Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: January 15-21, 1918

January 15th, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, we’re going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: nineteen-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry, which will feature Bassett’s letters to thirteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Forrest W. Bassett was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917 he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps’ 6th Field Battalion.

Ava Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. Both of Marie’s parents – and her three older siblings – were born in Wisconsin. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. By 1917 they were in Beloit.

Frequently mentioned in the letters are Forrest’s older half-sister Blanche Treadway (born 1883), who had married Arthur Poquette in 1904, and Marie’s older sister Ethel (born 1896).

Highlights from this week’s letters include new equipment, transfer to a new unit, and typhoid inoculations.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 20, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 20, 1918

Jan. 20, 1918

Dear Marie,

I am mighty sorry I haven’t written to you oftener. Please don’t think that I am not thinking of you. I am surely going to write you a long “newsy” letter Monday or Wednesday and try to make up. Now, little Girlie please forgive me this once more will you?

With love,
Forrest.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 21, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 21, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 21, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 21, 1918

Jan 21, 1918.

Dear Marie,

I am sorry that you are not feeling well. What is wrong with Mother? I want you to keep the sweater so of course you may alter it as you like. There are no negatives in my desk except the ones that I took with Roy’s camera. Did you get the picture of the Cantonment that I sent? The little signet ring you gave me shows very plainly in that picture of you picking cherries by the porch. Do you remember when we took that picture on July 4th? The ring is quite distinct in that picture of you in the canoe with the duck. Have you got these two pictures? It doesn’t look as if we will take any more next summer. We have our pistol belts now and all our equipment and clothes has been stamped A6F.BN.S.C. We were all measured for shoes a short time ago. I put on a 9D shoe the first time, picked up the dumb-bell and stood on one foot while the lietenent felt of the shoe to see how it fit. He said it was too small so I had to take a 9 ½ C. It looks as if we are going to do some footwork alright. We are no longer mounted. Never again will the bugle blow “Prepare to Mount” for Co. A-6. We expect to have motor equipment before we leave U.S. Each morning I attend a motor class for two hours at the War College. There are six others from A-6 in the same class. The work is quite interesting.

I have been transferred to the First Section. This section does more actual field work than the 5th section, which moves about very little in real service. The section-chief, Sergeant Baber, is the telegraph instructor of the Company. He sure is a fine fellow and is some operator alright. Corporal Abrahms, with whom rode as far as Chi., Thanksgiving, is also in this section. The “First” is probably the leading section in the Company and I sure am glad to get in it.

I had to take my three triple-typhoid innoculations all over again as the old record was lost at the hospital. This differs from a vaccination as the serum is injected with a hypodermic needle. I am not going to argue vaccination at long range but I know that no M.D. will ever get a shot at me after I get back in civilian life.

Well the Company goes on guard again tomorrow night so I think I will hit the straw early tonight.

With love,
Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

V-Mail: You Write, He’ll Fight

January 9th, 2018

Victory Mail, commonly called V-Mail, was a process developed in 1942 to more efficiently transport the immense amount of correspondence being generated between military personnel and their families during World War II. The system was a cooperated effort between the U.S. Postal Service and the military, intended to preserve precious cargo space for essential military personnel, equipment, and supplies by reducing the volume and weight of the mail.

Image of a blank v-mail sheet, undated

Image of a blank v-mail sheet, undated

Image of a Blank v-mail envelope, undated.

Blank v-mail sheets and envelope.
Personal collection of Kathy Lafferty. Click images to enlarge.

A V-Mail letter started out as a single sheet of pre-printed stationery that served as both letter and envelope. The use of V-Mail was voluntary for both military personnel and those on the home front, but its use was encouraged by all branches of the U.S. military as a way to support the war effort. Correspondents were instructed to write only within the space provided, using dark ink or a heavy pencil, then to fold and seal the paper along the lines indicated, forming an envelope. V-Mail was mailed along with normal U.S. mail. Post office staff separated out the V-Mail and sent it to V-Mail stations for filming, using equipment provided by Eastman Kodak. In the U.S., these stations were located in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, while a network of V-Mail stations throughout Europe and the Pacific handled V-Mail written by those serving overseas. Letters written by military personnel were censored for classified intelligence before filming. Once filmed, reels of microfilm were created, each capable of holding approximately 1,700 letters. The reels of microfilm were then mailed. Once the microfilm reached a V-Mail station, it was developed, and each four-by-five inch printed letter was folded and placed into a window envelope for mailing to the recipient. Members of the military who were serving overseas could mail V-Mail, as well as all other mail, for free under an Act of Congress in March 1942.

