Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: June 11-17, 1918

June 11th, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917, and served in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

Milo wrote this week’s letter from “somewhere in France.” He describes the “country and customs,” especially comparing them with his previous observations of England and contrasting conditions on farms and in cities. “The home boys like all the others in our Battery are enjoying themselves as if they were on their annual vacation,” Milo says. “No reason to be dissatisfied, for we are in the best of health, plenty of good wholesome food, good climate (just a little cooler than Kans), and going thru an experience of a life time.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, June 14, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, June 14, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, June 14, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, June 14, 1918

Click images to enlarge.

Somewhere in France.
June 14th, 1918.

Dear Father and Sisters: – We (including all the Argonians) are located in a beautiful old village in France.

The country and customs here are some different from England. Not so many beautiful lawns and parks here for most all tillable land is under extensive cultivation. Arthur Knox, my bunkmate and I helped an old French man and daughter make hay one afternoon. And will say we “Yanks” cannot handle any more hay with their three tine forks than the French girls. I, also operated a hay rake, it was hand power driven and cleaned a three ft. swath. Mowing machines are few and are small one horse mowers, but, most of the hay is cut with scythes.

To see these big open wells with a bucket on a pole, big stone houses with a barn in one end and hog pen in the other, one horse carts hauling heavy loads, small milk wagons drawn by a pair of dogs, guided by a French maid in wooden shoes or the milk maid milking at noon reminds me of my school days at Argonia when we studied of this foreign land and its people.

But in the cities you find the people living in a more progressive age than these pheasants who farm small plots with one horse, or if farming on a large scale use two and most generally a man or girl leading each horse. Altho I saw an old man cultivating his vineyard with an old horse educated to work by “gee and haw,” (or something similar) instead of being led or driven.

Tell J.W. the quality of the drinking water is not the best in the world, but, the substitute used by the French and more especially we Yanks is fine wines and plenty of them. Carry Nation died too soon.

The home boys like all the others in our Battery are enjoying themselves as if they were on their annual vacation. No reason to be dissatisfied, for we are in the best of health, plenty of good wholesome food, good climate (just a little cooler than Kans), and going thru an experience of a life time. One Sammie* stated to-nite he would not take a $1000. for his experience to-date.

Only regret that I cannot speak French as well as I do Spanish for a solider speaking French is jake** in this part of France.

Give my regards to all, I am

Yours respectfully.
Your son and brother.
Milo H. Main

Address
Battery F. 130 F.A.
American Expeditionary
Forces in France.

*”Sammie” or “Sammy” was British slang for a U.S. soldier in World War I; it was a reference to Uncle Sam.

**”Jake” was slang meaning “excellent, fine.” From 1914, American English, of unknown origin.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: June 2-10, 1918

June 4th, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917, and served in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

In this week’s letters, Milo summarizes his journey to England and provides some observations about the country, especially how he perceived it to be different than the United States. “Many things of interest of our voyage and this country I would like to write about,” he says, “but owing to the censor will have to wait until I return to tell you.”

 

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, June 2, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, June 2, 1918

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, June 2, 1918 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, June 2, 1918

Click images to enlarge.

Somewhere in England.
6/2/1918

Dear Father and Sisters:-

I arrived safely overseas. Must say I enjoyed the trip from the time we left our Camp in Okla. until we landed at our present camp. And more too, I never got sea-sick, sick of the sea or fed the fish on our trip across the salt-water pond.

What short time I have been here I have had the pleasure of seeing much of this beautiful country. Was out walking this evening and I strolled over to one of the big estates near by. It is just as Raymond Flory* stated, “very well kept up and one of the very beautiful countries.” Every thing is kept “up-to-now” in the way of farms and highways but, the railroads with little toy like engines and coaches divided into sections seem so much different from the R.R. in the U.S.A. The heavy truck horses are generally driven tandom instead of abreast and on the left of the streets. In fact every think is a bit different here, even, the ladies are not as they are in the U.S.A. But the change of scenery and customs makes quite a novelty for we “Bloody Yanks” as the English call us. (The word “Bloody” being used over here instead of the familiar “Dam” as in the States.

