January 21, 2014

  • Bernard’s Book Chapter 7

    CHAPTER 7: LETTERS FROM HOME

    The following letters were sent to me from my parents (Ralph and Lora Hilton) when I was in the service. The first letter is from my mother. At the time, I had been in the service just a year. I had been recently transferred from Camp Barkley, Abilene Texas at the home of the 90th Infantry Division, to Amarillo Army Air Field in Amarillo Texas. My hopes were to do something in the air. I should explain, that I received $50 a month, but $6.50 was taken out for a $10,000 insurance policy and another $6 to purchase war bonds. I was left with $37.50. With this $37.50, plus the money I had saved; I purchased Christmas presents for everyone in the family. As I remember, I got them all at one small store in Amarillo. These were the first and only presents that my brother and sisters ever got from me, that I can remember.

    __________________

    Norridgewock, Maine
    December, 31, 1943

    Dear Son,

    A line to let you know your box arrived yesterday Carol and Louise walked up to the mailbox. Well everything is lovely. Frank is displaying his nice belt today. Dad bought him a nice pair of pants yesterday, but they’re too small. Rena had the bucking bronco pin. Dad is worried for fear she won’t get home with it tonight. She had it pined on her coat, big sisters eyed it. Louise and Jennie are delighted with the belts. Carol thinks she is going to make all the girls envious of her compact. Polly wore the pink head scarf to school this morning. She needed one, so did I. We have both promised to loan them. Jen and Louise each got one, only they’re different from Ellen’s.

    Dad and all of us think his tie is nice and will go nice with his new suit. Of course, Mary has the soldier doll. She and Rena had it in the bed between them last night. I gave Mary a doll for Christmas, as well as Rena. Mary says her little girl has a brother now. She is quite a kid. Here are a few of her expressions when she wants us to pay attention to her. “I’ll kick you in the teeth”, “I’ll holler in your ear” and others I can’t recall. She knows they are naughty.

    Well, Dad had four double teeth out yesterday and rode home in the truck with no glass in the doors. He was pretty sick last night. He had a man hold his head down in the dentist chair. They came pretty hard. He had a terrible headache. His jaw is quite badly swollen, but he feels pretty good this morning. He has eight more upper ones to come out. He will have to have an upper plate in from three to six months. He is taking Carol to Waterville to see Dr. Quite today for a check up. Louise is to have a permanent in Skowhegan. Grandmother is going along to see Eva Corson. Guess I forgot to tell you Eva has had a leg taken off up to her knee. She is home now. I hope there is a letter in the mail from you today. We are glad you liked the picture. Mary and I have to hold the fort this afternoon. Wish you were here.
    Lots of love
    Mother

    ___________________

    Norridgewock, Maine
    January 9, 1944

    Dear Son,

    Here it is Sunday night again. I heard on the radio that you had a big blizzard in Amarillo and Fortworth, causing a great deal of damage to farmers, etc. The worst since 1898. How did it seem? We had another big snowstorm. Dad says about 15 inches. They had 26 in Jackman on top of 42 or so. They must have some snow. The temperature was down to 26 below this morning it’s some cold tonight, but I guess it won’t be quite so bad. We got our road plowed out this time before the storm was hardly over. We heard they were having trouble with the tractor before they got back to town.

    Dad had quite a time with his teeth pulling. Several days he took on here with pain in his jaw and face and headache. Finally he and Louise went back Tuesday. The dentist removed some process or casing that is around the teeth and it relieved him right away. Louise had some work done and they brought home to me a birthday present of a nice little rocking chair, to sit on when I peel potatoes.

    Today Dad went up to Annie’s he wanted to see George about road plowing It seems no one with a rig will take on extra because of labor. George Walker’s new ice house went down in the Thanksgiving snowstorm. He don’t plan to put it up again this winter. His health is poor and so is Annie’s. Agnes Hilton is in the Osteopathic Hospital in Waterville. She hasn’t been well lately. Marian was up with her sister a few days.
    We had no school Friday because of the storm. I wonder if they will get there tomorrow. We expect Ellen home Monday or Tuesday for a few days. She says they don’t want her gone more than a couple of days because they have a lot of patients. I guess she has been having a pretty good time up there, going to Saturday night dances and parties. Margaret Gray has been home two weeks or so. She and Edwina were down last Thursday. Caught Louise and I helping Dad saw wood. We seldom have more than a week’s supply ahead.

    Dad has to go to court one day this week on jury same as September. Franklin exercises the horses a little, breaking roads to henhouses. Went up to Bennie’s yesterday found Dean had got home he was hauling up stove wood. Carol is back to Farmington. Has her work pretty well caught up. She wanted yours and Earle Gray’s addresses as she forgot to take them with her. I have mailed them to her in the letter that I wrote to her today. I’ll be looking for your picture by the last of this week. I think it is nice you are sending it.

