THE REAL DOPE,
RING W. LARDNER
GULLIBLE'S TRAVELS, MY FOUR WEEKS IN FRANCE, TREAT 'EM ROUGH, ETC.
MAY WILSON PRESTON
M. L. BLUMENTHAL
AND MANY A STORMY WIND SHALL BLOW
On the Ship Board, Jan. 15.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I suppose it is kind of foolish to be writeing you a letter now when they won't be no chance to mail it till we get across the old pond but still and all a man has got to do something to keep themself busy and I know you will be glad to hear all about our trip so I might as well write you a letter when ever I get a chance and I can mail them to you all at once when we get across the old pond and you will think I have wrote a book or something.
Jokeing a side Al you are lucky to have an old pal thats going to see all the fun and write to you about it because its a different thing haveing a person write to you about what they see themself then getting the dope out of a newspaper or something because you will know that what I tell you is the real dope that I seen myself where if you read it in a newspaper you know its guest work because in the 1st. place they don't leave the reporters get nowheres near the front and besides that they wouldn't go there if they had a leave because they would be to scared like the baseball reporters that sets a mile from the game because they haven't got the nerve to get down on the field where a man could take a punch at them and even when they are a mile away with a screen in front of them they duck when somebody hits a pop foul.
Well Al it is against the rules to tell you when we left the old U. S. or where we come away from because the pro German spy might get a hold of a man's letter some way and then it would be good night because he would send a telegram to where the submarines is located at and they wouldn't send no 1 or 2 submarines after us but the whole German navy would get after us because they would figure that if they ever got us it would be a rich hall. When I say that Al I don't mean it to sound like I was swell headed or something and I don't mean it would be a rich hall because I am on board or nothing like that but you would know what I am getting at if you seen the bunch we are takeing across.
In the 1st. place Al this is a different kind of a trip then the time I went around the world with the 2 ball clubs because then it was just the 1 boat load and only for two or 3 of the boys on board it wouldn't of made no difference if the boat had of turned a turtle only to pave the whole bottom of the ocean with ivory. But this time Al we have got not only 1 boat load but we got four boat loads of soldiers alone and that is not all we have got. All together Al there is 10 boats in the parade and 6 of them is what they call the convoys and that means war ships that goes along to see that we get there safe on acct. of the submarines and four of them is what they call destroyers and they are little bits of shafers but they say they can go like he—ll when they get started and when a submarine pops up these little birds chases right after them and drops a death bomb on to them and if it ever hits them the capt. of the submarine can pick up what is left of his boat and stick a 2 cent stamp on it and mail it to the kaiser.
Jokeing a side I guess they's no chance of a submarine getting fat off of us as long as these little birds is on watch so I don't see why a man shouldn't come right out and say when we left and from where we come from but if they didn't have some kind of rules they's a lot of guys that wouldn't know no better then write to Van Hinburg or somebody and tell them all they know but I guess at that they could use a post card.
Well Al we been at sea just two days and a lot of the boys has gave up the ghost all ready and pretty near everything else but I haven't felt the least bit sick that is sea sick but I will own up I felt a little home sick just as we come out of the harbor and seen the godess of liberty standing up there maybe for the last time but don't think for a minute Al that I am sorry I come and I only wish we was over there all ready and could get in to it and the only kick I got comeing so far is that we haven't got no further then we are now on acct. that we didn't do nothing the 1st. day only stall around like we was waiting for Connie Mack to waggle his score card or something.
But we will get there some time and when we do you can bet we will show them something and I am tickled to death I am going and if I lay down my life I will feel like it wasn't throwed away for nothing like you would die of tyford fever or something.
Well I would of liked to of had Florrie and little Al come east and see me off but Florrie felt like she couldn't afford to spend the money to make another long trip after making one long trip down to Texas and besides we wasn't even supposed to tell our family where we was going to sail from but I notice they was a lot of women folks right down to the dock to bid us good by and I suppose they just guessed what was comeing off eh Al? Or maybe they was all strangers that just happened to be there but I'll say I never seen so much kissing between strangers. Any way I and my family had our farewells out west and Florrie was got up like a fancy dress ball and I suppose if I die where she can tend the funeral she will come in pink tights or something.
Well Al I better not keep on talking about Florrie and little Al or I will do the baby act and any way its pretty near time for chow but I suppose you will wonder what am I talking about when I say chow. Well Al that's the name we boys got up down to Camp Grant for stuff to eat and when we talk about food instead of saying food we say chow so that's what I am getting at when I say its pretty near time for chow.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 17.
FRIEND AL: Well Al here we are out somewheres in the middle of the old pond and I wished the trip was over not because I have been sea sick or anything but I can't hardly wait to get over there and get in to it and besides they got us jammed in like a sardine or something and four of us in 1 state room and I don't mind doubleing up with some good pal but a man can't get no rest when they's four trying to sleep in a room that wouldn't be big enough for Nemo Liebold but I wouldn't make no holler at that if they had of left us pick our own roomys but out of the four of us they's one that looks like he must of bribed the jury or he wouldn't be here and his name is Smith and another one's name is Sam Hall and he has always got a grouch on and the other boy is O. K. only I would like him a whole lot better if he was about 1/2 his size but no he is as big as me only not put up like I am. His name is Lee and he pulls a lot of funny stuff like this A. M. he says they must of thought us four was a male quartette and they stuck us all in together so as we could get some close harmony. That's what they call it when they hit them minors.
Well Al I always been use to sleeping with my feet in bed with me but you can't do that in the bunk I have got because your knee would crack you in the jaw and knock you out and even if they was room to strech Hall keeps crabbing till you can't rest and he keeps the room filled up with cigarette smoke and no air and you can't open up the port hole or you would freeze to death so about the only chance I get to sleep is up in the parlor in a chair in the day time and you don't no sooner set down when they got a life boat drill or something and for some reason another they have a role call every day and that means everybody has got to answer to their name to see if we are all on board just as if they was any other place to go.
When they give the signal for a life boat drill everybody has got to stick their life belt on and go to the boat where they have been given the number of it and even when everybody knows its a fake you got to show up just the same and yesterday they was one bird thats supposed to go in our life boat and he was sea sick and he didn't show up so they went after him and one of the officers told him that wasn't no excuse and what would he do if he was sea sick and the ship was realy sinking and he says he thought it was realy sinking ever since we started.
Well Al we got some crowd on the boat and they's two French officers along with us that been giveing drills and etc. in one of the camps in the U. S. and navy officers and gunners and a man would almost wish something would happen because I bet we would put up some battle.
Lee just come in and asked me who was I writeing to and I told him and he says I better be careful to not write nothing against anybody on the trip just as if I would. But any way I asked him why not and he says because all the mail would be opened and read by the censor so I said "Yes but he won't see this because I won't mail it till we get across the old pond and then I will mail all my letters at once."
So he said a man can't do it that way because just before we hit land the censor will take all our mail off of us and read it and cut out whatever he don't like and then mail it himself. So I didn't know we had a censor along with us but Lee says we certainly have got one and he is up in the front ship and they call that the censor ship on acct. of him being on there.
Well Al I don't care what he reads and what he don't read because I am not the kind that spill anything about the trip that would hurt anybody or get them in bad. So he is welcome to read anything I write you might say.
This front ship is the slowest one of the whole four and how is that for fine judgment Al to put the slowest one ahead and this ship we are on is the fastest and they keep us behind instead of leaving us go up ahead and set the pace for them and no wonder we never get nowheres. Of course that ain't the censor's fault but if the old U. S. is in such a hurry to get men across the pond I should think they would use some judgment and its just like as if Hughey Jennings would stick Oscar Stanage or somebody ahead of Cobb in the batting order so as Cobb couldn't make to many bases on a hit.
Well Al I will have to cut it out for now because its pretty near time for chow and that's the name we got up out to Camp Grant for meals and now everybody in the army when they talk about food they call it chow.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 19.
FRIEND AL: Well Al they have got a new nickname for me and now they call me Jack Tar and Bob Lee got it up and I will tell you how it come off. Last night was one rough bird and I guess pretty near everybody on the boat were sick and Lee says to me how was it that I stood the rough weather so good and it didn't seem to effect me so I says it was probably on acct. of me going around the world that time with the two ball clubs and I was right at home on the water so he says "I guess we better call you Jack Tar."
So that's how they come to call me Jack Tar and its a name they got for old sailors that's been all their life on the water. So on acct. of my name being Jack it fits in pretty good.
Well a man can't help from feeling sorry for the boys that have not been across the old pond before and can't stand a little rough spell but it makes a man kind of proud to think the rough weather don't effect you when pretty near everybody else feels like a churn or something the minute a drop of water splashes vs. the side of the boat but still a man can't hardly help from laughing when they look at them.
Lee says he would of thought I would of enlisted in the navy on acct. of being such a good sailor. Well I would of Al if I had knew they needed men and I told Lee so and he said he thought the U. S. made a big mistake keeping it a secret that they did need men in the navy till all the good ones enlisted in the draft and then of course the navy had to take what they could get.
