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.

Soldier’s Mail for September, 1916-1918

September, 1916: South on the Border

In September, 1916 Sgt. Sam Avery and the rest of the Massachusetts Brigade continued to secure the Border from their base at Camp Cotton (the “City of Tents”) outside of El Paso, Texas. The National Guard troops were inspected by the Regular Army to ensure their compliance with Federal standards for training and performance. In mid-September, there was a Brigade March to test the men’s strength and endurance after three months of active duty. This was followed by a military parade to Fort Bliss which formed the largest military column seen in the United States since the Civil War.

Read the page South on the Border to learn more about the events of the Mexican Revolution that made American military action necessary. Read the page September, 1916 to learn more about the living conditions of the Massachusetts troops at Camp Cotton as they continue to secure the Border. Read Sam’s correspondence to his family as he relates his ongoing experiences of camp life and the dangers of patrolling along the border.

September, 1917: Watchful Waiting

Following the formal entry of the United States into the Great War, in August 1917 1st Sgt. Sam Avery and the rest of the 8th Mass. Infantry were mobilized once again for federal service. The encampments used by the men of the 8th Infantry for training and reorganization were at Lynnfield and Westfield. During this time, the 8th Mass. Infantry was disbanded and Sam found himself reassigned to the 103rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. Read Sam’s diary notes and letters about life in the encampments, being reorganized into the 103rd U.S. Infantry and preparing to sail to France.

September, 1918: Recovery in the Hospitals

In September, 1918 Sam Avery remained in the AEF hospital system while he recovered from severe gas poisoning. At the same time, the 103rd Infantry participated in the St. Mihiel Offensive with the rest of the 26th “Yankee” Divison. Read about recovery in the AEF base hospital system here. Also, read about the St. Mihiel Offensive juxtaposed with Sam’s September correspondence which reveals a rare parallel narrative.

The Soldier’s Mail correspondence is published here according to the sequence in which it was written. Therefore, letters are organized in “reverse order” with the most recent at the top. To read them chronologically, readers should start at the bottom and work upwards.

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 8/22/1916

Dear Sam.

I got your letter and am glad to know your feeling good. It has been awful hot here this last 2 days. Last night neither Lena or pa slept any but I slept all night. It is not quite so bad tonight. Pa went to work tonight at 8 o’clock and gets home about 7 tomorrow. He was down the beach today and had a (Jewbily) jubily.

I succeeded in getting tickets for Lena and Bert for Braves field tomorrow night. They cost 50¢ but we get them free and I got 2 from some girls who couldn’t go. $1.50 saved. I will write and tell you all about it.

There is a hen and roaster over in Napolean’s yard. When the roaster crows it sounds as if some one was closing a sqweaking gate. Oh what a voice. I am glad you are getting enough to eat. Talk about chicken soup say if Napolean don’t put some lard on his roaster’s throat some of the neighbors will be having some chicken soup. By the looks of things it dosent seem as if you would be home for the 12th of Oct. but of course nobody knows. They might send you home as quick as they sent you down there, almost without any warning.

I didnt go up to the Band Consert tonight because I was kind of tired when I got home. I was hot and Lena and I sat on the steps with little Mary and watched Bert go by. We took her home about half past seven and we came home at 8. Lena has gone to bed but I will drop this in the box before I fall in.

I hope this letter finds you well and contented for a while longer anyway. I am almost asleep. Tomorrow night I will leave the house about 7 o’clock as the show starts at 8. Now I must close.

With Love from all

 Milly

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

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 8/19/1916

Dear Sam.

I just received your letter and am very glad to know you passed the examination. I hope your arch wont hold you back. As for your weight that is all right. Uncle Al only weighs 111 and I weigh 105. You have gone along fine so far in training and promotion so don’t quit. I addressed a card to you last night but Bert carried it in his pocket all night. After this I must tend to the mail myself.

When I wrote your last letter I send a card too because I had no stamps. When little Mary mailed it she only put a 1 cent stamp on. I went down to the post office to see about it and he said it must have gone. If you don’t get it from the top Sergent it might be at the post office down there. My name was on the back of it but it didn’t come back.

I said in my other letter about the time Liggetts is having out to Braves field. There is a couple of girls who are not going and I’m going to get their tickets for Bert and Lena. I asked Pa if he could go but he said he would be working that night and couldn’t get off. He has his hours changed on account of the vacations. It will be just the kind of a show he would enjoy seeing. He may try to get off though.

You told me you were going to send home your mail that you were saving and I’ve been looking for the parcel. Did the storm hurt that? I’ve got quite a bunch of mail from you and I’ve saved it all.