     Of course, you know Jen is playing basketball this winter. They played Madison and the Norridgewock girls won. Boys lost. Louise went over with Margaret and they walked out to the game. Louise walked home the next morning. She used skis as far as Helens. Edwina and Margaret used snowshoes. Dad went on skis today. The car is laid up for repairs. Sheaf didn’t know if he could weld it or if he could get a new piece. Dad and Louise got almost to Gillins and found that about all the oil had gone out of it. Sheaf seemed to think he knew what ailed it. They towed it down, Dad and Louise, with the truck.

    Mayland Hilton has a girl. She is a Billings from Madison. Steve Ladd of Mercer is her grandfather. He has had her out home for several days. Maybe Etta will get him married. She told him to bring her home. I guess he was out there most of the time until he did. Oh, the neighbors are talking, Edwina gave us the low downs, and Dad got an ear full out to Annie’s. I reminded him of Earland. Guess it’s no worse than that. I don’t think I will ever want to live in that neighborhood.

    Don’t lose your patience with the way things are going there. From what we hear on the radio tonight they are having upheavals in some other camps. We don’t see any justice in a lot of things, quite often there isn’t; but someone else will speak up, someone with influence. They will be moving a lot of men out of camps across to different places, before the winter is over. I think Reginald Pooler has been gone since before Christmas. So the Corsons say. His personal things were sent to them. He is in the parachute troops. Oh well, seems as though the war will never be over.

    Here we have lots of potatoes, too many eggs, and too much pork. I wonder if we’ll ever move these potatoes. Too cold now anyway, but we wonder. I was wondering, if you could afford it, you might find something in leather good to save for yourself. You might wish you had some day, though I expect they are pretty expensive. They look it anyway. Dad can’t even buy a strap of harness. They need repairing bad. He told Carol to inquire for the harness man in Kingfield, when she gets there. She plans to go the last of this month. Guess I have scribbled enough this time. Will be looking for a letter.
    Love Mother

    __________________

    Norridgewock, Maine
    January 16, 1944

    Dear Bernard,

    It is Sunday and we are not very ambitious so I will answer your letter. Your mother has told me to write you about Amos. She said, “Tell him about Amos just as you told us, and that will entertain him for awhile. To begin with, we haven’t been through to the village for four days with a car. The road is full in some places. The sides of the road are as high as a man’s head in some places. Yesterday we had three days milk on hand. We are getting about three cans a day. We can put only seven cans in the tank. So, I took a pair of horses and dumpcart body on a front sled and took the milk and started to meet the milkman at Albee’s.

    I got over to Amos’ and before I got there I saw him coming out to the road and start to shovel out his mailbox. He took only one shovelful and lugged it across the road and went back and stood and waited for me. Then he said he guessed he would go down with me. We got over to Clair’s and Alice hollered out for me to get her a half pound of tea. She said she forgot to send by Harold Buzzell, who had just started for town on foot. I got over to Watson’s and we loaded in their milk and Clinton went down with us. We overtook Harold by the Paquette Place.

    Clinton lifted the milk out of their tank and I said to Amos, “load it on”, and he put in one can or two and then he stopped. I said, “Put the other one in that goes too.” He said to Clinton, “Does this one go?“ Clinton said, “Yes it all goes.” So, Amos had to lift another one in. We met the milkman, whose name is Tukey from Belgrade, at monument square. I made Amos slide the cans from the front end of the cart body to the back end where Clinton loaded them into the milk truck. We got him to roaring a few times en route. He had to go to Gilman’s to get feed and groceries. He got three bags of grain. He was in the store fifteen or twenty minutes. After awhile, Robert Gilman wheeled out his grain and we loaded it, and then Amos came out into the grain room a picking his nose, and standing around and Robert told him it was all loaded. He said, “Is it?

    I drove over to Piper’s to get a couple bags of feed. I left Amos to hold the horses. I went into the store and Piper and I got to talking about fifteen minutes. In the meantime there was a lot of traffic going by and a couple of trucks stopped there and the horses were uneasy, that made Amos very nervous. When we came back he said to Piper, “Where in hell have you been? Don’t you see all this traffic here and these trucks, these dam horses won’t stand.”. Piper said, “What’s the matter Amos?” I said, “Amos is in a hurry today. Didn’t you ever see him in a hurry before?” They all laughed.

