Baker, James

Letter
Date:
September 9, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Sept. 9th, 1942

Dear Mom,

Three letters have arrived from you almost simultaneously dated July 15th, August 7th and an Airgraph August 19th. The Airgraph got to this country actually on the 26th of August and has spent the rest of the time trying to find me. For some reason or other the people in The Beaver Club have been sending my mail anywhere but here with the result it is sometimes very late in arriving. However, I have written and told them about it so it should be better from now on. The Airgraphs are very much quicker there is no doubt about it. One boy actually got one yesterday in 8 days and I have got them myself in 12. So they are definitely worth the 10 cents, except that you can not say as much.

I am glad to hear that Burt is working but I must say I am surprised at the wages he is getting. Imagine: $28 a month! And here I am, lucky to get 4 1/2 lbs. How much of that does he actually have clear? Is he saving any at all? And if Dad starts work too, my gosh! we're going to have our house really swell.

You know it just stuck me the old place must be somewhat empty just now, with only you four older people there. Somehow or other I can't seem to get used to the idea of Burt and Stanley having grown up and ‘flown the coop' as it were. I hope you are not too lonely. And anyway, you can rest assured that we will all come home as often as we can, at least I will anyway. That is one reason I envy all the RAF. lads. They get to go ‘home' on leave whereas we only go to a club or to the house of a friend and somehow, it doesn't seem the same: although I certainly have no cause for complaint at the treatment I have received wherever I have been. So many of the lads complain about the lack of hospitality but I am certain it must be their own fault, I seem to be able to get along and make friends wherever I go. But enough of ‘blowing my own trumpet.'

The course is slipping by and exams - the finals, are nearly here again. We are the senior Flight in our Squadron now. The other three have written their exams and been posted away to a Grading School and 3 more have taken their places. We are now the ones who are looked upon with awe, for we have passed our Progress Exam and are very nearly pilots in their eyes....not that this is true of course. There are still months of hard slugging before us. However if we take no notice of time, it just seems to slip naturally away and leaves no trace of its going.

I am glad that Ottawa has made the adjustment but I was nearly sure they would because I signed papers to that effect before I was out of the Army, so they had to do it. However, it is a relief to know they are not gyping us. I too, was very interested in the Fraser saga. She must be quite a woman in fact - they must be quite a family, and I shall look forward to meeting them.

You know everyone you show my work to says they should be published and everyone I show them to says the same and yet somehow, I cannot believe they are as good as all that. Perhaps I am just a ‘Doubting Thomas' but somehow I think the personal element is creeping in and they are not judged entirely on their merits. I suppose the only thing to do is wait until I get home and we can go over them all together, revise those that are necessary and perhaps make out a manuscript. We could then submit it for criticism or for possible publication. It is such a complicated business that I wonder if it is worth it. However, we can wait and see what the publisher thinks. I know I am going to give away an awful lot of complimentary copies if all my friends expect one as they seem to do.

I had a long letter from Gladys Hoye myself and she too liked my poems. She is still working in Edmonton and seems to like it alright. I think from the sound of her letter though, she is looking for a man so she can get married and settle down, although what possible use a man could be in these unsettled times I can't see. He is liable to get the urge at any moment and join up. I haven't heard from Blake for sometime but both Phil Cox and Ben Laws have written recently. Ben is very much the proud father, telling me all about his latest addition and Phil was having trouble with the ‘wiles and wilfulness of Eve' to put it mildly. However I suppose we all pass through that stage! He seems set on being a teacher; at least I gather he is going through Normal.

My gosh! the whole town seems to have changed around....are there any young people left at all? All my friends are moving away. And trust the Burton boys to land in something soft. I can't imagine either of them putting their necks into any danger area. Tell me honestly Mother, are you not just a little proud that two of your sons have volunteered for Overseas even though they have not succeeded in getting there yet? You wouldn't want to see us stuck away on some high shelf - wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a nice pink bow now, would you? That isn't living, the only men who live - who know how to live, are those who are willing to risk the loss of everything. The knowledge that you are always safe and have nothing to fear must be very unnerving. I know I never enjoyed anything, any experience I ever had so much as I enjoyed the raids in London. Every sense seemed to be sharpened, so much more acute, everything was magnified and heightened in effect. Beauty was so much more beautiful and horror was so much more horrible. I would not have missed these past 3 years for any nine you could give me anywhere else; even though they have been hard years and sometimes lonely ones. But the loneliness has only served to draw me closer to home and my own people and the hardness has only taught me now to appreciate those many luxuries I had before. So I believe that Churchill's motto "Live Dangerously!" is the best and soundest of all advice. The soul grows and reaches maturity more quickly ... more beautifully.

I am enclosing a letter to show you what other people think of my work and also to let you see the awful mess my mail was in.

Love to you all,

Jim



Original Scans