Monday, November 9, 2009

Camp Devens; 1917-18; The Hard Winter

Lawrence H. Ross
Lawrence fretted that the military "blouse" or jacket was not issued with the rest of his uniform.
Factories worked overtime trying to meet the demand for military uniforms.

Lawrence's Aunt Emma, his father's sister, who managed to be at the train station to meet him during the layover on the way to Camp Merrit, New Jersey.

Lawrence's cousin, Anne, accompanied her mother to the train station. Her brother Jack arrived earlier.
Lawrence's letters home during the interminable winter of 1917-18 detail the frustrations of being at Camp Deven. The camp was quarantined repeatedly due to an epidemic of measles. Lawrence didn't catch measles, but had a dreadful cold and cough which lingered for weeks. His efforts to obtain a weekend pass home were cancelled due to changing train schedules as well as the orders that no one could leave camp. Finally his father and financee were able to travel and visit at least for a day.
On a cold morning during rifle drill Lawrence, who had come to take pride in his gun and his markmanship, was so slow that his commanding officer chastised him. Lawrence could only hold up his damaged right hand, fingers stiff with cold, by way of explanation. His skin condition, always an annoyance, became so bad that rough patches bled.
He had hopes at one point that he would be transferred to work as a "driver" but his assignment was never changed---the officer who raised his hopes likely meant well, but one man's dilemma was lost in the many. Although the letters continue to record Lawrence's miseries and frustrations, there is a jocular note at times. He didn't like where he was, but he had made adjustments.
Camp Devens
The Hard Winter
Camp Devens
Jan 1, 1918

Dear Dad,
I’ve just had dinner and thought I’d drop you a few lines.
I feel so bad today. My face is chapped and my skin is so dry that it cracks and nearly makes the blood come through. I guess I’ll have to report on sick call, and see what they can do for me. Maybe it will let me out from here. I can stand the disappointment of not going home, and I can stand the work, if my flesh was not so chapped. Won’t you send me a box of Cuticura Ointment. No—don’t do it, for I can send out for a box of it here.
I wouldn’t care one snap about the drilling or any of the hard things if only my skin was good. I hate to tell you and make you blue, but I can’t talk with anybody here and I get so homesick to tell these things to somebody. Nobody cares here what happens, but I know that you do. I know you can’t help it, and I suppose I ought not to tell you about it, but I just have to talk with someone once in a while.
I hate to be made fun of although I haven’t yet, but it’s a wonder they don’t notice it on me and make fun of me.
I wish they would discharge me on that account, for the cold wind makes it all the worse here.
If my skin was alright I’d never say a word about things here. Outside of that I feel good all the time, but my legs get so sore that I can’t hardly stand it some days. I haven’t much of anything to put on them and it don’t do much good to put anything on them unless I keep it up, so there it is.
Let’s hope and pray that they will discharge me on those grounds.
I suppose this letter will make you awful blue, but if I can’t tell these things to you, who can I tell them to? I wish the war would close so I surely could come home.

Camp Devens
Jan. 10, 1918
Dear Mother,
I’ll write you a few words tonight, if I don’t do anything else, although I have enough to do. I must shave me and wash my hankerchiefs, for they are awful dirty. I have a terrible cold and cough pretty bad. I have a catarrh as bad as I ever did and I haven’t a thing for it and can’t go out anywhere to get anything. It is not quite so bad today as it has been, but my head is so full that it aches all the time. Maybe its because I’m learning so much that makes my head ache.
We are working awful hard now, let me just tell you what I do in one day. First, we cleaned up inside the barracks, then we went outside for physical drill and it was a cold job right in our shirtsleeves. Then we went out for a hike and done some drilling. The crust is so hard and glassy that you ought to see us slip and slide. It was funny to see the boys fall and slide down some of the hills on their backs. Then we came back and boxed til noon. All of that was this forenoon. This afternoon we took another hike, came back and had a conference, took another hike, rested 10 minutes, drilled by squads. Retreat, mess and that’s all for today, only I’m writing to you, then one to Letha, wash my clothes, shave, take a bath, read for awhile and hit the bunk. Now, believe me, that’s going some, and its so hard walking for the roads are icy and all we wear on our feet is shoes.

