November 2, 1918 – Letter to Robert’s father:
My dear Dad,
The last time you saw a photo of Napoleon he had his right hand tucked in at the breast of his coat. All of his pictures and statues are that way. Do you know why? I will tell you. It is because he was in France. We all do it too. There is nothing strange about it at all. You just have scratch them.
The English call them “cooties.” The French “to-tos” and in America they are plain lice. There is no efficient preventative. You just have to get immune to them. All are treated alike, from the meanest dough-boy to the Red Cross nurses and generals. That is, no doubt, why the great Napoleon posed for his picture in that position. He just had to scratch, and so do we.
My vacation is nearing its end; only two days more. I shall hate to go back to the company. This afternoon I am going to continue my sight-seeing. I am going to visit “the caves.” This morning I went through the museum. There were stuffed animals from a hummingbird to a whale.
The weather is still nice and warm except up in the mountains.
City life in France is very different than in America. Vice conditions are terrible but everything seems to be taken for granted here. St. Paul is heaven and yet they think it is awful. I would not want to be raised in France. You do not have to look for vice here. You can’t help seeing it.
Yesterday was a holy day and all the stores were closed except cafes. I heard a Y man ask a French boy what they did on a holy day and he said, “Go to church in the morning and drink wine the rest of the day.”
Last night the Y.M.C.A. had a movie and vaudeville show. When they showed a picture of Washington, D.C., someone shouted “God’s Country” and you should have heard the yell that went up. The same great applause was given to Mr. Wilson’s picture. If the Army had the vote here they would vote 100% for Woodrow Wilson whether he was running again or not.
I have not received any mail here of course but the last I heard from Elinore she was well and happy, though lonesome. I am not and never have been sorry for one minute that I married her. Don’t you think I did what was right since I love her. I have often been glad that things turned out as they did. If not I might have married Miss Thomas and I know, I see now that there would have been trouble. I really believe it was a matter of divine guidance. I was rescued. Elinore is a good, noble woman. She is and always will be a good and true wife. I have never told you this before because the spirit never moved me before, I guess. However I am glad things happened this way and some day if not now you will see the truth of it, too.
I wrote Aunt Aggie a short letter yesterday telling her that I was on leave and how sorry that I could not go to Scotland instead of here. I also sent her a picture like the one enclosed. It is not very good but I think it looks like me.
This morning’s war news is very good and things are coming our way as fast as we can hope for.
Love to all,
If I had any question before about how Robert’s parents felt about his marriage to Elinore, this letter cleared it up. This is the first time he really comes right out and tells his dad that it wasn’t a mistake and it’s time for the family to accept it. Robert was also kind enough to finally tell us what his former fiancee’s last name was – he had only mentioned “Dorothy” and “Dode” back in January.
Of course, I will never look at Napoleon in the same way again:
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.