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Feb. 3, 1918
Feb. 4, 1918, Eva
Feb. 8, 1918, Eva
Feb. 9, 1918, Eva
Feb. 9, 1918
Feb. 14, 1918, Eva
Feb. 17, 1918
Feb. 17, 1918, Eva
Feb. 19, 1918
Feb. 19, 1918, Eva
Feb. 20, 1918, Eva
Feb. 21, 1918
Feb. 23, 1918
Feb. 25, 1918
Feb. 26, 1918, Eva
Feb. 27, 1918
Feb. 28, 1918, Eva
Feb. 28, 1918
SBButler Letters, February 1918
And we still write Camp Devens. It seems as though this had become a permanent abode. But trust the day will finally come when we get on our way to take our part in the great struggle. When we came here in August I never supposed I would be here at this time.
The big test we were to get by a board of Majors has not yet materialized, much to our disappointment, but hope it will soon come & be over, for the men have been ready for it a long time now and I'm afraid the longer they wait the worse they'll be. So that I am sort of letting them forget it for the time being, which I believe any psychologist would tell me was psychologically correct.
I have been rather dull-witted the entire week, and though I've kept going most of the time it hasn't been a week of accomplishment by any means. The week-end finds me better, and I hope the ensuing week will be more prolific for Heaven knows there's enough to do.
Biblical prophecy has the war over this month, and Spaulding & I are betting on it. Revelations 13 "And the span of the beast shall be forty and two months, and his number is six hundred and three score and six." Now since the war has been going forty two months & the Kaiser is 666 months old this month there's no argument to it. However, if it cheats me out of a journey across the seas, I'm not going to feel over-kindly towards it. The indications from Germany point to something breaking loose, and a similar debacle to that in Russia a year ago would not surprise me in the least. I'm just a little afraid of some Allied countries, too, but it seems as though they must hold on - the fight is almost won, and we have one million ever-nearer readiness to help them. Brazil is starting to get hers ready, China has numberless potential soldiers, there can only be one end. And then the crucial time of effecting a just and lasting peace.
Every mid-winter there comes a day when the first vague hint of an approaching spring makes itself felt in one, and every midsummer there comes a day when you know fall is coming. The day has already come this winter; it was not a warm day, but just a waft of a breeze or the way the sunset looked, or something but it says "Spring" in unmistakable words. Do you have any such experience? Sometimes I think I don't like Spring. It brings with it too much uneasiness, vague inexplicable longings for what I don't know what it is at times, for what I know I cannot have at others, which is altogether a topsy-turvy condition.
Jim Greene has just been in to while away the late evening hours.
Must say good-night.
I have just finished reading Mary Anton's "Promised Land." Have you ever read it? It is a story of an ill-fed, abused, highly ambitious Jewish immigrant girl who describes her life in Russia and how hard she fought to realize her ambitions here in the "promised land." It certainly is quite good.
Dorcas Reiner and Harry Davidson were married Saturday. She was my cousin you know. Harry has been down in a camp in Alabama since last October and came home as a surprise Wednesday. Dorcas didn't even know he was coming home as he wasn't sure either and had disappointed her Christmas and didn't want to again.
The cold weather is back again after a slight thaw Sunday, when we had a wonderful frozen fog again and a heavy slush. Everything is frozen solid again and this morning it was 4 degrees below. I always was most fond of winter but I believe I'm getting just a bit tired of it especially as I am not out in it anymore. Gone are the good old days when Miss Quimby and I used to walk the whole noon hour just for the sake of a ten minute coast and as for skating I have only been twice this year. If it keeps up I guess I'll hibernate in some old pine next year on the bank of some lonesome lake and never once listen to the song the pine is singing about how smooth and jolly the lake is.
The Latin Club meets at our house this Friday and I am supposed to think up something delightful for refreshments. It is most impossible - my delightfully are snow ice creams, and such things not usual for conventional refreshments. Can't you suggest something novel, new and nutritious? (I spent an hour almost thinking of another "N" for my novel and new - so please get the full force of the lucky three.)
We made some cocoa up here this noon and I thot I would get done soon and have lots of time to write. Five minutes were left. My name sure should be "Speed."
Mr. Wilson has just been trying to show me the advantages of Pleasantville. We have wonderful fishing and crabbing such as no other place. We also have Atlantic City. That sure is a decided advantage. I'm not convinced yet.
Mr. Hammell just called up and says he is too busy to come over this afternoon. He means it's too cold. I am to commit forgery and send off about a million letters.
The apprentice boy brought his sled and has promised Marion and I a wonder sled ride quite earnestly declaring he won't miss one bank.
The cemetery is ice from one end to the other. Marion and I just for fun went to get a drink. I fell first as when I was coming around the corner the wind took me off my feet. She had a good laugh then but she fell twice before we got back.
My pen doth scratch - my ink is dry, the clock draws close to half past four so many things against it being I fear to write you any more.
Spring really has arrived here, I believe at last. The air is warm and the snow is melting double quick and the "fly away call" has come. I laughed when I read your letter saying "Spring had come" for at that moment it was 5 degrees below here so you can imagine it did not feel very much like Spring.
