| Home | Search | SBButler Letters |

SBButler Letters, February 1919

February 2, 1919
February 6, 1919
February 9, 1919 (to Lucinthia)
February 9, 1919
February 16, 1919
February 18, 1919
February 23, 1919
February 24, 1919
February 26, 1919
February 28, 1919

Letters to Eva, February 1919

29 Le Havre
2 Feb.1919. [Sun.]

Dear Mother,

The week has gone somewhat more smoothly than former ones. Things are moving toward a close of business here sometime in the not very distant future. Of course that may mean either that we get loaded on a transatlantic liner or get a new job here. In that light a telegram I received to-day addressed to C.O. 301st Supply Train, Is-sur-Tille, from the Adjutant General, A.E.F., is interesting. The communication was a routine matter but whether the faulty addressing was a mistake or indicative of orders of which we have as yet no cognizance remains a mystery for the future to produce a solution. Is-sur-Tille was what is known as a regulating station behind the front in the old days before Nov.11.

A new order has come thru permitting 14 days leave, & leaves to England and Italy. This Base has an allotment of 10 leaves at a time to Italy, the first allotment to go Feb.5. I'm not in on that, but expect to be, in fact have been assured that I will be, on the next allotment, which will probably go the 19th or thereabouts. Taylor and I have put in a request together, and are looking forward to an interesting trip. Due especially to the season of the year, it seemed to me preferable to take a leave south, rather than to England. I think England would be disappointing this time of year. How much we can see in our short trip I don't know. We plan to go straight thru to Rome, and work out with the American consul or some one in his office the possibilities for the rest of the time. I think we should have to leave out both Naples & Venice, covering just Rome, Florence, Milan, possibly a little run from there up to Lake Como, down to Geneva, by boat to Nice, thence back here. This trip of course we may miss out on thru the organization's getting movement orders, but it furnishes something to look forward to & plan on. Just at present I am refreshing my memory a bit on Roman history from one of the chaplain's library.

Achorn & Daly went off on a leave yesterday for 11 days, to Nice. Nice is the big leave area for American officers, and all who go there speak enthusiastically of the time they have spent.

I think I forgot to tell you before that Greene's father surprised him by suddenly appearing in Le Havre about two weeks ago. He is now elsewhere in France but will be back here in about 10 days. He is interested in a napping machinery concern & is over here with another gentleman, seeking to get in on the ground floor in the reconstruction of the particular industry his machines serve. Couldn't Dad get an excuse to come over & interest some of the Hohenzolleren family in Connecticut real estate or something of that sort?

We have had a few light falls of snow this week which have been most welcome to cover up Havre's ugly mud.

Lots of love to you & all

February 6, 1919 [Thurs.]


The sunshine came back today but it was colder. There is a quarter moon tonight and it is almost as light as day outside.

No mail today. Not even tonight and somehow I expected something today.

I do so want to talk to you so much. I hope I do real soon. The first of March isn't so awfully far away now. I have so much to tell you and talk about. I'm really afraid I'll talk you to death.

I wrote and told your mother and Winnie I was afraid it would be impossible for me to go to the wedding. School is in an awful condition just at present and I wouldn't dare ask for time off. I want to save my money for something and it does cost a lot to go up for a day. Then too, Daido's mother died a year ago the 22d.

I'm in front of the fireplace now dearest, our new one, and there is just room enough for one more person. If only you were here.

Ivory Beck was married last week to Milton Parsel's brother. It was certainly a surprise, to me at least. She eloped. Shocking !

I wish we'd elope.

I haven't seen Dorcas for several days. Don't just know where she is hiding or why. Hope she's had time tho to do some more embroidering on my collar.

Dearest, it is late and I am awfully incongruous tonight, so I'll say good night.

I love you.

- 2/7/19
- I love you.
- - Eva

Le Havre
9 Feb.1919. [Sun.]

Dear Sisterkin,

I received your letter of Dec.26th a couple of weeks or more ago, and your letter of Dec.10th just the day before yesterday. So I am two in debt. Started to write Thursday, but my brain got frozen and I had to quit.

