Letter from a frenemy: May 1, 1918

Highwood, Montana
May 1, 1918

Dearest old sweetheart:
Received your pictures was sure glad to get them, and also one of Dick, I would love to have one of Charlie too. Because you never can tell what will happen cause the old Germany also taking the joy out of life.

Uncle Ed’s talking about going to war. I think I can hold on to him, though, what’s the matter with Rollo, has he gone to war too? He must have a broken finger or arm. Tell him I heard he has a broken hand and can’t write (ha ha). Be sure and tell him also Bugs and the rest of the kids every one owes me letters, huh Poody. That easter card Harold sent you. His address is Great Falls, Montanta. Well, I hear Dora’s married and Bessie. Good-night nurse. Some match. I bet they don’t hitch.

Please excuse my hen scratching I’m in a hurry.

Your loving old pal forever,

Ans. sooner or soonest

There is so much I don’t understand about this letter.  While there are plenty of pictures of Maude with her girlfriends, there aren’t many letters from women; either she didn’t keep them or didn’t correspond with them (although that would be unlikely). Also, I’ve never seen anything noting who Illa is.

So who is she? I’m guessing a frenemy. Rollo is Sylvan’s brother, and Charles is Sylvan’s given name (both he and Maude, at times, go by their middle names). Is that who she means by “Charlie?”  And surely the notion that someone should fake injury to avoid going to war was as tacky as it would be now. (I’m looking at you, Vice President-of-the-deferment Dick Cheney.)

I’ve corrected a lot in this letter, grammatically (really!) but left many of the errors intact, because the letter has such a breezy, slapdash quality.