February 10, 2011

Going Across

June 9, 1919

Dear Mother and Father,

Have sadly neglected you I know, but we have been pretty busy since we landed in Philadelphia.

I did get the weekend liberty, and wrote you a letter and then left it lying on a table at the service club. It was stamped, so you may get it yet.

They didn't give liberty here tonight, or I would have wired you. I didn't know until today whether or not I was going over with the Blakeley, but this morning the executive officer called me up and told me I was to stay with the ship for this trip at least, and that is just what I wanted him to say. By the time this reaches you I will be about halfway across -- and "going strong." I have an idea I will be pretty seasick for a while, but it may not be very rough. Let's hope not!

Saturday afternoon Waggenseller (he is still in the yard) and I went up to see Cleveland and Phillie play baseball -- then went to the theatre at night. Got up about 11 o'clock Sunday morning and went over in New Jersey to a country club on an inland lake. They had canoes, and after spending about two hours on the water, we danced a while and then ate. There were only a few gobs there but they were treated splendidly. A Catholic man invited us out -- we stayed at the K of C [Ed. note: Knights of Columbus] service club Saturday night.

Since I'm going across I am going to make my old suit do. I have enough to get it without cashing the $20 check, but I was waiting to find out which to buy -- a civilian suit or a new gob suit. Now I'll wait til I get back -- if possible.

We stored up here with a full 6 months rations, but that doesn't mean we are going to stay that long. I really think we will be back on this side by the middle or last of October, if not sooner. I would like to go over and stay about three months, and then come back and get a discharge. That would be about the right time to go back to Texas -- it would be starting to cool off again.

Thom, the little fellow from Chicago, was transferred today, and we all surely hated to see him go -- he was always smiling, never seemed to get peevish about anything at all, and the most accommodating fellow I ever saw. He was a reserve listener and didn't know signals. They got two more radio men aboard to take his and my place on the listening apparatus. I am to do nothing but general quartermaster work on the bridge, and I surely like it better than being in that little cubbyhole in the fo'castle. Of course I've been on the bridge quite a good deal, but had part of the other work to do too.

The fellows are up on deck playing the Victrola, and I admit I'm just a little bit homesick. I thought I was going to get out instead of staying in, and looked forward to surprising you someday in the near future.

I got your letter this morning with Bishop's and Price's addresses in it, and if I hit France, I know it will be Brest, and will at least look Heney up. Our orders now read Antwerp, Belgium -- and from there to Turkey, but we might hit a French port. Hope so. More than likely we will go first to Ponte Delgade, Azore Islands -- will drop you a line from the first port we hit. We have a squadron of five ships and are flagship.

Am certainly glad Donovan is doing well, and hope he is able to make up on his studies before next term -- but make him graduate even if he is 25 when he does.

Aunt Pat and the boys ought to have a wonderfully happy family reunion at Long Beach this summer. I surely wish you could go out to Los Angeles -- it's all you hear, and more.

Waggie and I went to Wilmington Sunday night and stayed til the 1 o'clock train, so I didn't get to bed til almost 4:30, and I have the 12 - 4 a.m. watch tonight. My rest is going to suffer for a while since we will stand 4 on and 8 off while at sea. I am certainly glad that seamen have to steer instead of quartermasters. We only have to take the wheel in difficult landings and bad shoals. Steering a ship by compass is more trying than making a 4-hour auto drive.

Am going to try and get some good pictures while I am gone, and will bring 'em back -- might lose them if I mailed them.

All the love in the world to all of you,
Your affectionate son,

(Postmarked Philadelphia, June 10, 1919)

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