March 7, 2011

Fin De Blog

Yesterday's post represents the last of the personal correspondence to and between an older generation of family. Many of these people I remember from childhood, but some, like Great-Uncles Edwin and Donovan, and Great-Aunts Katherine and Elizabeth, I know only from snapshots. I've enjoyed the posting of daily letters, and hope that those relatives who stumble on this blog will have fun reading them.

My grandfather's Navy days ended shortly after returning to the US in 1919. He presented an affidavit stating his talents were needed in Texas, and as the war was indeed over, many enlistees were being released from service. Enlistment terms at that time were variable, and it was not uncommon for men to be discharged after only a year or so.

I learned a great deal about my grandfather from these letters. I knew him as a successful, middle-aged man who smoked cigarettes and drank with gusto. I never knew him as these letters' relatively naive Texas teen, leaving home for adventures in the Navy during World War I. At that time he was impulsive, and a spendthrift who was always in debt. Like most young men his age, he would rather have been off having fun and being entertained than working full time. He was self-centered and somewhat spoiled, being the oldest son of an upper-middle class family. He was a small town fellow learning about the Real World in a hurry. His opinions about other people and countries were somewhat cavalier, but understandable given his age and upbringing.

The original letters were given to me by my father, whose grandmother (Mrs. H.F. Weldon) had kept them in cardboard shoeboxes, a very acidic environment. The letters were all written on cheap pulp, which was highly acid, and with the corrosive ink characteristic of the early 20th century. They had been exposed to extreme heat conditions in my grandmother's Dallas home and my father's upper crawlspace in Florida. I had the letters only a few weeks before I began transcribing them in the late 1980s. At that time home scanners did not exist.

A combination of factors has made the letters untouchable today. Heat, moisture, and acidity have damaged them beyond recovery. The paper falls apart into confetti and dust the moment it is taken from an envelope. After consulting with an archival librarian on the best way to preserve them, I got the bad news -- the best option was to transcribe them because there is no way to preserve them. Even before they reached this state, when I could actually handle them to transcribe them, photocopying was not recommended. I was told that the light from a copy machine would only damage the letters further.

This blog will be the only record available of my grandfather's teen-aged naval adventures. The originals, such as they are, will be passed on to another generation, who sadly will not be able to read them unless it is from this blog. Nevertheless, it has been time well spent to get them online and available in some form for posterity.

I suppose this blog will stay intact as long as Google/Blogger keeps the site active. Nothing lasts forever, though. If you want to save the content, it would be best to download posts and save them to a file. There is a link to the source folder for all the photos and illustrations in the slideshow. Interested parties can also download and save any of those images easily.

This material is copyrighted but may be used for any nonprofit purpose. For permission to use the material for profit, please contact me through the site.

March 6, 2011

The Only Letter From Mother

Mrs. H.F. Weldon
1548 Parkland Drive
Lynchburg, Va.
May 15, 1943

Dear Heywood,

The records I am sending will be of interest to you. I thought you'd like to have them for Little Heywood [Ed. note: Little Heywood was my father]. The experience of getting them was interesting to me.

The sailor-attendant offered to get your private record -- which no one else can handle -- and gave me dates, etc., and said your record was clear all through.

The modern Radar [sic]must be the improvement on the listening device.

Last night we went to the picture show and in the newsreel saw the Blakeley still in commission. I'd heard over the radio that she'd been torpedoed in the North Atlantic while with a convoy. She was badly damaged but still afloat and will, they say, "live to fight another day."

Worlds of love,

(Postmarked Lynchburg, Va., May 17, 1943)

March 5, 2011

From The National Archives

The National Archives
Washington, DC
March 9, 1943

My dear Mrs. Weldon:

There are on file in the National Archives records of the Navy Department relating to the installation of listening devices on the USS Blakeley in 1919. The log of this vessel shows that Heywood W. Weldon served on it, and his service records show him to have been a "qualified listener." This material is available for your use should you care to examine it.

Very truly yours,
P.M. Hamer
Director of Reference Service

P.S. Enclosed is a Card of Admission to Search Rooms for Mrs. H.F. Weldon.

March 4, 2011

Letter From Donovan Weldon To His Father

[Ed. note: Donovan and Edwin were my grandfather's brothers]

Donovan Weldon
The Corpus Christi Times
Corpus Christi, Texas
Tuesday, May 17, 1927

Dear Dad:

Was surely glad to get your letter. Have read it half a dozen times. Got one from Mother with it. While I know I don't write any too much, I jump on letters from you and Mother as soon as I can get my hands on them, and they help to keep me going. It isn't all sunshine being away from home, although I am awfully well pleased here. I keep busy enough that I don't get homesick, but I sure get lonesome sometimes.

I am sending you a couple of pictures taken on our fishing trip last Saturday and Sunday. They aren't really good, but they show what we catch down here, once in a while. The fish is a red grouper (I think that is the way you spell it), and I caught it on a redfish line, which is meant for a fish a lot smaller. He weighed over 40 pounds, and was a tough one to get in the boat. We managed to get him up fairly easily, but when we started to get him in the boat I thought we had lost him, he thrashed so. The line was not nearly strong enough to hold him when he got a direct pull, but Vance Griffith, who was with me, got a gaff hook under him and hauled him in. Vance is publicity manager for the Chamber of Commerce, and a good fisherman. He took the picture with the Graflex camera he carries with him, but for some reason they did not show up well. This fish was caught near the jetties, nineteen miles from the pass, where we fish for redfish.

We had a lot of fun on this trip, going down Saturday and coming back Sunday afternoon. Only the two of us went, but we caught more fish than on any previous trip. Van had a run-in with a shark while we were fishing in the surf. The pass is right on the Gulf [of Mexico], and you fish in the surf off of a sandbar where the water is about 4 feet deep. We had caught a half dozen big reds, and Vance had them on a stringer tied to his belt, floating about 6 feet away from him. They weigh so much you have to let them float out that way. About 1 o'clock at night (you fish at night for the best ones) I heard him yell about 100 feet from me, and began thrashing the water with his pole, and a shark about 8 feet long had the fish.

It was as moonlight as day and we could see the shark in the water with his back sticking up. Vance had the stringer tied tight and couldn't let go, and it dragged him about 20 feet before he scared it away by whipping it with the pole. It got our best fish, and just left us the head. The sharks won't bother a man, but if you have any fish in the water outside the bar, they will sure get them. We are going to try a stunt with them by putting a fish on a stringer and trying to harpoon a shark. I never heard of it being tried, and neither did Vance, but the fishermen say it might work, so we are going to try it the next time we go down. One of us will carry the keg, attached to one end of the line, and the other will take the harpoon and bait fish. Vance will try the harpooning stunt, for he can throw one. He harpoons porpoise from motor boats a lot, and there is really an art to it. What will happen when we hit one, I don't know, for Mr. Shark will probably take keg and all out to sea, but it will be a lot of fun, anyway.

Aside from working, fishing, and swimming, I live a mighty simple life. I leave the office every afternoon and go straight to the beach, after dressing at home, and swim for an hour or two. I have gotten accustomed to the salt water now, and can swim all right in the waves, though at first I was a total loss. Then I go home, take a bath, shave, and go to town to eat about 7:30. At night I read, having only about one date in ten days or so. I know a lot of people here, but have not gotten interested in most of them. Spend a lot of my time at Vance's house, or riding with him and his wife. They are fine people. Also spend some time with Ralph Bradford and his wife; he is manager of the Corpus Christi Times. They have been mighty nice to me, and have invited me to dinner a couple of times.

The exercise I take has sure made me feel better, and I am brown as a Mexican and hard as a rock. Tell Heywood I will take him on in a scrap now. There really has been a mighty big change in me. I weigh 170 and am not a bit fat. I go to bed at night early, and am usually ready to sleep, for after we swim we always run down the beach to the beacon, which is a mile away. Usually we run both ways, making a two-mile jog, and I have gotten so used to it doesn't bother me a bit. And I row a lot. An hour's steady rowing is just good exercise when you are used to it.

Vance and I are going to get up in the morning at four and row out to the light, two miles past the jetties, and try for trout. We go out often, getting back in time to dress and get to work by eight, and sometimes get some nice fish. But you never can tell when they will biting there. The mackerel fishing is just starting, and I want to try that too. That is the sort of fishing you would like, trolling for them in a motor boat. They are supposed to be mighty game.

I started this to be a short note, and wrote on this short letterhead, but it seems to be a rather long treatise on recreation in Corpus Christi. It is also novel to me, and I am so interested in the sport here that I could keep on by the hour. I can't get used to catching fish that pull like a mule.

Will have to stop and get out some copy, so give everyone my love, and tell them I would surely like to see them. And ask them all to write me often.


P.S. Mr. Lewis just phoned that they have put me on the committee to draw up a constitution for the Junior Chamber of Commerce, which was organized here last week. They have a mighty fine bunch of young fellows here. There is another banquet next week -- I get to meet a lot of people that way.

March 3, 2011

Wielder Of The Goose Quill

Ancient and Honorable Order of the Blue Goose
Office of the Wielder of the Goose Quill
Hall Building
Little Rock, Arkansas
May 31, 1924

Dear Dad:

Although I started this letter on the above date, it is now Monday morning and I am taking a few minutes before digging into a week's work.

You will find enclosed a blank note in the amount of $250.00 signed by me, and I'm wondering if you would mind once more placing your signature below mine, and see if the Wichita State Bank will make me a 90-day loan. I'm not broke, but am a little short on cash in view of numerous expenses such as doctors, dentists, etc. However, the main reason for the loan is that I want to be fully prepared to make a long vacation this summer, perhaps a month, beginning sometime the latter part of June. If for any reason you do not feel like doing the needful, don't hesitate to say so. I can get it in Little Rock but I'm not much on having to get an endorser other than the Dad of me.

