August 7, 1918 to Mother.

[“Had two letters from you last week, both written from Baltimore…. That was the first I knew of Kate’s having gone to the hospital—hope she is over the operation and getting along fine now.”]

“Big Bertha” opened up on us again day before yesterday, the Bosche showing his spite I suppose at his defeat by our recent offensive.” He describes this as the “Parisian viewpoint,” complete with a depiction of a people who “shrug their shoulders with an ‘I should worry expression’ and go about their business as usual.” He points his mother to articles in the Saturday Evening Post by Irving Cobb[1] and George Patullo[2] that cover the gun and the Gothas “which describe the whole thing much better than I can.” The tenor is that the “big gun does very little damage and now one pays it very little attention.”

Nevertheless, he seems news starved, notes that the Saturday Evening Post is not as regular as it had been and asks his mother if she will “subscribe for it for me.” Apparently, even his lady at the news kiosk whom he has bribed “to save me one copy of each issue doesn’t always get them.” He feels the subscription will “come through where the cigars wouldn’t.” As for cigars, “there has been no difficulty about buying them at the commissary since about Feb. 1st.”

He now has a standing invitation for Saturday lunch with the “Frenchman I wrote you about last week.” “I’m simply to telephone if I can’t come.” He has learned meantime through “an American lawyer” that the Frenchman is known as “’Le roi de margarine’” and apparently among the richest men in France[3]. “Had rather supposed from one thing and another that he wasn’t at all short of Francs but didn’t know he went that high financially—regardless of his cash he is one of the most charming Frenchmen I’ve met over here and with a very keen sense of humor.”

The weather has a “touch of Autumn in it and the trees are beginning to lose their leaves.”

[1] Irvin S. Cobb was a Saturday Evening Post reporter who covered WWI. A humorist, short story author and a familiar figure on the lecture circuit, he was sometimes compared with Mark Twain. In 1915, he wrote a book Paths of Glory about his war experience. Monty reports attending a lecture in his final letter home, January 1920.

[2] George Pattullo was a fiction writer and War Correspondent with the Saturday Evening Post who later broke the Sergeant Alvin York story. Pattullo’s article “The Second Elder Gives Battle,” which reported York’s one-man victory against the Germans (October 8, 1918), appeared in the April 26, 1919 edition of the Post. York became a hero and an American sensation overnight as the result of Pattullo’s article.

[3] Auguste Pellerin (1853-1929) made his money in margarine. At the end of his business career Pellerin had established plants in France, Germany, Denmark, England, Sweden and Norway. He served as French Consul to Norway from 1906-1929. Pelerin was a friend of Cézanne and Rodin and an active and avid collector of art. Pellerin, who commissioned a portrait by Cézanne (1899) and two by Matisse (1916, 1917), maintained a significant art collection that contained paintings by Corot, Manet and as many as 150 works by Cezanne at one time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s