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July 1, 1918
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July 22, 1918
SBButler Letters, July 1918
Daido and I have just returned from Mays Landing. We had a lovely time.
We went up on the 3:09 and I went up to Pleasantville first so as to go around for the mail and to get the tickets but Daido just caught the train by the skin of her teeth. She had intended getting a check cashed at Smith's but hadn't had time and on taking stock of our finances discovered we had just thirty-three cents between us after carfare.
We wandered up and down the little "jogs" until we almost reached the park and sat down high on the bank above the lake and read to one another. We had a book called "Wayfarings" and liked it very much. At last we went over to the park and as we were about half starved, even tho we had tried not to be by eating huckleberries, we extended, by skillful financing, out thirty-three cents over two sandwiches and one ice cream cone and we had two cents left besides.
We gathered lots of wayside flowers on the road back and in crossing a sandy lot found the ground pine out in blossom. I never saw it in blossom before. The flowers are white and very much like the snowdrop.
When we went to get our tickets I noticed the girl in the office and suddenly asked her if she weren't Maurie Henry. She said yes. I hadn't seen her for at least twelve years but my recognition of her was not phenomenal as I had heard she was going to work there. Then I said, "Do you know me? It's been a long long time since you've seen me." She looked and said my face was familiar, and then suddenly said "Aren't you Eva Lutz?" She had a wonderful memory for I had only known her slightly as I had been up to her cousin's about ten or twelve years ago and as her cousin had moved away had neither seen nor heard of either of them since until Gladys Stebbins mentioned her a few days ago.
The car back was packed with black people and everyone of them had separate seats and Marie Cavileer and Elphra Harris, who came up to us while we were at the station, and Daido and I went out and rode on the tail end of the last car. We pretended it was an observation train and truly we had lots of fun.
The blue flower I called arrowhead is pickeral weed. I don't know how I came to make that mistake as it isn't the time of the year for arrowhead which is a very different sort of flower and not necessarily at all an aquatic plant as I have found it along the meadow roads. Pickeral weed grows in the water tho usually near the edges.
I'm still thinking quite a lot about that cerise outfit.
I love you my sweetheart and I want to make you happy and I will if it is possible for me to do so, altho sometimes I might be terrible and make you hoe the garden in the hot sun or get your own breakfast or observe Kissless Friday.
I love you I do and today isn't Friday s I'll kiss you goodnight, and another for the sick well arm, and one for hard work, and one for love, and one for just you my Happiness Boy.
I bought a flat iron today. Isn't that interesting news? If I had room to carry it around wherever I went, now, I could get a good ironing board made. I'll have to do something along that line pretty soon or I won't be able to go around without a coat, all my shirts being so crinkly, and this is too hot for coats perpetually. But it seems as though ironing must be a great art; I don't see how it can be done and done so well; any more than I can understand the inextricable mazes of knitting, crocheting, and so on. About the same time I got the iron I bought 6 packages of Lux so you can see I'm going right into this laundering business. Don't you think I have a trusting nature to let my future wife know how much experience I'm giving myself, along these handy-man-around-the-house lines.
I finally got my sleeping bag double mattress today, which is very fine & comfortable. With that I Am now completely equipped except for a field glass.
The fur flew as per schedule this morning. With that out of my system the day passed quite serenely, though chock-a-block full.
I presume the notification of her husband's arrival overseas your friend Mrs. D. got was the "safe arrival" card, as it's known. They have them at the port of embarkation and the men can fill them out before sailing but they are not released from the mails until news is received by cable at the port that the ship has arrived safely at a European port. And letters mailed just before sailing are taken care of in the same way.
Now, if we were only at home to each other at present, I could have a lovely job for you - namely to sew little patches with my name on to all my clothes. It would be very useful service, even though not as alluring a hobby as making sweaters. I think I'd agree to do the family washing for a week, if you would perform said service. Dexterity is not my middle name by a far cry, when it comes to sewing, except buttons, at which I shall have to admit that I am little short of a wizard.
Well, haven't I said just about enough about myself tonight? There must be about 10, 968 more interesting things to write about. But sleepiness is making the ability to do so any more for this time.
I love you, dearest sweetheart. I hope everything is going along happily.
I have been canning all evening. I have twelve pints of beautiful raspberries. They certainly do look beautiful. The jam lady loaned me one of her immense kettles and racks and everything to go with it when she found I had so many to do - also she gave me some advice which was needed as much as the kettle.
I have never gotten the flowers that your Aunt Lucy sent but the mails certainly are funny lately anyway.
I'm just wondering if we are to get 4th of July off. I think we should. It is to be a no noise day in Pleasantville. Poor boys! I think they look forward to the noise almost as much as they do Christmas.
So, I'm to cure you of eating between meals, am I. I hardly like to take very strenuous efforts as "people who live in glass houses" you know but then I could say "Do as I say, not as I do." That might work. You say you think you need a boss. Now I can't make up my mind whether I want to be one or whether I'll be perverse and not be.
Dorcas was around for a tiny bit tonight. She has actually gotten a card now that he sent from France.
She was up to see her brother at camp Dix yesterday. They had about fifty blow outs and arrived home about 2 a.m.
It is very pretty late my sweetheart and I have to get up early and finish my canning so I'll kiss you good night.
I've just been looking at you. In fact, you are double. You are up on the wall over the right of my table, holding a cat, and you have been holding that cat for a month & a half. You are in a little gilt frame on my desk and have been holding for it must be two years a checkered book. You smiled at me from both; I took the smiles for myself anyway. For I am very selfish when it is a question of your smiles. They just bathe everything around with light and happiness.
So you are getting set on a cerise traveling dress are you? Then I guess nothing will do but to have it rain all thru our wedding trip, and never go indoors. Or else some morning you'll find it all pasted up with 3 cent postage stamps for variation. [note - three cent postage stamps at the time were his favorite lavender color] And you would hate to have me get blinded by the cerise and accidentally throw a whole ink bottle over it, wouldn't you? [another note - I think it is safe to assume that he didn't care for red]
We have a rolling kitchen in the Supply Train this week, which the various companies of the Train are using different days for practice. It is quite good sized, in two parts, each almost 5 x 4 ft., I should say, a pair of wheels under easc, and the two parts connected. Under the rear is a place to make the fire, a good big fire box, and over that four compartments, two setting into water and used for stews & braised beef and food of that character; the other two you can set water boilers in or frying slabs. It can cook anything I guess. The front part has a place for pans & other utensils and also a fireless cooking arrangement. We are using wood for fuel in them here, but I am told that oil is burnt more over across.
These used to be days of great expectancy when I was youthful, for I had probably bought all my fireworks. It was the greatest day of the year without exception and for at least a month before I counted the days to the Fourth. But it won't even be a holiday for me or our organization this year, as we have received orders that there is to be an inspection here. We are quite fed up on inspections. The most tedious thing in the Army, to me. How I used to hate the first few Saturday inspections at Plattsburg !
Did you ever see a mackerel sky, made up of a whole school of real mackerel? That's what I discovered in the eastern sky this morning. It really did look like several fish lined up side of one another. Mackerel skies are favorite cloud formations. I don't know but what a lace sky would be a more appropriate name.
Good night, dear girl. Bless you for all you are to me, and the happiness you bring me and will bring me; perhaps just now I should say the happiness you send me every day. I love you, Lady.
Good morning, my Beautiful Lady. This is just a morning made for you, coolish and fresh and sunshiny.
I love you.
If I should take that bossing position, I'm considering, shall I follow the way you've been trying to tell me you bossed Sunday? I hope you were very tactful when you discovered anything wrong in inspection and didn't hurt the men's feelings in the least. I hope, if you discovered a mess kit a little bit soiled you said, "I wanted to see if my hat was on straight but it's impossible in this," or "Mercy, I thot I was an ace of spades when I looked in that." I'm sure they would get the full benefit of your remarks. If a man needed mending you might commend him for being holy. I hope you didn't scold that poor man who did Serg. Schoonmaker's work very much, seems to me the extra work was enough. When Serg. Schoonmaker comes in I'd just ask him politely if he didn't think he'd better save his superfluous nerve for use in France as it probably would be put to better advantage there.
/ insolence . . . . . sand
Words you might use in place of the one that's slang, Nerve, none of them quite so good, however.
Of course, if such situations confronted me, I wouldn't growl.
Enough silliness. I have been up to Dorcas' own home with her tonight. Their garden being the main attraction. George, her brother, planted it before he went away to camp and it's just wonderful now. I brought back a monster bunch of nasturtiums and baby breath. [note - a dried nasturtium and baby breath is still in letter.]
I have the Fourth off. That's a s'prise and a welcome one. I asked about it yesterday. I s'pose Daido and I will have a picnic. Oh goodness I wish you could go places with us. Sometimes I feel Oh if I could only touch you just to know that everything is real. It doesn't seem possible some times.
Manny and her sister expect to come over and spend Saturday night and we are going to get up about four o'clock Sunday morning and go out after black berries and huckleberries. Won't that be glorious?
Daido expect to leave for Michigan about Friday then I'll be all alone.
Miss Davis started to work today and doesn't get home until about 6:30 which makes us have dinner very late.
Well my sweetheart I'll kiss you good night for I love you.
Merry Sunshine says, "good morning" so I'll pass it on to you.
Our for-get-me-nots are getting ready to blossom again, I believe. Won't that be lovely? The marguerites haven't blossomed yet and I hardly see any signs but it is early for them, yet, isn't it?
My bumper radish crop has been a failure and I'm so sorry if you have gotten thin waiting for it, but never mind, one of my four potato plants has a blossom on it and maybe I'll send you a jar of jelly.
Please send an aeroplane at once and you'll see how quickly I'll come up to spend an evening helping to run Uncle Sam's army - providing, of course, you are there to direct me, but, no, I just won't come. The idea of being spattered in the eye with grapefruit and entertained with ugle-ugle - I just guess not.
Do you know what happened to Penrod when he started in to learn that Ugle ugle. His mother tho't he was sick and he had to take lots of medicine until he contrived to put water and mud in the bottle. You better be careful!
Goodness! I use lux for washing, too, so you needn't think it's something personal to the army. I iron too - (not very nicely tho.)
You seemed to think it was wonderful to get up before breakfast, or at least you mentioned the fact in your last letter. Why, do you know, I do that every day.
I am going to write a little note to Ralph this morning. I wrote to your Mother yesterday.
Some one upset my nest and broke two of the eggs. Wasn't that awful?
I send you my love and a medicine kiss - tho you don't need it.
The mails have not been good to me today, but I know the post office is very much rushed up here.
This is most unlike the night before the Fourth, a night once of great excitement and anticipation, but I'm sure I don't know a thing tomorrow which I anticipate. One thing, though, and I must never say there isn't a thing for there is always my sweetheart's letter. Did I ever tell you about my pre-Fourth night in the church belfry next to our house. I was old enough to be much more dignified, too, but I'll say this much for myself, it was six years ago. I think I've probably told you of it more than once. Ralph and another chap & myself sneaked into the church and up to the belfry and disconnected the rope from the bell so that the usual crowd of boys couldn't ring the bell. Just before they were let in to ring it we started in, and accompanied the ringing by firing torpedoes from the top of the belfry down to the sidewalk & lighting sparklers around the edge of the top of the belfry. The mob decided they wanted to get us and crowded up the stairs, but we got a double brace on the trap door and refused to let anyone up, even though they pretended to be town constable & one thing or another. We heard them using all kinds of tools & didn't know what they had in store for us. And we waited until about 3:30 a.m. before we ventured down and then found the trap door chained to the stairs. It was some little job to pull up the trap door and when it did come one stair came with it. We'd have been in a fine pickle if the staircase had fallen down. We got downstairs and I got out of a window into a tree, over into our yard, got a ladder to bring the other two out; And was on my way over when the sexton, who had been watchman all night spied me. It didn't make much difference, for there was nothing for him to be put out about, but we were anxious to go thru the whole operation without a soul ever knowing who we were. Very few ever did, and I guess it was a couple of years afterward before any of the folks except Uncle Bill knew it. Uncle Bill was in on the game and sat outside his room with a flashlight to signal us.
