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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Letter 59 ~ October 18, 1918

Minnie writes me a long letter to let me know she thinks her school will be canceled another week due to the flu epidemic. She also mentions efforts to raise Liberty Loan funds on College Hill.

Addressed to Mr. Ward C. Griffing, 25th Company, 164th Depot Brigade, Camp Funston, Kansas

Manhattan, Kansas
[October 18, 1918]

My Dearest Ward:

I haven’t been writing, boy, the last few days because I knew you wouldn’t be there to get to your mail and I might as well put all I have to say in one letter and you will be there to get this.

Tuesday or Wednesday Herbert Bales’ mother called your mother. She said Herbert said you were well. (Doesn’t that sound crazy?) We have been feeling pretty good about you until yesterday. Then we heard the “flu” was getting worse up at Camp [Funston] and we know it is worse at College and around Manhattan. A professor (haven’t heard his name) and three S.A.T.C. boys died yesterday. We went downtown yesterday evening and I hadn’t been there fifteen minutes till two hearses come along taking boys to the depot. I tell you it made me feel awful. I don’t like to see those things. We got some medicine and we are all spraying our throats, so I guess we won’t get it.

Last evening’s paper said there probably will be no schools next week yet. I do wish I could go back but I don’t think I’ll get to at all.

It sure has been nice this week and that’s been so nice for you, boy. I’ve been hoping every day that it would stay nice and it did till today. But it’s awfully cloudy and rainy today. I suppose you will be coming back to D. Camp today or tomorrow. I’m anxious to hear how you got along out there. Ward, I sure think that was fine being picked out of all those men for that training. I should think it would be hard work, especially working with that old knife, but I’m not worrying about your not being able to instruct. You know how to say it and right to the point. You wouldn’t have to go a mile around to get it said as a lot of those boys would.

Does that ‘Model Company’ instruct the rest of the regiment and are the boys that stay there for the bunch of new men brought in taken from this company? You said once that they would keep some there. Was John Conrow one of the picked men?

I can’t hardly wait for the days to fly by. The latest bulletin said that Washington [D. C.] was expecting some great events in the course of a few days. But in the meantime, we must make the Liberty loan go over the top. Riley County is way behind yet but they are working hard. Papa and his bunch of men went out today to visit those that wouldn’t give when they first went around. Messer’s Rhodes, Willis, Munger, Kimball, and Teagarden, went around over College Hill yesterday. By noon they had received $1,800 more. He told each group of workers they would send out a strong man from downtown for the last rounds if they wanted him. Mr. Willis said, “Well I’ll tell you men when I get thru with them, there’ll be no use for anyone else to go to them.” That sure sounds like Mr. Willis. Papa said he made them come across tho.

This ink I’m using is just awful. Then pen won’t hardly make a mark. Then all the ink comes down at once. It makes the letter look awful.

Ernest said in one of the letters he wrote home that one of the higher officers told his men he could always tell when any of them hadn’t received letters from home. Ernest said, “What do you think about me?” The officer said, “I don’t think the devil himself could worry for you more than five minutes at a time.” I think he has Ernest about sized up, don’t you?

Eben called [my sister] Bertha yesterday. He is alright now, but he don’t think he’ll ever get out of quarantine.

George Haas has been called, so Edith is coming home to stay right soon now. I haven’t heard how the Willis boys are but I guess they are getting well or I would have heard. I’ve been intending to call Mrs. Willis but haven’t yet.

If it doesn’t rain too hard, I’m going over to your mother’s this afternoon. It’s rather hard to talk over the phone at times. I don’t see why you were not able to get me [on the phone] Saturday evening. I was right here in the dining room all evening because I was waiting for a call from your mother. So I know Central [Switchboard] didn’t call out here. I wish I did live in town if it would mean I could talk to you. I would sure like to hear your voice again, Ward. I don’t suppose there is any chance of the quarantine being lifted yet this week. But surely will be next weekend. I think it’s a good thing and yet it makes me so mad. Why couldn’t this have been the first two or three weeks you were up there? Because you couldn’t have come home then – but now you could.

Mrs. Arnold told me that the 10th Division was going to begin moving next week. Land, I was scared. Because until I got your letter and card Wednesday, I just knew a group of the best men had been picked and were going to have special training. Your mother told me that. And I just felt sure that meant you were going to be sent across [to Europe] soon. And then hearing about the 10th Division leaving, I thought you would probably be attached to it. And with this quarantine on you would be sent off without my ever seeing you. Maybe you think I wasn’t happy when I got your letter.

I’m glad you got the things we sent over Sunday alright. Mrs. Conrow said she didn’t see you but she sent them to you by the boys so we thought you would.

Be sure to let us know just as soon as you get back how you are. I hope and pray it will be, “I’m well yet.” My dear boy, you don’t know how happy I am when I read that. Good bye Ward, -- Minnie G. Frey

  • 21 year-old Herbert Bales’ mother was Alpha Bales, the 55 year-old wife of W. W. Bales – a helper at the College Barn. Herbert’s older sister Ethel was a teacher of domestic science at KSAC.
  • William H. Rhodes was a 48 year-old farmer on College Hill.
  • Richard A. Willis was a 56 year-old farmer on College Hill.
  • John M. Kimball was a 42 year-old farmer on College Hill whose farmhouse was next to the Griffing’s.
  • Thomas P. Teagarden was a 63 year-old farmer on College Hill.

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