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Letter, April 20, 1918

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

Same Old Place - Sat Apr 20 - 1918

My dear Father and Mother

Well mom I rec your letter this morning - it is pretty cool this morning and a strong wind. We are standing our third big inspection this week. We have a type written list of everything we must have and they are working hard to get us equipped with the necessary articles. We now have it down pretty fine and Captain said yesterday in his talk of instructions that we would have monday every article we are lacking in. 3 of our sgts. are now fully equipped - ready to leave at any time. Some of our regiments have been given notice to send their trunks home - so don't be surprised to see my trunk come bobbing up some time. I dont know but I may send it home collect as I will probly need all the money I have with me in case we move. I loaned our Little Sgt LeBeau $5 to go home on - I and sgt. Henderson and sgt. Mitten and some others helped him. His leg is not improving down here in this climate so he was sent home on a 60 day furlow and as he did not have enough to put him thru we went together and helped him. I dont expect to get it back until he returns in the 60 days and I don't have the least idea in the world that he will join us here, either. As the captain told him he would wire him where to come to when the furlow was expired. So we dont expect to be out of the U.S. yet at that time, still I think we are leaving here very soon. So if I have enough money I will send trunk prepaid - but if now, will have to send it collect - I will maybe take it to Uncle Gibs and leave it there for time being. There is so much for us to think of and do now that we are all going cocoo. I think I will get to go to Aunts tomorrow. Capt- said he would try and get me a pass. They are keeping us confined to camp some thing awfull now. Can hardly get down town at all any more.

Some say tomorrow is our last Sunday out of camp any more. Would not surprise me in the least if it were. I havent seen Aunts now in the last 3 or 4 Sundays.

Well I was to take my third degree this afternoon but the lodge phoned that they could not arrange the work for this afternoon and will have to put it off a week - and lord only knows what will be going on next Saturday or where we will be. I sure am dissapointed. For I learned my second degree in one day. Took it Sat. nite - (week ago today) and Sunday following I had it. Have been so anxious as we are in so uncertain a condition here just now - apt to leave in a couple days notice. While it is not probible - yet it is possible. And as for the trouble between K.C. and Masons - I think you have it rather exagerated, for you realy never hear or know a thing out of the way. And as for Sgt LeBeau - he is in the army for work and a man is his friend who is willing to work with him and hit the ball as hard as he does. He knew I was not Catholic and one time I spoke of the Masonic lodge and ask him his opinion (I thot I might find out something and of course did not tell him I intended putting in my application) so he said that he personaly did not have anything to do with it as he was a K. of C. but said that it was a strong lodge and without doubt the best for one not a catholic. For you have to be Catholic to be a K. of C. And when he found out that I was taking the work he said, good for you - I hope you make out fine with it. And I would trust him as far as anyone I know. And all our Lieutenants, Captains and Colonels are Masons - with the exception of one lieutenant in our co. who is just taking the work now with me. Gen Bell I guess is a mason for he is making it possible for all those taking the work to get away from duty when the lodge can give the degree. So the men in the Army that are in power are Masons by a big Majority at least so in this camp - and I notice all Masons in the camp have a better showing than those that are not. President of France and King of England are Masons - and I guess the Kaiser is too from what I can learn. But the Kaiser has broken all rules, treaties, all laws of Humanity and everything else that is higher than a beast and I guess he can break all rules of the lodge, as well as things of a higher order as he already has done. I have read a book on masonry - its history and what it is a decendant from. It is based on the most noble and ancient things in history. Masonry was in existance when under the rule of Catholics. That was the order of operative Masons that were doing all the building of temples and the most wonderful pieces of art in the world - For they were all artists in their trade - but later in history when the building of these fine temples and pieces of art declined - then the order took in members that were not operative masons and gradualy the form was changed from operative masons to that of ancient Free and accepted Masons. Which it now is altogether. The change came during the time of about A.D. 1400 to 1717. It is of a more religious nature and stands for higher morals than the Catholic religion itself and I don't know but what most protestant religions of today. And I think you will find most of my statements very near correct, I am surrounded here by about 35000 men and have a good chance to learn something of human nature and many other things, as well, meeting with men of all walks of life and religions and no religions and most anything a person wishes to know, just keep your eyes open and first thing you know you will bump into someone that will give you the information you wish. don't have to ask for it either, just get into a conversation and run it into the direction you are interested in and of course it will be one of the things he is interested in too. and first thing you know - you get what you want - and get it straight and not from hearsay. For it is a sure thing - if you seem interested in a thing or subject some one else is, that some one else is going to tell you all he can, for it is a sure fact - there isn't a thing a man likes to do so well as tell you something you don't know. And you need not show your own ignorance by talking. let him talk and you listen. next time you need not be so ignorant on the subject. There is so much more that I could tell you where a man can learn here in the army - if he can always benifit by what he learns - make use of it in a practical way.

I used to be made a fool of at Prouties, but those lessons I learned there have saved my life in the Army. so I guess there isn't much trouble - dissapointments or any thing else that may happen to one but what have their good effects - even tho you at the time can't possibly see where it could benefit you in any way in the future. And if I live thru this war - I honestly believe some of the lessons I am learning now will do me the most good of any thing - books and unlimited study will never teach you what you learn in the army by actual experience. And with this past years experience - I believe I could go higher in life than I possibly could have done without it, even tho it has set me back a year in my study - yet I am studying and learning things that in real life ammount to more than Chemistry. I am still for Chemistry - I have had an insight into many things and still Chemistry proves to be the most facinating of any. And if I should ever get back - I'd sure hit it hot and heavy.