It is gratifying to know that you are having such pleasant times and that you are making satisfactory material progress., and that you find everything interesting.

We are sporting around now our first gold service chevrons on our left forearms for the six months Aug 1 - Feb 1 since we arrived in Europe, and turning up our noses at all the world. I'm surely glad we have been here long enough to get one stripe. About one month is about all we'll get toward another, I guess, and the opening of spring I feel reasonably certain will find us in God's country.

Lu Taylor and I hope to take a leave beginning about the 19th for two weeks; our trip to be confined mostly to Italy. I believe south is the way to go this time of year. There were two other possibilities - England, where I might look up the family tree in Braintree; and Belgium where we might have taken in beaucoup ruins. But Italy is south and warm, and surely won't lack interest.

If you were skeptical about the President's European trip I'm sure you can't be now. Since we entered the war Wilson has been the acknowledged spokesman of the allied cause, and its recognized leader; his 14 points are the foundation of the peace. It surely was expected his would be a, if not the, guiding spirit of the Peace Conference. To give his counsel & to lend his aid effectively to the great task of the Conference it surely would be a great advantage to consult in person with the leaders of the other Allied powers; the only effective way, in fact. I think the events of the past month must show clearly the place of leadership which Wilson has at the Conference. I believe few Americans realize his greatness. I believe also there are too many Americans who don't realize the new position which America has taken in the world by her entry into the war. There is no longer an Eastern & Western hemisphere in world politics - there is the world and peace & justice to be maintained thruout the entire world, and America has an equal responsibility with all great nations in its maintenance. I have great hopes of the League of Nations.

Well, be good & the best of luck.

30 Le Havre
9 Feb.1919. [Sun.]

Dear Mother,
I have letters of all sorts of dates from you since last Sunday - one of early December, & the first two January ones. It's because of the lateness of the December letter that I have only just heard of Bert Phelps' death. It seems most too much. I hate to think of it. It comes right on top of the news of Bennett's & McNellis' death. I have surely lost many good friends. I don't feel sorry for Emir Allen & others who went like him, at the front, but there are so many of my special friends who have had to go fighting the little bugs. We have all been very fortunate to escape the scourge. I was interested in the little clipping about Prof. Beers edition of Jimmie Cooper's poems. Poor Jim went the same way a year ago. He was a splendid chap, very charming, of very fertile mind, & altogether of the right sort.

I got the Alumni Weeklies which you sent, thank you, and am getting them direct very regularly now. I think you might as well keep the Eavesdropper. It's very doubtful if it would ever reach me now.

I have gotten letters from Ralph and Winnie telling me of the definite date for their wedding. I hope it will be a fine party, and do hope Eva will come up.

The week gone by has been rather unproductive of events out of the ordinary. Plenty of new rumors, but no real definite new expectations. I would place a movement about a month away now. I just received a letter from Moody Friday with the news that he has his embarkation orders separate from his company, & I suppose he may be on his way by now. Greene wants to know what he ever did to deserve such luck & says he envies him for the first time; my chief emotion is one of relief that he is out of the country. He always constituted a possible menace.

Friday evening it suddenly became very cold and the mud is now replaced by good solid ground.

I am getting to be a bit of a movie fan, and am following very assiduously the weekly serial "The House of Hate" at the Omnia. It is one of those Pearl White serials. Half the pictures shown are American anyway. The music at the Omnia is quite excellent, in fact at most of the motion picture houses.

