| Home | Search | SBButler Letters |
March 1, 1919
March 8, 1919
March 19, 1919
March 23, 1919
March 29, 1919
SBButler Letters, March 1919
Today it has been Antwerp. Antwerp presents many striking contrasts to Brussels. First, because Brussels is so noisy and alive, Antwerp, while doing the business of an ordinary city its size (300,000), seems like a tomb after it, for one thing there was scarcely a street peddler of any kind there. Then, Antwerp is in the Flemish part of the country; all its signs are in Flemish and Flemish is the predominating language. However, in only one instance today I couldn't make myself understood in French; most of the people speak both Flemish and French. One notices readily the almost universal Dutch (Hollandaise) look on the faces of the people. Wooden shoes are more predominating there than anywhere I have yet seen. Little pushcarts, with dogs hitched underneath them to help the man with the push bars behind along, are a peculiar sight there. The streets especially in the lower section of the city, where we have mostly been, are numerous, irregular, and quaint - especially with the houses which have what I choose to call stepped gable roofs, because I don't know their real name. I took a picture of such a street and such a house this afternoon for a bit of local color - those are the sort of things you don't get in your post card views. And you haven't really visited a city unless you wander around to discover some of the little peculiarities of its appearance, construction or life. Of course one wants to see its famous places, too, but a real visit also involves a search for what I always call local color.
An elderly quartermaster officer attached himself to us as we got off the train, so that we had three in our party (unfortunately, as it proved). We went first to the Zoological Gardens - one of the three famous things of Antwerp. There is there one of the most splendid collections of animals in the world, from all over the world (even a common American fish-pond perch and Connecticut river eel - or an eel anyway). You know what goes in a Zoo, so I shan't describe it further.
We went next to the quais; the quais are a second of the famous things of Antwerp, but they are also local color, for the quais are Antwerp, the city being a great shipping port at the mouth of the Scheldt, and quais and wharves built out into it for acres and acres along. It has of course been dead since the war, and is just beginning to resurrect; they are just beginning to be piled up again with every imaginable product from everywhere (I saw today Canadian alfalfa, packed like baled hay into cakes perhaps 1 1/2 ft square and 3 in. thick - a whole shed full). Up into the quais the barges are beginning to come again, the disused machinery is being made ready for use, and even great ocean liners (Red Star) are lying in their places. The barges are full of life, great fleets of them almost; I think today must have been wash day for every barge had its clothesline full. I took a picture of them for more local color, also one of a grass grown wharf by which rested a rusty old barge absolutely out of use - which probably is a fair sample of the appearance of the quais during the occupation.
Taylor's pen is running dry. Please let me return to pencil.
From the quais we found our way to the third Antwerpian wonder - the cathedrale du Notre Dame. How can I describe it! I can only look at many of these things in almost stupid wonder, and marvel that such perfect things could be made with so little to do it with. It is also a Gothic structure built between 1350 and 1550, approximately, with one great tower only, but with such beautiful work in its construction that it seems most like lace. Inside it is the grandest sight of anything made by man, that I believe I have ever seen. The stained glass windows, some modern, some mediaeval, are beautiful; there is much wonderful woodcarving. The great high arched aisles and the whole appearance inside, are majestic [underlined], that's not it; they are awe inspiring! But going up thru them, you came to the great choir on either side of the approach to the altar. It is marvelous - such intricate, exquisite wood carving I never saw, and one could never forget it. The great painter Rubens, of the 17th century, lived in Antwerp, and he contributed much to this cathedral. To the left of the choir, there is his Elevation of the Cross, to the right, his masterpiece, the Descent from the Cross, above the altar, his Assumption of the Virgin (done in 16 days). Standing just in front of the choir, and looking way up at the bit ceiling under the dome, one can see painted there another Assumption of the Virgin, by Van Dyck, a pupil of Rubens. How could such a thing ever be done? There's also in the Cathedral Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Head of Christ painted on marble, of which the eyes seem to follow one at what ever angle one turns from it. And there are others, but that's enough to speak of.
Now this is where that Quartermaster officer became unfortunate. There happened to be two British officers being conducted about with us, and though they were out of hearing when the QM officer made his worst remark, after looking those wonderful pictures of Rubens, "He must have been some dauber" (just like throwing mud on a table set with nice new linen - ugh!); but that wasn't enough - after seeing Da Vinci's picture he had to say, to the British officers, "Let's see, De Vinski, he was an Eye-talian painter, wasn't he. How did he get one of his pictures way up here?" Oh!Oh!Oh!, I was never so ashamed to be with anyone in my life!
Our friend with the floating island brain left us at noon to go back to Brussels, so Luty [his nickname for Lucien Taylor] and I went thru the rest of the afternoon without the risk of having our uniform disgraced further. We visited Antwerps Hotel de Ville, which is singularly uncharacterful for a European building on the outside, but inside there is some very fine work - splendid wood carving thruout, on walls and furniture; also some fine marble work, especially in black and amber colored marble. There is the Salle de Lys, which is a room with panels painted by the artist Lys, who is a modern, of the last century; these represent different important events in the history of Antwerp; there is the Salle des Mariages (the room for the performance of all civil marriages in the city) - on its walls are painted a series of pictures representing forms of marriage in Belgium from earliest times, five pictures in the series; we saw the Council Chamber, and the Burgomaster's office (corresponding to the Mayor). In the Burgomaster's office there is over the fireplace an inscription "SPQA", which I think must be some Antwerpian motto, for I saw it other places. At any rate, they stand for Latin words which I haven't discovered, and we were told by our guide how the Germans once asked some of the town officials what the sign meant and were informed that the letters stood for "Sales Prussiens Quittants Anvers" (Dirty Prussians Leaving Antwerp) which of course was one more little unpleasant thing for them to remember about their stay in this country.
We thought when we finished there that we had absorbed all we should try to, and spent the rest of the afternoon on a vagabond journey about the streets and shops, returning on a full packed train toward evening.
We have been rather too tired to go out this evening, so I am just writing and taking it easy. Tomorrow I have a game of golf facing me and I am trying frantically to think of an excuse to get out of it. Please help me! You surely should have an idea. I was roped into it very unfairly. I see nothing to do but become suddenly ill when it's my turn to drive. Luty suggests that I caddy for him as a way out.
Well, sweetheart, it is late, and I must go to sleep. Goodnight, and pleasant dreams and a hug and a kiss. Sylvester.
Dear Sweetheart Lady,
Tonight ends a week of my leave, and I begin to know I have been doing some trotting around. I surely have today.
Time changed here this morning under the daylight saving scheme, and we got all mixed up, because we kept thinking the time was to be turned back instead of forward, and incidentally got our brains tired trying to reason it out. At any rate by our miscalculation we missed hearing the music of a High Mass at the church of Saint Gudule, and were late to an appointment to follow, with the Thys'. They took us out to Ternueren, a beautiful suburban district, with wee preserved forests and fine scenery. There is a beautiful museum building out there, which is entirely occupied by exhibits from the Belgian Congo; we visited it, and saw models of Congo towns, idols, grotesque war and dance masks - every sort of thing which comes from the Congo and represents its life, its people, its products. It was a new sort of thing for me and I enjoyed it very much.
From there we went to the Royal Golf Club, in the same district, where we took luncheon, and then played 18 holes of golf, out of which I found no graceful way to escape. Taylor and I must have been strange looking creatures with golf coats on instead of our uniform coat, and I with a golfing cap and a purple four-in-hand about stock collar. We forgot our camera in our rush to come off this morning, and have regretted all day that we couldn't immortalize ourselves in those costumes. I am absolutely no use at golf for I have only played a couple of times, but it didn't make much difference, as there wasn't much of a crowd out today.
We came back, took dinner at the Thys home, and then went with them to the opera at the Theatre Royal, where La Boheme was being played this evening.
