Boxley, Fred A., 1877-1936; White, Pearl, 1889-1938
Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, April 14, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.
Somewhere in France April 14, 1918
I landed today and have been trying to find a cable office that hasn't a U.S. censor in it. They won't let us cable for things like informing our people we landed safely because the wires are so crowded they can't send them. I guess you've got my cable I left in New York by this time anyway. My cussed pen went dry right up there and I had to get up and fill it. I am in a French hotel room about as big as your grandmother's room and the front hall combined and the floor's as cold as the top of a lake when it's frozen and the grip with the ink had to be as far from the bed as it could be. The electric switch turns off the light in the center of the room, and another turns lights on over the head of the bed. You can't light both at once—when one's on the other goes off automatically and as the bed is the warmest I am writing this in bed. We go to work tomorrow and I have been seeing this town, which is quite wonderful to me. It isn't Paris, but if Paris is as much livelier as it is bigger, Paris is some town. Wine and beer are sold here and most of the 35th Division have been in Oklahoma so long that they are trying to drink all there is here. They can't as the supply seems to be inexhaustible. Prices are marked strictly on the American plan in French money and they skin us alive. Our dinners cost as 10 francs apiece, about $1.80, so you see things are not so cheap. One fellow bought him a Sam Brown belt for 40 franks (I don't know why I spelled that with a k) and gave the man a ten-dollar bill. He got 60 francs in change and the belt so he made a belt and 3 francs by the deal and didn't know it until someone told him that ten dollars was 57 francs.
This is a beautiful place. I wish I could tell you where it is. (Call Boxley up.) The room I have at the Hotel des Voyageurs is furnished in mahogany with double lace curtains at its windows. It has a picture of Henry IV and his children on one side and Henry VIII of England at some state function on the other. There is a fire place (no fire) with a white marble mantelpiece, which has a Dutch clock under a glass case. (The clock doesn't run, probably on account of its age.) It is a beautiful gold affair with a couple of seventeenth-century pikemen on top of it. It is flanked by two exquisitely beautiful lamps and there is a large mirror over the whole thing about four feet square. The chairs are upholstered in red plush. It looks more like some count's bedroom than a hotel room.
I went to a picture show and saw Pearl White in one of the sections of a spasm that has been running a year or so over in U.S.A. The name and explanations were in French and I've forgotten its name but it was good old mellerdramer and I had not seen this episode. There was a comedy and another complete film that was good and a dancer named Miss Theer. We got tired and left before the show was over or I guess we could have been there yet. It began at two-thirty and we left at five-thirty, all for 1 franc 45 centimes—about 35 cents.
We had a most pleasant voyage and I found a well-formed rumor that we were sunk when we got to port. The navy has the army beaten forty ways for wild stories.
I've got to quit because it's 10:00 P.M. and lights go out at nine o'clock and I'm liable to get arrested.
Write me as below.
Yours always, Harry S. Truman, 1st Lt. 129th F.A. Det. 35th Division, A.E.F.
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