You have begged me to tell something of the events which in war times were clouded by the censorship regulations. I hadn't gone back to those events in my letters, because I thought you might like to have something left for me to tell when I get home. Well, here are a few things anyway: we sailed from Boston July 16, went to Halifax and lay in the harbor there two days, leaving with a large convoy of ships gathered there; landed at Avonmouth, England, in the Bristol Channel (where Cabot sailed from in 1497) on July 31, debarking the following day. Our vessel was the S.S. Winifredian of the Leyland line, since gone to the bottom. We were attacked by submarines on July 30, and it is more or less reliably established that a torpedo narrowly missed the bow of our ship. Destroyers who had come out to meet us accounted for two of the submarines. We had a delightful reception in the city of Bristol on Aug.1, rode from there to the big camps at Winchester, where we spent two nights, then left for Southampton where we embarked on the Nopatin for Le Havre. The Nopatin was an American boat, formerly the Manhattan, of one of our coastwise lines, I believe. The night cross- channel trip was most thrilling, and as the Major was senior officer on the ship, he was in command of all troops thereon, and he and I thus had the good fortune to spend a lot of our time up with the captain, on the bridge & in his cabin.

Well, a lot more some other day, if my tales don't get too lengthy, wearisome, & unromantic.

Lots of love to you and all

February 16, 1919 [Sun.]

[Gram (Eva Lutz Butler) often signed her letters "Me", and Great-Grandma (Carrie Savage Butler) must have started to sign hers "Me too", prompting Gram to start writing that with the salutation to Great- grandma. This is a letter sent by Gram to Great-grandma just before Winnie & Ralph's wedding) - Sue]

Dear Me too,

Last week was certainly a full one. I read nine books, crochet two centerpieces, started the boys races, the girls lunch club, went to two lectures, recited for a Lincoln's Birthday Social, went to a teacher's meeting and got lots of beautiful valentines from the kiddies in addition to the usual round of things.

We made valentines in school and on Friday had a post office in the hall where every one received about fifty or upwards. Most of all the energy of the kiddies for the last two weeks has been spent in making valentines. Some are of wallpaper, more of wrapping paper and a few were bought but one and all said "To my valentine" and almost invariably inside was the verse about "Roses Red." These two seemed absolutely necessary and anything was transformed into a valentine by them.

We have completed arrangements to serve lunch at school and start tomorrow. The upper grade girls have started a lunch club and I am to help them with the cooking. We are going to serve only a few things. Here is our menu for tomorrow.

- Campbell's Veg. Soup. without bread .03
- Cocoa " " .04
- Stewed prunes .03
- Oranges .04
- Bread and butter per slice .01

We can't do much as we haven't much room but we are making a start and the girls certainly are interested. Miss Forman was down for awhile yesterday and is going to send our name in to the State so they will send us pamphlets and all sorts of help. She gave me some books and is going to come once in awhile.

The boys are as interested as can be in running and want to practice all the time. I have written for prize lists of the county races and when these come I suppose they'll stay all night.

We heard a very good lecture on the was last Thursday night at the High School. Dr. Vautier, a returned Y.M.C.A. man, gave an interesting talk and showed some interesting things. There is to be a series of six lectures given and I am extremely anxious to hear and see the next lecturer as I have read some of his books about flowers. I like to meet people whose books I have read. I have only met three but I do like to see if they are what I thot they were from there books.

I sent Winnie a few pieces of "Pyrex" ware. I wanted to get the "gift box" complete but they weren't to be obtained in Atlantic so I picked out what pieces I thot would be most usable. I hope she will like it. I never know what to get for presents. I know what I like but never am quite sure what the other fellow will like.

I didn't get any mail from Sylvester either Monday or last Saturday (yesterday) but I did get two letters the 7th. The last one was dated the morning of January 23d. We've had three mails in the last week but I have heard of no letters dated later than the 22d arriving so I suppose no later boats have come in. I often wonder just when he will be home.

I must get to work.
Lots of love.

31 Le Havre
18 Feb.1919. [Tues.]

Dear Mother,
I have just gotten your letter of Jan 20 & Father's of the 27th within a day of each other. I surely hope your grippe has entirely left you, and that you are in fit form to enjoy this week's big event. [note - this would be Uncle Ralph's wedding]

Matters don't look very bright for my leave to Italy. The prospect of a further allotment of Italy leaves in this Base Section seems very uncertain and tomorrow Taylor and I are going to withdraw our requests & put in a new one which will comprise a trip to Belgium and some of the devastated regions. Perhaps it will be a more appropriate side trip for this particular European journey anyway.