Shown here are examples of V-Mail from a few of the manuscript collections housed in Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Orin Roland Bales, June 26, 1945

V-Mail letter from Orin Roland Bales to his mother,
June 26, 1945. Bales Family Papers.
Call Number: RH MS 952. Click image to enlarge.

Orin Roland Bales (1919-2010) was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia (1940) and a master’s degree from the University of Kansas (1942). From 1942 to 1945 he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces‘ 63rd Air Service Group, stationed primarily in the Philippines, where Luzon is the largest island. After the war he owned businesses in Emporia, Kansas, and Fairfield Bay, Arkansas.

Image of a V-Mail letter from John Avery Bond, December 31, 1943

V-Mail letter from John Avery Bond to his parents,
December 31, 1943. Papers of John A. Bond.
Call Number: RH MS 1272. Click image to enlarge.

John Avery Bond (1919-2016) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946, serving in the Pacific, French New Caledonia, New Zealand, Guadalcanal, and Bougainville. At Bougainville, Bond monitored radar for information about Japanese position changes and potential attacks. Back in the United States, he taught electronics to Navy sailors and worked at the U.S. Marine Corps Rehabilitation Office, advising discharged Marines of their rights and opportunities as veterans. After the war he graduated from the University of Chicago with a masters degree in social science, and then earned his Ph.D. in political science. Dr. Bond taught at Hillsdale College, the University of Minnesota, the University of Southern Illinois, North Dakota State University, and the University of Southern Colorado.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Bill F. Mayer, April 11, 1945

V-Mail letter from Bill F. Mayer to his parents,
April 11, 1945. Bill Mayer Correspondence.
Call Number: RH MS 1386. Click image to enlarge.

Bill F. Mayer (1925-2014) was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1925. After graduating from Wyandotte High School in 1943, he served in the Army Air Forces as a navigator on B-24 bombers during World War II, flying missions over the European Theater of Operations. After his Army service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas. He worked at the Lawrence Journal World newspaper for sixty years.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Charles S. Scott, March 16, 1944

V-Mail letter from Charles S. Scott to his father, March 16, 1944.
Charles S. Scott Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1145. Click image to enlarge.

Charles S. Scott, Sr. (1921-1989) was born in Topeka, Kansas. During World War II, he served with the United States Army’s 2nd Calvary Division and the Red Ball Express Transportation Unit. Following the war, he earned a law degree from Washburn University in 1948 and his Juris Doctorate in 1970. In 1954, Scott was one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, which ended legal segregation in public schools.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Robert Ernest Willman, October 4, 1944

V-Mail letter from Robert Ernest Willman to his parents,
October 4, 1944. Robert Ernest Willman World War II Letters.
Call Number: RH MS 946. Click image to enlarge.

Robert Ernest Willman (1923-1978) was born in Lawrence, Kansas. He was inducted into the Army in 1943 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with the rank of Private. He was sent overseas in August 1944, serving in France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Germany with Company C of the First Division’s First Battalion, 26th Infantry. Willman was wounded in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest near Aachen, Germany, and was awarded the Purple Heart. He returned to active duty in May 1945 and served with American occupation forces at Fürth, Germany, guarding prisoners of war who had served in Hitler’s SS forces. In February 1946 Willman suffered injuries in a jeep accident and was hospitalized at Nürnberg, Germany, returning to the U.S. in May 1946 for hospitalization and recuperation.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Leo William Zahner, Jr., June 25, 1944

V-Mail letter from Leo William Zahner, Jr. to his parents,
June 25, 1944. Leo Zahner, Jr. World War II Letters.
Call Number: RH MS 1079. Click image to enlarge.

