Watchful-Waiting, 1916

 

WATCHFUL-WAITING

The Germans have their “Wacht am Rhein,”

the English play “God Save the King,”

The Frenchmen sing their “Marseillaise,”

while Russians chant their National Hymn.

Our Spirit shuns this war-like ring;

peace breathes in what we proudly sing.

THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER

Oh! long may it wave,

o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

By these colors we stand ever true,

Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal from Camp Cotton, Texas 8/8/1916)

 

Hell In Texas, 1916

Here is a poem that just suited this place the first week I landed, but now I am beginning to change my mind in the opposite direction…

HELL IN TEXAS

The Devil in hell we’re told was chained,
And a thousand years he there remained.
He neither complained nor did he groan,
But determined to start a hell of his own.

Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained in a prison pen.
So he asked the Lord if he had on hand
Anything left when he made this land.

The Lord said, “Yes, I had plenty on hand,
But I left it down on the Rio Grande;
The fact is, “old boy,” the stuff is so poor,
I don’t think you can use it in hell any more.”

But the Devil went down to look at the truck,
And said if he took it as a gift he was stuck,
For after examining it carefully and well,
He concluded the place was too dry for a hell.

So in order to get it off His hand
The Lord promised the Devil to water the land,
For he had some water, or rather some dregs,
A regular cathartic and smelled like bad eggs.

Hence the trade was closed, the deed was given,
And the Lord went back to his home in Heaven;
The Devil said to himself, “I have all that is needed
To make a good hell,” and hence he succeeded.

He began by putting thorns all over the trees,
And mixed up the sand with millions of fleas;
He scattered tarantulas along the roads,
Put thorns on cactus, and horns on the toads.

He lengthened the horns of the Texas steers,
And put an addition to the rabbits’ ears;
He put a little devil in the broncho steed,
And poisoned the feet of the centipede.

The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you with his buzzing wings;
The sand-burs prevail, and so do the ants,
And those who sit down need half-soles on their pants.

The Devil then said that throughout the land
He’d arrange to keep up the Devil’s own brand,
And all should be Mavericks unless they bore
Marks or scratches, of bites and thorns by the score.

The heat in the summer is one hundred and ten,
Too hot for the Devil and too hot for men;
The wild boar roams through the black chaparral;
‘Tis a hell of a place that he has for a hell.

By the Author of “Texas A Paradise”

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal from Camp Cotton, Texas 8/1/1916)

 

I Wonder How The Table Looks At Home, 1916

I wonder how the table looks at home

I wonder if they miss me while I roam

I wonder how it feels,

to sit down to three square meals

While we are here just starving all along
    

I can see the steaks and chickens coming in.

I can see the fried potatoes thick and thin.

I can hear my mother say

Boys what will you have today

I wonder how the table looks at home.

 

This is one of many that are sung every night before taps…

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal while On Patrol, Texas 8/9/1916)

 

© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

We’ll Hit The Trail For Villa, 1916

The regiment composed a song on the train which runs,

We’ll hit the trail for Villa

We’re Yankees through and through

We’ll show the sons of Mexico,

What the U.S.A. can do.

We come from Massachusetts,

Victory or die,

So give a grand old cheer boys

As the Eight goes marching by. Ra. Ra. Ra.

 

This is sung to the tune of “We’ll hit the line for Harvard.” Then the two Somerville companies follow it up with,

Soma, Soma, Somervilla

Panka, Panka, Panko Villa

Spanka, Spanka, Spanka Villa

We’ll beat him black and blue. Ra. Ra. Ra.

 

The whole battalion made a hit all the way down here with this song and I guess it is going to stick through out the regiment.

 

(Editor’s Note: See Letter from Camp Cotton, Texas 7/8/1916)

 

© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From Lena, Charlestown Mass. 9/11/1916

Dear Sam -

 

This is the end of another great day, nice and cool and the sun real warm. Mary and I went to the Thompson Squ. Theatre in the afternoon and after the show I could hardly drag Mary out. She is an awful movie fan. I suppose you are all waiting anxiously for the 21st to see what it will bring but perhaps as you say you better not raise your hopes too high.

 

Madge and John was up all day yesterday. Madge is getting along fine now. John had his violin with him and we had quite a concert. We are planning for another trip down to Nantasket although it is most too cold to go down. Madge thinks the trip will do her good because she has been feeling fine since our other trip.

 

Im glad you are feeling well but sorry to hear that some of the fellows have stomack trouble. Bert has it again but it must be tough in the Army where they cant get broths or any diet for it. We all received your cards with the poem on it Mary included. Every thing here is quiet, just as you say the same old thing every day nothing new.

 

I think after I get my wash in tomorrow Ill hang out your coat and suit. The air will do them good. Im starting some of my house cleaning but havent got very far yet for Im taking my time as I think it pays better in the end. I dont do much but after supper Im so tired I could fall right into bed. It’s the same way every night. Last night Madge and I went down to Mollies and at 8 o’clock I thought sure it must be 10 I was so tired and sleepy. I suppose you dont feel any too rested yourself at night time.

