ADAIR COUNTY NEWS
The following letter, written by William Walls Cook while serving in World War I, appeared in the July 31, 1918 edition of the Adair County News.
[Click here for a photo of Mr. Walls in his military uniform.]
I have noticed several letters in your paper from the boys which were very interesting and thought you might be interested in the work in the spruce of the north west.
We had a soldier day here* July 4th when all the soldiers in the district passed in review before the Major here. It was the first time labor had been abandoned since the spruce work started, so you see we have been at it pretty steady.
We of the transportation unit had to work of course harder than usual, but we really enjoyed it at that, as it makes us feel pretty good to think that we could help some of the boys, whose work is'nt as pleasant as ours and who don't get out of the woods for weeks at a time, enjoy themselves, which they certainly did. It was the first time all the soldiers were together since they had been here.
The parade looked fine and it made one stop and think, what this war means. The people who did not realize it before certainly now have a different opinion of the matter.
As a whole the people here treat us fine, as perhaps you may know for they have built for us a club room, furnished it with amusements, magazines, books, stationary, music, fine chairs and couches, without a cent of cost to us. It is for us boys, soldiers and sailors alone and we surely do appreciate it, for it gives us every opportunity to drive dull cares away at any and all times.
I have been driving in the woods nearly all the time lately, get to see a lot of fine scenery and study nature along with my work. We sleep where night overtakes us, sometimes in a camp, sometimes along the road or in the woods, it makes no difference.
We are here in town now and I am here most of the time, of course have lots to see after work. A life here seems more like a prolonged vacation than work, even though we get very tired. I suppose if there was no work, we would soon get tired of amusement, at least that has been my experience heretofore.
Still, since we have become accustomed to soldier life, most of us are getting restless and looking forward to the time when our bit will be increased and we will be shipped "Over there." The latest report given out is, that the transportation unit to which I belong will be called in within the next two months and started on its journey "over there."
Friday one of our officers came out from Portland and inspected our machines and gathered in the personal [sic; should be personnel?] reports, and was very well satisfied with our efficiency in handling and repairing machines, so perhaps it won't be so long after all.
For my self I can frankly say I am anxious to make the move and I think all the fellows feel the same. Of course I realize this is mere child's play to what we'll have "over there" yet one can't study the situation carefully and be satisfied unless he knows for certainty that he's doing all that he can do.
This work here could be done by those who are not physically able to go across. Owing to some slight ailments in health, here it is almost like working at a trade in civil life, all the good and only a little of the bad. We have home comforts here, some of the boys better than they had at home.
As it could be done by those who have dependents and families of their own, but to keep all of us fellows here who are in a way free-footed and send others who are needed here much worse, "over there," doesn't seem right to me. For it certainly is hard for a man who has a family to change his civilian dress for that of a soldier, knowing the dangers and risks he is sure to encounter.
We find it is the man who is somebody in civil life that makes the best soldier. Indeed it is very noticeable, when you are in the service and have to work with some of them. The men in our company are all trained men in a way, for all had to pass an examination in regards to their knowledge in driving, caring for and repairing Automobiles.
f his grade admitted him to the company, he had to make good all the time, or be transferred from the company. Only a few have been transferred for negligence, some however ask to be transferred to another division of service. Quite a few have made application for air pilots.
I see by my clock that if I dor't [sic] have my allotted eight hours sleep, I must bring this to a close, otherwise I might ramble on indefinitely and not get much said either.
I am in the best of health in fact have gained weight. I think there is no cause for my friends worrying about army life not being a healthy one.
It does not seem likely that I will be able to get a furlough of any length of time, as it is not so easy to get a furlough in this branch of the service as it is in other branches of the service.
Wm. W. Cook,
426 Transportation Sqdn, A.S.S.C.** Seaside***, Oregon.
[* Possibly refers to Fort Stevens, Oregon, about 12-15 miles north of Seaside.]
[** The Air Service Signal Corps. A brief but fascinating history of this somewhat forgotten World War I service branch appears at <www.winchestercollector.org/guns/w‑mil.shtml>.]
[*** Seaside is a coastal town, located in Clatsop County in northwestern-most Oregon.]
In the Wednesday, April 6, 1949 edition of the Adair County News.
Popular Citizen Dies Suddenly
William Walls Cook, 62, died suddenly at 1:35 a.m. Friday morning [April 1st, 1949] at the home of his sister, Mrs. Sam Stevenson, where he resided. Death was the result of a heart attack and came as a shock to the family and many friends.
Mr. Cook was a son of the late William Alexander Cook and Lucy Walls [nee Williams] Cook, both natives of Russell County and members of well‑known families. He was born [February 5, 1887] in St. Joseph, Mo., but the family returned to Russell County shortly afterward and he was reared there. He was a veteran of World War I and had engaged in farming. He spent some time working in the oil fields of Oklahoma and was employed by the State Highway Department for several years. He was a popular and respected citizen.
He is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Stevenson, of this place, and Mrs. Asa Blankenship, of Creelsboro, Ky., and one brother, George Cook, of Columbia.
Funeral services were held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday at the Grissom Funeral Home, conducted by Rev. T.D. Everett, pastor of the Methodist Church. Interment was in the City Cemetery.
The active pallbearers were: Bill Dudley, Talt Jones, C.M. Kelsay, Eros Barger, Edwin Hutchison and W.T. Dehoney. Honorary pallbearers were: J.N. Hancock, Demaree Richards, S.T. Davis, Doc Walker, David Heskamp and Morris Epperson.