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Department of Commerce
U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey
204 Burke Bldg.
Seattle, Wash.
c/o U.S.S. "EXPLORER"

 

Klawack, Alaska
August 4th, 1917

Dear Ruth:

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 thank you.

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 gone.

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,

Curtis

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, Idaho)

 



 


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