One of the men brought in a poor little cold snow bird yesterday and I took care of it and fed it and it fluttered all around. Mr. Long came in and put it over near the stove. It stood still, tucked its little head under its wing and fell over dead. I thot that was awful.
Won't you be glad when your examinations are over ! I'm sure glad your men came out first in the trial and hope they will in the end. But "you never can tell."
Well, I hope your friend wins the bet (I'm sure you are betting against the Bible) but I'm awful afraid he won't and especially so since hearing about that transport being sunk this morning.
Miss Tolbert and I have been trying to decide where we want to go to school this summer. We are trying to save all we possibly can so we can get way away from here and learn lots of new things among new people. We also were discussing my going to Montclair next year but I don't know. Addie goes there and she says the expenses are very small in comparison with most normals and colleges and it is a first class school at that.
I'm studying hard at Latin as I am fond of it and would much rather continue to study that than German.
Your successor at school according to the paper has resigned and Dr. Whitney is trying very hard to get him to stay until the end of the year.
If it thaws sufficiently so that we can get up to the Manor Sunday I think we will go up. We have now decided to clean the house thoroly one week and "beat it" (not the house) the next week. I think it is possible for us to do what cleaning is absolutely necessary on Saturday afternoon and then have our every other Sunday as "cook's day out."
It's most time for us to see our first Robin isn't it? I have the best chance of seeing one first I'm afraid.
I suppose you are keeping early hours now. It is actually impossible for us to stay awake after 9 o'clock and often I am napping long before that and Daido is almost as bad.
The sun is out and my distant woods look 'most Autumny and they make me want to go out. It is almost noon and I suppose I am to run over and see the family today.
The Latin Club is over. Actually I stayed up until after twelve and never thought of sleeping - but who could think of such with some thirty young people around enjoying themselves to the limit. You would never believe them to be the same people who stutter and half faint when they get up to recite in school.
We had fruit, candy, and punch for "eats." Mr.Taylor (the colored man in Crawford's Drug Store) made our punch and the boys all declared we had put some sort of a "kick" in it and proceeded to illustrate its powers by singing hymns and the like.
Mildred was there and she was as funny as usual. She was cutting up like anything when Charles Pennhollow happened to notice a little gold service pin she was wearing and he asked her the reason and she grew most teary and said she had a boy in the service.
We played Gods & Goddesses. I was Juno and I certainly exercised my power to the full extent and especially over that personage "Jeep" who was Armenia Risley and the real "Jeep" looking down would have said "It sure does look natural. I can't look more henpecked than that."
It is raining now so I suppose tomorrow I will be unable to go out. How I wish I had grasped the opportunity to learn to swim when I had the chance ! "'Tis better to have tried & sunk than never to have tried at all." (With profuse apologies to Kipling or Shaw or whoever said that!)
I just have been reading a book of poems called "Songs for a little House." They are all quite good especially the "Thank God for Coal" one. Some of them are very Stevensonish in their simplicity and I like them very much. I'm taking a "Hoosier Holiday" now - I forget the author's name but the illustrator is Franklin Booth. I'm going by auto via Penna., etc. from New York, so far I have visited Delaware Water Gap, Wilkes-Barre, and at present I am stuck outside of Factoryville. When I get out I'll let you know. Wouldn't you like a card from each stopping place?
A week-end was never more welcome than this. You can't imagine what an ill-tempered creature I've been the whole week; just like a smoldering fire, gradually spreading, & hitting an occasional barrel of powder. About six explosions in the last 48 hours. But now I have a quiet week-end in which to put out the fire.
Further signs of spring have been conspicuous by their absence; in fact that first distantly wafted signal precedes the real thing always by numerous weeks. It has been bitter cold some days this week. Nipped my fingers in 15 minutes Tuesday morning. I had taken the company out to drill the first thing in the morning, as per schedule, but decided when it was cold enough to nip me, carrying nothing, it would be doubly so for the men with their rifles. So I sent them indoors to do Manual of Arms, and kept them indoors at various things the balance of the morning.
This last week I gave the first two in a series of ten lectures to all the companies of the Supply Train together, in one of the Y.M.C.A. buildings. They come every Tuesday and Thursday at eleven o'clock, and are called "Military Art" lectures. They are founded on the course of lectures I attended in January, which were given by Capt. Amand, of the French Army. Though I give them without notes, I have typewritten copies made for all the officers of the Train. I keep my poor company clerk, Sergeant Fernald, busy as a bee these days with typewriting; these lectures; notes for truck masters and assistant truck masters on organization and operation of a motor truck company; as complete a course as I have been able to get together on First Aid. I have paid a great deal of attention to this last, because I feel that it is extremely important. I want to have it so that each man in the company will know just what to do in case a comrade is hurt or sick in any way. This next week I plan to buy a quantity of standard first aid material, such as iodine, and when we do have our trucks in action, to have a little kit on each truck that can be used whenever necessary.
Last night one of the other companies had a dance down in Worcester, the dance being preceded by an excellent minstral show by members of the company. It was a very successful affair, but has left a sleepy Supply Train to-day; for we didn't get back until 3 o'clock in the morning, being obliged to come back by special trolley. About half of the officers of the Train went down together to give it our moral support, including myself.
