GROWING UP SWISS IN MICHIGAN by Leo Wyss
It looks to me as if I was sort of bound to have an interesting life even if it centered around Michigan and Wisconsin. Now take the time when I was four years old; make it three years old....I was playing in a baby buggy on our farm in Lowell. All of a sudden one of the horses came running around the corner of the barn and saw me lying there and blocking his passage. Being a bright horse, he jumped right over the buggy and left me o.k. but startled!
Another famous Wyss story is about a widow. It seems that this widow came to my father Alfred Wyss and was all upset because her son was threatening to commit suicide. She pleaded with my father to help her talk him aout of this. Dad went to see her son and sympathized with his problem and offered many good suggestions as well as his cooperation in committing a good sucide. Later on the widow thanked dad profusely for whatever he did sincer her son wasnąt making any threats anymore.
I donąt remember when we moved two miles north of Lowell to Foxes Corners. I do remember watching the Grand Rapida, Saginaw, and Pere Marquette Railroad being built which happened about the same time. I made up my mind then and there to be a locomotive engineer.
When I first went to school at Foxes Corners, I had a lot of trouble with the English language. My family spoke German Swiss, and my Swiss was better than my English. My first big school trauma started with my man school teacher picking me to ride to school. He was bringing a bouquet of flowers to school that day and asked me to hold the bouquet while he drove the horse and buggy. I always said that I would have rather gone to school without my pants on than to hold those flowers. The only way out of it was to answer the teasing that I got at school with my fists!
Soon after we moved to Foxes Corners, my dad started to work in a water power plant for a Grand Rapids company. The plant was a mile and a half away over a very remote road, and I was pretty proud when my mother let me take my dadąs lunch to him all by myself.
I used to spend a lot of time at the power plant with my dad. It was a spectacular place with great big beveled gears and long leather belts about two and a half feet wide. I really got acquainted with the place when my father got an infection in one leg and had to work his shifts on crutches. It is surprising how he could stay on the main floor of the plant and direct me to operate things in the basement, gear room, and the switchboard.
One of my favorite things was starting and stopping the turbine pump which furnished the City of Lowell with all of its water. A man could stand on the floor and turn the three foot wheel, but I had to brace my feet against the wall to turn it.
Dadąs boss usually had fish poles set out on the boom, and I remember dad landing nine fish for him in his absence. One time he caught an unusually large pickeral which tried to get away from him out on the boom. There was a wild wrestling match, and dad lost. Soaking wet, he gave his boss the fish but never mentioned the huge pickeral.
I remember on one occasion when dad told me to watch things for awhile, so he could go outside. Suddenly, a group of visitors walked into the power house, and I felt as if I had to do something to show them how important I was. I boldly walked over to the switchboard, but it read just as it should. Well, I just had to turn it to impress the visitors and immediately bells started to clang and my father ran in out of nowhere. I corrected the situation immediately, and the bells stopped. I donąt think that dad ever knew quite what happened.
In 1904 when I was eight years old, a new power plant was being built upstream from the old one. My father was transferred to the new plant and we moved into a farmhouse adjacent to the flowage. A gravel pit became flooded and this was our new swimming hole. I recall that right on my eighth birthday on June 8th, I made my first venture into the deep water. Feeling bolder, I asked my dad what he would give me if I dived off the top of the gatehouse out on the dam. His answer was łA good licking˛, so I never told him that I had already dived off the gatehouse.
Thinking like a competent swimmer, I accepted when a fisherman asked me to dive into dangerous water to recover an expensive fishing pole since he promised to pay me a quarter. I recovered the rod and reel, and he still owes me the quarter.
Another time a farmer came along and dared me to jump off the bridge over the canal and promised me a nickle. The currentwas very strong and swept me way downstream. By the time I got back, the farmer had galloped away with his horses to save the nickel.
Going back to Foxes Corners...One day when no one was home or at the next farm, I saw my chance to climb to the top of the windmill, another forbidden thing. I climbed straight to the top and straight into a pile of grease, and wound up by confessing the whole story to my angry parents.
I redeemed myself by milking a cow when my parents were gone one evening. They came home late and were all concerned about that cow going so long, and I was a hero when I said that I had taken care of the milking.
