1918 April 7
4/7/18 - Sunday
Somewhere else in France [Is-sur-Tille, Burgundy from his orders]
PS Tell Grandma that the sweater is great.
We have had another wonderful trip through the most lovely country you ever dreamed of – we are justly tired but all in good shape.
These French trains are queer – there are no aisles & to get from one compartment to another you slim out on the running board.
The cars are very short, have 3 ft wheels & the wheel base is about the same as Dad’s Hup. [Hupmobile] 4 compartments to our car. No toilet it was a case of jumping out when the train stopped by the roadside.
There was no heat in them & had the compartment been full we would have had to set up to sleep – as it was we had two full seats to stretch out on and wer very comfy – but rather frigid – we were 60 hours in route & I think we went around in circles – I do know that I got sick of eating cold beans & hardtack with Bully beef for variety so when we struck the town where the American women from N.J gave us coffee & jam sandwiches- it tasted pretty good. We were there twelve minutes & had to get out to make for 1000 others who were behind us.
This is a dandy place & the little village near us is very quaint – it reminds me of Venice – as there is a river dashing through it & the houses are built right in the water – so that the women do their washing right from their backdoor – quite a stunt – they have a wooden paddle & beat the wadding out of whatever they are washing on a stone slab.
Found a letter from Paul [Henderson] when I reached here – he has been sent somewhere to study something & will be gone a month – after which we will get together – which will help . He wrote that his kids had been sick & that he was very lonesome – gosh he has nothing on me – this is a rainy blue Sunday at 3:00 pm and you are all just this minute eating breakfast at 7:55 am.
I keep my big watch set with Chgo time so that I can keep you checked up & to feel that even though everything with me is different from you – even to time – I have one watch that still is the same as yours (when you wind it)
We are very fortunate in being sent to the post – it is a dandy & the fellows here seem bully we are to take up to two weeks course of study & application & we start in tomorrow am – it is very interesting & very important work – when the course is finished I hope to be stationed here permanently.
We are billeted in an old Chateau – with a name a mile long [see Moulin de Rougemont below ]– but it isn’t at all the sort of chateau that you read about in fairy stories – in fact it is owned by a miller now & he and his family live down stairs while fifteen of us live up. Abry & I are bunkers & our room is just like a nice family vault aged 200 & never opened. We console ourselves with the view – which is wonderful – before us is a lovely little river & an old gristmill operated by it – the water roars & boils making an awful fuss. – behind us the country stretches away to hills & from here I can see tow or three buildings that look like old castles – if I every get time I want to look them over – but first I want to go to the village (3 miles) & buy a pair of wooden shoes for baby! As we were marching up from the train I saw a little child her age walking along wearing them – nearly everyone wears them on the street & when they get to where they were going - they leave them on the door step – overshoes.
You should get this letter about Baby’s birthday – bless here dear heart – how I do love hear & you dear & miss you both awfully. I can hardly wait to hear from your – Paul says that mail comes through in about 20 days from the states – so there must be some on the way for me.
We are no longer attached to a company & I am glad of it - they were good boys - but an awful job to look after. Our Capt. Went to the hospital for an operation at the last camp & we brought the Co. on here alone - & those wild Indians were an awful handful after being cooped up so long - they gave us no rest day or night - so now - even though we are busy - it seems like a vacation.
Have met a lot of fellows over here that I knew at home & some of the Wash. Fellows are stationed here. Oh it costs me 1 Franc (20cents) a day for this room & Abry pays 50 Centimes (10cents) of it. - & our mess costs $15 per month!!! & as long as I live in the chateau I get $36 per Mo. From the U.S. - we will probably be moving out of here as soon as there is room for us at the camp - but I hope not. So you see, the wild tales I heard about expenses were bunk - It is impossible to spend a cent here - as we cannot get to town & even if we did there is nothing to buy but light wine (junk) & bum beer
I weighed 145 lbs today and my clothes are becoming uncomfortable - also I haven't worn my glasses since we left America - don't need them & they were a bother - always dirty.
Over here we wear a different kind of a monkey hat. [Sketch of hat >]
It is very classy but don't keep the rain off - or the sun out - the idea is that a chap can put either a gas mask or helmet over them I guess. The helmets are the English model & are heavy as thunder- makes your back ache to wear em – so I hope I never have to – but we all have them anyway. The gas mask is a dandy but awfully uncomfortable – there is a clamp that closes your nose up tight (& you know how I enjoy that) & a tube that you grip in your teeth - & through which you breathe – but it makes you slobber all over yourself – so I never hope to wear that either.
One thing I do wear that is great is bob nailed shoes – they are very heavy 2 ½ lbs each but very comfortable & no one cares how they look so we never clean em.
The mail is going out right now – so bye bye – I love you & baby until my heart sometimes gets sour & these little kidders over hear have a lump in my throat most of the time – thinking about baby. – I miss you both terribly – I do – Jack
The Chateau was Moulin de Rougemont - (Mill of Rougemont)
5 Days for 5 Francs
References & Photographs of Is-sur-Tille
Connecting With My Grandfather - about my 2011 trip to Is-sur-Tille to try and see some of the locations that he wrote about.
Photographs of the town, chateau, camp memorial, the mayor and others can be seen at 2011 Europe photographs.
Additional photographs of the town and the 8 Mai 2012 parade and celebration can be seen at 2012 France photographs.]
Is-sur-Tille's website: http://www.is-sur-tille.fr/
Article about my visit (in French):
Blog about 2012 visit: http://leblogdis.blogspot.com/2012/05/ceremonie-du-8-mai.html