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SBButler Letters, May 1917

Hotel McAlpin. Postcard
May 6, 1917
May 8, 1917
May 12, 1917
May 13, 1917
May 20, 1917
May 30, 1917

Letters to Eva, May 1917



Post card from the Hotel McAlpin, New York.

Dear Mother,
I have just finished 6 1/2 hours of standing in various lines, and have come thru everything satisfactorily. Whether I shall actually be chosen to go to Plattsburgh or not, I shan't know until I receive notice this week (only about an even chance, I guess). My notice may come to Cromwell, as I thought best to enlist as from there; please wire me if received, examining contents to see if anything should be told me at once, and send them along by special del'y. Am getting a bite to eat in a few minutes I have before getting my bag at Chalmers & getting a train. Details by letter. Lots of love, Sylvester.


On board N.Y.-Phila.Train
May 6, 1917

Dear Mother,

The train is just pulling out as I start writing; I am obliged to go back via Philadelphia, thru absence of late enough train service the shorter way, and as I won't get to Pleasantville until a little after twelve, I think I had better try to write you now, between jerks. Before I seal it up and mail it, I'll make sure there is nothing left unanswered in your letter, and then get this off in the morning.

I left Pleasantville at two and Atlantic City at half past two Friday afternoon, and made good connections all the way thru, arriving at Cousin Walter's soon after half past six. The house was very tastefully decorated, everything green and white, as I believe I told you, & the table of refreshments presented a gorgeous appearance; the thing about it which would catch anyone's eye the most being a basket of strawberries turned up on the side with the berries giving the appearance of flowing out naturally; the presents were all kept in a special room on the third floor, and there were oceans of them; I remember especially a mahogany wheeled serving table, and a delicately blue tinted electric light table shade. Music continued all thru the wedding ceremony and added to its impressiveness, and Ruth was very pretty, as brides are expected to be. Blossom's little Ruth, the sweetest little thing imaginable, was flower girl. Uncle Walt and Aunt Ella, Dorothy, and Dr. & Mrs. McCreedy were there, also Mrs. Robinson and two of her sons (Prescott was one, a huge jovial fellow) from Montreal; of fellows that I had known before, beside Vic there was Everett Bacon, Bill Campbell, 1915, then Billinger, 1915, & Sanders, 1911, whom I remembered by sight but hadn't known by name. I met Mr. & Mrs. Crawford, Bishop Stirling, the chief of the two officiating clergymen, and a few other Montclair people. Connie was just as delightful as ever.

