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April 1, 1919
April 8, 1919
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April 22, 1919
SBButler Letters, April 1919
I have given all day to a tour of the front, mostly in what used to be called in the official communiques "the section NW of Rheims", but at the end of the day a short trip also from Chateau Thierry to Belleau Wood over ground made famous by our 2nd Division (including the Marines) last June.
We got up ready to go at 9 o'clock as planned. Before leaving we met up with an Artillery Captain who wanted to get to Chateau Thierry and who was glad of the chance to come along with us, get the ride and see some more of the old battle front. Before leaving the city we drove around to the Rheims Cathedral again, to get some pictures and see it more thoroughly. The shells came from the direction of its rear so that the front except for the towers is quite well preserved, but for the rest, it is a gaping ruin. It was once one of the finest Gothic cathedrals in France.
If it was an experience to wander thru the desolate streets of Rheims at night, it was equally so to be in its heart in the morning - to think that here, where we were between nine and ten in the morning, but 5 years ago all would be bustle and business, whereas now everything was still except a very few people here and there, and a few birds singing just as though we were way out in the country. I should note, however, that the souvenir picture and postcard booths have already made their appearance out side the cathedral. What a harvest will be made there from tourists in the years to come!
From Rheims we went along the front to Soissons, stopping quite a little by the way. We stopped along the heights of the Vesle river to look at a few dugouts by the roadside, and to climb a hill which overlooked a broad expanse of valley. On top of this hill I photographed the grave of a lone British soldier, a postcard picture of whom was on the inside of his helmet, placed on his grave.
Going into the town of Fismes, a town in the same shape as all of them, we found a group of German prisoners working and one had just fallen off a wall and hurt himself seriously. The non-commissioned officer in charge of the French guard asked us for a lift to take the man to a hospital not far away, so we gave the the use of the car for that gladly of course, and ourselves found our way to the railroad station by the aid of another German prisoner who spoke English. From there we walked up the railroad track quite a distance; all along there was every kind of evidence of last summer's fighting - American, French and German. All sorts of American equipment lay around where they had been, for it was the habit of our men to cast off everything when they went into it. I picked up here a few helmets and other souvenirs, and between those we all had our car looked like a junkpile. Where the car joined us again there was a huge dump of equipment salvaged form the battleground thereabouts. The ground is being worked on all the time chiefly by prisoners, who are picking up especially the unexploded shells and grenades so that they won't endanger the farmers. When we finally got started again we continued without stop to Soissons, and took dinner there. After dinner we spent some time in the Soissons cathedral which is more badly damaged that that at Rheims, particularly the towers. Also one is allowed in the Soissons cathedral and not in that of Rheims. We were allowed to climb way up into the edge of the roof, and go all around the building where it was safe. Our French soldier guide gave me a piece of the bronze bell which had been destroyed, as a souvenir, while the rest weren't around, telling me to keep it quiet, for he didn't have enough to go around.
From Soissons we drove down to Chateau-Thierry here, a matter of 30 or 35 miles. It is all thru country which was in the path of the American advance last summer. It is nice country, too, open and expansive, and visible for long distances; civilization is creeping back for there has been a great deal of ploughing done already, and the people who belong there seem to be coming gradually back to their own.
The working parties clearing the battlegrounds seem quite numerous, and once we were stopped at a crossroads by a German prisoner, who was posted there to warn those who approached not to proceed until some explosions just below had been completed - grenades that are being blown up. I wanted to snap a picture, while they weren't looking, of the Germans, which would include also our artillery captain who was near them, merely to get into a group together persons who a few months ago would come together only to exterminate each other and now were talking together in a perfectly matter-of-fact way about such an everyday matter as how soon we'd be able to go along on our journey; but the sun wasn't right for the picture.
We made our arrangements for the night as soon as we got to the town of Chateau-Thierry, and then took a late afternoon run out as far as Belleau Wood and the town of Lucy. In this little town there is a crucifix hanging in the church which was never touched by all the firing though the rest of the church is wrecked; the object receives of course therefore much superstitious veneration. Belleau Wood must have been a tough nut to crack; it is on a small hill just over a brook it is all wooded and filled with boulders which were good protection for the Germans and hence made it all the more difficult for the Americans to take. The fighting lasted over a matter of weeks before the Germans were entirely cleared from the wood. It was no small task. Today the woods are full of peacefully growing anemones - what a contrast to the grim aspect of the place last June! We stopped on our way to look over two or three little American cemeteries out in that direction, too, but found no one any of us knew.
We have no heat tonight either, and aren't going to lose much time getting into bed.
I send you lots of love, all my love, as always.
Here I am back in this place of fond memory. Just got in, at just about midnight, - only about eight hours later than planned. However, our dereliction from the original plan is easily explained. For at breakfast in our hotel in Chateau-Thierry this morning, I got talking with a young machine gun captain of the 3d Division, who had just arrived; he was on his way to a nearby place, but had in mind to look over some of the ground he had fought over last year before reporting to his station. He was Captain of Co. A, 9th Machine Gun Battalion, 3d Division, and as such, fought with his division on the Chateau Thierry sector last June and July. I couldn't resist the temptation to ask him to come with us in the car, and show us the points of interest in the battleground, as he could explain everything from the point of view of one who had been actually over it. He was glad to do so, and what an interesting morning gave us. In June he was posted just at the south end of the city, and he showed us the point there where he first came under fire himself, and another point, where the first of his men was killed, where he had his guns and so on. In July he was posted somewhat east of the city, and as we went along he gave us there the whole story of the important days of July 15-18, showing where different units were located, direction of infantry advance and of artillery fire, points where the Germans attacked with their infantry and covered with their artillery fire, points where the fighting was thickest and most interesting of all, the house where he maintained his own headquarters, and the locations of his machine gun nests. He seems a natural born soldier, and a good natural understanding of military tactics which made it all very interesting and illuminating for us. I feel very fortunate to have met him, and wouldn't have missed this morning for anything.
