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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Can’t Get Enough of That 1916 Summer in Yellowstone

You probably thought we were all finished with letters to Bee Boedefeld from her Yellowstone pals, but no! They apparently all shared in the feeling that they had just shared in an extraordinarily magical experience, and they kept in touch for months, and sometimes for years.

To help in reading these letters, here is a cast of characters who were in Yellowstone in the summer of 1916, mostly working for the Wylie Permanent Camping Company.

Deaux Drop Inn (Tent #60): Beatrice “Bee” Boedefeld, Rae Wylie, Cora Cunningham, Dorothy “Dick” Loeffler, sisters Vessie and Perla Caughey.

Women Savages: Maud “Fergie” Ferguson (Nurse), Helyn “Fish” Fisher, Helen “Billie” Wilson, Martha “Mart” McNary, Martha “Martie” or “Johnnie” McIlvain, Gula Frewe, sisters Clara and Tillie Sample, sisters Garnet and Elsie Rhodes, Nance Kelly, Mary McKelvy, Isabelle Todd (cook), Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Mueller (laundress), Katherine “K-k-k-katie” Mueller, Esther, Margaret Pearson, Edna Parkinson, Frances Cattrell, Helen McCutcheon, May Stanley, Miss Hall

Men Savages: Millard “Mird” Mecklem, Fred “Spooks” Stroeter, Bill Litchfield, Frank Vetter, “Honey” Ed Klingensmith, Erwin “Pinkey” Johnson, Lloyd Strong, Virgil “Cupid” or “Lovey” Evans, Raymond “Steve” Stevens, Jimmie Miller, Eugene “Gene” Eleson, Archer “Bobby” McCartney, Tex Matthews, “Dallas,” Mr. McClellen, Al “Handyman” Shrader, Mr Corson (plumber), Mr Green, Mac Smith, Slim Francis, Phil McNutt, Ray Lyall, “Kewp” (a pal of Gene’s whose name was never linked to identify him); Kentuck (boss of the wrecking crew)

Tour Guide: Roy Stoddard

Coach Drivers: Little Eva (not identified otherwise), Jack “Doc” Condon, John “Shorty Green” Donahue, Ivan J. Allen, George Miller, George Bowles, Red Maxwell, Red Barrett, Harrison “Harry” Ison, George Chidlow, Gordon, Percy “Ozzie” Osborne, Jay Walker, Red McMahon, Chip Samuels, Mike Stoyek, Fuller, Tony Grass, Lee, King, Frank Toner, Earl Seward. 

Bosses: “Lady Mac” Miss McCartney, “matron” Elizabeth Johnston, assistant matron Myra McBride, Mr. Greer, Mr. Moorman.

Letters to Bee from Wylie Savages Other Than the Deaux Drops

[undated pink card, 2"x4"]

Dear Bea: —I’ve reached home at last. Didn’t want to come home a bit, but I guess the home folks tho’t I’d been away quite long enough.

I found New Castle just the same old dead town it was before I left. Don’t believe a thing has changed in all these three months.

I had some more pictures from Frank yesterday. Johnnie & Fish came over from Sunday School to see them & naturally we talked Yellowstone for an hour. We are already planning to go back next year.

I had a card yesterday from Clara, they were in Portland & expected to reach San F—Friday.

I am expecting to go to work the last of the week so suppose I have to consider my vacation ended.

Well must cease for I have a number of notes to write this evening.

Sincerely yours,
Billie [Helen Wilson]

Sunday evening
New Castle.
[Oct. 6, 1916]
My dear Bee: –

Your good letter received some few days ago. I was “deelighted” [Teddy Roosevelt’s distinctive way of saying this word was a current fad] to hear from you and so glad to have the pictures. I am enclosing four. I did not get a great many myself for you know it was rather taxing on me to focus but the pictures I did take came out rather well, far better than I expected.

Did not know whether you had one of “Goggles”? so am sending one of him, one of our main street in the snow, one of Doc and Frank, thought the pose rather unusual, and of course you can scarcely see the driver back of “Red,” but you can guess who the “Scissor Bill” is. The one I took of his coach was one of my failures.

Well B, you dear savage I suppose you are working as busily as ever. I am still at home, but am going to work right soon to earn money to go to Y.N.P., “strange,” did I hear you remark? Yes B. we are all planning to return and shall continue to plan until we find it useless.

My mother has been quite ill since I came home but is quite all right again.

Spent two evenings this week rehearsing for a small pageant, which we presented last evening, after which we raided the restaurant and had a feed. It was most like going to the kitchen after curfew. Mrs. Guy, our dear chum and chaperone was with us as she usually is in all our mad pranks. She is a physician’s wife and a second mother to we twelve girls. Her home is our home too and we go there and take sole possession. Our dramatic club is going to open rehearsals soon. There were ten of us last year and at one of our plays last season we cleared over one hundred dollars.

Billy [Helen Wilson] started to work last Monday and Mart is busy at home. Spooks was here the Thursday after we came home, of course he was at Mart’s but I saw him. Says he and a chum “Squirrels” are going out in a machine next year, painted yellow with “Spooks” on one side and “Squirrels” on the other. Have heard from quite a bunch of the “kids” and our own three from Paradise are enjoying California. Neither Tillie nor Clara have positions yet and I guess Nance is at the beach with her brother and his wife. Have heard from Ned B., Little Eva, Nance, truck driver, Clarence G., our own old Steve several times, our girls, Cora, Peggy P., Courtney Werner, (a complete surprise) and Honey Ed. Had a lovely letter from Gula from San Diego and what do you think? Can’t you guess? Why B. she too wants to go back next year. Gula the only one who seemed discontented, she wrote a splendid letter. Yesterday I had a good old letter from Kewp and that poor boy suffered again with an infected finger. He and Gene are back in school, working together. Gula said she had seen Dallas in a Football lineup on a Movie Screen in San Diego. That would be a case of “Lookin’ at you.” Mart had a card from Shorty Green from Chicago. Billy possibly told you of Shorty on the way to Riverside raving about his dirty deal. Well I spent Wednesday evening with Elizabeth J. and she told me that Shorty had hidden his baggage the morning of the first, determined to start on the wrecking crew. Mr. Greer told him he could either ride out that morning or walk out. So he rode but that was the reason of his tardiness. Well at Riverside he told Lady Mac a great story and again hid his baggage and did manage to stay until the fifth but was sent out then. Wasn’t he a queer character?

Mr. Miles had written to Elizabeth still expressing sympathy for the Geyser people so E. thinks we shall have no trouble in getting back if we care to go. So I am passing on the good word. The wrecking crew left the fourteenth and had experienced both cold and snow before they left.

Cora is coming up in a few weeks and I think we shall have a Savage reunion then our Savage Ball at the Fort Pitt comes still later. B. I am writing in a bright sunlight and I cannot see what I have written so excuse if I do not have all the letters in my words.

Have spent the time at home entertaining callers and talking with my savage mates for we thus cling rather close. Spent one day in the country, motored eighteen miles from here and saw an old chum, whom I had to tell about the summer. You will be dead tired reading this but do write again because I enjoyed your letter so much,

Your true savage lover
Helyn F.

[The following letter was undated but internal evidence puts it on 11 October 1916.]

