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Letter, July 23, 1918

[Letter on color stationery of the Y.M.C.A. with the Australian Imperial Force.]

July 23 - 18

Right here in France

Dear Mother & father

Well you may not know where I am in France - but I sure as h- do. Just rec. today a letter from you - (June 25). And it brot to mind the fact that quite a few days have passed since writing you. Ill be honest, there is so much to do and see I hardly have time to think of old U.S.A. But of evenings thots generaly go wandering home and remain there until I go to sleep. The last week has been a very wonderful week in its way. Ive seen some very unusual sights and ones I'm not likely to forget soon. A day or so ago I had the good luck to get to ride in one of the large tanks, and believe me if it was not some experience. Never will forget the sensation of riding in one of those clumsy looking death dealers. I dont have a desire to ride in any more. I have also made me a pure Aluminum ring. came off of a bombing plane that had returned after some pretty rough usage - so the mechanic gave me this piece and Ive made a real good looking sig. ring out of it. Every body is trying their best to get it. But there is no chance as I wont sell it. There is just 2 things left now for me to wish for. a ride in an areoplane and a Submarine. Then they will have to invent something new. Really the most exciting time of my life has been in the last few days. Time sure flies over here. I dont know when I will get to write again as I have no more envelopes and very little writing paper. Well what do you think of the way our boys are behaving themselves over here. I think they are doing some pretty good work from reports I can hear. I am sure Jerry will soon be looking at it in the same way.

We are having quite a bit of rain lately. Everything is green and the country is beautiful - you dont know what a country France is until you see it once.

Well mom - I got to write to Pearl - Cecil & Maude, but outside of yourself I think that is all. will try and write Maude a letter this evening. Stays light enough to write until 10 or 11 oc. PM over here.

Well mother in regards Maude, you may give the details of the incident that led up to what you wrote about, for your letters seem so awfully short. So much you can write about, but with me I have to be so careful there is nothing left but personal things I can be safe in mentioning. I did not think I would get to write Cecil but up to date Ive sent her as many as any one person in U.S. I rec. a letter from Pearl a week or more ago and up until then she had not heard from me. But I never gave her much thot, because from the way she seemed to me - I had an idea as soon as I left she would have some one else on the string - (which she did). but I supposed she would forget me soon. Never had an idea she would write you. That large forlder in my trunk is a picture of Beatrice Wright, an Alvin girl, one Hoyt I think was engaged to. Aunt Laura don't know I have the picture, none of them for that matter. I met Bea - a few times and one evening on my way to the train - returning to camp. I dropped in to see her so she gave me the picture - I wrote to her a little.

I guess no girl wants to think too serious of me - for if ever I get back I think I will go to school a while at least, if it is at all possible I want to so I can get a better start in Chemistry. I am not learning much about it here but I am learning a heap about men and I'll say I knew a mighty little about them when I enlisted.

This is the 27 - I have a big colts 45 cal. 6 shooter. to look down the business end of it. you think its a shot gun. they sure are bloody looking bastards. Ive shot it quite a bit now and did not do so bad as I expected. Has been raining every day now for some time.

I got a letter from Maude yesterday with some snapshots in it. first Ive heard from her since being in France except for the letter that was sent to our camp and forwarded across.

I am having quite a little trouble with my right knee. It went down on me in one of our hikes - it is rheumatism - first I've ever had. Sure took me by surprise. Wet weather makes it bad for me. Hope it gets better before winter, for it sure will be hell on me then.

Was to see some races not long ago and a few planes brot some boys to see the races too and in the evening picked them up and took them back. There are some lively times here now and then. French wine is plentiful and the boys hate to see it around - so they at once try and get it out of sight. I take a drink once in a while - with some of the fellows - but when they start out for a big time as they call it - then I drop out, a little of it is alright, but too much of the bloody stuff is no good at all. I enjoyed the little poem you sent me - for a Ford is not uncommon sight here.

Be sure and send me some little snap shots from home. I'm glad I sent your picture home for I lost all I brot over with me. This country sure is rich with history - Imagine a cathedreal built in 890 AD - rather old is it not? It sure looks old too. Beautiful tho. Have seen some historical places here, could appreciate it more if I only knew more of the history of this country - well mom - write and tell me all you know. But I wont do you as a fellow did me the other day - handed me a piece of paper a half inch sq. told me to write all I knew on it and give it back to him. Hoping to be as alive when I get an answer to this letter as I am now while writing it. I am as ever your loving son

Cpl Paul B Hendrickson Hdq. Co 129 Inf.

A.E.F. via New York

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July 1918