We had to walk a couple of miles to their house after that, but got a tramway back. Our feet by that time were dragging along and we are both pretty much dragged all over.
Louvain and Liege tomorrow, if we can get up.
Goodnight and lots of love. Sylvester
We did not get up at 6:00 this morning to go to Louvain and Liege. We left a call last night for that hour, but when the tap sounded on our door this morning we felt quite differently. We sat and looked at each other for about five minutes, then opened the window, put out the light again, and slept till noon. And we are indeed thankful tonight that we didn't attempt to make the trip, as we wouldn't have been back until 9. However, we did go only to Louvain late this afternoon. That isn't very far away, and I did want to see some place that was well known in connection with the very first days of the war. You remember that at Louvain there were many buildings wantonly burned by the Germans, especially the great library belonging to the University. I have seen it this afternoon, that is, its skeleton. We only had three quarters of an hour altogether in Louvain, during which we walked up one street perhaps 600 yards to the Hotel de Ville - a tall Gothic building occupying a very small space, with carved figures projecting out all along the exterior, with four rows of little windows all along the roof, and with four peculiar conical towers having two round turrets at intervals surrounding each one; it is very different from any other Hotel de Ville I have seen. I thought it very artistic, but Lou thought it a blot on the landscape - but I'm afraid the rain and weariness had him in a bad humor. To the right of the Hotel De Ville is the church of Saint Peter, quite badly damaged in the early days of the war; the mass of flying buttresses about it struck my eye more than anything else. Around the corner to the left of the Hotel de Ville one goes up a little street and comes to the famous destroyed library and it is indeed a mass of ruins. We had just time to go around it and wend our way immediately back to the station.
There has been a miserable drizzle all day, with hard rain at times. I hope it will clear for our projected trip to Waterloo tomorrow.
Goodnight, and lots of love, as always. Sylvester
Our plans never seem to materialize according to schedule. Tonight we should be in Bruges, but because I wandered around in the rain and mud over the old battlefield of Waterloo too long and missed the proper local back to Brussels, we are still in Brussels and shall have to miss Bruges altogether. Bruges is said to be very picturesque and quaint, and the most thoroughly mediaeval of any Belgian town, and I am sorry not to see it. But still I am gratified that I have accomplished what I set out to do today, despite the pouring rain we have had.
Waterloo is only about nine miles south of here, and we started out on an early train so as to finish up in the morning. From the station of Brian L'Allend it is a mile walk to the great Lion monument which is about in the center of what was the British line in the great battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1815. The monument is a great conical shaped mass of earth (artificially made), with steps, 225 in number, to the top, which is surmounted by a bronze lion statue, made from metal melted out of guns captured from Napoleon in the battle. It gives a perfect view of the whole battlefield. With my guide-book and maps I worked out as nearly as I could the lines and important positions of the opposing forces, and the manner in which the action developed. After we came down we went into a building where there is a great panoramic painting of the whole battle around the walls of a circular room. That helped to a little further understanding of the battle and then I essayed forth alone, except for my camera, to re-fight the battle of Waterloo with myself. I tramped all over, got photographs from the point of view of the British and from that of the French, as accurately as I could from my unaided study of it, including, as the last, a view of the field from the spot, as nearly as I could work it out, where Napoleon watched the battle in its very last desperate stages, before his armies were put to rout and he completely defeated. The field presents a peaceful enough spectacle at the present day. My first picture, for instance, was taken in a turnip and cabbage patch; everywhere it is turnips, cabbage, grass and pasturage. But the dismal rain and the silence gave enough of a desolateness of appearance, which, with the crows as vultures, aided one to relive the battle a bit.
Oh! But that was a good tramp, and fascinating. Now I only hope my pictures come out well.
I lost all track of time, and when I got back to the Lion, it was way late for our car, and we had to take lunch out there and wait until the middle of the afternoon to return. Hence no Bruges. And being exceedingly wet and muddy and having but one pair of shoes on the journey, apiece, we are spending our evening altogether indoors.
I keep saying to myself, "I've had a good day." I tell Lou that the soaked cap, overcoat, breeches, and soaked and mud smeared shoes and putts are all for the interest of American schoolboys for years to come, if my pictures come out well.
It's time to say goodnight. I love you always. Sylvester.
I hoped to get farther down than this, tonight, to Dinant, but a search for any sort of transportation here proved quite useless, and we remain in Namur. Dinant was one of the towns ruthlessly destroyed by the Germans in the early days of the war, and I thought it would help to really know one of those places if we could stay there overnight in the atmosphere, perhaps talk to the people who had lived there thru the war, and wander about it at will in the evening and the morning. Then one would know about what it was to live in such a place thru the war. It means so much more to do something like that than merely to pass by on the train, or see pictures of it. But I must be content with knowing the destroyed cities of Belgium from the more fleeting view. Of course I have seen Louvain intimately, and that is something.
It has been beautifully spring like today. In the early afternoon Luty and I took quite a long walk thru previously unexplored portions of Brussels and enjoyed the spring air. We came away late in the afternoon, arriving here a bit after seven, and, as I say have made a futile search for transportation to go farther, so have now put up for the night. I don't know at all what Namur is like; it is said to have some quite beautiful sections, but we surely didn't find them this evening. Tomorrow we start early to make our way south, without knowing very well how far we shall be able to get. I hope to be in Verdun by night but very much fear that connections by rail are not obtainable.
We actually hated to leave Brussels this afternoon. It has been a very comfortable sort of a life there, and the city is indeed attractive in every way.
Must say goodnight, sending you all my love. Sylvester.
We feel lost 100 miles from nowhere tonight. You should see us shivering in the best bedroom of the Hotel Cheval Blanc (White Horse), said to be the finest hostelry in town - it's almost as good as the Pleasantvilla.
We haven't gotten very far today, nowhere near as far as we hoped. In the first place the train which we were told would leave at 8:40 from Namur, quit the place at 8:00 instead and we had to wait until 1:25. So we explored Namur. There is somewhat more to it than one could imagine form only seeing it in the evening. It is situated at the junction of the Sambre and Meuse rivers. Hills from either direction meet in a pointed bluff almost at the junction, which bluff is quite elaborately fortified. We walked up all around the forts - on the citadel, as it is called - this morning, and from the point of the bluff got a splendid view in all directions.
Our ride this afternoon was very enjoyable, thru the most picturesque sort of country - up (southward) the Meuse valley. There is much mountainous country, well wooded, and wild, which looks most attractive for walks and cycle trips. It is known as the Ardennes country. Numerous queer rock formations - such as a great layer perhaps only 2 or 3 feet thick projecting 50 or 75 feet in the air, and in another place a natural round hole in the rock, thru which the road goes. The guide book tells of grottos, caverns, and wild valleys and ancient castles in the vicinity - and it all seems so attractive I have made mental note of it for future reference.
All the towns in the district have bluffs somewhere in their vicinity which are fortified for defense of the town. There is Dinant, where I had hoped to stay last night. It is a moderate sized city on either side of the Meuse, under the shadow of a fortified bluff on the East bank. Then this little town where we have arrived is overshadowed by the Fortress Charlemont.
We are trying to work our way down thru via Sedan and Verdun to Toul, where Major June is located. But we are being pretty well balked. We arrived here at Givet, a tiny town in a little tongue of France which sticks up into Belgium, about 3:15, hoping to proceed to Fumay, some 15 miles further, where we had learned was the limit of the railroad; beyond there it is not repaired. but the next train didn't go till 10:45 tomorrow morning. We had about decided to go back to Namur tomorrow and try to get Toul by another way, not thru the old war front, but after snooping around I found a French Foyer du Soldat (YMCA), and thru it got hold of a man who is going down as far as Mezieres by truck tomorrow morning. That's quite a long way below Fumay, and from there we can get train connections to Toul around by way of Rheims, or perhaps pick up another ride on automobile or truck.