Our weather has been cool for over a week and I guess you have had the same kind. Saw a double header ball game between Little Rock and Atlanta Friday. The southern league is not as fast as the Texas, regardless of much talk to the contrary. I surely wish you and Mother could drive or come up for a little visit before I come home. If you can get away, come on. If not, you must come in the fall sometime. I'm getting to be a regular Arkansan and want to show you the sights around these parts.

I hope Donovan is getting along better -- he's had a harder time than we realized last year. I hear you have purchased a boat and outboard motor -- did you ever get an island to rule over?

Must halt and get out some mail. Will be in El Dorado and vicinity again this week. Reports reaching me indicate that V. Allred is not on the right side of the fence, and will be beaten in the coming race for District Attorney.

Love to the family and lots to yourself from
Your son,

(Postmarked Little Rock, Arkansas, June 2, 1924)

March 2, 2011

Man About Town

Ed. note: Yesterday's post was the last letter from my grandfather's stint in the Navy. There are a few more family letters to read.

November 9, 1923
Southwestern Adjustment Company letterhead
524 Hall
Little Rock, Arkansas

Dear Mother:

Returned to Little Rock yesterday at noon after being gone two days, and will remain in town until Tuesday morning. We are experiencing such wonderful weather that I don't mind traveling, but business has been light the past week.

We have been settled in our new office over a week and it is certainly a great improvement over the Gazette Building. The building has just been completed and is so much cleaner and lighter.

Earle just came in to ask me to go to a football game with him, but I refused. Little Rock College is playing the State Normal, and I'm not interested in either team. I'll be on hand tomorrow, though, to see Little Rock High play East St. Louis High. Little Rock has won from all Arkansas teams as well as the leading high school teams of Memphis and New Orleans, and if they can win from St. Louis and Birmingham, Ala., they will be in a position to claim the southwest championship, for there is no question but that they have a better team than Dallas has. They play Bryan High on December 8 at Dallas, however.

You will be interested to know that I am having a much better time here than before. The last month I've been making quite a few dances and the fellows of the younger crowd seem to have taken me up. Just received an invitation to the coming out ball of Alice England, who is the "queen bee" deb this year. Also, of course, will be at the "Boat House" debutante cotillion on the 18th of November (which is also formal). However, the boys and girls don't compare with the crowd I know in Wichita Falls and Dallas, and don't have the clannish crowd of girls like at home. Am going to a dance tonight and dragging quite a social light [Ed. note: this is a pun on socialite] who is also a pretty little button. I suppose by 1925 I will have made my own debut into Little Rock society. One thing is certain -- I've never asked for an introduction to anyone, anywhere, an if I'm taken up they will certainly do the advancing.

Went to the Majestic last night and saw an exceptionally good bill -- the famous Arkansas Travelers were a knockout.

Don's and the other fellow's paper is OK. Earle came up, read it, and made very favorable comments. Tell Dad I congratulate him on his victory in re picture shows. Hurrah for Wichita; she is finally trying to make herself act like a city instead of a town.

I think you are absolutely correct about having a quiet Christmas, and I don't want anyone to get me a thing, for my Christmas present will be in being at home for a few days.

Since I have some dictation to give the lady, will have to call a halt for this time, but I'll try not to neglect writing for so long again.

Love to you and the family from
Your son,

(Postmarked Little Rock, November 19, 1923)

March 1, 2011

The Guardian Of The Perch

Southwestern Adjustment Company letterhead
Gazette Building
Little Rock, Arkansas

My dearest Mom:

I think this is the first time I have ever missed your birthday, but that does not lessen the regret I feel for doing it now. I knew it was sometime in October but the time slipped up on me. I won't ask you to forgive, for I know you have forgiven -- as you always do when your sons are neglectful and thoughtless. I wish I could make you as happy on your birthdays as I always am when I think of you, which is often. I wish it were in my power to put into words my thoughts of you so you might know that your son loves you all the time, even though he tells you very seldom.

It's now 10 o'clock and I have been in the city only an hour, having spent the day in Hope, leaving there at 5:30. The last four nights I have slept an average of about three hours each night, due to many night trains, but I shall sleep in tomorrow until about nine, and possibly feel better for it. I find a wire on my desk to meet a president of an oil company in Smackover Monday morning, so I shall be forced to leave town Sunday evening. Losses are picking up and we are both on the road quite a bit now. Frank won't get in until tomorrow night at eight. Earle is in Fort Smith attending a field conference but I feel sure he will return tomorrow morning. Rice plays Arkansas University and we are both going. I intend to look up J.J. Campbell the first thing tomorrow and then I'll see him at the dance tomorrow evening.

You asked about the Blue Goose election [Ed. note: Honorable Order of the Blue Goose, International, a fraternal organization for those working in property/casualty insurance industry]. It went badly. We had everything fixed so an older member of the firm would nominate an opposition slate to the old guard, however, they forestalled that by putting over a vote to appoint a nominating committee of three, and our bunch were so surprised that they didn't vote en masse -- not having been instructed as to that feature. My name was not on our list, though Earle's was, and the nominating committee didn't put any of our list on. They did, however, nominate me for the Guardian of the Perch (not the highest office but the next) and I was so elected and took the oath.

Of course I feel highly elated personally for it is more of an honor to have gotten it that way than by strong arm methods, but I feel that had I not been on the road the last few days preceding the meeting, we could have foreseen the places of the opposition and thwarted them. I am glad, however, that I remained so much in the background during Earle's and my planning, for it would be most embarrassing to officiate with the other officers, who are older, had they known I was "agin" them.

Note the writing. I haven't slept in so long that I'm so nervous I can hardly scribe.

The verse to Dad is wonderful and I'll keep it in a safe place so I'll never lose it. I wish I could get all your work together sometime and have it published -- may, too.

Much happiness to you, Mother.

I love you,

(Postmarked Little Rock, Arkansas, October 19, 1923)

February 28, 2011

From Shawnee

Fidelity Building & Loan Association
Shawnee, Oklahoma
July 7, 1922

Dearest Mother,

Your last letter rec'd last night and I'm hoping I get another when I get back to the hotel. Have finished my work here in Shawnee and will go to Konowa tomorrow, and then back in the city for Sunday, and new assignments next week.

Edwin promised me he would write me but to date no letter has shown up -- ask him why.

Woke up this a.m. and it felt like fall it was so cool -- however he sun has come out this afternoon and it's warmer.

Was walking down the main drag yesterday and who should I meet but "Skinny" Staggs. I hadn't seen him for about six years and consequently we did not know each other -- just got in a conversation as we were nearing the hotel. We both went into the cafe to eat and sat down together; then he introduced himself and I told him my name and asked if he wasn't Brad's brother "Skinny." He is selling something out of Dallas. Also saw "Ish" Clarke, and old friend of Earle's from Hillsboro and Dallas.

Went swimming for a long time at Belle Isle on the 4th, as my shoulders are now well. However I have about given up hope of being entirely all to the merry, for I now have a fever blister on my lip -- am battling same with camphor so may win out!

Hope Katherine won out in her swimming event, and am sorry Elizabeth couldn't get into her event.

Love from your son,

P.S. Address all letters from now on to office at Okla. City. H.W.W.

(Postmarked Shawnee, Oklahoma, July 7, 1922)

February 27, 2011

A Letter From Brad

Ed. note: I have no idea who this is, but obviously he was a friend of the family.

November 17, 1920

Dear Mrs. Weldon,

I've read Lou's letter and I fully agree with him. It certainly was kind and thoughtful of you getting us together this way. We have spent a very pleasant evening together all due to you.

I'll be in Wichita Falls by Tuesday and I'd like to come out to a supper with hot biscuits and to thank you in person.

With best wishes to yourself and Heywood I am
As ever

(Postmarked New York, New York, November 18, 1920)

February 26, 2011

A Letter From L.C. Goetting, Jr.

303 5th Avenue
New York City, New York
November 17, 1920

Dear Mother Weldon,

Well here we are after spending a mighty pleasant evening together all due to your very kind and thoughtful telegram. Meeting Brad here was certainly a great surprise, but only wish I had known he was here sooner. He starts back for Wichita Falls tomorrow.

Brad is going to add a few lines but before he starts in I want to thank you a thousand times. You surely are mighty nice and believe me it is appreciated.

I find Brad has gone to another desk to write so will continue.

Sunday I was at Plainfield and found a lot of your old letters you had written to Jess and me, and also those to me only. It sure was a pleasure to read them again. I also have your verses which you sent Jess and me a copy of, and was pondering over them the other night in my room.

This is by no means an answer to your last letter. We'll answer, that's just a little later.

With many thanks again, and love to all of you,
I am as always


February 25, 2011

A Letter From Grandmother

[Ed. note: I have no idea what this letter is about, but it was so amusing that I include it with the rest of the correspondence. The author is either his maternal grandmother Mary Jane Rider Walker or paternal grandmother Sarah Finley Hobbs, both of whom lived in Texas.]

At Home
June 30, 1920

Dear Heywood,

Am writing for information concerning Edith Wade's annual. When the boy came for it, did you give it to him? He was here a few minutes ago, and said he did not get it. Grandpa was going to give him Earle's, but I told him I knew you gave the boy hers. You know here book had her name in it. Please, my "Romany Sunshine", answer me at once. Granddad still grunting, all the rest well. Don't take typhoid while at home. I see there are a great many cases there. Am in hurry. You better come home to supper this Eve. -- going to have fried chick.

Lots of love

February 24, 2011

Grace Writes Again

Grace A. Hapgood
Eununa Willard School
Troy, New York

My dear Heywood,

Have been intending to write and tell you how sorry I was that I was not able to see you when I was home. Planned to have you for dinner several times but everything was so uncertain that I simply couldn't. But if you are there in June I won't let you forget an old friend.

We are all muchly excited as we have our junior-senior prom this weekend. Then only five weeks more and I shall be through with school -- and be counted among the learned as our Gen'l Weldon.

How about the letter you promised to write to just --

February 23, 2011

From KC Robinson to Heywood

Ed. note: A letter to my grandfather from a Navy friend.

