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Letters Home from 1943

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The following letters were written by Eliot Loomis -- (also known as Bill) -- in the summer of 1943. He spent July and August at the Hyde Bay -- he was almost 14 years old. His parents were home in Baltimore, along with beloved dog Sheba. His Aunt Esther was living at home and teaching. His Uncle Dana (Bink) was in basic training and would soon after head off to war in Europe.

These letters were kindly loaned to Lucy Loomis by her brother Tom, who had them in his collection. Lucy, in turn, permitted use of them on the Hyde Bay website.

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July 3
Dear Mom,

      I am in camp and I have passed one of my swimming tests. I have four tent-mates and a swell counselor. We had inspection today and I passed without any trouble. I had a good train trip up and went to the movies in New York. I got up here about 11:30 at night. Are you going to breed Sheba? Don't work too hard.

Eliot

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Monday
Dear Dad,

      I have been fishing today. We took a rowboat and rowed out to the raft and fished. I didn't catch anything but a boy that was there caught an 8" bass. He threw him back though because nobody would eat the fish and he thought the fish would grow larger.
      I had a pretty comfortable trip up and I only had to stand from Baltimore to Aberdeen. The trip from Baltimore to New York was awfully slow. When I stepped into the station I was greeted by great masses of people. The worst crowd in about 10 years was in the station. After an hour and a half in Grand Central Station I got in my train. About 15 minutes out of Albany I went into the diner and got supper. Then I went back to my seat and read. There wasn't anybody in my seat the whole way from New York up to Fort Plain. About ten minutes our of Fort Plain we stopped and went on a siding and waited for five minutes. I arrived in Fort Plain and got the "bus" to the place where Mr. Pickett was to meet me and there he was.
      Can't you get up to Greensboro this summer? When Mr. Dillerhunt gets back see if you can't get up there. Tell Mom to pick the rest of the beans. And have "Pete" cultivate the corn and tomatoes.

See you in August,
Love,
Eliot

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Friday
Dear Mother,

      I have just gotten back from an overnight hike. We went down the lake in canoes and when we got to our spot where we decided to camp we took our bedrolls and spread them out in the places we chose. Then we went out to get firewood. When the fire was built (with one match) we stood in line and got our food and we sat by the fire and toasted marshmallows and hotdogs. About ten o'clock we all piled in bed which consisted of one poncho (I had mine waiting for me) and two blankets and one towel for a pillow. Also mosquitoes. One of the wise guys in the place woke up at four-thirty. After that he started to wake up everybody else except the counselors. They woke me up but as the sun was just rising and we had decided to get up at ten o'clock. I went back to sleep. Will you please send me Aunt Helen's address. There is one thing wrong with camp. That is you can't get anything to eat or read. You can't go anywhere to get these things because the nearest store is out of bounds and you can only go to Cooperstown if you need a haircut. Don't forget to send that address.

Love,
Eliot
RSVP

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Undated
Dear Mom,

      I am writing this in place of my regular Sunday letter. My left arm is sprained. I was in a wressling [sic] match last night and I got thrown. I also have a non-contagious case of pink eye. I have been sailing two days. When you get my report keep it for me. Also when you write send some of the war news PLEASE. There are no radios here and I never get to see a newspaper. I will write the rest of the family soon.

Love,
Eliot

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Saturday
Dear Mom,

      Having just gotten over my sprained arm I got another one. Please write me Aunt Helen's address quick! Also will you keep all of my reports. We went on a twelve mile hike to Mt. Nebo. That was some hike. I know now what Dana is in for. I'll bet you miss him very much. Also write me Dana's address when you get it. Is the little dog home? I miss her very much. We have very good food here and lots of it. I miss you.

Love,
Eliot

P.S. I am enclosing two order blanks for magazines. One of them, Flying, you promised me at Easter. The other, Air Trails, I will pay you for when I get home as I have no way to send money through the mail.
P.S. Also, what school am I going to in the fall.
R.S.V.P.
P.S. Thanks for your letters and post cards.

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Sunday
Dear Mother,

      I have been sitting in my tent all day. The reason: rain. Last night we had a game called Spy. 7 boys went out and you didn't know who they were. The object was to get the seven boys before they reached base -- the result is scrambled people. After that we have movies. On Sunday the movies are silent so we had football movies and old camp ones. We have a boy from the graduating class in Calvert here. He is in our tent and I know him very well. His name is Mac Cromwell and he lives in Lutherville. The colored man in the kitchen used to work in Women's College in Lutherville -- his name is Jimmy. By the way, send my ration books please.

Your loving son,
Eliot

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Sunday
Dear Dad,

      I was just elected unonoumously [sic] to my tent for the House of Representatives. We had our first meeting today. Mrs. Pissano's grandson is here and he is also in the House.
      I like sailing but I am not able to take out the boats alone as I have not passed my sailing test. But our concolor [sic] is a sailing concolor and he is going to make the whole tent take the test.
      What school am I going to? I sure would like to know.

