Jump to diary | Jump to map

Binkley (left) with Merv Crobaugh and Art Cardin, 17 Jan. 1915. On the back is written “What the Hell, the Hell, do we care? They can’t hurt C²B”.

In August Binkley settled into the work of collecting materials related to the Peace Conference from delegations and from French societies. He went at the work in an organized way, gathering addresses on file cards and plotting them on a map of Paris with pins, so that he could plan efficient sweeps of neighbourhoods.

He visited Château Thierry and walked over the battlefield at Belleau Wood with his high school friend Art Cardin, who had taken leave from the merchant marine to visit Paris. Cardin also accompanied Binkley the first of three weekend trips to the Loire valley to see several châteaux with Capt. Berl and Dale Van Every from S.S.U. 578. Binkley nearly got into serious trouble for trying to take the train without a ticket by wearing his uniform, though he had already been discharged and was not entitled to a military travel warrant.

For entertainment he turned away from opera to theatre as he worked on his French (which one society secretary called “inexcusable”).


  • Faust


  • Le Misanthrope (Molière)
  • L’Arlésienne (Daudet)
  • Le Mariage forcé (Molière) and Œdipe Roi (Sophocles)

He also tried to see Le Cid (Corneille) at the Comédie Française but could not get a ticket.

Diary: August, 1919

  • First day in civvies.

    Copy minutes of international transit regime commission all day. Miss Quayle makes mistakes -- & so do I. We get typewriter. In evening go to Opera Comique and try to see Werther, but fail to get in, althoug [sic] a taxi hits me as I run. I change my civies before leaving house. Go to dance at rue Tournon. Meet Mlle Girard, 36 rue Talgreuze [?], who seems to be very nice. Get home at midnight.

    Mlle Etienne comes to say good-bye. I don't kiss her.

  • Second day in civvies.

    Nothing happens all day. Typing, copying French text. Go & eat ice cream with Mrs. Adams. Try to buy fountain pen. Mr. Barbe answers Prof. Adams note -- quoting classics and arguing that in 50 years it won't make any difference if one doesn't know what papers he got his clippings from.

    Get letter inviting me to Jeanne's for dinner.

  • Undecided what to do in morning, but while on way up town in omnibus see sign Comedie Francaise plays Misanthrope. I buy try to buy a book & end up by buying a 6 f. ticket and going home and borrowing a book from Mme Courtoisnon

    Meet Mrs Adams on leaving theatre and have an ice cream avec elle.

    Take tea with Mme Courtoisnon and then look at M. Laubers photos. Finally run out to Noëls. Robert Noel and wife are late for [?] very jolly meal with lots of wine.

    Jeanne complains about widows getting married.


    M. Laubers was presumably another tenant in Mme Courtoisnon’s flat.

  • Work in office. Go to dance in evening but do not have a good time.

  • Prof. Adams wires unexpectedly that he will come back on Thursday. Mrs Adams sends me out to warn Mrs. Harley not to come in. I go -- clear out to Mantes.

    Get back late for theatre, but see four acts of L'Arlesienne anyway.


    Maintes-la-Jolie, west of Paris, is now an hour’s bus ride from central Paris.

  • Mrs Harley comes in in morning. Mrs Adams has bad cold. I copy all day. Mrs. Adams does not come back in afternoon, & I am worried & call to see. Go to dance & enjoy myself.

  • Art comes in in morning. Prof Adams, back from Germany, reports great progress. gives me vacation till Monday morning. Art & I run home then see Luxembourg, eat at Y. Go to Louvre, get tickets at Opera. See Notre Dame -- Pantheon, Latin Quarter & finally remember to deliver Mrs Adams note. Go out to Chateau Thierry after asking advice from imbecile Y man. Sleep at Y at C.T.


    The visitor is Art Carden, who was one of Binkley’s close friends, along with Merv Crobaugh, from his high school debating club in San Jose. According to Charles Binkley’s memoir, in 1915-16 Carden had lived with the Binkley family for part of the time. In 1919 Carden was in the merchant marine, sailing on the U.S.S. Henderson between Brest and New York.

