Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, April 23, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.

Somewhere in France April 23, 1918

Dear Bess:

You have no doubt wondered at not receiving a cable from me when I landed, but the orders were very strict against sending cables saying that we were safely landed and therefore I couldn't send one. I tried every day for three days after getting off the boat to get one off but was refused every day. I left a letter in New York that was to be mailed as soon as the boat arrived and I suppose you have it by this time.

I have been touring France quite extensively at the expense of the American Government and haven't gone to work yet. The country is very pretty and I don't blame the French for wanting to keep it. I wouldn't trade any of U.S. for an equal part of France but if I had to give up being a Missourian I'd be a citizen of France by second choice. Every inch of the country that is at equal to growing anything is in cultivation. Their boundary lines run every which direction, and I don't see how they ever describe a piece of property when they want to transfer it. The cities seem to be just as bad. The fields make an irregular patchwork of the landscape when seen from a distance and if I were a painter I'd surely want to go to work on the scenery right away. It's a shame that our business is to tear up all the pretty places and villages we can instead of putting something more to them. They tell me that the part of France that Germany has mussed up was just as pretty and well taken care of as what I've seen and that now it is a desert. They (the French) seem to think that we are going to help them very materially to get it back .

We are well fed, well housed and treated too well. I am getting fat and lazy from lack of work and I'm afraid my hair is coming out. Isn't that a calamity? I never felt better or knew less in my life. I can't write you a real letter because about the only thing I can say and be within the law is old man Cicero's Sivales bene est saleo and I may be court-martialed for saying that if some hick censor doesn't happen to know what it means.

I am sure crazy to hear from you and from home. The last letter I had was March 28. That's the longest I've been without word from you since I can remember. I am hoping to get about a bushel of letters if our mail ever catches up. Have been riding around so much and as we can only mail letters at certain places that I haven't written for several days. If I'm here tomorrow will write again. Haven't seen any good looking girls yet.

Yours always, Harry

Harry S. Truman 1st Lt 129 FA Det. 35th Division AEF

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