Have put in one day at school. Didn't do much except get ready to start a few tracings of trenches and mixed the chemicals to be used in bringing out the colors. It certainly is easy to learn and interesting, too. Everything a fellow does has a meaning all it's own and every act is entirely different from any other one.
If us lithographers were well experienced and was in France now, we would be working day and night. You see, every time they make a drive, the map changes and all the officers have to have a new one, so that is more work for the lithographers. If an aviator takes a picture of the enemy trenches, the draftsmen take it and make a tracing and turn the tracing over to us. Then we make every officer a copy so that he can tell just where to strike.
We take the tracings and run them thru a process of chemicals and get the impression on zinc plates. Then more chemicals are used to bring out the color and set the ink. When we get it cut in zinc with acid and stuff, we can make as many copies as we want from that one plate. I will send you what I wrote out to do the job.
There are only 8 in my class. Our school room is 5 stories high overlooking the aeroplane hangars and aviation camp and field. Some of the aeroplanes light in the Potomac River and just go down the river a ways like a streak of lightening and then raise again. I saw one the other day go clear up into the clouds and then loose all holds and roll over and over till he was near the ground, then sail off real easy. He did that several times. They had some machine guns up with them and when they came over the target range, they would just pepper them with a burst of bullets. I'm not saying how many they got here but they are as common as a buzzard is back home.
At night they have big search lights that sweep the sky and they throw the light on a cloud and make it look like the sun is behind it. Those search lights are no little piece of machinery, either. They are built on a big truck with 3 inch tires and all the machinery is built on with it. The dynamo, generator and batteries and everything, and the light is about the size of a wash tub and is handled with a steering wheel like an auto. To sweep the light around, it takes 4 mules to pull one.
Well, I guess my school days are over. They have me on the transfer list to go to the 35th Regiment of Engineers. They are here in the same camp, all equipped and ready to move someplace. I don't know where. I don't know why they pulled us out of school but they took 7 out of each company. I was talking to the boys of a company who were on the list and they said every one of their boys who were transferred was a carpenter and 5 of them corporals of carpenter squads. So I guess that's why they picked me up. Every one of the boys in my company are carpenters and I was corporal of the squad at Ft. Foote.
I kind of like carpenter work but it got to be a rotten job at Ft. Foote, and the boys all worked at it till they got tired of the job. It was the job of the corporal to keep them at it, especially an acting corporal. If I'd been a regular corporal with the stripes on my arm, they would have paid more attention. It's a hard job for the officers to get anyone to act as corporal anymore. They generally make commissioned corporals out of them, then keep them at the training camps.
Not very many fellows care to stay. Everybody wants to go across and every time a bunch of us gets transferred, the rest of the company gets jealous. But, say, we had a pull with the First Sergeant and got him to put us down for transfer. Every time a bunch gets moved, they all think they are going across and there is a big rush for men to build camps over there now. The paper said last night that Pershing had no more room for new men and that additional barracks were needed badly. It's the same way here; there is no room. Everything is crowded to the limit. Last Thursday they shipped 76 men away from here to Annapolis to make room for us, then Sunday they shipped them back here again. We were all full up here so they took them out on the drill ground and had them pitch their tents. They are here yet and everything is piled and jammed here and at Ft. Foote, too.
I guess they are shipping them around to make room for the new draft. I don't know what else could cause such a muss up.
Well, I guess I'd better close and get this in the mail for I don't know what the orders will be 5 minutes from now. So just write to the same old address like this: Co. B 1st Btn 1st Rpl Reg Engrs, Washington Bks, D.C. and it will follow me up. As ever,
Well, the 35th must have moved away or something went wrong. They are holding us over a couple of days. I can't get a line on where the 35th Reg is so this move will be like all the rest. I'm on my way but I don't know where I'm going. Ha! Ha! I don't give a _______. I'm with Uncle Sam's Army and will get my dollar a day and horse feed! I already have more clothes than I can carry at one load and the Germans are getting the devil walloped out of them now and will get it a lot worse when we get there! As soon as the job is done I'll be right back in Brown and behind the plow, so I should worry where I go!
Starting a Tracing
Wash zinc plate in caustic solution, then rinse in water, then dry over stove. Then wet blotters in water, lay tracing between blotters and sponge rubber blotter until tracing is wet thoroughly. Then place tracing on zinc plates and lay a few sheets of paper and a piece of cardboard over tracing and press slightly. Then remove paper and cardboard and wet tracing and press firmly. Remove and moisten and press again. Then moisten and run through press several times. Then remove tracing and sponge off with water and dry plate. Pour on gum arabic and sponge off and dry plates with gum on. Mop again with gum arabic and rub up with ink. Wash dirty gum off with water and dry, then apply fresh gum and dry. Then wash lines out with turpentine. Wife off free moisture and apply asphaltum. The asphaltum will take the place of ink. Mop off asphaltum with wet sponge and wipe with cloth. Then use ink roller, mop with sponge and dry with cloth. Roll on ink again and mop with sponge leaving plate moderately wet. Then use ink roller and rub with dry cloth and apply powdered French Chalk. Monday, July 22, 1918
Cleaning for Zinc Plates
3 oz Caustic Soda and 1 qt of Water
Neutralizing Solution: 1 oz powdered alum, 1 dram nitric acid and 1 qt of Water
Chromic Etch: 1 oz Chromic Acid to 10 ozs of Water and 1 oz Phosphoric Acid to 10 ozs of Water, 1 oz Chromic Solution and 1 oz Phosphoric Solution and 8 ozs of Water and 8 ozs of Gum Arabic
Asphaltum Solution: 1 lb powdered asphaltum, l6 ozs bees wax, 4 ozs mutton tallow, 3 oz oil of Lavender, 5 pints of turpentine.
Mix first 3 ingredients and heat, then mix with lavender and turpentine.