Mary and Lena have gone out to do the shopping and I’m minding the beans. Mary and I are going to the movies tonight, up the Hurst’s and see Mutt & Jeff in movie cartoons. Lena paid your insurance yesterday. Jim Coyne is in Co. H. You asked on Lena’s postal if we could read them. Yes it don’t make any difference how small it is as long as the writing is plain. I have a good eyesight and have read every word on them so far. I must hurry up with this letter and set the table. It is Sat afternoon and beleive me its lonesome here, too. I had the bathroom all to myself and no one to hit my nose or bother me.

I hope the rumor that says you are coming home for the 12th of Oct is true. Did you kiss the other soldiers as Mary told you to and keep the big ones for yourself. Well I must close as the paper is full. Hoping this finds you well I remain.

With Love from all

Em.

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

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 8/16/1916

Dear Sam.

Received your letter and I glad to know you’re feeling good. I just sent a card ahead of this letter. The United Drug Co. (Liggetts) is having a big time up to Braves field next Wednesday night for the Mass. Volunteer Aid Association. There will be a band concert, fireworks and an aeroplane flight. The 1st Corps Cadets are going to have a night battle and drill. The employees are going to get free tickets so of cause I’ll have to be there. By the way the papers speak about it I guess it will be worth taking in. They are having their convention (that is the stockholders from all over the U.S. are coming to Boston) so they ought to make good. I guess Lena and Bert are going too.

Lill Studley is up in Maine on her vacation and I got a postcard from her today. The picture on the card is of the 5 & 10 cent store in Augusta. I’ve been in that store and I guess you have too. Isn’t funny that she should send me a card of a place Ive been. She is stopping at Winsorville (where ever that is).

There was a big fire down on the corner of Park and Henley Sts last night in a barn. 15 horses were burned to death and four were brought out but were so badly burned that they had to be shot. I guess the owner lost all his horses.

I was up to the band concert last night. They had another ice cream sale up there. There was an awful crowd up there. I am staying in tonight and Lena has gone out. Pa gets home at 9 o’clock so I’m staying in to get his supper. It is almost time for him now.

Well I guess I will have to close as this is all I can think of. There is class to your letter paper alright. Hoping this letter finds you well and just waking up from a nice long sleep I will close.

With Love from all

Em.

 

P.S. I just gave Pa his supper so my work for the day is done. Em.
© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 8/14/1916

Dear Sam.

I just got your card and also Pa’s and Lena’s. That is some song and say don’t we wish you were here now. Lena likes to bake with her new gas stove and the oven is great but you know pa and I are poor eaters. You may not have to stay much longer and then we’ll see what Lena and her gas stove will do.

I see by the papers that you had a big storm down there. Did you have a wash hung out? If you did “Good Night Shirt.” Mary was here when I was reading your cards and she feels sorry for you cause you’re so busy. She sends her love and is waiting patiently for a letter. She can play Tipperary with one finger on the piano. She has your skin a mile. I took her over to the band concert in City Point yesterday. They have great music over there. They play all popular songs.

We had two showers yesterday and I got caught in one of them. We were on the front seat of a car and got soaked. Henry was over Sunday to dinner. He is feeling fine. Pa is feeling fine. He changes his watch tomorrow going to work at 10 and getting through at 8 at night. The kids are out here playing “hide & go seek” and making more noise than a whole army. Old George is out on the steps fighting with them. Its awful hard for me to write a letter because I never have anything to write about but I try and do the best I can.

We are all well and so is every one else I know. I am glad to know you are gaining, as it is better than getting any thinner. Well I have nothing else to write about now so I’ll have to say Amen. Hoping this letter finds you well I will close

With Love from all

Em.

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

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 8/11/1916

Dear Sam.

Your three cards were recieved today. I didn’t send any mail yesterday but it was the first day I missed. Henry was here fixing the pipe. He can only work by daylight and thats why its taking him so long. I guess he finish his job tonight. He was here this morning at a quarter of six and had breakfast with Lena and I.

These last couple of days its been real cool. Mary was up to supper last night and pa was trying to kid her. She said something about Leonard and he said, “Is he as big as I be,” and she said “I don’t know I never saw I be.” You can’t fool her. Napolean is getting his house painted. Here is no news as everything is the same.

Bert is fine and working every day and so is Pa. There was no ice cream sale up the band concert last Tues. night. The week before they made 16 Dollars so the papers said. Henry has just finish his job. Now we have our gas stove. Lena is cooking Henry’s supper on it now. This letter is all Henry this and Henry that. Well he’s a good old scout.

We have the gas stove over where the little table was and we’re giving the table to Molly. I hope you’ll be able to read this, I’m using a bum pencil. You say you have no time to write and I have lots of time to write but nothing to write about. Of course you know Charlestown is a dead place anyway.

I’m sorry I cant write any more but will as soon as I can find some news. Madge is feeling pretty good. Hoping this letter finds you well I will close

With Love from all.

Em.

P.S. Henry sends his regards.

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

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 8/9/1916

Dear Sam.

