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Letter, September 23, 1917

[Letter on plain stationery of the War Work Council, Army and Navy Young Men's Christian Association]

Camp Logan - Houston Texas. %H.Q. Co. 5th Ill. Inf.

Sept - 23 - 1917-

My dear mother and father.

Well I have been here almost a week now. And like it much better than I expected I would; when we left Quincy it was so much of a change that at first it was rather dissapointing. And yet the dust is terrible. It is 3 & 4 inches deep in our company streets. They are oiling one of the streets and that makes it very much better. But one consolation, we can take a bath at any time we like. Of course the water - while warm to drink - is rather cold to bathe in. Makes you feel fine tho. We have ice water to drink most of the time - that is a piece of ice is put in the keg and it is not ice cold, but makes it very good to drink.

I have been in Houston Thur. and last nights. It sure is some city. And up to date in their window trimming in big stores. Population I think is about 150,000. Anyway it is the largest place our camp has been anyways near. We are about 4 miles out, but a train comes out at 4 oclock in the evening to get the fellows and goes back out again at 11 so they can get into quarters by 12. Costs a dime each way, and just right for you to spend the evening in town, and we don't have to get passes. This place is great on theatres, for they sure have a number of them running. People are hard to get acquainted with, and their dialect is funny.

I don't know any one but soldiers here. Well mother I have the 3 pictures developed I mentioned about having taken while making a rather high bluff climb in Quincy. And they are pretty good. Am having some prints made from the negatives now. Am sure anxious for you to see them. Will probly get them monday night and if I do will write again about Tue. or Wed. and send them. They are awfully high on their price for everything here. A fellow can't buy much.

And when you write don't fail to use my address I have in this letter as it is the one to be used at present. Mail is not to be directed in care of the band any more. H.Q. stands for Head Quarters as that is the name of our company. There is a car load of mail here that has been mis directed and will have to be burned. An address wrong, it is very hard to find a fellow among 20000 or more men.

The climate here could not be much better. While it is dry and dusty the evenings, nights and mornings are cool and the winds in the day time keep in pretty cool then. Of course about noon it is pretty hot, but I don't notice it as much as I did the hot weather in Quincy this summer. Am well satisfied with that part. And a nice new building to eat in, and nice clean bath house with 2 spray baths and our toilet is in another house about the same size as the bath house. Have a good place to wash our clothes and also a good place to wash our hands & faces when we don't want to take a bath. Each company have their own places for baths - toilet and mess halls. Each Co. is a unit in itself. Our camp seems to be very level. The soil is more or less sandy. That is the reason the dust gets bad so quick when they start doing some hauling, and quite a bit of that was done when the supply co. next to us, moved in. They had so much hauling to do. There is a little fall in the camp toward the south and east and that is just enough for pretty good drainage. As I have mentioned in another letter the camp is in a kind of a woods. Makes it cooler than if it were out where there were no trees at all. Seems to be quite a bit of pine trees. We have had to grub out quite a bit of stumps, altho I have gotten out of nearly all of that too. I really have not had hardly any work to do at all around camp. You see I have been given charge of the buglers at present and there are 24 of them. I have a little company all my own. I have almost complete charge of them. There are 2 from each company. I have roll call at 5:30 in the morning, again at 7: for drill, 2 P.M. for drill again and 5:30 for Retreat. I take them to the woods for practice 4 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the after noon. Have to drill them in the calls that we blow together and teach some of them the proper way to blow the calls they blow by them selves. Have to teach them the Semiphore & general service code signals. Marching in band formation and counter marching. All the signals used by the drum Major of the band, for I do his work when we march together. We also have marches we play on the bugles, for when we march with out the band. When we march with the band we fall in behind the band. To show you just what I am up against I will tell you. My oldest man is 31 years old some 30 - 28 - 25 and on down. Some have had as much as 9 years experience at bugling and some have been in Regular Service. So you see I have no bunch of kids to deal with. And it keeps me thinking some times how to keep dicipline and yet good humor in the company. So far I have been getting along fine. but am afraid I am going to have to come down on them as they are getting a little lax in getting around on time at Roll calls. Captain Alexander put me in charge of the fellows. He is adjutant to the colonel and that makes him higher than any other captain. If I have any trouble he told me just to report it to him and he would see to it.

So with this job on my hands I am cleared from the band and all the band duties. Some say I have a snap, for I am a privaleged character, even more so than most any of the sergeants. For I dont even have to get permission from our first Sergeant to see the captain.

The band is rehearsing this morning. I am glad I can write for I just feel like writing this morning. We get up an hour later on Sunday mornings. And just as soon as pay day comes, I am going to Galveston. Am very anxious to see the gulf of Mexico.

