Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Adin’s Letters for Veteran’s Day, By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

As we all remember, Adin Baker, brother to Ruth, Lillian and Ethel, was to fight in World War One; he came down with the dreaded Spanish Influenza before he could fight (see the blog , "Adin Baker, World War One, and the Spanish Influenza" by Aunt CB on June 24th, 2009).

He did write letters while he was in, so here are a few snippets:

While at Camp Greenleaf, Fort Oglethorpe, GA, Adin writes his Aunt Florence:

July 21st, 1918

" I got your letter last night. Was glad to get it, the only mail I've had here at Greenleaf. We left Camp Upton 3PM, 1500 of us Friday the 12th. 'Thru trains' got here following Monday 7AM. Our seats on the train were convertible into beds, we sleep one up and two down. Averaged about two meals a day on the trip. The Red Cross met us at principle cities, gave us peaches, milk or buttermilk, post cards, chewing gum and cigarettes so we got along fine, sang songs and roared like lions through the small towns.

It is not much hotter here than at home. Am in the Medical Corps. Was disappointed to be put in that as I signed for Infantry at Upton but drafted men go where they put them. I have a medicine belt with twelve compartments filled with bandages, linaments, powders and a short hatchet. If I meet the Kaiser I hollar "hoo hoo hoo" and then I swing on him as I have no rifle. They say we get an automatic revolver when we get across."

Next, Adin left Georgia for Camp Crane in Allentown PA, nearer to home. On August 12th, 1918, he writes:

"Dear Mother,
Got 2 letters from you last Thursday night, one directly here and the other via Greenleaf. Got a card from Ethel that had been on the road for 30 days. Will write her a letter right away. Am getting along good here. Guess I will wait about coming home until after the war as I can only get a 36 hour pass.

It is very nice here, sleep in the grandstands. The cots are placed on wide concrete steps. It is hotter here than it was in Georgia."

On August 18th, still at Camp Crane:

"Lillian wrote you were all done haying. Must be getting along good at home.
There is one more exam yet to pass, the hardest one they say. Would like to go to Russia and there is a chance alright. The Unit One has a lot of Russian Polish in it, stout, husky fellows."

On September 17th of 1918, Adin writes from England:

"Dear Mother,
Just a few lines to you. Am alright, feeling fine. Had a good trip across, did not get seasick, but some did and you ought to see them puke.

Hope you and Pa are alright and keep well. Do not work too hard. The war news sounds good, the English people sure use the Yanks good. You ought to see them when we unloaded. We marched through town to the camp, small boys and bigger girls walked on both sides. "

Adin's mother and father next heard from the Red Cross in a telegram:

'It is our sorrowful duty to inform you that you son is critically ill at this hospital.'

We know the rest of the story--it ended well, and Adin's next letters were sent from Ellis Island, where he stayed for a few months to recuperate.

November 5th, 1918:

“Dear Mother,
You ought to heard the whistles blow around here yesterday on account of Austria surrendering. They blew about half an hour in N.Y., Hoboken and Jersey City.”

And, To his Aunt Florence:

November 12, 1918:

Your letter came this noon. Was glad to get it.

We had a second Peace here yesterday and its real this time, I guess. The orderlies from here went over to New York and came back and told us about it. They said the street in front of the saloon was full of people awaiting their turn to go in and get a drink. All the whistles blew same as last Thursday only more so. I see in the paper where a street cleaner in N.Y., sweeping up confetti and papers said he hoped there wouldn’t be anymore peace for awhile.”

On November 14th, 1918, Adin again writes to his mother:

"Hope you are all well and don’t get the flu. Got a letter from Lillian and one from Aunt Florence. Aunt Florence sent me a lot of clippings from the Gleaner (editor here—The Gleaner is their town newspaper). Looks like everybody was dying in Lisle. You want to keep well and not try that stunt."

On December 24th, 1918, he again writes his mother:

" Think I will be home by January 1st and all through. Was examined by 21 doctors, one for nearly every part of the body. They OK and marked me normal in every way so I stand in class A for discharge."

Soon after, Adin came home to his beloved farm in Center Lisle.
Picture One: Adin
Picture Two: Armistice Day in Chicago


Kathryn said...

I forgot that Uncle Adin was a medic. So was I. Different branch tho. I went Navy.
Thanks, Pat, for both of the blogs on Veterans Day. They were great!
I love you lots!

Pat said...

Thanks, Kathryn for your comment. I did not know you were a medic, although I remembered Navy as my Dad was also.

I was thinking of you yesterday!


CB said...

Pat puts so much work into this blog and there is no way to pay her except to write up a story for her to use when she needs one OR just always enter a comment!! I hear several of you say how nice the blog is but seldom leave a comment! These bring us all closer together!!
BTW. saw Leona and went out to lunch with her a week ago. At 91 she is an inspiration!! Can't hear and can't see BUT still getting along!! [ MY IDOL!! ]

Jim Kinsella said...

I especially love the letters from Adin. I can't imagine WANTING to go into the infantry, especially for WWI, and being disappointed at being assigned to a medic unit.

Thanks for putting all this in Pattie!