Well I guess I all ready told you that one of the boys in our room is named Freddie Smith and he don't never say a word and I thought at 1st. it was because he was a kind of a bum like Hall that didn't know nothing and that's why he didn't say it but it seems the reason he don't talk more is because he can't talk English very good but he is a Frenchman and he was a waiter in the big French resturent in Milwaukee and now what do you think Al he is going to learn Lee and I French lessons and Lee fixed it up with him. We want to learn how to talk a little so when we get there we can make ourself understood and you remember I started studing French out to Camp Grant but the man down there didn't know nothing about what he was talking about so I walked out on him but this bird won't try and learn us grammer or how you spell it or nothing like that but just a few words so as we can order drinks and meals and etc. when we get a leave off some time. Tonight we are going to have our 1st. lesson and with a man like he to learn us we ought to pick it up quick.
Well old pal I will wind up for this time as I don't feel very good on acct. of something I eat this noon and its a wonder a man can keep up at all where they got you in a stateroom jammed in like a sardine or something and Hall smokeing all the while like he was a freight engine pulling a freight train up grade or something.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 20.
FRIEND AL: Just a line Al because I don't feel like writeing as I was taken sick last night from something I eat and who wouldn't be sick jammed in a room like a sardine.
I had a kind of a run in with Hall because he tried to kid me about being sick with some of his funny stuff but I told him where to head in. He started out by saying to Lee that Jack Tar looked like somebody had knocked the tar out of him and after a while he says "What's the matter with the old salt tonight he don't seem to have no pepper with him." So I told him to shut up.
Well we didn't have no French lesson on acct. of me being taken sick but we are going to have a lesson tonight and pretty soon I am going up and try and eat something and I hope they don't try and hand me no more of that canned beans or whatever it was that effected me and if Uncle Sam wants his boys to go over there and put up a battle he shouldn't try and poison them first.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 21.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I was talking to one of the sailors named Doran to-day and he says in a day or 2 more we would be right in the danger zone where all the subs hangs out and then would come the fun and we would probably all have to keep our clothes on all night and keep our life belts on and I asked him if they was much danger with all them convoys guarding us and he says the subs might fire a periscope right between two of the convoys and hit our ship and maybe the convoys might get them afterwards but then it would be to late.
He said the last time he come over with troops they was two subs got after this ship and they shot two periscopes at this ship and just missed it and they seem to be laying for this ship because its one of the biggest and fastest the U. S. has got.
Well I told Doran it wouldn't bother me to keep my clothes on all night because I all ready been keeping them on all night because when you have got a state room like ours they's only one place where they's room for a man's clothes and that's on you.
Well old pal they's a whole lot of difference between learning something from somebody that knows what they are talking about and visa versa. I and Lee and Smith got together in the room last night and we wasn't at it more than an hour but I learned more then all the time I took lessons from that 4 flusher out to Camp Grant because Smith don't waist no time with a lot of junk about grammer but I or Lee would ask him what was the French for so and so and he would tell us and we would write it down and say it over till we had it down pat and I bet we could pretty near order a meal now without no help from some of these smart alex that claims they can talk all the languages in the world.
In the 1st. place they's a whole lot of words in French that they's no difference you might say between them from the way we say it like beef steak and beer because Lee asked him if suppose we went in somewheres and wanted a steak and bread and butter and beer and the French for and is und so we would say beef steak und brot mit butter schmieren und bier and that's all they is to it and I can say that without looking at the paper where we wrote it down and you can see I have got that much learned all ready so I wouldn't starve and when you want to call a waiter you call him kellner so you see I could go in a place in Paris and call a waiter and get everything I wanted. Well Al I bet nobody ever learned that much in I hour off that bird out to Camp Grant and I'll say its some speed.
We are going to have another lesson tonight but Lee says we don't want to try and learn to, much at once or we will forget what we all ready learned and they's a good deal to that Al.
Well Al its time for chow again so lebe wohl and that's the same like good by in French.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 22.
FRIEND AL: Well Al we are in what they call the danger zone and they's some excitement these days and at night to because they don't many of the boys go to sleep nights and they go to their rooms and pretend like they are going to sleep but I bet you wouldn't need no alarm clock to make them jump out of bed.
Most of the boys stays out on deck most of the time and I been staying out there myself most all day today not because I am scared of anything because I always figure if its going to happen its going to happen but I stay out because it ain't near as cold as it was and besides if something is comeing off I don't want to miss it. Besides maybe I could help out some way if something did happen.
Last night we was all out on deck in the dark talking about this and that and one of the boys I was standing along side of him made the remark that we had been out nine days and he didn't see no France yet or no signs of getting there so I said no wonder when we had such a he—ll of a censor ship and some other guy heard me say it so he said I better not talk like that but I didn't mean it like that but only how slow it was.
Well we are getting along O. K. with the French lessons and Bob Lee told me last night that he run across one of the two French officers that's on the ship and he thought he would try some of his French on him so he said something about it being a nice day in French and the Frenchman was tickled to death and smiled and bowed at him and I guess I will try it out on them the next time I see them.
Well Al that shows we been learning something when the Frenchmans themself know what we are talking about and I and Lee will have the laugh on the rest of the boys when we get there that is if we do get there but for some reason another I have got a hunch that we won't never see France and I can't explain why but once in a while a man gets a hunch and a lot of times they are generally always right.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 23.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I was just out on deck with Lee and Sargent Bishop and Bishop is a sargent in our Co. and he said he had just came from Capt. Seeley and Capt. Seeley told him to tell all the N. C. O. officers like sargents and corporals that if a sub got us we was to leave the privates get into the boats first before we got in and we wasn't to get into our boats till all the privates was safe in the boats because we would probably be cooler and not get all excited like the privates. So you see Al if something does happen us birds will have to take things in hand you might say and we will have to stick on the job and not think about ourselfs till everybody else is taken care of.
Well Lee said that Doran one of the sailors told him something on the quiet that didn't never get into the newspapers and that was about one of the trips that come off in December and it seems like a whole fleet of subs got on to it that some transports was comeing so they layed for them and they shot a periscope at one of the transports and hit it square in the middle and it begun to sink right away and it looked like they wouldn't nobody get into the boats but the sargents and corporals was as cool as if nothing was comeing off and they quieted the soldiers down and finely got them into the boats and the N. C. O. officers was so cool and done so well that when Gen. Pershing heard about it he made this rule about the N. C. O. officer always waiting till the last so they could kind of handle things. But Doran also told Lee that they was some men sunk with the ship and they was all N. C. O. officers except one sailor and of course the ship sunk so quick that some of the corporals and sargents didn't have no time to get off on acct. of haveing to wait till the last. So you see that when you read the newspapers you don't get all the dope because they don't tell the reporters only what they feel like telling them.
Well Al I guess I told you all ready about me haveing this hunch that I wouldn't never see France and I guess it looks now more then ever like my hunch was right because if we get hit I will have to kind of look out for the boys that's in my boat and not think about myself till everybody else is O. K. and Doran says if this ship ever does get hit it will sink quick because its so big and heavy and of course the heavier a ship is it will sink all the sooner and Doran says he knows they are laying for us because he has made five trips over and back on this ship and he never was on a trip when a sub didn't get after them.
Well I will close for this time because I am not feeling very good Al and it isn't nothing I eat or like that but its just I feel kind of faint like I use to sometimes when I would pitch a tough game in St. Louis when it was hot or something.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 23.
FRIEND AL: Well I all ready wrote you one letter today but I kind of feel like I better write to you again because any minute we are libel to hear a bang against the side of the boat and you know what that means and I have got a hunch that I won't never get off of the ship alive but will go down with her because I wouldn't never leave the ship as long as they was anybody left on her rules or no rules but I would stay and help out till every man was off and then of course it would be to late but any way I would go down feeling like I had done my duty. Well Al when a man has got a hunch like that he would be a sucker to not pay no tension to it and that is why I am writeing to you again because I got some things I want to say before the end.
Now old pal I know that Florrie hasn't never warmed up towards you and Bertha and wouldn't never go down to Bedford with me and pay you a visit and every time I ever give her a hint that I would like to have you and Bertha come up and see us she always had some excuse that she was going to be busy or this and that and of course I knew she was trying to alibi herself and the truth was she always felt like Bertha and her wouldn't have nothing in common you might say because Florrie has always been a swell dresser and cared a whole lot about how she looked and some way she felt like Bertha wouldn't feel comfortable around where she was at and maybe she was right but we can forget all that now Al and I can say one thing Al she never said nothing reflecting on you yourself in any way because I wouldn't of stood for it but instead of that when I showed her that picture of you and Bertha in your wedding suit she made the remark that you looked like one of the honest homely kind of people that their friends could always depend on them. Well Al when she said that she hit the nail on the head and I always knew you was the one pal who I could depend on and I am depending on you now and I know that if I am laying down at the bottom of the ocean tonight you will see that my wishs in this letter is carried out to the letter.
