APRIL 5, 1943
SEATTLE, Sunday—Friday was a busy day. We started off in the morning to visit a factory which was created to meet a war need. It will probably disappear when the war is over, unless we develop the same kind of affection for the "Pacific Hut", that some of the soldiers I saw in Great Britain had for their Nissen Huts.
This plant, known as the "Pacific Hut," employs about 500 men and ships as many wooden huts to Alaska as transportation will allow. It is an interesting factory because everything has had to be improvised. The machinery is simple and very rough, but easy to use, so that they can give jobs to men on their way through to Alaska, who have a few days to spare in Seattle, or to men who are waiting induction into the services and need to work, but cannot be taken when long preparation is needed for the job.
The turnover in labor is great, but their processes have been so simplified it takes only a short time for a man to learn his particular job. If he has a skill, he can often learn to adapt it. For instance, an apple boxer, whose work, of course, would be seasonal, was driving nails in grand style in one particular operation. Fishermen, lumbermen, migratory farm labor, all of them find jobs available here.
From such transient workers one would not expect the kind of spirit which evidently prevails. Everybody seemed to be working, and working hard. There was a sense of speed which I often miss in other factories, so I asked what the labor policy was. I was told that a few supervisors had been carefully chosen for their leadership qualities and that the men worked as teams. While a man is working, he has a feeling of being necessary to his group and they have less absenteeism than some other factories.
The hut itself, as used by our soldiers in Alaska, is made almost entirely of wood products. Packed in sections, it can be set up by five inexperienced soldiers in an eight hour day. Insulated for a temperature of 35 below zero, it is strong wind-resistant and easy to camouflage. The assembly line style of production produces a finished hut every fifteen minutes.
In the afternoon we visited the Seattle Naval Hospital, which has grown in the most astonishing way. It is just over a year since it was started and can take as many as 900 or more patients now, and is still expanding. I was interested to find four boys who had been with our son James out in the Pacific, some of them wounded in the Makin Island raid.