We took dinner again in Chateau-Thierry, took our machine gun captain out to his station and then made rapid time over the 200 mile journey we had ahead of us before we should arrive at Havre. It was a fine ride, a bit cold, but not too much so. The country is fairly level until one gets to Rouen, but it is not so level as to be monotonous. We passed thru two great forests of tall straight ash trees - so many of the trees seem that way here. I think it has been a surprise to all of us who come over here for the first time to find so much country and so much forest, when we have known that European countries were more thickly populated than our own. As for the forests, they are very carefully conserved, by government regulation, and not a tree is cut down but what one is planted in its place. The principle of conservation seems to be thoroughly imbued in the minds of the French people. As for the existence of so much open country, so much farm land, the explanation is that the towns are more numerous, I suppose, for there has got to be some explanation, when this country is more thickly populated than ours, and yet one sees just as much field and forest as in our own. Here also out in the country one sees scarcely any houses, the people apparently all living in the little towns and coming out to work the farms which they rent (or own - I doubt if many own them though). I haven't talked with any French people about it, but I assume that this condition is a relic of mediaeval days, when everyone held their land from the great feudal lords who owned them, and lived together in the little towns for the protection which their lord gave them. It surely is a different looking country from ours - one can border the towns as simply as anything; the houses don't become gradually farther apart as you go out into the country, as with us, but are just as close together everywhere and the borders of the town are absolutely abrupt on all sides; many of the older ones have walls about them. I think I spoke of the old walled city of Rocroi where I stopped on my leave trip.
We had supper in Rouen, and had tire trouble right outside, so were held up sometime there. We also had to beg some gasoline from a British lorry park, which we had some difficulty in finding. But we have finally arrived, and are putting up at the Hotel Continental, on the sea. Tomorrow morning we shall roll up impressively in our Cadillac to make Spalding's and Taylor's eyes stand out.
It's time to turn out the light so that John can sleep, also my story is done.
Goodnight and lots of love.
We thoughtfully ordered the car for 11:30 this morning so that we could have plenty of sleep after our late arrival from our long trip. We drove in on Taylor and Spalding in our grandest style, and they seemed glad to see us, as we were to see them. We listened to all the latest gossip and then took the officers down to our hotel to dinner and to my room where I could explain in detail the purpose of my visit, and the business which had to be done.
Thru the afternoon we got the business going, shook hands with our old acquaintances up there, both those with whom we used to get along well and otherwise, and I did some inquiring around to find how much longer my A, E, and F companies were likely to be held at Le Havre. I don't figure that it will be more than 3 or 4 weeks.
We have had dinner tonight at one of our old rendezvous downtown, and a good quiet sociable time together.
It's very springlike here in Le Havre, and somewhat different than when I left. It used to be mud but now it's dust.
Jim Greene started for Nevers with the other half of B Co. a week ago, so probably is up there by now. I am looking forward to having him with us again.
Well, there is nothing in this town to write you several pages about. Good night dear. With all my love,
We have practically completed our work here to day. I have been up to the hospital to see what men are there and have striven to get in touch with everything that has happened to any of the companies here or any of their personnel.
This evening I have been to one of the old movie houses I used to go to for the sake of whiling my time away while stationed here. Tomorrow we start off for Tours, the big headquarters of the S.O.S., where my Co. D is stationed.
Goodnight again. Lots of love for my girlie.
We have surely made time today. A trip of 220 miles form 11 o'clock in the morning to 7 o'clock in the evening with lunch and two other interruptions on the road. That isn't making such bad time, is it? Once we hit 73 miles per, and 60 per wasn't at all unusual. It really doesn't seem very fast in a Cadillac, any faster than about 35 would in a lighter car.
It has been a beautiful day for travelling, warm and sunny, and I have surely enjoyed. The country thru which we have gone today is different in many respects from that further east. The borders of the towns don't end so abruptly and out in the country there are houses much more often, to go with the farms. I suppose that is because this section of the country was always fairly safe, and people didn't have to group together so much for protection in towns. Thruout the first of our journey, the most characteristic features of the country were the thatched roofs and the old houses of which the walls were beams about a foot apart, the intermittent spaces filled with cement. This was both in the country and in the towns. As we went farther down those particular features disappeared and the landscape for miles could perfectly well be New England except for the stone or cement farmhouses. There even were wire fences. Still farther down, near here, one gets more into a vineyard country, also the great chateau country of France, all thru the Loire valley.
We are putting up at an excellent hotel here, the Hotel de L'Universe. I have just been making a speech to John about luxury, and being a bit of a Luxury-lover have revelled a little in our surroundings. But he has spoiled my flight of sublimity by some cynical remark as to the lack of proper position of the mirror. He can't see anything good in France. Well, I must get off to sleep.
Goodnight and lots of love.
I was surprised enough, on going up to our Co. D, which is stationed here, this morning, to find a telegram from Lieut. Greene that he was under orders to go to America, and would probably leave Nevers today. I immediately got Nevers on the phone and found he had left at 6:00 that morning for St. Aignan, about 40 miles east of here. So right after dinner we piled off for St. Aignan to find him, as it would be our last chance to see him, we wanted to bid him farewell, and I had many important matters to discuss with him. We found him at St. Aignan without much trouble and took him back this way to Montrichard where he has got to stay for a few days, awaiting orders to a port of embarkation. I asked him if he got to America within a short time to drop you a line and say that he had last seen me at such and such a time and that I was OK. Probably you will have received such a note before now. It makes me a bit envious to see him going home, that's certain; I shall miss having him with us here, too, for I had looked forward to his being at Nevers with me, as long as we'd have to stay. I admire him a great deal, for his fine keen mind, and I have always found him most congenial.
We left Him at Montrichard, stayed with him a while, and then returned here to Tours.
