"Wed. July 24/40
On our way down St. Lawrence River
How is my girl today? We got away about noon yesterday. It was very pleasant running down the St. Lawrence River. For awhile this morning we were held up by fog, we dropped anchor and kept our bell ringing periodically answering those of the lighthouses on a point of land nearby.
I was so glad to get a letter from you before leaving. It cheered me up mightily. I am very sorry that I could not run to Toronto to see you before leaving but such is our misfortune. Never mind Dearie we shall look forward to a very happy reunion as soon as it is possible.
The shore of Orleans and Londre look very familiar. I can picture myself in our canoe on our way from Chicoutimi to Quebec. [Jones owned a prized birch bark canoe which he had purchased years earlier while working for a paper mill in northern Quebec.] A fellow by name of Labaree made this trip with me. I hope someday to take a trip with you up the Sagenay. (I am sort of lying in my berth writing this note, so please excuse the scrawl.) Some of the boys are on deck, otherS sleeping. It will be my turn at the wheel from 8-10 p.m. Then I shall be ready to anything that I may be called upon to do until our watch is relieved at 12 p.m. We have roughly four hours on duty and eight hours off right around the clock.
Mr. Stonham was very kind Dearie. He wanted me to make his home my home while in Montreal. This made it very nice for me as I was able to sleep at his home rather than aboard ship.
The Sunday I spent in Montreal, I attended church in the evening and afterward went over to see Pearl & her husband. Tommy Kirk (her husband) is trying to get into the air force. He thinks he may have a fair chance. His business (insurance) is interfered with greatly and he expects it to be much worse before it gets better.
Well Dearie, how is the garden looking? Weeds, weeds and still more weeds I'll bet. They grow wherever they're not wanted.
Saturday between 12-4 p.m. Just passing through strait of Belle Isle. Very foggy--can't see anything--but hear fog horn to the south. Busy about deck until twelve--get the afternoon off until 8 o'clock tonight when I take the wheel and steer for two hours. [As helmsman--his previous experience has stood him in good stead.]
We are enjoying the trip very well Sweetheart. The boys are jolly good lads and make a good ship's company.
Well Dearie what are you going today? Just think over two weeks ago that I slept home1 How rapidly time flies.
I have a great deal to account to you Sweetheart already. Some of it is very funny and you would die laughing. I make a few notes in a small notebook that I have from day to day just to aid my memory. One of the boys, Fred, is a real 'card'. He has had a varied experience and to hear him recount them is first class entertainment. Last night he kept the whole forecastle awake until quite late telling how he got into difficulty once by signing on as a ship's cook without having had the slightest experience. Honestly it would put any audience in fits of laughter. He was to have dinner ready for twenty-five men on board at 12 o'clock. By twelve o'clock the potatoes were as hard as rocks, the great big cabbage that he thought should make three meals, shrunk to such a small quantity he had to keep adding more and more of it until he had the whole cabbage in the pot and even then it wasn't half enough. He was going to give them sago pudding for dessert, but you can imagine his troubles when he put a pint mug full of dry sago per man into an ordinary pot. He said it was all over the stove, galley floor, and what he couldn't throw over the side of the ship as it would run over. The pot was so badly burned that it was useless. Then as twelve-thirty came along and no dinner ready, the men became restless with impatience and one after another would visit the galley and help themselves to a half-cooked potato until by the time he thought he had things ready to serve up, he found that he hadn't even a potato per man left. He said he took what was there of the dinner to the mess room, set it down on the table and vanished. He said the entire crew was much annoyed and was raging with anger. He didn't show his face until supper time. His attempt to make bread that night ended up in dough being scattered from end to end of the ship so with that he decided to chuck the job. He has a broad Fleetfoot accent and honestly we nearly passed out.
He ended up telling us of his experience as a member of a Danish fishing smack. He was the only Englishman aboard. He was offered a percentage of the catch if he would go with them to Dogger Bank. He said they just got nicely away from port when the wind came up very strong and it blew so hard that it carried away much of the vessel's rigging and after nineteen days of very poor food and terrible hardship, they returned to port with just an average catch of fish. But when all expenses for gear and loss of rigging were paid he was told that he owned one pound. Well, here he was in an awful predicament as he had promised his landlady he would pay up all he owed her as soon as the catch was sold. He said he went to his lodging house and pretended to weep and when his landlady understood what had happened she gave him a shilling to get a pint of beer with in order to cheer him up. When he returned to this vessel to get his personal belongings, all he could see was the tips of the spars above water. The other members had failed to pump the craft out that morning, she leaked so badly that after a few hours she sank to the bottom.
Well Sweetheart I wish you would just crawl in beside me and let the sway of the ship lull us off to sleep. I miss you terribly and am ever think of you. My only strength is thinking about everything in terms of you. Surely we shall make up for the time we shall be separated.
All the boys are sleeping now. I am sitting up alone at the mess table--not alone because you are right here with me.
Friday, Aug. 2nd -- Sighted land, this a.m. Now lying at anchor. Have been playing bridge all evening am finishing this note in case we get an opportunity to get ashore and mail it tomorrow.
The general appearance of this place reminds me of the shoreline of Iceland when we visited Reykjavik years ago, but of course the weather is not quite as wild and better as that of Iceland. [According to their code, they are lying off Reykjavik, Iceland. Their convoy has headed far north in hopes of safety from enemy submarines.] Treeless hills, rugged, peaked and volcanic in appearance meet the view on all sides.
The weatherman was very kind to us throughout the voyage and life ran an even, unexciting course in the routine of duty.
I am hoping to get a letter from you during the next two or three weeks.
Only a few weeks ago and Margaret, you and I were picnicking along the lakeshore. I have often thought of that Sunday afternoon and evening and memories make life worthwhile and I frequently indulge in them.
I must turn in now and put the lights our or I shall be told about it by one of the men who are all trying to get some sleep.
Goodnight, Dearie, and hearty dreams. I miss you terribly, but don't you worry about me. A hear full of love and hugs and kisses to comfort you. Love to all the family.