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February 1, 1919
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February 22, 1919
SBButler Letters, February 1919
This morning Achorn left for a 10 day leave to Nice, along with Daly, a second lieutenant who has been with us for about 4 months.
The day has been ordinary, except that I think I've bought myself something tonight. The officer who is running the mess in these barracks called the officers together to say he had quite a bit of surplus cash on hand, and to find out what they wanted to do with it. Well, nobody wanted to talk very much, which was the signal for me to express my views which were for expenditure of surplus on certain improvements in the mess; another captain wanted a blow-out with dance and such tedious etcetera. After some discussion, and the statement by the mess officer that he could improve the mess as much as possible and still have something to spend, I suggested a compromise which would have the mess improved to the limit and balance spent on an entertainment for which a committee should be selected to make arrangements. OK, says everybody, and the meeting breaks up unceremoniously, and the mess officer says as he starts to go, "Well, I guess you're the committee, captain." That's all you get for trying to supply the talk when nobody will say a word. What would you do after such irregular procedure? Thus far I haven't busied myself with it at all. I suppose a rousing keg party wouldn't be bad, only it wouldn't be complete without pretzels, and I've never seen a pretzel in this country. Pretzels or no pretzels, a keg party would surely be superior to such barbarous amusement as a dance.
Goodnight, be good, and my own Sweetheart always. I love you.
2 Feb. AM
Good morning, Sweetheart, and the top of a nice cheerful morning to you! I love you. Sylvester
This has been a very restful Sunday, which of course is not a unusual statement. At the usual Sunday morning inspections the barracks, tents, mess hall, and kitchens which we have never looked better, and I was quite proud of them. Thru the afternoon I slept most of the time, by way of earning my day's pay.
It is beautiful out this evening. No moon, but there is the tiniest blanket of snow on the ground, and you can't imagine what a different aspect that gives to this environment. I stept out for just a little while and it seemed as though I were in a different world than this muddy city, which I always shall think of a s ugly place, I believe. The snow covers the mud, the ground is somewhat frozen, and it all carries back so that I can easily imagine myself in America - for I have found there is something characteristically home like to me in a fairly mild winter evening and snow on the ground. There's some big glowing sensation it gives me, why, I don't know, and I don't believe I am expressing it so that you will know what I'm driving at.
My little Lady, I would give worlds to have this evening be really one at home, and you and our fireplace be just inside from it. I never wanted you so much as now.
Goodnight, dear. I love you always.
3 Feb. AM
Good morning Sweetheart, with love and a kiss. Sylvester
I started the evening with good intentions in abundance, to write lots of letters, especially. The total accomplishment, however, has been to address three postal cards and fill out a blank sent me by the class Sexennial committee. First I wandered into Green's room and indulged in a futile argument for an hour and a half. We felt in a disagreeing mood this evening so got onto one of the lines in which we differ. I argued some newly conceived views on a certain matter, views in which no one on earth would agree with me, I guess, if indeed I agree with it myself. It's largely in my mind as a matter of conjecture, and I took the point of view largely for argument. Well, after I got back to my own room, the cook came in for something, and he was in a conversational mood. Then about ten Greene came in and we've talked for another hour, partly argument (one of my pet theories that the competitive impetus in artistic production of any sort - music, poetry, etc., etc. - is valueless; Greene says my theory is no good, incidentally denying that there is any such thing as genius - and so we would go on); and partly rehearsal of experiences, and expressions of desires and hopes for the future. So now it is eleven o'clock and another evening more than gone.
I was happy to get some more mail finally today - another skip, bringing me Jan. 6-9, or there abouts. The blank pictures are surely works of art, at least show what they might have been, when held up to the light.
For a little while this evening while I was by myself, I wanted some special sort of party with you. So I have read all the old don't open letters, which I keep in a special place together. They breathed a special new fragrance this evening, for all taken together, they were a collection of sketches of our home that is to be, and is not very far off, I hope. I don't think you can imagine how much I am looking forward to it. I am going back to an altogether new and fuller life from what has ever gone before. The little sketches of the happy future make me tonight all the more eager for that future to become the living present.
Goodnight. I love you always.
2/4 AM With love and a good morning kiss for my sweetheart. Sylvester
I think I've staved off that entertainment projected at the meeting of officers where I put my foot in it the other evening. I don't think many of the officers want it, and only just voted for it to hurry up and get thru with the meeting. Another meeting at a more opportune time tomorrow will I think reverse things. I'll confess to having done a little electioneering this evening to bring about that desirable end. Talk about being able to improve the mess to the limit and than have enough left over for a blow-out! The mess hasn't improved a bit since, and tonight it being absolutely unpalatable I have indulged in a mutton chop and French fried potatoes down town, along with Greene and Fox.
I see there is lot of fool talk in the newspapers at home about injustices done to the members of the Army, injustices to particular organizations, injustices to National Guard officers, and so forth, without end. As an army man, let me beg you, if you see any of this, to take it all with a grain of salt. Most of it that I have read shows itself on the face of it to an Army mans as bunk, the cheap talk of ignorant persons. a while ago I read in a New England paper a tirade on the injustice done to my division, the 76th, in making it a depot and not a combat division. That's silly. General Pershing decided that it would be necessary to have a few divisions act as the machinery for the training of replacement troops - that is, to what were known as depot divisions. Of course, we were unfortunate in being picked, as most everyone was anxious for an active part up in the lines. But it if they were going to have such divisions, they had to pick somebody, and it was no more unfair to pick us than any other. I have seen in a newspaper of some other section of the country how in a certain National Guard division, it was claimed, officers were removed just before combat, and men left without leaders to the mercy of the battle, like sheep to the slaughter; and that the Division suffered in consequence untold casualties - the actual figures were published today which show that in casualties that division stood way down to 15th in the list of the 30 of our division which got into the fighting line.
Those aren't all the things I've read; there are other equally silly exaggerated tales - based on the hearsay of some disgruntled soldier or officer perhaps, or maybe on rumors growing out of most nothing. Of course everything hasn't been managed perfectly; it would be humanly impossible to have absolute perfection in a tremendous newly made organization like our 3 or 4 million strong army. But these wholesale accusations of deliberate mismanagement on the part of the War Department, of discriminations and petty politics in appointments, promotions, transfers, etc., of wanton neglect for the welfare of our soldiers on the part of officers high in authority - they are all disgusting, and it is a shame and a disgrace for men to spread such stories when they know nothing of their foundation, which most of them don't have at all. I suppose we'll hear such criticisms for years and years, even perhaps especially, from ex-soldiers and ex-officers. When they are sprung in my presence I surely am going to have something to say. There is an officer right in this Train who is swallowing some of the bunk, and I have been telling him what I think of it and of people who swallow it, this evening. I guess that's how I got started ranting on it to you.
Deck has just come back from the movies which must mean it's quite late, and I'm going to say goodnight.
With all my love and a kiss to prove it, and a threat of about a million and a half to prove it, in that day when we shall see each other, never to part again. I LOVE YOU, my own Eva.
2/5 AM Dearest, And I love you this morning too. Good morning and a kiss. Sylvester
I was going to accomplish big things this evening again in the letter-writing line, but the sum total of my evening's accomplishment is a short letter to Major June and another to Ralph. I started one to Lucinthia but my brain wasn't working and I have burned it, to start over again tomorrow night, or another time. I don't know where the evening has gone to. I guess it's mostly to listening to Spalding daydream on the future and its possibilities, chiefly from a business point of view.
Today we got a bit more mail, in-between mail to cover the days just at the first of the year. I also had a letter from Ralph in which he turned down with gentle firmness a suggestion that he wait until I return before getting married. However I had sometime since repented of the inconsiderate request, and wrote him long ago to pay no attention to it. I shall be disappointed if I miss his wedding, but naturally it wouldn't be right for me to expect him to delay starting his home just for me.
This is a short letter tonight. I am very dull witted, because the room is very close, I think.