Love,
Bill

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Saturday
Dear Dad,

      I want to thank you for your long and swell letter. It was much appreciated as are all letters up here. Yesterday I underwent a series of Commando tactics. We went on quite a hike. 12 miles. It took us two hours each way 6 miles. We went over logs and up and down mountains etc. A regular Commando course.
      One of the boys in my tent is Mrs. C. Penneman's nephew. Also there is a Pissanno boy here from Baltimore. His grandmother Mrs. Pissanno used to live in Ruxton. I have now been here two weeks. It seems funny not to see Mother, Dana, Es, Sheba, and you everyday.

Love,
Eliot

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Dear Es,

      How is school? I hear you have been sick or are you still sick? Write me some about school when you have a free moment. I guess the kids keep you pretty busy. How many are there in a group? They must be right small.
      Intestinal grippe is pretty bad especially when you have a job waiting for you to come. I had it just before Christmas vacation and I was sick for two weeks. I must go.

Love,
El

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Sunday [July] 26
Dear Mom,

      Thank your for writing me Aunt Helen's address. I am sorry to hear of all the illness in the family. Is Es back on the job yet? I guess Nancy is right sick.
      I take it from your letters you liked Rehoboth as much as I did when I was there. What street did you live on? The ocean can be very rough there as I remember. How is Mrs. Riley? The last time I heard she was sick.
      Thanks for all the things you have done and are doing. Send for Flying especially because it has gone from $.25 to $.35 and a special issue is coming out two months from now and you get it cheaper. Thanks for the mag., candy, and cloths [sic]. Also thanks for sending up Air News as we don't have much to read here. I am also writing Aunt Helen. Your Air Trails was liked by the tent and I have read every article in it. That shows you how much a mag. is really like up here.
      Dana is really traveling and I hope he stops in Calif. Please save his letters and postcards for me to read when I get home. I eat more up hear [sic] than I ever have in my life yet I have lost 3 pounds. Strange.
      When I go is there any chance of me going to New York for a day or two and visiting Uncle Vic as all the other boys are going to stay for a day or two.

So long. Love,
El XOXOXO

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[Note: in this letter Dad has changed the letterhead with the camp logo to read "Hyde Bay Camp for Boys + GIRLS]

Saturday + Sunday
Dear "Teech," [Esther]

      Tomorrow I go into Cooperstown to see the "Dodgers" play the Chicago "White Sox" play [sic]. That ought to be a good game even though it is 8 miles each way to Cooperstown and we have to walk it.
      I am glad to hear that you are coming along so well in you school. From the sound of your letter you are enjoying it very much. Is that right? How many children do you take care of? You must feel as if you really have a war job. Up here there is not much in the way of war jobs or things like that to do.
      Mother writes me that she is not going to breed Sheba. Which is quite a blow to me. I did so want to have puppies but with rationing as it is I guess it is impossible.

Lots of love,
El

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Tuesday [August] 10th
Dear Mom,

      Today I have a good excuse to write. Rain, we have had it every day for a week and three days. I got a six page letter from de brudder. He writes me that he is going to take his basic training. He didn't say whether he had any good friends yet. He sounds as if he was a little homesick. Also he drew me his insignia on a piece of paper. I will save all his letters for you to read. You do the same please. About the vacation plans -- write me them as soon as you figure them out. If I don't meet you there may I go to New York and visit Uncle Vic? If you and Dad go on a vacation will Es and Sheba go? I hope so. A boy in my tent and I went on a thirteen mile canoe trip yesterday up a brook near here. We didn't have time to go up as far as we could so we plan to go back tomorrow. On the treasure hunt I must have run through some poison ivy as I have a slight case. Last night I wresled [sic] a boy in my tent and I beat him 4-0. I hope you and Dad take a well-deserved rest that you both need. In ten more days I shall either be in Ruxton or in our vacation place. I hope Sheba is alright. Is Es back to work yet? I guess she is. One of the boys up here has two brothers and a father in the service of the U.S. I miss the family very much. It must seem funny with only a family of three and one little dog. Is Ethiopa still there? Did you subscribe to Flying and did you subscribe to Air Trails? I hope so. It is very cool up here and the thermometer has gone down below 40 degrees and I have had to use two blankets instead of one. As you say in your Sunday letter I feel as if I had not seen you in months!! I miss our records very much. You don't hear much in the way of records and the radio up here. Thank you for that paper. It told me what was happening in the world today, which I do not hear very much. I hope Sicily is almost taken. Do you listen to the records much? And have you bought any new ones yet, if so which ones? Get the Nutcracker Suite if you get any. That is swell. We have good music once a week up here by records and it is wonderful to hear them. Dana has a lot to learn in the next four weeks and most of the subjects are very hard. Up here we have only one radio that works and that is portable so we can't use it more than an hour a day because of fear of using up the batteries. Another boy's brother is up here taking his infantry basic training. I hope Dana passes his training with flying colors. I, for one, think he will. Please will you and Dad get together and figure out where I am going to school next year. I feel I am bad about writing letters to my family. Tell Dad and Es that I will write them a real letter soon. I am writing Dana now as I just received a six page letter from him this morning. He wrote me all the news about his outfit.

Write me about the vacation plans,
Love,
Eliot

Please pardon the lack of paragraphing. I know it is as bad as the writing.

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