I came over to New York with Jack about eleven o'clock, and staid[sic] at the McAlpin (16th floor) where he already had a room engaged. Of my doings Saturday I told you pretty thoroughly over the telephone; I talked with the Chalmers' until about ten and then went to bed and had a good nights sleep. This morning I started out about nine armed with Mr. Chalmers' letter of recommendation, and found Mr. Wachter's and Prof. Farrand's as soon as I got up to the Yale Club. The Military Committee was conspicuous by its absence; but I met two classmates, Phil McGhie, and D. Edward Meeker and we all went over to the recruiting offices at 19 W. 44th St. Nothing looked encouraging at the start, as the subordinate reserve officers around there in civilian clothes, who were assisting in the registration, acting as information bureaus, etc., told me it would be impossible to get a physical examination today, and that it would be as good as useless for me to spend my time going thru the examination, as all men under 26 were being rejected, but that they wouldn't prevent anybody going thru if they wanted to spend the time to do it. So I got in the line, and first went thru one of the civilian garbed individuals who saw that I had all my necessary papers in proper form; then the line went on thru the examining officer, Capt. Matthews, a most snarly and brutish looking person; he looked at each applicant and his papers, and either passed him over to two more men for physical examination appointment, or else told him not to bother to go thru; most men were allowed to go thru to the physical examination. The men who were making the appointments gave me tomorrow afternoon at 2:55, and try as I might to have them slide me in today, they courteously but positively refused, so I expected that there was to be nothing for me to do but wait, and in the meantime wire Pleasantville. I walked back to the Yale Club, went up to the lounge, and sat down to frame a telegram, and also write your letter; just as I started, Francis Gilmore, '13, the fellow who advised me yesterday after my talk with the committee to go over to the recruiting office & see just what was what on the second camp proposition, walked in and stopped to talk with me. I related my tale of woe, and he advised me to pay no attention to the appointment date, but to go right over to the College of Physicians & Surgeons, where the examinations were held, & go thru them without saying a word as to the time of the appointment; he had been advised to do the same thing by an officer, a week before, when he had had to hurry out of town, and said that he hadn't been challenged at all. I hesitated at first, not desiring to get into any complications, be caught up for insubordination, or lose my chance of getting in, but I remembered that the men had taken no record of the appointment, had merely handed me a card with the time on it & a blank for the physicians, and Francis assured me very positively that the cards were only matters of convenience, to keep an even supply of men presenting themselves. So I decided to take my chances, and found everything to be just as he said, so I feel that he's been a kind of good angel on the whole proposition. No one asked for my appointment card, and I just walked in, took off my clothes, slipped on my overcoat, as the rest did, and got into the first line, for height and chest measurements & taking weight; this started about eleven-thirty, and for the next two and a half hours I passed thru eight doctors, I believe, having to wait in lines, sometimes long, sometimes short, before each one, the heart & lung man, the eye man, the ear man, the color perception man (who had pieces of yarn of only slightly varying shades of each of the main colors, picked out four & asked the applicant to match them from the rest), etc. The final one, & the one with the longest wait, was to have the whole sheet, with each physician's memoranda on it, looked over by the examining officer there & passed on as disqualifying you, or certifying that you had no physical defects which should debar you from being a member of the Officers' Reserve Corps. Major(Dr.)Richard Derby (Col. Roosevelt's son-in-law) was the examining officer, but when I was going thru this final stage, he was out & a Lieutenant Smith was taking his place. I got thru all right & was certified as being physically fit, and then went back to the recruiting office with all my papers, for final action by Capt. Matthews or another officer, whose name I didn't learn; the latter was the one who looked over mine. When, after a long wait in line, he had finally looked over my papers (application, letters, & physical report) I was given a sheet in duplicate on which my main qualifications were typewritten & on which was printed a pledge to abide by the obligations the enlistment entailed, to report promptly for service if called, obey the President, Secretary of War, & superior officers, and accept whatever commission may be tendered at the end of the 3 months' training. When this was signed we had to wait until a large group had been gathered, and were all sworn together to the pledge I spoke of; then as our names were called, we came up to have the duplicate sheets signed by the examining officer at a place where it is printed "I recommend that he be admitted to the Training Corps to be held at Plattsburg Barracks, N.Y." This completed the job, and now I wait to see if I am notified by the Commanding Officer at Plattsburg to appear for training before May 15th.

I shall start to get everything in readiness to go, anyway; but I suppose that if there are a great many more passed as eligible than can be taken care of (which is quite likely to be the case), those under 25 & without previous military training will be first passed by. I have also heard, though, that there may be a shortage in some other districts, & some overflow might be sent to them. The reason that my notice may be sent to Cromwell is this: I gave my address first as Pleasantville, not realizing that it would have anything to do with where I would be sent, supposing all enlistments made there would count as New York enlistments; but I heard in the course of my journeyings that this was not the case, so after coming back to 19 W. 44th, I spoke to the examining officer of the fact that my home address was Cromwell, Conn., not N.J., and on his telling me that that would make a difference, I asked that it be changed; I tried to work it so that instructions could be sent to Pleasantville, but they couldn't conveniently fix the papers this way.

In the course of my examination I ran across two other very good friends, Orrin Kilborn, 1914 (Zeta Psi), and Emir Allen, a classmate & fraternity brother both. I was particularly surprised to see Emir, as I supposed he was in San Francisco, but it seemed that he had been in New York for about three months.


Monday morning.

I got in on schedule time last night & went right to bed, and am now ready for a strenuous week.

