Prum, January 16, 1919
Dear Mother and Father:
I missed writing to you last Sunday because I was away. On Thursday I heard that one of our ambulances was going into Coblenz to get some new parts or repairs so I asked permission to go in which was granted. We left Friday morning about eight o’clock. The country around here is very hilly and we went up and down pretty much until we got to Cochen on the Mosel and then we went right along the Mosel River for about thirty miles into Coblenz. About ten o’clock the sun came out and we had a very nice day for the trip. The country around here is very beautiful, there are so many hills and little woods. In the summer time it must be much prettier than it is now. The trip along the Mosel was fine. Just now all the rivers are very high owing to the unusually warm and rainy winter. We have had snow only two or three times and then just enough to show a little white on the ground. Christmas we had an inch or so which was the most we have had.
The ambulance came back from Coblenz Saturday morning but my pass was good until Monday so I stayed over. Uncle August lives in Metternich which is a suburb of Coblenz so the first thing I did was to look him up. He lives about fifteen minutes ride on the street car from the center of town. I didn’t have his address so I had to enquire and nobody seemed to know much about him or his whereabouts. Finally we found the mailman and he told me where to find him. He was surprised but very glad to see me. I had told him that I would try to visit him but would write him before hand but this time I couldn’t do it as I didn’t know that I could go until the night before. His wife was in town when I got there, the first time she has gone out, he says, in the year or more they have lived there. She came back soon and seemed a little embarrassed to have company come so unexpected, especially when there is so little food to be had and people don’t have much extra in the house. They were very nice indeed and killed the fatted calf for me but of course he isn’t so fat now as he used to be.
My aunt made potato and other kinds of pancakes and a couple of kinds of coffee cake and I enjoyed those things more than meat and the other things we have plenty of but the Germans don’t have. She is a very good cook and everything she made tasted good to me. Saturday was the day that meat was given out so they went to the butcher shop to get their weekly allowance of a quarter of a pound for each person. They told the butcher that their American nephew was visiting and they would like a little extra so he let them have about a pound and a half altogether.
None of the children were home. One son, I think, is still in the army and the other is in business in Dusseldorf. The daughter is married and lives somewhere quite a ways off. Uncle August has the little girl from one of the sons, the one that is still in the army. The mother is working and has three other children so the Bickels are keeping this one. She is six years old and they have had her over four years, ever since the war began.
They have a very nice little house there in Metternich. It is not very fancy or elaborate but it is kept up very nicely. There is a little bit of ground around it on which are fruit trees and currant bushes. This last summer they made enough from the fruit and currants they sold to pay their years rent. They have a little garden and a few chickens so they have a little food supply of their own in addition to what they can get elsewhere. They are right on the edge of the city so they can go to the farmers and get things and of course they can afford to pay whatever the price is. They are pretty comfortably fixed, financially and have property in several places. Things are very uncertain in Germany now and nobody knows just where he stands. With the riots and revolutions Germany is about as badly off as Russia.
I bought a little new music in Coblenz so I have some things to work on. Miss Schwarz also borrowed some music from her teacher so we are busy practicing on those.
The town of Coblenz has been almost completely taken over by the Americans. Their government buildings are used for our army headquarters, the hotels are taken for our officers and men. The big Fest Halle is run by the YMCA and they have concerts, movies, boxing or dancing every night of the week. We are allowed to go there on one day passes and the town is just filled with our men. They get along well with the Germans wherever they go and the people are very glad that they have them instead of the French or English.
I got a few films in Coblenz to fit my camera so I may be able to get a shot or two now but it is so rainy and dark that it is impossible to do very much. The German films are much slower than the American and don’t work as well with our cheap lenses. I took a couple of the Bickel family which I have not had developed yet.
I have lost my home here for a few days. The mother of the two milliners died this morning and as there will be other children coming here for the funeral they will need all their rooms. I have a little room in the hospital where I practice and I can fix up a bed in there for awhile.
My Christmas package came a week or so ago. It didn’t get here on schedule time but perhaps it is just as well as we had so much cake and candy around Christmas time that it was enjoyed all the more for coming at a time when there wasn’t so much sweet stuff around. The cake was in perfectly good condition and was mighty fine cake. There wasn’t enough to pass it around so I ate it all myself. It makes one feel a bit queer to eat something made in his own kitchen at home and by loving hands.
The razor blades will afford me a good deal of comfort. I haven’t been able to get any Gen blades over here at all. Toilet things are pretty scarce. A while ago I thought I wasn’t ever going to get anything to brush my teeth with but I have bought some paste here in Germany and one day the YMCA had some French paste that was a little better so I laid in a little. We can’t buy soap but there is always plenty around the hospital and those of us that work here can easily get some when we need it.
I have two American dollars to put in the billfold Gladys sent me. All the rest of my money is French and German and doesn’t fit. I have a pocket book which fits the European money. All the money over here is paper. There are paper bills as low as twenty-five pfennigs and for smaller change we use postage stamps.
I shall write to Mrs. Roberts and Mrs. Ballam and thank them for the candy. The other things haven’t come yet and I haven’t yet received the strings. -I am afraid that they are lost by this time. I couldn’t get any good strings in Coblenz and I am just about out, and especially need As and Gs. I am sure that if a couple were sent in a letter, so they wouldn’t bulge out too much, that they would get here.
I have had a couple of surprises this week. A couple of nights ago the man in charge of the mail said there was a Christmas package for me. I looked it over and couldn’t recognize the handwriting and finally I found the address in the corner. It was from Mrs. Hannah, in Altrincham, England. I am not sure of the names of all my English relatives but I think she must be my Aunt Sarah Ann. I remember hearing of Bob Hannah but I am not certain which aunt it is that married him. I shall acknowledge the package and say “Dear Aunt” without mentioning any names so I won’t make any bad blunders. The box contained half a dozen little mince pies or tarts as we call them and some almonds. Today I had a letter from my cousin Joe Wright who is a sergeant in Royal Engineers in France. If I remember right he is a brother to Isabella and is a couple of years younger than I.
There is just a little possibility of my going to Coblenz to do a little playing for the YMCA. I don’t know whether anything will come of it or not so I am not laying any plans. I am having a good time here and don’t care very much. Last night I had a fine supper of roast chicken, brussels sprouts, potatoes, apples and other things.
I am playing quite a little and have some time to practice so I am pretty well satisfied here except that I am so sick of the hospital and operating room work. It just seems like filling in the time until we go home and it looks as though that would not be for some time.
© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.