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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"It can't rain all the time" - Eric Draven

Odd day today. When it rains it pours kind of day.
I had to get to the grocery store in a hurry and get back, as I was driving the most reliable of 4 vehicles in my possession. One is in NC, one is a classic and I suspect needs a new battery, one has 100,000+miles on it and got a flat yesterday. The last is my Dad's trusty Buick. 2 of these are easy fixes, but it's the time thing. Max has to get to work, so I dashed out to get supplies.
WELL.
There are 3 ways to get down the hill, one is headed backwards, two forward. Both of those are hilly. I picked the closest and more level of the two. Forward.
As I'm driving past the closest street down, I see a van parked, and two women that have a hold of each other by the shoulder. They are about to throw down, and are shouting.
There's a widely quoted philosophy to not get involved. That's just not me. Here's the thing, if you don't take the time to step in, everyone else will just stand by and watch. This was about to turn bad. I'm not going to stand by.
I'm not a fool. I'm driving a car, the altercation was on the the passenger side. I do understand the concept of reach of punches. I have metal and distance between me and two very fired up women.
I stopped, rolled the window down, and said "LADIES, stop, please stop...
Both of them are bigger than me, so I stay in the car.
They hear me, and both bodies are suddenly slammed against my car. They are now in my open window struggling furiously. The right rearview mirror goes wonky.
"STOP"!!. Stop. CALM DOWN. One of them does, as much as she can. She goes into the physical mode of  "I'm not going to retaliate, I'm just going to attempt to defend".
Female #2, is so fired up that she has female #1 down across the border of my car window will not let up.
There is no blood, this was a hair pulling, ear pulling evenly matched struggle...
Female #1 sees "The Club" on my passenger seat. Thank God for my quick reflexes. She had a hold of it, and I don't blame her, she needed to get that chick off of her, still, I said "NOOO" and grabbed it and tossed it into the back seat.
More struggling, and the B word being tossed around a lot.
To my left I finally see neighbors approaching. Among them, two guys of some size. I nod, and mouth, "Can you help?
They do, one on each side. It calmed quickly. I rolled up the windows and caught one of the guy's eyes and nodded again, went about my business then. Shopping. Right.
I did my shopping in record time, due to the adrenalin. This could have gone much worse. I guess the moral of the story is that you shouldn't turn a blind eye, don't disregard you're safety, but step in for God's sakes when you think you can.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Yet the summer which was to change everything was coming nearer every day. When boys and girls are growing up, life can't stand still, not even in the quietest of country towns - Willa Cather.

The first 18 years of my life, I spent a couple of weeks on my Grandparent's farm in Washington, Iowa. It's gone now, it shouldn't have been ephemeral, but it is.
Grandpa first rode up to the place in a covered wagon. He never owned it, he worked it for a lady in town, Mrs. Meeks. The Aunts have told me about having no indoor plumbing, for a time, and remembering when they first got electricity. Mom rode to school on the tractor. There were no buses.
Grandparents, Effie and Dell. Salt of the Earth doesn't quite cover it.
Euphegenia was trained as a milliner. That woman could do ANYTHING related to textiles. Sew, knit, crochet, weave...I am still in awe. And she painted, and could make anything green grow. Her garden was a sea of blooms. I once brought a pathetic cut rose with me to their house, I can't remember what the occasion was, but she grabbed it and nursed it, and I swear to God, a few minutes later that thing was blooming like crazy.
Dell farmed well into his 70's. He and Effie had moved into town, but he still helped my uncle. At breakfast, every morning, he fueled up for the long day ahead. He loved kid's sugar laden cereal, and toast and bacon that was cooked to charcoal, carcinogens be damned. My Grandmother would take all of the toys from the cereal and pop them in a drawer in the guest room. All of us cousins would make a beeline for that drawer whenever we arrived.
He taught me how to play checkers. He'd let me win. Sitting across from me, cigar stub between teeth, and contemplating each of my moves...He'd say "Well, well, well, well...". And then he'd let me win.
In a town of 3000, less than  my high school in FL, everybody knows everybody. I can't tell you how many times I was introduced to complete strangers as Dell and Effie Walker's grandchild, and they knew me right away...It was surreal.
I have an image of Grandpa Dell that is firmly etched in my mind. Home for supper, Tall, thin, white hair, tanned, lined, sleeves rolled up. Amazing.
He had an old Chevy that he drove me around town in. Mind you, he never took it out of 2nd gear. If my Dad was riding with us, this drove him berserk. Many times, he took from town out to the farm, on two lane farm roads. Semi's would ride up on his ass, and hit the air horn. He'd just nod, smirk, and wave, cigar in teeth the whole time. Then he'd look at me and wink, and chuckle.
In those days, the farm was run by my Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Tom. I'd go out there, hang out with my cousins, who were older than me, but put up with me anyway. We sat on the stoop and played War. We played King of the Hill. I got my ass kicked. We chased barn cats, crawled through barbed wire, chased fireflies, caught them, slept with the jars and shook them for nightlights. Green grass, an old horse trough with goldfish, sparklers, cranking homemade ice cream. I treasure it.
Both of them passed in my Senior year of High School. Grandpa came back from coffee and shuffleboard in the town square, laid down for his noon nap, and never woke up. Grandma followed 6 months later. Her last day, she took some pictures of her garden, finished a painting she had promised to my Aunt Jean, sat down in her chair for a nap, and passed.
I miss them so much. Solid, warm, no nonsense people, but still incredibly irreverent. They always laughed so hard at my nonsense, no judgement, just always love.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fish out of water

