HISTORY OF LETTERMAN GENERAL HOSPITAL
THE Y. M. C. A. AT THE LETTERMAN
One of the Exposition buildings, the Enlisted Mens’ Club, was purchased by the Y. M. C. A. and moved to a site directly opposite the Administration Building. It is a most popular resting place for the wounded men and those from the Presidio. A reading room, billard and pool tables, piano and phonograph, a grill and a social canteen are on the main floor. The lower floor is given over to the gymnasium while on the upper floor is an auditorium seating 900 where picture shows and entertainments are held. The “Mikado” given by the Players Club packed the hall. Mrs. Harold Seager furnishes the Friday night entertainment and the Sciots, Emporium Club, Pacific Service Club, Woodmen of the World and other organizations entertain often. Orley See is in charge of the entertainments.
The Camp General Secretary is George I. Long, L. C. Fish is in charge of the educational work. Cliff McCarl handles the athletic programs in conjunction with Post Athletic Director Lieutenant Elliot.
Through the courtesy of the Red Cross three secretaries visiting the Letterman performing all manners of service. The Religious program of the Y. M. C. A. is carried out in a spirit of co-operation between the secretaries and the chaplains of the Post. Services are held in “Y” No. 1 every Sunday and one evening each week is given over to a religious or ethical address followed by an entertainment. Sunday church parties visit the San Francisco churches with the secretaries each week.
The Y. M. C. A. has also established “Y” huts in the demobilization camp where the returning soldier is taken care of and a special branch “Y” has been opened in the R. O. T. C. camp for the benefit of the budding generals.
THE BIG “Y” ON GOLDEN GATE
Interest in the soldiers and sailors as far as the Y. M. C. A. is concerned did not cease with the armistice or demobilization. The great Y. M. C. A. on the corner of Leavenworth and Golden Gate Avenue, is the San Francisco home for all uniformed men and a three months’ free membership is given to every discharged man who asks for it. He receives full privileges. Classes in every form of educational work are opening and now is the time for a man who wishes to better his condition to join one of them. Entertainments are given in the big auditorium every week night. All free. Specially low rates in the grill, and good rooms at moderate prices are other features of the Golden Gate “Y.”
POWELL STREET “Y”
A spacious recreation room, a fine reading room and a grill room presided over by women volunteers attracts many service men and discharged men to 149 Powell street. There is some kind of free entertainment every night, except Sunday. All the latest papers and magazines are on file, and the library is filled with books of a scientific and technical nature, with enough of the late fiction to suit every taste.
Too much praise cannot be given the women volunteers, who, sacrificing their own pleasures, prepare and serve the food for the popular grill room. The prices are far below those charged outside and the cooking is the real “mother kind.” At the time of going to press the names of the loyal women in charge was not at hand, but a special article is being written concerning them, and will be published in The Listening Post soon.
Service Men Honored at Letterman Hospital
In recognition of extraordinary heroism, while in France, the Distinguished Service Cross has been presented at Letterman General Hospital to the following men:
Captain James A. Vincent, Co. G, 363rd Infantry.
Captain Charles E. Chenoweth, 363rd Infantry.
Captain Lonnie H. Nixon, 7th Infantry.
Lieutenant Harry C. Sessions, Co. I, 372nd Infantry.
Lieutenant Edgar W. Akers, 308th Infantry.
Sergeant Elmer A. Jennerich, Medical Corps, 9th Reg. U. S. Infantry.
Private 1st Class Sigmund H. Myerson, Co. A, 5th Machine Gun Battalion.
Capt Chas. E. Chenoweth
Lt. Edgar W. Akers
Capt. Lonnie H. Nixon
Lt. H. C. Sessions
Sgt. Elmer A. Jennerich
Private Sigmund H. Meyerson
The American Library Association assumed charge of the Letterman Library in June, 1918. Mrs. Inez G. McConnell of the Oakland Free Library is the librarian, and Miss Ruth Seymour, of the Association, and Miss Jane Dick, of the Los Angeles Public Library, are her assistants. The collection in the Solarium and in the branch established in the New Red Cross house contains about 5000 fiction, technical and scientific volumes. There are also several hundred volumes of recreational books and current magazines.
Special thanks is given to the San Francisco Public Library, State Library and Sutro Library, who have cheerfully supplied over 200 special books during the past few months.
Fifteen wards are given semi-weekly service. Special service is extended to the Tubercular and contagious wards. To these the library representatives carry the books personally.
Always on the lookout for the unusual, the War Camp Community staged a boxing show a short time ago in which the “main eventers” were two soldiers who had each lost a leg in France. They put up a corking good fight, one that Edward Longan, of sport writing fame, would have written up and filed away with his classics. While the bout was a bit out of the ordinary it represents the spirit that dominates athletic activity at the Letterman. No matter what a man’s disability may be, if he can get up and around he is soon interested in some game even though it may be only horseshoes for a cigarette a corner. There is an eight-team baseball league; the tennis court is always busy and the volley ball courts are occupied as soon as patients have their breakfasts. In the recent emergency the Red Cross were asked to handle athletics and they took hold with characteristic energy. There is something doing every minute, and was this article not intended for publication in a history, some wonderful tales of baseball games, etc., might be recorded.
The Red Cross will please accept the thanks of every man and woman at the Letterman for assisting in the physical reconstruction of the disabled men and for stimulating the morale of all through the athletics it has given to Letterman.
The Salvation Lassie with her hot coffee and doughnuts for the men on the firing front is familiar to all. She was an integral part of the wonderful organization that won morale battles that won the world’s battle. Her work will live forever. Just as important through is the work that she and her compatriots have done and are doing in peace times. With the passing of the saloon too many have thought that her work was finished, but this far from the case. The old slogan of the Salvation Army, “A man may be down but is never out” is still the guiding spirit of the organization and daily the men and women, “soldiers of peace” now, delve in the tenements and in the garrets for those who have failed in life’s battles.
The soldiers who served in France will never, never forget the Salvation Army. Never will an appeal fall on deaf ears if it is directed toward a man who has worn the olive drab. The Salvation Army asks for little from any one but the little that you contribute may be the means of reclaiming a man from the depths. Isn’t it worth it?
Tests made in this department determine to an exact degree the intelligence of skill attained in any particular trade. The tests have been of great value in determining the promotions of enlisted men and in assisting the Vocational Board to select the proper vocational training for the disabled soldier. Lieutenant Stech is in charge of the department.
Few people realize just what it costs to feed the 1900 men who are at the Letterman General Hospital at present. Hence the following figures procured from the mess officer are exceedingly interesting:
Cost of feeding one man, one meal, $0.2418.
Daily cost of feeding everyone, $1,020.29.
Amount of staples used in the preparation of one meal: 400 pounds of bread, 700 pounds of meat, 750 pounds of potatoes, 150 pounds of coffee, 90 pounds of butter.
Captain Bishop, who is responsible for the preparation and serving of food supplies, is assisted by Mess Sergeant Fred S. Copeland; Chief Cook, James M. Wilson; Chief Cook Field, Charles Hussey; Head Cook, Diet Kitchen, Harry Williams; Field Diet Kitchen, Edward McKim.
Transcribed by Sharon Walford Yost.
Source: ”The History of Letterman General Hospital, Pages 48 bc, 53b & 55. Publ. by the Listening Post, Presidio, San Francisco, Cal. 1919.
© 2010 Sharon Walford Yost.