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Letters between Sylvester and Eva, July 1917


July 7, 1917, Eva
July 8, 1917
July 12, 1917
July 15, 1917
July 18,1917, Eva
July 20, 1917
July 21, 1917
July 23, 1917, Eva
July 27, 1917
July 29, 1917

SBButler Letters, July 1917


[Postmarked July 7, 1917, Saturday]
Dear Sylvester,

I just got your letters Saturday. Three of them. One was the one sent the fourteenth, asking for a picture also promising me one, the one sent the fifteenth in which I got a terrible scolding, I must have written an awful letter to get it, heretofore I never read my letters over for fear there would be something in them I would want to change and I don't like to erase. [note - that second letter must not have been saved]

Last Sunday Miss Tolbert and I went home to Hemlock Manor for the day. The mosquitoes did their best to keep us from coming back but we really had a lovely time in spite of them and the heat. We got all kinds of flowers, orchids, - pink and lavender, ladies trees, wintergreen blossoms, and millions of others. I brought a lot home to press but left them at Gertrude's as I had to go back to Highland Park, Mrs. Carmein the lady who lives on the third floor, thot she was doing Gertrude a favor by throwing her dead flowers out the next day. I was furious. We went to my Aunt's for dinner and supper. She wanted us to stay all night but of course we couldn't. We climbed her cherrie trees, that is an editorial we, and had lots of fun.

Tuesday night I was over to Kathleen's and Irene's, they are the Maginis girls I told you about. They have a lovely home. It's colonial with an ideal low stone porch all around it, flower screened an hammocked - that means they have two lovely porch swings.

Fourth of July. Boys - either "firsts" or "second childs" - aren't the only ones who like the forth because I know at least one girl who likes it. In the afternoon we went to the races over at the park they had all kinds of races from children four to fifty-four. In the midst of the four to six race I heard a youngster yelling "Go it Vester, Go it Vester", and at the tail end of the line there emerged a blue collar and a tiny boy. That was "Vester" he lost in that race because he was so small but he won the bag race for the same reason. I enjoyed the races but I enjoyed Tommy more. You just ought to see him he's the funniest kiddie I ever saw. He's Kathleen's tiny brother. He is two years old and he runs and walks in imitation of Charlie Chaplin. He wanted some ice cream and we girls hadn't brought any money with us so we couldn't get him any. When ever he saw any one with an ice cream cone we couldn't hold him. He was away with that funny little run and stuck until the last mouthful was eaten. Then he was away in pursuit of someone else. They had free out door movies that night and a dance given by the home Defense. One of the pictures showed the wrongs of capital punishment and the third degree. In one of the pictures of this a detective picked up a rope and told a man he was going to hang him if he didn't confess. Just then the girl about seven in [front] of me cried, "Don't look, don't you dare look Peggy." Everybody roared and indignant little "Miss Mother" got up and marched Miss Peggy home.

I have to laugh at Irene. She's so funny. She's pretty, impetuous and seventeen - a rather good combination I think, at least much better than "safe, sane, and forty" She just graduated from high school. Kathleen graduates from normal next year. Irene is going to Bryn Mawr next winter and to Penn with me this summer but I'll tell you about that later.

The first night she met me she fell dead in love with me. I am told it is a habit for seventeen year old girls to fall in love easily. She just got her drivers license that day and she immediately volunteered to teach me to drive. She knew that by the time I had finished at Penn I'd be perfectly willing to let her take me up to their camp for a week. Before we had gone ten steps she had me walking arm in arm. She knew that we were going to be friends forever and ever and she always liked me even when she had only heard me call up my aunt on the telephone. She's very nice and I like her very much but I wish her name was Kathleen as I like that better.

I guess I am going to start at Penn next Tuesday. I have to be vaccinated first and I am dying for fear I shall knock over the stove, if there is one. Irene has to be too so I guess I'll have company. So now I don't get any more scolding letters for being foolish.

I am sending you a picture too that I had taken several years ago also several others which aren't in very good condition, but you may take your choice of them.

Your soldier pictures were grand but I want an individual piktur, if I may.

I am learning wig-waging. and I am going to learn how to say Adiou too..

So good-bye. I'll really write more often and more interesting next week but I have been so busy working and sewing.

