Sunday, May 29, 2011

The J.T. Fairall WWI Letters: (9) January 5, 1918

In J.T. Fairall's ninth letter written during WWI, he expressed his joy over the deliciousness of a fruit cake his mother sent him (back when fruit cakes weren't the jokes of desserts).  He celebrated the fruit cake with some champagne that he and some other fellow pilots shared.  He got over his recent cold that he had and was sleeping well with a new comforter that he needed due to the bitter-cold temperatures of the French winter. The closest town was apparently about nine miles away, so the isolation must have made the winter feel all the more chilly.  The small things, like a tobacco pipe he had just received along with the fruit cake, seem to make a big difference for him.

On the last page of his letter, an F.J. Lloyd, 1st Lieutenant, scribbled his name down, presumably someone who was assigned to ensure letters contained no sensitive or confidential details that could be used by the enemy. 


Dear Mother

I received your box last night and had a party at once.  We had two quarts of champagne that we were saving for some unexpected occasion and they surely went fine with the fruit cake.  I don't believe I ever tasted any fruit cake that tasted better.  I invited three other fellows who have bunks in my alley to join me and we were all hunting for the stray crumbs.  I surely did need everything that the box contained and I want to thank all.

At the time that I wrote my last letter I had a little cold but I stayed indoors for a day or two and soon got over it.  It has been very cold here for the last couple weeks and of course going from about 35˚ to 7˚  below is bound to give you a little cold.  When the cold snap started Ottis Williamson to get me a comforter in town and I have been sleeping like a log since.  The town is about 9 mi. away and is nothing more than a village the size of Shepherdstown^ so I have only been in once since my arrival.

When Raynor comes out I wish that you would thank him for the tobacco and pipes.  I broke the one that I brought along so you can see how I needed it.  Tell Milton to write and tell me some of the happenings.  Hoping to hear from all soon.  

I am
Your loving son

J.T. Fairall
Aviation Section Signal Corps
% B.M.C.

[FJ Lloyd
1st Lt. ASSORC]

* Though J.T. wrote 1917, the context and known timeline would indicate that it was actually 1918.  Writing 1917 for the previous twelve months made this an understandable error.

^ Shepherdstown, West Virginia was the home of many Fairall relatives - and it was where J.T. went to college before the war.  To give meaning to J.T.'s reference to Shepherdstown's population, in 1920 the town had 1,063 residents [Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1920 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1921), 314, "Table 51, Population of Incorporated Places."].

Envelope (front)
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3