Camp Devens
Jan 13, 1918
Dear Father,
While I Have a few minutes to myself I’ll write once more. I wish I was there with you today to go to church. It don’t seem like Sunday here. Part of the Company had to go down to the coal yard and shovel coal all day today. I’m on Guard at the different doors as we are quarantined yet. I’m on for one hour and off for one hour. It would seem good to be home and go to church once more. How we used to enjoy going to church, all of us, and little we thought that anything like this would happen. I’m thinking when I come back that I’ll appreciate things more than I ever did before. I have as good a home as anybody and didn’t appreciate it. You and Mother was good to me and I was ugly. I’ve made up my mind not to notice such little things as I used to and enjoy myself while I can.
What would we have thought if we had to eat bread, and pretty dry sometimes, without butter right along? And so many other things, that freedom will be a Paradise to me.
I don’t always feel like hustling and then it’s hard to be pushed, go out and run til the sweat drops off my face, then come back and strip down to our shirt sleeves in the cold for physical drill. It makes me awful cold, but that don’t make any difference. Then we have to box til we’re all tired out, or at least I am. My back will ache so I can hardly breathe. Then we go out again and run in the snow or on the crust an hour or two. We are getting it harder every day now. At night the windows are opened and the wind blows in on our heads. I have an awful cold and cough terrible. I can’t get out anywhere to get much for it. I have some dioxogen that I gargle with and some cough drops that I use.
I hope and pray that I’ll never see another winter like this. I hope it will be better—or worse. Lots of talk in the papers of peace. Let’s hope they have it before long, for I am so sick of this life.
I’m going to take out an insurance here that the Government offers to the boys. It will cost me about $7 a month, but if I am disabled or don’t come back, somebody can draw $57 a month for 20 years.
Now If I was married I would make it out to Letha, and I think I would have been married at Christmas if I came home, but—I didn’t come home. Do you get that?
If I was sure I could come next Friday night I would have you and Mother come to the Falls and I should be married, but I don’t dare to say for sure. Would I be foolish to do that before I get out of here?
Now, about that insurance. I’ve got to take it out before Feb 1st, so if you think I’m foolish to get married now, I’ll make it out to Les and Minnie $25.00; Mac and Helene $25.00; you and Mother $25.00, and Harold $25.00. When you write, tell me what you think. Maybe I’ll have to do something before I hear from you.
I think maybe I’ll try for a chance to drive a truck or ambulance. It wouldn’t be any more dangerous than this work will be.
Did you get the allotment last month? You ought to get another one soon. I got the doughnuts alright and they were awful good.

Camp Devens
Jan. 15, 1918
Dear Dad,
I’ll scratch off a few lines this noon. I think we’ll be out of quarantine in a day or two and I’ll try and get a pass for Friday night. I’ll come to Leicester Jct. Can you meet me there? If I can’t come----No, come to think, that Friday night sleeper don’t stop at Leicester, so I’ll have to get off at Brandon. You better not start after me, but I’ll come right along. I don’t dare to tell you for sure that I can come, but I’ll try hard.
Will you send word to Hague and ask Letha to come over? I wish Uncle Amos would drive over, but probably he wouldn’t. I’d like to have Letha come anyway.
It’s pretty risky planning of anything, for I’m not sure, but the Captain said we would be out of the measles soon and then we could get passes.
If I don’t come this Friday, I don’t think I can next week, for we have some special Guard Duty.
I’ll come right along if I can. Maybe I’ll send a telegram so you can tell Letha for sure.
Two months have rolled by since I was there and I hope I can see you all in a few days.

Camp Devens
Jan 19, 1918
Dear Father and all,
If I try to tell you how I feel just now I never can, for I had planned on coming. When I got down to the station, my ticket all bought, then I happened to think that I’d better ask to see if the trains had changed. They said yes, the Sunday train back from Bellows Falls was two hours later and they didn’t know whether the Rutland connected with it or not. Well, that was enough to stop me, for if the train back from Bellows Falls was late, I couldn’t get here at taps, 10 o’clock. And, the passes are only til ten now, not til morning. Besides, we can’t leave here any more on Friday night, only Saturday noon til Sunday night at 10 o’clock. So, you see I don’t stand much chance to come up any more. Besides, only 15% can leave at any time.
It beats the devil that we can’t get a furlough. I wish this war would close so I could get back once more. Some days I think it will before long, and again, I don’t know what to think.
I think I shall try to get in driving a truck. They pay more. One fellow told me they pay $50 per month for that. There wouldn’t be any more danger than there is here.
I don’t know what I’m writing, I’m so blue. Not only because I couldn’t come today, but the Lord only knows when I can come up. I suppose it’s up to me to make the best of it. We have just got out of quarantine today, and I suppose we’ll have it hard now. We can’t have it much harder than we have had it.
My cold is a little better now. I don’t cough much, but I have catarrh terrible.

