It’s About Time – Stories about Fair Haven and Sterling

    By on December 2, 2015
    • It’s About Time – Stories about Fair Haven and Sterling

    Susan Parsons – Fair Haven Village & Sterling Town Historian, Sterling Historical Society Secretary

    Letters Home

    World War I

    Through the words of our military in World War I, their letters home reveal their experiences, pleasures, dreams and reassurances to their families. Examples of these thoughts are brought to light in the following excerpts of letters from our area servicemen.

    Warner Dates longs for home in a letter to his mother:

    Those pictures you sent of the house and garden could not be better. I would not part with them for all of France. If it is not too much trouble I wish you would have a picture taken of the inside of the house, so that when I am not busy I can look at and see the comfortable place I had at home. If you do have one taken, I want it with you sitting in an easy chair knitting, so I can show the boys how you spend your spare moments. Have one also of dad out among his chickens. Well, I mustn’t leave out Sis for she’ll feel hurt; so have a picture taken of her out on the back porch frosting a cake.

    Kenneth Bradley expresses gratitude in a letter to his folks:

    I think we are getting pretty good rations considering the countries have been in war four years tomorrow.

    The YMCA and the Red Cross are the best friends the soldiers … have.

    I will be one of the happiest fellows who ever lived when this war is over. Just to sleep in a regular bed … You will never hear me kick about doing a little work around home.

    Leonard Lyon explains that he has no need for money to his mother and family:

    You said something in your last letter about sending some money, but that would be useless for there is no chance to use it here now, for the towns that are near here are nearly flat from the German shell fire.

    Through the words of our military in World War I, their letters home reveal their experiences, pleasures, dreams and reassurances to their families. Examples of these thoughts are brought to light in the following excerpts of letters from our area servicemen.

    John McElveney writes about a soldier’s life to his sister, Mrs. Charles Sant:

    Am back from the trenches for a change of clothes and a bath – haven’t washed my face or hands for three weeks … I have learned to dodge the shells pretty well and how to tell the gas when it comes.

    We captured a whole lot of German stores and I have learned to eat pumpernickel bread and cabbage.

    Charlie Stevenson comforts his mother after she was telegraphed that Charlie was missing in action:

    Undoubtedly you will know before you receive this letter that I have been “winged.” I was hit in the left leg by a shrapnel (sic) but not serious. I want you all to think you are well paid for what you have done for the Red Cross. They certainly do wonderful work.

    Kenneth Bradley finds comfort in small things in a letter to his family:

    I got a whole armful of Fair Haven Registers the first of the week and believe me nothing could have been given me that could have taken their place.

    In the field or trench or wherever you happen to be, and there are any shrapnels in the air, we take the little hats, put them in our pocket and put on our steel helmet. Now, don’t worry about me. I will come out all right.

    William Keefe is thankful for local news in a Letter to the Editor of the Fair Haven Register:

    Having been a citizen of the town of Sterling and a constant reader of your paper for several years I was very glad to receive a copy in my mail … It was only forty days old when I got it, but believe me, I enjoyed reading it after its travel of 10,000 miles [to Corregidor, Philippines].

    Louis Dudley comments on the subject of war to his Uncle George Adams:

    It is hard to realize that I am 1800 miles away from home. Our battery contains quite a few Southern fellows and I cannot help but think of the difference fifty years will make, for only as long ago as that we were fighting one another, and now we are firmly united against a common enemy.

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