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Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 12 March 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 4, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918. Fellow Elmiran “Jake” Golos, a well known newsboy, also arrived in France on January 31st.


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 12 March 1918

Sergeant Painton Says the Trolleys “Over There” Remind Him of Elmira’s Work Cars—Meets Elmiran.

Sergeant Frederick Painton, Elmira boy, now attached to the 655th Aero Squadron in France, has written an interesting letter to friends in this city describing his experiences in France. Sergeant Painton left Elmira with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix and was later transferred to the aviation camp at San Antonio, Tex. After a short period of training, he was ready for the trip across to England, where he landed a few weeks ago.

In one part of the letter he speaks of meeting Jacob Golos, an Elmira boy, who is “over there.” Sergeant Painton says In part:

“I think that since leaving the states I have traveled by every mode of conveyance except airplane and submarine. The most excruciating of those was a two-day trip in a French freight car with a flat wheel and me riding over the flat wheel. Though I was not seasick on the trip this certainly made me feel funny. I met Jake Golos a short time back, but was separated from him shortly after. Since then I have not seen a single Elmira fellow. We are at present quartered in a city of some size which has a history that would fill a book. One of the cathedrals was built in the 15th century and is a wonderful structure. There are many points of interest which, believe me. I am going to get to see before coming back to the old home town.

“Streets are not streets here such as we know. They are alleys. The road, especially the middle of the road, is the walk. It is a good thing, too, because as I was going back to the barracks the other night I walked along the sidewalk. By the time I got to the barracks I had a cheap skate on from trying to follow the crooks in said sidewalk.

“Oh, I almost forgot the trolley cars. Those razzle dazzle things of beauty which are identical with the E.W.L. & R.R. Co.’s sand car and made in the same year. They are called a tram car. Two or three times I have seen one going at full speed, which is about nine miles per hour. I don’t mind riding on them. however. Peachy-looking dames come to garner in the sheckles. Whenever we get on one we always remark that we don’t know where we’re going but we’re on our way.”

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