New Castle, Pa.
Wednesday afternoon
Dear “Bee”: –

Your charming and most welcome letter was received some time ago and would have answered sooner, but was waiting until I had some pictures printed. The ones I thought would be the best, I sent to Pittsburg a month before we left the park and they have never been returned. Maybe some day some one will come to his senses and have heart enough to send them. I[f] people only knew how we prize these park pictures, they would have them here in double quick hurry. Not so?

The pictures you sent are splendid and I appreciate them so much. You know it was always my intentions to take some pictures of the “Deaux Drop Inners” but having put it off from time to time I never got them. Here’s hoping we get some next year of the same (Y) crowd. That really sounds too good to be true. Doesn’t it?

I don’t have a picture of Chip Samuells and I am so sorry for I liked him. Had a very nice letter from him from Widsom, Mont. yesterday. Was surprised but then I like surprises of that kind.

The pictures I am sending, I thought pretty good, of course the subjects have a great deal to do with it, and I can think of no better subject than the humble “Doc” Bower. I wonder why? The other picture was taken down by the Firehole River the day we went to Biscuit Basin.

Have been pretty busy doing society and the like. Last evening was at a party for a recent bride who is leaving soon to make her home in Niles, Ohio. To-night to see Maud Adams in “The Little Minister.” To-morrow our Book Club meets to select our new books and afterwards we expect to attend the fireworks. You know, on Columbus Day, which happens to be to-morrow, the Italians always celebrate with a great display of fire works and every one turns out to see them.

Haven’t heard any recent gossip so will close for this time. Write soon and often for I like to hear from you.


[dated at the end of the letter 2 November 1916]

Dearest Bee:—

Lookin’ at you, oh! I guess not that, “whad’dye” mean lookin’ at you? Well, at least I can say I am thinking of you all as I often do. Have been back at work for nearly two weeks and I am not one bit crazy about it but the money looks good to me. Everything is happening much the same. Last Friday, Fergie the darling came to see us. I had the other Savages in and we talked late and long. Wanted to have some other girls in too but decided our one sided chatter would not be pleasant for an alien. I had the dear, that night, Saturday, Elizabeth Johnston had Fergie, Tillie and myself there for luncheon. Tillie had returned the Wednesday before. Saturday evening your dear old pal, Cora came and I carried her home with me. Fergie was with Tillie. Sunday Spooks came and we six girls and poor lone Spooks went to the Park and spent the afternoon taking pictures. I hope they turn out well. He seemed not in the least embarrassed—“Strange,” did I hear you remark?

Sunday evening I had the girls for dinner and then we were all out at Billy’s. Spooks went home, Fergie stayed with Johnny and I had Cora. The two girls returned home Monday morning. Fergie enters the hospital the first to relieve another nurse. Had a letter from Esther and she has entered the Braddock hospital for training. Had a card from Army to-day and a letter from Clara, fear from the tone of her letter she is a mite homesick. Sunday she and Nance were going hiking with Bill and Lloyd. We had our evening of witches and ghosts Tuesday, celebrating with a parade. Did not take part. Wednesday evening attended a dinner and slumber party.

To-day invested in a new black hat trimmed in gourd and a white georgette blouse. Some swell, oh! I guess not that.

Bee don’t work too hard and when you have a few minutes to let your hand go to “waist” send it to New Castle. Write soon and often to your

Ever lovin’
Savage Helyn.
11 01/2/’16 spent the evening with Johnny

[Picture postcard of hand drawn poinsettia leaves and currants around a verse: “I am coming for Thanksgiving/ Just that alone makes life worth living”; postmarked New Castle, Pennsylvania.]

Geyser Savage Reunion at seven thirty Friday evening December first at Y.W.C.A. parlour New Castle. Come.
R.S.V.P. H.R. Fisher
317 Nevvee Ave.

[Next letter is dated at the end.]

My dear: —

On this Sunday afternoon, dull, cold and lonely, I shall attempt to answer your duck of a letter received several days ago. Am always glad to hear from Bee and, Bee-lieve me, that magazine of yours is as cute as red shoes. It came Friday morning, and I toted it to the Y. that night so we had you there in spirit if not in body. All the kids were enthused with your Geyser masterpiece and enjoyed it to the full. Mr. Bierman was my dinner partner and he was one of the first to read it. He was so pleased with your remark of the U.P. and the jest at the N.P. Well Bee dear, that book has to go the rounds here and then strikes out for Beaver Falls. However I do want it returned and again my dear, lest I forget, I know you were at an expense to do that and wish you would let me help you on the financial end. Will you? Spooks wanted to know where I bought it and I felt right proud to tell the Spook that it was the work of a pair of Geyser hands. Am enclosing a clipping of the Herald’s account of our reunion. One name was omitted, that of M.M. Mecklem, garbage man, you know. Ha. Ha.

Elizabeth called Tillie and I a week ago and wanted the reunion at Thanksgiving time, thinking it would be such a splendid chance for the school people. Well we were not much enthused so early but let her have her way, and she decided on Thursday evening. Result, we could not have either Y.M. or Y.W. that evening as they were not serving, so then we two suggested Friday evening and all went well. So we finished our plans and Tuesday morning she told me she could not be there, that she had planned otherwise before. You will read in the cut that there were just a few from last year and Myra could not be with us. I had a telegram from Lloyd, sending good wishes and saying that the five savages there were having a like feast in Hotel Rosselyn. Would love to see them all. Spooks was as “fool” of deviltry as ever and Mird behaved very nicely. The place cards were Greeting cards in envelopes, with a question on the outside and we were supposed to know to whom they applied. Mine was “When did Kilboy turn to be Kill-girl.” Do you remember when I was wearing a skinned nose? Well of course Honey Ed did not know that I saw but dimly and one Sunday evening Martha (Johnny) and Slim and Honey Ed and I were coming up Pine Street and I decently walked into a tree, my glasses skinned my nose. Sounds absurd doesn’t it?

Mr. Bierman told me he was sure the machines would rule this season. If it be the truth I have to say I am sorry but our only hope some of the Scissor-bills will become Toot-bills. Eh Bee?

Had a lovely letter from Esther. She said that Mary is in Los Angeles and really likes it there. Also a letter from Elsie Rhodes. She is having one good time, a letter from Kentuck, one from Honey Ed, one from Gene, Mrs. Carson, Dick and Fergie and Clara, recently. Attended the “Spring Bonnet” the twenty fourth, a musical comedy, one chorus of eighty. It was home talent, school kids and girls of my own age. It was clever and good. Held book club last Monday evening and a concert Tuesday. One man sang “The Mammy” song. How my heart did yearn for Gula and the Geysers. Have been making fondant and creamed nine dozen dates this P.M. for our bazaar. Have to attend dramatic to-morrow night and then Mart and I have to mind the booth. Tuesday is the evening of the bazaar. Well Bee dear write often and long, and I never can tell you how this Savage enjoyed and appreciated your work, time and result of both in the deucedly clever magazine. Heap much love and “Hoo-Hoo” for another letter.

A loving Savage,
Dec. 3’—1916. Sunday afternoon.

Dec. 5th 1916.
Dear Bea: —

Am going to steal a few minutes of the company’s time and see if I can dash off a few lines to you.

It seems to me I’m the busiest person alive and still I don’t seem to accomplish much, and just think Xmas will soon be here. I’m certainly not ready for it. I believe I have four gifts ready at the present time. I’m a born procrastinator and I guess it’s cropping out worse than ever this year.

