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Letter, November 15, 1918

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

Nov. 15 1918

Dear Father & Mother

Well mother I rec your letter of Oct 15th or it had just a 1 on it but envelope said 15th so I made it out as such. and that was yesterday, and today I get the one dated Oct. 25. Am so glad to know Guy is not in the training camps just now, he sure is a lucky kid.

Those pictures Dell has been sending of Miles & Olan and Guy in uniform and diff. other ones sure are good. Hope I get to see you all before too long. I am so sorry tho the way every one is getting the fluzey as you call it. Every one of the boys here gets word from home just the same as I am. I am hoping you all pull thru all O.K. for it would seem a shame, me over here going thru what I have, with out even a scratch and there at home, where you are so far away and safe from the huns to be taken with such a disease. Seems funny a soldier in the front lines should have to feel concerned in the safety of his loved ones at home. But as you say, there is a time coming when things will not be such as they are at present. Which cant be at all too soon.

You mentioned Ward Black, being home in interest of Red Cross & Y.M.C.A. and being up in front line trenches. I dont want to contridict any thing he might have said, but if he has been working with the Y.M.C.A's he never saw the front lines or any ways near them unless he is exceptional, and there may be such cases, for in no instance can I remember of having seen any of them with in at least a few miles of the front. For when one comes within a few miles of us we make a bee line for him, and get what little they have or will sell to any one man. Y.M.C.A.'s are doing a wonderful work back at Paris and many other large towns & cities I've been in, but up on the real - honest to God - front line - never. I havent talked with a dough boy yet that ever said he saw one up there where the most good could be done. It's been a shame too the way they are lauded up and then you come to find out the fellows who receive the most and nearly all the real benefit are those, perhapps who have never seen the front lines at all.

It would surprise you now to know the number of men over here who know nothing of front lines. Are in training camps over here and they also have plenty of time to write home, for instance some you mentioned writing twice a week. And when you consider that up until present date I can count the number of weeks on my fingers that I've been from under shell fire, you have an idea then why it is I havent had an opportunity to write more than I did, no paper at times, no Y.M.C.A.'s close enough that I could get it of and no place to buy any. what are you to do. I'm afraid some people are going to be sadly disallusioned when some of their regular front line, fighting division lads come home. Am sorry to say there are many who will never come home, and they are the red blooded ones too who have shouldered the many blunts and the bloody responsibility of which no one can describe and no one will ever know other than those who have gone thru it. Our div. has not been relieved from front line duty since Sept. 1. Our boys were holding this sector when armistice was signed, you see when we were in the states we were getting our training and as soon as we got over here, have been doing real work ever since. French praise us highly, Australians gave us wonderful praise when with them & same with the English and what experience I've had with then I've seen bloody good work done.

Well up until present no accident has befallen me, and I haven't killed anyone either and am bloody glad of it too. I don't like to kill chickens - much less men. Oh, of course cooties and rats, I don't hesitate an instant on killing them.

In regards now to your letter of Oct. 25, I cant understand Hoyt in the least. Its a bloody shame the way he treats his parents and there isn't an officer over here so busy they cant write to their folks and they have no trouble having them censored for they do it them selves and it would not take me long to tell him what I think about it, for I've been with Aunt quite a bit down there and she was most nearly heart broken the way he showed such indifference. I'd have more respect for an every day friend than he shows for his father and mother, and the way they have sacrificed for him and gave him the education which enabled him to make the advancement he has and especially get started with a commission, which is an asset to any man. And Aunt deserves best treatment for she sure has been a loyal mother to her son. But I guess the ones that receive the most appreciate it the least. I sure had some fine talks with Aunt while down there, she was my mother for fair. Pearl sent me some pictures and I have one like you sent, but will keep this one and bring it home.

Am so glad to know you got my money order. I guess I will keep and bring home the rest of my money, and not take any chance on it getting lost. And the allotments will be late I know. And you want to get ready to pay up your indebtedness, for I am quite unreasonable with those that owe to me.

Your garden has surely been doing good this summer and fall and if it keeps on this winter. And I'll tell you it is getting to be winter over here. Real sharp tonight. You ought to see our home in the woods. Can crawl up into an observatory post in some large tree and see hundreds of sq. miles of France and Germany. These dugouts are "made by germans" and are good ones. Hilly, yea gods, I haven't been able to walk on level ground for so long I wont know how to act when I do get to level country. and mud - slide around like you were on ice instead of dirt, jove but it is slick. My lodging places are no better than before coming in the band, I am still cpl; in the band tho, get $4 more on the month. Captain dont seem to care to reduce me, but I think he will soon. But will do my duties as a corporal so long as they leave me such. I can handle now a better grade of music than ever before for this chief we have is an old man at the business and knows the way to handle a real band, and I wish you could hear us play now. Are gaining a reputation every place we play. But we work. are getting new music right along now, and good, hard, standard music too.

Speaking of music makes me think of you mentioning Mary Headly having fluzy. I hope I get to see her some time. It sure would be interesting to meet her and have a little chat after our long silence.

I expect Fleda will find me stale tho on solo work as I don't get any of that, but altogether, being in the work and with the musical influence around you all the time, I sure will be some better for my experience, than if I was not in it at all, even tho I am not working on solos. And I will be able to step into a pretty good band and play at least 1st or 2nd cornet parts without any trouble. Sure get a world of practice, two rehearsals a day of more than an hour each besides a concert every evening it is not too cold when we go to reg. Hdq. to play retreat.

The band boy's are all a nice looking lot of fellows, and intelligent too. And the lawyer & bro. mason that helps me so much, I sure think more of him all the time.

Every one else here has gone to bed. only time I can write is at nite as we are busy all day long. Our captain is taking such an interest in our work and our personal appearance is trying to get all uniforms alike, overcoats all alike, and new caps and we all wear our little gold service stripe now and look real nobby - considering. For front line trench fellows we look extremely well dressed. Our band had to go in as stretcher bearers, one fellow got his face burned by a tracer bullet from a jerry plane, but no one was killed or wounded. Certainly was lucky too. Well mother, they cant send me home too soon, if it is now over - which we all sincerly hope is the case. I never had the least idea of being alive at the end of the war, when I came over, but now they say its over and me without a scratch or even lungs affected by gas (thanks to resperator) (or mask as commonly called) and never killed a man - I feel good so far. Now I want to see good Old U.S.A. will close with a world of love for all.

Your loving son.

Paul B Hendrickson

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

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November 1918