The kitchen stove is the only fire in the establishment. We have tried to get thoroughly warmed there, have arranged to be called early, and are going to bed without further delay.
With my best love, Sylvester
This hacking your way thru by any sort of conveyance you can get isn't very fast going. At any rate we are where we can get a train in the morning - this is just across from Mezieres.
Well, this morning we got up at a dull gray hour and shaved by candle light and cold water, then got connections with our truck. From the start we seemed to be Jonahs in that truck and finally about 10 miles out it decided to go no further. We hailed another passing truck loaded with flour, and the French soldier driving was very accommodating and took us on. So we came the rest of the way on flour-bags, over a very poor road. It was still up the Meuse valley, but the hills, while picturesque to a degree, are not so well wooded, and there is a sort of general bareness to the country which makes it less attractive than the upper Ardennes. A Frenchman always has plenty of time for anything, so that our driver stopped at a little cafe by the roadside, near Rocroi, for two hours at dinnertime. So we got a little dinner there and warmed up by a good lively fire. The little town of Rocroi is an interesting looking place - it is on a broad plateau some miles west of the Meuse, and has artificial fortifications 4 centuries old all about it; it seems no more than 4 or 5 acres large. From Rocroi to Charleville we made good time, and after a diligent search for any possible reliable motor transportation, have decided the best route for us tomorrow is by the train to Rheims. That will take us right across the front and incidentally we shall have a chance to see Rheims, which is so famous, for an hour.
We are now right on the edge of the front as it stood when the armistice was signed. Mezieres and Charleville were taken by the French in the very last few days of the war. They show the effects of the bombardment during the fighting of those days, and not a few buildings are quite wrecked. Incidentally this was an important German headquarters in the long months - years - during which the front was practically stationary. There is a house - the best in the city - which I have seen in which the ex-German Crown Prince was in the habit of making his home.
We are staying at the Grand Hotel du Lion d'Argent (Great Hotel of the Silver Lion), the best the town affords just now, in which there is a special transient officer's mess run by the Foyer du Soldat.
To think that I must get up at 6:00 tomorrow! So I must get to bed now, anyway. Goodnight, with love and a kiss. Sylvester.
The first day of the first month of spring is here, dearest, and it is wonderful out. Real spring weather has been with us all day and all last night we had a tumbling, pelting, merry rain. It rained and rained and rivers ran.
There was a lecture up at the High School tonight given by Dr. Francis Green, the West Chester Normal humerist. He had lectured here once before and we were talking about it, he also knew Irene Maginnis' sister who lives near my Aunt's in Highland Park.
Daido and I were over to Atlantic today and it was certainly a happy day. The ocean was so crowded with waves that it seemed almost solid spray as far as one could see.
It is late, dearest. I love you. Here is a goodnight kiss. Eva
Goodmorning, sweetheart, might - a new day today. I love you Eva
Daido and I have been out on a fling. We flung work (to the) [I guess I better say] aside, we flung our hats and coats on, flung our selves on a trolley car at the last minute, hit the Sunset Trail and then flinged.
Way way out on the Sunset Trail we found an old house, somewhat like our Manor because it was old deserted and characterful and surprisy. There was a well house, a cream house a barn, I'm keeping the best for the last of course, but here it comes - we found snow drop plants peeping thru the ground and lilies, think of it on March the second, and two great big daffodil buds. Now, aren't you surprised and happy.
Dearest, I want to go to the Manor so badly. I'm so awful anxious to see it again.
We walked all the way up to English Creek and back. We arrived in a new part of the town quite different from the part we visited before.
We certainly had a pleasant trip and on your way back got some japonica which is just about ready to blossom.
Dearest, I wish you were here. I'm lonesome. Eva
Good morning. I love you. Eva
Miss Bristol was back at school today and we lost our new principal. I was sure sorry to see him go as he knew something about teaching. Things went along down at school just splendidly tho.
We had a teacher's meeting tonight and discussed lots of things which I hope will be carried out.
Three letters from you today. Three happy letters and I'm happy too. School will close about May 16th, so perhaps June will be all right. June 13th, 1937. That really isn't so far off now. By that time maybe I'll have something in my hope chest and also enough saved for a wedding, with music and flowers and lots of beautiful things.
Our fireplace is lit but I am not in much of a writing mood. I believe I would like to think and think and dream.
I wonder if you have gone to Italy and if you are still there if you did. I just hate to think it is such a long while before I know things. Two days seemed long when you were at Camp Devens and Plattsburg but now, well, someday no more letters except the previously mentioned "you'll have to get your own supper" and "please get our lunch and skates ready as the pond is fine tonight" ones.
Dearest, I love you. Eva
School affairs passed off rather smoothly today so I'm in a rather good mood again. I didn't get a single solitary letter tho.
We have a new moon tonight - a tiny golden crescent with a rain circle. The air also feels full of rain - a warm spring rain that is going to wake some more daffodils and maybe the apple blossoms at the Manor. Dearest, I saw a maple tree all flowery and fragrant this morning. The Manor blossoms always were the earliest. I suppose the tree over the water by the first bridge is all aflame now and the trees on both sides of the path up the MOSS Rose bush. I'm sure that bush was a moss rose bush. Wonder if the japonica up there is out, and the daffodils. I'm sure it is time for our lilies to be peeping out of the ground and the flaming candles and the rhubarb. I know they are so anxious for us to come again. I'm sure they love us and like us to visit them. There might even be a violet out for us. I'm awfully extravagant. You might as well know now. I bought some violets last Saturday. They were expensive but so springlike. They died right soon tho as some cruel wire had been wound around their stems so tightly it had cut way in to them.
Dearest, I love you and I want you but I'm really not going to let myself want you as much as I'd like until I'm sure you're most to me. I hope oh so much you'll be home by April but I'm going to stop waiting trains until I'm sure because I do so hate to be disappointed and I wanted you so much by March 1st.
I love you. Eva.
Goodmorning, Dearest, the sunlight is just dancing across our breakfast table. I love you. Eva.
We had spring weather all day today and topped off with an April shower just as school closed.
The Board of Ed has said they will give me $10 to use as I wished in making my lunch kitchen more practical and they say if I need more they will give it to me. I am so pleased as I feel they appreciate what I am trying to do.
We had a fine time racing this noon and jumping. We are now keeping records of the three highest each day with their running time and jumping distance. They certainly are interested and working hard. I wish we could arrange tho for someone to train them who knew more about it. They seem satisfied and like the games very much but a man would know how to do it so much better for them. I wish Mr. Showell had stayed.
The children are all going to start little gardens in candy boxes tomorrow. I am going to get several different kinds of seeds and we will plant them with care and watch with awful attention. I mean awfully concentrated attention, and fear none of us are expert gardeners.
Well, dearest, I love you. Here is a goodnight kiss. Eva
Good morning, Sweetheart, I love you. Eva.
The lecture was rather good last night. Dr. Schmucker of West Chester lectured on "The Life of a Flower." He also applied it to human life.
Today started out clear enough but tonight a storm has blown up. A rainy, rainy rain.
No letter from you today. It just seems I should get one every day.
I have finished my library scarf and it looks like this:
It's beautiful. I'm going to have it ironed tomorrow having just finished washing it myself. Eva, our colored wash woman says it can be ironed into some semblance of respectability but I have grave fears.
I'm lonesome. I've been awful much so all day. I love you. Eva
A sunny Saturday morning. Here's to a happy day. I love you, Eva
Dearest, I was over to Atlantic with Manny this afternoon We had a good time promenading up and down the boardwalk waiting for Manny's sister to come out of the show.
Ephriam Mitchell came out of the show while we were waiting. He asked how you were. He didn't stop so I didn't find out whether you had written the letter you were going to or not.
Miss Davis had a cake sale up at Crawford's and we just about bought her out.
Manny and I went to the Library and I just about gave up my idea of a wedding (going away suit) of gorgeous cerise and a hat with a long feather as my fines amounted to 42 cents.
