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Date: June 23rd 1917


On Leave

June 23, 1917

Dear Girlie;

Every time I looked at a classy dress in a store, I have thought of you, but I have been unable to buy anything expensive because we (neither of us) have any too much money.

Well, on Sunday we visited the Zoo and Gardens, and in the afternoon we went to the band concert of the massed Imperial Guard Band - about 270 instruments. We were unable to hear as much as I would have liked because of the crowds. There were thousands of people there! On Monday we went to the Grand Opera and saw Faust. It was beautiful. We all went together and took half a box so we had a real good view. It was a 75 piece orchestra, and in some scenes there must have been 150 people on the stage at a time. On Tuesday we went to call on Capt. McLennan's wife. The Captain gave us a letter of introduction, he being Harry's second cousin. She is such a sweet little woman, and was exceptionally nice to us. I showed her you picture and she said "Oh, what a pretty, pretty girl", and wee Bob she was just crazy about! She gave me lots of kind advice.

That evening we went to one of the Variety Halls, but being half in English and half in French, we did not enjoy it very much. On Wednesday we wandered around most of the day visiting places of interest such as the Eiffel Tower, and Trocaden. We went up in the big wheel, and to a picture show in the evening, which was rotten! We paid 50 cents admission and could only stick it out about half an hour. It was all French dope. On Thursday we visited the Invalides Cathedral and Museum. There, they have all kinds of war trophies taken in the present War. I have sent you postcards of some of the paintings on the walls of the Museum, also of Napoleon's Tomb, which we also visited that afternoon.

That evening we went to the Opera Comique and took Mrs. McLellan. It was, if anything, better than the Grand Opera. Not so big and grand, but the singing was much nicer and the acting perfect. Mrs. McL. explained the plot to us and we were able to follow the plot fairly well. The girl that took the heroine's part had a marvellous voice, and her acting was so perfect at times it was a real hard question to keep the tears back. The play was called "Manon". The French people are very excitable and emotional and at the fall of the curtain called the principals back 8 or 10 times. I would have loved you to have been there. That night when we took Mrs. McL. home in a taxi, after she had gone in, I asked the driver how much he wanted. He said "Ongs Francs" (11 frs.) - all for driving the 3 of us less than a mile! The sun-of-a-gun thought that because we were Canadians he could slip one over on us, but nothing doing! Harry said "give him 6 francs" but I said 4, and that's all he got. He raised a hell of a row, and said an awful lot that we didn't understand, but when I started to pull off my belt and tunic, he whipped up his horse, still swearing, and beat it. It was 12 o'clock and we had quite a long walk to the hotel. We were stopped by the Military Police for being on the streets after 11:30, and after looking at our passes they asked what we were doing on the streets at that hour of the night. I told him our experience and one of them said "that's the idea boys - don't let those French --- slip anything over on you etc". We were told to go straight to our Hotel, and that's all there was to it. The Police are very strict in Paris with regard to dress, behavior etc. When we were getting our tickets for the Opera, we had a little trouble in making them understand what position we wanted, and a lady came to our aid. She said she was American, and would be glad to help us out. After we got the tickets, she invited us down to tea on Friday afternoon. She sent a letter to our hotel arranging the time and we arrived about 4:30. She lived in a magnificent house. The maid showed us into a room and the lady, a Mrs. Cameron, came in. She made us at home at once. We had a nice little afternoon tea and then she ordered her car (a big limousine) and drove us all through the Woods of Boulonge; took us to one of the Palaces of Louis XIV, and explained the history of every place we visited. After hearing I was from Newmarket, she drove us out to the race course where the Derby is run. We had just a splendid time. She is a great neice of General Sherman, one of the American Generals of the Civil War. She has been entertained by King George, and her son is at present Minister of the Interior in Egypt. She was all through the Gallipoli campaign as a nurse, and is now President of the Refugees League of Paris. She said we were "such dear boys", and if possible, to come and see her again, and to be sure and drop her a line from the Front. Harry and I were the only two in on that, so the other boys were naturally a little jealous.

On Saturday we had an invitation to Versailles by the Uncle of one of our boys named Smithers. We spent the day there. The postcards will show you all that we saw - the Castle of all the old French Kings and Queens; the little farm house of Marie Antoinette; and the beautiful gardens and fountains - the most wonderful sight I have ever seen. The Smithers were exceptionally good to us. We had tea and dinner with them and returned to Paris about 8 o'clock that night.

On Sunday, we spent the morning on the Avenue of Bois du Bologne, watching the people. Anybody of the accout parades down there in all their finery every Sunday. Oh, if you only have seen it! The beautiful dresses, the classy uniforms of the French soldiers, the sweet little kiddies. I was continually thinking of you and wee Bobby. We spent the afternoon on the lake in the Woods of Boulogne. Harry, Mac, Smith and I got a boat for the afternoon, and Oh, we certainly did enjoy it. We had tea that afternoon in the woods but about all we could get were ices and drinks. Ices were 50â‚¡ each so we did not indulge in very many. On Monday afternoon, Mrs. McLellan took Harry and I out to tea. She took us to one of the classiest restaurants in Paris. It was a treat to see all the Parisians dressed in all their finery. People seemed to take quite an interest in us, we being the only Canadian soldiers present, and after tea we sat in the park on Champs Des Elysses. It's the prettiest spot in Paris.

On Tuesday, our last day in Paris, we had an invitation to the American Hospital where we met several Canadian and American nurses. They made such a fuss over us, and took us all out to tea. They would not let us spend a cent. They paid for our taxi fares, supper etc. I showed them your picture and they said you were such a pretty sweet looking girl. I was so pleased to hear the remarks they made about you.

I tried to find Heck yesterday and I found out he is training some distance from here. I was in the town where he is training for two hours on Wednesday morning waiting for the train, but of course didn't know he was there. He is expected to join his Battalion any day now, and as soon as he does I shall see him because the 24th Battalion where he is going is only a mile from us.

All my love and thoughts are for you my Dear,

Ever your own,