Letters, postcards and envelopes (1917-1919) produced by Salvator Cillis after being drafted for service in World War I. The correspondence covers his basic training at Camp Upton, Long Island before being sent abroad to France. Cillis often invokes a sense of humor while discussing military life. His descriptions include the quality of food at Camp Upton, having a snowball fight with other soldiers, and the everyday aspects of training. Cillis also describes his experiences fighting in the war. After months of trench warfare, he mentions longing for a safe return home to New York City. Cillis mainly wrote letters to Morris Van Veen, William Chasin and Dorothy M. Harris, each of whom he worked with as a sign painter at the Levy Company. Being an artist, Cillis illustrates many of his letters with watercolor images of other soldiers, and scenes from both Camp Upton and France.
Salvator Cillis (September 5, 1892 February 17, 1966) was born in Potenza, Italy. He immigrated to New York with his family in 1901. Cillis worked as a sign painter at The Levy Company before being drafted for service in World War I. He was trained in Camp Upton, N.Y. and served in the 77th Division, 306th Infantry. Cillis was stationed in France from mid-1918 and was discharged in May 1919. He applied for a passport to study art in Europe in 1923, returning to New York a year later. Cillis remained listed in the directories as a sign painter in the 1930s. He died in 1966 and is buried in Long Island National Cemetery.