Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, Martha Ellen, 1852-1947

Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, January 27, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.

Lawton, Okla. Sunday, January 27, 1918

Dear Bess:

I am keeping my promise although my hands are so cold I can hardly write. It does no good to sit on them and you are so far away that old Dr. Miller's remedy can't be worked. We are having a blizzard in real Western Plains style. It began yesterday at noon, coming out of the northwest as suddenly as a thunderclap. The weather was warm as springtime, the sun shining and everything fine, by night it was zero and snowing, sleeting, doing everything else it shouldn't. Our tent is usually as warm as a house but for some reason our stove refuses to draw this morning and we have a cold tent. I am writing to Mamma this morning for the first time in two weeks. I guess she thinks I'm already in France or at the bottom of the Atlantic.

We are sure a disappointed bunch. Got our goods and chattels all packed, weighed, and marked and then turned right round and unpacked 'em. The King of France had nothing on us for we'd already arrived in Paris with a through ticket to Berlin, and now we've got to stay in this magnificent training camp and in all probability get benzined and sent home. We'd all figured that we'd beaten the benzene board by a nose when we were ordered abroad. They are most certainly giving us an intensive course of training. We study drill regulations all week and take an examination on Saturday. I have been closing out the canteen, doing Battery office work, drill, and going to school. It is a strenuous life. Don't hurt me any unless I get mad at someone or something and then there's a blowup. I have also been teaching school for noncommissioned officers most every night until nine- thirty. If I won't be a go-getter when I get out of this place, there's no one that will.

The present understanding is that our special detachment won't go now until March. So you may have the pleasure of seeing me permanently located in Jackson County before then. I would most certainly like to be there for some very excellent reasons but I would hate to get sent home by a benzene board, although there'd be some satisfaction in knowing that I'd tried my best for the old stars and stripes.

We heard a lecture by an English colonel from the Western Front last night and it sure put the pep into us. He made us all want to brace up and go to it with renewed energy. He made us feel like we were fighting for you and mother earth and I am of the same belief. I wouldn't be left out of the greatest history-making epoch the world has ever seen for all there is to live for because there'd be nothing to live for under German control. When we come home a victorious army we can hold our heads up in the greatest old country on earth and make up for lost time by really living. Don't you think that would be better than to miss out entirely? I am crazy to get it over with though because I wouldn't cause you a heartache for all there is in the world.

You'll never know how badly I hated to leave on the night I started back down here. I can most certainly sympathize with an enlisted man who stays over his time. A man sure ought to have some extra credits in the judgment book when he leaves the strongest ties in the world to do what is called duty, don't you think so?

This is a fun letter and it is a bad day. Perhaps you'd better follow the advice of Agnes' suitor who always instructed her to put his epistles in the kitchen stove. Anyway I love you just the same and more than ever and I'm working hard to finish the war quickly so we can make up for lost time.

Yours always, Harry

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