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The Hostess House at Camp Dix - 1918

The Sun Parlor, Corner of Hostess House Veranda

The Sun Parlor, Corner of Hostess House Veranda

During the intense excitement of the early days of camp work a materialistic thought pervaded the minds of officers and men alike. “Win the war” seemed to mean work and very little play.

So, when the announcement was made that a YWCA branch was about to be built, the idea to some folks seemed out of place, but only in the seeming.

Delightfully and cheerily arranged, a rest spot for mind and body. A place where mothers, wives and sisters met their boys. Ladies from the Travelers’ Aid Society brought the home folks from the railroad station to the Hostess House.

The Cafeteria earned the praise of every man and visiting friend. Good, wholesome and tastefully cooked food was served, and the dinner line was always a long one even when the camp population grew small after a division left for the other side.

A place to dine with visiting friends and of more importance, it was a welcome relief at times from the company mess hall. Many “dine out” once and a while, it matters not how good the home cooking may be.

More welcome than a Ritz or Bellevue-Stratford to the man in civilian life was the Hostess House Cafeteria to those in khaki.

The Story of the Hostess House at Camp Dix

The Hostess House may aptly be termed "the filler of a long- felt want," for its value to the soldiers and their friends is incalculable. In the early days of the draft army, the presence of feminine visitors at the cantonments presented a most complex problem.

Obviously, it was impracticable for them to go to the soldiers' barracks and wait until the men were relieved from duty, and the Y.M.C.A. and K. of C. huts were not particularly suitable for long hours of waiting. As a rule, the women wandered about the camp until their friends were free.

The YWCA, realizing the gravity of the situation, shortly decided to construct at each cantonment a Hostess House for the wives and sweethearts of the soldiers. The object of this plan was to furnish a pleasant meeting-place, where the visitors might wait comfortably until the arrival of their friends. Now any ladies who arrive at the camp go directly to the Hostess House.

Their friends are apprised of their coming, by telephone, and the time of appointment is made. As soon as the soldier can leave his quarters, he goes directly to the Hostess House, and thus avoids the loss of time which would ordinarily occur if the rendezvous were not more definitely agreed upon.

Meanwhile, the visitors have the privileges of the house. There are piles of magazines, books, musical instruments, and, if a long wait is necessary, meals may be obtained at the cafeteria. And when the soldiers arrive, they can remain undisturbed with their friends in a quiet, home-like place. The picture above shows the Hostess House at Camp Dix.

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