Your fiend Eva Lutz [note - this time she did write "fiend"]


Plattsburg, N.Y.
July 8, 1917 [Sunday]


Dear Eva,

I have just come back from a delightful little entertainment out at the Camp Stadium, as the place in the pine grove is known. Mlle.Chilson Ohrman (if I have the name right), a soprano singer, was the feature of the evening and she sang some of the loveliest little songs I ever heard, and her voice was very sweet and simple. She took the crowd by storm. There have been no end of entertainments the past week, with one on Fourth of July evening, one last evening, and one tonight. The Fourth of July affair was a camp talent performance, like the ones they had in the beginning, only it was somewhat longer. A near riot was started when a group from one New England company who were singing on the stage started a song going about like this:

"New England will be leading when we're marching up the Rhine; New York will be the rear guard and will follow far behind." to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. This naturally started a tremendous uproar from the New York men present, with a big sizzle of hisses; however, our New Englanders carried it thru to the finish. As soon as the New York men collected themselves they started a little chorus for the same tune

"Lord, have mercy on New England..." but we made so much noise to drown it out that I never heard the rest.

Today I have been kind of dull-witted, due, I think, to an inoculation I had yesterday against typhus fever. (The lights went out on me at this point, and it is now Monday right after supper). The process of this inoculations to stick a fine tube quite a distance in one's left upperarm, & then force thru it the fluid that safeguards one against the disease. It gave everybody a good sore left arm over Sunday, lame from shoulder to wrist, and a good many felt dull & heavy, as I did, yesterday, probably also a result of "getting shot", as we call it. To have the process complete, we have to be "shot" twice more, this Saturday coming & the one following that, so there are two pleasant Sundays to which to look forward. No little bug ever ought to be able to get us when we're thru here; we've been inoculated against typhoid, vaccinated for smallpox, and now are getting the typhus inoculations. Rumor has it the next inoculations will be against sunburn and toothache.

Your letter came this noon; you surely have fine postal service in Highland Park. I'm very glad you seem so happy and are having such a good time, and making friends you like. When you learn to drive that car you'll have to teach me by correspondence, because I'm ashamed to say I never have learned yet.

I sent you the pictures I did to show you in a little more graphic form the kind of things we are doing, and particularly because you asked me about my uniform, and these would show what they are like. Up to Sunday I didn't have any individual pictures, but Sunday afternoon just before I started out for a walk with Ralph Gabriel he took a picture of me, and if that comes out well, I'll send you one. And now, as a gentle reminder, either some greedy persons stole your pictures out of your letter, or else you forgot to put them in.

I've written enough on this new sheet to make the letter look reasonably large on the outside, but the whistle has blown to begin the evening study period, and I can't write you any more tonight. I look forward to holding a very animated conversation with you in wig-wag sometime.

Ever your friend
Sylvester Butler


Plattsburg, N.Y.
July 12, 1917


Dear Eva,

You'll fined enclosed the snapshot photograph I promised you Sunday. Am I recognizable? I wish I had one also showing me as you knew me, and shall see that you get one of the two-year old ones after I get home in August, if I do have a little vacation, only they make me look so young as I think I said before, and you know how touchy I am on this point: as touchy as an ancient spinster, only it's the other way 'round. This little photograph I am sending you now was taken in the pine grove just south of the camp, of which I have spoken so much.

Everyone is on the anxious seat again here, as yesterday without warning several men were given their discharge for various reasons. Some were taken whom no one would ever have thought of, and although some were reinstated, I hear, it makes everyone anxious; the discharges in most cases are honorable ones, but they mean many hard felt disappointments, nevertheless. I am worried on account of my shooting; we had our last day's practice on the rifle range today and I haven't yet been able to show improvement. I wish we were to have practice for the remaining four weeks, as I feel that practice is all I need. Our captain is an expert rifleman himself, and I think may count a good deal on our target records. I hope I've got some good records down in his ever-present notebook to overbalance my poor showing thus far with the rifle. Well! Well! I'd better quit burdening you with my anxieties and worries, which really I don't but seldom let get further than the back of my mind.

