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Thursday, February 12, 2015

More Letters Home from Base Hospital 46's Grace Phelps: "Many of the Nurses Have Kept Themselves 'Broke' by Getting These Things For the Boys"

Another letter home from Base Hospital 46 in Bazoilles-sur-Meuse, this one from Chief Nurse Grace Phelps published in the Oregonian on December 8, 1918.

Phelps was writing to thank Viola Orthchild, president of the active reform and civic group the Portland Grade Teachers' Association. The group sent $50 to the Base Hospital 46 nurses in France.

"Portland Teachers' Money Helps Nurses Paper Rooms," Oregonian, December 8, 1918, Section 3, 8.
Phelps turned a thank you note into a valuable historical account of Base Hospital 46 life.

"We added the $50 which you sent to a little fund which we have, and bought paper with which to paper one room in each of the four barracks occupied by the nurses.

"In this room we have a good coal stove. A fire is kept all day long. This little sitting room is used by the nurses when off duty--we have no stoves in our rooms (three nurses to a room). Besides the one coal stove in each barracks, we have funny drum-like stoves for wood--three. These rooms we have fixed up as bath rooms. Don't think we have real bath tubs. Our tubs are tin basins, bought at a nearby town.

"In supplying patients with fresh fruit, many of the nurses have kept themselves 'broke' by getting these things for the boys. It is the greatest fortune to be able to take care of these good boys of ours and when we can get something a little 'extra' for them they appreciate it so much, especially after having been without a variety, to say nothing of being without any food for days. You should hear some of the conversations about what they are going to ask their mothers, wives, or sisters to cook for them when they get back to 'The Good Old U.S.A.' I really believe people had better begin to hoard their chocolate as I am sure none of them will turn down chocolate cake."