Department of Commerce
U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey
204 Burke Bldg.
c/o U.S.S. "EXPLORER"
August 4th, 1917
A little scow called the "Uncle Dan" is
expected to run in here any minute to carry the mail south, as I'm going to
inflict a few lines upon you. First, I must say that your letter of the
ninth of July finally came. It was thoroughly enjoyed, too. What in
thunder can take the mail from the South so slow is more than I know. The
Seattle office is supposed to forward it at once. Of course, we do not go
into port sometimes for a couple of weeks. But even when we do go in there
seems to be nothing for us.
Many things have happened since I dropped you a
scribble from Wrangell. We've been up quite a way north, and had a look at
some bergs and a glacier again. But better than that, the word has come
that the northern season is to be cut short. We're going to old Seattle
mighty blamed soon, - and perhaps I'm not glad! It's a great country up
here, but like most things that are great, it is also lonely. The war and
unsettled conditions, I believe, combined with difficulty with the men (we
nearly had a mutiny on board here, but that's a secret) have caused the change
in plans. Just how soon we'll be down I don't know, but it won't be long
now. Say, a good shave and haircut, and some civilian clothes will almost
make us feel like a million dollars. And a move show, too. There is
one movie show in this burg. They open it up about once a week, or
whenever they figure they can get fifteen or twenty people to come. The(y)
rob you of thirty-five cents, and then make you gaze on some old worn out film
of by gone days.
Your pictures, I wish to say, were simply
great. They are so much more clear than those poor ones I sent that I am
afraid you get the worst of the bargain. In fact, I know you did.
That one "down by the old mill stream" I think is the best of the bunch.
The "vegetable" brought back food memories of flower gardens I used to know in
southern climes. It hasn't grown any, however, since I got it. I
It hasn't been quite so lonely on board for the
last two weeks. The captain sent down to Seattle and hired me a new second
writer. The former one was discharged some time ago in Juneau. The
new man is just my own age, and has been a bookkeeper in a Seattle bank.
He is a fine fellow, so we have become quite friendly. He is six feet one
tall, and weighs only one hundred and fifty, so you will believe me when I say
he came up here for his health. He has gained five lbs. (pounds)
avoirdupois already. This is great country for being healthy. If you
can stand the grub the Japanese Mr. Funakoshi fires at you, you will live
through anything. When you get used to it it will make you fat. I
can hardly navigate any more, having taken on so much weight. Did you ever
eat fried fat salt pork in thick chunks as big as a steak? It's already
when not rough weather, for then it will make one seasick.
I wonder if things are lively in Kellogg now.
Already, I suppose, folks are talking about getting ready for the great Miners'
Picnic. I've surely had a good time at that for the past two summers.
I hope the war doesn't affect the good time of everybody.
By the way you speak, the whole town must be
burning down, and Stewart too. It seems strange that so many fires should
occur within a short space of time. Too bad about the Mountain Sweets.
That was a pleasant little guy who seemed to have charge.
Do you like fish? I used to once, too.
I don't care if I never see a salmon, canned, salted or fresh, until I cross the
vale. In this little village there are fish underfoot, on the table, in
the water, and worst of all, in the air. Thee is a cannery within a
hundred yards of where we now lie. Sweet spring breezes! They work
night and day, for this run of salmon is the greatest they have ever know[n] in
this country. We see the fishing boats coming in to the cannery, loaded
clear to the gunwales with king and sockeyes. Men walk in them as if they
were worth nothing at all. However, they bring the fishermen twenty-five
cents a piece. Some of the men make some days as much as fifty and
seventy-five dollars. From the boats they pitch them with forks just as if
they were pitching so much hay. Nearly all the cannery hands are Indians,
mostly girls and women for the lighter work. There are also a few Chinese
and Filipinos. Well, I've seen a good many canneries in this country, but
I've never seen one so dirty as this. Some of the salmon they put up have
been caught too long. Don't ever buy any Klawack salmon. The owners
are just coining money, for the run is better than they expected. One of
the heads told me today that if the run lasted for twenty days more the cannery
would have to shut down, for they wouldn't have any more cans. Well, the
worst part of all this is that fish is cheap, and the ship's crew is being fed
on it. They give us trout for a change once in a while, but its fish all
the same. My father was in Alaska in '98, and he came back and wouldn't
eat salmon, not to this day. I sympathize with him now.
Only one more month until school. I just
bet you are all impatient for it to open in spite of being glad to escape in
June. These summer vacations do seem to roll away almighty quick, or used
to, to me, anyway. Never mind, when school comes the mosquitoes will be
By the way, one of our brilliant Longfellows on
board has written a poem (???) celebrating our return to the states. He
writes, "We're off for old Seattle in the morning," but he is a little ahead of
himself. It won't be in the morning, or for a few mornings after, either.
However, I'll copy it down, but please don't blame it on me.
There's more of it, but that's too much.
Isn't that highbrow stuff? It was written to kid one of the fellows on
board. They ought to catch all these "poets" and tie some leads to their
necks, where the water is good and deep.
Hoping you won't decide to celebrate the Fourth
again very soon, and put your writing hand out of commission, I am as ever
Sincerely your friend,
Envelope: from - H.C.S., 204 Burke Bldg.,
Seattle, U.S.S. "EXPLORER"; postmarked -- Aug 4 a.m. 1917, Klawock; to -- Miss
Ruth Busby, 227 Front Drive, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (forwarded from Stewart,