Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Miles, John L., 1878-1961; Paterson, Newell T., 1890-1977

Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, June 30, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.

Angers, France Sunday June 30, '18

Dear Bess:

The Major and I have been paying a formal visit and a dine out to the Major of the 1st Bn and his Adj Capt Paterson.

They had the regimental band and the Mayor of the town in which they are billeted along with most of the inhabitants of the surrounding community. The performance was to have come off last Sunday but the band got its dates mixed up and failed to show up. It was positively side splitting the way the thing occurred. Paterson has a doctor friend (French) who has a pretty daughter, who is engaged to a French Major at the front, by the way, and who has a pretty girlfriend that Paterson likes to try out his French on. The Mayor also has a couple of very pretty daughters, also unattached and Paterson conceived the idea of informing the Mayor that he was having the band down and the Mayor could invite the community if he so desired. All this was to take place last Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM. The Mayor invited his community bought a barrel of wine for the band, several bottles of wine (Champagne) for the Major "le Commandant" and "Le Capitan Paterson" beside investing in three bouquets about as big as a bushel basket, one to be presented to the band, one to Major le Commandant Miles and one to his Adjutant Le Capitan Paterson. Paterson invited his French doctor, the doctor's daughter and her lady friend and things were all set for one magnifique time.

The band came over and played for us about 2 o'clock and about 3 a truck came out from Angers to take them in to play for some hospital dedication or other. I asked them if they expected to play for the 1st Bn and they said no they guessed not as the Lt Col had ordered them to town. Well I had some business with Pat and I jumped on my bike (you should see me ride a bicycle) and went over to transact it. Found him taking a siesta. He got up and told me how glad he was to see me and told me all about his grand band concert that he was going to have in about an hour. I told him the band had gone to Angers and wouldn't be out any more that day. It was like a thunder bolt. He hopped into his blouse and harness and hiked over to Regimental Hqrs about a mile away in nothing flat and he's fat too. He couldn't find the Colonel the band or anybody else. He came back, nearly sweating blood because there was the mayor, his daughter, and all the community besides the doctor and family to hear that band. Then there was the Mayor's wine, the Mayor's bouquets (one of which was to come to Pat), and no band. Pat could only get gales of laughter and hard words from me and the rest of the officers. I never saw anyone in such agony. He must have sweat four gallons. I didn't stay to see how he patched it up but he pulled it off today, wine major doctor daughters bouquets and all. It was very nice but last Sunday was funnier. To top it all off the band went to Angers and played for some kid performance on the other side of town from where they were supposed to go, so everything ended up in moving picture style. It's getting so dark I can't see and as there are no electric lights and candles are not much good, I've got to quit. I told you about visiting the palace of the Dukes of Anjou and seeing a piece of tapestry that had a crosseye saint on it and looked like a dirty table cloth and being worth $100000.00. I'm enclosing a picture of it. Keep on writing. They are coming better now.

Yours always


Harry S. Truman Captain 129 FA Ajt 2nd Bn American E.F.

The attendant said that this was "tres bien" very good someone told me it means, and is worth piles of gold. I wouldn't have it as a gift. There are some real pretty ones though. St. John sticking a dragon and the blood running out and everything just as natural but this one – not me.

This was the dining room of the Dukes of Anjou. Over to the left of the door in the far end you'll see an arched hole in the wall. This is a trough and had running water in. When the guests got too much wine or too much good and wine they went over to this trough and disgorged and then took a new start. At least that's what the attendant said.

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