I'm here in Florida with my Dad during what is the end of his life. Just that. I'm staying at the home he shared with Mom for the last several years, prior to her death. It's both comforting and unsettling to be here alone with many of the things of the past. I've been going through photos, reliving many experiences while I talk to Dad, before they fade from him as well.
When I was 12 I'd never been out of the country. My uncle worked on a Iowa/Yucatan farmers exchange program. Because of that, we had the opportunity to visit Merida, and spend time with a wonderful family, the Vaqueros. During the holidays, as a bonus. They had kids close to my age. Merida is a very old city, and full of things that interested me, cool old buildings, a public market, traditional restaurants. But the best thing about the hotel was the bar/restaurant across the street. It was owned by a Lebanese family, and served Middle Eastern food, along with local canned beer which was always brought with lime and salt. My parents continued that tradition long after our return.
Along with the drinks, there was hummus, dolmas, chickpea salad, all kinds of Mezzes which were gratis. Consequently, we went there a lot. We also frequented a place that had the best Arroz Con Pollo I've had to this day. A trend was started there. Our orders came haphazardly. One of us, then 15 minutes later a couple more, and then.... My Dad was always, and I mean always last. And FYI, not the Prince of Patience he...
We got to experience Christmas with the Vaqueros. Tradition in Yucatan for Christmas Eve is that everyone in the neighborhood lays out a spread of food that would make a Roman banquet look like prison fare. Then all of the families go to each house, hang out, sing, eat, visit. I was up later that night than I had ever been in my life. Senora Vaquero was a fantastic hostess. I spoke little Spanish at the time, other than the counting I learned from Sesame Street, and when we arrived she took both of my hands in hers, as she did with all of the guests, and welcomed me with a heartfelt speech that I didn't understand. I didn't need to.
We were also invited to a wedding of the Vaquero family friends. The reception was definitely one of the biggest parties I've ever been to. The waiters were so spot on that as soon as your glass was empty, another full one appeared as if by magic. The adults got VERY happy. I had hardly danced in my life at that point, but the second youngest son, who was so handsome I had an instantaneous crush on him and his best friend, would not accept no for an answer. I was cajoled, in Spanish, and ended up have one of the best times of my life.
We took a side trip to Cozumel. I kid you not, there were only two hotels on the island then. The El Presidente, which was very chi-chi, and The Hotel Barracuda, where we stayed. The curse of the hunger pangs continued with my Dad here, as there was only one restaurant on the island. I continually ordered chicken enchiladas Suiza, and he continued to grit his teeth and wait. At the time, you could only rent a moped, or a Volkswagen Thing. The round trip is oh, roughly less than a score of miles, and it's rough terrain. We chose The Thing. I have never seen so many Iguanas in my life. We stopped at a beautiful lagoon, and went snorkeling. Cozumel had crystal clear, turquoise water. I got a mood ring for Christmas, which I ruined about a week later climbing the rocks near the lagoon on Cozumel, when a big wave splashed over me. Mom was pissed. You can see for hundreds of feet, or it did at the time. Magical.
Then there was the Barracuda incident.
My Uncle Bill and I were swimming at the little beach by our hotel. I had my mask on, what do I see? BARRACUDA. I told him, just look, dip your head down, there they are...My Dad, who of course can read me like a book, started giggling. Bill was nonplussed. NAH... My Dad shouts "Bill, if she tells you there are big toothy fish in your vicinity, THERE ARE BIG TOOTHY FISH IN YOUR VICINITY...
Something y'all should know, Bill had MS that was in remission, but one paralyzed leg. Still, in a feet don't fail me now moment, I've never seen him move so fast. My Dad fell out of his beach chair. Bill left a flip flop behind in the melee, then he fell over laughing. He is gone now, and I miss him like crazy.
The visit to Uxmal was a defining moment in my life. We had to arrive late, in the dark, as there was a light and sound show. There was one other spot in the area, where the family stopped. A hotel with a bar of course, and we waited out the time there, and then headed over. There was a hindrance, a long climb up steps of the ruins, lit by bare bulbed garage light. My Mom complained a lot. We got to the top , and were seated.
What enfolded was BRILLIANT! Deep, Scary, Quetzocoatil, sacrifice, myth.
When we stood up, and our eyes adjusted to the low light, welll, we were on the ege of a 100 foot drop or so. My Mom about had a stroke. Again, good times...
Chichen Itza. I had no idea. The car was due at 9am, it arrived at 11. As we walked out we observed that the guys that brought it were desperately wiring the tail pipe back in place. I would say the drive to Chichen Itza was about two hours, and as soon as we left the city, we discovered that the horn on the car only worked if the headlights were on. All the way out into ever increasing remote country, guys in trucks kept leaning out of the driver's window and pointing at the headlights. My Dad was eventually like, yeah, yeah, I see you, whatever. We passed many, many traditional white washed adobe houses with dirt floors and hammocks, I was fascinated. We stopped at a cemetery. It had the most beautiful elaborate and colorful headstones I have ever seen, Goth in training, I loved it.
In the interest of full disclosure, when we left Merida, we ran a stop sign, and were pulled over by a motorcycle cop. It was Mom, Dad, me, and my two cousins. Mom and Dad are the original members of the martini and Frank Sinatra crowd. Driving was my cousin Tom, and his girlfriend at the time, Kate. Really seriously cool people. This was in 1975, and they were serious hippies. Tom handed the cop his license, and at the bottom it said "not valid for motorcycles". The cop said, "NO MOTORCYCLES!!! and put the license in his uniform pocket. Then he motioned us to follow him. As Tom pulled out and followed him, I kid you not, my Dad looked at me and said "We're gonna rot in a Mexican prison".
After we went a few blocks the cop stopped us and came back, and handed the license to Tom. and motioned us forward. To this day, we postulate why. He felt sorry for us? He wanted a bribe? Dunno. We all breathed a sigh of relief.
So, Chichen Itza. One of the coolest places I'd ever been. Our guide was very knowledgeable, and being a somewhat goth and gruesome girl even at that age was fascinated by his stories of those that lost the ball game and lost their heads. The acoustics there are amazing, He demonstrated this by having all of us stand at one end of the field, and then talking in a normal voice we could hear him. He told us that the opposing Kings wanted to hear each other. I went up the pyramid of the Sun. 99 steps, tiny steps. Not hard going up, Hell coming down. We went to the Temple of the Warriors, covered in skull relief, which of course appealed to me, grim and serious at the same time. Every one of the skulls is an enemy, or a warrior down.
On the way back, late in the day, the tiny, tiny town there was mostly empty. We needed gas. There were some local kids sitting on the arch of the entrance of the ruins, and my Dad was like "Petrol? Petrol?" They pointed us to an ancient Quanset Hut. We pulled up and a guy appeared out of nowhere. In my life, a few times, I've seen things that remind me how easy I've had it. Butter in fresh churned churned chunks in England, for instance. I've ever seen butter not in a stick in my life. This man took the biggest funnel I have ever seen, stuck it in the gas tank, filled what looked like a milk jug form a 50 gallon drum with gas, and poured it in. I loved the whole day.
The last thing that happened on that trip, we were all sitting at the little beach in back of the hotel on Cozumel, packed, ready to leave. I saw something bright and shining pink in the water, took off. Mom was like, "WHAT ARE  YOU DOING?" I waded out, and my jeans were crusty with saltwater the whole flight home, but I retrieved the most beautiful Conch Shell. I still have it.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Do not go gentle into that good night - Dylan Thomas.