Rome, Italy
November 4, 1919

Gen. Signor H.W. Weldon
1901 Elizabeth Ave.
Wichita Falls, Texas,
Stati Uniti

My dear Texas:

Today is a holiday for all the Romans, but it's only Tuesday, November 4th for me, perche io molto a fare prima de la mia partenza da Romas per l"America!

Yours of October 15th arrived some ten minutes ago and I'm going to swipe a little time from our noble organization and answer it while my morale is high. You've doubtless heard of the famous place said to be paved with good intentions. I'm afraid I've recently contributed enough to lay an entire boulevard.

For the first time in my eventful young life I've been obliged to stay in bed for a week or so . . . la grippe and general cussedness . . . and I've developed such a nasty disposition that the angels in heaven couldn't please me, and the devil himself wouldn't live with me. We had just decided on an elegant first class funeral in Venice (you know how fascinating a Venetian funeral is), with heaps of yellow mums, etc. but the gondoliers have gone on strike and we had to postpone it. I had by that time become very tired of the four walls of my room and determined to recover.

We have had nothing but rain for the past twenty days. Anyone might think this was where Mr. Noah launched the Ark. On account of the victory celebration we're having a special dispensation of sunshine today.

Rome becomes dearer to me every day and I know I shall miss the fascinating life here. Like all superstitious and weak-minded pagans, I shall doubtless throw a coin in the Tiber and another in the Trevi fountain to be certain of returning sometime, somehow, somewhere.

The Venice canteen is the only canteen operating in Italy now and that will close December 31st. They had a big dance Halloween but I could not get up for the gala occasion. Miss Keene and Billie Williams are still there but Miss Williams expects to return to the States sometime in December.

You accounts of university games, club life, and the tired businessman seem like fairy tales to me but I shall doubtless find them true on my return. I have a wild desire to go to California and get the frost thawed out of my system, but if my intentions hold good and the Fates are willing, I may do some reconstruction work in the government hospitals when I return. Life is never prosaic to me but somehow the idea of one day after another, one tea after another, or even a moderately thrilling business adventure does not appeal to me as it once did. Perhaps it is an indication of approaching decrepitude. Chi lo sa?

Have just had the temerity to pose for the cameraman in my official uniform. The result is a fairly good likeness of a Ford, 1913 model. In fact, I have been so unpleasantly disillusioned that I am seriously considering going home in a barrel. Moreover a barrel would doubtless be convenient for the prospects are that I may have to swim, fly or walk. All sailings are indefinitely postponed on account of the longshoreman's strike.

Thanks for the Pope's blessing and your hopes for a voyage sans mal de mer. November 15th is the eventful day of departure and I shall hie me to Spain and Monte Carlo and stay there until I can get passage on some homebound steamer. I shall certainly endeavor to move heaven, earth, and the waters under the earth in order to celebrate Christmas in the Stati Uniti and . . . failing in that, perhaps I can play roulette at the casino until I make a fortune, or more likely, lose all the soldi I have. It would doubtless be thrilling to make a fortune at Monte Carlo, but I hope you will use your influence with the strikers so my little bark will reach New York before December 25th.

Until then tanti saluti adn (as we say here in Italy)


K.C. Robinson
4 Francesco Crisopi
Roma, Italia

c/o C.H. Roy
215 Linwood Ave.
Kansas City, Missouri

February 22, 2011

Last Naval Letter

Ed. note: This is the last letter my grandfather wrote home while in the Navy. He and other people continued their correspondence with his family, and those that were saved will continue on this blog.

Brooklyn, New York
August 17, 1919

Dear Mother,

Am on liberty, and John and I have just gotten back from dinner with some friends of his by the name of Rasmussen, who live here in Brooklyn. We cam over to New York this morning about 10 o'clock and had chow, then came over here and go out to the house about 3 this afternoon. We went to a show and are now in the Sailors' Club about to turn in for the night. Our liberty is up tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock, so we will get to sleep in til seven.

The Blakeley stays here until the 25th, and then joins the squadron at Newport for fall maneuvers. I hope and think I'll get out -- rather than be transferred off the ship to a receiving ship for discharge before she sails again. Everything is so doggone uncertain, however, that I am up in the air and don't know when I'll get off.

The weather is cool here because it is misty and disagreeable since we landed. Most of the subways and el's are on strike, so that makes it pretty hard to get around very quickly.

We got all our back mail yesterday, and I got about twenty letters, which made me feel pretty good.

Am not going to write a long letter until I know something definite. Besides I am tired and sleepy, so will turn in.


(Postmarked Brooklyn, New York, August 18, 1919)

February 21, 2011

Home Again

New York
August 15, 1919

Dear Mother and Father,

Arrived here today noon after a five and a half day trip from Ponta Delgada, Azores. We left Venice the 29th for Trieste and Fiume, Austria, and after a short stay at Trieste we got underway for Spalato again. Left Spalato the afternoon of the 30th, and arrived at Gibraltar the 2nd of August. We stayed there several days because we couldn't get fuel oil from the English. Finally got 25,000 gallons and got underway with the USS Badger and Ellis, and made port at Azores.

Am more than glad to see New York again, and it ought not be very long before I start toward Texas (I hope).

Had a fine trip with the exception of two days when we ran into a storm. However, I don't get seasick any more so I go by OK.

Will write a long letter when I get more time. Am enclosing a letter I wrote from Venice and forgot to mail -- it got here sooner than if I had posted it.

Give my love to the kids,

(Postmarked Staten Island, New York, August 15, 1919)

February 20, 2011

A Letter From Edwin

Ed. note: My grandfather had two younger brothers, Edwin and Donovan. This letter was written to their mother when Edwin was working in a oil field after high school.

Somewhere in Texas

Dear Mother,

I wrote you yesterday and though I have received no mail will write again.

I was in a hurry when I wrote as it was right before dinner and I had to hurry to avoid the rush for chow.

The work today was not so hard as yesterday's, and I believe I am going to be able to stand it better after this. But for goodness sake don't think of sending Donovan out here. He wouldn't last a day. Needn't tell him so, but it's the truth.

The boarding house is as good as cam be expected. They have about the same thing all of the time, however. I sure do get dirty. The first day I couldn't get a bath, but yesterday I went up to the so-called bath house, and swiped a hose off a derrick and took a bath. It's just a shack without a top where you can connect a hose. I am going to take another bath as soon as I finish this letter. If the hose is gone, I'll have to hook another one.

I would like to have the mandolin out here, but it would sure get broken, so don't send it.

I am bunking with a guy called Shorty, who has a Ford, and wants to make a contract by which he will haul me to town if I will show him some girls. However he is absolutely impossible as far as society goes, so can't take him up. Lots of the fellows are absolute roughnecks, but a few are all right. That's one reason why Don has no business out here. I haven't shaved since I came and I look like a bear.


P.S. Please excuse dirt but everything is dirty! E.W.

(Postmarked Wichita Falls, Texas, August 1, 1919)

February 19, 2011

A Fine Time

Venice, Italy
July 25, 1919

Dear Father and Mother,

Our stay here was extended so we will be here over Monday. There is a two-day leave being granted, starting tomorrow morning, for us to go to to the battlefront -- Piave section under the supervision of a YMCA man. Of course we pay our own expenses, but that won't be much. Am on watch tomorrow so can't leave until early Sunday morning, but can make the trip all OK then.

I had to cash your check -- the chief yeoman aboard cashed it for me and he is going to get the money for it when we hit the States. I got the executive officer's endorsement so he is sure of his money -- anyway, I could have gotten it cashed at Cooks here I think.

We are having a fine time here, and to tell the truth I would like to stay here a couple of weeks longer before we leave -- Spalato is a bum place.

There is to be a dance at the Y tomorrow night and all the girls will be American. There are three Y girls who have been over here two years running this place, and they give dances and the girls from neighboring places come down -- canteen workers, Red Cross -- and they say they have good dances. Am going to get ashore if I can get relieved of my watch.

Have bought several things over here to take back with me. Got you several pairs of gloves and certainly hope they fit. Gloves are dirt cheap, nice kid, for 8 lires or about a dollar. You can't very well get them in the States for that.

Went over ashore today and had another good feed. They sure know how to cook here compared to the other places and always the best of service.

Have had no mail since we have been here, and there is a rumor that they have stopped sending our mail over because we are going back soon, but rumors are easy to start.

Went down to Lido to the beach today and had a swim, but the air is much cooler here than farther down the Adriatic.

Our watches are getting easy. There are only two American ships here and one English one, so there is very little signaling -- all we have to do is watch for boats coming alongside.

You ought so see the motor boats they have here -- all kinds running around all the time -- built almost like automobiles and varnished up to a million. All the people own them instead of automobiles. I can't say that I see what they could do with a car if they had one.

Give my love to Grandma and Grandpa when you write.

Your affectionate son,

(No postmark)

February 18, 2011


Venice, Italy
July 23, 1919
USS Blakeley
US Naval Forces
European Waters

Dear Mother,

We got here from Spalato early yesterday morning after an all night run, and I had to stay aboard yesterday, so get liberty from 10 this morning til 9 o'clock tonight.

This is some place -- the others have just been wide places in the road when you compare them to Venice. The people are well-dressed, have wonderful manners, and are really good looking. Besides you can get good eats, and that is one thing I surely missed since we have been over here. Am going to try and get a small cameo ring before we leave. They are much cheaper here than anywhere I've seen.

We are to leave for the States in less than a month, so I ought to get out and be home before the first of October.

Have just been through the San Marco Cathedral, and it's more wonderful than I ever thought -- gold inlaid and covered with precious stones throughout. The guards say they are priceless and I believe them, for they are larger than I ever saw.

I will have to make a note of this for I can't afford to waste my shore liberty.

Whiteside and I are ashore together, and are now going out and get some more chow, then get a gondola and go around the city some.