To date I have not received any mail from the States. But by the time you receive this, I possibly will have.

When writing, please mention all the latest scandal “from me home town” and all news of interest.

Tell Mrs. Dyer I have not been able to visit with her sister yet, but hope to be able to before I return. Ray F. [probably Raymond Flory] is another “Yank” I have not seen, but tell his “Mary” not to fear him leaving her behind.

Many things of interest of our voyage and this country I would like to write about, but owing to the censor will have to wait until I return to tell you.

Above all, I have the best of health an a good appetite and hope this find all well at home.

Give my regards to all.

With love to all
I close
Your son and bro.

Milo H. Main.

Bat. F. 130 F. A.
American E. F. [Expeditionary Forces]
Via New York.

P. S. The Argonia Bunch is the same old gang and send best wishes to all.

OK

Julian Sher[illegible]

1st Lieut FA

*Raymond Henry Flory and Milo were likely childhood neighbors and may have been friends. The two had very similar histories: Raymond was born in Iowa on February 28, 1892. By 1900 his family was living in Sumner County, Kansas. Raymond’s mother died in 1906, and by 1910 he was living with his aunt and uncle in Wichita. Raymond’s father and brother, both named Benjamin, continued to live in Argonia, and area newspapers reported that he periodically visited them. Raymond enlisted in December 1917, reporting that he was living in Wichita and working as a truckman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. He served in the 137th Aero Squadron, Aviation Section, Signal Corps – leaving New York on March 6, 1918, presumably bound for England.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: Epilogue

May 29th, 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 selected letters from Forrest 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).

 

Photograph of Forrest Bassett in The Beloiter yearbook, 1916

Forrest Bassett’s senior picture in the
Beloit Memorial High School yearbook, The Beloiter, 1916.
The quotation accompanying his picture is “without my camera, I would be lost.”
Image courtesy of the Beloit Historical Society. Click image to enlarge.

We have reached the last of Forrest’s letters from Fort Leavenworth. By May 31, 1918, he had reached Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina. Forrest’s experiences there are documented in a collection of his letters at the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina. According to Army Transport Service passenger lists, Forrest and the other members of Co. A left New York City, heading for Europe, on July 7, 1918, aboard the Darro. He returned to the United States almost a year later: on June 3, 1919, he set sail from Brest, France, on board the USS Mount Vernon. This was almost eight months after the armistice but only a week after the Treaty of Versailles formally ended World War I.

Forrest and Marie were married on March 6, 1920, in Beloit, Wisconsin. They had two children: Sally Ann Bassett (1930- ) and Terrence Shaw Bassett (1932-1996).

Photograph of Forrest and Marie Bassett on their twenty-fifth anniversary, March 6, 1945

Forrest and Marie Bassett on their twenty-fifth anniversary, March 6, 1945.
Image courtesy of the Beloit Historical Society. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of Sally Ann Bassett's twentieth birthday, March 22, 1950

Forrest, Marie, and Terrence Bassett celebrating Sally’s twentieth birthday, March 22, 1950.
A note on the back of the photograph says “Ethel [Marie’s sister?] came down and took this for us.
(The cake is a chocolate ice box cake made with ladyfingers. It was good. You’d have liked it, I know.)”
Image courtesy of the Beloit Historical Society. Click image to enlarge.

According to Forrest’s obituary in the Janesville (Wisconsin) Gazette, he was employed for forty years at Yates-American Machine Co. After retiring, he worked for ten years in the credit department at Dane Aluminum Co. Forrest was a member of numerous community organizations, including American Legion Post No. 48, William J. Huemphner World War I Barracks, the Second Congregational Church, and the Men’s Garden and Beloit Camera clubs.

