Baker, James

Letter
Date:
May 15, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
May 15th, 1942

Dear Mom,

I have been expecting a letter from you all week but I have been doomed to disappointment, so I guess I had better write to you myself. I am enclosing a few more cartoons and also a letter which I want to keep for its heading. It is written from Lady Astor's Stud Farm which is very famous: for she breeds race horses. Gladys is the Stud-keeper's daughter and she has been very nice to me since I came here this time. Last Sunday she lent me her father's bicycle and we rode over to Windsor and Eton. Do you remember I told you that Mrs. Harte (Hippo) took me over there last August and how we had tea at ‘The Cock Pit'? You might look it up in my letters. It was either August or September. Well Gladys and I had tea there again last Sunday and we had no sooner walked in the door, than I got the surprise of my life. ‘Mother Rigden' as she is affectionately called by at least five generations of Eton boys, came bustling up to make us welcome and find us a place: the tea room was crowded with ‘Old Etonians' having their sons out to Sunday tea, when she suddenly looked at me and said "You've been here before, haven't you?"

"Why yes!" I said somewhat taken aback for though I remember her perfectly, I never for one moment expected that she would remember me, "But that was last August!"

"Oh yes. I remember now. You came with another older man and two women and you sat over there at that table, didn't you? I remember you smiling. You seemed very happy, were you?"

Well, I was... but fancy her remembering me! It was very interesting to sit there eating our tea and listening to the buzz of conversation that was going on around us. I never heard so many "Oh my deaths!" and "I say topping old chap what?" and "Really sporting you know!"s in all my life for of course, this was High Society with capital letters and a very aspirant "h". There was one old dowager aunt (I took her for) who was boring her two nephews to death with a long interminable story. I was rather interested in her and looked more often than I should have done I guess, for my second look was returned by a long icy stare from her flashing eyes over her high arched nose. I could just hear her saying: ‘Presumptuous indeed! Insignificant nobody!'

And then Mrs. Rigden came over and singled out our ‘table for two' for a very special honour: she consented to be our guest and have her own tea with us. We had a grand time with her - Gladys and I, and I could just feel the half-belligerent attitude of the whole room change to one of interest and curiosity. I even caught the dowager's eye again and I couldn't resist a tiny humourous pucker at the corner of my mouth. It was so funny to read her thoughts, "I wonder who that young couple really are? Mrs. Rigden seems to find them so interesting!" We had a grand time and I was sorry when we had to leave.

Afterward, Gladys took me to the house of a friend of hers. It turned out to be the boat-keeper of Eton, the man in charge of all the boys' "racing shells" as they are called. We spent a very interesting two hours going through the boat house, learning how to make them, actually seeing one in the course of construction, examining all the different "shells" and hearing exciting stories about many of the famous ‘bumps' along the river above Windsor. Then just as we started for home, it started to rain. So Daphne Clarett (Glady's friend) lent us some raincoats. But I got wet anyway and caught a cold. I have had a very sore throat this past week, but am better now. My arm has nearly healed too and I expect to be out next week sometime.

I have had a letter from Lewis McLeod and he wants to meet me in London soon. Hope I know him.

Mrs. Sayers sends her love. Jean Louis is very busy at night work now and he can't get home so often as he used to. I guess there is nothing more to report:

Love to you all as always,

Jim

CLIVEDEN STUD, LTD

Dear Jim,

Thank you for your note. I'm glad to hear your sore throat is nothing serious - I didn't really think that it was a result of getting wet on Sunday.

I'd very much like to go somewhere & do something this week-end. How about Saturday afternoon? They're starting 9.30 palles on Friday, aren't they? By the way, a girl friend of mine said that if you have a special friend you'd like to go out too, she'd be willing to take him & make four. I don't know whether it's a good idea or not - but I'll leave it to you. Probably two would be more fun than four as we could take the bicycles & go somewhere if we wanted to.

You'll tell Mrs. McDougall if you can come, won't you?

Try & think of something nice and ‘adventurous' to do, won't you?

Gladys



Original Scans