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A letter home from the vineyards of France, 1918

January 21, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • A soldier writes home to Nebraska from "Somewhere in France," a small village surrounded by vineyards. "The wine is very plentiful," but "not as good as a fellow would think and would make a fellow drunk if he drinks very much of it."
A soldier writes home to Nebraska from "Somewhere in France,"… (S. Irene Virbila\Los Angeles…)

My mother was cleaning out some drawers and found a family letter written from “somewhere in France” in 1918. Addressed “Dear Folks,” Russell C. Jones, a farm boy from Nebraska, writes home.

The war is over, he guesses, as the Armistice has just been signed. “I hope I get home in time to help with the spring work,” he writes, “but a fellow can’t tell when he will get back.” True today, too, sadly.

I’m struck by his lovely, careful handwriting. It's brown ink, or has it faded?

Soldiers coming home from the first World War didn’t talk about what had happened over there.

He was headquartered in a small village, though. “There are lots of vineyards here and the wine is very plentiful. It’s not as good as a fellow would think and it will make a fellow drunk if he drinks very much of it.”

But what was it?

I’m thinking it must have been white — and tart, insipid to a beer and whiskey drinker. And true to the sentiment he expresses on page two of the letter, he never went abroad again. “I’ve traveled about as much as I want to and when this bird gets home, he’s going to stay there.”

He didn't drink much wine either.

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Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

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