Henry came over to supper last night and he is putting in some gas pipe for our gas stove. Uncle Al was here so he couldn’t do much. It was awful hot here anyway. It is raining tonight and awful cold. Some change. I went to the band concert and left them here. When I cam home what do you suppose Lena told me? It seems that Henry was out in the kitchen and Lena gave him a B. of beer. Bert was here at the time as he bought the treat. Pa and Al was in the parlor. Pa said in fooling to Al “Im going out in the kitchen and have some beer with the boys why don’t you join us.” And Al said, “Guess I will I feel kind of dry.” And they open a bottle for him and he drank it all just like an old timer. Now what do you know about that? He said it was the first he had for 12 years. Lena said when he was going home he banged into the door. Just look at all the fun your missing.

Bert and Henry are great old friends that is you would think so if you heard them talking. Henry was to come over tonight but I guess he got stuck on an outside job. Remember how we use to sit in a corner and laugh at him and the faces I used to make at him when he wasn’t looking. Those was the happy day, ha Sam. I gave him one of your pictures, also Madge and Molly.

Madge is feeling pretty good and every one else is O.K. I am glad Norman wrote to you but I haven’t seen him since. The band was swell last night but it seems to be punk every other night. Well if your coming home for the World Series you can stand in line all night and be ready for the game. You seem to be broke in on that line, owing to your 24 hr. patrol.

Well this is all I can think of now. I just had to tell you how your Uncle is raising Cain. Hoping this letter finds you well and your washing all hung out, I will close.

With Love from all.

Em.

P.S. Mary sends her love and lots of kisses.

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

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 8/7/1916

Dear Sam.

Well. Your letters, cards, medels, and pictures are all here. Gee those souviniers are bocker I oh. There’s some class to the pictures too. How did you happen to have a tie on? I guess you bought that for the purpose didn’t you. Now you didn’t have to excuse yourself for your short letter because you know that a short letter is better than none. I got your long letter too. Im glad to know you’re on the job and everything is going along alright. Your picture looks good and your face looks fatter in that than the one I took at Framingham.

Its awful hot up here today but there is just a little breeze blowing now. Pa is feeling good. He likes the picture with the hat on the best but I like the other one. Those medels are just what I like. When you come home I want to have my picture snapped with your uniform on and all those medels on me too.

I was going out to Somerville to see a girl I knew (who married Jack Doherty you know him) and took Mary with me. She dancest for them and we had a great time. She went to church yesterday then came up here and I took her home about 8 o’clock.

Say Sam as for giving you a drink of water at the table, I only wish I could hand you a glass full now and pull your hair while your trying to read this. The papers don’t say a word about you fellows now so I don’t know what your doing down there.

Madge is feeling much better now than what she was. There is no news as everything is the same. Henry wasn’t over yesterday but I guess he is afraid that he’s putting Lena to work. We had some biscuits for him too. He may be over next Sun and I hope so. He is very sociable and full of talk and makes lots of company.

Well I’ve sat here five minutes trying to think what to write but can’t. Molly sent up her gas stove and now the question is where will we put it. Why not up in “Sam’s room.” Well hoping this letter finds you well and happy I will close.

With Love from all.

Em.

P.S. Have you got your washing done yet?

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

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 8/3/1916

Dear Sam.

Received your postcard. All you seem to be doing lately is washing. When you come home you’ll put the wet wash out of bussiness. Lena and Bert went to Nantasket Beach today and Pa and I just got through supper. I am saving all the mail I get from you and if you save all you get and send it home there’ll be some fun reading it over when you get back. When ever that is.

Molly likes her new tenement first rate. Mary came up yesterday to ask Brother Bert, as she calls him, down to her house for dinner. She is the limit. Molly is going to give Lena her gas stove because there was one in her tenement. Some class. Madge is about the same. Mary told me today that John and Anna got a card from you. I am going down there this evening to see how Madge is. The Hollands got your letter yesterday. I showed your souvernier in the shop today and all the girls liked it. It seems funny to them that I should hear from you most every day and all they get is about 1 letter a week. I guess they are all jealous. The password now is, “Did you get a letter last night?” My answer is always yes, and they say, “Gee I didn’t.” I beat them all, thanks to you.

Pa is feeling fine and is looking good too. We still play the machine but the same old records. We haven’t bought one since you’ve been gone. Henry’s favorite is that Hawaiian Hotel. When he comes over he plays it over and over. I played my harmonic for him last Sun. and he was surprised to hear me play so good. He said Lena had the piano and I played the harmonic and you had the graphonola and then he asked pa what he did and pa told him he was the Major.

Well I wrote more than I thought I was going to. I must close as I want to see Madge. I hope this letter finds you well and cheerful. We are all fine and send our love. Amen.

With Love from all

The Kid.

P.S. Don’t forget to wash your neck as well as your clothes.

 

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