Thursday, July 18, 1918
Harold began writing this letter July 18 and didn't finish it until August 2, so it's a long, newsy epistle. Then he had to wait until coming ashore two weeks later (the postmark is not quite legible) to mail it. In it he describes dancing with a young Eskimo woman, and some startling statistics about the seal trading that give us pause today.
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July 18, 1918
My Darling Mother : —
Well we are now at Sea and believe me the water is like a lake and we haven’t seen land since we left Atka Alaska, noon July 17, 1918, we should be in Unalaska to-morrow so I’ll write a little to day.
When we are at Sea we stand sea watches. I am in the first section and we swing our hammocks on the starboard side of the ship, the second section swings on the port side. Last night we were on from 8 pm to midnight, turned in and then got up at 3:45 am as we were on duty from 4 to 8 am. To night we are on from midnight to 4 am and then sleep in until 7 am. We got eight hours out every other night so when we are under way we get little sleep. If any thing goes wrong we are on the job. We have two sails on board and one night when we were on our way to Atka from Unalaska, it was raining and we were in the roughest sea, with the water going over the bow and the sides we had to go up and put the sails up. All the fellows went to the sail amidships so Mayo and I went up on the bow and got the sail up by midnight.
The waves would hit us in the face or back and take us down the deck but we would grab on to a rope. The sail knocked the ventilator over and it fell on my foot it sure hurt for a minute, I saw it start to fall but the ship pitched under a wave and I couldn’t get out of the way. We had seven days and eight nights of that kind of weather from Unalaska to St. George and St Paul Islands, then down to Attu and then to Atka, now we are on our way to Unalaska.
We anchored about three miles from shore at Attu and so we lowered the launch and three boats to take provisions ashore to the natives, we made three trips. I rode the bow of the launch. A launch like the Battleships at Redondo had. I wish you could have seen your son as the swells were running 15 to 20 feet high. Talk about your ups and downs of life, I sure had mine that day. I tied the launch up when we came along side the ship. The fellow on the stern of the launch sure was afraid it was his last ride and several times I had to laugh in his face to cheer him up.
I am ahead of my story we came to St George Island first. We missed the island so we anchored and July 6, 1918 at 7 pm I was on lookout as we were in a fog, I spotted the Islands first and told the officer on the bridge and he got his glasses on it and it sure was the place so you see I found an Island.
July 7, at 6 am we weighed anchor and got under way. Anchored at St Paul Island at 1:30 p.m. 6 of us fellows rowed the captain ashore at 2:30 pm. We saw the headquarters of the Funsten Fur Co. and they gave us many Sea lion’s teeth. There is three Fords on the Island what do you know about that for speed.
We got the captain back on board at 8 P.M. and we pulled out at 8:30PM and hit some rough sea but pulled into Atka Alaska July 14, 1918 at 5 P.M. it started raining at 5:30 but a bunch of us rowed ashore and saw the town and picked flowers.
We just had fire drill, collision drill and abandon ship so I will try and finish my letter, they run that in on us any time.
We saw about 900 seals on St Paul Island as they skill 25,000 there every year it sure was some sight.
July 15, ten of us got a boat and went fishing at Atka but only caught five fish, we had to wear our rain clothes as it rained all day.
July 16 at 6 am we started to take stores ashore at Atka. There was three of us in the boat and we took 146 sacks of coal ashore in three trips then we loaded up with flour sugar and can milk, we made seven trips and then we cleaned the boat out and went in for water, we filled the boat up to the seats and then rowed back to the ship and they pumped it out of the boat and we went back and got another load, we wore our rain clothes.
The next day we brought two more boat loads of water home as we are short of water.
We bought a bull for our eats and they shot it on the beach so we will have fresh meat.
One of the natives gave me a cup of fresh milk with cream on it, say I never tasted any thing so good in all my life.
Ah yes we loaded a live cow in a row boat and brought in on board for Unalaska, oh believe me we had some time.
When the store in Atka sells a sack of flour to the natives he gets fish, spuds, milk and butter in exchange as they have no money here except things that look like beer checks, I have some of them to show you when I get back also many other things.
We pulled out of Atka July 17 at noon.
How is every thing at home? I hope every thing is alright as I sure am feeling fine.We didn’t get any mail July 4 when we pulled out of Unalaska as the mail was held at Seward by mistake so we will have three mails waiting for us and it won’t make me mad as I am always looking for mail.
Well Mother dear it is almost time for supper so will close for now and go up and wash for the big feed.
We anchored in the bay at 11:30 PM July 18, 1918 and the morning of the 19th we pulled into the dock and tied up the USS Patterson was there too, we started to coaling ship at 9:30 am and knocked off at 4 P.M. took on 100 tons.
We played the USS Patterson’s ball team at 6 P.M. and beat them 9 to 1. That night we had an invitation to the Jesse Lee home to hear a musical program.