This morning I did some snooping around for information. 'Cause you know what I want to know most is "when are we going home?" The whole proposition is this now, that we and nine other supply trains along with 10 motor sections of ammunition trains are loaned to the Motor Transport Corps for duty and when we get to go home depends on when they want to release us. I've been in the office of the Director, Motor Transport corps this morning trying to get a general line on when the Corps would begin releasing these Trains, also to find, if I could, anything special they had in mind ahead for my Train. The officer with whom I spoke could give me nothing definite, but from the character of his remarks I judge that they will begin to think of releasing the Trains after another month perhaps, then will release them in the order in which they came over. I have begged to remind him that of all Trains on duty with the MTC, the 301st Supply Train was the first to arrive in the AEF. I hope it won't be overlooked when they begin to think of releasing them.
I must say goodnight. I love you.
I decided to beat myself and get back a day earlier. I finished up at Tours in the morning, then drove up to Vendome, where a detachment form B Co. is driving trucks for the 6th Cavalry. We transacted our business there without much delay, then came down to Romorantin, where I thought I might be able to find the grave of Bert Phelps, a special friend of mine when I was in New Britain, and who died over here last October. I never knew what he belonged to, nor where he was stationed, but did know he was in some Motor Mechanics Regiment of the Air Service, and that there were a lot of such outfits in Romorantin. On that chance I made my search there, and succeeded, sure enough, in finding it, also finding a very close friend of his who saw him just before his death. I took a picture of his grave, also one of the whole of the little American cemetery where he is buried. Poor chap! It is such a pity, for he enjoyed life so much. I took the pictures because I thought his mother might like them.
I came back to find quite a little mail waiting for me, and I waited until I got to my room, and had a fire built before reading it. So between the fire and the letters I have become terribly lonesome. I would love to see you so much, because you are my Sweetheart and I love you.
A goodnight kiss.
Morning Apr. 8. Good morning, sweetheart. The birds and the spring speak of You, and call me away to you. This morning I feel as though something were pulling my heart in two for homesickness to see my girlie. I love you. Sylvester.
My own dear Girlie,
I began to have the most genuine attack of homesickness one could imagine, this morning as soon as I woke. I think it must have been your letters last night. Thru the day it grew into a feeling that something wasn't right, which has persisted with me all evening. I guess it's all imagination, because I'm homesick and want you and never know just when I'm going to be able to have you. I wish this room with its cosy fire and all were our home this minute, or our cabin on some far off lake where there was no one in god's world but You and I. Oh! I do love to be with You, and long to be with You, sweetheart of mine. I wish I might hear your soft voice, oh, oh, so close to me, to reassure me that all was right with you. Oh, I know it is. I guess it's just because of your sick spell of a month ago that I've been imagining things.
I was going to get a long letter off to Mother tonight, because I have my whole trip yet to write her about, but I had Fitts come down to spend the evening with me, so that my intentions didn't develop into action.
Oh, there is a beautiful moon out tonight. And it is springlike and Hemlock-Manory-like, and it is right that you should be with me. I feel crazy enough sometimes to cable you to come to me, as if that were all there was to do.
Goodnight, dear. I love you. You surely couldn't help but know that. Your own,
9th, Morning. Dearest, How much, a year ago now I was looking forward to seeing you in a few days! The 12th is coming very very near now. Good morning, dear, until tonight. Good-bye. I love you.
I have had three of my sergeants down to spend this evening with me, Eaves, Callahan, and Fernald, and have introduced them to some of the delights of my cuisine - chocolate malted milks, etc., also have trotted out all my souvenirs for display. I have quite an array of the latter now, and guess I'll have to throw away a uniform or so to have space to carry all the junk back.
I have ordered me a new calot today - that's an overseas cap. All winter I've been wearing my barracks cap, as my old calot was in disreputable shape. But when travelling with troops, as I shall be some sweet day, I trust, a barracks cap isn't in order. Hence the new calot. Also I've got to give the barracks cap time to get a cleaning up.
Well, this hasn't been a very important day in my young life, and I think I've recorded most all there has been to it.
With love and a goodnight kiss.
Only a little letter tonight. Something went wrong with my stomach and I haven't gotten up today, and am not overly comfortable at the present time. I'll be OK in the morning, though, I guess.
I would [underlined] like to have you to sit on the bed and talk to me, as once before some months ago; perhaps, too, mightn't you give a little kiss, because I love you!
April 11, morning
I am somewhat better this morning, despite the fact I scarcely slept thru the night. I heard every hour strike except that of eleven. and all the cats and rats in the neighborhood were doing their best to make the night cheerful.
But it's morning now, and I'm going to business as usual. I love you.
There is only one person in this whole world who could take care of and cure the little malady which has rushed on me tonight - namely, homesickness with a vengeance. I spent the small sum of time of an hour and a half after I got back from supper deciding whether I could do anything at all or not. I didn't want to write, I didn't want to eat, I didn't want to read, I didn't want to do anything. Finally I did pull myself together, and have written letters to Pop, Lu, and Andy. A year ago tonight I was speeding, on my way to you, and similar journey now would be a cure for the periods of uselessness I am subject to lately, like this evening. Don't you think so? Oh, sweetheart, sweetheart, my own dear little sweetheart, I wish we were together, living and loving together in the complete happiness we are going to know some day - when that good old boat lands in some blessed harbor of my country
What do you think, dear, I had a letter today written November 5th! It must have had a merry time chasing me. It had a little sunshine flower in it for me, I wonder if you remember putting it in, way back that far? You put in some candy, also, but the candy had been lost out of it.
My stomach is OK again, and I've eaten my three square meals today. I'm a bit tired form my sleepless night last night, but I'm going to sleep that off right now. An all-gone loneliness is my chief trouble now.
I love you best in all the world, my Eva-girlie. Goodnight, and a kiss for love.
This is bright and early on our day of days. Not very bright overhead, but it wasn't on Our Day either, and it would be anyway whether or no if "we two were Together", Dearest One, I love you.
