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Letter, February 15, 1918

[Letter on color stationery of the National War Work Council, Army and Navy Young Men's Christian Association]

Camp Logan Houston Texas. % Hq. co 129 Inf.

Feb. 15 1918

Dear mother and father.

Well I rec. the letter a day or so ago and today I rec. the ring. Jove it is a beauty. I could not have possibly picked anything that would have pleased me better for it is just right in weight and size and the only kind of a signet ring I ever thot I would want to own. I'm rather sorry tho that my taste took you to quite that much of expense when I have so little to give in return, but I sure was tickled when I got it, could hardly wait until I got it unwrapped, and when I saw it, it was just what I had been wanting in a ring and it was just big enough I can get it on. Fits loose after on but if it were a shade smaller I could not get it on. No danger losing it this way and my finger is so small behind the knuckle that it fits very loose even tho it goes on tight. Well mam with the company you've been having I can imagine about how busy you've been and your not writing quite so often will surely be excused for I know what it is to be busy. And by refering to the ones getting 3 & 4 letters to their one - I had no reference to you at all. you see he hardly ever writes at all (serg. Henderson) yet some of his relatives keep writing to him just the same. Only thing is if I don't get to answer every letter don't stop writing on that account. Try and get me one a week and you will do all I expect of my mother. And you sure have not been mistreating me in the least I assure you. I don't suppose there are many mothers write more regularly that you do.

And about the cookies - I know if you had time and material you would send them but I have not been expecting so am not in the least dissapointed and you need not try too hard to get the nessessary things for I know you are having plenty to do for the way you must feel fighting a cold and the weather as you say, it sure has been a very hard winter, it was hard enough down here, not saying anything what it must have been like up north.

It was warm this morning but very cold tonight, the weather is so changable here.

We had a big field inspection this morning. Had our stuff all out in our pup tents. Looked like a village viewed from an areoplane, whole drill grounds were covered. An areoplane came down in our drill grounds the other day. I and Serg. Henderson ran over to where it was. The co.s kept drilling so we had no one crowding around and got a very good look up close at it. First time I was ever so close to one. Was about 20 ft from it when it left the ground. It did not run on the ground the length of a lot until the wheels and all were in the clear of the ground by a foot or more.

Jove they are the most gracefull things I ever saw. and so many of them flying around here all the time.

Well I have $10,000 insurance now. $5,000 for you mam and $5,000 for you daddy. I expect you will rec. the policys soon if you have not already rec. them - let me know when you do get them for I want you to have them as soon as possible and especially so if we go across.

I have no idea if we will get to go or not. That bunch that was sunk, we were supposed to go then and as we did not get to go our extra wool clothes were sent to them, so a pair of trousers that were once mine are probly in the ocean now.

So you had my picture enlarged. Well I hardly expected that. Have you ever had the long ones I sent you framed. I am afraid they will get all broken up if you handle them much without it, and if they are creased or broken I would just let it ride and not wet it as it might be more harm than good to it.

Well if we ever go across I will keep your name and adress on me all the time but I don't suppose I will have to look after that for some time yet as I am not expecting to leave for a good while.

I am expecting a letter from Rays most any time now. I don't hear from them very often tho.

Jove that sure is too bad about Cecil, Seems to me something could be done before they let it go too far to be cured. She certainly is having more than her share of trouble for a young girl.

So Olan is getting the high school habit and letting the girls have his mind. Well I am sorry to see that for I have been thru it all but the high school part. And if I had only made use of my mind in the right way when I was young and had the time for study and training instead of letting the girls infest my mind I would be better off right now. A fellow cannot see his mistake at the time and can not take advise either, for he thinks at that time in life he knows just a little more than any one else about his own business, and makes the mistake he is sure to regret some time - may be only a very few years later - like myself. Had I only started studying when first getting in Danville instead of giving all my time to fiction and girls. You see the reason I notice it is because now in the army are all classes of men, the best we have as well as near the worst. I pay no attention at the worst but try and learn from the best. Our commissioned officers were most all big business men in civil life: and fellows that have made good use of their time. And when you consider the length of our present lives and how much some fellows know and how much knowledge you can make use of and is really nessessary, you wonder how on earth you can be so foolish as to waste really good oppertunties for learning and I find out that the things I am best in are the ones I learned youngest in life.