Did I ever mention that our companies are no longer known by numbers but by letters, so that the company over which I have command is now Co. C instead of Co. 3.
I have never read your Mary Austin's "Promised Land", but can say, truthfully, as I am accustomed to say, that I have of course heard of it a great deal. Two prizes and honorable mention for you whenever you find a book I have read. Just at present I'm reading the Boston Herald.
I am much interested in your hints as to your and Miss Tolbert's plans for the summer. I hope indeed you can get off to some new place together. And I am equally interested in your hint of Montclair; so far as I know, it is a very good school. Montclair is a very pleasant place and well kept up. I have been there quite a few times to visit cousins who live there. It was there I went to a wedding last spring, at the same time I signed up and was examined for Plattsburg, just a week, less than a week, before I left.
The week-end corresponding to this, last year, was the coldest of the winter, when the Winch's furnace gave out & we all stayed in the kitchen; and on Lincoln's birthday, which was Monday, that fine brisk party to English Creek, was it not? And Miss Tolbert read me the Golden Rule for not letting the MacDougalls have the kitchen to themselves. You no doubt will beat me by some weeks, Eva, on the first robin. Your plan of only a bi-weekly house-cleaning I should say was a good one.
I must write my daily chronicle and then attempt to make up for some of my lost sleep of last night.
As ever, your friend
I'm real sorry Spring hasn't arrived up your way but it actually has arrived, I believe, down this way. It's so warm and sunshinie you can hardly make yourself stay at work.
We went over to Atlantic City Saturday night and brot some books and some real Spring back with us. We spent all our "foolishness allowance" for daffodils and mignonette and they were just as beautiful and fragrant as could be and they actually worked like a charm for Sunday were so warm and comfy we had the whole house open to the Sunlight and it certainly was cheerful. It was great to think we were out of winter quarters (2 rooms) and could once more live.
Our dining room is the most cheerful breakfast room in the world. We get all the sunrises and they are wonderful ones too - hundreds in one day as every bay and stream is a separate picture.
I'll give you a list of the books we brought home with us Saturday night and then try and imagine us book burdened, flower laden and chasing a car over the slippery streets.
I'm sure that isn't all for I believe I had at least a hundred but try and imagine us for it was better that a minstrel show.
I suppose you examinations will soon be over now.
When you get this letter I suppose it will be just the time of the Junior-Senior Party last year - and your day of ten years waiting.
Today has been an awful day. Not one thing at all interesting about my work. I closed up shop about three thirty and called it a day. It was a big hard day too and just made my head ache so I made up my mind 3:30 was enough. I had so many figures today - I was getting out the bills for the yearly care lots and there are somewhat less than two thousand and I just hate figures especially when I know they have to come straight. It makes you remember too much how careless you are.
It is now quite early Valentine morning and I have just finished my Valentines - one for Daido and one for little "Red head" and one for Frank, so I consider I have more that done a big days work this evening. I can remember once when a lot of the girls decided to make beautiful wall paper ones for all the other girls in our grade. I got tired soon and made several short banking on three girls being home sick with the measles. Imagine my chagrin to discover one of the girls back in school next day and a valentine from her to me in the school mail box (from which the teacher duly gave out the valentines that the students had put in it before school.)
I read in the paper the other day - this morning - that about 2000 men from Camp Devens had been transferred to Camp Greene, N.C. And in the next column was a notice that Camp Greene was knee deep in mud and was to be abandoned. Rather queer notices to post side by side, were they not? Did the change effect your branch any?
It's just too bad Spring really hasn't arrived for you because we are about ready for summer. It really has been the worst winter we have ever had - at least for some time - down this way and has caused an awful lot of suffering both because of scarcity of coal and food. Coal was very hard to get even if you had money to get it and I guess lots of people who didn't pay cash had to freeze until they did. Everyone wants Summer then - that is all except excessive heat and mosquitoes.
Daido just called.
Well, now, how did you remember about Feb.16, and my ten years' wait? I was recalling it to the folks last night when I was down home, also the Valentine Party which did actually take place at the fulfillment of the ten years. There were too many people around to say that the party itself wasn't the most important part of the evening, at least to me.
I went down home Friday evening, found Father waiting for me at the Hartford station, thus sparing me an hours' wait for a trolley, and a tedious hours' ride after that. After I got home, I stayed up until the unholy hour of two, as, not having been home since Thanksgiving, we had a lot to talk about. Saturday I stayed right at home, got some good turns at old friend Piano, and visited with the different folks in turn. Uncle Will has a little ell room to himself where he stays all day, and I spent a lot of the morning with him. He's had inflammatory rheumatism and been lame all his life, and in the winter can't get out at all. This winter its been harder than ever to get out and he's gotten pretty well nerved up; even lets Ralph's and my going across the ocean bother him. Then in the afternoon my uncle George button-holed me, as I knew he would, to tell me all about two funerals he had recently taken charge of, going, as he always does, into the most intricate details. People call on him to do that every once in a while, as he always has good taste for just what to do. He is a man of unusually hard common sense on funerals - ceremonies of any kind, for that matter. It took him not a minute less than three quarters of an hour for each funeral, that is, to tell me about each, and I did nothing but nod. This not altogether by way of making fun - I think a great deal of Uncle George, but the evident relish he takes in telling about such a thing has its humorous side, and all the family joke about it when he's not around. Mother went by me while I was listening to him, and gave me the wink, at which I could hardly keep my face straight.