Goodnight, and lots of love,
I rushed off this morning for an expected inspection which didn't come off as the visiting colonel didn't arrive. But I rushed off, nevertheless, and your morning greeting wasn't sent. Please forgive me.
I have ventured out tonight and have come back looking like one who doesn't know enough come in when it rains. I accompanied Deck and Doc down to the Omnia movie house tonight to see the sixth installment of "House of Hate". It began to rain just as we got there and has kept it up ever since. It is making its usual pleasant sound on the roof now.
I had an interesting dream last night, all that I remember of which is this - that I was going north thru Cromwell on a troop train, which stopped at the Cromwell station. I got out long enough to run up the street to the post office and say to the postmaster, who is likewise the Cromwell correspondent of the Hartford Courant, "You can announce in your paper that Capt. Butler passed thru here today with the 301st Supply Train, en route to Camp Devens, having just arrived from overseas." I have repeated this as being prophetic, to Deck today, because he's a doubting Thomas on the question of our early return. I look for something very soon. Let's hope so.
Goodnight, dear. I love you always.
2/7 Good mornin' Sweetheart. I've just waked up into a nice old-fashioned snow storm. S.
Today yielded an unexpected batch of mail, some from early December, which I had expected was completely lost. My Christmas decorations, which have been up for a month, can now be added to with the red bell, and my sweetheart floral mementoes with the Zeta Psi carnation you were thoughtful enough to buy and wear and send me. That's very nice, and thank you, Sweetheart.
I had a back letter from Mother today, too, and have been very much saddened by the news that Bert Phelps, my old chum in New Britain, died over here in France Oct. 24 past. It was the first I knew of it. He was in a Motor Mechanics regiment of the Air Service, where stationed I don't know. His death was from pneumonia. It seemed especially sad, because he enjoyed life so, and was so brimful always of cheeriness. Only the other day I wrote him. Perhaps you will remember meeting his mother last spring; she passed us coming down Poplar hill from Mrs. Hubbard's on the Wednesday afternoon of the week you gave me - she stopped her Ford to talk to us, do you remember? He is the third intimate friend of whose death I have heard within a month. Deke Bennett, a classmate and fraternity brother and one of my very special friends at college, died in December of pneumonia. He was an attorney in New Haven, and had just been elected to the State Legislature. I also heard from Mother during the last month that John McNellis, with whom I roomed Sophmore year at college, had died.
It's not quite a year since my Junior and Senior year roommate, Sam Sewall (who visited me at Pleasantville H.S., you remember) died; and what with all these very special friends, and many others of my acquaintance who had gone the same way, I feel that I have heard quite enough news of this character.
The snow storm of this morning all melted off during the day and it has been excessively muddy. Tonight it has come off colder than it ever has been, though, and is freezing up the ground rapidly. The moon is also growing up to the full, and the night all says that I should be with you.
Pretty soon, dear. Goodnight, I love you.
2/8 AM Goodmorning, sweetheart, and I'm sending you my love again. Sylvester
I have been over to the library all morning getting material for my Japan/China teaching. I really expect to make the room and study wonderfully beautiful and interesting for the children.
Daido and I had dinner at Keller's and then came home on the 7:09. Daido felt awfully miserable so I escorted her to the doctor's and today she has about a dozen packages of the bitterest pills. Nothing serious but she is limited to one cup of coffee daily.
Our wash woman has returned and it was really a pleasure to find we couldn't sit down for clean ironed clothes.
Tomorrow is Dorcas first anniversary and I just don't know what to get her.
It is now goodnight time. I love you.
PS. Our kitten is now a cat almost
Today we have been down to Somers Point. It was Dorcas' anniversary so Daido and I went down to the florist to get her a bouquet. We also wandered down along the bay shore and collected some beautiful sea anemonies and sea grasses. The tide was low and all the little pools were particularly beautiful with anemonies and grasses.
We got Dorcas a lovely bunch of sweet peas, maiden hair fern and heliotrope. We also bought a heliotrope plant to bring home. It is just within reach now and so delightfully fragrant and memoryful.
I just finished writing to your mother so you see I have been doing something this evening. I also wrote out lots of plans for school and can hardly wait to put them in effect. I have planned the most beautiful sand table garden and room decorations, also a little Japanese play to help pay our war fund.
I have one extremely precocious little fellow and am going to have him help me write the play. He really is a wonder and I'm sure we can work up a delightful, simple little drama.
Dearest, I love you. Goodnight.
Daido feels worse. The pain seems to be more over her lungs.
I am home early and have dinner started and as Daido hasn't come yet I can start my letter to you. I could be working on something for my chest but would rather write and I hope you are pleased with the decision.
Two letters from you today. The 15th and 16th of January.
I'm so sorry the pneumonia serum made you sick but I'm glad you took it as it just seems to me most everyone has had pneumonia this winter and I have worried more about that than anything else.
Our whole house is fragrant today with the heliotrope and I like it so much.
Our janitor is making me the dandiest little bookstand for the kiddies books. I am just as pleased as can be with it. He is taking a little too much pains with it tho as he is adding some molding and I like it better without. It is good of him to do it tho and he is going to paint it white for me.
We started to make our Japanese garden in the sand table today and it really looks nice already. The boys got me some big stones. I built a little bridge and we are already to make the stream and pagoda tomorrow. Goodness, but I am enthusiastic about it. We made lanterns and hung them on our Christmas chains this afternoon too and we are really getting somewhat of a Japanesy effect already.
Miss Bristol was out today and it is reported she has appendicitis. We have just managed at last to get a substitute for Mrs. Keyport too. I don't believe either of them will get back this year. I am awfully worried about Mrs. Keyport as she always had asthma and now double pneumonia with it.
I'm lonesome, dearest.
I'm sending you a tiny bit of heliotrope. It's lonesome too. I wish you could come and see me in school. I'd let you come in and maybe talk to the kiddies. Wouldn't you just love to do that.
Miss Schaible was down today to try and get affairs straightened out upstairs. She certainly takes a big interest in things. She is trying to get us another substitute.
I'd like to be sung to and rocked to sleep now.
Our spigot sprung a leak at dinner time. the water just poured out and the spigot went round and round and wouldn't stop it. I went down cellar and turned the water off and the plumber has just finished fixing it.
I have an awful confession to make. I knew you didn't want the chewing gum Mr. Hildreth sent and the candy was all broken up so I gave the gum away and ate the candy.
Katie has finished her first course at school. Another course starts in May. It is to be given in some wonderful old country estate outside of Philadelphia.
It is new moon time again. I saw it tonight. It was a misty moon. I think we are going to get some snow, soon.
Dearest, here is a goodnight kiss. I love you.
On the couch
There is not a single excuse for the pencil except that I want to sit on the couch and can't write there very well with ink.
I got a little gunmetal wrist watch tonight. Very inexpensive but I have been needing and wanting one for a long time.
Well, the cause of my miserableness the past week is coming to light, another wisdom tooth sent forth a point tonight and it certainly does hurt. It seems as if I've had trouble enough to have gotten a dozen wisdom teeth but all of the whole four aren't in yet. Parts of all of them are and I thot surely they were done hurting but it seems not so. I do hope they get in and over with real soon.
Today has been a rainy day and tonight there's not a sign of a moon, and I got bushels of mail today but I'll leave you to judge of its value:
1 copy of Jan. 15th Current Events
1 New Jersey Soldiers Memorial Fund letter
1 teachers agency letter
1 letter from a Correspondence school
and several more of the like.
Dearest, it is late and I can't seem to be sunshiny about even my watch so I think I better stop writing.
I love you and I will always be sunshiny over that and if you were here now I just know I couldn't be cross.
Merry sunshine is here again. I love you.
Daido has gone to the Latin Club and I am here.
Today has been a very satisfactory day at school. Several of the members of the board were around about supplies today and spoke very well of my work. I think I am going to get an increase. They said they were not able to do as well by me as they would like but if I would stay next year they would make it interesting, (but you know) I was flattered to death and then I received a lovely letter from one of my kiddies mother saying she was very pleased with the way her daughter was improving. Goodness! I'm vain tonight.