I have felt very much like a celebration tonight, perhaps just as undignified as the six year ago one. To enact the great Sing-Sing scare would be just suited to my humor at present, or do some equally foolish thing. I have thrown a watermelon rind or two around, and decorated Pop's room with them for life-preservers, and enacted a little impromptu foolishness with Pop, he with a canvas bucket on for a hat & me a basin. But that was hardly enough to give full vent to my wild promptings. A couple of generous portions of watermelon, a muskmelon, and a grapefruit have about soothed me however, and I hope to be sane again by morning. For this will surely be a sane Fourth. I trust also a safe one. I suppose you have a holiday and I am wondering what you will be doing.
Good night, dear girl, and love without and for you.
Mornin', Lady. Wish you a merry Xmas. Goo' bye. I love you.
I have my sweater almost _ done. Isn't that just wonderful?
Marian Campbell has been around all evening and Daido and she and I took a meadow walk and we got a bunch of the most wonderful butterfly weed. It is yellow and red and orange so we have massed it and called it our fireplace. It is in the window now and if you only had spy glasses I'm sure you could see it.
We also got some wild buckwheat, some prickly lettuce, some campion and skullcaps. Weren't the gods good to us?
Has Lucinthia gone to New York yet?
Dorcas did not come around tonight as George was home from camp and naturally he was more important.
I'll save the rest for the morning, my sweetheart - that is all except a kiss.
"Happy Fourth of July. What you goin' to give me?" That was Miss Davis' greeting this morning. I do wish you'd say you'd give me a kiss and proceed to do so. I believe I'd even forgive you one ugle-ugle if you did.
Today is the Fourth, the glorious fourth but hushed is the noise of yesterday and only the flags in the breezes play. We have a ban on fire crackers. Poor kiddies shooting fire crackers is most as good as Christmas to them and equally looked forward to but I think even they realize the reason.
I saw Jennie Bowen last night and she told me George was down in Florida. Her brother was teasing and said she hadn't been out of the house since George went away. Of course, when I saw her last night she denied that.
Well, my sweetheart, I think I'll close as I have bushels of work to do.
Two kisses. Eva.
This has been just plain July 4, not the Fourth of July, surely as far as I am concerned. There was scarcely anything in my young life to make it any different from any other day.
In the morning we hustled around to have everything ready for the Inspector and when he did come he was well pleased with the showing the Train made. All afternoon and evening I've been sort of cleaning house in the house.
A corporal from Co. B yesterday was killed in a railroad accident. Somebody had a grudge against me and made me chairman of a board of three officers to investigate into & report on his death. Anderson has gone down to Willimantic , Conn. where his body is being held, today, to collect evidence, and when he gets back tomorrow, I hope we can clean up the case without a great deal of red tape. We know very little about how it occurred at the present time. The chap was absent without leave, so his death was not in line of duty and his folks will collect no compensation.
I think one letter has missed me, for I was from day before yesterday afternoon to today afternoon without one, and there is none for the evening of the first, but there is for the 2nd.
The nasturtium and the baby breath went well together. I've been a long time away from any kind of garden. If I remember rightly, it is a little early for the margueritas. I hope they do bloom, for I think you will like them.
Good night, dear girl. I'm so sleepy I could almost pass out for the night sitting in my chair. With all my love,
Bon jour, ma belle dame! I learnt that out of a book some 7 or 8 years ago.
Anyway, good morning, sweetheart and hope it's a good day. But days after holidays, according to popular fancy, are usually not, I believe.
I love you, Eva.
Daido and I are down at "Seacrest." We decided to come down at 1:30 and are going to stay over night.
Harold and I have been out on the beach flying his kite all afternoon. We had a dandy time.
This evening we all went to Convention Hall to see a military ball. It was some affair. I met a man there I knew. Lieutenant Davis. We wanted to get particulars about the terrible fire that broke out in the barracks this morning while the boys were on parade and destroyed everything but the Y.M.C.A. and the dispensary. So we questioned him altho I am not particularly fond of him or his wife either but a strange face is usually welcome.
The fire is believed, in fact it is known, to have been of incendiary origin. Several of the boys were nearly burned to death as they were asleep inside and the whole thing went off almost at once and when nearly everyone was away. There are aeroplanes guarding the coast all the time and armed guards parade up and down the walk continually at night and have been doing so ever since the German submarines came in here. It is real exciting. Nearly every man to be seen is either a soldier or a sailor and, my sweetheart, it makes me so lonesome. I do wish I could see you, and sometimes have you here in Cape May with the quaint old southern buildings dotting the landscape at intervals and the musing musical sea and the sky and the sunsets. I love them and I love you, my sweetheart, my only sweetheart who says he's going to throw ink on my going away dress.
Good night dearest and a kiss for I love you.
I have just returned from a little dissipation. Pop and Luty Taylor and Deck Spaulding & the Doc and I went over to Fitchburg in the Dodge right after supper and took in the movies, getting back at Taps, which shows it wasn't such a terribly wild party. It was a wild ride both ways, though, for Pop was driving the old machine at full blast; and the roads were slippery with recent oiling and the series of sprinkles the sky has given them during the day. However we are back safe and sound. I enjoyed the ride and the little relief from work, but the pictures were a waste of time, as most all motion picture melodramas and pretended-to-be-problem plays. Between a couple of the fool pictures some local gazabo made a four minute flowery, more-or-less meaningless oration, of the Village Green Fourth of July type, and during the course had to say something about the "boys" in the front of the audience waiting their turn to get into the fight; when you get applying "boy" to Pop's venerable grey hairs and 37 years, its stretching a point a bit. Also to the average modest and self-respecting soldier being pointed out in an audience in that a-way isn't overly agreeable. I hope the well-meaning gentleman didn't get the snickers and pokes going around among us, for he must have thought us unappreciative if he did so.
My cousin up in Lowell has been after me to come up again ever since Ralph and I went up a month or so ago. I made a sort of half-promise for this week-end some time since, but he has taken it as a full one, & sure enough, I got a letter this week wanting me to spend from Sat. afternoon to Monday there. But nothing doing. If I could take that much time off, there's somewhere else I'd go in a different direction, and somewhat farther away. What I think I shall do is to run up for Saturday evening and come back the first thing Sunday morning. Then I'll have him satisfied for awhile, I hope. All this sounds terrible, I expect. They are pleasant people, and I am not unappreciative of their desire to open their home to me, & be hospitable, but I'm not at all inclined to visiting at present.
I paid off the men of the Train for the month of June today, and went thru another $8000. That seems a lot for one small outfit. If that much is required for a little organization of less than 500 - and the amount of money given does not include officers, for they are paid by check individually on bills they send in for their services - think what a tremendous amount goes each month to pay all the soldiers of our monster army. It seems marvelous what strides the U.S.A. has made since early spring, especially in the vastly increased shipments of troops; from a rate of less than 50,000 a month thru the winter up to 250,000 in June is no small jump. And a million men now over there! Every news item from France & England shows how much this is bolstering up their confidence; and with what enthusiasm the French and the English speak of our soldiers! I wish I could have seen the Fourth of July celebration in London or Paris. In Paris I sense that it was an expression of exuberance & ardent enthusiasm - maybe gratitude - still I don't believe it's right for me to say that, for we surely owe France as much as she us. In England it must have been a little different; the English are not the demonstrative people that the French are. The feeling of any American toward England's celebration of our anniversary of independence from her, must be a deep satisfaction - not of the exultant, crowy kind, because she celebrates a defeat at our hands - but a quiet joy that the two great peoples are fighting side by side & coming every day closer to each other in our great common cause. That's the feeling it gives me. There is little difference in our cause against England in the Revolution, and our cause with her against the Kaiser and the military leaders of Germany. First a fight against tyranny over ourselves, when we were small, now partners in a fight against attempted world-wide tyranny and brutal methods adopted to obtain it.
You know I am extremely fond of canned raspberries and you for certain make my mouth water when you tell about canning them. I'm going to remember that you make nice canned raspberries when the time you call nineteen years from now, but from which I subtract about eighteen, comes.
The missing letter arrived today so I have no break in my Sweetheart Set.
Lucinthia hasn't gone to New York yet. I believe she's not scheduled to go until about the 14th.
It doesn't seem possible that your friend could have gotten a card from her husband from France thus soon, though perhaps more time has gone by than I realize. I wonder if perhaps it isn't one of those "safe arrival" cards I spoke of which are signed & left just before sailing & released to the mails when it is known the ship has reached the other side. I'm going to leave one each for you and Mother when I finally get going.
After midnight, sweetheart of mine. So long for now and a good night kiss.
I love you.
I haven't been to work all day.
We didn't get back from Cape May 'til this and I had asked for the morning off and then finished it by calling up and asking for the day.
I have been working pretty hard.
Daido is going tomorrow. I feel so lonely. We haven't really been away from one another for a long, long time.
Here are some washing and ironing hints.
Put a little coal oil or lard in the starch as things will iron easier.
Sprinkle clothes evenly with warn water, roll tightly and wrap bundle in towel or something heavy.
Don't press down too hard with iron. The idea is not to get the wrinkles out by main force but by getting the clothes dry.
Much depends on the sprinkling be careful.
Good night dearest, I love you.
I still love you - more than ever ever.
I am writing from Lowell tonight. Cousin James keeps early hours and I am up here in his guest room at ten. He keeps a guest book in the room dating back to about 1906. Aunt Lucy's name is in the book somewhere along about 1908. I got up here just before supper, and gave them the usual worry people have over me because I declined the string beans and the salad. After supper we took a walk up the hill on which their house is located. It is very steep, high, and large; and from the top you can see for miles and miles in all directions. It was a bit hazy tonight on account of the humidity but the view was most grand under and conditions. The only trouble with it is that it is known as christian hill, because some Holy Jumpers or somebody used to hold camp meetings on it. I was playing the piano a bit after getting back but made an absolute fizzle of my old standby, the Dvorak Humoresque in a place I have never forgotten it before; I tried & tried but could not bring the notes at that place back to my memory or my finger-tips. When I got thru fizzling at the piano, the Victrola records were run thru. They have a fine selection. I wonder if we ought not to have a Victrola as well as a piano, dear heart, if we could. I should like to, for then part of the time I could sit and listen to music with you. Perhaps we could make a record of our own with you singing The Door to Out of Doors to my accompaniment. Our home surely must have music of some kind.
I am going back to Camp Devens early in the morning, probably by trolley, though I don't enjoy the prospect. Leviseur drove me up this afternoon as it's on his way to his home. I was hoping to have the Dodge to bring up but Pop had a use for it himself this weekend. He's gone down to Boston to see the publisher of that book; there is a little trouble brewing with a chap who says a book of his was copied into it. A part of his book, which was very small, was used but it wasn't copied word for word by any means. But it shows how careless Major Schoonmaker was in clearing himself on copyrights. I took it on myself a couple of times to utter a gentle warning hint or two, but he always said everything was taken care of. I'm a little more glad all the time that my name isn't in the book. You spoke once of my being famous thru it - I might have been uncomfortably famous and Fame might have charged me a few months' salaries for disgruntled persons who said we were stealing their thunder.
