March 3, 1918.

On March 1, 1918, Senator Ed Smith’s office forwards a letter from the War Department telling Mrs. Annie S. Montgomery “There is no reason apparent to this office why Lieutenant Montgomery should not receive and answer mail addressed as above.” By now, though, mail is apparently flowing again though the War Department would have misled Mrs. Montgomery since they say her son is reachable as infantry, unassigned at General Headquarters. It has been three months now since he reached Paris and sits behind a desk.

On March 3rd, Monty is responding to sister Bell’s “long and interesting letter of Jan. 17th” that he had received the previous day. His first letter to her, he goes through the censorship issue: “though I don’t think telling you what I am doing would give any military information, I don’t care to take a chance on it.”

“…guess you know by now that I’ve seen Aubrey Wheeler and Dick Johnson.”

Despite earlier assurances: “It snowed all day yesterday and this morning there is slush and mud everywhere and the skies are still gray.”

He enjoys the city. “I never get tired of the views one gets around this city.” He’s often out there on foot or by car: “I’ve seen many parts and come in contact with many people that a tourist wouldn’t have seen in a thousand years.” He describes the views and the grayish uniformity of the buildings but notes Sacré Coeur as the exception. It is built of “nearly white stone. The other afternoon I was coming in from St. Ouen (one of the suburbs) when I got a wonderful view of it with the sun behind it—it seemed more like some dream than something actual.”

“Am now figuring with several other officers on getting an apartment. We can buy most of our staple groceries from the commissary and so, even after hiring a cook and another servant can live much cheaper than at a hotel.” He worries though that the step towards permanence will jinx the effort—“about the time we get comfortably settled some of us will be transferred elsewhere but will have to take a chance on that.”

He closes with the hope that neither her husband nor daughter will be too distracting so she can write him again soon.

Transcription:

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

March 3rd, 1918

 

Dear Bell: –

Your long and interesting letter of Jan. 17th reached me yesterday afternoon and also during the week received a muffler from Annie Covington–please pass on to her my grateful thanks for saying

As to my not giving you any facts about what I’m doing, suppose by this time you have received several letters which gave you much more of an idea than previously. As to mentioning your work, that is absolutely “defendu” by the censor. Of course, only a small percentage of mail which bears an officers O.K. is opened and that is why some of the news you speak of went through but, though I don’t think telling you what I’m doing would give any military information, I don’t care to take a chance on it.

As to news about the other boys from home, guess you know by this time that I’ve seen Aubrey Wheeler and Dick Johnson. Aubrey wasn’t here Xmas as you think but some two weeks before that. When I got Dick’s wire that he was coming up for Xmas I wired Aubrey but he couldn’t make it and has since written me that he now has as much chance of getting to Paris on leave as he has of getting to Berlin for a week end. Munroe Johnson has also been in Paris since I’ve been here but it was in December when he didn’t know I was here so I didn’t get to see him. Dick was here three days at Xmas and was with me at my hotel which made it much more pleasant for both of us at that season. I’ve also seen John David and Leslie Lane from Dillon a time or two since coming to France.

March has surely “come in like a lion” here after a mild and pleasant February. It snowed all day yesterday and this morning there is slush and mud everywhere and the skies are still grey. However a Parisian with whom I am closely associated in my work tells me that this is the last cold weather we’ll have and spring will really be coming on in the very few days now. Have noticed a few of the trees trying to bud during this past week. I never get tired of the views one gets around the city. My work takes me all over it and consequently I’ve seen many parts and come in contact with many people that a tourist wouldn’t have seen in a thousand years. All of the buildings, unless quite new, have a greyish color and are generally of the same or very nearly the same height, all of which gives a uniformity you never see back home. One notable exception is the Cathedral de Sacré Coeur on the heights of Montmartre which is built of nearly white stone. The other afternoon I was coming in from St. Ouen (one of the suburbs) when I got a wonderful view of it with the sun behind it–it seemed more like some dream then something actual.

I note that you speak of Kenly’s finally being in training and suppose there must be a letter or letters in between which tell me about it but which have not yet come to hand. You must have received some of my letters giving my new address as A.P.O. 702 by the first or second week in February and probably this next week some home letters should begin to come through with that address. Probably when that happens other letters addressed to me Hq. L. of C. and otherwise will attach themselves and finally reach me. My address when I cabled in December was Hq. L. of C. and also A.P.O. 702 but when Hq. left I remained and therefore it was necessary to change my address with you. As it is now, anything addressed Hq. L. of C. goes there first and is forwarded to me which delays it anywhere from a day or two to a week or more. Anything you send me addressed to 702 should however come straight through without any delays, and that will be my address until further notice.

Am now figuring with several other officers on getting an apartment. We can buy most of our staple groceries from the commissary and so, even after hiring a cook another servant, can live much cheaper than at a hotel. It will also be much more comfortable and homelike. Am afraid that about the time we get comfortably settled some of us will be transferred elsewhere but will have to take a chance on that.

Hope you’ll find time from the distractions of a husband and daughter to write again soon as enjoyed your letter thoroughly.

Love to all,

Carl

 

O.K.

Thomas C. Montgomery

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

 

 

February 4, 1918. “I think they rather prefer going in the ‘Sortie’ and going out the ‘Entrée’”

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.”

 

transcription

[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.

With love,

Carl

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.

O.K.

Thomas C Montgomery,

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