September 5, 1917
We had a holiday today as this is the day when the drafted men were called.
There was a big parade in Chattanooga. My company was not in it fortunately and I had a day off.
I watched the men march down Market St. They took about three quarters of an hour passing. The drafted men marched behind the soldiers. There were a number of Civil War veterans in the parade wearing their old uniforms of blue or gray.
I bet the drafted men will be sick of war soon. We got some hard drill at first, but I don’t think it was anything to what the conscripts get.
Some of our non commissioned officers were transferred to train the National Army as the conscripts are called, and from the way most of the regulars feel and speak of the “d—- slackers” they won’t be shown as much consideration as we were.
Some of our men got awful lectures at first and the NC officers say that a man that has to be made to fight, doesn’t deserve to be shown the patience a volunteer deserves.
I don’t mean they will be ill treated because of the rules in the discipline that forbid striking a man and all that. But they will probably get some savage calling downs and be reminded they were forced to fight for their country.
At noon a couple of the boys and I were down on Market St. I was just going to look for a restaurant when a fellow came up to us and said. “Boys, there’s a lunch for you soldiers at the courthouse.”
The lunch was served by the “Daughters of the Confederacy” and they sure treated us fine. They seemed to be afraid we won’t get enough to eat and they kept urging us to eat some more.
One of the fellows with me tormented the other by making out that the other wanted more to eat and the poor guy was as full as he could be. The first fellow would say, “Shorty wants some more cake.”
Then a girl would come over with a plate of cake and offer it to “Shorty” who would protest that he didn’t want any more. The girl would think he was bashful and insist on his taking it while we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
We made out that “Shorty” was the big eater of our company, but that he was bashful out among company. So the ladies tried to feed him all the more. When he got outside he gave us a calling down.
One of the old ladies told us that she had seen both armies in the Civil War and the men in camp in 1898, but that the lads in camp now were the best behaved soldiers she had ever seen.
Good bye and best wishes from your son, McKinley
Aida Austin, Eldred, to McKinley Austin
September 15, 1917
Dear McKinley, It is nearly nine o’clock, but I will write you a few lines as I have so little time during the week.
I was rather disappointed when I came home Friday and did not find a letter at the Post Office from you, but I suppose you are kept pretty busy.
Your father and mother with the three youngest were up for a little while this afternoon. Your father is working on the road now.
Raymond worked awhile, but thought he was not getting enough and so left. I don’t know what he intends to do.
Willie seems to hate to go to school, so I will have to give him his work after school each day. I was in hopes I would not have to do any school work after school this year, but I do not like to make him go when he dreads it so.
Uncle Lon is very busy with the fall work. We had a very heavy frost three nights in succession and everything is killed. Miss Hall’s flowers were just beginning to look fine. Everything was so late this year.
Maggie Dunlap was in for some butter tonight. She said Harold wrote to you sometime ago, but has not heard from you yet. Dr. Austin’s wife received your letter.
Do write soon. With love, Aunt Aida
Aida Austin, Eldred, to McKinley Austin
September 20, 1917
Dear McKinley, I have not had a letter from you in 2 weeks. This makes the 5th that I have written to you. I will register this to you to make sure of your getting it.
I had a letter from Mrs. Carlin last night. She said she had just written to you. Do let me hear from you. With love, Aunt Aida