Poor Sal! Her suffering is as poignant as her nature is intense


To Bertha from C.C. Ballou – November 5, 1918

My dear Bertha:

Senn’s cable reached me at 11:30 am today, and I know what sad hearts are in our home tonight. It is useless to write of it. I don’t know who is hardest hit. We all know how dear she was to us, yet never knew it as well as now. My hear goes out in sympathy to each of you in turn.

I think of Mamma and of all the love and happiness she felt in our first _____ one, and all ____ can she lavish on it. And I know that her heart is now _____ from this loss. (…) And poor Senn. He never dreamed that he could lose Reba, and I am sure he is now realizing the first real deep sorrow of his life.

And Sally – we all remember how she mourned when Reba first left home. Poor Sal! Her suffering is as poignant as her nature is intense.

Reba Ballou

Among us all Mamma alone will have none of those bitter regrets because of things done, or left undone. Always faithful, patient, loving, kind. What wouldn’t I give tonight to be able to feel that I had been the same! But I don’t think she remembered my harshness and my impatience. She realized that she shared my nature and forgave it all. My poor baby girl, and I can never see her again.

At one point today, an hour and a half after this cable came, I was at my post of observation and stood there during two hours of fierce fire from a hundred cannons. It was a Godsend in a way, yet I nearly forgot what was going on.

But I will continue to work and fight, and in many ways I am more fortunate than you who are at home. Do not worry about me. I only wish I could comfort you who are at home. There are months of heartache for us all, yet we are of the many. France is a land of heartaches. A house of mourning – and our own land is being deeply wounded. We must bear our part, and do it ____ _____as the others.


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Her life was , in a sense, full and complete, in that she had known the best that life has of joy and happiness, and except for the final parting, none of life’s great sorrows – none of its bitterness. She was good and true. May her example and her memory remain with us as an inspiration, and may time assuage the pain.

It is hard to write. You know how I feel for each and every one of you. You and Mamma have the hardest part, for you will have least distraction.

Your loving dad.

[Note: Report of her death in Oakland Tribune, Oct. 23, 1918]

The 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic-Colonel Hunter’s Wife Grip Victim

BERKELEY, Oct. 23- Broken with grief over the death of his wife, which occurred yesterday afternoon from influenza, Lieutenant Colonel George B. Hunter, commandant of the School of Military Aeronautics at the University of California, will seem immediate transfer to active service in France to forget his sorrow on the field of battle.

Colonel Hunter left last night with the body of his wife for West Point, where services will be held at the army cemetery at the military academy. Should his request for transfer to France be granted, it is probably that he will not return to Berkeley.

Mrs. Hunter’s death occurred at the family home, 1536 Le Roy avenue, after a two weeks’ illness of influenza followed by pneumonia. She was 30 years old and was born at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. All of Mrs. Hunter’s life was spent in army environment, her father, Major General C. C. Ballou, being a prominent army officer and now in command of the 52d division of American troops in France. Mrs. Hunter was a graduate of Randolph Macon College, Virginia.

It is the twilight of Kings and Emperors
There is absolutely no use of my trying to go through this place

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CC Ballou

Bertha's father was a major general who fought in the Spanish-American War as well as in the Philippines. He later commanded the 92d Division - a black unit - during World War I.