We made the nicest little wrist watches of paper this morning. It was my own idea, too, and the kiddies are just crazy about them, even the boys.
We played just loads of games this noon and had the most fun. Daido told me about the games Dr Meroney taught up at their school yesterday. I copycatted and we really had a glorious time. My new little girl is a dandy sport. She got knocked down twice. The first time she said nothing and the next time said, very sarcastically, "Am I not big enough to see?" She then went over by the school for a few minutes and I started toward her as she seemed about ready to cry, but she didn't do it.
I was up to the mail and met one of the 4th graders. He took off his hat very politely and said, "Hello Mrs. Oh I forgit yer name." Do you object to my new name?
One of my little girls walked up the street with me tonight past her house as my car hadn't come. We had an interesting conversation and talked about most everything except the fact that I have been conducting an enthusiastic campaign against swearing by using alum, soap and water, etc., but her last words to me quite took my breath away. She is one of my best children, has good parents and that is what made me laugh so at her remark, "Mrs. Lutz, I haven't sweared once since I've been in school." The car came, thank heavens, before I had a chance to say a word, but the idea of any one ever even suspecting her of swearing was too much for me. At any rate she wanted me to be sure and know she didn't do it.
Children are so funny. They are such natural little creatures. I wish I dared love them all as much as I'd like.
My tooth doesn't ache much tonight.
I received a letter from Winnie tonight inviting me to her wedding. There are several reasons why I feel I will be unable to go, one is I couldn't leave school the day before as we can't even get substitutes for the sick teachers, second I really must begin to do some economizing myself, I don't like weddings, last Daido's mother died February 22d last year. I should hate to leave her as I know it will be a blue day for her.
Dearest, I am sleepy as usual around 8:30. I love you best in the world. A goodnight kiss with my love.
Dearest, "Good morning to you, good morning to you, we're all in our place with sunshiny faces." I love you. Eva
Daido is up to a Principal's meeting at the High School.
Dorcas has been here this evening. I helped her do some shopping and we both have been crocheting until she just took the 9:30 car.
Frank was around for dinner. He had gotten four G's on his report and consequently came around to collect from me. I paid willingly as I do want to see him get along well in school. He really did improve. I told him he'd get a dollar for every E he produced next month and he threatens me with five.
We made the cutest little Japanese umbrella's in school today. The kiddies certainly did like them.
Here comes Daido and here is a goodnight kiss.
I love you best in the world.
Morning dearest. I love you. Eva
Today brought me an unexpectedly late mail, your letter of Jan. 23 coming on the scene, only two weeks on the way! I think that's the best time any letter has made. I also hear from Ralph that he's to be married on Washington's birthday. I'm very much disappointed to miss his wedding, and wish he could wait for me but of course brothers don't count in such matters. I hope you can arrange to go up for it and represent the Sylvester Butler branch of the house. They will be much disappointed if you don't.
Today has been the coldest we have had here. I had to curl up in a knot and make one part of the body blanket for the other in order to keep warm. Tonight is equally cold and we seem to be in for a little spell of winter. It is surely much more healthful than the damp though warmer weather we have had.
Green and Fox and I have been downtown for supper, which was an exceedingly satisfactory one. We got into conversation with a number of Canadian and Australian officers. One of the Canadians looked and talked enough like MacDougall to be his brother, so much so that I asked him if his name were MacDougall. but no, it was Wylie. He had a Major with him who was continually inquiring if someone wouldn't pretty soon start throwing something at the electric light bulbs, or if there wasn't going to be some life of some kind. He comes from the Wild West (Winnipeg, Manitoba), also has just come down from Brussels, where things also are quite wild he says.
We have been back some time now and talked quite late into the evening.
Good night, dear girl. I love you always.
Feb 9 AM Goodmorning Sweetheart. I love you ever and ever so much. Sylvester
This has been no different than any ordinary Sunday, and I have scarcely ventured out, except twice up to the Park, for inspection in the morning, and general observation in the afternoon.
I have gotten hold of Service's Rhymes of a Red Cross Man this evening and spent some enjoyable moments with it. Have also written a number of letters.
It is still cold as can be, and I surely wish that we might be skating somewhere together. When I am looking to get located surely we'll have to make the existence of a skating pond not too far from our home, one conditions for my acceptance of a position, don't you think so?
Of course my March 1st prediction has proved to be too early, and nothing but a miracle could get us home at that time. But I don't feel that our stay is delayed indefinitely, and am quite hopeful for April 1st, anyway. Of course things might turn up to prevent it, but one might as well be hopeful as otherwise. I am indeed anxious to be home, and with you. I want to get well located during the spring while the locating is good for next fall. And, sweetheart, I want to be married in the early summer, after your school term lets out. We can surely do it, can't we? Sometime in June. Then a whole summer together before I have to get to work. It will, if things turn out that way, be my first real vacation since childhood, and one of such great happiness as I have never known before. I am making a number of pet plans for it - but I'd rather tell you when I see you, and one or two I want to keep for 'sprises. Are you curious now, or don't you care? You'd better! Now don't ever say you don't again. I hope you will like them, because they are meant to fit just what you would like, and I hope you will like them just a little bit because they involve having you and me together. You're in every plan for the future. How could it be otherwise. Think it over, be sure to. June?
I love you, Sweetheart, and I want the radiance of your golden sunshine. It would be good for these winter days. Goodnight, and a kiss.
2/10 AM Mornin' Sweetheart. With morning love and a morning kiss. Your Sylvester
Another bitter cold day. It's a reminder of the cold spell of just two years ago at this time.
Can you make souffle potatoes? Well, they are delicious. I've had some for the second time in my life for supper tonight. Same thing as French frieds, only all puffed up like a balloon.
I had a fine brisk walk this afternoon, four or five miles or so, down to the hospital and back. We seem to have a few men there all the time. Naturally we do everything we can, it is our duty, to keep the sick rate as low as possible, but it doesn't keep it all out.
My Yale Alumnus Weeklies, which are coming quite regularly now, have been very interesting the last two months. With the war over, a natural time of change has come in the university, and the discussion of contemplated lines of reconstruction there in the pages of the Weekly is mighty interesting reading for me. I want to make you acquainted with my university some day, particularly thru the Weekly which I'll get regularly, and occasional trips to New Haven - reunions, football games, etc. It is part of the ideal of a home which grew in my mind in the years before I found the girl I wanted to ask to make that home with me that husband and wife should share all each other's interests. It is one of those things which go to make the real home. Isn't it?
Sweetheart, I love you so much and soon we are going to share everything. A goodnight kiss.
2/11 AM Dear one, Here's a morning kiss and don't you wish were where we were 2 years ago today. I do. I love you. Sylvester
Another session at the movies tonight! One must needs take in the 7th epistle in the "House of Hate". Plenty of thrills but no one killed tonight. But someone got killed in most of the other pictures, particularly in an American one called "In the Far West", to make up for it. I suppose when the French see these Far West pictures, with the cowboys and rough riders, rude towns, an occasional Indian, etc., that they think is typical of all America.
The unexpected cold spell brought on a need for more blankets for the outfit, and after three days of varying vicissitudes, each man has two extra blankets tonight, and I hope will sleep somewhat more comfortably for the rest of the spell. It seems a bit warmer tonight. Perhaps it will warm up altogether now that I have gotten the blankets for the outfit.
Let's see, two years ago we skated, didn't we? 'Cause two years ago tomorrow was English Creek Day, and today we skated on Bargaintown, inventing several new steps and capers, if I remember rightly. Will you have some more thought up for our pond, wherever it will be, next year perhaps I'll have forgotten how to skate, having been off mine two seasons. You will teach me again, won't you?
The moleskin coat (I'm sure it's not moleskin at all) has been given it's first bath by my faithful valet, Private Hollis, and now it's all shining spick and span as a dollar. It had gotten pretty much soiled, and shows dirt very readily, but I never supposed it could be cleaned. I've gotten so used to having him do things for me that I don't know whether I can come back to shining my own shoes, keeping my own rooms in order, etc., again or not. I used to avow that the man who paid money to get his shoes shined or his face shaved was just plain lazy. I still adhere to the latter part of that conviction.
