Army Life – Entertainment and Drinking in France – June, 1945

APG - Al and Mike Hennigan, Langres, France, March, 1945

Lad and Mike Hennigan in France

Southern France

15 June, 1945

Rec’d 6/26

Dear Dad: –

I have here a few letters from you which I have not answered, but will not attempt to answer just now.

My future is, I can definitely assure you, unsettled. It seems that no one can point a finger and say, “That is where you are going”, so again, I’m getting impatient.

I’ve visited Marseille again but not Aix, and there is very definitely a marked improvement in the attitude of the people and the condition of the city. It is being cleaned and rebuilt, slowly, but new storefronts can be seen quite frequently as one goes along almost any street. The rubble is almost all gone and even the bombed out buildings here and there are being torn down or, if only slightly damaged, rebuilt.

The trolleys are still the same, but I didn’t attempt to ride any of them, even when I had to walk nine blocks uphill. There is a place on Rue Canne Biere (Main St.) called the Pink Elephant, and that is where I had the first good beer since arriving in France. French beer seems to be very watery with no kick. Their wine isn’t much better, so now I can understand why they can drink so much wine or beer all the time. This beer at the P.E. is, so it is rumored, made in Marseille using an American formula, and possibly importing the ingredients. In any case, it sure has a kick and is nearly as good as the beer I like best in the States. The big trouble is that there are too many G.I.’s for the size of the place and the capacity of the coolers. For containers, old US beer cans have had one and completely removed and they aren’t bad as such. I also found a place where good Manhattan Cocktails are served, but I’ve yet to find Champagne like I used to get in South America. That was really good.

It sounds, from the foregoing, as if I am doing nothing but drink, and that’s about the way it is. There isn’t too much else for a person like me to do there. I have gone window shopping, but everything is rationed and we can’t get the necessary points. I understand that cigarettes by the pack or carton serve very well as points, but that is black market procedure, and besides, against regulations.

I don’t do well with the French language, so, other than when American plays or movies are out and I don’t enjoy sitting in the Red Cross very much. Therefore I wander around, almost aimlessly, stopping at the sidewalk cafés and sipping alcohol (grain) in various disguises, some good, the greater percentage bad.

The entertainment here on the post isn’t too bad, though, so I spent most evenings at a theater or stage show. Outdoor movies are plentiful, too, but it doesn’t get dark enough to show them until about 2200. So in that case it is nearly midnight by the time I get to bed and what spare time I have on the following day, I am apt to spend it sleeping instead of writing.

It’s time for supper, now, Dad, so, as you finish reading this letter, you will know where I went. Remember me to Aunt Betty and all the rest, and best of luck to you.      Love, Laddie

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