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Putnam County, Indiana

Source: Greencastle Banner, Greencastle, Putnam County< Indiana 28 July 1899

From Cuba - Mrs. Lelia W. DeMott is in receipt of a letter from Lauren Case who is in military hospital at Havana, Cuba from which he makes the following extract: Military Hospital, Havana, Cuba, July 20

My dear Aunt:
By the heading of this letter you will see that I am in the hospital. The reason being this: While out at drill one morning, my horse slipped and fell with me shaking me up considerably. I was unfit for duty and went down to water the horses at a creek one evening and being weak from the fall I fell of the horse into the water. Result a severe cold developing into acute bronchitis. I am feeling better and hope to be out of the hospital in a few days. I went down into the city yesterday and such sights! The streets are very narrow and some of them remind me of the street of Cairo at the World's Fair. The sidewalks are about 2' wide, and two persons cannot walk abreast on them. The roadway is just wide enough for two to pass. On streets where the street cars run they are some wider. The roadway on each side of track is just wide enough to let a car pass a cart or wagon. The streets are nearly all paved with cobble stones and are very rough. The buildings are mostly one story built of stone and plaster, tile roofs and no doors or windows except a heavy board to put in place at nights. The dwelling houses have iron bars at the doors and windows so that all the air possible can get into the house. A residence district looks like a lot of jails with these barred windows and doors. The majority of the floors are either tile, packed clay stone or grass matted. Some of the more respectable natives have chairs but the greater part have not, either sitting on the floor or under bushes. The American way of living is gradually coming into preference however and will in time take the place of the old heathen way.

Dirty, my goodness, dirty does not express it. I never saw the equal to the dirt that is found in the house. The streets, thanks to the American soldier, are in very good condition, but the natives themselves are still very dirty. It is a very common occurence to see a group of native children playing in front of the door or immediately in the rear of the doors with nothing on whatever. This is of course only the case with children from one to five years old. About 5 years they wear a very loose fitting garment that, is very little protection. It seems to be their first aim to dress cool, and their second to do nothing. The Cubans are honestly the laziest people on earth. I do not believe there is another race of people one half as lazy. I have timed a Cuban workman on putting a shove full of dirt into a wagon and the hwole operation took three minutes. That sounds rather "fishy" but it is as true as steel.

The wagons used are just like the old Mexican oxcart. The animals that they call horses would be called a Shetland pony in the states. They are very small but very strong. You hard ever see them working alone or by twos nearly always by threes. The street cars are drawn by three of them little horses. Two of them hitched up as a team and the third one acts as a leader. The oxcarts are drawn by from three to twelve of these little horses. The first one is put in the shafts, the next is hitched onto the end of the shaft directly in front of the first while the three, four, five, six are hitched up in tandem.

The natives have just commenced to bring in bananas to be shipped to the states. They are pulled while still very green and sent to the states to be ripened there. In season bananas sell for 5 cents a dozen for the best and 3 cents for the kind you pay 15-20 cents in the states. All fruits are cheap. You can buy fine ripe pineapples for two for five cents, and the differences in the taste of the native pineapple and those you get in the states is simply wonderful. I never liked pineapples until I tasted one of these and I believe I could eat a dozen. Limes are also very abundant and make a delicious drink, much better than lemonade. The lime is a small fruit, about the size of a red plum, and when green makes a better drink than they do when fully ripe, when ripe they are just like a lemon, only much smaller. I would like to send some to all of the folks but it costs so much I could not stand the expense.

The climate of the island is very hot and were it not for the sea breeze that comes up in the afternoon it would be unbearable. At 10 a.m., I have seen mercury at 126 degrees in the shade. No one was allowed to do anything in the sun. It was fearful, several overcome by the heat. Indiana heat does not begin to compare. There is a breeze all day and were it not for that everything would collapse. In the morning the breeze is from the land and not very cool, while in the afternoon and evening it is from the ocean and very pleasant. We dress as cool as possible and have nothing to do from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. So our work does not come in the worse part of the day.

Regards to any of my friends whom you should meet and especially to Miss Martha Ridpath.

Your nephew,

Lauren W. Case,
Light Battery F, 2nd US Arty
Havana, Cuba

 

You asked wheter I was in the regular army of volunteers. Well I am a soldier in the regular army.

 

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