We can't very well play the Aaron Ward baseball like we wanted to before they went back to the U.S. They leave tonight so we will just count them defeated, since we beat the team that won from them. Anyway, I don't think we could play very well on water -- not having practiced up in water baseball.

Will write a longer letter when I get to the ship.

Love to all of you,
Your Son,

(Postmarked Benezia, Ferrovia, July 24, 1919)

February 17, 2011

Wild Rumors

Spalato, Dalmatia
July 18, 1919

Dear Mother,

It's now about 7 p.m. and I just came ashore to get a bunch of lemons so we can make lemonade tonight. We played the sub chasers ball team today and won 10-5, so I had to go back to the ship and take a bath and dress before I came over. Two hours is all the liberty I want anyway, and I can barely stretch out my time to last that long.

The past few days have been cool and raining half the time. It was down to 60 degrees for a while, but now it's getting warmer again -- almost up to 80 degrees.

Tomorrow is inspection day, so will have to rise early and clean up around the bridge before 9 o'clock. We rate liberty at noon again tomorrow, but I think we have another ball game scheduled then so I'll be glad to have something to do in the p.m.

Went down to the beach again. Their beach is splendid here and the water is just as clear as can be, but it's entirely too salty. I would much rather swim in fresh.

And so we are the proud possessors of a Winton Six now [Ed. note: a 6-cylinder car manufactured by the Winton Motor Carriage Company around the early 20th century]. That's fine, and I'm glad you got rid of the old REO before it was too late to get anything for it.

There are wild rumors that we are due back to the States by the middle of August, but I don't think so, for Mr. Dashiell told me that we were to be the last ship to leave out of this bunch.

And so Kathy and Everett are married at last. Where do they live now? When are Earle and Martha going to have a wedding?

Got my hair cut again today, and these barbers do a pretty good job considering the fact that they can't understand enough English to know how you want it done. They more than rake you over when they shave -- I really believe they are worse than Navy barbers when it comes to shaving.

Am sitting here eating K of C doughnuts and drinking their coffee. I've about stopped drinking coffee aboard, it's getting to be so poor.

Two new destroyers just came in here -- the 167 and 147. One's name is the Roper but I don't know the other -- have forgotten rather. Every ship that comes in makes more work for us, for it's just that much more signaling to be done. And when several ships are lying in the harbor we have to keep a sharp lookout, or when two or three call at once we will miss out. When we are by ourselves a watch is just a formality, and we have to do is write in the log once an hour.

Love to you all,
From your son,

(No postmark)

February 16, 2011


Spalato, Dalmatia
July 16, 1919

Dear Father and Mother,

Your letters came today and you can guess how I devoured them. They are the second I have gotten. I still have several dollars left, and am not going to cash it unless I have to, and only then if we go to some place of special interest.

Nothing new is happening but will write this and get it off when the Williams or Gridley sails for home in a day or so. They brought our mail to us from Venice today.

Have just come in from swimming. We certainly swim a great deal over here, but every little Serbian or Jugoslav kid can swim almost as soon as he can walk.

Had to stop this afternoon but will finish now. I am on the 12 to 4 watch. I usually do my letter writing when I have the mid watch.

We were all broken out at 11:45 tonight and removed from the dock and came out of the harbor. A pretty stiff wind came up and the captain was afraid we would be knocked against the cement breakwater, so we "up anchors" and here we are, out a ways from the harbor with both anchors out. It's now about 2:30 and all have just turned in again. It didn't worry me to get up for I had to anyway to go on watch. When we first got up it was raining and dark clouds covered the sky. Now it's as clear as a beer -- that's the way it does in the Adriatic -- all storms come up and die down quickly.

Played the McCook baseball team again yesterday and beat them 9-8. The McCook, Gridley, and Williams are all going back to the States this morning at 10 a.m. The McCook came over with us, so we may start back any time during the next 10 months.

The big battle cruiser Pittsburgh came in the other day, and is now coaling ship preparatory to getting underway again for someplace.

With the bunch of ships now in the harbor we have to keep pretty busy, for never 5 or 10 minutes go by without a signal coming in or we are sending one. Then too we have to keep a sharp lookout and report all motor boats from the different ships coming alongside, as well as find time to write the log and do numerous odd jobs. It surely keeps one fellow busy for 4 hours. At night there are messages up til 12, but after that we usually don't have much work to do. That is one reason the 12 to 4 isn't as bad as it sounds. Of course it beats us out of lots of sleep.

Here is the way we stand watches: three days on -- two off, or like I go in today 12 to 4 p.m. Wednesday: 12 to 4 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday 4 to 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and then I am off duty til Sunday at 12 o'clock again. In the morning we are going back into the harbor, or we will have breakfast at 6:30 instead of 7:30, or there won't be much sleep for me after 4 o'clock comes. Am feeling fine, however am losing weight I know. You can see that when I stand the 4 - 8 a.m. Thursday, I will stand 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. that night, also will have to be up twenty hours. Go to bed at 12 a.m. and get up at 7, and go on watch at 8 again. It's rather strenuous but won't kill anyone. However, you can bet I'll be glad to sleep all night for about a week once more.

Got letters from Sara, Grace, and Winnie Bradford today. You ought to see the fellows go wild when mail comes in over here. They naturally want to hear from home more now that we are farther away. A fellow got a package of newspapers today -- he could have made a fortune if her had sold them. We got the returns from the Willard-Dempsey fight yesterday, and hear that the States didn't go dry.

Just went down and caught the anchor watch asleep. The anchor watch is a seaman who stands gangway watch on the main deck. Of course, if I put him down he would get a good balling-out at least, but I'm a good feller so I just woke him up and laughed at him. It's funny to hear a fellow make excuses for something that's perfectly plain. He said he wasn't exactly asleep -- was just lying there with his eyes closed. It really makes no difference if he was to sleep all night, for there isn't anything to do now we are out here away from shore.

Dewey Wright was over day before yesterday and we talked quite a while. He tried to trade places with a fellow on here so he could stay over here. Then too, he likes the Blakeley better than the McCook. He made first class gunners mate the other day -- that's like a sergeant in the Army only it draws more money. He gets $56 per month. If the new pay bill goes through Congress, he would get $78, and I would get $63 instead of $46.50. He intends staying with the outfit after his first enlistment is up. I don't blame him, for he has more at home to want to go back to.

Am glad the boys are doing so well. Kiss the girlies for me.


(No postmark)

February 15, 2011


Spalato, Dalmatia
July 7, 1919

Dear Father and Mother,

Just finished cleaning up the bridge -- have worked all morning and it's now 2 p.m.

Yesterday was a holiday, being Sunday, but there was no liberty. In the morning we got the skiff and pulled about five miles down the bay (we are now anchored in Castelli Bay about four miles down from Spalato) and we all had our bathing suits on. The water is always warm, even at night. We surely did get blistered, but had a good time and we got pictures, which we will have developed as soon as we find a place to have it done.

In the afternoon we went inland a few miles to some old Roman ruins at Salona. It was a long trip after we went as far as we could in the motor sailer, but I am glad I went along even if there wasn't much to see. Some of the pillars were still standing, and parts of a few buildings were fenced off so they were pretty well preserved, but a lot was just left to face down.

The Serbian soldiers here are stationed in a building built by Napoleon.

Haven't gotten any more letters but the Aaron Ward went to Venice after mail, and is due in today so ought to hear then.

We leave for Venice, Trieste, and Fiume Friday at 6 p.m. for a short trip, then back here to Spalato. This is the base for all American ships in the Adriatic. There is an admiral on the USS Olympia, and we got our orders from him. We have target practice tomorrow and fire torpedoes Wednesday and Thursday for practice.

Whites are the uniform all the time on liberty here, but we don't wear any jumpers [Ed. note: jumpers are the shirts with the square collars worn by sailors] at all aboard ship -- just our undershirts. I took my mattress and blanket and went up on deck and slept last night. Our compartments get pretty hot even though they have ventilators and ports and electric fans.

The destroyers we relieved over here had been here seven months, so we may stay quite a while. I'd just as soon come back now that I've gotten across. The only difference in being over here is that when you get to thinking that we are several thousand miles from home, then it seems like we will never get back.

I have the 8 to 12 tonight, the 8 to 12 in the morning, and then I am off for two days without a watch. I've gotten so used to getting about 5 or 6 hours sleep that I don't try to sleep more than that even when I'm off watch for two nights. We usually sit up after dark and talk a while, and it doesn't get dark til about 9:30, so it's late when we do turn in.

We can't get any news about the Willard-Dempsey fight. I don't see why the admiral won't let news of the U.S. out, but he won't. He receives radio direct from America every night, but no one but his staff gets the news. Now that war is over they ought to loosen up, it seems to me, especially about things that wouldn't make a difference.

Swimming call goes in about 15 minutes so will knock off. We are in the water on an average of three hours a day now, and yesterday we stayed in all morning.

Had a baseball game this p.m. but it fell through, and I'm glad of it for I'm tired and hate to put on my uniform and go over to the grounds.

Will drop a line from Venice if I get ashore there.

Love to all,
Your Son,

(Postmarked Olympia, July 14, 1919)

February 14, 2011


US Naval Forces
European Waters
Spalato, Austria
June 29, 1919

Dear Mother,

Got here yesterday about 3 o'clock and tied up to a neat white stone dock right in the city. There are all kinds of ships tied up or anchored here -- even two or three Austrian ships with American crews aboard.

Spalato is composed of two kinds of people -- Austrians or Jugo-Slavs, and Italians. The Italians, as a general rule, seem to be the swarthy of the lot. All of them, however, are crazy to get soap, chocolate candy, or cigarettes, and you can buy more with a dime's worth of any of them than with six krone (or a quarter). Am enclosing one krone -- notice the difference of the languages printed on it. This is worth about four cents gold.

Williams, another quartermaster, and I went up to the YMCA last night to a dance given by them. All the girls were Italian but had been taught to dance by the gobs, so we had a pretty good time.

