Baker, James

Letter
Date:
January 19, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Jan. 19th, 1942

Dearest Mom,

This is going to be a letter full of good news so prepare yourself for a series of shocks. Firstly: if I remember aright in my last letter I was just about to go into hospital. Well I've managed to fix up my arm myself, I have been bathing it in hot water three times a day and I have nearly succeeded in healing it. It feels good now and I am hoping it will be completely well by the end of the month. ...so, one worry you can write off the slate.

Secondly: I have at last got the perfect job, the one I have been seeking for months. It all started last week when we had these new Intelligence Tests that everyone in the Canadian Army has to have. Well I had mine last Tuesday morning and in the afternoon I had my personal interview with the Officer in charge as everyone has to do, and after it was all over the Officer suddenly turned to me and said "How would you like to work with me?" I was so flabbergasted that I couldn't speak for a moment and then I said "I'd like it very much, sir!" and lo and behold, in half an hour it was done! I am now an Official Examiner. I do a lot of clerical work: correct the tests, on occasion give them and file reports. I also have to ask each man a lot of personal questions and note his answers, the manner in which they are given and form an opinion about his possible reactions under varying conditions of army life. All these various characteristics, mental alertness and brilliancy, mannerisms, speech and personality are entered on a chart. There is quite a lot of psychology mixed up in it for some of the fellows are very antagonistic and we have to persuade them to talk. Each man presents a new problem and we have to be continually alert to find the best way to handle each case as it comes up. We grade each person according to the marks which they make on the test. My mark was 179 and I got an "A" grade. I feel very proud of that as that grade is marked "Possible Officer material".

Thirdly: I have been transferred to Canadian Military Head Quarters which is in London. The transfer came through on orders yet, but it is pretty definite. I don't suppose I will actually be stationed in London though because I will be pretty busy during these next six months examining all the various units. We work in teams of three, an officer and two men. The other fellow I am with is very nice, intelligent and industrious. The officer seems to be a family-decent chap too. I don't know how many teams there are but there must be quite a few.

Fourthly: I journeyed up to London this weekend so I could break the good news to all my friends. Mrs. Sayers was away but Mrs. Beverly and Mary were home and they were as glad as I was about it. They have been asking me time after time why I don't go in for a commission and be-moaning what they call "The waste of good material". They have even been considering pulling some strings for me so I could get a job better suited to my capacities. But I beat them to the draw by getting this one for myself and I feel much better about it. But if and when I do get up to London permanently, they have offered me a home. Mrs. Beverly has just opened a service club and she told me that she would be able to give me one permanently and board for a very small sum...so I am well away. Isn't it wonderful to have so many friends.

Mary and I had a wonderful time yesterday. We were tired out by the end of it but it really was worth it. We were so happy that we simply couldn't sit quiet all the way home in the bus and much to the conductor's horror (but much to the other passengers amusement and approval I might add) we sang choruses at the top of our voices. And when we got home we found the family had gone out and we had the whole house to ourselves. So we rolled back the rugs, moved all the furniture and danced for about three hours. Incidentally we had tea at Quality Inn and I introduced Mary to waffles with maple syrup and ice cream on top. The manageress of the place was very interested for she had never seen waffles eaten that way before, and she promised to make that a regular item on the menu. Then we went to the New Gallery Cinema in Regent St. and saw Walt Disney's "Dumbo". It is marvelous; there is no other word to describe it. Then we had a wonderful Chinese dinner at the Shanghai Restaurant and then home.

There, isn't that a basket-full of good news all at once? I have already had four days at my new job and like it immensely. Sometime early this week we start out on tour. I have no idea what my new address will be so I guess you had better use this one until I write and tell you what to put. I am enclosing a copy of a letter which I have sent to my friend - Miss Scarth of the Winnipeg Free Press. She is the woman who runs the ‘Young Author's Page' in the Free Press. She has also sent - or rather given me a year's subscription to the Saturday paper.

I have got an awful lot of mail to answer but I am going to be so busy, I am afraid that I do not know how I am going to answer it all. By the way, do you think you could send some ‘Burgess PenLite Batteries' and a bulb? The Eveready PenLite batteries would probably be alright but the bulb is a special shape I think. They use them in their oesophogoscopes and oroscropes. My flash light that Blake gave me is useless till I can get some....thanks.

Well I guess that's all for now. Write soon.

Love to you all,

Jim


...from a newspaper clipping: probably the ‘Daily Province' or ‘Surrey Leader'

Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Baker have received word from their son Jim - who is serving ‘Somewhere in England'. Recently Jim went up for examination - a sort of IQ Test and scored 98 percent. He was promptly grabbed by the Intelligence Branch and had been with them only four days when he was sent to hospital on account of a lingering arm hurt. Those who know Jim's capabilities will be glad to learn he has his foot on the first rung of a tall ladder, but certainly not too tall for him.



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