It's become clear to me that the end is very near for Dad. It's been this kind of approaching finality for a while now, but I feel in my gut, that it will be very soon.
When I went to see him today, as has been the case for the past couple of weeks, he has told me that people from our lives are coming to see him. People that have been gone for a while now.
My Aunt Betty, My Aunt Gail.
Today it was my Uncle Bill and aunt Marge. I made the two martinis for us, and he said, "Do we have enough for everyone else?" I said yes, you have enough gin and vermouth for several more drinks. "Okay, good".
He got up, and he is now very frail, it takes him a long time to cross the room, and he is shaky on his feet. I watch him like a hawk, but I have to be careful. If he sees me doing that, he says, "Knock it off, I'm fine".
He went to his little kitchenette. Spread a dishtowel, washed the 3 other glasses he has, and lined them up. Got the shot glass and added it to the line up.
"I don't have any olives". "Yeah, you do, in the door of the frig". He struggled to find them, I resisted the urge to help him. "The jar with the red lid". "Okay got it", also added to the line up.
He walked back slowly, shakily, and sat down.
He was more lucid today, that's the thing with Alzheimer's, it's so arbitrary. I had the courage to talk to him today about something I've wanted to say for the past couple of weeks. Something I've gone over with close friends the past two weeks.
"Dad, do you think about Mom a lot?". "Yes. more than I should". "Me too".
"Do you believe she's waiting for you?". "Yes".
We have a very close bond. It occurred to me recently that he's staying here for me. Really, I think he is. He's worried about me.
"Dad, I just want you to know, that if you get tired, and want to go be with Mom, I'm okay. I'll be fine".
He looked at me quizzically for a moment...""Tell me that again?".
"Dad, if you are tired and want to move on, and go be with Mom, go ahead, I'll be okay, you understand?".
"Yes".
He sat back, asked me about my day, we watched Bonanza, I finished my drink, as did he, I kissed him and said, "Tomorrow is New Years Eve, I'll call you let you know what I'm doing". "Okay, I'm so happy you're here".
I am too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hold me close and hold me fast, The magic spell you cast, This is la vie en rose...Tranlastion via Louis Armstrong

