Archive for July, 2018

Types of Feminine Slackers in New York

Almost everyone contributed and sacrificed for the war effort during WWI… but not everyone. A certain class of socialite women — with wealthy husbands and little to do — kept living their lives the exact same as before.

Genevieve Parkhurst profiled them in this 1918 article:

One woman had two Pekingese spaniels with her. She had traveled all the way from a Middle Western city.

“It is such an expense carrying them around,” she complained. “You know they have to have certified milk — a quart a day each, and it costs me $2 a day at the hotel for them.”

When it was suggested that it might be a good idea to give them a change of diet and send the milk money to the children of France, she exclaimed aghast: “What! Why, the poor little dears would suffer. They’ve always had their certified milk and cream and I could not think of depriving them of it.”

Getting a head start on the hedonism and excess to come during the 1920s, clearly.

Types of Feminine Slackers in New York: Random Observations on the Squanderer, the Waster, and the Trifler — Tinfoil as Proof of Patriotism — The Cost of Showy Gowns and Pekingese Spaniels (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 21, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 20th, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Life

America’s Attitude Toward the Clergy

Clergy and religious leaders were losing influence and leadership in many different areas of life.

in philanthropy:

Look at the governing boards of such organizations as even the Red Cross, the Committee of Mercy and similar societies, and the astonishing fact reveals itself that the clergy are effectively boycotted! The very men on whose co-operation and good-will success in appealing for funds mainly depends are carefully excluded from membership; acknowledged to be essential in the gathering of the money, they are allowed no voice in its disbursement.

in politics:

As they forfeited no rights of citizenship by becoming clergymen, it would seem that it is as much their duty to be interested in politics as any one else. To be sure, for partisan politics in their public ministrations there is and should be no place, but there are always grave moral questions back on the political setting, and on these the clergy should constantly speak, just because they are clergymen.

Strange things have been happening in Washington. Certain “missions” from abroad have been here. They came about war and peace and international relationships. Naturally they were much entertained, not only in a private way, but also officially. Yet so far as we have been able to learn at not one of these official hospitalities were any clergymen present — their absence being markedly in contrast with their presence at certain of the foreign embassies, where they do these things better. Of course politicians were there, so were representatives of the army and navy; also the people with large pocketbooks, but the one class that should have been invited first of all was not invited at all. Why?

in the social realm:

The boycott which prevails so effectively in our political and philanthropic worlds is just as effective in the social world. For some reasons the hospitalities and social courtesies commonly extended to prominent men are rarely extended to the clergy… under penalty of loss of votes.

It was a very able (Episcopal) Bishop, the head of one of the largest dioceses in the East, who was thus addressed in his Diocesan Convention: “May I venture to make the suggestion that you go more about among your people in a social way? Thereby they would know you better and you would greatly increase your influence for good.”

Promptly the Bishop replied: “I heartily agree with my brother and thank him for his suggestion, but since I have been in this city I have received exactly three invitations to dinner and have accepted them all. What more can I do?”

This seems to be connected to what was, at the time, decreasing religiosity in many circles. President Woodrow Wilson, asked four years later in 1922 whether he believed in evolution, replied: “Of course like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.”

And now the vice president is Mike Pence.

 

America’s Attitude Toward the Clergy: Member of the Profession Discusses Its Lost Leadership and Suggests Reasons for the Change — Exclusion from Politics and Ostracism from Social Life (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 14, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 10th, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Posted in Religion

Insignia, Not Black Gowns, as War Mourning

Women in America had long worn all black to represent widowhood as a result of a husband dying in war. This 1918 article even noted that “There are now women who have been in black ever since the civil war.”

But that began to change during WWI. Women began wearing a three-inch black band sleeve on their arm, instead of dressing fully in black.

Explained Anna Howard Shaw, chair of the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenense:

The men are going over in the spirit of battling for the freedom of the world, cheerfully, with defiance of the enemy in their hearts. Once ‘over there,’ they do not murmur or repine, even in face of death itself. We women should lift our lives to the same plane, in appreciation of the exaltation of the service rendered by the men for the protection of ourselves and our homes. Instead of giving away to depression, it is our duty to display the same courage and spirit that they do. If they can die nobly, we must show that we can live nobly.