Pardon this soiled paper. It wasn't soiled when I started, but the soft coal, which we burn, makes lots of dust around, and dust as one will, it is never completely removed.
It's time to say goodnight, with love and a kiss.
2/12 Greetings on English Creek day and ten months since Together Night. I would [underlined] like a smile in memory of the frown and a kiss of the latter. Can't you give them to me? Well, I thought so. I love you. Sylvester
True to prophecy, now that we have those blankets, it began to warm up today, still it isn't exactly torrid tonight.
There is a beautiful moon this evening, a beautiful night to walk all the way back from English Creek, not to know whether it's cold or was it because you are with me, with your sunshine and you love.
I have not stirred out this evening, have only read a little Roman history in preparation for my trip, then lay down, and before I knew it, the whole evening had gone away. Achorn and Daly have just come back from their leave to Nice and are very enthusiastic over the trip and the country down South there. They managed to get over the Italian border about half a mile, so they could say they had been in Italy and they spent a day also in Monte Carlo.
Two more of our officers got leave orders tonight, Doc Stewart and "Dirty" Doyle, our latest acquisition, who are going down to Nice to play on the tennis team from this Base. All expenses paid and put up at the Carlton (same as Ritz-Carlton, New York)! Too easy to be true. And Doyle, who is a youthful country town product of Western New York, but gifted with colossal nerve, has hardly played tennis in his life! He got hold of the Athletic Officer of the Base, gave him an earful, and got on the team. He can talk his way into anything. I've had him for Supply Officer since Leviseur went, and his talk is an advantage there, but in private conversation he is unutterably tedious. He is a prize at picking things up, too, and it is our prediction that he will have a complete tennis outfit before he arrives at Nice, without cost to himself. Though it wouldn't pay to ask too many questions as to the manner of its acquisition.
Time to say goodnight. I love you always.
13 Feb AM good morning, sweetheart. Here's love and a kiss on another bright morning. Sylvester
Today we learned that the French liner Rochambeau will leave this port Monday with 500 soldiers and that others are going to shipped thru this port. That's a basis for a new hope, surely. When they are thru with us, I would be fine to slip right on a boat and go, and never have another ride on these French railway trains. The new dope ought to start the rumors going in full force.
It has been spring-like today and I guess that our brief winter is past.
I suppose Doyle is well on his way now to making his name in the tennis world. With most of the world champions down there, he with three games in his life to his credit ought to have a fine chance.
A little bit later. - I have gone down to another theatre tonight to see a French play, "Les Nouveaus-Riches" (the newly rich) which was quite a clever comedy in which most of the characters were people who had grown wealthy thru munitions industries since the war. Much the sort of comedy as one often sees in American plays - some newly wealthy man making friends, shaking hands etc., with his butler, who having been always in the service of those-to-the-manner-born, is greatly shocked, etc., etc.
I think I must say goodnight, with lots of love and kisses.
________________ | | | | <--- Beautiful Picture | | |_______________|
To My Valentine
I suppose this is Sweethearts' Day, isn't it, but I never have waxed very sentimental about it. Somehow it brings me more memories of these penny comic valentines we used to buy when we were at school, and contain such complimentary rhymes as:
"Here's to my dear little winsome embrace
Who'd be so nice if it weren't for her face."
Letters addressed to the plumber and the village constable and the teacher and such people as you habitually disliked.
Of course everyone in the American Expeditionary Forces hasn't been such a model and faithful letter writer as I (meaning no boast, y'know), and many parents in the States have written to the War Dept. and anywhere they could think of to get news from chaps who didn't write. So an order has recently been gotten out requiring each soldier and officer in the AEF to fill out a postal card with special blank spaces to indicate thereon his name, organization, present station, and state of health, and to send same to his nearest relative. So that today I have duly and officially informed my father that I am now at Le Havre and OK in regard to physical being. I trust that he will convey that vital bit of information to all persons interested. If he doesn't let you know, write me, and I'll tell you also that I'm Okeh.
I've been out to take a walk this evening with Greene, and we've had a peculiar experience. At a certain place in our walk a little boy started to follow us - a little gamin, hatless and humming a dull hum all the time. We tried to find out what he wanted, who he was, where he belonged, etc., but not a word out of him. If we started to move on again he'd follow, if we went fast he'd go fast, if we stopped, he'd stop - keeping up the hum all the time. We talked to him several times but he would never say a word. Then finally without a warning he left us and darted down a side street. Perhaps he only wanted protection that far, or perhaps he was just a little beggar who finally saw he couldn't get anything. The children here beg a great deal, and I suppose their parents encourage them. If they know no other English word, they know, "Gimme a pennie", "Gimme candy", "Gimme cigarette". They are allowed to smoke almost as soon as they can walk.
Goodnight, Sweetheart, and lots of love.
15 Feb, AM Goodmorning, Sweetheart. Health still OK and love for you undying. Here's a kiss. Sylvester
Two letters from you this morning.
We have been over to the library today and went and had our hair shampooed. I was up to Dorcas' for lunch and also down to Mrs. Horton's for a little while.
I'm awfully lonesome. Whenever I get a letter from you I am. It's not what you write so much as it is the fact that it's a letter I have and not you. I do want you so much.
I saw Dad today and we had quite a good old chummy talk. He doesn't look so very well but now that he isn't working so hard up at May's Landing, I'm hoping he will improve again. He asked me when I expected you home and how you were.
The more I write the less I seem to say. I love you. Here is a good hug.
Oh it's nice to get up on Monday when the sun is shinin' bright but I'd rather sleep on Sunday, at least today anyway. I love you.
We just existed all morning but this afternoon first Mrs. Price called, then Marian Campbell, then I went around to Dorcas' where a bright little fellow paid a visit. He was picking Mrs. Davison's ferns so I told him stories to keep him quiet. He wouldn't believe I was a school teacher as he said teachers had white cheeks, pink noses, and brown teeth. I said well I went to school every day and he said that wasn't so because I was too old to go to school and too young to teach. Now what do I do.
I wore my new hat today and new coat for the first time. They really look nice together. Of course, they aren't that pretty cerise you like but the hat has two quills in it which goes the hat you admired in Bridgeport one better.
Some days I seem to be just waiting for something to happen. I really hate to leave the house. I wonder just when you really will come back and where we shall first see one another.
I see by the papers that several Supply Trains have sailed but not yours as yet.
Goodness, if I could only know within a hour or a day of what you were doing wouldn't I be happy.
I love you, dearest.
A new substitute came to take Miss Bristol's place today and as the janitor expressed it to me, "she hadn't been here five minutes before she had beat up the Lloyd boy." Truly she is a terror!
Now, I have to worry about the blank piece to recite at the Lincoln social tomorrow. Why, oh why haven't I the courage to say "no" when I know I should.
There was no mail at all for me today and there was a foreign mail in, too. I'm sure there must have been one tucked away for me somewhere.
I went over to Atlantic after school today to finish details about the phone and got some stationery files for Daido, incidentally I got three daffodils and two library books, some valentines for the kiddies and a jitney race after my car.
I'm sleepy again tonight, the kiddies just tired me out with play this noon.
Dearest, I'll say goodnight, I love you best in the world.
Good morning, dearest. I love you. Eva
This is just going to be a short note because I'm cross. Not at you, of course, but just because I couldn't have my own way.
Grigg's lectures started in Atlantic tonight and I didn't know it and I had to go up to that old thing and recite and bless me if the whole bunch didn't turn to and try and convert me or something. I exited. I won't say sneaked out but I'm sure no one saw me go. I did glide and a quick slide.
The "Amazon" as Miss Schaible calls her was on the job at school and there was order.
I took the boys out for track this noon and we had a glorious time. They were as enthusiastic as could be.
I punished some more boys for swearing today and I'm afraid I've been thinking so much about swearing that I would like to insert a wee one in my own conversation.
Well, I love you.
