23 June, 2012

23 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
23 June, 1945      0935
My darling Wilma –

Although there’s very little in the way of news to write you, it’s always a pleasure to sit down and tell you I love you more and more each day. Without that love, darling, I can assure you that my daily existence would be very very dull. So I lean on it for comfort and stimulation of my mind – and it’s a wonderful medicine. Unlike medicine, however, there’s no danger of an overdose – so I find myself having a little of it – every hour, on the hour; in addition – I sneak in a little on the half hours, quarter hours – and I’ve noticed recently that the same was taking place on the minutes of an hour. In other words, sweetheart, I’m thinking of you and loving you constantly and I think my case will be permanent – but only when I get that overwhelming dose – saturated love in the person of you.

We are starting to make preparation for our move Monday, and as usual – it requires a lot of details. But I believe everything is pretty nearly ready for us to leave at 0800 – in convoy, and we’re scheduled to arrive in Nancy at about 1600 hours.

I can’t remember whether or not I wrote that I managed to visit the Champagne caves of one of the Companies here in town. Reims, of course, is the champagne center of the world. I visited the Pommery Co. The process of making the stuff is done in caves because it’s so cool and the temperature is kept constant. These caves happen to be in the remains of old chalk mines dug by the Romans in the 2nd and 3rd century and they’re 100 ft. deep. It was very interesting. I’ll tell you about it some time in the future, but I know a lot more about champagne then I did before.

The Pommery Champagne Co. - Reims - June 1945

and now (below)

Champagne vat holding 17,000 gallons
exhibited at World's Fair St. Louis 1900
June 1945

and now (below)

I bought a bottle at the place for 130 fr. I’d love to send some home – but it’s strictly taboo. I’ve been thinking I’d like to save a few bottles to take home in my trunk and have a good binge the day I arrive. But we probably won’t get our footlockers for some time after we arrive – and the space involved is considerable.

We had some excitement last night and I missed out on some sleep. I was called to see a fellow about 0100 – who had a questionable broken shoulder. He said he had fallen into a hole near here. The MP’s in town came looking for him and 3 others about an hour later. It seems one of the 4 had become involved in a brawl with some Negroes – and a Negro was shot. They arrested all 4 of them. We learned this a.m. that the negro died and so – the question of murder comes up. All 4 of the soldiers are definitely no good and they deserve what’s coming to them. They’ve been chronic trouble makers. Of course – the great majority of the battalion sees red when they see a negro. Most of our boys come from Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and So. Ohio and they just plain hate Negroes. What irritates them especially (and a good many Northerners too) is to see a negro with a white girl. There’s plenty of that going on here, too. One of our boys saw a white WAC out with a Negro and kissing him. But it’s not new for our boys to get in trouble when things are easy for them. They always do better when they live in mud, under poor conditions, ducking artillery shells etc. It’s been that way ever since I've known them. And it’s the same way for our Venereal rate which has soared since the war was over. I’ve been here long enough, though, to stop worrying about things. I take them all as they come along. There’s not enough money in the Army to aggravate myself anymore.

And anyway – all I’m concerned about is you and home and when I’m going to see you. Nothing else matters now, sweetheart. I must see you, love you and marry you - and until then I won’t be relaxed, I won’t be living, I won’t be happy.

So long for now, darling – love to the folks – and
All my everlasting love


about Pommery Champagne

Madame Louise Pommery built the Domaine Pommery Estate ten years after taking over her late husband's champagne business. She was responsible for creating brut (dry) champagne in 1874. Before that time, champagne was a very sweet drink, generally consumed with dessert. Brut is also lighter and fruitier than the original.

Madame Louise Pommery built the Vranken Pommery estate in 1868 to represent modernity and extravagance. A patron of the arts, she commissioned murals of people making and drinking Champagne, and had them carved into the chalk cellars of her wine estate. At Vranken Pommery, the artwork found throughout the caves is just as much on display as the racks of champagne bottles lining the walls and filling the storage rooms. Upon descending the 116 steps into the cellar, visitors will instantly become aware of the atypical surroundings of the Pommery caves.

Steps to cellar

In upholding Madame Pommery’s reputation as a great supporter of the arts, the cellars house a permanent collection of contemporary art in addition to serving as an unusual gallery space for temporary exhibitions of the same genre. Neon colored lighting cuts through the dimly lit cellars, highlighting a stark contrast between the modernity of the house and its rich and historic champagne producing traditions.

Photo by Jacqueline Dauriac

In all, there are about 18 kilometers of underground caves that keep the Champagne at the perfect temperature for the year it spends in the bottle before being recorked and sent to market. The caves are named after cities, and the longest one (a full kilometer) is called "Montreal."It was given that name by Madame Pommery more than 100 years ago. She had never visited Montreal, but she liked the name.

There are more than 21 million bottles of champagne stored in the caves of the Vranken Pommery cellars, with the oldest going back to the late 19th Century. Some are rarely touched. As Greg said, These bottles are stored 100 feet (30 meters) underground at a temperature of 50F (10C).

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