Leo William Zahner, Jr. (1925-2007) was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He joined the Navy in 1943, receiving training in the Navy’s metalsmith school. He shipped overseas in 1944, serving on a tank landing ship in combat zones in New Guinea and the Philippines. After the war, Leo joined his father in the family business, the Zahner Sheet Metal Company. Under Leo Jr.’s influence, the company applied its metal work to architecture, earning awards and a global reputation for innovative and visually striking building design. In 1989, Leo was awarded the National Sheet Metal Contractor of the Year. In 2000, he received the National AFL-CIO Labor – Management Award.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: January 1-7, 1918

January 2nd, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, we’re going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: nineteen-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry, which will feature Bassett’s letters to thirteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Forrest W. Bassett was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917 he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps’ 6th Field Battalion.

Ava Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. Both of Marie’s parents – and her three older siblings – were born in Wisconsin. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. By 1917 they were in Beloit.

Frequently mentioned in the letters are Forrest’s older half-sister Blanche Treadway (born 1883), who had married Arthur Poquette in 1904, and Marie’s older sister Ethel (born 1896).

In this week’s letter, Forrest discusses his time serving guard duty. He also recounts a day trip to a “cider farm” with a fellow soldier; the two – with their horses – got stuck in a snow and ice storm on the way back to the fort (“It started to sleet and the wet snow and sleet froze as soon as it hit the road. In about five minutes the roads were covered with a thin coat of ice”).

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 5, 1918

Sat. Jan 5. 1917

Dear Marie,

The dates came fine and sure were good. I was afraid that they were lost. There is a Bassett in the Co. C-6th F. Bn. S.C., and he got one of your letters but brought it down to me unopened. I think if you make the Co. “A” with a printed “A” some of our nearsighted mailmen won’t make mistakes. Thanks to you for the sweets. “Ten” [Forrest’s horse] says he never eats such truck but will have apples instead. My hair is growing slow but sure. You remember how very short it was when I came home?

Our Company went on guard Thursday. I was put on Post No. 1, which is the guard house at the Cantonment. It boasts of three prisoners. I had the hours between 4:45-6:45 and 10:45-12:45, day & night. During the day I had the front of the guard house only and at night, two storehouses extra. It was pretty cold but not as bad as some nights. I got pretty handy at “pulling the gun,” as everyone has to be challenged with the pistol raised. Of course no one is challenged except at night but Post #1 is as busy one as the officers of the guard are coming in from inspection tours about every 15 minutes.

I think we will go South this month. The Major of the B’n. told us in a speech that we were going South unless a counter-order was issued. This would suit me fine only it would take our letters longer to reach eachother. Also there is a big chance of the Co. “A” being motorized. The 1st Sgt. was looking for men in the Co. who could use motorcycles. I like the horses though and am on “Ten” a great deal.

Last Sunday I got a mounted pass, and a bugler by the name of Collins and I went out to the Cider farm that I told you about. We had I fine time going out and covered the five miles in short time. The lady at the farmhouse said there was no more cider but she offered us a big basket of apples for nothing. She sure was good to us. Well, when Collins and I, and Ten had eaten all the apples we could, we started back. It started to sleet and the wet snow and sleet froze as soon as it hit the road. In about five minutes the roads were covered with a thin coat of ice. Our horses are all smooth shod as they fight and kick eachother in the corral. The roads here, are just up one hill and down another and our horses soon had trouble keeping on their feet with that thin, hard glaze of ice. Pretty soon when we were walking down a rather steep hill, both of Ten’s hindfeet slipped forward and he sat down pretty neatly. In a few minutes Collins did the same stunt and his horse fell twice while regaining his feet. We rode a few minutes longer then it got so bad we had to dismount and lead our horses. You would think that we could have ridden along the edge of the road where it wasn’t hard, but no chance. We came to a plank bridge across a creek and believe me it sure was slippery. Every plank was glazed over with a coat of ice. I got Ten across alright but when Collin’s tried to lead “Buck” across he fell and wouldn’t budge an inch. I tied Ten to the fence and went back. While I stayed with his horse, Collins scraped up some loose earth and sanded a path over the bridge. Well finally the two of us coaxed and pulled the horse across but it was slow work. We had an awful time finding the rough spots along the road and there was no place off the road where a horse could go. Well we finally got to the stables an hour late, after an hour and a half of plugging along in the sleet and snow. Our saddles were all ice and my hat had a coat of ice all over the brim. The hat cord tassels were two balls of snow and ice. We blanketed our horses and rubbed their legs then dried them all over. After this we walked them up and down the stable aisles for ten minutes. About six P.M. we headed for the barracks, but when we got to the Post Exchange we saw a Kansas City car waiting so we went to the L. City and got a good supper. There were fellows skating up and down the paved streets of Leavenworth, so you can see how it was. We telephoned to the first sergeant when at the stables and nothing more was said to us when we got back. The Co. has only been riding once this week as even the narrow paths in the woods are so slippery that a horse can’t stand up.