    We stopped at Albee’s to get our milk cans where the milkman had left them in the morning when he got Albee’s milk. We were loading in the cans, Amos was taking them from Clinton and placing them in the body. I said, “You can’t throw them in that way you will have to pack them in or we won’t get them all in.” He moved his feet out of the place where we were packing the cans. Clinton had the mail all done up in a bundle laying on the bags of grain and Amos had his groceries laying on the grain. He got his feet on the mail and punched a big hole in Henry Gillin’s daily paper. Among his groceries were two loves of bread. He trod on them and broke the paper on both and got dung on it. It was sliced bread and it fell apart some. He noticed it after awhile. He gathered it up some and said, “The god dam stuff. Anybody that will buy the dam stuff ought to have it trod on.” Coming home I commenced to pick on him some more. I started in about the white-collared bastards and he said the people ought to have a war and kill off about half of the dam bastards. They ought to take a gun. I asked him where he would get his bullets? He said, “Take an ax”.The rest of the trip was uneventful. I dumped his grain at his driveway. He didn’t have it shoveled out yet.

    Harold Buzzell has got to go to the Army. He has taken his physical at Bangor. He has been working up to the Forks with Bennie loading pulpwood on a truck. Bennie is raising hell hauling pulpwood 18 miles above the Forks to the Forks with three trucks. Harold Buzzell said they are overloading their trucks and breaking them down. Some days making only one trip sometimes four trips. He said that Roland lost off both hind wheels the other day and dragged his brake drum and split the brake drum. It is for the Hollingworth and Whitney Company. I think Albert Foster is doing the logging. They go up above Cold Stream and go into the woods about 8 miles on the left hand side.

    Clifford Fields has gone into the Navy, was drafted. He has 7 children. Ray Burrill has to go and be examined. Robert Hilton has had to be deferred for 6 months. Dean Yeaton is home he has been working at Bangor for a contractor. The contractor had go to the Army.

    I was on the Grand Jury two days last week. I have to go again the second Tuesday in May. I saw by the paper, Orion Luce was transferred to New Jersey. It seems to me the war is going awful slow. I am afraid the Russians will get to England before the Allies start a second front. I guess the politicians want to wait until after election before they finish the war.

    Hib Dow died about a week ago with pneumonia. There is no one living at the Frank Estey Place this winter. I have had to cut wood to burn since Thanksgiving. It takes a cord a week of gray birch. I tried Amos cutting. He cut two days and we saved it up and measured it to be one and a quarter cords, for two days work. I paid him six dollars in money and two dinners, which made the cutting of wood cost very near six dollars a cord. I cut 8 hours (one day) and I had 1 cord, besides I picked up wood he left. The snow is about 3 feet deep. I haven’t cut any ice yet. I suppose I will have to have him help do that. I have got the car fixed and new chains for it. Jennie and Louise are to take their degrees at the Grange next Thursday.

    I heard on the radio that they are closing up the Bangor Airport and also the one at Houlton. I expect to help George Walker get ice this next week or soon anyway. I am having my upper teeth all out, that is some job. They are so solid the doctor can hardly pull them. Then they are sore for two weeks afterwards. He takes about 4 at a time.

    Charles is taking it easy this winter, he has about 16 head of young cattle for chores. He isn’t cutting any wood or anything. I tried cutting some logs with Amos, but he was so dead I had to give it up. We couldn’t saw the tree down, it went so hard. The stump would be concaved where I pushed the saw and bent it, trying to saw. Amos worked 4 days in December. He came over last Monday and stood around picking his nose. After an hour and a half he said, he had ought to have done it before but he hadn’t. He said he wouldn’t bother with the dam stuff now if he didn’t need it to burn, which was probably so. I helped him fix up some wagon sleds. The next morning at 11 o’clock he came after the horses and made two trips to the woods that day, and hasn’t been after them since. The snow is so deep the horses can hardly go through it. He has shoveled out a turn next to his field two times already and it has blown full now.

    People don’t seem to think there is a war on. All they seem to think of is big pay. George Harlow offered $1 an hour for a truck driver, they say. Eggs have gone down to 30½ to 35½ a dozen, and there is a glutted market. Hogs are too plentiful and potatoes are not moving very well. About all there is that is moving is pulpwood and milk. We get about $200 out of our cows a month(9 in all).

    Clair and Steve are cutting pine and hauling it up the road with Clair’s oxen they make a picture of the 49er’s. They including the oxen act if each was trying to move slower than the other so the whole outfit is almost at a standstill. They hauled up 2 or 3 logs that 2 men could easily carry. Both have to ride. I don’t know whether this interests you or not, but it is very exasperating to see the Buzzells do as they do, when they might be earning good wages if they wanted to brace up. The old woman, Mrs. Amos gets $45- a month out of Wayman’s death. Both girls are home helping eat it up also.

