Fri. Nov. 30 [1917]

Dear Family

Your cable and several letters came this week, and I was glad to get them. It is
too bad that Everyone is so nervous at home because it is such a waste of
strength: I suppose the reason that people are calmer here is because they have been
at the war game so long that the novelty has more than worn off & it
has now settled down to a grim habit. As far as I can see no one is particularly
agitated; the women work hard as a matter of course & the men all look wan
& tired, but you don't seem to see much nervousness nor worry. I lunched
with Mme Lebon (friend of Mlle Pierrard's) this week and had a lovely time. Her
husband, an aristocratic elderly stout Frenchman, two daughters, and a young
lieutenant made up the party. The Lebons have two sons at the front, and the
fiancé of one daughter has just been recalled to instruct at Fontainbleau. I asked
them about war weddings etc. and they said that of course at the beginning
of the war there was not time because the men were mobilized so quickly,
& that after they left that first summer they were gone for a year, & that
that first year was so awful that now nothing seems hard. The men now
come back for ten days Every three or four months & their coming & going has
become so natural that although the partings are sad they are not heart
rending as they used to be. The French think us an extraordinary race in the
way our women go out to the front; they admire it extremely but it would never
occur to most of them to do such a thing themselves. Whenever I meet a French
man or woman I discuss politics just as hard as possible because I like to learn
about what is going on; one thing I discovered To-day which is interesting but
unpleasant. I was lunching with Mlle Pierrard's other friend, Mlle de Freshville, & her
father told me that the reason the government was is not more strict about meat etc. is
because the people would not stand for the sacrifice; he said that if statistics were
published, such as Mr. Hoover delights in giving us, the French people would simply
say, Oh, well, if things are as bad as that, let's have peace! I will tell you one thing for
sure & that is that the French are waiting for our men & once we get into the line they
are going to do precious little fighting; they realize perfectly that they could not have
stood the strain except for our entrance into the war, & they are planning to give us our
full share of the fun. It is Too bad that they have so little respect for their government
because apparently it is the principle of the people to always go directly against
anything the government proposes as a matter of habit as much as anything else.

I think my work is going to be very interesting: I am connected with a dispensary
for refugees, up to now managed by Mrs. Wharton but from lack of funds turned over by
her to the Red Cross. Our staff is made up of Dr. Cabot, Dr. Wade Wright and 2 nurses (all M.G.H.)
Miss Perkins & myself social workers, and one or two French nurses & doctors left over
from Mrs. Wharton's staff. Dr. Cabot is having the time of his life because he is going to
be able to put into practice all his ideas without being checked by a board of directors or
any other committee. If by the way you hear criticism of the Red Cross & its manner
of swallowing things you can attribute it in some manner to the following cause;
all organizations both French and American turn to the Red Cross for funds, & after proper
investigation the Red Cross gives a certain amount Either in money or clothes to those
which it considers well run; in some cases, when the current Expenses are
enormous like in Mrs. Wharton's work, the Red Cross may deem it only fair to cut
down or to reorganize on a less lavish scale, & of course when individuals who
have worked hard for three years are Told that their methods are not the best, they
naturally resent it, & then comes the bitterness. I am only telling you this as a
hint so that if you hear rumors you can perhaps explain away some of them.
I may not approve of everything our Red Cross does, but I do think it has
professionals at its head & I know that their business methods are more
sound and much less wasteful than a large part of the American war work that
one sees being done over here.

I just got a letter from Pa speaking about Dr. Mott's lecture on the Y.M.C.A.
work--you never can do Enough for the comfort or recreation of the soldiers & the
more individuals who take up the work the better. I think it is the one form
of service where coordination is not necessary & I will tell you why. I go twice
a week in the Evenings to Dr. Beekman's "Soldiers and Sailors Club"; my job is to
sit at the desk & take the new registrations because Dr. Beekman is usually
working in a back office. Sometimes the soldiers & sailors Talk to me; well, they
are always a very homesick bunch, & they come to this club because it is
quiet, warm, they can read, write, play pool or use the Victrola. From the
remarks of several I have gathered they do not care for the Y.M.C.A.; they
like this smaller & more individual affair better because it is less crowded
& seems to them more like home. That is just an example; there are

Enough Enlisted men around Paris or in many other camps & cities to use
up the devotion of as many civilians as care to give their time or money to
that particular cause. Everyone comes to France with the idea of finding conditions
absolutely different & their mode of life so exciting & full of Experiences that they will
not realize that they are far from home which is far from the truth. For instance, the men who rushed to
Enlist find that their duties over here are just as boring and just as much
routine as at home, but over here they are cut off from all their friends,
they do not understand the language, & in their free hours they have nothing
to do but roam the streets or get into mischief, so they are disappointed & restless.

