Truman, Mary Jane, 1889-1978; Bostian, William, 1887-1985; Boxley, Fred A., 1877-1936; Phelps, Margaret L., 1865-1939; Blair, James Frank
Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, June 19, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.
Angers France June 19, 1918
This is the grandest afternoon I've spent since I've been in France. I received seven, count 'em, seven letters from you, five from Mary, one from Boxley one from Blair and a card from Miss Maggie. I got them at noon today at regimental headquarters and then I had to come back to Battalion Hqrs and have a school for two hours and then read letters from home. I saved yours until last because I wanted the most possible enjoyment and worked things on a climax basis. You've no idea what a grand and glorious feeling it is to have seven letters from the only girl in the world poked at you by a mail orderly. The latest possible date too, May 20, was one of them. I wrote you yesterday but I couldn't possibly fail to write again today even if something pops in the Battalion. For fear you won't get the other letter I'll have to tell you that I'm a real Capitan in Uncle Sam's Armee. Didn't know it until I got back to the regiment. I am Adjutant of the second Battalion. Some job; I have to teach school and do a lot of things I never thought I could.
I haven't heard of any of the 129th Field Artillery running away with French girls. Most of us have too much work to do to think of French girls and besides, speaking personally, when I'm not working my mind is occupied with a girl in USA of a kind they don't make in France or anywhere else. Gee I wish I could see you but our work is cut out for us and the sooner we accomplish our task the better for all the world and the sooner we'll get home. Americans are sure well thought of in France now and always will be I hope.
It's sure good to hear of your going to the Shubert, driving down the country roads east of the world's capital (Independence) and doing other things like that. How I wish I could have been along.
I sure want that shirt but under present orders I guess I can't have it. No packages whatever will be shipped according to present instructions. Maybe they'll loosen up later and send us some. If they do be sure and send it. I still have the sweater you knitted for me and it is as good as new although I've worn it a lot and certainly did appreciate it on the voyage over and will use it a lot about two months from now.
I think I told you I almost saw Bill Bostian. He was at the Machine Gun School right close to our school. He was in the Y.M.C.A. just a short time before I came in but left before I saw him. I saw in the paper where he was in Paris a short time afterward.
I just barely sneaked through at the school and now they've got me teaching trig. & Logrithims and surveying and engineering and a lot of other high brow stuff that nearly cracks my head open to learn just before class and then if some inquisitive nut asks me a question I'm up the creek and usually answer him by telling him he's ahead of the schedule and I'll tell him tomorrow. Then I'm safe to look it up and still have my prestige. Some system I claim.
You wanted to know if I get plenty to eat. I should say I do. Though I would give six months pay (and I get about 2 bushels of francs every month) for one Sunday dinner at your house. When we were at school we knew exactly what we were going to get every meal before it was served. For breakfast we had omelette (the French say om e lette? Just like they are asking you something. They say choc e lette? the same way) oatmeal coffee and jam with brown bread, for dinner we had roast horse (it was beef really) very thin gravy, jam and bread with fromage and butter and brown bread. The bread is sure good. I wish I could get that kind now. You can eat a peck of it and not get tired of it. We'd have soup and the same at supper. There was always a sufficiency but I got so tired of that same old French flavor to everything that when I got back to the regiment and went down to the Supply Co mess and they gave me stewed tomatoes, prunes rice and some honest to goodness American coffee I thought it was the best meal I'd ever eaten. If I could come in to your house for dinner you'd probably have to send for a doctor when I got done doing justice to pie and cake and ice cream. I am getting fat over here though and walking about fifteen miles a day so I guess the food certainly agrees with me. I never felt better in my life. I'm going to have my likeness struck off on one of these French cameras if we stay here long enough, captains bars, go to cap, Samuel Brown belt and everything. It's just like harnessing a horse now when I go to dress. I look like Siam's King on a drunk when I get that little cockeyed cap stuck over one ear, a riding crop in my left hand a whipcord suit and a strut that knocks 'em dead (except that there's no one to fall for it). Therefore, like every good American soldier I have an insane desire to let the folks at home know how I look.
Please keep writing. You can see what a hilarious and perfectly happy state seven letters have put me into. Why if it had been fourteen I believe I'd have given a banquet to myself had after dinner speeches and gotten uproariously drunk on pink wine. It would take about seven kegs of it to make a preacher drunk and it tastes like the dickens and smells like vinegar.
I am writing you at every opportunity and telling you all the censor'll let me and I'm thinking of you always.
Harry S. Truman Captain Adj 2nd Btn 129F.A. American E. F.
I'm not learning any French. I have to study artillery too hard. I can tell 'em I don't understand and ask for des oeufs sur la plat and that's about all. I pronoun[ce] fromage, fruminage, and say Angers like she's spelled but the French insist on saying fro maag and On jay. I'll never comprehend it.
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