Friday, May 10, 1918
A long, newsy letter written over several days. Harold observes that after he and his shipmates shoveled 250 tons of coal he “looked like a negro.” It was a different time, and I don't know that we should read much into the statement. Harold is proud that he wasn't troubled by the rough seas that had many of his shipmates sick.
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Somewhere at Sea
May 10, 1918
My darling Mother: -
Well I don’t know when and where I’ll mail this but will do the best I can.
We left Bremerton May 8, 1918 at about 2P.M. and got out about two miles and a steam pipe broke so we had to limp back to Bremerton and repair the pipe, then we pulled out again at 6 P.M. and we are now going strong. I am now working up on deck and I like it fine.
Yesterday May 9 we pulled into Union Bay Canada in the morning. they lowered another fellow and myself in a whale boat while we were still running and we rowed over to the dock and pulled the lines in when the boat came alongside.
We took on coal at Union Bay 250 tons, we shoveled coal from 1 pm until 6:30 P.M. and believe me we worked. I looked like a negro when I got thru but it didn’t hurt us. Union Bay is a very little berg and the people had a dance and a supper for us we sure had some time, square dance and all the old fashion dances.
To day we had to clean the ship all over as it was black from coal dust
We passed the danger point last night at 6 P.M. Sea More Narrows the tide is a fright. We took a dive for the banks and then bounced back again whirpools and back tides.
We are going up the inside passage with mountains on each side.
May 11, 1918
Last night we anchored as the tide to to dangerous to buck against at night.
Got up this morning at 5:30 am and put on my hip boots and we washed the desk and then rubbed sand on the desk with holystones and then washed down again and she sure was cold, the mountain to our port side was covered with snow and a low fog sure was a pretty sight.
The sun gets up at 4 am and sets at about 9:30 P.M. some pretty sun set too.
Last night I stood watch from 8 PM to midnight and then from 4 am to 8 am to-day we only get about four hours sleep now.
I got my fifth shot in the arm to day and that makes the last one. Two fireman and a seaman are in their bunk sick as a dog but my arm doesn’t feel so bad yet.
The feed us fine all the time and I think I’ll get fat. I like working up on deck as working in the steerage was too easy.
Yesterday I crawled out on one of the life boats while we were running and washed the outside of it. I was over half out of the boat but I should worry. The Boatswain said not to fall overboard to me about three times but I told him I would whistle if I did. He is one of the officers in the steerage and they treat me fine, but I always do my share of the work and this morning we had inspection so we had to clean the ship all over.
Well Mother I am seeing some wonderful country up here and it all looks beautiful, the mountains are all covered with tall timbers and then the range back of that is covered with snow and the water is covered with white caps so you can picture it in your own mind.
May 12, 1918 Sis’s Birthday.
My hands are cold so excuse writting.
I got up this morning at 5:30 and at 6 am we were washing the deck with a hose. Got thru at about 7:30 had breakfast and then went up on the main deck but the Victrola wouldn’t run so Ray Garrett (the Bugler) and I took the machine all apart and fixed it. We had one fine dinner, Meat, Mashed Potatoes, Peas, carrots, Gravy, bread butter and then we had ice cream. We then layed on the upper deck and watched the wounderful scenery and it cant be beat.
We passed a little Indian town at noon by the name of Bella Bella Canada, we could see where they buried the dead in little houses across the water and also a totem pole.
Then we passed a ship that was sunk 13 years ago just her three masts sticking out of the water, some sight. All the mountains are now covered with snow and the water running down the sides in streams. We are only about a quarter of a mile from either shore as we are still on the inside passage.
To night we anchored in a little bay at 6:30 P.M. Lowered three whale boats and I was in one of them. We rowed over to a ship that was sunk a year ago, the Ohio, we had our picture taken standing on her bow as that was the only part of her sticking out of the water, then we had a boat race from there back to our ship. In one of the boats there were all officers but our boat won, then we raced back to the wreck again and the officer’s boat plowed into us but no damage done, we won that race to. The officers rowed over and landed on the beach and went hunting, they brought back two dears so we may have dear meat for dinner to morrow.
Our bunch rowed about two miles over to two little shacks and found it to be lumber men. They had many huge logs floating near by so we landed there and spent about a half hour jumping from one log to another as they rolled in the water, we sure had a lot of fun. One of the fellows took a picture of us as we were trying to stay on a log and if it is any good I’ll send them home. We rowed back to the ship and stood on the deck and looked at the scenery until 10:30 P.M. as it doesn’t get dark until midnight up here.
I turned in at 11 PM. As I sure had a full day and enjoyed every minute of my Sunday at Sea and I sure was thinking of my dear little Sister and wondering if she was having a happy birthday, like the ones we had when we were kids, I wonder where I’ll be on my twenty second birthday, somewhere in Alaska I suppose. This trip is sure like a vacation and a pleasure trip. I never thought I would see such wonderful country in all my life.
