December 11, 2010

The Sovereign

New London
November 30, 1918

Dear Mother and Father,

Got the first letters to New London. Have gotten quite a few forwarded to me.

Am at the YMCA in town -- am going to stay in tonight so I can sleep after 6 o'clock tomorrow. It's worth 50 cents to get to sleep late one morning a week.

Have been out on a boat for two days now, and the first day I was one sick bird. The sea was rough and the waves broke over the deck all day. You know my failing about riding on trains -- well, when a little 110-foot converted yacht gets to pitching around it's all off -- rather all out, for I fed the fish. But I was no exception for everyone on the boat was affected.

Today when we went out it was even rougher than ever but I felt fine all the time. The waves were running high enough to cover the deck -- sometimes the water was running from the fan to stern a foot deep, and we were out on the deck without tubes [Ed. note - tubes were flotation devices]. We had just gotten them overboard and were standing by waiting for the "movie makers" or the submarine we were to practice on, when we got an SOS call from the Sovereign, which was about 3 miles away.

She was on fire and they called us to come to them to get the men if they had to abandon ship, so the captain came on bridge and told us about it. He said to get our tubes in and lashed fast as soon as possible, so we had to get down from the dryer places we'd picked and get wet up to our knees, which was no joke. We got our devices and were on our way over to the Sovereign, when we passed a destroyer that had gotten the message too. We went on and when we got to her, the men who could get to the fire were fighting it, and the others were standing by the life rafts and boats. By shutting up everything but the compartments forward, which were afire, they managed to control it until they got into the mouth of the Thames River, where the water was quieter, and then put it out. It burnt the wheelhouse, quarterdeck, and bridge completely away, as well as the inside of the galley, where it started. The Sovereign is a long, slim, twin-screw racing yacht transformed into a sub chaser, and it rolls even more than the Parthenia (the boat we were on). We came in with her so didn't have to stay out as long as otherwise.

I didn't enjoy myself when I was sick the other day, but surely did today. It's great fun to get on top of a high wave and be able to look all over everywhere, and then go "hell bent for election" down again. Am glad I was initiated in rough weather -- maybe I'll get used to it sooner.

Can't enjoy oneself in New London -- am going to take a walk again tomorrow. Told you I went across the river to Groton and saw old Fort Griswold, didn't I? The old house where Washington had his headquarters when in this country is still standing, and is used by the county historical society. It's made of light colored brick, and to tell the truth is one of the prettiest houses here regardless of age.

Appreciate the clippings you send. Am glad the girlies are all O.K. again. So, it's snowing in Texas! These birds here would hardly believe when I told them.

It has been warmer here in the last two days -- rained Thursday night.

Love to you all.

Your loving son,

(Postmarked New London, Connecticut, December 1, 1918)

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