I didn't have time to put any extra things in the laundry as per your suggestion, Friday. If I go away the end of the week, I'm going to leave as much as I can here; the rest I'll get home someway.

It was quite a surprise to see that Supt. Wheatly was likely to leave Middletown, and I presume that under the circumstances he of course will resign.

I must get this into the mail & get to school.
With much love to you & all Sylvester.



[written on stationary from the]
office of City Superintendent of Schools

Pleasantville, N.J.
5/8/17

Dear Mother,

I forgot all about asking what Ralph was expecting to do, what branch of the service he expected to try for, and so on, both over the telephone and in my letter. I'm afraid it's made me appear to be totally absorbed in myself and what I'm doing. I had in my mind to ask in the letter, because I am of course interested to know, but in the hurry to get my letter off this morning, it slipped me once more.

This fool Cruse has gotten me in an embarrassing position; it seems he went to Philadelphia Saturday to apply for admission to the Officers' Training Corps, & true to his character, he noised it about that he was to do so; someone asked him if he was the only teacher going & he said that I was going to enlist also, as I had told him that I expected to in the summer. From that conversation, an item appeared in Friday's Pleasantville Press that Profs. Cruse & Butler had gone to Philadelphia to volunteer their bit for Uncle Sam (I haven't seen the exact wording). Now I come back today, and everybody wants to know about it, and I have to deny that the report is true as given. It makes me indignant, for folks can see I'm still here, and they might think I had cold feet, and it at least subjects me to the charge of being a blowhard, like Cruse, by the assumption it naturally carries that I told around that I was going up to enlist, or even perhaps told the editor purposely for publication purposes, before actually knowing the results of my trip. I suppose it needn't assume the proportions of anything more than an annoyance, but I'm at least going down this afternoon & ask ["tell" is crossed out] the Press editor to let me corroborate statements about myself before they appear in his sheet hereafter.

Must get to work.
With much love,
Sylvester.


[Sylvester got his notice right away as the next letter, though undated and without an envelope for a postmark, is labeled "No 1", and "No 2" is dated May 13, 1917. In his AEF Scrapbook there is also the card saying to arrive either the 12th or 14th (whichever he had been told) and the schedule of special trains from different points to get him there. Susan Czaja, granddaughter]

Dear Mother,

I only have a minute to let you know I arrived safely after having a pretty restful trip. I got a berth at Springfield & slept most of the way. I didn't get off the train until 9:30, reported at Company 4 barracks, then stood in line to draw an overcoat that I need to complete my uniform, until 12 o'clock, only to get to the door just in time to have it shut, and so have got to stand in line again this afternoon. I was interrupted in the middle of this to go to noon mess of beans, bread, coffee, & tapioca pudding; so I've received my first dietary lesson.

This had better be getting on its way; hope a long letter can follow it shortly.

Address me

Co.4, New England Division,
Officers' Training Corps
Plattsburg Barracks
N.Y.

Ralph Gabriel is in my company & will sleep in the next bunk to me. Phil Buzzell also in Co.4. Several other classmates are up here.
With lots of Love
Sylvester.


Plattsburg, N.Y.
May 13, 1917

Dear Mother,

Here I am at my roll-top desk in my swivel chair, in my spacious apartments equipped with mahogany bedstead, dresser to match, and leather comfort chair, - I almost forgot the fireplace. All of which is to say that I am sitting on the side of my bunk (canvas stitched across a frame - very decently comfortable), writing on my suitcase for a desk (also serves as a dresser & clothes closet, although there are a few nails on the wall in back of me). Each company (150 men) is in a separate wooden barracks - a long building, with rows of bunks running down each side, & partitioned off into rooms holding 42 bunks. This will be life in a suitcase for sure, as Ralph used to call it, when he & Father & I occupied your room during Xmas vacations. But I really imagine we are having it quite comfortable side of some other training camps, many of which, as I understand it, have only tents. The government's reserve here is quite sizable, as it is a permanent military post; it is right on Lake Champlain, which is quite narrow here. The mess buildings are only a stone's throw from the lake, our barracks quite a little way back. Off to the south-east across the lake we can see the snow capped ridges of the Green Mountains, & in the west what I suppose are the Adirondacks. As soon as I can get my bearings around the grounds, and around the country, I'll try to diagram it for you, in some shape. Tom Beers is two doors from me. There are a great many '13 Yale men, and other college friends, and it is certainly good to have it so; the adaptation to this new experience, for which I have no taste nor aptitude won't be nearly as unpleasant as though I were all alone. Elliott, Blanchard, Fitzgerald, Thayer, Gabriel, Buzzell, Fuller, Lillibridge, Cordier, Achilles, Barbour, & Whitridge of '13 are already here, that I can think of; the last named was in the British artillery for two & a half years, and is a captain of one of the companies here. Knowlton '14, I've seen, and "Wheels" Wheeler, a very good friend of mine in 1911. "Zo" Elliott says everybody he ever knew is here. [Note - this is Alonzo Elliott who wrote "There's a Long, Long Trail a'winding." See Elliott's own words on the song's origins.]

