The newest entry (July 1918) recounts Cap’s journey across France, the beginning of training exercises, and a few ill-fated attempts to learn French. Cap’s famous sense of humor, which I’ve heard so much about since I was a kid, is well on display. I didn’t think sarcasm was a thing in the early twentieth century, especially not in war-torn France, but Cap seems to have mastered the form. In one segment, after noting the curious prevalence of manure piles on the front lawns of homes in one town, Cap jokes, “apparently in this country a man’s wealth is determined by the size of his manure pile.”
It’s actually a trait found often in the Hill family, from my grandfather to my uncle to my cousins—that rare ability to lighten any mood or situation with genuinely funny banter. It’s not simply a knack for comedy—it’s more than that. It’s a wry sort of commentary that allows everyone around to recognize the essential absurdity in things, and a decree that nothing should ever be taken too seriously—at least not if you’re to be around the Hill family.