Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Gates, Marvin H., 1876-1972; Fairbanks, Douglas, 1883-1939; Young, Clara Kimball, 1890-1960.

Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, April 17, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.

Somewhere in France April 17, 1918

Dear Bess:

How do you like the stationery? It is French or Swiss or Belgique or some foreign kind. They do things in great shape over here. Everyone tries his level best to treat Americans better than the one before, hoping that there will be a greater consideration forthcoming. We find a nice restaurant where we can get a fine meal for 3 or 4 francs and when we go back after spreading the news it costs 10 or 12. I suppose it serves us right though because our buck privates get as much money as a captain over here. My check was for 1,007.40 francs and next month it'll be about 1,100.00. Nearly enough money to retire on over here and plenty to start in business with an immense stock of goods, all of two counters full. The people generally treat us fine and seem very glad to accommodate us in any way they can.

I am not in school yet although I shall be very soon. Have been walking around the town and country seeing the sights and there are lots of them. If the sun would only shine, it would be a beautiful place. It never has been shining except on the day we landed. I guess that was a good omen. Hope so anyway.

I have been trying to cable you ever since I landed but as I told you in my letter day before yesterday the wires are so crowded with official business I haven't been able to do it. I left a letter for you in New York to be mailed when we arrived which I suppose you have gotten by this time anyway. I have been going through the art gallery with Major Gates and some of the other lieutenants today. It has lots of pretty pictures and statues and things but nothing of note. We are going to Grand Opera tonight—Ambroise Thomas' Mignon. I don't reckon it'll amount to much but we are going to try it anyway. Saw Clara Kimball Young in a spasm last night entitled Femmes des France, but couldn't see any connection between title and show if "Femmes des France" means "Women of France," as they tell me it does. She was a Red Cross nurse and married an Englishman that she'd been dingy over before the war, after nursing him through a wounded spell. Very touching when Clara Kimball does it and caused the French audience to clap very loudly when he took her in his arms in the last act. All the explanations were in French, so I just guessed the thing out. They put on a real American picture the other night, Douglas Fairbanks, and everything was in good United States language. It was sure some satisfaction too I tell you. I sure do get tired of Oui, Oui Monsieur and Cinq Francs, Merci Monsieur. All I can say is je ne comprend pas, and I'm not sure of that.

Wish I could step in and see you this evening. Have only seen one good looking French woman and she was married to some French general or admiral or something, anyway he had seven or eight yards of gold braid on him. Might have only been a second lieutenant for all I know.

Be sure and write lots of letters for I'll appreciate them when I get them if it won't be till next summer sometime. I am thinking of you all the time and dream of you always.

Yours Harry


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