Just after Xmas last year I resolved to begin early, you know the way you always do, and have my gifts ready early, but here I am.

Well we had a savage reunion, of a sort, it wasn’t nearly as nice as he had hoped our first reunion would be but we had quite a jolly time.

We were very much pleased to have our “Union Pacific” friend Mr Geo Bierman with us and very much disappointed and peeved to think Miss J wasn’t there.

She insisted on having it at Thanksgiving time and when the girls decided to have it Friday evening, she didn’t mention having made other arrangements. Then we had so little time to plan, we couldn’t arrange any clever things at all. Our eats were very good though and of course we “reminisced.” We had a telegram from Bill and Lloyd and of course your “Wylie Way Magazine.” That was just as clever as could be. I’ve seen it twice but haven’t been able to peruse it thoroughly yet.

I haven’t gotten my album arranged yet, I’ve been waiting until I would have all of the prints I could get, so that I could group them the way I wished. Had some of Rae’s finished and some of Beas Cora’s, I received just today. Haven’t as yet had the Caughey’s negatives.

After I’m through at the store tonight I have to work at our church supper and bazaar. I’m to be in the novelty booth.

We have been having the most wonderful weather, not a bit like December.

It’s just as sunny and warm as can be. I spent Thanksgiving Day in Greenville, Pa., that day was miserable, we didn’t go anywhere the whole day.

We don’t have to work tomorrow afternoon, (Wednesday) so I think I shall go shopping. I intended to sit for some pictures but I may change my mind.

Well Bea I guess I must cease for I can’t find an interesting thing to tell you about. There is almost nothing doing. Hoping you will answer soon, I am,

Helen Wilson.

[Picture postcard of a group of seven green-haired Kewpies shucking corn in a barn with a black cat and a caption: “If we were both here/ I bet I’d find a red ear” It is postmarked in Los Angeles October 24, 1916.]

Los Angeles Cal.
Oct 23—16 c/o B.D.
Hello Bee,
Am going to be a Californian this winter to keep Rae company. We have a good many “Yellowstone chats.” No one to tell us to “cut out the chin music.”
Clara C. Sample

[Ivan J. Allen’s first letter answers one of Bee’s. It is on blank, heavy note paper, postmarked in Dallas on September 28, 1916.]

Dear “Bee”

No I haven’t gone to Mexico and “got shot” but have been pretty near that far away from civilization. I stopped only one day in Dallas as I came through, back from the park. I went on out home and then on out to the ranch and have been there all the time until day before yesterday when I started for school. I am a little late for my work but by working a little harder for a week, can catch up all right.

Yesterday Fuller showed me some pictures Perla had sent him, one of the “Mule” team at Gibbon (Sept 2). That reminds me of one you took the same noon. Is it any good?

I am sending those we took on our hike. As soon as I get some printed from my others I will send the most interesting.


[His second letter is written on Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, letterhead stationery, and postmarked October 31, 1916]

Dear Bee—

Again I have come to life and have taken a spell of writing to the Savages. I have just finished getting all my pictures printed, and it seems that every one in the park are due several. A few more than nine hundred and fifty prints have been made from my negatives. I am about the only one from Texas who made many pictures, so of course all the Savages want some, then many who were in the Texas party have found I have them and have asked for pictures.

I am not only Asst. in Physics now, but they have given me one section of Gen. Chemistry to teach. It seems there will never be an end to work. Some one said Genius is 99% hard work. Turning that around, I ought to be a genius indeed. I don’t see why I could not have been some good rich man’s son instead of being so good looking, anyway that may be, I wouldn’t have to work.


Sept. 23, 1916
New Castle, Pa.
Dear Beatrice:— Received your letter of the (18th) and rejoiced to hear that there are one more savage who came home and started the hard old grind again. I got home on Saturday in time for supper. Started to work on Monday.

Well Bee my folks did not find me much changed, except that I have got a little fat.

Say I received six pictures from Haynes, Gardiner, Mont., and still have six coming, therefore I think that you shall receive yours O.K.

Say you know that it seems pretty good to hear that some one else had the same fate as myself, but sorry to hear that it was your father.

Bee do you want a fire in the morning?

Can I stay in sixty and rotten log or do I have to go home and go to bed, mother?

I did not have time to see Cora when I was down to Beaver Falls very sorry to say.

Say Bee do you think that you will be back in Yellowstone next summer?

I don’t think it will be possible for me, but you never can tell. I guess the most of the old savages are going back.

Say Bee this town seems dead, just like a Undertaker’s health resort. Would like to go back west and work and thinking very much on that question.

Well Bee I guess I had better close for this time and if you will excuse this writing everything will be O.K. with me. Mind I am an not to be fooled with.

So with the best of wishes, I remain
Your Friend

521 N. Cedar St New Castle
Nov 12, 1916
Dear Bee:

Looking at ye with my feet out the cellar window, but hardly that.

Say Bee, speaking of those peanuts, make me think of my position, you know I work in a peanut foundry. I put wrinkles on peanuts and its some situation.

But that’s not as bad as the joke I heard the other day, don’t tell anybody about it now, any way here is the way it goes. “I wish our army and navy were like a bunch of old maids—always ready, but never called for.” L.D.L.D. e e e e

As I said before every time I lose any thing it’s gone, but that’s not getting the baby the felt boots.

Say you know that I have not had time to get my pictures all to-gether yet, I expect to get some prints of some of the girls here, I have the Daisy Geyser enlarged to size 8”x10” and it’s some picture, but bet Allen has some dandy ones.

Yes, I go down to Dick’s very often at least seven times a week and receive at least two letters a day from her and on Monday I get four making up for Sunday. Oh she’s some girl, I’ll say. I’ll tell the world.

Just wish all my Geyser friends, Oh not geyser friends I mean Dude Friends would write that often.

Have a peanut, no, I got any, but will try one for Old time sake.

Now three – two – one
Deaux Drop – Drop – Deaux
E – EE – E – E E E E E E E E E E E e e

Have some fried rabbit all right get out the kettle that Cora washed her ~~~ in, but listen I’ll tell ye about the hunting trip.

Had the horse shoe buck see and here it is, one cat several rabbits, one skunk two barn yard pheasants one tame cannary bird and one pine chip monk.

Well I hear the foot steps of my second wife so will have to lay off the chin music, with hopes of some class in camp to-night, I close and remain

Your Lone Dog Geyser Friend
as I said before. Ed~

521 N. Cedar St
New Castle Pa.

[undated; probably January 1917]

521 N. Cedar St
New Castle Pa
Dear Bee:

Am looking at you yes, after taking such a long time to get the steam off the glass of my false teeth.

But if you will please forgive me this time, I shall assure you that it shall not happen again. Sure enuf. First, may I ask how you are?

Hoping you are at the best of health and are in the best of condition for your summer of Scissor Bill chasing. And am very sorry to say and regret that I shall not be able to get back to Yellowstone this summer.

Have not been down in Beaver Falls of late. Things have changed Bee, yes to tell the truth it is surprising.

No Bee, have not been hunting, am now working every day at Carnegie Street Co. Machine Shop and that is the only reason I can’t go back to the Park. Miss Johnston was up the other day and said that she would take me back in a min. But can’t get off and it would be foolish to give up my position.

Don’t know how many of the savages are planning on going back but hope all of them success.

Gee it is nice winter weather here about 5 in of snow.

Cora was up on Christmas, and we had a very nice time.

