Saturday, October 25, 2014


Thanksgiving Day In The Faraway Orient.

 THE CREW 1901

Paul Weston, who was aboard you. S. S. Helena, which is doing service in the Chinese warriors, in a letter to his father describes a Thanksgiving day celebration in the Orient according to Occidental customs, however notwithstanding, the great American bird and its side dishes were not  included  in the menu.

U S. S. Helena, Cheefoo, china. November 28, 1901.

Dear father: today is Thanksgiving day and, of course the jacks had their usuals read but this thread could have been a great deal better had the ship not rolled. This was to be the bill of fare: salt horse spuds, peas, beans, fresh bread fruit pies and crust.  But this was the fare, salt horse, spuds, peas, beans and fresh bread.On account of the quarantine we could not get chickens or fruit. We were on the Lee of the rock on which the ninth house stands this was just outside the harbor. Last night while the cooks made cakes and pies we were to have custard. It was the kind where you bake the crust first and then pour in the goo on top, white of egg czar smeared like froth, the cakes were smeared with molasses and place nicely on top of the lockers, and the pie crusts were on top of t lockers in the pie crusts were on top of the chest

this morning about 7 o’clock, we got under way and move farther into the harbor. The cooks had the eggs in the corn starch already to mix just as we came up abeam  of the Chinese battleship, we gave a Dozen lists which capsized everything the cakes were smashed and rolled around the deck and were spoiled the pie crusts were also smashed and soaked with saltwater all the eggs on the ship were broken in the packages of cornstarch were busted. Open and spilled about the deck You can imagine how we rolled when the Chinese flagship and French battleship saw us they lowered their lifeboats and were coming to us to save a few of us they could. They thought she was going to capsized, is a great part of the bottom and one propeller were clean out of the water. She’s a fine ship at sea I often wonder if the well since I’m in the Navy I’m compelled to call him a gentleman but I think to myself he’s a well I’m not allowed to think either, that sent a certain ship, name the Helena built for no other purpose than to go up rivers, to sea , ever went to see him her if he hasn’t, I hope you’ll go to see in this pork barrel. A man’s life is in danger even in port this wagon, Sc ow kettles, mess chests coffee pots and horse barrels are always flying about.

This afternoon the Dr. and Ensign came up forward among the jacks and started a phonograph. We all listen and were very much pleased I tell you there’s only a few officers in this Navy who would think of doing anything like that.

6:30 p.m. just finished a chicken. The  wardroom officers had  some chow brought off shore and some of us decided to have some two I bought two chickens and some firemen bought a few ducks. They put there’s in the fire but I beat them I roasted mine in a sterilizer and this evening another fellow and myself had a chicken and waffles suffer minus the waffles. We had: salt horse for desert and some chocolate.

October 30, the boys had a ball last night I was there but didn’t dance I don’t care for dancing, some people can dance all evening. It might be great fun but I’d much rather capsize a part of paint down the Chinamans kneck. I used to dance on the Kentucky to look down from the superstructure on the crowd of dancers reminds a fellow of two men trying to hop away from each other but both holding fast. When you can’t hear the music and see them, they appear like so many jumping jacks.

The New Orleans is expected tomorrow. We will not leave until she arrives from here we go to a few forgotten parts of China and then home, (December 9 year we are home again will have liberty tomorrow. Your loving son Paul USS Helena Shang

By the way, it was in Washington paper that the Helena and the Wilmington were ordered to San Francisco. The captain knows nothing about either of them going. I hope she does go a leader go with her were be transferred, and I prefer the latter event to go home in this.

Don’t like the ship for some reason or other and I haven’t felt at home for comparable since I came aboard

December 1, this morning it’s no. There was half a gale of wind blowing and it sent the snow passed in a blinding storm. Was not very cold, not half so cold as it has been we moved out to the Lee of the lighthouse again morning. This is the first snow I’ve seen since  February 1900. It made me feel good and I went on deck and listened to the howling of the wind and watched the driving snow. I felt as though I’d like to the back home, sitting on the mountain side near Ashland, alongside of a big wood fire, watching a snowstorm. A snowstorm in the mountains, I think the prettiest thing I ever saw.

Well, can’t live in the mountains all your life, I’m satisfied to follow the scene is a great old life very hard sometimes, and very easy at others on the whole I like a great deal better than lying around the one place on land for five years.

December 3, and English merchant steamer was a fire this morning and we sent a few quotes loaded with jacks to help save them.

December 7, you have heard of salty sailors no doubt the ship beats them all, our tea and coffee the past few days and all the cooking has been done with saltwater

December 8 today we had fresh water for cooking again. The other was some shore water from chief food. Two men are sick with college some cause or other probably from the water. We are bound direct for Shanghai.


December 9, here we are home again will have liberty tomorrow.

Your loving son Paul