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Letters to Helen Lahiff

  These are letters that my Grandma Helen Gerber (nee Lahiff) had kept from her high school years (1917 - 1922). During this time Helen was living at 1412 14th Ave North, Minneapolis MN. All the envelopes have their original stamps too. I have transcribed them in date order.

To: Loretta in c/o Mrs Helen Lahiff, 1314 14th Ave no.
From Art

Nov 1.
My dearest wife.
I am sending you a hdkf in place of the one I lost for your. Hope you see it the same way as I do wify. You know that ever since we parked I didn't even look at a girl so be true to me dear. Hoping that we will make our two lives as one in the near future. I remain your loving hubby - Art (over). You know I am getting old and you can readily see that by my scribbling on the envelope. If you should happen to find your other hdkf keep this for your wedding present. You know that wedding put me into bankrupcy.

From: Catherine Lahiff, 424 3rd St. Hudson WI
Dec 4,
Dear Helen
Agnes and Jennie are better and Mame came down with the Flu Tuesday morning, but she is feeling better today. Please excuse this writing because I am writting this in the Post Office.
I assume this letter> to be from Catherine Lahiff - Helen's grandmother
From: Emmett, Rubena?? Germany
Jan 10, 1918
Hello Helen,
Enclosed I find a few post cards showing the senery around this place.
 This sure is a pretty place. How are you getting along with your studies.
Why don't you write once in a while.
Will write again in a few days, Love Emmett.
(OK ... 1st Lt U.S.A.)

From: Emmett Lahiff
July 27, 1918
5:30 pm

Dear Mother,
Just leaving this place for camp. This is about the best place we struck yet.
We stayed here about 3 hours. We went up to the Y.M.C.A. and had a swim & shower bath. It was sure good to get a bath.
It was raining here this morning but it is nice again this afternoon and is getting warmer.
We passed through cotton fields & tobacco plantations it is a pretty sight & is a dandy trip. Chattanooga is situated in the center of moutains and on one of the mountains they have a tower that you can see seven or eight states. do not know how high it is.
I am now on my way to Atlanta, Geo it is about two hundred and forty miles from here and is the next big town we will strike. I don't suppose we will get there until 10 or 11 o'clock.
Well, mother I suppose you miss the ford already but never mind you will have one sooner or later. Will write to each of the girls and Ray as soon as I get to camp. It is pretty hard to write on the train.
I don't know if you will get all my letters or not. I wrote them on the trains and threw them off at some of the small towns so I can't say if they will be mailed or not.
Will write again as soon as I get in camp which will be tomorrow.
Best Regards, Emmett.

From: Emmett Lahiff
July 27, 1918
Hello Babe,
this is some trip we passed through the old battle grounds and some of the national cemeteries, we stopped at Stony Creek.
There was a big battle fought here and lots of other places but I forget the names of the places.
Babe your fudge was swell but the other candy got soft on me I guess the heat but it was good anyhow.
Am writing this on the train am on my way to Atlant Geo and from there to South Carolina.
Love to all, Emmett

Regimental Union
Co. B
56th Pioneer Infantry
(1st ME H.F.A.)
Camp Wadswroth

Aug 2, 1918
From Emmett
Hello Helen,
I was going to write to you for a long time but did not get time. How are you and all the family. Have been expecting a letter from you or someone at home today but was dissapointed.
I am sending you under seperate cover a banner of our regiment with one star on it. I would not get one with two stars on it so had to take the one.
I hope you will like it, I was trying to get a pillow with three stars on it but they were out of them.I received som eof my uniform tonight, belt, hat?? and sack. I will get my hat and coat tomorrow as soon as I get my full uniform I will send send you a picture of me.
How is Beauty, does he miss us much. Say that candy you made fro me was just swell & did not smell a bit but the white candy was all sticky. I will send my clothes home next week I think if I get my uniform.
I think we will leave here in about 4 or 5 weeks thats what everyone says anyway. I am not sure though.
Well Babe I will have to close as it is now dark and I can't see to write anymore.
Be sure to write to me as soon as you can. Would like to hear from home.
Are you working yet. I hope you don't work for $30.00 per like I am. Pretty stiff believe me.
If you have an old fountain pen around the house send it to me I broke the pen point on mine.
Love to you & whole family.
Emmett, not private until further notice. (Good Night) I have to go to bed 9/30 pm.

