January 6- 1917.
On this day your birthday I would write you a few lines.
To-night I am at this hotel about thirty-five miles from the front and to-morrow I continue my journey and expect to get to the camp of my section in time for lunch. For I am now on my way back to my section, having been on permission. I had a permission of six days, but as the traveling time does not count, and one is able to work in a few extra days. I have really been away from the section about twelve days.
My permission I spent in the southern part of France at Cannes, Nice and Monte-Carlo. We get free transportation, so all I had to pay was my hotel bill. I spent four days at Cannes, and a day at Nice and one at Monte-Carlo. At Cannes, there were two nice girls from Montreal, Canada, that I had the pleasure of meeting. These girls, in order to do a little in this great fight are nursing in a hospital at Cannes, at their own expense. They are from good families in Montreal and they treated me very well. As they had an apartment I took several meals with them and was also invited out to several nice teas with them with some of their friends. One of them knitted me a fine big pair of sox [sic] and it was surely nice to have the company of some real American girls after having been at the front for three and a half months.
The day at Nice I spent very quietly, being there on New Year’s Eve. I surely missed the customary rice “gröd” that we always have at home on that night and I should have liked to have been with you. At Monte-Carlo the scenery was fine, most beautiful buildings with wonderful landscape gardening. There, in the theatre of the casino I heard a very fine concert by a symphony orchestra, that I enjoyed very much. Altogether I had a very pleasant permission for the sunshine and warmth of southern France was a pleasant change from the rain and mud of the front. But now, having had my permission I am glad to get back to the front again, where a person must always, to the best of his ability, act the part of a man.
Christmas day, the day before I went on permission I spent at the front. Part of the day I spent in the city of Verdun, and there in the evening we had a wonderful Christmas dinner. Thanks to friends of the section in Paris we had turkey, nuts, fruits, champagne, cakes and to finish off all, a big plum pudding. I think that good meal kept many of our members from being homesick.
Although you will recieve [sic] these lines a little late, I send you best birthday greetings, and hope that you may enjoy many more happy birthdays. At this time let me thank you for the many things you have done for me. Among other things you have seen fit to give me a college education, which I am beginning to appreciate, for it helps me in innumerable ways. For instance, when one is tired of the ordinary things of life, I find a great deal of pleasure in reading certain books that a course in literature at school has helped me to appreciate. Only to-day I was reading that peaceful book by Goldsmith “The Vicar of Wakefield” and I derived a great deal of pleasure and, I trust, benefit, from it. It is to be regretted that so many of us are anxious to read the popular works of fiction, while we neglect the works of our old masters of literature. Now, I usually have in the spacious pockets of my uniform, some book or volume of verses, which I may read whenever I have a few minutes, and would otherwise be idling.
With very best love to all and again wishing you many happy returns of this day, believe me,
Ever your affection son,
Section Sanitaire Americaine No. 5,
Title: Letter 15, Luther Nelson to Dad
Date: 1917 January 6
Collection: RG1/051, Luther Nelson Collection, 1916-1918
Repository: Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs
Creator: Nelson, Luther
Publisher: Digitized by AFS staff in 2016.
Rights Statement: This item cannot be reproduced outside the guidelines of United States Fair Use (17 U.S.C., Section 107) without advance permission of the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs. In the event that this letter becomes a source for publication, a credit line indicating the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs is required.
Digital ID: 1_051_15