“…I would have written sooner but that I’ve been kept so busy lately on my new job that I haven’t had sufficient energy to attempt a letter.” He reports the first serious snow and a “service at a famous Cathedral,” apparently forgetting he has already gotten this one past the censor. Either he was bored with the service at the famous Cathedral, of which he “got only an occasional word,” or he was in an exploring mood:

I made a private excursion up into one of the towers where I got a good view of the city and it was beautiful with the snow covered roofs before & below me. Enjoyed my climb all the more as I don’t think visitors are allowed up there but I saw the steps open and rambled up. Probably they wouldn’t have stopped me anyhow as the French are wonderfully polite where an American Officer is concerned.

Christmas is less than a week away. “Shall be thinking of you all on Xmas day, the first I’ve ever missed being at home, and imagining what you are doing.” He doesn’t think he will be working on Christmas and in any case expects a feast to rival the Thanksgiving dinner he reported in a previous letter. He has his thoughts on a couple more slices of mince pie. “Speaking of ‘eats,’ do you know I’m actually getting fat over here—I had to get one uniform let out a bit last week.” He hasn’t had mail from home since getting to Paris—the last being the letter he received from Mabel when he was still at La Valbonne—but he is hoping for more mail soon, “together with that box she spoke of sending,” which he hopes will arrive before Christmas. He again mentions the cost of living; “it surely takes all my salary to live.” He receives “commutation of quarters which covers my room rent but it costs me half my salary for meals.” He closes with the idea that some of his salary could come home, possibly to cover his loans for law school; he’s contemplating this “as soon as I am moved to a less expensive station….”

Transcription:

Dec. 19th, 1917

Dear Mother –

Believe it has been a little more than a week this time since I last wrote you but from what I know of the way the mail goes, you may get this letter by the same mail as my last one or my next one. However, I would have written sooner but that I’ve been kept so busy lately on my new job that I haven’t had sufficient energy at night to attempt a letter.

We had our first snow of any consequence Sunday. That afternoon I went in for a little while to a service at a famous cathedral. A Cardinal was talking and it was interesting though I got only an occasional word of what he said. While there I made a private excursion up into one of the towers where I got a good view of the city and it was beautiful with the snow covered roofs before and below me. Enjoyed my climb all the more as I don’t think visitors are allowed up there but I saw the steps open and rambled up. Probably they wouldn’t have stopped me anyhow as the French are wonderfully polite where an American officer is concerned.

Suppose you are all making your Xmas preparations and this week though guess they are a bit different most places in the States this year. Shall be thinking of you all on Xmas day, the first I’ve ever missed being at home, and imagining what you are doing. Guess about all it will mean here will be one day when we won’t work though I believe they are planning a big Xmas dinner here at the Y.M.C. Officers Hotel. Their Thanksgiving dinner here was mighty good and some more of the mince pie they had then will be mighty good. Speaking of “eats”, do you know I am actually getting fat over here – I had to get one uniform let out a bit last week.

Haven’t had any mail from the States since I moved station three weeks ago, probably because it takes some time to get one’s address changed and for your mail to catch up with you. My last letter from home was Mabel’s, written Oct. 24th but I am hoping more mail, together with the box she spoke of sending, will reach me before Xmas.

Was glad to hear of Aubrey Wheeler’s getting his Majority. The gold leaves are quite becoming to him. Am anxious for more home news to find out what everybody is doing back home. Suppose Kinley has already gone into service now. \

Continue to like living in my new station but it truly takes all my salary to live. I get commutation of quarters which covers my room rent but it costs me half my salary for meals. Understand I can now have part of my salary diverted at Washington and shall have this done as soon as I am moved to a less expensive station so as to send something to Frank to pay interest on my notes but at present it is impossible.

Hoping you are all well and with lots of love,

Carl

PS can you now address my mail to me Hdqtrs Lines of Communication AEF France and I’ll probably get it a little sooner.

O.K.

Thomas C. Montgomery

2nd Lt. Inf. U.S.R.

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