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100 Years Ago

Events from the world beyond our campus are always affecting us here; rarely is this more evident than when a former student writes back as a witness. A century ago, as the Great War raged in Europe, countless alumni wrote letters to their alma mater, Mount Hermon, about their experiences. Their words were occasionally excerpted for the newspaper. Here’s one example.

from The Hermonite, vol. XXXI, no. 1, pp. 1-2; October 1917.

FROM A HERMONITE IN THE TRENCHES
EXTRACTS FROM A RECENT LETTER

There seems to be something about Hermon from which I can never get away, something that makes me want to get back there. When I look back to those days I spent there, it seems like an old home to me.

Life here is different from that at Hermon. Although the weather here for the last three months has been better than one could expect, it is not a life very many care for. Just to give you an idea of how we spend our spare time I will tell you a little about the house that my pal and I have just finished making. The censor may allow it to pass, or may tear the whole up; for we are allowed to tell very little. Of course you will know that we are continually moving, and that means we have to fix up a house or “bivvy” as we call them, every little while. This time we have made an entirely new one. First, we looked around for what seemed a suitable place in the trench in which we are all stopping and, having decided upon a spot, set to work. (Everyone builds his house according to his own idea.) With a shovel and pick we dug a hole in the side of the trench a little above the bottom, long enough and wide enough so that both of us could lie abreast; then we went a considerable number of yards and brought up some old iron roofing that was lying about; after which we made our roof. It was quite a little work to get the slope and to make the covering tight around the sides to keep out rain and wind.. After the outside of our house was finished, we made a wash-basin, a brazier, a fireplace, a cupboard (which is but a hole in the side of the trench near the roof) for our rations, another place for our equipment, a rifle rack, and finally a name; all of which takes much longer to do than to describe. We have named this “bivvy” the “Sask-E-Bec Bivvy” for the reason that my pal is from Saskatchewan and I am from Quebec.


This letter seems to be a fearful mixture of thoughts, but I am sure you will overlook that, as you will understand that I am not learning grammar but how to stand shell-fire.

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