Letter to Ruth

February 15, 1919 – Letter to Robert’s sister Ruth:

My dear sister,

Today I was just wondering how old you are now. I figured back from my age and decided that you must be 19 and I had not thought of you as being more than 14. Good gracious how you youngsters do grow up. Just because I have not written to you lately is no reason that you should not write to your big brother over here in France but I suppose you are busy at school. I am glad that the winter has been mild at home so you would not freeze going “up the hill” to the Ag.

Tomorrow is Sunday and we do not have Reveille so I am going to stay in bed and miss my issue of boiled rice and thin coffee.

How would you like to break the ice on the edge of a river and kneel on a rock and wash clothes with a rock for a wash board all day long? That is what the women do here. I know I could not do it and I guess you couldn’t either.

We have this town pretty well cleaned up now but if we didn’t keep up every day it would be unfit to keep hogs in. We haul two wagon loads of dirt off the streets every day, and there are only a few people living in town now. Most of them left because the German guns were in easy range of this town about 6 months ago.

There is a prison camp near here. The French have about 600 Huns there. I talked to some of the prisoners the other day. They were up here begging something to eat. They get 1 quart of soup and a piece of bread about the size of a 5-cent loaf each day. They sure look tough. They are afraid of Americans and always salute us or take their caps off.

If Elinore does go to visit Mrs. Wellington be sure and stop in some time and see your nephew. He is some boy.

Tomorrow we will be reviewed by General Pershing. That is another sign that we are going home “toot sweet.” Jane + I can “parley voo” when I get back. She studied French didn’t she?

I bet you are a fine big lady now. Goodness Ruth I won’t know you. Your loving brother Rob.


The University of Minnesota’s Agriculture Campus was and is in the St. Anthony neighborhood of St. Paul, about two miles north of the Wests’ home at 1898 Selby Avenue.

Where was Robert today? See the timeline.

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