A Mountain William Joins The Coast Guard


Cape May, New Jersey

To: Mr. and Mrs. Braithwaite Backus, Bald Buzzard Ridge,
Mountainville, RFD 2, North Carolina

Dear Ma and Pa,

Am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Coast Guard beats working for Old Man Minch a mile. Tell them to join up quick before maybe all the places are filled.

I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 5 a.m. but am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot and shine some things -- no hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay.

Practically nothing. You got to shave, but it is not bad in warm water.

Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, beef, ham steak, fried eggplant, pie and regular food. But tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit between two city boys that live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you 'til noon, when you get fed.

It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much. We go on "marches," which, the Chief says, are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it is not my place to tell him different. A "march" is about as far as to our mailbox at home, and we gotta wear shoes! Then the city guys all get sore feet and we ride back in trucks. The country is nice, but awful foggy and full of sand.

Fer sport we git to row boats. I met cousin Beauragard (Midgett) who says that the boats they got home on Hatteras got engines so we don't have to row. Tells me that I kin get a job over there after boot camp 'cause any relatives is welcome out there.

I think it'll be more fun chasin' after them drug runners and refugees they show us motion pictures of. The only thin' I don't lik is the badges you have to wear. People might think I'm a revenoor and shoot me.

There's a bunch of girls here trying to become Coasties too. I don't think they want to be Coasties, they marking there time 'til Sadie Hawkins Day and  been eying me and cousin Beauragard up 'n down.

The Chief is like a schoolteacher. He nags some. The Commander is like the school board. Admirals and Captains just ride around and frown. They don't bother you none.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bull's-eye is near as big as a chipmonk and don't move. And it ain't shooting at you, like the Higsett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. you don't even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellows get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving son,



P. S. Speaking of shooting, enclosed is $200 for barn roof and ma's teeth. The city boys shoot craps, but not very good. - Z.

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