From: Emmett Lahiff, Co B., Camp Wadsworth, Spartansburg SC
Aug 7, 1918
Dear Sister Helen:
Why don't you write to your big Soldier borther once in a while. I thought sure I would get a letter from you before now.
Well Babe the hear here is certainly fierce. It was 124 degrees in the shade but who wants to be in the shade.
I recieved my second inoculation last night and my arm is mighty sore. I did not sleep very much with it. I had to sleep on my back because I was inoculated in both arms. It sure is fine. All I need to have now is one more.
Say Babe if you have anytime at all please make just a little bit of candy and send to me. I know it will be soft when it gets here but I will get a bit out of it.
I don't have to work today on acocunt of my arm. They are afraid the heat will get us. It got quite a few already
In Arabell's letter she wanted to know if I took my scapulars I have them on one it must be Leo's.
I received a letter from Art last Thur. Aug 1st, he is feeling fine and expects to shoot for record today and tomorrow - Wed, Thur. I hope he makes good. I know he will.
I hope they send me out of here pretty soon.
Say Babe they just distributed the mail here and I did not get a thing. Very much disappointed too. Expect one soon.
Well I will have to close, I am pretty tired writing, this is my 5th letter this morning, I just got through writing to Art, MacDonald, Mrs. Altier, Mrs. Schmitz. How is Leon, tell her to write to me. I would like to see her again. Sorry I was not at home, Babe show her a good time if you can as they treated me just fine and I appreciated it.
Be sure to do this and if you need some money ask Mother for some of mine, as much as you need.
Babe be sure and write to me as a letter is the only thing that can cheer anybody up. Believe me babe I won't forget it when I get home.
Wishing you all kinds of good luck to you and the whole family.
With Love, Emmett.

From: Leo Lahiff
Aug 13, 1918
Camp Wadsworth SC
Dear Arabell,
Just now rec. my Sweater & that small box of candy & believe me I never tasted anything so good in all my life I also rec. a nice big box of candy from Miss Pysick and it is sure great. I never knew before how good home made candy was. Am taking this time to write as there is something going to happen. It is now 4pm and more called in. An orderly came out on the field and delivered a message to the captain and immediately the whole Co. assembled to come in. We got orders not to leave our Co. street & I therefore think probably we will move to the port of imbarkation, I sure hope we will. We started to work at 6:30am this morning & worked harder then any day before it is 135 degrees in the shade here and my face is all sunburned and is terrible sore. Emmett does not drill any more & I sure hope he will not have to at least until we move from this living hell. I never felt better in all my life. I last about 5 lbs the first week & although I am not as far as I was I now way 9lbs more then when I left. I am hard as a rack & so is Emmett. I know we have a bunch of mail laying around here somewhere from home as I have not rec. any since the one that you mentioned you were sending the package. We drilled with the guns today & that sure was hard. They only weigh 9 lbs & we have to land them on our shoulders so heavy that it seems like @ 109, after about 2 ?? we will also get broke into this. So we should worry. Well I am still a common private but believe me I am not going to be long. The hardest part of army life is to take orders from some of these dough heads. Believe me when I get there some of these nurses will snap her hip & keep going believe me both Emmett and I are going to confession again tonight provided we can get leave of absence long enough. We are now only a couple of blocks from the K L Bldg & have been over there once. I got permissions & I had a 1/2 hr to go over & come back. I sure hate to say do not send me any more canyd or perishable godds, or anything in the line of clothing as I will have to send all cothing & other things that would seem an necessity home as we are not allowed anything but what the Government issues at the port of imbarkation & I do not think I will be here to get the ans. to this letter. However you can all write to this address and it will be forwarded to us. Rentit(?) you rec. a letter of our correct address. I woudl like to get time to sit down & write each and every one in the family but it some times takes a day between act to get one done. I never know when I start a letter when I will finish. I met Jean Culhane the other night he sure is looking fine. he was turned down on the over seas examination & expects to teach school. I only had abt. a 2 min. conversation with him as I was on my way back from my 1/2 hr necreation I had that evening. The sweater and scissors I think will have to be sent back home as I do not think we will be allowed to keep it. However I am going to try awful hard. But believe me there is small chance of you getting the candy home. I want to also thatnk father
pages 7 and 8 are missing .....
ans. as it would probabaly help in in writing you know news out here is awful scarce, especially when we are kept in such close quarters. However we are both feeling fine and are getting along fine but for this unbarable heat, I left a pail of ice water in the tent when we started out and when we returned at 4 it would scold your hands to dip them in to it. So you can imagine the kind of heat we have to contend with. I have a big washing to do and am going to use this nice hot water for it. This is the way we heat our water, leave it in the sun for an hr or too. Have been looking for a camera to have our pictures taken but so far have been unsuccessful. How ever you can expect one any day. I want you all to see the difference in us and how nice and healthy we look. Have not as yet rec. the family picture I asked for so often but expect in the next mail. Well I guess I will close for this time, wishing every body the best of good luck and health.
Love to all Leo.
Leo Lahiff
54th Pioneer Inf. Co. H.
Camp Wadsworth
P.S. address all mail here and in case we are transferred it will also be.

