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 26, 1917

Dear Mother -:
Again we have changed places and now are in a part of France the most miserable imaginable. There are absolutely no large towns and the country is bleak and absolutely desolate with great forests and great open places where nothing grows. Worse than that heaven only knows how long we are going to be here.

The only good thing I have been able to discover was that last night when we arrived after a three days march I found here waiting for me fourteen letters from home. It was wonderful as they were the first news I had had from home or from anywhere for that matter ever since I became a member of the American Expeditionary Force. I have been what one might term isolated, arriving as it were at an opportune or rather an inopportune moment as it happened.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the letters. I sorted them all out according to their dates and have been ever since yesterday evening when they came till now which is the evening in reading them At first when I began I was worried that you had not heard from me but towards the end it seemed as tho a number of my letters had eventually arrived. I rather missed out on my system of numbering but I will try to begin it again now that I am settled down for a little time. It has worked wonderfully with your letters. By the way, one of your letters came that was dated Aug. 11 with a picture of the two Danes (dogs –Ed.) on the lawn which was very good.

I wrote you in one letter that I got the telegram you sent me on my birthday but evidently that letter never did arrive. It was great of you to send it and also the cables congratulating me on my commission which came yesterday with the other things.

The little sweater which you sent me is the must useful thing I have. The American uniform is too tight to get any heavy clothes underneath and that is just the thing as it is warm and takes up very little space. I haven’t yet put the hood or the wristlets into operation but I imagine that as it gets colder they will be just the thing.

I wish you could see the place I am living now; you certainly would smile. The town as I told you is practically nothing and needless to say the dwellings correspond. Another lieutenant and myself live in a large stone house the sole occupant of which is a woman eighty-five years old with a face like a withered apple. We have a huge bedroom with feather beds that you sink out of sight into but it is too cold to stay in and the life of the place centers in the kitchen.To look about the kitchen no one in the world could be made to believe that he was alive in the A.D. 1917. There is no stove. One side of the whole room is a huge fireplace with pots and things hanging down and a little fire in one corner. Right on top of the fire in the fireplace sits the old woman who I am sure is a witch. She certainly looks the part and is continually fooling with herbs and making messes in a big black pot and swearing perfectly vilely. She is honored to death to have Americans in her house for the first time. The kitchen which was what I began to tell about is floored with flagstones, roofed with hewn beams and walled with tile. Altogether taking everything into consideration including the old witch it is the most medieval thing I ever inhabited. Our only light is needless to say candles and I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up some morning and find all the guns and men gone and a knight in armor tooling down the road. It is a locality as apart from the newer France as anything could possibly be. As far as I can gather the only sport seems to be hunting wild boar and wolves with spears and dogs. Imagine it all.

I have got to stop now to do a few things but I will write you again soon. With love, Paul

1 comment:

Lisa said...

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