Camp Devens
Jan 24, 1918
Dear Dad,
Guess you’ll think that I’ve forgotten you all, but I’ve been pretty busy and when I have time to myself I have to sew on buttons and fix my leggings and wash, shave and all sorts of things.
We had a little treat today. Ex President Taft was here and we went down to the big auditorium to hear him. His talk was good, and I wish you could have heard us sing for him after he finished. There was probably 4 or 5000 boys there and we sang for him. How he laughed and clapped his hands. His big belly shook some!
We had another surprise this morning. We were having a lecture and the Top Sergeant came in and called Attention. Who should walk in but the Colonel Preston and Brigadier General to inspect the barracks. We were not ready for any thing like that, but we came out pretty good. I was scared stiff for I usually shave every night and I skipped the night before. I was afraid he would come over near me and see I needed a shave. If it had been any other time I would have been glad to have him come near so I could see how he looked.
One other funny thing I’ll have to tell. We had a death here last night. A mule died and they took him into a drill field, hung him up on a pole so we could practice bayonet work on him. It was funny to see it. I can’t take the time to tell all about it.
It is quite cold here today, the wind blows and that makes it all the worse.

Camp Devens
Jan 29, 1918
My dear Dad,
That family letter came today and it always makes me feel good to get it, although some times the tears come. But that don’t hurt me any. I just wink them away so the boys won’t see them run. I’m mighty thankful that I have a good home and a good father and mother. It means a good deal to me now. If every boy that don’t like his home could come here for 6 months, I’ll guarantee a change to take place, but that is enough of that for now. I’ll write what I can before the lecture and finish it afterward. An English Sergeant is going to talk to us tonight, so I suppose we’ll get some dope straight from the front. Well! Let it come!
We have been doing nearly everything today. If I should go on to tell you, you wouldn’t understand and besides we have had orders not to tell very much of what was going on.
I had my renewal for the Chauffeur’s License and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I asked the Captain where I could find a Notary Public. He said, “Come over to my room at noon and I’ll fix you up.” I went over and he took me into the Major’s room. Good Night! I walked up in a military manner and saluted, told him what I would like to have done. He fixed it up for me, and when I asked, “How much” he said, “not a thing.” Then he asked, “Would you rather drive than be in the infantry?” I said, “Yes sir!” He asked how long and how much I had driven. I told him, and then I said, “It is hard for me to handle a rifle.” I showed him my hand. He looked up astonished and said, “I don’t know how they passed you!” Then he said, “Lieutenant Sterns is going to have his car here a little later, and I’m going to have mine too, and I won’t forget you, Ross.” That sounded the best of anything I’ve had here. Now if he only does it and I could get back on the buzz wagon once more, I’ll say I’d feel better. I’d rather drive for 16 hours a day than to double time, run all the time.
Well, I wish they would appoint me Captain of this Company, but I don’t suppose they will. Only one more day and this month is gone. The time don’t drag here, but I’d rather be “way up in old Vermont” where the pancakes are.
Say, Dad, I wish you could come down and see the camp. It wouldn’t cost you very much, why don’t you? You and Letha better come—I’ll give you a good time.

Camp Devens
Feb. 13, 1918

Dear Dad and all,
Your letter came today and I was glad to hear from you, but I’m disappointed to hear you say that you and Letha are not coming, but I’ll get used to that—everything is disappointment here. It makes me blue to hear you say that you can’t come, or rather, that she can’t come alone, but I figured it up and I see I couldn’t pay it all for two and I surely don’t feel like asking you to come at your own expense.
It might be possible that I wouldn’t be transferred, but you never can tell. We’ll make the best of it just the same. Letha could come alone as easy as rolling off a log, I think, but I guess she don’t dare to.
Over three months have rolled by since I saw any of you—only yourself. I can’t tell how many more it will be, but I won’t say any more. You say I write such blue letters. I can’t tell these things to anybody here and I get so lonesome to tell things to some one.
I could get up to Bellows Falls very easy and it seems as though she could come there all right. I could have from 6:40 Saturday night till 5 o’clock Sunday night. I’m out of the dining room, had my day in the kitchen and was room orderly yesterday, so I have everything out of the way. By the time I plan on something else these things will be back on me again.
It is a nice day here and the snow is thawing good. I’m glad to see some warmer days for it has been cold long enough.

