April 7, 1919 – Letter to Robert’s mother:
St. Nazaire, France
Well I am still in the St. Nazaire Camp and as far as I can see there is no sign of our leaving, but there is little left to do + we could be sent out of here any time.
I guess about half of my letters since I have been in France have been more or less cheerful + the rest not so cheerful. I hope you can over look those that were complaining or uncheerful. Really there are so many things about the Army and France that are hard to put up with and I know that my letters home must have carried a lot of unpleasant news home to you. It all depended on how I felt at the time time I was writing. If I had just made a long hike in the dust + hot sun or at night in the rain or was sleeping in some woods with Boshie planes overhead or had missed two or three meals or any of a thousand other things is it any wonder that I might feel unpleasant and consequently write letters that sound as though all the world was black?
Well I hope you will overlook those parts any way. It is a part of a doughboy’s life to kick you know. It is our privilege to kick. I have seen men after going twenty-five miles in the dark curse the Army and swear that they will go only to the next town and absolutely quit. But they don’t quit they go right on and continue to curse our good army and the men that are in it.
We had a Colonel who claimed to be the “hardest man” in Uncle Sam’s army. I have seen him bawl a man out something awful and then say “but you’d follow your colonel to hell wouldn’t you?” Even Colonels have that right to kick about everything, but we all know that the world isn’t so bad after all. It’s just the people that live on it.
So forgive me Mother if my letters have seemed crabbed it’s just an army habit. I am going home now and really I am happy and thankful for what your prayers have saved me. How could I get killed or even wounded with a mother and father, four sisters and a wife praying for me every night.
I am just getting to the stage of the game where all the troubles and trials are being forgotten and only the joy of living is present.
We have had lovely weather here at St. Nazaire. We have had only a little rain and lots of sunshine.
I know that I have a big job ahead of me when I get back, but I am anxious to get back and start it.
I suppose house cleaning is on at home and by the time you get this the lawn will have to be mowed. Is there a box up for the bluebirds to nest in this year? I bet those apple trees are in bloom too.
Gilbert has not answered my letters yet. He may be home now for all I know. I hope he is. Well I must quit + write to Elinore.
Your loving son, Rob.
I wonder whether Robert’s parents had been mentioning how “crabbed” his letters had been, or if he was just reflecting and feeling as though he had been doing too much complaining.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.