Daniel Beck Guion
The German soldiers, recently here, were youngsters from 16 to 20 years old. They were largely service troops, and very poorly fed – “even the dogs would not eat their food” said one reliable source. They often became so hungry that they would munch grass! Some returned from furloughs in Germany almost in tears, with reports that their families, their homes, their friends had all been killed or destroyed in the allied air offensive. Germans visiting French homes were quite agreeable when they came along to a house, but if two or more came together they were distrustful – afraid that what they might say would be held against them by the others.
I have taken every opportunity to talk to the people, hoping to become proficient in the language while I have the opportunity. I talk to the washerwomen who come to the stream running below our camp. I speak to the farmers working in the fields near us. I speak to the children who long ago, learned to ask for “shooly goon” (chewing gum) and “bon-bons” (candy) from every passing soldier. I visit the farms each evening and gossip with the families – reviewing the war news, asking for cider or cherries, answering questions about America (“are there many elephants there, and camels in the deserts?”) I help two charming French girls with their English lessons, patiently striving to make them pronounce the “th” without a “z” sound.
It’s a very healthful life, living out-of-doors, getting plenty of sleep, appreciating food that would have seemed unpalatable in London, enjoying every minute of this new and absorbing life. Because things here are more exotic than in England, I count this experience second only to my sojourn in Venezuela, and I thank the fates that pull the world’s strings for giving me this opportunity. Packages received here in France will be much more appreciated than they were in England because here we can buy nothing except cider, cherries and an occasional egg. All the villages, hamlets and cities are “off limits” to all American servicemen and what rations of cigarettes, candy and toilet articles we receive, are doled out meagerly by the army, free of charge and at irregular intervals with the plea that we take only what we really need.
Cashmere Bouquet soap
Gillette’s Brushless Shaving Cream
Any 35-mm camera film (except type A Kodachrome)
Half and Half smoking tobacco
On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.