Part 1 (1/2)

Dere Mable Edward Streeter 44150K 4 month ago

Dere Mable.

by Edward Streeter.

Love Letters of a Rookie

_Dere Mable:_

I guess you thought I was dead. Youll never know how near you was to right. We got the tents up at last, though, so I got a minit to rite. I guess they choose these camps by mail order. The only place there flat is on the map. Where our tents is would make a good place for a Rocky Mountin goat if he didnt break his neck. The first day the Captin came out an says ”Pitch your tents here.” Then he went to look for someone quick before anyone could ask him how. I wish I was a Captin. I guess he thought we was Alpine Chasers. Eh, Mable? But you probably dont know what those are.

Honest, Mable, if Id put in the work I done last week on the Panamah Ca.n.a.l it would have been workin long before it was. Of course there was a lot of fellos there with me but it seemed like all they did was to stand round and hand me shovels when I wore em out.

The Captin appresheates me though. The other day he watched me work awhile and then he says ”Smith.” He calls me Smith now. We got very friendly since I been nice to him. I noticed none of the other fellos had much to say to him. I felt kind of sorry for him. Hes a human bein even if he is a Captin, Mable. So every time I saw him I used to stop him and talk to him. Democratic. Thats me all over, Mable. ”Smith” he says ”If they was all like you round here war would be h.e.l.l, no joke.”

By which he meant that we would make it hot for the Boshes.

I been feelin awful sorry for you, Mable. What with missin me and your fathers liver gone back on him again things must have been awful lonesome for you. It isnt as if you was a girl what had a lot of fellos hangin round all the time. Not that you couldnt have em, Mable, but you dont an theres no use makin no bones about it. If it hadnt been for me I guess things would have been pretty stupid though I dont begrudge you a cent. You know how I am with my money. I guess you ought to anyway. Eh, Mable? Never talk of money matters in connexun with a woman. Thats me all over.

[Ill.u.s.tration: ”THE ONLY PLACE THERE FLAT IS ON THE MAP”]

[Ill.u.s.tration: ”YOU CAN READ EM TO YOUR GRANCHILDREN”]

Now I got started an found a fountin pen an the Y.M.C.A. givin away paper like it does Im goin to rite you regular. They say there goin to charge three sents for a letter pretty soon. That aint goin to stop me though, Mable. There aint no power in heavin or earth, as the poets say, as can come between you and me, Mable. You mite send a few three sent stamps when you rite. That is if your fathers able to work yet. And willin, I should add.

Of course it aint nothin to me but Id keep these letters what you get from me as a record of the war. Some day you can read em to your granchildren an say ”Your Granfather Bill did all these things.” Aint I the worst, Mable? Serious though I havnt found noone so far what has thought of doin this except the newspapers. I guess Ill get a lot of inside stuff that theyll never see. So this may be the only one of its kind. But it doesnt matter to me what you do with them, Mable.

Later Ill tell you all about everything but I guess you wont understand much cause its tecknickle. Lots of the fellos are gettin nitted things and candy and stuff right along. Dont pay no attenshun to that, though, or take it for a hint cause it aint. I just say it as a matter of rekord. Independent if nothin. Thats me all over.

Yours till the war ends _Bill_

_Dere Mable:_

Having nothin better to do I take up my pen to rite.

We have been here now three weeks. As far as I am concerned I am all ready to go. I told the Captin that I was ready any time. He said yes, but that wed have to wait for the slow ones cause they was all goin together. I says was I to go out to drill with the rest. He said yes more for the example than anything else. Its kind of maddening to be hangin round here when I might be over there helpin the Sammies put a stop to this thing.

[Ill.u.s.tration: ”YOU WALK A POST BUT THERE AINT NO POST”]

In the mean time I been doin guard duty. Seems like I been doin it every night but I know what there up against and I dont say nothin. Guard duty is something like extemperaneus speakin. You got to know everything your goin to say before you start. Its very tecknickle. For instance you walk a post but there aint no post. An you mount guard but you dont really mount nothin. An you turn out the guard but you dont really turn em out.

They come out them selves. Just the other night I was walkin along thinkin of you Mable an my feet which was hurtin. It made me awful lonesome. An officer come up and he says why dont you draw your pistol when you here someone comin. An I says I dont wait till the sheep is stole I drew it this afternoon from the Supply sargent. An I showed it to him tucked inside my s.h.i.+rt where noone could get it away from me without some tussel, you bet, Mable. But it seems that you got to keep on drawin it all the time. Then later I here footsteps. I was expectin the relief so I was right on the job. An a man come up and I poked my pistol right in his face an says Halt. Who goes there? And he says Officer of the day. An bein disappointed as who wouldnt be I says Oh h.e.l.l. I thought it was the relief. An he objected to that. The relief, Mable--but whats the use you wouldnt understand it.

Theres some mistake up north Mable about the way were built, Mable. Its kind of depresin to think that you could forget about us so quick.

Everyones gettin sweters without sleeves and gloves without fingers. We still got everything we started with Mable. Why not sox without feet and pants without legs. If your makin these things for after the war I think your antic.i.p.atin a little. Besides its depresin for the fellos to be reminded all the time. Its like givin a fello a life members.h.i.+p to the Old Soldiers home to cheer him up when he sails. I was sayin the other day that if the fellos at Was.h.i.+ngton ever get onto this theyll be issuin soleles shoes and s.h.i.+rtles sleves.

Its gettin awful cold. No wonder this is a healthy place. All the germs is froze. I guess there idea of the hardenin proces is to freeze a fello stiff. The Captin said the other day we was gettin in tents of trainin.

Thats all right but Id kind of like to see those steam heated barraks.

Youve red about those fellos that go swimmin in the ice in winter. I guess thed like our shouer baths. They say Cleanliness is next to G.o.dliness, Mable. I say its next to impossible.