May
2012

Brooklyn, NY, June 30, 1918

Brooklyn, N.Y.
June 30, 1918

My dear Maude,

Well I recd your ever welcome letter yesterday. Needless to say I was very glad to hear from you.

Well, I guess your sympathy must have had some effect all rite because I am not troubled with rheumatism any more. You made a good guess all rite when you said you didn’t think it was very pleasant. And you made another good guess when you said you bet I would do a cussing stunt when my bunch went and left me. You remember the expression my father used, “swore like a sailor.” Well he would have known what that meant if he could have been within earshot of me the day the bunch left. The air turned blue and the sparks flew all around. But it relieved me a lot and I felt considerable better afterwards.

I went out to Bronx Park last nite. It is sure a swell park but there are no lites out there at nite. Some consider that an advantage and some say it is a disadvantage. I think it all depends, don’t you?

I am at the Y hotel now and am going either to Central or Bronx Park a little later. It is only 5:20 now.

Well I have some good news. I am scheduled to leave some time this week on the Cleveland. Of course I don’t now for sure yet that I am going but I have very good hopes. They say the Cleveland is a pretty good ship too. I think it is a first class cruiser. It mite be second class tho, I don’t know.

I am glad that you liked the pen but I bot it from a Jew and still have a sneaking idea that it isn’t as good as he said it was. So if it turns brass throw it away and I will send you a better one. (As usual my pen went dry and I had to fill it with ink never intended for a fountain pen but I guess I can make it do.)

Well I am glad that you had a good time at the dance. I am sorry I couldn’t have a one step or two but just wait, our time will come. When I make one trip across on a cruiser and two on a merchant ship I am going to get about 20 days, provided I have the dough, and make another trip to Idaho. I figure that I ought to be able to come some time in December or January.

So Art Henderson was there and sober eh? He must feel quite a brotherly interest in me. I can’t say that I feel particularly complimented by his interest. Ellen must like to tell all she knows. You mite tell him its none of his business what I look like and that I am where he ought to be. I sure do like to feed those kind of fellows a lot of lies. Tell him that’s our engagement ring and that we are going to have a military wedding as soon as I get another furlough. Tell him anything you want to. I’ll back up anything you say. I only wish I were there to tell him myself. I’ll tell you what we’ll do, if I should get a furlough, we will go to Potlatch to a dance and then he can ask me everything he wants to know.

I knew your hiking club would fall thru with anyway if you hated to walk as bad as I do. I never used to mind it it so much till I went to Illinois. That spoiled me. I used to run the Ford out just to go the nearest neighbors. Of course I got used to walking at Great Lakes but I didn’t learn to like it again. Darn it, guess my mind’s wandering. Write down words I don’t mean to at all. [He’d written “wash” instead of “like” in “didn’t learn to like it again.”] I’m the dippy one, not you. Anyway if you are what you call dippy I am perfectly willing to be that way the rest of my life. I never want to be sane again.

Well you are doing a pretty fair but you can’t come up to me in weight. I weigh 165 with my shoes and little white hat off.

That Indian was just about rite when he said too much walk around. That’s what I thot too.

Say you never wrote me anything about your father being in a dark room. Or if you did I never got it. I sure feel sorry for him tho. I can imagine how it would be. A person wouldn’t mind it so bad if he were sick but to be well and not to be able to get around is worse. When I was laid up with the rheumatism I had to stay in bed for three days and I thot I never could lay there when I wasn’t sick.

I think I will get to see Clark all rite. He ought to be here when I get back off my cruiser trip. I should be back in a month or 6 weeks from the time I start. I may not be able to write much while at sea but even if I can’t write very often you know I am always thinking of you. I was talking with some fellows from the Des Moines and they had no chance to write for weeks but I am hoping to be able to do better than that.

I am enclosing a piece of poetry written by a soldier but it is just the way I felt last winter when I was at Great Lakes. When the windows were put up on both sides and the wind came in so cold that the clothes we put to dry on the radiators froze stiff we felt just about the way described in the poem. You would be surprised to find out how cold a hammock feels when you wake up in the middle of the night and how warm if feels at reveille.

Well I guess this is about enuf for this trip so I will ring off. Will write again before I leave, all for now.
As ever yours,
Sylvan

The poem isn’t with the letter, unfortunately. I’m hoping I may uncover it in some of the other papers.

This letter is interesting (and difficult) on a number of levels, primarily the base antisemitism and the casual reference to “the Indian” who appears in other letters as just “the Indian” (is it the same man?) and not by name. From a transcript of an oral history taken from Maude’s sister Ruby, Native Americans were frequent visitors to the farm and would dig camas plants, but the kids were scared of them. Ruby told her interviewer: “I was scared to death of them. Why, I don’t know, but I just didn’t want to be around them. Dad, he always liked talking to ‘em, and they liked Dad, very friendly, but I was scared of them.” Ruby Canfield Wheeler, Oral History Interview 1, Date Unk., by Laura Schrager, 10) Latah County Historical Society.

I don’t know why Maude’s father was in the dark room, unless the family history of migraines goes back that far! 

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