Dearest I love you. Eva.
Rain, rain, go away, you spoil our Sunday morning play for I've a cold and can't go out, while you wander round about. I love you. Eva
I'm writing early this evening because I'm going to be on my way again after supper for some all-night traveling, hoping to reach Toul and Major June by morning.
Our ride today has been a long slow one, first southwest from Charleville and Mezieres to Rheims and then, after changing trains, directly south to Epernay. From Mezieres to Rheims you cut across the whole belt of front existing at the part of the line. It is not as broad a belt as most everywhere else, but where there is destruction it is very intense. For a long way out of Mezieres there is little or no sign of the late struggle - forests are whole, and I noticed especially a great nursery of evergreens untouched. But whenever there are buildings they are gone. And then finally you strike the great barren belt where everything has been war for the last four years. At first there is not much but an occasional trench line, dug quite shallow, and fortified in front by its barbed wire; then an occasional wreckage strewn field and shell hole; this area constituted, I suppose, the German reserve lines to fall back on in case of retreat and is of course all a part of the path of the retreating Germans last fall. At last you get, nearby the village Witry-lès-Reims, in which most every house is like the ruins of of our dear old Manor, to the opposing French and German trenches as they existed northeast of Rheims thruout most of the war - it is a mass and maze of trenches and barbed wire, chewed up and wrecked. It must have been a merry place to live and fight in. The trenches present some revelations in actual appearance, when one remembers impressions received from hearsay. For one thing, except those which were a long time actually occupied, we have seen none except quite shallow ones, where as we were always led to believe that the trenches dug way in the rear in reserve were strong and deep and well fortified. And the story that the Germans had great lines of trenches all the way back thru France and Belgium must have been pure fiction. Another revelation has been the barbed wire. It is all very low, strung out about 1 1/2 feet above the ground and a line of it is about 10 or 12 feet wide; I haven't seen any high wire at all, and we had been led to suppose there was a great deal of it used. Of course we haven't seen all of the front by a long shot. It may be different at other places, but I believe what we have seen may be a fair sample of the whole.
I would like to have seen more of Rheims; it is about the greatest of the destroyed cities. It has never been in the hands of the Germans, but artillery fire has reduced it to a great ruin - every house has a missing or sunken roof, gaping holes in the wall, or in many cases isn't much more than four misshapen walls. But we wanted to push on, and I saw it only from the train, which does give a very good view, and from a tiny walk up to a restaurant to get the first meal we had had today.
Now we are at Epernay, only a few miles below, in the heart of the Champagne country - where the regional and genuine champagne is made. There are great grape fields near here and champagne factories in the town. The town has several ruined houses but they are only here and there - mostly from aeroplanes I expect.
Well it's suppertime. Goodbye for now, with lots of love. Your Sylvester.
Last night as soon as we got back from a trip to the front with Major June we took supper and drove right off with him on an all night motor ride to Paris. So that I had no time and place for writing. And tonight we are just back from Paris now about ten o'clock, and how ready for bed we are, with two nights loss of sleep back of us! So I'm just going to say goodnight with lots of love and finish the tale of the last two days of my trip tomorrow. Sylvester
We covered a lot of ground those last two days. Saturday night we took the midnight express from Epernay to Toul. At least it was alleged to be an express, direct thru. But at Bar-le-duc, at 3 o'clock in the morning, we were dumped out onto another train and stood up the rest of the night. We finally found the old Major at a fine camp outside of Toul, where he commands the 2nd Army Supply Train, and is chief Motor Transport Officer of the 2nd Army. We found him in his room which looked like a brass factory - for he has a great collection of relics he has picked up on the battlefields, and he is having all sorts of cigarette-lighters, match boxes, and what not made up from them. He is the same old Pop, and it surely was good to see him.
In the late morning he took us in his Cadillac for the most interesting tour of our whole trip, to St. Mihiel and all over the St. Mihiel salient which the American so brilliantly took last September. The territory had all been strongly held by the Germans, who had elaborate defense works there, deep dugouts, miles and miles of trench lines and barbed wire, which as a result of the struggle have become great masses of wreckage. Then there are villages which hardly have a wall in them over the height of a man. I have some interesting pictures - or they will be, if they come out well - especially one showing a portion of the trenches in the first onrush of the American attack on Sept. 12. I have also picked up some battlefield relics including a brass shell case, which I hope to get made up into different articles.
When we got back Pop found he had been able to get a 3 day pass to Paris so that he could take us there in his Cadillac, and right after supper we started off. We got lost several times and it was morning before we finally arrived in Paris, and then we had a terrible time getting to our proper destination there thru the confused mass of streets in the great city. Finally we got to a street where we could get our bearings, left the automobile in the U.S. garage for repairs and got some breakfast at the University Union. Afterward we drove out to the great palace at Versailles, built by Louis XIV, but didn't go in, we were so muddy and untidy. By the time we got back to the city and had stumbled our way around to find a hotel for the Major and our railroad station for tickets, it was time to get on the train. Fortunately we got seats and rode comfortably back to this place we are obliged to call home for the present. There was only one good feature in getting home here. That is, there was quite an accumulation of mail.
Well, we had a good trip. I feel that my little horizon has widened out somewhat thereby. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and am glad of the opportunity. Now I wish I could get right on a boat and take another trip - westward. But nothing yet. I was hoping I would get back to find good news.
I trust this narration will not tire you out altogether. Goodbye for now. Lovingly, Sylvester.
Daido and I walked halfway over to Atlantic this afternoon and then scurried across the meadows, took a suburban car and rode in to Atlantic.
The boardwalk was quite crowded even tho the rain had just teemed down until about 2 o'clock. The ocean was wonderful so much foam and spray and excitement for the waves roared at each other and splashed one another furiously.
I sewed quite a lot this morning, finishing the library scarf I was making for school also the sofa pillow. That's the second scarf I have finished this week.
I was awful cross today. I saw so many soldiers on the boardwalk and not one of them was you. At least, one of them might have been you. I've never "shown you off" have I? You'll let me show you off just once sometime and then forgive me won't you? We'll just walk up and down the boardwalk once or twice, go to Hyler's or Mr. Fosters, then take in the show at the Apollo and then lunch at some cosy place. There's a new tea room I just saw today. The "Blue Tea Room" and it's blue and had tea roses on the table. Oh, let's do it once. It would be so nice and grownupish and fun.
Wonder if Hemlock Manor would be jealous if we deserted her for a show? I suppose she would. Well, we haven't done it yet have we?
You can't imagine how much I miss you and want you. I never dreamed I could ever want any one so much and feel so incomplete.
I love you. Eva.
Goodmorning, it's a brand new week and a glorious morning so if you come back today I might cut school and go to the Manor with you. I love you. Eva.
I thot I would start my letter now as I am usually half asleep when I come home from the lectures and might not say all I want to.
A letter from you today, a long letter full of love and a valentine. Yours was beautiful but here's a beautifuller one
because the lines are wavier. It was a letter from the 13th to the morning of the 17th. I wonder if you went to Italy. I say went because if you did you are probly back by now. Here's another valentine I just thot of that is very beautiful and elaborate
Dearest, I love you so.
I received a letter from Winnie today. She is very happy in her new home. I'm jealous. I want a home too to plan and take care of. Now, that isn't fair is it. I have such a dandy home so I suppose what I want is you.
Dearest, I was afraid I would be sleepy. I am. I love you. Goodnight, Eva.
A clear May mornin'. I love you. Eva
Two letters from you today. They were much older than my last ones. I read them tho Wasn't that nice? I love you.
