December 30, 2010

The Blakeley Detail

Philadelphia, Pa.
January 13, 1919

Dear Mother,

This is the first letter I've written since the first night I was in town. Haven't been out on liberty since that night, although I've had liberty every night. It's been so cold I didn't have enough energy to go down, for it's about a thirty-minute ride into the main part. They won't let us go over to the Y or recreation center but during certain hours, so I've never been over but once, and then a show was going on and I couldn't write.

I've made a belt for one of the boys -- I suppose it will fall to Donovan as Father and Edwin are more sporty dressers, and the belt isn't at all sporty. All you have to do when it is dirty is take a kiyi brush and soap, and give it a good scrubbing. It's made out of white fish line, but if you want to you can dye it black. It took about 10 hours of knot-tying and still doesn't look very good -- anyway, I made it by myself. I started you a handbag but today I stopped and laughed at the darn thing. I can't imagine your carrying it anywhere. It's made out of the funniest colored cord you ever saw -- you can dye it too, or give it to the girls. I won't finish it until next week anyway.

I was lucky as could be -- got under the best chief in the Blakeley detail (the boat is named Blakeley). All we do in the daytime is go over in an empty barracks, turn on the steam, and practice semaphore and blinker.

The captain of the Blakeley came over today and talked to me about shipping over in the regular Navy, but I told him I wouldn't do it at all if I had to revert back to seaman and begin all over again. He said if I wanted to ship over [Ed. note: this meant re-enlist], he would confirm my rating and let me stay QM2C. All men shipping over get a month's extra pay and a 30-day furlough home. I don't know what to do, whether to come home when my time's up for good, or take the 30 days and ship over. The Navy isn't such a bad place after all, and I hate to come home without making a cruise over to England and France anyway.

All the fellows except Thorn and me have been across since the war started, and are regulars. I am sure you will raise the dickens about me enlisting over -- of course, I don't know yet what I want to do.

Write me at Barracks 307 instead of 297. I never have gotten your candy yet. I expect the fellows at New London ate it after I went away.

Love to all of you,

(Postmarked Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 15, 1919)

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