I expected to get back here at
However, you may not get that far.
The men who were moved south this last week were not from the Supply Train. They all came from the infantry regiments and went to Camp Greene to fill up National Guard units. So that at the present time this camp is pretty well depleted. This last week we have had a great old thaw and a great deal of the camp has been a regular sea. It's cooled off some now, but I guess the back-bone of winter is broken. I never experienced such a cold winter, though I haven't suffered from it at all. And I haven't had a single cold.
It approaches the unholy hour of one, and I must yet write Mother a few lines to let her know I got back here without being torpedoed.
Your friend as always
It looked lovely from the inside out today but it was cold outside. We took a trolley ride down to Linwood tonight and walked back. It was wonderful out. The moon was almost new and there were just millions of stars for the "dippers" had upset and spilled them everywhere. The air was just cool enough to make brisk walking pleasant and we swung along at the "correct" walking gait.
We were tired and cross all day both of us because we had cleaned house Friday night, washed Saturday afternoon and ironed Sunday and Daido marked bushels of papers but the air did us good and we got over it.
I'm an "anniversary" person today. We went to Sculls pond a year ago today. Waded thru mud, sat on the old rail bridge and you read "Wings," "Fire Fantasy," and lots of others. Coming home we "copy-catted" your ten years hence idea. It's only nine years hence now. I wonder what it will be then. Things are much different today than a year ago and how different they will be nine years hence. Nine years is a long time. We came back over the road you thought you took when you took that little trip up from Bargaintown.
Your successor is going to leave our school this week, I believe. He has a much better position in Rochester, his home town.
Mildred is trying "to cut me out" with Miss Tolbert. She comes up every noon to see her, brings her choice jellies, fruit and dainty sandwiches. I'm getting very much afraid.
(The pen I have is abominable and the ink is worse, if possible.)
I was looking at some of your letters yesterday and I saw your brother had been in camp at Niantic, Conn. This summer. I write letters to the quarries there quite frequently.
You also said in one of your letters that a week was a long time to wait for a letter and you know it is, and especially since I am anxious to hear how those examinations turned out. I never did like examinations and never did think they always told the exact truth and now maybe if a certain ex-schoolteacher gets back to teaching again he will realize what terrible ordeals they are - far worse than the "Inquisition" of Poe and not inflict them furthermore on poor suffering students.
We have the most birds around here. I suppose there is so much feed from the horses as some of the men scatter it all around for the birds and then there are lots of grass and weed seeds too. I can imagine I hear my meadow lark back again over in the woods this morning but I don't believe that is possible as it is so early. I don't want to see a robin until next Monday and I won't look at any if I do.
I must stop now.
I'm so glad you've taken up the anniversary idea, because now I don't feel that I'm a queer person any more. It's rather fun, don't you think? Nine years hence is a very long way to look at present - why, I will be quite a middle-aged individual at that time, and you, Eva, will be just peering over into the venerability of the thirties, won't you? Venerability sounds horrible, doesn't it? But of its applicability to myself I can present as evidence 6 extra gray hairs since my entrance into the Army.
Eva, wouldn't it be fun to run over all the letters we have written each other, together? (You are good enough to speak of giving some of mine a second glance, even though one was quoted to make me eat my words, or by my accuser out of my own mouth, or something of that sort.) Your letters make a great big bundle now; and those I carried down home, which had accumulated since Thanksgiving, last Sunday were half as large at least as the pile I already had, which shows you have certainly done well by me, and, dear friend, I surely have appreciated and enjoyed them. Some fine day we'll have a grand party with all of them, eh what? My corner in the attic at home, where are stored my worldly good is copiously supplied with relics of my past, lurid and otherwise. Who ever heard of a past that wasn't a lurid past? I used to be so foolish I even saved theater checks and suit pressing checks! And I have a Memory Book with things of that nature & some more sensible which are a running history of my college career, with, in the back, two sets of photographs & cards, one labeled "The Hall of Fame", the other "The Rogue's Gallery" , a snap-shot of me S.B.Butler heading the latter list. Then I have envelopes filled with mementos since then, one labeled "New Britain", another "Pleasantville", another "Plattsburgh", and I don't know what not. And with college class books, and some old letters, with your happy thoughts in letters and verse, you see I have ample material with which to live in scenes gone by. Incidentally rummaging an attic is one of my favorite pastimes.
Spaulding and I are attending a School for Gas Defense every morning this week. It's something that every officer in the Division has to take - a six day course of anti-gas instruction given by a medical officer up at the Base Hospital; and Spaulding and I happen to be the ones detailed from the Supply Train this week. We get lectured to first for about an hour and a half, then have drill in putting on the gas masks. You have to get so that you can put them on in 6 seconds and it needs some little practice to do that. Following that today, we went out for a hike with the blooming masks on; first, for about ten minutes, stopping at a line of trenches where was demonstrated the appearance of gas coming over the trenches and the way the alarm is given. Then we took a longer hike for nearly half an hour, with the masks on every minute of the time, and perhaps you don't get red in the face before its finished.
