Letter, January 1, 1918
Camp Logan Houston Texas. Hq. co. 129 Inf.
Jan. 1 - 1918.
Dear father and mother.
Well muver dear, I will answer your letter or at least start
to this evening. We are a pretty busy lot - but get some of our
evenings at least.
Well first of all and most interesting I got to see Uncle and
Aunt last Sunday. Well you know how Aunt Laura is and she sure
hasn't changed - seemed tickled to death to see me and I know I
was to see her and Uncle is same Uncle Gib of my kid days. Aunt
sure looks good and seems to be feeling fine. She seems to be so
happy now she is in the sunny south again. And I guess Ethel is
just as glad to have her here as she is glad to be here her self.
I thot I would get to see them Xmas but they did not get
started soon enough. I went to Ethels the evening before and
stayed all the next day. We took dinner at Smiths (Audies mothers)
and spent rest of day there. Mrs. Smith certainly is the finest
women I've met in the South I know. And she just thinks the world
of her boys - The one just younger than Audie was drafted and got
to come home for Xmas day. They just nearly eat him up. Southen
people are different to northern people in their ways seems to me.
And their expressions too. And she just treated me like I was one
of her boys and I coulden't have been any place on Xmas where I
would have felt more at home outside of being at home itself.
I guess Pearl says quite a bit to her about me and she was
teasing Pearl about how dissapointed she would be when she did not
hear from me when she would be expecting to. And Pearl (Audie's
Sister) there simply couldent be a nicer girl any place. She had a
fellow in the Army that was in Alvin for Xmas, but she told me if
I could come she would rather see me than him. So can you wonder I
think her a nice girl. We sure have some great times together. she
is so southern and I am so absolutely northern. she is a perfect
blonde and, well you know what color my hair is - and we are so
different in our ways we hardly know if we understand each other
yet. She thinks I'm so wise, but its just because she don't know
me like I do. for I'm as perfect a dub as I ever was only the
people up north know how to take each other but down here they
don't quite savy me. I get to see her quite a bit now as I can get
away every Sunday afternoon and go down at 1:30 and come back at
9:20. It really isn't half bad considering I have to be here
Sunday mornings and every day else during the week. I have some
pictures taken of her and Ethel and Mrs. Smith, and of most all of
us for that matter but have a hard time keeping prints as every
body wants some and they are all gone before I know it. I will
send some first oppertunity I get tho.
Well I will tell you some of my presents. I got a box of
candy and a couple of kerchiefs from Leah Longstreth - she is
still writing to me and writes the most interesting letters for a
girl I've never seen.
Good people in Quincy sent me a pair of sheep skin moccisons
- all wooly on inside sure are fine to sleep in and be in tent
with they are more like a shoe tho. lace up. Got a Red Cross
package from Danville Had a card in it from Mrs. Dand Cunningham,
722 Bryan Ave. I wrote a little word of thanks to her. And another
red cross package from some where. The one from Danville had
candy, figs, rasins, cake, cookies, chewing gum, kerchiefs (3) -
and 3 pencils and many other little things. The box of cookies
from you and daddy and from Maude the Sweater - pr of knit wool
sox (from her mother & Ruth) and a box of candy. Audie gave me a
nice box of stationary. So I guess I didn't have such a bad Xmas
after all. and got such a good dinner Xmas day besides having such
a good time. But even at that or any thing else I keep remembering
my own cozy little home on the corner and even if I do try to keep
my mind off of it as much as possible I just think about it any
And jove - how the quiet little place does appeal to me
sometimes, and especially when I am not feeling just right. And
mam I know you cant want to see me much more than I want to see
you. And I hardly think our quiet little home would be monotonous
at all. I am too much to be alone, and I think being in the army
is a good things, makes me mix more with other people, and I guess
I would hardly feel right to come back now until the war is over.
I would not feel right to be at home and so many gone.
You certainly had a fine little Xmas feast and how much I
would have loved to be with you.
Well I get to see Longstreth and Tommy once in a while for I
go and see the boys occasionaly. No, Tommy is not in our signal
platoon - he is still in the band.
I could have taken my camera along to the range - would have
had to smuggled it there tho - but the weather was quite a bit
cloudy and I did not think I would be able to take any good
pictures so did not take it. am sorry tho for one day it was very
good for pictures and I sure would like to have some pictures of
us on the range.
Well I don't know how dangerous our work will be - but I do
know it is in all the trenches. While it is not expected of us to
make any charges yet we have to know how to defend ourselves
against an offensive movement from the Germans. That is the reason
we have rifles - bayonets and are drilled in the use of both of
them. We are being drilled in the use of gas masks now. Well
mother dear I am going to close for tonight and write some more
tomorrow if I have time and then I can tell you some about our gas
There has been an areoplane flying over camp every afternoon
for over a week now. Today he came down close and was doing some
pretty fancy flying for what you generally see around here.
Well good night ----
Well this is Thur. evening. One of the fellows rec a box from
home so we had supper in our tent. Had a whole roast chicken,
sweet pickles - cake, sauce - and fruit and nuts and some other
things. We sure had a good time.
Well our gas instructions stopped this after noon. I had a
picture taken of me in my gas mask and will send a print in my
next letter. It is a mask that fits under your chin and against
the side of your face and across your forehead, the edges are
bound and elastic and fit tight but leave rest of the mask in
front of face loose. Mask is a rubberized cloth. has two big
eyepieces of glass, a spring with two rubber pads that close on
your nose so you can't breathe thru your nose and a rubber mouth
piece that fits between your lips and teeth with two little lugs
of rubber to hold your teeth apart so you can breathe freely thru
your mouth. You inhale thru a tube that leads to a bag with a can
in it that contains chemicals that purifies the air as it comes
thru. You carry the bag on your chest in front of you. After you
breathe the air in thru this bunch of chemicals there is a valve
that wont let it go back the same way but forces it out side of
the mask in to the open air. and there is a valve in the outlet
that keeps the air from coming in that way, making it always come
in thru the chemicals.
Yesterday we took off our masks while in the gas room - they
had it filled with tear gas - it made tears come in your eyes when
you took off the mask. it was not dangerous. But today it was
filled with poisonous gas and about thirty times as strong as we
would ever get it in the trenches. We could not tell if there was
any gas there until they said "test for gas" then we pushed our
finger under side of mask letting some of the gas inside the mask.
You take out your finger then and release your nose piece just the
least bit and the gas would sting your nose or you would sniff it
up, almost shock you as it would take effect so sudden. Gas like
that would strangle you in a half of a second if you would remove
your mask in the room with it and sure would be fatal as it is so
It is hard to get used to the masks as the nose piece keep
you from breathing thru your nose, holds it tight shut all the
time. And your mouth gets so dry breathing thru it all the time.
We would drill in these things, run - play games and every thing -
just to get used to being able to use yourself with them on. My
record in putting it on, placing the mouth piece and adjusting the
nose piece is 6 seconds. You see they yell gas and you jerk the
mask out of the bag and put it on and to do it all in 6 seconds is
moving. And after the warning "gas" you don't breathe then until
your mask is all placed and you leave mask on until given command
to take it off.
Sure has been two days of interesting work for me. And the
Officer in charge of the instruction was such a jolly fellow, sure
made it fine for us. I don't know just what our next school will
be on now. Well mother we are not come down on as hard as I was
expecting it and we are still treated pretty much as human beings,
but your desires are not thot of and they give you very little
Out work in war is to put up wires and connections that
communication between the first line trenches to officers quarters
may be had at all times so the officers will know just what moves
to make - so you see the importance of our platoon. I am a wire
chief and inspect all work and put in terminals and things of that
kind. I guess under heavy shell fire our work would be hard and
very dangerous as the exploding shells would more or less destroy
our communications. Altho they are in trenches, but those big
shells destroy trenches and all. And fixing up lines under
conditions of these kind of course would not be the safest job
going, yet I guess no more dangerous than the rest of the fellows
have. Fact is we hardly ever think of that part of it.
You know that discharge I sent home - well on the other side
you see I am drafted. Well they call us the drafted fellows and
the ones that were drafted are called enlisted men. This is done
in Washington D.C. and our officers here feel just as bad as we do
about it too. It is just the looks of things that hurt and to
think after doing as we have done and considering some have been
serving for 16 years, yet by public opinion they are the drafted
ones and the ones that had to be made go. looks rather ridiculous.
Jove I sure am sorry to hear of Cecil being so bad. It
certainly is tough luck on them. I was in hopes Cecil was about to
get over being poorly. I sure hope something can be done for her,
for it seems she has been sick enough for a girl her age.
Well mam you can write between lines on anything or any
place, just so you write and was glad to hear you thot I was
looking so healthy, for I do sure feel good and am getting fat
almost. I eat like a pig.
I enjoy the part of your letter you say is of no importance
as much as I do the rest. So just sit down and visit with me every
chance you get for I certainly would rather hear from you than any
one - (every body included).
Well I will close tonight and write some more soon. I guess
we are doomed to stay here for some time yet alright. Well hoping
you have had a very happy hollidays - considering of course. and
send me one of those pamphlets you spoke of. Please write when you
have time, from your loving son