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West Union Argo-Gazette
West Union, Fayette Co., Iowa
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 1918
Page 1 column five
 
A TRIP IN THE SOUTH
Otto Schatz Describes the Journey of
Troops From Camp Dodge to
Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville, Fla.
Dear Folks and all:

I suppose you have been wondering where I was by this time. Well now I will tell you where I am and what I am doing. We started from Des Moines Friday noon on the Burlington, then went down through Kansas City and Missouri. That did not look so bad but it was nothing like Iowa. I have not seen a corn field since I left home. Then we went to Tennessee. That is some state, timber, rocks, hills and everything but a good piece of land. Then we came to Alabama and there is where you can see some sights, lots of pine and oak trees and I saw a few little mountains all covered with pine and oak trees and they sure did look pretty. I also saw some cotton fields. It sure must be a back breaker to pick cotton. I always thought it was three or four feet high and it is only about a foot high. Arkansas is some country all the way around. You don't see a city for miles and miles and almost all people that live here are negroes. I have seen just one plow since I have been in the state it is so rocky around here. They dig the weeds up a little and then plant peanuts cotton, fruit trees and things like that. They stack the peanuts up like grain stacks only not so large. We went through two tunnels and had to shut all the windows and it sure was dark.

Everybody yelled and waived to beat the band when we came along. It sure is some sport to take a trip like that. They had a guard on each train. I did not get on guard but helped serve supper one evening. We did not stop very often but when we did the Red Cross was right there to food (sic feed) us candy, ice cream, apples, cigarettes, matches and cards and all we had to do was to pass them out the window and they were mailed back home. Some places we did not stop but just threw out our cards and some one would pick them up and mail them for us. We finally came to Georgia and that is where the colored people shine. You folks at home never saw a real negro. I would not have missed this trip for five hundred dollars. I can't remember all the places we came through but we sure did enjoy it. At last we got to Florida, the beautiful land of sun shine. I- went out yesterday and picked a bunch of flowers. The trees are all covered with what they call Spanish moss and I will send you a little of it so you can see what it is like.

We all thought it was going to be warm down here but we almost froze the first night as we were not prepared for it. We got here to Jacksonville about 9 o'clock a.m. Monday. The camp is thirteen' miles from the city and only eighteen miles from the coast.

When we first came down here they put us un tents and all we did was to lie around and eat. They would line us up and let us fall out again, but this morning we were all transferred to the barracks. The one I am in is a new one that was just built, and it is just like what they have at Camp Dodge. We are all scattered again. I separated from C. Martin too this time. We were just called out and they wanted stenographers but did not find one in our company I am in Company Four now. I think I will like it down here. They don't have much wind just a little breeze all the time. I don't like the water it don't taste worth a darn.

page 8 column two
We surely do feed good down here and have all we can eat and it is good too. They surely are careful for the Sergeant came in after dinner and asked us if we all had enough dinner. They never did that at Camp Dodge. Well, I was just out and filled my straw tick. I found two men in my Company that are not in my barracks but are close to me. I don't know what I am going to do but I hope they give me a job driving a, truck, as they are doing all kinds, of truck work here. On the way down they took us out twice for a hike. The first hike we took was to Springfield, Mo. It is a nice city. They lined us up and took us for a hike down through the street. They double turned us down through the street and when we got to Birmingham, Ala., they took us for another hike. You ought to have heard the noise. We got to Way Cross, GA., at 3:30 in the morning and we were all asleep when the train came to a stop we woke up and found the town was all lighted up and everybody seemed to be at the depot, whistles were blowing, everyone was yelling and they were shooting to beat the cars. We wondered what was up and they told us the war was over. We did not believe it but when we got to Jacksonville they were celebrating at the camp. It was some noise. I wish I could get a chance to go to the coast. I am getting now so I would like to be going somewhere everyday. I could ride on the train for four weeks and not get tired as I can sleep on the train as well as anywhere else. I am feeling fine. Hoping this letter finds you all well. I am your son and brother
OTTO SCHATZ
             
     

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