This month is full of anniversaries. I have been thinking - today now, it's that celebrated ten year day I made once, and there it's two years since the expiration of the original ten, and I wonder if you know what important event was occurring two years ago this evening. It was a tremendous big lot for me, anyway, for it was the first time I had done anything with just you. Do you remember that there "fool fellow" (as per the late Whitney, Ph.D) who accompanied you from a school party that evening, and whose heart, though you didn't know that maybe, beat somewhat faster the while? And you have done something else today by way of anniversary to make it beat faster again. For I have gotten a lovely love-ful letter from you, whom I love better than anything that is. A day time extra letter of Jan. 27 with a little sweetpea, which you had worn. That makes it very dear. And then you are happy just because of some letters you have gotten, and I am happy if they could make you happy. And then you talk about our home and a garden, and that always makes me happy. And then - and then - you answer a question which I asked only a few days ago, so that I don't have to wait for an answer from the other letter - that's when you say "I think our school is due to close the 28th of May and maybe I'll wish away eighteen years about the 13th of June. I'm 'most sure I will," and a few other nice things. Eva, Sweetheart, that is especially why I am so very happy, and why my heart is beating so exceptionally fast this evening.
I'm positive Fortune will be kind, will get me back so that we can arrange to wish away those eighteen years when you school is over. But after then, sweetheart, there won't be another day we'll want to wish away, will there? 'Cause then we'll be together, and there is nothing else to wait for in a blankness, nothing else for me anyway.
Dearest, I love you best in the world, and what I would give for just one kiss from you now, would be something - oh, so big you couldn't calculate it.
Goodnight, and pleasant dreams. Your Sweetheart,
2/17 AM Good morning, and a happy day. I love you. Sylvester
It's been a warm and sunshiny spring day - one to make me wish for and think of all sorts of nice things which are connected with spring days, and you.
Fitts has been on a long convoy up to Germany, and has just returned late this evening with an account of a very interesting two weeks. He brings me an Iron Cross from Oberevesel (?), alleged to be one of a lot made by the German government in the latter days of the war for distribution to all soldiers who had seen three years service or more. I expect that by now Iron Crosses, at least of the fake variety, are as plentiful as lollypops in America. By the time all the AEF is home most of the belts, pistols, Iron Crosses, bayonets, and helmets of the German Army will be in America. The souvenir business is a thriving one here. There is a Jewish corporal in one of my companies who buys them up from English soldiers and German prisoners and sells them to soldiers and YMCA men. He was telling Lieut. Fox about the sale of a helmet or something to a YMCA man the other day. "How much did you pay for it?" said Fox. "15 francs." "How much did you sell it for?" "Well, you see, Lieutenant, he asked me so quick, that I thought 50 francs, but I said 100." Incidentally he made the sale. He's making money hand over fist. Most of the souvenirs interest me very little, but I would like a "Gott mitt uns" belt buckle and Iron Cross. I've got the latter and expect I can get one of the former easily enough.
I've been studying a bit more Italian this afternoon, reading Roman history some what this evening, also have spent sometime in fanciful conversation on inhabitation of the other planets and worlds with Jim and Deck.
It's very late. Goodnight and be a good girl. I love you always.
18 AM Good morning, sweetheart. A special bit o' love and a special kiss. Sylvester
I looks as though my hopes of going to Italy weren't very bright and whether there will be a further allotment of leaves to that country from here seems most uncertain. But I have ascertained at Base Headquarters today that it is very simple to get leaves to Belgium. So I am going to withdraw my other request right away, to in for a leave to a number of Belgian cities, and little tour which will take me thru some of the devastated regions of France. On the train ride from Paris to Brussels, I find that we go right along the old front anyway, pass right by the famous Vimy ridge and many other interesting places. I think it will be rather a more appropriate trip for this particular European journey of mine than one to Italy. Evidently the old battlefield of Waterloo is only a few miles out of Brussels.
Being Tuesday evening, of course I have had to go and see the eighth episode in the House of Hate at the Omnia. Our poor heroine got almost chewed up in a grinding machine, but somehow or other by about an hour's worth of action between those last two links on the chain runway. She was once more saved from the jaws of death and the man with the masked hood and cape was again foiled. "L'Homme `a la Cagoule" is the more expressive French term for him. Very ghoulish sounding, isn't it?
They had a dance, "they" meaning the officers of the barracks, this evening, over in the living room next to our mess hall. But I have avoided it for the much more satisfying delights of the movies.
Here's a goodnight kiss and all my love.
19 AM Dearest sweetheart, this is to tell you I am thinking of you first thing in the day, because you are my first thought always. I love you. Sylvester
We're having rain, rain, rain all the time now, and Mud City is muddier than ever. But just now it's at the time of day when I like it, for it's pattering contentedly on the roof. I'm not quite contented with it, though, for I'm thinking how much nicer it would be if it were pattering on Honeymoon cottage or some place like that, far away from everyone, but inhabited by you and me.
We've talked the whole long evening away here in my room here. One of the other officers in the barracks here whom we have come to know quite well happened to have a picture of himself in civilian clothes with him. How strange it makes a man look whom you have never known except in uniform. I've forgotten how I look otherwise, myself.
Taylor and I got our requests in for leaves to Brussels and other cities today, to commence Monday next. I hope this time it goes thru without a hitch. It will be a relief to get out of this place for a while. I was never so unhappy in a place in my life.
Goodnight, dear. A kiss, and all my love.
20 AM Good morning, dear. Do you love me this morning? Well, now, I hope so. I love you. Goo'bye. See you later. I hope not very much later. I've waited long enough, don't you think so? Your Sweetheart.
Business as usual, today. Or lack of business. I foresee a quarrel tomorrow, however.
This evening I have been at another movie with Taylor and a captain of engineers who lives in these barracks. The music was terribly scrapy, the violins were like saws, the pictures were most of them tedious. I feel tedious anyway, and more or less a-scatter with myself and my brain and the rest of the world. So I'm going to say goodnight without further ado.
I love you oceans, always.
21 Feb AM Good morning, Sweetheart. Love and kisses. I feel somewhat better this morning. Sylvester
Jim Greene and I have had what we call a nice mellow evening down town tonight. Supper and mutual conversation and an early return home. Nice consommé, delightful omelet, steak French-fried potatoes, and a cream puff. Jim is the most congenial of all the officers of the Train to me; a man of sound reason, well-balanced judgments, and an interesting conversationalist.
The day passed without the expected quarrel. Mine isn't the first move, and the other person is working behind my back instead of in the open. The beauty of it is, however, I know just what he's done. Isn't all that tremendously interesting? This life here is anything but interesting anyway. If I'm here much longer without my leave, I'll be a fit candidate for a retreat. The tonic effect of a Westward ocean voyage is absolutely essential to my well-being, I figure. What do you think?
I love you, Sweetheart. Good night, with a big kiss.
22 Feb. Morning and another kiss. Your Sylvester.
I have just come in from a good brisk evening walk with Daido. She has gone on up to school for the operetta practice, but home and the fireside attracted me most, so here I am.
The school lunches went off as good as could be expected for the first day so you can see they weren't very good. Miss Schaible walked in in the midst too and that rather made us more excited and especially as there was no upper grade teacher and the kids ran wild until I turned boss and sent them home. I was awfully discouraged when I first came home but I'm most over it now.
There were letters from the 23d to the morning of the 27th for me this morning. My I was glad to get mail again after none for three or four mails.
I do wish you could get away from Havre. I believe I hate that place because you are so unhappy there. I am keeping the home fires burning altho tonight I am sitting in front of the new fireplace. It is more beautiful and warmer but not as memoryful as ours, of course.
I finished the lace for one end of our library scarf. Wouldn't it be just dreadful if I lost the crocheting fever just now and we had to use a scarf with lace only on one end? I never can tell when I am going to get well of it and it's been with me for most three weeks now, so I'm trying to "speed up" as I'm rather afraid.
Well, sweetheart, I'll say goodnight. I love you.
