Grandpa spent Thanksgiving, 1917, at Camp Funston, Kansas. A year later, he shared the holiday with wounded American soldiers in a hospital south of Paris. From letters he sent in January, the hospital seems to have been Evacuation Hospital #24, with a military mail code of APO 798.
This letter, postmarked December 1, was the first he sent to Grandma after his injury. If she didn’t know he’d been wounded, the neat penmanship on the envelope was a clue. This wasn’t Grandpa’s handwriting. And, once she opened the envelope and saw the American Red Cross letterhead, I imagine she knew: he was sending news from a military hospital staffed by the Red Cross.
It was true, as Grandpa wrote (or dictated), that mail would be hard to send and receive. I wonder why. The delivery of mail at the front didn’t fail. The army knew the value of mail as a means to keep up morale. But now, in peace time, the service faltered. It would be two months before Grandpa received mail from Grandma, or anyone from home.
Speaking of home, my childhood home in Kansas, Thanksgiving is the holiday I most associate with my family. I don’t have a photo of a Thanksgiving table, but I want to include a picture of Grandma. She made such a wonderful meal. I especially remember the super moist oyster dressing she served, an odd treat for a Kansas holiday. It was perfect with a side of her dried corn, mashed potatoes and turkey, covered in gravy and followed with pie.