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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Letter 5 ~ September 8, 1918

Minnie tells me about her trip to Topeka to visit her sister Bertha and of her disappointment upon returning to Manhattan and learning that she had missed an opportunity to accompany my mother (Hattie) and my twin brother (Willis) to visit me at Camp Funston on Sunday. She finishes her letter the following day with more news about her school and tells me that Bertha will stay in Manhattan while her husband Charlie goes apartment hunting in Washington D. C.

Addressed to Mr. Ward C. Griffing, 25th Company, 164th Depot Brigade, Camp Funston, Kansas
[Sherman, Kansas]
Sunday evening. [September 8, 1918]

Dear Boy –

I don’t know what your address is but I know it isn’t Manhattan anymore but maybe you will write to me within the next month [and] then I can send this. I am so disappointed tonight that I hadn’t ought to try to write. I wanted to see you so badly and had planned on it. I paid Roy Hoffman (a school boy) fifty cents for taking me to Garrison Crossing yesterday. Then I caught the “Flyer” out from Manhattan – it was nearly an hour late. I didn’t get into Topeka till about four. Had a fine visit with the kids until I had the phone call from Mama. Then I thought of nothing but to get home. I was tickled to death. [My sister] Bertha and Mama were cut off [however] and we couldn’t get connected up again. So all I knew was that your mother called up and asked me to go up to Camp [Funston] with them.

When I got in Manhattan, I expected to see your folks at the depot but didn’t, so I called out home. Folks said they were just ready to start for me and for me to stay at the depot. Papa came and took me up to Wolf’s. They said your mother had been there about fifteen minutes before so that is all we missed them. I made the folks stay there for quite awhile. I was sure your folks would be back. The folks said that no doubt they had gone on, but I wanted to go so bad I wouldn’t let myself believe that they would go off and leave me. Papa had a committee meeting at church or he would have taken me up to see you. I tried to call your mother this evening about six o’clock, just before we came up here but I guess she wasn’t home yet. I wanted to hear about you and find out your address.

Monday evening, [September 9, 1918]

My Dearest Soldier Boy:

My, if I make my letter in proportion to my starter, I would sure write a long one. I must begin to cut the length of my letters down. I’m using too much paper and this is war times and then I get such “dinky” little cards from you. I just received your card today that you must have written Thursday. I hope it doesn’t take all your letters that long to come, but of course it laid over Sunday.

I feel so good tonight. I sure wish I could be with you. I feel so smiley all the time this evening. School went fine today and I had about six lines from the dearest boy on earth. I don’t feel so bad today about not seeing you yesterday, although I always will think it was a shame. I went to bed last night and cried about an hour and this morning felt fine. When I’m cross about something, I generally have to sleep on it one night, and then things don’t look so bad. In a way, I’m a little glad you didn’t see me yesterday. I have an awful fever sore on my upper lip. It’s been there for a week. [My sister] Bertha and [her husband] Charlie said it doesn’t pay to bid soldier boys good bye, etc.

I read in the paper tonight about the farewell they had for soldiers in Manhattan. Since when have you changed your name to Evan L. Griffing?

I suppose your mother took you a letter from me yesterday. She will get another one today. I won’t send this till I know your address. Mama said she would let me know as soon as she could. I don’t like your ‘Bill a fare' very well. But I guess you will get fed pretty well. I certainly hope you will. What kind of a person have you for bunk mate or do you have one?

When I see you, you remind me of my ride to Topeka. I have a volume to tell you about it, but lack of space won’t allow me to write it.

Here I am starting my third sheet. Why this is just terrible. I won’t leave so much time to write after awhile. I have to outline a 315-page book and it is dry reading too. I haven’t started it yet. Last week I didn’t have my ink yet, and now I never have my pen and notebook paper at the same place. I was going to start tonight but my notebook paper was at school house. I think I shall write real small. Then I won’t cover so much paper saying nothing.

Bertha is coming home for at least a month to stay. That will be fine for us but awful for [her husband] Charlie. I suppose your mother told you about Tina’s and Dean’s boy? I wonder what they will name it?

Only four more days of school and I can go home to see you. Only three more days till the day I go home and then – I just can’t hardly wait. I’m so anxious. It’s been so long, I can’t hardly remember what you look like anymore. I will get your picture too, I’ll be glad of that; then I can’t forget. Did you have a good time (that’s a foolish question, of course you did) and who all was at your farewell party? Also, where was it? I just heard someone say that there was one.

Good night, sweet dreams, -- Minnie G. Frey

P.S. Somebody asked James Chalmers (a first grade pupil) what his teacher’s name [last name] was. He said he thought it must be Cook. They all laughed so, and he said he knew it was something they did when they cooked. His Mama had tried to make him remember my name that way.

Sure glad to know you are alright and am anxious to hear from you again. Write lots of big long letters, Boy. The mail man stops at the school house if he has anything for me and one of the children run out and get it. That makes it nice. You know I always said I was so afraid that I would get the giggles in school if something funny should happen. Well today I was nearly bursting trying to straighten up and not laugh. I got the hiccups while I was pronouncing the spelling words to three classes. The poor kids wanted to laugh so bad and one boy did crack a smile and I took a hold of his shoulder and spoke to him. Then I turned around and nearly died. I wanted to laugh so and I knew I just couldn’t then.

Mr. Parkerson has gone to the [State] fair [in Topeka]. Mrs. Parkerson and I are alone having lots of fun. School is just going fine. Children like their teacher. Hurrah! Goodnight.

  • Roy A. Hoffman was the 13-year old son of William and Pearl Hoffman whose farmhouse was opposite the Parkerson’s where Minnie boarded during the winter of 1918-1919.
  • James F. Chalmers was the six-year-old son of Arthur and Lena Chalmers who had a farm in Grant Township, Riley County, Kansas.


  1. Dear Mr. Griffing:
    I certainly thank you for alerting me about your blog. It is indeed a treasure trove of information, both historically and genealogically. I must say I am awed by your writing as well as the fact you are 111 years old. You are only two years younger than my dad would be if he were still alive. Must be clean living and good genes. Sometimes I have pulled my hair out (what little I have left) trying to get the information on my site into proper format, and I am only a year shy of 70. I congratulate you on the work and devotion you have put into this project and I wish you and yours continued health and prosperity. I will put a reciprocal link to your blog on the Reflections website under "World War One History Links."

    Kind regards,
    Tom Johnston
    Stillwater, OK

  2. I'm getting a lot of help from my grandson! -- wg