March 16, 1919 – Letter to Robert’s mother:
Well there is no news today but the sun is shining and I feel more like my self. Just think in 1918 there were only 33 days of no rain out of 365 and they call it “sunny France.”
I wish I could sit on the tin roofed balcony of “my” room on the hottest August day just to absorb a few sunbeams. As I sit here writing this the sun went out + it is raining hard.
We get cream of wheat for breakfast at times now. It sure tastes like ice cream after so many days of rice. Of course a little sugar + milk would help some, but it is just wonderful without.
This morning we passed in review before the Colonel, had an examination by medical officers + went to a memorial service in memory of the 140th men who lost their lives over here.
I guess I will not be able to qualify as a marksman. I can’t seem to hit anything anymore. Of course I blame the rifle but I could not hit with a shot gun. I think I will go deer hunting with Gilbert next November (if I get home by then) and see if I can get a deer. If I don’t shoot any better than I am here the deer are safe though.
The Y.M.C.A. is giving away hot chocolate now for a franc a cup. Those that buy it, do not realize that a franc is 20¢. This money has no value with us, and every body that can, takes advantage of the boys. I don’t draw enough over here though to give much away. As a private I only got about $3.50 a month. Now I get about $14 and I have sent Elinore over $50. That’s living close isn’t it? But I don’t need much here and I guess I will when I get back.
When you get this I suppose you will al be at the lake planting carrots, potatoes, radishes etc. and burning brush if there is any to burn. I can not help but think how much wood we wasted. The branches form a large tree, smaller than one inch thick, would keep a French family a whole year.
I expect to leave here Wednesday. We will go to some little town + live in barns again til they get ready to send us home.
I hope you have recovered from the bronchitis. Do be careful. We have all been very fortunate this winter. Get out to the lake as soon as possible.
Your loving son
I’m not 100% clear on Robert’s money situation. As discussed back in July, he was paid $30/month as a private and $36/month as a corporal, and had a mandatory allotment that he had to send home. Robert had also said previously that he was sending more home than what was required. It’s possible that he’s talking above about how much he’s left with each month after paying these allotments.
The Y.M.C.A.’s hot chocolate may have been expensive by Robert’s standards, but it was apparently popular, according to History of the Y.M.C.A. in the Le Mans Area:
Lastly, I talked yesterday about “The Belgian Camp” and learned today that it been previously known as Camp d’Auvours. In addition to its place in French military history, it was also known for having been the site of several famous exhibition flights by Wilbur Wright between August and December 1908.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.