I think I have talked politics enough. Thanksgiving Evening I went to
a wonderful party given by Mrs. Denny & Brigham. There were over a dozen
hydroplane boys in their hotel whom they wanted to Entertain so they asked
in about the same number of girls, & we had dancing, singing, games
etc. The party was as you may imagine a great success; one of the
boys told me Charlie Greenough might be in France so I am going to write
him a letter. That reminds me that if anyone at home who has boys
over here wants me to send them packages, or look them up, they can
just write to me & I would be glad to help them out. I am not sure how
much quicker bundles go from here than from U.S. but I should think
there would be less chance of their getting lost, & you can buy anything
you want in this city except American Tobacco or food. I know that there
are lots of boys coming & going all the time but unless I happen to meet
them by accident I don't always see them. I had a fine time with
the Ted Roosevelt s & Archie one night & I have played with Col. Kole [Colket ]Caner
several times. Now that I am living at the France et Choiseul I am
very central & can do much more than from Saint-Pères.

Hilda could not come because her work is so far off. But
Miss Biddle has kindly promised to look after me, & this is an
extraordinarily proper & respectable hotel. I have a nice little room
with an open fire place - a basket of wood costs me over 5 francs,
so I go Easy on fires, but nevertheless whenever I want to be I
can be as snug as cozy as can be. Mrs. Lear, a great friend of Miss
Schoff's, has an apartment next to me. I saw Miss Schoff off on the train this
A.M. which left at 8 o'clock. it certainly seemed as if she were going to the war
because the majority of passengers were poilus; it was cold & grey, & the
atmosphere seemed stern & very real; she is going to have a trip full of
excitement & Experiences because she is going to within six miles of the front,
she and another French lady being the first women allowed in cantine
work by the French army so near to the lines. The Y.M.C.A. uniform is
a dull blue grey green, very smart & attractive, trimmed with light blue &
with a cape of a darker shade--the monogram is embroidered in red silk,
& the whole effect is dignified, stylish & yet military.

It is astonishing the number of acquaintances you meet in Paris. Yesterday
I came across Lisa Stillman (Nassau) and a Peters girl, red headed & some
relation to Andrew, and there is hardly a day goes past that I don't get
some new clue about someone. There are some nice people working in
the Red Cross with whom I am on very friendly bowing relations, &
I have seen a good many of our boat companions off & on; the
trouble is of course that a great many people one sees in Paris are
just waiting for papers to go somewhere Else & it makes a
very distracting atmosphere, & you find that unless you buckle down
very hard you would be spending most of your time gadding.

The Women's War Relief Corps of the Red Cross has got an excellent
suite of rooms on the rue Cambon, one block from here, which is used
as a club, & I go there a great deal to write, or to work, because
just lately Miss Perkins & I have been making out a record card
for the dispensary. The Relief Corps is an ambitious concern; I have
never been quite able to make out who runs it or from where the
finances come, but anyway they are constantly giving little
Saturday & Sunday teas, which bring the workers together & are a
source of Entertainment for those who have no friends. On Thanksgiving
day we had a speech by Mayor Perkins, followed by movies & tea &
this P.M. we are to have a concert. It makes a pleasant
feeling between Everyone & it is very nice of the ladies to take so
much trouble.

I feel that this letter has started to reach the boring stage. I
forgot to say that Mlle Horter lunched with me the other day, &
Mlle Bonnefire is coming to tea To-day. Please don't think because
I only mention gaieties that I am not working. You can judge for
yourselves [welte?] whether Dr. Cabot is a hard task-master or not, &
once we get underway we Expect to be shorthanded.

Much love to all,


P.S. If you Ever want to send anything over, I think that good
American chocolates are more appreciated than anything else.