I don't know whether these tests I've been speaking of are ever coming off or not. It kind of looks as though we weren't. I don't believe I've given you a very good idea of what they are, from the way you speak of them. They are nothing I have to take personally. They consist of oral tests & practical demonstrations by the companies in the various things I spoke of, and will show whether the company commander has got the company properly trained & drilled & instructed or not. For that reason it's to my interest to have my company show up well. I think I narrated the story of the sort of preliminary test we had just in the Supply Train companies on the same matters - a competitive one, a few Saturday mornings ago, and in which my company came out ahead. But that doesn't remove the necessity for keeping after them. This main test won't be competitive, as I understand it, but qualifying - to see if the companies are drilled & instructed up to the point they should be or not; and it will be conducted by a board of three Majors.
I'll be littering you up with pictures, for I have just ordered a picture of my company, taken last week, to be sent to you. Instead of having it taken at the barracks where the men of my company stay, I had the company lined up in front of the officers' quarters, it being a better place to arrange a group. So that as well as seeing the company over which I have command you can see the present abode of your humble servant. My room is the one with the window open, first one to the left of the doorway (facing the picture). I am not proud of my own face in the picture, needless to say. Something got in the way of my left eyebrow again, just as in that picture with the Pleasantville football boys, do you remember? Two of my sergeants are on either side of me, & the others right back on the steps. Not such a bad looking company, eh what? They are a first-rate set of men, for the most part.
Well, be a good girl, and good-night.
We are having a heavy rain storm just at present by way of a change. Mr. Hammell told us to be sure and wait and go home in his car and not get wet. We waited three-quarters of an hour with bulletins posted frequently as to the conditions of the patient. Last report was there was some hopes held out for recovery by Christmas. We walked down the railroad gloriously happy that we were lucky enough to have one umbrella between the three of us.
When I got home there was a big fat [envelope] waiting for me but you never could guess whom it was from.
Your Anthology was great. I'm most afraid to attempt anything more after that. Where is the part dedicated to a Lieutenant Sylvester B. Butler? You shouldn't have left out that. Perhaps, if you are too modest to write your own, some of the others will write you one and remember [underlined] ! I want to see it.
Now don't you think Kipling and Amy Lowell will feel flattered to be put in the same class with E.U.Wilcox and then too to find out that they write "doggerel verse for newspapers"! Sylvester Butler, the Amicable Amy would tear her hair in rage, I know, if she ever read such a thing about herself, so you better take precautions. I'm not very fond of her but I think some people are and I know she is fond of herself and besides she is a "prophet a pioneer in the field of free verse" (quotation almost verbatim from Amy Lowell ) "and willingly she takes the buffets and sneers of the world because all great men (I think women is meant) are misunderstood and one day the world will become aware that they have in Amy Lowell a priestess who died for her religion at the alter of free verse." Now, of course, I won't say "honor bright" that Amy Lowell said all the foregoing. She said the first part and I think she acts the last. Daido likes her and I don't. Isn't that awful.
Mr. 'Riginal Anniversary Man, how would you like to take a trip to Hemlock Manor with me next Sunday? It'' just a year isn't' it since our first trip there? You might see a robin there and surely you would see real things such as hills, hemlock trees (tree I mean) that tower up and up ever so high, a real lake, tho 'tisn't very deep, and a lone fireplace standing out of the ruins of what was once our Manor. I guess our fireplace is still standing. It was when Daido and I were there in January.
If cantaloupes and dahlias are annuals there might be some of them there too but I can't say for certain about them not being much of a farmer. I'm not certain about the robin, the fireplace, the cantaloupes, or the dahlias - seems to me the only thing I am sure about are the high hills but I am positive certain about them.
"Further Nonsense" not by Leacock.
Just as I was going to write something really worth while the rain came down in torrents and Daido started to read out loud all about Shakespearian lyrics. I said "Rain, rain, please stop! I can't hear myself think." But it wouldn't stop. I said "Please, Daido" oh so nicely but she followed the example of the rain so I suppose I must stop.
Don't Forget the Epologue.
Manny came up to dinner with me yesterday and she saw your picture in my room. She says you look exactly like Hall Everson of Stony Creek, Conn. Do you know him?
Did I send my dinner to you in my letter this noon? I had no pocket book so I put my money for my Liberty Bond and my money for shoes in your letter this noon for safe keeping until I got to Pleasantville. I thot my shoes were $1.13 to be fixed but they were $1.15 so I got a nickle out of a dime I had put in my glove as I tho't I wouldn't need to spend it so put it out of easy reach. After this I mailed my letter, then went to the store to buy bread (8 cents) and couldn't find the three cents. The grocer was kind and gave me my bread tho so I didn't starve but I was sure that 3 cents must have vanished with your letter.
I am trying a new fountain pen to-night, but don't seem to be having much luck for the points don't come together. So I'm going back to my old one, even if I do have to dip it in ink to make it right. I never have luck with fountsain pens; three within a year have proved no good. The first one I found with a broken point when I started to pen the first letter I ever wrote you, on the train coming up from Pleasantville the 11th of May last. I bought a new one as soon as I got to Plattsburgh, and when it began to leak, I traded it back for this one, which now refuses to write, full or empty.