    Binkley later sent Carden maps and pictures of their doings on this visit. Carden wrote:

    Just received the maps and pictures. Gee whiz but they bring back the grandest and gloriousest and any other fool adjective you want to use, good time that I’ve had in years. I have about four or five hundred francs saved towards my car fare home when I get out but if there’s any chance for a ten day leave in Paris while you’re still there, I’ll hit the ties from New York to S.J.

    You sure have profited by your military experience when it comes to map making. I’ve been laughing so hard at “I begin to swear and remember that I did not deliver Mrs. Adams note” Honest, Bob, I can see and am living thru the whole thing now. Did Mrs Adams ever get wise? (Doc. 56: Carden to RCB, 1919-10-09)

  • Get up at 9:00 A.M. & see old castle of Charles Martel. Then eat breakfast at Y & start for battlefields. Take in Hill 204, Vaux & Belleau Wood. Frogs give us ride back to Chateau Thierry. Drink lemonade. Y man bores us. return to Paris, see Faust at Opera.

    People are putting up new houses everywhere.

  • Go first to Eiffel tower, then to Grand Magazin du Louvre & buy post cards & bead bag & glasses. then Tuilleries, Concord, Champs Elysees, and Pantheon de la Guerre after lunch.

    Versaille afterwards, including Hall of Mirrors. We lived meeting of C²B on car to Versailles.

    Returning find telegram extending leave. Go to Tours. Train is very very late. Hard to find hotel in Tours.


    C²B: a monogram representing the friendship of Art Carden, Merv Crobaugh and Bob Binkley. The photo from early 1917 above is inscribed with it on the back, and Crobaugh wrote in 1920 from his first academic job: “Greetings from the Washington Sector, C²B!” (Doc. 30: Crobaugh to RCB, 1920-09-19).

  • Get up, leaving Art in bed, & go to find Van Every. Eat breakfast with him. Hunt up Berl. Car delays us Find Art is gone, look for him, but cant find him. Go to Chateaux of Aimbois, Blois, & Chaumont & Chambord. Meet Vans Y.M.C.A. girls. Have delightful trip in the train. little supper afterward costs 50 f. Walk with Miss B. till after midnight. Home at 1:00 A.M. Nearly broke.

    Meet Art at Blois & say goodbye.


    Whatever the source of confusion was, Binkley evidently apologized to Art Carden in a letter. Carden responded cryptically:

    As for the Tour mixup I had a dam good hunch as to what was the trouble. It only added that much fun for me as it showed that I could get around pretty well even tho’ I didn’t know a word of the lingo. I wouldn’t have let you leave Van Every & the Captain had you suggested it as you could only have come to the station with me. I’m ready to take the trip over again. Nuf sed. (Doc. 75: Carden to RCB, 1919-09-25.)

  • Prof Adams beats me to office. Finish copying reports & correcting French. Gives instructions about maps, & cataloguing French propaganda. Mrs Adams says work may last till spring. Van Every comes in. I buy things at Commissary. Go out with Van in evening. -- go to Y.M.C.A. for ice cream. Drink port while he talks of Princess.

  • Mrs Harley comes to work in Office & I put her to work on card catalogue. Armand surprises me by coming in at noon. We lunch at the Hotel des Deux Mondes, & eat supper at Bois de Boulogne. He gives me Royalist point of view. "France is nothing, and yet she must pretend to be something. That is the saddest of all." "Nothing worth while has been done since the Revolution." "Power must come from above." "Equality in France means that all must be equal on top; in America that everyone must start even." I told him he should have lived 4 centuries ago.


    The Hôtel des Deux Mondes was where F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald stayed five years later. Armand de Lacroix-Laval was a friend of Binkley’s and appeared in his diary in January and June

  • Work in office in morning. Start out in afternoon getting propaganda material. Make good headway, and am well satisfied. Mrs Adams is not feeling well. Get telegram from Art & send letter. Cannot send cape till morning. Go to dance.