In anticipation of our Italian trip, I had done the past week quite a little reviewing of Roman history and was taking Italian lessons from a corporal in B Co. - just a bit of declensions, conjugations & grammar to put together with a little dictionary I had bought.

Saturday we got a telegram sending our D Co. up to Tours for duty at the S.O.S. Headquarters Garage. They have just departed to-night. It is a bit discouraging, but I am assured it augurs nothing toward a general split up and that we shall be reunited and sent back intact. Of course my March 1st prediction was a bit too anticipatory but early spring ought to find us shooting westward. I still see nothing to indicate otherwise.

Did I tell you that I heard from Moody and that he has received his orders to return to America separately from his company? I suppose he's on the sea by now.

Fitts has just returned from an interesting convoy, which took him up to Coblence. He has seen the Major, has seen beaucoup ruins, and has returned with his usual line of hot dope. He wants the war to start over again. His brain floats ever on a sort of irresponsible mirage. The Germans did get a bit unruly, but to-day's papers reveal what they had to do when Foch brought them to a showdown. Talk of a renewal of hostilities has never seemed to me to be anything but absolute rot. There is a lot of jelly-witted talk going on at the present time, isn't there. Folks who fear that entry into the League would require us to submit such questions as Japanese immigration to arbitration, &c. That would be too bad, wouldn't it? And how terrible it would be if the Monroe doctrine couldn't exist till the end of time! A fine comprehension many have of our war aims! Fortunately for us and for the world, most of the men who are formulating the constitution which is to promote international cooperation "& secure lasting peace", don't permit portions of their brain to maintain "entangling alliances" with ancient fetishes of the old order.

I trust that this finds everyone well & happy.

Lots of love to you and all.

Feb.23 -Rocky Hill [Sun.]

My Dear Sylvester -

The great event is over & "Ralphie" is a married man after all these years of consideration. The Russell's gave them a very nice wedding. They stood at the east end of the parlor between the windows. Running pine was festooned from the ceiling in a very tasteful manner & two big bows of red, white & blue ribbon caught back the green at the windows. The other decorations were red & white carnations in bouquets about the room. Mr. Hollistir performed the ceremony in a very pleasing manner, and every one seemed much pleased to see both him & Mrs. Hollistir. The Chalmers family were all on deck, but the Rosies did not come. We were so pleased that Richard & his bride could be here. They chased the bride & groom to Hartford & had a jolly time at the station. Uncle Watson, Aunt Ella, Dorothy & Kirkwood also were here, All three Wrights, Raymond & Eleanor, Aunt Elizabeth. Uncle Edward didn't think best to come up for it from N.Y. All the relatives from around here were there, too. Your ears ought to have burned yesterday, as so many, many people expressed regret at your inability to be here. We were all sorry we wouldn't have Eva with us. They got plentifully showered with confetti & rice, and took all the fooling in good part. Mrs. Russell served chicken salad, a roll, olives, sandwiches, ice cream, fancy cakes, loaf cake & wedding. Martha Warner fixed up a box for Eva. Sadie Noble told me yesterday that she received your card yesterday morning & was pleased to see it.

The telephone rang the other night and who should it be on the other end but Amy Leavitt, and she called up to inquire after you. She said that Mr. Wochter had asked her several times if she had heard of your whereabouts lately. She had just discovered that we were in the Hartford Division. She wondered if you ever got the letter she wrote in answer to yours and wanted to know all about where you had been. It was good to get your two letters this last week. I'm afraid you were pretty well done up with your inoculations, and didn't tell us the worst, but I'm glad that you are all over it and hope you won't have to be sick again. Lucinthia came up Wednesday night, so as to help me get ready for the wedding guests. Carl & Connie couldn't finally, as the latter was sick with the "grip". We were sorry that they couldn't be with us.