The Savages have a little vase of bitter-sweet on top of their book-case. What memories hath bitter-sweet!
Good night, best Sunshine Lady. Love, and more love, and still more. A good night kiss.
Daido has gone and I'm so lonesome.
We went over to Atlantic this afternoon and had a last lunch together.
She went on the 4:55.
I hardly know what to do. It seems so strange not to have her with me. I wish you were here.
I haven't done a thing all day today.
I can't write an interesting letter at all tonight but please forgive me this time won't you sweetheart because I just feel so lonely without you and Daido.
I love you. Eva.
Dearest Sweetheart, my own Sweetheart. Please excuse that
perfectly horrible letter I wrote last night but I couldn't help
it. I just felt so utterly alone. I like to be with someone I
love and someone who loves me. Daido wanted me to go with her
and I wanted to but I knew that if you did get a chance to come
see me you never would way out there and I'd rather see you than
anything in the world.
Today has been rather a varied day. Mannie came over late last night and stayed all night. We went after black and huckleberries and got about five quarts of each. We stayed up until 12:30 last night making fudge and generally having a good time as we sewed and knit in the early part of the evening and naturally had to have some sort of relaxation.
We got up at six this morning and went as it was cooler then. The sun came up strong about ten and nearly melted us. Mannie said she'll have nothing more to do with blackberries or huckleberries all her life unless some one else picks them.
Today was my cooking day so most of my afternoon was spent in getting dinner.
Tonight little Frances Boice came and paid me a visit and I let her play with my Betty doll and, please forgive me, our tea set. I just tho't I'd like to see them used and she's so sweet. I'm an awful baby I believe because I just love to play with children and dolls and dishes. I gave her lots of goods for doll dresses but, of course, we couldn't make any today as it was Sunday. Children dream wonderful dreams.
Sometimes when I hear a car come in I think Oh what if it should be bringing me my sweetheart and sometimes I hear a step on the walk and I feel like running I just feel it might be he.
I haven't you here but sometimes I just feel that you are here, I can just , Oh I love you Good night
Eva your sweetheart.
An extra, for love.
I got a jitney back from Lowell this morning which was somewhat better than the extremely unanticipated trolley ride, except for some of my fellow passengers, who were carrying on a foolish conversation about Lowell being a "slow town", and Fitchburg worse, and a few other equally erudite remarks; and one young woman, as the car passed one of the barracks with a sign on the front painted by some wit, asked her companion "Ain't they the happy-go-lucky bunch?" which, you must admit, is a most scintillating and admirably expressed comment. Their two gentleman friends showed no signs of disagreeing with them at any rate.
Lieut. & Mrs. Fox went out rowing this morning and got a beautiful bunch of pond lilies, and brought them up here for the dining room, but four of them for me. I wonder if they wouldn't keep if I sent you half of them in a little box. They are lovely & fragrant and I wish you could see them just as they are. I wish you weren't so far away, my girlie, anyway. I certainly would have liked to have shown you around the camp, if you only had not lived so far away & could have visited it, many times since I've been here. I think you would like to see just how I'm located & living, & then besides it's interesting, anyway, to the visitor. It seems strange to think that when I'm writing you of it, I have a picture of it gained from seeing it, but you with only what I've written in words have only an imaginative picture, entirely different from mine. Did that idea ever strike you? I often think of it. I might be with you and say "Tuesday I must go back to Camp Devens" - it means the same thing to both of us, but I have a momentary mental vision of the camp as I know it, and you can only get what your imagination & someone else's description can give you, but you have some sort of a momentary picture, I imagine, and somewhat different than mine. You write me that you are down at Cape May, flying kites on the beach - I see some sort of a beach & a building which goes for Sea Crest Inn, I have a picture of it as I read your letter, but how different it probably is from the original, which you have an accurate picture of, every time you might think of it. There are some things that are too big for my imagination - such as the 3000 miles of ocean I have ahead of me when I go to France. My mind absolutely cannot grasp the idea of such limitless bound of water; I'll have to actually travel it, and then for having experienced it, so that an actual perception is registered in my mind, I presumably can think of it very readily. Europe is nothing but a map to me now; when I think of Europe, I think of the map, for that is all I ever saw of it; now when I have seen it actually it will be a flesh & blood place. Our own West is little more than a map now, but some happy day I'll have a different picture of that, at the same time you are. It's facinating, don't you think, to visit a place you have had described to you often and of which your imagination has conjured up pictures, and see how it squares up with your imagination.
I had a surprise visit just before noon from a lady who was Mr. Winch's sister. She lives down in Clinton, half-way between here & Worcester. I think her name is Wallace; there was a Mr. Wallace with her and I couldn't quite make out whether she was his wife or another lady who was with them was. Mrs. Winch had told them to look me up whenever they came up here. It's always good to get a reminder of Pleasantville. There was another lady with them who I think was her daughter, who told me that she mailed my Christmas package to me for you from Atlantic last winter - at least she said she mailed it for a very nice young lady, & I didn't get any others from Pleasantville. I think I remember your telling me that some niece of Mrs. Winch's mailed your package for you. I asked these people in to dinner but they didn't stop.
Now I must get a little work done, and I'll write you more tonight, dear.
Always your own Boy.
My own Dear Lady,
I feel particularly caged in tonight. I have been in these barracks so much since I came back in May that I feel almost as though I had become walled in, were being pressed down & confined. Just now I wish I might fly, about 350 miles a minute to you, my beautiful Lady. That would bring me there in just a minute. Then wouldn't you be almost glad enough to see me to light the fireplace just where we had it before? Then we would sit down and watch it again as of old - it's almost "of old" now, it seems so long ago; it seems as if we'd always been sweethearts. I'm afraid I'd want to stay late because I haven't see you for such a long time, and because I'd have to be back here by reveille; you see I could start just a minute before. I don't know whether you'd find me very good company or not; mind-weariness might make me a dull creature; but you with your enchanting sunshine would drive all that away. Just to have you with me makes life complete; and there is always a great big blank spot without you.
Thank you for the washing and ironing hints. I won't ever use any starch, so I shan't have a chance to try out the coal oil or lard, but the sprinkling & ironing directions I am going to follow most religiously. I expect to try to do some ironing tomorrow, for I have bought an old fashioned flat iron, and learned of a stunt tonight which seems to be quite practical - a rolled up blanket on a board for ironing. While I'm here I'll have it on my table. I don't know why that wouldn't work out to perfection. I washed a light shirt today so it's absolutely necessary that I start action on the ironing question.
I sent you the pond lilies this afternoon in an empty card file box. I had to crowd them a bit but I do hope they will keep some of their fragrance for you, my darling. I sent the half of my bunch, and then Cookie (the cook, if you don't know Cookie) gave me a few more of the other bunch that the Fox's brought for the dining room. He said they gave them to him and so he could do what he wanted with them.
I don't know whether you'll be at all interested in the sheet I am enclosing. It's just something I got out this week & had 1000 copies made of for each man in the train to fill out in duplicate, one to be mailed to his nearest relative, the other to be kept. They are not to be mailed now but kept in company files & when we do go they will be placed in the mail bag at the ship & released to the mails when we are safely over. I am going to have these take the place of safe arrival cards for our organization, I just decided yesterday. So I won't be sending you one of those cards, but I shall of course drop a letter there which will answer the same purpose. These sheets are something I've had in mind to get out for quite awhile. I know that there would be hundreds of people who wouldn't know how to collect insurance due them or compensation in case of the death of a soldier on whom they were dependent, & who had taken out government insurance in their behalf, & on whose account they would be entitled to compensation; there would be a number who wouldn't even know they were entitled to it. The government has done splendidly in providing ahead for soldiers' dependents and I want to be sure that the dependents of every soldier in this organization know what they are entitled to, and how to get it, if necessary. The intricacies of allotments, allowances, compensation, & insurance have been thoroughly explained to the soldiers but I know well that there's any number who haven't made perfect explanations to their folks; I've aimed to get it in black & white on this sheet and in as simple language as I could use. I hope it will serve its purpose.
Eva, dear, I've been just afraid that when I did go that you would think I wasn't doing the right thing if I didn't let you know. I've been afraid you might think "Well, Dorcas' husband let her know, why didn't Sylvester let me know?" For there are strict orders in this Division, - to tell you the truth, in every one, - against giving out any information as to troop movements. It seems hard, hard indeed, that our soldiers must most all go over unknown to their people; we should all like them to know just where we are all the time and perhaps like to be able to go out to the sound of drums & music, as of old; but it can't be done. An order is an order, and a soldier's first duty is obedience. There will be a little time my letters are held up, and then the letter will be released which marks my safe arrival. And then soon more ought to come.
On that circular you will find my overseas address, when I get there. Remember, do not under any circumstances write me, addressing it there, until you receive word of my safe arrival.
I wish Capt. June would get back with the Dodge. I'm sitting up for him & its now midnight & there's an errand it's got to go on in an hour and a half. I guess I'll have to fool him & sleep all morning. I guess not.
Oceans of love, dearest One, and a good night kiss from
Mornin' dear; a beautiful morning, and anything beautiful makes me think of you.
Its rather late to say good morning. I have been wondering if I sent you a letter the first mail in the morning whether or not it would reach you at night. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could know what I was thinking on the very day I'm thinking it? I sent one off in the first mail this morning.
I love you.
Manny's mother just called up and said Manny was sick today. I guess she had too much berrying. I'm sorry.
Miss Davis wants us to rent a room to Miss Taylor (the Miss Taylor) to lessen expenses. I don't want to but lessening expenses seems to be her strong point. She wanted to use paper napkins and no table cloth but I said "NO." I want Bricktop to be homelike and it can't if you are going to take away all the comforts. It only costs ten cents a week to have a clean table cloth and two napkins.
Are you working hard? I hope you are not working too hard.
I love ["you" is seen very faintly here]. I bet you never can guess what I erased. I'll give you an extra kiss if you do. You know I've come to the conclusion that one kiss a day is enough and if I write to you twice a day I can't make up my mind whether I'd like to kiss you good night or good morning better. I like to kiss you in the morning because then we begin the day right and I like to kiss you good night because then I'm leaving you for a long time. It really is quite a problem because I love you. If I didn't love you I suppose it wouldn't make any difference and I could just toss up a coin and decide but I can't do that and I must decide soon so we'll be used to it.
I don't suppose kissing is exceedingly proper anyway. Is it? Would you mind much if I didn't send you any kisses?
I haven't been writing many "don't open" notes lately as I don't seem to be able to get any ideas - not that all I have sent have ideas but I don't want to send anything too commonplace. How many have you?
I am going to start and number my letters too as the mails are getting so terrible.
I love you
I intended to do ironing this evening with the blanket-on-the-table stunt, and my directions open before me - you know what directions I mean, those from Miss E.A.B.C.P.Q.R. Lutz's Helpful Hints to Near Housekeepers. My intentions have not materialized, however, and I surely decline to begin at ten. It is no fault of the Helpful Hints, I assure you. That will be comforting, I know.
I went and say Corp. Johnson at the Base Hospital this morning. He is still in bed & I guess his troubles are not all over yet. The plates were taken out of his leg a couple of days ago, which means temporarily no use of it at all. But I hope it will heal quickly & that he isn't going to be permanently crippled. The broken leg is a half inch shorter than the other now; if it doesn't get any more so it shouldn't I think be a very great annoyance. He has surely had a siege of it, and I think I should be plumb out of my head by this time, if I had to be confined so long, unless you just came to me and took care of me all the time. You don't know how perfectly happy I was, dear girl, when you were with me that little while in the hospital.