  • Move to room 360. I wear uniform. Salute Gen. Pershing. Go to Comite de l'Action pour des Reparations des Dommages de Guerre. Girl gives me duplicates of everything, -- and asks me to send post card from California.

    Get card from home advising me how to spell really. Answer it with 34 page letter.

    -- In office -- start system of numbering packages and cases.


    Binkley’s habit of writing “realy” (which is fairly consistent in his letters and diaries up to this time) evidently aggravated his sister Elizabeth enormously. Their brother Charles, in a passage responding to this long letter in early September, mentions that “again Elizabeth notes your spelling of that lifelong botheration ‘really.’” (Doc. 73: Charles H. Binkley to RCB.) After this letter the reformed spelling seems to have stuck.

    The long letter evidently teased Binkley’s family with a story of an encounter with a Red Cross girl. Elizabeth wrote in October:

    I think I got a glimmer of what Mother thinks or has thought of my various suitors when your letter spelling realllllly, arrived. You started telling us of that Red Cross Girl, prepared the scene minutely, and then brought her in with the words “You have heard of love at first sight.” Till we got that next sentence read, Mother and I, – or I, at least – had the orange blossoms all picked. Don’t do it again; I’ll get heart failure. (Doc. 64: Elizabeth Binkley to RCB, 1919-10-08.)

  • Work all day in office. Make out & file cards for Ukraine, Finland & my big haul of Society propaganda. Eat lunch at rue Tournon Y.

    In evening to night to rue Tournon and wait for Dance. Meet a Waac & spend evening with her --

    No mail.

  • Sort out telegrams and then work a little on my Society list. Deliver Van's telegram, & later see Carpatho-Russians. Carpatho-Russian introduces me to his group, all of whom are proud of being jail birds and look like cranks. Deliver books to Putnam's office, and then eat at Y. Change clothes but don't get by with O. de T. & have to buy ticket to Tours.

    Van is awake at Tours

    Talk to girl & her mother or aunt all the way -- don't like her.

  • Van & I get up and run down to see Berl. Go out in Cadillac and take in Lagnes [=Langeais?] & aquaduct -- Cinq-Mars, which is only 2 ruined towers -- Ussé and Chinon. Eat lunch at Chinon, and then try to see chapel where Henry II & Richard Plantagenet are buried at Fontevrault, but the abbey is a jail and we can't do it.

    Go to Loudun and settle claim with old farmer Martin who gives us some ’93. Come home thru forest of Chinon. Take train at 2:00 A.M.


    Cadillac: the district, not the car.

  • At Tours a plain clothes man asks me for pass

    Arrive in Paris early. Fail to work O de T at gare d'Austerlitz -- and see visions of a yawning jail, but am told to go on to Quai d'Orsay where I pay & then crawl out of uniform & wash up.

    Mrs Adams is back in office. I get letter & Gouchis [?] & get many new names at Musee de la Guerre. Restauration conducts me to C.G.T., insisting on giving me beer.

    Old secretary of Union Nationale Republicain says my French is inexcusable.

    Go out to see Jeanne in evening.


    “O. de T.” = ordre de transport, a military railway warrant for travel on official business. Since Binkley had been discharged, he was no longer eligible for such a warrant, and was apparently trying to bluff his way to free train travel, depending on his uniform to escape notice.

    “C.G.T” = Confédération Générale du Travail.

  • Spend most of my day in putting pins in my big map of Paris and arranging my society cards. I think Prof Adams thinks it is wasting time. Above 125 names of societies to see.

  • Go out in afternoon on St Germain trip finish my letters. go to Y.M. for supper & am picked up by miss Jordan & taken home by her and Miss Purdy.

    Good meal & lots of jolly talk. Discuss race question with people who know a little about it.