On another occasion I wasnąt such a hero. My Grandpa Bieri was babysitting for me and must have had too much hard cidar.He fell asleep in the chair, dropping his long Swiss pipe. I, knowing the value of tobacco, didnąt think that it should go to waste, so I started puffing on it. It wasnąt too long before I became pretty sick. I couldnąt even say that I saved the house from burning down because grandpa always had a cover over the pipe bowl.
Another farm story...we always kept bees. When bees swarm, you have to have a new hive ready. Well, they swarmed one day when I was home alone. I remembered something about you were supposed to beat some pans together which made the bees hang in a tree or something. Then, I laid a white cloth down in front of an empty hive, found dadąs wide brimmed hat and net, put on his coat and long pants, tied strings around my wrists and ankles, put on leather gloves, took a screen trap from the fish pool,and got at least half of the bees where they were hanging in a tree and dumped them in front of their new home. Everyone was pretty surprised that I could handle the bee situation.
My father and mother started to farm on the side. We had two horses,four cows, four calves, and lots of pigs and chickens. We smoked ham and bologna in our smokehouse and dried peaches and apples in our drying house. My job in the process was to keep the fires and smudges going properly. To make the work more pleasant, I used to pretend that I was firing a locomotive on the Pere Marquette.
We also had a corn crib on the place with a corn sheller in it. This became my private power house. I rigged up a system of pulleys and belts and had things whirling all over that corn crib driven by the corn sheller. The spools would whirl so fast that sparks would fly!
Back in those days, we had potato picking vacations for school kids. I picked potatoes for a man named Wells for a penny a bushel, and I remember picking while the snow was falling. Wells used to talk about his brother who would not drink from a dipper that had been emptied into the kitchen slop pail. In his mind he believed that the germs jumped from the slop pail unto the dipper and contaminated it forever.
When I was eleven, (1907) I worked for a farmer called Lev Lee who lived about two miles from us. They really got a lot of work out of the kids working on farms. I never plowed, but I could harness a team, operate cultivators, haul wood for the thrashing machine, milk cows, and of course, clean stables. Working on the farm wouldnąt have been bad if the hired man that I slept with would have washed his socks once in awhile. Old Lev was a tough customer and pretty hard on me. I worked there for three months and three weeks that summer and earned five dollars a month.
Lev wasnąt all bad. He sent me into town on errands one day and told me to enjoy the homecoming festivities while I was there. While I was in a store, I learned that there was a baseball game between the All Stars of Grand Rapids and the Lumberjacks of Lowell. This was my first sight of baseball uniforms, and I have been an avid baseball fan ever since.
Poor Lev Lee! When I checked out with him, he was sick in bed. He got tears in his eyes when I said goodbye. He didnąt last long after that. Either did the farmer where I picked potatoes in the fall...
There was an old storage shed on this farm that was loaded with old oxen yokes and an old reaper. The outdoor toilet had one newspaper in it with a headline łDEWEY CAPTURES MANILA!˛ I figured anyone who could remember that far back had to be pretty old.
One day I was hauling wood as usual for the thresher, bringing it up a winding road along a creek to a remote field. As I unloaded the wood, I noticed a hornetąs nest in the long grass nearby. When one of those hornets stung me, I immediatley decided to get even. After unloading the wood, I ran over the hornetąs nest with the hind wheel of the wagon, figuring the horses and I would gallop away fast enough. I was wrong. Those hornets took after us, and I was trying to hold the horses with one hand and beat off the hornets with the other. What a wild ride! One of the horse jumped over an outside leather tug. Before we got to the farmhouse, I fixed the tug and got the horses settled down. Everyone sympathized with my hornet bites never knowing that I invited my own trouble.
That fall my dad was up at Croton Dam where we were going to move when our house was built. Every Sunday when we went to church, we would say goodbye to all our friends and then learn that our house wasnąt ready and then show up again the next Sunday. It got embarrassing. Meanwhile we had a good crop of apples on our place. My sister and I would pick these apples and haul eight crates at a time in our łdouble buggy˛ to the cider mill at Lowell where we could get ten cents a bushel. My older brother Otto who was tied down to other duties at the farm and my mother would each get a share of our efforts.
We made a deal with mother that we could either spend a nickel apiece on our favorite caramels or go to the movie house after we made the sale at the cider mill. One day on the way to the mill we were stopped by a man from the canning factory who offered us twenty-five cents a bushel for the apples. My sister got the check for two dollars, and I went to the bank with her to cash it, We were now pretty affluent business people and my mother thought that it was okay when we reported that we went to the show and bought a bag of caramels besides.