    Your father
    R.B. Hilton

    ___________________

    Norridgewock, Maine
    March 6,1945

    Dear Bernard,

    I thought I would write you a line to let you know I am alive yet. I am very busy so I put off writing letters. By the way it don’t take much to keep me busy. The snow has settled quite a lot in the last week. We have had real spring weather for a week or ten days. We have had quite a severe winter here with lots of wind and snow. There are several snow banks along the roads that you can’t begin to look over them in a truck. There was over 3 feet of snow in the woods a week ago. I haven’t done any work in the woods this winter.

    It is impossible to hire anyone at any price. What help anyone can hire is from 75½ to $1.00 per hour; and the quality is very poor. Amos, Steve, and Clair don’t work hardly any. They don’t have to. Amos and Clair are behind on there taxes this year. They were printed in the town report. Amos was at the head of the list this year. Your Ma and I went to town meeting yesterday. It being the only one I ever attended where Ames(D) and Folsom(R) (lawyers) were both absent. It went off pretty good. Frank Estey tried to take Ames’ place; but made a poor showing. Frank did more than his share of talking. Frank Estey got $1500 to be spent on Winding Hill. Henry Gillen and I tried to get them to open the cross road from Crowes to Mrs. Spencers on the other road; but Frank and Bittle who lives on the Cheveoit Place, won the day.

    Old Jim Gillen tore all the town officials apart and also committee of ten. They had quite an argument about buying land for a cemetery. Fred Jewett was bound they would buy his piece out on the Mercer Road, between Mercer Road and Wilder Hill Road, and call it the Jewett Memorial Cemetery for $1500. Everyone but the committee of ten were mad. They voted on it 11 for and 31 against it. But, Dan Jones 1st selectman got up and argued and Charles made a motion that they raise $1500 for a cemetery not necessarily Jewetts. I expect they will but it is being left with the selectmen. Jewett was Moderator and was he tore up about it. He asks about three times what the land is worth.

    Frank Estey got in an argument with Mr. Wing who is town manager. Frank got real personal. Wallace Sheaff told me he was walking down the street with Frank and Frank was spouting about Mr. Wing and Mrs. Wing came along and heard Frank and did she peel him down. Sheaff said he walked off and left them. They had a chew about the big 10 in town meeting, they wanted to put on two new members and the old ones have to stay off for 5 years, which was carried. It it going to be tough on Mr. Jewett and Walter Tailor and Frank Estey who have been on ever since it started.

    Our cows are caving now 4 have come in this winter and we have 18 more before June 1. Their bags swell quite bad. It takes me about all my time to tend them. We are milking our 1st heifer raised from artificial breeding. She gives better than 35 lbs a day about 2 yrs.9 mo. She is the best 2 yr. old I think we ever raised. We have 10 head of artificial calves and heifers now. We have 16 head of registered cattle now. We have 41 head now in all.

    The girls said they told you that I bought a new cooler ten can size $535, a bath tub, and flush and a new set of harnesses for Frank’s horses. I paid the mortgage off in full this last fall, and all other bills. I have been putting your money you send home or most of it into bonds. I have bought $150 worth for you. That is three $50 ones, for $37.50 each. I used some you sent home to buy cows last spring. Will give cattle or cash for it sometime. We have sold most of the potatoes, have about 250 bushel left. They are quite scarce now. I have ordered a new grain drill from Frank Estey. I am trying to save all the money I can so I will be able to furnish jobs for some of the returning soldiers when they get home. I want to build a barn and do lots of other things then.

     Crib Whiting died about 2 weeks ago; age 84yrs. I think Milford Tibbets is quite bad off hasn’t been out all winter. Bennie has sold all his cows; he has only about a dozen head of calves and yearlings. He had mastitis so bad most of them went for beef. Charles has only 5 or 6 head of calves and yearlings. He is going into the hay business. Hay is awful scarce and high around $30 to $40 or $50 a ton. We have enough. Louise just blowed in an announced that Frank’s heifer is caving so I will have to run. The calf is born and it is a heifer. Regular artificial calf out of an artificial heifer. Our cows attract quite a of attention when anyone comes around. We sold $3300 milk last year from an average of 12 half of them were first calf heifers.

    I have just taken out a $5000 life insurance it will come due when I am 65 so I would be independent then. It cost $282 per year. I get $5000 at death or at age 65. I think I will sell the sheep this spring unless I can hire a place to pasture them. I may sell 4 heifers, Nightingale heifers I got down there when they were small calves. I am enclosing a couple of pictures cut out of the Holstein World. They charge $500 for service (artificial) of this bull. I guess this is all I can think of.

    Your father
    R.B. Hilton

    Next Posting: Chapter 8 Spirit Messages

Comments (1)

  • Thanks for the letters. There is a lot of history in those epistles. A picture of the time. I remember my doll and Rena still had the pin you sent when she was sorting out her treasures in 2001. Loved this ,Mary

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