I am still thinking of putting in my application for Masonry. Maybe a month or so from now. Well you can look for another letter from me soon and don't forget the new adress when you write. Hoping to hear from you soon I am as ever your loving son

Paul B Hendrickson

[enclosed with this letter]

I - rec. the cookies all O.K. Sure were good[.] The fellows in this tent all said for me to thank you for them. Corporal Dixon in here said they were the best he had ever eaten.

Today was my payday. How much will you need this month will you need. I have to have $25 to bank for that is the sum you have to have to start with. And if you need more than $5 I will draw out and send it to you later, as by doing that I can start an account.

You ought to see me on my horse, am being taught horsemanship. The little bay I ride has a head that looks like gypee only smaller and he is just a little cricket[.] Full of life like Lady -- Lydas cold Arthur used to have. Only this one is not quite as tall and the slenderest legs you ever saw.

(about the pictures)

I have waited on pictures before sending letter so please excuse my delay - answer soon.

Am sending the three pictures in this letter. They are numbered on their backs and described. Rather an unusual picture to catch with a camera don't you think? The formation of the rocks where the picture does not show - made it possible to get up to where I am pretty close and snap the picture. You will notice there are no tree tops near enough to begin to take a picture from - so the fellow with the camera had to climb with me.

Some places the rocks went up almost vertical until I came to the ledge I am sitting on and then they began to over hang so I could not go farther up. But I am safe and sound down here in Houston so I guess the climb did not hurt me.

P.S. was writing letter this morning at Y.M.C.A. and thot I would not seal it up right away and am glad I did not for I can now answer your most important questions in your letter.

1. About clothing and my tennis shoes - keep everything at present for some think we will be home for good by Xmas and you can never tell altho it may be a long time yet it won't hurt to keep my things a while longer as they have been kept this long. If you want to you can send fuzzy cap to Ray.

2. I would be much pleased for you to have my certificates framed and hung in laboratory. but don't go to much expense. I am so glad you told about the work up stairs. I can just see how it all looks as plain as if I were there.

3. I am afraid I was peeved and a little apt to mis judge about anybody working against me. One of the Quincy buglers did want very bad just what I now have - (charge of the buglers) - but I guess that don't count for much -

4) I don't use my trumpet any more - I have it cleaned and locked in my case. Dust is bad and all I use is the mouthpiece for my bugle. Small bugle about 9 inches long. bell 2 3/4 in. in diameter.

5) And as for map drawing I guess no one is working against me much. altho you can't always tell. Will take up map drawing later. And as for rattlers we went hunting rattlers the other day. Some of them down here get to 9 & 10 feet long. Diamond head rattlers are most vicious and land moccisans are almost as bad. but an old settler out here in the woods told us how to fight them and manage them. He says their no joke and to be carefull and act quick when the time comes - am doing no map drawing at present.

6) You don't know how much I appreciate the fact that people seem to think as much of me as you say they do. I only hope I will be able to live so as to always be thot of in that way.

7) While it is a great change from Quincy we are gradually getting used to it here and by this time it is beginning to seem like home to me. We have many more conveniences here - such as baths, water supply and electric lights in tents and shade. cool nights - fine sleeping - daytime warm but generally a good breeze blowing.

8) Gold Smith has never done anything to my suit - So if dady will I would like for him to get it and you can do as you please with it. Better keep it at home - I would rather it be there.

Since the captain has given me charge of the buglers I don't have any kitchen duty to do - or I would be doing that today instead of writing to you - for this would have been my day on.

And dear mother - about the cookies - while I would enjoy them to the fullest, but please don't go to the expense of sending them a way down here. I will thank you just as much for your thotfullness, but I think it would be a rather expensive treat.

It is now evening and I am still writing[.] I sit in for band concert this evening - I am going to Galveston next Sun - if I can get permission from my captain; For I believe payday will be soon.

Well it is a little more like living here now. They turned a big 3 in. hose on to the streets and walks here and completely settled the dust. The only time you see a woman is when you go to the city. Seems rather strange too.

There is some talk of the whole 5th. Reg. being disorganized and divided up among other Reg. And instead of being dissatisfied with the long letter I was simply tickeled to death to get it for it just seemed to take me back home on a little visit - you described what you have been doing so plain. And I do feel sorry for Cecil - It sure is too bad for her.

But about letters I don't believe you can enjoy letters from me much more than I enjoy getting them from you, but sometimes you just cant find time to write - Much better tho since we have electric lights in our tents.

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September 1917