Good morning, Good morning. It's snowing! 'Ninch deep now and flakes as big as oh, awful big. Oh goodness, I was so afraid winter was over without a real snow. I love you. Eva
The snow is all gone, in fact it stopped snowing soon after I got up and had entirely disappeared by noon. There is a snow fort left in the schoolyard tho.
A letter from you this morning. The 27th and the morning of the 28th. It was the letter with the post cards of Le Havre in it. I thank you for them. I like them a little bit even if they are of Havre because I think they must be of the most pleasant parts of the place.
I also received a letter from Lucinthia this morning. She is going to try and leave this Thursday for Rocky Hill.
School went off much better today and the lunches ditto. I have been practicing the little Japanese song for the kiddies this evening but can't seem to get it very well. I hope I improve by tomorrow.
Dearest, In one of your letters yesterday, you said you were glad to know I had met Ephriam Mitchell's mother. I didn't mean to say I had met her. I met his younger sister at a school reception and his older sister on the day I was at the Post Office and Ephriam came in. I must have been rather excited if I said that or half asleep.
It is rather late, sweetheart, so I'll say goodnight. I love you.
Nothing much has happened at School today except I was the only teacher again this morning. Something must be done to straighten up this school situation. I am just about as disgusted as can be with it.
Lunches went fine in spite of the fact only my children were there and we made quite a little.
I saw Dorcas a little while this afternoon and she is pretty blue as her brother's regiment is on the water coming home now.
Geneva Lake has been around this evening. Daido and I went for a walk down thru the golf ground. When we were coming back I caught a car as there was a little shopping to be done. Daido met Geneva and Geneva came home with her.
It is late sweetheart, so I'll say goodnight. I love you.
We were up to the lecture tonight. Dr Schmucker of West Chester lectured on Tom Osborne and what he has done in prison reform. It was a good lecture and made one think much about a subject one rarely does. Miss Schaible was there and I just told her the situation down at our school was simply awful. Neither teacher, I don't believe, has been to school sixty days this year. I have been talking to several of the citizens who tell me they are going to write to the state board about it. I'm 'most ashamed to tell any one I teach at Linwoods.
Well, I'm cross so better not write any more tonight.
I love you.
We had a lovely time down at school today in spite of the fact it rained, hailed, snowed and rained again and still rains.
We made some beautiful red cherries and decorated a bulletin board thusly [here Gram draws a small drawing pointing out green burlap, red cherries, picture of Washington and Betsy Ross and flag.] It certainly was effective. The tiny red cherries in groups of three on the green burlap.
I gave each one a tiny American flag and we had some hatchets for prizes. I'll never be able to buy anything for my hope chest now.
I went up the street, captured Marian Campbell and we got some hatchets and cherry candy, springing a surprise party on Daido.
I got two letters from you today and you might be in Italy now from the contents of them. If I only could know where you were. I wonder when you will be home.
Dearest, it is late so I'll say goodnight. I love you.
Probably just about now you are all at The Oaks (used to be that years ago) listening to Ralph and Winnie utter the fatal words. I have been imagining today many times what was going on back home. It'll a big disappointment to me not to be able to be at the wedding, more so than they think for, I guess. I've had a sort of a veiled scolding from everybody in the family for hinting that it might wait on my return. At any rate Ralph couldn't stop my celebrating his wedding over here. Achorn and Spalding and I have had what we chose to call a wedding party tonight, I being groom, Achorn the bride, Spalding the best man. Doc Stewart was going to be flower girl but he had neuritis in his left arm and was compelled to forego the honor. The evening has consisted mostly in duplication my dinner of last evening, at the beginning of which a toast was drunk to - well, you know the braggart way in which men talk when they are alone - to my unfortunate brother. I fear I'm a bit too bold to have even confessed that with an excuse. On my part, perhaps it was "sour grapes" for not being waited for. Of course, however, there was no earthly reason why he should wait for me.
Being as there is about 5 hours difference in time between us, my wedding party has come ahead of Ralph's. I'll have to write them that for spite.
Well, I'm quite a bachelor again now, only waiting for the time I can have my own real wedding with my own real sweetheart.
Goodnight and lots of love.
After chasing them up more or less vigorously, the order for our leaves came thru this afternoon, and Taylor and I shall start off in the morning. The trip will be a welcome change from the weariness and monotony of our location here. I have bought tickets tonight for the morning train to Paris, from where we'll get a special this afternoon, I suppose, for Bruxelles, and tonight we'll spend as comfortably as we can either sitting or standing on board the train. I don't know whether we shall have any mailing facilities on our trip or not. Probably not, so it will mean saving my letters for a couple of weeks before mailing you another.
Well, we'll say goodnight, with lots of love, as always.
24 AM Goodmorning, dear. We're off. A kiss and a hug and all my love. Sylvester.
I found this atrocious apology for a pen this evening in my room at the Hotel des deux mondes, where I am staying, so am scratching away with it, even though I have a pencil in my bag.
Lou and I got started off early this morning, arriving in Paris about half past one. We have been busy this afternoon getting a few necessary things and arranging for transportation the rest of the way. We found that there was a choice of an 11:15 train tonight and a 7:30 tomorrow morning so chose the latter in order that we shan't miss the interesting country we're going thru by traveling at night.
This evening I should have liked to have gone to the Comédie Française, or the Opera Comique or some one of the specially well known Paris theatres, but Lou doesn't understand much of any French and it would be pretty stupid for him, so we wound up at a plain movie house with a mixture of Charlie Chaplin and the Life of Christ.
I read a whole book of Conan Doyle's coming down on the train, one of his earlier Sherlock Holmes stories. It made the ride very short which is a boon in any French train when there's no country especially to look at.
These Paris taxi drivers amuse me tremendously. They are the most independent people on earth, having our proverbial plumber stopped 40 ways. Their answers are always gruff and impolite, and if they can't do something you ask they glower at you as though you had committed a mortal offense, and snap out a vicious sort of an answer - like one today whom I asked if his machine were engaged as I wanted to ride somewhere, and who snapped disgustedly about a screw loose in his lamp or something so that he couldn't go, just as though I should know he had anything the matter with his car. One feels at first like swearing at them, but they are so ridiculous, one has to laugh in their faces instead. But tonight I found startling exception in a taxi driver who was civil and even smiled an engaging business like smile while I told him where I wanted to go.
We passed the headquarters of the American Peace delegation several times today - Hotel Crillon and the building in which the Peace Conference is being held tonight - the Quai D'Orsay. The wide street in front of the American delegations headquarters is banked with motor cars at constant call at all times.
Well, I must get to bed, as we rise at 5:45 in the morning.
Goodnight and lots of love.
Tonight I am where the Germans reigned supreme but four months ago, after coming thru land today where also four months ago it wasn't safe to have one's head above ground. That's an interesting thought to me, and one hard to realize.
I am at the end of a most interesting day. We got to our station (you know there are 6 or 8 railway stations in Paris, as far away as they could be from each other) almost an hour ahead of our train this morning and were lucky enough to secure seats on the train, which we were unable to reserve yesterday. So we have sat all the way, when we feared we might stand.