While up at Croton, dad got lonesome for the family, and he wanted someone to come and visit him. It couldnąt be one of my sisters since they wouldnąt fit in the community boarding house too well. My older brother couldnąt be spared from the farm, so I became the unmerited pinch hitter. What a thrill to ride the Pere Marquette to Grand Rapids and change at Union Station. Dad met me in Newaygo with one of the company teams for the eight mile ride to Croton. He was busy at the plant that night so I went with him. It sure was an imposing power house with a forty foot wall to reach the bottom. There was temporary scaffolding up in the skylight seventy feet high. When dad wasnąt looking, I climbed to the top of the power house to have a look down.
In the company barn they had a bronco, along with a lot of other horses. During my stay I was allowed to saddle up the bronco whenever I wished. His name was Peanuts. I had done a lot of horseback riding but I had never ridden in a saddle. Peanuts was a lot rougher than the horses on the farm, but the saddle helped. I started wishing for a saddle for our farm horses.
Fred was my favorite horse at Lowell. One evening I was bringing him in from the field when he slid on a manure pile toward a barbed wire fence. Not wanting to drop me into the manure or scratch me on the fence, he threw me over the fence into soft clean grass and took off into the barn on his own.
I remember the first night that we got Fred. He was pretty nervous in the stable, and I was told to go and kind of settle him down. Fred was startled when I came running into the barn and kicked me swiftly in the midsection and left me on the ground with the wind knocked out of me. We became best friends anyway because I knew there was no mean intention.
Getting back to staying at Croton, I found the biggest thrill was riding on the companyąs private railroad car for five and a half miles from Croton to Irwin Junction. They claim the locomotive used to pull some pretty swanky passenger cars on the Michigan Central, and I just loved her.
The food at the company boarding house was just delicious. It was there that I had wheat flakes for breakfast for the first time and have enjoyed them ever since. All the men treated me and one another like comrades. It was a real fellowship type atmosphere.
While at Croton, I got to ride on the companyąs twenty eight foot launch. It was driven by a forty horse power continental engine and the launch cost more than a high priced automobile did. You cannot imagine the thrill of riding in it!
When we finally moved to Croton, I got to pilot this launch for a galaxy of wealthy people from Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and other cities.
Anyway, I was visiting dad at Croton and it was time to go home. I didnąt want to leave since I was having the time of my life. My father had to get this pioneer one hundred and ten thousand volt power house going so he couldnąt help much with the move.
To prepare for the move to Croton, mother sold the horses, cows, pigs, farm implements, wagons, buggies, and harnesses. Uncle John Bieri, our motherąs brother, took charge of loading our furniture into the box car. He sure did a good job since everything arrived in Croton in good shape. The only problem was a swarm of bees got loose again in the boxcar and made it darn hard to unload. The chickens were fine and were sent in pens with feed and water according to one of Uncle Johnąs transportation plans. The bees didnąt bother the chickens.
When we got to Croton, everyone wondered why we had so many chairs. The explanation is Swiss people have many church meetings in their homes and need chairs for all the visitors.
I donąt want to leave Lowell without commenting on my older brother, Otto, who died of appendicitis shortly after we left Lowell. He seemed to be sort of a young Edison, having built electric motors, electric heaters, and all kinds of mechanical devices. He used to go around trading his inventions for cameras, guns, and whatever he needed. He could load his own shotgun shells and was an exceptional photographer in his day, developing his plates and having his own dark room. Years later, met a classmate of Ottoąs at a golf course in Pontiac. He told me that Otto used to repair all of the broken laboratory equipment at the high school when he was in ninth grade.
Otto was good in school and so was my cousin, I thought. This girl was on her way to high school in Lowell and I saw that she had library books. I ran home and told my mother that my cousin was so good in school that she now had to get books from the library since she mastered all the books in the school.
We were living in Croton where John Seastrom and Charlie Harger were the operators. They worked twelve hour shifts, six days a week. One of the lineman was to fill in at the plant two days a week so my father as the manager wouldnąt have any shift work. However, my dad didnąt think that this lineman would be a good operator so he took the shifts himself.
The lineman in question was a wonderful baseball player and used to play on a Grand Rapids team before moving to Croton. He used to pick up extra money by pitching in some towns on Sundays.