I've just this minute been looking at my Sunshine Lady Box. It's all there, and Curl says you love me. I've been looking at a verse here & a verse there as it struck my fancy, and the pictures I have of my lassie. I happened to read again the verse about somebody loving you, which you said you wrote after receiving a particularly nice letter. I am wildly curious to know what one it may have been. I also happened on the Fairy Garden at Hemlock Manor and the Fireplace poem in my original collection, and have peeked into the brown Christmas book you sent me last winter. It is very quiet here tonight, and being after Taps is a quiet hour anyway, and is just the time to live over old happiness again and feel the inspiration of You. I have memories of all the times I've been with you since the night of the Apple Blossom - and many other things, but the Apple Blossom is the visible memory I have of it, and you remember how I asked you to pick it off, and I would keep it forever. It has another memory now, too, hasn't it, for you hallowed it with a kiss on the night we wrote Together.
I would give worlds that I might kiss you good night now, my darling sweetheart, and hear your dear voice tell me you loved me. Anyway I have the curl, and the precious message with it. Good night, dear.
Just a wee line to begin the day with You. I love you, Eva.
Today it has been very warm.
I got two letters and a letter full of postal cards from Daido. One was mailed in Philadelphia and the other two in Buffalo. She has not arrived in Ann Arbor yet.
I was up to Dorcas' a while tonight. I mean up to her own mother's. She came down and we walked up after dinner and got another bunch of those beautiful nasturtiums. We were going to Red Cross but didn't.
It's cloudy this evening. I rather think it will rain and hope so for it certainly is needed.
I'm coming up to see you pretty soon. I have the butterfly engaged that is to bring me. He's a monster one with lovely purple velvet wings. You can expect me most any time now.
It is rather late my sweetheart so I'll kiss you good night. I love you.
I still love you.
Dear Boy - Just guess I will call you boy if I want to.
Just look what wished me good morning when I got up this morning. I asked her if she wouldn't like to wish my sweetheart good morning so here she is. I love you.
I'm all excited. I'm a letter out again. I got a letter this morning saying "I have sent you my water lilies," but I don't know anything 'bout where they came from but if they are yours that is sufficient.
I could have told you all about that blanket stunt for ironing, having employed it for some time. You usually need newspapers under it to make it softer and something over it like muslin or linen as blankets burn so easily.
I wish I could write to you when you are overseas but I won't if you don't want me to for I know you would like to have me but I mean don't think it wise. Dorcas has been writing to Harry right along. She got a real letter from him Saturday that she thinks was mailed in England but, of course, she can't tell as there was no post mark or anything on it. You'll have my "Don't opens" anyway and maybe they will be a little comfort. I'll write to you every day anyway even if I don't send them. Dorcas and Alberta Adams Stephanson write every day but only mail their letters every other day as they say only a certain amount of mail is allowed to go out and the boats don't go out every day and their husbands wouldn't get a letter every day anyway so they don't mail them every day.
I kissed you good morning this morning because my morning glory said I should but I wasn't going to tell you about it, however. I changed my mind because I tho't you might like to know you got an extra kiss which was given because my morning glory requested it and I was lonesome and tho't maybe you were too.
I found the "Ode to the Sailor Boy" that we found up at Hemlock Manor. Queer isn't it but when I think of Hemlock Manor I usually think of you. Didn't we have happy times there? Our last time was the best time for that was the first real time when we actually knew we belonged to one another. I can't really seem to think back to the time when we weren't each others, tho. I like to look forward to the long, long time we will be one anothers and we'll come to Hemlock Manor and will go to English Creek and we'll race (walking) up the Sunset Trail again and we'll do lots of happy things and I'll muss your curls, if I want to.
When we do go on our honeymoon let's don't travel. Let's just go camping or something just way away. I think that would be much nicer than visiting or traveling and then too I could have you all to myself and I could scold you or anything without being heard. Oh I'd just love it way away on some lake with you and the moon and the wind and some whip-poor-wills, of course, and we could boat and you could teach me to swim or if it were winter we could ice boat and skate and gun. Oh I know we'd be happy. If you promise me we'll do this perhaps I'll be kind too and reduce the time to 18 years 364 days 23 hours 59 minutes and 60 seconds. I really, really do wish that is what we would do. I think thats what I'll do on mine. Would you go along if I invited you?
I love you Your sweetheart.
I am gradually completing my laundry outfit. Tonight I got 15 clothes pins. It's just occured to me however that I haven't a reguler clothes line to pin the clothes on to. That's the practical housekeeper for you. Still I can get along with doubled-up ordinary twine, as before.
You were wondering if you mailed a letter the first thing in the morning I could get it the same day. Sorry to say, the trains couldn't travel fast enough for that. The letter you mailed the first thing Monday morning came the last mail this (Tuesday) afternoon, and the letter you mailed at noon Monday came at the same time. It would be lovely, sweetheart, to know what you were thinking the same day you were thinking it. But I guess it can't be done just yet. I wonder if that aerial mail wouldn't do it.
I know how lonesome Miss Tolbert's going so far away must make you, and am sorry for you that it is so. Perhaps you have told me, but I don't seem to remember just what it is she went out to Michigan for - summer school at the University at Ann Arbor, was it? I presume she will be back in about two months. And has she accepted the principalship in the Pleasantville High School yet? I surely don't blame you for not being crazy over having Miss Taylor in your home. She is just about as impossible as they are made. Of course if she kept shut up in her room and you didn't have to feed her and she didn't go near the garden, it might not be quite so bad. But I hope Miss Davis will forget about it. I know things won't seem the same at Bricktop without Miss Tolbert, and perhaps sometimes not so perfectly agreeable, but I know you will be patient, and realize that everything couldn't be absolutely perfect.
You asked me how many "Don't Open" notes I had. I report, Miss Lutz, that I have twelve (12) of the aforementioned documents. You don't need to number them, though, dear, for I have done that on each one as it came. You have done well by me, dear, so much better than I by you. I'm afraid the five or six I have sent you will be common place as compared with those you have sent me. I am surely looking forward to them. And think, I have enough for I'm sure one every two days before your letters start arriving across, perhaps a little oftener. The first one will be opened the first night on the steamer, sometime when Capt. June isn't looking. He and I are going to have a state-room together. He has a watchful eye, though, and I suppose it won't be long before I'll hear, "What you got there, Butsie? Is that the little girl I took down to see the trucks?" or something like that. He likes to tell me how he ran off with my girl when I was sick in hospital and couldn't defend myself. I think it was no less than three times, once when I was in the hospital, and a couple of times since, he has started telling about it and explained carefully how he thought I wouldn't care if he took a little time to drive my mother & my girl around the trucks we were going to have, and how he thought you would probably be interested, & so on. He's a great Pop. And especially so when he's telling the same thing over to you the 6th or 7th time. Sometimes I'll listen just as though it were the first time, and sometimes very casually say "Oh, yes, you were speaking about that this morning" & so on. He's a lovable old Devil, and I think a great deal of him. And he is the source of a great deal of amusement, partly from things he starts for the fun of it, and partly from little oddities. A phrase of his "I'll be back in half an hour" is a classic one among us; for the half-hour is very frequently stretched considerably. The first time I remember it is when he went off one afternoon and asked Travers to wait around, and he'd be back in half an hour; he appeared for dinner the next day, and Travers was still waiting.
It's time to say good-night. I have been hoping for the opportunity just to see you for a few hours at least once again, and am still hoping, but opportunity has up to now been elusive. I hope so much that everything will go allright with you. Don't forget I love you every minute. And when I come back to get you, I don't believe I'll ever want to let you out of my sight, for sheer joy.
Good night, dearest girl. I love you.
Miss Davis is out someplace and I've been sewing and knitting and now for a little chat with you.
First. I love you. Second. I never felt less like writing and more like seeing you than tonight. Goodness but I'm lonesome.
I just couldn't write last night. I just felt blue.
I forgot to say "Good morning." I've been ironing and only burned myself three times. I hope you have better luck.
I've been up since 5 o'clock. I believe I even beat you today.
Miss Taylor isn't coming and I think Miss Davis is a little angry.
I am anxiously looking forward to my water lilies.
The extra letter came late yesterday afternoon. They said at the post office the morning mail didn't come in until then.
I love you.
Late this evening I took a little time and had a successful, oh, tremendously successful ironing. One more step toward being an experienced model husband. I think if I get sufficient experience in the housekeeping duties of an approved husband you might knock off a few of those 19 years, make it 17 years, 6 mos. & 19 days, for instance. Even then I'll probably be carrying an ear drum around with me, & be approaching an absent-minded dotage.
I have come to a momentous decision this evening. Namely that I shall keep a personal cash account no longer. That it's a waste of time when it never comes out straight, and that if I can't keep it straight in dollars how I can ever hope to do so in francs. Won't I have a beautiful time managing our first pay-roll in francs if that is what troops are paid in in France? Anybody whose first name is Frank is in luck, because probably I'll see that and accidentally give him another one. At any rate I hope I have impressed you with the momentousness of the cash account decision for it abolishes a custom of nine years' standing; old enough to be a tradition. It's useless at present. I'll let you keep the pantry cash account for our house. Won't you be grateful to me for that? I knew you would. I'll double your gratitude by letting you do it in algebra. I don't know, though. The only algebra problem you ever did for me, since you were my star Senior pupil in the same, had a multiplication result & an addition sign if I remember correctly. However that problem, also if I remember rightly, was a puzzle picture - "find the x's".
A thing happened today I have feared for a long time. I guess I spoke about it last time it came near occurring - Deck Spaulding's fiery temper getting him in trouble with Pop. Pop does sort of get at Deck more than any one else in his fooling, and Deck will only stand just so much fooling before his temper begins to get away with him. He's not good at taking a joke. And when his ire is aroused he doesn't care who the person is, and his indiscretions almost got him into serious trouble a couple of months ago in connection with a medical captain he raised a row with. Pop lied for him and got him out of that. Today Pop & Andy had hid something on him, which he had to have for an inspection; Pop made some remark about getting Deck on the carpet if he didn't have the ammunition. Deck the whole thing seriously and began to take Pop to task for the missing ammunition, allowing as how it was one of his tricks again. There were enlisted men around and Pop didn't want any scene and said he didn't want Deck to say that, how could he think of hiding his ammunition, &c. Deck flew up & 'lowed as how he knew he had & would say so as much as he pleased. Pop threatened to confine him to quarters if he kept up & wouldn't shut up. Deck followed with "I won't shut up" & Pop made his threat good. It's so everlastingly disagreeable to have anything like that take place. Deck has apologized, however, & it's all fixed now. But he will surely get himself into trouble someday, though I sincerely hope not.
Good night to you, sweetheart. A good night kiss, and love forever.
The morning glory you sent just bid me good morning for you. It wouldn't say a word when the letter first came yesterday afternoon. It's my color, too, isn't it? I love you, Lady.
Our water lilies came this afternoon and two of them are actually fresh and I think they will open tomorrow. I think they must be your two, but you may thank your cook for me even if his were slightly dead.
I didn't get a letter all day today but one came in the mail tonight and I was so glad. I think I'll have to look for gray hairs tonight.
I got a lovely letter from your mother today. She wants me to come up and spend my vacation with her. I think I would like to have her down here tho if I thot I could manage things so I wouldn't be disgraced forever. I surely have to remember to dust the fireplace and do a lot more necessary things that I often let slide. I think I shall ask her next time I write. Don't you think she would enjoy it and I could probably give her a happy time when I didn't have anything else to do. Has she ever been down this way?
I've been making a dress all evening. I am getting to be a good machinist (I mean I am learning to sew nicely on the sewing machine).
