He is done with the typewritten letter that he pecked out at work, leaves his office and goes home where he decides to “add a little” to his earlier thoughts. He pens an addendum in his sepia handwriting. It begins with a food odyssey, reporting that the “food at the Officers Training Camp was not as good as it might have been though we paid 168 francs—or about $30—a month.”
[about February 4, 1918]
Dear Mabel –
Since writing you this A.M. at my office have been looking over your last letter here at my room and will add a little – probably to be enclosed in the same envelope. As you know, Dick Johnson was with me for Xmas and he told me all about their trip over – they did not to come on the Vaterland as Horace thought from the Pace boy’s letter.
You want to know about food. The food at this Officers Training Camp was not as good as it might have been though we paid 168 francs or about $30 a month . The hardest thing for a good many of us to get used to was the “petit dejeuner” of “cafe au lait”, bread, butter and jam or “confiture” as it is known over here. After our heavier breakfasts at home, we didn’t come to it very gracefully. However, got so used to it the seven weeks I was at this camp that I’ve stuck to it most of the time since I’ve been here where I can get a heavier breakfast if desired. Occasionally, when feeling hungrier than usual in the morning I have an omelette instead of “confiture” but really feel awfully full after a breakfast of that kind. And, speaking of all omelettes, they surely know how to cook one in France – I’ve eaten more omelettes here than in my whole previous career. As a matter of fact the French live up to their re-reputation for good cooking all along the line. I’ve eaten often and enjoy things that I never touched at home, macaroni for instance.
I can’t give you a much of a description of camp life now, having been a city dweller for the last two months but shouldn’t wonder I’ll be ordered to where your stove will be useful before warm weather comes. And, having been here this length of time, most of my first impressions of this town have worn off – after a time you know one takes things as a matter of fact. There are some things though which I continue to notice. For instance in the subway these people have the most cheerful disregard for “Entree” and “Sortie” or Way in and Way out. I think they rather prefer going in the “Sortie” and coming out the “Entree”. Also on the sidewalks right and left mean nothing in their young lives. They walk where it pleases them to walk regardless of whether it’s on the right or left and block up the sidewalk looking at shop windows, or stopping for conversation or a kissing match. Osculation in public is the custom rather than [the reverse?]. Then crossing the street, they are just as likely as not to cross looking the wrong way or with head over the shoulder talking to some one on the pavement with the apparent calm belief that nothing will hit them. My work now requires my being out over the city nearly every day in a machine and my chauffeur has had some amazingly narrowest escapes from hitting some one. Hope he doesn’t. It’s a mystery to me that no more of them get run over, particularly with the way these French taxi drivers go – they’ve got something on New York taxi drivers in recklessness and that’s going some.
As to seeing fellows I knew at home, I’m running into some one often, particularly of my Harvard acquaintances. Besides Dick Johnson, have seen Aubrey Wheeler but have never run into Eugene Munro since leaving Marion. Got word of him through a Captain Simons from Charleston who had run into him in at some village. Bert France, from Spartanburg, was here with me last night as well as for a day about New Years. Never have seen Charlie Anderson but hope to run into him some of these times.
Glad to hear niece Olivia is still progressing so well – I can well imagine that she’s going to be a rather spirited young lady one of these days. Was rather reminded of Olivia the other night when having dinner at the apartment of a fellow officer who is so lucky as to have his wife with him and also a two month old daughter who was duly produced for my benefit.
Regarding cigars again, think, as before suggested, it will be better to send a box every 10 days as then, if one has lost, it doesn’t amount to so much.
Also continue to address everything to me at A.P.O. 702 (which means Army Post Office) until otherwise notified. Even if I am moved to another place, I’ll get mail quicker by having it come here and be forwarded than if there is no other address than A.E.F.
P.S. – Feb. 4 – 10 A.M. Found Mother’s letter of Dec. 26 on coming down this A.M. and glad you know more about what I’m doing – the pictures of pictures of Olivia were fine.
Thomas C Montgomery,
2nd Lt. Inf. U.S.R.