I'll be too much longer now. But it has been a long time now hasn't it? It will be four months on Nov. 7th and today is Oct. 28th.

Mrs. Richardson - the Red Cross Lady, was in this morning selling Xmas cards. It is not very long until Christmas now, is it? Somehow it doesn't seem a year can have passed so quickly. I mailed my Christmas parcels from Brighton last year. I wonder where I'll be this time, at Whitley in the Holding Unit probably. I am going to try to stay there this time as you get so many more opportunities there. I don't want to go back to the RAP any more - for that is a blind alley. I will never become anything if I stay there.

The English mail just came in and I got three letters which I have been reading. I got eight Canadian letters yesterday from different people. One was from Mrs. Foote. The dear old soul, her hand writing is getting so shaky I can hardly read it. I got another letter from Marian Bell too. She is in Ottawa doing secretarial work and she likes it tremendously. I think from the sound of her letter that she has got a "steady". She wants to know if I've fallen for the "lure of English girls yet": but I just laughed and told her I was still ‘fancy free'. Got another letter from Aunt Bessie and she was complaining that she hadn't heard from you for months. They have got all their crop thrashed but it has been a very wet fall and thousands of acres are still in stocks waiting for good weather. She says it was such a fair crop too. She is still working hard, canning tomatoes as she wrote.

By the way Mom, I hope you have been saved all my letters, for they are like a diary to me. I try to tell you everything that happens and lots of stories and article which are too long to put in my diary, I put in my letters home. I have an idea that these little stories are going to be very useful to me one day. It is just a hunch I have. I was reading my diary over the other night and I was really surprised at how interesting it was. It was just like reading a new book except that this one brought such a flood of memories crowding into my mind with the words.

Your letter is somewhat a ‘hymn of praise' isn't it? But it gives me a warm thrill deep down inside to know that you really love and trust me so much. As you say those ten bitter years on the farm have really been ‘a blessing in disguise' for they have taught us appreciation of the finer and higher ideals of life. It has made us so different from other people. I don't know why, but I feel so out of place with the ordinary everyday people around me and so at home with the people that really matter, like Mrs. Sayers, GB Shaw, Lady Astor, Lord Halifax and anyone of the other intellectuals I have met. It is not a feeling of superiority or snobbishness for I can talk with anyone about almost anything. But I always feel so out of my element when I am with the sophisticated, puerile young people that I find constantly around me. I like the company of older people more. My friends are nearly all people who are the "doers" of life. I can't stand shallow self-centered people who just ‘drift' with no apparent object in view. As for what I am going to do after this war, I don't know. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof". But I am grasping every opportunity for acquiring culture and knowledge that comes my way. Right now I am brushing up on my Shakespeare and I am also starting on "Lawrence of Arabia".

I wrote Bob a letter months ago but I guess he didn't get it. I'll have to try again. So Mrs. Sheppard wants to move again. I hope the wife I marry never has ‘the vaunting ambition" which is hers. She reminds me of the shepherd who always thought that the farthest fields looked greener so he was always moving his sheep farther on, with the result that they never got a chance to feed and the poor creatures starved to death. She is always chasing after something that is always just beyond her outstretched finger tips because her ambition is such that by the time she has caught up with her first goal, her eye has fixed on another just a little further ahead. Consequently she is so busy chasing things - and dragging her poor family after her, that neither she nor they have time to really enjoy anything. One of the great secrets of life that I have discovered is relaxation. Our family has discovered that secret I think, but so many people haven't. Their lives are just a continual scurry and bustle and they never have ‘time to do anything". But why hurry? You can accomplish just as much - maybe more, if you take your time and you get far more enjoyment out of it. At least that is what I have discovered anyway. Another thing that I have found a good rule is "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today". The chances are that you will go on ‘putting it off until tomorrow' with the consequence that it never gets done! Well, I won't bore you by philosophizing anymore. That is what Joy laughingly called me over the phone the other morning. She said: "And how is my philosopher this morning?" It quite startled me for a moment as I never thought of myself as a philosopher before. I considered it quite a compliment. Should I have, or not?

I wonder what Stan and Burt are going to become, I do hope they don't just fall into a workman's rut. It would be such a waste of talent wouldn't it? I am as puzzled as you are about Stanley. He is so different from either Burt or myself. He doesn't seem to measure up to any standards that we can recognize. And yet there must be something there for he did get through High School ahead of me and he didn't even try hard as I did. He probably would have been a genius of he'd really applied himself to his work.

I am not so sure that I want to go to Varsity now; I have no desire to be pressed and moulded into the stereotyped college man that seems to be mass-produced now-a-days. This past two years has taught me more that will be of use to me when I come to actually working for myself than a whole four year college curriculum could ever do. Every day I learn something new and besides that I am constantly going over the past work which is more than you do in school: except at the end of the term. I would far rather learn by actually experiencing: it is so much more memorable that way.

Well, that seems to be all for now. Thanks again for the parcel and write soon -

Love to you all,

Jim


Original Scans