October 27, 2010

You're In The Navy Now

September 1, 1918
San Pedro, California

Dear Mother and Father,

Haven't gotten any mail yet but suppose your letters haven't had any time to get here yet.

Have drilled a good deal since I've been here, but only in the morning -- they make us do something else in the afternoon. Except when we are on special duty, such as guards, mess attendants, or the like, we get off at 4 o'clock.

One way of punishing men for petty offenses is to give them two hours peeling spuds. I had to peel for two hours the other day, but not for punishment. Each company has a day and it happened to be ours. Am certainly blistered -- my nose and forehead are peeling off. I can't say that a little white or blue cap is much protection. We got our white hats yesterday. I'll tell you what you can send me if you will -- some talcum powder and a little cold cream.

It takes about $10 to get outfitted here besides what they issue -- clothes stops, hair cut, bucket, bag to put your comb and brush, and soap and toothbrush and stuff in, Shinola set to black your shoes, stencil to put name on all our clothes, scrub sand and face soap, lock for sea bag, and a bunch more I've forgotten right now. Also I buy a pint of sweet milk every morning for breakfast -- they sell it at the canteen.

Got my first "shot" Wed. and won't have to be shot again until next Wed. Must be vaccinated Monday though!

Have been sleeping in a tent up until today, when they moved me to "The Jungles" -- which is a name given to a long shed, roof only covered, and no wooden floor (the tent had a floor), about 25 ft. by 150 ft, and a hammock every three feet. I sure hated to move because I can't keep clean out here -- will have to pull my shoes off in bed to keep my feet clean. I take a shower bath every night and today a bunch of us marched over to a part of the harbor set aside for swimming. Stayed in about an hour -- can't say I'm crazy about the water -- the salt hurts my throat.

When do Edwin and Donovan get back from their camp trip -- or have they already gotten back? Tell them to write me and I'll answer, although Monday afternoon I'll have to wash a bunch of clothes so won't write you then.

I'd better get a letter Monday or there will be a wild Texan in camp -- and they consider all Texans half wild anyway.

Three hydroplanes came over the camp a while ago and lit in the bay -- then went slowly over to the submarine base. They all three made pretty landings on the water.

They launched a big camouflaged ship (transport) today and she steamed away to go through the canal and up on the Atlantic coast.

One good thing about this country is that there are no flies or mosquitoes to bother with, and the nights are cool.

We had inspection, like they have every Saturday morning, and we had to stand over an hour at attention while the "gold braids" looked us over. There were probably three thousand civilians watching -- the first I'd seen in several days. To tell the truth I wish they were not allowed to visit on Saturday and Sunday, because as long as I don't see anything but whites and blues, I don't get homesick and wish I was out of detention. I'm getting along all right, but the guy who is sleeping between us is some baby -- he cries half the night and he only lives 20 miles away in Los Angeles. But there are only one or two nuts like he is -- the most are just a jolly, happy-go-lucky bunch. There are some of the "prettiest cussers" I ever saw or heard here. They seem to be able to talk all day and never say the same cuss twice.

Give love to all and kiss the girlies for me.

From your affectionate son, Heywood

(Postmarked Los Angeles, California, September 1, 1918)

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