July 25- 1916
Dear sister Selma:
I recieved [sic] your very welcome letter yesterday and was very glad to hear from you again. I hope by this time that you have recieved [sic] my previous letter and also I wrote a letter to the folks, which I think they will have sent to you in which I told of my ocean trip and other things as I found them here, so I will not bother you with that again. The address you used was correct and I have recieved [sic] the letters with out [sic] delay.
Your letter did find me entirely alright and I like the work. I am again at Paris, driving wounded from the depot to various hospitals in and around Paris. As we don’t know the city at first, we usually have a policeman with us. When myself and the policeman get to the hospital with our load of wounded, the nurses invariably invite us in for a light lunch, and that makes the work enjoyable, that they treat us well. I am still driving a Buick, which runs very nicely. A person has to be on the job driving in the streets of Paris as there are many narrow streets and the people seem careless about walking in the street. However, here, if a person is run into by an automobile, he is fined for being in the way.
I hope you and Louis catch as many bass and Pike as Gene and Art did. I would like to fish a little and taste some of them now myself. Although our board is good and I am getting used to French methods of cooking there are a few American dishes I still have a hankering for. For instance there is no such thing as pie and I would give a lot to sink my teeth into a good juicy apple pie. There is an American café here where one can get ice cream so I some times [sic] go down there and have a soda. I have also been told of a place where one may get waffles, which I am going to try at my earliest convenience.
Yes, there were on board some nice men from Princeton, Yale, Harvard and University of Virginia who were going into this same service, so we had a very nice time together. There were eighteen of us in all. These men all come from good families and some from most prominent families, for instance, one fellow I play ball with is a son of the senior member of the firm of J.P. Morgan & Co. Then, we are right here at the American Hospital of which I am enclosing a picture, where there are many nice American doctors and nurses. I have been keeping in good health, but as far as getting sick is concerned, there would be no better place to be sick than here, as the doctors are very nice and look after us all very well.
I am coming along with my French pretty well. I can make myself understood and get by alright when I have to. I am reading French and looking up words in the dictionary to increase my vocabulary, and maybe later I will take a few lessons.
Regarding my passport I made out O.K. in Washington but did not see Knute Nelson as he was out of the city. Sidney Anderson was away, but as Adolf Giere is his secretary I called on him. I was directed by a floor walker to Anderson’s office and walked in. Adolf Giere was seated at the desk cutting something out of a paper. He saw me enter and did not say “Hello,” but said, “Lute, come here.” I went to his desk and there he was cutting my picture out of Mpls. Journal; which, I think, was quite a coincidence.
We are kept pretty busy these days as we are called out at all hours of the day and night. Although one sees a great deal of suffering, the work is very interesting in that one comes into such close contact with men, at a time when there is no artificiality about them. Any little favor one does them at a time like this, they greatly appreciate.
The other morning as I was getting over to the Ambulance, just after roll call, I saw a French dirigible balloon sail over us at a low altitude and it looked very pretty.
At present I am only signed up in this service for three months. I have not made any definite plans as yet, but I think I will stay out my three months here and then tak e alittle trip (maybe walking, as some of the fellows are doing) thru [sic] Spain for a month or so, and then come back to the Ambulance and stay all winter. There is not so much work in the winter and I think it is a splendid opportunity to stay in Paris cheaply and at the same time do a large amount of reading. And also the surroundings are really very good and wholesome.
Since our hours are unregular [sic]and we sometimes sleep in the day time when we get a chance, there is, really, not a great deal of time for writing, but I shall try to let you hear from me as often as possible. On that account you might send this letter around to the folks if you wish. I am going to write to both grandmas soon and hope they are both in as good health as possible.
With the present nice surroundings, I have not been homesick and in no way look forward to getting out of the service. When I was in New York alone and the first day or two on board the boat, I had a few misgivings and doubts about the work I was undertaking (a telephone call comes that we go to station immediately so I will try to finish this after evening dinner) (9 P.M. I’ll finish this better now( but as I got to know the boys and here see how things are, I feel fine about the little venture. Another thing that helped me was the fact that after I had been on board a day, I recieved [sic] a letter, mailed special delivery to the boat, from a Mr. George N. Northrop of 2213 Grand Ave, Mpls. Who has a brother in the ambulance work at the front. He had evidently seen a notice of my leaving in the “Mpls. Journal.” Anyway, although a stranger, he wrote me the nicest letter showing his interest in my endeavor and encouraging me. That letter did me a good deal of good and I am goin to write him immediately and try to keep in touch with, because I have heard of him before.
As I understand that there is to be a call at 3:30 A.M. I think I ought to soon go to bed, so I will leave off with this letter.
I appreciate the fact that you think of me real often, Selma, and I am thinking of you all a great deal, but I hope that you will not worry about me because I am as safe here as any place, I think, and better off than in most other places.
I trust that you are all in excellent health and with as much love to all as the censor allows, I am always,
P.S. I have sent pictures (postals) of the Ambulance to the other folks, so you do not need to enclose this card in sending these lines around to the folks.
In my run this afternoon, one of my wounded was a commander, he being quite an officer in the French army.
As we wait arounda t places some little time on our cards, I keep a supply of reading matter in my car and in that way keep occupied.
Title: Letter 7, Luther Nelson to Sister Selma
Date: 1916 July 25
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_7