I write Minnie on Christmas Eve about holiday festivities in Nitro, West Virginia where I am stationed to perform guard duties at the government's explosives and munitions plant.
Addressed to Miss Minnie G. Frey, Stockdale, KS
Nitro, West Virginia
Dear Little Girl,
I wonder if you are going home [to Manhattan, Kansas] tonight for Xmas. I hope you do. It won’t seem like Xmas if you don’t. If the weather there is like it is here, you will stay all night in the school house for fear of getting stuck in the mud when you go Parkerson’s. Such rainy weather is sort of depressing but we are becoming accustomed to it now.
We are getting nicely settled now & are taking up the routine of guard duty. I haven’t been on [duty] yet so I am pretty sure of getting [it] on Xmas day. There are enough men in the two camps to make eight guards, so one man needs to go on only once in eight days.
The Major [Major Walter C. Gullion] offered all those who wanted them 7 day passes to go home for Xmas, but it is so near the end of the month that everyone is busted & besides hardly anyone could get home & back in seven days. If I wasn’t so near busted, I would go to Washington [D.C.] but I will have to wait until after payday. When I go off duty the first time after payday, I am going to ask for a week’s pass & I think I can get it. We can get passes to Charleston most any afternoon. The train leaves at 2:00 and gets back at about 11:45. We can get in at any time of night here & no one cares. We would be out of luck if we tried that at [Camp] Funston.
Minnie, I have been planning all along to have my picture taken & send it to you for Xmas. There were plenty of places at [Camp] Funston but there is not a one here. So I will try & get to Charleston as soon as I can and get it taken there. It is a poor excuse of a gift but I trust you understand the embarrassing financial circumstances of a buck private.
I will begin to think that I haven’t any little girl (or mother either) if I don’t begin to receive a letter or two pretty soon. If I don’t get one on Xmas I will be like the little boy [who said], “I know they ain’t no Santa Claus.”
They furnish the guard with rubber boots & flash lights & as most of the posts are somewhat sheltered, guard duty here is not half bad.
The “Y” made us a present of a Victrola today. We played some of those old pieces & I came almost to the edge of being homesick but thot better of it & decided I would put that off for awhile longer. They have put up a cedar tree in the company area & I suppose there will be some kind of entertainment tonight. Do you remember last Xmas night, & the one before, & the one before that? I do. Our cooks & the baker will do themselves proud tomorrow & I suppose we will have Xmas dinner with all the fixings, but of course it will not be like home or anyways near it. If I could only get up to W[ashington] D.C. [to visit my sister], I wouldn’t mind being away from home for Xmas but I don’t imagine these barracks will be “ringing with mirth & glee & happy voices around the Xmas tree.”
Dear, I send you lots of love & best wishes for a very merry Xmas & a happy New Year. And with it, I trust that we may be together before many months & enjoy the peace that has finally come to this earth. Goodbye, -- Ward