December 21, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“Went to Commercy. Saw Jack Helsper + Art Herbert. Did some shopping.”
Art Herbert is a semi-regular in Robert’s diary and letters, but this is the first we’ve heard about Jack Helsper. Actually, his name was Salvius John Helsper, born in Melrose, Minnesota in 1895. He was assigned to the 12th Veterinary Hospital during the war. Robert will mention him again in an upcoming letter.
Robert’s trip to Commercy gives me the opportunity to share more words from Chaplain Edwards in From Doniphan to Verdun:
Nothing more dreary, however, than the small French town can well be imagined. There are no newspapers, a town crier, with a drum, calling the news from the street corners. France has nothing like our popular magazines, there is no movie, there is nothing — nothing save the cafe. On the other hand, in the middle and better class French homes, there is a most beautiful life. It is often said that the French have no word for home. But “foyer” which might be translated hearthstone, takes its place: The children, parents, and grandparents: the family circle. Their unselfish care for each other, their pleasure in little things, and their unfailing courtesy in the home might well be adopted by Americans.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.