January 3, 1945
Epinal, France

No. 1 (continued)

Dear Folksies,       

          Our party on New Years Eve was quite a party.  Originally, a few days before, we had anticipated not being able to have the party, but suddenly it was O.K. and things got under way in nothing flat.  We were going to have the electric victrola, but somehow that didn’t work on the current for some reason, but we got one of our boys who plays an accordion to come over.  Unfortunately, the accordion didn’t make enough noise so that it could be heard more than one or two feet away.  And it didn’t help that everyone who came up to request a song not only offered him drinks, but, while both his hands were busy with the accordion, they poured the drinks down his gullet.  So, poor DuPree wasn’t doing so well as far as getting out music after a very short time. 

          One of the other boys, Sgt. Cross, had come along with DuPree and acted thereafter as his manager and went around writing down requests.  In fact, when the Col. came up somewhere in the middle of the evening and asked DuPree to play a waltz, DuPree said to him that he would have to go “Thru Channels.” So, through Cross he went — Cross made him put his request in writing, and the Col. did it without saying a word!!! It was really funny!!

            At first we had had DuPree sitting along the side of the dance floor, but then we put him on a stool on top of a table in the center of the floor — that increased the distance that he could be heard — yes, one could then hear him all of 2-1/2 feet from his accordion.  I must admit, however, that there was so much noise going on all over the room that it was one of the principle reasons for his inaudibility.

            The evening had started out with the fellows, most of us, instead of trying to contact one or another of the nurses – whom we hadn’t seen anyway for 24 hrs. – just going to the door and yelling for anyone who might be ready to go down to the party. The gals all dressed in their formals – formals they had made or had made for the anniversary party last May. Carroll, Walt Byers and I went over together and when we left the nurses quarters we found we each had 3 gals apiece to help slide down the icy stairs and roads.

            A number of the gals had started having their own pre-party-party before going down and so were feeling pretty good to start with. They had no sooner gotten there than songs began to be sung, everyone gathering round in a circle and shoving a few of the prospective song-birds out into the center. Some of the gals were really funny, and Kiernan, of course with Stratte, added their little repertoire to the festivities. All kinds of songs were sung, everything from “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do…” to some British songs that have been picked up by us in the past two years.

            When people found that the music wasn’t going to work, that didn’t deter them a bit, so that all of us were dancing around, any step that one wanted, without benefit of music.  Poor Miss Diffley came in after things had gotten going pretty well and saw everyone dancing, but could hear no music so she thought, “Well, the music must have just stopped and people are just taking a few extra steps.”  But, when she saw couples that had been seated, get up and go onto the dance floor and start right in — and still she could hear no music, she thought she must have gone deaf.  It was quite a sight.

            The amount that people had as liquid refreshments didn’t really seem to matter — everyone just felt like letting their hair down and everyone was a bosom friend of everyone else.  The visitors from this new gang that were there at the start — we had invited all of them — apparently were scandalized, for they left early.  Rumors the next day had it that they figured that the Officers and nurses of our outfit were all shell-shocked and the men were chronic alcoholics!  They must have figured — my gosh, is that the way we’ll be after two years overseas??  So, if you hear rumors about the “poor 59th,” you’ll know how they must have originated.  Another thing these new people have told us is that they’ve heard the 59th is the smoothest functioning hospital overseas!  That, too, of course, is a laugh!

                         Loads of love,

rene-transparent

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Watch for the conclusion of this letter
January 4, 1945

DuPree, the soldier who played the accordion at the New Years Eve dance was no Lawrence Welk, but he did take requests.

Cy Kiernan (above) and Paul Stratte (below) “added their little repertoire to the festivities” on New Year’s Eve.

René tells his parents about “poor Miss Diffley” at the party. Chief Nurse Mary Diffley is pictured above.