[Received March 1, 1918]


London Colney

February 1, 1918.

Dear Mother and Father:

Well here I am again. I don’t seem to be able to finish this letter. We have done no flying since I returned from London, because of the heavy fog, but it has been too cold and damp to do any writing except when the little fire is made in the evening, and we do not finish dinner until about 8.30. The fog gets into everything and has been freezing. Now it is a bit warmer and I am hoping tomorrow will be clear.

I received Father’s letter #31 yesterday. I was mighty glad to hear about Mr. Miller’s monument. Glad you all think it is O.K. and will be tickled to get the picture of it. No more boxes have arrived.

I have received only one or two Outlooks. I wrote to them of my address and received the reply which I enclosed to you in my #27. Any letters of general interest like my trip getting lost, first stunts, etc., you might send to Knud. Baltimore and Washington must be like London at night in their darkness.

I believe in my last letter that I got as far as telling of my visit with the Whitings. I went to town the next morning with Ralph. I called up Jean and got her to take me to Mrs. Vandyke’s dancing class which was held that afternoon. Then I went to the bank, and then to Hendon by bus. I tried to get a pass thru the Aircraft Mfg. Co., a very large concern but was unsuccessful. However, I did get a pass to go thru the Integral Propeller Co. It was immensely interesting, more so than I had expected and I way over stayed my time and left in a hurry at that. They make all kinds of aeroplane propellers. It is a very slow and exacting process, practically all hand work. The final balancing is done to such refinement that they do it by dabbing on a little varnish here and there.

From Hendon I went back to the hotel. I was late for Jean’s so got in a taxi and changed my shoes while going to her house. We had some good dances at Madame Vandyke’s and went from there to the Savoy for dinner. The dinner was very nice and I enjoyed Jean’s company very much. Then we went to the coffee room and listened to the music while we watched the various parties. Practically all the men were officers, and of all nations, French, U.S., Canadian, British, Servians. They have a very good orchestra and a ragtime band. The feature of the ragtime band is the coon who plays the traps. It was very amusing. No dancing.

When we left there we got into the raid as I told about in a previous letter.

Perhaps I had better explain that Jean is very sweet and pretty. One of the prettiest girls I ever saw. She has been engaged a couple of times to fellows who have gone west. She is only about 18 or 19. There is absolutely nothing serious about my liking for her.

My roommate got lost the other day. He flew down to look over the field he chose to land in and tried to take the top of a tree off with his lower wing. He bounced over and then skimmed between two others and made a landing in the next field with his busted wing. He got lost once before from this aerodrome and made a forced landing.



Joseph Maxwell Miller was working on the “Confederate Women’s Monument,” to be installed near the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus in Baltimore.259

The reference to darkness may have been prompted by reports of severe weather in Maryland and a coal shortage in the U.S.; see also Parr’s next letter.

 Mrs. Vandyke’s classes were cited as authoritative in the U.S. as early as 1914. A front page article with a London dateline (“Dances Don’t Easily Shock”) in The Adirondack News from that year reports on the reaction to an indictment of the modern age, including its dances, by Canon William Newboldt of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The second paragraph reads: “At Madame Vandyke’s school of dancing in Hanover square it was said that the tango, which is said to be the first favorite among dancers, more nearly approximates to the minuet than any dance which has succeeded to that formal measure.”

The Aircraft Manufacturing Company (“Airco”) at Hendon was founded in 1912 by George Holt Thomas who, in 1914, hired Geoffrey de Havilland, designer of a number of aircraft used in World War I.260 The Integral Propeller Company was a subsidiary of the French propeller manufacturing company founded by aeronautical engineer Lucien Chauvière. Chauvière invented the “integral” propeller, that is, a propeller created not from a single piece of wood but from several laminated planks, a construction which led to a lighter, better designed, and more easily balanced prop.261