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Letter, October 23, 1918

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

Oct 23 18

Dear father and mother -

Having rec. your letter of Sept 11, 17, I will answer now or at least start to. Im afraid some of my mail is not getting over to you - and I know Cecil is not rec. all I've sent her. Well from the news you are sure getting now, I suppose you are much concerned but if you hear nothing, in a way you are lucky; I guess I can feel lucky also very thankfull too, that I am among the living, but as yet I am just as alive as ever I have been. And if Ive lived thru the last month or so, I guess you may feel rested now for I am not in it at present, getting some rest after the streneous weeks of hard work in this front. As we've been at it for quite a long time, I can truthfully say we need some rest. But I hate awfully much to hear of your worring. I know its usless to tell you not to, and I will watch myself to let no large gap come in between letters again. We were up on the front, where you ask about, concerning the Y.M.C.A. paper. They were sure a loyal bunch of soldiers, treated us like brothers and are the nearest like Americans of any men I've seen over here out side of our own bunch. When they moved us down from there I could find no time to write for quite a while as being in the sigs then, we had our hardest work to do. But now being in the band I believe I will have a better opportunity for writing. I imagine how you feel, I know its not pleasant knowing your kid is on the line and receive no word from him, and as you also know some extremely hard fighting has been going on down here, you have had a perfectly good reason for worring. I will not ask you to quit, but write more and try to prove to you there's no use in it. I think we are due for quite a little rest now, probly be moved back quite a ways. hope so at least, for we've been on the lines since last of june. quite a bit dont you think? but not all on one sector.

I hope daddy has had the good luck to get the raise you mentioned, sure makes it nice for him these trying times. Buy liberty bonds as much as you like for that is all I've seen any benefit of over here. All these other things they keep wanting help on I've never seen one yet, I guess back of the lines the boys see them, but as I've never been back to any extent I know nothing of them myself.

You are not selfish for wanting to see me get your own knitting, but I have all I can make use of. cant carry any more. yea gods, when a man has to carry every thing he has, he dont want a bunch of sox, scarfs, wristlets, helmets, sweaters & numerous other articles, quite as useless as some of them are. I will be taken care of and no mother need worry about her son over here.

Ah, the "fair maiden" business makes me laugh, am also rec. letters from Quincy and Alvin, Tex, that sure would make you laugh - one says she considers herself engaged to me and the other one wants to know if it will do her any good to continue loving me. if I will ever return it, now what kind of an answer do you suppose I made?

Takes more courage to face that bombardment than any the huns have ever thrown over at me. As a matter of fact I feel reasonably safe over here across the water from it, and am not letting it worry me as I will have plenty of time to decide when I return home which I hope to do, and soon. I may be one of the lucky ones - and while there life there hope.

The boys are a mighty good humored set considering. Find enjoyment where you would think it impossible; laugh even when a shell explods right by them, and after a hasty search they find they are all left yet, happy just to be alive. rather a grim kind of enjoyment, yet we are never so happy, as when we have a close call and still able to move.

The battery you mentioned, I saw and had a long talk with them all. They have had some wonderful experiences and lucky escapes. and such a few casualties, considering.

I can hardly imagine the extent to which the men are being called, sure are cleaning them all out, and you sure are going to have more sons & son's by law in it unless they are exempted, which I believe some will be, as we have to have producers or we cant fight over here - and some will have to be left.

Yes your troubls do seem to be coming thick and fast. I hardly know how you can be helped much, unless you just forget a few of them if possible. but that dont keep new ones from coming up does it?

One of the things you want to forget is one you mentioned in letter of Sept 17, the imagining of where I might be and some of the horrible things I may be enduring. You would be greatly surprised to know how comfortable I am sometimes when I know you cant help but be worring over my situation. so you can see by that how useless it is; for you cant feel concerned at the time it is probly nessessary. so you feel that way all the time. a man can endure most anything with out a whimper when others around are doing the same thing. and when I say I haven't even a cold after these streneous weeks, you can easily see I have not gone or have been forced to go beyond my endurance. of course you get hungry & tired as the very devil but you get over that easy enough.

Have been hearing quite a bit of the big fair. We've been having a lively time over here too, so you haven't any thing on us even with a big fair. I've seen more dead horses than you've seen live ones. And air intertainment is quite the natural course of the day - damn interesting stuff some of it is.

Just rec. your letter of the 24th of Sept. So glad you put in Berthas letter, for I have been wondering so much about her since getting your other letters.

And so glad to hear about Guy getting to come home, he sure is lucky. I would hardly know how to act if I should get to come home. I know he must be one happy boy - and he has a just cause to be happy for he has been in the army enough by now to know something of what a soldier thinks of home - "the nearest heaven one can get on earth." thats what we think over here.

So Olan is getting too large for my clothes, I don't doubt it at all, for he sure looked to have a good start the evening I came thru Danville on my way over here. I doubt now if I could get in those wool pants myself. But dont let any of my stuff get away for I may get to use some of my things yet. Have I still a civilian suit of clothes at home?

So Olan is still going with June, well I'm glad to hear it. I imagine her to be a mighty nice kid. Is miles going with the young skirts yet? or thinking much about them? They have me about scared out, I used to feel they slighted me, and I still think they did. have a possible chance now of getting even.

Well it wont be long now until we will be wearing our service strip of the six months duration, the gold V shaped cheveron. will be doing so before you get this letter.

Yes mother it did sound funny to have you mention going to a party. Cecil must be getting to be quite a lady by now. I hope she keeps up with her studies.

The pictures sure do me a world of good, am getting so many now, many an hour I've spent looking at them.

Will have to close now for we are busy and much on the go. very hard to find time to write at such times.

I wont get to write to Cecil this time. She gives me quite a bit of interesting new of the young folks in our neighborhood. I have no idea where I will be when I get to write to you again. will send you a "whiz bang" every now and then. they will let you know if I am alive or not, and that will help some.

Ive rec. pay over here and sent some home; do as you said you would. let me know as soon as government sends it to you or it comes thru in money order. I have receipt of the money order. will close with lots of love for father & mother & the other kids if they will write -

Paul Hendrickson

Hdq. co. 129 Inf. A.E.F. via N.Y.

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October 1918