Well, one Sunday the Stanwood ball team, sixteen miles away wanted him to pitch for them in a very critical game. Unfortunately he could not get permission for the day off from the dispatcher in Grand Rapids. Strangely enough, on the Sunday of the game, the companyąs private telephone line near Stanwood shorted out. The lineman, of course, had to take his team of horses to Stanwood to find out the trouble. After he fixed it, he had to rest the horses so he saw nothing wrong with pitching in the Stanwood game before returning to the plant.
Men working at the plant wore blue overalls, blue jackets, and shop caps. I had the same kind of clothes in my locker so I could imitate the men. I was allowed to do many of the greasing, oiling, and cleaning jobs in the plant. I got good at filling the moving oil cups on the governor oil pumps.
They also trusted me at eleven years old to operate the electric gate hoists out on the dam. One day one of the company executives had a party of people out in the launch and the motor went dead. I looked at the launch and saw that it was moving toward the dam. The bear trap gate was open and created a falls of forty feet wide and five feet deep. I ran into the plant to close the gate which wasnąt easy because it was slow and heavy moving. By the time the gate was closed, the launch had floated right up to the falls. They got the launch going again and started away never knowing how close they came to tragedy. Nothing was ever said about this incident that I remember. I donąt think that anyone else knew.
I loved to work with my dad around the powerhouse and dam. It was much more fun than tending animals in the barn or doing garden chores. Dad needed to make an improvement to the powerhouse crane. The crane had such a slow moving hook for small loads that had to be dropped down into the powerhouse that dad decided to put a cable on the crane drum which would be twenty times as fast as the standard crane. This required some slow drilling with a rachet drill at 65 feet above the powerhouse floor, and I got to do the drilling. Dad never seemed to worry about my climbing all over the powerhouse. Heights didnąt mean a thing to him and he took it for granted that I was the same way.
Fishing was great in the Muskegon River in those days. Many people drove by horse and buggy to see the new dam and backwater. Once there, many people got the urge to fish and inquiry would show that I had fish poles equipped with lines and hooks for rent. I was also the person to see to purchase live bait. I was also the one who rented boats and I could arrange stable space where horses could be fed and watered. Furthermore, if people had no picnic lunch, I could furnish that along with hot coffee since my mother was glad for a little spending money too.
Fisherman who fish and do not catch anything can be pretty depressed. Noting this, I kept a live box of bass in the company boat house. I would give the unlucky fisherman a net and he could dip live fish right out of the box. Since it was unlawful to sell black bass, I just considered my proceeds as tips. Proceeds from the boat rentals were split 50/50 with the boat owners and one of the boat owners was my dad.
Actually, my occupation was guide in those days. Only I thought that guides had to be American Indians so I never would have labeled myself a guide.
I never lived in Croton for any length of time except from the fall of 1907 until the spring of 1911 which means only three summers in Croton.
By the summer of 1908 I had enough pocket money to go visiting my old friends in Lowell. I rode my bike twelve miles to Howard City where I took the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad to Edmore. Here I switched trains and took the Pere Marquette to Stanton. From Stanton I got back on my bike and rode four miles to visit the Krumms. They had a boy a year or two older than I. I arrived just in time for threshing on the farm which meant lots of work and lots of food.
The next Sunday afternoon Morris Krumm and I played short stop against a neighboring baseball team. The catcher on the opposing team and I had a personality conflict. As a result, when the game was over, the catcher challenged me to a fist fight while both teams looked on. I faced the situation and made a decision . I explained that I was off to Lowell the next day to visit relatives and no extra clothes to ruin in a fight and furthermore, arriving in Lowell with my face all marked up would upset my relatives and spoil the visit. I admitted that it was too bad that I couldnąt fight this time since it would certainly be a good match and all of the onlookers would enjoy it too, but I just couldnąt entertain at this time. I think that my speech drews boos but I still donąt regret my decision.
At Edmore the baggage man just literally tossed my bicycle off the train. Thatąs the way railroad men were in those days. I never used foul language to any extent but that baggage man heard a tirade of Muskegon lumberjack swearing that drew approval from everyone who witnessed the scene.