Dearest, I'm a wicked, wicked sinner. I have been around to Dorcas' playing cards and it's now after twelve. Perhaps you will have a fear for the future when you realize how reckless I have been. I was so reckless I couldn't resist the "widow". Captured her every time with nothing and won the first game, but when we stopped the second I had lost twice over already. It was awful the way I played and Daido Tolbert says and gooder player would be angry at me, ostracize me or murder me or something. Please don't ever ask me to play with you as I've only played three or for games and have always been as reckless and am afraid I can't be serious and I don't want you to get angry, etc.
I love you. Here is a goodnight kiss. Eva
Goodmorning Sweetheart, Eva.
I have just been up to an Alumni meeting where we settled about tickets etc. We have sold rather more than we thot we had but not as many as is necessary to carry the thing thru successfully.
Miss Schaible was down to school today. She didn't visit me until after school, however, and we came home on the car together. She was asking about you.
I 'most forgot to say I had written a letter to another Man last night. Dorcas' commanded that Emma, Ida and I each attach a postscript to her letter to Harry.
Daido and I took dinner out tonight, the reason being we were too tired to cook anything.
Dearest I love you. Here is a goodnight kiss. Eva.
Good morning Here's a spring welcome. A sunshiny welcome and lots of love. Eva
What do you think, one of my little kiddies brot three bouquets of flowers to school today. One for each of the teachers. They were of snapdragon and carnations, two with red carnations and one with a red and white and who do you suppose got the latter without insinuating in anyway that was the one she wanted. I got it and really wouldn't you take it for an omen of some sort, especially when I just got a letter of February 24th and you are in Paris. I haven't the in between letters from the 17th yet.
I'm tired dearest, I love you. Eva
Nothin' much happened today. Except I was told I was pretty! Vain? Yes.
I had a little visitor and when I was asking about her school she said she had a cross Jewish teacher. I said I was cross. She said she didn't think so but anyway I was pretty.
Now, see that excuses everything. I'm glad to know it and the next time anyone says, "My but you're cross tonight, Eva." I'll say, "Yes, but I'm pretty."
I have a little cold and as every one has been worrying me to death so it was a case of being scolded to death or the doctors I went tonight. He sounded my lungs and throat and seemed to think I just wanted to hand out some money, which I felt myself.
Dearest, I miss you so much. I guess it's the spring. I love you. Eva.
P.S. The doctor gave me some pills - one every three hours. He sorta hated to see me get nothing for my money. I love you. Eva
Today was somewhat warmer than yesterday but still we are having the same old half rain whose only redeeming feature is that it mists the trees and houses and makes them look weird, mysterious and different.
Daido and I went out for a little walk. My first outside venture since Friday if you please. Oh goodness it was so good to get out again (after being sick so long.) My but it's fun to be sick, not real awful sick, of course, but just enough to have people worried and have them be so good to you, bring you flowers, come see you, and let you eat breakfast in bed and sleep just as long as you want. I didn't know I was so popular. I think tho 'most everybody was disappointed because they found me well when they came around. They thot I must be dying to give up the recital.
The real trouble was I was tired to death of being talked to about my cold and I was sleepy and blue and lonesome and I just didn't care about anything but I had to stay home from the recital as we couldn't get a jitney and Daido wouldn't let me go out in the rain. So I just naturally worried and cried myself sick and I'm all well now.
I have been working out some St. Pat things for school tomorrow. I'll be a regular Irish man I believe.
I forgot to say we walked to Dorcas', took a car back and rode into Atlantic. We had a glorious walk on the boardwalk and then caught the next car back.
It is rather late so I guess I better say goodnight. Love, Eva.
This is a new station we have come to, or rather, part of us. My headquarters is here, half of B Co. was here but has been put on detached service some miles away, C Co. is driving a couple of convoys of trucks from a base port to the interior and thus will come here, A Co. was on it's way with trucks but has been ordered back to Le Havre, the other half of B Co. will be on its way here in a week or two, and E and F Co.s are still at Le Havre. So for the present we are all split up and I don't know what's going to happen to us next. If we have got to stay in France a while longer, I hope the other companies will eventually get up here, from where they will be split for a while around nearby stations in what is known as the Intermediate Section, S.O.S. [Service Of Supply ], of which this place is the headquarters. It is much more desirable than Le Havre, those with whom I have [been] into official contact are much more decent, in fact are for the most part absolutely cordial, the jobs about are more interesting, and the city is cleaner and the surrounding country more desirable. However, it is not the Atlantic Ocean, nor America, whither we were destined three months ago, for I saw our name with my own eyes on the official list. Apparently, however, we have been shelved, for the time being, from the home going list, and are to be used on clean up jobs under the Motor Transport Corps. At any rate I had rather clean up here and hereabouts than at Le Havre; I was bitterly disappointed when I arrived home from my leave last week and found we were destined to another station, instead of going home when we were thru at Le Havre, but it was up to me to show an example of cheerfulness to the men of the Train, and, after a couple of days of inward sulking to myself, I issued a general order in the command which contained homilies on patience and cheerfulness, and incidentally have gradually gotten myself into the same state of mind. Everybody can't get home at once, and we're not the only outfit in the AEF, and somebody has got to help clean up. I guess we're going to come in for our share, then someday we'll get a pleasant surprise to entrain for some seaport for the purpose for embarkation to America.
Lovingly, as always, Sylvester.
Address me now
301st Supply Train Headquarters
APO 708, American E.F.
Spring was supposed to arrive today but really she arrived weeks ago. It was an ideal day for the first of spring and I made the most of it. After lunch we all went for a woods walk and had a gypsyish time.
I went over to Atlantic after school to the library also got my coat as we expect to go to Philadelphia tomorrow. We are not sure. I want to go and I don't, but guess we will. I want to go as I want Daido to try for another position and I don't want to go because I want a cable from you. I do hope one comes soon.
The frogs are calling tonight. They are tuned to a delicate pitch, and such a song of spring and love and hopes they are singing. I want the Manor and you. I want to be there and scared or startled by strange things of the night and yet not scared because I have you. Do you know I'm just like a girl. I was never scared of things before I had you and now that I have you I suppose it is I want you to take care of me. Or maybe I wasn't frightened because I had no hopes for the future and therefore didn't care or think about what might happen. Now I want so much of the Future. It just seems as if I am wasting time now.
I, too, long for "Honeymoon Cottage", Together Days and loves labors and all the things that will make us happy.
I love you. Eva
We're off! I love you. Eva
Two back letters from you today - from the 17th to the 24th of February. Way way before you had started on your trip to Belgium.
This is a conservatory letter, that is a letter with your carnation in it, a crocus brought by my little sweetheart Kathryne and the first maypink of the season. It is so fresh and fragrant and happy.
I suppose you have my cable by now and have been saying, "Silly child", or maybe sweared because I was so 'stravagant. I am awful extravagant sometimes, but it did make you a little bit happy to know I was well and only a day or so intervening, didn't it?
I'm home now, I've just been rereading your letters and am now ready to scold. Yes! Unfortunate brother! Wonder what he'll say about you sometime.
We have been to the last lecture of the series. I enjoyed it very much but something awfully unfortunate happened afterward. Dorcas, Emma and Daido and I stopped in to Pettil's to get some ice cream. Dr. Spathe, the lecturer came in a little later, sat down at the next table, started to talk about the lecture to us and as his lecture was on Burns', told us some Scotch jokes! Just in the midst a girl friend of Emma's came in and when Emma asked why she wasn't at the lecture she said, "Well, she looked at her ticket, saw who it was and. . ." We shut her up but too late because Dr. Spathe heard and asked her to finish. I felt awful sorry for both of them. It must be awful to feel you haven't succeeded even if you know it isn't your fault.
I love you. Eva.
We are back from Philadelphia and tired.
We rushed and rushed from one place to another spending most of our time on cars. It was a change and I hope one that will help us a lot.
I'm awful sleepy, dearest, and no cable came today for I called up Dorcas when we arrived. I wish I would get one. I wonder if you got mine.
I love you. Eva.
