About Me

Born August 4, 1894 in Auburn, New York to William and Alice Beardsley Woodruff Hills. Younger brother Carroll Beardsley Hills and younger sister Mary Day Hills. Educated at St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire and Princeton University, class of 1917

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Letter dated September 8, 1917

Dear Mother-:

Here I am back from “permission” and the division still on “repos”, however we go back again into action on Monday or Tuesday, I understand a little to the left of the places we have just been. I am not nearly as keen to get back as I might be or have been before for I have quite satisfied my curiosity as to what war looks like and feels like. Still it will be a change from this wonderful sleepy old town in the middle of Valois where we are now. The place is the most medieval thing you ever saw in your life.The streets are about eight feet wide and run all every which way. Most of the buildings absolutely have been there for over eight hundred years and some even longer. The middle of the town is on the top of a hill where the center is marked by a peach of a cathedral and it slopes down on all sides. It is without doubt the most picturesque and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been or heard about in my life. More than that too, it is large enough to have very fair shops and an inn which has managed to preserve in its cellars some of the wine of ages past. However, as you can well imagine the whole atmosphere of the place is sleepy and settled to an extent which palls. It will be a good place to live when one becomes old and wants to really settle down. Until you have been here you can’t in the slightest degree appreciate the meaning of that phrase. People settled here when France was still Roman and are still living in the same house.

But to talk of things more current. The soldiers are always giving entertainments and yesterday at one of them Maurice danced with Florence whom he had gotten the general’s permission to have out from Paris.(Maurice Mouvet and Florence Walton, Americans, were an internationally popular dancing couple at the time.) In spite of the fact that the music was a French band augmented by clarions and cors de chasse (bugles and hunting horns) they got away with it in fine style and the soldiers cheered loudly if for nothing else out of politeness.After dinner a few of us and some chasseur officers had a huge party with F & M. Every one kissed F goodbye and put her on the train back to Paris. That was just one day. Every day the soldiers are staging something. The other day it was a circus and one of the best you ever saw. There are band concerts three times a day and in fact everything to give them recreation and keep up their spirits.

I had really a wonderful permission (leave). Stanley (Metcalf) and I made our headquarters in Paris and as a number of people from the section were there at the same time you could always find some one to do just what you felt like. I traveled round quite a lot going to Versailles, Blois, etc., and enjoyed myself thoroughly. The more you see of France the better you like it and the French people. This is about all now.

With love, Paul

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