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100 years ago in Spokane: Reporter records ‘bedlam’ at Camp Lewis

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 25, 2017

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

Correspondent Wilbur W. Hindley of The Spokesman-Review described the excitement and bedlam of Camp Lewis, one of the West’s major Army training camps.

An astonishing 7,000 men, including a 700-man Spokane contingent, had arrived in the past two days. This brought the population of Camp Lewis to about 20,000.

Once again, Hindley was surprised by the variety of “mascots” at the camp.

“A Southern Pacific special this afternoon brought in a noted addition to the growing list of camp mascots,” he wrote. “One man brought along a half-grown raccoon, very much alive and interested. It perched on his shoulder during the registration and was carried triumphantly off to its quarters by its owner.”

This particular train was decorated with slogans denigrating Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, although the spelling “appears variously as kizer, keyzer, kaezar and keasar.” Yet every slogan was unanimous in its “modest assertions as to what will happen to him when they get over there.”

The registering officers faced a uniquely American challenge, “for in the lot were Swedes, Italians, Mexicans, Hawaiians and Slavs.”

“They grinned good-naturedly when the lieutenants garbled their names, but displayed extraordinary mental alertness in recognizing them as called.”

Hindley noted that “everything is spanking new around around the cantonment, which is barely two months old.”

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