I believe I told you we were going up thru Amiens, Arras, and Lille (passing Vimy Ridge, etc.) but after we had gone a couple of hours we found on inquiring that a new road, more direct, had been repaired, which took us up thru Noyau, San Quentin, Le Catreau, Mons, to Brussels (I have named the cities which during the war we have seen mentioned in the dispatches. The devastated district going up thru here starts at about Noyau, and from there up to Le Catreau every village is a mass of ruins. San Quentin must be as large as Hartford, Conn., and there isn't a whole house or window left. It is hard to imagine such complete destruction unless you have actually seen it. For seventy-five miles everything is evidence of the late war. First one notices a forest laid down to bare poles, then the cities and villages on either side, which are like vaults - gaunt spectres of what once were houses and factories. We crossed the famous so-called Hindenburg line below San Quentin (perhaps you may remember my mentioning San Quentin before as one of the two points in the Hindenburg line which I bet Davis would fall in the spring of 1917, when the Germans retreated to that line - but lost my bet and it never fell until October 1918.) Along our railroad line first, against and into the railroad embankment, there were the dugouts (all the way from deep caves from mere places in which to sit down) of a line in the French series of defense lines against the Hindenburg line (line always meaning series of parallel lines) after their advance following the German retreat of April 1917. Then the German line, the Hindenburg line itself, a series of trenches as far as one could see on either side dug in the white crumbling rocky soil of that district. Before one comes to the Hindenburg line, too, all thru the area of the German retreat of 1917, one sees orchards, not destroyed by shell, but each tree deliberately cut at the root and lying by its stump. The Germans did a very systematic job of destruction there. Going above San Quentin one sees always trench lines, destroyed villages, destroyed bridges, and bleak uncultivated fields. The farther you get the more temporary the trench lines and dugouts quite evidently are, for it was only a battlefield during the last months of the war, in the swift advance of last fall. The most characteristic aspects of this more northern part of this section of the devastated region are the shell holes giving the landscape the aspect of a man with the small pox; the occasional solitary crosses surmounted by the rusty helmet of a poilu who had made the supreme sacrifice for his home and country; the absolute lack of cultivation; and the slow working German prisoners and Chinese coolies repairing the railroads. This work of railroad repairing appears to be all that has been done in the way of reconstruction thus far. And you should see the ridiculous slowness at which the work is done; why, ten of those prisoners don't do the work one man ought to be able to do, nor are they apparently forced to. They surely can't complain of harsh treatment.
We had interesting travelling companions too, in our compartment (first class coaches divided into compartments containing six persons each). There was a Belgian medical lieutenant with an American wife from Paterson, New Jersey. Of course that gave us a start of a conversation with them. There was a Britisher in a French uniform - and piece together any chance remarks as I could from him, I couldn't make out how he came to be dressed as a French Captain; as near as I can make out he was a liaison (go-between) officer between French and British General Headquarters. He was a thorough-going Britisher with a monocle and all the special British folderols of speech. But he was somewhat more than an ordinary man, exceedingly well-informed, and gave us a great deal of interesting information about the country thru which we traveled. Side of me was a Hollander from Amsterdam, an editor of the Nieuw Telegraaf, a paper of which I have often heard. He talked Dutch, German, French and English, and I have had some illuminating conversations with him in a mixture of the latter two languages (he spoke better English than I do French but apparently he got a bit tired of his efforts once in a while and lapsed into French). He's the first Hollander I've talked to since the beginning of the war, and I have been keenly interested at getting some points of view from that country, at first hand, especially because of its neutral position. We shared views on the Peace Conference and various questions coming before it, and found each other very much in accord in everything. He told me many interesting things about the people in various parts of Belgium and Holland, their origins, language, characteristics, and what not, and gave us interesting data on what one should see in the Low Countries,
We crossed the Belgian frontier at Feigines and were stopped for sometime to have baggage examined by the Belgian officials. When they came to our compartment all they wanted to know was whether we had anything to declare, so of course we said we hadn't and they passed on. Do you remember the legend of the Angels of Mons which the British troops had in the first days of the war? We passed thru Mons on our way from the frontier up to Brussels, but didn't happen to see any angels.
Brussels seems almost like home. We have just seen it by night light, but have seen enough to pronounce that it "has our vote." there are such bright lights as I have never seen in France, not excluding Paris. There is lots of life on the streets and everything is open till midnight, while in France, even Paris, the cafes and restaurants close at 9 PM. Our Holland friend on the train told us we should have a few bad days if we were expecting much in the food line, but I think he must be off, for I never [saw] so many food stores since I left Boston. We have seen at least a dozen little pastry shops with all sorts of fancy cakes, tarts and candies; and there are a legion of restaurants about, keeping open, so that I guess they must have something to sell. We perhaps can readily imagine we are in an American city, but to do so one mustn't look too far. For one needn't look very far to see an altogether new language on some shops, on bank notes passed out to me, etc. This is Flemish, a language akin to the German. There are two main peoples here in Belgium, the Flemish on the north and west, and the Walloons in the south. They are different from one another altogether, and Belgium, therefore, is really only an artificial state, not one representing one nationality and thus naturally bound together politically under one government.
We are very comfortably located at the Hotel Metropole, and hope to make it our headquarters for side trips to all of Belgium during the next 9 or 10 days. We begin today a new free untrammeled existence with many interesting days to look forward to. My remarks on Brussels are the merest bare first impressions for we only arrived at seven this evening, got located, had supper, and took a short walk in the bright lights.
Well, this is the longest single day letter in a year or more, I should say. I almost have a callus on my 2nd finger.
Goodnight with all my love,
What a gay city this is! One can't realize it has just come out of four years of war and enemy occupation. I don't know whether it has just let loose of relief, or whether there has always been some little life during the war. Anyone you talk to would give you the impression it was all anew resurrection since the Boches left, and I presume it is to a large extent true. It has always been a gay capital and probably wealthy. If there weren't many wealthy people here, it doesn't seem so [many] things could start up as they have, though there are a large number of British here, and I presume the British officers have aided the boom greatly. And such prices as they have here! They are fabulous, especially in the cafes and restaurants, where you can't turn your head without losing a franc. We were sitting at a table in one cafe late this evening, on which were placed a little plate of cookies, perhaps 15 cookies, about big enough for two bites each. We supposed they were just there to dip into when you wanted to, but when we got our bill we found them there: "Biscuits, 12 francs" (two dollars). We had left two or three, and thought as we'd paid we'd better sit around and finish up and have nothing after paying so much. But we started to go and what should happen but the waiter wanted to be paid for the rest of the cookies we'd eaten - 2 francs more. Prices for drinks are sky high, and there are interminable gratuities - after every little dance the cabaret actors make a tour of the crowd for a collection, most of which goes into the hands of the proprietor. It's the biggest highway robbery scheme I ever saw. At any rate, we've been able to see that much local color for our money, and if that's too much, we have just figured we'll charge the rest to experience.
We arose late this morning, just in time for a little shopping and to find some place for lunch. At the first store I chanced on we found the films which couldn't be obtained in all Paris. That's the way it seems in all the stores, that they have full and complete stakes. I found that these films were a late shipment, but I think that, for most things, they must have been stored away during the German occupation. They couldn't get so much in here so soon, and even if they could, it doesn't seem possible that the capital could be obtained to set up such complete stakes everywhere.
We had lunch at a very modest establishment, a palatable lunch of omelette and fricandelles. And then spent the afternoon in sight seeing. We visited first a building which looked like the turreted end of a mediaeval castle, and which proved to be a museum of military equipment of all ages - mediaeval armor, old spears, many ancient muskets with beautiful inlaid work on them, fancy old spurs, swords with gorgeous hilts, and thousand and one things. From there we visited the Palais de Justice which is a tremendous pillared building, modern, but full of interest; a guide took us around thru all the courtrooms, thru the prison cell where the prisoners had amused themselves by drawing on the wall, thru the great law library with old books so ancient that they were written in Latin, records of cases centuries old. While the Germans were here they stole all the leather from the chairs thru the entire building and substituted a worthless paper imitation; they stole all the bronze doors; and drove nails thru some of the exquisite woodwork throughout the building - our guide didn't speak over-tenderly of the Boches when he showed us these things.
From there we walked up around the government buildings - the King's palace, the royal gardens, which must be beautiful in spring, and the Parliament building.
We took our supper at one of the many tavernes here - a taverne seems to be a bit different from a cafe, at least more reasonable and cozy. They furnish another bit of local color which is unique. After supper we went to a palatial motion picture house, in which however, prices for once were more reasonable than in France. From there we went to the den of thieves in the Gaiety Cafe, which by the way, doesn't close til two o'clock (as against 9 o'clock for everything in France). We have sat around till near midnight and are now back to plan another day.
So long for now. With love and a kiss.
