NOVEMBER 12, 1943
I am relieving in the office for a couple of hours, and there isn't much doing. Somehow or other lately it has been so hard to get down to writing. Never seem to have time somehow. When I do get to it, always someone coming in to gab. It's getting quite cool now in the evenings, so I can shut the door. Even then that means nothing to some people. A couple of weeks ago, I was sick with dysentery. It gets us all sooner or later, and not only once. Seems to be common to this smelly country. Fortunately the first day I had my afternoon spoken for, so went directly to bed with hot water bottles, flannelette pyjamas, and many blankets. Oh boy, was I sick. Temperature was 102º. However I was determined not to be admitted, so doctored myself so that I was well enough to crawl on duty in the morning. Just as well I was near the bathroom on duty, for I sure made a few flying leaps. Had it for a week. Am all right now. One of my roommates had it about the same time. She eventually came into the hospital. We are not allowed to be sick in quarters, so I kept it a dark secret. I put a sign on my room door in English and French which said 'Il est interdit d'entrer' (It is forbidden to enter). In one of my leaping lava runs, I left the door open and someone did get in, which made me very mad. I think the dirty flies is the cause of all the dysentery. I'm afraid you couldn't live here. I have a fly swatter, and some afternoons I do a regular massacre. They come in where it's warm (the sun rays). Looks like a battlefield on the floor. It's getting very damp and chilly now, like when we first came here. What will we do later on? These stone, plaster, or what have you buildings are terrible in the winter, but so nice in summer. No heat absolutely, not even hot water pipes as we haven't any hot water. We are so fortunate to have these quarters though. We could be stuck in a tent somewhere.
One of our girls (physiotherapist) was married here a couple of weeks ago. A pretty wedding in a French church. She married an American officer. They had a week off for the honeymoon. Now she is back at work. Two of our girls were transferred last week. We are going to miss them. Had a party for them last Tuesday-gave them each a silver bracelet.
Yesterday being Armistice Day, there was held here an Allied parade and a commemoration ceremony held for those killed or dead here on foreign soil. It was just a year ago the eighth since the invasion here also. I was in the parade. Forty of us nurses were chosen to march. We gathered in a square where a monument is erected commemorating the armistice. French, British and American. A wreath was laid at the foot of the statue. My arm was about paralyzed by the time the national anthems were finished and all the dignitaries went by. Of course, me and why I don't know, but I held my right leg so tense when I went to march my knee wouldn't bend for a few minutes. I walked off like [?] Hill. At this point one of the girls has just brought me in a letter from Helen so I must stop right in the middle of the parade here and now, and read it. To be continued.
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Have just finished the letters. A nice long one from June. She said that forty-five dollars sure looks good when it comes. I'll bet. To get on with the parade. Well, I guess I won't either. It's now eight p.m., and in my room will endeavour to finish above the chatter.
We marched quite a way, and did a few movements. What a hand we got all along the way! 'Bravo, bravo.' We think we are the first American nurses to appear like that in public. Let me tell you, though I got a thrill out of it-marching to that music and saluting the anthems and flags-I had goose pimples from head to toe. It's queer that patriotism one has. We were the second group to march, or third, really. First the American band, then the American Navy. After us came the French Navy. What came next we never knew. I hear the French divisions, the Arabs on their horses, motorcycles, tanks, etc. When we got to the end of our march there were trucks waiting to take us to the Allied cemetery. There we marched in, and took our posts in review before other dignitaries and chaplains. They placed a wreath on the monument to all the dead there. The band played My Buddy so softly-it was very sad. The three chaplains-Protestant, Catholic and Hebrew-said a few words of prayer. We had a minute of silence. The volleys were fired, and taps sounded. We marched back out. Just got home on time to go on duty at twelve. It really was thrilling. We all had the one thought, 'If it only were the Armistice Day of this war'. Seems to me so foolish to ever remember the last one.
I had Wednesday off all day. As usual, didn't sleep when I had the chance. Had to be over at the detachment area to practise drill though, at nine a.m. After that I cleaned my room. Closet needed it badly. Pardon me, the orange crates needed cleaning out. Did a wash, and went downtown for an hour or so in the afternoon. We are not very busy now, so we are getting another day off this month.
My, how the Xmas parcels are coming in. The girls are just loaded every day. It seems too bad for them to arrive so early, but better early than late. So many are opening them. Myself, I give them a curious shake and put away in my closet, much to the envy of my roommates. It's just too bad if there is food in any of them. Gladys' was the first to arrive about two weeks ago. Had one from Dudge's Mary today. One from Beatrice Lockhart yesterday. One from Clark. One from Win, sent from the cousin in Boston. One from Mary Saunders. One from Scott; one from the Nodwells; one from Clint's wife. One from Agnes, that friend of Gladys'. June said you had sent one-I haven't received it yet, but there is plenty of time. I hope there are some pants in some of them. I see a big bush of pointsettias in bloom. They are on the way to the hospital. I watch them every day getting redder.
Had a letter from DeMille last week, a better trend than the last one. I am getting very bold on my bicycle now. Have gone twice now to the beach even if I did get my slacks wound up in the pedals. Still am petrified of this traffic, though. Tonight, coming home from just near quarters, an American truck smashed into a big French government van. I don't know if anyone was hurt or not.
Helen seems to be having a good time-dances, etc. Said they didn't have much to work with, had to 'compromise' a lot. I received photos of both of them. They are very good, especially Win's. I know she would like hers. She really looks beautiful. I'll bet she does look well in uniform, especially with her in the new style olive drab ones. Had Scott send me a girdle and two brassieres. They fit fine. She is so good about doing things for me, Helen and Win. Got her to have them sent olive drab dresses and hats.
The war seems to be going ahead slow but sure, doesn't it? I hope all will be over soon. The Russians are giving the enemy a run for their life. Looks like they will be in Berlin before long.
The oranges and tangerines are coming in here now. I'm so glad, as we need the vitamins. Had apples one day last week. Of course they were American-just came over. Were they good. Yum, yum!
Tell Nan to write me. Sorry she and Janis missed the Hallowe'en manoeuvres. Tell her to let me know if Minnie found her teeth. My paper, which I snitched in the office, has run out and so have I. Have written on both sides of this as it is. Will say good night. Will send a V-mail to Gladys, and get into bed and read for a while. Would have gone to the movies tonight, but it isn't any good.
Love to all, Frank