From: Corp. E.J. Lahiff, Co I. 54th Pion. Inf. Am. Exp. Forces APO-914
Dec 13-18, 1918; Longwy France
Dear Helen,
Having a few minute to spare. I thought I would write to you. Received a letter from you quite a while ago containing your picture. You are sure looking fine. I was going to have some taken but it will take a week before I can get them so I have to pospone it as we will not stay here more than 2 days. I expect to go to Germany in a few days and see if I am learn German. I have had enough of French. Was out with Clark Butterfield the day before yesterday. He is the same old guy. Write to him when you get a chance. He is G. Sgt. 13th Machine Gun Co. B. AEF.
Well Babe I suppose you are great on the French by now. How are you getting along on your lessons. How is Alice and Mary and everyone.
This is some German paper and envelopes I am using, we discovered here in a German dump. Car load after car load of paper about 6 cars of candles, sourcrout, cabbage, potatoes, pencils, etc.
This is quite a place it is not damaged a bit by the Germans as this was their Headquarters.
I received a letter from Ray which should have gone to Leo: but there was no news in it except how proud everyone is. Why don't he write a little news about what is doing in Mpls, etc. I have seen and heard enough of Funeral stuff and would like to hear some real news. Next letter you send put in a stick of Juicy Fruit gum.
I have not had a bit of candy for quite a while. For Thanksgiving we had Corn beef hash known as Corn Willie and Corn beef known as Monkey meat and hard tack when we arrived here all we had to eat for 4 or 5 days was Corn Willie no bread or coffee or any thing but Corn Willy. I sure will get on to those Mince pies and cake when I get home. All I am going to eat for a month is Cake, pie, and candy so get ready.
I expect to be on my way home some time in February at least I hope so. Well I will have to stop using all the German ink so will say good bye.
Your loving brother Emmett.
Give my love to all the family and tell Uncle Jim Clark sends his regards to all.

From: Emmett in Rubenach Germany
Jan 19th, 1919
Dear Helen,
The enclosed "A"s are Insigns of the 3rd Army which of course you know is the Army of Occupation. I wear these on my left arem. How do you like them.
I am going to Coblenz and try and have my picture taken. Tried to have them taken yesterday but they were to busy and would not take anymore.
Will have to close for this time. Write soon. I am trying to write every day now so if you miss a letter let me know. Say why did you not send Carl Grabow a box of stuff if he makes a trip over here he could mail as much as a 20lb box from England.
If I only knew he made a trip over here I would have put you wise to this. Lots of the sailors have done this.
How is he getting along and when does he expect to see home.
Let me know Ralph Hagins address if he is in Germany I will look him up.
Love to all

From: Leo
Jan 28, 1919
Mulheim Germany
Dear Sister Babe;
Your letter of Jan ? rec. today and am sure glad to hear from you and to know that everybody at home are well. Am also glad to hear Art is back home and working again. He sure is lucky. Have not the slightest idea as to when we will be leaving for the other side but are living in hope that it will not be long as we are all darn anxious for that day to come. Babe can not understand why you do not hear from me as I have been writing home an average of 3 to 4 letters weekly. also am growing anxious to hear weather you received the hankerchief I sent you from Baing (?) France. You say Beauty is getting fat will you had ought to see Emmett. Met him about three weeks ago and he sure is looking great. Met ?? in Coblenz last Saturday and he said Emmett was in town that day, looked for him but to my ? did not have the fortune of running into him. Am anxious to hear weather he rec. his xmas pres. or not. At the present writing am still waiting for mine and am almost ready of giving it up as lost.I presume by this time you have again started to school - after that said enforced vacation you have had. Yes Babe I know just how hard it was on you to be forced to stay home from school. and presume the lights were burning all night with you studying (how about it?).
Pray you do not want to get puned (?burned?), as I have written you numerous letters and some of these fine day you will have reading matter to take. Care of you for a week. Yes. day I have recieved a good many more letters from you than I have from any one else and wish to thank you for same.
The weather here is been very moderate, we have had a couple of light snow storms but the snow only lasted a few hours.
Well Babe ?? is awful scarce so will close for this time hoping this will find you all in the best of health.
Your Loving Bro, Leo.
Thank you so very kindly for sum sent me wiht letter. It sure hits the right spot and am darn glad to get it. Babe you know Hershy Bars just fits in an envelope fine.