Well is getting close to retreat so I guess I’ll have to close. Lauretta tells me you are N.G. when it comes to answering her letters. “Things to worry about.” I got the snapshot of your house and it sure looks wintry. However, the warmth inside isn’t the thing that makes it look inviting to me.

I am enclosing my last mounted pass. Well I must catch the next car home or I will miss retreat.

With love,
Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: December 11-17, 1917

December 18th, 2017

In honor of the centennial of World War I, we’re going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: nineteen-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry, which will feature Bassett’s letters to thirteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Forrest W. Bassett was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917 he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps’ 6th Field Battalion.

Ava Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. Both of Marie’s parents – and her three older siblings – were born in Wisconsin. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. By 1917 they were in Beloit.

Frequently mentioned in the letters are Forrest’s older half-sister Blanche Treadway (born 1883), who had married Arthur Poquette in 1904, and Marie’s older sister Ethel (born 1896).

A highlight in the letter includes Forrest’s description of an injury he sustained when a horse he was cleaning slipped and stepped on his foot (“it stung for awhile but my foot was so cold that I didn’t feel it after a minute or two”).

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 16, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 16, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 16, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 16, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 16, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 16, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 16, 1917

Sunday Dec. 16, 1917

Dear Marie,

I got the pictures O.K. and liked them all of you, Mother and Blanche but thought the one of Mother and I was the only one, good of me. Don’t think I’ll have any more of myself for awhile yet. Am on the lookout for the fudge now. Sure am glad that your throat is getting better now. I am taking a turn at being a little out of luck. Thursday I was cleaning the frog of No. 30’s rear hoof. I had his hind leg over my knee and was working with the hoof pick when he slipped on the smoothe brick paving. I let him go quick so as to save a fall and the point of his shoe fell square on the top of my foot. It stung for awhile but my foot was so cold that I didn’t feel it after a minute or two. This was about 8:30. We didn’t ride because it was too bitter cold, but worked around the barracks. During the first period in the afternoon we had heliograph practise. The instrument was set up to catch the sun coming in the window so we could read it inside the barracks. Well my feet started to thaw out and my left one felt pretty stiff and ached. At the end of the period – 2:00 P.M. – I took off my shoe. The toe of the sock was red and a little skin came with it as I took it off. My foot was a little swollen and sure felt sore. I went up to the hospital with another fellow with frozen ears, in a cycle-car and got fixed up. Saturday morning it was swollen so I couldn’t get my shoe on at all so had to cut a couple slits in my tennis slipper. I worked in the kitchen until 4:30 P.M. keeping the K.P. and at night I managed to get my shoe on so caught a car to town. This morning the swelling had nearly gone but was worse where the skin slipped.

This is the first good day we’ve had for a long time but I had to stick around the barrack.

Tomorrow the company is going to have mounted drill with the radio field sets loaded on the pack-mules. We have been issued a lot more stuff – grain bags to carry on horse for his feed in the field and saddle blankets. We also have the aparejos, the mule’s “saddle,” on which the wireless apparatus is packed.

