Although it has been some since I have seen any of you, it seems but a day since I left the heart of thriving northern Minnesota. It is only through letters from friends that I leave that every man is busy harvesting his crop and preparing for another "victory" winter.
It matters little to us what time of year it is. All we look forward to is the time when we shall ride to the briney deep and get just one good crack at Bill's ship. As yet, that privilege has not been mine, but you can rest assured that I will be ready when that time comes.
At present we are kept busy drilling and sailing on the sound. Last evening we returned from Seattle at sunset. One who has never seen the sun set over water can scarcely realize what he has missed.
The climate here is mild but rather damp. I often yearn for a bit of your wholesome dry air. That, however, does not mean that I regret not being here. I happened to be among the fortunate who were selected for Seattle's Fourth Liberty Loan parade. While marching down the street I noticed an occasional youth standing on the side lines and I'll warrent that not a sailor would have changed places with him. Some day, however, we will be ready to come home, but no until "Old Glory" is seen flying over Berlin. Until then we shall be happily content to live a sailor's life.
I suppose everyone has heard of a sailor's bed. It consists of a canvas hammock, mattress and two blankets. The hammock is tightly strung six feet above the deck and it sometimes proves difficult for a "rookie" to get into one, especially if he is short and fat. After getting in "bed" he can sleep like a log as long as he lies quiet. If he attempts to walk in his sleep or try some other stunt, he may wake up and find himself rather uncomfortably settled upon the floor. This occasionally happens and usually leaves the victim with a black eye or sore shoulder, also providing a little amusement for the boys.
Our chief amusements are boxing and singing. Every sailor can box, and those who cannot sing can try as I do. All our magazines and other news some from the Y.M.C.A. It seems impossible to realize how we would get along without the "Y." I can safely say that after the war, the uniform of the Y.M.C.A. will cut as important a figure as any in the service. In fact, I believe that the government will recognize it as a special branch of service.
As important as the "Y" is, it does not supply the need of letters from home. A letter from home is almost as essential as chow. If you know how necessary that is, you will realize how much our lives depend upon you.
Working for the success of the United States and her allies, I am,
Walter G. Balk