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Letter, December 13, 1918

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

Dec. 13, 1918

Dear Father & Mother -

Ah - I am back now in my school days, sitting in a small Luxemburg school house. And six days ago? I was near the Meuse river south of Verdun at Rupt en Woevre. We started on our march, every day making from 18 to 34 kilometres. About 130 in all - went into Lorraine and now in the country of Luxemburg not far from the city of the same name - 11 kilo's I think. This is the 7th day out. And we are resting. Six days ye shall work and on the 7th day rest. And I'm glad it is so - for my feet are sore - need a rest bad. I find that shoes for ordinary work, are too small for long hikes. feel too short. The roads are all hard roads. very hard to march on. Jar you so. I suppose tomorrow we will continue the march. I don't know how much farther it will be - but some say we have 7 more days to go. We are traveling pretty light tho. carry our toilet articles and musical instruments & an extra pr. sox, steel hats, gas mask & gun or automatic, the band carries. Well I've seen some beautiful country in the past few days. As we went on our march leaving the battle fields of France behind on to the border of Lorraine, it was very noticable how the effects of the war diminished, from trenches and barbed wire and every imaginable kind of warfare materials we went out of the hills onto the Woevre plains to within 18 miles of Metz & then turned north to Luxemburg. As we went back the villages, only, showed signs of a war, long range shelling and areo bombs. Then we came into a part of country where troops marching thru is all they had to remember the war by, outside of minor hardships caused by the long duration of the war. But Luxemburg (country) which was neutral during the war - even tho it was surrounded by germans - was such a difference. Industry - great mills & smeltering works & plants of all kinds - made you think your hit Detroit or something of that kind. They sure are a thrifty race of people - have a picturesque country. We can buy things to eat here and we all go crazy to get hold of home cooking. such a change from so many months of nothing but army grub. They seem to have plenty here. People here of course speak german and about half of the band fellows can speak it well. Use german money now. Lord knows how many languages I will have to learn something of before I get home. I know the worth of their money in comaparison [sic] with french money. American money of course is not known over here. We may go into German territory before we wind up our hike. It has rained nearly all the time of our hike, but we have been billeted well and slept warm & dry and I feel fine, better than I did before I started, outside of my feet. We play quite often coming along the road. Had a concert at one town we were in. Our general came out to enjoy the music - he said so at least.

We certainly could not ask for better treatment than we are being shown here. Never better any place I've been. So very sociable, and show marked respect - considering we are foreigners over here and all else. Met one woman who could speak good english - had lived 11 years ago near St Paul over in the states. She told us many things of interest.

People here gave the band their school house to billet in - scrubbed it and had a good fire going in the stove when we came in all soaked. Have one of the best billeting places in this town. And they are not holding school today - letting us use the house all day.

Our Chief Musician is staying with the Priest. I got the first apples to eat today Ive had since leaving the states. Sure tasted fine.

The church here - I've visited the church in every town we have stopped in and while this one is simular, yet there is a difference. The Altar is a gorgeous piece of hand carved walnut with inlaid metals and white & gold statuary, Yea gods it is beautiful.

Mother I wish you could see what I am seeing. I wish all of you could for that matter, only I would not wish you to travel as I am. for it is tiresome, yet I have enjoyed it all.

We are now about 10 kilos from Belgium. Wish I had time I would go across the border. Guess tho I am seeing enough as it is.

I guess we will be over in this country some time now. Hope you all are as well and enjoying your self as much as I am. Hoping to be with you some time in near future I am your loving son

Paul B Hendrickson

Hdq. co. 129. Inf. A.E.F.

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December 1918