What I want to say is about Florrie and little Al. Now don't think Al that I am going to ask you for financial assistants because I would know better then that and besides we don't need it on acct. of me having $10000 dollars soldier insurence in Florrie's name as the benefitter and the way she is coining money in that beauty parlor she won't need to touch my insurence but save it for little Al for a rainy day only I suppose that the minute she gets her hands on it she will blow it for widows weeds and I bet they will be some weeds Al and everybody will think they are flowers instead of weeds.
But what I am getting at is that she won't need no money because with what I leave her and what she can make she has got enough and more then enough but I often say that money isn't the only thing in this world and they's a whole lot of things pretty near as good and one of them is kindness and what I am asking from you and Bertha is to drop in on her once in a while up in Chi and pay her a visit and I have all ready wrote her a letter telling her to ask you but even if she don't ask you go and see her any way and see how she is getting along and if she is takeing good care of the kid or leaving him with the Swede nurse all the while.
Between you and I Al what I am scared of most is that Florrie's mind will be effected if anything happens to me and without knowing what she was doing she would probably take the first man that asked her and believe me she is not the kind that would have to wait around on no st. corner to catch somebody's eye but they would follow her around and nag at her till she married them and I would feel like he—ll over it because Florrie is the kind of a girl that has got to be handled right and not only that but what would become of little Al with some horse Dr. for a father in law and probably this bird would treat him like a dog and beat him up either that or make a sissy out of him.
Well Al old pal I know you will do like I ask and go and see her and maybe you better go alone but if you do take Bertha along I guess it would be better and not let Bertha say nothing to her because Florrie is the kind that flare up easy and specially when they think they are a little better then somebody. But if you could just drop her a hint and say that she should ought to be proud to be a widow to a husband that died for Uncle Sam and she ought to live for my memory and for little Al and try and make him as much like I as possible I believe it would make her think and any way I want you to do it for me old pal.
Well good by old pal and I wished I could leave some thing to you and Bertha and believe me I would if I had ever known this was comeing off this way though of course I figured right along that I wouldn't last long in France because what chance has a corporal got? But I figured I would make some arrangements for a little present for you and Bertha as soon as I got to France but of course it looks now like I wouldn't never get there and all the money I have got is tied up so its to late to think of that and all as I can say is good luck to you and Bertha and everybody in Bedford and I hope they will be proud of me and remember I done my best and I often say what more can a man do then that?
Well Al I will say good by again and good luck and now have got to quit and go to chow.
Your pal to the last, JACK KEEFE.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 24.
FRIEND AL: Well this has been some day and wait till you hear about it and hear what come off and some of the birds on this ship took me for a sucker and tried to make a rummy out of me but I was wise to their game and I guess the shoe is on the other foot this time.
Well it was early this A. M. and I couldn't sleep and I was up on deck and along come one of them French officers that's been on board all the way over. Well I thought I would try myself out on him like Lee said he done so I give him a salute and I said to him "Schones tag nicht wahr." Like you would say its a beautiful day only I thought I was saying it in French but wait till you hear about it Al.
Well Al they ain't nobody in the world fast enough to of caught what he said back to me and I won't never know what he said but I won't never forget how he looked at me and when I took one look at him I seen we wasn't going to get along very good so I turned around and started up the deck. Well he must of flagged the first man he seen and sent him after me and it was a 2d. lieut. and he come running up to me and stopped me and asked me what was my name and what Co. and etc. and at first I was going to stall and then I thought I better not so I told him who I was and he left me go.
Well I didn't know then what was comeing off so I just layed low and I didn't have to wait around long and all of a sudden a bird from the Colonel's staff found me in the parlor and says I was wanted right away and when I got to this room there was the Col. and the two Frenchmans and my captain Capt. Seeley and a couple others so I saluted and I can't tell you exactly what come off because I can't remember all what the Colonel said but it was something like this.
In the first place he says "Corporal Keefe they's some little matters that you have got to explain and we was going to pass them up first on the grounds that Capt. Seeley said you probably didn't know no better but this thing that come off this A. M. can't be explained by ignorants."
So then he says "It was reported that you was standing on deck the night before last and you made the remark that we had a he—ll of a censor ship." And he says "What did you mean by that?"
So you see Al this smart alex of a Lee had told me they called the first ship the censor ship and I believed him at first because I was thinking about something else or of course I never would of believed him because the censor ship isn't no ship like this kind of a ship but means something else. So I explained about that and I seen Capt. Seeley kind of crack a smile so then I knew I was O. K.
So then he pulled it on me about speaking to Capt. Somebody of the French army in the German language and of course they was only one answer to that and you see the way it was Al all the time Smith was pretending to learn us French he was learning us German and Lee put him up to it but when the Colonel asked me what I meant by doing such a thing as talk German why of course I knew in a minute that they had been trying to kid me but at first I told the Colonel I couldn't of said no German because I don't know no more German than Silk O'Loughlin. Well the Frenchman was pretty sore and I don't know what would of came off only for Capt. Seeley and he spoke up and said to the Colonel that if he could have a few minutes to investigate he thought he could clear things up because he figured I hadn't intended to do nothing wrong and somebody had probably been playing jokes.
So Capt. Seeley went out and it seemed like a couple of yrs. till he came back and he had Smith and Lee and Doran with him. So then them 3 birds was up on the carpet and I'll say they got some panning and when it was all over the Colonel said something about they being a dam site to much kidding back and fourth going on and he hoped that before long we would find out that this war wasn't no practicle joke and he give Lee and Smith a fierce balling out and he said he would leave Capt. Seeley to deal with them and he would report Doran to the proper quarters and then he was back on me again and he said it looked like I had been the innocent victim of a practicle joke but he says "You are so dam innocent that I figure you are temperately unfit to hold on to a corporal's warrant so you can consider yourself reduced to the ranks. We can't have no corporals that if some comedian told them the Germans was now one of our allies they would try and get in the German trenches and shake hands with them."
Well Al when it was all over I couldn't hardly keep from laughing because you see I come out of it O. K. and the laugh was on Smith and Lee and Doran because I got just what I wanted because I never did want to be a corporal because it meant I couldn't pal around with the boys and be their pals and I never felt right when I was giveing them orders because I would rather be just one of them and make them feel like we were all equals.
Of course they wasn't no time on the whole trip when Lee or Doran or Smith either one of them had me fooled because just to look at them you would know they are the kind of smart alex that's always trying to put something over on somebody only I figured two could play at that game as good as one and I would kid them right back and give them as good as they sent because I always figure that the game ain't over till the ninth inning and the man that does the laughing then has got all the best of it. But at that I don't bear no bad will towards neither one of them and I have got a good notion to ask Capt. Seeley to let them off easy.
Well Al this is a long letter but I wanted you to know I wasn't no corporal no more and if a sub hits us now Al I can hop into a boat as quick as I feel like it but jokeing a side if something like that happened it wouldn't make no difference to me if I was a corporal or not a corporal because I am a man and I would do my best and help the rest of the boys get into the boats before I thought about myself.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
On the Ship Board, Jan. 25.
FRIEND AL: Well old pal just a line to let you know we are out of the danger zone and pretty near in port and I can't tell you where we land at but everybody is hollering and the band's playing and I guess the boys feels a whole lot better then when we was out there where the subs could get at us but between you and I Al I never thought about the subs all the way over only when I heard somebody else talk about them because I always figure that if they's some danger of that kind the best way to do is just forget it and if its going to happen all right but what's the use of worrying about it? But I suppose lots of people is built different and they have just got to worry all the while and they get scared stiff just thinking about what might happen but I always say nobody ever got fat worrying so why not just forget it and take things as they come.
Well old pal they's to many sights to see so I will quit for this time.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Jan. 26.
FRIEND AL: Well old pal here we are and its against the rules to tell you where we are at but of course it don't take no Shylock to find out because all you would have to do is look at the post mark that they will put on this letter.
Any way you couldn't pronounce what the town's name is if you seen it spelled out because it isn't nothing like how its spelled out and you won't catch me trying to pronounce none of these names or talk French because I am off of languages for a while and good old American is good enough for me eh Al?
Well Al now that its all over I guess we was pretty lucky to get across the old pond without no trouble because between you and I Al I heard just a little while ago from one of the boys that three nights ago we was attacked and our ship just missed getting hit by a periscope and the destroyers went after the subs and they was a whole flock of them and the reason we didn't hear nothing is that the death bombs don't go off till they are way under water so you can't hear them but between you and I Al the navy men say they was nine subs sank.
Well I didn't say nothing about it to the man who tipped me off but I had a hunch that night that something was going on and I don't remember now if it was something I heard or what it was but I knew they was something in the air and I was expecting every minute that the signal would come for us to take to the boats but they wasn't no necessity of that because the destroyers worked so fast and besides they say they don't never give no alarm till the last minute because they don't want to get everybody up at night for nothing.
Well any way its all over now and here we are and you ought to of heard the people in the town here cheer us when we come in and you ought to see how the girls look at us and believe me Al they are some girls. Its a good thing I am an old married man or I believe I would pretty near be tempted to flirt back with some of the ones that's been trying to get my eye but the way it is I just give them a smile and pass on and they's no harm in that and I figure a man always ought to give other people as much pleasure as you can as long as it don't harm nobody.