Next week I believe instead of shooting we wield the shovel and dig trenches in the hot sun. In the evenings at present we are studying reams and reams about court-martials. So when we dig ditches part of the day and study law, even if military law, at night, we shall afford a contrast much like Abe Lincoln of lifting rails by day and pondering over legal volumes by the light of the fire place at night, as your grammar school history books must have told you about.

I have resigned my position at Pleasantville, for which I had been reengaged in the early spring. The Doctor was holding it open until July 1st, and as there was no likelihood of anything developing which would make it possible for me to teach then, and as the Doctor had said earlier he wanted time to get a competent successor, I saw no reason to do anything else. Only two things would have made it possible for me to teach, either that I should get a commission when the camp ended and ordered to wait for further instructing, or that the war would be over or show signs of it. Neither of these events appear to be likely. All who get their commissions here will probably be put right into some service, and if I didn't succeed in getting mine, and shouldn't be ordered into another training camp, I should of course try to get into some other form of active military service while the war lasts.

My Brother goes into camp July 20 with the Connecticut National Guard. They are to be called into the Federal service on that date, and be made ready for active service. A great many National Guard troops will go across the water before the draft armies are ready. News from abroad has surely been much more encouraging the last few weeks, with Russia active again, and it looks as though things on the inside weren't going too well for the German government. Let's hope it's the beginning of the end. But it is gratifying that our country is going into the thing in a big, thorough, and intelligent way, and taking no half measures. We may well be proud of what has been done already toward getting ready to play our part, the great air fleet well under construction, also the fleet of submarine chasers, the successful transportation of Pershing's force over to France, the effective work our navy has been doing in conjunction with the Allied fleets, the really great progress that has been made toward organizing our armies.

Early Friday A.M.

We have scheduled this morning a "tactical walk". Can you imagine what that would be? Here's some good tactics I'm going to use: this letter ought to get you about Saturday evening; you wouldn't be at the address you gave me then, or until Monday morning; But I suppose you are likely to see Miss Tolbert Saturday or Sunday, so I am going to send it care of her, and when I write at the weekend I'll address that to the Summer School address. I'm sure anyone who can use such strategy should be made a brigadier-general without further delay.

Ever your friend,
Sylvester Butler


Plattsburg, N.Y.
July 15, 1917


Dear Eva,

Everybody seems to have company today but me. Church has his wife up here, Frank Burke's girl has come up from Rutland, Vt., to see him, and Larry Neeld's father and mother are visiting him. And I am left to my own thoughts, to my own devices, and to my letters. There are oceans of visitors here every weekend, and the hotels and every available rooming place in the vicinity are filled. I wish my people could come up once, as they almost did for the last Sunday in June, by way of celebrating mother's and father's wedding anniversary. And can't you get a 300 mile a minute or so aeroplane and suddenly transport yourself here for an afternoon? I'll show you some nice wooden buildings, or palaces, I should say, known as barracks, a beautiful lake, and lots of beautiful country I know you would enjoy. Handsome looking soldiers in their Sunday bests, too.

Later this afternoon, if I have time, I think I shall go to visit a place which is spoken of as the historic DeLord mansion, in the northern part of the town. All I know about it now is that it's a very old house with many interesting historic relics of the region; a sort of private museum. This region has an interesting history, for among other things Captain MacDonough rounded up the British Fleet in a bay of the lake here in the War of 1812, and at the same time a land battle of Plattsburg was fought - September 1814. There are many spots right near the camp where there are tablets erected noting that on that spot certain fortifications had formed part of the American defense line in the battle, and so on. You will perhaps recall Captain MacDonough's name in connection with our history work, but we didn't go into the war of 1812 very deeply. Nor have I ever gone into it so; I really know very little about it, but with the added interest that my being here has lent it, I'm going to try to go into it very thoroughly when I get back to my regular work.