I had a choice the summer of my junior year of college, take a trip to Europe with my fellow art majors, or have a car for senior year.
Amsterdam? London? Paris? Are you guys serious? I'm there already. The first time was  perfect. I was literally awestruck standing in front of Monet's, and Chagall's and Lautrec's... It was insane. My brain overloaded. I. Am. Standing. Inches. From. The Canvas That. Was Brushed BY MONET...
Trocadero, Montmartre, Pigalle, and the food...Jesus H. Macy it's nearly impossible to get a bad meal there. I love anyplace you can get a bowlful of coffee for breakfast.
Second trip, with  my ex. Budget plan. We stayed at the Hotel Picard. Fellow geeks will snicker. It was in the old Jewish quarter, many of the doors had Star of David's on the jambs. The owner was very patient with my fractured Franglish.  His wife was Polish. Long married, they were, and I have no actual idea of their true story, but in my head I concocted a very romantic, dramatic tale of him spiriting her out of Poland with the Resistance. Sat at their kitchen table and attempted to communicate over coffee. So like my Mom, she was. Cooking me breakfast, and coaxing stories out of me.
Proprietor Picard had a sense of humor as well. When Patrick and I checked in, again, budget plan, cheapest room please...
It had bunk beds. He was like "You are married? No, you need big bed". I said, ermmm, "We'll make do". Gallic shrug, sigh, pointed stare..."Big. Bed"...*wink*". In my head, "I'm versatile, I got it, no sweat..." In reality, I just met his stare, and raised an eyebrow. He reluctantly acquiesced.
We walked, we wandered, we wondered, we slummed. Some of the best stuff that happened was so random. One day after a rigorous museum tour, planned to a Martha Stewart degree by me, we schlepped back to the hotel. We stopped at the local grocery for the necessities. I'm walking through, and BLAM, there is a wall, a WALL of Camembert. The clouds parted and the angels sang. I was already in possession of the national food, a baguette, tucked in my pocket unvarnished, as I had gone native, happy camper. I look around, and Patrick was absent, obsessively looking for peanut butter. We did find some, with about an inch of dust on it. Breakfast the next morning was epic. "I am NOT eating that stinky crap..." "Really? You are surrounded by some of the most exquisite cuisine and pastry in the world, and you are turning up your nose?"...
This is why we are divorced.
There was also the extremely intimidating night concierge. Young guy, Grumpy McScowly. There was a pet parrot in the lobby. One night, delirious from art, the Seine, and the carb rush of the ubiquitous baguette, feeling saucy, said, "HEY? Does the bird have a name?" "Oui. THE bird's name is name is Johnny". Smirk from me. "Seriously? Johnny"???, again with the Gallic shrug.
The next night, we again stumbled back to the hotel dead tired. Scary concierge man was sitting with a friend watching "West Side Story". At that moment, "America" was playing for all it was worth. He looked at me, winked, and did a slight shoulder shimmy. I wasn't afraid of him after that.
Parisians have the sense to shop every day, cook fresh. Consequently, if you hit the stores, as per budget plan, around 6pm, it's madness. That is where the peanut butter-Camembert debate occurred. This was the mid 90's. Already, the green grocer, charcuterie, Boulangerie, Patisserie were disappearing. I hate that.
So, me and PB man were in line, and a middle aged, and obviously stressed woman elbows me, and goes off, in French. If I am being mistaken for a local, I take that as a compliment. Patrick caught on very quickly. "Oui, Moi aussi"...Me-"Oui, D'accord".
I told him later that I imagine she was railing about stupid Americans holding up the line with their credit cards. When he whipped said card out, I was like, GAHHHH, hide it!!!
When we got to the cashier, he apologized for the wait. He made us right away. I said, laughing, "No problem, I always pick the wrong line, Murphy's Law". He says, "Oooh is Murphy?" Eh, "The first guy that discovered merde happens".
Merde does indeed happen, and sometimes it's serendipitous.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Moores.