Such a puzzle as I've had today! Your cablegram arrived this noon, and got to me in this shape: WAX THE MANOR TWELFTH AM WELL. EVA LUTZ. I have racked my brain to try to put the first four words together so as to mean something, but thus far haven't arrived at a solution. I suppose the whole difficulty is in the first word, but I can't think what it ought to be even there. At any rate, it made you seem ever so nearer than by letter, as, though I can't tell directly, but gather by a Sherlock Holmes process, that it was sent on the 16th - thus puts only a week between you and me. I wish that was all there were. I might then beat a couple of letters I have sent to you recently, and we might talk everything over, and I might be happy again.
I love you. Sylvester
How springlike it is getting to be! Each morning, almost, I am waked by the song of some bird outside the window and then, somehow I am carried back in an instant to the old Manor and you, and all you have been to me. I love you always, sweetheart.
The trees are budding forth very fast, too, and I have seen fruit trees in blossom since three or four weeks. I remember especially seeing some peach trees in blossom in Belgium while I was on my leave. It surely seemed strange to see them so very early, over two months before there would be a sign of them back in New England.
Have I told you much about my room, and how I am fixed up here. I have a bureau drawer all full of supplies, and am making a number of experiments in the cooking line. Each morning now I am making some of my own breakfast in my room, though Madame furnishes the bread and either coffee or cocoa. I'm sure there isn't a person on earth who can make such delicious scrambled eggs as I (that doesn't sound boastful, does it?). I've tried hard to get my little Greek soldier-orderly to admit the excellence of my cookery along the egg line. This morning he admitted they were nice but he added "That's nothin'" in his funny way - "That's nothin'" is a favorite expression with him - and this time meant anybody could cook eggs. However I still stoutly maintain that there are good scrambled eggs and bad scrambled eggs and that those I make fall in the first class.
Well, I mustn't make myself appear potentially too useful. Especially I would say "I am not washing, or even drying the dishes, and not acquiring any experience or aptitude along those lines". I don't keep a personal valet for nothing.
What remarks for a man to make, who advertises himself as a model husband!
I've had to do some more self advertising tonight, too, for I didn't dare wait longer on starting matters for next fall's location. So I have written a long letter, which will take about two typed pages, to the Fisk Agency, with whom I was formerly located, in fact thru whom I got my Pleasantville position. I am writing also to Mr. Cressmann, in the hope that he may remember something about me and allow me to use his name as a reference. I am looking for a High School principalship as first choice, with a pure teaching position as second choice. Even though I succeeded in getting a principalship, I should like to teach one or two courses. Incidentally, whatever I do, I shall not make a practice of working to late night hours, and I shall spend every bit of time I can in home-life and with my girlie. I think my experience in the Army has helped me to organize my time a bit better, and besides my year in Pleasantville was my first, and I had to do everything from the beginning. Incidentally, also, in setting a salary figure in my letter I have not overlooked the fact that I shall not be living alone. Well, so much for business; but I was sure you'd like to know what I was doing.
Goodnight, and pleasant dreams, and I love you, and I love you, and I LOVE YOU, and oh, won't you send me a kiss across the ocean just this minute? Here is one I'm sending you, 'cause I think you only meant fun, but you did hurt. Sylvester
3/25 Good morning, dear. Some little bird just sang of you again. Have some fluffy scrambled eggs with me? Sylvester
What do you think I'm making tonight? Some real syrup. Now don't you think a mere masculine person is progressing rather far when he can make real syrup? A few licks off the stirring spoon at various stages have proved to me that it is good, too; the real proof will come tomorrow morning, though, at which time I aspire to eating French toast made by myself, and adorned with aforesaid syrup. I wish you would be envious. It would so tickle the pride of aspiring amateur me.
I have also read quite a bit, written a few letters and postcards, burned my fire to a glorious heat, really too much, because I had to get quite a distance away from it for a while. But now it died down a bit, and I'm thinking it will be nice to watch it a bit for awhile before going to bed. Really, wouldn't you like to watch it with me? Please say yes, even though there are some very harsh conditions - one is that there is just one chair suitable for sitting in front of a fireplace in, and the second is that I wouldn't let you sit on the floor, and third is that I wouldn't sit on the floor myself. So there you have it. Oh, but you must come, for I want to hold you, and hug you, and kiss you, and have your head on my shoulder and the nice wisps of curly hair in my face, and tell you all over again how much I love you, for I do love you best in all the world, sweetheart.
Goodnight and a kiss. Sylvester
3/26 AM Dearest, The French toast experiment has just been completed. Not so bad. I suppose on rare occasions people have made it better. Lots of sun and springtime to tell me I want you. Sylvester.
I have plans almost perfected for an official trip by motor to the station of all the companies of the Train as they are scattered at the present time. I expect to leave about Saturday. It will take me eight or nine days, and will give me a chance to see some more new country. The chief thing I have to go around for is to see that an inventory of property is taken as of March 31, and that a new system of property issue and accounting is put into effect. The people here are right decent about giving one all facilities for such necessary trips. During the course of our trip I hope also to get a little information about ourselves, our likelihood of getting together and of getting home. I am going where I think I can get same. It would help some if I had a little more definite information.
I guess I spoke about picking up a few things off the battlefields near St. Mihiel. At any rate, I had a brass German shell-case, the bottom of which one of my corporals has made into a very handsome inkwell and inkstand for me, flanked in front by a German machine-gun bullet on one side and a French one on the other. Out of the top cut off, he is making a half dozen souvenir paper cutters, and a penholder. He is a very clever workman, and is doing some mighty good work. The war souvenir business is a great business, and lots of folks are buying them off at crazy prices. Practically everything I have is something I got myself, so I know where it came from. They wouldn't have any value for me unless I did.
I did make just the slightest venture in antiques this afternoon, a pair of old salt-and-pepper containers made during the Napoleonic regime. The old lady who keeps the antique store came down 10 francs form the price she gave me the last time I looked at them, and as her story told at each separate time checked up, I decided to take them.
No cooking ventures tonight. All I did was make a chocolate malted milk or two and eat a lot of Malaga grapes.
I'm going to bed early for once. Goodnight, and lots of love. Sylvester
3/27 AM Dearest, How I have hated to get up this morning! I have just been spending about a half-hour calling myself lazy and good-for-nothing. Asked Hollis if he didn't agree with me, but all he would say was "That's nothin'". so perhaps I'm not altogether lazy and good-for-nothing. At least I'm going to get to work before noon.
So long. Be good. A good morning kiss. You won't ever forget to kiss me before I go away in the morning, will you? Sylvester
Even if I did get up late I got in a lot of work today, and prepared the largest general order ever issued from Headquarters 301st Supply Train, an order about the new property regulations I'm to take my trip to put into effect.
A lot of mail today. Lots of nice happy mail. I am thinking, too, and wondering often how our old treasured spots at the Manor are looking as the budding time comes on. I love to hear you talk of it, and I love to think that it is waiting for the two of us together, and that we both wait, to go together. I didn't think I ought to take your promise at first, because I thought it too much to expect, but you urged and then it is happy to know that she you love is keeping a promise for love of you. We'll see it, it won't be long now. I got a little more ground for hope today, but I won't say anything more, or set any more dates.
