Posted by: Ann Myers | May 4, 2010

Other People’s Letters, Part 4

On April 8, 2010, SCRC hosted a dramatic reading of a selection of letters from our collections. The event was planned and emceed by Abigail Wheetley, and we thank everyone who was able to attend. For those who were unable to attend, and for those who would like to revisit something they heard that evening, we will be posting transcriptions of the letters and introductions to them over the next few weeks.

We continue this series with a letter from a World War I soldier to his sweetheart.

Dearest Lollie

Nutter Family WWI Correspondence VFM 1832

This is from a small collection, a vertical file manuscript. Part of the charm of these small collections is that there is just enough to keep, but not enough to parse a story out of and a great deal gets to be left to the imagination. What I can tell you is that this is one of 15 letters 1918-1919 to Lollie Nutter from Neiland Kenneth Barrett from St.Paul Minnesota during WWI written while he was confined to quarters under quarantine due to an influenza epidemic in 1918.

Neiland K. Barrett letter

St. Paul, Minn.

Oct. 4, 1918

Dearest Lollie:

You would laugh if you could see me tonight sitting on my bunk in all the noise with my suitcase across my lap trying to write because they have turned the Y.M.C.A. Hostess House, and Canteen all into hospitals.  Oh! Its a great life if you don’t weaken.  Ha! Ha! As if a hard boiled M.P. like me would or even could.

I am holding my bayonet in my left hand to keep the hard boiled Overland rookies from simply tearing up the earth around me.  Don’t you wish you were here to stand guard for me while I write?  I know where I wish I was.  It would be at 3802 10th Avenue South and I would show somebody the difference between a scratch from a coat collar and (well you know.)

Can you hear some of those acting recruits playing the piano and flute and Lord only knows what all.  That old man that plays the little hand organ down on Seventh and Henepin has got it skinned a hundred ways for Sunday.  Excuse all the misspelled words and poor writing for poor me is not to blame because I am sort of light in the upper story.

The Sgt. just game around and congratulated me on being able to get a red card.  I told him “thanks” I didn’t need his help.

I thought about you a great deal last night between the hours of twelve and five when I was pacing up and down my post with the rain hitting me in the face and running down my back and finally reaching my shoes and running over.  I was just wondering if you thought of me when you woke up last night and the rain was blowing in your face also.

Ha! Ha! I had to laugh last night.  We have twelve “General Orders” for guards which I will show you sometime.  There was a rookie on guard not far from my post who has only been in the service a few days.  About one o’clock the Officer of the Day came around and asked this certain rookie if he knew his general orders and he quickly replied “No, Sir.  I never saw him.”  I thought I would double up laughing and I laughed so hard that the A. D. burst out laughing too.

I have been planning a little bit since I have been confined to the post and nothing else to do.  If I get out of confinement before I leave, (a few days or more) I am going to ask my uncle to come up to the cities in his car and give me the use of it while he is here.  I would like to show you what a bum chauffeur I am before I leave.  You are very fond of riding in a ‘devil-wagon’ aren’t you.  You know I have never shown you how well I can drive with one hand either, and I can also drive with an occasional glance at the road.  You know, don’t you but I wouldn’t make the speed that I made last Sunday morning.  You know, dear, what a nice place a soft seat in a Cadillac would be to sit in and you wouldn’t have to be on the lookout for dad, either.  Ha-Ha- As if dad could scare us.

Just to think, Lollie dearest, that this has been the longest time, by far, that we have been apart since we met Tuesday, Aug. 20.  Say, but doesn’t the time just fly?

My partner is just raising the dickens because I am writing so long.  And I guess I will have to quit because the lights will go out soon and I want to mail this first.

Now, Lollie dear, please write to me often and I will whenever I can as you know that sometimes my work don’t give me time…. Now be a good girl until I see you and I will be a good boy.  Goodbye (with lots of love and kisses and hugs.  Sweetness.)


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