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Letter, December 26, 1918

[Letter on color stationery of the American Y.M.C.A. Received January 27, 1919.]

Ettelbruck, Luxemburg - Dec. 26 1918

Dear Father & Mother

I have your letters of Nov 17 - 26 & 30 here and am sure glad for the one of the 30th as that one lets me know you have rec the word of the 11th of Nov. Your letter of 26 and the Xmas box came day before Xmas and letter of 30th came on Xmas. So you see I have had a regular Xmas after all. And the box, had I fixed one and put in just what I wanted I don't believe it would have looked much different - Those Hearseys were the first I've had in Europe - also the chips and the box of candy. Made me think more than ever of home. I get so hungry for some of those candies, and the only thing here I can get in line of candies are like lemon drops - little pieces to suck on. a hearsey bar would cost you at least 5F. or in other words a dollar. Things of that nature are awfully high. Pie, 2 dollars and nothing like the ones we get at home. So you see we can't afford as much sweets as we desire after 6 or 7 months doing on such a little, for we desire a heap of it.

For Christmas dinner our band played while the boys ate. Then we came last and a hungry bunch we were and did justice to a good feed - Menu - Roast pork, with apple sauce, Brown gravy, Roast chicken with dressing, Mashed potatoes, Salad, Butter, Coffee, Ice cream (first since coming over), Christmas cake, cigars, cigarettes, candy and Luxemburg Liquors (Beer). And our company fed close on to 400 men. Sure is some work for a set of cooks to produce a meal like that one was and for that many men. And our efforts were also appreciate, for every one seems to care more for music than when in the states for there are no shows and that makes the band quite popular amongst the companies of the Reg.

Last Sunday we played a concert for one company and after it was over the Capt of the company took us in a big Cafe and set up the drinks for us all. When they treat you like that, then you feel as if they realy mean it.

I guess we are permanently settled here for the companies are drilling as in Logan, and for us - We are so busy playing for guard mount at 10 a.m. and parades Battalion and regimental parades. also give concert at Divisional Hdq. once a week. we hardly have time for a band rehearsal any more. Seems we play for everything. Just in from playing for an inspection of transports and am nearly froze. Its awfully cold standing around. Snow on the ground. Had a white Xmas here, there was no snow on the ground when we went to bed, but was covered when we got up Xmas morning and is still white. We have to play now all afternoon out on a big wind swept parade grounds. She's going to be a cold one.

Well if we can't come home, it is better we stay right here. For we have a very fine place. I've sent a card picture & described it before, and I'm telling you we feel lucky to have so good a place. On our long hike we slept in most every imaginable place. Barns, school houses, empty halls, a prison & a castle. I guess thats about all. Cooties & fleas every place we went until now, am getting pretty well rid of them as every thing is so clean here and we can bathe as often as we want to in a big tub; hot water & cold shower and we have plenty of room; tables, chairs and all the comforts that could be expected, only a three minutes walk down town where there is wine, women & song; very pretty cafe's and we are enjoying ourselves as best we can, but there is one thing we all want, - to come home.

Mother, once in a while a letter comes out in the Watseka papers and I also noticed one was printed in a Danville paper, written by a young Watseka attorney or sometimes mentioned as lawyer, Elmer Taylor. If you ever see any - save them. he writes fine letters; is a fine man. Studies hard, got me interested in good literature, and one of the greatest helps I have. I think I've mentioned him before, a bro in the lodge and every other way. So if you read anything of his, you can take it as of me, as well; in regards to our service over here, we share the same, sleep together and are together all the time. He is of about the same serious nature as myself - likes fun and all that, but are moments when we wish to have confidential talks & discussions, so we take a long walk and talk or study over the matter at hand. He is a help to me in every way. Being 32 or 3 years old - a graduate from Ohio Northern University in law - and having practiced law, and a deep thinker too, just to associate with him and hear his ideas on things we talk of is making good use of my time, his influence is absolutely for the good. he is unhampered in regards religion, like myself belongs to no church, but a firm believer in God. I have a greater admiration for him the longer I associate with him; and he has confidence enough in me to talk of the intimate things of his life and his future plans, and gives me many good bits of advice. something he does with no one else. Also gives me some one to feel the same relationship with. For what we talk of in this way - goes no farther, gives him the chance to benefit but putting his ideas into words and me the benefit by hearing them.

We went together to visit the ruins of the Old Citidel I sent you a card of. Built by Louis 14th - completed year 1123. I am safe in saying we got more good out of the visit to those old ruins than any other two in the company. It was a very few who could leave the hotels & cafes long enough to go up on the cliff and visit the place. I an Elmer spent the whole afternoon going over the ruins, letting ourselves go back to 1123 - if possible, and figure out, by the remains, how it must have been and how they must have lived, and as regards the history of Old Louis 14th - we wondered of the many things that must have happened within those walls that the world knows nothing of. We both got to experience in reality the desires of our child hood - to visit an old castle on a high cliff. They are very high above the town quite a climb up - and first you go into a defense portion, walls 8 ft and possibly more in thickness, firing holes and all. Thru that up a beautifull drive into the great court of the one time Palace. Of the living portion or Palace the floors are gone but a great ammount of the walls remains; looking out from these windows on the very point of the cliff is a wonderful sight. Looking straight down is the city far below - a straight drop down and the most picturesque valley - words cannot describe it. The gardens on one side - almost a hundred feet straight down reached by a long flight of stone stairs, laid out in a pretty design - with a path leading out to a shaded little nook, where there is a stone table and stone seats - and from this point, looking most straight down over the tops of fir trees into the river. The drive leading down into the Valley where the city is - is lined on each side by a row of ever greens - which touch it off wonderfully.