And there was another nice letter, too. It was all nice, but here was something specially so, and oh, Eva, please tell me, you didn't just write it and then forget it, but that it came partly at least from the heart. It's this: "By that time maybe I'll have something in my hope chest and also enough saved for a wedding with music and flowers and lots of beautiful things." Of course I don't mean the "also enough saved" - goodness, buy all the violets and everything else you want, for all of me, extravagance is almost a virtue at times, I believe - but what comes after. Eva, I wonder if you have realized what and how much a "wedding with music and flowers and other beautiful things" has always meant to me. I've always wanted it with all my soul, for I think everything about one is beautiful and happy - there is the music, and there is some special music I want; there are the flowers, of which there are so many we both love; I think the whole idea of the ceremony is beautiful. I've thought of the delicious pride I would feel in acknowledging my lovely sweetheart to my people and my friends who wish me well, as my wife; and it is the occasion in a family when all comes who can, and are happy. I've watched many others with a sort ecstatic thrill, and then thought of my own. I don't believe I express my feeling very well. I tried to express it to you the last evening we were together at Hemlock Manor, by the waterfall, but even after that every once in a while you would drop remarks in letters about not having any wedding, about wishing we'd elope, and everything like that. That thing has been the only cloud on the happiness of thoughts of getting back to you; sometimes it would seem that you were just setting your mind against understanding how much I wanted it, and it hurt to think it couldn't ever occur to you that there might possibly be a great deal of beauty in it if I liked it so much - such as when you still trotted out the old dogged, time-worn, won't-see expression "I don't like weddings" as a reason for not going to see Ralph and Winnie married; sometimes it would seem you were tossing about in the air and mocking with profane glee something which was very beautiful to me, and which you knew was beautiful to me. And I couldn't understand, and I would be unhappy, I would be vexed at times, and I would have a letter almost started to show how I felt. Then I would stop, and tell myself to wait, she doesn't understand, she doesn't realize how much it means to me, I mustn't think about it, but just wait until I got back, and then I would tell her so she would understand, and everything would be all right; surely she wouldn't deny me what I wanted so, with all that was in me, particularly because it was my pride in her, which was so much of the pleasure I anticipated. So I would say nothing, would almost forget, they'd be only a speck of cloud, until the next time. Then the same thing all over again.
But then came the time when you let the same old attitude you had kept up prevent you from going to my brother's wedding, from being a part of my family at the time when a family and relatives and friends, all who are invited and can do so, get together and are happy, from being among the gathering as the fiancée of Sylvester Butler, just as though proclaiming to all the world that you had no interest in him or his affairs. I know you didn't mean it that way, but I spent several unhappy days fighting off the idea that you did, then on top of all that came that other letter which seemed oh, so flippant. And I Burst, the second time. Well, I don't want to talk about that any more.
Surely a letter in which you mention "a wedding with music and flowers and lots of beautiful things" shows that you have some idea as to how much my heart is in one - with you the most beautiful part of it. It is the first inkling you have ever given me that you do understand, in part at least. Always before it's tease, mock, or don't want to see. And it's such a relief, and I've let myself get very happy over it, perhaps more so than I ought. Even if I cared nothing about it myself, if I were to marry without the family and those they would like to have come being present, were just to go off to get married and come back and announce the fact to them, my mother if she didn't absolutely ask me not to come to her house again, would be so disgusted that she would, I believe, almost hate me; perhaps more likely, for mother-love, it would break her heart, and that is not an exaggeration. Please think of that. I love you best in all the world. I want you more than I want anything else in the world, but I love my mother too, and she has suffered and sacrificed for me, had fond hopes for me, and given me everything that mother's love could do for a boy. It would be the basest sort of ingratitude for me to bring her unnecessary misery, and you and I would both be unhappy on account of it all. Please realize, dear heart, that I am talking about real things, and nothing a bit fanciful. I know my mother to her inmost thoughts.
I think after the above it's hardly necessary for me to say more. Just this: I ask you, please, in dead earnest, and by our love, to enter fully and freely with me into the spirit of a beautiful marriage ceremony, with music that you love and I love, with flowers that you love and I love, with those people there who love you or love me, or are our good friends and want to wish us well, and before whom we shall each be proud to acknowledge each other - man and wife. Eva, my little sweetheart, do you love me enough for that? Do you love me enough to take this matter out of the realm of teasing and perhaps of a bit of contrariness, which we both like some, and which isn't at all bad in many cases, but here it's been so long that way, and nothing any other way, can't you think just for awhile (the time is so short) that if I see Beauty in it, perhaps there really is some. We see Beauty in so many other things together; and you, I believe, have said you never attended anyone's wedding. I think you have thought of one as something terribly formal and stiff and embarrassing, and that's why you have shrunk from them. I hate formality and stiffness, too, but it is quite plain I don't hate a real nice wedding party. Isn't that sufficient answer to the idea I think you had? If it isn't, it means you have no confidence in my judgement, and small opinion of my sentiments.
The marriage ceremony surely isn't everything. The precious memories of our treasured moments of the past - our skating comradeship, our spots at Hemlock Manor, the first moment I ever touched you when without knowing it 'till it was done my arm was tucked in yours after I showed you where the dahlias were and we were just leaving the Manor that first last night and you had just thanked me and trembled all over, the apple-blossom you gave me to keep forever, our hand-press, the candle, our fellowship in my summer visit, and long after, our fireplace, our Kiss, our Pledge, then your presence in the Hospital, our walks at my home, our long last night of Love and the waterfall and whippoorwills - all these and so countless many other things - they are the things which we shall carry always locked closest to our hearts, they and the endless blessed moments like these which must still be in store for us. The wedding is only an incident, perhaps, but though our lives are for each other above everything, we both have friends, we exist among friends and shall exist among them soon in a new relation. A real wedding is the right start for it all. It symbolizes that there exists for us some of those precious heart-locked memories, which are a part of our love, but which they cannot know; they know only that we love each other, and are happy to see the visible evidence that two whom they wish well have found each other in blessed secrets which everyone who loves has, but none have just alike. Have I told you what I mean? I hope so. I want you. I love you. Your love was my first real happiness. You can cast away one of my last shadows by saying "Yes" to what I have just been asking. Will you do it? It would seem as though you surely would, if you love me to the bottom of your heart.
Please answer. One word is enough. It is the opposite of No. Your Sweetheart.
28 Mar, morning Dearest, Good morning, and my love, forever and ever. Please say Yes, and don't worry about any of the details for we'll arrange those together when I am back with you, and that itself will be lots of fun. Sylvester
I love you
I wonder if I've thought to tell you that before.
I've had John Fox here with me all evening and set him up to French Toast, better than the last, and syrup, and cocoa, and conversation. He was here for 2 hours and a half and was still well when he left. I'm to let him know when I want to try out some more experiments. The French Toast makes better over the fireplace, and was an undoubted success cooked there this evening.
My pictures were finished tonight. Those that came out well were first rate but I had some disappointments also in losing some of the most prized shots. My Waterloo film produced nothin but blanks, which of course I sort of expected. I am the most disappointed about the film showing, in a forward direction, the trenches at St. Mihiel taken by the 42nd Division of our Army on the opening day of the great St. Mihiel drive, Sept. 12. There isn't a picture I have which could take the place of that, and then it had to come out a total failure. A few of which the negatives weren't very promising, but still showed something. I am going to have the photographer make a try on, though he didn't do it with the first lot he turned over to me today. But a picture of a section of the line taken by the Americans in the first onrush of the first all-American drive, showing just what they had to plough thru, that was going to be my prize one, and it turned out hopeless, not even worth trying to print. And I don't see how I'll ever be able to get another representing the same sort of thing.
The mail is come splendidly and regularly here. It seems as though almost everyday there is something. Today I have a letter you mailed me one the 12th and one from Aunt Elizabeth mailed the 13th. That's only 16 and 15 days, which isn't doing badly at all.
I must say goodnight, dear, and I send you all my love, and a huge bear hug and a kiss. Sylvester
3/29 AM Good morning, best sweetheart. I love you. Sylvester
I'm sure I just heard you say, "You look awful nice tonight." You see I have on a green and net dress just about like the one I had ages ago in 1916 and I have some curls and I'm all alone so you could say it you see.
I was lilting along tonight but really it was such a strenuous effort to get dressed that I'd like to curl up in our armchair and have you rock me to sleep. You see you could sit in the rocking chair next to it and rock my chair with your foot. Wouldn't you love to do that for me?
I might let you read to me too or tell me the story of Red Riding Hood or Cinderella.