Now I suppose the first thing I am to do is to guess the riddle of the three pennies. 3 cents is the price of a nice purple postage stamp, of course, but knowledge of that doesn't quite solve the riddle. My solution is that you wanted to keep me guessing. But guessing is sometimes a dangerous and expensive proposition; for instance it cost me five good dollars because I guessed the Germans would give up San Quentin & La Fere three weeks after a certain time in April 1917, and they are there yet; only it worked the other way for J. M. Davis for he guessed five dollars' worth on the other side. I never have won many bets since when I was exceeding small I wagered a whole pint of peanuts against a whole quart that the Democratic candidate for governor of Connecticut would beat the Republican, at a certain election, and the Republican won out.
We've been planning to-night to fix up our dining room into a real nice living room with chairs, fireplace, and all the comforts of home. But I wish you could help me persuade these people to do it in lavender.
This Gas School Spaulding and I have been attending this week is quite interesting. Yesterday morning after an interesting lecture, which included showing to us masks of all the important nations at war, and a drill in putting the mask on, we walked out to the gas house, which had been filled for the occasion with chlorine gas just as thick as it would be met with anywhere on the battlefront , if you took a whole breath of it, it would be the end of you. At first we put the mask on outside & then walked in & stood around for awhile, the instructor making a few remarks; while there, too, we experimented to show the effect of chlorine on metals by moistening a coin and putting it up near the tube which was feeding the chlorine into the room; it makes it turn all dark. After every one was thru that, we went in in small sections putting the mask on after we got in; to do that you must hold your breath until the mask is on - holding the breath is a very important feature of gas defense, and it must become a habit to do that as soon as the warning "Gas!" is given, in order that breathing in will not take gas into the lungs. The third thing we did was to walk thru the house with the mask off altogether, naturally holding the breath. If you have anything moist about your clothes, you are very likely to bleach the moist spots. And yesterday I bleached some spots on a perfectly good raincoat, one on the arm which had been made moist when I fell down in the slippery slush trying to march along with the gas mask on to the gas house. It was almost as bad walking blind-folded. My oft vain-glorious boasting as to recoveries was dissipated that time. A medical officer, a captain, was highly amusing the first two days. He had been detailed to take the course this week, and apparently had made up his mind to dislike it. For the first morning he went up to the officer conducting the course and said as he didn't know anything about marching he didn't see why he should get into the ranks to march for the drill we were having. The instructor jollied him into doing it, I guess, as I saw he got in with the rest of us. The second morning he had another grouch however, and after a half-hours walk with the masks on, & we had arrived at the gas house, the instructor asked if anyone had trouble with his mask; our cry-baby friend allowed as how he had in a loud voice, and protested that he wasn't going into the gas house with it on. There was nothing the matter with it at all, and I noticed he went into the gas house. I can't depict him very well, but it has been funny to watch him cry-baby thru the whole thing, so that everyone can hear him. This morning after a lecture and drill we went out for a short walk with the masks some of the time, some of the time not; and from time to time powder puffs were exploded to imitate gas shells to give us drill in giving the alarm and adjusting the mask. The indoor drill consists mainly in trying to get so that the masks can be taken out of the satchel & adjusted to the face in 6 seconds, which means exceedingly speedy going.
To-morrow, being Washington's Birthday, is a holiday. It seems rather strange, but of course for myself I'm glad to have it. But when these holidays come, I always think how apt the Germans are to stop fighting on the front so that we can celebrate them over there.
I see that my conventional apology to the anthology was misleading. "All those who write doggerel to the newspapers" was separate from the other poets specifically named, and had no reference to them. I aimed to get persons to apologize to, which would cover all classes of verse in the cataloguery. Now don't check me up carefully on that, for if you ask what poem(?) of the group is Kiplingian(?), you will have "called my bluff." Tomorrow Deek Spaulding is going to make drawings, and we shall endeavor to get out a masterpiece of our combined genius, and inflict it on our unsuspecting colleagues.
'Deed I would like to take a trip with you to Hemlock Manor Sunday. The year since our first trip will be up on Monday, not on Sunday, but then a day, I guess, makes no difference, particularly when on Monday we have to be at our daily toil. If you do go up by any chance, remember me, and that I am with you in spirit.
I don't know the gentleman from Stony Creek, Conn. Stony Creek is down on the Sound, while I live way up inland. I have been in Stony Creek, however, and some cousins of mine own a little rock island farthest out in the Sound from that point; have a little bungalow there, and good swimming and fishing.
A holiday to-morrow, but none Saturday; however I think I shall keep busy most of both days. There is so much that can be done at all times.
I came to a standstill about eight o'clock this evening and decided I'd worked enough for the week. So I have spent an hour of the evening playing over Victrola records to myself in the dark in the mess room, musing the while, and enjoying myself to the full, though I would have liked to have had a little lady whose name is Eva for company. You would love "To a Wild Rose"; perhaps you know it. I've been trying to get it in sheet music for a number of years , but McDowell only seems to come in bound volumes, and as most of his music I feel is too difficult for me, I never have gotten a volume. Sometime I'll get it though, just for the Wild Rose.
