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

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Letter dated November 15, 1917

Dear Mother-:
I have now been in the American army long enough to feel that I am quite a part of it, and moreover, being a part of that, a part of nothing else in the world, for never in my life did I feel more out of things and away from home. Since I have been out I have not had one word from home, from Paris or from anywhere. American efficiency isn’t all that it might be just yet as concerns the incoming mail and as regards the outgoing if it works the same way by now you probably think I am dead. Anyway I have written quite a lot lately to you, Carroll and Nannoo and maybe some day they will arrive.

As you can well imagine we did not stay long in the pleasant place we first arrived in but moved out into a much more disagreeable locality.

I am at present billeted with a charming old French couple who look after me as if I was their son and together with my orderly reduce living to a matter of doing the things you can’t tell other people to do for you. I have a great room in about the best house in town.

The bed is a huge four-poster affair hung with yellow silk curtains. The rest of the room is all long mirrors, long windows, blue paper and a marble fireplace. Very pretty but not practical since I don’t believe that for a moment since I arrived has the temperature been much over freezing in spite of the fire which I have burning practically all the time. The town itself is horrible, about 1,200 inhabitants in about two acres of stone buildings that stick up out of a sea of mud and look as though they were built at some antediluvian date. They are old but not attractive, so in fact quite the opposite, like some people.

All the inhabitants seem to be of two varieties, very dirty children and very dirty toothless old ladies.

Imagine a town like that, add a few hundred odd cows for scenic effect and then pile on top of the whole, suddenly, a battalion of heavy field artillery on the move to stay only about a week and you have our present situation. The height of luxury in some things and the height of misery in others. Just where we will go next no one knows but I only hope it will be somewhere warm for the rest of the winter. It isn’t that I am cold but simply that I’m never quite warm enough. That sounds queer but it is perfectly true. There isn’t a great deal more to tell you just now and besides I have got some wild duty to perform just now such as seeing if all the horses have their drink of water before they go to bed or all the men are tucked in or something. We have some of the craziest things to do you can possibly imagine. Good night now.With love, Paul

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