Well Al everybody's busier then a chicken with their head off and I haven't got no more time to write. But when we get to where we are going I will have time maybe and tell you how we are getting along and if you want drop me a line and I wish you would send me the Chi papers once in a while especially when the baseball training trips starts but maybe they won't be no Jack Keefe to send them to by that time but if they do get me I will die fighting. You know me Al.
Your pal, JACK.
Somewheres in France, Feb. 2.
FRIEND AL: Well Al here I am only I can't tell you where its at because the censor rubs it out when you put down the name of a town and besides that even if I was to write out where we are at you wouldn't have no idear where its at because how you spell them hasn't nothing to do with their name if you tried to say it.
For inst. they's a town a little ways from us that when you say it its Lucy like a gal or something but when you come to spell it out its Loucey like something else.
Well Al any way this is where they have got us staying till we get called up to the front and I can't hardly wait till that comes off and some say it may be tomorrow and others say we are libel to be here a yr. Well I hope they are wrong because I would rather live in the trenches then one of these billets where they got us and between you and I Al its nothing more then a barn. Just think of a man like I Al thats been use to nothing only the best hotels in the big league and now they got me staying in a barn like I was a horse or something and I use to think I was cold when they had us sleeping with imaginery blankets out to Camp Grant but I would prespire if I was there now after this and when we get through here they can send us up to the north pole in our undershirt and we would half to keep moping the sweat off of our forehead and set under a electric fan to keep from sweltering.
Well they have got us pegged as horses all right not only because they give us a barn to live in but also from the way they sent us here from where we landed at in France and we made the trip in cattle cars and 1 of the boys says they must of got us mixed up with the calvary or something. It certainly was some experience to be rideing on one of these French trains for a man that went back and fourth to the different towns in the big league and back in a special Pullman and sometimes 2 of them so as we could all have lower births. Well we didn't have no births on the French R. R. and it wouldn't of done us no good to of had them because you wouldn't no sooner dose off when the engine would let off a screem that sounded like a woman that seen a snake and 1 of the boys says that on acct. of all the men being in the army they had women doing the men's work and judgeing by the noise they even had them whistleing for the crossings.
Well we finely got here any way and they signed us to our different billets and they's 20 of us in this one not counting a couple of pigs and god knows how many rats and a cow that mews all night. We haven't done nothing yet only look around but Monday we go to work out to the training grounds and they say we won't only half to march 12 miles through the mud and snow to get there. Mean time we set and look out the cracks onto Main St. and every little wile they's a Co. of pollutes marchs through or a train of motor Lauras takeing stuff up to the front or bringing guys back that didn't duck quick enough and to see these Frenchmens march you would think it was fun but when they have been at it a wile they will loose some of their pep.
Well its warmer in bed then setting here writeing so I will close for this time.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Feb. 4.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I am writeing this in the Y. M. C. A. hut where they try and keep it warm and all the boys that can crowd in spends most of their spare time here but we don't have much spare time at that because its always one thing another and I guess its just as well they keep us busy because every time they find out you are not doing nothing they begin vaxinating everybody.
They's enough noise in here so as a man can't hear yourself think let alone writeing a letter so if I make mistakes in spelling and etc. in this letter you will know why it is. They are singing the song now about the baby's prayer at twilight where the little girl is supposed to be praying for her daddy that's a soldier to take care of himself but if she was here now she would be praying for him to shut up his noise.
Well we was in the trenchs all day not the regular ones but the ones they got for us to train in them and they was a bunch of French officers trying to learn us how to do this in that and etc. and some of the time you could all most understand what they was trying to tell you and then it was stuff we learnt the first wk. out to Camp Grant and I suppose when they get so as they can speak a few words of English they will tell us we ought to stand up when we hear the Star spangle Banner. Well we was a pretty sight when we got back with the mud and slush and everything and by the time they get ready to call us into action they will half to page us in the morgue.
About every 2 or 3 miles today we would pass through a town where some of the rest of the boys has got their billets only they don't call it miles in France because that's to easy to say but instead of miles they call them kilometts. But any way from the number of jerk water burgs we went through you would think we was on the Monon and the towns all looks so much like the other that when one of the French soldiers gets a few days leave off they half to spend most of it looking for land marks so as they will know if they are where they live. And they couldn't even be sure if it was warm weather and their folks was standing out in front of the house because all the familys is just alike with the old Mr. and the Mrs. and pigs and a cow and a dog.
Well Al they say its pretty quite these days up to the front and the boys that's been around here a wile says you can hear the guns when they's something doing and the wind blows this way but we haven't heard no guns yet only our own out to where we have riffle practice but everybody says as soon as spring comes and the weather warms up the Germans is sure to start something. Well I don't care if they start anything or not just so the weather warms up and besides they won't never finish what they start unless they start going back home and they won't even finish that unless they show a whole lot more speed then they did comeing. They are just trying to throw a scare into somebody with a lot of junk about a big drive they are going to make but I have seen birds come up to hit in baseball Al that was going to drive it out of the park but their drive turned out to be a hump back liner to the pitcher. I remember once when Speaker come up with a couple men on and we was 2 runs ahead in the 9th. inning and he says to me "Well busher here is where I hit one a mile." Well Al he hit one a mile all right but it was 1/2 a mile up and the other 1/2 a mile down and that's the way it goes with them gabby guys and its the same way with the Germans and they talk all the time so as they will get thirsty and that's how they like to be.
Speaking about thirsty Al its different over here then at home because when a man in uniform wants a drink over here you don't half to hire no room in a hotel and put on your nightgown but you can get it here in your uniform only what they call beer here we would pore it on our wheat cakes at home and they got 2 kinds of wine red and white that you could climb outside of a bbl. of it without asking the head waiter to have them play the Rosery. But they say the champagne is O. K. and I am going to tackle it when I get a chance and you may think from that that I have got jack to throw away but over here Al is where they make the champagne and you can get a qt. of it for about a buck or 1/2 what you would pay for it in the U. S. and besides that the money they got here is a frank instead of a dollar and a frank isn't only worth about $.19 cents so a man can have a whole lot better time here and not cost him near as much.
And another place where the people in France has got it on the Americans and that is that when they write a letter here they don't half to pay nothing to mail it but when you write to me you have got to stick a 5 cent stamp on it but judgeing by the way you answer my letters the war will be all over before you half to break a dime. Of course I am just jokeing Al and I know why you don't write much because you haven't got nothing to write staying there in Bedford and you could take a post card and tell me all the news that happened in 10 yrs. and still have room enough yet to say Bertha sends kind regards.
But of course its different with a man like I because I am always where they is something big going on and first it was baseball and now its a bigger game yet you might say but whatever is going on big you can always count on me being in the mist of it and not buried alive in no Indiana X roads where they still think the first bounce is out. But of course I know it is not your fault that you haven't been around and seen more and it ain't every man that can get away from a small town and make a name for themself and I suppose I ought to consider myself lucky.
Well Al enough for this time and I will write soon again and I would like to hear from you even if you haven't nothing to say and don't forget to send me a Chi paper when you get a hold of one and I asked Florrie to send me one every day but asking her for favors is like rolling off a duck's back you might say and its first in one ear and then the other.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Feb. 7.
FRIEND AL: I suppose you have read articles in the papers about the war that's wrote over here by reporters and the way they do it is they find out something and then write it up and send it by cablegrams to their papers and then they print it and that's what you read in the papers.
Well Al they's a whole flock of these here reporters over here and I guess they's one for every big paper in the U. S. and they all wear bands around their sleeves with a C on them for civilian or something so as you can spot them comeing and keep your mouth shut. Well they have got their head quarters in one of the towns along the line but they ride all over the camp in automobiles and this evening I was outside of our billet and one of them come along and seen me and got out of his car and come up to me and asked if I wasn't Jack Keefe the White Sox pitcher. Well Al he writes for one of the Chi papers and of course he knows all about me and has seen me work. Well he asked me a lot of questions about this in that and I didn't give him no military secrets but he asked me how did I like the army game and etc.
I asked him if he was going to mention about me being here in the paper and he says the censors wouldn't stand for mentioning no names until you get killed because if they mentioned your name the Germans would know who all was here but after you are dead the Germans don't care if you had been here or not.
But he says he would put it in the paper that he was talking to a man that use to be a star pitcher on the White Sox and he says everybody would know who it was he was talking about because they wasn't such a slue of star pitchers in the army that it would take a civil service detective to find out who he meant.
So we talked along and finely he asked me was I going to write a book about the war and I said no and he says all right he would tell the paper that he had ran across a soldier that not only use to be a ball player but wasn't going to write a book and they would make a big story out of it.
So I said I wouldn't know how to go about it to write a book but when I went around the world with the 2 ball clubs that time I use to write some poultry once in a wile just for different occasions like where the boys was called on for a speech or something and they didn't know what to say so I would make up one of my poems and the people would go nuts over them.
So he said why didn't I tear off a few patriotic poems now and slip them to him and he would send them to his paper and they would print them and maybe if some of them was good enough somebody would set down and write a song to them and probably everybody would want to buy it and sing it like Over There and I would clean up a good peace of jack.
