Letter, August 18, 1918
[Letter on color stationery
of the American Y.M.C.A. Received September 25, 1918.
Aug 18 1918
My dear father & Mother -
I will now start you a letter. hoping to get it finished and
sent soon, but can never tell. I rec. 2 letters from you a couple
weeks ago. dated July 4 & 10. This is the first chance for
answering I've had. Things are quite busy with us and we have
little time at present for writing, I have at least.
Am wondering how things are at home now. Jove I wish you
could write oftener. I try to write as often as I can, which I
know is not often.
Your letters come thru all ok. Write as often and as much as
you wish for all your mail is sent thru & not touched, so you dont
bother the censors by writing me a big newsy letter every once in
a while, and tho it takes some time to get here it is all late
news for me.
The weather is very warm at Present. hasen't rained now for a
few days and getting around is very good, also sleeping is much
better for you dont have to be so particular where you lay as it
is dry & comfortable.
How is Arthur's - tell them they might write, as a line from
them would be greatly appreciated. Ill admit I can't write more
than I do and probly wont be able to answer them only thru letters
to you. Yet I believe they can find more time to write than I can.
I just finished a letter to Cecil today. Rec. one from her a short
time ago and was a mighty newsy letter with the best picture of
her I've seen. and it was a big long letter too. So when you
write, tell all you want to and just as often as you feel like.
Send me some pictures if you have any. they do one a whole lot of
good I think.
I had a lively time last evening dodging some shells. One
landed close to me, so I made a run for the closest trench and the
next one lobbed down almost where I was standing. Jove the
mournful wail of those pieces of shell going over your head sure
put the wind up you once in a while. Quite a few dropped close but
only 3 or 4 came real close, and also this evening a big boy
lobbed down a 50 or 60 yds from me. I flopped down tho in time not
to catch anything altho several pieces came by me - picked one up
and it was hot as h---.
So you need not fear that we dont have any excitement over
here, for we do every once in a while, the above is merly the
latest news. I cant tell all, so I just tell the latest.
Not long ago I fired my first shell and only one across the
line. I wonder what it did, was large enough to do a hell of a
lot. I pulled the string on a big 9 inch Howitzer, took quite a
bit of nerve to do it, but I had my ears full of felt so the
concussion of the heavy charge would not burst my ear drums and
did the job up fine. The shells weigh about 1/6 of a ton. Great
big devils they are. That was the only shot Ive fired & all I care
to on a gun of that calibre. Id much rather shoot my 45 colt. Got
lost the other nite. That is a rather ugly feeling to have, to get
out by yourself after midnight and get lost, so completely that
you have no idea which way to go. Well I kept cool (the night was
very chilly & I had no coat on) and when I found I was getting
where I had no business to be, I changed my direction & finally
got where I belonged. As it happened I ran into none of Jerrys out
posts so I am safe and sound as if I were at home. You'll have to
admit this is a great old war we are having over here and if I am
lucky as the boys say - I'll probly get to go home after it is
over. And yet the work is interesting for it is one of the bigest
games of chance, the largest gamble in a mans life and odds are
very much against you. I like my work much better than any thing
Ive seen over here yet. So much depends on you personaly.
How is Guy making it. Are they still holding him first in one
camp then in another? Does seem like they could settle on
something at least. We are getting quite a bit of training over
here. Practical stuff you know. no camp like over in the states,
you are given a front line in some sector & waite orders to hold
or go over, that is the training we get. Damn good training too.
For once you learn a lesson you are not very apt to forget it.
Every thing means business with your life at stake, so you know
there is to tom foolery going, just genuine grim old business. You
never think of your self so much, you think of what you have to do
and to getting it done properly - so if something comes up you
can't be the blame.
July is my last Liberty bond pay. If the bond is sent to you
let me know. Beginning with August an allotment of $15 a month
should come to you. I owe daddy some for lodge and also for
sending home the trunk, so take out of it all I owe you and the
rest (if you don't need it) you may put to my credit in the bank
as it is all I'll have when I get home. If you get no allotments
let me know right along, for sometimes they neglect things and I
can remedy it here at this end. I may also send some money home
thru the Y.M.C.A.'s as I very often have no chance whatever to
spend any and dont like to carry too much around with me.
Tell Arthur to use my kodak or any one for that matter and
get some pictures of them selves, and send them over, and of
course I want you to do the same. It is the next thing to seeing
you to set down once in a while and see some pictures from home.
For in a way this is a lonesome old life, believe me - even tho it
is exciting sometimes. And a few words from home & some snapshots
sure put a shot of life into you, and makes you feel like you are
something more than an atom to some one at least. So hoping in the
future to hear more from you and a line from Arthurs too. I am as
ever your loving son - Hoping you feel as fine & fit as I do I
will close & try to write again soo.
Paul B Hendlrickson Cpl.
Hdq co. 129 Inf. A.E.F. Via New York.
[note appended to top of letter, perhaps by his mother forwarding
letter on to other members of the family to read]
I recd this Sept 25. good while coming. up to that time I was
under the impression our mail went thru the cencors hands. the
July 10th letter was the last one before going to Crawford and
Aug. 7 the first after getting home.