These are excerpts from a letter that reveal the difficult conditions at Kelly Field and Danny’s declining health.
January 5, 1918
I think this is going to be a long letter for I am going to tell you all my woes. As I wrote you I signed up with the first call for volunteers to go to VanCouver . Now I was called to go this morning but the high muck-it-te-mucks or some one had lost the service records of the Columbus Barracks bunch—not lost entirely—just misplaced. We may be sent later but not likely….
A sand storm has been raging since 9 this morning and bids fair to keep it up all night. Half and (sic) inch of dust or so is on my cot. Eyes-throat and ears full and proably (sic) will stay so.
This sand dust and climate chap one very badly. It’s impossible to keep even decently clean. No chance to wash clothes and if one does they are dirtier when dried off than before.
This is hell alright. Much worse than there is any use of being. The loosing (sic) of service records, hospital conditions, sanitary conditions and ect. is perfectly inexcusable. Gross negligence. There must be graft some where under such conditions but I, (at present) can’t rectify it and must make the most of it I can. Now a tube of cold cream, shaving soap, safety razor blades (Enders) a pair of tight fitting gogles (sic) (to keep the dust out of my eyes) bandages, adhesive plaster, ointment (for burns and ect) some kind of strong stuff for burning out infection, cuts and ect, and lots, quantities, oodles of big dark dirty looking handkerchiefs (gray or olive drab) (very important )…
I might just as well be frank. I’m on the rocks, busted (not disgusted) and should have the things named or money to buy them or both. At present I am the humble discomforted possessor of five and one half boils, one sore throat, a very promising cough, a cold, two very muddy sore eyes, one burnt hand, one burnt arm, one fester gathering on my right thumb (makes writing this letter a real feat of skill) one very dirty chapped face one pair of very dirty and chapped hands, one half sick body, and a fine perfect conditioned pair of feet and legs. You probably wonder why, if all that is so, I don’t go to the hospital. Two reasons, if there is any chance I’m going to be right on hand for that VanCouver and secondly, I’ve been over to the hospital once and I much prefer my own treatment, my way there is a chance to get well and over there it’s just the opposite. But on the whole, things could be much worse, lots of fellows are worse off.
This is a long evening and nothing to do so I might just as well get my full three cent value for the stamp. After supper I came over to my old home on 82. Found all the crowd back and only one of them well. Three of them were in bed and the rest had colds sore throats grip fever and ect. So you see there are lots of things I can catch yet. In fact I feel as if I were luck [sic]. At least I’m not in bed yet and I’ve got a long string to run before I get there. You see this rough treatment and all is mostly in the provisional recruit camp only. After one has been assigned a squadron, conditions change for the better. Then we have plenty of blankets, heat, good grief washing facilities and ect.
You wanted to know about our routine. 6:15 or 6:25 reveille, 7 mess (it surely is) 8:15 drill, fatigue or something, 12 mess, 4:30 retreat and taps. This is the program posted. What we really do is to swallow dust and cough for 24 hours each day. You know, or don’t you know, that it will be three months before I receive pay.
You don’t need to show this to anyone else.
Love to family, Dan