July 16, 1919
Dear Father and Mother,
Your letters came today and you can guess how I devoured them. They are the second I have gotten. I still have several dollars left, and am not going to cash it unless I have to, and only then if we go to some place of special interest.
Nothing new is happening but will write this and get it off when the Williams or Gridley sails for home in a day or so. They brought our mail to us from Venice today.
Have just come in from swimming. We certainly swim a great deal over here, but every little Serbian or Jugoslav kid can swim almost as soon as he can walk.
Had to stop this afternoon but will finish now. I am on the 12 to 4 watch. I usually do my letter writing when I have the mid watch.
We were all broken out at 11:45 tonight and removed from the dock and came out of the harbor. A pretty stiff wind came up and the captain was afraid we would be knocked against the cement breakwater, so we "up anchors" and here we are, out a ways from the harbor with both anchors out. It's now about 2:30 and all have just turned in again. It didn't worry me to get up for I had to anyway to go on watch. When we first got up it was raining and dark clouds covered the sky. Now it's as clear as a beer -- that's the way it does in the Adriatic -- all storms come up and die down quickly.
Played the McCook baseball team again yesterday and beat them 9-8. The McCook, Gridley, and Williams are all going back to the States this morning at 10 a.m. The McCook came over with us, so we may start back any time during the next 10 months.
The big battle cruiser Pittsburgh came in the other day, and is now coaling ship preparatory to getting underway again for someplace.
With the bunch of ships now in the harbor we have to keep pretty busy, for never 5 or 10 minutes go by without a signal coming in or we are sending one. Then too we have to keep a sharp lookout and report all motor boats from the different ships coming alongside, as well as find time to write the log and do numerous odd jobs. It surely keeps one fellow busy for 4 hours. At night there are messages up til 12, but after that we usually don't have much work to do. That is one reason the 12 to 4 isn't as bad as it sounds. Of course it beats us out of lots of sleep.
Here is the way we stand watches: three days on -- two off, or like I go in today 12 to 4 p.m. Wednesday: 12 to 4 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday 4 to 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and then I am off duty til Sunday at 12 o'clock again. In the morning we are going back into the harbor, or we will have breakfast at 6:30 instead of 7:30, or there won't be much sleep for me after 4 o'clock comes. Am feeling fine, however am losing weight I know. You can see that when I stand the 4 - 8 a.m. Thursday, I will stand 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. that night, also will have to be up twenty hours. Go to bed at 12 a.m. and get up at 7, and go on watch at 8 again. It's rather strenuous but won't kill anyone. However, you can bet I'll be glad to sleep all night for about a week once more.
Got letters from Sara, Grace, and Winnie Bradford today. You ought to see the fellows go wild when mail comes in over here. They naturally want to hear from home more now that we are farther away. A fellow got a package of newspapers today -- he could have made a fortune if her had sold them. We got the returns from the Willard-Dempsey fight yesterday, and hear that the States didn't go dry.
Just went down and caught the anchor watch asleep. The anchor watch is a seaman who stands gangway watch on the main deck. Of course, if I put him down he would get a good balling-out at least, but I'm a good feller so I just woke him up and laughed at him. It's funny to hear a fellow make excuses for something that's perfectly plain. He said he wasn't exactly asleep -- was just lying there with his eyes closed. It really makes no difference if he was to sleep all night, for there isn't anything to do now we are out here away from shore.
Dewey Wright was over day before yesterday and we talked quite a while. He tried to trade places with a fellow on here so he could stay over here. Then too, he likes the Blakeley better than the McCook. He made first class gunners mate the other day -- that's like a sergeant in the Army only it draws more money. He gets $56 per month. If the new pay bill goes through Congress, he would get $78, and I would get $63 instead of $46.50. He intends staying with the outfit after his first enlistment is up. I don't blame him, for he has more at home to want to go back to.
Am glad the boys are doing so well. Kiss the girlies for me.