I am quite busy up at work now but I still manage to find time to use an hour.
I got a short note from Daido just sending me her address in Ann Arbor. She said she had just arrived and was too tired to write.
Good night my Sweetheart. I love you and here are just lots of kisses.
Morning dearest, It is just a lovely morning but goodness I'm sleepy. I didn't go to bed until after eleven. I still love you.
Your ("Me" written in and crossed out) I P.S. Here's an extra kiss as I wanted to add a post script. ("Me" written in and crossed out again) I again. Might as well be grammatical.
Do you know I just rather believe I'd like you not to read my "Don't Open's" in order, that is all except the two I numbered, as they are not supposed to be in sequence and probably they would be too much alike if you read them day by day. I think you just better take them by chance. DO you know I tho't I had sent about three times twelve.
Daido has gone out to Ann Arbor to Summer School and has not accepted the principalship, in fact, she resigned but I think they want her badly and I forwarded a letter from the board of education to her yesterday.
I'm writing some more. I wrote some more "Don't Opens" too. You know when I send several in one letter that doesn't mean they should all be read at once.
You forgot to add good morning to your Tuesday night letter. I missed it. Think of it, that a letter arrived the first thing this morning. Wasn't that lovely? It arrived almost the same day.
We are certainly having nice weather but it is hurting the farmers as they need rain very badly. I wish it would rain as so much depends on our food crops this year.
If you do come down do you know what I'll do, I'll treat you to some of my raspberries. I just believe you'll come now. I'll let you eat just as many as you want to, and I'll be awful good.
I love you my sweetheart, Your Eva.
Dearest, I think the "Don't Opens" you sent today should be #7. I'll look at noon.
Love & Kisses
It has just started in for quite a pour of rain, and it was only fifteen minutes ago I saw the new moon. Quite kaleidoscopic, eh wot? I wish it would keep on raining, except I'd like to have it miss the leaks in the roof, for I haven't heard rain on the roof for a long time.
I got a barrelful of letters today and all from you, sweetheart. Two in the morning and two in the afternoon. That beats the record. One was a delayed one but the rest all were on schedule time.
I am glad for the poem you wrote me about the whip-poor-wills, the other sounds of our last Hemlock Manor night and Love's Old Sweet Song, which was THE song in our hearts, which will always be. The poem will go with my specials. Think how much I have to fill a gap when perhaps I haven't gotten a batch of your letters for a week or so. Here's one person you have given a great deal of happiness. It is so wonderful to know there is someone you love, who loves you, and is thinking about you and doing things for your sake & to make you happy.
Now about that 3 cents, please Eva, I'm broke as a church mouse just now and could you get along without that three cents for about 19 years, or the little shorter time you have given me. Really that time won't be so long, for according to my count, about 18 of those 19 years have gone by already. It seems so.
Eva, my darling, you are to have the kind of honeymoon you want. We shall find a place to go way away, only you're not to scold if I do, and that seems to be one strong reason you want to. However I'll be magnanimous and forgive you. Perhaps I don't blame you. You plan it all out, dear, while I'm gone and I'll find the place to carry out your plan when I get back. It won't take me very long. I can't think of anything which would be happier. Now don't forget, it's up to you to make all the plans, & have 'em ready. I hope when I do start back, you and the folks can know it in time to come and meet me. From that moment on I just won't ever want to let you out of my sight.
Eva, you completely misunderstood me in regard to writing me overseas. I can't understand how you got the idea that I said not to write me. How could you think I would suddenly spring that, after speaking many times of looking forward so much to that first batch of letters I would get, without a word of explanation as to changing? And what in the name of common sense did you think I was giving you an address for, if it weren't to use? And telling you about giving it to all the men to send to their homes, only I'm not letting them send it yet? Now - here it is in black and white - write me, write me, for goodness sake, write me and, I don't believe anything could be gained by holding up a letter till every other day, either. Write me, just as soon as you have word I am overseas, and be sure every envelope reads like this
_____________________________________________________ | Have your | | |name & | | |address here | | |__________ | | | | | Capt. S. B. Butler | | 301st Supply Train | | American Expeditionary Forces | | | |____________________________________________________|
Of course you may write "Sylvester" instead of the
plain "S". Now be very careful not to make a mistake
on that, won't you dear? The only thing I said about not writing
was not to write to the overseas address until you knew I was
overseas. Keep sending to the 301st Supply Train, Camp Devens,
Mass until then. I'm sure I've explained that lots of times.
Please read this very carefully, sweetheart, and be sure you
have it straight. You must have thought me most unreasonable
and kill-joyish. I just came near scolding you for being careless
and not half-reading my letters telling you about the overseas
address, or at least for not reading it over again to see if
you weren't wrong in getting that funny idea into your head about
not writing at all. Now, please, write, write, and write. You
must know how much letters will mean to me over there.
I didn't really scold you above, did I? For I didn't mean to, you being my sweetheart and doing so much to make me happy.
The rain has stopped and I am dead tired and it's time for little chilluns who are only 2nd chilluns to be in bed. I love you, my darling. I'm unmeasurably happy that you love me. Good night, dear heart, and three kisses (not the 3 cent substitutes) - oh, please pardon such frivolity right at the end!
Morning's here and I'm here, and I wish you were. Good morning, anyway, and perhaps the second robin who's to tell you I love you has just about arrived. Oceans of love, my own Lady.
Here I am again. I might almost say yet.
Miss Davis and I went to see the parade and hear Secretary Daniels speak and Shaumen Heinch (spelling) sing but we were too late for them all as they actually happened on time.
I got a letter from your Aunt Lucy and she says she has sent me some flowers.
Look dearest, isn't it about time for forget-me-nots to go to sleep? A few days ago ours looked so fresh I thot it was actually going to blossom again and now it has gradually died and died.
Your picture arrived tonight sweetheart and it is just like you. It is so clear and good. I certainly do like it.
Good night sweetheart and a goodnight kiss. I love you.
Good morning sweetheart and a good morning kiss. Goodness I'm sleepy. The Elks started going over the Boulevard about 2 a.m. and I guess all of them sang all the way so I guess no one along here got much sleep.
I got a lovely letter from Daido. She is settled in a room in the home of one of the Latin professors. She says Ann Arbor is beautiful.
We are having a wonderful down rise this morning. The sun is round and red and entirely separated from the glow which appears to be running along the tops of a chain of mountains high above the sun.
I must get breakfast ready, dearest. I love you.
With all the Don't Opens I received today you are surely way ahead of me. I shall do as you say and pick them out by chance, and pay no attention to the numbers. There is really no sequence to mine either and take them by chance if you want to. Would you like to have me blind-fold myself each time I'm going to draw one out?
Do you have raspberries out in your Bricktop garden? Or is it the raspberry jam you are offering to treat me to? I surely love raspberry jam, and any you made I would love doubly. With the experience you are giving yourself in making things this summer, I know I'm going to have the finest little (big, I mean) housekeeper in the world. I love to think of that time when to go home will mean to go home to you, and we shall plan & live and be supremely happy together. Oh, Eva, my darling girlie!
I am sorry to have missed giving you that one "Good morning", sweetheart. As I remember it now, I accidentally sealed it up and put it in the mail box the night before.
It would surely please me very much to have Mother pay you a visit. It is hard as can be to get her to leave home at all; many's the time we have tried & tried to get her to go somewhere & take a little rest, but she would feel she couldn't leave the responsibilities of the house; but now that she doesn't have so much to look after, I hope she will feel she can get away more.
But I do hope you can go up to see Mother & Lucinthia, too, some of your vacation, at least. It would make me very happy if you did. You would get a chance to go down to Cromwell and see the Us gardens and perhaps send me a little sprig of our forget-me-not. And Mother would be happy to have you; especially for the break it would give her in the lonesomeness she will be bound to feel with all of us away, even Lucinthia, except for occasional weekends. I just happened to think, the daughters in the Butler family now outnumber the sons; Ralph and I would certainly be at a disadvantage now in a quarrel over women's rights or something of that nature.
I just want to speak again about being sure to write me when I'm across. I wrote about it last night, but was afraid it might be just my luck to have the letter go astray, and what would I do without your letters. When I spoke a week or so ago of not writing to my overseas address until you knew I was safely there, you misunderstood me to say not to write me at all over there. I should say I do want you to, and there is nothing unwise in doing so after it is known I am across. It will surely mean a great deal to hear from my precious lady when I'm so far away.
I am sending you a picture of the Review of June 19, which I probably described to you at that time. I never knew there was such a picture until a day or two ago I found them in a store downtown and I thought perhaps you might be interested to see it; for it shows the entire 76th Division, 27,000 strong, lined up on the parade ground; it is a good picture of a part of the camp, really the best picture I know of, I think, to give you some idea of the cantonment. Of course you've seen pictures of lots of others, so I don't suppose there is much of anything new about it, all the cantonments being built on substantially the same plan. The picture was taken before the troops had passed in review; they had here just been formed & gotten into place; the 301st Supply Train is approximately where I have indicated with an (X) over on the extreme left. After the troops were formed each separate organization marched by the reviewing stand (indicated by an R, about right center of picture).
The buildings shown are of course only a part, really a small part, of the cantonment. The ones shown are those occupied by the 301st & 302nd Infantry Regiments, and a few of the 301st Engineer & Depot Brigade buildings are up on the left. The Supply Train buildings do not show. They are off beyond the left of the picture. I have painted an arrow down toward a flag (right of picture), which marks the headquarters of the 76th Division and of the cantonment. That is where I drive up every day to Adjutants' Meeting in the office of the Division Adjutant.
Possibly some times you wonder or I haven't clearly defined to you what I mean by being Adjutant of the 301st Supply Train. Each regiment or separate organization, (such as a Supply Train) has its Commanding Officer over the whole regiment or organization; in the case of a regiment, the Commanding Officer is a Colonel, in the case of a Supply Train he is supposed to be a Major which Captain June will be very shortly if everything comes around right. Similarly each regiment or separate organization has its Adjutant, who is usually a Captain; I suppose he might be called a sort of secretary to the Commanding Officer, although I don't believe that describes it very well. For one thing, the Adjutant is in charge of the administrative work of Headquarters, sees to the issuing of all orders, and in general superintends the clerical work of his organization Headquarters; in the Supply Train he is commander of that small Headquarters Co. which supplies the office clerks &c., & which you learned by heart one day. The Adjutant is the go-between between the Commanding Officer and his superiors & his subordinates. On parade if there are orders to be given to any of the companies, it is the Adjutant who gives them, at the direction of the Commanding Officer, and in action he would perform a similar function. In our case here it could be called also assistant to the Commanding Officer - Capt. June. I don't know how clear that is; perhaps it doesn't sound like a day's work, but I can truthfully say it is.
I remember when I was the sales manager's assistant in that New Britain cutlery factory, people would ask me just what I did, and I found it awfully hard to explain, till sometimes I thought I was just a fake & didn't fill any real place. I would hate to be doing anything where I didn't feel I was filling a real need, nor was of recognized service to my organization, or whatever it was.
I guess it's pretty near time to say good night, can almost say good morning. I love you, dear sweetheart. A good night kiss.
Morning, Lady of Mine, this is Saturday, and there ain't no school so hasn't we better go on a picnic? My, but don't I wish I could! We could take along some raspberry jam sandwiches and jordan almonds and we could go anywhere you said. My imagination can carry me to lots of nice places, but I won't be able to tell about them now, for the day's work bids me hurry.
Good-bye. Lots of love, and a kiss to start the day right.
We had a colored woman come and do some cleaning for us today and really she is a jewel. She fixed everything exactly as one would like to have it fixed if he only had the time and her charges were reasonable. You can't imagine how much of the burden of housework she took away.
