I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
Old Correspondence Letters
This letter was one of two old letters carefully tucked away for safekeeping in a vintage cigar box written to my grandfather from a World War 1 war buddy who lived in Frisco, Texas. This handwritten letter's date is January 9, 1921, and the other one's date is February 29, 1920.
They had formed a bond and lasting friendship while fighting in France during World War 1 and had kept in touch with each other since returning home. In those early days of airplanes and World War 1 aircraft, it was a rare breed of people engaged in that type of warfare.
The other letter written by this same gentleman to my grandfather stated the obvious. Many pilots did not get to return home and died while flying those airplanes. It often occurred because of mishaps in the air in addition to enemy fire. It was dangerous work!
Excerpts From My Grandfather's Obituary
"On October 24, 1917, at Fort Slocum, New York, when the country issued its first call for volunteers in the World's war, Mr. Vogt enlisted and was in the 50th Aero member squadron. He was advanced to a master election and remained with the company until the signing of the Armistice.
His squadron had its beginnings in San Antonio, Texas; he was transferred to New York and then overseas to England, where it became attached to the Royal Air forces for training. The squadron arrived in France on July 14, 1918, and was entrained for their first quarters at Goundrecourt.
As a non-commissioned officer, Mr. Vogt saw active service in the St. Mehiel drive and later in the Meuse Argonne sector for which he was awarded a service button. It is interesting to note that Mr. Vogt had charge of the first liberty plane to fly over the enemy's lines and charge over the aircraft that discovered the famous "Lost" battalion."
1918 Photo of 50th Aero Squadron, Harlaxton Airdrome, at Grantham, England
I can only wonder about the letters my grandfather wrote to Mr. Hubert H. Rogers in return. They were undoubtedly fascinating as well, given their historical timing.
From other letters of reference in this same vintage cigar box in my possession, I know that my paternal grandfather (before the war) had worked as a trained automobile mechanic in New York. It put him in good stead when being responsible for keeping those bi-planes and tri-planes in the air.
He had been trained at the Packard Chauffeurs' school and was in employment as a chauffeur for a bank president in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For several years, he also worked as a chauffeur in Pasadena, California, for a Mr. Robbins from Farmers and Bankers Investment Co.
After World War 1, he would have returned to his home and started his home building business in Okauchee, Wisconsin, where he constructed the house for his bride (my grandmother) as well as a string of rental cottages on the lake.
My dad was born in that same house. Sadly at the age of only 8, the young boy who later became my father lost his dad due to pneumonia. Those were the days before antibiotics, and pneumonia was the cause of death of many people. Who knows what my grandfather would have accomplished had he lived longer! He was certainly highly regarded by those who knew him, and he achieved much in the 46 years of his life.
Mr. Rogers and my grandfather survived World War 1 and shared a common bond forged and cemented as only other war buddies can probably truly understand. Theirs was a strong friendship and yet notice the formality of this written old letter. Here is the letter in its entirety:
Jan. 9, 1921
Dear Friend, Mr. Vogt:
I want to thank you with my whole heart for your lovely remembrance of Christmas. To say that I appreciate these cigarettes is expressing my gratification in the mildest of terms. If it is possible to do so, they make me esteem you all the higher and appreciate your friendship all the more. They have indeed been a pleasure, every one of them giving me visions of you, your present whereabouts, and your movements - and making me realize that true friends mean more to a person than anything else in this world. I am always happy to count you as such, and I shall forever cherish you & your memory as one of the truest friends and the most real man whom I had the pleasure of knowing in France and since our return.
I would have written you much sooner - only I mislaid the wrapping which contained your California address, and only recently, my sister-in-law told me that she burned it, not thinking it of any value. So you see what Sister-in-Laws can do! I'm sending this to Wisc. in the hope that it shall finally reach you.
I have been working like a Trojan for so long that I have forgotten everything else. I resigned my place on the farm and went home for a week during Xmas. I had a good time too - kids all home from College; several girls had visitors, and I was lucky enough to be called onto help entertain them. That almost made me feel young again. I soon forgot about my rough hands, my gray hairs, and wrinkled brow - and I had a better bunch of honest fun than I've had for years. But now I'm back to the washtub - with a few more beautiful faces to haunt my memory.
Our wheat and oats are looking fine - and the green bugs seem to be here only in very small numbers. Papers declare that the prospects of a bumper grain crop in Texas are very good. I only hope the paper farmer prophets are correct.
I trust that you are enjoying California again and that everything is going well with you. I'd surely like to see that state as you have.
I imagine that you have seen a good many of the boys of old 50th. Whenever you bump into one, give him "Old Rogers" best. Those prune gatherers of old 50th were a jolly good crowd.
I hope that 1921 will find you realizing your dreams and reaching your ambition; that Dame Fortune will place her choicest wares at your disposal, and that Father Time will deal gently with you.
I shall be more than delighted to hear from you anytime.
With every good wish, and my most heartfelt thanks for your generous remembrance.
Sincerely your friend,
Hubert H. Rogers"
Mr. H.H. Rogers wrote his letters from Frisco, Texas, to my grandfather in Okauchee, Wisconsin.
Frisco Heritage Museum
Hopefully, readers of this old letter will glean some insight into handwritten communications back in 1921 from this particular World War 1 war buddy of my grandfather's who returned home to live and work in Frisco, Texas.
Both of those letters and the bi-plane photo, etc., are now in a Frisco museum. Someone from the Frisco Heritage Museum contacted me to see if they could have copies. After discussing it with my relatives, we decided to entrust the original documents to the museum for historical purposes. More people will find out what life was like back during those times.
From a Movie
Sources for Further Reading
- Aviation in World War I
- 50th Aero Squadron and the Lost Battalion
- Frisco Heritage Center, Including the Museum
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Peggy Woods