Return to previous page

Letter, March 13, 1918

[Letter on color stationery of the Y.M.C.A. -- "WITH THE COLORS"]

Hope you don't have to pay extra postage on this letter.

March 13 1918

Same Old place -

Dear Mother & father -

Well I rec. your much appreciated letter Sunday morning about noon. read it on train on way down to Alvin. Got down there and Aunt had one she had just rec. from you. So while you were not there, yet you were all the subject. The days are so pretty to get out for a visit to so pretty a little town as Alvin. Galveston is awakening a little now - some are going bathing right along now. You ask me if I ever saw Pearl Smith any more. Well she is nearly always at Aunts on Sundays and if she is not - then I go out to her home. Leave at 11 oclock. get all afternoon and night until 11 o.c. Such a relief to drop out of camp to such an enjoyable little place as Alvin. Relatives there and also a very nice young lady. and for one afternoon and evening a week - it does one good. A little pleasure one can look forward to each week - breaks the monotony of all camp life and all men. gets you back to civilization - keeps you from forgetting there is such a thing as society and young ladys - A fellow here almost a year and no association with young ladys at all - he sure would be all lost when it came to meeting folks back home again. This is just enough to keep in touch with what is going on out side and sure is not taking enough of my time for me to worry over. A great many fellows here have no relatives - cannot get acquainted with decent girls - take what they can get - and they go out - spend their money feeding at restaurants and shows and one thing and another - but what does that ammount to? I cant see it - so I stay home thru the week - generally busy - then when Sun. comes - I just forget camp and Army and every things else gand have a good time. All the girls in Alvin seem to want to get acquainted with me. And there are some mighty nice girls here too. Pearl wanted to know

[note at top of following page: (If you get any late pictures of your self - send me one. Wish I could get more like my big ones.)]

if I wanted an introduction to the ones that were asking about me - I told her "I did not mind if it wasnt too much trouble and we did not have to go any out of our way to do it - but I didn't care to go to any trouble to do so -" Pearl is just as good looking as any girl in Alvin Ive seen and I know she is as nice a girl as Ive ever met. she seems to think I'm about alright I guess for she isn't engaged to the fellow she was engaged to when I met her - I seem to be her preference so why should I go to any trouble getting acquainted with more girls when I can be with one like her.

The name Pearl Smith reminds me quite a bit of Walnut Corner and the girl Ray went with so long.

Well for weather - today has been awfully hot - but wind blowing hard - cool wind and carrying unknown quantities of dust, dirt, gravel, bugs and many other loose objects. Every thing in our tent - even inside my trunk is completely white with a heavy coat of dust or dirt which ever. I sure did loose some sweat this morning fighting dummys and grenade throwing - sweat until I was almost weak. I hate to think of the coming summer. so I don't think of it much - I guess we can gradually get used to it.

Ive gained 10 lbs good solid weight - now weigh a strong 143 with summer clothing on.

A grenade instructor just came in showing us one of the real grenades - also explained the business end of it - they are a rather simple affair yet pretty effective. killing radius 200 yds. The thrower has to be in a trench to be safe from his own grenades. I like to fight the dummys tho. you fight like a demon and just as hard as if it was all quite real. Every movement is closely watched so you will make no mistakes and if you do you can be corrected.

About my office. If the present plan is carried out in battle - The signal men will very seldom have any use for

[note at top of page: (I wonder if Guy is going to use all his books on the course he is now taking. Some time you find out and if he is not - would like to get first couple lessons as the course appeals to me and I cant afford to take it myself. but if he needs them for reference don't send them at all.)]

arms of any kind. They are trying to make it so the signal men will have nothing but pistols to bother with, don't know if it will go thru or not. We have rifles and bayonets instead of pistols. We must be efficient tho in all these kinds of defenses. We are learning them for our defense instead of preparing our selves so we can make a good offensive. Im glad for all the training of this kind I can get for if we are ever in real trenches I want to know how to use every means of defense I can lay my hands on. May be able to add a few years to my life some day by knowing these things.

We have a small rifle range close to camp. Have been practicing some on it. One of our telephone orderlies that was sitting by a tree the afternoon I was out there - he had been there an hour or more - giving orders to the men in the pits over the phone - so he got tired sitting so he stood up and between the tree and where he was sitting a rattle snake had crawled back in there and all coiled up. Was a pretty good sized snake - had a half dozen rattles. I guess it thot that was a nice warm place but the fellows decided they did not want to fool with him as he was a little large for a pet - so they killed him and cut off his rattles. A snake doesnt send that startled feeling thru me it did before last summer when I got used to handling a snake we had in quincy. After getting used to the looks and feeling of it the scare all left.

Last Thursday on a big field drill 2 areoplanes was sailing around and one had engine trouble and made a landing close to our company. The other one came down right beside the 1st one - to see what was the matter with it. They fixed it and went back up - flying close to the ground for 20 or 30 minutes. That was the closest I've ever been to one landing, but the one I wrote of before I was closer to it when it went up than these two the other day. Jove a mosquito - first one I've seen this year came in just now - he had a wing spread of about the same size and type of these areoplanes around here - but his front end wasn't like an areoplane at all - it just come down to a sharp point. I know for I killed him and then gave him the once over. fact is he is about the size of a wasp. only body more slender.

Well I am not yet in the trenches - will be tho I guess in a very few days now. Probly tomorrow. Some of our platoon has been out there for almost a week now. They are putting in a better and more complete system of wiring and telephone service than we had before. Weather being so hot - it will be a relief to get out there out of the dust concealed away from sight - down where it is more likely to be cool than any place I know of down here. We will probly be in for 8 or 12 days if we go. Our fellows there say it is much better than drilling in the hot sun. No parades or formations of any kind.

