Mail had started arriving from overseas about August 11, 1918 but nothing came for Jay until August 17. He knows she’s found a good job but doesn’t know where it is. He sent this letter to Charles City, Iowa where he thought her sister Gertie was living. But she was now in Minneapolis so it took quite a route getting to Rinda in New Rockford, North Dakota.
He gives a good description of what he has been witnessing in Saint Amand.
August 18, 1918
Dear Rinda –
Yesterday afternoon the first letters reached me from the U.S. four in number two from Dell one from Devlin and yours. Just one month to a day from the time you wrote in C.C. Pleased to learn you landed a good position and a better salary. But you gave me no address so I will address this missive to C.C. and sister will undoubtedly forward some.
Our company is billeted in an old chateau about four miles from city of St Amand. We are in the heart of grape belt and in fact about all they raise. Men are all gone to front and women are doing all the work. Farmers have very few horses left only a small number of mules which are very small even smaller than Jack was. Guess you remember him the small mule Shea had.
No large farms over here all small but very good. Beautiful country around here rolling land and enough shrubbery left to make it pretty. Homes and in fact all buildings are built from stone. Wood is very scarce. Wood we burn in our field ranges in dawn many miles in auto trucks.
Many yes in fact most all the civilian population are dressed in black.
No four wheeled wagons here all carts are drawn by small mules. I have made several trips to St Amand with one of the small mules and carts.
Wine is very plentiful over here but its as sour as vinegar and doesn’t hit me very good. As a fact two swallows have been enough for me so far. At first our food was coming up rather slow but of late conditions have improved and we have received some more promptly. All American foods we are eating and sure are good. Oh yes we get English jam. I didn’t see much of England but what little I did see didn’t appeal to me very much.
In St. Amand it is necessary to have a bread coupon before bread can be obtained at the bakeries.
The American soldiers are receiving a very good grade of white bread baked in field bakeries.
Pleased to learn the crops were so good in states I sure would like to see the farmers make good money and we sure need the food. Had a wonderful trip across the Atlantic sure will tell you all about it upon my return. Learned to sleep in a hammock. Sure are hard at first but after a few nights didn’t mind them at all.
Hoping to hear from you again very soon.
Lovingly yours. Jay
(Ok note by censor)