 

I dont know what you are going to do for a place at the table when you get home. Mary has had yours ever since she moved over here. You can imagine how much to home she is. Since the day before she moved over the only meal she has had in her own house is her breakfasts and she has been up here for that more than once. When she goes home in the evening I get lonesome for her but as I said before Im tired and go to bed. Mack was telling pa last Sat. that he dont see her for three days at a time. I dont know what we would do here for life without her.

 

Well how are the Mexicans behaving on the border. There isn’t much in the papers this week but I suppose you have enough to do just the same. I suppose just as you get ready to come home Villa will show up again. Of course you got my letter before now telling you I received the check and as I said in the letter I dont want you to be without money so when you are getting low in your funds let me know but you know it takes six days for your letters to come up now, it used to take three days and four at the most.

 

Now I know this is a dry letter but there is nothing new to tell about. There isn’t a sound on the street only the cars and it so quiet in the house you could hear a pin drop. Quite lively here, isn’t it? Now I guess Ill close and go to bed and I don’t think Ill lay long before I get to sleep its just 9 o’clock. Pa turned in long ago I bet he’s snoring now.

 

Dont work too hard and remember we are all waiting for the 21st as Mary says it (twenty oneth).

Love from all

Lena

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From the Shop, Boston Mass. 9/6/1916

Dear Sam,

 

On my return this morning from a little over two weeks vacation up in New Hampshire I found your postal which is dated in El Paso on Aug. 21st, hence you will see why the answer is delayed so long.

 

I was very glad to get your card but have heard about you right along so knew you were getting along first rate. Also, let me congratulate you on your promotion. As I understand it you are in reality a fourth sergeant as the first duty sergeant is the second sergeant of the company. I may be wrong about this but what difference does that make as long as you are coming along all right.

 

Everything is about the same around the store except that at times we are not very busy. I don’t know of any new faces and the only one who has left since you went away is Benson. He left the latter part of July to work up in Manchester, N.H. About a week after he left we got a notice that he was married. They’re all hitching up except you and I and I guess we are doomed to be old maids.

 

I see Jimmy Mellor once in a while and he seems to be getting along. Our bath room sink stopped up while I was away and Jim came to fix it. After he got through he told my mother that it would not stop up again if Walter and I would stop washing our feet in the bowl.

 

While up in the country I put on a little weight and now when I get on the scales they say 139. That is not very heavy for a fellow of my height but you will appreciate that it is pretty good for me.

 

I understand by the papers that you ought to be home sometime after the first of October and I shall be very glad to see you. That will make four months in the open and I suppose you have gotten fat and browned up so we will find it hard work to know you. Living in the open must be doing you good and I am glad to learn that you are feeling so fine.

 

I was mighty glad to get your card and would like to hear from you again. I remain,

 

Sincerely your friend,

 

Fred.

 

P.S. How many greasers have you put away and how many rattle snakes have you killed for the skins. I see by the papers that some of the boys are making a few extra dollars selling the skins for belts etc. When you get back you won’t know how to appreciate a little hot weather. It will probably be so cool here.

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/4/1916

Envelope Art

Dear Em.

 

Well here it is Labor Day and although the day is given over to sports, and it has all the appearences of a holiday it is dead. There is no one entered from our company in any of the events for half the company is on gaurd, and most of what is left is working on the mess hall cinder pile or some of the other details. I happen to be a man of leisure today and I am dressed up to kill, you know, just as Id look if it was Saturday Night and I had some jingle in my kick. Talk about a long rest.

 

Saturday was and all ways is inpection day. We have to get up the same time (5.20) Saturday mornings as we do every other only all we have to do is fall in for reveille at (5.30) eat at six, fall in for full field equipment inpection which includes, the shoes we have on, the uniform we have on, personal cleanliness, rifle, bayonet, and the checking up of our ammunition which is in our field belt all the time (100 rounds). When this is all inpected by the inpecting officer and he is very sharp in noting any one that is dirty, we are inspected in quarters. (By the way our company was restricted from pass for 24 hour last Saturday because a few of the men had dirty underwear on.)

 

I suppose you have read that we have been issued identification tags. Well these are tied to a piece of white tape and hung around the neck. It is the hardest job to keep these clean. I wash mine every day (Keep your neck clean).

These tags look like this. The tags are just as big as this for I made this by drawing it around the one I carry about my neck all the time. My number, which is #7 is on the back. I am getting away from our Saturday work. After the inpection of our rifles, necks bayonets etc. We are then sent to our tents to arrange our field pack in which we carry and which is layed on our cots so that the inpecting officer can see every thing at a glance, 1 shelter half, 1 ponchow, 1 poll, five pins, 1 blanket, 1 mess out fit, 1 suit of under wear, two pairs of socks, 1 comb 1 tooth brush, 1 towel, a condiment can and nothing else. These articles are done up in this new packs, (the rolls are done away with) and strapped to our backs. It is a great deal more comfortable than those old things we used to go to camp with. Well when this pack is inspected our surplus kit bundle is examined. This is a bundle that is all ways done up for emergency to throw right on the team. It includes a pair of shoes an o.d. shirt, pair of pants, two pairs of socks, a suit of under wear and a pair of shoe strings, and our names where it can be plainly seen. Inspection of feet and quarters comes next and by that time it is time to eat. The rest of the day we have to ourselves.