    Woman in Auto-alcoholism [?] sings song of hard times and tells me smells so strong of wine that odor is repulsive.


    Binkley notes Nancy Jordan’s address as Lynchburg, Virginia, so perhaps he means that she “know[s] a little about” the race question by virtue of living in the south.

  • Go out on Raspail trip. first have to go to A.P.O. 702. It seems that some mail has been lost. Mrs. Adams reads Bill's letter with censored paragraph and wonders about it.

    Am pleased with the way work is going but don't know just how well Prof likes it.

    Van has given me the idea ... which I like that President Wilson is playing a clever game in letting the Senate do as it will with the League... Get card from Marguerite Guard -- which I know concierge read.

  • Get lots of material by telephone from Comité d'Etudes Politique et sociale. Adams apparently doesn't think the work goes fast enough. Go out to Levallois Perret to ask whether Jeanne is going.

  • Get material from Ligue Civique & Alliance Francais. Call on League of Nations Association in afternoon. Work is picking up in office. Go to Tours in evening, paying full fair.

  • Out chateauing with Van & Berl. Take in Chenanceaux, Montrichard, Montresor and Loche. Loches is king of them all guide is a poet or student. Dramatic in his way. dungeons very interesting.

  • Work in Office & get Opera & Bourse section of town fairly well cleared up. Work till 8:30 at night. Sing songs with English & Sailors at Y.M.C.A. French audience very critical -- but stays. C'est ettonnant. que les Americains se melent avec les Anglais"

  • Ralph Lutz comes down from Berlin. I pack up all our stuff in 5 boxes -- go to bed fairly early. Prof Adams pays me at 8.10 -- 1620.00 francs. Mrs A. is very curious about what Jeanne thinks of her.

    Get letter from Marthe & from Home. Write Dad.

  • Go to Finish most of packing up work. Will have Frogs to nail on strips. Get no delegations but finish all cataloguing. Send 100 f to Van Every for shoes and 100 dollars to dad. Get the $100 D at 7.10, which is not bad.

    In evening go to Y. dance & talk to Anne all evening. translate letter in which Prof Erwann mistakes us for a matrimonial agency. Talk about America with our girls – Nancy & Ann. In midnight call with Wally

    Listen in on call in which girl says tout les hommes sont bêtes.

  • Go out to my delegations. Feminist intellectual is frowsy but very much in earnest. Promises much. Have argument with Secretary of Society contre la Propagande ennemi. He maintains that his propaganda has nothing to do with P.C.

    Bourse N. de Travail is coming through with fine collection. I spend 200 f for clothes.


    P.C.: Peace Conference.

  • Get material from Liban -- whose representative tells how his mail was intercepted. Also arrange for a great deal from Carnegie Foundation. Trot out to supper with Nancy & Anne. Have pleasant chat & all that.

  • Catalogue everything -- have bad luck with societies in afternoon, so go back to office & write letters. Mrs. A. shows me letter from Bill.

    Go to dinner with Adams', and then to play -- Le Mariage Forcé -- (Molière), and Oedipe Roi (Sophocles) Dr. Adams is frankly bored. I promise to look up Napoleonette.

    Prof. compliments me on my diplomatic letters to societies.


    The play Napoléonette by André de Lorde and Jean Marsèle premiered in May 1919 at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt.

  • Try to see Cid at Comedie Francaise, but tickets are all sold. too bad. Go to Office & write letter home. Buy picture for Art. Walk thru Musee de Cluny, which is not very interesting. lose glove & grapes. Call on Nancy, who has headache.

    Back in time for tea with Mme Courtoisnon Go with Shillinglaw to say good-bye to Reisling. Eat at Garden. Return to office and write letters.

    Nancy Jordan
    Lynchburg, Va.


    David Lee Shillinglaw was the YMCA man whose description of the gargoyles in Mme Courtoisnon’s dining room was quoted in the July entry. I don’t know who Reisling was - perhaps another tenant.