My mother (IHH) has been the family historian and genealogist for a couple of decades now. She recently sent me the text of several letters written by her great aunt Ellen (Ell or Nell or Ella) Mulhern Gildea to her husband, James, during Ell's visits to the New York City area. The first is dated just a little over a month after the death of her mother, Sarah Ruddy Mulhern and almost six months after the United States declared war on Germany and became actively involved in World War I.
New York City
September 30, 1917
"Here comes the servant with our breakfast..some speed to your wife."
My Dear Heart,
Mame has gone to eight o'clock Mass and, not being able to find ink, here goes with pencil...a good blunt one at that.
After an uneventful trip, I arrived on time. I had a seat to myself all the way; although quite a crowd of people got on along the line, no one bothered me, with the exception of a little girl who borrowed my magazine for her father.
The two Mamies* and Anna met me at Jersey and talk about soldiers. The 23rd & 71st were at Jersey, had been there from 5 AM waiting to go. The poor fellows, some were all in, sleeping on anything they could put their heads on, others strolling with their arms around their sweethearts and others holding their youngsters in their arms. Almost every woman you saw had nice red eyes. One poor little thing came into the car with us and she simply could not control herself. She would look at her wedding ring and start to sob.
Will** expects to go today. I am in hopes that I will get over before he leaves. They expect that he will go to the Philippines.
Mame just got in from Church and I am getting quite hungry. I suppose her (servant) will soon bring her breakfast, likewise mine. Anna*** & I are going to the ten o'clock Mass and go right over to Brooklyn.
Anna left the Plaza and starts tomorrow to work for Mame in the linen room. This is Mame's busy time, so I will stay in Brooklyn for a new days now.
Well, my dear, take good care of yourself and you can go to see any miss daisy (note: I have no idea what this means, IHH) you wish, providing you leave at ten PM and come home alone to your own wee bed, with the nice we (sic) spring and mattress and think about your darling once and a while, if it is only when you are cracking your own eggs. I told Winnie (Reilly, probably. IHH) to come over and take some tomatoes, both green and ripe.
Will close with lots of love,
Your loving wife,
*The two Mamies, I think, are most likely her sister, Mary Mulhern, and her cousin, Mary McBride Anderson.
**Will is most likely her cousin, William Mc Bride.
***I am not completely sure who Anna is. There are no McBride cousins by that name...I wonder if it may have been Anna Smith, who was a close friend of the Mulhern girls all their lives.