March 16, 1919.

“Have just had a long walk this P.M. down along the Seine and back up the Champs Elysee at my office…. There is quite a crowd on the Champs Elysee this afternoon as it is a beautiful Sunday but it’s not often that I see it these days as am usually at St. Cloud getting better exercise at golf. However, today it’s rather cold and cloudy so didn’t go out; therefore this walk in the course of which I saw the President for the first time since his return. The Place des Etats-Units [sic], where his new abode is situated, is just a two or three minute walk from our apartment and I often hit through there going towards the river. Was just turning into it when his car came rolling by with a big army Cadillac just behind and its usual load of secret service men. Mrs. Wilson was with him as usual when he goes out.

“Speaking of walking, now that the weather is getting decent again, I usually leave the office in time before lunch to take a turn down through the Avenue du Bois de Boulougne on the way to the apartment and have a look at the noontime parade as well as getting a breath of air. It’s quite the thing among fashionable people to stroll there from about 11:30 to 12:30 every fine day and it’s quite amusing to see the varied costumes, dogs, etc., for you know they don’t believe in going out without their dogs.”

He turns then to a trip he believes Mabel will appreciate perhaps more than his Mother, one which gives a rather clear picture of the war and it’s effects:

Had a trip on Friday which I know you would have enjoyed, going to Chateau-Thierry, La Fere-en-Tardenois, Fismes, Rheims, Epernay, and back through Chateau-Thierry and Meaux to Paris, a total run of about 190 miles, all in one day. Had some claims to investigate at Chateau-Thierry and a lease to see about at La Fere so ran on to Rheims while that close to have a good look at the cathedral. It is still capable of restoration in spite of the number of shells which hit it but it will be a long job. The old caretaker told us that never a shell exploded inside, all having exploded on contact or having been “duds.”  Several of the duds have been picked out of the walls or floor and are now on exhibition. The city of Rheims is very badly damaged by shell fire, there being very few houses I saw which had not been hit at least once, and it’s not such a small town either, having a population of 100,000 before the war. It is most interesting to see all of this country, the shell holes and trenches, empty shell cases and other salvage being still on the ground. Our own troops fought through a lot of this country and in passing you see the graveyards fairly often where the Graves Registration Service has assembled our dead.

This was my second time up in that country, having been through part of it in mid-September but didn’t get as far north the other time, turning back south of Epernay instead of going on towards Rheims. The villages that were badly shot up are still pretty well deserted but guess the people will be getting back to their homes now that the milder weather is coming on.

“Went down to the Gymnase last night to see ‘Le Secret’ by [Henri] Bernstein…  have never yet been over to the Odeon—which is a very famous old theater in the Latin Quarter—but hope to drift over there some night soon.”

Transcribed Letter

[American Expeditionary Forces letterhead]

 

Hq.Dist.of Paris, A.P.O.702

March 16th, 1919.

 

Dear Mabel: –

Your letter of Feb. 24th reached me yesterday and am mighty glad to hear that Mother is still improving. Hope you are staying at St. Augustine until she is in thoroughly good shape again. Was interested in your saying that Genevieve Wilcox is coming over and hope to see her when she is in Paris.

Have just had a long walk this P.M. down along the Seine and back up the Champs Elysee to my office, our office building being, as believe I’ve written before, directly on the Place de l’Etoile and the Arch de Triomphe. There is quite a crowd on the Champs Elysee this afternoon as it is a beautiful Sunday but it’s not often that I see it these days as am usually at St. Cloud getting better exercise at golf. However, today it’s rather cold and cloudy so didn’t go out; therefore this walk in the course of which I saw the President for the first time since his return. The Place des Etats-Units [sic], where his new abode is situated, is just a two or three minute walk from our apartment and I often hit through there going towards the river. Was just turning into it when his car came rolling by with a big army Cadillac just behind and its usual load of secret service men. Mrs. Wilson was with him as usual when he goes out.

Speaking of walking, now that the weather is getting decent again, I usually leave the office in time before lunch to take a turn down through the Avenue du Bois de Boulougne on the way to the apartment and have a look at the noontime parade as well as getting a breath of air. It’s quite the thing among fashionable people to stroll there from about 11:30 to 12:30 every fine day and it’s quite amusing to see the varied costumes, dogs, etc., for you know they don’t believe in going out without their dogs.

Had a trip on Friday which I know you would have enjoyed, going to Chateau-Thierry, La Fere-en-Tardenois, Fismes, Rheims, Epernay, and back through Chateau-Thierry and Meaux to Paris, a total run of about 190 miles, all in one day. Had some claims to investigate at Chateau-Thierry and a lease to see about at La Fere so ran on to Rheims while that close to have a good look at the cathedral. It is still capable of restoration in spite of the number of shells which hit it but it will be a long job. The old caretaker told us that never a shell exploded inside, all having exploded on contact or having been “duds.”  Several of the duds have been picked out of the walls or floor and are now on exhibition. The city of Rheims is very badly damaged by shell fire, there being very few houses I saw which had not been hit at least once, and it’s not such a small town either, having a population of 100,000 before the war. It is most interesting to see all of this country, the shell holes and trenches, empty shell cases and other salvage being still on the ground. Our own troops fought through a lot of this country and in passing you see the graveyards fairly often where the Graves Registration Service has assembled our dead.

This was my second time up in that country, having been through part of it in mid-September but didn’t get as far north the other time, turning back south of Epernay instead of going on towards Rheims. The villages that were badly shot up are still pretty well deserted but guess the people will be getting back to their homes now that the milder weather is coming on.

Not much other news with me this week. Went down to the Gymnase last night to see “Le Secret” by [Henri] Bernstein and enjoyed it thoroughly as it was awfully well acted, as, for that matter, are all of the French plays one sees.  Have never yet been over to the Odeon—which is a very famous old theater in the Latin Quarter—but hope to drift over there some night soon.”

Hoping this will find you and Mother both at home and well rested,

Love to all,

Carl [signed]

 

Thomas C. Montgomery [signed]

Captain, A.S.C.

 

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