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The following letter from Private Lester J. Benzer, son of Joseph Benzer, 1428 Washington street, was received by his former associates of the Ninth street engine house. Private Benzer enlisted in the balloon section in April and received training at San Antonio, Texas, and was sent to France, where he is in Company C, Balloon Wing, American E. F., A. P. 0. 705.

France, July 21, 1918.

Dear Pals: I am writing you to let you know that I am in the best of health and have arrived here in fine condition after a good trip.

We had a. long ride on one of these French railways. They sure are a joke alongside of our railways. One could put about three of these cars in one of ours, but they make good time with them at that. Everything is different here. The people, that is, most of them, wear wooden shoes, the houses are all made of stone with high rock walls around them with broken bottles set in cement on the top so that they cannot climb over them.

Nearly all of the French farmers use ox teams to plow their fields and almost all of their grain is cut by hand with scythes or cycles. The majority of the farm work is done by the French women; they also work as section hands. When American troops pass through towns or along country roads, the little children stand along the streets and roads to shake hands with the American soldiers. We gave them some of our biscuits which they sure like, as they do not get any to much to eat, as it is and their bread is as black as can be.

The American soldiers are the only ones over here that are getting pure wheat bread which the boys relish greatly. We are allowed all we can eat of it. They are doing all they possibly can do for us over here to make life as pleasant as possible.

Well, boys, how are you all? I wish I could write you more but you know I cannot. The American boys will have a lot of tales to tell when they get back to the states.

The detachment I was in is all broke up and I was put in a headquarters company. I believe I will like it a lot better. Will let you know more the next time. Write a letter once in a while for I will he glad to hear from you all. Let me known how everything is going in dear old Dubuque, for I think it will be some time before I get back there again.

I will close this letter with the hope of hearing from you boys soon. With best regards to all, I remain as ever.

Your old pal,