Listen Bee, I know that you think I don’t want to send you the pictures, but honest the negatives have not been at home a week since getting back from the park. You knowing though that I being a man of my word.

Guess I shall take a walk over and see the Daisy play. Perhaps it would be better to see the Riverside play all over the Fire Hole down by the Frying Pan in Mrs Todd’s kitchen.

Bee will you please tell my fortune. Sure enuf. But hardly that.

Well Bee I want to hear from you before you go back to the Park and guess I shall have to leave it to you to tell me of Camp life of 1917~

It’s getting late and now being a man not to be fooled with shall close hoping to hear from you soon.

Your True
Geyser Friend
None genuine without Ed
12:25 P.M.
Before Dinner

521 N. Cedar St New Castle
May 29, 1917
Dear Bee:—

Looking at you, with pen and ink. Are you ready for the park yet? Well, see you at the Giant Geyser right after the dance.


We had so much rain here that the Geysers will not work, play, or ~~~~.

Vessie, Perla and Dick were in New Castle last Sunday. Jimmie Miller is coming on Wednesday.

Would like to have my fortune told but will wait ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.

No I am not working too hard, not me, that is one thing that I never was blamed for. If the candle burns I leave. Wonder if they rotten log in France, if they don’t I am not going.

Them’s All.

Think I can get a position watering the French Diggers. Better than carrying them [bucket picture] at Yellowstone.

How about it? A circle Pow Drill and Ladies choice will be the next dance.

Here are my films at last. Sorry I have been so long, but they have been all over Mexico, South America, Brazil, Chile, Russia, Germany, Servia, Montana, Yellowstone, Geyser Camp, Beaver Falls, and New Castle, Pa.

Well shall close hoping you are happy.

I am.

521 N. Cedar St New Castle Pa.
Jan 21, 1919
Dear Bee:—

Received your letter of the eighteen (18) and sure did enjoy it.

“Bee,” I have not forgot you and don’t think I can because you seemed somewhat like a mother to me.

Bee, you were right, you can’t realize what it means to lose your mother. But, between you and I it is the most terrible thing that can happen. Bee, it is hard to arrange things when mother is gone. And those only know who come through it.

But are you going to Yellowstone in 1919? Think I will try to go in 1920 so keep it in mind.

Had a nice letter from Dick, first in a long time and it made me feel good.

Suppose you are working hard. I am still at Carnegie Steel and like it about as well as taking baggage out to Honeymoon Row on a dark night. Gee don’t you think of the great times we had? Some think I am crazy but I can’t keep from talking about the life worth while.

Well Bee, think I will go to bed, for to-morrow may be a hard old grind.

Remembering you as you were in camp and hope you are happy.

I am
As Ever

Chicago Ill
Oct 18, 1916
Dear Friend:—

I am very sorry for not answering your letter before.

I assure you I would have answered before but I have been expecting to find that said letter which I have misplaced and have been unable to find. I will send it to you if I should ever find it.

I received a letter from Helen Fisher which contained two pictures which she took of me and another fellow in front of the Geyser Office one day.

I have been anxiously awaiting for your pictures given up receiving them.

I have not heard from many of the Park bunch but have from some of my “dudes” and some of my friends in Livingston. One of my friends from Livingston dropped me a line the other day. She said it was snowing while she was writing so you can imagine how sorry I am to be in Chicago.

I am going to School at present and like my course better than ever. Our class numbers about 100 students this year so we ought to have a nice sized graduating class next year.

Hoping that you will write once in a while and that you send me a bid to your wedding.

I am
Yours Sincerely
J.M. Condon

Chicago, Illinois
December 13, 1916
Dear Friend:—

Was very glad to receive your most welcome letter of yesterday. I also want to thank you most sincerely for the pictures you sent me. —I would have done this before only that I misplaced your last letter and did not remember your address therefore kindly overlook my tardiness in this matter.

I hear from some of the park bunch quite often from their winter quarters and from all reports they are all living in their old sphere of life.

I have not seen any of them in Chicago as yet, but might some day, as strange things happen in this big city. I got to school within a half mile of Doc Bowers but have never ran across him.

Our football team played at Valparaiso Ind. and at Gary Ind. this fall. We played an 0 to 0 game with the Apollo A.C. at ValPo but were beaten by Gary. I was manager of this team and also played left halfback. As this is my last year in school I suppose my football days are over and I must take up Golfing or Tennis, two games with are not exactly to my liking.

I am sorry to say that I will not be able to be at the “Big Doings” on New Years Eve as I am going to be very busy that day and evening, selling cranberries, mince meat, poultry, etc. to the starving, hungry, and over-fed tax-payers of my neighborhood.

I am with you heart and soul in your “get-together enterprise” and wish you all a “glorious time.”

If I do not get time to write you again before the holidays and your banquet I want you to give my regards to all the “bunch” when they call the roll.

If you should drop into Chicago before the holidays drop a bum nickel in a telephone box and say “Hello.”

Yours Sincerely
Jack C.

[The next letter is from Shorty Green, giving his side of the story of how he managed to stay in Yellowstone Park after he was supposed to leaved with the rest of the Savages.]

3975 Vincennes Ave
Chicago, Ill
Oct 24, 1916.
Dear “B”: —

Received your letter and the films a few days ago. I also got the card you sent to Des Moines.

Yes I had the satisfaction of still being in the Park when Miss Johnson and old “Pap” Greer had to leave. They tried awfully hard to get me out but I got to stay longer than they figured on. That was the worst piece of spite work I ever heard of. Lady Mac phoned them the morning the bunch had to leave to keep me on the wrecking crew and they came out and deliberately lied to me saying the orders were for me to go out. You couldn’t blame me for being sore could you, after I had expected to stay on the crew all along?

Speaking of smashing your thumb reminds me of the time I caught mine in the lid of a washing machine. That was two years ago last summer over at Riverside. Feels “fine”? doesn’t it?

I have had cards and letters from several savages. Got a card from Helyn “Fish” today. Chapman and I were in Salt Lake several days but were not so unfortunate as Ed was. I presume he didn’t discover it for some time after it happened.

Am sending you those pictures you ordered. Should like to see your book. I have never put any of my pictures in an album so far but expect to some time.

I like “Chi” fine. Am working at Sears Roebuck & Co. Do you ever get up to this town? If you do let me know. Let me hear from you.

As ever
Jno Donahue.

[undated, autumn 1916. Contains numerous spelling and grammatical errors]

Sunday Evening
Hello Bee: — Received your letter some time ago but have had to many college activities mixed in with studies to find very much time to write. Maybe when you try to read this letter you will wish I possessed a typewriter too.

Gee but it does seem fierce to have to study again, but never-the-less it seems to agree with me for I have gained twenty whole pounds, my clothes are beginning to fit me again for a change. It is surely hard to get use to the ways of civilization again.

Bill and I took Clara and Nancy up in the mountains the other Sunday we had a dandy time. It seems that every Savage I have heard from are planning strongly on going back. Well so is this chick too.

I have been having a dandy time in college between study hours. We have a dandy peppy class.

O yes thank you very much for those pictures I haven’t been home long enough to get my fixed up yet.

Well I must stop for it is getting late and I am a sleepy boy. I have several classes tomorrow to start the week off with. Write again when ever you find time

As ever
Smiley Hall

New Castle, Penn.
Dec. 11 – 16.
Miss Beatrice Boedefeld,
My dear Bee: –

Yours most welcomely received a long time ago (including the pictures) and I should have answered it sooner, but Helyn said she was writing you about the Reunion so thought I would wait as there would be no news (what do you mean no news?).

