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Catalog Number 1996.51.136DV
Object Name Letter
Accession number 1996.51
Description Full transcription of text follows:

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Lt. J.E. Henschel- M.T.C. School #1- A.P.O. 722 - A- Am. Ex. Forces- Decize (Nievre) France- December 13th/1918- Two very dear Sisters (Elizabeth and Mary) There isn't the least chance in the world that this may arrive in season - yet it simply has to say "Good-morning" to the both of you on Christmas day. Also - (which makes it a very valuable thing indeed!) it's taking home all sorts of our very nicest birthday kisses. You see - being way out here - there isn't a single nice thing to send home, ex-

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[Page 2] thoughts and good wishes. Even had to steal this paper (hold it up to the light and you can see) in order to have something nicer than ordinary. And of course one has to have good things for birthdays and Christmas. I wish you could see my home in these trees! You would laught. I "house" has three rooms, about two yards square, a cloth window in each room - and one stove. We have one chair and one bed, which the captain owns. Another lieutenant and myself - when we call it a day - roll

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ourselves up in a couple of blankets - and hunt the softest boards on the floor. It's really funny - or would be if the floor wasn't quite so hard and cold toward morning. The wind just whistles through the cracks. Best of all is the stove. A rather conceited, self-willed thing, it does just about whatever its three feet by some twelve inches of sheet iron wants to do. When it works, it becomes red all over, and our small home is too hot to live in. Then we open up windows

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and door - and the dog gone thing just grins to itself and dies! Our "man Friday" (as we call the orderly; he really has another name - but I don't know it) shows up early each morning to wake us and starts the fire. He has a sliver way of doing both at once, thereby saving time. He takes a quart of gasoline, throws it on the coal in Sarah (that's the stove) adds a match - and runs. Of course - home is quite a lively little place for a minute or

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[Page 5] two, but we always wake up, and usually the fire goes well. That is - it goes until Friday goes, then it goes too, - out. It doesn't matter then, for we are usually about dressed. We can always tell when breakfast has been brought it. Friday does it, you see. He comes gaily up the front steps, and while sitting down the dishes, always say "What - is that fire out? Must be something wrong". He never looks at the stove before saying it; you see - he knows it already -

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[Page 6] and then it's merely his way of saying "Breakfast served". News. Took a bath today in twenty-five minutes and four cupfuls of water - lake cold. Can't be done? Oh yes, indeed - and I saved out enough to shave, besides. Had to do it; you see an observe nor inspect happily if he has to spend time scratching - (I've bout come to the conclusion - in spite of a result-less hunt - that something else sleeps on that floor besides two lazy young lieutenants.)

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[Page 7] New. It rained today. Also yesterday. Likewise - every day since I left Decize early one Thanksgiving day morning. It certainly is beyond me; I can't understand where all the water comes from. Very luckily it's not very cold, at least not as cold as last year. Perhaps this is because we're just outside of Verdun - and Verdun has been a pretty warm place for some four years. (What a rotten joke!) Some day - if a friend's camera (he's one of the few that can

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[Page 8] have them) was working well and films are good. I'll send you a picture of a friend of mine - a very dear one. Also - I'm a part of the same picture - but that doesn't matter. This little fellow - he's only four has just about adopted me, and has been the cause of my stealing much lump sugar from the mess at Decize. I don't use it in my coffee - so I guess that it's not very wrong to put it in pocket. But about Jean. He's a peach. I'd like to pack him up and take him home for a souvenir - but his

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[Page 9] Mother might object. Anyway - we are mighty good friends, Jean and I, and I play a sort of combination daddy, big brother and uncle to him - even though he doesn't understand my wild French very well. You both would love the kiddie. Wish it would stop raining for a while. There isn't much news to write, except the endless patter on the tar-paper roof. This good paper makes a fellow want to keep right on writing - even if there isn't anything to say. News - no - Rumor. Some one said that he heard some one tell of someone who had heard that

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[Page 10] perhaps they would sometime or other close the school at Decize. I can't put much stock in the story, though it is nice to think about - for shortly after the armistice was signed - orders came by phone to effect that it would continue full blast for one year at least and make preparations for two. Be that as it may - this trip will come to an end before long - and then it's back to Decize, where I expect to complete a road that I am building. We are hoping that by some chance we may pass through

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[Page 11] Paris while Wilson is there - not much luck - but still we hope. Have I told you that I am qualifying rapidly to join Ramsey's (Henschel) service? (Engineers-110th?) It's only too true. The school needs gravel, and the prettiest gravel is located by the river - about a kilometer from the road. That's the catch. Being a remarkably fine demonstration and lecturer on convoy work - someone has the idea that I can build roads - so I do. It's a wonderful job. The cowpath that will some day be a rock road winds up and down hill - across two creeks and

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[Page 12] and through three hundred metres of sand. Five Quad trucks were wrecked there before I acquired the job. My eleven men work pretty well, and some day we shall have a real, honest-to-goodness touring car road there. A do-gone tough job for some one who isn't an engineer - but it's lots of fun in a way. That's enough for one letter. Be real nice, please, and both of you send me a great big, long letter. Lots of love - and hugs and kisses - oh - bushels of 'em. Ned. (James Edward Henschel)

From the service of James E. (Ned) Henschel, Co. B Reserve Mallet--French Army, American Field Service, Quartermaster Corps, General Hdgts., and Motor Transport Co. 831.
Date December 13, 1918
Year Range from 1918
Year Range to 1918
People Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
Subjects World War I
Letters (Home)
Sister
Houses
Fire
Bathing
Children
Engineers