Letter from Anne Morgan, 19 May 1918

Anne Morgan's War: Rebuilding Devastated France, 1917–1924
September 3 through November 21, 2010

Letter from Anne Morgan to her mother, Frances Tracy Morgan
Vic-sur-Aisne, 19 May 1918

Dearest Mother,

Your good letters of March 17, April 24 and 29, no 3, 4, and 5, all came in the same mail yesterday, you can see how very strangely the mails behave. I was uncommon glad to have them all and to know that everything was going so well with you all. Over here we are working ahead as well as we can, but of course the progress can only be very slow under these waiting war conditions, though the needs are, of course, greater than ever. Anne [Dike] is in Paris attending to some things down there, and thank goodness there are two days of holiday for the Whitsuntide, as she needs a rest like everything and has not had a day off since I sailed in January, not even since that terrific strain during the retreat.

Today Mr. [John Kendrick] Bangs come back to us for a few days so as to have his last impressions of the war zone before he sails to go back and talk for us in America. I was away in Paris when he was here before, so it is up to me this time, but from all accounts, nice as he is, I fancy that it is all so new to him that one has to pump a good deal to make the whole situation clear to him, for he has not been in Europe, even, since the war began. He has been having a splendid time talking to some of the American boys, and up here he went over to the Trans Section near us and had a splendid time with them.

We are going to take him over to Coyolles and show him the way that has grown already. How I wish you could see the kids there, there are 34 there now, looking like different youngsters since they came to [some text is missing here] first, Mlle. Charpentier, who has been with us all the way through and is a wonder, is doing a yeoman's work there, at the moment she has the whole thing on her hands, as we are vainly trying to hurry the sauf conduites [safe-conduct documents] for the Instituteur of Blérancourt, and a friend of hers, the widow of a chasseur à pied [light infantryman], who has always worked with children and will be just the kind of woman we need. Meanwhile she only has two refugees for maids and cooks and another little girl from the village to help her out, and she herself is doing all the teaching as well as the washing of those kids herself, using the older ones as monitors.

Our English gardener and the first of our American farmerettes are getting the children's gardens started, as well as the vegetable garden for the group, and the difficulties are endless. The proprietor is giving us four hectares and one of our Blérancourt cultivateurs [farmers] is working at that for potatoes and also some vegetables. He has started the couveuse [incubator], some of our cows and goats, chickens and rabbits have been taken down, and things are getting slowly into shape.

But oh the endless difficulties in the way are beyond words, for instance, we needed a pasture: first we had to find the place, then we had to ask the army for wire, then we had to go to a depot to fetch it, 7 thousand kilos, then we had to wait till the Red Cross could lend us a camion as our own Kelley was in the hospital. After we had gotten it over there a matter of twenty-five kilometers, we find the wrong type of wire had been sent, it all had to be sent back and the whole thing begun over. Then we want a big farm cart, we go over to the depot where the army has placed all the agricultural implements they had mended in the atelier at Blérancourt, they promise us the only one they have, we send over two of our horses with another refugee to take it all the way to Coyolles, another 28 kilometers, he finds after all the one they have belongs to some one else, he tries to send a military telephone message, waits two hours for an answer, receives none and decides to take the horses over alone, I never get the message and now we must bring the horses back to take a cart from some other place. I only tell you this to show you that nothing ever goes through as one expects it to.

It is all worth while all the same, and if you could see the letters we are getting from refugees asking us please to take their children back into the Aisne till they can come themselves you would see what it means. Today two parents are coming to spend two days with their kids and we are sending over from here to fetch them, and so it goes.

Well, Dear, I don't know if all this amuses you but we are so deep in it that it seems desperately interesting to us! In another two or three months when we have our farms at Troesne and Marizy all started, and our Hospital at Bochet full, our visiting nurse at Coyolles as well as the outside dispensaries under Dr. [Maude] Kelly in good shape, it will all be very wonderful.

Please give my very best love to all the family, particularly to Blythie, and think of me as loving you with all my heart and soul

always your adoring daughter,