Letters Home: Everett Linville, November 1918

The December 5, 1918 Skidmore News printed this letter from a Skidmore soldier boy.  It is part restaurant review, part travelogue, and part cautious optimism.

From Everett Linville

Camp Mead, Md., Nov. 28, 1918
Dear Folks:

Thanksgiving dinner has only been over a few minutes and as I have nothing else to do at present I will write you a little at least.  Our day is not as nice as we have been having it has been drizzling rain most all morning but looks like it would quit before long, as the clouds are getting higher.

I expect you are wondering what kind of a dinner we had in camp well I never did eat any more I don’t believe so you know what that means.  To begin with, we had turkey all we wanted, and I sure had three fine pieces of breast, the choice of the turkey, and besides we had dressing, cranberry sauce, corn peas, bread and butter, pumpkin pie, a banana and a bunch of white grapes and I came near forgetting the mashed potatoes, and a boy here in the office received some things from home this morning so that added chopped pickles and watermelon preserves.  We had coffee and hard cider to drink.  The boys ate enough to kill themselves, and myself included, but we are all soldiers so it won’t hurt us one bit.  The mess hall was decorated with evergreen and holly so it was a swell looking place, that is for a mess hall.  At least a third of the boys are away on Thanksgiving pass so we did not have a very big crowd, as there are only about 100 men eat in our mess hall when they are all here.  I forgot to say that after dinner was over, cigars were passed, that did not do me any good, but I took one and gave it to the boy that gave me the pickle, etc.

It is real quiet around the office today as part of the officers are away, and headquarters of this cantonment are closed.  I don’t remember whether I have written you since I was at Washington or not, but rather think I haven’t.  I had quite a trip and as usual nearly walked my legs off.  I was surprised at the country from here to the city as it is mostly timber land with part of it cleared but it is not very thickly settled.  I saw where they had been farming some and saw corn in the shock that looked real good and was about as high as our corn is at home.  The city of Washington shows that it has been built a long time just like all the other cities in the east, and I noticed the difference a great deal, between the cities of the east and west.  All the streets seem to lead into the Capitol building and are crossed by other streets running on the main four directions so it leaves the block cut up considerable.  It was hard to get around in for me, for I was turned around, and the first time since I left home.  I took in as much of the city as I could.  You probably remember the pictures in the National Geographic about a year or two ago of the city, well I saw most all of those scenes including the Washington monument which stands out above everything else in the city.  It is 550 feet high and inside of it is an elevator and stairway to the top, but the elevator was out of commission so I walked to the top which is about 950 steps.  It took me 45 minutes to make the trip, but there was a fine view from the top, as I could see all over the city and considerable country on the Virginia side of the Patomac as the monument is only about one-half mile from that river.

I was through Arlington cemetery where so many soldiers are buried, and it looks just like pictures I have seen of it, and especially one that was taken in the fall of the year and must have been about the same time as this for the grounds were all covered with brown leaves through which the white grave markers shown very plainly and were in rows any direction you looked.  I also saw at a distance a mast of the Battleship Maine which is also in the cemetery.  We passed by the place where the President delivers his Declaration Day address, and they are just completing a new place that will be used for that purpose.  We were within a quarter of a mile of the Arlington wireless towers one of which is 650 feet high and the other two, 580 feet but they did not look that high to me.  I saw many historic places, a few for instance were the place Geo. Washington had for his office and headquarters while he and a Frenchman were planning the city, this was in Georgetown which in fact is a part of Washington its self now and on the same side of the river, and in this city was also pointed out where Francis Scott Key lived, also the writer of Home Sweet Home, another place here was the home of Sec. of War, Baker.  We passed through Fort Meyer which adjoins Arlington cemetery and in the Fort is the residence of Gen. March, Chief of Staff and the only general in the army on this side of the ocean.

In Washington its self I saw where Henry Clay died, or that is the hotel and it is a typical southern one.  Drove by the theatre also the building where Lincoln was shot and died.  Passed by the MacAdoo’s home and many of the foreign embassies, including the one in which the German ambassador, Bernstoff lived in before the war.  Many of the homes in the residence district join each other and have only a small yard.  I also saw several homes of millionaires.  We passed through Rock Creek park, in which they have nearly every animal you could think of and the grounds are kept up so well although the place is very hilly.  I passed by the White House, but did not get to see the president.  Above the main part of the building is the American flag and I am told that when he was at home or in the city that the flag was at the top of the pole but was taken down when he left town and remained so until he came back.

Has Nellie heard from Albert since the Armistice was signed?  I bet he as well as all the other boys were awful glad.  I have forgotten which division Albert was in and Clyde Collins too.  I see different divisions mentioned in the paper but don’t know which is theirs.  I do not suppose there will be a great many sent home before the peace terms are signed, and suppose it will be quite a while before they get home but they know they are coming anyway.  I do not know when we will be mustered out.  Orders might come any day and again it might be two months.  We are getting the paper work as much in shape for the finishing up as it is possible to do although there are a few forms that we have been unable to get, that will have to be filled out.  Don’t look for me too soon, for it will be quite a little while at the best.  I received the Skidmore paper Tuesday and that is all the mail I have received since Monday when I got four lettes, one of which had come on Sunday while I was away, but the mail has not been brought up today so maybe I’ll have one.  We have only one mail today as it is a holiday, while ordinarily we have three.

This is a peaceful palce, but two of the men in here just put on their revolvers and belt and left, but it is nothing uncommon in camp to see a man with side arms, and the military police in the city are always heavily armed, and are there to look after the soldiers.