I didn't get a letter from Daido today but I got one yesterday and she is taking Spanish as a main subject and several others.
She says Ann Arbor is wonderful.
I will write more in the morning sweetheart. I love you and a goodnight kiss.
I forgot to get up. I love you.
Goodness, dearest, I always knew I was to write you when you
were overseas. I don't know what I could have said that made
you think otherwise. I might have meant something about not writing
you until I got your safe arrival. Didn't I say I knew you would
like to have a letter waiting for you when you arrived but as
you said I shouldn't write until I heard you arrived I wouldn't?
That is what I meant to say.
I have been quite busy all day today. I have been ironing and sewing all afternoon, except when I went up at 2:30 to get a letter from you, and I did, too. I just sorta looked up at the station, too, pretendin' you just might have been coming and on that train. You weren't on it tho.
Now about that 3 cent matter. I have already wasted 6 or 9 cents in stamps trying to collect but as it seems that is impossible I will let the matter drop for about 19 years but then I shall demand interest both on it and the value of time and money spent in the effort to collect it.
I got a box of flowers from our garden this morning. They weren't very fresh but they are ours. "Ours" goodness that means a lot. I am going to write to your Aunt Lucy in the morning and thank her for them. It was lovely of her, I think.
I tho't we were going to have a nice rain come to us today but we didn't. Everything is so dead looking everywhere. It makes me worry because I wanted us to have a wonderful harvest this year. The farmers say tho the lack of excessive heat makes it better than might be expected but a good many of them are worried too.
I love you and I want to make you happy. I'm going to take a hundred kisses now, as part payment on the interest on the 3 cents.
I love you.
This is the first time, I think, that I ever wrote you in pencil. I am doing it so I can make a carbon copy, as I am going to send two separate letters just alike, in case one should be lost. As you will see, I'm anxious that you should get it.
I don't really know how to say it, darling, but I am going before half this next week is out. I can't tell a thing more, though of course I know just when we're to arrive at the ship and what port we're to sail from. It was I who got the order from camp headquarters, hot off the wires from the Port of Embarkation, and I have it tucked away in my portfolio, the only copy of the telegram in the 301st Supply Train. It has seemed as though I must tell you this little bit, and not leave you in such absolute uncertainty, when my letters inevitably stopped coming for a little while. So long as I write no details, actual time, place, &c, it is a question whether I am violating any orders, but you will notice I am sending these letters from Nashua, N.H. & not Camp Devens. That is to forestall any possible opening of the letter at the camp post office & holding it up. This little information isn't a bit more than the officers' families who live near here know, I'm positive. For instance, Greene & Travers have had their wives up in Harvard, all the time they've been here & of course giving up their house & sending their wives home means nothing else but moving. So this is perfectly proper for me to write you, I believe, though I am taking the precaution of mailing it in Nashua. A few of us have been invited to go up there just for dinner tomorrow, with Spaulding, at his home there. It's not very far away, & of course now we could not be away from camp for more than a very few hours.
This week-end I had had hopes, high hopes, of getting off to see you just a little while. But this has dished it all. So I have nothing but to make the best of it, though my heart just aches to see my precious lady. I know, too, that you have been expecting me soon, and it makes me feel badly to disappoint you. And when I got among my letters yesterday or day before a little note how you would rather see me than anything in the world, perhaps I didn't have one big heart-pull, 'cause I had rather see you and be with you than anything in the world, my sweetheart, and I had just learned a day before that I had got to wait quite a while. But cheer up, I must say to both of us, it won't be long; they are just waiting for the 301st Supply Train & the 76th Division in general to be the last straw to break the German line. Today's newspapers show the beginning of it, wouldn't you think; probably old Hindenburg suffered his last stroke because he learned Capt. S. B. Butler was getting ready to start. He may not like school teachers or a person who is proficient in the gentle art of ugle-ugling.
Of course I am plentifully busy in the final preparations of the Train for its Big Move. I hope the Train is going to acquit itself well over there, and be a credit to Capt. June & the rest of us who are working with him. And my own part in the Big Muss-up, I hope my Lady can take pride in it. Perhaps it will be never recorded as more than "Service honest & faithful". It won't be less than that. To have a hand and lend a real help in the great battle for right which is being fought over there, has been the goal of a great desire since my country got in on the right side, and now it is to be realized. It is a great deal later than I first expected I would go, but I believe that the way everything has gone has really let me be of greater service, surely given me greater opportunity. To be a company commander & have a company all to myself is something I never expected to have, as I said all fall & winter of course; & if I had not been sent to the Supply Train I never would have, for a long time at least. And now, by our being here a long time, & long enough for Major Schoonmaker to go, I have had the even larger opportunity of being the right hand man of the commanding officer, and assisting in planning for running a whole organization with him. I feel that I have been very fortunate. I stand rather in awe of unknown responsibilities & new problems which will present themselves no doubt, in France, or wherever we go. They will be a much stricter test of manhood and ability than anything I have yet coped with, I know.
I am glad you liked the picture. I just had two made, one for you & one for Mother, at the time last month when I had my picture taken for the War Department. I was just conceited enough to want you to have one with the Captain's bars on. It was the surprise I mentioned a while ago was coming, and your telling me of its arrival was the first I knew the photographer had finally got it off. When I ordered it I had it sent direct to you & to Mother in case I shouldn't be here.
I am writing Mother a little note too, tonight with the same little bit of information. She has been expecting me to go for a month back, and every letter would wonder whether I were still here or not, but it wasn't from anything I ever said. It would be best, dear, not to mention in any letter to me that you had received this one. I haven't any idea your letters would ever be opened, but it's just an extra precaution. It might be suspected that I had given out unauthorized information when I haven't. I don't believe there has any one been much more careful than I. Remember keep on writing me, at Devens until you hear of my arrival on the other side & then begin to use my overseas address.
I am glad to go; there are many thrills in the prospect. It seems hardly possible to believe we are really going. An ocean voyage & Europe are new experiences, though this is no specially conducted tour, I guess. Because I am glad to go doesn't mean I shan't miss you, dearest; (Well, I should say not !) It means I am glad, as I ought to be, to get doing my bit. The supremely glad day is coming when we shall all come back, and I to you. And you shall be waiting for me, with your dear sunshine for my happiness. And I shan't know what to do, I shall be so transcendently happy when my beautiful Eva shall be mine "for keeps" forever. Then it will be like the ending of the fairy tales.
Good night, my angel Lady, I love you and am yours forever and ever.
A morning kiss for my sweetheart and an ocean of love. It's another bustling Sunday, for obvious reasons.
It just seems as if you were here with me. I suppose it's because I just had some watermelon. I'm saving a piece for you.
Miss Davis is going to spend the night in Ocean City so I went around and got Dorcas. We went over to Atlantic for a few minutes and bought her a hat and we also bought some lovely cherries and one-half a water melon. We just had a feast in front of the fireplace. I ate some for you.
Dorcas and I had the giggles and the talks until we decided it would never do to go to bed at all but now she is cleaning her white slippers and in a minute it will be my turn.
I love you and love you and love you my sweetheart.
Good morning dearest,
Well we talked and giggled until after two and then I don't know how it happened we fell asleep. Dorcas has to work today and I have just gotten her off and now for the dishes. If I go to the dishes with tho'ts of you tho I won't mind them so much.
I wish you were here now. We certainly could have a lovely day together. Miss Davis won't be back until tonight. I do wish you were here as there are so many dishes to be done..
I love you.
I have been busy in my room most all evening and it is somewhat different looking place from when I started.
Capt. June, Capt. Stewart (our doctor), and myself drove up with Spaulding to Nashua to day and had dinner at his home. Nashua is a very attractive appearing town, full of elegant shade trees and well kept old-fashioned homes. The Spauldings live in one of them, buillt about the same time as my home in Cromwell. The house is very tastefully furnished and appointed. A number of their furnishings have special value because they are somewhat ancient, & been in the family some time. Mr. Spaulding had a book collection which hit my eye, just a small case of at the outside 150 volumes, all with fancy bindings. He got the whole group, he told me, for $5.00 at an auction of the effects of an old recluse farmer near here, when they were no doubt worth pretty much near that much apiece when he got them. A book collection, including favorite sets in fancy bindings, first editions, and so on, has always seemed to me an attractive hobby. They have three or four beautiful tall elms in their yard. Also a collie dog named Klinker IV, who is a lovable pup.
It was a pretty drive up to Nashua and returning - woods, green hills, pretty old homes, also brown-eyed daisies, asters, and wild roses.
The golden rod is starting to bloom on the hill back of our quarters. I am extremely fond of golden rod, and particularly all yellow flowers. I guess it is for my mother. She likes bright things. Anything somber is disagreeable to her - especially in music. She can't bear "Home Sweet Home," "My Old Kentucky Home'" & some other songs similar, because of the rather melancholy strain in those songs, and I never play them when she is at home.
I had my first conversation with a General yesterday. Brigadier General McNair, who was around at the Supply Train to find out what it was doing in way of arrangements for the work now going on - just wanted to see if we knew what we were about, I guess. He didn't ask for anything I couldn't tell him, so guess he went away satisfied.
The greatest epidemic of haircuts clipped all over the head got started in the Train this last week before we realized it. I consulted Capt. June Friday night as to the advisability of calling a halt on it, with the result that I got the 1st sergeants together right away & ordered no more haircuts shorter than one inch in the Supply Train. It's too late for about half the men, unfortunately, and we have a fine looking bunch of convicts around loose. I suppose some of the rest will think it an infringement on personal liberty, but they'll find plenty of things just as personal as that regulated for them in the army.
The little half-moon shone brightly tonight, perhaps more with a far away soft look. It whispered of you, my own sweetheart, of days of comradeship passed, and thousands of days to come.
I'm afraid I haven't written very intelligently, as I have been quite sleepy.
I love you, dearest girl. I wonder if you couldn't fly to me this minute and kiss me good night. Good night Sweetheart.
Good morning , lady. I'm the first one up this morning, and have been up & down the hall with the whistle waking everyone else. Until I got my bump in Bridgeport I used to be a reliable alarm clock, but recently my habits haven't been quite so good in that regard. However it's more because I'm the Adjutant and don't have to be with a company at Reveille than any thing.
A kiss for the girl I love. Goodbye for this morning.
I mailed two letters in Nashua for you yesterday which I hope won't fail to reach you.
This is just a little love letter. I love you.
I finally got the dishes done today and straightened out the house beautifully this morning and then washed my hair. Dorcas wanted me to come over to the casino with her and Mrs. Lang wanted me to go fishing with them but I made excuses and pretended to myself you were coming.
I sewed some more on my dress and then put it on and curled my hair and then entertained you for a while and I waited and watched so many trains at last I fell asleep and did not wake up until five o'clock. I'm glad I did as I needed the rest.
When I woke up I wrote to your Aunt Lucy and started a letter to your mother and then feeling like a breath of air went up and mailed my letters to you and her (your Aunt Lucy).
Dorcas was around for a few minutes tonight and then we packed up and migrated to her home. We had a dandy time and Mr. Davison treated us to ice cream and cake. I have just come back.
The moon is out sweetheart. Our moon and we have just had a tiny rain. I'm glad for the little one at that but I wish it would rain hard tonight.
Goodness I wish I had you here to tease tonight. I've tho't of lots of terrible tease tortures. My brain certainly is lively in that direction.
You must have missed your train as the next train down after the Federal Express has just come in. I just don't believe you got up in time to catch it.