Again, I'm reflecting. As a friend put it, many of us are closer to the back door than the front door of life. I have no siblings. I do however have an extended family that are the best. 27 first cousins. A ridiculous amount of seconds. And, amazingly, though I can be a black sheep, a real pain in the ass, I love them all, and they love me back.
My Dad's baby sister Madelene, the wife of one of the most intelligent guys I have ever known, and a very patient Mom, is close to my heart. She seems to have some kind of radar for knowing when I am at the end of my rope. I am down, she calls me...
They lived far away from the Midwest, my home ground, in Connecticut. Still, I'd visit, and it was golden. A different planet, that household, and a good one.
Happy warm chaos. Five kids, and all of them in my corner. I felt like some kind of exotic species.
This particular visit, PJ Jr, his sisters and I for some reason only known to those of us possessing the estrogen were dragging him down the hall. I have no recollection of what kind of torture, and he hollered at my aunt, MOM! She's treating me like a BROTHER!!!
My uncle, Pete Sr. is also dealing with advanced  Alzheimer's. Pete is one of the most intelligent guys I have ever known, and has a wicked sense of humor. He worked for years in publishing, the Mad Men era, sharp as a tack.
He is great at repartee. I've never known anyone as sharp.
He and my aunt were visiting us, here in FL. I was an obnoxious teenager then...Smartass...
He knocked on the doorjamb to my room. I was reading. He said "You need to come outside with me, there's something you need to see"
Me-"eye roll, What? NO".
Uncle Pete-"Come on..GET UP, come see..."
He grabbed my hand and drug me outside, giggling the whole time. He led me to a palm tree in the yard, where there was a huge mushroom, and pointed. Written in Sharpie were the words, "Troll House". I looked at him, and he was falling down with laughter. I joined him.
As a Dad, he is a stand up guy. Kelly, she and I are the two youngest of the brood, told me this story. "I got in trouble one day for talking in class. My teacher made me stay late, and assigned an essay. A thousand word essay, subject, a ping pong ball..."
She went home and told her Dad. He marched to the basement, got a ping pong ball, and wrote "A thousand word essay" on it. Sent her to school the next day with that. Like I said, love him.
There were great times for me at this household, fishing for carp in the local pond with bread, climbing the rocks nearby, and even me and Suzy, Kelly's older sister staying so very awake so that we could put Kelly's bra on the dog, PJ, and send him down the hall.
I love you guys, great times, fond memories, that'a what get's me through.

Monday, November 14, 2011

If blood will flow, when flesh and steel are one, Drying in the colour of the evening sun...Tomorrow's rain, will wash the stains away...But something in our minds will always stay - Sting

I'm just going to thank my great uncle for his honest letter to my Grandmother in 1918. It's still timely.


