Mon., Sept. 15th/40
A wet day and alone in this pleasant spot--why are you not here! We would run over to Kew Gardens for the afternoon and see the century plant there.
Friday was somewhat of a hectic day. Air raid warning caused everything to close up about every hour or so of the day. Those poor teachers at the school must be almost nervous wrecks. At each alarm signal they must take their classes to the nearest 'dugout' shelter and remain there seated on wooden forms until the all clear goes. The entire day is so interrupted that work is practically out of the question. It is almost impossible to keep the children's attention on their work. This was the case last Friday. However it was possible for Miss Glidden to get away about 5 p.m. We took the bus and went via Kingston to Walton-on-Thames. There we dropped in on two maiden friends of hers who live alone and are more or less retired except one is employed at present as a secretary. They are quite independent financially and have quite a duplex. They were expecting Betty but not me. We tried to telephone them all day, off and on, Friday, but the telephone and telegraph and mail systems in England have been more or less at a standstill or so slow that it has been next to impossible to get anything through. Especially has this been true in the London area. Well Dearie you would have died to see the expression of dismay and shock on the faces of those old dames. Honestly it was like something out of the 18th century. Poor Betty. I felt sorry for her, but she was so angry at them that she could hardly refrain from saying something. However, as I had previously planned to stay at an hotel, I soon excused myself and ran off to get cleaned up, as I had not been able to shave that morning and had not had a bath for almost a week. When I return an hour or so later, the old dames were most apologetic and had prepared a room for me to occupy and had the table spread for supper. I had given the maid at the hotel my dirty linen and she promised to have it laundered by Sunday morning. On the strength of this I declined the invitation of Betty's friends to stay there and slept at the hotel for the two nights, Friday & Sat., and got my meals only with them. I found them to be very jolly and most intellectual but extremely old maidish and stiff. Betty was dog tired and almost a nervous wreck after her experience during the week from air raids and required sleep and rest. Friday night proved to be very free from air raid alarms at Walton so she got in a fair night's rest. We did the shopping for the Misses Henman, her friends, Saturday morning and you would have enjoyed it immensely. We were only able to get a half pound of this thing, a pound of that, a very small ration of tea and sugar and a very few vegetables. While restrictions are severe, we are always able to get enough to eat--in fact is seems that I have been eating steadily ever since I reached Richmond. After lunch Betty & I went over to the Thames, got a Peterboro canoe (a fine Canadian brand) and went for a paddle taking lunch and a little Woolworth Kettle like ours. Honey, I would love you to see this part of England. The Thames at Walton is about as wide as the Credit River where the Lakeshore Rd. crosses it. The banks are all privately owned and no landing is permitted. However we found a spot of land, made a small fire, steeped (stewed as they say here) the tea and had lunch. It was fully 8:30 before we were through eating. Gosh, Sweetheart, I was thinking where you were and how much you would like to poke the fire and say funny things in your Irish way. It came on to rain and I think there were two or three air raid warnings sounded but Betty didn't seem to mind. She forgot the bombing for awhile and relaxed. We got back to the boathouse at 11 p.m. to find the boatman retired. I think ours was the only canoe or boat he has let out for days. People don't think of boating as a general things these days. We had the entire river to ourselves. The shock of our lives came when we returned to Betty's friends. They had done everything but call for the police, I think. One of them had stayed up for us and was terribly indignant. I sort of felt you digging me in the ribs, amused at such a demonstration of 18th century d-m foolishness. I only hope that someday you shall have the pleasure of meeting the Misses Henman. Betty declares that you are coming to England if she has to conceal you in her closet.
I thought I should have received word this morning from Air Commodore Crichley. He promised that I would receive word from him about Friday last. He has very likely written, but the mails are very much out of joint. I wrote Miss Slade over a week ago, she has not received my letter up to Saturday when she 'wired' Betty. Chippenham is only sixty miles or so away. This will give you some idea of how things are here.
Well, Sweetheart, I long to get settled and to be able to plan for you to be here too. I don't like this idling away time although Miss Sendamore, the school principal, Miss Day, the vice principal, are very kind and it is costing me nothing practically to live. I eat my meals at the school and sleep with the male members of the staff in a big dug-out hear the school. I am very comfortable but you know how I like being idle. To fill in the day, I find things to do for Miss Sendamore and the school staff, such as arranging at the Town Hall to have the repairs made to Miss Sendamore's house. There are about forty tile shingles broken, the result of the bomb which feel next door. The drains and other services are being repaired, and in all probability her house will be ready to occupy again in a few day's time. Life as it is at school is very taxing on the staff. This morning for instance, there have been three air raid warnings each lasting the best part of an hour. Each warning necessitates the teachers leading their classes out to the nearest raid shelter. You can imagine how much teach is possible under these conditions.
Personally, I think things should run along normally and if bombs hit the school, well, it will have to be so. Otherwise millions of people are simply becoming worn out and business and work will come to a complete standstill. Besides I think it will have a very bad effect on the physical state of people who spend long hours in the damp dugouts.
Well Dearie I get awful lonesome for you and long and long for you to be here. Surely we shall not have to be separated much longer.
I am going up to Miss Sendamore's house this afternoon to see if any mail has come from Crichley and to complete the bunk for the dugout, which I started last week.
Heaps and heaps of love Sweetheart. A big hug and kiss.