Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Chicago Daily News War Postals series Circa 1918
Mr. & Mrs. Paul McKim collection: 2002.035.139.053
The August 22, 1918 issue of The Bossier Banner carried several letters from enlisted men to the folks back home.

“The following two letters were sent in by Postmaster John H. Allen, of Plain Dealing. The first is from his brother Dallas, now in training at Camp Martin, near New Orleans. The other is from John Baumgardner, a native of the Linton community, but who for some time prior to joining the colors, had employment in Plain Dealing. He is in France and should be addressed: Private John Baumgardner, Military Police, A.P.O., 707 A.M., E.F., France.”

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. J.H.A. and the Chillun: If you don’t mind and since I can’t get out a note. Feeling fine since mumps. Don’t do much. Keep radio practice up; lay round lots. Got a gun to keep cleaned and three pair of shoes to keep shined, four shirts to keep clean, four pair of trousers to keep pressed, two pair of leggings to keep spic and span, a mug to shave every day, a cot to keep in shape, a hat to keep brushed, drill three hours per day, school four hours per day, one hour for athletics, teeth to brush, buttons to sew on and eight hours to sleep. And I find time for writing now and then. See? Lots of time to rest. Yes—not.”

“How’s Plain Dealing and the oil boom? Dry up there? Rains every day here—every doggone one, I tell you. But, say, we have eats here.”

“Yes, we got the Dutchman’s goat. Every steam whistle in New Orleans blows one minute each day at eleven a.m. All business stops, and all pray for one minute—and intend to keep it up until the war is over. I am signing up a crowd to eat Thanksgiving dinner in Berlin, Christmas dinner back in New York, and get back to New Orleans for Mardi Gras next year. Want to go? Believe me, sauerkraut will be cheap as Arkansas land when the war is over. You can call it ‘liberty cabbage if you want, but the smell is still there.”

“Let me hear from you this year, please, and I’ll send your folks a pound of sugar for a Christmas present. Your brother, Dallas G. Allen.”

“Dear John, Thought you might want to hear from me since I am ‘over here.’ Am in a good camp somewhere in France. Am close enough to the front to hear the guns all the time. They sure roar at night too.”

“Would like to write you lots, only there is very little I can write. It is quite exciting when the Germans make an air raid over us.”

“This is an interesting place and I will have lots to tell you when I get back to that old place.”

“Say, if you can, mail me several copies of The Bossier Banner. I have not heard from anyone since I have been gone. Tell Maude to write every week and write yourself when you have time.”

“Sure will be glad when I get back to the good old U.S. America is the best place I have seen and especially Louisiana. Have been in England too. Like it better than France.”

“I am doing patrol duty and am on duty at night most of the time, so have to try to get some sleep.”

“Give my regards to Emmett and Mr. George. Your friend, John Baumgardner.”

Read more letters like these at the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center.

By: Ann Middleton

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