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To Major General James K. Parsons
June 23, 1938 [Vancouver Barracks, Washington]
My dear Parsons:
Before I leave here, July 2nd, I thought you would be interested in a summary of the present state of affairs on the post and at Camp Bonneville.
Through Major Wilson in the War Department I got a hold of almost $200,000 of WPA money, in addition to some $57,000 I had obtained from the State of Washington—though this last lacked any money for material. With these funds we have been able to bring practically everything on the post up to a fine standard of recondition.
Starting with the married soldiers’ quarters we have fully repaired each set, replacing all defective lumber and underpinning, adding facilities and sometimes rooms, painting, etc., etc. We have had to tear down three or four sets, but have made the old radio station into two fine sets and have just completed transforming the former CMTC Headquarters into two splendid sets, beautifully finished inside. This repair work has been carried to practically every building on the post, and we have now just finished levelling up and the general rehabilitation of the library.
At the officers dub we have added a store room, cut out partitions to provide an excellent pantry, enlarged the bar by removing the adjacent toilet and made an entrance from that side from a parking lot we have constructed behind the club. The removal of the partition between the dining room and the end or dancing room has transformed that portion of the club. Sidewalks have been laid outside, and a covered canvas way erected between the porch and the road on the parade ground side.
The Victory Theater has had the floor levelled and a fine maple flooring laid; with timbers and plans from Bonneville Dam we have widened the trusses so as to provide an excellent gymnasium, basketball, roller skating and dance floor. Bleacher seats have been erected along the sides, the windows cut down, the outside fire escape steps removed, a little sub-post exchange installed, and the building painted. It should be a tremendous morale booster for the winter season, particularly as we have a fine Hammond electric organ for the chapel, which can be used at the theater.
The road in rear of the officers’ quarters has been widened, hedges planted, trees planted and the area generally beautified. The ball diamond has received the attention of a big league park.
The North Woods has been cleaned out, the trenches filled in, most of the stumps blown out—we used a ton and a half of dynamite on this—and the fence on the southern end was removed. The training area has thus been increased about 60%, troops can deploy near the main gate of the post and work clear through to the extreme northeastern corner of the woods. The old reservoir installations have been razed and the fences removed up there. That house has been put in excellent shape.
In the post proper all the roads have been trimmed up, gutters laid, shrubs planted—particularly in the vicinity of the post exchange and Quartermaster buildings. A new road has been laid down to the coal siding, the sewer lines completely reconditioned.
I have gotten the money and we have started on the erection of a CCC Headquarters adjacent to the Headquarters Company buildings—which incidentally, I have had siding put on and the buildings painted. This headquarters building will free the old band barracks for the use of the band. I have my office here now, but it is to be transferred to the library, and the library and a NCO Club established in the present District Quartermaster office building.
We have widened the main gate about ten feet, moved the flag pole down to the road between the band barracks and your aide’s old house, improved the golf course, enlarged Pearson Field, and done so many things here and there that I can not recall them all. The trees have all been pruned, and the rotted places filled with cement. Someone said the other day the North Woods now looked like an English deer park.
Out at Bonneville we have metamorphosed the military cantonment area and buildings, installed a drainage system, widened the roads between the barracks, replaced the underpinning, braced the roofs, completely replaced all the old kitchen setup and mess tables with Hogan’s best imitation of Camp Killpack. We have built a fine infirmary and first sergeant’s office. 1500 acres have been completely cleared and parked, and the 1500 remaining acres has all the timber fallen and roads through it constructed. Unfortunately the company will be taken away from us on the 30th, leaving the final clearing of the remaining 1500 acres undone. The reservoir and the water system have been rebuilt to prevent leakage, and the roads oiled. You would not recognize the place. The area you planned for the Regimental Camp adjacent to Killpack has been completely cleared and levelled.
Knowing your interest in the place I thought this data would be of real interest to you. I will probably see you some time this summer.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Vancouver Barracks, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 606-607.