Jan 9, 1926
From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray, 249 Boulevard, Summit, NJ
My dearest Ruthy:
This is the last evening on this ship, and it’s time to start a letter to mail at Savannah
The boat sailed at 5 instead of 3 P. M., 2 hours I could have used to much better
advantage had I known. Bob and Chester were with me for a while, leaving long before the ship
Leaving New York was calm enough and Thursday night comfortable, but Friday morning
we were overtaken by a North-east storm and the day was rough and miserable. Could not go on
deck and most of the passengers failed to come around for meals. As usual I was around when
the call came for each meal altho I confess to no appetite on account of being shut in and no
exercise. I presume you have had a mean storm since I left and I hope it has not been too hard
The boat is by no means full of passengers and the majority are women. Girls apparently
from various walks (and alleys) of life going to a Florida Hotel to work as waitresses. Have had all
sorts of opportunities for adventure and only my age and decrepitude protects me. Tonight these
girls, about 20 of them, I should say are all arrayed in their best paint and togs and they are having
a dance in the parlor where they have a radio and a player piano. Last night scarcely any of these
women were in sight but today has been calm and they have all emerged from their berths.
The real excitement of the trip took place about 4 o’clock this afternoon. The revenue
department radioed this ship that a lighter was adrift from its tow, giving approximate positions and
asking us to stand by, if we sighted it, and see if help was needed. At 4, we sighted the scow and
changed our course in that direction. We reached hailing distance and the mate called out to the
solitary passenger, asking if he wanted to be taken aboard. He answered “Yes” and after much
maneuvering, a small boat was launched and he with two suit cases, was brought aboard. He was
part of a tow of 2 steel lighters and both were torn loose from the tug in last nights storm, the other
having previously been rescued. The lighter was loaded with $50,000 worth of furniture bound for
some Florida hotel.
My diversion during the trip has been whist with Capt Hammond and two other gentlemen.
They are all more experienced players that I and I have learned a lot. The Capt is an amiable soul,
very different the guy on the San Jacinto. Have felt perfectly well, nothing extra since leaving. I
think I was tired out when I left and the reaction after getting away sort of frazzled me out. I
haven’t made any definite plans yet even as to time of arrival in Ocala. I may stay in Savannah
tomorrow and go to the “First Presbyterian Church of GA,” where Woodrow Wilson’s father
preached his first sermon and the former president found his first wife. Then I will go on to
Jacksonville in the afternoon and to Ocala Monday morning.
I hope things are going smoothly as can be and that all the boys are helping to make the
I do wish all four of you were with me. Then the trip would be full of interesting possibilities,
but now I see nothing ahead but certain homesickness.
Before dinner we left an unfinished rubber of bridge and they are waiting for me so I will
have to go. Anyway, with the banging of the piano, the cackle of the hens, the motion of the boat,
etc., I can’t write a decent letter now and will have to wait for land and privacy for that.
Much love and best wishes for all.