Camp Devens
Feb. 16, 1918

Dear Folks at home,
About the worst jar I ever had was last night. I had planned all day on the good time I would have with the girls {Helene his sister, and Letha} when the report came that one of the boys had the measles. If ever you see a blue fellow, I was one, and I was not the only one. It surely was the bluest bunch I about ever see. Well, I’m all over it tonight and I feel as good as ever. For two weeks now we can’t go anywhere nights, but we have to do just as much drilling as ever.
About the first thing I thought of was a telegram to stop the girls. What would be the use of their coming. I couldn’t go to the train and meet them and if they came up here I could go outdoors and talk with them, but couldn’t go away from here, nor they couldn’t come in. That would be a fat visit!
Some more good news. I heard tonight that they had decided that they would give from Thursday night [Washington’s birthday] til Sunday night this week. “That’s good. I’m glad it comes this week, because we can’t go. We have the measles!”
I was called over to E Company barracks yesterday, told to report to an officer. It was a Colonel and he asked me what I’d done before I came here, and how long I had driven and if I done my own repair work. Then he said that was all for now, so probably something is coming. I may not be here long, nobody knows.
We went down to the Rifle Range this afternoon for rapid fire. We have to fire 10 shots in a minute, that’s rapid fire. My hand bothers me for that work. On the 100 yard range I only fired 8 shots, but I got 5 bulls eyes out of the 8. On the 200 yard I fired the 10 shots, but I had to hurry awfully. I got 4 bulls eyes. On the 300 yard I only fired one clip, that’s 5 shots. Went to put the other one in and got it caught and couldn’t get them out or in, so I only fired that one clip. I like it on the range. Most boys like to shoot. Just think, I shot 30 times this afternoon.
Sunday Morning
How I wish I was up home and all going to church once more, but instead of that we are tied up inside all day, can’t go out anywhere. It’s a nice bright day, too.
I reckon Helene and Letha were some disappointed when the telegram came, but there’s no use of their coming down here if they couldn’t see me. It makes me mad when I think about it. Every time I plan on coming up or anyone coming down, something happens.
I expect to take up signaling soon. I have been studying it by myself a little, and yesterday one of the Corporals asked me if I’d like to try it. I said yes, he asked the Captain and he said alright, so I’m going to start in the class with the other ones.
It will be hard and lots of brain work, but I like that and hope I can make it alright, for if I do it will mean a better chance I think. It will make me work my old bean for all there is of it, but its worth trying anyway.

Camp Devens
Feb 22, 1918
Washington’s birthday

Dear Folks at home,
I was glad to get your letters. I thought something was the matter. I looked for one about Tuesday or Wednesday.
First I’ll say I think we’ll be out of quarantine next Friday, March 1st. I’d like to have Dad and Letha come down. I don’t think there will be any change in passes before that, so I can’t come up. You could plan on coming, write and tell me if you thought best, or you could wait another week. Of course we don’t know how long I’ll be here. I had another scare. They have the scarlet fever here in camp and I’m so afraid that we’ll get it and get shut up again. I want to see you people, but do as you think best. I hate to make you as much trouble as I did before. If I knew that I would stay here, I wouldn’t ask you to come, I would wait for a chance to come up.

Camp Devens
March 1, 1918
Dear Folks at home,
Dad’s letter came today and I was glad to hear from home. I suppose all are about as well as usual. My cold is about all well now and I don’t cough anymore.
Well, we are out of quarantine once more, and you ought to have heard the boys cheer when the news came. Such a roar as there was here!
I was sorry that Dad and Letha couldn’t come down this Saturday, for I’m afraid that next Saturday will be too late, but if it is, why, we’ll make the best of it. Just fourteen weeks ago today I was starting up to Ti and over home. I say I think its too late next week for I heard today that twenty more are going out of here next week.
You say you didn’t understand about my going into the Engineers. I don’t know why they want Chauffeurs in there, but I guess they are going to take me for a mechanic. That’s all I can tell you. I can’t tell where I’ll go—in this camp, south or across.
I was already to send a telegram last night and tell you folks to come, then I got a letter from Letha saying that she couldn’t come this week, so I didn’t send it.
I know its hard for you to get away, and maybe you hadn’t better try it. I hate to make so much trouble. I can stand it for months yet if I have to, as long as I get good letters from all of you. Of course I’d like to see you all and wish I could get a furlough, but I can’t.
We have our packs now and take short hikes with them. It is quite a load. Half a tent, five pins, rope, two blankets, poncho, in the pack, also ammunition belt, bayonet and rifle—probably altogether about 40 lbs. That’s quite a load to lug five or ten miles.
I’ve almost forgotten how those doughnuts from home taste. You better send a sample some day.