I certainly think I was fortunate to get into company 4, for I verily believe it's the best in the camp. Perhaps others think the same about theirs. By the best I mean that there seems to be more unity, spirit, and good fellowship in our company than in any other. We've had a company song all our own since almost the very beginning; a few others have some words to very familiar music, like Battle Hymn of the Republic, but ours, while not to original music, is to a tune few have heard, a march tune which came from Worcester, Mass., and its famous all over camp as the Co. 4 song. Somebody, or a good many after the call was started, began to call for it in the Stadium the other night in an intermission; so scattered numbers of our company in the audience began to take it up; the only difficulty was, however, that we didn't all begin or end at the same time. I think we have one of our men from Boston to thank more than any one else for the live spirit that exists; he is George Clarkson author of company song, a fat and therefore good- natured individual who sings funny Scotch songs and generally radiates cheer; his smile is, I think, the most wonderful combination of sparkling fun and plain kindliness one could hope to see. I think the company owes a good deal, too, to our commanding officer, Captain Van Horn, for he encourages company spirit and good fun where it's in place; and he is a man for whom we all have, I think, both respect and fondness, for he is very patient, very just, "square" to the core, a thorough man and thorough gentleman.

Where would you guess I was today? It's a cemetery this time, at one corner of the pine grove. There is a nice broad pine tree in the middle, under which it looked cool and shady, and I find it very comfortable. There are two children's graves on either side of me, not very old, I see by the dates, but the stones could almost match the Somers Point ones. By the way, did I ever tell you that I saw a sunset, some weeks ago, it's been, now, which reminded me a very great deal of that Sunset Trail sunset; I wouldn't be so bold as to say it was as glorious as that one, for it wasn't, but it was beautiful, nevertheless, and I like to be reminded of such things in such ways.

This week I'm going to have a new experience. Tomorrow at one o'clock our company and one or two others will make up a battalion and start out on an overnight hike, not getting back until one o'clock on Tuesday. We'll take along full packs, including shelter tents, two meals, with utensils necessary for preparing and eating them, blankets and everything one would carry on a march in a regular campaign. When we get to where we'll stop for the night, the packs will be opened, tents struck, and the camp made ready in general. Certain ones will be assigned to outpost duty, and I don't suppose any will be crazy for that, but I think the experience will be kind of good fun on the whole. The tents we have can be put up in a very few minutes; each man carries a half a tent, a pole, and five tent pins; when the packs are opened, the halves are buttoned together, a pole put up in the middle on either end and the ropes along the edges pinned into the ground; and there is plenty of room for two men to sleep. Of course one has to crawl in for they are only three feet high.

If Miss Ryder has ever been here at Plattsburg, I haven't seen her. I haven't seen a soul I know outside of the men in the camp itself since I've been here.

I think it would be lovely if you could take that camping trip in August with your friends. Good girl for not going canoeing. I hope you can get a chance to learn to swim sometime.

I do hope your eyes won't give you a lot of trouble. Do you hear any news from Pleasantville? I had a letter from Ephraim Mitchell yesterday; he's been writing to different training camps trying to get a hold of me, as he didn't know where I went. He left school before that last week I was there. Did you get the letter in which I sent you the Wind and Weather titles you asked me for?

Ever your friend
Sylvester Butler


[postmarked from Philadelphia, PA, July 18,1917,
but it must have been started about July 12th]


Dear Sylvester;

I came up here in my room to write home to my aunt and to you. I wrote to the others first. Then I started to read all your letters I was about one forth through when cousin Dot came up to bed and such a chattering. Alas for your letter to be and your letters. She is begging now for a fairy story and Cousin Harvey is crying because I put the light out in his room so I have lots of inspiration. Dot and Harvey are going down to Aunt Kate's in Vineland Saturday and they talk of nothing else. She has switched to that now and is punctuating her remarks with something new she has learned - almost how to whistle. The bugler across the way has also started to blow "Echoes dying dying dying" so I guess I'll have to give up for the night.

Eva

Again I start, it is Friday the thirteenth but I have been fairly lucky. I spent the afternoon at the botanical gardens looking at the water lilies - white-yellow, pink and red. Here come the kids and that means stop for a story.

Oh I was so worried this morning Hamilton, he is Irene's little brother, came over and told me Harry was dead. You know Harry is Irene's best boy friend and he is a real jolly fellow. Irene has been mad at him all week, because he was angry because she wouldn't go canoeing last Sunday because I wouldn't. He didn't call her up Monday so she sent him back his medals which he had won swimming and gave to her. Tuesday she got a huge box of candy which the postman had forgotten to deliver so naturally she was worried all week. When Hamilton told me he was drowned I just didn't know what to say. Irene thinks she liked him but there is another boy Ted Hall whom she also likes and being only seventeen of course she don't know which she likes better. She's away now I don't know how they'll tell her, they have been teasing her all week about her predicament.