We should look on the insignia, therefore, not as a badge of mourning, but as a mark of recognition of exalted service, as a sign of what it has been their privilege to give to their country — a badge of honor. The wearing of the insignia will express far better than mourning the sacrifice that has been made, that the loss is a matter of glory rather than one of prostrating grief and depression.

 

Insignia, Not Black Gowns, as War Mourning: Women of America Asked to Forego Gloomy Evidences of Grief — Black Band on Sleeve to be a Badge of Honor for the Bereaved (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 7, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 7th, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Development,Life,War

Who Will Be Drafted Next?

What should be the minimum and maximum ages for potentially getting drafted to serve in the military? This 1918 article details the then-current state of affairs:

When the present law was before Congress the War Department asked that the draft be imposed between the ages of 19 and 26, inclusive. In both houses opposition developed at once against going below 21. The House of Representatives finally adopted 21 to 40 years as the age limits, the Senate 21 to 27 years. In conference 21 to 31 was agreed upon.

The article, about pending legislation to expand the draft ages from 18 to 45, passed soon after. America’s fighting forces were projected to expand by more than one million men as a result.

Today, as a combination of peacetime conditions and post-Vietnam conscription reforms, draft registration is required for men between ages 18 and 25.

 

Who Will Be Drafted Next?: Discussions in Congress as to Calling Youths Between 18 and 21 Years, and Men as Old as 45 — Crowder’s New Figures on Exhaustion of Present Eligible List (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 30, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 1st, 2018 at 11:04 am

Posted in Debate,Politics,War

Vagaries of the German “Michel”

“In Germany, a ‘Michel’ is, freely translated, a fool, a clown, a weak-wit of great physical power when aroused, but wholly dominated by his masters of higher intellect or greater power. You hear it every day and everywhere in Germany.”

So reported A. Curtis Roth, the former American Consul General in Plauen, Saxony, Germany in 1918. He provides this example:

Is any clearer evidence needed of the “boobery” of the race than the conduct of a German in a foreign land? Does he, as a guest, keep quiet and listen, trying to absorb some knowledge of the new country? He does nothing of the sort. Acting upon the principle that everything in the world was created for the German, he howls and blusters, organizes noisy societies such as he knew in Germany, and makes himself a general nuisance.

Or try this:

The Germans in America, while I was still acting for our Government in Saxony… had collected a considerable sum of money which they wished to devote to the relief of German war widows and orphans… Imagine my surprise when I learned that, following a long and serious conference among themselves, the various [German] Town Councils had voted unanimously to decline the money, because it came from America and was tainted, even though it had all been contributed by men of German blood, or men and women born on the soil of Germany. And this was long before America took a hand in the fight!

I don’t believe this stereotype still exists today — unless it does and I’m just not aware of it? The main German stereotype now appears to be that they always talk like this:

 

Vagaries of the German “Michel” — In Plain American It Means “Boob,” Yet the German Applies It to Himself and Seems Proud of the Title (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 30, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 1st, 2018 at 10:34 am

Posted in Humor,Life

Where Were You?

Every stanza in Schoonmaker’s 1918 poem Where Were You? ends with a question, challenging the poem’s readers to ask themselves whether they were truly and fully doing their part to help America’s effort as World War I raged.

The poet, Edwin Davies Schoonmaker, would live until 1940 and write many plays and books including The AmericansThe World Storm and Beyond, and Democracy and World Dominion. But his fame didn’t last — in 2018, he still doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry.

Every week in the modern era, NYT Sunday Magazine features a poem — but it would never ever be featured as the lead piece of content in that week’s magazine. One week in June 1918, a poem was. As I discussed in my recent column for the Daily Beast, poetry was far more front and center in America’s literary culture back then. (Plus the 1918 poem entirely rhymed, something much more infrequent in the featured poems of 2018.)

 

Where Were You?: [Poem] By Edwin Davies Schoonmaker (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 30, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 1st, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in Poetry,War