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Letter to Gordon Van Kleeck's brother Everett Van Kleeck

Ancestral Photographs of Upstate New York

by Roxy Triebel

Letter to Gordon Van Kleeck's brother
Everett Van Kleeck

Private Gordon Van Kleeck
Co.F 51 Pioneer Inf.
American E.F.
Somewhere in France
Nov. 1, 1918

Dear brother,

I am sitting in the Y.M.C.A. writing and might as well tell you how things are going with me.  One of the fellows just came in and gave me a letter from Dot that she wrote Oct. 7.  Tell her I am glad to hear that she is not the mule anymore and that she has another little kitten.  I suppose she has grown a lot since I came away.  Have you grown any?  I hope not for you were big enough when I left.  And Freeman in the picture I have received looks as if he might be quite a husky lad.

Well I must have grown a little myself as I had to get a larger coat the other day.  My old one was so tight I could hardly wer it.  Especially after eating.  That is something we do a lot of here.  I bet we get more beefsteak in the army then you folks do at home.  Just now we are getting winter clothing.  I have a lot of underwear and socks and we will probably getting gloves soon.  Overcoats were issued to us before we left the States and the weather has been so nice for the last few days that we hardly needed coats at all except at night and early in the mornings.

We have Sundays off here as usual and I have seen some very interesting towns around here.  In some of them the French have moved back and are doing a little business.  The last time I was in a town I went in a place that seemed at least a little like home.  It was a church and services were being held at the time.  I think it was the nicest built church inside I ever saw and it looked a little like old times to see a crowd of men and women dressed in civilian clothes.  We see so few civilian clothes here that they are quite a curiousity.  The other day I saw an American soldier hiking back from the front with a derby hat on.  I think he attracted as much attention as Gen. Pershing would have done.  Where the boy found it I don't know but he was sure proud of it.

In the town we were in we decided to buy our dinner and the first thing we got was a small cheese.  Then we went to get some bread.  They had plenty of it to sell but we had forgotten that a person is supposed to have a bread ticket here before he can buy any.  That put us in a hole until the fellow with me got talking with a French woman in the store and being a pretty good talker, he managed to get a ticket so we could buy bread enough for our dinner.  She was a very nice French woman and could talk English.  The French bread is mostly baked in big loaves the shape of a cruller.  They have a hole in the center just the same and the storekeeper cuts off what you want with a thing about like our country storekeepers used to cut plug tobacco with.  It is good bread and their cheese is fine.

Dot says the car was broke down.  What is the matter with the old bus now?  The only auto rides I get are sometimes when we move and when I am going to some town I often get a ride on a truck.

There are a lot of negro troops in this section.  They are sure a happy bunch and seem to be having a picnic all the time.

Well I suppose you people are reading in the papers how the Germans want peace.  ------ don't seem to want it enough to surrender but I guess they will soon give it up for a bad job.  Then we can come home and take a vacation.  How will that be?  Could I spend a few weeks at the Coldbrook House without working or would you hand me a hoe and point to a cornfield.

Be sure and don't hand me a pick or shovel for I see plenty of those over here.  We are not using them just now but are working on another job.  It is an eight hour job the same as usual.  Only it is different from a job in the States as we don't have to work eight hours.  The time is counted from when we leave in the morning until we get back at night.  As we walk quite a ways that leaves us only about five hours for work.  And a rolling kitchen brings a hot dinner to us each day.  That is something new the company just got.

Well I must close now.  Give my love to all and tell Freeman to leave the girls alone.


P.S.  Tell Vera I got a postal from Jim Dunbar today.  How did he get my address?

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© 2001 by Roxy Triebel or the original contributor.
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