Letters Home: Henry Lee

There’s nothing like a letter from a hometown soldier boy in California to take the November chill out of the air.  This letter from Henry R. Lee was published in the December 6, 1917 Skidmore news:

From Henry Lee

Camp Kearney, Nov. 24, 1917
Skidmore News:
Will write you a few lines to let you know about the life of a soldier at Camp Kearney.

We don’t have the stormy winds and dust to contend with, although it blows the sand around once in a great while.  The first three days of this week was the worst sand storm that was ever known here.

This place is a town of tents; eight of us to one tent.  There are about 30,000 boys here.  The officers have a small tent to themselves.

We get two and a half days vacation a week and we visit San Diego.  I have been there once and I think it is the prettiest city I was ever in.  It has a population of 90,000.  There is another town called La Jolla that is nine miles from camp.  It is right on the Pacific coast and the soldiers go there to bathe.

Seven of our company got honorable discharges in one day and there are about thirty more yet to receive them.  The boys that came from Funston haven’t had their physical examination yet.

The government has sent out an order that every soldier had to allot at least $15 of their wages to some relative or to the U.S. Savings Bank.  A mighty good thing, for the boys won’t have so much to fool away.

The Y.M.C.A. puts on movies three nights each week and lectures the rest of the time except Sunday when they have songs and service.  If it wasn’t for the Y.M.C.A. I don’t know what a soldier would do.  The people that gave to the last subscription sure gave to a worthy cause.

A great sight for some of us are the airplanes.  They come from their station at San Diego and fly around over the camp.  I have seen as high as fifteen in the air at one time.

The weather here is around 70 during the day, but turns real cool at night.

We had our first real days work Friday as eight entire companies were sent to dig trenches and a pick was the main tool.  I never saw such ground to dig as this is.

I think I have written enough for one time.

Yours truly, Henry R. Lee
Co. E. 159th Inf., Camp Kearney, California

P.S. Friends please write me a few lines.  It sure will be appreciated.  I will try and answer all letters or cards I receive.  – R. Lee.