This past Sunday I shared a letter written by Dr. Robert D. Schrock on the morning he and other physicians from Base Hospital No. 9 were to report to basic training on Governors Island. The officers and enlisted men drilled at Governors, while the nurses undertook instruction at Ellis Island. This training was actually quite brief; the personnel of Base Hospital No. 9 shipped out for France the first week in August. Dr. Schrock, now Lieutenant Schrock, wrote only letter from Governors Island. The one of 17 July he had penned early in the morning before he and the doctors reported for duty at 8:30 am. Note that this one, written from the Department of the East itself, says “checked” at the bottom. Schrock wrote the one below to the wife of his friend Chet Waters, to whom he had written the quick missive of 17 July. Here, a week into basic, Schrock mentions what a tenuous day it was. One can imagine him and the others marching in their heavy woolen uniforms under the late-July sun. There must have been a strong culture shock as well. Overall however, he seems to be holding up well under the difficult and uncertain circumstances.
The Society of New York Hospital
16 West 16th St
New York, New York
JULY 26, 1917
Dear Boss, (Dr. Chet Waters’ wife Marie)
The last five days have been quite a nightmare. But we’re here and by no means exhausted . Off duty until 8:45 AM. Then, a strenuous day on Governors Island. Imagine me teaching military tactics drill etc. to a squad of enlisted men – but that is what we are doing.
Shall send you a list of our crew this week. Due for dinner with the Ward’s and Goldie Monday night. Come on and join us.
Boss – your friends are thick here – large in numbers and stability from the number of interested inquiries of you
Cannot thank you enough for your goodness of Tuesday – but it wasn’t any different than what you have done for me in so many ways since the beginning of our East Side existence. Omaha to me means the Waters family. Tell the young man I couldn’t say goodbye to him at the station. There is too close an anatomic relation between my cerebral centers and lachrymal apparatus. Am a poor boob in that way–but couldn’t do it. Tomorrow am starting a little package to the boy– Of little value except in their significance. Put them on his shirt collar and shoulders for me. And praying that the world may never demand that he wear similar ones in later years and also that’s there may be no need of his father. Chet is anxious to go, I know and you know. The greater duty is with you all and it would require an heroic effort in this instance for Chet – And we know he will stay with you until the actual need is indicated. When that comes, if it does, I want to know. There maybe room with us.
Am sorry Bess could be so little with you. It’s the torture of the game. More later.
Ask ever Bob
(image/Base Hospital No. 9, A.E.F.)
I appreciate reading the letter which was written exactly 100 years ago. How interesting! I submitted the manuscript for my WW 1 book 100 years exactly after my grandmother wrote a letter to my grandfather (before they were married) in training camp in Mississippi. I scanned the original to use on the front cover. Hope it’s a good sign!
Keith Muchowski said:
Margaret, I’m sorry to just now be replying to this. You probably figured out that you were the one about whom I was referring when I mentioned family letters! I’m glad you submitted the manuscript to the publisher. Doing so on the anniversary of that particular letter makes it all that much more poignant.