Three Years Ago 03/24/2010
 
 Evelyn to Fred[Calgary]


June 14/17 Darling;- 
... Three years ago to-day we sought for some time in vain for a church to enter. Do you remember? I'll never be sorry we spent our honeymoon trip the way we did. Because of going where we did, particular days stand out in our memory, and we can say - - years ago, we did this or this, or were here or there. Did you see anything of the last air-raid? It was simply fiendish. Think of the mere babies, torn to pieces. I wonder those pilots aren't dashed on rocks for such hellish work. ... I am really looking forward to my trip east - If only, if only, I knew you were safe, I could stand the separation. Mr. Fallis prayed for me tonight, at least it seemed to me he did. I think dear, the essence of the Christian religion is in hope, and love of course ... - When things turn black here, there's always the hope of something better farther on. ... The paper tonight says that Major Silken, having been missing for some time, is presumed to be dead. "After the war" won't mean much happiness to some people, will it dear one? Every time I write to you, I'm thankful for paper pen and ink, the postal service, and intelligence which enables us in some way, to communicate with each other. 
Your sweetheart.

June 16/17 Saturday afternoon - 
Last night I packed your box and washed my hair in preparation for having my picture taken, and when I got through it was time to go to bed. Now, having finished my lunch I'm going to have a sleep in order to look fresher in my picture - you see, I'm doing my best to have a nice one, and if I don't succeed you really can't blame me very much, can you dear? Three years ago this morning I nearly made you miss the boat. I won't do it next time, I promise you. Just give me the chance. Goodbye for the present, my dearest one.

Fred to Evelyn Hertford, Herts.
June 12 1917


My darling wife,-

June the twelfth! What memories this day brings forth. I awoke this morning with the thought "this is my wedding day." On the way to the drill grounds the tramp of the feet beat out the same tune "This is my wedding day." During the drill exercises, my mind was thousands of miles away and I would bring myself back to the present with a jerk from the thought "This is my wedding day."I wonder, dearest, how you have spent this - our first anniversary apart. Have you been terribly lonesome or have you been thinking as I have with joy and love and gratitude for the past and expectant hope for the future? Oh, you have been with me - no- I have been with you all day. You must have felt my presence, for my every thought has been of you. I never imagined 3 years ago that I could love you as much - not half as much as I do. I can't tell you how much but you must feel that you are in very truth my love, my life, my all - And isn't it wonderful how we have grown together - help-meets in the truest sense - with the same ideals and aspirations each striving for the others' welfare, with life's rough places made smooth and it's difficult places easy by love's magic power? When I try to look back and think what manner of man I was 3 years ago - and then contemplate the change that you have wrought, I thank God that he gave you to me - and pray that I may be spared to show in some degree by life service that I am trying to live up to the best in me which you have called forth.The mail man was kind for once. He didn't let this day pass without a message of love from my darling. Yesterday brought two of the longest and best letters you have written ... No, dearest, I don't think you "spill over" and I do want you to write just as you feel. If you can't tell your troubles and worries - big and little - to me, then to whom can you tell them? And don't think I am having things so hard. Here at Hertford we are being fed and housed well and I really am not undergoing hardships. I only wish you were with me and that we could enjoy the beauty of England together. In tonight's paper I saw an article suggesting whereby any Canadian officer who so desired might take a special course of lectures for 6 months or a year. Wouldn't it be lovely to do that after the war with you here? ... Evidently friends are still very kind to you. I am so glad dearie that we have so many real friends. Anyone who is good to you while I am away will have a sure place in my good books. I wonder how you celebrated our anniversary day. My especial celebration consisted of a bowl of strawberries & cream. I had a great deal of trouble getting them. I tried several tea shops but without success. Finally I bought 1/2 pound of berries at a fruiterer's for 6d. Then I hunted for cream & sugar but the former seemed equally difficult to obtain. At last I was directed to the Jersey dairy I told my troubles to the shop girl. Yes, she could sell me cream, but sugar? No, they didn't sell sugar. However I finally prevailed upon her to take a jardiniere off a marble table and allow me to eat them. She brought a small cup of cream - probably 1/4 pint for 4d. - with a bowl of sugar a teaspoon & a plate for 3d. additional. Just at this juncture the proprietor came from a back room & I asked him to replace the plate by a bowl. Certainly! And soon he reappeared with a cut glass round shallow dish. I paid 6d for berries, cream, sugar & service & set to. I hulled the berries, cut them with my spoon in the real old way, put the sugar on to soak & then poured on the cream - lovely rich yellow cream from his own Jersey cows - as the man proudly informed me. It wasa dish of real strawberries & cream. Oh, how I enjoyed them! At first I had not intended to get them, they seemed so dear. But then I thought you would want me to do so if you knew, and I'm glad I did. In one way it hasn't been like a wedding anniversary today but in another it has for we have been together in heart & spirit. I pray tonight that, if God wills, we may spend the next together in body too. So I kiss you goodnight my own dear wifie. God bless and keep you

