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

Letter from Raymond Keefe Morton Enterprise October 4, 1918

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2nd Aviation Instruction Centre Tours France Aug. 23, 1918

Dear Folks,
We have been in this camp over nine months and last week was the first time the fellows here got away. Was disappointed in not being able to go to Sheehan (of Chicago) and I are elected to make all the noise in the barracks and are capable of it. That is a long session without a vacation. Had a bon ride yesterday when the Inspector general was here. Mechanics (a few) are lucky and get rides when they do formation flying. Is quite a trial now because we have some real business. Pershing was here again three weeks ago. Looks the same as usual. Quentin Roosevelt was here for awhile last winter. Fellows all liked him, because he was a sort of ‘rough and ready’ and jolly good fellow. Guess I told you of Squire’s death some time ago. He was the only fellow that I have seen that I knew before coming in here. Had a short letter from Burt Zumwinkle some time ago. He is still at the same place.
You asked what we eat. Before I start, can say it’s not very much, but hope for a change first of September. Breakfast-bacon, hand grenades (doughnuts) and coffee (without milk or sugar). Dinner-a very small variety of submarine chickens or goldfish (salmon) large bitter red beans, slum bullion (indescribable) Hungarian goulash, (worse than the slum) rice, tomato slum, cold tea. Supper is encore ze slum. Of course we have some bread at all meals and it is very good. All are living tho and in best of health.
Sept. 2-Will try and finish this today as lights went out the other night and did not make any headway. Fellows returned from furlough and saw Art Galle. Gave me his address and guess he has been doing what you said. Sure transport work is still in aviation. Have taken no rest, as yet, but am in hopes of going some place, preferably London or Paris in hopes of meeting Tor or Andrew. Saw the casualty like Gene Bigelow’s name as “killed”. Thot it the same one that used to be at home.
Guess I wrote you before of how we were entertained July 4 by the Monsieur and Madame here. They invited 6 of us fellows to their home to spend the evening. You wanted to know how we “get by” when we go calling. Gee, it’s hard work sometimes. When you give them “the mitt” (and it happen to be evening) and “Bon Soir”, don’t be surprised if they speak a few words of English and say Good morning or Good-bye. Don’t get sore and start to leave. Just a little error is all. “Pull” a little broken French and get by as long as you can. When it comes at you without a bit of meaning, just say, “Wee” or shrug your shoulders or do a little gesticulating (something in the order of a Jew running a clothing store on Washington Avenue). Did I tell you of my visit down the river some time ago? A bon pilot who has since been sent to Italy and I went quite a distance before we found a town to our liking, landed and looked it over. Dropped into a family hotel and as it was real hot, ate out in the shade with others. You have to hand it to these people when it comes to friendliness and hospitality. They don’t compare the American lingo very fast tho.
Your Son, Raymond