The last time we were there I met one of the girls age 22, born and raised in Alaska, an Eskimo, married when she was 18, has two children, boy and girl, husband dead, died 1 year ago, her name is Mrs. Rosenberg, she has wonderful hair that reaches the floor when she is standing, well to go on with the story, one of the officers on board is stuck on her and he was there last night. She played the piano and mandolin and she is some expert on both instruments.
Well when I went in she was playing the piano but she saw me and smiled as she remembered me so when the entertainment was over she came over and we started talking and this officer got up and went back to the ship. She is the best looking girl here and she can talk very good English.
This school or home is kept up by some white people and the[y] educate the orphans and children. You should see the fancy work they turn out.
I took the girl home at 11 PM and then I beat it back to the ship and turned in at 11:30 P.M.
July 20, 1918
I didn’t get a chance to mail this as we loaded on supplies for St Paul and St George Island and pulled out at 9:30 am so now we are on a weeks trip as we will come right back to Unalaska.
We didn’t receive any mail and believe me I sure was looking for some but I guess we will get it next week; there isn’t much use to write up here as the mail lays here from a month to two months so I will send this letter and then send you a wire when we get into Seattle in Sept. I think it will be Sept or Oct.
Well Mother it is 10 P.M. July 25, 1918 and we are at sea again but I am in the boat gear locker as we are on watch to-night, 8 to midnight. We are headed for Unalaska again and should get in there to morrow by noon.
We anchored at St Paul Island July 21, 1918 at 1:30 PM unloaded and got under way at 2:30 PM. Pulled into St George Island at 7 PM. that night. Watched the seals play in the water around the ship.
July 22, 1918. St George Island
That morning an officer and 17 of us started for shore which is about 1 mile away, in a life boat. A fog came in and the tide took us to Sea, we rowed for an hour and then we heard the whistle of the ship and we got back, I guess we were on our way to Japan.
July 23, 1918 St George Island
Went ashore and saw them kill 160 Seals, it looked like a battle field, then they skinned them, the fur is worth from 400 to $100000 each, some sight.
The natives took us out to the rookeries where all the seals are, there is the bull seal and his harem of about two hundred female seals or cows as they are called. The little ones are called calves, then there is the bachelor and he must lick a bull seal before he can have a harem, there is thousands of seals on the Island, also blue fox.
That night there was a dance for us so we dressed in blues and took our jazz band ashore, all the Eskimo girls were there. The dance was held in a room 20 x 40, with oil lights. I danced every dance as the girls sure can dance.
I made a hit with three or four of them as they made funny eyes at me and would give my hand a pinch when we were dancing. I sure had the time of my life, one girl and I was the only couple on the floor as all the gang got off to give us room we sure had some fox trot, gee talk about your dances in Silver Plum, St George Island is the place, look on the map and see where your little boy with cheeks of tan is. Gee gosh. The dance broke up at 11:30 PM and we got back on ship at midnight.
July 24, 1918 St George
Pulled out at 7 am, anchored at St Paul Island at 12:30 PM. Towed a ship boat full of natives out to the rookeries 12 miles from town, then went back to the town and lay at anchor that night. St Paul Island produces more seal furs than any other place in the world.
July 25, 1918 At Sea
Pulled out of St Paul at 7 am had quarters in the am, three drills, fire drill, collision drill and abandon ship, we sure to thru them fast now. We will be in Unalaska to morrow and I will mail this there, God only knows when it will leave there.
Unalaska Alaska. Aug 2, 1918
Pulled into Unalaska at noon July 26. Are leaving here to morrow for Akutan.
We have had two dances here and I have a very good time. I have a girl here and I take her to the dance, last night it rained and I sure got wet, as I got back to the ship at 1 am. I went to the galley and dried my blues but I didn’t get any sleep, oh yes I slep in the barbers chair for a half hour.
I go and see this girl every night as she plays the piano for me and I want to every time she plays “Meditation” as I think of you. I ask her to play it every night for me. Oh I have so much to tell you when I get home, I can’t half tell you in a letter as I stop and start so often, and then I may beat this letter down to the states.
I take a hike in the hills every afternoon after 4 p.m. and I now weight 167 a gain of 17 pounds. Never felt better in my life, the last I heard from home is May 15th I think mail service is rotten here.
I should be in Seattle about Sept 15th and then lay there for a month, paint ship and repair things and then for Frisco and then Pedro.
Will close for now with all my love and best regards to my darling Mother.
P.S. Please let me know if you get the money you should get. I may have to wire for a little when I get to Seattle as it will be two weeks after we are there that we get payed and after spending this time up here I must make up for lost time. No shows or nothing here but hills.
I was rated first class Seaman Aug 1, 1918 $2.10 more on the month $38.00 now.
I am finishing three letters to night, one to you, Mary and Sis. So you see I try to do the best I can.
Last Sunday four of us took an 18 mile hike over the hills to Beaver Inlet. I ran the last two miles as it was raining so you see the trip has done me good.
I want you to give my love to every body that I know in Los and that is a friend of mine so will close for now until we hit the states and then I will wire you as soon as we tie up. I hope Grandmother and Gertrude are in the best of health and give them my love.
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