[Received December 18, 1917]

Royal Flying Corps,



[December 3, 1917]

Dear Mother:

I got a fine bunch of mail today. Your letters of Nov. 2, 4 and 9.

This one I am writing ought to be a real bright and happy Christmas or Happy New Year one, but there is a cloud over my horizon. Namely, to wit that you listen to the postal clerks in the states and take their advice as to my address over my very full and correct instructions, so that I have visions of my Christmas Box wandering all over France looking for a Parr Hooper in the Expeditionary Army and not finding one there, but getting badly beaten and broken up in its travels so that when I get it if ever I will not find any of its contents useable. I have given you my address and write it on the outside of all my letters.

Officially, I am a 1st class private in the Aviation Section, Signal Enlisted Reserve Corps. Practically (and for letters and addresses) I am an American Cadet, American Aviation Section, training in England with the Royal Flying Corps. I get $100 a month which always manages to disappear before the next pay day strange as it may seem and after the November pay which we expect to get this week we will only get $50 the other $50 being kept for us in Washington at 4% interest so that our heirs will have a little cash on hand. I am not in anything and have no commanding officer. I do not need anything but some real good calm weather, so as I can learn to fly, get my “wings up” (insignia on my chest, laugh), pass my flying test, get my commission, get to France and get working in a real organization with men who have a purpose and are doing a job. That’s all I need—flying weather! And all the things in those 3 Xmas boxes.

I have written you letters telling how Major McDill [sic] was taken from us and sent to France when we went to Oxford. I tell you about the letters I receive from you all and talk about things mentioned in them to you so as you can understand just what letters I do get. I am getting mail from Italy and Paris slowly, and maybe. Money matters are O.K. I am about dead broke, but that is all. Uniform, quilt, $3 for seat in a theatre, 1st class railroad fare and all take the cash. Officers here are not permitted to go to any but the best hotels, best seats in the theatres, lst class railroad coaches. We are not officers, do not get officers’ pay but are supposed to conduct ourselves as officers.

Glad to hear about your Atlantic City trip and Margaret and Russell and Jimmie’s baby swing.

I will not get to France until April, May, or June, etc.

Are my letters censored? Two of those I got today had been opened, but nothing crossed out. Father said one of mine received “intact” and I understand, but are they all “intact”?

I also got a letter today from Miss Wright of Oxford, answering my note to her.

Your clipping about vice is very true. But he should qualify his statement about the fact that the bad points about war overbalance the good. As they affect the whole population they do but where the effects of war pull down 3/4 of the people, it elevates 1/4 and therein lays its value. Some day I am going to get reckless and write you some of my philosophy.

In regard to the practical about that article the trouble is that after the war has set up such unnatural conditions about men and women the respectable people do not seem to balance it off by trying to maintain more of the natural and decent relationships. I mean that the decent folks have gone in mourning and taken themselves away from their natural relations with men. Most everyone on the streets is a flapper because the decent girls are afraid to show their faces. English officers are not allowed to dance. Except for my couple of visits at the Wrights, I have not said a word socially to a female since I have been here. If the respectable people would come out and increase the amount of decent, sociable relationship things would be much better. And you can take it as a fact, from most all the young fellows in the army, that we would rather have the society of respectable people than of flappers; and the former could get along very well without the latter. I am not trying to excuse ourselves and put the whole blame on the respectable girls. The whole problem is very involved and all classes and both sexes are equally responsible for it.

I am sending you in separate package 21 prints of my pictures. They are the ones of no military importance. I will send their titles by numbers in a future letter. I also enclose two pictures in this letter.

It is very disappointing to take pictures in England. The coloring is the most beautiful part of the scenery. The haze makes a whole lot of things unphotographable, and the sun is seldom out at the desired time so that large openings and slow shutter speeds must be used. I had four of my last films developed at a supposedly good place, but they handled them pretty badly and made some bum prints. I cannot buy Kodak films here any more. And am trying the English make Ensignette. Several fellows smuggled their cameras to France and got some good pictures of the real stuff on the front trenches.

The weather has been too windy for flying. I was up for about 6 minutes Friday afternoon. Everything about me seems to be working O.K. They listened to my heart again when we first started here and passed me up without a murmur.

Saturday afternoon I went to London. I did not have time to catch the train I wanted and get permission to leave also so did the former and will probably go before the adjutant tomorrow for the latter. But I got in early enough to have some daylight and that was the important thing.

I took a bus from Paddington all through central London, through the East End to West Ham; and took a train there (trolley car) to the Albert dock. The shipping that comes to London comes up the Thames and is locked into the various docks, artificial basins, of which the Victoria & Albert are the largest. I wanted to get an idea of what they were like and see the ships. Albert dock seems to be over a mile long and perhaps 800 feet wide. There were a bunch of large ships in, all of them being curiously camouflaged. They were unloading a good deal of wool. I strolled about enjoying myself generally, looking at the cranes, warehouses, large ships, small lighters, Hindu laborers, etc. Then I took a railroad train back to London and got a subway to South Kensington where I went to the Science Museum at 5:15. There are three things in England that I have heard a lot about which have exceeded my expectations. They are the scenery about the Thames at Oxford, Westminister Abbey, and the Science Museum. The museum was badly lighted and I just got started by the time it closed at 8 o’clock. I could spend weeks in there and then want to spend some more. When I had left it I had a more profound respect for Watt (the man who developed the first useful steam engines) than I have for Lincoln or Wilson, Orville Wright or even Andrew White. Watt was the most wonderful mechanical engineer that ever was according to my present state of education. They had at the museum working models of the very oldest steam engines, running from gas burners and real steam and pumping water. They had a wonderful collection of Watt’s engines and inventions. Pile drivers that worked when you pressed the button, steam hammers and all kinds of old and highly developed lathes that also worked from the button or a crank. I am going back the first chance I get in the daylight. I have not seen any of the marine engineering exhibits yet.

This morning, Bishop and Ritter and I took a walk. It was the most wonderful weather we have had since we came to Northolt. It snowed a little when we were out for early flying at 7 A.M. (No flying due to the wind.) It was still very cold, the sun was out bright and the wind blowing hard. Coming home we were on a smooth road and played soccer with a small round stone passing it about with our feet as we ran up the road. Bishop is a regular Madam Pavlova and is very funny when playing with his feet. Sit tight and you will eventually get my letters and please notice the address on the back of this and don’t let anyone argue you away from it.



Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Joyful Easter, or the compliments of whatever the season is when you receive this.

I got the Outlook today, the one with the poems of “France” by Van Dyke and “Everyman’s Land.” They are very good also the cartoons. Please give them notification of my address. I will do it also to make sure.

Parr Hooper, U.S. Aviation Section, Training with the R.F.C. c/o American Embassy, London, Eng. Hotel Goring.

December 3, 1917: The letter is undated. “Dec 1st” has been added in an unknown hand. However, December 1 was Saturday, and the context (“Saturday [not “yesterday”] afternoon I went to London”) would make December 3, 1917, a more likely date.

There is no previous reference to Major MacDill in these letters other than the reference to “our Major” in Parr’s entry of September 21 on board the Carmania. Either Parr is misremembering or a letter is missing.

Andrew White was perhaps Andrew Dickson White (1832–1918), who, with Ezra Cornell, founded Cornell University.

Parr is referring to “The Name of France” by Henry Van Dyke (1852–1933), written in September, 1916, and to “Every Man’s Land” by John Finley, both published in the September 19, 1917, number of The Outlook, a weekly magazine of news and opinion published in New York.168