Pvt. Roy Croson
Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, MO.
14, August 1918.
To Mable Croson, Kirksville, MO.
Dear Cousin Mable as I sit here thinking how enthusiastically you search the morning mail for letters from your soldier boy I will add this one to your pleasure. I will be deprived of an answer to this on account of not being able to give you any permanent address, I am still at Jefferson Baracks but dont know how long I will remain here, on account of my pappers getting misplaced. I haven’t yet been examined, as soon as they are found I will be examined and given a uniform and then will be on my way to parts unknown as they never tell us where we are going when we leave here, when I arrived here I was put in a bunck of 70 that being the way the men are aranged, we were called up for examination on Saturday morning and when the pappers was looked over mine was missing the rest of the bunch was examined and shiped out of here Sunday and I was told that I would have to wait untill my pappers were found so I am still waiting. I have been told that such happening are not at all infrequent and often causes us to be kept here for several days but I should worry, all that we have to do while where we are here is sleep and eat, and take in the sights. There is lots of amusement here in the barrack such as the Y.M.C.A. this is equipped with thousands of volumes of good books, plenty of music such as the piano phonographs, and various other instruments owned individually by the soldiers, it is eqiped with a stage and has a vast seating capacity, it also has a beautifull ladies restroom with all the conveienences, to which the ladies have free and welcome axcess, there is long writing tables and comfortable chairs and seats, these tables are loaded with pews and ink and stationary which is all free to the boys it is eqiped with phones by which we can phone any where but of cours we have to pay for that, there is electric fans to keep cool by and you can bet they have been kept running at full speede for the past week there there is open air intertainments such as boxing and rattling contests by the boys, and musical comedies given by various opera players there is a big dance hall in the K. of C. building and alway lots of girls for pardners the coons are given the exclusive right to the one night out of the week last night being their night, there is a big amphitheater at one end of the parade grounds, in front of this is a fine base ball diamond where they have some warmly contested games at 9 O’clock every evening at this place is streched a canvas on which is shown the very latest and best movies and is usually watched by about all the amphitheater will seat which is probably 3,000 people. as I have mentioned the parade ground above I will go ahead and give you a slight Idea of what the barack are like as I had often wondered my self before arriving here, they are located about 10 miles south of the city of St Louis along the bank of the Mississippi and occupy I guess about 640 acres. I am told that this is one of the oldest army posts in the U.S.A. and was used for these same purposes in the Civil War, and a standing army is maintained here in time of peace, the parad ground is located in the center and covers possibly 20 acres, around this is built many big substancecial brick buildings from 1 to 3 storys in hight the streets and drive ways are all macadamized and the builds are all fronted with nice lawns and broad cement walks, here I must say though that it has been necessary to greatly enlarge the barracks in size since this great war was declared and there has been many wooden structure added to the original barracks and besides these there are several hundred tents streched I am at present quartered in a tent there tents each contain ten cots and accommidate 10 men we are provided with one army blanket each and have to furnish our own pillows, these tents are strictly water proof having with stood a 2 hours down pour yesterday evening the first rain that has feel since I arrived here. I would tell you a few things about the mess hall but I wrote Mother and Father a long letter shortly after I arived here and give a pretty good explanaitation of this in it I asked them to publish it so perhaps you have read it by this time. the sight of big army aroplanes is a daily occurrence here they come over here from scott field which is located across the river at Bellville Ill. there was one lit here on the parade ground at 8 O’clock this morning and at noon there was 20 maneuvering over our heads, there is about 8,000 men here on average now they are comming in and going out at a daily average of about 25 car loads, they are seldom kept here over 4 or 5 days and are fully equipt when thay leave here, we are given two pair of heavy army shoes, 6 pairs socks, 2 suits of under-wear, 2 pair of kaki trousers, 2 wool shirts 1 hat, 3 towels, 1 blouse, 2 heavy wool army blankets, 1 pair leggins, 1 comb and hair brush, knife, fork, spoon, cup and plate, we are told to have our own shaving out-fit , and pillow and are allowed to take as many towells, handkerchiefs, socks, underware, of our own as we see fit and are allowed to buy and wear our own shoes if we dont want to wear the ones they give us, many prefer to do this as the heavy arm shoes are so tiresome when we are allotted our clothing we are givin a large sack made of heavy duck about the size of an ordinary potatoe sack at the top of this sack is a heavy cord which answers as a drawstring to close the sack and server to cary it by, ever thing we are given and allowed to take with us is placed in this sack, we then take our suit cases and civilian clothes and other things that we are not allowed to take to carrys and have the privilages of sending them here or selling them to the Government if we prefer the latter there is a Government buyer who pays a fair price for them this is a great life to live and one has many things to learn and meets with all kind of men from all parts of the good old U.S.A. there is two fellows in the tent next to the one I am in that was examined monday when the uniforms was handed to them they threw it back at the officer and said they would not put it on, when asked why they said it was against their religion to kill and would not wear a soldiers uniform they were forced to put it on, but this morning come out of their tents with their civilian clothes on, then the fun commenced there has been a bunck around their tent all day threatning them with everything such as hang them take them to the river and many other things I realy believe they are pro-Germans and I have been told that the officers has given them just so long to put on their uniforms or face a court martial which would mean either being shot or go to prison for at least 20 years for such an offense as this there is at least 20 soldiers in there tent now some of them trying to reason with them to get them to put on their uniforms and others cursing them but up to the present hour they have stood pat and absolutely refused to put on their uniforms if I find out what happens to them I will tell you in my next letter, I have been in St Louis twice since I arived at the barracks as long as we are wearing our civilian clothes we can pass in and out of the barracks as visitors just so we are here at our tents from 6 to 9 in the afternoon I am associating with a little fellow who lived in St Louis before comming here, he invited me to go to the city with him yesterday after noon, after ariving at his sisters home where he was going to get some clean clothes we were immediately invited to stay for supper to which we agreed to do with out much persuading, we were served with the finest of fried chicken and many other good things to numerous to mention after which they wished us all kind of good luck and thus we returned to camp none the worse off for our trip now Mable I will send you my address as soon as I arrived at camp I will also ask that you show this letter to Mother and father and if you consider if of enough interest you may have it published for the benefit of other friend who might like to hear from me as it is impossible for me to write to them all, Boost for the good old U.S.A. and dont forget to write to the solder boys
From Your Cousin,
at Jefferson Barracks.
Msv1_C. Violette Collection of WWI Soldiers’ Letters. Mudsp Collection V1. Truman State University Special Collections.