According to Marie’s obituary in the Janesville Gazette, she was a teacher of speech and oral interpretation for many years. She also worked as a secretary for the Freeman Shoe Company, Yates-American Machine Co., Fairbanks Morse, and the Second Congregational Church, and she served as coordinator of volunteers at the Beloit Senior Center. An “accomplished actress, singer, and solo dramatist,” Marie was a founding member of Beloit Civic Theatre and served on its board of directors. She was also a member and former president of the group Treble Clef.

Photograph of the Bassett family, undated

Forrest and Marie Bassett with their children Sally and Terrence, undated.
Image courtesy of the Beloit Historical Society. Click image to enlarge.

Forrest died on August 3, 1985; Marie died October 8, 1992. They are both buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Special thanks to the staff at the Beloit Historical Society for locating and scanning the images included in this post.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: May 21-27, 1918

May 21st, 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 selected letters from Forrest 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).

This week’s letters focus primarily on Forrest’s examination of his relationship with Marie. “Well I wonder what other folks would think if they read my letters like this one,” he wrote on May 27, 1918. “Other boys don’t write like this I am sure and maybe I am wrong in doing so. Please tell me exactly what you think.” Other highlights from this week’s letters include Forrest waiting to leave Fort Leavenworth (“we are still at Fort Leavenworth but still always expecting to leave the next day”) and advising Marie to become a “true Outdoor Girl” (“a girl should be as much a lover of good active outdoor fun as any boy, but at the same time keep all her girlish ways”).

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 22, 1918

Click image to enlarge.

May 22, 1918.

Dear Marie;

I am writing this little note because the Y.M.C.A. secretary is just leaving for the Post Office.

We are quite sure of leaving Fort Leavenworth tomorrow. I think we are to join the Sixth Division in Carolina. (S. or N.?) This does not mean that we will go to France soon, however.

Keep right on writing to me whenever I am, please.

With love,
Forrest.

 

May 22, 1918.

Dear Marie,

I just finished a little note for you, so it would be mailed right away, so will write my letter now. Did you get all of my letters last week? I think I wrote two and another, typewritten, one about telegraphy. You read my “Morse” letter OK. I just got your letter of the 18th & 19th this noon. Please keep a little note of the dates on your letters and then when you get my letters notice the dates on them and tell me so that I can be sure no letters are lost.

I located Morse’s company Monday night but he wasn’t there so I left a note on his bunk. Last night he came down to the Cantonments but it was after 9:30 P:M. so we had very little time to get acquainted.

Now please do not think I am even the least bit “peeved” because you wrote but once last week. I realize that you have not the time to write as often as I like to hear from you.

Marie, I know you must love me very much as there is not the slightest touch of insincerity in your letters. And I know you too well to misunderstand you, I think. And, Marie I know you do not doubt me in the least, either. It’s simply impossible for me to make you feel how very much I care, and I guess it would be better that you do not know, anyway. You must remember that I have told you that we can never “belong to eachother,” and that we can never be more than good friends. Now Marie you simply must believe this. I would not tell you this if I were not sure of it, for it hurts me and I believe it hurts you, too, in a way. You will remember that I told you that if I were not very sure you would be glad to forget me in a few years, that I would not write another letter. I still say the same. For awhile last year I had hopes of your being “my little girl” some day but I no longer can hope that even if I were free to come back home now. There is no “little message” between the lines of my letters to you – except that I love you to the utmost. However, it is all useless and so I shall never mention my love for you again.

It may be better to “love some one you can’t have, than to have someone you can’t love,” but that isn’t right either way.

Yes, I remember the little incidents you spoke of. The violets down below the pasture and the buried flowers at the “Big Hills.” And I remember the slippers, too. I have the picture of you on the porch rail with the kitten and you look so big and so close, just as if I could just open my arms and hold you close. Marie, some day you will realize how unworthy I am, then you will not care.

Will not you try to be my friend, but at the same time forget your love for me?

I do not want to forget my love for you because it helps me so much in so many ways.

