October 23, 1917

Dear Ma:-

It seems as though there had been some mistake in the cables. By that, I mean this: I cabled that I was in Paris and gave my address as care of the Am. Ex. Co., hoping that you would understand by that that I had finished with the section. A word to explain: my enlistment is not finished until the 28th, but I left on the 20th because I was due 8 days leave, supposedly, after three months, but I get it now instead.

But to get back to cables: this morning I received yours saying: "Have cabled twice. Enlist in whatever you want and cable decision" I only received one cable besides the one received today. Where the other is I don't know, unless it was sent out to the section and they have not hurried about forwarding it back here.

I also went to the Equitable Trust today and a very pleasant man told me that a transfer of 564 francs had been made from New York to my account here. I discovered it when I happened to ask him how much I had left, as I had not had an accounting with the bank since May. He said that on Oct. 19, 881 francs. I looked, I think, as though a bomb had fallen through the next room, as my check book was registering less than one-eighth of that. However, many thanks. I would not have cabled for money had I been notified by letter, as they usually do, I believe, but I did not hear and cabled before I went to the bank. I had to buy a number of things, among which a pair of trousers was the biggest article, as soon as I arrived. However, to get away from pecuniary matters.

I have a number of little bits of interest to tell. Supper with Mme. Lestelle last night. My new job. A word about Mrs. Montgomery's son which may explain why he started that little campaign, and the Etats - Unis. To begin with the last. It is right near the Opera and four of us who came in together are on the same floor. Besides, nearly all the rest of the hotel is full of old ambulance men and two or three others arrived today from the section. I have a room with another boy, George Macnamara, a Cornell boy who is studying for medical degree. He wants to work at the big American hospital here and study at the Ecole de Medecin of the Paris University at the same time. He knows hardly any French I and see that I am going to keep in fine practice acting as interpreter. We pay five francs a day a piece and have a clean, airy, electric-lighted room with sun in the afternoon.

Montgomery has another room with Burnside, a Chicago boy, but the former and I don't get along very well, as he has a way of making sarcastic remarks when anyone else wants to express an opinion. He also has a bank account of some 2000 francs and wonders why we all don't want to do anything else besides go to the Folies Bigen and other vaudeville. I went one night here and I never saw anything so rotten in all my life. Besides, he can't understand how people can enjoy themselves in other ways than he does, which sometimes makes things unpleasant. I also have discovered since he has been here in Paris that he is particularly fond of gin phizzes which I believe are not considered strong, but that might explain Mr. Mont.'s letter.

As to my new job, I have a choice, but will undoubtedly do as I cabled - enter the automobile service attached to the aviation. I went to aviation headquarters this morning and saw two lieutenants. After I told the second that I knew quite a bit of French - and I do really get along very comfortably - and that I had been at the front, knew quite a bit of Paris and liked mechanical things, he said he could fit me in very comfortably. Thereupon, I was sent to see a sergeant who is more or less like Walsh and very jolly. He said they were getting a lot more touring cars (we call them staff cars) in a few days and they also had a number of motorcycles. Of course, they needed drivers; pay 100 - 120 good U. S. dollars per month - and engaged not with the government, but as private chaffeur. In other words, you don't have to sign with the U. S. Army for the war, but you wear the army uniform and are considered part of the U. S. A. He was very nice, took my name and address and told me I would surely get a place as they wanted to accommodate all the old ambulance fellows they could. Now, I am desparately learning Parisian rues, boulevards and avenues so as to be able to do the best I can and I hope to begin in four or five days.

As to my dinner last night with Mme. Lestelle, it was pleasant, to say the least. Robert Neeser and a lady friend of his, and a naval lieutenant were there besides. Mme. Lestelle said that you had written her a very nice note in July and sent some sugar, but the latter had never come. I also gathered another bit of information. All sugar is to be suppressed in December and no baking powder can be had at all. She has been so awfully nice to me that I thought I would write and tell you all this. You might send me some and let me take it up to her.

It was very peculiar to have this naval lieutenant and all the others ask questions. He was most tremendously shocked when I told him how some towns and hospitals had been bombarded. And he wanted to know about shells and gas and all the rest which was as much part of the day almost as washing or dressing. Here, it seems awfully quiet and just as an example of how I got into habits, I was walking down the Avenue de 1'Opera yesterday and felt something bumping my hip. It was something in my pocket, but I reached around and tried to arrange my gas mask which, of course, wasn't there, but after one has carried one in the same place every day for five months, you almost miss it.

As to me, I am fine and enjoying the fact that I am here thoroughly. I wish mail would begin to arrive regularly, for it seems ages since I heard from you all, but Robert Neeser said the last mail that he received at the embassy was way back the end of Sept.

I hope everything is all right at home and my telegrams didn't cause any worry. One thing I can't do is convey an idea by cable.

Harvey

NEXT LETTER