We had the most snow of the season for the wedding day, and the trees were magnificent in the morning. It was very mild so it made it somewhat sloppy, but we were glad not to have it actually storm more snow last night, but it is melting fast. Aunt Lucy was down for the wedding, and I am going down to see her now. I haven't written you about the presents, as some one else may do that, and if they don't, you can see them when you get here. Their present address is 1900 E. Main St., Waterbury, Conn. Ralph fixed up the place, so they could get into it, and I have a sneaking notion that they went right over there last night.

Hope the bunch you are with have improved, so that you can be more comfortable.

Lots of love

32 Le Havre
24 Feb.1919. [Mon.]

Dear Mother,

Lieut. Taylor and I are just starting off this morning for a tour of all we can see in Belgium, the next two weeks, also a bit of Northern France, I hope, including the Major. I am quite eager for the trip and am sure it will be very interesting. I may not have mailing facilities next week, but shall write anyway, & hold the letter over until we get to an A.P.O.

I suppose Ralph and Winnie are safely married by now. I hope it was a splendid party. I celebrated it by a supper party with Achorn & Spaulding. In fact, it was expressly in honor of 2nd Lieut. R. S. Butler, and was called a wedding party for appropriateness, I being the groom, Achorn the bride, & Spaulding the best man.

The prospect of our early return doesn't improve any, outwardly, from day to day. In fact from the lack of anything hatching, seems to be a bit more discouraging always. Perhaps while I'm away now, and can't watch the pot, it will boil somewhat.

There is not much of which to write this week, and I'll have to hurry to get ready now. Hope this finds you completely O.K.

Lots of love

33 Brussels
26 Feb.1919. [Wed.]

Dear Mother,

I have seen many new things in the past two days, but have already come to feel quite at home in Brussels. The guide book says Brussels tries to make one feel at home, but I discovered that I felt that way before I saw it in the book. For one could readily imagine this an American city if one didn't glance at the French and Flemish signs on the buildings. The city has an air of cleanliness and freshness, the streets are lighted far better than any city in France which I have seen, not excluding Paris. One couldn't possibly believe the city had just come out of four years of war and enemy occupation, when one can see the stores all along the street with full stocks, where one can get plenty to eat apparently without restriction, despite the fact that a train acquaintance yesterday told us we should have bad days in the eating line; there is nothing more in evidence than the little pastry shops filled with cakes & tarts & candies - delicious & sweet, too, for Lucian & I have sampled some cherry pie & chocolate at one this afternoon, and found them so. Incidentally the films which no store in Paris could give me Monday for my borrowed Kodak, I found in the first store I chanced on in Brussels. It is all quite puzzling, how there is so much here. The films, I have discovered, are a late shipment, come in without doubt since the armistice; I should like to know whether the stocks in the stores are new stocks since the armistice or not. At any rate, from the first 24 hours of Brussels, we have given it our decided approval.

We spent Monday late afternoon and evening in Paris; had to shop and arrange our trip most of the time, and saw nothing new, unless I should mention the army of automobiles outside the Hotel Crillon for the American peace delegation. I thought some of attempting to get tickets for the Comedie Francaise or the Opera Comique, but it would have been exceptionally stupid for Lou, he knowing no French except what he has picked up over here, so we went to an excellent cinema which had for it's night's bill a combination of Charlie Chaplin, whom the French love, and a Life of Christ, which was a very well done film. We took our meals at the University Club, and I went up while there to the Yale Bureau on the 4th floor and chatted with Dr. Jepson, who is at present the Director.