 

Sunday we have mess at half pass seven and if you dont want to get up to get it you can sleep, but go with out. If I was home Id go with out I guess. Sundays are mostly devoted to washing clothes. This morning being a holiday for all those not on guard, we didn’t get up until 7.15. Soft, soft, yes too soft, for tomorrow we will be at it again. I can hear them over on the parade ground (which there was a lot of hard work done to make it so.) I can hear them cheering for whoever is in the lead. It is just such a day that you Lena and Bert experienced the day you visited me at Lynnfield. They have carried two fellows in on a stretcher already who couldn’t stand the strain of trying to run down here like they can up there, in an altogether different climate. It dosent seem very hot today either, but oh the flies. I bet there are a hundred flies on me now. If ever I go insane, you can lay it to the flies in Texas. I never was a saint on swering but I bet these flies have given me a fixed habit. We washed out the floor of our tent this morning and every thing is as bright as a nice new ten dollar gold peice, but the flies spoil it all. I will be very pleased with Mary’s picture. The doily she sent is pinned right over my head right now as I write this letter.

 

I am very glad to hear that Madge is feeling so good. I can imagine Pa kidding Mary and also Pa laughing. As for Harper he was to come with us. Give all the people my best regards. You hear we are having dancing down here do you. Well dont for a minute think that we inlisted men have any thing to do with this. These dances are for the officers if you please, and they take place when we are supposed to be in bed. (After taps)

 

The other night the 8th ran a show the name of which was, The Time, The Place, and The Girl. Although I wasnt there, for I was acting 1st Sergeant they say it was very good. Well Ive got to get up and shake my self and see if I can get rid of some of these flies. For a military camp, it is unbeleivable to any one that doesn’t see the billions and billions of these pests. There is a regimental order for every man to make a swatter and swat the fly. I bet I killed 10,000 last night, probably less you know but that is a good guess. Well it wont always last so cheer up and we will all be happy.

 

Yours
Sam

 

© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/3/1916

Dear Em

 

Well it looks now as though we will leave here for some where in the U.S. Every thing is being fixed up good here and I suppose next week when it is all fixed up in tip top shape we will be kicked out, do you get it (kick out).

 

Id just as leave be the first one in line and get the hardest kick when they start. I will say that I like it a great deal more now than ever before, but, well (nuf sed).

 

I am acting First Serg. of the company tomorrow. Things are sliding very smooth now, and I am fine

 

Sam

 

© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/1/1916

Dear Lena.

 

Was down town last night and had something to eat. Great. I bought a few (30) of these cards, for I find they are handy. A few words often, is appreciated more than a book very seldom. How do you like it? Say but it was cold when I woke up this morning. An overcoat would have come in handy. It is pretty cool yet 10.30. If rumor was money we would all return with a fortune, for there is a new one every minute. They say now that we will be on the move by the 15th in complience with the Old Dix law. I may not be any stouter when I get home, but say kid Im going to be there.

 

Sam

 

 

Dear Pa.

 

I geuss it is about time for me to write you a line. Hows a kid? So am I. The 9th is back at Camp Cotton again and I guess the Mich. Bunch is to do some of this work now. Its about time. How is Bills son making out. It would be like hunting for a needle in hay now, (OH for two weeks on the old farm) to find him but Id like to know just where he is and, I probably look him up. The girls tell me things are running pretty smooth back there, and I can assure you Pa that every think is just the same with me here. Some (well yes I will say) quit a few of the boys are in duch most of the time but you can realize that thats only natural.

 

Sam.

 

 

Dear Em

 

Just think, here it is Sept. How the time is flying latly. Well Em here we are on this morning out working out a problem in attack. Two privates, a corp. and my self are out about 1800 yard from the rest of the Battalion, and we are representing a front of three com. of an enemy. The point has just reached us and the advance party is advancing now. You know I like to write while on the field. Please forgive me for not writing yesterday for it was a very busy day, and beleive me I am glad the field inspection is over. I am fine. Gee Ill have to get back to the nack of writing again. Have you received my picture and that envelope yet? If not let me know. it is about time you did.

 

Love to all,

Sam

  

© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Camp Cotton, Texas 8/31/1916

Dear Em,

 

Through some misunderstanding I have only received four of these (pictures). They were taken for the War Dept. and if you look very close you will see my number which is #300. Sorry I can’t send more so that some of the rest can’t have any. The inspection was put off until tomorrow on account of this rain.

 

Best wishes for all
Sam.

 

P.S. Our time for going home looks very dark to date.

 

© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 371 other followers