Your solution of the 3 cent puzzle [note - See letter postmarked Feb. 20] arrived after my poor guess is gone forward to you. I don't know whether I had better send it back to you or not; you might spend it too recklessly, since you threw it away so recklessly. If you will submit the written evidence, duly sworn to, of 17 witnesses, that you were known to be the possessor of so much wealth, and a photograph of yourself putting the pennies into the envelope at the place stated, together with a 954 stanza elegy on The Coppers Copped, then I might at least go to the trouble of consulting my lawyer to get his advice at to whether I should return it or not. In other words, I must have due regard for the immutable law of Nature that "Finder's is Keeper's."
To-morrow will be a full day. I ran myself into something to-day which will make it full. The day before Washington's Birthday, the Major told me if I wanted to enjoy myself over the holiday, that he had the proof-sheets of a book on the organization of a Supply Train, which he & Lieut. June have collaborated in compiling; that I might like to look them over, & possibly make a change if anything wasn't quite right. As a matter of fact, I found quite a number of things which needed some revision & made a note of suggestions to talk to the Major about, today. Well when I started to-day talking with him, he suggested that I go much more thoroughly into them & make a wholesale criticism of the affair, look over other material to see what I thought ought to be added, and so on. Even hinted at putting my name on the title-page, but that isn't likely; I don't believe I ought to consent to it, unless I did a great deal of original valuable work for it. But being assigned the task, I am zealous to do it well, and to-morrow shall spend considerable time at it. Major Schoonmaker is hoping to have the War Dept. take it over as an official publication. This must seem like idle flamboyancy over nothing to you, but it's just one more spark added to my limitless ambition - to rise high and prove a master of big things. Of course the name on the title page is a temptation - as a near-fulfillment of one of my pet ambitions - to publish at least one book. My ambition to be a best man at somebody's wedding vanished into thin air last spring when my friends Ern Binks & Miss Steiberitz were married in the course of a virtual elopement. Perhaps my brother may consent to my being one at his.
I think I must say good-night and try to recover from much weariness. Be good.
To-day could not go by without a letter, even if it were 5 o'clock in the morning when I began, could it? It has been a day much as last years Feb. 25th, mild and balmy, but of course there are many other things that are lacking - I have seen no robins, nor a sword-fish, nor hills, nor manors, nor dancing grey eyes, glorying in the gorgeous sunset tints, and adding fresh beauty to them by their reflection there. Today you were going to open your robin-seeing eye, and I wonder what luck you have had.
I haven't had a very good day; must have started out on the proverbial wrong side of the bed. I worked at rather a high pitch yesterday evening and all today and late this afternoon had a row with Lieut. June, the first real one I ever had. Coming as it did, I sort of went to pieces after he got out of sight and had to lie down for some little time to get in normal working order again. Good old Pop, though, he came around an hour or so later with the glad hand, and so that part of it was fixed up all right.
We just got word late this afternoon that beginning to-morrow the Supply Train goes on the rifle range. The announcement came in too much of a hurry and we have been all evening making arrangements to start the thing going. It will be the first time the men have shot their rifles and there are a thousand and more things to arrange, so that everything will be attended to properly, will work smoothly, and that everything is as fool-proof as possible. We'll spend most of our time now on the range for a week or two, and then it will be all over.
Ralph's lady, Winnie Russell, the sunny blond, was up here Sunday; came up to Worcester Friday night, whither he went to meet her; they stayed there, then went out on Saturday to see Lucinthia at Wellesley and all three came to Camp Devens to spend the day Sunday. The first time since I've seen the sisterkin for some little time.
Well, lady, I must get me a little sleep. I hope some subsequent Feb.25th may find us enjoying the anniversary together. At least I hope you will always remember the original one as pleasantly as I do.
As always, your friend
Sylvester Daido's mother is dead, Wednesday Daido got a telephone call that her mother was to be operated on next day and for her to come up. Her mother had been in the hospital for some time but she had written the most cheerful letters and Daido thot she was there for a rest more than anything else. She had known for some time she was to be operated on but didn't want Daido to know it. Daido went Thursday and expected to come back that night. I never heard a word until Saturday night when her sister called me up and told me. She says Daido does nothing but walk the floor all the time. Oh I wish she were here I want her so and her sister says she won't be down for a long while. I wish she would write to me I feel so awful and I just don't know what to do. She is so good and does so much for others and really gets so little pleasure and benefit herself. I wish she would come to me. I don't know whether she saw her mother alive or not. I hope she did. I don't know what to do.
[Gram must have been crying as she wrote this, as there are water splotches and running ink all over the page.]
Your letter came tonight and you can't tell how sorry I am to hear the news it conveys. I am terribly sorry, too, to have you so upset. But, girlie, I am sure Miss Tolbert won't be so long coming back as you fear. When you talked with her sister, it was while the blow had just fallen and the pang was keenest, and that's why she spoke of her pacing the floor, and the unlikelihood of her coming down for a long while. She will be back soon, just to have comfort in being with you, I know she will. Just you see, and cheer up, like a good girl.
I do want to say one thing, I take words so dreadfully seriously at times - you say you just don't know what to do; and I was afraid you might think she was not coming back for a long time and feel you would have to give up Bricktop; so I just wanted to say, Don't do it. Wouldn't you be able to get someone like Miss Hodgon's sister or some other person you care for, to come & stay with you while Miss Tolbert is at her home? And this I want you to promise and say you promise me, that you will not make any change without writing me first and telling me all about it - Please.
These last have been two hectic days. Yesterday morning we started out for our first trip to the target range in rain and mud and ice, got out there and found it was all wet, too much so to shoot and after fiddling around awhile to see whether we could or not we marched the two miles back to the barracks again; only to find in the meantime that other outfits were shooting finally, as it had cleared off, so we trudged out again at noon and shot all afternoon at the 100 yd range. The men did very well indeed for the first time, in fact two of my men this morning at the same range got perfect scores. This afternoon from 12 to 4 we shot at the 300 yard range. I have been out there all day today, starting at a quarter to eight in the morning, coming back on a run along about eleven for a snitch to eat & then right out again to be there at twelve. For my pains in trying to hurry home & back for a lunch & cutting crosslots, I walked right into a brook, which engulfed me half way up to my knees, and of course I had no time to do anything else than let them dry out on me. I am as sunburned tonight as though I had basked for an afternoon on the sand at Palm Beach.
Be sure and make me that promise won't you? Even if I am stuck three hundred miles away or so, I might not be perfectly useless. Don't ever hesitate to call on me for anything if I can be of any good.
Ever you friend
It is Tuesday and Daido is not back yet and she's been gone since Thursday.
Sunday night I ran away to the Fisherman's Point down at Somers Point and I walked all down along the edge of the water. It was beautiful moonlight and the waves were singing three songs a rollicking roaring song in the distance, at my feet like a kitten drinking milk and once in a while they sounded exactly like the sorrowing pines. It was good to get away from the sameness and I was just near crazy.
Last night I waited every car for Daido but she didn't come. It rained oh so hard a regular windy March rain. I read lots of books thru. La Gallien's "The Making of Rainbows." A book of essays by Joyce Kilmer, "Christmas Night in the Quarters" by Irwin Russell. Essays on Modern writers by Phelps of Yale, and bushels of others. It was lots of fun to read all about La Gallien's fairies when it was such a typical ghosty night. The night before was a real fairy night tho. It was awful lonesome tho and especially is it lonesome at meal times. Oh I just hate to eat alone.
Your Saturday letter came this morning and in answer to your law of Nature that "Findens' is keepin's" I wish to state that that may also depend on the "survival of the fittest." You are taking an awful chance and besides I shall inform the income tax collector and a lot of burgular friends of mine if he doesn't take it all.
It is now Wednesday morning. Yesterday March arrived as blustery as ever as ever I bet he blew a gale five billion (-) miles a minute down this way. I walked up and I actually felt like the frog in the well who jumped up three steps and fell back two.
Thursday and no Daido - I haven't heard a word either.
I'm awful tired and I wish she'd come and I can't think of a thing to say and I'm sorry because I have gotten such a lot of nice letters lately but excuse me please and I'll try and do better next time. Good-bye.
P.S. I didn't see any robin.
I am anxiously waiting for another letter from you with the hope that things have a more cheerful aspect.
We got a surprise last night in a special order which came down from Headquarters detailing Major Schoonmaker from us temporarily to act as an instructor at the Officers' Training School. He is still Commander of the Supply Train in name but won't be with us for duty until April 19th. (Having studied American History under Prof. S.B.B., Ph.D., D.D., &c you can doubtless tell what famous event occurred on that date). [note - In case it has slipped anyone's mind, that would be the Battle of Lexington-Concord after the ride of Paul Revere to start the American Revolution.] This means of course that Lieut. June is again the acting Commander for awhile.
This afternoon we took the men out to the range again, this time at the 100 yd. Range again, but with a different kind of target. The target the first days was a round black bull's eye, with wide circular rings at intervals around it. Today's was a paste-board life-size representation of a hat, khaki with a black band. It was hard to distinguish from the bank in back of them. First the men shot 5 individual rounds, taking as much time as they wished, then 10 rounds at what is known as "rapid fire," the time allowed for shooting the ten cartridges at that range being 1 minute. I've been shooting, myself, as have most of the officers, for the fun of it, but if today's results are any warning I'm afraid my men will lose faith in my shooting ability. I'm free to confess that it's much easier for me to teach others how to shoot than to ring up perfect scores myself. The range practice we have to be very careful about, establishing very rigid rules such as no one being beyond a certain line in back of the firing except the man firing, and the scorer, and the officers; such as keeping the muzzle to the front, and keeping the safety lock on whenever the rifle is loaded. You jump 'em hard for any infraction just to instill a wholesome fear & constant carefulness on the part of the men while at such work. One man in my company to-day, who happens to be a prisoner in the guard house, but shoots with the company just the same, had gotten his rifle loaded up at the firing line, and then, by George, if he didn't turn square around to look at something behind, bring the rifle around with him, the safety lock not on and his toe almost on the trigger. So I just jumped him with both feet, but let him fire his five rounds but didn't let him keep his ten cartridges for the rapid fire which was to come later, on the contrary took them away from him & saw that he didn't get them till he was actually went up to fire.
I hope it won't be long before I get your next letter.
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