Camp Devens
March 4, 1918
Monday afternoon
Dear Folks at home,
Just a few lines to let you know all I can. I went over and had my inspection this forenoon, then they told me to report back to the barracks. That’s as much as we find out here. I think we’ll go somewhere tomorrow morning. I can’t tell whether it will be here in Camp or away.

Somewhere on the Road
March 5, 1918

Dear Dad and all,
I’m writing this on the road. At last we are started, but I don’t know where for yet.
I’m so glad you and Letha came down. It was a miracle, for you see, if you had waited another week, I wouldn’t have been there. I don’t know as you will be able to read this, the train jars so, but I was anxious to let you know. We are nearly to Mechanicsville and its about 6:30. I think we are going to Camp Merritt, New Jersey, but can’t tell for sure.
We have just had our supper and we surely had a great time eating. We each brought our own. I had hard tack, salmon, corn beef sandwiches and hot coffee. I surely enjoyed it. There is 4 coaches of us, about 200 and say, I was glad in one way to go, but hated to come alone, nobody here I know. I have a good book to read that Captain Winsor gave me. He also gave me a box of fruit. He is one fine man.
You ought to see what he wrote in the front of the book. “A good soldier and a fine gentleman.” That made me feel good.
Don’t worry about me for I’m alright and will write more just as soon as I can. I’ll tell you all about my trip next time I write and where I am.
Love to all,
And you better not write til I send the new address.
In haste,
Your boy,

Camp Merritt, New Jersey
March 6, 1918
Dear Folks at home,
At last I have stopped and I’ll drop you a few lines. I can’t help but think how glad I am you came down Sunday, for you can see now that one more week would have been too late.
We got word yesterday to be ready to start at 11 o’clock. We didn’t know then where we were going, but Otto told me he had orders to give me two days rations, so I made up my mind that I was going out of camp. We put our packs on our backs, over our overcoats, and they took our barracks bags and suitcases in a wagon so we didn’t have to carry them. We marched down to the track over near the quarter masters and got on the train, then went to Ayer and there they hooked the front coaches back of the fast passenger train for Troy.
We had a few minutes wait there and I was wishing we would go into Albany—and we did. We got in there between 9 and 10. After a few minutes I managed to go down to the baggage and call Aunt Emma. Jack came right down and Aunt Emma and Anne came soon after. We had a chance to visit from 11: 30 til 1: 30. I was glad of that. Then I went to sleep. When I woke up again, we were side-tracked. I didn’t lay awake long and that was about the last I knew until they told us to hustle and get our things together, that we would soon get off, and we did. They say we are at Camp Merritt, N.J.—that’s all I know.
I’d like to have you write to me as soon as you can, Dad, but I don’t know whether I’ll get it before I go from here, for I don’t think I’ll be here more than a week at the longest.
This is some camp. No snow here, but the mud is deep and it’s a sort of red clay, looks like crushed brick, and its sticky too.
It is pretty lonesome here, for I don’t know a fellow that came down, and I caught a little cold last night. But I’m alright and gritty as a bear.
I thought sure that I was going to Washington, D.C. I heard that the 19th Engineers were going there, but they never would have dropped us off here if we were. I guess Earl Carr and the other Ti boys have gone over. The officer said for us to hurry and clean the barracks, then we would have an inspection. Then we could have a pass, but I don’t suppose that would do me any good. I can come to Ti as quick from here as I could Ayer. Eight hours would bring me there.
It is damp and rainy here today.
I hope you and Letha reached home all OK.
I must close now and go shave me. I won’t seal this just yet for I’m not sure what to give you for my address.

Camp Merritt, NJ
March 8, 1918
Dear Folks at home,
I’ll start a line this morning and add some to it as I have time. I hardly know what to tell you, no news here. I don’t get any letters or papers and I can’t go off the camp ground, so there’s not much to tell.
Mum is the word here, so when I start away I’ll send another line. I heard that some of the Engineers were going south, but we’ll know for sure in a short time.
The other Ti boys that I thought had gone are quarantined down here. I went and hunted them up last night. I was glad to see them and I guess they were glad to see me.
I have only been up a little while and as we have to wait for mess I thought I couldn’t do anything better than write to you, for I know you are anxious these days to hear.
I heard a splendid speaker over to the Y last night. I was glad I happened to be there to hear him. He said he used to live in Kansas and asked how many in the Y was from there. A good many raised their hands. Then he asked who was from Missouri, Indiana, Texas, Michigan, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont and New York. All of those states was represented and more. I counted 18 states that were there. Then he asked how many foreign places were there and listen—Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Russia and others. So, you can see nearly the whole world was represented there. He was nearly equal to Billy Sunday to talk. It was great. I’ll try and finish this and mail it today. I’ll tell you about yesterday. After inspection they told us we could have a pass. I put my name in and got one, only for 20 hours. I knew I couldn’t get home, and a fellow that sleeps near me whose home is in Brooklyn asked me to go over with him, so I went. I had a chance to see N.Y. City, ride on the elevated railroad, subway and see Brooklyn Bridge. I had quite a time and it didn’t cost me much. But I’d far rather have come home.

