France May 13th
My Dear Mother:-
It was so nice to get your letter of April 12th today, the first addressed direct to me in France. With it came one from Aunt Lizzie who had obtained my address from Mrs. Hunter, Reid's friends in Brandon.
Today is wet so instead of going downtown or out for a walk I am staying inside and reading the Post which comes quite regularly and writing a few letters. I have just written to Andy M. and Fred C. Today we marched five kilo's and had a dandy bath and obtained clean clothes, under clothes, shirt, socks and towel. It was the finest bath I've had in France and the bath house was certainly well filled up. The clothes we received were clean and I think "louseless". It was rather comical to see some of the outfits. Of course the old ones we turn in are washed and re-issued to other bathing parties. The drawers shrink and you would see fellows running around with drawers up to their knees, others with top shirts a foot or so too long. But one certainly feels fine after the wash and change.
I am getting used to barn life. Your barn at home is, I think, much to be preferred to this one but the many holes in the wall, insure plenty of fresh air. The French have the house and barn practically joined and both opening toward a square plot which serves as, I think, a barnyard. In the part of the barn in which we sleep is some pea straw. Further down is a hen-house. Then on the other side facing into the square is a shed where a waggon and some small implements are left and the cow barn. The house itself to which is attached the horse stable face in from the third side directly facing our quarters. On the other side of the square is a pig pen and a big high gate leading out into the street. The French have a communal system. The houses and homes are built in a village with a church, school and a few stores and the farmers till the land adjoining the town. The farms are small but the crops seem to be good. The farmer here has five cows and three horses, I think. The cows are milked three times a day and [the milk is] then separated in a cream separator, the most modern farm commodity I've seen. We can buy the milk (separated) for about five cents a quart. The country is very pretty, the fields are small and it's certainly a nice view to look across a valley, across the green fields, the one-horse outfits at work, the cattle in the two or three acre fields and everything light [sic] up in a variegated color scheme by the setting sun.
The people are good-natured, plain, hard-working folks and the women certainly do their part. The implements are rather crude and a one-horse outfit is quite common. The children are active and have a great time with the boys. I happened to pick up one of their scribblers and their lessons were much the same as we had at home. There were writing exercises, a lesson in grammar, arithmetic questions and then an essay on the evil effects of alcohol. I have forgotten so much of my French that I'm at a loss to understand much.
Well, I must close. Best wishes with love