And you also help Mother and Dad so much, and you don’t suspect how much they really love you. In her last letter Mother writes, “Marie has just gone. She is a ray of sunshine just now flashing in and out, with her cheery smile and “Hello, how’s everybody?” ”

It is such a perfect picture of you as I would want you to be always.

I would like to write about Physical Culture but it is “lights out” time now.

Forget all about telegraphy – Please.

Well I must leave you for this time.

Sincerely,
Forrest.

 

May 26, 1918.

Dear Marie,

We are still at Fort Leavenworth but still always expecting to leave the next day. The trip to Camp Wadsworth will take five days and we are having trouble getting pullman cars.

Your letter of the 23rd came yesterday noon and I was going to answer it last night but I started a letter to Gladys Warren, a sister of a good friend of mine, which was interrupted by Morse, who came down for a visit. He stayed until supper time and I walked up to his barracks with him. Morse is sure a fine fellow and I am sorry he and I did not get acquainted sooner. We talked radio, buzzer, and ground telegraph almost half the afternoon.

Your telegraphic message was O.K. In your last letter you told me to tell you exactly what I wanted you to do, to please me the most so I am going to take that liberty.

Regarding telegraphing I would advise you to drop it entirely. Don’t waste time on a thing of no value to you unless you find real fun in it. My pet weakness during the last five or six years was studying too much, too many different things. Radio and buzzer telegraphy, photography, chemistry and a half a dozen other hobbies all had a hold on me and I spent time studying technical books which I might better have spent otherwise. I don’t want to pat myself on the back too hard but I believe that my understanding of the theory of radio is better than that of the average man in the Company and for photography, the Personnel Officer from Washington told Captain Murphy that I had the best technical knowledge of photography of any of the 80,000 men he had examined. But what have I gained by it? The long hours I spent at home studying these things have paid me back very poorly and I look back at that waste of time with a good healthy feeling of regret: So please let me caution you against studying too much outside of school. Of course photography is a worthwhile hobby which I expect to be of value to me. If you really like telegraphy as a recreation go to it but remember that swimming & outdoor sports of all kinds are absolutely the best and I would say necessary for a normal life.

I am certainly glad that you have the opportunity to learn to ride and sure do hope that you will make the most of it. The drill book gives some interesting dope on riding and the managing of saddle horses. Spend all the time you can outdoors – swimming, hiking, bicycle riding, tennis or anything else.

What wouldn’t I give to be with you this summer. Just when we have learned to understand eachother and love, we are separated. Marie you have my full unselfish love and it urges me to help you to my limit.

You will never understand me, maybe, but my own sisters don’t either.

In your last letter you hoped that my next letter from 7th, would be a “nice” one. Well I don’t know what you thought of the one I wrote last but I simply had to write that way. I told you that I would never mention my love for you again and I mean it.

Do you realize that you are only fifteen (right?) years old and yet we talk of belonging to eachother. Marie I do love you and you only and I believe you love me – more than you should. It is dead wrong for you to think of me as you do. You are shutting yourself from other boys and that is one thing I am dead against. Of course I realize that you are too young to be going to theatres, etc., a great deal with boys – but anyway it’s your thoughts.

Judging from your letters this Spring, I have put the idea in your mind that I am a little better in some ways than the next fellow – and then the more I said in the opposite, the more you believed it. Forget it.

Well I will put it to you this way – You were only fourteen years old last year I think. We became acquainted and were together a great deal and I am sure that I learned your ways, your character and your whole self as well or better than my own sister. And even though you were, and are, so young, I learned to love you as I have never loved anyone else – and it’s the purest and most unselfish love anyone can give. The greatest thing I could look forward to would be to make you my own, and I feel positive that I never will marry unless it is you. For I never could be satisfied with anyone else after caring as I do for you.

Now you must feel that I am in earnest and sincere in what I am writing.

