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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Letter 12 ~ September 17, 1918

I tell Minnie about camp life and that I expect to be assigned to the 10th Infantry Division being assembled and trained at Camp Funston. The Conrow family from Manhattan delivers watermelons to Camp Funston recruits.

Addressed to Miss Minnie G. Frey, Stockdale, Kansas
[Camp Funston]
Tuesday evening, [September 17, 1918]

Dear Kid:

Maybe someday I will get next to some ink & a pen but I guess you can read my scroll by this time. It is raining this evening and seven of us are in the tent. Three of us are writing letters & the others making as much racket as they can. I got two letters from you this noon and got them out to answer them when Ralph Currie brought me in the one you wrote Sunday evening. He heard my name called & brought it up to me when he went to his tent.

That shure was a sweet letter and don’t feel bad for a minute about what you said in those other letters about my not writing because I felt very guilty about it at the time, but it seemed as tho I just couldn’t [write] for one reason or another but we are not so rushed in the evening now that we are settled down.

I got a big tick full of straw just before dark tonight and with the extra bedding I now have, it can get pretty cold and I will not feel it. Don’t you worry about my not looking natural because I am feeling fine now & in a little while I can sleep in a puddle of water, get up & shake myself, & call it a good night’s sleep. I suppose a person might change some when he begins to learn to kill people instead of how to feed them. My reference to Sherman was to his saying that, “War is hell.” I supposed you would know what I meant.

Our sergeant said today that the 10th Division had been moving for the last three days & that he felt shure we would be assigned to it, but of course even that is not definite.

I will always remember you as I saw you Sunday. You never seemed sweeter to me before than you did then, but that was so short. You can come up early & stay all day you know if you care to next Sunday. Of course we may be working at something but one can usually get off if word can be gotten to him as soon as his folks come.

John Conrow’s folks came up this evening and brought up several great big watermelons. Roy Drown & I were crossing the road to fill our ticks & John called us over & gave us two apiece. It shure tasted good. We had chilli beans for supper tonight & they nearly burned my mouth out. They remind me of the time you & I were down with Charlie & Bertha & had some chilli soup.

I slept so warm & comfortable for the first time last night that I came almost not getting up this morning. I am getting now so that I can sleep like a rock.

Well, write as often as you feel like & don’t be afraid of writing so much that I can’t read it and I will write as often as I can.

Good bye. With lots of best wishes for your school teaching & with worlds of love for you, -- Ward

  • Ralph A. Currie was a 21 year-old former schoolmate of mine from Manhattan.
  • John Warren Conrow was born 19 March 1897 in Wabaunsee, Kansas. He was the son of W. A. Conrow, a farmer living on Route 1, Manhattan, Kansas in 1918. He had brown eyes and dark hair according to his military draft registration papers.
  • Roy Elmer Drown was born 9 November 1896 in Manhattan, Kansas. He was the son of bricklayer Joseph M. Drown and Margaret Carolyn Knight (called “Carrie”) who lived at 930 Humboldt in Manhattan. Prior to being drafted into the service, he worked for J. C. Dandore’s Bakery which was located at 1216 Moro in Manhattan. Roy had blue eyes and brown hair according to his draft registration papers.
The following day, I write my mother Hattie and tell Willis I'm not having much fun in the army.

Addressed to Mrs. H. P. Griffing, R.7.D.#8, Manhattan, Kansas
Camp Republican
September 18, 1918

Dear Folks,

I got the towel yesterday & your letter today. You don't need to worry about my keeping well. I feel lots better than I did when I left home. The reason I felt so bad Sunday was because I had to take a dose of salts & it cramped me up. Neither of my arms feel a bit sore. I told you Sunday that we had lots to eat. We had had till then but I have been hungry after nearly every meal since. Maybe it is the cold weather but I sure could eat one of your Sunday dinners now. I filled my tick last night and we were issued a good comfort apiece Monday night so it can get pretty cold now & I can keep warm. If you folks haven't anything else to do Sunday, you might come up again, a little earlier & then I will not have eaten dinner. Bring Minnie if you can.

It is awful windy tonight. I hope our tents don't blow over. The tents are old & the ropes are rotten so it wouldn't take much to blow it down. We are getting sort of used to the life up here & can stand a balling out without batting an eye. I have never been unlucky enough to get one yet but I will soon enough. Everyone does.

We signed the payroll today & will get our pay between the first and the fifth if nothing happens. A person doesn't need much money up here so long as he gets enough chow but when he doesn't, he feels like buying something to finish off on. If I was where I could, I would spend some on haircuts, etc. but they are almost impossible to get here.

Tell Willis not to get anxious to get in the army because I haven't found it much fun yet & probably never will. They only gave out one sheet of paper tonight, so goodbye.

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