New London, Connecticut
December 6, 1918
Am on a four-hour watch -- the graveyard watch at that, from 12 to 4 a.m. Am supposed to look after the five instruction rooms in this end of the building. Have a Colt pistol "on my hip" and it's certainly better than having to carry a Springfield. This isn't really hard because I keep a fire going in the main office and stay in here -- just going out in the hall once in a while. Am supposed to unlock and go in every room at least once an hour to see that everything is untouched.
Just looked out a window and it's snowing -- don't know when it started. Sometime after ten, for I was up then. The snow we had the other day melted, and things warmed up somewhat, but the weather forecast says fair and colder today, so I dread to go out.
We go out now on the sub chasers every day for about two weeks, when we will get our rating. The rating I'll get with either be quartermaster 2nd or 3rd class -- 3rd is the same as corporal in the Army and 2nd as sergeant. Quartermaster in the Navy is not like the Army. The chevrons and eagle are worn on the right arm and only those of the fighting forces wear them. All the rest -- like yeomen, machinist mates, radio operator, and the like wear their chevrons on the left arm. In other words, quartermaster is not in the line. The fellows who correspond to Army quartermasters are called store keepers.
You know the examination on the K tube I dreaded? Well, your son made a 4.0 or 100% paper, and was complimented by the ensign in charge of the division -- made the only correct paper on the K tube. I have absorbed more knowledge in the ten weeks I've been here than I would have gotten in a physics class at school in two months. Of course it is only that part which has to do with listening devices -- would have sent my paper home, but they burned them as they contained information which isn't given out.
To show you how sensitive some of the instruments are (there are about 18), we could hear the sound of pebbles being washed up on the beach by the waves and rolling back down -- and we were two miles from shore. Doesn't that sound "fishy" -- but it's the truth nevertheless.
I sent Grandma and Aunt Hattie the pictures I meant to send long ago.
You asked where we wear our stripes. There are three white stripes around the edge of our middy collar, and three around each cuff. When I went in, I wore one around each cuff for apprentice seaman. Then I wore two, and now that I'm in the listeners wear three for 1st class seaman, although I don't get paid but for 2nd. When I get my rating I'll either be making $42.50 or $46.50 according to what I get on my exam. That isn't much, but it is quite an increase over the $32.60 pay I started in as. If I get 2nd class quartermaster, I'll have a higher rating than Julius will when he gets out of Harvard, and he won't be a line officer either. He will get radio operator 3rd.
Love from your son,