441 North Park Drive, Morton, MN 56270 info@renvillecountyhistory.com 507.697.6147

Letter From Allen Wenz, Hector Mirror, 19 Sep 1918: Allen Wenz Says Uncle Sam Feeds the Boys Well, Praises Red Cross

Voiced by Amazon Polly
Allen G. Wenz
January 1, 1896 – October 7, 1918
Died Camp Grant of Spanish Influenza

Camp Grant, Ill., Sept. 8, 1918

My dear father,

Will take pleasure in answering your letter this morning, Sunday, as I am feeling somewhat better now from vaccination shot. My arm is somewhat swollen yet and it burns a little. I think I’ll stand it O.K. though. I’ll be glad to go through most anything in order to help lick Kaiser Bill, the beast of Berlin, or rather, the cruel beast of the world.

The boys here are playing baseball outside the barracks. They must be having a high old time the way it sounds.

Last night there was a Y.M.C.A. speaker out here by the barracks. He stood on the top of a box and gave the boys a little talk of clean soldier life. They all admitted what he said was all true.

We haven’t our uniforms yet, but they say the guys that came in the past week are receiving theirs right along. That can’t hardly be true but they say so. Well, I suppose they are going to organize a division here for us. If they do, I suppose we won’t get our suits until Oct. 1st. Then we’ll get our O.D’s for winter.

The boys all ran down stairs just now to get their Red Cross sweaters. Some of them had tags on, with the address of makers. Oh, say you know that tickles the boys. We also received raincoats one evening with double caped back. They sure are fine. Oh yes, Uncle Sam is pretty good to us lads all right. He feeds us good at the mess hall. We get fruit, spuds, beef, bacon, desserts, lemonade, cabbage and large loaves of bread, which reminds me of the good bread mother used to bake for me. We get several varieties of food, which I cannot mention all.

The boys are all playing cards up here in the barracks, for that’s the style of the army, you know. Well army life is pretty fair, but I suppose after we get our suits and guns once and get more drilling we’ll like it best of all. We will also get out as night guards then too.

I and another young man were fire guards in Latrine one night during hours between nine and twelve. Yesterday a.m. some of our Co. were out on drill fields and received a little training. It really was nothing but mere exercise, although it required quick thinking. We got about one and a half hours of that. In the afternoon I did my washing, for Saturday p.m. is laundry day in these barracks as a rule. Today, which is Sunday, I have to bring in my wash and iron. I have a false ironer, I use the palm of my hand. It works pretty good, but of course it isn’t a hot iron. This is camp life and we all make the best of it.

It certainly is a beautiful sunny day down here today. The days are generally fairly warm down here, but nights are somewhat cool, I don’t suppose they are as cool as they are up home now.

How is the corn coming, father? I hope it is getting nice and ripe without frost. I certainly would like to help pick it this fall if it gets good and ripe.

On the way down here we saw a few tobacco fields. They’ve started picking it already. We could see some lying in piles in fields and some hanging up against the barn wall. This is picked while grass green yet, the way it looked to me. I suppose they have to in order to keep the juice in it. Well that’s enough of that stuff because I don’t use it anyway.

We went around quite a trip coming down, which I didn’t expect. They took us through Winona, Minn., Milwaukee and Madison, Wis. Around Madison the corn was real short and nubby. Everything seemed to be dried up as the soil looked so dry. Down this way corn got to looking better, ears are long and stalks fairly large.

Think I’ll hurry along, as I must shave yet. We shave and bathe a few times a week, because the water system is so handy here.

Say father, if you have any of the nice large apples left yet, I wish you would send me some. I sure would feel fine on a feast of them. The other boys received fruit from home also.

I’m certainly glad you had the good luck of getting another cook for home, you can certainly feel thankful for the good luck, for it was God’s will.

Well the Dutch are getting it now. So I’m afraid they will turn the Kaiser with his family into the River Rhine before I have the chance to get there.

Don’t get homesick for me, father for I’ll be back when it is over “over there”. With love and best regards to you all, I remain Your loving son, Allen Wenz