Wine and cake were served out afterwards. There was a dance at the K of C too, but the girls there were Austrian. They can't mix the two peoples for after trying it once at the Y, they decided they had better take time about having them at the Y and K of C. When they get together they just have a battle royal.

Met a fellow last night off one of the Austrian ships, from Houston, named Bonham.

We might as well be buried as far as hearing from the peace conferences is concerned. We don't hear a thing any more. I suppose it will be signed when this reaches you, however.

They have been after me to extend my time for a year from now, but so far I have resisted their entreaties. Mr. DeTreville told me today that we were going to hit Venice, Fiume, Trieste, Athens, and Constantinople before we went back if nothing happened. Unless I extend my time, I may be shipped home without getting to go along. I told him I'd rather not sign up again, but he said he was going to talk to me again in a day or so, and hoped I'd change my mind.

I wish I could write for your opinion on the matter. I think, however, that I will take a chance just like I did in coming over, and if I don't get to see those places, I don't. That's all.

An English destroyer, one left in Malta, the Tomahawk, just came in and tied up alongside us. I can get by after a fashion with signs, but I sure can't get their lingo.

The people here speak German a good deal, so what little I know comes in good. I can get along much better than either in Malta or Gibraltar. We are still having wonderful weather, and we all went in swimming for over an hour this afternoon.

Had a good chow of roast chicken and lemon pie today at noon, but we are still eating Italian bread. It's about the shape, size, and weight of a 20-pound rock. However, it's better than the hardtack we had to do with for a couple of days.

There are nine million kids [Ed. note: an exaggeration] on the dock at all times of he day, and most of them don't wear a stitch of clothes. They range from about three to 15 years old, but the people don't seem to care, so I'm sure we don't. They go into the water and capture any piece of soggy bread that happens to be floating around, while the women have become expert in throwing a bucket with rope attached, and capturing it that way. They stand around and wait for our mess cooks to come up on deck with the scraps from our meals, and they make a rush for them, and take them back home to eat.

I took about a 2-mile walk out in the country last evening and it's not only pretty and picturesque, but there is quite a great deal of grain almost ripe -- lots of wheat and oats.

There are Austrian soldiers still coming back here to their homes, but the town is guarded by Italians, and we too have provost guards out.

Am making a couple of pillow tops out of some different colored thread I bought from a fellow, and unless I get so hard up I have to raffle them off, I'll bring them back with me. We can't get any belt making cord, or I would make several while I'm over here with little to do.

Have several postcards taken by the fellow who has the big camera, but will only send a few home. Enclosed please find two.

Mail comes in here twice a week from the States, so it won't be long before I hear from you, I'm sure.

They won't give anyone liberty on Sunday here, for the people from miles around come to town, and gobs and their gang have battles nearly every time. We get from 4 til 9 on every weeknight except Saturday, when we get to stay as long as the dances last, which is usually 1 o'clock.

Can't say how long we will lay here, but this will be our "home" port while over here.

All the love in the world to all of you.

Your loving son,

(No postmark)

February 13, 2011

On To Malta

US Naval Forces
European Waters
At Sea, June 25, 1919
En route to Malta

Dear Father and Mother,

Left Gibraltar Monday morning at 10, and are supposed to get to Valleta harbor, Malta, this afternoon at 4, and after staying there a day or so go on up by Italy to Spalato, Austria. We may make an Italian port on the way, and I hope so.

I dropped Miss Jettie a letter just before we left Gibraltar -- wish I could get your letters -- but I'll just sit down and read them all when they do get here.

Dewey Wright comes over often, or rather he did before we left. She (the Blakeley) has rolled quite a bit this trip, but my "stummick" is getting sea going, and unless we strike some unusually rough weather, I think I'm all OK.

You can't imagine what fine weather we are having -- five sunny days, but the thermometer very seldom gets near 90 -- usually around 75 or 80 degrees in the shade.

They skipped this last payday, but I didn't go strong on my last pay, so still have some money. Am glad I didn't cash you $20 to buy a new suit, for we wear whites mostly, and even when we wear blues my old suit will do for this neck of the woods. you ought to see how they dress. They have every kind of people here in Malta from blooming English to black Moroccans with bare legs, skirts, and fez's.

Am not having a wonderful time over here, for there isn't anything to do, but am enjoying the trip anyway. It might be said that Heywood Weldon was making a pleasure cruise in his B---.

Will write again before we leave Malta.

Love from son,

P.S. Excuse writing but she is rolling a bit.

February 12, 2011


June 20, 1919

Dear Mother and Father,

Arrived here today about 6 p.m. after being at sea since Wednesday.

First day we had calm weather, but yesterday it got pretty rough, but got calm again this morning. Can't go ashore until tomorrow night, and then only from 4 in the afternoon until 10 at night.

As we moved alongside the #2 I looked over on the McCook, and there was a gunner's mate on deck who looked mighty familiar to me. I took a long glass and looked him over. It was Dewey Wright.

Naturally I went right over to his ship, and at first he didn't even recognize me -- he said that Gibraltar was the last place he would expect to meet me. We had quite a talk, and he is coming over tomorrow while I'm on watch to stay a while. He said he saw Weldon Younce and Barton Philpot in Boston when he was there.

We are having fine weather and the fellows are taking some good pictures. I'll get all I can when we stay in one place long enough to have them developed. The yeoman does that kind of work, but they have too much business to handle.

I haven't gotten a letter, for we have been beating it right along, but after we stay in Spalato, Austria-Hungary for about a month, we ought to get a bunch at once. you should have gotten my letter from Ponta Delgada by the 1st of July, for the big transport was leaving right away.

Will try and get some souvenirs as I go along, but can't get many or I won't have any room for them. The boys are beginning to drift back with all kinds of souvenirs. I am going to price a silk kimono tomorrow night, and if they don't cost to much I am going to get one.

The boatswain's mate is just going to turn the lights out, so will have to stop. Will finish on my watch.

12:15 a.m. Am now on watch so can finish writing.

We are just across a narrow harbor from the main part of the city, which is built right at the foot of the rock. The rock is nothing more than just a great big hill, steep as can be, with a funny looking little city at its base. A funny thing about these towns over here is that they are composed entirely of buildings with very few, if any, wooden houses. This is certainly a pretty place -- all green in the background, which makes the light-colored cement buildings stand out, and makes it look clean.

We came right by Tangiers, Morocco as we came through the Straights, and Africa is still in plain sight. Am going to run out and go across the Spanish line so I can say I've at least been in Spain.

The ships lying in here are nearly all English, and a bunch are still in their war paint.

If I were a millionaire now, or had plenty of backing, I would buy up a lot of stuff and take it back to the U.S., for we don't have to pay duty on anything we take back. This would be a big profit.

The uniform of the day is still whites, although at sea we are allowed to wear anything and everything we want to.

We lay in here in port til Monday morning at least, and perhaps longer. Go from here to Malta, and from there go on up in the direction of Spalato.

The seamen have to go over the side to paint tomorrow, so there will be no captain's inspection. Of course inspection isn't much, but when it happens everything has to be spic and span, and we have to wear clean clothes, and have our faces and shoes shined.

The Arizona pulled up anchor and stood out to sea tonight -- rumor says she will meet the president of the Azores. She came over for the trans-Atlantic flight.

I have less time than ever to write -- I did drop Aunt Maude a card, but will try and get them a letter off before we leave here.

Suppose it must be as hot as the dickens at home now, while we are having warm weather, but not that hot.

We don't work overly much, but when you figure that we hardly ever get a night in bed, you can she why it seems like work. I haven't slept all night since long before we got to Philadelphia. have either the 8 - 12 and 12 - 4, or else get up at 4 and stand watch til 8 in the morning.

It seems like I am not going to get to see either Bishop or Price, as I doubt very much whether or not we will go by France when we start back home. I would like to though -- just make one liberty there and then leave.

Give my regards to the people in Bowie when you go down. Will surely be glad when I start getting letters again.

Much love to all of you, from your loving son,

(No postmark)

February 11, 2011

The Azores

Ponta Delgada,
San Miguel, Azore Islands
June 17, 1919

Dear Mother and Father,

It's 12:25 and I have just taken over the 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. watch, so have time to write as there is nothing do but watch for the motor boat bringing the captain back aboard ship.

We left Philadelphia Tuesday at 1 o'clock, and got in here today (Monday) at 3 o'clock. Ponta Delgada is a funny looking place, but the houses are as clean as can be. We only got liberty til 10 o'clock -- but that was more than enough for some of the fellows, as saloons are wide open for gobs. All the people here are Portuguese, and are funny looking and talk like ducks.

We had rather a calm trip over -- naturally I was seasick the first day out, but got over it and enjoyed the trip the rest of the way over. We were flagship for five destroyers, and had to stand four hours on and eight hours off watch all the way. I never go one whole night's sleep except in snatches since we left Philadelphia.

We are taking oil aboard now, and I think will be underway in a very few days, but don't know where for yet. Hope it's the Mediterranean and that we stop in France and England as we go back.

It's 3:00 a.m. now. Had to stop a while ago, for all the officers who were ashore came back aboard. Just got up the radio electrician to get a tick [Ed. note: a time signal for coordination of ship's clocks] from Washington to set the chronometers by, and he said we leave tomorrow -- rather today the 17th -- at noon for Gibraltar, with two of the destroyers. The Evans and the Greer leave for England at the same time, I think.

Had beautiful weather all except one day coming over, and it's still cool and nice, although there is no wind blowing at all.

We are lying alongside an American oil tanker and around us are Italian, French, Spanish, and English ships. There is also a Portuguese gunboat. We passed the French cruiser Jean d'Arc bound for America, with the Brazilian president aboard. He was going to N.Y., Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, and was going to Texas and Georgia to look at cotton crops, but we got a wireless to forward saying that owing to illness, he wouldn't go to Texas.