Have just been reading your magazines and they are sure interesting, the first one is just a copy of the one you sent minus the pictures. What do you mean “Tillie Sample on the dash board”? Hardly that.

I just had two most interesting letters from Nance and Clara. Nance spent ate her Thanksgiving dinner at the famous “Old Mission Inn” at Riverside, which I certainly envied her. She tells me that they had a poinsettia growing at their front or back window (she had forgotten which) that had fifty-two blooms. Me for California.

Sure wish you had been at our Reunion and several more people that I know of. While we had a good time it was not what it should have been. These reunions are nice but if we only had a few more Savages, a few skinners & scissorbills, the[y] would be better. We are looking forward to the big one between Xmas & New Years, date not announced yet.

I see you have named the auto drivers “toot scissorbills” very good, you know they called Bliler & Nance “brainless scissorbills” last year. I hear it’s a fact that the autos will hold forth next season, just think of it—only three Wylie Camps. I am afraid when I left last year fall, I bid Yellowstone goodbye forever. Ah me, ah me.

Yes, I remember Mabel Zimmerman very well, she was up at our tent, was very sorry to hear she had been so ill. I know Little Eva would feel badly too. I think Kentuck stopped to see her on his way home.

“We all” received cards from friend Geo. Chidlum a short time ago. My I can see him dancing now. Telling us “that it is as near heaven as he ever expects to get.”

Well, so long, dear friend from Deaux Drop, write me soon,

Yours from Paradise,
Tillie (Runt)

December 24th.
Dearest “Bee”: —

At last! Now don’t faint. It’s just Martie at last having time to write a few letters. I’m just so busy this winter I can hardly get a full breath. I leave home every morning at seven-ten and go to my practice teaching “position” in a little high school about twenty miles from here. The kids are perfectly dear—only most of my boys are taller than I am. You’d laugh if you could see me. One of them has a case on me! Oh, my dear old Bee, you should just peek in the door. When the girl in front of him gets up to recite he looks around her and makes me laugh. But he’s sort of good, anyway and none of them are mean.

Then I go from there—only teach two forty minute periods—to school and have classes all afternoon. Get home two nights at eight thirty, two at six and one at six thirty. Am sure busy. Too busy even to study for of course I have to have fun too. Have had some great old times this winter. Then you know Bee, I write a letter to your pack-rat at least once a year! Bee, didn’t you like him a lot? Well, I think he’s a peach. He said if he was back in the park he’d put a wood box in “87” for you! Even if he had to walk to the Inn for it.

You asked me what fraternity Luck, Maxwell and Dallas belonged to, didn’t you? Well it’s Phi Delta Theta. Maxwell is captain elect of S.M.U. football team for next year. Isn’t that great? I guess Lee and McCrary never turned up in Texas again. No one seems to know where they are.

I got a letter from Loner the other day. I think he’s great, don’t you. Sure were some great people out there, weren’t there? Bee, do you ever hear from Rae? I got one big letter from her and it surely was a good one. Haven’t answered it yet. Am going to try to get caught up with my mail this week. I’m an awful correspondent. (Divorce case!)

Well Bee, you asked me what I am—I’m a Zeta Tau Alpha. Tell your sister I know a whole bunch of her sisters. I got a note from Miss Spear—the Theta from Texas—remember?—

Bee, do write soon and forgive my tardiness for you know how busy I am. Be good and don’t forget
Martie. (Lots of love)

[undated greeting card; 1916; from Blackfoot, Idaho]


How is everything back in Indiana. I’ll bet we have the best sleighing here in Idaho. We have 18 inches of snow which makes ideal sleighing and we are sure making the right sort of use of it too. Say, Bee I’ll bet Geyserland would be a great sight now with the 8 or 10 feet of snow and the geysers still playing. I’d like a picture of it. I’ll send your pictures this week.

From a savage Harry Ison.

Blackfoot, Idaho.
Jan. 1, 1917.
Dear Friend: —

Here goes for the first letter in the new year Bee. This is New Year morning at 9.45 and I have been up for one hour and I am going to spend about three hours writing letters to my Savage friends—Except my wishes for a very merry and happy prosperous new year. Four of us fussers (rotton loggers) stole into the school house & rang the old year out and the new one in in great style.

Say Bee I sure would like to be at your Indiana Savage convention or in fact any other Savage meeting because I am crazy about the Park and Park friends. Doesn’t Y Wylie know how to get just the right kind of help. I think more of my Park friend than my college friends, I believe. I sure like to sit and think about the park and our doings up there, and I often get some friend or friends off and get started about Park and I just about talk them to death.

I suppose you will be back to the Park next summer wont you, since you did not get your trip. There will be automobile instead of team transportation and I expect I will be right there driving one and I hope to find a lot of your Geyser people there.

Bee come and go sleighing for sleighing is ideal now and I am out nearly every night but gee it is awful cold from 10 to 20 below zero nearly every night, I’ll bet you haven’t anything half so good in Indiana. Say but I’ll bet the Park would look grand about now with six to twelve feet and the geysers playing busily away and Old Faithful & the trees about two thirds their natural height and draped in snow. If I were not so busy I’d be there, since I’d only have 140 miles to go.

I am a peddagogue teaching the four upper grades can you imagine in boudling kids. Well you ought to see me. I sure make them move around. Realy though I like to teach, It is sure a time killer, The weeks seem but days & the months but weeks. I am thinking of atending the university of Ohio next winter.

After so long a time I am sending you those pictures I took that day of our grand tour around by Iron Creek. I sure well remember that strol and will for a long time to come I’ll bet you thought that I was not going to send them but I’ve intended to do it all of the time but I have been so busy that I have written only a very few letters or done anything but attend to my school but now my bussiest time is past, or I have learned enough about the occupation to know how to take it easy

Well I must close for this time Bee and I hope to hear from you again

From a savage friend
Harrison Ison

University of Illinois
Champaign, Ill.
January 27, 1917
Dear Bee; —

It sure seemed like old times to see those songs again, and to rattle them off on the mandolin and guitar. Enclosed you will find a product of my leisure hours and a rhythmical fit.

I suppose I’ll get time during this vacation to print some of those pictures that you wanted from my films. I’ve been so busy with final exams that I have scarcely had time to see straight for about a week. I don’t have any more till Tuesday morning; so I’m taking a vacation this afternoon, although I should really be studying.

I sure would have liked to have been at the Pearl-diver’s reunion New Year’s eve; but as it was, while you-all were having a big time I was bumping the rails on #43 into Elkhart.

A letter from Gula tells all about the roses and the ripe lemons that they have out there now—some different than the weather we have been having.

I’ve about run out of air, so I guess I’ll quit. Kewp says Hello and I say Good-bye. Write when you get a chance.
Tune of Mammy’s Little Coal Black Rose
Now don’t you sigh my little Wylie dude
The heavers say the pack-rats aren’t really rude;
In the morning when the rain is fallin’
You’ll hear one of them callin’,
“I’m here to build your fire,
I really am no liar”;
Your bungalow will soon
Be warm as any June.
And then you’ll hear the pleasing, noisy breakfast bell,
The bacon and the hot-cakes now you’ll smell;
They’re swell.
The reason we don’t seem so crude?
You’ve forgotten all your troubles,
Your cares are just like bubbles;
So don’t you sigh, when you say Good-bye,
For we wish you Good Luck, Wylie dude.
—Eugene Eleson P.D.

