Letter, December 3, 1918
[Letter on color stationery
of the American Y.M.C.A. and color stationery of the Y.M.C.A., Union Franco-Américaine.]
Rupt en Woevre - France - Dec- 3 - 1918 -
Dear Father & Mother -
Mother, I can't begin to express how I enjoyed your dear good
letter of Nov 5 & 6 & 7. It was such a good long newsy one and as
you said it was like writing to your old time boy - so the letter
was just like the old time letters. And I could not find fault
with any part of it even tho you did suspect I probly would, a
certain statement you made.
I am glad for it all. For the more you tell me, the more I
will know. You can learn from study, observation & lectures. I
consider a letter a lecture or a good talk rather. And this one
was sure a good motherly talk of 14 pages of very small hand
writing. Now I'm not kidding you, only glad you write small for
then you can tell me so much in one letter. I guess I don't write
very large myself - for the fellows generally remark about it when
they happen to be writing near me.
I know you were glad to know I had finally rec. your letters,
for I was feeling bad and while I did not blame you, for I felt
sure it was our mail service, yet I did not know until then just
how loyal you were to me. You see we were on a hard push at this
time. Every available bit of transport was used for ammunition and
rations so the mail piled up and was neglected. Rain every day -
roads so bad you could hardly go any place - muddy and conjested
beyond description. So its no wonder our service was all shot. But
when finally it did get straight, it has been fairly well ever
I know you have worried, probly more than worried about me
while being over here. You can't help that. I've probly made the
statement before that I never expected or even counted on living
thru this war. I had made up my mind in regards to that, so to
have it stop so soon and me still alive and not having rec. any
injuries of any description - well its just about like being
resurrected from what I had made up my mind to be sure death.
Those areoplane bombs, a few times they gave me close calls, but
shells, they gave me some bloody close ones, and gas, my
resperator pulled me safely thru all the gas attacks I've been in.
Weather has given me the hardest jolt of any. I was lucky enough
to escape the other - but the weather, I got my share with every
one and it has been - not any too good the past few months. Not
cold now, but extremely wet & muddy ang [sic] very chilly. Gives
us a frost occasionally.
At times I have been quite safe - you did not know it tho;
and sometimes in more danger than you or I either could realize -
makes me feel cold to stop and think of it now, so as you knew not
when to feel concerned or relieved about my condition, naturally
you have been feeling concerned all the time, worse than I've been
going thru, I sure would not trade places or have been willing to
at any time; only I wish it could have been possible to let you
know when I was safe so you could have felt at ease at least a
Well, I'll tell you just when you could have felt that I was
real safe - the first four weeks after I landed. From then on I
have been under shell fire or areo raids until Nov. 11 - with the
exception of the 7 days I was at school in southern France. I was
7 days traveling - making 14 days in all - But I have been
reasonably safe quite a bit more than that. Have been on four
fronts and our longest stay being 45 days without any relief
during one of the hardest pushes any place. Forcing the line of
So I know if prayers count, you have done your part and what
more could you do. Absolutely helpless, outside of your prayers.
In a material way - your letters have done all that could be
expected to cheer me up. news from home - valuable beyond price. I
feel lucky to have a mother who can write me just what I want to
know. I suppose that comes from our close association from infancy
(for me) up and you can easily judge what I would want to know by
writing to me just like you more than likely would talk to me if I
were there - only of course in a sample fashion, so when I get
home we will quit sampling (letters) and go to talking right. Will
bring on the full fare.
Well mother it can not be many months surely until I do get
to come home - and as unexpected as it was when I ask you about
topping the trees it may turn out to be reality yet and this
spring too. Many a statement - made in jest only has turned out to
be a truth. I most sincerely hope so in this case. I notice the
names of some of the divisions being started home but see nothing
of ours. And we never hear anything either, so when ever it may be
- we will not be among the first ones at best. We have been here
longer than any ones mentioned and seen as much fighting as the
best considering length of time over here - so we have no idea
what system of qualifications are nessessary to put you among the
first on you home ward bound journey.