But I want you to know that I am almost sure that I never will marry – the war not being considered at all, yet I wish and hope that we can remain what we are to eachother, until you are – say – well along in High School. Please tell me exactly what you think and be equally frank and honest with me.

I do love you, Marie, and I do want you to love me, too, but please have other good friends among boys. It must seem queer to you to read this, but there are a great many things to think of and I want us to avoid any mistakes.

With love,
Forrest.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 27, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 27, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 27, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 27, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 27, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 27, 1918

Click images to enlarge.

May 27, 1918.

Dear Marie,

I have read your letter of the 23rd over and over again today although it came two days ago. There is something in the letters from my little Make believe Sister that make me want her so much.

I am glad you tell me about your school work. Please don’t ever think of giving it up. Even if you should fail this semester that would hardly be an excuse for being discouraged.

Play hard outdoors this summer and get plenty of sleep. Don’t allow anything to interfere with a good, complete, refreshing rest every night. It is during these periods of sleep, or at least relaxation, that we grow and are rebuilt. So don’t fail to realize the importance of early to be, and, if you can, get up when you feel like it. Of course it is hard to sleep during the early hours of a hot night. A short time ago you spoke of often feeling very tired and worn out before the end of the day. Now it is hard for one to be cheerful and happy and also to stand above our little pet weaknesses when he is tired and restless. Get all the real outdoor fun, the real fun of hiking, swimming[,] riding, that you can and try to avoid the things that make you mentally tired. Are you going to stop both your music and elocution lessons? I think that your health and then your school work should come above, and be considered before, anything else.

Have you started to learn to ride yet? What kind of a saddle have you, and how do you like it? Please tell me everything about it.

Do you think you will learn to swim this summer? How about your outdoor girls’ club? Is there any kind of a girls’ camp that you could and would like to go to for a short period during your vacation? Tell me as much as you can about these things.

Make the most of every chance you have to be a true Outdoor Girl. Everyone loves a Tomboy girl if she can be a real Girl at the same time.

A girl should be as much a lover of good active outdoor fun as any boy, but at the same time keep all her girlish ways.

Well I wonder what other folks would think if they read my letters like this one. Other boys don’t write like this I am sure and maybe I am wrong in doing so. Please tell me exactly what you think.

I guess I am just telling you the kind of a girl that appeals to me – or rather one reason why I love a little girl whose deep brown eyes are so full of warmth and love.

Marie, no one can see you and know you without loving you and I am glad that I know you so well.

Well please answer my letters as soon as you can and talk to me about everything.

With love,
Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: May 14-20, 1918

May 14th, 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 selected letters from Forrest 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).

This week’s letter focuses on the uncertainty of Forrest’s future (“we are still here and still at loss as to what the next move will be”) and Marie’s concern, presumably about him going to Europe (“you simply must not feel sorry that I am going”).

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 14, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 14, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, May 14, 1918

Click images to enlarge.

May 14, 1918.

Dear Marie,

We are still here and still at loss as to what the next move will be. Everything is all set for a quick move, and while the bets seem to be even, I think that we will be here for a while yet and want you to keep on writing.

But be sure to write only in answer to each of my letters for a while, and I will try to write often, but of course it will be hard telling how often.

We had a big parade after supper and were reviewed by all the high officials of the Post.

We thoroughly scrubbed out the barracks today. Are still allowed to go to town.

Now Marie, you simply must not feel sorry that I am going; it will do neither of us any good and will do you harm if you persist in thinking and worrying about it. If you don’t completely change your way of thinking you will surely regret it.

Be as happy and contented as you can, and stop worrying.

I shall stop writing about telegraphy until I see you have caught up with what I have written.

I shall never mention Earl*, the sooner we forget some things the more cheerful we will be and that’s what counts with those that would live the fullest life, with health and the best things that go with it.

Must close,
With love,
F.

*Earl Treadway was Forrest’s older half-brother, born 1881. Last week’s letters suggest that Earl had recently been ill; he died around May 10 and was buried on May 12, 1918. He was thirty-seven years old.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant