Mrs. G.H. Lockard
Scottdale, Pa


Camp Lee, Va.
March 10, 1918
 


Dearest Mother:-

Am feeling much better this eve. so I think I can write a more cheerful letter. The weather is very chilly this P.M. & I think we are due for a cold spell. I received your letter and the kit this morning & also the paper. I have found a letter in every mail since I landed here. I am like Frank Ehring (sp) to some extent. He goes to the library down here and finds out girls that have their names in the directory of different towns then writes to them. He got boxes from some. We had the day off and went to Petersburg for the first time. Wasn't much of a town. I suppose you have heard of Hopewell, Va. it is only a little ways from here & I guess like all other towns that spring from the powder industry it can't be beat. There are sixty thousand inhabitants & not a brick building in town. Just a huge camp. All nationalities. We are only allowed in certain parts of the town under penalty of arrest. I guess those slackers will be treated when they get here much the same as the religious objectors. There are about eighty of these quartered across the street from us & they won’t drill, wear the uniform or accept pay. Therefore they are not allowed out. (Pardon these blots but these blotters are on the floor most of the time.) When the guys in our company haven't anything to do they amuse themselves by hurling taunts at these objectors across the street and the officers encourage this. A fellow here can surely get a good view of different characters in life. Yesterday I had a prisoner who had overstayed his furlough seven days. He had a five day leave & stayed twelve. While he was gone his regiment sailed for France and now he has to spend three months in the guardhouse and pay his own way over. Also they deduct ten dollars from his pay every month, while he is in the Army. The guy who bunks next to me has been all over the world bumming and stowing away. His mother lives over in Norfolk about sixty miles from here and he hasn't seen her for thirteen years. How’s that for a bed mate? I thought I had some conception of war until I came down here & now after viewing all the trenches & weapons of war I find that my idea was very slight. You can read all this stuff but when they start to Show you how to stick a man with a bayonet & kill him instantly & how to keep from getting your knife stuck between his ribs, things begin to look serious. On the other hand when you look around & see all of the thousands of husky lads that the Kaiser is waiting on it don't seem so bad either. The Leutenant (sic) who teaches us is a prince of a guy, he finished at West Point and had eight companies of fireman under him in N.Y. He is about fifty years old & just like a father to us all. The other day he halted us in a pine woods & after he told us to sit down he gave us a little lecture on Camp Lee, and the surrounding towns. He said he didn't go around with a Bible under his arm but just wanted to give us a few tips on the "bums" that followed the Army. He said that we could have leave whenever we wanted it but just to remember that booze and bad associates would never mix with the training he was going to put us through. He also added that if there were any fellows that couldn't write to come quietly to him & he would write their letters home for them but he wanted everyone to write back. The fellows would do anything for him. We had a game of ball with the sixth company today & this same guy bet that if they won he wouldn't eat any dinner for a week but would stand back and watch the Leut. of their company eat his. We beat them twenty to twelve. That kit is going to come in handy I am sure because we have to have every button sewed on or we are in hard luck. I see by the paper that Grace had some trouble to tend to this afternoon but I know she could handle that OK. I am sure fond of both my sisters although I didn't often show it perhaps but if I can measure up to them I will be OK, EH? I have had some very touching letters from the girls at home telling me how they missed & I believe I could have been in Humpy's shoes maybe had I wanted. How's that for conceit? Keep my remarks very quiet as Gilly says I may want to come back sometime. Chas . Lewellyn had a cake from his wife & we are going to work on it tonight. These Y.M.C.A. buildings are some fine places, you can chew, smoke, sing or just do as you please generally. The guy next to me is sending picture cards of all the hotels in Richmond that went dry and inscribing them "you're next!' He is sending them to all his (illegible) friends and laughing fit to kill. I wrote to Overholt and told him to straighten things up and get in the Army before they dragged him down here. Told him how hard the work was & I guess I scared him to death. Young Putsey Miller, King and that bunch of Old Meadow fellows are just around the corner, saw them yesterday the first time.
Dad Armstrong is awfully homesick but looks like a different guy already. Here's a little surprise, I am going to church tonight to hear our new Chaplain.

 

 

 

Love to all
Your loving son

 

 

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