Well Al I told him I would see if I could think up something to write and of course I was just stalling him because a soldier has got something better to do than write songs and I will leave that to the birds that was gun shy and stayed home. But if you see in the Chi papers where one of the reporters was talking to a soldier that use to be a star pitcher in the American League or something you will know who they mean. He said he would drop by in a few days again and see if I had something wrote up for him but I will half to tell him I have been to busy to monkey with it.
As far as I can see they's enough songs all ready wrote up about the war so as everybody in the army and navy could have 1 a peace and still have a few left over for the boshs and that's a name we got up for the Germans Al and instead of calling them Germans we call them boshs on acct. of them being so full of bunk.
Well Al one of the burgs along the line is where Jonah Vark was born when she was alive. It seems like France was mixed up in another war along about a 100 yrs. ago and they was getting licked and Jonah was just a young gal but she dressed up in men's coat and pants and went up to the front and led the charges with a horse and she carried a white flag and the Dutchmens or whoever they was fighting against must of thought it was a flag of truants and any way they didn't fire at them and the French captured New Orleans and win the war. The Germans is trying to pull the same stuff on our boys now and lots of times they run up and holler Conrad like they was going to give up and when your back is turned they whang away at you but they won't pull none of that stuff on me and when one of them trys to Conrad me I will perculate them with a bayonet.
Well Al the boys is starting their choir practice and its good night and some times I wished I was a deef and dumb mute and couldn't hear nothing.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Feb. 9.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I didn't have nothing to do last night and I happened to think about that reporter and how he would be comeing along in a few days asking for that poultry.
I figured I might as well set down and write him up a couple verses because them fellows is hard up for articles to send their paper because in the first place we don't tell them nothing so they could write it up and when they write it the censors smeers out everything but the question marks and dots but of course they would leave them send poems because the Germans couldn't make head or tale out of them. So any way I set down and tore off 3 verses and he says they ought to be something about a gal in it so here is what I wrote:
_Near a year ago today Pres. Wilson of the U. S. A. had something to say, "Germany you better keep away This is no time for play." When it come time to go America was not slow Each one said good by to their girl so dear And some of them has been over here since last year.
I will come home when the war is over Back to the U. S. A. So don't worry little girlie And now we are going to Berlin And when we the Kaiser skin and the war we will win And make the Kaiser jump out of his skin.
The ones that stays at home Can subscribe to the liberty loan And some day we will come home to the girles that's left alone Old Kaiser Bill is up against it For all are doing their bit. Pres. Wilson says the stars and stripes Will always fight for their rights._
That's what I tore off and when he comes around again I will have it for him and if you see it in the Chi papers you will know who wrote it up and maybe somebody will write a song to it but of course they can't sign my name to it unless I get killed or something but I guess at that they ain't so many soldiers over here that can turn out stuff like that but what my friends won't be pretty sure who wrote it.
But if something does happen to me I wished you would kind of keep your eyes pealed and if the song comes out try and see that Florrie gets some jack out of it and I haven't wrote nothing to her about it because she is like all other wifes and when somebodys else husband pulls something its O. K. but if their own husband does it he must of had a snoot full.
Well today was so rotten that they didn't make us go nowheres and I'll say its got to be pretty rotten when they do that and the meal they give us tonight wouldn't of bulged out a grandaddy long legs and I and my buddy Frank Carson was both hungry after we eat and I suppose you will wonder what do I mean by buddy. Well Al that's a name I got up for who ever you pal around with or bunk next to them and now everybody calls their pal their buddy. Well any way he says why didn't we go over to the Red X canteen resturent and buy ourself a feed so we went over and its a little shack where the Red X serves you a pretty good meal for 1 frank and that's about $.19 cents and they don't try and make no profits on it but just run them so as a man don't half to go along all the wile on what the army hands out to you.
Well they was 3 janes on the job over there and 2 of them would be safe anywheres you put them but the other one is Class A and her old woman must of been pie eyed when she left her come over here. Well Carson said she belonged to him because he had seen her before and besides I was a married man so I says all right go ahead and get her. Well Al it would be like Terre Haute going after George Sisler or somebody and the minute we blowed in she didn't have eyes for only me but I wasn't going to give her no encouragement because we were here to kill Germans and not ladys but I wished you could of seen the smile she give me. Well she's just as much a American as I or you but of course Carson had to be cute and try to pull some of his French on her so he says Bon soir Madam Moselle and that is the same like we would say good evening but when Carson pulled it I spoke up and said "If your bones is soir why don't you go and take the baths somewhere?" Pretending like I thought he meant his bones were sore. Well the little lady got it O. K. and pretty near laughed outright. You see Al when a person has got rhuematism they go and take the baths like down to Mudlavia so I meant if his bones was sore he better go somewheres like that. So the little lady tried to not laugh on acct. of me being a stranger but she couldn't hardly help from busting out and then I smiled at her back and after that Carson might as well of been mowing the lawn out in Nobody's Land. I felt kind of sorry the way things broke because here he is a man without no home ties and of course I have all ready got a wife but Miss Moselle didn't have no eyes for him and that's the way it goes but what can a man do and Carson seen how it was going and says to me right in front of her "Have you heard from your Mrs. since we been over?" And I didn't dast look up and see how she took it.
Well they set us up a pretty good feed and the little lady kept asking us questions like how long had we been here and what part of the U. S. we come from and etc. and finely Carson told her who I was and she popped her eyes out and says she use to go to the ball games once in a wile in N. Y. city with her old man and she didn't never think she would meet a big league pitcher and talk to them and she says she wondered if she ever seen me pitch. Well I guess if she had she would remember it specially in N. Y. because there was one club I always made them look like a fool and they wasn't the only club at that and I guess they's about 6 other clubs in the American League that if they had seen my name in the dead they wouldn't shed off enough tears to gum up the infield.
Well when we come out she asked us would we come again and we said yes but I guess its best for both she and I if I stay away but I said we would come again to be polite so she said au revoir and that's like you would say so long so I said au reservoir pretending like I didn't know the right way to say it but she seen I was just kidding and laughed and she is the kind of a gal that gets everything you pull and bright as a whip and her and I Would make a good team but of course they's no use talking about it the way I am tied up so even when I'm sick in tired of the regular rations I won't dast go over there for a feed because it couldn't do nothing only harm to the both of us and the best way to do with those kind of affairs is to cut it out before somebody gets hurt.
Well its time to hop into the feathers and I only wished it was feathers but feathers comes off a chicken or something and I guess these matteresses we got is made out to Gary or Indiana Harbor or somewheres.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Feb. 11.
FRIEND AL: Well Al they's several of the boys that won't need no motor Laura to carry their pay for the next couple mos. and if you was to mention champagne to them they would ask for a barrage. I was over to the Y. M. C. A. hut last night and when I come back I wished you could of seen my buddys and they was 2 of them that was still able to talk yet and they was haveing a argument because one of them wanted to pore some champagne in a dish so as the rats would get stewed and the other bird was trying to not let him because he said it always made them mean and they would go home and beat up their Mrs.
It seems like one of the boys had a birthday and his folks is well off and they had sent him some jack from the states to buy blankets and etc. with it and he thought it would be a sucker play to load up with bed close when spring was comeing so he loaded up with something else and some of the boys with him and for 50 or 60 franks over here you can get enough champagne to keep the dust layed all summer and of course some of the boys hadn't never tasted it before and they thought you could bathe in it like beer. They didn't pay no more tension to revelry this A. M. then if they was a corps and most of them was at that and out of the whole bunch of us they was only 7 that didn't get reported and the others got soaked 2 thirds of their pay and confined to their quarters and Capt. Seeley says if they was any more birthdays in his Co. we wouldn't wind the celebration up till sunrise and then it would be in front of a fireing squad. Well Al if the boys can't handle it no better then that they better leave it alone and just because its cheap that's no reason to try and get it all at once because the grapes will still be growing over here yet when all us birds takes our teeth off at night with our other close.
Well Al the reporter that asked me to write up the verses ain't been around since and probably he has went up to the front or somewheres and I am glad of it and I hope he forgets all about it because in the first place I am not one of the kind that is crazy to get in the papers and besides I am to busy to be monking with stuff like that. Yes they keep us on the jump all the wile and we are pretty well wore out when night comes around but a man wouldn't mind it if we was learning something but the way it is now its like as if we had graduated from college and then they sent us to kindegarden and outside of maybe a few skulls the whole regt. is ready right now to get up there in the trenches and show them something and I only wished we was going tomorrow but I guess some of the boys would like it to never go up there but would rather stay here in this burg and think they was haveing a good time kidding with the French gals and etc. but that's no business for a married man and even if I didn't have no family the French gals I seen so far wouldn't half to shew me away and I been hearing all my life what swell dressers they was but a scout for the Follys wouldn't waist no time in this burg.
But I'm sick in tired of the same thing day in and day out and here we been in France 2 wks. and all we done is a little riffle practice and stuff we had back home and get soping wet every day and no mail and I wouldn't wonder if Florrie and little Al had forgot all about me and if Secty. Daniels wired them that Jack Keefe had been killed they would say who and the hell is he.