The Co.’s D and E of the 410th B’n (telegraph) are all packed up to go to Texas. I wish we were going for it sure is cold around this woods.

George Stock is here for a few weeks longer. He is going to take his four days home Christmas. I wish I could be with you again, then. You sure was the sweetest and most lovable little sweetheart Thanksgiving and I will never forget it. Marie, every bit of my love is for you – but you must not forget what I told you when we were on the couch. If I – without the intention of marrying you – am going too far in showing you how much I care – for I really do – just as much as a young man can, – I want you to tell me. Marie, you are the most perfect girl I have ever seen and I respect you above all others.

I could never forgive myself if I ever have wronged you, or ever do wrong you in any way. Don’t ever allow anyone to think, or speak, of you and I as being more than good friends.

If you ever get any more letters from me that are mutilated in any way, or show any fire or water marks, please return them to me, envelope and all, after you read it.

I don’t think I’ll serve thirty years in the Army, and I was only kidding Mother when I mentioned it. I’ll never regret enlisting when I did, though.

Will you forget the promise I made not to write to Marion? She helped me have a good time when I was with Win that two weeks and I would like to hear from her if she will write. Well I must write a line to Mother and thank her for a much needed pair of socks.

With love – every bit to you, Marie

Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

 

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: December 4-10, 1917

December 4th, 2017

In honor of the centennial of World War I, we’re going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: nineteen-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry, which will feature Bassett’s letters to thirteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Forrest W. Bassett was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917 he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps’ 6th Field Battalion.

Ava Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. Both of Marie’s parents – and her three older siblings – were born in Wisconsin. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. By 1917 they were in Beloit.

Frequently mentioned in the letters are Forrest’s older half-sister Blanche Treadway (born 1883), who had married Arthur Poquette in 1904, and Marie’s older sister Ethel (born 1896).

Highlights from this week’s letters include Forrest encouraging Marie to attend high school if possible (“these four years are worth a great deal even though one has to study some things that seem to be non-essential”), outlining his daily schedule, and describing extremely cold weather at Fort Leavenworth (“It was 7 below outside and I’ll bet it was 20 below in the kitchen. The water would freeze on the dishes while they drained”).

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 6, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 6, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 6, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 6, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 6, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 6, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, December 6, 1917

Thurs. Dec. 6, 1917

Dear Marie,

Your letters and the typed letter all came O.K. The latter will be read by every man in the Company. Last night I typed an extra copy for Sgt. Baber. This afternoon Sgt. Brown said that he read that in a recent raid on German trenches the American forces found the heads of the thirteen U.S. captains stuck up on bayonets in the trench. I don’t believe it but I’ll bet there are more barbarous things of this sort done than we ever hear or think about. Believe me I know one American they won’t get alive.

I was awfully sorry to hear about the bad cold and sure do hope you are feeling good now. Some time I hope you will be sufficiently considerate of my feelings to tell me when you are getting cold the way you did Saturday. We have our troubles with the cold weather, too. Here’s the day’s program.

Rise at 5:45. Assemble in ranks in front of barracks at 5:55. Reveille at 6:00. Calisthenics 6:00-6:15. The stars are still out and it’s so dark that one can hardly see what way the drill master is doing each exercise. Make up beds and clean up, 6:15-6:30. Mess call at 6:30. Breakfast of pancakes, butterine, syrup, grapenuts, canned milk, sugar, coffee, stewed figs.

After mess we sweep out and fuss up the barracks. Assemble for drill at 7:25. March up to stables, (a little over a mile and a half), get there at 8:00 and groom our horses until 9:00, then saddle up for mounted drill out in the field. We assemble in regular section formation and ride to the drill grounds in a column of two’s.

This morning it was so cold that when I walked from the toilet “shack” to the barracks, about 200 feet, my wet hair was frozen into big curls. If my hair was only longer, I could have cut one off and sent it to you, ain’t it so?

When we watered the horses, the ice was frozen an inch and a half thick in the tank. Big drops froze on Ten’s head just while going to the picket line. Gee, but it sure was cold. We ride with our overcoats on so I kept one hand in my pocket most of the time. Some of the fellows in the other sections had to lead mules and I’ll bet they pretty near froze their fingers.