Tell Donovan we saw three whales coming over. I know he would like to have seen them blow. I went up on the bridge and got a long glass so I could see them better -- we got by too quickly though.

Made 16 knots per hour up until Sunday noon, when we made 21 knots or about 24 miles per hour.

The yeoman aboard has been taking some pictures, and if I can get one he has just developed, I'll put it in the letter.

I talked to Clyde Haney again just before we shoved off, and he thought he would get out in July or August. I said I was going to stay in til I got across, and now that I am, I'm even more willing to go back any time they will let me. I'll drop in on you some time this fall about September -- all dolled up in civilians and everything. If I had gotten out I was going to buy some clothes in Philadelphia or New York before I went back.

We have a dog aboard -- or rather a pup. The fellows stole him in Philadelphia somewhere, and by the looks of him I'd say he was of good stock. He only got seasick once, and was the funniest looking pup you ever saw. His eyes rolled up and he evidently couldn't understand what made him so darn sick. Got all right in a few hours.

Remember the man who took me to the depot? Give him my regards. He told me to drop him a line from a foreign port, and said he bet I would forget to do it. I can't think of his name or I'd drop him a card.

Will knock off as my watch is about over, and I have to call my relief. Will write as soon as I get liberty in Gibraltar.

Love to every one of you,
Your affectionate son,

(Postmarked Buffalo, New York, June 18, 1919)

February 10, 2011

Going Across

June 9, 1919

Dear Mother and Father,

Have sadly neglected you I know, but we have been pretty busy since we landed in Philadelphia.

I did get the weekend liberty, and wrote you a letter and then left it lying on a table at the service club. It was stamped, so you may get it yet.

They didn't give liberty here tonight, or I would have wired you. I didn't know until today whether or not I was going over with the Blakeley, but this morning the executive officer called me up and told me I was to stay with the ship for this trip at least, and that is just what I wanted him to say. By the time this reaches you I will be about halfway across -- and "going strong." I have an idea I will be pretty seasick for a while, but it may not be very rough. Let's hope not!

Saturday afternoon Waggenseller (he is still in the yard) and I went up to see Cleveland and Phillie play baseball -- then went to the theatre at night. Got up about 11 o'clock Sunday morning and went over in New Jersey to a country club on an inland lake. They had canoes, and after spending about two hours on the water, we danced a while and then ate. There were only a few gobs there but they were treated splendidly. A Catholic man invited us out -- we stayed at the K of C [Ed. note: Knights of Columbus] service club Saturday night.

Since I'm going across I am going to make my old suit do. I have enough to get it without cashing the $20 check, but I was waiting to find out which to buy -- a civilian suit or a new gob suit. Now I'll wait til I get back -- if possible.

We stored up here with a full 6 months rations, but that doesn't mean we are going to stay that long. I really think we will be back on this side by the middle or last of October, if not sooner. I would like to go over and stay about three months, and then come back and get a discharge. That would be about the right time to go back to Texas -- it would be starting to cool off again.

Thom, the little fellow from Chicago, was transferred today, and we all surely hated to see him go -- he was always smiling, never seemed to get peevish about anything at all, and the most accommodating fellow I ever saw. He was a reserve listener and didn't know signals. They got two more radio men aboard to take his and my place on the listening apparatus. I am to do nothing but general quartermaster work on the bridge, and I surely like it better than being in that little cubbyhole in the fo'castle. Of course I've been on the bridge quite a good deal, but had part of the other work to do too.

The fellows are up on deck playing the Victrola, and I admit I'm just a little bit homesick. I thought I was going to get out instead of staying in, and looked forward to surprising you someday in the near future.

I got your letter this morning with Bishop's and Price's addresses in it, and if I hit France, I know it will be Brest, and will at least look Heney up. Our orders now read Antwerp, Belgium -- and from there to Turkey, but we might hit a French port. Hope so. More than likely we will go first to Ponte Delgade, Azore Islands -- will drop you a line from the first port we hit. We have a squadron of five ships and are flagship.

Am certainly glad Donovan is doing well, and hope he is able to make up on his studies before next term -- but make him graduate even if he is 25 when he does.

Aunt Pat and the boys ought to have a wonderfully happy family reunion at Long Beach this summer. I surely wish you could go out to Los Angeles -- it's all you hear, and more.

Waggie and I went to Wilmington Sunday night and stayed til the 1 o'clock train, so I didn't get to bed til almost 4:30, and I have the 12 - 4 a.m. watch tonight. My rest is going to suffer for a while since we will stand 4 on and 8 off while at sea. I am certainly glad that seamen have to steer instead of quartermasters. We only have to take the wheel in difficult landings and bad shoals. Steering a ship by compass is more trying than making a 4-hour auto drive.

Am going to try and get some good pictures while I am gone, and will bring 'em back -- might lose them if I mailed them.

All the love in the world to all of you,
Your affectionate son,

(Postmarked Philadelphia, June 10, 1919)

February 9, 2011

More About Baseball

May 31, 1919

Dear Father,

Got another letter from Mother today while I was playing ball -- the mail orderly came by and gave it to me there instead of making me wait until I got back to the ship.

And so you are to really be "Judge" Weldon. I don't know whether to be glad or not, for it's going to work you mighty hard jumping around all the time. However, I'm "fer you strong" in anything you decide to do.

Yesterday the executive officer called me over and talked to me about getting out, and said he wasn't sure whether I would go across with the ship or not, but he gave me lots of satisfaction when he said he would either give me a discharge or take me over with them. He asked me about finishing out my four years, but I told him I'd rather be out. I'll be mighty disappointed if I don't get to go across, but at the same time I'll get out if I don't, so I'll be satisfied either way. One thing is certain -- if I am going to get out, it will be before the 15th of June.

Had good luck in yesterday's ball game when we played a Coast Guard cutter team. I knocked the furthest fly ball, they say, that has ever been hit in the park. There was a man on first and we both scored, which gave us a decided lead. Am doing very well playing first base -- playing much better ball than I did when I played with Bowie [Ed. note: his high school team]. Our suits are pretty good material, with Blakeley down the front and a blue B on the cap. I have a good lightweight pair of sprinting baseball shoes they issued us. Really wish I could bring them and my big leather sea boots home with me, but not a chance.

Are having perfectly splendid weather up here now. It was 90 degrees in the shade yesterday, but a breeze was blowing from the sea today so it was cooler. The nights are cooler than at home anyway.

We will be in Philadelphia about the 5th, and I'll let you know as soon as I find out anything definite about getting out.

Love to all,
Your loving son,

(No postmark)

February 8, 2011

New Orders

USS Blakeley
New London

Dear Mother,

Have just gotten back from playing a game of baseball -- before that we all went swimming. It was 90 degrees in the shade today -- this country isn't so cool in the summer I'm thinking. A fellow took a picture of a bunch of us, and if I can get one I'll send it on.

New orders came to us today -- we are to get new provisions and be ready to shove off for France by the 10th of June. I'm hoping and praying they don't put me off the ship because I'm not a 4-year man. Of course, it's not certain but that's what the skipper said we would do if nothing else happens. Be at Philadelphia by the 6th, and then across. There is no telling ow fast they change their minds in any matters. Yesterday they thought they were going to Hampton Roads, and now all that's been changed, so they may send another order along and we won't go. All but a few of us have been over long ago, but they would all like to go b ack for a couple of months or so. If I am to go, I'll wire you when I leave.

We aren't working at all now, and won't til Monday because tomorrow is a holiday, and comes Saturday and Sunday. Haven't turned our hands for two days already -- just lay around and read or sleep on deck. We put up our awnings and that shades almost the whole ship.

Whiteside jumped ship -- that is, he went on liberty when he didn't rate it, and now he will get some form of court martial. It's not as bad as it sounds, for they give them for a little of nothing in the Navy. He may lose a bunch of his pay however, and that's pretty bad.

Will put two postcards in this letter instead of mailing them.

If I get to go with the Blakeley, I'm satisfied, and if I don't I may get out, so it may turn out all OK anyway -- can't do anything but wait and see.

Will write again when I get definite news.

Love to you all,

(Postmarked New London, Connecticut, May 30, 1919)

February 7, 2011

The Blakeley At Dock

USS Blakeley
New London
May 28, 1919

Dear Mother,

The ship is still tied up to the dock, and I don't think we will leave before the first of the month now. Mr. Dashiel, 3rd officer in charge, said yesterday that we were supposed to have gone to Hampton Roads for target practice before we join the fleet. We have been appointed flagship [Ed. note: Division Admiral's ship when he is underway] for the 7th Division, which takes in a bunch of destroyers.

Don't think there is much chance of our going across soon, so I don't care where we go from here. The DuPont came out a couple of weeks before we did and she is over already. The reason we aren't is because we are fooling around with a new invention on the listening device.

We all went swimming in the Thames River today -- climbed into our trunks and just jumped overboard. The water was pretty cool but it won't hurt anybody, for the weather is fine the last few days.

Can't get the check cashed here -- could have if I had taken it over when I first came, and waited for it to go to Texas and back, but we weren't certain of staying long enough. Anyway, I don't go ashore much so am making my old suit do. I'll rock along without a new suit for a while. I'll tear the check up if I don't cash it by the first, which I think I won't.

Am certainly glad Edwin has gotten a good place and at the same time go to school. Maybe he will stick to it and get an education. When I get out I'll guarantee he can get one if he will only go away to school after graduating there.

Got Donovan's letter yesterday afternoon. Tell Edwin to drop a line or two during his spare moments.

Grace Hapgood said she was going to be in Philadelphia on the 13th of June, but we won't go back there til about the middle of July, so can't see her unless I'm in New York and can run down.

If peace is only signed by the last of July, I ought to be out by the last of August. That would make a year in the service and a year I won't regret losing at all.

I have a couple of postcard pictures of the Blakeley I am going to mail to you. They won't go in an envelope.

Another destroyer, from the west coast, came in last night and we stayed up til about 10:30 talking to them with the blinker. They went out this morning to New York.

