In 1918, my grandfather shipped overseas as a doughboy in World War I. From France he wrote a brief letter to Mr. Warren, his former employer at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, requesting that all back pay be sent to his mother, my great grandmother. The note is pinned — literally — to a typed letter granting power of attorney to my great grandfather to have the money transferred.
Besides the straight pin, I love so many details of this note:
- That it’s written on a YMCA notepad
- That British has been crossed out and replaced with American to read “With the American Expeditionary Force”
- That the current address is “Somewhere in France” (sarcasm, humor?)
- That the fine print at the bottom reads,”To conserve paper, please write on the other side if required,” (which reminds me of another World War I letter)
- That he made fancy curlicues on the letters “C” and “E”
- And finally, that he wrote the letter 96 years ago today
Of course, the most curious fact is that my family still has the note. Did it prove unnecessary to mail or was it sent to my great grandparents to hand carry to Mr. Warren? I’ll never know the backstory, but I’m glad someone saved it, pin and all.