Camp Merritt
March 10, 1918

Dear Mother,
I’m going to try and write you a few lines tonight. Its Sunday night and I’m over to the Y to write and hear the speaker. I wish you and Dad were here with me. I would give you such a hug and kiss as you never had.
Well, its awful cold here today and the wind blows terrible. I think it blows full as hard as it did at Camp last Sunday, tell Dad.
There are awful crowds here now from all over the US. This is a big camp, but not so nice a camp as Devens. I would enjoy that camp better now I’ve seen this one, but no chance for that now.
I’m a full-fledged Engineer now. Changed my hat cord to a red and white one and the button on my collar to a US. I suppose I’m a Regular now. We’re not drafted men anymore for we mustered in since we came here and I guess that means we are the same as volunteers now.
I met a fellow today who has been in the Engineers for 18 months and he says it is far ahead of the infantry and its alright, so I hope its for the best where I am now.
I don’t know as you can read this, I’m holding the paper on my knee, so I can come down about halfway and sit down. There is probably 7 or 800 boys here in the Y now, and a piano playing, a darkey playing a mandolin, talking smoking, laughing, whistling, so I have to pay attention to what I’m doing.
Say, Mother, I was awful lonesome when I pulled in here, for I didn’t know a person, not even the fellows that came from the same camp with me, but I feel better now. I like to go to the Y for we hear some fine speakers and good music. The President’s daughter is going to sing here tomorrow night.
Three nights this week I have not been undressed. The night I was coming down, then the night I went to NY City I got back about 6 o’clock in the morning. The next night I thought I’d have a grand sleep, but wait! I was on Guard, about 60 of us, so I couldn’t even take my ammunition belt off when I lay down, and I didn’t sleep much. I laid down on an old dirty mattress and the boys said they were lousy so I got up and twitched it off the bunk and laid on the springs with half of my overcoat under me and half over me. This is the life!
I didn’t catch any cold, and I had to walk for two hours from 9:30 til 11:30 in a cold rain. This forenoon the wind blew and it snowed hard in my face for two hours, but I don’t care; if I don’t get sick, I’ll get along alright I’m trying to be careful and you know I was always an old maid about taking care of myself. It’s a good thing now.
I wish we all were gathered around the fire there. I would tell you some of my experiences. I hope the time will come soon that we all can be back there and enjoy each other more than ever. I know I’ll see things different than I ever did before.
We sung some good old songs here one night last week and they made me think of home. Do you know it has been four months since I’ve seen you people or had a look at the old farm. I would feel different about clay mud now.
If I only had about ten pancakes, some maple syrup, home-cured ham, and all the other good things that you folks know how to make. God help that I can have some of those things at home before long. We won’t lose our grit anyway!
I stopped writing and listened to a great lecture, and I can say this much: that wherever I go and when I come back, I’ll come back a man.
This man that talked is a YMCA man at work in France, and expects to go back this week, so probably I’ll hear him over there.
I must close now, Mother, and go back to the barracks and take a bath and roll in for I haven’t had much sleep for two nights.
Love to all and I’ll keep you posted as much as possible. Don’t worry, for I’m alright.
A big hug and kiss for all,
Your boy,


  1. My gosh, but you have put an awful lot of work into these fascinating posts. I am still working my way through these wonderful letters (as a family historian,I am SO envious). There is a book here, surely?

  2. Yes, BB--time consuming--a labor of love. If my various photo programs were better sorted it would help.
    I hesitated whether these would have any appeal beyond the family, but I love other people's family postings, so here they are.
    Books are so often written about famous individuals--I like history as it impacts one ordinary family. My cousins and I have considered if there is a book here, something that could be privately published for the historical society of Hague, NY. I have felt protective of "Uncle Lawrence" even so many years later.
    Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. There is definately a book here ..loving it all but must leave the next one 'til the morning as my eyes are prickley.xx