My Grandfathers Words: Sunday May 12, 1918

I awoke rather early this A.M.

Was pretty nervous and did not know what time they would call us for breakfast. I did not exactly know how the leggings went on, so I inquired and soon found how to adjust them. The call came to get up. I think I was nearly dressed. Gilbert was next to me. I think he was already awake when I reached over and touched him. They called us out for breakfast and lined us up in columns of four to march to the mess hall. After morning mess we were told by the corporal who had us in charge that as far as he knew there would be nothing doing until after noon mess at least.

Most of us sat around the entire morning pretty somber. I wrote Honey Girl a letter. I told her not to worry and that as quick as I was sure where I was going I would write to her again. I read my Bible a little and had a talk with some of the boys about the Lord Jesus. Had a dispute with a Catholic and by the Grace of God was given scripture to answer his every question. Then, about eleven o’clock I guess there was a doctor came in and we were lined up and each had to strip from neck to thighs and he looked us over. Then, came dinner (lunch) at the mess.

Getting to know our surroundings

I had some more towels and things that I wanted to send home. John Buell and I took a walk. We first went to the commissary and on the way, walked past the building where we were examined the day before. In spite of the fact it was Sunday, there were another lot of men going through the “mill”. We finally found the commissary, but although we had stamps they could not accept a PP package. So next we hunted up the post office. Being Sunday, of course they were closed, so back we went.

I had an inspiration. Why not send the package by express the way my bag had gone the night before? We tried to get in there and after some trouble did. I sent it prepaid. On the way out some of the men helping put the rookies through stopped us and demanded to know where our barrack bags were. I guess I was surprised at my feelings as I answered them.

“I am a soldier now.”

I told him where our barracks bags were. We had already been through this area and we were old hands at the game. We were not further molested and so we made our way back to the barracks we were assigned to. From there we walked down to the river. The Mississippi looks about a quarter of a mile wide there. On this drizzly wet day, it looked particularly cold and uninviting. It made me feel rather depressed.

Jefferson Barracks is located on the Mississippi about six miles from St. Louis. It is up on a kind of bluff about two hundred feet above the river. It is usually a beautiful place, but looking through my homesick eyes that day, it was anything but.

Soon, John and I went back to the barracks and sat around. We were all a pretty sober group. I was tired myself and was glad to rest a while. About 4:20 it was supper time. I did not eat much. I hadn’t eaten much for breakfast either, only a large mug of coffee and an orange.

The coffee was sweetened. I almost sickened me. I asked for coffee with no sugar in it but could not get it. At both dinner and supper we had only water to drink. It was good water though, cold and fresh.

After supper we went back to the barracks and read some again. Gilbert seemed very depressed. He had somehow managed to send a telegram during the day to his folks to say that he had passed the examination. I was pretty heartsick myself. I had had some hope of being rejected on account of my poor eyes, but now I am a soldier.

So ends another day in Jefferson Barracks.

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