Somewhere in France
May 26, 1918
Dear Mother and Father:
We are finally landed on French soil. After getting into the harbor we stayed on board a couple of days while the other boats were being unloaded. We came off yesterday afternoon and hiked up here to a camp outside of the town. We didn’t go through the city itself but went around the edge of it. The boys were delighted with the pretty country and the quaint houses. The houses and trees and flowers are all different from what they have been used to in the States and everything is new and interesting to them. Almost every second house has a sign on it “Commerce de Vins”. The soldiers are allowed to have light wines and beer so the stores do a good business. Prices have gone up a great deal since the American soldiers came. The French Soldier makes five cents a day and of course can’t spend much out of that. The Yankees are willing to pay any price for what they want so prices go up. That makes it hard on the people who live here.
We are only temporarily located at this camp. The men come here from the ships and stay three or four days and then go on to other destinations. After you are here two or three days you have your turn at taking a bath. The last week on the boat we kept our clothes on all the time so we are about ready for a little scrub. The camp is very old. I doubt whether it has been much in use by the French of late. The barracks are of stone and the whole camp has a high stone wall around it. It is reported that it was built in Napoleon’s time and I suspect that is true. There are no lights in the barracks and the water system is crude and inadequate.
There are no French men of military age to be seen, just boys and older men. Even the young women seem to be scarce. Perhaps they go to the cities to work in factories and business houses. The women seem to run the farms and the taverns. The farms are not big, just a little patch and a cow or two.
The people out here in the country have odd costumes. Nearly everybody wears black, those who wear colors look to be fairly well to do. The men wear real broad brimmed hats, seemingly of plush. They have silk ribbon bands on them which dangle down several inches over the ends of the hat. Their pants are big and roomy and their coats very short and tight. The women’s dresses are very plain, rather full skirts and close fitting above the waist. Today being Sunday they all had on little white caps. The people here are Bretons, related by race more to the Welsh and Irish than to the French. They seem rugged, perhaps the people in town are different. The soldiers are common to them around here so they don’t pay much attention to them.
The first letter I wrote wasn’t sent away for some time so I put the second one in with it. I don’t expect that I will receive any mail for a long time. We will probably be on the move for some time and it may be hard for mail to find us.
We are all well and in the best of spirits and I hope the same is true of you.
© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.