There, I 'most forgot to tell you about yesterday! We ran for the car, caught it, arrived in Philadelphia, lunched at Wanny's, if you are a large insect - I was afraid bug was slang - you can call Wanamaker's Wanny's, Crystal Tea Room and we had a delicious lunch in that delightful place. We then went to the Teacher's Agency, then to Daido's Aunts, caught the car for West Laurel Hill Cemetery and after going up about a thousand steps thru the most picturesque hills with shrubs and beautiful monuments we arrived at Daido's mother's grave. We made a flying trip to Palmyra, paid a society call of 10 1/2 minutes to Bricktop and Daido's sister and came home tired but we had had the change we had been so anxious for.
Here is a goodnight kiss. I love you, Sylvester. Eva.
Today went and no mail or cable.
I saw Dorcas tonight and she is going away with her sister who had to be operated on.
We got the tickets for the supper out today and made some more arrangements for that. Maybe you'll drop in and dine with us.
The boy next to the school came home today. He lost a foot thru a motorcycle accident in France.
Daido and I took a sunset walk again tonight.
My, but the trees and lawns are getting beautiful. I love you. Eva.
Here's a morning kiss. I love you. Eva.
Dear --- What do you think? A message from you today! How and where? Thru our garden.
The columbine has sprouted and there are four other sprouts. Aren't you happy? I am.
I burned grass and spaded and worked madly I was so happy. Today has been a cheerful day.
One of my girls brot me some carnations, and one a violet plant. Mr. Cressman was down and was as affable as ever - The lunch tickets for the "Supper" Friday night are going so fast I am growing frightened, I want it to be a success but not "o'er leap itself."
Oh you dear I love you so. I wish you could come to my school. I wish you had been there this morning when we were studying the "op" family in spelling. Some gave "hop", "mop", "top" etc. Finally one little girl said, "dop". I said, "Oh no, Edna, there is no such word as "dop". A little fellow as quick as a flash said, "Why, yes, there is, Miss Lutz, don't you know people dop children." Wasn't that cunning? they are so unconsciously humorous and so happy. I love them. I love you.
I'm happy. Eva.
Good morning It is just wonderful out. I love you. Eva.
There was a big foreign mail in today. I didn't get any. I didn't expect to tho because I knew it would about be time for your vacation letters and therefore I was afraid I wouldn't get any but there were just bushels and bushels in.
What do you think Katie told me she saw Frank smoking last night. It makes me feel awful. He never comes to see me any more. I wish I could take him way away. He really hasn't the right associates of his own age around him. They all smoke, hate school and love the movies which makes real ideals rather hard.
I planted my garden tonight. Here is the ground plan.
I forgot to tell you I wrote a letter to your Aunt Sarah last night as you mother said her birthday was the 28th, I think.
Mrs. Winch also wanted to be remembered to you and said she had received your card.
I saw Ephriam, his sister and someone else last night. To tell the truth I really only saw the sister as I saw her and Ephriam was so tall he passed by before I got a chance to see his face. Might have not been he to the the truth.
Dearest, I love you best in all the world. Eva
I have been with Fox tonight to the best soldier-show I have seen given, at the local YMCA theatre - a French theatre taken over by the YMCA. There's a YMCA secretary, Mr. Thayer, who lives in this same house with me, and he saves out special tickets for me whenever he has a good show on. This one tonight was surely a crack-a-jack, called the Karvern [?] (Q.M.C.) Frolic, full of snap from start to finish. The first half was a time-honored minstrel show, but with a corking good orchestra, and excellent costumes, it made itself something quite more than ordinary. The second half was a series of vaudeville acts which would be a credit to the best vaudeville stage in America. I saw positively the best acrobatic work I ever saw in my life done by a long lanky soldier in one of those acts. There were singing and dancing acts, every one full of snap and ginger; and some good comic stuff. I've enjoyed it very much.
I got my orders this afternoon for my trip around to my various companies, and am waiting over a day before starting, as I'll get a better car to travel in by so doing. So I start out bright and early Monday morning. I am going to Le Havre first, and hope to go a little out of the way, around Rheims and back down to the Chateau-Thierry battleground. I have been planning out my route this afternoon, and have some excellent road maps to take along.
This has been a very rainy day, and it's still raining tonight. Unfortunately I am on the ground floor, and there is a room above me, so that I can't hear the rain on the roof.
One day more nearer my girlie. I love you. Goodnight. A whole lot of kisses. Sylvester
Mar 30 AM
Dear Eva, Snow for a spring morning! What do you think of that? Good morning and lots of love. Sylvester.
Here is a little violet I picked up this afternoon. They are out all about here now. It couldn't be quite as nice and isn't as big as the Hemlock Manor violets, but it's a violet, and I like violets, and I know you like violets, so I am sending it you with a real kiss and with my love for you. See if it doesn't tell you so.
I have been getting ready to go on my trip today, also have written a long legal opinion. You didn't know I could be a lawyer, did you? Well probably it wouldn't do for a lawyer to scrutinize my opinion too closely. However I am going to risk having Jim Greene review it when I get to Le Havre, if he is still there.
This evening I have been down to dinner with John Achorn at the house where he stays. He is billeted with a family by the name Meunier. They are plain, wholesome, hospitable people, and it is rather pleasant to go there into such homey surroundings. I have been listening to a bit of music this evening there, and also inflicting a bit of my own on the rest of them. I would like to be back with my own music, so that I wouldn't be restricted to the narrowing number of those I can play from memory.
Sweetheart, it's late, and I am going to say goodnight, with lots of love. Always yours, Sylvester
3/31 AM Goodmorning, sweetheart. Off again. Love and kisses. Your Sylvester.
I am tonight once more in France's greatest ruin, which I had such a few brief minutes to see a month ago. There is one medium sized hotel here which wasn't very badly damaged, and has been able to reopen about a month since so we are going thru the experience of sleeping in this great desolate city. John and I have taken a bit of a walk about thru the deserted streets, with the gaunt spectre-houses all along the route. What a solemn deathly stillness there is! From time to time, however, you pass a light which shows where someone has come back to their home, to try and recreate it. I have in mind one house which didn't have a window in it, and was full of holes, and misshapen; where evidently the people had just gotten back; they had gotten some straw and some wood and had just started a roaring fire in the fireplace. For all that I doubt if it will be possible to sleep very warm in that house tonight. On our way into the city we stopped to take a look at the great famous cathedral of Rheims which has been so badly damaged. We shall look at it more in detail in the morning.
Well, we have travelled a long way today. In the first place, we drew a Cadillac for our trip! Not so bad? We have certainly humped over the roads. Our general direction has been north all day. The first part of the journey was thru very broken country, steep hills and deep valleys, but all well-wooded and attractive country; incidentally, covered with snow at the present time, though not very deep. It's more snow than I have seen all winter. After striking the Seine valley, our journey which took us a along the valley for some distance and then way across country to the Marne valley was much flatter and was open most of the way, great wide-stretching farm land on all sides. Thru this area, somewhere, we passed the vicinity of the Battle of Chalous (in 451), where Attila and the Huns were defeated and turned back after terrifying Europe for most of a century.
As we approached the Marne valley we passed many French camps, ammunition dumps, aeroplane hangars, camouflaged roads, behind the lines of the late war. We were a solitary automobile on the road today, and only a few short months ago, there were auto trucks every few feet along those roads, and every kind of bustling activity. Between Chalous-sur-Marne and Rheims we ran on to points on the old front. We got out to investigate some dugouts by the road, and took some pictures. We got out for the same purpose in the little town of Beaumont, shot absolutely to pieces, climbing up into one of the houses there, which was formerly used as a dressing station for the wounded, and got a view of most of the village, just a tiny thing.
We are going to bed early, 'cause it's cold. All my love and a kiss.
Back to Top | Home | Search | SBButler Letters |