My Sunshine Lady,
Would that I could do it all over again tonight! And see again that indescribably wonderful light in your eye at the beautiful burst of the new dawn of our Love, just a year ago. Oh, Eva, you can't imagine how beautiful you were at that moment! How many times I have lived it over in memory, and lived over the sight of you, to charm away a lonely spell.
I was sure we would be together to live over again our first anniversary, but though Fortune wasn't that kind, I ought surely to be altogether thankful, for it won't deprive me of the 2nd; and when I last left you, I didn't know but what it was for years, but I wouldn't give that thought any mind room at all, for it would have made me too unbearably unhappy.
I wonder what you are doing tonight, or what you will be doing, rather, when it gets night with you, for it is only about five o'clock by the dusty fireplace now. Or isn't it a dusty fireplace tonight? I wonder. You have asked me in a letter today if I would rock you - only rock you. Yes, dear, to be near you; but you know that I should like be even nearer and rock with you. My left shoulder likes to be your pillow, and I have some bars sewed on there now, which don't scratch and pull the hair. So there! Your last argument is gone. It is all settled. I should be rocking with you if I were there tonight. Besides, if I didn't it wouldn't be truly living over the first night.
Sweetheart, your "Spring the first" letter came today, and it is one of the sweetest letters I ever had. Now weren't you dear and lovely and everything that is beautiful and good and sunshiny to send me that letter so that it would get me just today, of all days? Thank you. You are a good sweetheart. With your letter, too, but going with that of another day - the "conservatory letter" (you dear happy thoughted girl!) was a little crocus, and one of our carnations which goes with us and our gold pin, and the first maypink of the season. Wasn't that all nice and happy, too? I have another first maypink of a year ago in the box with the Together Poem right here with me. Again, thank you. Again, you are a good sweetheart and I love you.
What happiness just to know I have you, just to know you love me! Sometimes I sit and wonder how all that is true. Yet nothing could ever be right with me if it weren't. What greater happiness will be the wonderful reality of you presence by me again, when we start to live and love and work and play together forever.
Together! Everything together, You and I, who were made for each other!
I love you. With my whole heart and soul, I love You, Eva.
Dearest, Now it is the morning again, the first morning I greeted you with a kiss as the natural first greeting for the first thing in the morning. Here is another, and another, and another, and a million.
It is spring and moonlight this evening; I have even heard some frogs. Where is She that is necessary to make it complete? Is she thinking of me, I wonder? I am flashing a kiss to you right now, to see if you won't feel it, and think of me.
I should like to be reading together tonight. I hope you will like to do that with me a good deal for it is part of my dream of our home. Not all the same sort of thing, but lots of different things. I want us to live and grow and learn together. There is so much that can be made of a life, and how very many miss it all!
I wrote half of a long, long letter to Mother last night about our trip, and finished the other half this morning. In reading it over, I noticed as never before how poor a writer I am getting to be; why, I could hardly read my own writing, which I had just penned! I'd hate to show my writing to some penmanship expert who claimed he could tell character from hand-writing, for I believe I should get a terrible black eye. I'm sure he'd say that my ing's showed carelessness, superficiality and what not, and that as a whole the writing showed a writer of cramped and stunted mental development or something of that sort.
A year ago tonight you went to sleep on my shoulder. The empty shoulder would like to have you again tonight; the overcoat is lost, so that I couldn't wrap you in that, but I have another just as warm, and I can make a blazing fire here.
I love you. So I am lonely. I send you the kiss I wish I were giving you.
Morning Dearest, It is a beautiful bright morning as full of sunshine as yourself. but it's yourself I want. I love you. Sylvester
A little more mail came today. I am so glad to hear that the columbine is sprouting, also am interested in your garden plan - the reproduction of which surely entitles you to an honorary diploma as a landscape architect (is there such a thing?)
I do wish we could plant a garden together this year. But we shall next year, shan't we, and won't it be lots of fun? We have proved that we are capable of very efficient team work anyway, isn't it so? The Us gardens made with your arms and my feet are a standing monument to that.
It was lovely of you to write Aunt Sarah a birthday letter. It will have pleased her very much. She is very thoughtful of others herself and appreciates ever so much little bits of thoughtfulness of others towards her. Mother writes me that she has aged a great deal this past year. You see, she is 75 now. After one is 75, you think of them as old anyway. I had a letter from Aunt Sarah just today, also one from Aunt Kate, and from my grown up married brother, who can't talk about much else than his wife's tremendously successful cooking.
I asked Sergeant Fernald and Sergeant Swift to drop down to see me tonight, and they have spent most of the evening here. Sgt. Swift has been spinning tales of Montana, where he lives, by the yard, and is quite an interesting narrator.
I have done nothing to make the world move any faster today. In fact, I don't know as I ever did less.
It is beautiful moonlight again tonight. I am thinking of you. I love you best in all the world. A goodnight kiss.
4/15 Morning Good morning, Sweetheart, It has already rained, hailed, and snowed this morning, and just now the sun is shining. A versatile day. I love you dear. Your Sweetheart.
I stopped work early this afternoon and decided to come home and not go back for supper. Instead I made my own. I had quite a lot of bread left over so made myself quite a mess of French toast, and had also canned cherries and cocoa. It doesn't sound like a very huge supper but I feel as though it had been a bit too much just now.
During the evening while not sitting and looking at the fireplace, I have been reading Yale Alumni Weeklies. They are especially interesting this winter, because the pages of the weekly are filled with discussions of plans for University reorganization along many lines of administrative and educational policy to meet new needs and correct old hindrances to progress. The last number which has come contains the completed plans which have been finally adopted by the University Corporations, but I haven't read that number yet as there is one in between which hasn't come and I prefer to take them in order.
I had a letter from Mother today under date of March 31. Your last was March 26, so there must be some more hovering around for me somewhere.
It has variated [I'm pretty sure that's the word he uses -- David] all day today, just as it started, - a bit of rain, some sunshine, some more rain, some more sunshine, then some hail for a change, and after a while the sun would try another time. It settled into a rainy night for a final wind-up.
