May 11, 1918. This is his “Mother’s Day” letter. The number of apartment dwellers is up to eleven, but the apartment is still a success.

Tonight for instance we had a nice dinner and then adjourned to the sitting room—after getting out of “Sam Browns” and blouses and into sweaters and slippers—where some have been chatting and some reading. Now I’m in the “petit salon” next to the “grand salon” or sitting room where quiet must be maintained, while some of the bunch are beginning to get “the Saturday night bath.” This latter is an institution here perforce as, owing to scarcity and high price of coal, most landlords and hotels will give you from May 1st to November 1st only on Saturdays and Sundays. Our apartment is located just off the “Étoile” where the Arch of Triumph is, in a very nice quarter….

Monty describes more of his daily routine either because his direct discussion with the Censor has loosened his pen, or because he is seeing it for the first time in the good weather and putting pieces together leading to the juxtaposition of this work and the situation of the men in the trenches along a front sometimes less than sixty miles away.

Yesterday I got away from my office a bit earlier than usual so walked out [along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées] and, except for the preponderance of men in uniform and army automobiles passing up and down, it was hard to realize that the trenches were only sixty miles away. I have grown so used to seeing the officers of the different allied armies that I think little of it but suppose you would find it most interesting and, after these months, I even am struck by it once in a while. First perhaps you’ll see a British staff car with the officers having the crimson band and gold visor on their caps which gives their staff officers the slang name of “brass hats”. Then you’ll see the blue of the French, the field green of the Italians, our own khaki and occasional Belgians and Portuguese—a most interesting picture when one stops to think of it.

Or maybe he has gotten into the mind of his “chauffeur of the past several weeks” who is “fresh from the States and frankly interested in all he saw. I’ve had much amusement from watching him looking around as he drove and taking in all the sights—and he surely has many amusing questions.”

He reports a letter from Kate that arrived in “only 18 days from Columbia here, which was pretty good I think.”

He dwells for a moment on Marion, which “must be pretty now and would surely like to see it.” His mother and sister Mabel have been “keeping busy” and are involved in undefined “war activities.” He regrets that “being so far away” means that “I can’t help in any way.”

However, some one of these days when the Bosche has been put where “this won’t happen again”, I hope to be back and take these cares off your shoulders. Meanwhile, on this “Mother’s Day Eve”, just want you to know that the older I grow in years and wisdom, the more I appreciate all you’ve done for and been to me and being at this distance brings it home to me more than ever. So with lots of love and hoping to be with you again when the next Mother’s Day comes,

“Your red headed Son.”

 

Transcribed Letter:

c/o Q.M.U.S. Troops,

A.P.O.702, A. E. F.

May 11, 1918

Dear Mother –

It’s Saturday night and as I probably shan’t have time to write tomorrow, shall write my regular letter and my “Mother’s Day” letter at one and the same time.

Have surely been getting lots of enjoyment out of our apartment – as I think the whole crowd has. Tonight for instance we had a nice dinner and then adjourned to the sitting room – after getting out of “Sam Browns” and blouses and into sweaters and slippers – where some have been chatting and some reading. Now I am in the “petit salon” next to the “grand salon”, or sitting room, the former being reserved as a writing room where quiet must be maintained, while some of the bunch are beginning to get “the Saturday night bath”. This latter is an institution here perforce as, owing to scarcity and high price of coal, most landlords in hotels will give you hot water from May 1st to November 1st only on Saturdays and Sundays.

Our apartment is located just off the “Etoile” where the Arch of Triumph is, in a very nice quarter and only five minutes walk from the Bois de Boulogne. Going to and from work now I take the Avenue des Champs Elysees, the most beautiful Street in Paris and one of the most beautiful there is. Yesterday I got away from my office a bit earlier than usual so walked out this street and, except for the preponderance of men in uniform and army automobiles passing up and down, it was hard to realize that the trenches were only 60 miles away. I have grown so used to seeing the officers of the different allied armies that I think little of it but suppose you would find it most interesting and, after these months, I even am struck by it once in a while. First perhaps you’ll see a British staff car with staff officers having the crimson band and gold visor on their caps which gives their staff officers the slang name of “brass hats”. Then you’ll see the blue of the French, the field green of the Italians, our own khaki and occasional Belgians and Portuguese – a most interesting picture when one stops to think of it. My chauffeur for the past several weeks was fresh from the states and frankly interested in all he saw. I’ve had much amusement from watching him looking around as he drove and taking in all the sights – and he surely has many amusing questions.

Had a letter from Kate this week of April 20th only 18 days from Columbia here which was pretty good I think. Enjoyed it very much and will write her direct when I get a little more time. Also had a letter from Horton – have rather a hunch his he’s either over here or on his way by now and hope I’ll run into him some of these times. Just yesterday I saw one of my law school classmates and one is continually meeting somebody you knew or whose friends you knew back home.

Know Marion must be pretty now and would surely like to see it. you and Mabel seem to be keeping busy as usual from your letters but I don’t want you to work too hard on these war activities for you have enough worries of your own besides them. One of the hard things of about being so far away is that I can’t help you in any way with your affairs. However some one of these days when the Bosche has been put where “this won’t happen again”, I hope to be back and take those cares off your shoulders. Meanwhile, on this “Mother’s Day Eve”, just want you to know that the older I grow in years and wisdom, the more I appreciate all you’ve done for and been to me and being at this distance brings it home to me more than ever. So with lots of love and hoping to be with you again when the next Mother’s Day comes,

Your redheaded Son

 

Thomas C. Montgomery

2nd Lt Inf. R.C.

 

 

 

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