Baker, James

Letter
Date:
January 3, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Jan. 3rd, 1942

Dear Mom,

Jan. 3rd, 1942! Doesn't seem so very long ago that I was writing 1940, 1941 on the top of my letters...now it is 1942 and I am afraid it will be 1943, 1944 or more before the war is over. But looking back upon it I believe it has been one of the "shortest" periods of my life in that I have learned so much that was strange and new in such a short space of time, that the time has passed very quickly and what a tremendous number of things I have seen and done! I do not seem to have accomplished anything tangible I know, but it is all there locked up in my mind and in my personality. I am more sure of myself and can make myself at ease in almost any company and I can talk and write intelligently and freely, plus I have learned the value of appreciating another person's point of view and of realizing that there are many more opinions regarding each and every aspect of living than your own - but most of all, I have found a value to put upon myself, not too high because that conceals conceit and not too low because that entails disrespect. And best of all I have found a goal to work for. I have definitely decided upon journalism of some kind for a life's work and preferably free-lance writing or creative writing. The other day when I was in London I dropped in twice to see Mary Beverly, one on Wednesday afternoon and again on Thursday (New Year's afternoon), I managed to get 48 hours leave so I could spend New Year's Eve in London at the party I have already told you about. It was a lovely party and I really enjoyed it. The Scotch people certainly know how to welcome the New Year in at their "Hohmonys". There were about fifteen of us and we sat around getting acquainted till New Year's (12 - midnight) then we all toasted the New Year and sang ‘Auld Lang Syne', kissed everybody and then had supper. Haggis, I had for the first and it doesn't taste too bad. Sandwiches and cake and cookies and chocolates galore, we had all been saving for this for a long time. After supper we played games for awhile. One game in particular was very funny. Bessie - the Scotch girl I have told you about before was the MC. and she is immense fun. She divided us equally into two parties ranged in a line down the centre of the room. I was the leader of one side and a man named Pat was the leader of the other side. Then Bessie began to ask for articles from each of us, like "I want an article from a gentleman's pocket" or "a lady's lipstick", etc.. The side that got the most in won a prize. Once she asked for "An intimate article of lady's apparel". One of the girl's on the other side whipped off her silk stockings, immediately I protested as I said it wasn't intimate enough. "Oh yes it is" said Bessie "You know Jim, a lady's stocking reaches great heights!" Well, what more could I say? But it was such fun! After the articles were in, the side which lost had to pay a forfeit to get them back. We broke up about 4 AM. and slept in till noon the next day...but I was telling you about Mary.

I called first to see her on Wednesday afternoon and I found her in bed. She had been poisoned eating oysters at Christmas and has had to be in bed over the New Year festivities. We talked and I did my best to cheer her up for the poor kid was feeling pretty miserable. I think I succeeded too. I had tea there in the midst of a terrific rush, for Mrs. Beverly is organizing a new Service Club for English Forces in London called "The Lion's Club" and she is terrifically busy. But she is never too busy to sit down and talk to me whenever I go to see her or Mary and to make me feel at home right away. She is a lovely woman, very attractive still - about 45, and wears her clothes with that indescribable something that so few English women achieve but comes naturally to most Americans. Mary is about twenty, pretty - attractive, very intelligent and a natural, unspoiled girl, very shy at first but a wonderful companion when once you have gained her confidence. We get on like brother and sister together. She is very interested in writing too and has lent me several books on short-story writing which I am busy reading at present...they are most instructive too.

Mary and her family have travelled very intensively on the continent before war was declared. I believe they had a chalet in Switzerland, anyway Mary is always talking about the wonderful times they used to have in their ‘house in Switzerland' and on Thursday, she showed me some of the photographs her father has taken. He is a marvellous amateur photographer and of course, has the best equipment money can buy. But he really has some wonderful albums of photos. I could never get tired looking at such wonderful pictures as those Mary showed me! Beautiful scenic views of the Alps, of the snow on the pines, of a ski-trail down a hill, beside a split-rail fence, of a tobaggan load of happy people piled up in a snow-bank - everyone covered with snow yet laughing happily all over their faces. Some of the pictures he has taken while flying over India on a trip to Calcutta are truly amazing...it is just like looking at a National Geographic Magazine, only better, because Mary tells me about each picture as she comes to it. Mary herself is very good for she has an album of horse pictures which are really beautiful. She is crazy about horses and dogs, but her pictures have the same professional touch as her dad's and I really enjoyed looking at them. As a matter of fact, I enjoy going to their home very much and go there as often as I possibly can, which is pretty often because they are only half an hour's journey from London. But it is so nice to get among people who welcome you as they do. I also dropped in to see Mrs. Sayers at the ‘Outpost' for she has an album of horse [?] get them shaken up a bit. Scotty's pretty mad. Most of the boys get parcels of cigarettes occasionally from their Legions but Scotty says he's never got anything: except the Women's Auxiliary's Christmas parcels. Well, I guess that's all...

Love as always,

Jim



Original Scans