Letters Home - Earl Gordon Haywood

TWENTY-THREE YEAR old Sheridan High School graduate Earl Gordon Haywood was a roundhouse machinist for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad when he was inducted into the U. S. Army in September 1917. After completing basic training at Camp Lewis, Washington, he was sent to Camp Dix, New Jersey, for further training.

During his five month stay at Camp Dix, Haywood had the opportunity to visit Atlantic City, Trenton and Camden, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New York City. His letter describing a particularly memorable trip to The Big Apple - written February 18, 1918 - was published in The Sheridan Enterprise on February 11, 1918. 

Shortly after the New York visit, Haywood was sent over to France with the 26th Engineers, where he fought at Meuse-Argonne and Vesle River. Following his honorable discharge in April 1919, he returned to his job at the CB&Q. He died in Story, Wyoming, in 1957, and is buried in the Masonic Section of the Sheridan Municipal Cemetery. 

My, but I had a fine visit in New York City and will be one I will never forget. We left camp at 1 o’clock Saturday noon and changed trains in Trenton and caught a through train from Chicago. I never saw anything go so fast in my life as that train went, and we passed two trains loaded with soldiers that left camp at 12 o’clock, and we got to New York half an hour sooner than they did. At Jersey City they take off the engine and put on an electric locomotive, and then we went through the tubes under the Hudson River, which are many feet below the bottom of the river. As soon as the train leaves the tubes on the New York side, it is only a short ways to the Pennsylvania Station and there was where we got off. My, but it is a wonderful place, and the main waiting room is so high I believe an airplane could fly around and turn around in it. 

We left the Pennsylvania Station and went to Brooklyn and caught a car down Broadway to the Woolworth Building and went to the top of it. The elevator takes you up to the fifty-fifth story and then you transfer to the elevator that takes you to the observation tower. It was sure cold on top and the most wonderful sight a person can ever expect to gaze upon. People down below look like little dots, and the wagons and street cars only look a few feet long. It was nearly 5 o’clock when we went up, so it was getting a little dark and foggy, but we got a beautiful view of the harbor and Statue of Liberty and several miles around. It only takes a few minutes to go up, and it makes one a little dizzy. When we came down, we went up to Union Square where they have the miniature battleship for recruiting station. We stayed at a hotel on Union Square.

After supper, which consisted of fresh oysters in the shell, and also fried oysters, dill pickles, potatoes, and several other things which only cost 80 cents apiece, we went to the Times Square. My, but it is a busy place and such big electric signs and all were running in view, so I guess coal shortage must be over. We went to the Hippodrome, but it was packed and standing room cost $1, so we didn’t go, but went to another.

​After 10 o’clock we went down to the subway and rode several miles. The trains were packed and only stop every five blocks. There is a system of three tracks under the street, and trains go by every few minutes. Sure is a wonderful system, and everything is hurry up. Trains below the surface run about 50 miles per hour. We got off at Union Square and stayed around and then went to the hotel. It was 12 o’clock, but the streets were packed. Slept till 6:30 a.m. and then got up and walked around alone and about 9 o’clock came back to the hotel and woke up the other three boys, and then we went to the Municipal Building and over to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across which is over 6,000 feet long and then rode back and went to the Pennsylvania railroad docks.

We went down along the river to the aquarium, which has thousands of fish in it. Looked around and saw some very interesting fish, such as big salmon, 6 feet long, and sea lions, but the most interesting things was what they called the sea horse. There was a case full of them, and they resemble a horse without legs, but has a tail like a snake. The head is exactly like a horse, and its ears are fins and has a fin on its back. The greatest length is 7 inches, and it was a circus to see them swim around. It is the only fish that clings on bushes with its tail.

We left there and went to the elevated terminal and rode 106 blocks up Third Avenue, and in places it was four stories above the street. Got off at 106th Street as we didn’t know where we were going, so walked over to Fifth Avenue and caught a bus with seats on top and rode down Fifth Avenue to 70th Street. Passed Vincent Astor’s home which was sure beautiful, and then made a flying visit through Central Park. Also passed the Museum of Art, which was another massive building.

We walked down Fifth Avenue a little ways farther and then took the subway to the Grand Central Station. Had to walk to some street to get the subway, and we didn’t know where we were going but landed in the Grand Central Station. Looked around a little and then took a subway for the Pennsylvania Station and ate dinner there. Walked around till 3:45 p.m. and then took a train for Trenton. We were in New York just 24-1/2 hours, and if any person could have seen the places of interest in such a short time, I would like to meet him. Of course, there are thousands of places that we never saw, but we covered a good deal of territory.

When we walked from Third Avenue to 106th Street to Fifth Avenue, the streets were jammed with little children out playing in the road. Sure glad that none of us were brought up there.

 (From "In the World War")

 State Historic Site

Trail End