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Pvt. Herbert Hocamp

Letters Home

from Port Townsend, Washington




April 8, 1918

Dear folks at home,

How are you all?  I am in Pt. Townsend this week but you address my mail to Flagler as Herbert is going to try to get me over there by next Sunday.  We have been staying here at the Hotel since we arrived here.  Herb got 3 days off.  Had to get up at 4 clock this morning to get over to Flagler.  Well I can tell you just where Flagler is now.  Itís just a little south east of Pt. Townsend about a half hour ride on the boat. 

I sent the folks a telegram when we got here so I did not write as I wanted to talk to Herb as much as possible.  I have 2 rooms rented and am going to move in there today but I donít want to stay here very long as I want to get over on the island.  Mrs. Dick is talking of going home tomorrow.  Donít know yet for sure just what we will do. 

Well we got into Seattle about 8:30 Pacific time Friday morning and we looked around in the depot awhile and there I tried to phone to Herbert.  And I was standing looking out of the telephone booth waiting for the reply when I saw Herb looking around.  He walked right by Mrs. Dick, as I had left her to watch the suit cases.  I just saw Herb from the side but I knew him by his walk and Mrs. Dick noticed him and looked over to where I was and I winked at her and she took after him and there sure was a tickled kid.  He didnít know whether to laugh or cry.  He had been around there all night, as I sent him a message from Spokane the day before, and it was good I did otherwise he could not have got there till in the afternoon so we had to wait there till 5 oíclock to get a boat back here.  Emil couldnít get off that day.  They had some new men put in where he stays and they quarantine them 2 weeks when they run in a new bunch, but he is here now.  His Lieut.  left him off yesterday morning, so Sat. we, Herb and Mrs. D. & I, went over to Flagler to see Emil.  Itís not a very large place and lots of timber. 

Well perhaps I can tell you something about army life.  I really am not allowed to write it as they want everything kept secret, but I am going to write something about it anyway.  You just ought to hear the boys cuss about it when they get together.  They are all so disgusted and everything else out there.  You hear people say the army has the best of doctors but the boys say they would not even make horse doctors.  Herb went to see the one at Flagler one day about his headache and one other boy had rheumatism in his arm went up the same time and they both got the same dope (salts) so when they got back to their barracks they threw their dope in the stove,  And the Dentist broke 2 mens jaw bones trying to fix their teeth.  I could tell you a whole lot more if I could talk to you.  I guess Herbert was right when he wrote that he could tell me more in 10 min. then he could write in a week.

Well Fred, you perhaps will be surprized [sic] when I tell you that Herb was broke, he had to borrow the money to come to Seattle.  When anyone tells you again that the government supplies the boys with the best of everything you just tell them itís a lie.  Herb has $8.00 and ten cent left after his insurance is taken out and thatís always taken out.  Then they have to pay for their laundry, clothes pressing, cleaning, etc., tooth paste, soap, shoe polish, gun oil and I donít know what all else.  And then when they were in the 65th Co. they very near starved them.  All they got there was beans and potatoes and thatís the reason they used to go and buy pie etc.  And they was so homesick they didnít know what to do with themselves.  Herb said he never spent a more miserable night than last Christmas eve, but he never wrote that they didnít get enough to eat because he did not want me to find it out.  And I asked him in a letter if he had a pillow and he did not answer me that question because he had no pillow and he did not want to tell me that.  They have pillows and spring beds now in the co. they are in.

Well the 65th Co. landed in France from what I hear.  Well how are the papers coming, have they got old Bill yet.  Oh how the boys would like to get home.  I donít know if you can read this letter or not as I am sitting here on the bed.  Oh what a blessing it would be if we could both go home together itís too good to realize.

Well I just wish you could see some of the things I have seen.   Crooked feet, bow-legged and all kinds put together and they call them soldiers. 

Well that picture did not tell the truth.  Herb is a little heavier but not like that picture.  He looks stouter when he has that short blouse on.  Just as soon as he gets that off he looks natural just as humped back as always.  He weighed 117 lbs. when he got here and gained about 11 lbs.

The boys can ride from one Fort to the other in the government boat free of charge and I can ride on it free also.  Thatís about the only thing they have got free.   I have met 3 Ia. women already and that Mrs. Young & Highland are also here at Townsend but I havenít found them yet.

Well I guess Iíll have to ring off and get me some breakfast and then Iíll have to try and get my things up the hill a ways to my rooms as Iíll be here this week for sure.  I can talk to Herb over the phone from the land ladies house but the sooner I get over on the island the better it will suit me.  I just hope Herb will be able to get a room .  A fellow by the name of Gates got his wife over yesterday.  Herbert is well aquainted [sic] with him.  He has crooked feet, and we met them in the street yesterday, and he told Herb how he worked it to get his wife over there and Herb is going to do his best.  Well we will leave it in the good Lordís hands.  He has helped us so far and will stay with us yet.  They are going to move another co. out and think thatís the reason, as they donít want anyone to find it out.  Maybe they are gone already.

How is everybody and Eleonora.   Well if I get any more pay from the government you better send it out here and I guess you better send me a Bank Draft for 25 dollars unless you have received a check from the gov. for me, then send that.  It will be enough.  I have plenty but I donít want to run short, so I can always get home if I have to.  One never knows.

[3 or 4 lines of handwriting whited out/erased]

Well bye bye for this morning.  Write soon.

Your sister, Emma

May God soon end this war.


-source: Cheryl Siebrass. Letters from her Grandmother's sister Emma and Herbert (brother-in-law) while stationed stationed at Fort Worden, WA.


-Submitted by Cheryl Siebrass
Iowa GenWeb County Coordinator, Cass http://iagenweb.org/cass/ and Audubon counties http://www.iagenweb.org/audubon/