Letters Home: R. J. McClain

Printed in the October 18, 1917 Skidmore News:

From R. J. McClain

Great Lakes, Illinois, Oct. 14, 1917

Mr. Editor:–

At last I have found time to write a letter to the dear old Skidmore News.

I arrived here October 7 at high noon and I took a big feed off of Uncle Sam, about the first thing I done. Then I got my bed and blankets. After that I was taken to my bed chamber, a nice, neat, cosy little tent, all modern except heat and water and it sure is easy to ventilate that bed chamber now.

The weather is quite chilly and the first night I thot I was at the north pole and believe me, I sure did hug those blankets.

I didn’t like it very well at first, but I am getting used to it now and I believe I am going to like it fine.

I am in detention camp now. Every one who enlists has to stay here for three weeks. Here we get vaccinated and give diseases time to develop. I have been shot in the arm and have been vaccinated from the crown of my head to the sole of my feet and I have two more shots coming yet. I sure will be as immune as the hogs that Jim Strickler vaccinates when I get out of here.

After I have been here for three weeks I will be moved to main camp. The boys all say that it will be a whole lot better over there than it is here.

I got changed to the band before I left Kansas City and I am sure glad that I did. They have a swell band at the main camp. I haven’t got to practice with them yet because I can’t leave this camp at all until my three weeks are up, but we can hear them playing every once in a while.

I am not homesick but I sure would like to see the folks at Skidmore. I didn’t know that I did like them so well before.

This is the first place I ever saw where everyone cusses. Even the officers do. When there is a mistake made in drilling or you don’t answer promptly at muster you get a good cussing and all you have to do is keep still. That sure goes against the grain with me. The navy sure needs more Y. M. C. A. workers. It is an awfully hard place for a Christian to live, but I don’t doubt for a minute but what I can make it all right.

Some of these days I am going to buy a great big battle ship and come steaming right up the old Nodaway and if you people will be good I might take you a ride.

I haven’t got the Kaiser’s scalp yet, but I am still looking for it and believe me, I am going to capture it if I see it running around here.

Well I have run out of paper and they won’t let me have any more so I will have to quit.

R. J. McClain
Special Co. Main Detention Camp, Great Lakes Illinois