This is Mon - 22 - one more little note on Masonry - you said about what Sr Lopp said of us not being allowed to wear our emblem or pins - No orniments are allowed to be worn on the person whatever of any kind or description. so that includes the Masonic pins as well as any other, yet a ring with the lodge emblem are worn by most all Masons and nothing is said to that whatever.

I rec. a letter from Cecil today. was a newsy little letter and she also sent a late picture of her self and I'll say you have not over stated anything you've ever told me about her if the picture tells the truth, and I don't believe a girl ever made the change in one year she has and all to her credit too. For she is decidedly good looking - above the average by far. I hope I get time to answer her letter for I do really believe she would enjoy getting a letter from me, but I have to study every spare moment it seems so I don't know when I will get to write.

And I fully intended to say something about your meeting Blanche Isler - in my last letter but must have slipped my mind. I sure was glad to hear of your meeting her and of course was pleased to hear she spoke so well of me, but as for getting to write her? I guess mother you will have to see her and show her the pictures you have of me and tell her all you know and that I was sure glad to hear of her thru you and that I am now studying electricity and magnatism and on into Radio operating - that is wireless telegraphy and our school is one hour in the morning - but in that one hour I get more work to do than I have time to do all the rest of the day. And we have a library close that I can get any reference or text book that I desire along that line of work which makes studying easy and thorough.

Talk about supplies - we are getting field glasses you can read out of a book 40 or 50 feet away. I have an $18 Waltham, radio dial wrist watch issued to me, and we are getting all kinds of tools and instruments. But it seems funny - instead of our full equipment being like those that are going across - it looks far more like that that could well be used on Mexican border and I am so afraid that is what is going to happen. We sure dont know a thing for sure tho.

Well I got to spend Sat nite at Aunts and all day Sun. I could not get a pass for Sunday morning early enough to let me out to catch the early train and had to come back Sun on 8:30 train so I could be in co. street by 10:30. So my captain said why not stay down town Sat. nite, keep under cover and go straight to depot in morning in time to catch train and if I was careful I need not be picked up by the military Police. For you see the captain cant give a pass to me and the colonel refused to - so that is why Capt- suggested this to me and said it would be all OK with him. So I went Sat nite early - caught 8:15 train and was in Alvin by 9 oc PM. And there was a dance in town - Ethel, Audie, Pearl & Viola went to dance and wanted me to go along and as I dont dance I ask to be excused so spent the whole evening with Aunt and had the best time yet. A little after twelve the kids come home and I took Pearl out home and got back to Aunts between 3 & 4 a.m. some time. Slept in a real bed, and all, you know, got up at 8 oc am - first time in a year & even got up that late and had a swell time all day. They were glad to see me after being away a month or about so. And I got negatives of some good pictures of them all so will send you some soon. I am not operating my camera for it is a little too expensive on 14 dollars a month when I owe daddy $15 and it costs something over a dollar for every time I go to Aunts. Aunt said they had heard from Hoyt only twice since Xmas and officers clothes and all their equipment and board is so high until he gets himself fully equipped once - that he as yet hasent sent any money home at all. Hoyt has to pay $35 or $40 per month for eats. a serge suit cost $45 to $60, boots $40, pistol $40 besides a rifle, tent, and saddle, hiring his horse taken care of - and he has to have 2 serge suits. 2 wool suits of $35 or $40 each and maby a cotton suit or so - besides shoes and leggings and numerous other things and his social upkeep is quite a bit as an officer is supposed to be a good fellow and there is no wonder he has never sent any of his $150 per month home. he also has a liberty bond or so and $10000 insurance as all officers are expected to do this much at least. Aunt said that with all my things furnished and on my $36 per month I was able to have more money at my disposal than Hoyt had on $150 per. As my things are all furnished and he is compelled to spend all his wages to equip himself - has to go in debt for it if he hasn't the money and pay for it as he gets the money. It is nice to be a commissioned officer - but as the pay increases - so do the demands and what is the use to worry if you are only a corp. on $36 per if you can be relieved of all the worry and responsibility of a higher office when at the end of the month they cant save any more than you can.

Guess we are not going to have a big hike as I wrote you before - all I know is that we will go to school this week if no orders come up to the contrary. And are relieved of all duties so we can go to school.

So daddy has a liberty bond now, well I consider them good investments.

You spoke of getting used to getting up the hour earlier and getting used to most anything. You realy can get used to most anything - when you can learn to eat and like anything cooked - sleep in a storm that you think would blow your tent away and water 2 & 3 inches deep all over the bottom of your tent. Wade mud in trenches over shoe top deep - slide down steps of dirt and sit in a lob lolly of mud at the bottom, with as much mud inside of clothes as out - live underground for a week in a hole and sleep on damp ground with nothing over you but a pup tent which is not over three feet high and you have to crawl into them. read and write by candle light at such times - laugh and have a good time thru it all and the more dissagreable it is the more we laugh about it. We forget our selves, watching someone else in his misery. and it all has a very comical side to it, for some people are of the nature to do a whole lot of complaining if things dont go just right and when you see a fellow like that you just cant help but laugh at him.

Well mom I sure am sorry to hear of the work being so hard on you this year - jove wish I could help you. Im getting so good for nothing havent done any real labor for months. And send me pictures of you if you have them and am anxious to see wallpaper. Heard Guy was called - I hope he will like it as well as I do. Only I hope to go across instead of the border. It is hot as hadeas down here and cold at nite. You can have a good camera when I send trunk home. I have purchased several small articles for traveling that I will need. that is another reason for my shortness of change this month -

Hoping to hear from you soon again - and I do so hope the work dont get you down - but you sure must be doing a lot of it but you must be careful. Your loving son Paul B.

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April 1918