You tell me to go ahead and plan our honeymoon. Dost that mean thou art to plan our wedding? Think carefully, Sir, before you speak. Stop, and count one hundred at least. You needn't bother about it, tho, as I think I just about have plans for both worked out. Aren't you glad I going to save you all that trouble and worry? You just better let me have my own way too or maybe I won't take you on my honeymoon, no matter how hard you coaxed. I'd just be determined and put my foot down.
There are lots of morning glories out in our yard now and our garden (not yours & mine) is quite grown up in weeds because we haven't a hoe and wouldn't get one at Ennis' and hate to carry one home from Atlantic. I keep our garden tended to but it doesn't seem to be in a very good place as the soil is so hard and sandy there, however, I think the garden is doing nicely.
I'll kiss you good night my sweetheart. Sometimes I kiss your new picture as it seems so much you and the eyes just follow me around and around.
I love you best in the world.
Good morning, dearest. I love you.
I little lull in a full afternoon, while I'm waiting for some reports the sergeant-major is getting out, & which I want to take personally to Camp Headquarters. I'd make a lull today anyway.
We no longer have Capt. June, on the contrary, Major June, and I am mightily well pleased. I don't know anything that's looked so good to me in a long while as the gold leaf on Pop's shoulder. Now the danger is past of ever putting in a new Major over him. He ought to be our Commander, he made the organization from its beginning, and surely is entitled to keep it.
Today is the first hot day this summer. I feel very fortunate to have escaped it. I hope you are not going to have it awfully hot there the rest of the summer, for I know you don't like it any better than I.
I'm glad the flowers from our gardens finally reached you. "Ours" does mean a lot sweetheart, it means the hope of happiness for always. I hope you can visit the gardens and let them speak to you once more my love for you and the beauty of our comradeship.
Good-bye for now. A heart-full of love and a kiss that would speak it.
Sylvester, your sweetheart.
[note - This is his last letter from this side of the Atlantic. He was on board ship the next evening headed for "over there"]
This is being written right after my last letter. We go off to-night. This letter will reach you when my ship has safely arrived overseas. I understand they are making quick sailings, so probably it won't be long.
My room is all empty except a few things for my hand baggage. Trunk locker and bedding roll went off this morning. It's been a busy day winding up.
I hope my Don't Open letters haven't been a disappointment. I sort of felt they weren't very wonderful, but I tried to think up little messages to send you as I could. The last one I wrote this morning, the little poem to you my sweetheart, I hope you will like.
The time is narrowing. Camp Devens will seem like home no more. 10 1/2 months in it is enough to make it seem so.
I hope it won't be long before you will get my next letter. I think of you always.
This is an unexpected opportunity to drop off mail. I have had quite a little taste of ocean now (only figuratively, I assure you). I am occupying a stateroom with Major June, Capt. Moody, and an unknown doctor who snores with an uproarious gurgle.
I have a serial letter which I am adding to everyday and will mail at the end of the voyage.
This is writing letters under difficulties, so many details there are it is forbidden to narrate, and being personally known to the ship censor, much personal matter would not be in order. I'll say at least that the proper time having come, I have started to disobey certain "Don't open" signals with pleasurable results. I haven't been seasick at all, and very few of the men on board seem to have been so. Only the first day I started to be wobbly and thought I was in for it, but I got my sea-legs before long.
We pick up but little news of the outside world, and it seems strange not to have the daily paper. Every once in a while when I see a man with his life-belt I almost go up inadvertently to ask him for a paper. They easily take the form of newspaper bags.
I'm afraid the mail will be going off pretty soon.
Lots of love,
Start writing me right away as:
301st Supply Train
American Expeditionary Forces
I can't believe my first evening's letter on board ship will be very long, for we were up practically all night last night and I've made up no sleep during the day. So I'm almost ready to turn in. We haven't been away from Camp Devens quite 24 hours but we are well out to sea. We left camp near midnight last night and our ship moved from an American port at exactly 9:24 this morning. It looks as though we were going to have another long trip, for it is not a very fast boat.
It seems almost natural to be on the ship by now I suppose because it's been the aim of all our ilk for a year past. I know the sensation of looking every direction and seeing nothing but water. It was beautiful tonight at sunset, for the setting sun looked like a sparkling ruby stone in the watery horizon ring.
I read two of your Don't Open notes which were clipped together tonight- the first ones I've read. Picked out at random it proved to be #5. (Just here my pen refused to do any more ink and I had no facilities to get more ink at the time). It is now next evening. The first note I read was a honeysuckle story and the second an invitation to learn to dance on skates. The ocean doesn't look as though it were frozen quite enough to hold us if we did that. Well, you say, I'm supposed to come to you, not you to me. The honeysuckle with the honeysuckle story you wouldn't ever know had been so long put away.
The letters were very beautiful and happy, dear; it is a splendid start.
The routine of life on shipboard has been pretty well organized by tonight, and things are getting along without the confusion naturally existing at first. There are hours to be set for doing various things, certain duties to be prepared each day by all and certain indesirable jobs like kitchen police and deck scrubbing to hand out to delinquent. When so many many men are together in a small space it is most essential that no efforts at cleanliness be spared. I have established headquarters of the 301st Supply Train in the smoking room; wrote you there last evening but tonight am writing in my bunk.
Pop and Moody and I are in a stateroom together way up in the bow. We have double decker bunks which are quite comfortable. The space for turning around in the room is most enough for 1/2 of a man, provided he didn't have to bend over. we have a medico Captain in with us who snores with an eloquent gurgle and his concert with the old foghorn made sleep most out of the question last night.
All non commissioned officers above grade of Sergeant are on the deck below us in 2nd class. Their state rooms are very much like ours, and they eat in the saloon, as soon as we are thru. The bulk of the men are down in 3d class in hammocks which are hung in pretty close proximity to one another. They have wooden tables along the walls right underneath some of their hammocks which are lashed to the wall right after reveille. There didn't seem to be enough food the first day and breakfast today, but that seems to have worked itself out now.
It was misty when we got up today, and has been so all day; and tonight we had quite a storm. The life boats were assigned today and tonight I took the men who are to be in mine up to the hurricane deck and with Leviseur's help assigned positions and duties on same. Of course it's essential that every man know just what he's to do in case it becomes necessary to take to the boats. Major June will have command of that particular life-boat.
This will be all tonight, I think, sweetheart. I suppose by now you have known I am on my way, for of course a cessation in letters would mean nothing else to you. I wonder just what you are doing now and thinking. I love you. Good-night.
Today certain circumstances brought it about that I was able
to drop you a little line off the boat. I hope it succeeds in
reaching you, perhaps even before the safe arrival card I left
in the mail bag at the gangplank at the port from which we embarked.
We have had drills in formations on deck in case of alarm, today, and also life-boat drills, though I didn't get out into ours.
The Co. A men of the 301st Supply Train gave a minstrel show (without color) down in the saloon tonight, for the officers and non-coms above the grade of sergeant. Tomorrow night they are to give it to the enlisted men in the fore part of the ship, and the next night to those in the aft troop decks. (Notice how nautical I am getting). The men are natural entertainers of the vaudeville type and their show is similar to one they gave in Worcester last winter. All those things help to make the voyage pleasanter and keep up spirits. The officers and non-coms of the higher grades shouldn't need anything to keep up their spirits, but of course the bulk of the men are living rather crowdedly down on those dark troop decks and in their hammocks- and who ever got a real sleep in a hammock?
Tomorrow night I open another letter. No, I'm going to do it tonight. So! . . . . It's a list of things to be waiting for me when I come back. I can't wire just now about the fruit salad, because the wireless must only be used in case of necessity, and then I think perhaps with everything else which will be waiting, and if I have everything else promised I ought to take fruit salad and not allow as how I wouldn't care for any. Goodnight, dear, Lots of love, Sylvester
This has been the clearest day out and the sunset and moonlight
have been beautiful. The men have been singing out on the fore
deck and a number of mandolins and guitars have been going. Most
anything sounds good under these conditions. I am anxious to
see the men cheerful for the crowded conditions under which they
live can't but be trying.
Moody and the doctor are talking underneath and it is distracting.
I seem to have developed a voracious appetite again, which the rather limited diet on shipboard doesn't entirely satisfy. I would like some of your raspberry jam, or could you send me a delicious huckleberry pie with a bowl of rich cream. That seems to be just what I want just now.
Goodnight dear. I love you
This has been a fine clear day, ending up with just a little fog to-night. It bids fair to be a pleasant voyage all the way and naturally I hope so. Of course it would be something to tell about if there were a heavy storm and heavy sea, but I don't fancy seeing a ship crowded with wretchedly seasick chaps down on those troop decks.
This afternoon we passed a school of porpoises. It is interesting to watch them jump clear out of the water in successive springs as they swim along.
Our time has been changed three times today, at 7:00 in the morning it was pushed ahead to eight and at 1:30 pushed back to 12:10 then later pushed ahead a half-hour again. So it's been hard to know just where you're at. The first push ahead was a bit previous which explained the turning back again later
It seems a long time ahead to the time I'll have a letter from you, but I have your delightful Don't Open letters, which seem like a welcome oasis in a desert.
Goodnight, I love you Sweetheart,
This is the most peculiar Sunday I ever spent. There has been absolutely nothing to mark it as any different from any other day. We creep steadily thru the limitless sea, and do everything as on ordinary days. To-night I ventured to sit at the ship piano awhile, first above, then with Bob Travers and his mandolin. But every time I sit down to play I sort of mentally vow I'll not do it again until I get back to my music, as my repertoire of pieces I can play from memory is narrowing down with lack of practice. Later I played cards a little while with the Major and Lt. Leviseur.
Would you expect to see swallows way out here at sea? I am sure they are swallows, just a few of them, who fly along near the ship and dip down close to the water. I don't know what they can ever feed on.
Greene and Spalding and some of the rest have a Ku Klux Klan. The chief aim and ambition of which is the discomfiture of Moody, the stunt being to go "Kluk Kluk" every time he starts to say anything - particularly one of the many times he opens his mouth and puts his foot in it. It hasn't been carried out to that extent as yet and Moody "the object of our affections" as he is designated in the ritual of the order is blissfully ignorant of its existence. However, I understand I am to be bestowed with the Grand Order of the Raspberry for asking Moody today if he saved all three at once when remarked he had been the means of saving three lives from drowning during his life-time. Moody is in this same stateroom. I hope doesn't find this. I guess he won't for its tucked away in a pretty secure place.
I often look to the west out on deck and wonder just which direction should looking to face exactly toward you. I wonder if you are thinking of this minute. I feel your presence ever near. Good-night my Sunshine Lady.
I am writing this evening down in the main saloon - saloon being nautical for dining room. I presume you know - there is nothing stronger on board than ginger ale, though the snoring medico says he has a couple of quarts of port in his medicine case down in the hold. How that old boy does snore! He's getting worse all the time, and he has the most objectionable snore imaginable, with that gurgle on the end. I wake up frequently during the night to hear Pop cursing him, silently and otherwise. It's funny, when you do holler at him he stops for awhile, but the music starts again soon right where he left off. And he has the face to say he's never snored before! I'll believe nothing else but that it's life-long habit. He sleeps most of the day as well as the night; sleeps about 22 hours a day, I should say. And our days are not 24 hours long. On account of traveling east, the clocks are turned ahead 25 minutes every day. It was all mixed up at first, but that's the earnest dope.
The Ku Klux Klan has more counts against the "object of its affections". He makes an ass of himself in some new way every day. Today he was to talk to the men of the 301st Supply Train, by request of the Major, on the way they should conduct themselves among The English and French people, and he made some perfectly asinine statement about their going among a people in not as high state of civilization as they were! Wow! I had previously seen his talk as he had it written out, and it looked all right. Bet he must have embellished later. The other day at table he remarked something about it's not being homelike without toothpicks. He's a prize, that fellow! You remember the old peanut story. I know you do because you included it in the anthology you got up for me last Christmas.