We expected that our route from Paris to Bruxelles would be thru Amiens, Arras, & Lille, but within the past week, more roads have been repaired so that a direct route thru Noyon, San Quentin, Le Cateau, and Mons is taken. It is said that the former roundabout way shows one more devastation, but I can hardly say that we lacked for ruins. I believe no one can imagine such complete devastation as these cities and villages of Northern France present; I think it can safely be said there is not a single whole house nor window in any of the villages which we passed in the old war zone. And what a task of reconstruction they will make! It would seem that if they are to re-grow that everything must be taken down and cleared away; it would be hopeless to make a foundation from the ruins. The country thru which we passed is practically all level, scarcely a hill rising above the dignity of a knoll. For 75 miles it is bleak & desolate and uncultivated. I specially made the last qualification because I had supposed the Germans had utilized the land behind their lines to good advantage. Forests are stripped to nothing more than ghosts of trees. A lonely cross here and there, with a helmet hung on it, marks the grave of some poilu hero. Below San Quentin one can see the orchards which were systematically destroyed by the Germans, I suppose in their first retreat in 1917 - acres of ground where each tree lies whole on the ground, by its stump. Trench lines are everywhere, of course, & more especially the dugouts along the railway embankments & other protecting knolls; dugouts ranging from mere sitting places to quite elaborate caves. We crossed the famous Hindenburg line below San Quentin, where it so happens that the earth is different than above or below - of a white crumbling rocky sort; so that "Hindenburg line" will always suggest that to me now. From Le Cateau & above, the temporary character of shelters is more & more evident, for there one is going thru the territory over which the Allies made their rapid advance last fall. In fact, for long distances along here, there is little else evident than the shell holes pock-marking the landscape. The work on the railroads seems to be all that is being done by way of reconstruction thus far. Multitudinous German prisoners & Chinese coolies are being employed at it, and accomplishing about a tenth of what they ought to be doing. The job needs some Junes to get them organized for effective work.

Our compartment on the train was a fair representation of the nations - a Belgian medical sub-lieutenant with an American wife from Paterson, New Jersey; a thorough-going Britisher in a French uniform, for whom I tried all day to give myself an explanation by putting together his chance remarks, but never ascertained absolutely, but I hazard a guess that he was a liaison officer between Field Marshall Haig's and Marshal Petain's headquarters - there was no question he was English, for his expression of the English language was too perfectly British for a foreigner; he was monocled and had all the folderols of speech of our English friends, but he was otherwise not superficial, on the contrary a well informed & intelligent gentleman, & one of apparently some importance, though I never learned his name. He told us many interesting things of the country we went thru, and some good tips for our journey. My most interesting fellow passenger was, however, a Hollander, an editor of the Nieuw Telegraaf, Amsterdam; it was no small treat to talk with a citizen of Holland, a neutral country as it is, on events of the world today as they transpire & promise for the future; he was also most interesting when we got into a conversation on the peoples & their languages & characteristics, in Belgium & Holland.

Altogether last night I felt I was at the end of a full & rich day.

(further installments to follow)

[Official crest of the Belgian Chambre des Representants]

34 Brussels
28 Feb.1919. [Fri.]

Dear Mother,

Wouldn't you like a letter, or part of one, on a sheet of stationary which is laid out in the reading room of the Belgian Chambre des Representats for the use of its members? A gentleman kindly offered to give us a sheet each, and while we should like to have taken several, we were glad to have one. I also have one envelope, & shall keep it among my souvenirs, while this is for you.

To be appropriate I think I should speak of our visit to the Parliament building on this sheet. There are just two things to see, Chambre des Representats and the Chambre du Senat. It is interesting to see them, not only as seeing the legislative chambers of the Belgian States, but in realizing that while in the Lower House you were in the room where the vote for Belgium's declaration of war on Germany was made after the latter's invasion in 1914, and in learning that while in the Upper House, which is a magnificent room furnished all in mahogany, you were in the very room in which Edith Cavell was sentenced to death by the Germans. [note - she was an English nurse who headed up a Red Cross hospital in Brussels even prior to the war. She was convicted of harboring & helping Allied prisoners to escape, and was executed by firing squad in 1915.}

We have seen many things, but have tried to do nothing very hastily; instead take our time and not get tired, and get an overdose of sight- seeing. We have gotten up so late in the morning that lunch has always been our first meal of the day, and done practically all our sight- seeing in the afternoon. Evenings we have been to the theater, and roamed around in search of local color, but this evening I am staying in to rest up, write, and plan our tomorrow trip which is to be Antwerp and return.

