Today, we were taken to the infirmary and given our second shot of anti-toxin. It made me pretty sick. (I did not eat for twenty-four hours.) I was feeling very homesick at the same time.
Good news: I heard from Honey today, the first time since leaving her in Waterloo. I don’t recall ever getting a letter I was happier to get than that one. Dearest wrote me several pages and I almost cried when I read it.
Our tent was in a row about 30 to 35 rods long and there were thirty four tents in it. (A rod is a measurement that was commonly used by farmers in those days. A rod is 16.5′.) At the head of the company street was the mess hall and kitchen. It was quite a long building. At one end was the kitchen and a kind of counter where they dished up the food and placed it on each mess plate as we passed by in line. The main part of the building was given up to two long board tables with stationary benches built on each side. It could seat almost the whole company at once.
If you haven’t been following along, this is a multi-part series lifted from the pages of my grandfather’s diary from the 1918. He has just entered the service during WWI. This is Part 2 of His First Day in the United States Army.
I was taken by the arm back to the place where I was grabbed out of line, and was started past the typewriters again. Certain lines were typed on my cards and papers, which I was to collect somewhere along the line. Finally we got to a man who was stamping names and numbers on a little aluminum disk. We were each given two of these with our names and service number on them These we were told to string on the card string we still had on our necks that we’d been given at the registration hall.
From here, we were passed to a little place in the last corner where one man disinfected a spot on our right shoulder blade, another shot a syringe of anti-typhoid stuff in, and a third man swabbed the place with iodine.
The train arrived in St. Louis about 10 AM, and after being switched around the train yards a while, we were hauled out to Jefferson Barracks. We were ordered to stay on the train until we had orders to get off. This being our first orders they sounded rather harsh.
At the Barracks we were ordered off the trains and lined up two by two and marched to the registering hall. We were registered and given a string with a tag on it for around our necks. The tag had our names and the group we were classified with. After standing there for some time we were taken to a barrack and told to rest a while. They showed us where we could wash and get a drink of water. It was now nearly noon. Most of us were very tired and hungry. Mary girl had given me a lunch and some cake and popcorn and candy. So I fared better than some of the boys who had no breakfast.
About half past twelve they lined us up and took us to the mess hall for dinner. The mess hall was a huge structure capable of seating several thousand men at one time. We were seated at long tables. We ate everything we saw. I guess I don’t remember much of what they offered. But we ate it, whatever it was. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Saturday May 11, 1918 part A→
I was up this morning about 7:30. I guess Mary and I cried a little. It may be the last night we ever spend together on earth. We were both rather sad. I did not feel like going anywhere so read a little, helped Mary fix up my bag – took the black Gladstone bag with me. She, dear girl, had many things for me to take that I knew I could not take. We had gone to meeting (the Plymouth Brethren church service) the evening before and then bought some oranges and apples. We had a time getting home with them as it rained and the bags burst. We carried them in our pockets.
Mr. Leask (Mary’s father) and Ed were coming home at noon to bid me goodbye. They were going to have a kind of extra dinner, but I had to report at two o’clock at City Hall, so had to leave before they arrived.
Honey girl went to the car line with me. I guess we were both near crying.