U.S. Naval Academy
Annapolis, Md.
July 7, 1916

My dearest Mother:

I am writing this in the hope of someday being able to buy stamps with which to mail it. At present - I am absolutely busted - and I owe my room-mate a stamp now.

I was yesterday appointed M.C. of the man Deck of Bancroft Hall & that is Midshipman in Charge. My authority in my jurisdiction is absolute. I have assistants under me but there is only one Midshipman in the Academy in authority over me - he is the Officer of the Day. I don’t have anything to do but inspect rooms - report delinquencies - examine all mail for this floor for contraband - see that every one turns in at “Taps” - Keep unauthorized persons out of the corridors - in fact just be general High Muckity Muck all the way round.

It is only a temporary job. No one but First Classmen (seniors) do it when they are here but as there only plebes at the Academy now - the M.C.’s are selected from among them. I go to bed at 11 and get up at 6.

Later -

I have been learning how to sail a boat. We use a two masted sailing cutter with a capacity of 33 men. A crew of nine is necessary to handle one. As I held the position of Starboard Stroke in rowing practice, I was given the most important post in sailing - namely - handling the main sheet. Sailing is certainly beautiful work and I enjoy it very much. We get out on the bay with a stiff breeze and go flying over the bounding billows.

There is much rumor that the 4th class will be taken on a one month’s cruise in September. If it should happen it would surely be a fine thing. In assorting the mail today I came across a large bulky package. Upon examining for contraband - what do you suppose I found? TEA CAKES - regular old country style. That like to have gotten me. Made me home sicker than a picture of Crockett would have. I went thru all that mail - expecting every letter I turned up to be for me but there was nothing doing. Not even a postal. I’m too busy, or too broke to write myself and so I suppose that no one is going to write to me. This is a mighty beautiful place and all that, but I’d give a lot right now to be sitting around the place somewhere with you all and a big ripe watermelon.

I had my second inoculation for typhus day before yesterday. It made me very sick. Never went to bed, or missed a formation, tho.

How’s the garden? How’s the whole place? Sambo? The cow, boarders, ball team, crop, cook - every thing? Please write often. You can’t imagine how anxiously I look and hope and wait for a letter from you. You may think, that because I’m too busy here to write that I’m too busy to think of you, but I’m not -- not by a long suit.

Nobody here to talk to about intimate affairs. My room-mate is a block head. He worships Theodore Roosevelt, hates Wilson, calls all C.S.A. heroes traitors and makes himself generally onerous. And too, he’s looney about a girl and goes on about her till I want to throw him out the window. He knows the words to every song ever written and he couldn’t carry a tune in a wheelbarrow. He will sit and try to sing until my battered nerves and sensibilities can stand it no longer and I’ll get after him and chase him out of the room. I haven’t been able to eat for a couple of days account of sickness and I’ve got an appetite like a bear. Every time I think about that box of tea cakes, I nearly weep.

I belong to the 2nd Batallion - “The good old Second Bat.” There is a U.S.N.A. Batallion league of Baseball. Keen rivalry exists. So far - the 2nd have won every game - and stands at the head of the league. The last game was against the Fourth Bat. - a very strong team. I rooted so hard and so strong for the 2nd Bat that a bunch of the 4th said they were coming down to my room after supper and tear things up. I told them to come ahead and then went and borrowed a baseball bat from a friend. My various friends said that if they came down, there there would be a hurry call for an ambulance. Everybody got out tennis rackets - brooms and what not for the battle. The crowd started down to do me up but were abruptly halted upon learning of the preparations for them below. Everything was lovely. Had they come down - sumpin would’er ‘appened - that’s all. I’ve got 3 or 4 friends from Pa. - 2 from New York, one from Alabama and they are all fellows you can count on.

My two best friends are James from Scranton, Pa. - and Londahl from Plattsburg, N.Y. - Son of an Army Captain. The band just began to play. By the way, we have one of the best bands in the U.S.A. here. Member of Sousa’s and Victor Huberts are in it. Most exquisite music. We have a dance and band concert every Sat. night. I enjoy them so much. They play every afternoon from 4.30 til 5.30 or so.

My roommate - Musser - slept from 11.45 a.m. till 1.30 p.m. today - right thru dinner, of course - was absent at dinner formation roll call - 10 demerites - 2 hours extra duty in full dress & equipment. Poor guy. -

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them out to be developed and will get them back tomorrow night. I will hold this letter up until they come and send you some of them. Oh, Gee, I feel so good! I am going out this afternoon with the 2nd Bat. Cutter Crew an a practice drill. The best cutter men are taken from each bat. to form the cutter racing crew for the ?-battalion cutter races. I have been asked to come out. I have a good chance to make the crew. The 2dn Bat is the best bat in the school. We’ve not been beat yet in baseball. Football practice starts tomorrow. I’m going out. Wow, we’ve got a peach’of’a coach - Lieut. Ingram. We’ll beat that Army this fall - you watch. We go to N.Y. city. Have liberty of city for day & night. You know what Aunty said!! Her guest while there. Now want I have some time! It’s too good to be true.

Not a single DEMERIT as yet.

had ice cream for dinner. We do every Sunday & Wednesday. We have a half million dollar chapel here - a most beautiful building. Doctor took the stitches out of my head this a.m. Vaccination still very bad - has to be dressed every day.

Will write Clarite a card. If anyone tells you to tell me to write them - let me know. I like to know who is interested in me - especially, if they’re as all around fine as Clarite. Sure, I’ll drop her a card.

How are Lee & Angeline progressing? When they marched us into chapel this a.m., they sat me down right beside the Superintendent and his 2 darters. I was about as comfortable as a pig in a pasture - scared stiff.  

Tell all the folks to write. Got a letter from Mama a day or so ago. Have written the J.W.H.’s about 6 times but not a line get from them.

Our dress shirts that we wear here button in the back. Very awkward.

The Academy holds out $180.00 of our salary each year to buy our uniforms at graduation. Most unreasonable. They give us $1.00 per mo. cash starting Aug. 1st. I’m not going to write any one but you until then so as to make stamps hold out. Well, I’ll close for a while and get out and try to get some fresh air. Beautiful day here. Am going out in cutter at 5.00 this afternoon. This is sure the place to make a man out of a boy. I urge you now, Mother, prepare to let Ewen & Jack come here too. Start now. These boys here have been preparing for Annapolis for ten years. They are raised with that in view. It is the greatest institution in the world. Get ready now. It is not too far ahead to start if you will entertain for a moment, the idea of their coming here. Let them be able to absorb the idea of doing so now. - Good bye till later ----
Wednesday - July 12 - 1916

Well, here’s the finish to this letter. I have some news to report since I last wrote. I qualified as marksman on the rifle range this a.m. - Last night, a fellow next to me in rank began skylarking in ranks and I laughed at him. 5 Demerits - that’s all. Also, I get to “guard the whole big building” as Billie says, for two hours. The demerits are not permanent - will be counted off at beginning (5 hours later) of the Academic year.

It is now 13 minutes to ten and I’ll have to turn in soon. I am enclosing picture. They are rather bum. Give my regards to everybody - write soon & often. Londahl just treated to another feast tonight. A fool & his money soon part but that poor fool’s financial supply seems inexhaustible. He gets 2 or 3 dollars in every letter.

good night, and good luck. Write to your lonesome, devoted, homesick Midshipman Hail - U.S.N. (Harold Durst Hail)