 Peace, the most desired thing in the world for over four years has been declared and I understand I am to be one of thousands to see that is is carried out.
     The Germans who were in our immediate front saved themselves from a big drive that we were planning to pull off when they signed up. We were at the front lines, that is, were in the morning when it was called off and we returned to what we supposed to be a rest camp. We stopped in a woods just outside of the ruined village of Vieville, the first night. We returned so quickly that no one had time to make up his pack of blankets and shelter half so we were without these the first night. I managed to crawl into a dugout with some other fellows and slept on a wooden bench all night. It wasn't so bad as we had a fire in a stove and it was warm. The next day I got into a nice cozy bunk in a dugout just big enough for three of us. As we were only about a mile and a half from where we left our blankets, I with three others went back to get them. As we were then only about two and a half miles from (scratched out) where the Salvation Army had a canteen one of the boys and I hiked there to buy what we could. We got back too late to have dinner at our kitchens so bummed a meal at an artillery kitchen getting back after dark. It certainly looked good to see lights all over the hillsides where only the night before every bit of light was carefully covered up so as not to be exposed to the German view. When we got back to the woods we found all the companies camped out in the open with dozens of camp fires burning and the boys hollering and singing like they were mad. Every one went around with a smile of satisfaction on his face and a pleasent word in spite of the mud and wetness. The boys, both Yanks and Germans kept the sky lit all night by shooting rockets and flares each seeming to try and outdo the other. It was a firework exhibition that was mighty good to see. It seems mighty funny too, not to hear the roar of the cannon and hear the whistle of the shells. When I woke up yesterday morning and got dressed I found that the whole battalion had moved out leaving this other fellow and me practically alone. There were kitchens left but the cooks didn't know where they went so we decided to wait for them to receive orders to move, then follow them. We waited until one thirty then started off by ourselves back to a place between the support and front line trenches of our original positions which was only about five kilometers from the woods. Had we watied for the kitchens we surely would have been out of luck for they did not show up until near nine 9 o'clock. We are quartered in some of our old friend Hindenburg's dugouts on the hillside. We were pretty hungry before the kitchens arrived so we had our reserve rations consisiting of hard tack, corn willie, salmon and a sort of prepared coffee.
     Night before last I was told to get my stuff together and make my pack and eat supper in a half an hour that my name had been put in for a seven day leave of absence to go to some big town in France. I got ready although I nearly lost my crowd and when I hiked to headquarters where I waited for some time found out that another fellow and I had been left off the list and no passes were to be had. I really wasn't sorry either as I didn't draw a new uniform and the one I had on was shabby. Yesterday morning the crowd I was supposed to go with came back. They had got lost in the woods going to meet the truck and had wandered around all night with their packs on and didn't know where they were until they came to the top of a hill overlooking our little village. So you see in place of being unfortunate I was fortunate. But I lost my bunk as two others had squeezed in my place when I left. I had to look around and find a new bunk but was fortunate there as I found a place that had German bunks in it which were more comfortable.
     You know while we were in support and front line we only had two meals a day which really was better than three for us. The other day we started on the old schedule of three meals and it was too much for me as it made me sick. I am alright now and eating just as much as ever. I discarded my rifle and ammunition belt and bayonet and now only carry an automatic pistol and belt.
     I am enclosing a sheet of German propaganda dropped from their airplanes some time ago which I found near some trenches.
     What I want most of all right now and which I would give most anything for, is a kodak with a bunch of films.
     I haven't been able to spend money for a month and as a consequence have a pocket full of Francs, worth twenty cents each. We do not draw pay any more at any certain time but have a book like a bankbook showing how much money is due us. If we are away from the company we can draw it from any quartermaster headquarters we happen to be near.
     I received the Register and Leader of the twenty fifth of August on the twenty eighth of October. This is the first I have received and just a short time ago I as down by the orderly room and found two more papers. I haven't opened them yet and so don't know what date they are.
     It seems good to be able to wash the sag paste off. That is the preparation we put on to prevent the mustard gas from burning, but we won't need that anymore.
     I am willing to stay right where I am now until the time of mustering out, which can't be too soon to suit me as I am anxious to be in the best little home on earth as soon as possible.
     Now don't worry about my not getting enough to eat. Remember I am on the front and the theory is that there is nothing to good for the boys here. the boys in my billet get together and we cook hotcakes every night. They go mighty good too.
Well I must say good night for this time.
Lovingly,
Clyde.

Written by Private Clyde F. Wilbur, 55th Infantry, Company "F", 7th Division.
to his sister, Miss Madeline Wilbur.