Sunday morning
Dear Bee;

As you can see, I became inordinately ambitious yesterday afternoon and printed up a bunch of pictures. I couldn’t find the negatives of the others you wanted, but will try to locate them (think I left them at home) and print later. If there are any others you think I may have, subjects that I might have “shot,” just yell. The views of the old place make me more homesick than ever, especially on days such as we had yesterday.

News item: Mrs. Todd is to cook at Lake Geneva this summer. I’d sure like to go along if I didn’t think it would be to hot and too civilized. Between you and me, I have a hunch it might tend to correct some of the Wylie Ways, and the Ill i nois(e) that I have acquired. What kind of pearl-diving quarters do they have there?

Yesterday was Kewp’s birthday, so last night as we were practicing some of our “serenade” stuff on mandolin and guitar, someone yells, “Eleson, here’s a basket for you.” It contained a big cake and a letter from Mrs. Todd & Izzy for Kewp. She is cooking at the Phi Kappa Tau house this semester and catering at the same time.

Well, I guess I’ll have to quit and get ready to feed my Gamma Alpha boys. “How’s every little thing at home?”


504½ E Green St
Dear Bee;

I know its heathenish the way I haven’t written, but I’ve been acting as mummy for two Red Cross classes to practice bandaging on, which takes about two hours a day in addition to my other work. Nuf sed. I haven’t even thanked you for the pictures you sent me. They sure were good. I’m enclosing some of those that I think you wanted. If there are any others you know or think I might have, just let me know, and I’ll print some the next time I get to it.

The way things look now, I’ll probably be working in a hospital before the summer is over, though I have a job cinched at Buescher’s as soon as I can get there.

Tau Omicron Delta had an informal dance at Todd’s Friday night. It is a local social society organized for the purpose of making the dance sound more dignified. Of course a dance at Todd’s wouldn’t be complete without eats, so we had ’em.

Well, this writing letters isn’t studying, so I guess I’d better quit and do my studying for this week.

As usual, write when you get time, for I can read letters on my way to work, when I don’t have time to write.

As savage as ever

[Pinkey’s letters are all on fancy letterhead bond paper.]


Sherman, Texas, Oct. 18—16—
My dear Beatrice—

I want you to forgive me for not answering your letter any sooner but I have been so busy in school and then work at this cockeyed drugstore the rest of the time I can, and it keeps me pretty busy. I had a card from Fergie today, also a couple of letter from Martha, you know I have to get a letter from Martha to keep going. Well if I was back in the Park I would go to the store room right now and get a woodbox for 87. B. do you think you’ll come back next year. I hope we all can get back, then I’ll be satisfied. Do you ever hear from Miss Mary, I haven’t her address or I would write to her. I had an awful nice letter from Miss Johnston and she is teaching school. Here is Happy Jack, he said tell you hello, I also send Steve’s regards, he is here going to school with me. We are a fine couple of freshmen in Austin College, have played three football games and only won one. Here is Steve in here now. He and Happy both have to help me run the business

—Just happened by the store our “Pinkey” said he was writing to “B” so I had to put in a line—Like to hear from you—Regards to all from “Steve.”

Well I have to quit—

[The letterhead for Pinkey’s second letter had the company logo in the center on each page, but Beatrice cut the logos out to use in her photo album and diary—and probably for that famous magazine that is now unfortunately lost to us.]
W Y L I E   P E R M A N E N T   C A M P I N G   C O M P A N Y
Gardiner, Montana -             Livingston, Montana
Yellowstone, Montana -          Gardiner, Montana
Cody, Wyoming -                     Salt Lake City, Utah
                                                   25 W. So. Temple Street


Dear Beatrice—

Well I just got to figuring and I didn’t know whether I owed you or you owe me a letter, so I guess I am guilty (generally am) and will try to write you a few lines. I had a letter from Nancy a few days ago and everything is joke in California, so she says, also had a letter from Frank Vetter a few days ago and he seems to be alright, and the rest (except Martha) have about quit writing. I guess I owe most of the bunch a letter and maybe some day I can get them all answered. Well Steve & I are still going to school, trying to get a little education, so we might be more than an ordinary pack-rat when we grow older, our exams began today and the first semester will be over next Tuesday. I guess all the Elkhart News keeps you busy these days, I saw an ad—in a magazine of some Furniture Company of Elkhart Indiana, some place eh! Say when have you heard from Miss Mary? I meant to write her, but lost her address. I was talking to Miss Spear this afternoon, don’t know whether you remember her or not but she is the Sherman girl who came thru this summer and is a sorority sister of your sister; she is crazy to go to the Park next year. Do you think you will go back? I don’t know whether I’ll go or not but sure hope I can, because I sure had a good time, I wish we could get all the bunch together again. Say how would you like to wake up and find that diamond and money, you found this summer, too bad you all didn’t even get a thank-you, did you? I wish we could be in that Park now, I wouldn’t care if we scrubbed tents all day, I would gladly carry the water from the Grotto or Daisy, and I would sure make the dust fly in the Bunk house. Well Bee have you heard from Mart lately? I still hear from her as often as ever and we still love each other as ever. I had a letter from Rae a month ago and ought to be shot but just haven’t had time to answer it. If we could all get back I’d be happy. Well I guess I had better begin to close this or I’ll use all the Wylie’s paper. Don’t this paper make you homesick—Well Bee write me a long letter some time when you have time, I am always tickled to death to hear from you—

Always Your Friend
Erwin G. Johnson
alias Pinkey

Gulf Refining Company
Station Sept—27 —17 Sherman, Texas
Dear Bee—

Well I am not dead, yet, am still as live as I was in ’16, how is everything up in Indiana, we have been having a little trouble in our State, had to Impeach the Governor the other day, guess you know all about that— Well do you ever hear from any of the gang— I don’t hear from many now, Just Joe, Eva, and one or two more, don’t know what has become of all of them. Say Beatrice— A couple of Sherman kids are in DePaul University and are playing on the Football team, one is Quarterback and one is a tackle, if you get a chance to see DePaul play this year go to it, and ask to see J. P. Wheat Jr—quarterback—and B. Bondurant, a tackle and tell them you know Steve and I. They are great kids and made a record up there last year—Steve and I came very near coming up there to school this year but instead are working— I just had a letter from Joe Vetter, he is in Iowa U—this year— he & Eva went back to the Park, but everything was so lonesome without the old gang, they left about the middle of the season— Say I heard from some one and they said you wrote a book on our summer out there—did you? I’d like to read it, if you did send me one or tell me where I can get one— Say what has become of Miss Mary? I haven’t her address, Well I guess I had better quit and work a little— Write to me soon— Steve sends his regards—


[Same letterhead; typewritten using a purple ribbon.]

Sherman Texas. Nov. 8, 1917.

