Base Hospital No. 88 at Langres, 12/19/1918

Base Hospital #88, Langres France

Dear Em,


Before saying anything I first want your forgiveness for my not writing while on my furlough. Im not sure whether I will get it or not (your forgiveness I mean). I had a wonderful time and after waiting for fifteen long months for it will have to admit that the seven short days were given over to nothing but enjoyment. Don’t think that I absolutly forgot you, the folks and home for that is one thing I did remember many times, which I think was more essential than just writing.


I think I told you before I left for this furlough that I had to my credit six months pay and 15 months reinlistment money. Some how or other I didn’t receive a cent of this nor have I yet. Had I got this I would have sent some wonderful presents that I saw at this resort. I got by though through the good fellowship of the other boys with what I borrowed. There was something doing every minute. The trip itself was worth going for and the beauty of La Bourboule will never be forgotten by me.


Clermont, Auvergne France


About 30 miles from our stopping place the train was split into two sections for the climb up through the mountains was very steep. Well Em it will have to be a better man than I am to explain these French Alps if they are to be given anywhere near the credit that is due them. As our section left the city of Clearmont (which is a very large place and the starting place of about all tourists to different places in the mountains) we could see the great peaks ahead rising up in our way but never hindering the progress of the little puffing engine that seemed to worm its way picking the gentlest grades but yet climbing as every foot went by. It was just before the sun was setting that we were surrounded with the grandest scenery that I ever did and I guess ever will gaze at. Yes Ill say surrounded, for Em no matter where one looked a feeling would get ahold of them and hold them spell bound. You’ve read of the towns nestled in the Alps, and they are not only nestled there but sleeping peacefully as though the peaks and the snow that caps these peaks were trusty watch men.


Mountains of Auvergne, France


Looking out of the train window, away down there where it seems you could hit the little church steeple (if you were a German) with a stone, sleeps a town. Pretty little towns too. All of a sudden the train is but a toy for on looking from both sides of the car window nothing but mountains confront your view. The little train keeps puffing though, enters a tunnel through one of the mountains, comes out on the other side where lies on one side a valley at least ten miles wide and on the other a mountain it seems as high.


Rest well assured Em I did enjoy the trip and now I suppose I should discribe my stay at one of the most expensive tourists resorts in France. When one speaks of La Bourboule (and I suppose the rest of these places are the same) it is a city of hotels that is meant and a lot of places of amusment. This town (Ill call it town) sets up in the mountains, and while in it you would think you was at any one of our own summer resorts mostly Nantasket. Looming up on all sides are hills and the only reason I call them hills is because beyond these are still higher hills, but they are all mountains. A view from any window in any hotel (and there are many) is as good a picture as any one would care to look at. I wish I could have taken a picture of this place from a point from which I happened to see it. Say it was a picture.


"Show At The Y.M.C.A." by C. LeRoy Baldridge, 1918

Now I will tell you how I enjoyed myself. Mind, we were sent there as are all men on furlough, train fair, meals, and board, paid by the Government. We are put up at the best hotels and enjoy first class eats. The Y.M.C.A. has a building (The Palace) in which there is reading, writing, dance hall and canteen rooms, besides a grand theatre. Some thing doing at the Y. every afternoon and evening such as Stunt Night, games, good shows by French actors, fights, restling, and dancing. I was there twice when there was dancing and the Y girls were there beleive me. They are a lively bunch. When I wasn’t at the Y I was having a fine time also, which I don’t imagine is much news to you. I had a good time anyway so Ill can telling you any more about this 7 days leave and answer your letters which were handed to me on my arrival back to the company.


Your birthday cards and Lena’s too were both received yesterday and they were great. There is a lot of talk of our going home soon now, but talk and hopes aint going to get us there so I take no stock in what the papers say. That little kitten must have had a tough time of it and as I read your letter I could not for the life of me dope out what I was coming to or what became of the cat. I finally came to the place where it acted the goat and was glad when the assurance came that it was O.K.


When you speak of the cat coughing I might as well tell you that Ive got one of these again myself. I got quite a cold just before leaving La Bourboule and the trip on the train didn’t help it any. When I arrived at the company and on being examined by the doctor three words from my lips was enough to convince him that I got cold and away to the hospital I went. I will be back with the company again soon though. The flue is here now and they are acting very careful. My throat is coming along fine now and Im alright so don’t worry.


If Lena will remember I had the same kind of trouble with my throat the time I came back from Washington, and now you’ve got the story. These after war diseases you speak of are never getting me Em so don’t worry on that score. I spend too much time having a good time in my own silly way to get mixed up into anything like that.


While away on furlough I just simply raised the devil and smoked a lot of cigarettes, stayed out late nights and sang a lot of songs. Result – a very hoarse throat and a little cough. Im a great deal better off at that than a lot of so called wise guys that are not as noisy as I am when on a good time nor as brave when there is no one around to see them perform. Don’t worry about me Em. Ive come through so far and when the 26th goes home Im with it.


Give my regards to all and tell them that I will write as soon and as much as I can. I am at Base Hospital #88 Langres France. Don’t address my mail here though for I will soon be back with the company as soon as they are sure I have not got the flue, and that very soon. Will send some souviners as soon as I get some jack.


Hoping to see you son after this letter reaches you if not before I am your brother



S. E. Avery #69762, Hdq Co. 103rd Inf. A.E.F.



© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

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  1. Dear Readers:
    La Bourboule is one of ten notable Spa towns nestled in the forested mountains of the Massif Central in the Auvergne Region of central France. Auvergne is the largest volcanic area in Europe and is known for its natural beauty full of gorges, rivers, mountains, lakes and therapeutic mineral springs. Today its mountainous terrain offers one of the most challenging climbs of the Tour de France and is a destination for both skiing and hang-gliding.


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