Dear Mother -:
I haven’t written much lately simply because I haven’t been able to. I have been in the last two weeks transferred three times and besides that we have been going thru what is known as intensive training which doesn’t half describe just how intensive it is. You get up at 5, are on the road by 6:30, do not get back some times till 8:30. Then have critiques by the commanding officer and rest of the night you have to eat supper, sleep and eat breakfast. Christmas day I did have off but I couldn’t write then. Low wasn’t the word for the way I felt. I wanted to get off by myself and just do nothing. I don’t believe I was ever so close to being downright homesick in my life. I also got on that day five letters from you, Day (his younger sister – Ed.) and Nannoo ( grandmother –Ed) all written on or about Thanksgiving day. It was wonderful of you to send me the check and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all you are doing for me.
Christmas here reminded me of nothing so much as that little poem by Kipling which ends “Another mocking Christmas past.” It wasn’t another and I hope there never will be another, but I think I crammed enough sensations into that one to last me some time.
Last Sunday I got Sunday leave and managed by traveling for two nights to spend it in Paris. I saw Mildred Woodruff and took her to tea. I also bought some Christmas presents and spent all my spare moments in a hot bath which may not be good for the constitution but certainly cheers up the inner man.
I sent Nannoo some more war posters such as I sent you a time ago. To you I sent a picture which I had been admiring ever since I first saw it about six months ago and due to the expense of which will have to do as a present to both you and Papa. I know he will like it, tho for you it may be a little militaristic. To Day I sent a little arrangement for her desk and to Carroll (brother –Ed) since I could find nothing sendable that he would like a simple check.
The marriage epidemic in Auburn certainly is the most screaming thing I ever heard of in my life and my frank advice to Carroll is to get somebody and settle down right off or he certainly will be left, while myself I have already put down as a hopeless bachelor with the only hope being to catch some one here or come home and be content with being my friends’ children’s “Uncle Paul” the rest of my life.
The Christmas books which you sent me and which I am wild to see haven’t arrived yet but “c’est la guerre” and perhaps if I stay long enough in one place they may eventually find me. Most other things have, tho some of them have been as much as five months in doing it, like the Brainard cigarettes which if I remember rightly started off in July and which I received exactly a week ago. The box is still half full in front of me so you can see that things ordinarily do come out all right tho some times it takes a terrifically long time.
Your cable sent Xmas came yesterday and I only wish I could have sent you one too but the lines for all greetings were closed for us. It cheered me up quite a lot and I appreciate it more than I can tell you. I wrote Morgan Harjes (the volunteer ambulance service attached to the French army in which Paul served before the arrival of American forces) to telegraph you at the first opportunity.
Your list of questions too I filled out and mailed to you today and hope they give you the required information. This is about all there is to say now or rather all that I have time to say. Good by. Lots of love, Paul.
(Those questions, a typewritten list, referred to in the last lines above, and Paul’s handwritten, mostly one-word replies, here in italics: --Ed)
Is Hunt (Talmage, Princeton friend with whom Paul Hills joined the Morgan Harjes ambulance service in April, 1917) with you? No
Has he returned to America? No. Is in legation
Did you receive cable sent you on our birthday? Yes
Have you received cigars sent by Mildred? Two days ago
Have you received sweater and socks sent by Alice Beardsley? Yes
Have you ever received cigarettes sent by Mrs. Brainard? Yes
Did you receive sweater and wristlets sent last August? Yes
How many times did you receive tobacco from Benson & Hedges from London? Once
Did you receive cigarettes sent by us for your birthday sent from here last of July? Yes
Is there any chance of your being sent to America in three or four months? Not a great deal now
Have you a moustache? No
Are you thin? No
Are you fat? No
Do you want any food sent you? No
Any sweet chocolate? No
Any warm clothes? No
Any underwear? No
Are you with any friends? Not old friends
Are the officers French or American? American
Are the officers a fine lot of men? Yes
How often do you get a furlough? Never a long one
Do you speak much French? No
Are the commands given in French? No
Did you receive cable sent you by Papa when we knew of your Commission? Yes