We went canoeing again. I surely do wish we had a good body of water at home so we could get a canoe. Whiteside went to a dance at Ocean Beach tonight, but I'm tired and sleepy so I didn't go with him.

Give Judge Weldon my heartiest congratulations as well as my love.

Your affectionate son,

(Postmarked New London, Connecticut, May 28, 1919)

February 6, 2011

At Sea

Aboard, May 24, 1919

Dear Mother,

A letter from you came this morning as I thought it would. We got in last night at 9 o'clock, after having spent two days at sea. We went out where we get a pretty good deal of pitching and rolling, but I didn't get as sick as before.

Am sending some pictures we took the other day -- will try and get a side view of the ship some day when she is not tied up at the dock, and send you.

Thom and I went ashore this afternoon and out our European charts [Ed. note: navigational maps] out of the post office, and brought them back to the ship. We leave here between next Wednesday and Friday -- I don't know where for.

I would go ashore tonight but I have the 8 til 12 quartermaster watch on the bridge. My go anyway if I can get Barnsdale to change watches with me.

It's been raining a great deal up here too, during the last two weeks. It was foggy all day Thursday while we were out, so Thom and I had to stand listener watch all day long -- sick or no sick. There is a law in the Navy that says seasickness excuses no one, so sick officers and all must abide by it.

Got a letter from Grace Hapgood this morning, and I fear she gets entirely too sentimental.

Haven't been able to cash that check yet, but suppose I can when I get back to Philadelphia again. We may be back there in less than a month now. I would like to run into New York for a couple of weeks first, though.

If I was in for four years and had at least a year to do, I could get the mail clerk's job aboard, and that pays $15 a month extra. They said if I would sign up to finish my four years, they would guarantee that I kept it as long as I was aboard the Blakeley. I only laughed at them. I don't want to stay in three more years.

I have kept my insurance but only $5,000 of it. I figure that is all I will want to carry on the outside, when I do get out and change it over.

Got the clipping about the rodeo, and I sure wish I could be there to see it. I will be next year -- more than likely.

It clouded up right after dinner, but the sun is out now and it is a fine day. I sincerely hope it doesn't rain for a while.

Give the kiddies and Father my love.

Your affectionate son,

(Postmarked New London, Connecticut, May 31, 1919)

February 5, 2011


USS Blakeley
May 19, 1919
3:05 a.m.

Dear Mother,

You are right -- it's not time to be writing letters, but I have the midwatch on the bridge [Ed. note: midnight to 4 a.m. watch. Those assigned to midwatch are allowed to sleep late]. Have just finished writing the 3 o'clock log so have just one more hour to stand before turning in again. It's sure tough to go to bed at ten, and have to get up at twelve and stay up for four hours. However, we have an electric toaster up here, and the galley keeps their bread and butter so we can get it, so I made toast and am now so full I can't eat any breakfast I know.

We played ball again today and Ensign Boone pitched for us. We won 8 - 5. That fellow Boone is certainly one fine fellow to be with. I almost forget he's an officer when he's not all dolled up. The reason for his being so much like he is, is because he was a gob for six months before he got his commission. He says he had more fun the half-year he was a gob than the year he's been an ensign. He came from Baltimore and went to school at Princeton -- was catcher for their baseball team and made All-American halfback while with them. Every officer except the skipper and one ensign are from below the Mason-Dixon line, and over 3/4 of the enlisted men. Mr. DeTreville, executive or second officer in command, is from Houston originally.

Today (I mean yesterday) started out rainy but along toward noon it cleared up, and we had a pretty warm afternoon. We go out of the harbor tomorrow and may not be back til Tuesday night. But we stay in Wednesday again. Haven't heard in a couple of days now. Will try to give this to the mail orderly before we shove off tomorrow -- we don't leave til 9:30.

Mr. DeTreville called Thom (the other fellow who went through listeners school) down today, and told him that he was going to try to get a relief for him from the station here, and let Thom be released from the service. Thomas has a good dependent's claim, and his mother had their congressman write for her. I ought to be out by the middle of July myself. I saw in the paper last night that all DOW [Ed note: department of war?] reserves were going to be out by then if possible.

We are on the reserve list to go across and would have been across if it hadn't been for putting on these listening devices. We must be in N.Y. the 15th of June for a review, and Newport the 1st of July, so am sure we won't go across til then anyway. The ship that was put into commission just before we were is already across -- is stationed along the route of the Navy seaplanes that flew across the other day.

Will knock off and do a little looking around -- someone might have been trying to signal us on blinker for 30 minutes.


(Postmarked New London, Connecticut, May 19, 1919)

February 4, 2011

On The Sound

New London
May 17, 1919

Dear Mother,

Mess is just over and since it's raining I'm not going ashore. We played some Coast Guard cadets baseball this afternoon before the rain, and they beat us. However, we will try them again before we leave.

We went out yesterday in the sound and finished testing out the listening apparatus, and came in about 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon. We tied up to a dock instead of at the buoy [Ed. note: mooring buoy, set in deep enough water for a big ship like the Blakeley].

Whiteside went to New York today, and I promised him I would stand his watch tomorrow, so won't go out. Really don't care to as there isn't anything on earth to do here.

Had an 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. watch last night, but I slept in til nearly 7:30 this morning so am not very sleepy. Playing baseball has made me one real tired "feller" tonight so am going to flop early on that account.

Didn't get a letter from you today but suppose a bunch will come all together. Did get one yesterday with the clipping about Father in it?

We will be here at least a week longer -- they are going to put another listening device in the forward oil tank, and that will take almost that long.

There isn't any news to write about as long as we lay in here, but I'll try to keep up my end of the correspondence.

Love to you all,

(Postmarked New London, Connecticut, May 19, 1919)

February 3, 2011

New London Redux

New London
May 14, 1919

Dear Mother,

Again I take my pen in hand and drop a line from New London, although it's been a long time since I was here in the Y.

We got here last night about 8 o'clock and tied up to a buoy in midstream, but they didn't give us liberty until today at 4 o'clock.

They are putting on the compensator to the devices we got put on in Philadelphia. When they get on, I will have to look after that as well as stand quartermaster watches.

The trip from Newport was great -- warmed up, so we lay on the mats on deck and had a "jake of a time" all the way. Got some pictures of her as she was making about 30 knots, an surely hope they are good -- will have them developed here if we stay long enough and I think we will. Tomorrow we paint ship, but thank the Lord we don't have much of that to do -- just the bridge, while the deck force has to go over the side on stages [Ed. note: scaffolds] and bosn's chairs.

Haven't had a letter since last Friday but know they are just being sent around following us. We will get them here in New London, I'm sure.

We surely have a good bunch of officers -- no regulations whatever. We wear anything from dungarees to a combination of blues and whites, and the liberty party came ashore with everything from white hats to flat hats on. Seems funny to have to get in a motor sailor (whale boat with motor) [Ed. note: generic term is liberty launch] to go on liberty.

Didn't get to go down to Wilmington before we shoved off, and haven't even written them. However, haven't much better writing home.

One thing I like about the Blakeley, they don't make us get up til we want to -- up to 7:30, when we have chow. Just roll out of our bunks and step about 3 feet to the chow table -- wash if you really feel equal to the occasion.

New London seems rather tame compared to Philadelphia, and the fellows are just wandering around the main street for the shows or dance halls to open up.

Last night we stayed on the bridge and "chewed the fat" -- that is, carried on an animated conversation by means of the blinker -- with other ships in the bay.

We have liberty til tomorrow at 7:30, but am going back on the 12 o'clock boat and turn in so I won't have to get up so early.

Can't say where we will go from here, but hope we run up to Boston and then back down to New York.

I forgot to tell you I got your liberty buttons, and I thank you from the depths of my heart for the bond. I took out a $50 one myself, and if it's not paid out by the time I'm discharged, I'll pay the difference out of the $60 I'll get. I don't think it will be ten months before we get out.

Thanks again for the check for twenty -- I may be compelled to cash it sometime if we aren't paid in the next month or so, but will keep from doing it as long as I can.

Love to you and Dad and the kiddies,

(Postmarked New London, Connecticut, May 14, 1919)

February 2, 2011

Salty Dog

Newport, R.I.
May 12, 1919

Dear Mother,

Have just tied up at the dock and the gunners mates are getting ready to take on torpedoes. It is unofficially reported that we leave tonight for Boston, but we may go to New London, Conn. We left Philadelphia yesterday at 9:20 a.m., and it's about 12 o'clock now so didn't make such a fast trip. I was pretty sick last night for a while, but feel all right this morning. If we go to Boston right away I know I'll get seasick again, for my stomach still feels "wobbly."

Am writing this aboard as we don't get liberty here, and will mail it by giving it to someone on the dock.

Am going to take a bunch of pictures and send them to you. We have big leather knee-high boots, and blanket coats with hoods, so you can imagine how we look.

The weather has certainly been bad the last four days, and now it's turned as cold as the dickens and the sky is still thickly overcast. Am not used to life aboard ship yet but I think that within a month I'll be a "salty dog."

May be able to get a relief at New London but I doubt it. There is no telling when I'll get off. As soon as I get ashore I'll write a regular letter, but can't do it now since I've got to go on the bridge in a few minutes. Will now go out on the dock and try and get this mailed.

Your loving son,

(Postmarked USS Dixie

February 1, 2011

Anchors Aweigh

May 10, 1919

Dear Mother,

This is the first opportunity I've had to write since we went aboard, for we have had some work to do, but it's about all done. We are supposed to shove off tomorrow (Sunday) at 9 a.m., but when I was on watch on the bridge today, I heard the skipper say that unless the fog lifted he would be afraid to chance it, since he hasn't completely tested his compass. It's been raining for two days now, and I had a 4-hour watch last night on the bridge. Of course I had on oilskins, but still it wasn't exactly comfort.

I rate liberty tonight but am not going since liberty for us is up at 12 o'clock.