Sunday night six thirty

It wasn't Harry. I'm so glad. It was a boy with whom he was swimming I haven't heard who yet, but I just saw Harry going to Maginnis's. I'm so glad it wasn't I'd hate to see Irene sad. She's so jolly. You ought to see her she's a regular lavender lady. She has the loveliest lavender things, hat, dress, sweater, and all. She is small, dark, brown eyed and as mischievous as can be. I'm trying to catch fire flies in between lines.

Here comes Harry now. It was Ted, Ted Hall that's drowned. What will Irene say? Harry don't know what to do. He liked Ted even tho they were rivals.

It is now Monday.

I have seen Irene. Harry called her up and told her about it and was furious because she fainted. I think he's horrid.

You should have seen me today. I was teaching Aunt Mealie how to make black-berrie jelly and it was all bluff because I never made it but I worked it out on general principals and I won. We jelled sixteen quarts, and I am a regular lavender lady - from head to foot.

This is Tuesday and I am out of school and I thot I would finish my letter but I really haven't a single thing to say. I haven't been doing anything interesting because Irene is away - the kiddies are down in Vineland so I am pretty much alone.

Irene is out at Oak Lane but she comes in to school every day. She is coming home Wednesday unless she comes home today for Ted's funeral.

It is positively disgraceful the way I forget things. I put those pictures for you in an envelope and for the life of me I can't find them. I wanted you to have them - because they flatter me - but if I can't find them tonight I'll send some others.

I got my individual piktur of you but I must say you look different from what you did two months and a week ago today. I can imagine how tanned you are because I was up to the girl's camp Sunday and they have only been up two weeks but they are positively black. Have you names for different parts of your camp, they have? They have one row called "Chorus Girl's Retreat," another called the "Angels," and the commissary's [this last word is triple underlined] tent, I mean headquarters - and the staff is called "Paradise Row."

Cousin John is quartermaster or supply master or something and the tents loaned to the girls are under his charge, so he had to go see about them.

While we were there, the machine gun crew which were out looking for Edgemont where the boys were camping, got tired of hunting so decided to spend the day with the girls. As the Major who has charge of the Fensibles and his wife were there also a lot of the officers and their wives. Of course I learned all about a machine gun and all about the truck which by the way is a ford. It certainly is complete. The whole crew expect to go to France soon and don't seem worried a bit. One of them was the leading man in a show called "The Blue Paradise" last winter and he entertained all of us by singing. Do you have some of the songs "Good-bye Kaiser Bill," What Kind of an American are you," and lots of others.

I had lots of fun and Captain Bousel's wife invited me to stay a week with her but of course I couldn't. I'd have loved to tho.

It is time for a class so good-bye

Your friend,
Eva Lutz.


Plattsburg, N.Y.
July 20, 1917. [Friday]


Dear Eva,

Your letter came yesterday. That was surely an unfortunate tragedy you told me about.

I have been trying to think if there are any parts of camp which men have nicknamed like those at the camp you told of, but I can't think of a one. I guess we spend most of our energy which would ordinarily go into such channels in manufacturing rumors. The song names you spoke of are not familiar, but there are a number of similar tenor which are popular here, which we sing on the march, and so on. "Over There" is the [underlined] song, and will be, I think, to America as "Tipperary" to England; it's a good one. I wonder if you know the words?

We have spent quite a little time this week digging trenches, fixing them up with sand-bags and all necessary trimmings. I must say I've worked at pleasanter tasks. Of course there's more to it than just spading up dirt - they have to be a certain width at top and bottom, a certain depth, and have to be dug according to a very intricate system. What a spider web appearance northern France and Belgium must present! Pathe's weekly moving picture men took our pictures at work yesterday morning. You should have seen how fast we dug at it while the camera was going, and then at the man's request went thru the motions of mopping our brows, just to show what hot work it was. This has been a hot muggy week for sure, so there was little question about it's really being hot work.

