December 2, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction

Pelham Bay
November 8, 1918

Dear Mother,

Back home again -- a little tired, but happy and still frisky. Had another one of my experiences last night. A well-dressed man came up amid the crowd and began talking to me. That looked funny and I thought maybe he was trying to spring some skin game on me. He was about 48 years old; he used very good English so I did my best to make him think he didn't have anything on me. After talking a while he asked me if I knew New York, and I told him I didn't, so he offered to show me some of the principal buildings close in. I didn't have anything else to do so I went with him.

He pointed out all kinds of things of interest, and then about 12 o'clock pm we went to the Waldorf Astoria (I never thought I'd get there) and took in everything. There were all kinds of foreign gentlemen all covered with gold, and in the ballroom they were giving a dance in celebration of the peace news -- just that alone was worth seeing. He knew the manager quite well, and he let us go anywhere we wished. I strolled around like I was a guest and took it all in at the same time.

After we came out he asked me over to his bachelor apartments to sleep for the night. Naturally I refused, and then he said, "Son, I've been trusting you. I've talked to several sailors today and of all of them, you show better breeding and cleaner thinking -- maybe you think I didn't." Well I up and thanked him, and he told me just to have confidence in him. He told me he was a government "secret service man" and showed me his badge and papers.

I wasn't going home with him even if he did talk and act like a gentleman. But after getting good proof he was honest, I went with him. Boy, you ought to see his apartment. It's some furnished and he goes in for art and paintings quite a bit. He doesn't paint, but has several grand oil paintings as well as a bunch of watercolors.

He had autographed photos of Caruso and the mayor, and several people I never heard of -- he must have had quite a lot more money and influence than a common official. He has a nephew in the Navy in the Irish Sea. His name is William A. McLaughlin. I promised him I'd come back in the near future, and he said he'd fix up something worthwhile. Don't know whether I will take him up on it or not, but I passed one evening with him.

Got several letters this morning from Grace Hapgood and Father. Tell Father I'll tear up his check -- I just got it this morning. We get paid Tuesday so they say. This is some dizzy camp, let me tell you.

I had more newspaper clippings I meant to send you, but some bird got them. If I find them I'll put them in.

Love to all of you,

(Postmarked Pelham, New York)


  1. This story is just a litle creepy.

  2. Yes it is. I really didn't know what to make of this letter myself. It was posted because it was included with all the other (more normal) letters he wrote home. I have no idea if the event actually happened or not.