Yesterday afternoon I got an overcoat, an extra undercoat, pair of shoes, leggings & belt to complete my equipment; they cost nothing, but it appears doubtful if I get reimbursed for what I did buy. If I'd known the ropes, instead of following that circular [note - this is also in his scrapbook], I'd not have bought anything but socks and shirts; but I suppose the other things will be useful in some way, some time, if I shouldn't wear them out here. Last evening I took a walk with Gabriel & Buzzell to southward a way; we recalled to each other that we were the only three who over four years ago completed that 25 mile walk from New Haven to Bethany & around to Derby. This afternoon I walked down to the town with Ralph; it's on high ground, a little north of the camps, and appears to be quite old - a great many brick and stone houses.

There has been no formal work as yet, and probably will be none until Tuesday, but then - we go at it with a bang. Arise 5:30, roll call 5:45, Mess 6:00; morning instruction 6:50-12:00 ; mess 12:10; afternoon instruction 1:20-4:30; retreat 5:40; mess 5:55; school 7:00-9:00; lights out 9:45. Of course we're subject to call for any duties in the few short in between times that there are. Sundays we arise at 6:00 instead of 5:30; and what the schedule for the rest of the day will be I don't know. We do form and march to mess every meal already, & have had a few duties around the barracks. I don't believe the eating's going to bother me; I think that I have succeeded already in smothering for the nonce all my squeamishness; dusty plates & one meal of beans at least haven't conquered me. Night mess last evening was stew, bread, & tea; morning mess today, an orange, cornflakes, scrambled eggs; this noon we had stew, baked potatoes, tea, and rice pudding. I slept very well last night until about five, then lay awake & devised ways & means to dress in ten minutes.

A lot of examination papers I'll correct with the schedule I have! And I shall promptly advise Dr. Whitney that it will be impossible for me to touch them. I'll be lucky if I get spare time even to write letters, by the looks; the first thing that must be looked after in spare time is personal appearance, particularly shoes. I haven't found out about laundry yet, but if it's permissible, I shall certainly send it home - it won't look much like the laundry outfit I've been sending, either in size or appearance, will it?

There is a post office on the grounds, & mail will be delivered, as I understand it, to each company's barracks. It will be more of a job getting acquainted here than at college, there are so many men around; I don't suppose I'll even know by sight all the men in my own company before the training period is over.

I have gotten completely rested physically; it never seems to take me long to recuperate. Sleep from 9:45 to 5:30 every night ought to keep us in trim right along. Next week I ought to know a lot more about the organization of the work, that I can write you. I'll hope to have time to drop you some word in the middle of the week.
With much love to you and all,
Sylvester.

P.S. Just back from supper of Salmon and Pseudo-potato-salad.


Plattsburg, N.Y.
May 20, 1917

Dear Mother,

Your three letters and the package all arrived at the same time, and were all most welcome, particularly as I had gone from Saturday morning to that time - Wednesday evening - without a word from anywhere. I returned the basket with some laundry Friday afternoon and hope you get it in time. Please when you return the laundry don't send it in anything but paper, because of the limited space I have to put anything. Also please send instead of the torn & patched pajamas a pair of whole ones, of which I think I left two pair home to be washed.

