Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 1920

We were called at 5- breakfast at 5-30 leave at 6. We had fresh fruit served at breakfast - stems left on, and we lift it out with our fingers. When they serve ice cream it is put in a large dish and passed around and each one helps himself and we eat with tablespoons. The milk for our coffee is hot. We had Charabanc to depot and we watched the French way of switching cars with a horse. Long chain and hook used, and the horse pulls the car, then a big engine drags the car side wise to the track needed. We pass through Macon, Chalon, Sur-Saone, Chagny, the department of Nievre etc., etc. Two American soldier boys are on the train, one from Penn., the other from Oklahoma and we enjoy the visit with them. A little French boy, with a good voice entertained us by going to the different compartments and singing the French National air.

The country is not so interesting as the other countries where we have been. Our train is late and we reached Paris at 4-P.M. instead of 2-30 as scheduled.

Our party is divided and sent to two hotels, Ours is the St. James. A hurried wash and brushing and Miss H. and I go out for our first view of Paris. Fortunately we are less than 5 minutes walk from the Louvre and the garden of the Tuilleries, and the latter we go first to see. We are impressed with the bigness and the magnificence of everything. There are shady trees, beautiful walks and drives, inviting seats, fountains, miniature lakes and the greatest display of statuary I ever saw in one place. The great arch at the Eastern side adorned with figures in memory of the battle of Austerlitz and the loss of Alsace Loraine, has always been kept draped in heavy black until since the recent war.

The Egyptian pyramid, companion to the one in New York and the one in London, stands in the place of the Guilotine, where Mary Antoinette, Charlotte Corday and 3000 others were beheaded. It is hard to believe that at that time women took their work and sat calmly by and witnessed the massacre.

The great arch on the west of the Champs Elysees was built by Napoleon to commemorate his victories and glories and called the Arch of Triumph. It is the largest in the world and shows him being crowned, and different scenes, and gives a list of his victories and names of his generals.

Miss H. and I have been capital traveling companions, although we are so unlike in many ways. It was such a comfort to have a companion that always put the best possible interpretation on what one said or did, and to be understood without carefully weighing one’s words. Together we viewed the statuary - nude of course - and I tried to look learned and wise and said little. Finally we came to a representation of the Good Samaritan, and all three figures were nude - so long as it was only Gods and Goddesses it did not seem so much - but to choose that favorite bible theme and portray it in that fashion proved to be the proverbial “last straw,” and when we reached our room a good natured discussion followed. I really thing Miss H. felt much as I did only she was quietly waiting for the explosion she knew would come and enjoyed the outburst.

It is easy to account for the laxity of French morals. I am frank to say if to be educated means to admire and appreciate the nude in art, then my education is sorely lacking. - but as Samantha would say, “Anon.”

And can this be France? The land of song and story and romance! And beautiful Paris! So different from somber London! Perhaps the weather may make a difference in our atmosphere. There it was continual rain and we were in a chronic chill. Here it is sunshine and brightness and there is a buoyancy in the air we have not had before.

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