||Alfred A. Thelen was born in Oshkosh on January 6, 1891, the son of Stephen Thelen. He worked for the Witzel & Rossmeissl shoe store and became a partner in Thelen & Rossmeissl. He was drafted in April 1918 and did his basic training at Camp Grant, near Rockford, IL. Corporal Alfred A. Thelen became a member of Company F, 354th Infantry, 89th "Middle West" Division during World War I. The 89th Division was comprised of draftees from mid-western states and trained at Camp Funston, Kansas. They saw heavy action during World War I. Alfred died of pneumonia on November 24, 1918.
||World War I Small Collections
|Dates of Accumulation
||Letter from Alfred A. Thelen, Company F, 354th Infantry, 89th "Middle West" Division, to his sister.
June 27th/18 2P.M.
It's been so long since I have heard from any of you, it at least seems ages, & its only since June 2nd of course its not your fault, but I guess we will soon get to a permanent camp where we get mail and also pay day.
[illegible] I haven't seen much of only they have some pretty cities. England surely is a pretty place, flowers growing all the buildings, of brick and all seem to be pained the same color. Hedges all along the street, you can't imagine how beautiful it is, in the cities as well as in the country. There isn't a foot of ground which is not planted. The women don't dress nearly as well as they do in the States and you can tell there has been war there as all people are rationed, Our American Soldier gets far more meat to eat in one day than do the English in a week, I mean their soldiers.
The castles surely are beautiful. I ran out of ink so I'll finish with pencil. The Y.M.C.A. is closed for now, then I'll fill it again. The women all wear ___ and ___ heels, they surely look funny in them, and when we see the first girl in over halls you can imagine how it struck us. I can tell you I'll never regret the trip if it all comes out well.
We haven't been in France long enough to tell you much, only that the women are much better dressed, and better looking, they dress like the girls from the States. The kid's bothered the life out of us on our way from the docks, asking for pennies, and you can't imagine what rotten shoes they were wearing, some were wearing carpet & felt slippers on the street. The kids that had shoes on, the shoes were plain too, heavy calf stock, with hobnails etc. The women wear mostly lace oxfords, with straight heels, ___ ribbon ____, they surely look funny, to what I have been used to selling and buying.
Tell Father, I was in the city he always spoke so much about, I can't tell the name, but he will remember it from 1870-71 when he stayed there and hunted, tell him this and he will remember. I'll write more a little later on, as we won't stay here long & then I can tell you more, if not when I get home, I'll tell you all.
On our way, marching to our rest camp, the Italians were out selling fruit, oranges they sold 3 for 25 cents but they were very small, I didn't buy any though I was dying to eat a dozen, because all I had was a $5.00 bill and I didn't want all French money, now I have broke it and got 4 in American Money.
As long as you girls are all home now I'll write you in turn and you then send it to Lona and what is her address now?
I have seen quite a few Belgians they are near our camp, they are a pitiful lot, hardly any clothes on their back, and will eat anything the boys throw over the fence. I have see quite a few German Prisoners, they don't look starved, what I have seen of them.
What are you going to do next year-teach at home or are you going back? When you write me, tell me everything.
How is Father? & Mother and the rest of you?
So far I haven't seen a German aeroplane, or a Submarine, but I guess it won't long and we will get all we want. I'll try and write you or one of you at least once a week, so you know how I am.
Tell the folks I never felt better in my life, and I shave nearly everyday, all the boys are required to shave, and get their hair cut ever so often.
Where is Art ____ now? Have you heard anything from Zumke? Where we were in England I saw a great many fellows I knew. Babcock, Yost, Buttman, and a host of others, you can't imagine how tickled we all were to see one another again. All these boys were from Co. B. 127 Inf.
I had some English Beer, & some half & half and you can take it from me, give me the booze we get in Oshkosh.
I hope I get that letter of yours soon, with that money order in it. That's all for this time, Love to all of you, and don't forget to write often, from you brother.
Private Alfred A. Thelen
Co. F 354 Inf.
American Expeditionary Forces
||World War I
||8: Communication Artifact
||Oshkosh Public Museum
||Thelen, Alfred A.
||World War I