We have Saturday afternoon and Sunday virtually off, and many men have even gone out of town, those who don't live so very far away. Everybody has to be back by 5:40 to-night, except by extra special permission. Yesterday afternoon I took a little walk, and sat down in a rather secluded part of the lake shore for sometime, to get out of touch of military life for awhile and enjoy the natural beauties of the earth unfettered. To-day I am staying within the barracks as the day is threatening and we are getting an occasional shower.

The eating question hasn't bothered me very much thus far; the worst thing about it is the dust. I believe the mess shacks are in the dustiest part of the grounds and the tramp of thousands of feet marching to mess puts a nice preparatory dust-sauce on food and utensils. To-day we had ice cream for dessert- would you believe it? And so much of it that I engineered three helpings. We are not supposed to have food in the barracks but candy is allowed, and I notice a number of men have boxes of wafers, like nabiscos, etc.; and this apparently is not discountenanced.

A number of new old friends have appeared this week, other classmates and college acquaintances, and two Middletown men I knew, Payson Hayward, of my class at High School, and Keith Davis, of '07, M.H.S.

Of course we've been right at it now, since Tuesday. That was kind of an organization day - first our company was lined up and graded off according to height; then we were divided up into four platoons, and the platoons into squads of eight men each, one man in each squad (some one who had had previous military experience) being named as corporal, and he has to be responsible for the squad in various ways, answers for the squad at roll call, etc. Then we were reassigned to bunks according to squads, so that I am not with Gabriel any longer, or rather not as near him as before. The cot bunks have been replaced by double decker wooden bunks, and I occupy the upper tier of one, with a man by the name of Church (about 30 yrs. old & a chair manufacturer) from Gardner, Mass., under me. In my squad is a man by the name of Baxter who was in Raymond's class at college; he comes from just outside Boston. The corporal is a man by the name of Short from Fall River, a somewhat older man than the rest of us, a volunteer in the Spanish-American war, who saw service in the Philippines. We got our rifles Tuesday, and some other parts of our equipment; the rifles had just been unpacked, and we had to clean them of the grease in which they are kept while packed, which was a long job. And how scrupulously clean these rifles have to be kept! - every nook and corner cleared of every bit of grease & dirt and kept so. It isn't too easy for me, not being naturally adapted to things mechanical, nor knowing much more about a rifle than the difference between the trigger and the muzzle. But I think I know a little more about it now. Tuesday evening the whole camp assembled in the huge gymnasium and listened to a talk by the commanding officer of the Camp - Lieut. Col. Wolf, on the general purpose of the camps, rules governing their conduct, and outline of the course to be followed, with a statement of what the students at the camp might expect -- that is, 30 percent would receive commissions and be put at once into actual service, some would be dropped, probably early in the course, as showing themselves unfit for military service as army officers, and the balance, all who go thru the work satisfactorily will receive commissions in the Officers' Reserve Corps and be called into service as they are needed.

Wednesday drill and instruction began in earnest; we were given a schedule Tuesday night to cover the whole of the first month's work, which will be infantry drill for everyone. The hours of this actual work are from 7:00 to 12:00, 1:30 to 4:30, and 7:00 to 9:00, and these hours are divided up in all sorts of ways. Here's an example of a couple of the days' work, showing the form of our schedule:

