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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
Oct. 18 , 1918

Dear brother,

A couple of days ago mail came here and I got five letters.  I sure was surprised to find that four of them were from home and all written on or about Sept. 15th.  One from you , one from Mother, one from Roxy and one from Elta.  Yours was dated Sept. 8th and was very interesting.

You say you don't worry about them not building any new cars as long as the old one runs as good as it is now.  I am glad to hear that it is in such good shape.  You sure got the motor repaired cheap enough.  Some one must have a pull around there with the repairmen.  I wonder who it is.  Am glad to hear the crops are so good and that you did so well with the car this summer.  You must have been some busy this season alright.

I have been busy myself lately.  We are still repairing roads and are liable to stay at it for a while I guess.  But we move around so much.  Just as we get a place fixed up to bunk in we pack up and go somewhere else.  Most of the time we hike but on our last trip we went on auto trucks.  It was some ride alright.  I used to hear about how so many villages were destroyed in France and now I am seeing some of them.  I have seen a lot of villages where not a house was left standing and all the houses over here are made of heavy stone too.

We are staying in one of those villages now and it must have been pretty nice before the war.  Just at present I am living in a place made of heavy steel with a concrete floor.  It is where the front once was but the Germans decided to leave and the front is so far away we can hardly hear the big guns now.  There are four of us in this place.  Ray Adams, Charlie Mays, Ralph Sparling and myself.  Our furniture consists of four bunks, a bench made of boards and boxes, a shelf for some of our stuff, a box that I am using for a desk and last but not least a stove.  That is the pride of our home even if it does smoke so bad at times that we either have to put on our gas masks or get out.  We usually burn wood but sometimes we get some soft coal from along the railroad.  That is alright after the gas is burned off but when it is first put in the stove we open both ends of our house and let in plenty of fresh air.

It is a great life as you might have a chance to find out if the war should keep up for some time yet.  but I don't think you will ever see France and you may not even be called to camp.  It looks as if the Germans are getting more then they want now and peace is liable to come most any time.  I made a bet some time ago that peace would be declared by Nov. 1st.  I may lose but don't think I will be very far wrong.

I guess young men are pretty scarce articles in the States now but we have plenty of them here.  There must be lots of fellows I know over here but I have never seen one of them.  But I see boys from everywhere else it seems.  You ask about the girls over here.  Well they may be here but I don't see any.  Today I saw a French woman go through here and that is the first one I have seen in a long time.

There is a Salvation Army canteen near here and they have lots of things to sell us fellows.  This paper was bought there and I have had plenty of chocolate and candy for this week.  This Co. cleaned the place out of stuff to eat twice now and we are hoping the man in charge will get more tomorrow.  Things are sold for the same price they are in the States.  I bought an Ingersoll Radiolite watch for 13 francs or about $2.25.  About two thirds of the Co. have those watches now and we have all kinds of time.

Well I must close for this time.  Write soon.  Love to all.


(apparently read and signed by the censor: W.C. Herrick 1st Lt. Inf.)

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