August 15, 1918
Dear Mother and Father:
I had a letter from Mother a day or two ago. I think I have gotten all the letters that have been sent. They have been coming about once a week. I wanted to write you Sunday but wasn’t able to make it. Perhaps before you receive this you wil have received the post cards I sent from Paris. I don’t know whether it is permissible to write in a letter that I have been to Paris so I don’t see that there can be any objection to my writing it here.
I had been hoping for a long time that I might get an opportunity to visit the city. Owing to the likelihood of our leaving here I had begun to fear that I wouldn’t get the chance. However last Monday I got permission to go in on an ambulance that was taking in some tires to be fixed. I got in about noon and left on the train at six the next morning. I was all alone and had no one to show me around the town but I inquired my way around and saw about all the things that I had in my mind to see.
First I tended to the errand that I was sent on and then I went to the YMCA headquarters and there I saw the man who has charge of all the entertainment of the camps in France. Some of the best artists and stage people of America are touring France for the YMCA. Mr. Towne said that he would like to use me in that work and would make a request that I be permitted to do so for a couple of months or a longer time if possible. I don’t know what will come of it but I certainly would be glad to get the chance. I don’t think there would be any objection on the part of our commanding officer. The YMCA is doing such fine work here for the soldiers that I don’t think that they would be refused a favor like that.
By the time that I got through with my interview it was four o’clock so I set out on foot to see Paris. The nearest things was the Church of the Madalein. There is no use of any trying to describe everything to you because the censor would have to take a day off to read it all. There was no service going on so I roamed around inside for a while. From there I walked down and passed the government buildings. I don’t know what they all were and didn’t have time to find out. I followed the Champs de Elysees to the Triumphal Arch. I could see the Eiffel tower in the distance so I headed for it, passing many beautiful buildings on the way. The pictures give little idea of the immensity of the tower. The Tracadero is close to it so I walked over there.
Nearly all the Exhibition buildings are closed now so there is nothing but the buildings to be seen. The buildings themselves are wonderful enough. I wanted to see the cathedral of Notre Dame more than any other thing in Paris so to save time I took a taxi over there. Taxi rates are not high in Paris. We must have gone three or four miles for about fifty cents. The cathedral was closed when I was there so I didn’t see the inside of it. On the way we passed the Louvre, Palace of Justice and many others. I spent the night at the YMCA hotel. There were no concerts or operas on as this is not the musical season and I didn’t care to go to a show in French. I saw a lot for the little time I had. Sgt. Hill was in and met a professional guide who took him around. If I get in again I will look him up. I came back on the train. Soldiers travel here very cheaply. The soldiers pay about 35 cents for what it costs civilians $1.50. Are they doing that in the states now?
I visited an American Hospital in Paris. If I get another chance to go sometime I will see if I can’t transfer there. I know that there are hundreds of others who would like to, too, but if I were there I could study and so would have a reason for a request for the transfer.
About a week ago I had another little trip up into the territory that has been retaken from the Germans. It was the first I had seen of real devastation. In several towns there wasn’t a single house that one could live in. I don’ see how they can ever be rebuilt. At [Censored] the civilians are moving back again. Some of them find their homes wrecked but for the most part there wasn’t a great deal of destruction.
I have gotten acquainted with some people near here who have been very kind to me. They have a daughter about sixteen or so who plays violin a little. I help her with her violin in return for which they try to teach me French. They are from Paris and stay here to avoid the bombardments and the Big Bertha. Everything was quiet while I was there. I saw only one or two places where there had been any damage from aviators or the cannon. I expected that the city would be pretty well deserted but there were a lot of people there. The city is dark at night, not much like the gay Paree before the war.
Our censor tells me that he had to cut out a lot of some of my letters lately. I guess some of them have been rather long, too. I hope there isn’t anything in this one that shouldn’t be and that it will get to you safely.
We are doing almost nothing right now, but wait. We are all well and being well taken care of. I hope this finds all at home in good health and spirits. My best regards to all.
© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.