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banner - diary of william mccaslan scaife covering the years 1919 thru 1920

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At 10 P.M. March 29th, Lowrie and I boarded the train for Washington. We got to Washington at 6 P.M. March 31st. We worked in the Coast Pilot section on the Miami records and on the Philippine Coast Pilot until May 8th, when we left for Norfolk on the Str. Northland. The next morning we reported to Capt. Maher at the Monticello Hotel in Norfolk. He took us out to the Sialia, which was lying at Berkely. While in Norfolk I went aboard the Isis, the Onward, and the Matchless. The Isis has since been lost. I met Adams, chief engineer of the Onward, who has since mysteriously disappeared. On June 6 we left for Baltimore to be repaired, as a strike in Norfolk prevented the repairs being done there. On June 7 we arrived at the Coast Guard Depot at Baltimore. While in Baltimore I went to Washington 14 or 15 weekends, thanks to Lowrie's unselfishness. My folks came to see me twice. I spent only one weekend in Baltimore without seeing my people. On the afternoon of Sept. 30 we left Baltimore for Norfolk, our repairs having been completed. I stood my first watch from 2 A.M. to 6 A.M. Oct. 1st, going down Chesapeake Bay. We arrived at Hampton Roads on the afternoon of Sept. 30th and tied up to a dock at the Naval Operating Base. I turned the mess stores which I had gotten up for the trip over to Belt, who succeeded me as caterer of the Forward Mess. I made a couple of trips across the Roads to the Arcturus, and brought back a whaleboat, a couple of anchors, and a box of sounding wire. At last, at 8 A.M., Oct. 9th, we got under way for the west coast. The Officers were Capt. Maher, Bussell (Exec.), Bean, Chamberlin (Chief), Irwin (Surgeon), Burdette, and myself, Walker and Ansell having resigned in July. Pretty soon after we left the capes astern both Lowrie and I got seasick, and we got it bad. All went well until the morning of the 14th when we broke down. The wireless operator got off a message before the juice went off. We were about 500 miles off the coast of Florida. On the morning of the 18th the Coast Guard Cutter Tuscarora picked us up. They towed us into Nassau, N.P., and from there into Key West. Locke and Chamberlin exchanged places. Mrs. Locke and Dean Locke came aboard as passengers. Bean got married and brought his wife aboard. We met Capt. Mattison and Crichton and saw Meany in Key West. On account of the fact that most of the officers had dengue fever Capt. Maher telegraphed for another officer. Dixon was sent from the Isis. On the morning of Nov. 25 we set out. On Thanksgiving morning we broke down outside of Nuevitas, Cuba. After almost piling up on the reef we managed to barely creep into the harbor. Our pilot sure displayed skill to take us in. We dropped anchor at about 8 p.m. About a week later we were towed to the docks of the Cuba R.R. Terminal, but not before I was on a couple of eventful sail boat trips to Nuevitas. Instead of being 10 miles away from the town we were three miles away after we got to the dock, and instead of paying three cents a gallon for water we got it for a cent and a half a gallon. We certainly had a time of it while tied up to the dock. We had to stand regular sea watches most of the time, and every night had its incidents. Our brig did full duty. It is great fun fooling with a drunk Bolshevik crew at night and working in the daytime. Christmas and New Year's Day didn't seem like they used to. On both days I had a little trouble with members of the crew bent on celebrating. One night in Cuba I thoroughly enjoyed, and that was the night Mr. Smith gave us a banquet. Smith was superintendent at the terminal, and a fine fellow.

On Christmas Eve, I went to town with two of the Officers. I certainly talked Spanish that night to get one of them out of some trouble into which he had accidentally gotten himself. The Gulfport was in port and it was a wild night. I went hunting about three times, but didn't have any success. I became caterer of the Wardroom mess on Jan. 1st. The food problem in Cuba was a real problem. Something was always happening in Cuba. An English mate was killed, an engineer of another ship hit his captain in the face with a monkey wrench, a man fell overboard, Dixon had an encounter with a Cuban, and a mob of Cubans came down one morning at about 2 o'clock to borrow a boat to chase some guy with. Fights were too numerous to mention. On Jan. 9 I got the best view of Cuba which I ever got, and that was over the stern of the Sialia when she was leaving. That night we almost went aground. We arrived in Key West on the morning of the 11th. No mail was waiting for me, but it all came in a bunch in a few days. We saw our old friends of the Hydrographer and the Tuscarora. Siems, Auld, and Duckworth reported to the Hydrographer while we were in Key West. After about two weeks we left for Norfolk with three chiefs aboard. One was Morton, of the Wenonah, one was Locke, our regular engineer, and the other was Fulcher, of the Lighthouse Service, who was a prisoner aboard a German submarine for 45 days during the war. We turned out of our course to look for a hydroplane which was adrift. It was finally sighted, but another ship was standing by, so we went our way. We had some pretty rough weather. The bowsprit was loosened, some of its supports broken, some lumber got adrift, and we were shaken up in general. It was practically impossible to sleep in my room. The last day out we had some more boiler trouble, and decided to put into Charleston. We were lost on account of fog for awhile, but when it cleared up we got into Charleston o.k. The next day we went to the Lighthouse Dock. I saw the Paines several times. I also saw a good many Clemson boys. Went riding with Parks. Bean and I did some tracing at the Army Engineers' Office. We finally went to the Navy Yard, where the transfer of the Sialia began. Capt. Maher left on the 24th of February for the Wenonah. Lowrie, Mr. Locke, and I had orders for the Surveyor. My orders were changed. I managed to get my orders exchanged with Lowrie's, who didn't want to go to the West Coast. I left the Sialia at about 12:20 A.M., March 3rd. Had quite a time getting away. Had to hustle. Money was scarce , as Mr. Bussell's check book hadn't come. I hated to leave Lowrie and Bussell. I regard Bussell as a real friend. He is all man. I slept in Charleston from about two a.m. to 5 a.m. Mar. 3rd. I left Charleston on the 6 a.m. train for Clinton. Spent a day and a half in Clinton, which I certainly enjoyed. Dad was there. I managed to get a present to Granny. Left Clinton on the vestibule March 4th, and got to Washington at 1 P.M. Mar. 5. Phoned out home. Went to office. Came out into a blizzard. Met Mama and Mary down town and went out home with them. Was delighted with the home which I never had seen. Dad came before I left. Went to see the Graves Sunday - Aunt Madge was at home. Was certainly sorry to leave on the 6:10 Pennsylvania train Mar. 10th. Mama, Dad, Mary, and Hazel saw me off.

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