General Living Conditions at the HDC

Corporal Jordan: General living conditions at Fort Stevens were very pleasant. It wasn't called a major military post, but it was one of the anchor posts of the whole complex called the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia. [We performed] general military work, you know maintaining the guns, mostly maintenance work in 1940, and early '41 until the drafted people started coming in. And during those periods we took turns in small groups of maintaining guard posts at Fort Canby and Fort Columbia, neither one of which were open. They were just satellite posts that were sort of moth-balled, and we'd go over and perform maintenance on the guns and perform guard duty and those kinds of things. Before the President declared a national emergency in late 1940, the National Guard wasn't organized at all, other than summer encampments and, of course, in their own towns they had their weekend drills you know. In the reality, the Eighteenth Coast Artillery, the regular army, held out Fort Stevens, Fort Canby, Fort Columbia, and provided all the services out there with the exception of the few times that the National Guard would show up.

Corporal Wilson: They (living conditions) changed a lot. [In the early stages] we lived in tents. There was six to eight people in a tent and we had a quonset stove type . . . and that was our central heat. Very primitive, you know you, privacy was almost nil. Everything you did, about six other, even seven, people knew about it. And food was good. I would say that food was above average, but it was mass-produced and it gets very boring for massed-produced food . . . if you have chicken on Sunday you can rely on chicken next week on Sunday. They may change it a little bit different but its gonna be there, it's gonna be rice on certain days, ham. So we had quite a different life-style. But, at the same time, you remember, we were going out defending the coast, so at night the searchlight batteries would gather up, every person and they put 'em on the trucks or you live out there practically sometimes if you were far enough away at Gearhart, or way down, in fact, at Pacific City, far down as there.


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Last updated: Jan. 8, 2000.
James C. Scott (e-mail).