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Date: November 1st 1917
Shorey Johnson

Nov. 1st, 1917

Dear May,

Don't you weep any weeps over me. I never was nor will be worth a tear, except perhaps from some louse, yet unborn, that may have to die with me.

I hope that Muriel will not find her Germans as big a problem as Elsie's Swedes. She is rather young to butt up against them very much.

When the soldiers' member and the Calgary member take their seats in Alberta there will be someone loose. Our election was more or less of a farce. We had name, rank, and home address and civ. occupation of each candidate. Otherwise we were in the dark. I looked first for a private - there were officers (!) on the list - then I tried to get as near home as possible. There were a few election bills distributed or posted, each candidate promising to support the interests of soldiers. Whether by opening or closing the bars, conscription, or free trade, none said. Some election!

It is great work the boys are doing in the north. Ypres no longer dominated, the Germans pushed back into the mud. We may have to swim clear to Riga after them yet.

Won't Mrs. McClung howl! The women used to be on a par with lunatics, now they are classed with enemy aliens. Hooray for politics and the war! - also for the W.S. liquor act. I wish they'd bring that same over here with them. They began to issue rum in the training depot here, and the second night two S.M.s gave each other black eyes. That put a stop to it. But beer, champagne, or cognac from the French estaminets is quite as potent for such disfigurements among the men, and two to five bottles of White Horse in the officers' mess each day must bring some results.

If Arthur M wants to slander Canadian Soldiers he is quite welcome for all of me. I must get that book from Elsie if possible. Perhaps I might learn something I do not know. I just forget what his special subject is. I enclose a pertinent cartoon. Kindly pass it on to mother for preservation. It illustrates, very nicely, Dr. C.S. Eby's work on the Sermon.

How "Jack Canuck" has blossomed under the present administration. Have you seen "John Bull", after which he is modelled? You will see plenty of references to the editor, Horatio Bottomley. And it is not so very long since "Tit-bits" was excluded from our mails! Golly! what putrid minds those English have, with their illustrated papers and their news! To see England, and the streets of France, is to be less horrified at and more understanding of the attitude of the old aristocracy toward the Cannaille. When I see the men here, and hear of the problems at home, I am glad I am here to see and know. The minister who has not been here will find his ability to deal with vice very much stultified by the bohunk who will make capital of his ignorance.

The Provinces knocked the stopper out of the very fountain of iniquity, and now the vials of wrath must pour, as in all history of reform, flooding out the very lives of those who struck the blow and will never see, on earth, the sure-following light of day. While Canada has struggled, England's opportunity has passed. Now from Paris comes the call to a quarterly Allied conference. An American correspondent says that though London is the Capital of the Allied Civilizations, Paris is the centre of civilization and the clearing-house of nations. This good old war of ours is bringing the Parliament of Man five hundred years nearer.

Of course you have read all this in the papers, but I had to make some remark.

I should say I do know Miss MacLachlan. Mother sent a clipping mentioning her appointment. She seems young for the bench, but her capacity is quite evident.

If soldiers are confined, as criminals, for contracting venereal diseases, why not civilians? Soldiers are encouraged by every branch of the service, except the helpless Chaplaincy and the partially uninterested Y.M.C.A., to run into danger. Many of them will be released with disease latent, and will be a menace such as Canada never has known. The civilian has the protection of the law, and, to some extent, of public opinion, so should not his dereliction be met by even stricter restraint?

Yes, we are fed fairly well. Today, for example, I ate:

Breakfast, - Oat-meal porridge, with sugar (stolen); Machonochie's ration, which is a mixture of boiled beef, slices potatoes, broad beans, rice, carrots, and this time came in the cans, hot; tea, this time not boiled, transmogrified into cocoa by the addition of condensed milk (Nestles), sugar, and part of the contents of Mrs. Annie Foster's last parcel.

Dinner, - thick vegetable soup, very good; bread, margarine, honey purchased in the Church Army canteen.

Supper, - tea, straight; a stolen can of pork and beans; bread, marg., cheese, jam honey.

For about the second appreciable length of time in France I have more rations than I can get away with.

As for clothing, we have all that we care to carry.

Beds are always dependable. We never fall through, and if we do fall overboard there is always a good soft face near to fall on. The other night somebody did step on my head, but it happened to be on my gas-mask instead of the floor, so I was all right. My bedding just now consists of:

1 uniform, worn as by day, with interior decorations plus sweater complete.

Boots, unlaced.

Puttees, rolled double at ankle where I stick out, and loosely the rest of the way.

1 rubber sheet, used as counterpane and rather narrow.

1 overcoat, all too short.

1 balaclava cap, one gas mask, one towel, two pairs socks, the combination forming a pillow if it happens to stay together.

I forgot to mention the newspaper that is stuffed in the cracks in the floor.

We made a stove out of a paint can, and manage to steal wood, of a sort. If we can't keep warm in bed, we can always get out and start a fire. It is the reverse of the old process back home. The other day a police corporal and two prisoners were arrested by a Frenchman for cutting wood. I know where there is a good piece of ci-devant corduroy road.

Good-night -