Miss Beatrice Boedefeldt,
Dear Bee:

I got your much appreciated letter several days ago, but have been so busy havnt had time to hardly think straight, and for that reason have not answered until now. Well the oil business is fine, I like it better every day, but not near so well as I like to be a common old Pack Rat in old Yellowstone. I guess you had a wonderful time this last summer in Pennsylvania, I almost envy you. I sure would like to see all the old gang once more, I think I owe every savage who was in our camp as letter and some day real soon I am going to write every one of them a long letter. Yes I knew that Sid Stone, Fuller, Pete Dallas and that bunch had gone to war. We see Red Maxwell pretty often, he is captain of the S.M.U. Football team this year and has a pretty good team. Steve and I came very near going to school at S.M.U. this year but we didnt, I dont know whether we will ever go to school any more or not we are making too much money now. Well Bee this is an awful short letter but I have to work at little or I will get snowed under, so will write a longer letter next time, give all the bunch my best. Say not changing the subject but why cant we arrainge it so we can all get together again next summer if we are not in the trenches by then.

As ever,

[Picture postcard of skyscrapers and downtown scene, titled “Looking East up Fifth Avenue from Market Street, Pittsburg, Pa.” It is postmarked July 10, 1917 Pittsburgh, PA.]

Hello B.B.D.
Just to let you know I’m living. How I long for dear old Yellowstone. Wish I were back again. I heard you were coming East. Is it true. Let me know. I would like to see you.
Jim M.

New Castle, Pa.
Dear Beatrice—

Was so pleased to hear from you, and meant to answer sooner, but am just “head over heels” so to speak. I was sorry, but the appointments had been made, I think, before you wrote me about your friends. At any rate, near that time, I rec’d a letter from Mr. Miles stating that the list for my camp had been made up. Would like to have had your friends.

A week ago Sunday Vessie, Perla and Dorothy L. were up. By the time they gathered up the Mahomingtown savages and brought them over to my house, we had a house full. Then Memorial Day, Jimmie Miller and a friend were out, and we had a little savage picnic, which was very pleasant. I am taking a small party this year no one whom you know.

Martha’s sister comes the nearest. We will likely leave here over the Penna. on the night of the 15th—reaching Chicago Sat. a.m. Hope we can see you—would certainly be delighted. If I only were going to have the same family I had last yr. I’d be so happy. The camp will not be changed this yr. Lady Mac, I presume you know, has left the Co. Mr. Greer returns as Manager, Mrs. G. will not accompany him. Am so glad to have him, tho’ for he is about the only one I will have to depend upon who was there last year, and everything else is so changed and different from other years.

* * * * * *
Since writing the above—have had two of the prospective savages to call upon me. Have told them everything (?) I know—but they will have much to learn yet. What do you think about it?

Must quit now and write to brother Miles. Now, my dear, please forgive a “busy lady” for not writing sooner, and write me this summer. I will be so homesick for my last years family, and a letter will do me so much good, especially one of your kind. Let me know if we will see you in Chicago.

With love,
Elizabeth Johnson.

Oct. 13—1916.
My dear Bee:—

I just arrived in Pgh. last night and found your letter along with 17 others awaiting me. Many thanks for sending the pictures.

I surely did have some trip home—I first went to Bozeman, Mont. and visited 10 days, taking in the fair at Helena while there; came on to Big Timber and visited a savage of 1911. Minneapolis was the next stop over and I visited there for 4 days—like the twin cities very much. —Stayed a day at the Mayo Bros. at Rochester, Minn.—and saw several operations—very interesting for me and then I spent a day in Chicago. I arrived in Beaver Falls, Sunday. Saw Dick Loeffler and then came up to Pgh. last night. I was about 3 wks making the trip home.

You ask for a review of the wrecking crew. We had such a grand time did not leave until the 17 and had idea weather excepting for about 3 days of cold weather and lots of snow.

We stayed at the Geysers for 5 days after all the savages had left and then all of the crew but Mrs. Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Corson—Myra and Bassinger went on to the Thumb. We left those few at the Geysers to take care of the any auto dudes who might come that way. We were just at the Thumb about half a day, left there for the lake after supper and arrived about 9 P.M. Lady Mac took some of the crew in her “Lizzie” but it absolutely refused to work by spells so we had to have the most of them in. There were 4 girls and 1 fellow at the Lake and the girls were not keen for us because the crew fellows were with us and didn’t pay much attention to them. They were swaddie lovers and you know how a Wylie driver loves a swaddie—like he does a bear. Of course the girls were not crazy about us and we were there from Thursday until Sunday. Sunday and Saturday night too it snowed very hard and it was beautiful, the mts. around the lake were wonderful with the snow on them. We came to the Canyon Sunday—of course could do nothing in the way of wrecking so took a long walk and saw the Canyon by snow fall and it was grand. We stayed until the following Saturday and I never saw such a wonderful sight as the Canyon by moon light—the moon light there was the grandest I had ever seen. Of course you cannot imagine it having never seen the canyon—then we came to Swan Lake arriving at 10 P.M. and left the next morning at 8 for Gardiner.

I was so sorry none of you kids got your trip—if you had all put up a fight and said you wouldn’t go without seeing the canyon—they would have taken you for some of the savages at Swan Lake put up a fight and they took them around and you would have only been delayed a day. The Wylie Co. surely did not do the right thing at all by you and I hope you can go back again and get your trip.

Tillie, Clara, Myra and I went up Mt. Washburn and it is the most wonderful view of country I ever saw, could see the Geysers and what we thot was the Grotto playing.

When I arrived last night had 18 letters awaiting me and Tillie had some news. Had seen the little German girls and Mimi is going to stay in Frisco and sew this winter. Anna and Louise are coming back to Pgh. They had also seen Rae Wylie and Lady Mac. I wish now I had planned to stay in Calif. this winter but I surely think I will come West and live. I am sure crazy about it. Had a picture from Gene, one he had taken of me but it is not very good. Also had letters from Bill, Jonny, and Helen Fischer. Well Bee I must hurry along and get my other 17 letters answered. Eva said to say “Hello” to everybody so I suppose that means you.

I saw Elsie and Garnet at Livingston they are teaching schools out near Gardiner. Also had that case of the man badly torn by a bear at Sylvan Pass—19 miles from the Lake—it was a terrible thing, he died the following day.

Write me often am always glad for savage news. —


[Picture postcard of S.P. & Katy Depot, San Antonio, Texas]

Dear Bee:
Am down here doing Red Cross work. Like it very much. Nice and warm here now.
Fort Sam Houston
Base Hosp. #1 San Antonio.

[The envelope for the next letter was stamped in purple “A.E.F. Passed as Censored A. 334”]

May 24—1918.
My dear Bee:—

Certainly was glad to get your letter—I had not forgotten you, even tho I had not written you for a long time—but it seems as tho I just have so many letters to write that I just can’t seem to get around. Letters written from here are not at all interesting for the things you most want to hear about are the things we are not allowed to write about—so that is the way it goes.

It is two months tomorrow since we got our last glimpse of America—in lots of ways it seems longer than that—one of the fellows said today he felt as tho he had always been here.

Well Bee this is 24 hours later. Last night I was interrupted to play a game of 500 and today has been busy—not with work but pleasure. This afternoon we—our officers—played ball with a neighboring base and it was quite a good game, the first game I had seen for a long time.

Well Bee we are not doing anything in the line of nursing just now—haven’t had any patients for our Hosp. is not completed, however I was up at the front for about 3 wks. and sure did have work and experience there—would like to have stayed there. (excuse) [This was written over a grease stain on the upper right of this paragraph.]