It's almost time for instruction to begin for the afternoon, so I'm afraid I'll have to close. I'll have to keep going all the rest of the day. I sent my last Sunday's letter to the Summer School, but I guess probably this would get to you, care of Miss Tolbert, earlier. Write me about your school work. To be continued in our next.

Ever your friend
Sylvester Butler

[note - another letter with the end missing. I am wondering if maybe Sylvester kept parts of Eva's letters to read over and misplaced them before they got back to their envelopes.]


Plattsburg, N.Y.
July 21, 1917. Saturday evening


Dear Eva,

To-night I went down town by myself and got my supper, and then afterward took a notion to look up that historic DeLord House where I intended to go last Sunday but didn't finally get time. So I have just come back from there. It was a very interesting old place, both for its historical associations and the old-fashioned things in it. The house is about a century and a quarter old. There is a fine old fence in front of the property, and the loveliest old gardens, both in front and back. Among the shrubs in front were two immense lilac bushes, at least 100 years old, which were taller than the house. The garden in the rear was filled with old-fashioned flowers, some of them growing from bulbs years and years and years old, believed to have been brought over from England and France & planted there by members of the DeLord family - such was a flower called London Pride, I think, an orange colored flower something like a phlox, something like a verbena, but not just like either. There is an old stone well under a thick arbor in one corner of the garden; and an old "one-horse-shay" in the shed. And inside the house there are many old things which had been in use by the DeLord family who owned it - a century old Chickering piano, old chairs, old pictures, a 200 year old tall clock, an old-fashioned combination bookcase & writing desk with many ancient volumes in it, a saddle that some member of the family had used in the Civil War - oh, all sorts of things. I'm sure there are many of them that you would have been tickled over - perhaps you would have like best some elaborate tortoise- shell combs for the hair which I was shown, (they would go well with your hoop-skirts), or a collection of beautiful cameos. The house is historically interesting for several reasons. The British made it their headquarters for five days before the battle of Plattsburg in September 1814, and as after the battle they had to get away in a hurry, they left behind an officers' mess chest full of silver; the chest is still there and is shown to visitors - it is the size of a small trunk, with many compartments inside, all labeled to indicate what kind of food should go in the particular compartment. President Monroe visited in the house just a hundred years ago next Thursday, and several other notables have been there. And there was another specially odd old thing I forgot to tell you about - a painting showing a scene in Havre, France, including the town clock; where the painting of the face should be, there was a real miniature clock face; then after I had looked at it, the lady who was showing me around lifted up the front of the frame and picture like a door, and sure enough, there was a whole clock mechanism in back. The lady who showed me around was a Mrs.Tuttle, who is president of the local historical society, is interested in keeping up the old place, lives near there, and comes over to guide visitors around when they come..

Monday night we went out on that over night trip, two companies, 4 & 5, together. We started out at one o'clock with our 50 pound-or-so pack strapped on our backs and walked northward about nine miles and pitched our tents in a large grove by the side of the road, and near a brook where we could get water. We each brought along our own food, which consisted of bacon, potatoes, onions (but not I these), coffee, sugar, salt - enough for supper & breakfast, and one loaf of bread. We built our own fires, and cooked our own meals - some of the finest I've had, even if I did cook them. First I fried my bacon, then I fried the potatoes in the fat left by the bacon - and then, why, it was the finest fried bacon, and they were the finest French fried potatoes you could ever imagine. It was a novelty, anyway, and good fun. We had to spend a couple of hours in the evening on an outpost problem and then there was nothing further for anyone - nobody detailed for all night outpost duty, as I thought there might be. I think I explained to you about the tents - each man has in his equipment a half-tent, so that two men put their halves together and sleep under them. I didn't sleep any too well, as the ground space I occupied was a little humpy, and besides, I got rather cold. We started back the next morning after getting and eating breakfast, cleaning up everything (policing the camp, as it's called in the army), and rolling our equipment up in our packs about half-past eight, and arrived back at camp shortly before noon. Those packs are no light load, and everyone was naturally pretty tired out; many were badly blistered, but I came thru pretty fortunately on that score. The walk was thru new country to me - real farming country all the way; no towns, except little centers with their general store & post office combined, church, and maybe Grange hall. If there was anything I saw more of on the walk, I think it was little colts; it seemed as though there was one or two at every farm yard we passed.