     D w |  P  |  P   | M   | S    |  C   |  E  
     r i |  h  |  r   | u   | i    |  o   |  v  
     i t |  y  |  a   | s   | g    |  n   |  e  
     l h |  s  |  c   | k   | n    |  f   |  n  
     l o |  i  |  t   | e T | a S  |  e   |  i  
       u |  c  |  i   | t r | l e  |  r   |  n  
       t |  a  |  c   | r a | l m  |  e   |  g  
         |  l  |  e   | y i | i a  |  n   |     
       a |     |      |   n | n p  |  c   |  S  
       r |  D  |  M   |   i | g h  |  e   |  t  
       m |  r  |  a   |   n |   o  |  s   |  u  
       s |  i  |  r   |   g |   r  |      |  d  
         |  l  |  c   |     |   e  |      |  y  
         |  l  |  h   |     |      |      |     
_________|_____|______|_____|______|______|____________
   7:00- |     |      |     |      |      | 7:00-8:00      
     8:30|8:30-|10:45 |     |      |      |   (Organization
AM       | 9:00|-11:45|     |      |      |     of Regiment)
   9:15- |     |      |     |      |      | 8:00-9:00
16__10:15|_____|______|_____|______|______|___Semaphore__
         |     |      |     |      |      |        
         |     |      |1:30 |2:30  |3:30  | 
PM       |     |      |-2:30|-3:00 |-4:30 |      
         |     |      |     |      |Care of Equipment 
  _______|_____|______|_____|______|______|______________
   7:00- |     |      |     |      |11:00-|      
     8:00|8:00-|8:45  |     |10:00-|12:00 
AM       | 8:30|-9:45 |     | 11:00|  (Organization       
         |     |      |     |      |     of Regiment) 
18_______|_____|______|_____|______|______|_____
         |     |      |     |      |2:30  | 7:30-8:30      
         |     |      |1:30 |      |-4:30 | Interior Guard Duty 
   
PM       |     |      |-2:30|      |Interior 8:30-9:00 Par.31-47 
         |     |      |     |      |Guard |    I.D.R.(Infantry
16_______|_____|______|_____|______|Duty__|__Drill Regulations)

This isn't an exact copy of the schedule but will give some idea of the way our days are divided up. The conference periods are usually half study in the barracks and half conference, the conference being a gathering of the whole company usually just outside the barracks to ask questions of & listen to remarks from the commanding officer or other officer instructors connected with our company. The conference & study periods are based on various textbooks filled with dry detail, from which it is hard to know just what to retain. We have the Infantry Drill Regulations, Manual of Physical Training, Manual of Interior Guard Duty, Field Service Regulations, Army Regulations, Small Problems for Infantry, and Small Army Firing Manual [Note - I checked his schedule of Instruction and it is printed as Small Army, but I wonder if it is a misprint for Small Arms as it is used as part of Musketry Training] in the course of the month ; with definite paragraphs assigned for each period - many of the paragraphs assigned fortunately for two or three different times. Then the drill & training periods are based on paragraphs in these textbooks also.

The drill without arms, which will be with arms this week, I believe, is practice in different marching formations, and the commands which govern them. The company marches out to the parade grounds, a large open space, and gathering in a semi-circle about the commanding officer, we watch different formations illustrated with one squad from the company; then after two or three have been shown we divide up into squads and practice them, a different member of the squad taking charge each day & various reserve officers with the Co. go around & make criticisms. When a whistle blows we reassemble, and more formations are illustrated & practiced until the time is up. The physical drill is of course calisthenics for the development of different portions of the body, and this always follows the other drills, out on the parade grounds. The practice march is an hours hike in formation, but not in step (rout-step it is called). I notice we only have one this week, and I'm sorry, because I enjoyed them. The semaphore signal work is practice in these flag wig-wag signals, which you have probably seen. They are very interesting, and do not seem difficult to me; the alphabet is of course is worked out on a definite system - the trouble, however, is that this work isn't nearly as important as the other things like drill in marching formations, musketry training, and the theoretical work, which are much more difficult, particularly the first two. Thus far our signal practice has been conducted in this way: we march out to a pine grove south of the camp and split up into squads. Someone from the squad for fifteen minutes or so drills the rest in the various letters, calling on them for letters here and there in the alphabet; then for a similar period of time the squads split up into twos and signal to each other, ask questions & give answers, etc.; in the last period of the hour a member of the squad signals letters & words to the squad to see which will get them first. Church and I got the jump on the rest of the squad by working out the alphabet together Tuesday in spare time, and we have done most of the drilling of the rest of the squad. The musketry training has thus far been practice in correct sighting with the rifle, and I suppose will soon be target practice on the range. A few new things not on this week's schedule will be added next week & later in the month - manual of the bayonet, manual of the saber, military art. And there is a lot to do to fill up spare time - first, keep that gun clean, keep shoes polished, clothes and equipment in good condition, study, etc.; it is indeed a problem to get in washing, shaving, etc.; so much to do often that it's often hard to know where to start. I'm trying to order my days to as near a regular schedule as possible, to get the most out of what time I have.