You simply cant learn a thing while young in life that you won't use later on and if I only knew what I had the chance to learn it would not be at all impossible to get a commission even now. So I think, no matter what you think you are going to do in after life - don't pass up the oppertunity to learn all you can for it might happen to others just as it has to me - doing something altogether different than I ever dreamed of. And what little fun you get chasing around after skirts is absolutely nothing compared to the real enjoyment of accomplishing something in a world where there are all men - doing mens work. - and I find some of the most capable men I ever met anyplace. Fellows who really know.

Sunday morning. I am ready now to go see Aunt and Uncle & cousins. I am a little early and have a little time to write. Still cold this morning but guess it is about as cold as it will get this time. I've never seen Hoyt yet. Last I heard he was in Base Hospital at Camp Travis with mumps. Not serious of course but bad enough at that.

Every body that sees my ring thinks it a sure peach, Jove but it is a little beauty and perfectly plain - that is the prettiest part.

I got a few pictures of Maude in her last letter that sure are good of her. Sure makes me think of when I was at home.

Have you been notified anything concerning the Lodge. There has been time enough now that I should have heard one way or the other, from What Serg. Baum said. Have been wondering just what is holding it up for I must get busy if it goes thru and if it don't, would like to know about it just the same. We haven't any too much time for such things and if I make it all O.K. I sure want to get it finished before we move from here. Well I will finish some other time as I must be going now. Aunt always wants me to send her love - even tho I do forget to do it.

Mon. afternoon. Rained most all yesterday afternoon, but not until I had gotten to Aunts all O.K. and then it slacked up about time at night to leave for camp - I did not get wet even tho the mud was fierce.

They are all well in Alvin. They always want to know about the home folks and if you are planning on coming down this summer. I told them I hardly thot so but can never tell.

They all thot the ring was just O.K. Aunt Laury especially thot it so pretty.

She is sure a mother to me here. And believe me, it sure is a relief to drop into their home - a real home you know - and spend a few hours with people that are living and doing as I used to do. Of course I call camp here home, but I have to as it is the only home I have now - nothing like the one I left. And to drop into a home almost like I left is appreciated by me even if it is only for a few hours each week. Am afraid my privelege is soon to be cut down if not out - altogether.

I took charge of our platoon this morning for bayonet drill. Were getting advanced enough now that the work is interesting - more than it was. The trouble is they want us just as efficient in "signal corps" work and "infantry" work as the signal corpse is in their line and as the infantry is in their line. And trying to do both we are good at neither. We catch hell from the officers because we are unable to drill like we should and hell again when our signal examination are very poor.

Well this is Mon. night now.

Yes Guys letter took place of yours to a great extent. Sure answered a number of questions that were in my mind. Only wish I had the chance to study the same course he is. I hope he gets a chance for the Aviation, but it is a sure thing if he wants in it he had better do so before he enlists in the army for it is about an impossibility getting into it from this Division at least. I know a few who have tried and got thru - but I know a great many who have tried and failed - not from examination - but because the officers would not grant them opportunity to even take examination. Could probly get in as mechanic, but that is about all - I guess. No chance to get in as cadet for training.

Well Aunt Laura has not seen Hoyt for 2 years & 6 months now. Pretty long time isn't it. Hasn't been nearly a year since I saw you and it seems so long ago, Things look so different, the world so much larger - home seems to be so far away - just a memory it seems. I have to wonder if that is all it will ever be for me. It may be 4 months before we leave here and may be longer as they keep putting it off from time to time. But they sure are speeding up now on everything. training mostly.

Well I will close for this time - will write again soon I expect. Don't fail to let me know if you've heard something about the lodge as it seems they are very slow and if there is a chance for me it must be coming very soon - well write when you can and as often as you feel like - From your loving son.

Paul B.

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February 1918