From: Emmett in Rubenach Germany
Feb 11, 1919
Recieved your letter dated Jan. 20th and am sure glad to hear from you. You surely must have received my letters sent from here. and I know that all of them could not get lost, as I wrote one letter every day for over two weeks.
I will tell you the truth about this place. The country is very beautiful, and we see some wonderful sights around here, but the people? You know it isn't the country its the people that live in it. I am going to take a trip down the Rhine some Sunday in the near future. They say that is a wonderful trip and I am going to find out for myself. They also say this is a wonderful place in the Spring. I think it must be They have no winter here at all. It gets a little cold but not enough to do any harm.
As for when I will be home. The only sure answer I can give for this is "when I get there." I think we will be over here for a long time yet. I expect to see good hot weather here before we leave. As for being home Easter I may be home for Easter 1920.
Helen I am sorry but as yet I have not had my picture taken, but I expect to have them taken before I leave here. I may go over to Coblenz this week some time and if I do I will surely have them taken. I would like to see myself in uniform as well as you.
I have heard that the 4th A.Aircraft have gone home, and I suppose quite a few of the boys from the old 56th Pioneer Inf. are with them. I don't see what they came over here for anyway. They were all back in the S.O.S. so if they try to tell you anything about being up on the front don't believe them as they don't know what it is to be under Shell Fire. When we get back, if we ever do, we will be able to tell you what war is like.
I see Jimmie Fitzsimons nearly 10 or 15 times a day, nearly every time I go out. He is looking fine. Say about him getting a medal for bravery, He may have an Iron cross which he bought in Coblenz, but nearly every on of the boys here have one of them. I also have one which I bought. Or he may have received a medal for saving a couplf of cans of Corned Willy. or something like that, outside of that he has none.
I received the Ascension Messenger with your letter, the other messengers I received I could not read them as they were all wet and stuck together. I see that some of the boys are mustered out already. I suppose the town is full of soldiers that are mustered out. Say did you receive the insignia I sent you the letter "A" which represents the 3rd Army. Army of Occupation.
How do you like it. I think that we have the prettiest insignia of all the troops that are in the third Army. It really looks the neatest.
I have not seen Leo for over a month but some of these nice days I am going to borrow the Majors hose and ride over there. He is in the next town from here about five kilos. It is almost ot far to hike.
I suppose I have told you that I am now working for the Major. I have it pretty soft, only that I have to hang around the office all the time. I spend my time beating the Major at checkers and solitary. Say that is about all he does not is play solitary, I sure have him after that game. He sure is the best fellow I have ever worked with or for. In fact I have never seen or heard of any Officer playing or mixing with the enlisted men until I got acquainted with him.
I will soon be wearing a service bar. I will be over here six months the 12th of March, and on that date I will decorate myself with a service stripe. The service stripe is a gold "V" which is worn on the left arm about four inches from the end of the coat sleeve. I feel like a rookie now that I have no stripe. Nearly all the Army of Occupation have been over here for over a year and have two or three stripe. We are about the only part of the third Army that have no bar at all. But cheer up I may be here long enough to have two or three myself. This is some thing anyway. All the boys that have not been up to the front will wear a silver stripe, so you will be able to distinguish them.
I have been trying to locate Clark Butterfield, but as yet I cannot find out where he is, I wrote him a letter but have received no answer. I suppose he is still in France, as I have inquired around if there was a 13th Machine Gun Bn. in Germany and I found that there was none.
Just before we left France I was informed that Clark was in the 2nd Army, so I have come to the conclusion that he is still in France.
Say Leo must have been telling stories behind my back, as for gaining 40 pounds, say do you think I want to look like Mr. Ebert. I should say not. Not on the feeds that we are getting. Its impossible. I have not changed a bit since I left home. so you can just get your mind off of seeing me any different.
Well I guess I will have to close, as news is mighty scarse around here, This is a small town and nothing happens to amount to any thing. Only it looks as though Peace will never be signed.
Be sure and write more often, as about all I can write about is answers to your questions, and I surely like to write.
With love to all the folks, and also you little sister.
(This letter was typed and below it hand written is"OK D. BS??? Major - Love to Helen from me too.)