Each company is in charge of a commanding officer, a captain, from the regular army, as chief officer and instructor, assisted by the captains and lieutenants who already have commissions in the Officers' Reserve Corps. On whole life naturally must be ordered in a very precise, military way; march in formation to and from meals & all drills; either all have overcoats on or all have them off; salute officers when addressing them; keep shoes polished (only to get dusty again next minute); have bunks made up just so, and everything kept in very regular fashion; no talking when marching in regular formation - except when in rout-step; - all quite new experiences, and rather difficult to become adapted to. Of course it doesn't hurt anybody, it can't be called personally humiliating even though the spirit doth inwardly balk at times, for its the way military life must be ordered. My acquaintance with the daily papers is become somewhat lessened, though I usually get a look at a headline or two.

I don't know of anything more I need just now, thank you. A few things that I have had to get I was able to get at the Post Exchange, a well-patronized emporium on the grounds. If there in anything you can send, I'll not hesitate to let you know.

I am sending you a little red trillium, I think it is, of which I saw alot on the lake shore yesterday afternoon. This would be a very interesting country to explore if I only had the time and were here on a different mission.

The implied emphasis on physical rest in last Sunday's letter was not intentional, but it would pf course not be true to say the first days were not grey and hard. I do my best to follow your advice, as I am not consciously ever miserable by choice; and I would not have it said that I acted other than a man's part.
With much love to you and all
Sylvester.

P.S. I enjoyed Aunt Sarah's letter, which I received yesterday, very much; Please tell her I'd be glad to hear from her anytime & appreciate them very much, but perhaps I can't keep up my part by separate letters as often.
S


Plattsburg, N.Y.
May 30, 1917 [this was a 27 made into a 30]


Dear Mother,

Today has been a free day, and I have spent it rather leisurely; did a little work this morning, wrote a couple letters, and went over and visited with Tom Beers about an hour. It's the longest time I've seen him since I've been here, as of course there is little opportunity to visit; there are even men here, whom I know well, that I haven't seen at all. "Shorty" Lillibridge (6 ft. 4 in.) whom I know very well, and "Ham" Gordon, both of '13 are here somewhere, but I haven't yet seen them, except once each, both times at a distance, while on the march, & neither of them saw me. This afternoon I took a little walk and wrote another letter, and am now writing you, as I rather expected to, there being a few things in your last weeks' letter which I haven't yet answered.

It was a relief to learn in your letter that the laundry case had arrived, and particularly the tin box. There are two keys to the box on my keyring, which is at present in my suitcase; I'll try to remember and leave them home next fall, if my activities after the first of September are military.

When I spoke about newspapers, I only meant there was little time to read them thoroughly; there are plenty here, and I buy one once in a while, and usually get a chance to see somebody's headlines. I wonder if you'd want to try and get the New York Times on Sundays and save the picture and book review sections for me against the time when I shall once more be a civilian. Another thing I need beside the things I spoke of Sunday is an extra bath towel.

Gabriel's home is quite a way out in New York State but he enlisted as from New Haven; that is of course why he's in the New England camp. He has been engaged for some time, it seems; the girl's name, if I remember rightly, is Christine Davis. Sam Sewall hasn't been getting along very fast, and his knee has affected his limbs further on, just how, I don't know, but he's had his whole side in a cast; a letter from him written by his nurse about two weeks ago just reached me last night, forwarded by Carey, as did also the postcard and book from Aunt Kate.

It is cold here rainy days, and pretty chilly nights. I have plenty of day clothes and bed clothes and so for the main part don't mind it, but my hands seem to be very unruly, and need some hardening. They get so numb, I can hardly handle my rifle cold damp mornings, and we are not allowed to wear gloves now any longer. I sleep allright, even if I have slept in greater comfort. I get right off to sleep nights, and wake up about four-thirty and doze until five-fifteen.