I am glad to know my letter of advise to Cecil was
appreciated and considered good advise - I don't like to give
advise, but I don't mind expressing my honest opinion to any one
who I believe realy desires it and may rec. some good from it, but
for any one to criticize, and for that only - I don't care for
their opinion and have very little desire to associate with them
other than as ordinary friends. Not many people, Ill assure you -
I would write to as I did Cecil - for I would be doubtful of their
appreciation for my desire to help them. Its my desire to be
helpfull to all my true friends - others are not interested in me
- so why me bother about them. And this big game of life is
appearing more and more to be like the old saying - "God helps
those who help themselves." Its the only way you can live in the
So Maude thinks my last letters sounded rather indifferent.
Well it did seem she was not writing any more than some others who
just considered me a friend and I suppose I expected more from
her. I have an idea of the kind of atmosphere she is now in for I
am well acquainted with the language used in connection with
railroads & their offices. I was sure sorry to hear of her making
the change but of course money talks and a person will endure a
whole lot for it. I don't wonder and the work is hard on her
nerves - being harder for one thing and the above mentioned too.
Wonder what her old man will think of me when I get back. If I
live up to my training and be in bed by 10:30 every nite - I
suppose he wont mind my coming to see her. Bet it wont take long
to break me of that habit.
Well mother I dont use tobacco any more than I did at home.
I've eaten and drank every thing they make in this country I could
get my hands on but have acquired no more taste for fine drinks
than I had. They have as you may know, plenty of fine drinks, and
as you have often read the remark that the only thing they use
water for is to put it under their bridges; which I'll swear is
more truth than poetry.
I'll be glad to get back where I can get decent water to
drink. Coffee is all I drink now as it is all I can get outside of
So Dale Jordan is now married. Of course I must not be
surprised for every girl now seems to have but one ambition, to
get married. But I don't remember you ever telling me of her being
married and so she now has a youngster. Well thats nice, but such
has never appealed very forcefull to me as yet.
The rats? And how big are they really? Well I did exagerate
maybe but they are truly the largest I've ever had any experience
with or ever want to see again. Big enough to be dangerous at
You mentioned the Xmas slip. I wonder if I will get the box
now all O.K. as we are beginning to send troops back now. Our big
hollidays seem awfully slim over here - days in name only. Nothing
in action to remember them by. It is our inability to celebrate
them as we wish to do, that will mark them in our history.
Did I mention before of Stella Dodd being dead? Her mother
wrote me in answer to one of my letters to Stella and said that
she had died 3 days before. She was a nurse & had contracted the
flu from a patient. We have had very little experience with it
over here. God - what we have been thru; and in very decent
physical condition yet.
Have rec two letters from Bertha & one from Thelma in the
last couple days. I could not ask for more than that.
Well in music I am improving slowly but surely. I know I can
do more than ever I could before. I get more rehearsing or as much
in one day as I ever did before in a week outside of concerts and
all. Played a concert in St Mihiel yesterday.
I just rec. a letter - long one - from Leah Longstreth,
telling me of her and Oral. She is having some experience down
there. I hope I get to see her - for she has surely sent me the
most interesting letters, to be from some one I've not the least
idea of their characteristics and just letters to judge from. and
my letters must interest her for she always answers and seems so
glad to hear from me.
Well the grand subject & most discussed one is what all we
are going to eat when we get home - sure would make you laugh to
hear us talk. Its all pie it seems - next is cake - outside of
that there is very little else mentioned, so it will be comical to
see this bunch land in gods country and see some of the orders
they will put in.
Well I never thot much of home until lately. And things were
so exciting sometimes I had no time to think of it even tho I had
wished to do so. But now: that it seems a sure thing we will soon
be on our way or at least there is no fighting and pease seems to
be a pretty certain thing and it can be counted on we will be home
some time at least - time sure goes slow. And the uncertainty of
when or where we will come in on the list to be sent back, and
all, its more trying it seems than when we were at war and had
real things to occupy our minds.
There simply is no place like home to this bunch. And the
sooner the quicker as we say.
Well I will close and write again soon as we have a pretty
good chance to do so now -
With love to all - I am as ever your loving son
Paul B Hendrickson
Hdq. Co. 129 Inf. A.E.F.