In all, I never spent such an afternoon in all my life, and with just the right kind of company to receive the full enjoyment of the occasion. We also put our names on the guest book.

The long hike - all the way thru was a most interesting one. Going out of France, into Lorraine and into Luxemburg. Mother this little country is my ideal of a beautiful country. So clean all the way thru. their roads are beautifull drives. smooth as a floor, every inch of land possible under cultivation. Where too hilly for grain, it is terraced & truck raised. Its marvelous what can be produced off of such a small piece of land. Thrift. People look well-to-do, dress neat and some rather expensive. Industry and cleanliness marks the whole country. Hospitable as ever you saw anyone. We are treated here with greatest respect, they seem to be anxious to associate with us. many among us speak their language well and some of them speak English. They are generous, surprisingly so, when you consider the cost of things over here. And always a crowd out when we play. We are close of Diekirch, Div. Hdq. and if you see a map of Luxemburg, of any size at all, I think you will find Diekirch on it. I am sorry I did not tell you long ago that I am in the Thirty Third division.

Well I've been intertained by French girls and now by Luxemburg or german girls, like one as well as the other, but can hardly wait until I can again be intertained by an American girl, they are my preference always.

Well Mother I am sorry now I got so impatient about the clippings, for I know you felt bad; when you did it, I know, with best of intentions. But I wanted news from home so bad I begrudged them their little space in the envelop. I don't believe you can realize just what a letter from you ment to me; and does yet. Clippings of things happening at home are intiresting, such as you sent in last letter, but things pertaining to what we were doing over here - knew too much already. Want to forget, some of it at least, as soon as I can.

Am glad you are rec. allotments; bonds will probly show up some time. hope so at least, for $150 is not so easy made - that I would enjoy giving it away, just for the pleasure of giving. Anyway I feel I have sacraficed enough as it is; not hesitating at any time to give my all, if need be. You expressed a thot in reference to my being there to soil my gown next time, that has come into my mind many times, "If I ever get home, I'm afraid I will have to keep pinching my self to see if it really is so, or if it is only a dream." Dont stop writing to me. For lord knows how much longer we may be over here. Haven't the least hopes now of being home soon, and nothing to judge from, and not even a thing to give us an idea when we may get started. So write just as always. And tell Fleda she won't be the only one who will cry for joy, if I ever get to see you all again. I try not to think too much of home for it seems rather much in the future at best. But am hoping we all live to see the day even tho it may not be as soon as we at first thot, and hoped so much for. Flu has not bothered us hardly at all. Am feeling as well as ever I did in my life - anxious to be home and doing something, for about all I get out of this is a little general knowledge of the people - their customs, and some beautiful scenery & some rare old sights, such as the old ruins.

I am glad to hear my clothes are so ready to be occupied, and in such good shape as you say they are - for I don't imagine I am going to be able to buy a great deal - the way I imagine prices now are. So the ones at home may do all O.K. until I can get on my feet again, and settled back into civil life which will probly take me longer than I think. I'm afraid I'll want to visit too much. I'll tell you I can hardly wait to see home again, for it won't be long now until my 2 year period will be up and I'm telling you they have been the longest 2 years of my life, but interesting, very educational and pretty bloody exciting at times. I would not take anything for the experiences I've had and what I've learned in those months. I can't say my time is entirely wasted as it is, but I feel I could be making so much better use of it if home, as the danger seems to be over, yet I suppose they know best, for there may be more danger than we think, and its cheaper to keep a good army over here than take it home and have to bring it back again.

About going to school over here or in England I understand provisions were made for some officers, but that is all I ever heard of and I would not stay even if I had chance to. You need not worry but that I will be home just as soon as I can.

I suppose by time you rec. my letter Guy will be home. Sure is lucky for him. He got a touch of the war alright but none of the real hard part of it. For it was a great old war over in the states, I enjoyed it real well, but have had very little to enjoy since coming over until just the last few days. And too, there is enjoyment in being where you can talk and be understood. I hate to have to learn a new language for every state (or country it is over here.) I go into. And when I do meet with nice people such a little can be said that it is provoking.

That was some article about Paralee wedding and very interesting. Wish I could have seen her married. All my old friends I guess are now married. Well I wish them all happiness, and hope to make up for my lost 2 years when I get home, but not by getting married.

And a word about Maude in regards to the Xmas box. I realize the position you were placed in - you, I am sure did not feel like calling up people and asking them if they had any thing to send your son, and knowing her as I do, I feel she is somewhat touchy - she probly thinks she has a right to be but I can't see it that way - and you did the proper thing. while I know she feels sorry yet it can't be helped and I guess she has no one to blame but her self. I appreciate her desire to send and attempt she made - tho she did not get it to me.

Yes mother - it seems that things are coming to pass very swiftly and the bible and your teachings (to me) from childhood have served me well. Have been more or less prepared all along and can see a cause for all this that others cannot, and feel more confident in regards the future, because up until present date - things have come to pass as fore told, hundreds of years ago, and that increases my faith more than ever, and it seems reasonable to believe if it has happened so closely as foretold, up until present, there is no reason why it should not continue so until the end.

Well - I wont get to write so soon again - for we have so much to do and I go down town a great deal as it is my first chance for a little enjoyment, but will do best I can. I haven't got you much word since our hike began - in shape of letters. I am glad tho my letters seem interesting to you - I don't give them much thot in that way - just sit here and try as best I can to tell you of some of the things I want you to know. Its my earnest hope you are well and are having no trouble with the flu. With love to all - your son

Paul B. Hendrickson -

Hdq. co - 129 Inf. 33rd. Div. A.E.F.

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