We dismounted once to adjust our saddles, and warm our feet by running around in circles. When I first got on my feet they were sore and stiff from the cold. At 11:05, we headed for the stables at a good fast trot and at 11:15 we had our saddles hung up, and worked until 11:30 rubbing our horses dry. We got home at noon and ate dinner at 12:15. From 1:00-2:00 P.M. we had some snappy infantry foot drill.

The hour, 2:00-3:00 was spent practising with wig-wag and semaphore. We had buzzer telegraph practice from 3:00 till 4:00. The rest of the afternoon was spent memorizing guard orders.

Hash was dished out at 5:15. Retreat roll call at 6:00. Then walk to the City to write to the sweetest little girl. I wonder if she can read this awful writing – and does the story of our day’s work really interest Her? Will you tell me?

Last Tuesday was a pretty busy day. Walked to stables and back twice which amounts to about 7 miles. Groom horses an hour in the morning and ride all the rest of the morning and nearly all of the afternoon.

I then walked to town and started a letter to you but gave it up after writing nearly a page.

I wish I could think of something to write every day if you like my letters nearly as well as I do yours.

Well I guess I will quit. Stock says he is “all in” and wants to go home.

With love,
Forrest.

 

Sunday, Dec 9, 1917

Dear Marie,

I sure am awfully sorry to hear that your cold is getting worse, and hope that you will be feeling like yourself again by this time. I know you must feel miserable, especially when you are in school. I wish I could learn to be more careful but did not think for a minute that you were getting cold until you spoke.

You are doing well in school and I am mighty glad to hear it. Keep it up and you will not regret it when you go to High School. You cannot appreciate the value of a little hard work at school, now, but believe in me when I say that you will realize later, the advantages of all the school you can get. Whatever you do, don’t give up the idea of going to H.S. You simply must go if you possibly can. These four years are worth a great deal even though one has to study some things that seem to be non-essential. High school gives one only a fundamental idea of a lot of important things; those graduates who don’t think they “know it all” realize how much there is to learn. One feels an “urge”, or incentive, to think and get a better understanding of things in every day life and also of things that we might otherwise overlook. So remember, little girl, no matter what we will or will not be to each other, if you would take the advice of a good friend, go to High School.

I should be glad to have you make something for me for Christmas. While I told all the folks not to send anything, yet I do want something from just You alone. Would you like to make a box of fudge for my birthday – the 21st? This will be the last box, for I simply must cut out that stuff.

Your picture is in my watch now. I have nearly all the pictures that we took this summer and often take them out and think of the happy times we have had together this summer. Here’s hoping that those we took Thanksgiving will be good. Those three days with You were the happiest I have ever known and I will never forget.

We are having it pretty cold now. Saturday morning it was 7 below, and one sure does feel it here. It snowed all day Friday – the 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st sections had mounted drill in the storm, and so I was thankful I’m in the fifth. We have seventy brand new saddles of the very best type so the whole company will ride together soon. Some of the Saddles we have now are the little flat ones with steel stirrups – used by English gentlemen for riding in the parks but useless for our work. It sure is no joke to stick to one of the “pancake” saddles and lead an argumentative mule at the same time. Lieut. Butler said that the fellows were letting too many mules get away, and that the next fellow that let go of the rope before falling from the saddle was going to hear from him. My reputation for hanging on to my mule or lead-horse is without a spot so far, but yours truly is going to kiss that mule goodbye before he will do any Charlie Chaplin flop on the cold, hard ground.

Saturday I was on kitchen police duty and we didn’t have any fire in the dining room at breakfast time. It was 7 below outside and I’ll bet it was 20 below in the kitchen. The water would freeze on the dishes while they drained.  We couldn’t mop the floor because the water would freeze before the floor was clean and dry. Even the vinegar froze solid. When I got through fussing with the wet dish towel I thawed out my fingers with cold water. We feed 86 men now. Each private gets “K.P.” about three or four times a month, for one day. Well the Y.M.C.A. wants to lock up so goodnight.

Yours,
Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant