Author of Letter: Noah C Draper, 30 yrs old
Dated: April 3. 1917
Mailed from: H.M.S. Bacchante
Attached to: HMS Bacchante
Profession: Farmer, Temporary Sailor
Rank: Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve
Addressed to: Mrs. N.C. Draper, Keswick, Ont
Writing instrument: Fountain Pen with Black Ink
Writing Paper: 1 sheet 9" x 6" medium weight, smooth, linen-look, folded into a 4-page booklet form with the inside page written across the short width and then down the length like foolscap. The pages are not numbered.
People mentioned in this letter:
Ethel* - Ethel Isabel Draper, 27 yrs old, Noah's wife of 6 yrs
Mother - Sarah Sophia Deverell* Draper, Noah's widowed mother
Eva - Eva Amelia Draper Perrault*, 40 yrs old, one of Noah's sisters
Veda Josie Perrault** 21 yrs old, daughter of Eva and Joseph Perrault
Percy* - Percy Roy Draper, 33 yrs old, Noah's older brother
Kiddies - JD* and Mildred/Midge* - Noah and Ethel's children
Sadie* - Sadie Eliza Nelson* Prosser* is Ethel's 21 yr old sister
Places/things mentioned in this letter:
African Church Service
Fruits and Flowers
Birkenhead - Across the River Mersey from Liverpool, England
Word or Phrase Use:
darky** - common usage at the time of these letters (see Historical note below)
* Look under the Categories/Labels in the right side column for more posts on this
person/place/thing, or use the search box in the header at the top of this page
** see History Notes below
April 3. 1917.
Mrs. N.C. Draper,
My Dear wife
Well I suppose you
will be wondering where
I am, I am still in the
same port. as when I
wrote the last letter
but expect to move out
I was ashore to church
last Sunday & it was
the first time I ever
was at church where
there was not a white
preacher, there was about thirty
sailors there & we were the only
white people there. & you would
laugh to see the style of our
darky friends. there was a
choir of men & boys & they are
very good singers.
I have not been ashore only to
church but would like to go
ashore for a couple of hours
to see the fruits & flowers
growing in their natural
Say when did you send
that parcel I have not got
it yet so mabey it is in the
bottom of the sea, eh, We
have not had any mail since
we left Birkenhead but expect
some in a day or so. say did
you send them snapshots I
have not got them so you had
better send some more.
I have only had 1 letter
from Mother 1 from Eva &
one from Percy since I came
over to England so it is
certain that we do not
receive all our mail but
it is a wonder we get as much
as we do when you think of
what they have to handle.
I hope you are all well
as this leaves me, I suppose
your father is buisy sowing
by the time you get this.
Well I guess I will close
for this time, so ByeBy.
kiss the kiddies for
me, & tell Sadie I am
going to write her that
letter some time. Bye Bye Love (?)
History Note 1 - Use of words to describe Africans
Although we don't know exactly where Noah is in early April 1917, we know he's aboard the HMS Bacchante on convoy escort duties with the 9th Cruiser Squadron which is headquartered on the African coast at Sierra Leone.
In this letter, Noah gets leave to attend the local church. As a Methodist, he is used to a service that is more spontaneous and lively than others, such as the RC or Anglican services, however this is his first attendance at the wonderful uplifting of voices and spirits of an African service. If you've ever seen and heard a Southern Gospel Choir, or listened to a Southern Baptist minister preach to his congregation, then you've only seen and heard a small portion of what Noah probably saw and heard that day.
Noah's comment that Ethel would laugh to see the style of the service and choir is based on her being a choir member and pianist/organist. In Ethel's Oct 30, 1911 Courtship Letter to Noah, they are discussing Noah's niece, Veda Josie Perrault (pictured above), who has recently entered Brandon College in Brandon, Manitoba. Ethel writes, "Is Veda's special subject at school Music. I like you do think that music is some thing worth while. I often wish that I had taken more time and so understood music better, I guess."
Noah refers to the African people as his "darky friends" which was in common usage according to what was written in newspapers and diaries of that time. In a future letter you'll see that Noah refers to them as Negroes, the anthropology classification. However technical, it's no longer in use. Time changes people as well as their opinions, most times for the good.
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