February 21, 1919 – Letter to Robert’s father:
It has been some time since I have written to you, because there is no news.
We have been having a lot of inspections for cooties, or anything else. There seems to be some mistake about disease among the people at home. There is very little anywhere as far as I know. No one will be allowed to go home with a disease, and I feel sure that every man in B Co. will go home together. General Pershing said when he reviewed us the other day that the records showed that the 35th was unusually clean. And so I take it that the rest of the A.E.F. is just as clean, except perhaps those from New York. They are the sorriest soldiers in the world.
B Co. lost the competitive drill to the 137th Regiment. We would have liked to have won it for the sake of Captain Ware.
The cooks got good this morning and made hot cakes and put them out just as long as we wanted them. I had five and I herd some say they had twenty four.
The first platoon will have to pay 600 Francs damages when we leave here because someone threw some tin cans in the old man’s hay and some more out the window into the “frog’s” garden. They know that the Army pays all claims without dispute so they grasp the opportunity to stick us hard. That will only cost us each about $5.00 but it should be only about 5 cents.
Everything looks as though we were going home. We have not got any horses left. The Engineers have gone to the coast, we have been inspected by Pershing’s staff, have only mobile equipment, are de-cootieizing and a lot of other things, but it takes a long time to move a division now. When the war was on they could move five divisions in a night but now, I guess they don’t care much. Always say they can’t get cars or something else.
I am not making any plans for the future now. I merely want to rest for a few weeks if I can get the cottage at Lake Rebecca this summer.
Bess says she hopes that you + Mother will sell the house at 1898 so that Mother won’t have to live in town all alone. She said she supposed Hellen + Ruth would be at Winona and Jane back to Hinckley. But would Mother not be alone if you sold the house and lived at the Lake.
I am following your advice and am not thinking about what I will do when I get back. I guess I can make a living. I always could before.
I wrote Mother all the news so I must quit. No doubt you will read her letter. Your loving son Rob.
No surprise that there were fears at home about soldiers returning with a variety of exotic contagious diseases. It’s important to remember that the country was still recovering from the flu outbreak that killed more than half a million people in the US and an estimated 50 million worldwide.
If I remember correctly, Robert has expressed his dislike for the British, the French, and (of course) the Germans, not to mention Texans and now New Yorkers. He’s a little extreme, but I can say he is correct that Minnesotans truly are the best people in the world.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.