From: Corp. E.J. Lahiff, Co. I 54th Pioneer Inf. AEF Germany
Rubenach Apr 5, 1919
Dear Helen,
Recieved your most welcome letter dated March 15th and was very pleased to hear from you.
I am very glad to hear that you received the money I sent home. Now i won't have to worry about it.
About Leo's allotment I understand that quite a few of the boys htat made out allotments have not been paid a cent on them, and some of them do not get paid at all. I think that is some mess. I think it is the way they handle it in the Regiment. Anyway you or Leo will get it when he gets mustered out.
What is the reason that Dad did not get all his pay from O'Nill? Did he quit him or was he laid off.
I received all the gum and Hershys you sent me and it certainly was good. Wish you would send me the Sunday paper. Would like to see one.
Helen I am certainly am sitting on top of the world in this mans army. I have drilled only three days since I was over here and was on guard once, and that was on account of so many of the others being sick. They were in a pinch and of course I came to the rescue. I stood guard for two days and nights that time, would not have had to do it that long only we were guarding Duth prisoners and they certianly had to be guarded believe me.
Jimmy Fitzsimmons came back from the Hospital yesterday. He lost quite a bit of weight but is feeling good. He will soon pick up. He was too fat in the first place. He was getting almost as fat as I am. That's saying quite a bit.
I am also glad to hear that you received the handkerchief I sent you, did the rest of the folks get theirs, Grandma and them. I hope they receive theirs as I dont' want them to feel slighted. If they didn't you can tell them they have one coming.
How is Mrs. Crotty and Mrs. Watkins, Mrs. Gambert and the rest of the highbrows getting along. Is every one around there OK. Give my regards to them. Little girls don't be peeved at me for not sending you my picture as you have one coming. It is enclosed in this letter, a good one too. I mean I think it is and say if you don't like it you can give it to Mrs. Crotty, also notice the A. on the boy and the gloves. Classy thats what I mean.
I notice din the Star and Stripes today, "of which I will send you a copy" that ll the COmbat divisions except those in the 3rd Army will be home by July by the looks of this poor Leo am Emmett will be here an awful long time. Doesn't that sound nice. Someone is always hanging around with the crypl(?). Well all we can do is laugh and be merry.
I am going over to see Leo tomorrow or the next day. I have not been over there at all yet.
Elmer Nelson is still with us and talk about fat believe me that boy is sure putting it on. He is trying to get a discharge. I hope he get it.
I never thought I would spend my birthday in Germany and also Easter. One thing I won't have to buy new cloths this Easter. Saving money for the Government.
We certainly are having some wonderful weather here now. Sure does give me the Spring fever.
There is a church across the river that is the most beautiful church built. The Major was over to see it adn he was telling me that he did not see the like. He claims it has the Notra Dame and other big churches in Paris and London beat all hollow adn he was showing me a picture of it.
He claims there are statues all around the garden etc. every place you look and the altar is theh prettiest he ever saw.
I am going over to see it and will send you some views of it and will tell you all about it.
This is very hilly country and I was out for a ride on the nag. we went up in the hills to get a good look at the country and was riding along amongst the hills and we came to a certain hilll that had all kinds of grape vines on it. on a certain road that leads to the top I noticed statues of our Lord and discovered that it was the Stations of the Cross. it sure was some sight. Nearly all the towns and along the roads you will run into shrines etc. This certainly is a great place for statues etc. thats about all you see around here.
How is your big sister Arabell getting along. How dose married life agree with her; did they build a house or buy one or are they living in the same place? Will I guess this is all I have to say for this time. I hope I will hear from you again in a few days.
I certainly do like to receive letters as for answering them that is the hardest thing I strike. Anyway I manage to get courage enough to answer your letters so keep on writing and I will answer them.
Will ring off for the present.
Love to all the family.