To-morrow I have another trip planned with two or three of the men of the company -we plan to hire a jitney and ride to Ausable Chasm; doesn't the name carry lots of attractive suggestion? They say every one should see it before they go; perhaps it will be the best substitute for what I think I want to see more than anything else in the world in the way of scenic wonders - The Grand Canyon of the Colorado.

I have been writing at the camp Y.M.C.A., and they seem to be starting to close up, so shall have to say good-night.

Ever your friend
Sylvester Butler

[enclosed on separate sheet]

Sunday evening

May I be pardoned if I write you on two different kinds of paper? I didn't finally mail the letter last night for I thought I might have an interesting trip today and have time to tell you about it to-night, when it would be fresh. But I couldn't get enough men to take the trip I spoke of; the auto drivers charge such prices that there need to be for or five anyway to divide up the cost. So I didn't go; perhaps I can work it on one of the other two or three Sundays on which I'll still be here. This afternoon, instead of what I had planned, I went on a boat trip with Mr.Short; we took an excursion steamer that cruises around the lake three or four hours on Sunday afternoons. I thought it would be real pleasant and restful, and it was a pretty trip, of course, but I was kind of glad when it was over for it was hot on the boat, scarcely any breeze blowing, and I guess there were too many people on it. So my Sunday trip wasn't worth holding up the letter to write you about, by the looks. Therefore I had perhaps better, to include something agreeable, tell something better I fancied it would be just the thing for this hot afternoon instead: a fine speedy motor boat to cruise around the lake on, and a stop off at one of the many islands for a nice cold swim.

Now I must try to do a little work.

As before, and always

Sylvester B.


July 23, 1917


Dear Sylvester,

I am not quite sure whether that is the right date or not but I know it is Monday night and I am alone at Gertrude's.

I have been here since Saturday but I have to go back to my Aunt's tomorrow. I have already stayed a day longer than I was supposed to.

Gertrude doesn't look very well she is working at night and taking a course out at the University by day. I am afraid it is too much for her, then too last week she didn't eat much, she hated to cook and eat alone so I felt it my iron bound duty to stay and give her one more day of good(?) cooking. When she left a few minutes ago she was still alive but complaining a good bit so perhaps it would have been better if I had not taken up my duty martyr like.

Saturday we went out to Fairmount Park. Sunday we took a long long trolley ride out toward Easton, the country out that way is real farming country and there are lots of darling old farm houses.

It is now Tuesday afternoon and so warm that I didn't have to wear a sweater when I went shopping with Irene this afternoon.

The kiddies are back from Vineland and are wild because I didn't come home yesterday. They certainly are brown and mosquito bitten, but for all that they had a good time. Dorothy was a bit homesick but Harvey was too much captured by the pigs and chickens to think of such a thing.

I have a nice teacher out at the University in "Primary Aims and Methods" - her birthday is the same as mine too. I know because the other day she was putting an illustrative letter on the board with no date and when she read it she read my birthday so I told her about it, and she said it was her birthday too and that she and I and Stephanson - (last of course) - were twins.

I am writing this out on the front porch but it is really hotter outside than inside the house.

I have several new friends up at school one is from Maryland and the other from Haddonfield, N.J. They are both nice and jolly so classes are by no means dull. I am the baby so I constantly am annoyed on that subject. My friend from Haddonfield is only two months older but is trying to look thirty so as to be let out of the teasing proposition. She will only be a senior in High School next year. The other has already taught several years.

I certainly would liked to have seen the house you were telling me about. I just Maginness's and Rutherford's two of the oldest houses here.

This is Wednesday morning. Yesterday when Irene and I were shopping we went to the movies and saw Mary Pickford in "The Little American." It is supposed to be a good picture.

It has been awful hot here but now it looks like rain and I sure will be glad altho I don't mind the heat as much as I did at first.

People can talk about "Jersey Skeeters" all they please but "Jersey Skeeters" never bothered me one half as much as Pennsylvania ones.

I have just finished reading a very good book, "The Freelands" by John Galsworthy. Have you ever read it? It is a..................