So all and all they can't send us up to the front to quick and it seems like a shame that men like I should be held back just because they's a few birds in the regt. that can't put on a gas mask yet without triping themself up.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Feb. 13.
FRIEND AL: Well Al wait till you hear this and I bet you will pop your eyes out. I guess I all ready told you about Miss Moselle the little lady over to the Red X canteen. Well I was over there the day before yesterday and she wasn't around nowheres and I was glad of it because I didn't want to see her and just dropped in there to get something to eat and today I was in there again and this time she was there and she smiled when she seen me and come up and begin talking and she asked me how I liked it and I said I would like it a whole lot better if we was in the fighting and she asked me if I didn't like this town and I said well no I wasn't nuts about it and she said she didn't think I was very complementary so then I seen she wanted to get personal.
Well Al she knows I am a married man because Carson just as good as told her so I didn't see no harm in kidding her along a wile so I give her a smile and said well you know the whole town ain't like you and she blushed up and says "Well I didn't expect nothing like that from a great baseball pitcher" so you see Al she had been makeing inquirys about me. So I said "Well they was only one pitcher I ever heard of that couldn't talk and that was Dummy Taylor but at that they's a whole lot of them that if they couldn't say my arm's sore they might as well be tongue tied." But I told her I wasn't one of those kind and I guest when it came to talking I could give as good as I sent and she asked me was I a college man and I kidded her along and said yes I went to Harvard and she said what year so I told her I was there 2 different yrs. and we talked along about this in that and I happened to have them verses in my pocket that I wrote up and they dropped out when I was after my pocket book and she acted like she wanted to know what the writeing was so I showed them to her.
Well Al I wished you could of seen how supprised she was when she read them and she says "So you are a poet." So I said "Yes I am a poet and don't know it" so that made her laugh and I told her about the reporter asking me to write some poems and then she asked me if she could keep a hold of those ones till she made out a copy of them to keep for herself and I said "You can keep that copy and pretend like I was thinking of you when I wrote them." Well Al I wished you could of seen her then and she couldn't say nothing at first but finely she says tomorrow was valentine day and the verses would do for a valentine so just jokeing I asked her if she wouldn't rather have a comical valentine and she says those ones would do O. K. so then I told her I would write her a real valentine for herself but I might maybe not get it ready in time to give her tomorrow and she says she realized it took time and any time would do.
Well of course I am not going to write up nothing for her and after this I will keep away from the canteen because it isn't right to leave her see to much of me even if she does know I am married but if I do write her something I will make it comical and no mushy stuff in it. But it does seem like fate or something that the harder I try and not get mixed up in a flirtation I can't turn around you might say but what they's some gal poping up on my trail and if it was anybody else only Miss Moselle I wouldn't mind but she is a darb and I wouldn't do nothing to hurt her for the world but they can't nobody say this is my fault.
Well Al I pretty near forgot to tell you that the boys is putting on a entertainment over to the Y. M. C. A. Saturday night and they will be singing and gags and etc. and they asked me would I give them a little talk on baseball and I said no at first but they begged me and finely I give my consent but you know how I hate makeing speeches and etc. but a man don't hardly feel like refuseing when they want me so bad so I am going to give them a little talk on my experiences and make it comical and I will tell you about the entertainment when its over.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Feb. 15.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I just been over to the canteen and I give the little lady the valentine I promised to write up for her and I wasn't going to write it up only I happened to remember that I promised so I wrote something up and I was going to make it comical but I figured that would disappoint her on acct. of the way she feels towards me so here is what I wrote up.
_To Miss Moselle
A soldier don't have much time To set down and write up a valentine but please bear in mind That I think about you many a time And I wished I could call you mine And I hope they will come a time When I will have more time And then everything will be fine And if you will be my valentine I will try and show you a good time._
Well after I had wrote it I thought I better have it fixed up like a valentine and they's one of the boys in our Co. named Stoops that use to be a artist so I had him draw me a couple of hearts with a bow and arrow sticking through them and a few flowers on a peace of card board and I coppied off the valentine on the card in printing and stuck it in a envelope and took it over to her and I didn't wait for her to open it up and look at it and I just says here is that valentine I promised you and its 1 day late and she blushed up and couldn't say nothing and I come away. Well Al she has read it by this time and I hope she don't take nothing I said serious but of course she knows I am a married man and she can read between the lines and see where I am trying to let her down easy and telling her to not expect no more tensions from me and its just like saying good by to her in a way only not as rough as comeing right out and saying it. But I won't see her no more and its all over before it begun you might say.
Well we passed some German prisoners today and believe me we give them a ride. Everybody called them Heinie and Fritz and I seen one of them giveing me a look like he was wondring if all the U. S. soldiers was big stroppers like I but I stuck out my tongue at him and said "What do you think you are looking at you big pretzel" and he didn't dast say nothing back. Well they was a fine looking gang and they's been a lot of storys going the rounds about no soap in Germany. Well Al its all true.
Well I finely got a letter from Florrie that is if you could call it a letter and to read it you wouldn't never guess that she had a husband over here in France and maybe never see him again but you would think I had went across the st. to get a bottle of ketchup and all as she said about little Al was that he needed a new pair of shoes and they's about as much news in that as if she said he woke up in the night. And the rest of the letter was about how good she was doing in the beauty parlor and for me not to worry about her because she was O. K. only for a callous on her heel and I suppose she will go to the hospital with it and here I am with so many of them that if they was worth a frank a peace I could pay the Kaiser's gas bill. And she never asked me did I need anything or how was I getting along. And she enclosed a snapshot of herself in one of these here war bride outfits and she looks so good in it that I bet she goes to church every Sunday and asks god to prolongate the war.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Feb. 16.
FRIEND AL: Well Al they's a certain bird in this camp that if I ever find out who he is they won't need no tonnages to carry him back when the war's over. Let me tell you what come off tonight and what was pulled off on the little lady and I and if you read about me getting in front of the court marshall for murder you will know how it come off.
I guess I all ready told you about the show that was comeing off tonight and they asked me to make a little talk on baseball. Well they was as many there as could crowd in and the band played and they was singing and gags and storys and etc. and they didn't call on me till pretty near the last. Well Al you ought to of heard the crowd when I got up there and it sounded like old times to have them all cheering and clapping and I stepped to the front of the platform and give them a bow and it was the first time I was ever on the stage but I wasn't scared only at first.
Well I had wrote out what I was going to say and learnt the most of it by heart and here is what I give them only I won't give you only part of it because it run pretty long.
"Gentlemen and friends. I am no speech maker and I guess if I had to make speeches for a liveing I am afraid I couldn't do it but the boys is anxious I should say a few words about baseball and I didn't want to disappoint them. They may be some of you boys that has not followed the great American game very close and maybe don't know who Jack Keefe is. Well gentlemen I was boughten from Terre Haute in the Central League by that grand old Roman Charley Comiskey owner of the Chicago White Sox in 1913 and I been in the big league ever since except one year I was with Frisco and I stood that league on their head and Mr. Comiskey called me back and I was still starring with the Chicago White Sox when Uncle Sam sent out the call for men and I quit the great American game to enlist in the greatest game of all the game we are playing against the Kaiser and we will win this game like I have win many a game of baseball because I was to fast for them and used my brains and it will be the same with the Kaiser and America will fight to the drop of the hat and make the world safe for democracy."
Well Al I had to stop 2 or 3 minutes while they give me a hand and they clapped and hollered at pretty near everything I said. So I said "This war reminds me a good deal like a incident that happened once when I was pitching against the Detroit club. No doubt you gentlemen and officers has heard of the famous Hughey Jennings and his eeyah and on the Detroit club is also the famous Tyrus Cobb the Georgia Peach as he is called and I want to pay him a tribute right here and say he is one of the best ball players in the American League and a great hitter if you don't pitch just right to him. One time we was in Detroit for a serious of games and we had loose the first two games do to bad pitching and the first game Eddie Cicotte didn't have nothing and the second game Faber was in the same boat so on this morning I refer to Manager Rowland come up to me in the lobby of the Tuller hotel and said how do you feel Jack and I said O. K. Clarence why do you ask? And he said well we have loose 2 games here and we have got to grab this one this P. M. and if you feel O. K. I will work you because I know you have got them licked as soon as you walk out there. So I said all right Clarence you can rely on me. And that P. M. I give them 3 hits and shut them out and Cobb come up in the ninth innings with two men on bases and two men out and Ray Schalk our catcher signed me for a curve ball but I shook my head and give him my floater and the mighty Cobb hit that ball on a line to our right fielder Eddie Murphy and the game was over.
"This war is a good deal like baseball gentlemen because it is stratejy that wins and no matter how many soldiers a gen. has got he won't get nowheres without he uses his brains and its the same in baseball and the boys that stays in the big league is the boys that can think and when this war is over I hope to go back and begin where I left off and win a pennant for Charley Comiskey the old Roman in the American League."
