W3750 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER from his grandson John Puckridge Baker
Dec 28 1882
To: Rev. Thomas Baker, [Hamilton, Ontario]
From: 236 Clarence Street, London, Ontario
Rev. Thos. Baker
My dear Grandpa
I hope you will accept my apology for so long delaying to answer your very kind favour of the 1st inst. Indeed I have scarcely known what to say in reply, regarding Willie. It is very very hard for me to state the case in a way that will do justice to him without doing an injustice to myself. And I have been hoping that something more satisfactory might occur before I were at last forced to write you. Poor Willie, one of the largest hearted boys in the world, & exceptionally truthful & honest (as the average boy goes) & yet there seems nothing I can do either with or for him. He has not been living with us for several weeks. I was at no end of pains in making arrangements to start him at the 'Printing.' He was only at it for one week, when they concluded that he would not suit them. I have no doubt but he tried to get along but it was night work, & he is pretty slow. We then had him about home again day & night. And he was & is so inexcuseably [sic] slovenly & untidy that I was annoyed beyond measure even at sight of him; he would make more dirt & dust, & consequent expense in a house than a whole ordinary family would need to do. He not only neglected to dress himself & come to Church of a Sunday morning, but would not tidy himself even in a whole day. The long & short of the matter was that I told him positively that I would board him no longer than the 1st Dec. unless he paid me a reasonable price for so doing, & not even then unless he clothed & kept himself in such a way as to appear like one of the family & go to Church with us once every Sunday. My wages since I quit working on freight are $39 per month & my insurance takes from $1 to $1.50/100 per month from that [.] And their [sic] is nothing in my circumstances that will admit of my having such a character as he, scuffing out over carpets & beding [sic] & destroying our home comforts for less than actual cost, with no better prospects or ambition than the driving of a delivery wagon. Had he been doing anything to improve himself either in getting a trade or an education I might have put up with him even at loss to myself as well as the unpleasantness 'till he had acquired his object. I was of opinion too, & so was Minnie that his being among strangers might do him good, as indeed I hope it will. He is driving a delivery wagon for a Butcher at a salary of $12 per month & board, & lives with his employer, who is a good respectable business man, doing business chiefly with the good families of the City. He says that he likes Willie very well, that he is perfectly trusty with money & has never refused to do anything he was asked either late or early. But he thinks he is to slow [sic] ever to make a butcher & says that he has had to tell him to go & wash his hands, though he says he is improving in this respect & will certainly outgrow his untidy habits. I think he has been there for nearly two months. We did not at first think that he would have stuck to it so well for of course it is late & early. He got himself the place & we knew nothing about it 'till after he had hired [sic] [.] Minnie & Lottie invited him to spend Xmas but he said he had promised Hattie, He called in the morning with a few presents.
With regard to his going back to the harness making, I do not think he would object to doing so at your request if a place were obtained for him. But I have taken very much pains in his behalf of which I have never spoken to you. All the time that he was driving grocery wagon I was doing my best to find out what would be most to his advantage. Any of the business men of the City with whom he had been brought in contact seemed interested in him. And I had lengthy conversations with several of them. One person only, recommended his returning to the trade. I talked with his old employer & other men in the business. The general impression seemed to be that he would make but a very slow work man at best & that he lacked the mechanical ingenuity to make a good one. I do ["doing" has been crossed out] not think Mr. Tackabury would care to take him back. And the reply I received from another harness maker at the time I refer to [a second "o" crossed out] was "I would never undertake to learn that boy the trade his head is to large [sic] to be tied down to a bench." Well what would you undertake to learn him I asked, "why let him alone he will come out all right himself by and bye" was the reply.
So I think there are very many chances against his following the trade even if he served his time. I was advised to try & get him into the hardware business as that was a good business & as well as any suited to his ability & temperament. I made enquiries & after considerable discouragement was partly promised a situation for him the first of the year. I have not however said anything to him about it I am more & more tired of him every time I see him & as "every heart knows its own grief" I have many cares & responsibilities apart from him; while he has nothing but himself and has much better chances & prospects in his life laid before him than ever I had if he chooses to use them. After receiving your last letter I called on him at the shop & told him I should like him to come down on the following Sunday as I wanted to have a talk with him. He said he would do so, but after my staying home from Sunday School, failed to put in an appearance. I called again after a few days feeling rather indignant. He said "the reason he had not come was because he heard we had a young Lady visiting us, & his clothes
were not fit.
I told [him] I had received a letter from you which I wished to read to him. He made another appointment & kept it like the first. I called again feeling still more indignant; he laughed a good natured laugh & said "it was too bad, but he went down to Hattie's & they persuaded him to stay. ["] I told him I should not run after him any farther, & asked him if he had any thing to say before I answered your letter, advising him that he had better take care or you would have nothing more to do with him. He said "he did not know what in the [deuce?] to say; what did I want him to say anyway." Thereupon I left him & have not seen him since. It is quite a disappointment to me, I had quite expected that ere this he would have been earning such wages as added to the assistance rendered him by you would have enabled him to pay a reasonable price for his board & lay by a little for himself & thus assist in providing a more comfortable & tasty home for us all, & perhaps after a time in event of going away would have taken my place as head of the home.
My health has improved since I have been baggaging. I am now uncommonly well. The rest are as usual. Mrs. Harbin & Lottie propose staying with us 'till spring. Poor Lottie is very poorly & will probably remain so for a year or more. We are very comfortable in our new home a good large warm house & a [coal?] fire. The girls are quite determined that you should pay us a visit; we are not over five minutes walk from the station & if you could be persuaded to come I would call for you in Hamilton some day as I am coming home. I have enclosed the 20 dols. [sic] intended for Willie's bond. With very kindest regards & wishing you the compliments of the season I remain your affect. g'son [sic]
J[ohn] P. Baker