Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Thacher, John H., 1872-1960; Gates, Marvin H., 1876-1972; Donnelly, Eugene; Salisbury, Spencer, 1887-1967; Chaney, Verne E., 1895-1973; Allen, Harry B.; Murphy, Thomas E., 1894-1970

Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, December 26, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.

December 26, 1918

Dear Bess:

Christmas is over and we had a very nice time. The ladies of the Auxialry sent us 2700 francs about 330 of which my battery got. Capt. Thatcher gave me 500 francs and some of the boys dug up some and we bought a hog. Now what do you reckon that cussed hog cost in honest to goodness money? Just $235.00 dollars, real dollars not francs it was 1291 francs. I hope I choke if ever I pay that much for a squealer again. But it was worth the money. You've no idea how good fresh roast pork tastes when you've been eating canned millie and fresh beef all the time. That was only an incident in the dinner. There was chicken and dumpling (chicken $1.00 a pound) and peach cobler [sic] mashed potatoes jam and bread. That dinner only cost the battery and its friends especially its friends about $500.00. We had that much from Maj. Gates and his adjutant Lt. Younger, Capt Thatcher and doctor whose name I don't know yet and the horse doctor Lt. Parker were out guests. I have an Irishman by the name of Eugene Donnelly who has no respect whatever for rank. He acted as toastmaster and some of us got a wonderful roasting. He missed reveille this morning and is now on the wood pile or cleaning out the stables I don't know which. He's not there you understand on account of his ability as toastmaster but simply because he was delinquent at 6 A.M.

Capt Thatcher made a grand speech. Maj. Gates offered a toast to the Battery and I got tangled up and sat down. My famous prize fighter Tommy Murphy sang some songs and the Irish quartette Keenan, Chaney, Dougherty and Lucas by name sang us some very touching melodies; we had vin rouge by the quart and altogether it was a right successful affair.

Tommy Murphy is amature [sic] lightweight champion of America and can knock the stuffing out of anybody in 20 pounds of his weight. He also has a very pleasing voice and an Al Jolson manner that makes a decided hit. When he's in the ring he acts like chained lightning let loose but when he's soldiering the chains are usually on or seem to be. He's a sergeant in fact the senior sergeant of my outfit. Had he not been just Tommy Murphy I expect I'd have busted him long ago. But he's one of my bragging points and I don't do it. Whenever Pete or Caranza (now called Parson Salisbury) get to blowing off I just invite them to produce a man who can whip Tommy and the argument is off. He has the most beautiful and innocent blue eyes and when he's up before me for some delinquency I simply can't treat him mean although I know perfectly well he's working me. I only had three Christmas dinner yesterday, two besides the battery's. The officers mess had one at 5 P.M. or we supposed to but the cook drank up the four gallons of wine we were to have had and was somewhat under the weather when it came to suppertime. In fact he was so far under that it took three guards and a Captain to dislodge him from beneath the kitchen table. Consequently our dinner was an hour late. It was pretty good though, roast duck and mashed potatoes. After supper we went over to the boxing match and wrestling match at the Y.M.C.A. building. My outfit won four of the five events and Tommy was barred. The Irish as a class you know like to fight in the ring or out of it. I thought once that my outfit were going to clean out E Battery en masse but the referee quieted things down and everything went off very smoothly. I didn't have a single personal encounter but Pete had two men shot by a drunk (not seriously hurt) and Parson Salisbury had some rough and tumbles. I think that a couple of Salisbury's men were muddied up by the Irish but they were so dizzy that they couldn't say for sure and I never made any close investigation.

After the boxing bouts I went to a dinner given by the 2nd Battalion detail. You know I was once adjutant of 2nd Bn. They had a grand dinner at which I discovered some of my own roast pig and a lot of other dainties including almonds and Bordeaux Vieux a most excellent and satisfying white vintage. Speeches were made by Maj. Gates and some of the men said things about me that made me blush and were not true anyway.

Take it altogether I'll again state that it was a right successful Christmas to be spent so far from anywhere.

My package has not come but I hope for the next mail to bring it forth.

My what I'd do or give to get to get to see you this New Years as I did last. Whenever I think of it I am so homesick I nearly die. I am plum crazy to see you. I just love you more than ever and can't help it and don't want to. I am looking for a letter or two or thrice.

Yours always Harry.

Harry Truman Capt Bty D 129 F A American E F

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