Letters Home: Lieutenant Pierpoint, 1918

The Skidmore News sent copies of the paper to all the town’s servicemen during World War I, and it faithfully published the letters they sent in return. This one is from the May 2, 1918 edition, page 1:

A Letter from Lieutenant Pierpoint.

Mr. H. W. Montgomery and Others: —

You must realize at once that I am not going to be able to write to all the people who probably think I should write to them.

Have just returned from Sunday lunch and will write you a few lines while I enjoy a Victoria Gloria cigar, one of a box which I received from Mc. yesterday. I have a chance to smoke a little before breakfast, at lunch time and again after dinner, and, by the way, all day Sunday.

We had for lunch today, baked chicken, dressing, corn salad, potatoes, sliced tomatoes, head cabbage, biscuits, peach pie, oranges, bananas, coffee, etc., so you see the mess is fine. It costs us $1.00 per day. Have paid more than a dollar for the above meal many a time.

I want you to tell, for me, a lot of those fellows, that if they think Teddy can get up more speed to this army training than Prof. Wilson has instilled into it, to come down and follow old Doc Pierpoint for one day, and then if they decide in favor of Teddy, I will buy them a new pair of trousers, for they will need them. Is that plain?

There is coming into the medical camp, from seven to fifteen M.D.s a day, and about that number shipped out for the front. Last summer, they gave these men from 15 to 20 weeks training; now we are getting from 8 to 12.

Passed my physical examination Friday, and it seemed to look fairly good to them. The old major who took my chest expansion called out “six inches and 48 years old” “the best I have had for several days.” That made me feel fit.

But this army regulations, medical duties, manual equipment, and the Lord knows how much other stuff, sure looked appalling for one man to master. Yet the last day or two it has begun to unfold. Hope to be able to master it; most of them seem to. As a rule, they are a fine looking bunch of men and most of them are taking this thing to heart from a patriotic standpoint. Everybody is working hard and making the best of it. Will say that nine tenths of them have made business and professional sacrifices. And most every man talks, more or less, about the “kiddies” at home. It looks like the M.D.s are making some sacrifice, not bragging.

The instructors are a fine bunch of fellows, but they are hard on our trail to master all this red tape. Of course to the ordinary civilian red tape looks foolish, but let him come in here and try to run it without and he would be on the rocks in a very short time.

I have sure changed my mind about a lot of things along that line and you would too if you could only see and understand it.

Saw “Windy” Hopkins yesterday evening. Fred Smith and Tom Hickerson look fine. The boys have been up to see me several times.

Kansas had a good show last week and a downpour of rain yesterday.

Most of the wheat in this section looks good as I saw on my way out.

Am getting the News and I presume I read every line in it. The first time I was ever guilty of doing that. I never realized before what a good paper Skidmore has. Tell Billy not to lock up the shop until after I get back from France.

Homesickness has not bothered me like it has a great many of the men here but I pride myself a great deal on self control. Yet as I drove out through Highland View that afternoon a great panorama, covering events for 19 years opened up before me, such a one as might come before one entering the endless future. I thought of sadness and troubles, and then of joys and pleasures, of the many kindnesses of numerous friends, and then I went into the future, of my duty to my country, my family, and my numerous friends, and the determination of doing my “bit” as I saw it. At the end of the first mile, I was steeled with that determination.

It requires the work of five people to keep one man at the front, so don’t let the people drag. They must do their “bit.”

When a new doctor comes in they ask him what he did with his Ford, or what the number of it was, and if he should be a little large around the belt, they proceed to yell out, “You will never get rich you fat son-of-a-gun, working in the army.” There are numerous other jabs, just what any of them happen to think of, and you take it, or do worse. The new man gets his revenge the next day.

Write a line, when you can spare the time.

Kindly,
J. E. P.