My dad’s oldest brother, Mortimer McKinley Austin (Mac) fought in WWI. Sometime around January 1918, Raymond Austin sent his brother Mac’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, address to the Lone Scout magazine asking for people to write Mac. Many girls wrote from all sections of the country wrote Mac. The following is one of those letters and was written from Porterville, California.
Mr. Mortimer Austin
Company F, 11th U.S Infantry
Military Branch, Chattanooga, Tennessee
My dear friend Mortimer!
As I am unknown to you, I have made up my mind to write you a few lines thinking perhaps you would enjoy a letter from a “Little California girl.” I have a kid brother; he was reading in a paper and your name was in the paper and I thought that I would write you as he asked me to. In other words, he dared me to. So here goes for some foolish stuff.
How long have you been training and how do you like it? Suppose you boys get awfully lonesome. A bunch of Porterville and Visalia boys were home at Christmas and New Year. We sure had some time. We had dances every eve; and of course we girls had all of the dancing we wanted in two weeks time.
In Visalia, they give the “Yama-Yama” dance. My chum and I dress in Yama Yama costumes (pink). She and I did the Yama first. We sure had some time.
My I hardly realize that I am in California and you in Tennessee. And have you ever been out here? If so, how do you like?
I finished my schooling in 1916. Suppose you finished before enlisting? And do they have good schools in Tennessee, and what kind of climate. I sure would like to go to some of those eastern states.
And when do you think you’ll leave old U.S.A? I have an uncle in France now. That is we think he’s there.
Mortimer, I have joined the Red Cross Nurse. But I am not sure that I’ll pass
my exams. I trained for six months in Los Angeles. But of course I don’t
know for sure. I sure want to go. My folks are scared I will pass. But leave
it to Toots, ha! ha!
I have a boyfriend in San Franciso in the Navy who leaves for New York soon. also have a freind in New York as in Aviation squadron. I hear from them twice a week. I write to five different ones and have pictures of each. And I surely would be pleased to have yours.
And if there is any of the California boys there, tell them you received a letter from me. And I wish them all good luck.
Do you get to go to any dances. I suppose you dance. My that is all we think about here.
My! I am going to tell you a little thing I did this last Sunday, after I got out of school. My father has a lemon and grapefruit grove. so I came out to help pick the grapefruit. What do you think about that? Something I never did before. Now laugh at that.
Well, I thnk you might come out and enjoy some of this foggy weather we are having. I’d take you for a machine drive to S.F.
I think I shall bring this to a close as I am sleepy (have been up late at nights).
Please excuse paper and envelope as I was out and had to borrow from my dad.
And I sure would be delighted to have a nice long letter from you and picture too.
Mac, keep your enthusiasm up and don’t get cold feet. ha! ha. Wishing you the very best of luck and happy year. Excuse speedy writing.
So good by. With love. I am a true friend,