Our chief visit today has been to the buildings about the old Market Place of Brussels - a group of late mediaeval buildings about an old square, where I presume on certain days people still come from far and near to erect their stalls and sell their wares; even today there were a number of flower stands about (flowers are a great industry as you get into the Low Countries), also the innumerable vendors of everything imaginable, who are every where in the city. Everyone here seems to be selling something everywhere - first you'll go by an orange stand, then a chocolate stand, then someone bellows "Cigarettes Anglais?" in your face, or holds out a cake of soap from a box of six which seems to be their whole stock in trade; another had postcards and books of views, and another wants to know if you wouldn't want to step into a nice lace store - there are a legion of lace stores here, with beautiful displays of the famous Brussels lace. At any rate, if one doesn't lose a couple of hundred francs a day around, it's only because one says "No" as many times.
The chief building about the old market place is the Hotel de Ville (town hall - Hotel de Ville is the name for town hall thru out French-speaking cities). It is a splendid rectangular Gothic structure, built in the 1400's, with a tower over 400 steps high by the staircase; we climbed the tower to its dizzy height, looked at the little people below, and obtained a splendid view of all Brussels. Another building, just opposite, is the King's House, so-called, built by the european Charles V in the 1500's; it is a small but attractive Gothic edifice, and is now I think mostly a museum; we did not go inside. On another side of the square there is a block known as the Corporation Houses - where there were in former times the headquarters of the Guilds, the workmen's associations which were so important and powerful in late mediaeval times, in the towns; one house was for the Bakers, another for the Armorers, and every sort trade is represented. Attractive brass ornaments all over the face of the building are the chief things which strike the eye.
In the later afternoon we visited a family whom Lieut. Fitts knows here, and to whom he gave us a letter of introduction, Thys by name. They have an attractively decorated home and are interesting people. We have had tea there, and they have been very kind to arrange a little bit of the rest of our stay in Brussels for us. We go out to luncheon with them tomorrow, then to see a painting museum, and the Parliament building. Sunday we are to have an auto trip and opera in the evening.
This evening we have attended an excellent musical comedy in the Theatre du Scala, opposite our hotel, which was called "Ils Sont Parti" (They Are Gone); it was a gay musical revue, gotten up by way of celebration of the departure of the Germans.
I found today that toward the latter part of the German occupation, life was more normal here, and that the stores which have surprised us by their completeness, had come to do a fair business. I didn't believe everything could be new since the armistice. By the way, the Thys family were here all thru the German occupation, and it has been interesting to get at first hand a narration of the Belgian experiences - not much but what we already knew, but it adds the personal touch and makes it more real.
We nearly had a fainting spell, both of us, today, for someone refused to take money from us? It was a conductor on the he tramway, where the military rides absolutely free. A rather pleasant discovery. I'm hoping to find the trains the same way.
Goodnight, and pleasant dreams. I love you.
Today we have had a lull in sightseeing - I don't believe in trying to do too much, and we are taking our whole trip, as a matter of fact, quite easily. Still, even today we have seen an art museum and the Parliament building.
After getting up late in the morning, as usual, we went up to the Thys' for our luncheon appointment. They also had as their guests two Canadian ladies, whose husbands are stationed near here, and for whom the Thys family is helping make things pleasant here the same as for us. In the afternoon we made up a party and went to one of the Royal Art Museums, which is entirely an exhibition of modern paintings, mostly by Belgian painters. There is another museum of old paintings, which we have not seen. The visit was made more interesting by the fact that we were with people who know the museum, could take us around and show us the best, and who as a matter of fact knew the painters themselves in many instances. This country has furnished many good painters. After the art museum we visited the Parliament building, chiefly to visit the Chambre des Representats (corresponding to our House of Representatives), in which, by the way, 4 1/2 years ago the vote for Belgium's declaration of war on Germany was made after the latter's invasion; and the Chambre du Senat (corresponding to our Senate), a magnificent room all in mahogany, where in '15 or '16, whichever it was, Edith Corell was sentenced to death by the Germans.
From there we visited the modest studio of an aspiring young painter - his name has slipped my mind already - and had tea, sitting around on low divans beside low tables, scarcely above the floor, laden with cakes and cookies and tea - served with milk out of a condensed milk can. This is one more bit of local color.
This evening I am doing nothing but writing and making plans for tomorrow, when Lou and I are going to Antwerp just for the day.
I almost feel as though I lived here now. One could surely find worse places. It's such a pleasant contrast to anything I've seen in France. I wish you might be going around with me.
With love and a goodnight kiss.
Daido and I have been over to Atlantic today shopping. She bought a wonderful black georgette and velvet dress. I'm so anxious to see her wear it with a red, red rose.
We lunched over there and returned to find the fire out, so of course we have been busy.
Davis was up today and she says Miss Schaible is going to ask our principal to resign. I'm sorry in a way but it really is the best thing that can happen both for her and the school.
Daido and I bought some daffodils and ferns and the man gave up a red rose so we are "going thru life together in a house mostly conservatory" as Booth Tarkington's "17" expressed it.
I have tried hard to make Daido forget that her mother died a year ago today. I don't know whether I have succeeded or not but she hasn't mentioned it.
It is late, dearest, so I'll say goodnight. Here is a kiss for my Boy.
Good morning, Here's where we have sausage and hot cakes. I love you. Eva.
This is the laziest day I have spent in ages. I sewed a little, knit a little, read a little, wrote a little and ate a lot as we had an immense shoulder of veal with "trimmins" for dinner and I also made fudge and popped popcorn.
Now, dearest, I'm just getting homesick to see the Manor and I'm sure I really should go up there the 25th. Don't you really and truly think so? Won't you please get back in time so I can go then? I saw a pussy willow tree out yesterday, some daffodil leaves peeping up out of the ground and I killed three mosquitoes right here in this house today so I'm sure spring is about here and you'll be home soon. Now, I do wish I knew whether you were in France or not. Italy seems so much farther away from me. I just really hate to think about it.
I suppose Ralph and Winnie are married by now and even off on their honeymoon.
I want to talk, really talk to you so much. I love you.
Mrs. Keyport came back today but she looks terrible. Miss Bristol has asked for another trial and I believe she is to get it. When she will get back to school goodness only knows. I'm mad [underlined] on that subject.
Daido and I went over to Atlantic and took back some library books tonight. It wasn't much of a pleasure trip as it is cold and cloudy out and my disposition doesn't need any clouds at present.
I saw some sprouting daffodils today and several happy things. I love you
Pencil in hand again. Today has been a horrible day. Mrs. Keyport has been to school but has been suffering dreadfully. I had to be heating hot water for her constantly and she rested on benches in the library. She just wouldn't go home. The children were all scared to death. Mrs. Carileer's children just got [on] her nerves so she closed Miss Bristol's room and went home. I'm just disgusted. It has rained and rained.
I got a package tonight with some of Ralph's and Winnie's wedding cake in it.
I really should have had a good day today as it was our Manor day but circumstances would not seem to permit it and then I suppose it was my fault too.
I love you.
Well, Mrs. Keyport was back again today. She really looked much better tho and said she felt fine.
It has been a spring day. Things have gone nicely, too. One of the boys brot me a pussy willow and we had a lesson on it.
I have been up the street and saw Dorcas for a few minutes - long enough to swamp her with tickets. Of course, she knew it was her duty to be swamped and she took it like a man.
A wee little spark from the fire place was just asking about you. It said, "Is he soon coming back, coming back?" I said, "I hope so" and I do.
I love you. Here is a goodnight kiss.
February 28, 1919
Good morning, Sylvester, I love you so much and want you so much now and I feel sometimes you are so long getting back when it really isn't long I suppose. Eva
Today hasn't been all it might at school but still lots of nice things have happened. I was teaching my new little girl to count and said, "If you have one apple and I give you three, how many would you have?" She said "Four." Then I said, "If you had three apples and I gave you two more, how many would you have?" She said "Five." I said, "If you had three apples and I gave three more, how many would you have?" She looked at me a long while, then said, "I couldn't eat that many apples, could I Miss Lutz?" She is so nice.
Tomorrow is March 1st I wonder are you on your way to me. I am saving up my good times for your return.
I love you.
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