Well Al they was a regular storm when I got through and I bowed and give them a smile and started off of the platform but a sargent named Avery from our Co. stopped me and set me down in a chair and says I was to wait a minute and I thought of course they was going to give me a cup or something though I didn't expect nothing of the kind but I hadn't no sooner set down when Sargent Avery stepped up to the front of the platform and says "Gentlemen I want to say to you that Private Jack Keefe the great stratejest is not only a great pitcher and a great speech maker but he is also a great poet and if you don't believe me I will read you this beautiful valentine that he wrote to a certain lady that we all admire and who was in the Red X canteen up till today when she went back to Paris to resume other dutys."
Well before I could make a move he read that crazy valentine and of course they wasn't a word in it that I was serious when I wrote it and it was all a joke with me only not exactly a joke neither because I was really trying to let the little lady down easy and tell her good by between the lines without being rough with it. But of course these boobs pretended like they thought I meant it all and was love sick or something and they hollered like a bunch of Indians and clapped and razed he—ll.
Well Al I didn't get a chance to see Sargent Avery after it was over because he blowed right out but I will see him tomorrow and I will find out from him who stole that poem from Miss Moselle and I wouldn't be supprised if the reason she blowed to Paris was on acct. of missing the poem and figureing some big bum had stole it off her and they would find out her secret and make things misable for her and the chances is that's why she blowed. Well wait till I find out who done it and they will be one less snake in this regt. and the sooner you weed those kind of birds out of the army you will get somewheres and if you don't you won't.
But the poor little lady Al I can't help from feeling sorry for her and I only wished I could go to Paris and find her and tell her to not worry though of course its best if she don't see me again but I'm sorry it had to come off this way.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, Feb. 18.
FRIEND AL: Well Al this may be the last letter you will ever get from me because I am waiting now to find out what they are going to do with me and I will explain what I mean.
Yesterday A. M. I seen Sargent Avery and I asked him if I could talk to him a minute and he says yes and I said I wanted to find out from him who stole that valentine from Miss Moselle. So he says "Who is Miss Moselle?" So I said "Why that little lady in the canteen that's blowed to Paris." So he says "Well that little lady's name isn't Miss Moselle but her name is Ruth Palmer and she is the daughter of one of the richest birds in N. Y. city and they wasn't nobody stole no valentine from her because she give the valentine to me before she left." So I said "What do you mean she give it to you?" So he says "I mean she give it to me and when she give it to me she said us birds was in the same Co. with a poet and didn't know it and she thought it was about time we was finding it out. So she laughed and give me the valentine and that's the whole story."
Well Al I had a 20 frank note on me and I asked Sargent Avery if he wouldn't like some champagne and he said no he wouldn't. But that didn't stop me Al and I got all I could hold onto and then some and I snuck in last night after lights out and I don't know if anybody was wise or not but if they are its libel to go hard with me and Capt. Seeley said something about the fireing squad for the next bird that cut loose.
Well I reported sick this A. M. and they could tell to look at me that it wasn't no stall so I'm here and the rest of the boys is gone and I am waiting for them to summons me before the court marshall. But listen Al if they do like Capt. Seeley said you can bet that before they get me I will get some of these birds that's been calling me Private Valentine ever since Saturday night.
Your pal, JACK.
STRAGETY AND TRAGEDY
_Somewheres in France, March 2.
FRIEND AL_: Well Al if it rains a couple more days like its been they will half to page the navy and at that its about time they give them something to do and I don't mean the chasers and destroyers and etc. that acts like convoys for our troop ships and throws them death bombs at the U boats but I mean the big battle ships and I bet you haven't heard of a supper dread 0 doing nothing since we been in the war and they say they can't do nothing till the German navy comes out and that's what they're waiting for. Well Al that's a good deal like waiting for the 30nd. of Feb. or for Jennings to send his self up to hit for Cobb and they can say all they want about the Germans being bullet proof from the neck up but they got some brains and you can bet their navy ain't comeing out no more then my hair. So as far as I can see a man being on a supper dread 0 is just like you owned a private yatch without haveing to pay for the keep up and when they talk about a man on a big U. S. battle ship in danger they mean he might maybe die because he eat to much and no exercise.
So if I was them I would send the big ships here so as we could use them for motor Lauras and I guess they's no place in our whole camp where you couldn't float them and I don't know how it is all over France but if they was a baseball league between the towns where they have got us billeted the fans would get blear eyed looking at the no game sign and if a mgr. worked their pitchers in turn say it was my turn tomorrow and the next time my turn come around some of little Al's kids would half to help me out of the easy chair and say "Come on granpa you pitch this afternoon."
Jokeing a side Al if I was running the training camps like Camp Grant back home instead of starting the men off with the regular drills and hikes like they give them now I would stand them under a shower bath with their close on about 1/2 the time and when it come time for a hike I would send them back and fourth across Rock River and back where they wasn't no bridge. And then maybe when they got over here France wouldn't be such a big supprise.
One of the boys has put a sign up on our billet and it says Noahs Ark on it and maybe you have heard that old gag Al about the big flood that everybody was drownded only Noah and his folks and a married couple of every kind of animals in the world and they wasn't drownded because Noah had a Ark for them to get in out of the wet. Well Noahs Ark is a good name for our dump and believe me they haven't none of the animals been overlooked and we are also going Noah one better and sheltering all the bugs and some of them is dressed in cocky.
Well I am in this war to the finish and you couldn't hire me to quit till we have ran them ragged but I wished they had of gave us steel helmets wide enough so as they would make a bumber shoot and I hope the next war they have they will pick out Arizona to have it there.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, March 6.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I suppose you have read in the communicates that comes out in the paper where the Americans that's all ready in the trenchs has pulled off some great stuff and a whole lot of them has been sighted and give meddles and etc. by the Frenchmens for what they have pulled off and the way they work it Al when one of the soldiers wrists his life or something and pulls off something big like takeing a mess of prisoners and bringing them back here where they can get something to eat the French pins a meddle on them and sometimes they do it if you don't do nothing but die only then of course they send it to your family so as they will have something to show their friends besides snapshots of Mich. City.
Well we was kidding back and fourth about it today and one of the smart alex in our Co. a bird named Johnny Alcock that is always trying to kid somebody all the time he said to me "Well I suppose they will half to build more tonnages to carry all the meddles you will win back to the states." So I said "Well I guess I will win as many of them as you will win." That shut him up for a wile but finely he says "You have got enough chest to wear a whole junk shop on it." So I said "Well I am not the baby that can't win them." So he says "If you ever happen to be snooping around the bosh trenchs when Fritz climbs over the top you will come back so fast that the Kaiser will want to know who was that speed merchant that led the charge and decorate you with a iron cross." So I said "I will decorate you right in the eye one of these days." So he had to shut up and all the other boys give him the laugh.
Well Al jokeing to one side if I half to go back home without a meddle it will be because they are playing favorites but I guess I wouldn't be left out at that because I stand ace high with most of the Frenchmens around here because they like a man that's always got a smile or a kind word for them and they would like me still better yet if they could understand more English and get my stuff better but it don't seem like they even try to learn and I suppose its because they figure the war is in their country so everybody should ought to talk their language but when you get down to cases they's a big job on both our hands and if one of us has got to talk the others language why and the he—ll should they pick on the one that's hard to learn it and besides its 2 to I you might say because the U. S. and the English uses the same language and they's nobody only the French that talks like they do because they couldn't nobody else talk that way so why wouldn't it be the square thing for them to forget theirs and tackle ours and it would prolongate their lifes to do it because most of their words can't be said without straining yourself and no matter what kind of a physic you got its bound to wear you down in time.
But I suppose the French soldiers figure they have got enough of a job on their hands remembering their different uniforms and who to salute and etc. and they have got a fine system in the French army Al because you wear whatever you was before you got to be what you are that is sometimes. For inst. suppose you use to be in the artillery and now you are a aviator you still wear a artillery uniform part of the time and its like I use to pitch for the White Sox and I guess I would be a pretty looking bird if I waddled around in the mire here a wile with my old baseball unie on me and soon people would begin to think I was drafted from the Toledo Mud Hens.
Seriously Al sometimes you see 4 or 5 French officers comeing along and they haven't one of them got the same color uniform on but they are all dressed up like a Roman candle you might say and if their uniforms run when they got wet a man could let them drip into a pail and drink it up for a pussy cafe.
Well Al the boys in our regt. is going to get out a newspaper and get it out themself and it will be just the news about our regt. and a few gags and comical storys about the different boys and they are going to get it out once per wk.
Corp. Pierson from our Co. that use to work on a newspaper somewheres is going to be the editor and he wants I should write them up something about baseball and how to pitch and etc. but I don't believe in a man waisting their time on a childs play like writeing up articles for a newspaper but just to stall him I said I would try and think up something and give it to him when I had it wrote up. Well him waiting for my article will be like me waiting for mail because I don't want nobody to take me for a newspaper man because I seen enough of them in baseball and one time we was playing in Phila. and I had them shut out up to the 8th inning and all of a sudden Weaver and Collins got a stroke of paralysis and tipped their caps to a couple ground balls that grazed their shoe laces and then Rube Oldring hit one on a line right at Gandil and he tried to catch it on the bounce off his lap and Bill Dinneen's right arm was lame and he begin calling everything a ball and first thing you know they beat us 9 to 2 or something and Robbins one of the Chi paper reporters that traveled with us wired a telegram home to his paper that Phila. was supposed to be a town where a man could get plenty of sleep but I looked like I had set up all the nights we was there and of course Florrie seen it in the paper and got delirious and I would of busted Robbins in the jaw only I wasn't sure if he realy wrote it that way or the telegraph operator might of balled it up.