May 13, 1918
Got up at 5:30 am washed some clothes and then washed the deck down, had a good breakfast, Pancakes and Beans and now we are laying around waiting for work. We pulled out of this bay at 6:45 am and are going again, we should be out of Canadian water and into Alaskan waters this afternoon as there is snow all around us and the weather is crimpy.
When we wash deck I put my woolen sox over my black ones and then pull on my hip boots and then give her guts.
We have a jazz band on board picked from the fellows so we have music every night on the birth deck.
To night they played many pieces and it sure sounded good to all of us.
May 14, 1918
Got up at 5:30 am had a cup of coffee and at 6 am we were washing the deck down, then at 7:30 we had breakfast.
At about 10am the ocean got very rough with us and the swells went clear over the boat and then we came up and then went under the next one.
Almost everyone on board was sick and laying around even the old heads but it didn’t get me as I didn’t miss a meal and I didn’t throw any up. The fellows were so sick they couldn’t work so when a job came up they got me. At one time I was working on a rope out on the stern of the boat and believe me I had some rough ride for about three hours. Well the water came over her bow all day and all that night and no land in sight, the wind was blowing strong and at 10 P.M. we had to change our course.
I felt fine all day, just like a million dollars so after supper the jolly Bugler and I had a little dance on the upper deck, right on the bow of the ship and as the deck was wet we had some fox trot until a large breaker broke over the bow and we slid and rolled clear back to the quarter deck about eighty feet. The water hit us square in the back.
Some of the fellows almost died and I took one fellow below three times and I was on deck about 7 PM. And he was sitting there and shaking and his face was blue. I took him down to the doctor. He didn’t eat for the last two days so he didn’t have anything to throw up.
I was on watch that night and every half hour I had to go and see if the kid was alright and still breathing but he is better and getting along fine now.
May 15, 1918
Well we are still on top and I had a good night’s sleep last night but my hammock sure rocked around a lot. I got up at 3:30 am and stood watch until 6 am and then washed the deck down. I had a good breakfast, but there wasn’t many that came down to eat. I never miss my meals. The little fellow is feeling a little better today.
The water is still washing our decks but I like it and think it is great sport.
When we are below decks it looks funny when everything gets dark as the port holes go below the water.
I just came up from dinner and we had good eats but a hard job to keep the tables in front of us. I was up on deck after dinner and the Bugler and I sure are having the time of our life rolling around on the deck and chasing each other from one end of the boat to the other.
We are in sight of land now and the mountains are all covered with snow.
As we pulled in they lowered a life boat and put another fellow and I in it and we rowed over to the dock of Sitka Alaska an Indian Village and tied the boat up as she came along side at 6 PM.
Indian women sat on the dock to sell their ware and I bought a pair of slipper.
Dressed up in blues and took a walk around the town and saw many totem poles and curious sights we will leave here to morrow for Kodiak. I got back to the ship at 11 P.M. and it is still day light and I am already to pile into my hammock but thought I would end this look to night.
This town of Sitka is surrounded with mountains covered with snow and a low fog but the sky is clear and it sure is a picture I won’t forget.
One mountain is a volcano covered with snow. I am sending you a picture of it but there is more snow on it now than in the picture also pictures of the town that I walked around and the dock where we are tied up at.
Well Mother dear I am.
May 16, 1918
I didn’t get to finish last night as the Master of Arms came around and turned the lights out they should have been out at 9 PM so I crawled into my hammock and slept like a rock.
It is now 6 am and the bunch is washing clothes so I’ll mail this to day as my clothes are all clean.
Yesterday before we pulled into Sitka I found the kid that was so sick laying on the upper deck so I went below got my P. Coat and woolen gloves and put them on him and then gave him some of dear little Mary’s candy to take the bad taste out of his mouth and to day is feeling fine as we tied to a wharf. He says he doesn’t know how he will every repay me the way I took care of him during the trip, but if you can’t do good in this life what’s the use of living.
The bugler and I cheered many of the fellows when they were sick as we tried to keep them happy. All the fellows are talking about all the pep we had in the rough weather.
Well Mother dear we will leave here to night so I’ll mail this to day, I guess you’ll have enough to read until you get my next letter.
This is the only letter I wrote so tell Mary she can read my letter and that I sent all my love to her and that this candy is fine and doing a lot of good.
Give my love to all the folks and all my friends. I would like to write to all but can’t do it now.
I hope you are in good health and feeling fine as I sure am having some vacation.
I got the $18.50 and the $30.00 and was very sorry to put you out so much but I sure needed it.
Well Mother I will close for now and I want you to save everything I send home as I can’t keep them on board. When I get back I’ll have them.
With all my love to my darling Mother.
Your wandering Son
Happiest kid on board
the good ship Unalga
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