December 15, 1918 – Letter to Robert’s mother:
Today is Sunday and just as beautiful a day as I ever saw. The sun came up nice and warm. A great many of the boys went down to the Meuse River in their shirt sleeves and washed in water that would probably have ice on it in Minnesota.
Three of us went to Commercy this afternoon. It is a town large enough to have a bank and a movie. We went to the movie, but were disappointed. The show was no good. In French it was a “pas bon cinema.” But we had a good walk back and I guess we did better than if we had slept or merely did nothing. There is a great deal of traffic on the streets. There are hundreds of army trucks, motor cycles etc., it seemed a good deal like city life.
There are a great many American railways in France. The French rail road trains look like toys beside the great big American trains. The “Frogs” must feel awfully ashamed when they see the difference. The Frog trains look like a picture of a train that some three-year-old might draw, and they have a little squeaky whistle that sounds like a popcorn wagon.
We are living in a great big barn. We sleep in the hay loft. The horses and a family live down stairs. A French town is so different than an American. They are usually two rows of barn and house buildings, one on each side of the street. One family builds right onto the house of his neighbor, so there is no way to get to the back of the homes. There is usually a stone gutter on each side of the street to catch the slop, dish water etc. that is thrown out the front doors. That is the way they live. There is no danger of fire because the buildings are stone or mud with red tile roofs. In the larger towns there is a water closet on each corner, which is not connected to a sewer but the gutter serves the purpose. They do not know what a sewer is. And yet they seem healthy.
The lieutenant governor of Kansas is to speak tonight. I expect to go and hear him if I can get in. There will be an awful crowd to hear him.
Just got back from the Y. The Lieut Governor did not make much of a speech. He spoke about us going home. He said winter travel was very unpleasant and May would be a good month to go home in. He also told a story: “General Foch came to America in 1921 and was talking to General Pershing. During the conversation Foch said, “By the way, John, what ever happened to the fighting Thirty-Fifth Division?” And General Pershing said “By gosh, I forgot all about them. I must have left them in France.””
When they are ready to send us home we will go; in the mean time impatience will not hasten the trip.
I hope that you are well. I have not received my Xmas box yet, but Nora said she sent it. No doubt it will get here before the 25th. We are sending a few men to parade in Paris for the President.
I got Jane’s letter a few days ago also one from Dad, and your Xmas card.
Well Mother I don’t know what I have written to take up so much space. I hope it doesn’t bore any who read it.
Taps is just blowing and I must write to Nora before I go to bed.
Your loving son,
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.