Wednesday June 13th.
Three years ago today we spent at Niagara Falls. Do you remember the lovely breakfast in the breakfast room of the Clifton House. ... It was a warm day wasn't it - almost as hot as today has been here - especially in the evening at Niagara Falls N.Y. when I found there was no diner on the Buffalo train and rushed about trying to get something to eat. Supper that night was rather a comedown from the morning wasn't it? It has been just the opposite with me today. ... Breakfast was the same old slice of fat bacon & bread & butter & jam & tea: but the rations were supplemented by 2 cookies from Corp. Weatherby of Amherst N.S. and 2 pieces of fruit cake from Sergt. Armstrong of the 191st. Both of these men received parcels today. So did I - the one without eats in it - like the first one it arrived in fine shape, but it did seem rather incongruous to come in the barrack room with perspiration oozing from every pore and running in streams down my face & arms - and then opening the parcel to find for my comfort - bed socks and canned heat - I felt as if I were a parcel of animated canned heat myself.Just the same both the socks & the canned heat will come in all right a few months later - and it was dear of you to send the things. I think I have a sufficient supply of aspirin now. And thank Ruby for the bed socks. They are so soft and warm they will be lovely. Oh it has been hot today - and all morning there was a haze over the sky making the air heavy and muggy. Before breakfast instead of the usual hour of physical drill it was our platoon's turn for the swimming baths. How we did revel in the fresh running water! This is to be a regular thing so our turn will come every four days. Between 10.15 & 12.30 we drilled on the Meads. Several times during the course of the morning we heard aeroplanes but only saw one - yes and a dirigible balloon that came down quite close to the barracks & circled around 3 or 4 times just after breakfast. Well about 11.20 the air raid alarm sounded and we were ordered to lie down under the trees. When we marched back to barracks for dinner each platoon came by itself. But nothing happened here. We heard this evening that the East end of London was raided. Evidently some of the planes we heard this morning were German, for their usual route when making for London is from a point on the coast North East of here - then following down a stream just about 3 miles east of here, right into London. So you see we are near their path. What have you been doing today I wonder. Has it been hot in Calgary? It must be lovely there now on these long evenings. Perhaps you are at prayer meeting tonight. I wish I could hear one of Mr. Fallis' prayers again. They seem to touch one's real needs don't they? Must quit now to write some notes. I kiss my darling goodnight.

Thurs. evening June 14th 
If only you were beside me now. It's 7 o'clock but the sun is still up at least and hour. All about are evening sounds the hush following a hot day's varied labours making the shunting of a railway engine in the valley below stand out with peculiar distinctiveness. From the distance comes the soft coo-ing of doves while nearer at hand in bush and tree are subdued chirpings and twitterings with now and again some bird singing his evening song. Nearby is a rabbit preserve with tall brake from & into which they are scurrying by thousands. As I lie under the shade of a large lime tree on soft green turf I can look eastward across the valley in which Hertford nestles to the woods and fields beyond. All about the field in front of me are elder bushes now in full bloom of beautiful white. Behind me is the home farm of Ware Park with the farm buildings peeping out of the trees. I am under one of the many trees that form the finest avenue of limes that I have ever seen. Ware Park is a private grounds between Hertford & Ware, - and is reached by a lane just beyond the Mead where we sometimes drill. Approaching it that way one first climbs by a well worn footpath a rather steep heath covered for the most part with tall brake. Then a magnificent avenue of beeches - wonderful trees comes into view running at right angles to the path which leads into the lime avenue along which I am now. This last must be nearly a mile long with enormous trees forming a complete arch overhead - about 10 yards apart, except where here & there mammoth, upturned roots tell the tale of a terrible storm that visited this part of the country several months ago. ... 3 years ago today we were in Boston. That was a hot day too, wasn't it dearest. Next time we go there we'll know how to make better use of our time & will enjoy it more shall we not? Do you remember the dinner - fried chicken, Boston baked beans etc., etc., etc? Yesterday's air raid was much more damaging I fear than the newspaper reports would lead one to believe. There was another one this p.m. which kept us in barracks for a couple hours. We didn't see any planes however & don't know where they attacked though it is rumored that they dropped bombs north of London. The roses are coming out beautifully now. This morning I saw a lovely cluster of perhaps 15 or 20 peeping over a wall - they were of the deepest red - and perfectly formed. While crossing a brook tonight I plucked a wild rose bud which I'm enclosing. It made me think of you - so modest, sweet bright, lovely and true. Now I'm going to have my supper. I have opened the jar which I thought contained jelly and find that it's blackcurrants. They ran out a little at the top, but otherwise have carried all right. I am enclosing a few more prints that are only indifferently good. The films seemed to develop well but the printing was a disappointment. I don't want however to send the films home until I know that the prints I have already sent arrive safely. It is so quiet & restful here, I hate to leave but have to do some work when I get home, so must close. Goodnight my own dear love

Fred.
 


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    A box of old letters, discovered in a basement, turned out to contain an absorbing, first hand account of life in Canada, England and on the battlefields of France during the early part of the 20th century. The correspondence between an exceptional couple spans the time of their early courtship, engagement and marriage and their separation when Fred Albright went overseas in World War 1.

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