Got Father's check last night and I certainly do thank you for it. Of course I won't cash it until we get somewhere where we will be long enough for it to go through the bank and back to me. I'll save it anyway til I get a chance to buy a good suit [Ed. note: a new blue uniform, not a civilian suit].

Can't tell you all I want to because I must hurry back aboard -- just came over to take a bath. We haven't very roomy washing quarters aboard.

Have been aboard since Wednesday and like it fine, even if we do have to work harder.

Will write tomorrow if we don't get away.

Love to you and Dad,

(Postmarked Philadelphia, May 10, 1919)

January 31, 2011

Tomorrow We Sail

May 7, 1919

Dear Mother,

Have been aboard the Blakeley all day and we will bring our sea bags over tomorrow, when at 2 o'clock she will go into commission.

We leave Sunday or Monday for Newport, R.I., but since I don't know how long I'll be there, write to Postmaster N.Y. til I send you my address -- that is, if we lay in one place a couple of weeks or so, I can get my mail at the Y or somewhere.

You can't know how sorry I am that I missed seeing Bart. I hadn't heard from her in quite a while, or I would have known where she was going to be when I was at home.

Am going to see a musical comedy tonight that has been playing here for quite a while. Ensign Boone, Chief Quartermaster Legwood, and another fellow and I were sitting in the chart room today, talking about everything from baseball to women and shows, and he said it was fine and not to miss it.

Waggie and I were going anyway -- but we had to pay $2.00 each for seats. I didn't get the new suit -- it wouldn't fit me in the shoulders, and I wouldn't buy one that wouldn't fit. I couldn't buy a new suit, for they cost 30 bucks, so will wear my old one a while yet.

Am going to write Bart before the show will stop.

Much love to all of you,
Your son,

(Postmarked Philadelphia, May 9, 1919)

January 30, 2011

Last Splurge

National Catholic War Council
Service Club
May 6, 1919

Dear Mother,

Am in town -- I just got back from Cramps' shipyards where we tested out the tubes before the ship goes off the ways tomorrow morning.

Last night Wagenseller and I gave each other a farewell party since we are to leave without him. They transferred him to the USS Cole.

Am going out to that fellow's house tonight and look at his suit of clothes. I drew 25 bucks this payday; of course, Wagenseller and I spent a good bit last night. We had dinner at Boothby's and went to see a show at the Schubert Theatre that cost $1.75 apiece. It was a darn good show and I'm glad I went. I can buy this suit for 20 dollars, I'm sure, and can borrow a few dollars from John to tide me over. I don't mind borrowing from him because he was overdrawn once and didn't get paid for a month, and we got along all right til he could pay back what he had borrowed.

You had better write all my letters from now on in care of the Postmaster New York - USS Blakeley, and be sure to spell BLAKELEY right. Am sure we will be in Newport in a week or so.

Can't write much today because I am going to be out at that fellow's house at 6:30. Will drop a line tomorrow.

Love from,

(Postmarked Philadelphia, May 6, 1919)

January 29, 2011

IWW's and Bolsheviki's

May 2nd, 1919

Dear Mother,

It rained all day yesterday and we were over at Cramps' shipyard, and had to stay all day over there, and then came back on a trolley in our dungarees. Today is bright and warm, and I only hope the weekend stays like this. I haven't been on liberty since last Monday, but I still have a dollar and a half, so will go out tomorrow night. Of course I was out that afternoon we went down to the river, and the money I got allows me this weekend liberty.

Here are a couple of clippings I tore from the paper. I sent the message that told Col. Clement where to meet his wife. She was on the boat I was, and I asked the quartermaster on the Mercury to tell him to come on deck, and then his wife nearly went nuts when she saw him. He came ashore at the pier with General Muir, but the General was in civilian clothes and didn't look much like a soldier.

The Athletics play their first home game today, but I can't afford to go out and see them, for I'd rather not go than have to stay in over Sunday.

They had a bunch of rioting here by IWWs and Bolsheviki's yesterday, and a couple of companies of Marines were sent out on guard after a couple of policemen had been killed. They wouldn't let any gobs in camp go out on liberty for fear they would get into trouble. Of course, the ones on the ships got liberty.

We haven't more than two more truck loads to take over to the ship, but I have to go over anyway to stand around and try to learn how the put the tubes on. The listening apparatus on the Blakeley will cost almost $10,000 to install.

Got a letter from you yesterday that you wrote last Sunday and gave to Edwin and Abe to mail.


Clipping enclosed with above:

Sees Relatives

Lieutenant Colonel Charles F. Clement, of Sunbury, acting chief of staff, had many duties to occupy him yesterday, but twice he was observed in oblivious contemplation of other things than duty. Once was down the river, when the division emblem was run to the masthead. The other time was at the pier, when he saw Mrs. Charles F. Clement, and his father, who was commander of the 28th Division when it was known as the National Guard of Pennsylvania.

January 28, 2011

Welcome Home

National Catholic War Council
Visitors' House
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 30, 1919

Dear Dad,

Wrote Mother this morning before I went back to the barracks for chow -- when I got there, a messenger was waiting for John and me with a message from the Admiral in charge of the district. It said to send two quartermasters off the Blakeley detail to the City Pier at Race Street. We are to go out on police ships to welcome ships coming in. My first message was from a city official to General Muir, and as the general's wife was aboard, I sent him a message telling him where to meet her. The people we sent the messages for gave me a couple of dollars, and Whiteside got nearly four dollars from the people on the Springfield, the boat he was on.

I read about the new well, and hoped you had some holdings near. It ought to be a good thing if only there is oil under your acreage. I'd like to be there now and get in on a lot of that stuff.

Think I'll drop my insurance down to $5,000 and take out another $50 bond. Of course, I can't get it paid off, but I'll pay the difference when I get discharged, and save whatever I have paid on it.

Am sending my admittance card -- give it to Mother to keep for me as a souvenir.

Love to all of you,

Enclosed was a guest card admitting him to the Boat Springfield to welcome returning troops aboard the USS Mercury, May, 1919.

(Postmarked Philadelphia, April 30, 1919)

January 27, 2011

Loads of Stores

April 30, 1919

Dear Mother,

Loaded stores [Ed. note: ship's supplies] all day yesterday so didn't write you. All that the ship lacks now to make it complete is finishing putting on the listening tubes, and they are working on them now. They are a new kind, and over 150 holes must be drilled in the hull of the ship to put them on.

They took all but one last load of stores on board this morning, but I decided not to go over since I've been working pretty steady for the last week -- that is, making the trip every other day. When we go in commission we will have all our stores aboard, which will leave us more time to gets things fixed up, and be ready to shove off within a week. We go to Newport, R.I. first to get torpedoes, I think.

We had a game of baseball matched with the Marines for tomorrow, but they canceled it for some reason. They have a good team and we wanted to play them.

That poetry was fine. I let Wagenseller and John read it, and they agreed with me. I'll return it since I might lose it if I keep it in my bag.

We are about used to hammocks again, and as the showers, wash, and scrub rooms are so much nicer where we are now, we are satisfied with the change.

I know Mrs. Russell thinks he Navy is ruining me, but it's not at all. I haven't changed a bit. You didn't notice any change when I was at home, did you? I don't think I'm one bit lazier than I used to be, and really believe not much so. Of course I don't work unless I have to, or don't go round hunting, for it's not like the outside -- you get just as much out of the Navy by being a good manager as you do working hard in civilian life.

I do hope Father makes money on his oil land. I don't much blame him for not quitting his law, for I know he likes it, but he should be able to make himself some money on the side.

I'm sure I'll like it at home if I ever get there, but I can't see far enough ahead to see a discharge paper yet. It may be I will get a chance to get out when I'm least expecting it.

A fellow named Fricker was paid off only a week after he got a new suit, and he wants to sell it for twenty dollars, so if I draw twenty next pay, I am going to buy it if I have to stay broke another two weeks. I have got to have one -- this old one is just about gone. A new one from town costs at least $30, so if I can get this one I'll save, and in the next place I'd never save the $30 to get one, I'm afraid.

White hats [Ed. note: "Dixie cup" hats] are going to be the uniform of the day beginning tomorrow, but I'm all right for mine are still clean from the time you washed them at home. I'd rather wear white hats except they are hard to keep clean.

The only bad feature about sleeping in our new barracks is that we have to rise and shine at 5:45 every morning, and as you know that's pretty early, especially since this new hour went into effect again. I think I'll live, however.

Love from you son,

(Postmarked Philadelphia, April 30, 1919)

January 26, 2011

Up On The Ways

April 28, 1919

Dear Mother,

The ship is "up on the ways" for the last time before being taken over by the government, so we don't have to take stores aboard her today. Therefore nothing to do but lay around at our club.

Went to Wilmington yesterday -- rather Saturday afternoon, and stayed over til last evening about 7:30. I came home early because my hammock is hard to swing in the dark.

There was a gob there off the Montana who had just gotten back from hospital in Russia. He was the electrician in the landing party and was stabbed twice by a Russian before he could shoot him, therefore he rates two wound chevrons, as well as tour overseas ones. Lives in Lebanon, Tennessee, and went to Cumberland University. He said if I knew anyone who was going to Lebanon to school next year, to let him know so he could look them up.

It's warm again -- they talk about Texas changing from warm to cold in a hurry, but it hasn't anything on Pennsylvania.

Got Edwin's letter when I got up this morning and am glad he took the time to write. Will write him in a day or so.

Duncan, the fellow who used to live in Wichita Falls, is leaving today on the Biddle. She just went into commission last week. We went over and went aboard her this morning, and told her crew we'd meet them in Newport, R.I. They were in the same barracks with us for a while. We ought to leave the yard in two weeks for Newport, so may meet them and play them in baseball again.

Hope I have a letter from you when I get back to the barracks. Ought to, since none came Saturday or Sunday.

Give Bart my love; I wish I could be there -- and more love for the rest of you.


(Postmarked Philadelphia, April 28, 1919)