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Friday, January 23, 2009

Letter 22 ~ September 23, 1918

Minnie tells me more about her school activities such as organizing the Junior Red Cross and studying “the four divisions of mankind” in geography. Tells me how proud she is of me.

Addressed to Mr. Ward C. Griffing, 25th Company, 164th Depot Brigade, Camp Funston, Kansas
[Sherman, Kansas]
Monday evening, [September 23, 1918]

Dear Boy:

I am going to write to you before supper tonight. I have a lot of work I want to do after supper, getting the review work ready for the children.

Well I wonder if you were moved today or not. Seems funny not to have any idea where you are. Wish you were off on a pass. I would like to entertain Mr. Ward C. Griffing this evening. I’m feeling better (that is, in better spirits) this evening that I have since I’ve come up here. I came home from school real early [and] cleaned all up. [It’s the] first time I’ve got all the dirt washed off that I got yesterday coming up.

I guess school teaching must agree with me. I’m weighing more than I have since I started into high school downtown. From what little teaching I’ve done, I think I would like it fine. But I wouldn’t want to have to [teach] all my life.

In geography today we were studying about the four divisions of mankind and when we were talking about the two divisions (light and dark types) of the white race, we discovered I was the only brown-eyed person in the school. That sure tickled the kids. They said I was of a different type of the race [and] I wasn’t like the rest of them.

I think we must be going to have onions tonight for supper. I smell something pretty strong. I’m sure hungry tonight [and I’m] anxious for suppertime to come.

If you have the blues tonight Boy, I sure wish I could talk to you. I bet I could make you feel good. I feel so happy myself – I don’t know what about, everything in general I guess. I catch myself just smiling at your picture sometimes. The next thing I expect I’ll be talking to it. I’m mighty glad I have it, but it’s a poor substitute. When I kiss you I generally get one (or 2 or 3) back but I don’t when I kiss your picture. But you smile at me every time I do tho.

I left my watch down home and I sure do miss it. I need it up here but I guess I can get along. I’m not going home again till you get off unless something makes me change my mind.

We are going to organize Junior Red Cross tomorrow. One thing they want us to do especially is to gather up all the seeds from fruits we use – especially the peach seed. They use the carbon from the seeds to make gas masks better. They seem to think it’s pretty important and it’s something the kids can easily do.

I get my $65 check Friday. I need it. I’ve only money enough to pay for sending five more letters counting this one. So I had better be getting it, don’t you think? I owe [my sister] Bertha two dollars and Mama three and my board. All the rest goes in the bank to stay till my school’s out with the exception of Xmas. I don’t expect to spend more than five dollars the rest of my school term. I have everything I intend to get. I am sure glad I don’t have to pay any more for my board. And this is such a grand place.

I got a letter from you today and maybe you don’t think it seems nice to get them fairly often from you? I sure think you are doing well by me. My, but how I would like to poke you in your ribs, tickle you, and blow in your ears tonight. Aren’t you glad you aren’t around? I believe you used to get almost sore at me for doing that. But I sure like to torment you sometimes. But I would be good to you if I had a chance to be now.

Supper –

Your mother gave me two more letters Saturday – one was the first one I wrote after I came up here and the other one was one I wrote to you March 18th and mailed in College Post Office. Your mother found it in one of your coat pockets.

I wish things were evened up a little better. I have lots of time to write you but nothing to write, and you don’t have the time and have lots to write about. But it’s just awful for me to try to write. I sometimes feel like a fool for trying it. But I thought you would be glad to know I keep thinking of you every day whether I have anything interesting to say or not.

I’m certainly mighty glad we got to go over to the fort yesterday since you were off all day. After I got as far as home, I was bound I was going over. But the folks teased me so they would suggest the craziest ways for me to go over. I guess Mama told you one, and they knew it made me provoked so they just kept it up Saturday evening till I went to bed crying. Then I guess Papa saw how bad I really did want to go so he told Mama he would go over with me. But I don’t care now. I got to go and that’s all I wanted.

Glory, but I hope you get a pass soon. I wish to goodness you could next Saturday and Sunday. But any time will do if you only could. I think maybe you can. Luck seemed to be with you yesterday. Maybe it will be again.

It was fine to sit on your lap yesterday. I didn’t expect to get to do that again, but I wish we could have just gone on home with you with us. I’ll bet some girls don’t feel very happy after they have visited their soldier boy over there, and feel worried because they think he’s doing things they wouldn’t like. But it certainly isn’t that way with me, Boy. I am proud of you. I know that you strictly obey military orders and I certainly admire that in a soldier. And then you are so good and true, boy. I sometimes think I’m out of luck. But I’m not at all. I’m certainly favored to have such a Boy as good as you are, Ward. And I’ll never believe that there are more like you.

I ought to have stopped before I started on this page because I’m afraid it won’t all go in the envelope [as] this is such large paper.

I have to write out exam questions for Thursday and Friday. What if when I go to get my pay Friday the board says, “No, we’ve decided we would have to have another teacher. You won’t do.” Wouldn’t I feel like two cents tho.

You don’t like to have me write about the things I think of most. You say it would make you homesick and you mustn’t do that already. But it’s hard for me to keep it out. Good night, Ward, -- Minnie G. Frey

P. S. This letter is long enough to make up for last evening.

  • In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, some of the nation's leading educators and American Red Cross officials evolved a plan for a nationwide partnership between schools and the Red Cross. On September 15, 1917, President Wilson officially announced the formation of the Junior Red Cross, and asked American youth "Is not this perhaps the chance for which you have been looking to give your time and efforts in some measure to meet our national needs (in wartime)?" With membership costing only 25-cents per student annually, Junior Red Cross enrollment reached 8 million within its first year and peaked at 11 million by 1919. Of greater importance than the number of elementary and secondary students who become members were the many vital services they performed on their own and alongside adults during the War. They made and collected clothing for war victims, produced hospital supplies, and built furniture for hospitals and convalescent homes. For youth in war-torn areas overseas, they prepared and sent "Friendship Boxes" (containing school and personal items). On the home front, they promoted food conservation projects and worked in Victory Gardens (vegetable gardens that added to the nation's food supply). They also stepped in to help local chapters perform their regular functions, including first aid training and disaster relief and they participated in all Red Cross membership and war fund campaigns. The Junior Red Cross made 10 percent of the total value of Red Cross products produced during wartime.
  • One of the projects of the Junior Red Cross was to collect peach seeds. They were pulverized for their carbon and used in the canisters of the gas masks worn by the Allied forces in France during WWI.

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