I would love very much to have you make me up some stories from the crackling fireplace. Life is so vacant without You. I love you, and here is a goodnight kiss.
Good morning Sweetheart, I send you all my love again. Sylvester.
The sum total of my labors today was to sign my name to three official letters. So you see, after such a hard day's work, I am naturally pretty well exhausted.
Some of our pictures taken on my last trip have been developed and they are on the whole disappointing. The trouble was, the camera we had was really too small to be suitable to take the sort of pictures we wanted - fairly comprehensive general views, for instance. It wasn't nearly as good a camera as the one Taylor and I took on our leave trip to Belgium.
I have been reading all evening. First I have read several chapters in the translated volume of Duruy's History of France, which I found at the YMCA library. And now I have just finished an hour or thereabouts with a collection of modern verse - "The Little Book of Modern Verse" edited by Jennie Rittenhouse.
Mr. Thayer, the YMCA man, who occupies the next room, has just come in, and as I usually get informed as to everything he has done or is about to do, I know that he wrote 48 pages to his wife today. How on earth can it be done, I'd like to know? I thought I was doing wonderfully the other day when I wrote a letter of about 24 pages to Mother after coming back from my trip and having all that to tell about; but here he writes 48 about a few ordinary days in his life! I guess I'm small potatoes.
I wonder if you wouldn't like to make a fine bargain with me where you secure the privilege [underlined] of writing all the letters that go out of our house after we are married. I'll stand by and be the inspiration.
I am going to say goodnight, with love and a kiss. Always your own,
Good morning, dearest, I'm lonely for I love you and want you. Sylvester.
Just a little school note -
We are getting ready for Easter and as we are making lots of cunning things we are quite busy. I have some wonderful flowers now, my kiddies brought me a lot more this morning. I have an immense bunch of Japonica had the daintiest bunch of myrtles, one of daffodils, two of arbutus and one of Forsithia. Am I not fortunate? My pansies are certainly prolific blossomers as this morning there are eleven on one bush and seven on the other.
I have another new pupil again today, that makes eight and now I certainly have a sizable room.
I saw in yesterday's paper that Harry's division had been released. I wish I'd see something about you.
It is so long between letters and now I don't get them as often as I used to.
Last night what do you think! I didn't go to bed until awful late. I wrote a poem, too. I haven't it here but am going to send it in my night letter.
I just wrote a little poem about Katheryne's and my walk yesterday. Would you like to hear it?
She told the class about our walk and then wanted me to tell so I wrote it for her. She's my perfect little girl you know. I don't mean perfectly good. She's just bad enough to love.
Dearest, I must stop now as noon is over. I love you.
[a blot] Didn't know I shed purple tears, did you?
Before I had gotten out of my quarters this morning I had a message form Sgt. Eaves stating that Capt. Aspray, adjutant to Major Wheeler, the Section MTO, wanted to see me today and this morning if possible. It was the old case of the wish fathering the thought. I could therefor think of no other possibility than that he had received a message from the Director MTC at Tours, providing for the release, assembly, and shipment home of the 301st Supply Train, My spirits got higher every minute as I walked down to Capt. Aspray's office. I waited fully 20 minutes for him to come in, and then - I think one must have heard the crash of my air castles, for my first greeting was, "Well, Capt. Butler, we've got a new job for you." I have got to take my headquarters down to Poitiers, about 150 miles west, and act as Motor Transport Officer over there, using my headquarters for the administration of that Motor Transport Office. C Co. of my Train has been over there about two weeks; that's Lieut. Fitts' company. I don't believe it's a place that's going to last very long. All that seems to be there now are some Engineer outfits repairing the roads which the Americans have used. Certainly all my efforts will be used to cleaning it out as fast as possible. Well, it won't be any hardship to take on some extra work while I'm waiting around over here, but this surely is a much later date than I expected to be taking on any new tasks.
I wish I might know just when we'll get sent home. I wish I might know so that I could tell you. Even if it were two or three months off it would be some satisfaction to have the definite date toward which to look forward, and from which to make our plans. Your school will be almost out, I suppose, when you get this letter. I was hoping so that I could see you a day in your school. I suppose, just from the practical side, you would like to know about my time of return, so that you and Miss Tolbert could know what you wanted to do about Bricktop for the summer. I wish I might tell you, but I forecast so wrongly on the March 1st - April 1st predictions that I am almost afraid to say anything more. The only thing I have now is, as I told you when I was at Tours, the inference from my conversation at the office of the Director MTC that the MTC would begin releasing the Trains in 1 1/2 to 2 months, and of all the Trains on duty with it, we were the first across. That was 10 days ago I wrote you that; so that now, with that holding good there seems a chance of our getting under way the end of May or the first of June, which could get me out of the Service by the last of June. but, I can't tell - it might by bare chance be earlier and it could easily be later. At an rate, please don't engage to teach another year, thinking I might not be back in the fall. I don't see how I could help being back in time for the fall school term, for the AEF will be practically cleaned out by the first of September, except for the Army of Occupation - and that will be all regulars, then. I really do think there is a good chance of my being out of the service by the last of June.
I hope that Miss Tolbert will stay on in Pleasantville after school is out, so that everything will be as happy and pleasant as possible for you.
It is a long time away, isn't it, sweetheart? Of course, it could have been a much longer time, and I know I really ought to be thankful that it isn't a lot longer. But it's long, anyway. Any time away from my sweetheart is vacant and lonely and long. When once I am with you again, I shan't want to let you hardly out of my sight, so perhaps I had better serve fair warning to anyone else who wants to see you to make the most of their opportunity now.
I love you so, I want you all the time. Goodnight, dearest,
Sweetheart, good morning. I love you. It is such a beautiful morning, so fresh, so sunshiny and the birds are singing such nice fresh morning songs, that it is wicked to have it all exist without You.
Good bye for today. Oh! there, were you going to run away without giving me a kiss? That's better, I hoped not. I love you.
This is my last night in Nevers. Tomorrow night I'll be on the road, and the day following, which will be Easter Sunday, shall arrive at Poitiers, my new station.
This morning I had quite a long talk with Capt. Aspray on things in general, and got quite a little new information. One thing is that his office was informed by the Director MTC at Tours, a few days ago, that it wasn't going to try to get these split up Trains together before sending them home. The idea seems to be to hustle, get things cleaned up, and keep releasing some troops all the time for shipment home. A new Commanding General arrived today to take over the Intermediate Section, of which Nevers is the headquarters, and I am informed that the big idea in sending him is that his predecessor wasn't getting things cleaned up fast enough. At any rate it looks as though things were moving in the right direction. I honestly don't care whether my Train is gotten together or not before going home, particularly if I get home quicker myself by not waiting to assemble. I tried to sort of jolly Capt. Aspray into saying that when we finished up the job down at Poitiers he would send the name of our unit into Tours as ready for release. I can't say it was a definite promise I got for my efforts, but it was a sort of half one. This afternoon I got information from another source that probably most troops could leave Poitiers and vicinity in about 3 weeks; if so, then the motor transportation could be cleaned out immediately after.
You see, my chief mental diversion is picking out strands of hope these days.
The way I talk, I'm afraid you'll think I pay no attention at all to business and official responsibilities; just sit around and mope, wishing I was home. But I hope you haven't been thinking that.
Nevertheless, I have been surely impatient to be home and be with you for a long, long time, even if I don't have a placard notice of it on my face all the time. I do so wish I might be watching this year's spring coming on, together with you; two years ago, it was cut off in the middle; last year, we saw just bits of it together; this year, we see it far apart; but always after, we shall see it all together. I hope we have a lovely surroundings in which to watch it together next year.
Do you love me, maybe just a little bit, tonight? And would you like, maybe just a little bit, to sit with me somewhere with only the Spring and the Night about us? I hope so. For I love you so, and long so to have you with me.
A goodnight kiss for my Sweetheart.
Good morning dearest, Overslept and making up time now. I love you. Sylvester.
What do you think of my fine writing paper tonight? It's from my very, very personal notebook, though, so I trust that you will feel duly honored.
Here I am back in my old first station in France, the first time I have seen it since I left last November. We expected to get somewhat further in, but we had trouble with the truck and had to stop here and phone back to Nevers for a new wheel. There are still a few Americans in St. Amand, cleaning up what the 76th Division left. But they will be all cleaned out in 10 days. It is a pretty quiet place side of what it was last fall. I walked down to the old field where we had had our service park, and everything had been torn down.
John and I are staying at the house where he used to billet before we moved down to the tents, while here. We have walked around to see some of the people we knew, and they all seemed glad to have a visit. M. Gillet, who was the Sous-Prefet when we were here has left so I was sorry not to get a chance to see him.
My head aches now from talking French the last few hours. Will say goodnight now, and lots of love.
Easter, AM A bright sunshiny morning full of Spring - and Spring fever. Spring fever is only one thing this year, though, and that is to get back to you. To come back here is to realize what a long time I have been away more than ever before - for here I am looking on a place that seems in a far away past - and to think that when I saw you was much farther away than even this! Oh, how I long for you, sweetheart. A good morning kiss.
Some more funny writing paper tonight.
The job of putting the new wheel on the truck this morning was a long one and we didn't get started from St. Amand until about half past one. It was impossible to get the truck here by tonight, so we left it about half past six at Argenton, with orders to come along in the morning. And we have kept on in the car to Poitiers, staying at a hotel for tonight. We don't know yet much what kind of a town it is, only having seen it as we came in in the evening. It is good-sized, at least, is very old, and seems all terraced up.
The ride has been quite pretty today. The towns in this section of France seem cleaner than those in other sections. Perhaps it's the freshness of spring, however. Americans aren't such a familiar sight here as elsewhere, apparently, for everybody has stopped to look at us going thru, and the little kids all wave or make shouts at us. a specially characteristic sight along the road today were old, old women tending little herds of goats or sheep. I have seen goats today herded in the strangest combinations - once with turkeys, once with sheep, and once with 3 or 4 donkeys!
All the fruit trees are white with blossoms. Apple blossoms, too - what memories!
Here's a goodnight kiss and I love you, dear.
Well, I'm in another new home tonight. I hope it's my last before Ours. Lieut. Achorn and I are rooming together in a civilian house. Its not really quite as cozy as my room in Nevers. There is a fireplace in it just the same, but I'm not sure we'll be able to get wood for it here.
This is a city all banked and walled up - built for the most part on a hill. The streets are narrow, very winding, and with the high walls everywhere one feels very much hemmed in. The streets wind so, that I have been totally unable to get a general sense of direction or idea of the city's layout as yet.
I have been starting to get located today. First went to make myself known to the officer whose place I am to take, then went out house hunting, and finally found this room; in the early part of the afternoon had another conference with my predecessor, later succeeded in making arrangements for a new office nearer the garage than my predecessor had had his, and got in touch with the Major doctor in command of the local hospital in regard to setting up a little infirmary of my own.
Our truck came in the middle of the afternoon, and we put the men up temporarily with C Co., that's already here. They are living in a house all around an inner courtyard. The back of this house is the solid rock of a hill against which it is built. I found the quarters in pretty bad shape, so have stirred things up a bit, and set machinery in motion for a big cleaning up tomorrow.
Lieut. Fitts seemed glad to see us. Is as crazy and irresponsible as ever. Sometimes I think he was made with only half a brain. At least, if he has a whole one, it's all out of shape. He knows a few things about motor vehicles, but as to men, as to situations, as to a proposition requiring business ability, I cannot trust his judgment at all. His worst fault is that he believes everything he hears - the more unlikely a thing is, the more readily he believes it. And as for tact, he doesn't know the word. He never does the right thing at the right time or goes at anything from the right angle. and the working of his imagination are strange and wonderful altogether.
I guess there's going to be no lack of work to do the next few days.
Goodnight, sweetheart. I love you, Eva, and here is a kiss to prove it.
Morning Good morning. It's a bright morning, but I don't care for anything any more without you. I love you. Sylvester
What was the famous ride of today? Why don't you remember about the "factor theorem in Algebra in '16"?
Today I met Raymond Coe for the first time. He and Eleanore were here in their "old love" - being a Maxwell car painted and freshened up to the limit. They were here for dinner and so was Aunt Sara.
I went to Hartford this morning as your dad forgot to take his eggs. I did a lot of shopping down town buying a collar, a comb, six postal cards, and a couch for the school, it being $5.00 cheaper than the same kind at home in spite of expressage.
It is rather late as company stayed a long while so I will say "goodnight." I love you.
I have been to church twice today. This morning at Rocky Hill and tonight at Cromwell.
Your mother gave me a cute little basket of eggs, 13, which are a good setting number.
This afternoon the Wright's were down and had quite a pleasant visit.
We stayed for a supper tonight down at the Savages and Uncle Bill let me into some more of the mysteries of embroidering.
Well, I go back in the morning. I'm not thinking about it much. I like to be with people who are so interested in you.
Did I ever tell you the Macdougall's had a baby boy? It was born March 28th, I think.
I love you.
See where I am! That means I'm at your home and I have on a pink waist and two lovely hepaticas from the garden we planted in Cromwell last year. Can you see me? [small drawing of someone at a desk - but you have to use your imagination]
I have been having delightful time and have been so spoiled I'm afraid I never will want to go home, but Monday morning I must. Duty calls me.
Winnie met me in New Haven yesterday and your dad met us in Hartford. Ralph came over last night and both he and Winnie have been here all day but have gone to Russels's now.
We have been doing much visiting today.
I got up early this morning and as a reward got an early trip into Hartford with your dad.
We came back and Winnie and I went up on the hill where I discovered lot s of saxifrage, three bluets, two tiny red bugs, a monstrous snake - least 18" long, and a horse chestnut. Wasn't I lucky.
After dinner we drove down to Cromwell stopping at the Couche's. Your Aunt Elizabeth's, and finally, the Savages. Everyone was lovely there. Your Uncle George gave me a wonderful bunch of sweet peas with monstrous long stems at least 18", and Uncle Bill has a beard. I was so surprised. He asked after his best girl, Miss T, and was dreadfully put out because she hadn't sent any special message to him but I explained I had left in a hurry.
Martha Warner was there and she came back with us as far as your Aunt Kate's, where we met her husband. After a few minutes chat we went over to Winnie's - and from there came home and your mother just put me to writing.
I really feel I ought to help but - I love you.
I am back safe but tired. I stopped over to Mrs. Nicholson's to see Dorcas and they brot me down to the car in the machine so I had a very nice visit especially as she met me at the car and that gave us a longer time.
I have just been reading lots of happy letters from you. I love you.
I have spent a busy day getting acquainted with my task here and looking over all the ground. This afternoon I drove around with Lieut. Wilson, whom I'm relieving, to check up the trucks which will be under my jurisdiction and for which I'll have to sign receipts.
This evening I have gone with Lieut.. Fitts to a soldier's show "The Verdun Minstrels", given entirely by negroes. It was very excellent, but would be better if shortened.
I am pretty tired now, and am going to ask to be let off with a light letter tonight.
I love you and want you. Heard some more encouraging news from an official source, which bears out my last prediction well.
Well, here's a good night kiss.
An inspector has taken up my whole day today, which has hindered me a good deal in picking up the threads of my new job and getting things going. He was a rather pleasant chap, but terribly wearisome, and goes by the book altogether; he surely wasted a lot of good time on me, or rather, a lot of my good time. He was around yesterday afternoon and I knew it and together with Lieut. Wilson I eluded him, and "passed the buck" to Lieut. Fitts, but he made a date with Fitts to see me this morning, so there was no more eluding and I have been with him all day. Then when I just got thru with this Major, when lo and behold! if a Lieutenant-Colonel and a Captain didn't blow in from two separate places on some kind of inspection tours. I have a date with the Captain in the morning, but think I can avoid the Colonel. I hope they are the last of inspectors for a while, so that I can get down to work, instead of answering questions as to whether each one of my men has a copy of Vehicle Regulations in his car, or knows how to put on a tire, or takes a bath once a week.
I have under my supervision here, in addition to my new outfits, a little service park unit of about 30 men who do the repair work on motor vehicles in this area. The Lieutenant in command of the unit is having an attack of appendicitis and will be operated on in a few days. So I am going to have Lieut. Achorn look after that in addition to his other duties.
I am finding it very hard to get on to the twistings and turnings of this city yet. I never was so lost in a place. It is a pleasant town though, and I think we shall like it. The men all seem to be contented here, more so than anywhere else.
These inspectors all talk a bit about hurrying and cleaning out. That always sounds good.
Another goodnight kiss, and lots of love. I wonder how many more nights I shall have to write it, before I can give you the kiss and get yours, and tell you of the love, which I give you always. I wish that were now.
Another inspector took most of my time this morning. the result of his visit was rather promising but he took a lot more time than he needed to, as he was rather fond of talking.
Still, I've been able to accomplish quite a little today - effected a few new bits of organization, finished up checking transportation with Lieut. Wilson, and cleaned up my official correspondence and paper work which had been accumulating. I'm gradually getting back into the habit of work, and have almost earned my pay this week. It looks to me as though this job will keep me pretty busy as long as I'm here.
I had a letter from Deck Spalding at Le Havre today, and they are sure enough closing out there on May 1st. From appearances it wouldn't be at all surprising if those companies of mine up there went home right away; and had the laugh on Headquarters and the other companies scattered down here in the interior.
No personal mail has followed me here yet. This is a terribly out-of-the-way place as an American post office. In fact there is no regular APO here, our mail coming thru the local French post office.
I was driving with Lieut. Wilson this afternoon. It's just like mid-spring - everything blooming luxuriantly - fields covered with buttercups especially. Buttercups are quite a favorite with me, perhaps because they are Mother's color. We have some lovely fragrant white flowers in the room here. There are many varieties of flowers here which are new to me, but I have not learned the names of a single one, except the mimosa, and perhaps that's not new to you.
I am somewhat tired tonight, but am glad to be tired from working and not from doing nothing. I think I will say goodnight, with lots of love, as always, and a kiss for my sweetheart.
Morning, Sweetheart, I forgot and sealed this letter last night but must open it to say good morning to you. I love you best in the world. Sylvester
Today I read in the Stars and Stripes that the 29th, Sgt. Davidson's division, had been put several weeks ahead of its sailing schedule. I knew over two months ago that they were scheduled to go in June, and so was surprised enough to find the announcement today that it could probably be all sailed before the end of April. I expect your friend will be much pleased to have her husband coming home so much sooner. This week's sailing list was a record breaker, and I surely got violently homesick after reading it. Still the weeks go by without a sign of a Motor Transport Corps outfit on the lists, or any of the Trains, such as mine, which were loaned to the Motor Transport Corps. The Trains who are with their Divisions are all going but not the poor mongrel detached ones like me, yet. As I wrote the other day, our present chances look like June. Signs continue to point to it, and even John Achorn, with whom I have a fairly sizable bet that we'll go before August, is beginning to concede that it looks like June, and the loss of his bet. I might say that he's perfectly willing to lose his bet to get home.
Will I ever get rid of inspectors? That Lieut. Colonel is still hanging around. I steered him off this morning but I expect he'll be around for an all-day visit tomorrow. I am going to try and arrange and be absent, though. I've signed up for about 40 odd motor vehicles today, gone over all papers and office equipment in the M.T. office with Lieut. Wilson, and now have everything taken over except the gas and oil station, which will be accomplished tomorrow, if we elude the inspector. I think inspectors must think this a nice city to visit, they come down here, so many and so often.
An engineer company whose office is in the same room with me, got its orders to go on embarkation camp on May 10, today. I'd like to know what it feels like to get such a telegram.
Goodnight, and pleasant dreams. I love you and long for you, Eva.
Good morning dear. Love and a kiss to try and start the day right. Sylvester.
Today has been a busy one. Dorothy Redfield, a little girl in my room and her brother have scarlet fever. I am so worried as they are such poor thin children. I have been giving them lunches everyday as they always looked so undernourished. I am afraid they are going to close school and I think it would be ridiculous.
My pansies look just wonderful and the children love them so. They often go over to see them but never pick any.
We went for a walk this noon and found blue, and white violets, maypinks, zinquefoil and Indian tobacco plant. We also had a nice pleasant walk.
I love you.
School won't close I believe.
Daido and I took a long walk tonight. We found ground ivy, some darling little wild johnny-jump-ups, some equisetum, and some mint. We are going to have mint sauce or something else tomorrow.
I took the kiddies up to Sandy Hill this noon for a picnic and we had one. We played hide and seek, tag and ring games and had a very nice time. We also found some more arbutus.
I'm awful lonesome. I love you.
I love you but I'm terrible sorry you aren't keeping up the practice of washing dishes. I was counting a lot on that especially after the remarkable ability you showed when you had taken only one lesson under my direction. Of course, you rubbed the soap on the dishes and did a few things wrong but I really believe you should become a model dish washer with lots of practice. I'm thinking how lovely it would be for me to give you a good chance to develop along that line. I'm glad you can cook nicely, too. If I let you do the cooking you will never growl because the pie isn't like mother made. I'm an awful good cook too. I can slice grapes fruit just beautifully. I bot some beauties last might. They are so delicious I think I'll have to put them in my hope chest.
I'm going out with a gentleman tomorrow. My little black eye, brown eye boy, George Smith, is coming up to see me and we are going on some sort of a picnic. He's such a dear and I almost hate his mother when I think of her keeping her daughter home from school for fear of Scarlet Fever and sending him. Sylvester, he's dearest little fellow and his sister isn't one bit nice yet the mother does everything for her. She made him a suit mind you and with puffed sleeves at the top. Oh, it's just horrid but he doesn't realize, I'm so glad.
I'm wondering where we will be next year. Teachers are very much in demand they say.
I wish you were here so much. I want to hear you say you love me. I love you.
No letters from you today and there has been a mail in nearly everyday this week. Dorcas got some from the 6th and 7th of April because I peeked in her box and then Mr. Davison told me.
I had no sooner finished your letter last night - 10:00, when who should come around but Miss Schaible, Miss Davis, Miss Hayes and Dorothy Quimby. She has just returned from France and was visiting the Harleys - Dr. Harley expects to arrive from France soon. She is just wonderful looking, as usual, and has certainly had experiences. She is coming down again two weeks from today and we all are going on a picnic.
I have been on a picnic today. It was awful cold so George and I went over to Atlantic. He had a pony ride, a battleship, a balloon, some ice cream and a trip thru the war exhibit. We had lots of fun.
I love you.
The first warm day we have had for a long time. I love you. Your Lady Me.
We took a long long walk today, up thru "Little Italy" and the old cedar swamp to the water works woods, and when we came back I thot I would take a little rest and I did only it wasn't very little.
We had a happy time as I found some wild lilies-of -the-valley in bud and I never knew they even grew around here. I also found a single white violet plant, just full of flowers, on the side of a hill. I have it home now in a pot and it's just as beautiful as can be. We also found some anemones who really were very brave to be about so early.
We had a nice time but I'm awful restless and unsatisfied. Do you remember once when we went thru that way and wasn't it then we started our "Vagabond Clan"? I miss you all the time but mostly on Sundays. I hate weekends sometime.
I ate my last jar of strawberries today but new ones are on the market. I still have a jar of huckberries tho.
I love you.
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