Baker, James

Letter
Date:
February 8, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim

February 8th, 1942

Dear Mom,

I have just come back from seeing King Peter of Yugoslavia and I am writing to you while the picture is still clear in my mind. He came to church with us this morning and of course we felt very highly honored. He came absolutely unhearalded, without panalopy or fanfare of any kind. He didn't even have a staff. The only person with him was Lady Astor and I personally think that it was her doing, as she delights in doing things behind the backs of authority!

The first intimation we got that he was to be at church was when we were all parading down the hall in our ‘blues' on our way to the chapel. As we passed the front door I happened to look out into the entrance hall and there I saw Lady Astor, Colonel McKenzie (the officer in charge of the hospital) and several doctors and nursing-sisters grouped around a short pallid-looking boy, almost buried beneath a huge great coat and a peculiar gold cap, almost a fiz. And immediately it flashed into my mind "King Peter" for I had heard he was staying at Lady Astor's. And sure enough when we had all filed into church and sat down, the padre announced that King Peter was coming to church with us. Of course we were all quite excited and looking forward to seeing him.

At last he came in - closely following Col. McKenzie and seemingly having a hard time keeping up, for the Colonel is a very impatient man, always in a hurry and he walks very fast. The King was wearing a light powder-blue military uniform with a row of ribbons and orders blazoned on the right side of his chest.

It is hard to realize that he is a king because he is so small and slight, almost insignificant at a cursory glance. He is only about 5'6" and very slender. He is clean shaven but the blue of his beard which is very heavy for so young a boy clearly shows through. His face is narrow and long, the forehead quite shallow but wide and the nose is delicate with a high arch and a point. The eyes are clear and piercing, deep brown in color and set wide in his face. All through the service he kept looking around at the rest of us so we had a chance to see and study him. I guess he didn't exactly approve of the service because he is probably a Greek-Orthodox himself and felt out of place at an Anglican service.

Then, when we had all waited till he - accompanied by the officers and nursing-sisters had filed out, we found him waiting for us in the hall when we got outside. He was standing to one side so that we all had to pass quite close to him. He was looking intently at each one as he went past and a tiny playful smile lurked at the corner of his mouth. He nodded his head every once in awhile as though confirming some opinion he had formed. He looked so tiny among all of us huge Canadians - anyone of whom was at least twice as big as he is, or so it seemed. I got quite a thrill when his eyes met mine I can tell you, and I'll swear the little dimple at the corner of his lip deepened a little as his head nodded ever so rapidly up and down several times. And that was the last I saw of him, and that is the picture I will carry of him in my memory, a tiny little man - almost a boy, dressed in a brave powder-blue uniform, scanning our faces as we marched by him and nodding his head vigourously to himself.

Nothing much has happened this past week. I have had my arm dressed several times and each time it seems a bit better, but it is so dreadfully slow. I got letters from Mary and Hilary - or rather, from their mothers for they are both in bed with pneumonia. And then yesterday, I went over the river to see Joy - the girl I knew when I was in here last time, and I found her in bed just getting over a bad case of pneumonia. There seems to be a regular epidemic among my friends! I got a very nice letter and a book from Mrs. Sayers which I am going to send to you when I am through with it. I have been doing a lot of reading and studying too, especially Philip Gibbs who is a political writer and a famous journalist over here. I am taking a Correspondence Course in Social Studies and am now up to Paper V. It is very interesting but not very hard because I have done most of it in school before.

I showed my poems to Joyce Grenfill last week. She is a very famous actress, radio star and writer over here and a regular visitor to the hospital. She comes every day and runs little errands for us. She was absolutely enchanted (that's the very word she used) with some of them and asked me why I didn't get them published. I told her it was a question of money and she made a little move and said "That's the trouble with everything these days isn't it?" But so many people who are in a position to know think they should be published that I am beginning to think so too. What do you think?

Well Mom, there doesn't seem much more to say. I hope everything is alright at home.

Love to everyone,

Jim



Original Scans