There has been no definite announcement made as yet about pay; but oceans of semi-second-hand-rumors are mostly to the effect that we are to be paid at the rate of $100 a month.

The clipping you sent of Cromwell news was the first I knew of the Christian Endeavour play; I was interested to hear about it. The Satanic wail was very good.

Percy Whittlesey was a class ahead of me, 1908, at High School. I knew him, but not very well. His sister was in Ralph's class.

I haven't had any foot trouble at all; had a cold for about a week, but have lost it practically now. Most everyone has them, and I have catarrh [note- lots of mucus due to nasal passage inflammation] worse than any other place - I suppose because of the close living conditions in the barracks. There is some kind of eye trouble going the rounds, I don't know whether its pink-eye or just what; Church, right below me, has had it. There is a sick call everyday at 4:45, and everyone who reports is marched over to the dispensary, and of course the minute I have any trouble, I'll report at that next call.

Last week you asked if I had had any news from the Pleasantville people. Of course the Winch moving was one bit of news. Carey and Cruse were both removed from duty just a week before school closed, but I know nothing of the details, except that I know a great deal of events in the past which no doubt contributed. Carey was a good fellow in lots of ways, was a man who I believe would never hurt another to serve his own ends, and in all essential things was on the square, he'd do anything he could for me, but he didn't do conscientious work, conducted his classes in slip-shod fashion, had no discipline, and in some other ways didn't conduct himself with the dignity his position required. I hope it won't injure him in later life.

I have Dr. Whitney down on paper that he will hold the position open for me until July 1st at least - if I should be dismissed from here as incapable by any chance it would be before then. After that, I won't know anything until Aug.15th or probably later, and his agreement won't do much good, as it stands. But I don't imagine it will make much difference. His position is, as he wrote me, that he must be sure and have good teachers in the fall "having been burdened with two useless over this year"; but I have seen him take other positions and recede - in fact that's his favorite occupation. He's been going to fire Carey before, and brought me in to tell me about it; whether what I said had anything to do with it or not, at least he never did it, but took a plan I suggested instead; and many times he receded from positive statements by some soft method without prompting. A very suave creature, he! And so perhaps I could back him off & off, if I wanted to, until September, from him saying "at least". He's a decided uncertainty all around, but I do know that he has been very consistently back of me all the year, I know it beyond question. I don't believe he liked my going so suddenly, because he wasn't in favor of the war, and probably thought me foolish to come here. He'll have a small picking for men teachers next fall anyway, a point which he doesn't seem to recognize officially.

School closed there yesterday. I don't know just what Eva is going to do thru the summer, yet. Last night I had disappointing news from Miss Tolbert in regard to her securing a scholarship at a college (Earlham in Richmond, Ind.) where it was planned for her to go, on account of provisions made by the university due to war conditions. So her next year is somewhat up in the air; I hope something more favorable will develop for her during the summer. That was her writing on the letters you forwarded to me; she can write much better than that, when she writes more slowly, and I think it an attractive hand-writing myself. Her weak point is spelling, and there she can equal if not surpass Raymond Coe, particularly when she writes quickly, as is her wont. It is pretty early to talk about life partnership, as there are possibly several years of education before her, bringing with them many new friends and new and wider experiences. And she is not tied in any way, nor has such a matter been even remotely discussed between us. But we as we came to know each other, did develop a real friendship, mutually enjoyable, one which made it a tug on both of us to end for a time the pleasant companionship we had had - this I know. And I hope it can be renewed in days to come. To write in words the meaning of such relationships is not easy. She is lovely - in feature, thought, in the whole expression of her personality.
With much love
Sylvester.

P.S. I couldn't finish this yesterday, so it is going a day late. The laundry package came tonight, and I thank you ever so much for the sweet chocolate & nabiscoes. And I forgot all about thanking Aunt Sarah for the sweets last week. Please thank her for me, and thank Father for his share.
S.

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