Letters Home: Ivan Totten in France

From the September 5, 1918 Skidmore News, page 1:

From Ivan Totten.

The following letter was received by Mrs. W. A. Stoff, sister of Ivan Totten, who is now somewhere in France:

Somewhere in France, July 27.

Dear Folks at Home:

Your kind and most welcome letter reached me safely and I was sure glad to hear from you and to hear you were all well.  At this time I am feeling fine and am back to my organization.  I was at the hospital 42 days, and was treated fine all the while.  Tonight it is raining and so foggy you can hardly see.

I would like to tell you of all my experiences, but it would not go through I know.  We were gassed and shelled the other night, but Fritzie couldn’t get the exact range and it didn’t do a bit of harm.  The roar of the guns don’t bother us in the least way anymore unless it’s in 50 yards of us and then we have to make for the dugouts.  It is sure nice to sit and watch Fritzie shoot at our airplanes, he is only wasting his ammunition.

Our company is on guard tonight and I and four other fellows stayed out all afternoon in the rain to keep from going on.  I don’t mind it so bad when it’s nice, but oh! I  sure don’t like the rain.

No, sis I don’t know where Richards’ company is located, but if I find out I’ll write and tell you.  I received the papers and many thanks for having them forwarded on. Yes I have received about four letters from Helen since my arrival in France.  If you get a chance tell her to write often, as I don’t find much time to write, but always spend my spare time in writing.  I like France very much, but the dear old United States has it on them all.  You asked me about our captain.  His name is Louis.  We sure have a fine company.  When I got back from the hospital, I was too late to sign the pay role and I didn’t get any money.  Well I didn’t care very much, but about ten minutes afterward I had more money than anyone.  Charlie gave me 50 franks and my corporal gave me 30 and several others gave me 10 and 15 franks.  Probably you don’t understand francs.  Well it takes a little over 5 francs to make an American dollar.

We got an issue of 4 sacks of Bull Durham today and everybody’s happy.  We’re supposed to get 2 sacks every 5 days, but it was late this week, so they gave us two extra sacks.

I don’t think that your letters are censored; in fact I know they are not as they have never been opened.

So the wheel caught Ovie and Floyd both, well I don’t think they will ever see foreign service, as General Pershing says: “Hell, Heaven or Hoboken, New York for Xmas” and you know what he says is alright.

Well by the time you receive this letter we will have been in France four months.

If you cannot read this, don’t blame me as I’m lying on my back, besides I have no light except the flickering glow of an army candle.

Don’t worry about me as I am learning how to dodge bullets pretty well.

Your brother, Private Ivan R. Totten, Co. B. 140 U. S. Inf., A. E. F., Somewhere in France, No. 145-9959.