I find this letter heartbreaking, knowing that it was written just three days before Danny died. In it, my great-grandmother has received news that his condition has improved, and you can hear both the relief and the anxiety in this letter. She tries to keep it light with family and town news while returning several times to his health. No doubt the beautiful boy in his Christening gown as well as the young man in his uniform flashed through her mind.
January 28th Tuesday 1918
We were wonderfully cheered just after coming home from school by a telegram from your Commandant, Col. Lehitty (?) “Surgeon advises he is improving.” It made you seem almost near to think we had news of you on this very day. Wasn’t it fine of him, Col. Lehitty! Of course it was in answer to our telegram. We are very grateful and Father will write to him a letter of thanks. It seems to me you must be getting along very well with measles if you are already improving—and improving with measles means nearly well. Lionel [Dan’s younger brother] feels quite important as well as sympathetic, because he had it first. You know he came down with measles the week after you left for Haskell last spring.
I think you should wear dark glasses for awhile. The goggles I sent in the medicine package unfortunately are uncolored. I did not send the amber horn-boned ones which looked better because they did not fit the face so firmly to keep out the sand. So I think you’d better get some at the first opportunity. Father enclosed a bill—I don’t know how much—in the letter of yesterday. If for any time you have not yet received sufficient money to make you comfortable (that was the fourth letter from us and Aunt Lou containing cash) remember that if you telegraph for it we can telegraph it to you. Don’t forget the telegraph system is on purpose “to eliminate time and distance” for folks separated like us. How thankful we have been for it in these anxious days. I got the mints off today by telephoning Shirley who was glad to do it for you. Write me what kind of candy you like. I am sending these now as most likely to agree with a convalescent. I should have sent you a cake again, I think, if you had mentioned receiving the first one. I was not sure you liked it.
Be sure to tell us what you have received from us, so that we can trace the things you have failed to get.
We had about a foot of snow this morning and it still lies level and fine.
The MacDonald’s boy is named, we hear, Frances Henry Blanchard MacDonald.
Absalom Herrod is reported improving slightly.
I telephoned Wilhemina Sat. night after receiving your letter, having learned before that she has not heard from you for two weeks and was getting anxious. I gave her your new address but have not telephoned her since learning that you were in the hospital. Her voice over the telephone sounds very sweet.
If only telegraphing didn’t mount up so I should arrange to hear from you daily. But we are going to believe that “no news is good news” and we are sure that you will have us informed at once of bad news if it transpires. You must learn to write with your eyes shut so that you can give a full account of the time and surroundings at the hospital! I am so glad you have good officers in your squadron. Of course you will find congenial friends when you have had time. Remember to guard your eyes.
A heartful of love, Mother
Don’t be in a hurry to run away from hospital. You don’t get out of danger of relapse or complications of measles for a long time after you get over the “measley” feeling”