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"Journey into the Whirlwind"
by Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzburg

"The Wind in the Willows"
by Kenneth Grahame

"The Kite Runner"
by Khaled Hosseini

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Armistice Day

It was Armistice Day then. We would stand for a minute in silence, trying to think about the men who had fought for our country. We went to a church that believed in pacifism so we didn’t know too many people who had fought. There was Uncle Jack who had been in France and Uncle Paul and Uncle Gus and Daddy, of course. But they hadn’t fought. Daddy was classified as a non-combatant. He was in Fort Lewis, Washington running a steam engine during the first World War, and, of course, that was long before we were born.

Years later when I was putting together the letters that Mom and Daddy had written to each other before they were married, we had a glimpse of their feelings and thoughts, especially Daddy’s. They wrote about the Spanish influenza and the large number of people that were dying. Aunt Bert, Aunt Eva, Uncle Paul and Uncle Gus all had the flu but they all recovered. Daddy wrote about the struggle he was having about volunteering to go and fight or continuing as a non-combatant. He wrote about the good times they had and the bad.

On November 7, 1918, Daddy wrote:

Well, the way things look this evening, it is all over. Germany signed the peace Armistice. Peace – it sounds too good to be true. I am not going to believe it yet ‘till I hear more about it. The camp here is alive this evening – shooting skyrockets and guys are talking of getting the cannons out and having a regular old celebration. Tacoma was crazy all afternoon already. Everything was closed up. They say streets were so crowded that it was almost impossible to get thru.
Well, I hope it’s over with for good. Wouldn’t this be a joy all over the world? There’ll be some happy bunch going home. I think though that we’d have to stay a while yet ‘till everything is real quiet and things straighten up a little. Some of us might have to go across yet and help in France. I wish I’d be one of the lucky ones to be sent home before very long.

On Friday, November 8, Daddy wrote:

Here I am again. Had a good sleep and am ready for work again. Well, I guess Peace only lasted over night. This morning the papers state that they are still fighting. There were no cannons taken out last night. It was just talk but the fireworks were kept up for about an hour and a half. It sure was nice.

On November 14, 1918 Mom wrote to Daddy:

So they have been celebrating there too, on account of Peace! That is what they have been doing in some of these towns here. Wonder if it true or not. Hope so as this war is sure awful.

On November 20, 1918 Daddy wrote to Mom :

I am sure glad that at last the war is over, which we all hoped for and a chance for us to get home sometime, even if it should take months yet.

It did take months, at least until the end of May. My mother had gone to her homestead in northern Montana and was working her farm there. Daddy went to his homestead too and of course they saw each other. There was a sweet innocence about their letters and their personalities came through. Mom was careful and contained. Daddy was more emotional and expressive. Their letters, until the very end started with the words, “Dear Clara” or “Dear Frank.” However, the very last letter from my father to my mother, dated August 23, 1919, begins “My darling Clara,” and ends “I am forever, Your Frank.”

They were married August 31, 1919. They had been married 40 years when he died in 1959.

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