I have been given charge of all our clothing records and the last few days I have been spending all my time getting the books straightened out. Had to get the signature of all our men - Some at the Base Hospital - Some in trenches - Some on details And the rest here. Nearly run my legs off yesterday afternoon getting them to sign up. I got to spend an hour or more with my little broken legged Sgt. LeBeau while over at the Base Yesterday. He said "Jove, boy, I came pretty near sending for you - thot you never was going to get over to see me." He said of course I didn't expect you on Sunday afternoon - and he wanted to know how I and my girl in Alvin were getting along - he sure is one of the jolliest finest little fellows I've ever known - he is anything but good looking tho. Just down right comical. He is in a fine ward at the Hospital. No sickness in there - just fellows with broken limbs. He seems to be the life of the bunch in there just the same as every place else he goes.

(Say what would you think of a girl that would write me two letters a week besides seeing me every Sunday - of course some weeks I only get one letter. I think she is doing her bit in entertaining me - don't you?)

Well I guess the Old fruit peddler came out alright - I heard he ate the pies - am not sure if what I heard was correct - he ate them - only when he was so hungry he couldn't keep from it - It may be so and it may not.

The only soldiers I know of leaving Camp Logan was the negroe regiment leaving a few days ago. Maude wrote me about a train load of soldiers from Camp Logan - but I don't know anything about them and as for us moving - we are afraid we are going to be kept here all summer in this hot weather and dust. I sure hope not - even if we have to go across to get away from it. I sure would like to go over - I cant come home and staying here is getting awfull tiresome. Hearing of so much being done over there makes me itch to be with them doing something too. Some people of very good authority think we never will leave the U.S. It would not surprise me in the least if we would not.

You mentioned about Fledas boarder - who is staying with them. You never told me I am sure - unless I am getting a very short memory. And also Lee's moving - Where? I have not heard from Ray yet.

And you ask about my safety razor blades - do you want some? I don't have any old ones now - for I have a small special gillette blade strop. You twist a crank and it strops both edges on one side then turns blade and strop both edges on other side - alternats every time. It is in a little nickel case - kind o oval shaped - can hold it tight in one hand and turn crank with other hand. Makes a new blade better my blade Im now using Ive been using it over a couple weeks now shaving every day - and such comfortable shaves - Its a real pleasure to shave when it is done so quick and easy. So from now on my blades are going to be very few. for I can have these blades honed - and keep them stroped and in fine shape for a long time - I have some old ones for my other razor you can have if you were wanting some.

And what am I going to do with all my stuff - Well I have a trunk I cant take across with me - so if we go - all I cannot take I will put in my trunk - big red sweater and all - and send trunk and stuff home - May send sweater home any time now.

And those policies - it probly will be some time before you do get them - when you consider that a million and a half will have to be recorded in Washington D.C. hardly anyone have rec. their policies - or I mean the folks who they were made out to. So I guess you will just have to wait as I am doing with the lodge doings. Seems I never am going to hear from that. Well I have plenty else to do let alone worrying about that too -

Well I am sorry I wrote like I did in last letter about my getting back home and how I worded it. I felt bad about it after I sent it - for I know it did nothing to cheer you up - But some way or other I was just feeling so blue - I just wrote as I felt. Ill just tell you. I would not get half so blue some times if I knew what they were going to let us do. If I knew we were going across - work would be a pleasure for then I would see the necessity of it and would be busy prepareing my self - but now you have a feeling it will be all wasted energy. So you see we are working hard and nothing in sight - may be all for nothing. it sure discourages a soldier who wants to be a soldier. And Illinois seems to think the only real soldiers she has is in Camp Grant - were no good for anything I guess is the way they look at us - I sure havent any love for Illinois any more now - any other state in the Union looks just as good and some a lot better.

But I think the Germans will soon wake up and realize America has some soldiers in France and that they are no babys, or anybodys fools either. I'm afraid I have or am getting pretty much the fighting disposition - for I cant help but want to go over and experience some of the things the rest of our soldiers over there are doing.

So you say Viola is back at the Royal. I sure would like to see Marguerite. Would like to have a chat with Reba once more - I don't think Reba would find me quite like I was when I left Danville. I expect she would notice the change in me more than any one else. We are so near the same age I guess would be the reason. I know Mr. Snedd[o]n always took such an interest in me. While he would not find me unusually smart yet I think he would find me with a reasonable ammount of common horse sense and that does about as much good as any thing else and I've found it gets me just as much here. Advancements here are nothing more or less than a pull any way.

Jove I would like to go to class with you and meet all the friends again - Sr. Houghton & Sr. Fulton & Mr. Fulton too - Sr. Loff and Mary Sneddom and Lanhams. And those I am not so so well acquainted with. There are lots of people I would like to see - Probly would do me no special good - but I feel it would tho. Maybe I can get a furlough and come home and work on a farm this summer if you could find me a place - if such a thing is made possible as they say it might. Well mother - all you told me about the Friends was all news to me - but really was not very surprised to hear it. For if you are not extremly patriotic now - you are taken for a German sympathizer. Of course we have been expecting this all along, but that doesn't seem to help so awfully much - now it has really come to the place where you are actualy realizing some of the things - It made me turn kind 'o weak when I read what you wrote. And with all things considered would I be much better off at home than here? I would eat you out of house and home - I eat any way twice as much if not more than I ever did at home. Well mother dear I am going to have to quit or you will wonder if I am writing a history - or something. Don't know just how soon I will get to write again - and aint said all I could by a long shot - Write soon - with all kinds of love for my pop & mom I am your

Paul B.

Top of Page

March 1918