Plattsburg, N.Y.
July 27, 1917. Friday evening


Dear Eva,

We only had a short assignment for the two hours of study in the barracks this evening; I finished in three-quarters of an hour, and by some deceptive precautions - a book open in front of me - am stealing an hour to write you. Such a confession to make to my ex-student Miss Lutz ! I don't know how far I'll ever get for two men who are continually telling each other what one thinks of the other have started at it, and when they get going they make a good deal of noise.

I have been taking frequent furtive glances at my left wrist since the last mail, for it brought a new time-piece to adorn said wrist, sent from various members of my family by way of reminder that I passed the quarter century mark yesterday. I had asked my brother to buy one for me, but you see they fooled me and gave me one. I knew it was coming, but wasn't supposed to. One of my aunts who was in on the gift, and who never can keep a secret, wrote me a letter the first of the week, and incidentally mentioned that she was glad to have a part in the watch. A noticeable silence on my brother's part in regard to purchasing one for me naturally lead me to guess it was coming at the proper time even before that. I remember it wasn't so long ago that a wrist watch on a man seemed the most foppish & ridiculous thing imaginable; I remember the first man I ever saw with one, some three or four years on a train somewhere in Massachusetts - he was so pink and precise and prinked up; I immediately nailed him in my mind as a Professor of French at Smith. How near right I was I never knew. Recollecting a conversation I had with Miss Tolbert once about men professors in women's colleges, I know she would say that for me to come to such a conclusion was entirely unjustifiable. Whatever odium, if any, should be attached to a man in civil life for wearing them, they are quite necessary in the military profession, and are universally worn.

Whew! This has been a hot week! Every single day a scorcher, between 90 & 95 in the shade. I should think at this rate you'd be having it about 120 [degrees] in Philadelphia. Probably I've been lucky not to get more of it, for it has been quite comfortable up until this week. It seems strange to think that it was only two months ago that my hands would get so numb mornings I could hardly hold my gun at drill in the mornings, and that some nights it was cold enough to use four blankets and a comforter.

I wonder if you don't get the letters I send to the U.of P. It's been eight or nine days since I've had a letter - so I'm going to send this to Miss Tolbert's again. My stolen hour is almost over - it's produced pretty short results, but the noise & distraction has been considerable. It's a wonder nobody's come thru to give everybody a general calling down for making all the noise.

Good night!

Ever your friend
Sylvester Butler.


Plattsburg, N.Y.
July 29, 1916. [Sunday]


Dear Eva,

Speaking of days, unfortunately I never seem to be able to help knowing what it is, and it's been a habit of mine, since I was taught in the third grade or so to put place & date in the upper right hand corner of a letter, to do so. I guess it's a stupid habit, isn't it? One would think I was writing these letters for posthumous publishing. [note - Prophetic statement, but notice that he dated this one incorrectly as to year!]

I was ever so glad to get the pictures. This question has a selfish implication, but how many do I get to keep? I think the best likeness of you is the one where you have the calico covered book in your hand, and if I could only have one, it is the one I would take. But I like the others too - the one with the little white dog and the milk bottle, the one where you're holding the branches, although that one I think doesn't look so much like you, and the profile picture where you are looking and smiling at something - I can't quite make out what it is, but it looks like an oak-leaf. How good a guesser am I? May I take two anyway and have a little while to pick them out? If you think me greedy, why, call me down, and give me a grand good scolding.

I have never read Galsworthy's The Freelands but have heard of it frequently and I believe I cut out a review of it & pasted it in my book -list some time ago. I should imagine you would like Thoreau. When you get me on Kipling, you'll find me pretty unintelligent, for I must confess I have read very little of him, perhaps because I was scared away from him by his prose work "The Jungle Book" which I didn't care for.

The concert tonight, which I have just returned from, was a great treat. Mme.Louise Hower, her daughter Miss Louise Hower, David Biopham, and a Mme.Mulford all sang, and a Miss Garford played piano. The special treat was of course Mme. Hower; I have never heard her before, and am surely thankful to have had the opportunity. She has a beautiful clear full mellow voice.

I had a letter from Fred Layton this week, and was surprised to learn that he is in the U.S.Navy, stationed at present in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. I also had a card from Lewis Adams.

I'm ashamed to send you such a short letter, but lights are going out in two or three minutes.

Ever your friend
Sylvester B. Butler


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