The sea is really blue out here, a bright beautiful blue. And as the ship goes thru and churns it up it makes it a delicate light blue for an instant.
There is an iceberg near us tonight, it was sighted off toward the north late this afternoon. It has become very foggy, as a result of the iceberg, I suppose. And it is as cold as November outside.
Fred Leviseur stopped me in the middle of the letter to play a few hands of bridge with Capt. Stuart, our medico and an artillery lieutenant. the Doctor and I were partners and were several hundred behind up to the last hand and then made a beautiful clean-up which brought us about 60 ahead.
There is a rumor of a submarine in the near vicinity. The old snoring medico is scared to death of submarines and doesn't take a stitch of clothes off all night. That means he doesn't have to get up till the breakfast bell, for all he has to do is jump up and put his hat on. He's bald so doesn't have to brush his hair. I suppose he washes his face, but I never happened to see him in the act. He's a good hearted old duffer, for all I may say about him.
Now I'm going to see what my lady has for me to-night. Shall I tell? No disappointment, anyway. I am going to come back for her, just as it was bound to be I would get well for you a few months ago.
Goodnight, my own girlie. I love you.
The fog all cleared away before morning, and the day has been delightfully clear. Toward afternoon it became milder and milder, too. And there is hardly a riffle on the ocean, comparatively speaking. I'd say the waves aren't any higher than those in the Connecticut river, today They haven't been really high at all during the voyage, the highest being about up to a Hemlock Manor hill, I should say (Now I expect you have a picture something like this: drawing of zigzag with tiny ship clinging to sheer face. Arrow pointing to "ship riding the waves")
The voyage is getting monotonous I think to everyone. A sight of dry land will be most welcome to anyone. The sameness of it is most striking. Reveille at 6:00 each morning, breakfast at 6:30. Following breakfast, for the men, there are setting-up exercises for some, guard-mount for the artillery battery which is furnishing the ship's guard, and a large number are detailed on the morning cleaning-up. At 10:30 all are formed up on deck while the general and his staff make their daily inspection of the troop's quarters. This time is utilized by company officers in giving talks to the men on various matters, conduct on the ship in case of alarm, conduct among the French and English people, censorship regulations, and so on. I personally stay down below during that time as Major June's representative when the general comes to inspect the troop's quarter's of the 301st Supply Train. Before that time in the morning I am usually up in our headquarters in the smoking room, and up to today have been compiling data as to what must be done preparatory to and after disembarking; that's finished now, and I'll now be starting to do some of the things laid out. There's not really enough to make a full day, by any means, at present as this morning I spent quite a little time up on the hurricane deck, getting the fresh air and studying a little French. Noon mess is at 12:00, and at 1:00 we have a Supply Train officer's meeting. Our men have nothing on the program for the afternoon except sit on deck and move with the boat. I work more or less leisurely in our headquarters, and at 3:30 hold a meeting of our 1st Sergeants. After that I am very likely to take a little nap until about 15 minutes before supper which is usually about a quarter after five. At 7:00 all troops are formed up on deck again for retreat and inspection of rifles. Taps is at 9:00.
Beginning today there have to be two officers of our organization on the fore deck during all meals and all night. Moody and I have been up there during meals today and are to take the first half of tonight form 9:00 to 1:30 I'm glad we have a fine mild night with a full moon.
With time now ahead about two hours, I suppose means you aren't much more than just thru supper about now (quarter to nine). I am thinking of you all the while, sweetheart.
Now I'm going up to pace the deck with Moody for a few hours.
After my several hour watch last evening I hoped to write you just another little line, but unfortunately had to go to bed in the dark. It was an ideal evening to be out, and it was one to make a person very reminiscent. I think I have never lived over so much of the past as I have on this trip - and all of it, the part of my past which was with you. Your letters have helped it along, too, I think. One of the first things I'm going to ask you to do when we are together again is to finish the 4 line poem you started in the letter I opened last evening - the letter was addressed to a History-Algebra teacher.
The doctor and I got quite badly beaten at bridge to-night by the same pair we beat the other night. We held very unlucky hands - really and truly.
I slept real late this morning to make up for that 1:30 last night, and only got up about in time to be down in the troop's quarters for the general's 10:30 inspection.
The men have been having several boxing matches during afternoons by way of amusement and by way of novelty today the antagonists were blindfolded and had a glove on one hand and a tin cup in the other. They were having a merry time of it.
You are my first thought in the day and last at night, darling, and I believe are always with me. I love you.
Today we have had a little excitement by way of a change. About dinnertime some thought they saw a submarine, others know it was a whale, and those that believed so then seem to be still believing it. However several of us are skeptics. At any rate submarine or whale or no submarine or no whale, a lone ship appeared on the southern horizon going west, and created considerable speculation, and as far as I know, no one is any more enlightened about it yet. Rumors spread faster on this ship than anywhere else in the whole rumor-steeped army, I believe. Every day there's a wild tale of a dozen submarines lurking wait for us, or a transport sun off the Irish coast, or something else. All of which die down with lack of corroboration.
The doctor and I started out for revenge tonight on Fred Leviseur and his partner and own out at the finish by 1084 to 216. Of course, tonight as we won, it was skill, last night, hard luck. You know how that is.
I am opening a letter every night, though perhaps in a week or so I'll have to make it a little less to be sure they last.
I got talking with a lieutenant from Illinois to-night who know some cousins of mine in Urbana, Illinois, - a family of one of my mother's brothers. He told me a lot of my little Cousin Ruth whom I last saw when she was 5 years old, and is now only about 16 but quite a young lady, he tells me, very grown up.
I have studied two lessons out of my "French for Soldiers" today. It may be a little help for the beginning, though of course the really quick way to get it will be right where it is spoken all the time.
It looks as though we would have a good voyage all the way, which is surely very fortunate.
Good-night, dear, and lots of love.
I think I saw your smile of sunshine in the delicate golden sunset bar which I have just seen. It was in your direction. Are you sure it was not you smiling then?
Today has been cloudy and damp all day, but the sea has not been overly rough. However the boat has been pitching a bit more than usual. We are getting into the zone now where things could begin to happen. Several still allege that was a submarine yesterday. Tonight I get up at 1:30 to look after things with Moody the rest of the night, so that I'm going to bed real early.
My best to my girlie.
I got up at 1:30 this morning according to schedule but that doesn't mean I have been on the go ever since. I more than made up for the lost sleep during the day. It wasn't really so very tedious standing that 1:30-6:00 watch. It's an interesting time of day, to watch it from the first glimmer of light in the East to the full blown morning, and there was a little excitement.
This evening I watched a sunset over the rail which was just the color of our first sunset on the Hemlock Manor road. There were some long gray clouds, too, set in there, which I couldn't quite make into a swordfish, but there were two almost-alligators there. More than that, dear the reflection of your dancing happy eyes from that far away time, and distant voice repeating something said at the same place at a later time, which just some how rings in my ears.
I had a birthday one of the days on the ship. I opened a little note Mother had sent me to be opened on that date, and also a letter from Aunt Lucy. Mother's enclosed a little group picture taken ten years ago, and when I was 16 I was an awful little chap, with the emphasis on the little. What do you suppose I opened from you for a birthday message: Perhaps think I'm going to say something really nice. But I don't know whether to or not, since it was a serial of dire threats about making me a permanent dishwasher and making me eat all sorts of things I wouldn't want to, and so on. I don't know just what I've done but I'm half scared to death anyway. I'll have to think up a revenge, making the noise down in my palate that pleases the babies or something.
To-night I opened the first Don't Open note of all, part of which was called "Book Worm" [?] with the pretty little verse to the bluet. Goodness I wish I could half tell you how much I appreciate these notes.
Another good-night. I am always yours.
This voyage is getting just about long enough. Land will be the most welcome sight in the world. I don't know as I can exactly say though for I know a certain person who would be the most welcome sight in the world to me, but I'm speaking from the point of view of everyone on the ship under our present circumstances. It is storming to-night and also blowing like everything, and I suppose we are not more than 200 miles from the coast, and I think if anything happens to us it's going to be to-night. The chances are really 100 to 1 in our favor, I imagine, though. Even though we could get hit, it would take some time for the ship to go down, and everyone might be able to get off.
There has nothing unusual happened to-day that I can think of. It is rather hard writing about what one is doing when one has to think whether it is information which can properly be given. I hope you won't think I have been writing too personally, if the letter does get read by a censor he won't be anyone I know, and I sort o' feel that he's just a cog in a wheel, a piece of mechanism. So you don't care if I tell you how I love you once in a while, do you, sweetheart? I do love you a whole ocean full.
Do you think you'll have everything ready to furnish our home when I come back to you? Perhaps if you can't make the comfort rocker, you can make a cover just to rest on it where put your head - embroidered with apple-blossoms? I might think of lots of nice easy things like that from time to time. I know right well you have already thought of several nice things - that 'sprise you frequently spoke of, for one. Some day everything which is yours and everything which is mine will be ours. that's in the happy ever after. I love to think of it.
Once more again the same evening. When I stopped, I opened my daily mail (isn't the postman good to come way out here every day?) I have been reading about your little jot book, and so have one more happy thing to think about.
we got thru last night, not without incident, but without accident, and the only incident was a lot of men piling upon deck at what they thought was an alarm signal. This morning added protection came which makes me feel more secure, even though to-night we are going thru probably an even more dangerous area. The report is that we reach port late to-morrow evening or the following morning.
Land birds have been in evidence for two days. To-night a great flock of gulls hovered near our shop. They seem to almost rest on the water at times.
I have been playing bridge again to-night, but have been anything but brilliant. I guess the Doc got disgusted with his partner before we finished.
To-day I have been working harder than usual, seeing to getting reports ready to be submitted on landing, seeing to preparation of payrolls on which I am going to try to get payment for our troops right after landing.
That little letter of yours I opened last night has given me a heart-song for many an idle moment to-day. I hope our secret will always make you as happy as on the first time it became known to each other.. It will bear me, as it has , over many a lonely moment.
I have been reading your funny little Please-Thanks letter to-night, just now - you know, the one with the sticker illustrations. I send you right this minute what is called for under the please sticker, and am taking what was under the thanks sticker.
I have just come off a late watch (to 1:30); there's no light in my room, so I have come down and am sitting on the stairs to kitchen to write you. The night has been beautiful. It is very calm. The sunset was a rich red, the stars shine brightly, and the moon at its last quarter is also very luminous. When it first rose it looked just like a little danger lantern of dull red and we didn't realize it was the moon. There have been all sorts of squawking birds near the ship. Moody calls them cat birds, but I think he must be off. And there have also been some little birds just the shape of ducks but no bigger than sandpipers. I forgot to speak of another thing in color while I was on that - the halfmoon on the spray made as the boat goes thru the water - it makes the richest phosphorescent blue imaginable, perfectly delightful. I know you would love it.
Today has been full of adventure, and hence of interest. That's all I can say about it at present. I'm positive that we shall land to-morrow.
Must say good-night and lots of love to my sweetheart.
We docked to-day, and my baggage is off, but the troops are on shipboard for another night. We leave in the middle of the morning. I am writing the rest of to-night's letter separately. This is my ocean voyage letter exclusively, you see. I am going to number my letters so that you will know when there are any missing.
About to-morrow you will, I hope, get my safe arrival card left at the port we sailed from.
Good-bye for now. I love you and am true to you always.