When I got to Lowell, Uncle John Rothąs blacksmith and wagon shop was my first stop. There was never any doubt about welcome we had at the John Rothsą, the Albert Rothsą, or Grandma and Grandpa Bieriąs at Foxes Corners. Uncle John quick put me to work, tying a leather apron around me while explaining that its owner had died a few days ago. I said that I didnąt mind wearing it.
Pretty soon Uncle Carl Bieri plucked me out of the blacksmith shop and had me help with the haying on his farm. After the harvesting was done, and I had made fifty cents a day, I came back to Lowell and went swimming in the Flat River that runs under the main street in Lowell.
One day a young man took a running jump off a three story building into the swimming area. In order to do this, he had to take a run across the roof, leap over a parapet, and miss a photography studio located two floors below. He was an instant hero for making this jump. Always one to like a challenge, I decided to try it. Everything went fine until I hit the water, damaging my arm. At least I made it. No other kids my age tried it.
Idleness wasnąt tolerated in Lowell when I was a kid. Young Albert Roth worked summers in a cutter factory doing piecework, and he hired me as a helper. I could only make between thirty to forty cents an hour doing this.
The great thing about staying with the Roths was their treehouse. In mild weather both John and Albert slept in their own treehouses and stayed in them all summer. John and Albert lived about a block apart and had treehouses about a block apart. The equipped their treehouses with connecting telegraph outfits. Every night the parents would bring a bedtime snack up to the treehouse for us. Once in awhile we couldnąt stay there because some girl cousins wanted to take it over for the night.
My second summer in Croton was the same one in which the power company wanted to tear out five miles of railroad track between Croton and the Pere Marquette Junction. One Saturday I was given the horse and buggy and assigned the job of traveling around the countryside to tell people that labor was needed to tear out these tracks. By noon I had fed and watered the horse at the country store north of Croton and bought myself some lunch. My day as an employment agent turned out real good since lots of men showed up to tear out of the track.
Some power company men from Grand Rapids came up with the idea of using the company locomotive which had formerly been used on the construction of the dam. They steamed up the old Michigan Central passenger locomotive but couldnąt get any further than outside the roundhouse. My dad couldnąt figure out why they didnąt take his advice and hire the former fireman of the locomotive since he lived nearby. Gibbard was the name of the former fireman. They finally decided to hire a Pere Marquette locomotive while ripping out the tracks. This locomotive had to go to Baldwin, Michigan every night to fill out with water and coal. A minimum crew was a fireman, an engineer, and a conductor,
I was in seventh grade and the foreman of the crew invited me to ride on the train on a certain Saturday. I looked forward to this and was on hand bright and early on Saturday morning. As I was boarding, the conductor (rightfully so) wouldnąt let me board because I was not part of the crew involved in the track removal. The foreman argued in my favor, but the conductor would not back down. John Seastrom, the operator who was on shift at Croton that morning, found me crying my eyes out down below the powerhouse. He tried to comfort me but nothing helped.
Then a strange thing happened. The foreman made arrangements with my father and the school to hire me for a few weeks as the water boy on his crew, so here I was riding the train for the next two weeks and getting a dollar a day for doing it.
The spring of 1910, my last one at Croton, seemed to find things rather dull. I took my bicycle to Grant one day to look for a job. Grant was a rich farming community, and I called on a lot of farms that didnąt need any help. Finally, I stopped at the Neil farm where they told me that they could use me during haying season. This was quite a pretentious farm with a big brick residence and six hands. They agreed to pay me seventy-five cents a day. Harvesting hands were not supposed to have to do any milking. but I noticed that Mrs. Neil had to do all the milking alone so I decided to help her out. She was not the kind of woman who appreciated this. In fact, she was pretty severe. One day I had an accident with the windmill which I was able to correct, but she really gave me hell for it, so helping with the milking never made her fond of me.
I did distinguish myself with Mr. Neil. The pulley system up in the barn needed repair but Neil or any of his men would not dare to climb to the peak of the barn. This was no trick for me after climbing all over the Croton powerhouse. There was just enough equipment on the farm to make harvesting fun. Hay rakes lifted the hay and grain for easy loading. Horses were used to lift all the products up to the mows of the barn.
