Letter from Anne Morgan, 9 July 1919

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
Blérancourt, 9 July 1919

Dearest Mother,

Your good letter of June 19th came this week, and it was a joy to have it. As to the leaving of our workers, perhaps the best possible answer to Frances Hoppin is the fact that some of the best ones are so filled with the vital and immediate need of our work that after all they cannot make up their minds to leave for more than a short visit to America. At Laon, for instance, [Muriel] Valentine who has been with us for over a year and who is the joint head of the section there, is going home the first of October to return the end of November, and Eames, her partner, is going in December to return in January. Even the Parsons, now that the time for their leaving is so close, are beginning to waver and are considering staying through the winter.

This week I happened into Mr. Nelson one day in Paris, it seems he has been over with the Ys for a number of months and had only seen the interior. As he was sailing in two days we bundled him off to Vic for twenty-four hours and from what the Parsons said I think he got a good deal out of it. Of course it was too short a visit to really see through into what we are already doing and still more, trying to do, but I am sure he can help us no end when he goes back to Ohio. Anyway he sailed the next day, so it was his last impression and was a good one.

This week I had such a good two days at Laon with the group up there, their Canton of Anizy is more than interesting, but more tragic than words can say. The whole region is desperately destroyed and yet the people are coming back in just the same way, only the tragedy is that in most cases the gardens even have not been cleared and there has been no chance to plant their gardens for the summer and above all, next winter. The Première Urgence is doing better work in the canton than here in Coucy, so there are a few barraques going up, but they are few and far between and could hardly be considered winterproof.

We found one delightful woman there who recognized me at once from Blérancourt in 1917, for she and her husband had been here at that time, they are living in one of the shelters made out of the German corrugated iron, but in the middle was a wonderful bed which she had bought at Laon. As the poor soul had found that a cave had been built just where she had buried all her treasure when she was repatriated, she had reduced her needs to the minimum, but her courage was too splendid, and her chief joy was the fact that in spite of the fact that they had only asked for authorization to get back to Blérancourt, not knowing that her own ruins were habitable or not, the train had stopped at Anizy, so they just got off and stayed there because it was their home before, though not one stone was left.

Our doctors are doing first rate work in the Canton, and now we have a little house for them, where they can live and have a small dispensary and reach all the villages much more easily. The medical and the child welfare work at Vic are making the most enormous progress. Of course we have the most tremendous enthusiast in Mrs. Thomson in the latter work she is more or less of a maniac, but the result is A.1. A madder person I never saw when she went to see Miss Lilian Wald, thinking that she would have some help from her expert advice, instead of which
Miss Wald hardly listened to her, and only said that the German babies were in great need and the future generation might be very seriously affected. Of course we told her this was very good news, so there may have been a slight coolness, only don't talk to me about the people who called themselves pacifists being anything but pure Boche.

Jenny will be very happy soon now, as Annie is as sure as you are that she must go home, but I do believe that if things go all right she will come back and work with us later on. She could not get permission to come here as she had to report twice every day for home orders, this was a disappointment for I am sure if she had really seen the work she would have been much more anxious to come next autumn.

My own plans are still vague, Miss Perkins and the Bangs have made us feel that if the work is to go on we must come back to make not only the general public understand why, but even our own Committee needs convincing. The R. C. [Red Cross] propaganda as shown by Frances has indeed gone very far, and the attitude of the financial group that France is richer than ever seems to me more than hard to refute as the public seems to want to feel that way about it. It is so easy to make statements if no one contradicts them, but why does no one ask questions?

I heard Mr. [Edward] Stettinius quoted as saying that many manufactures in the south had doubled their output, but no one was able to say with what labor considering all the men that are able-bodied between the ages of twenty and forty-five had been mobilized, that no machines of any kind have been produced in France except war munitions, and that it is still almost impossible to find manufactured articles of most things on the market. For instance this week we have been able to buy no forks, knives or spoons, and there are many things of the same kind.

Well, Dearest, I am sure that you don't need any persuading, so there is no use boring you any further, but one does get pretty mad right through.

Next week we are to have the wonder of wonders in the fête de la Victoire, all the members of the different units are all coming down and the excitement is intense. The celebration of the fourth was one of the most splendid things and that was only a sample of the real thing which comes off on the fourteenth. We are having the most impossible time trying to get seats for everyone, it may turn out to be hopeless, but we are pulling all kinds of wires.

Good night and good bye dearest Mother, I am falling to sleep but this carries no end of love from

your devoted daughter,