07/31/2013 07:13 am ET Updated Sep 30, 2013

Love Letters From A Doughboy

Margie Howd

Have you ever wondered about your grandparents past; about the way they met, their courtship and the hurdles they overcame to become a couple? While my grandparents were alive, I never gave the details of the relationship much thought. My grandfather lived to be 95 and as a young child I was able to talk with him and learn things from him, but I never thought to ask him about how he met my grandmother. Honestly, I knew very little about his life outside of being my grandfather. I knew that he fought in World War I, serving as an infantryman or a "Doughboy," but I never gave the idea much thought. I had no concept of what fighting in a war would have been like and I certainly knew very little about the daily lives of the Doughboys of our armed forces.

These questions were answered in 2006 after my mother had passed away. As I began cleaning out my mother's assisted-living apartment, I found a ziplock bag buried among some of my mother's clothes that contained some letters. I glanced through them and saw that my grandfather wrote the letters to my grandmother, which dated from 1916 to 1919.

After discovering the letters, I set them aside so that they would not get thrown away because I immediately knew that I had found something special.

When I returned to my condo in Florida, I started reading the letters. The paper was discolored and some of the words were faded, but I found a treasure in those old pages. After I read through my grandfather's letters, I wanted to share the story of my grandparents' courtship and their lives during WWI.

I had gone through many of the letters that my grandfather had written and I wanted to share with you some of what he had to say. The following letter is dated September 6, 1916. This letter came early in their relationship. It reads as follows:

"Dear friend

I received your letter today and was glad to get it. Well I am in a hurry haven't got time to write a letter. I am going to church tonight it is about prayer meeting time. I am writing to let you know I would like to be with you next Sunday, Sept 10th. If this is not all right please let me know by return mail. Lillie will come with me. Sincerely, Thomas"

Another letter that I read was when Thomas was in Germany and is dated April 13, 1919:

"Dear Juliette,

I haven't had any mail from some homefolks now for some bit but I receive mail from you pretty regular. We are located in Remagen a town on the Rhine. Our whole company is in one hotel. Our hotel is very close to the river. Yesterday I was on the porch on the third story and I threw a prune pit into the water! We see the many boats that float up and down the river. There are always patrol boats that are patrolling the river. The boats are inspected at this place. I have seen three boats loaded with French troops, one American, one with Polish troops and one with British troops."

The letter continues on about what he is currently seeing and the fun the soldiers are having. This is perhaps a staging point for these men to either go into battle or in some cases to return home. I can't really tell because the writing is so faded -- I am however able to read his concluding remarks and it shows that their love has deepened and grown. He ends: "With lots of love from your friend PVT. Thomas PS Please excuse this terrible writing."

I knew that I had to write a book about my grandparents' courtship and their lives during WWI. At the end of 2006, I started writing my book. I got through the first couple of chapters and then I stopped. Several years went by and in 2011 I signed with a book publishing company called iUniverse out of Bloomington, Indiana. After some encouragement from my husband and the people at iUniverse, Love Letters From A Doughboy started to really take shape.

While I had the letters to base my book off of, I still had lots of research to do, in particular about doughboys and where the originated. Through my research, I found that the doughboys got their name during the Mexican-American War. These doughboys would march in that dry Mexican dusty roadways and would be covered by dust making them look like they were covered by dough, hence the name.

Next I reviewed the letters and made sure to read them in chronological order them, so that I could get a clear progressive picture of what my grandfather was going through. Now I must admit most of what is written in Love Letters From A Doughboy is fiction but those letters sure helped me to figure out some of what my grandparents' went through and inspired me to write this heart-warming story.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Sweet Reddit Grandparent Stories