SEPTEMBER 23, 1948
PARIS, Wednesday—We reached this city at 11:50 last night, so I cannot yet give you any impressions of its usual colorful atmosphere except that I have a sense of thankfulness when I recognize some of the old landmarks and realize that here the beauty is still intact.
I was almost glad that it was dusk as we docked at Le Havre and realized that it would be dark as our train went through the countryside of France. I had seen devastated France once before and, remembering that it once was so quaint and so really beautiful, it wrings one's heart to see so much in ruins. Even the glimpse that we got of Le Havre before darkness fell reminded me of the devastation we had witnessed last spring in Holland, Belgium and England. I am quite sure that had it been daylight we would have had many other reminders to compare with what we had seen in these other countries.
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When we reached our hotel we began to see how very efficiently everything had been planned for us. In less than two hours our bags were in our rooms, and by 2:30 o'clock this morning I was completely unpacked and my first night in Paris on this trip was well on its way.
When my husband and I were here in January, 1919, after World War I, this same Hotel Crillon housed the greater part of our peace delegation that came over to help President Woodrow Wilson in his plans for the League of Nations. I cannot help thinking now that in these very same rooms many men must have talked to each other with high hopes in their hearts of healing the scars of war and of setting up the machinery that would prevent a recurrence of such scars in the future.
Of course, we all know what disappointment awaited them. But those of us who are here now see most of the world represented in the new machinery that it now set up. It is true that there are nations that are suspicious of other nations, and many of us do not see eye to eye on a great number of problems that are going to come before us. The mere fact, however, that we are all here and that we must take cognizance of each other and that certain things are written into the Charter of the United Nations, which we must try to live up to, is not only heartening but prods some of us who might lag into doing our best.
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I have been having fun teaching French to my two travelling companions—Miss Thompson and my grandson, Buzzie Boettiger. They are not very proficient as yet, but force of circumstances, I think, will soon make them acquire proficiency in the French tongue.
Miss Thompson looks skeptical at me when I say that, but nevertheless I think if we stay as long as some of my colleagues think we shall, at least Miss Thompson will be speaking fluently. Probably long before that, anyone as young as Buzzie should be able to get along with the natives.
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For the benefit of my feminine readers, I intended to mention yesterday that I think I have found the most comfortable and satisfactory outfit for steamer wear. Before leaving the States I purchased some very soft homespun material and had it made up as a coat and skirt.
It is warm enough, and yet is not too warm. If it becomes wrinkled from sitting in a deck chair, all it needs is a careful hanging in the closet overnight and next morning it appears without a sign of wear. So, if you do not like to be bothered with tailoring problems while on shipboard, my advice is for you to get a soft, homespun suit and look forward to great comfort.
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Our church service on Sunday morning aboard ship was conducted by three young Lutheran missionaries who will spend a little time in France learning the language and then will move on to Madagascar. One of them is a medical doctor as well as a minister, and a young nurse also is included in the group. That seemed like wise planning on the part of the church, to bring healing to the body as well as to the soul. I hope these brave young people will reap all the satisfaction they deserve for their spirit of faith and service.