So they won't be no newspaper articles in mine Al but I will be anxious to see what Pierson's paper looks like when it comes out and I bet it will be a fine paper if our bunch have the writeing of it because the most of them would drop in a swoon if you asked them how to spell their name.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, March 9.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I guess I all ready told you about them getting up a newspaper in our regt. and Joe Pierson asked me would I write them up something for it and I told him no I wouldn't but it seems like he overheard me and thought I said I would so any way he was expecting something from me so last night I wrote them up something and I don't know if the paper will ever get printed or not so I will coppy down a part of what I wrote to give you a idear of what I wrote. He wanted I should write them up something about the stragety of baseball and where it was like the stragety in the war because one night last month I give them a little talk at one of their entertainments about how the man that used their brains in baseball was the one that win just like in the army but I guess I all ready told you about me giveing them that little talk and afterwards I got a skinfull of the old grape and I thought sure they would have me up in front of the old court marshall but they never knowed the difference on acct. of the Way I can handle it and you take the most of the boys and if they see a cork they want to kiss the Colonel. Well any way here is the article I wrote up and I called it War and Baseball 2 games where brains wins.
"The gen. public that go out to the baseball park and set through the games probably think they see everything that is going on on the field but they's a lot of stuff that goes on on the baseball field that the gen. public don't see and don't know nothing about and I refer to what we baseball boys calls inside baseball.
"No one is in a better position to know all about inside baseball then a man like I who have been a pitcher in the big league because it is the pitchers that has to do most of the thinking and pull off the smart plays that is what wins ball games. For inst. I will write down about a little incidents that come off one time 2 yrs. ago when the Boston club was playing against the Chicago White Sox where I was one of the stars when the U. S. went into the war and then I dropped baseball and signed up a contract with Uncle Sam to play for my country in the big game against the Kaiser of Germany. This day I refer to I was in there giveing them the best I had but we was in a tight game because the boys was not hitting behind me though Carl Mays that was pitching for the Boston club didn't have nothing on the ball only the cover and after the ball left his hand you could have ran in the club house and changed your undershirt and still be back in time to swing when the ball got up there.
"Well it come along the 9th. inning and we was tied up with the score 2 and 2 and I had Larry Gardner swinging like a hammock all day but this time he hit a fly ball that either Weaver or Jackson ought to of caught in a hollow tooth but they both layed down and died on it and Gardner got on second base. Well they was 2 men out and Hoblitzel was the next man up and the next man after he was Scott their shortstop that couldn't take the ball in his hand and make a base hit off a man like I so instead of me giveing Hobby a ball to hit I walked him as we call it and then of course it was Scott's turn to bat and Barry their mgr. hesitated if he should send Ruth up to hit for Scott or not but finely he left Scott go up there and he was just dragging his bat off his shoulder to swing at the first strike when I whizzed the third one past him.
"That is what we call inside baseball or stragety whether its in baseball or war is walking a man like Hoblitzel that might be lucky enough to hit one somewheres but if you don't give him nothing to hit how can he hit it and then I made Scott look like he had been sent for but couldn't come. Afterwards in the 11th. inning Duffy Lewis hit a ball that he ought to of been traded for even swinging at it because it come near clipping his ear lob but any way he swang at it and hit it for three bases because Jackson layed down and died going after it and Lewis scored on a past ball and they beat us 3 to 2.
"So that is what we call stragety on the baseball field and it wins there the same like in war and this war will be win by the side that has gens. with brains and use them and I figure where a man that has been in big league baseball where you can't never make a success out of it unless you are a quick thinker and they have got a big advantage over men that's been in other walks of life where its most all luck and I figure the army would be a whole lot better off if all the officers and gens. had of played baseball in the big leagues and learned to think quick, but of course they ain't everybody that have got the ability to play baseball and stand the gaff but the man that has got the ability and been through the ropes is just that much ahead of the rest of them and its to bad that most of our gens. is so old that they couldn't of knew much about baseball since it become a test of brains like it is now.
"I am afraid I have eat up a lot of space with my little Article on War and Baseball so I will end this little article up with a little comical incidents that happened dureing our training trip down in Mineral Wells, Tex. a year ago this spring. The first day we was out for practice they was a young outfielder from a bush league and Mgr. Rowland told him to go out in right field and shag and this was his reply. 'I haven't never been in this park before so you will half to tell me which is right field.' Of course right field, is the same field in all parks and that is what made the incidents so comical and some of the boys is certainly green when they first break in and we have manys the laugh at their expense."
That is what I wrote up for them Al and I wound it up with that little story and I was reading over what I wrote and Johnny Alcock seen me reading it and asked me to leave him see it so I showed it to him and he said it was great stuff and he hadn't never dreamt they was that much stragety in baseball and he thought if some of the officers seen it they would pop their eyes out and they would want to talk to me and get my idears and see if maybe they couldn't some of them be plied to war fair and maybe if I showed them where it could I would get promoted and stuck on to the gen. staff that's all made up from gens. that lays out the attacks and etc.
Well Al Alcock is a pretty wise bird and a fine boy to if you know how to take him and he seen right off what I was getting at in my article and its true Al that the 2 games is like the other and quick thinking is what wins in both of them. But I am not looking for no staff job that you don't half to go up in the trenchs and fight but just lay around in some office somewheres and stick pins in a map while the rest of the boys is sticking bayonets in the Dutchmen's maps so I hope they don't none of the gens. see what I wrote because I come over here to fight and be a soldier and carry a riffle instead of a pin cushion.
But it don't hurt nothing for me to give them a few hints once in a wile about useing their brains if they have got them and if I can do any good with my articles in the papers why I would just as leaf wear my fingers to the bone writeing them up.
Your pal, JACK.
* * * * *
Somewheres in France, March 13.
FRIEND AL: Well Al I bet you will pretty near fall over in a swoon when you read what I have got to tell you. Before you get this letter you will probably all ready of got a coppy of the paper I told you about because it come out the day before yesterday and I sent you a coppy with my article in it only they cut a part of it out on acct. of not haveing enough space for all of it but they left the best part of it in.
Well Al somebody must of a sent a coppy to Gen. Pershing and marked up what I wrote up so as he would be sure and see it and probably one of the officers done it. Well that's either here or there but this afternoon when we come in they was a letter for me and who do you think it was from Al. Well you can't never even begin to guess so I will tell you. It was from Gen. Pershing Al and it come from Paris where he is at and I have got it here laying on the table and I would send it to you to look at only I wouldn't take no chances of looseing it and I don't mean you wouldn't be carefull of it Al but of course the mail has got to go across the old pond and if the Dutchmens periscoped the boat the letter was on it it would be good night letter and a letter like this here is something to be proud of and hold onto it and keep it for little Al till he grows up big enough to appreciate it. But they's nothing to prevent me from copping down the letter so as you can read what it says and here it is.
Dear Sir: My attention was called today to an article written by you in your regimental paper under the title War and Baseball: Two Games Where Brains Wins. In this article you state that our generals would be better able to accomplish their task if they had enjoyed the benefits of strategic training in baseball. I have always been a great admirer of the national game of baseball and I heartily agree with what you say. But unfortunately only a few of us ever possessed the ability to play your game and the few never were proficient enough to play it professionally. Therefore the general staff is obliged to blunder along without that capacity for quick thinking which is acquired only on the baseball field.
But I believe in making use of all the talent in my army, even among the rank and file. Therefore I respectfully ask whether you think some of your baseball secrets would be of strategic value to us in the prosecution of this war and if so whether you would be willing to provide us with the same.
If it is not too much trouble, I would be pleased to hear from you along these lines, and if you have any suggestion to make regarding a campaign against our enemy, either offensive or defensive, I would be pleased to have you outline it in a letter to me.
By the way I note with pleasure that our first names are the same. It makes a sort of bond between us which I trust will be further cemented if you can be of assistance to me in my task.
I shall eagerly await your reply. Sincerely,
BLACK JACK PERSHING,
Folies Bergere, Paris, France.
That is the letter I got from him Al and I'll say its some letter and I bet if some of these smart alex officers seen it it would reduce some of the swelling in their chest but I consider the letter confidential Al and I haven't showed it to nobody only 3 or 4 of my buddys and I showed it to Johnny Alcock and he popped his eyes out so far you could of snipped them off with a shears. And he said it was a cinch that Pershing realy wrote it on acct. of him signing it Black Jack Pershing and they wouldn't nobody else sign it that way because it was a private nickname between he and some of his friends and they wouldn't nobody else know about it.