January 8, 2011

All Grown Up

League Island
February 11, 1919

Dear Mother,

Started a letter yesterday but didn't get to finish it, so will start again.

We went to Wilmington Saturday but couldn't go down until about five o'clock in the afternoon on account of the parade. We had intended going down in the morning. We had a fine time, I can tell you -- John's aunt is certainly a fine woman. They treat me exactly like "home folks" so I almost feel at home -- go out in the kitchen and watch her cook. Doggone if I didn't dry dishes for her Saturday night, so you know I evidently do like to hang around. John and I eat enough on weekends to last all week. You ought to drop her a line -- maybe it will show her that I appreciate everything she has done -- I can't tell them how I enjoy myself even if I had rather stay there than anywhere except home. Her address is Mrs. M. Russell, 722 East 11th Street, Wilmington, Delaware.

As I was going into mess hall the other day, I noticed a fellow behind me who looked familiar, but it was a little dark and I couldn't place him. He looked at me and asked if I wasn't from Pedro, and did I know a fellow named Hendricks. I said I knew a Freddie Hendricks from Wichita Falls, and he said, "Well, that's me." And sure enough it was. He had been taken off "The Ship" about two weeks before. I don't know what he is going to do now.

I can't tell whether I will go on the Blakeley or not -- anyway, if Father will do it, have him send an affidavit saying he wants to send me to school (not that I am going back), and that I need preparation to enter next fall. Have it sworn to by a notary public. They may hold me for four years anyway. The only reason I want out is because you want me to get out. I hate to come home without going anywhere. I've always been afraid that you and Father would be disappointed in your son, but some way I just can't make up my mind to come home without being able to say I've been somewhere and had a little experience.

When I get to thinking about it, I surely feel bad. Some of my ancestors must have been roamers or something like that, for I can't get settle down [Ed. note: His ancestors came to Texas via the Netherlands, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky, among other places]. The only thing is that I would have to wait three more years before I could get a home of my own. I've grown up quite a good deal since I've been away -- more so than in the last several years.

I'm not nuts about Sara like I have been over some silly kids, but I really mean to marry her sometime. Naturally she is just a kid herself yet, so a few years won't make any difference. I know darn well I'm serious even if you won't think so. I've been with every kind of girl since I've been in -- more girls than I've gone with in all my life. I've really seen and understood more things than I could ever have done on the outside. A fellow grows up more in the outfit even if he doesn't run through a few months of service without trying to advance any.

The Chief said this morning that he could get me transferred to a Navy quartermasters if I wanted to go on with my cruise -- and I do want to -- however, you send the affidavit if you want to, and I'll see what I can do. If I ship over I'll be 22 when I come out. Did Father get a start that young, or no? No, he didn't, and I could start just as well then.

The Chief said for us to get a little practice so I will have to stop.

We sure did not have a long way to march Saturday -- all the way into Philadelphia from the Island -- but I caught a ride back. An officer tried to stop the auto when he saw I had a gun and bayonet, but the man just laughed at him and kept going. We were not supposed to ride back at all.

Just got your letter written on the 6th this a.m. -- of course, it makes me want to come home more than ever, but I don't know what to do.

Will wait for a letter from you.

Haven't gotten the verses at all -- evidently something went wrong with the letter. I got a letter from Father this morning, written on the 16th of December, so you see how easy it is to get lost. Send me another copy of them if you will.

My love to all of you -- I hope you do what you want about the house.

Your Son,

(No postmark, U.S.S. Blakeley, Barracks 297, League Island, Pennsylvania)

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