Our first afternoon, we chanced first on a building which had the appearance of such a mediaeval castle as might be built on a high rock of limited area - perhaps two or three Marshalls' Islands put together- . it looked so interesting outside that we had to go inside and found that we were in the Porte du Hal, a museum of Armures, - military equipment of all periods in the last 1500 years; ancient armor, spears, fancy hilted swords, rifles with inlaid work on the butts and stocks, pistols likewise decorated, elaborately fancy spurs - and what-all-not, most things perhaps more artistic than but not as practical as modern weapons.

The Palais de Justice was our next stop. It is a tremendous and imposing many-pillared edifice with a great dome which is absolutely majestic. A guide showed us thru all the courtrooms there, and thru the bare prisoners cells on the ground floor (about a 4 x 6 with a wooden bench) - and oh, yes! the Black Maria, too - how anybody could get into one of its compartments is more than I can see, for they surely aren't as large as one of the pens in which I used to exhibit my Rhode Island Reds at the poultry show; a ride in one of them ought surely to serve as a preliminary sentence to be deducted from one given an unfortunate prisoner after trial. The Palais de Justice once had beautiful bronze doors, but it has them no more - they went to make war material for the Boches; it once had nice leather cushions & backs on all its chairs, but they have had a similar fate, and been replaced by a paper composition material which is worthless - do little more than tap it with your finger & it breaks thru. Also some of the Germans playfully drove nails in the splendid woodwork about the building.

From there we took a walk about a great many of the buildings connected with the government - the King's palace, the Royal Parc, the Parliament building, among others. All this walk of ours was practically along a long hill above the central, old part of town just above the quias on the canal.

Yesterday afternoon we visited the buildings about the old market place. First there was the Hotel de Ville (always the name the town hall in French speaking countries). It is an excellent rectangular Gothic structure, built 500 years ago, with a tower which it takes 410 steps to ascend, and from which we obtained an excellent view of the whole city. Opposite the Hotel de Ville there is what is known as the King's House, a smaller restored Gothic edifice built by the Emperor Charles V in the 1500's; it is now chiefly a museum. On the other two sides of the market place there are the House of the Dukes of Bratant and the Corporation Houses. The Corporation Houses were the various headquarters of all the different Guilds which were so important & powerful in the towns of late Middle Ages. The whole square is all late mediaeval.

Fitts had given us before we came up here a letter of introduction to a family by the name of Thys, Belgian people who have been in Brussels all thru the German occupation. We went out and called yesterday afternoon, and they have been very delightful to us. We took tea there, and they have arranged two other distinct parties for us. One was for to-day where we went out there to luncheon. Two Canadian ladies from Toronto were also present, ladies whose husbands are stationed near here. After lunch a party was made up and we went to one of the Royal Art Museums, the one which contains all modern paintings. It made our trip thru there all the more interesting because we were with people who knew the way round, knew where the best things were, and even, in more than one instance, knew the painter himself. Our next visit was to the Parliament building, which visit I have already narrated, and from there we went to take tea at the modest studio of an aspiring young painter; it was a bit of a sort of local color which I haven't happened to see before - a couple of low divans, with low tea tables to correspond, a room not well lighted by windows, and probably purposely kept carelessly.

Brussels gives one always the impression of its gaiety, of its new life, of its forgetfulness of the war (a snappy musical revue "Ils sont Partis", which I saw last night, was in keeping with the whole spirit of the place). It is absolutely different than France in this respect. Everybody has seemed to start in with a will to get themselves & the city back on its feet. Everybody is selling something; you are besieged every minute on the street by match vendors, soap vendors, postcard vendors, lace-store agents, peddlers of everything - their stalls are set up in the middle of the sidewalk. Well tomorrow we see Antwerp, which I think is going to be a contrast.

| Back to Top | Home | Search | SBButler Letters |