The Neils had a daughter who was quite a young lady. She was a milliner in Cadillac who was spending her summer on the farm. Apparently, she was not interested in the other farm hands, but she and I appeared talk the same language. She wanted me to tell her about the people that I had met in Grand Rapids and Muskegon and especially about their automobiles. Now, the front porch of the Neil home was quite isolated from the rest of the house and was equipped with a hammock. The hammock was the only furniture on the porch. One evening we were visiting on the porch when she told me that I might as well lay down on the hammock with her since there was plenty of room. We had a good nightąs sleep and were astonished to find ourselves still there as dawn was breaking. We both tiptoed to our rooms upstairs. I had no more than rolled into bed with the hired man when I was called to get up. It is a good thing that old Mrs. Neil did not hear about this.
One of my other part-time jobs while living at Croton included driving people from Croton to Newaygo and back using the company horses. In fact, there was hardly a job that I wouldnąt tackle. I took out a contract with a widow to saw down an old shed and cut the wood into fire size pieces for a lump sum.
Another summer job was for the power company. My dad had hired a painter to do the waste gate on the dam, and I was supposed to do the scraping ahead of him. Looking at Croton Dam today, I canąt believe that I was scrambling all over those gates scraping paint with a drop of forty feet beneath me.
The painter, Darias Bartron, made a real impression on me. He had been all over the country and even painted box cars in Altoona, Pennsylvania. His main claim to fame, according to him, was his conquest of women.
Strange as it may seem, during these Croton years, I was very much concerned over my future chances of employment. There was a rumor that lumber and other construction equipment left over from Croton Dam was going to be towed to the head of the pond where the Oxbow Dam would be built. I had visions of running the company motorboat to do the hauling. It is a good thing that I didnąt stake my future on this plant since it wasnąt built until I was thirty four years old and was named Hardy Dam.
Well, on June 8, 1911 I turned fifteen and a few days later I took a train to the eastern side of the state to work on the tower line between East Tawas and Cooks Dam on the Au Sable River. While riding along on the train, a grown man next to me asked me where I was headed. I explained about my job and he told me that a kid my age couldnąt make it in tower line construction. This really discouraged me, but out of the window, I saw Lake Huron, the first body of water where I couldnąt see the other side. It got my mind off my doubts.
That night I slept in a nice, comfortable farm house four miles north of East Tawas. The next morning I was assembling steel tower anchors. My next assignment was to keep the tents supplied with food and clean bedding and also guard all of this while the crew was away. We were going to be moving everything north to the wilderness area.
Arrangements had been made for me to eat at a nearby farmhouse on weekends. I went over to check it out and found the filthiest house and most peculiar people that I ever met. One look around and I knew that I couldnąt eat there, so I went back to the tents and lived on raw oatmeal and cheese for three meals a day until the rest of the men returned. On the second day I was on my fifth meal of oatmeal and cheese when a farmer happened by. He wormed the story out of me and made arrangements for me to have a good meal at his house while he guarded the camp. His daughter who was his housekeeper also invited me for supper and for breakfast the next day. They were real nice people, and I always wished that I would have written down their name so I could have sent them some special token of appreciation.
What my job with the crew really was was chore boy. I started the kitchen fire early in the morning, set the table, waited on tables, washed dishes, cut up vegetables, split wood, carried logs, and made beds. As the crew increased to forty four men, it seemed that I didnąt even have a chance to write a letter home. I worked from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. without a break. Once in awhile, one of the men would help me with the dishes at night, so I could join in a game of catch later.
The cook, who was my boss, was an older fellow who had been disappointed in love when he was a young man living in Canada. He used to travel the countryside with a horse and carriage peddling coats. The parents of the girl whom he wanted to marry would not allow the marriage because of his occupation. But, he sure was a good cook.
Can you imagine trying to cook three good meals a day plus lunches to take out when there was no ice and no refrigeration? Finally, one day we had a complaint on the meat not tasting right.
The cook quit! The superintendent was desperate so he asked for volunteers. One of the men volunteered and did not do too badly until he tried cookies. The cookies were so heavy that we called them silver dollars. The crew made such a joke of the cookies that the substitute cook broke down and cried. I didnąt help the situation by developing a technique for sailing them through the air and holding cookie races.
Then we got a new cook, Mr. Hickey. His specialty was sweet rolls which made a big hit with the crew. Just because we were cooking in tents doesnąt mean that the food wasnąt good. You could have all the coffee that you wanted for breakfast and a choice of coffee or tea at the other meals. The men were allowed unlimited eggs and pancakes. The other meals were potatoes, vegetables, meat, rich puddings, pie, and molasses.