Let me introduce you to my grandfather, Heywood Walker Weldon Sr. He was born in Henrietta, Texas on December 7, 1899. At the age of 18 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, totally unaware of what lay before him as a young sailor at the end of the first World War.
When he turned 18, he left home for the first time, working for the Lone Star Gas Company. He lived at the Bluebird Inn in Abilene, Texas, and traveled the area inspecting gas lines for "steals," or lines that had been cut and spliced "behind the meter."
His mother, Mary Elizabeth Walker Weldon, was the recipient of most of his letters. In one of his earliest missives he wrote to her:
"I'm glad to hear that Q. Squires joined the army. Say, I'm a good automobile driver and can wire a telephone. Did you see what Private Peat said in the American? He said it was the ones that went and not the ones who stayed that will smile. In fact, I don't feel right when they show the flag on the screen and everybody cheers -- I don't feel like I ought to cheer." Within six months he had enlisted in the U.S. Navy and began his correspondence in earnest.
Here are the transcriptions of those letters, exactly as he wrote them in his fluid, old-fashioned hand. The letters are now crumbling, the cheap paper provided by servicemen's charities disintegrating after years stored in shoe boxes. You are invited to follow the adventures of a young man at the most exciting time of his life.