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Letter, September 10, 1918

[Letter on color stationery of the American Y.M.C.A.

Sept 10 1918

Dear Father & Mother -

Well mother I notice your birth day will soon be here. But for the life of me I can't tell how old you will be. Cecil - I rec a letter from her today - gave me a clipping that had the article about Olans party. I was many many miles from where I am now when that took place. I was on the certain front where I was when writing you my last letter. Some lively time we had there. At least I'll never forget it.

But where I am now sitting, Jove if you could only peek in on me here. You would wonder how humans could be so near like rats. Yet for us, it is quite comfortable much better than the average. we have a tiny stove, the pipe goes out the stair way. A little table, and a grease lamp. composed by me as our candles run out. It is a Jelly glass, a pant lace, for a wick and tallow and grease from shelves where candles have been, we searched the dugout and all its tunnels to find a bit for a lamp. While it is very rainy and cold outside, we are getting along first rate with a fire in our stove. I have a mattress on my cot. The rats tho dont seem to mind where they go - just as leave run over your face at nite as try to get to your bread in the daytime. I dont think they like me very well as I have my loaf of bread hung from the ceiling on a wire. and one thing a mouse or rat can't do, is climb down a wire to a loaf of bread, which I am not at all sorry of. Well mother I am glad you do not know where I am for if you did, Jove you would worry a heap more than I do or you would have any reason to. My work does not take me to the front lines, but my curosity took me far past it not long ago.

got my eyes open too. picked up a jaw bone with 3 teeth on it, a quarter of a skull. next to the eye and numerous other articles so don't be surprised if I send a package home with a whole skull in it for I mean to if I ever get hold of one. I and a chum of mine went up from our dugout. Considering the front we are on and the place we were (great in this wars history) you might think us fools, but really we were not. Ive had the privelege of seeing quite a few very famous places since being over here. Paris being one of them only my stay there was very short. I've seen one of the most beautiful pieces of country since writing you. that Ive seen since coming to Francais. Parts beautiful beyond description. In letter to Cecil I tried to describe one place I was. The old castle impressed me quite a bit. Its solid walls - a couple feet thick. Its high turrets and loop hols-, was all over the gloomy thing. and its prison cells. marks left by men that had been thrown in prison for some reason or other. One engraved his name & date - 1139. and the Old castle Ill wager stood many more than 1 hundred of years before that. The dungeon tho. Such a place. made you feel queer to think of what probly had taken place in hundreds of years past at this place.

Well of late Ive been pretty interested in what is going on on the different fronts, but since Im on the job myself I dont get a paper and just have to wonder what the other fellows are doing.

The last big place we were at I and my buddie (the one writing with me tonite) got acquainted with some french girls. He can talk rather fluently. but me; while I could not talk so much as he yet I know enough of their language that I could enjoy my self too. They were two very nice young ladies. Was only with them 3 or 4 evenings tho. Well I will lay off this letter now and write more later if I can.

Well mom - I had a rather novel little experience last nite. While writing last evening I stated that the bread was hung where a rat or mouse could not climb to it. Well that is so - But - here is how it happened. Mr. rat comes bounding down stairs - and of course by experience knew the bread was where he could not climb and get it, so pounced on to my body, shoves in his toe nails and in one streneous leap reaches his goal - the loaf of bread. Of course when I felt him push I knew what was taking place. Well you may lay it on to me, but beware trying to rub it in like that. I was peeved at the nerve of the big brute - I sliped my hand over to the Colt .45 cal, cocked it, and with my other hand used the flash light. Well the bright light made him hesitate a second (they get so careless too, they take their time at whatever they do) and that was a bit too long for him, for I let him have one lead pill. was comical how it knocked him sprawling onto the floor. it went thru his back. He scrambled on the floor a bit so I pinned him down with my bayonet and went to sleep. So did he. This noon when I woke up he was cold. I tossed him outside. Strong asked me this morning what was going on last nite. I showed him the rat with the big hole in his back and he understood quite well what made the noise.

I sure will be glad when I hear from you again, has been quite a bit now since your last letter. Have heard you were to visit Bertha. was glad to hear that and have decided that to be the cause of the delay in not hearing from you.

I am getting all your letters I think so dont be afraid to tell me all the news of your trip, for I will be interested in all you can possibly have time to write. and write every chance you get. Jove it does you a world of good in these dismal holes if you can only get a letter from home once in a while. I know I am a good long ways off and may seem a bit like the child writing to Santa Clause stunt, but as I eventualy get all you write, its trs bon for me. And it doesnt do me much good to have bros. & sis, for I havent had a bloody scratch from the lot of them since Ive been over here, I do believe. Of course if they dont want to write, tres bon, but if they only knew how much the letters would be apreciated, Jove they would want to write and not only that, they would write. They may think, well he doesnt write to me - but why me start it. Ill do my bloody best to answer if they do write, but if I dont answer they should not feel discouraged, for I do believe if any of you were placed in this bloody wet dugout, with all these pesky rats, mice & lice, wet muddy trenches out side, no baths or change of clothes, shoes & leggings all covered with this clay stuff, wet wood to burn, a measly little candle for light, and thats not half of it, well I doubt if you would write as much as I do. Yet I am "comfortable" for I am well, "happy" - for I get plenty of good eats and "contented" - for I feel lucky to have even this much. Not so hard to please as I used to be, what you say mom? But even at that it sure would enjoy hearing more from home, that would be a "luxury." So please see if you cant see that I get a few more "luxuries." Life is not too long you know, and by Jove if a fellow deserves anything it is sure now. Ive sure seen a bunch of them that life over here has not been too long for. Sept. 21 - Well I guess you think this a diary by this time. But since writing the last I have seen quite a bit of Southern France, which believe me is wonderful for scenery and ancient places of interest. I traveled 3 full days from the lines to get to the school I have been sent to. This last week has sure been one of enjoyment. I am the only one from my co. sent at this time but upon arriving I found the Sgt. Baum from Danville that helped me with my work in Masonry. and I sure was tickled. So together we made a fair week of it. Just a school here and the people sure treat you fine. Not too many soldiers and you sure can have a fine time. Am leaving tho today. having hopes of seeing more of Paris before I get back. At one of the large towns we had to layover 4 hrs. I found a Masonic hall - Was sure glad to see one over in this country.

22/ I am lucky today - in Paris - And if you will look in the folios we have, or I guess we still have them, you can well tell what I've seen today. The Great tower, Arch of triumph etc. Will have to write a whole letter and tell you my experiences of today. This is certainly a beautiful place, so much of great interest to anyone who really cares for the like. In a real Hotel & real tub bath - Jove the first I've had in France and maybe you think this isnt some contrast to the trenches. Well mother dear, as my time here is limited as well as paper will close with heaps of love for all.

Paul

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