France is surely a beautiful country—of course miles away behind America in lots of ways—but the hills are beautiful around here—some call it “sunny”—but I wouldn’t say that only the last two weeks have been delightfully sunny and warm. But when it doesn’t rain—it is so terribly dusty you can scarcely see—something like the Y.N.P. days.

We get fairly good food—the nearer the fruit the better it is—so it’s “me for the fruit” for I still have the same appetite I always had.

I have not seen anyone from the States I knew, altho we have lots of Americans near here. We get mail about once a week—today was the first for ten days and I drew four—not so bad.

Am wondering if the Park will be patronized this summer per usual—sure wish I could go—never had such a summer as I had there—I guess they don’t have them any place else—do they.

We have treats occasionally in the way of entertainment at the Y.M.—this week had a very accomplished cellist and every night we can dance if we wish to. Have a regular dance about once a week—we have a dandy Victrola and some very fine records.

Well Bee I must hurry along. Surely am glad you wrote me, will be glad to hear from you anytime. I have been trying to write Perla but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Remember me to anyone who may remember

Maud Ferguson, A.N.C.
Base Hosp. 116
American E.F.
A.P.O. 731 OK
JS Baldwin
Capt MRC

Reply to Maud Ferguson
Army Nurse Corps,
A.P.O. 731
Base Hosp. 116

Miss Beatrice Boedefeld
714 Marion Street,
Elkhart, Indiana, U.S.A.

A.E.F. Passed As Censored
OK TE Laudle 1st Lt. M.C.
On Active Service
Aug. 20—1918.
Dear Bee:—

Rec’d your most welcome letter and will ans. it soon I hope. Have been awfully busy lately, but am trying to get caught up now. Am always glad to hear from you—

Hastily Fergie

Iseghem, Belgium.
Dec. 4 1918.
My dear Bee:—

I have often thought about you and intended writing but just never settled myself enough when I had time to write. When your letter came a few days ago reminding me of my promised letter I felt guilty indeed.

Well Bee we are all happy that the war is over and we have celebrated here but not to the extent that they have in the States—but we are all glad that we will not have any of the wounded boys anymore.

We have had some good experience and have seen some country in the last two months.

We were in Paris for three weeks—getting our equipment for Mobile #9. I don’t know that I told you that I had been detached from Base 116. Well we saw Paris and it is a beautiful city—would love to see it now when it is lighted. We spent one day out at Versailles and it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Saw the house where the Allies will sign the peace treaty—and also the home of Gen. Foch. [Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies]

We left Paris at night and traveled into Belgium—and we surely were surprised for we never dreamed of seeing Belgium. We put our hospital up at Staden first. A Mobile Hospital is all tents and are the next hospital following the Field Hosp. We were just set up here in time for the last big drive in the Belgian Front and were back of the 91 and 37 Div. They are the only two U.S. Div. here. We got the boys right from the dressings stations and some of the were the worst wounded I ever saw. Cannot describe the awful sights I saw. We worked night and day there while the drive was on. Then as the troops advanced we followed and Iseghem where we are now was our next stand. But the day after we came here the Armistice was signed so we have just had medical cases since. Just now we are all packed up ready to leave but cannot get transportation. The railroads and bridges are all blown up—and trains are almost impossible.

When we arrived at Staden the Germans had just been out of the place about 10 days and we were the first Americans there—we were in before the troops. There was practically nothing left of the town—not a building standing intact and the refugees were just beginning to come back. Some could not find a trace of their homes. We had air raids at night but fortunately we were not bombed—they bombed Roeselare not far from us a couple of times and we could hear the guns plainly.

Coming up on the train we crossed what was “no man’s land” for four years—saw the ridge that marked the farthest German advance—and came very near Ypres. This is the most desolate country you could ever imagine—the ground all torn up with shells and not a sign of a living thing, a few straggling trees was all in sight. Occasionally a grove with a bayonet or a helmet on it marked the place some comrade had taken time to buy his pal.

Iseghem is a good sized town and is not bombed to any great extent excepting for railroads and bridges. We are quartered in a chateau here—owned by a Baron who was a prisoner in Antwerp. The place has been a wonderful place in peace times but was used as headquarters by the Germans and it is rumored that the Kaiser stayed here at times. Anyway I am afraid the Baron won’t recognize it when he returns.

We have, of course, not been busy since hostilities have ceased and have been privileged to see some of the country around here. Have been to Bruges, Ghent, Courtrai [aka Kortijk] and other small places around here. We are hoping we will see Brussels but it is hardly likely now. The 37 boys headed the procession into Brussels and I have talked some to them.

We will be spoiled when we come home—over here we are quite a curiosity—the Belgians just flock around you like children do around an organ grinder—and we always have a string of children following us on the street. The people wear wooden shoes and are so much cleaner than the French. Their houses are immaculate and they are good cooks. They seem more like us in many ways. They speak Flemish which seems to be a mixture of German and French and many of them speak English—they teach it in their schools.

Well Bee this is almost a book and I have “beacoup” letters to write so must hurry along—I had several savage letters today—are from Fish, Tilly and “Eva” is on his furlough at Aix-le-Bains.

Hope to see you sometime after I come home which I am hoping will be soon—hope you are well and have not had the dreadful “flu.”

Love Fergie

Maud Ferguson—
Army Nurse Corps,
Mobile Hosp. #9

1.  Some of the women used words toward each other that today we would think very affectionate, and maybe they were gay, but nobody knows. My grandmother was definitely not. 
2.  The Savages at Geysers camp were sent home early due to a threatened railroad strike, so they did not get their promised tour of the entire Park at the end of the season. The strike did not happen after all.
3.  The Little Minister starring Maud Adams was a stage show of the popular J.M. Barrie novel.
4.  YMCA is the Young Men’s Christian Association; YWCA is the Young Women’s Christian Association.
5.  Dick Loeffler and Ed Klingensmith had a romance, but she broke it off before the end of 1916.
6.  Shorty Green (aka John Donahue) refers to an incident in Salt Lake City on the way home from Yellowstone in September 1916 when Ed Klingensmith was pickpocketed. Ed did not realize it until later.
7. Martie’s Dec. 24th letter refers to a “correspondent” with the pun “(Divorce case!)” following. Divorce laws were pretty strict back then and one party had to prove adultery on the part of the other part. This gave rise to the “paid correspondent” who was a person who was hired by the divorce attorney to stay the night with one of the couple, and in the morning paid detectives would “discover” them together. This would give the other party evidence for a “case” so that the divorce could be granted. See the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film The Gay Divorcee as a classic comic example.
8.  Fergie mentions the incident of the bear mauling and killing a Yellowstone Park staff member. This was the first recorded incident of a bear killing in Yellowstone. Very few have ever happened.


  1. Hi Marci.
    Once again I have really enjoyed these letters. With regards to the bear attack, sadly, there have been several in the last couple of years. I don't know if it is because of so many more "dudes" in the park or an increase in bear numbers or both, but there was one park concession employee killed last year and 2 this year by bears. Then a tourist was killed by a bison this year and several have been tossed in the air.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Al. I think most of the bear attacks have been the result of stupid choices on the part of humans, not the least of which was the beginning of the practice of feeding the bears. I doubt that the very first attack was more than a tragic accident of a man being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the one good thing out of it was that it showed clearly and early on that bears in Yellowstone were not large pets.

    2. Another thing that just occurred to me is that I cannot remember anybody from the 1916 summer mentioning bison, moose, or elk. I wonder if it was because they were common, or because nobody saw any?


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