Letters Home: Lloyd Latta, Camp Crane, 1918

Skidmore soldier Lloyd Latta wrote home to let his mother know he had arrived safely in Pennsylvania.  We’re sure she was relieved to know that he had enough to eat (with plenty of servings of pie).  From the October 24, 1918 Skidmore News, page 1:

Lloyd Latta Writes Home

Camp Crane, Oct. 17, 1918.

My Dear Mother:–

How are you folks? I hope you are all well. I arrived safe and sound at about 11:00 this morning. Did you get my telegram? I sent it from the train before leaving St. Louis.

Well I am feeling fine now as I have got washed and cleaned up and look respectable again. Say we were sure a dusty, dirty bunch when we got here, as we had to keep the windows in the train open for air and the coal dust all came our way. Well I guess I will tell you about our trip from notes taken.

We got orders to get ready to leave Columbia on Monday, Oct. 14 and got everything packed ready to go and had to stay till Tuesday. We left Tuesday at 11:00 and reached Centralia, our first stop, at 12:10. We were pretty hungry by that time so we raided a restaurant for pies. It sure looked comical to see the boys running out of the restaurant with a whole pie in their hands eating off the edge of it. We waited there about ten minutes when our train came in and we started for St. Louis. We arrived in St. Louis at 4:50 and all the boys but five were turned loose till 8:30. I was one of the five held and we had to guard our coaches. We had four carloads of men. I got off guard at 6:15 and went up town awhile. St. Louis is sure some fine town. We had a special train out of St. Louis until we reached Harrisonburg, Pa. The people in St. Louis sure treated us well. We left there at 9:00 and went thru the East bridge tunnel which goes under 8 blocks of the business part of St. Louis and then crossed the Mississippi river and thru East St. Louis, waiting there until 10:00 p.m.

Our next stop was at Terre Haute, Ind., at 1:45. We changed train crews there and stopped again at Indianapolis, Ind., at 4:00. There are many big grain elevators there and all are very heavily guarded. Our next stop was at Richmond, Ind., which is just on the Indiana-Ohio state line. We got sandwiches and cake there and left at 7:30. We ate dinner at Dayton Ohio, and given an hour for it. It is sure some pretty city. While we were there we saw some soldiers just back from France on sick leave. They were cheerful and happy and want to go back. Ohio is sure a beautiful state. The roads are all macadamized and the country is as level as a floor. It is a great farming country. There are two large aviation fields at Dayton and we saw three airplanes flying as we left.

We stopped again at Columbus, O., and the Red Cross ladies served us sandwiches, cake, pie, apples and hot coffee, free. The country thru the central part of Ohio is very pretty with up to date farms and lots of sheep and hogs. After we passed Newark,. O., we began to see hundreds and hundreds of oil wells among the foot-hills of the Appalachian Mts., and great bluffs of solid rocks extending up many feet.

We stopped in Dennison, where we left two of our boys who were sick, in the hospital. We got some more pies and doughnuts there. After we left Dennison we began to go thru the mountains and went thru ten tunnels altogether, before we reached the other side of the mountains. We crossed the Ohio river at Steubenville. It is a very busy town with big steel and iron foundries and manufacturing centers. From Steubenville we crossed into W. Virginia and crossed into Pennsylvania at Pittsburg. We got supper at Pittsburg and left two more sick men. Two of our boys missed the train and had to come thru on the next train. Pittsburg is a great steel manufacturing town with many big smelters.

We left Pittsburg at 8:00 by eastern time (as we had to turn our watches up an hour here) and arrived in Harrisburg at 5:00 next morning. At Harrisburg two car loads of our boys went south for Camp Meade, Md. while we came on east on the Philadelphia & Reading railway and arrived here at Camp Crane, Allentown, Pa., at 11:00 o’clock. We marched about 1 1/2 miles from the depot to camp and were issued mess kits and went to mess. After mess we were issued a cot, bedsack, 3 blankets and one half a shelter tent each and put in our new barracks.

This is a camp of embarkation and is about 50 miles from New York City. We have about 6,000 men here now. We are equipped here for over sea duty and are sent direct from here to coast for shipment. We are to be issued our over sea uniforms today and will train here for a time. We must have 19 hours of gas mask drill with real gas coming our way and 12 hours of first aid and stretcher work before we leave here.

Well this is about all the news I can think of so will quit for this time. Will write again soon.
Lloyd Latta.
__ Casual Detachment No. 16, Camp Crane, Allentown, Pa.

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