History of the
American Field Service in France
"FRIENDS OF FRANCE", 1914-1917, TOLD BY ITS MEMBERS
1. NEVER rise until starting-time and then rush out and ask "why the hell there are n't sausages and eggs for breakfast."
2. Be sure and leave pet-cock at bottom of radiator open when filling with water.
3. If your motor fails to start, stand in middle of road and yell for the tow-rope. After a rope has jumped out of the supply car and crawled into your hand, (a) tie one end to the limb of a tree; (b) climb a stone wall and tie the other end around your neck; (c) jump off stone wall.
4. After you have started your motor, climb into the seat and make yourself a bread-and-cheese sandwich. Never put your hand out as a signal that you are ready --- it might get frostbitten.
5. After the convoy is en route, make no effort to follow the car in front of you. You'll never see the country by following the beaten track.
6. If you must break down, break down in front of a café. This is by order of the Mechanical Department.
7. If you are in doubt that the car behind you is following at the proper distance, jam down all three levers and listen. A loud crash means "Yes."
8. When an irresistible object meets an immovable body, leave your car headforemost and pray the Lord you land in a soft spot.
C. L. WATKINS
STAFF cars were made for the purpose of killing dogs, pedestrians, and men on bicycles. But in between times they are used to spray dust on ambulance drivers and camionneurs.
There is no speed limit for staff cars as there is for ambulances, since they're always equipped with very high-powered motors. Further, they have the right of way, which means they are licensed to commit anything from assault and battery to murder in the first degree. In fact, they are the original believers in the doctrine that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points --- regardless of obstacles. They often go by very fast, but sometimes they get stuck in the mud --- which serves them right.
Staff cars contain from two to six officers --- which explains many of their eccentricities. Of course, it is of the utmost importance that officers should be moved quickly --- especially when they are headed for Paris on their permissions. Many a battle has been saved by the speed of staff cars---and by their breakdowns. If Sheridan had had a staff car he could have taken a little run up to Cleveland for a cocktail before he started on his ride --- unless the poilus had been tapping his gas-tank for their briquets.
When staff cars go by slowly, you are supposed to salute, but you don't get a chance to wear yourself out saluting.
Staff cars vary in accordance with the rank of their inmates. Generals are usually kept under glass, although in war they are not considered the most perishable articles. Majors and colonels have Panhards and Delaunay-Bellevilles. Non-coms have Fiats, and captains and lieutenants, who are expected to be on the job, are given Fords. Any makes that are left are handed out to the ambulance section leaders, who utilize them to make life pleasant for their friends and sous-chefs.
There is only one individual who is not afraid of a staff car Klaxon, and that is the poilu. But he is generally deaf in both ears. The death-rate is very high among poilus.
AN American ambulance driver is a fellow who comes to France to save Humanity. But by the time he has been on the western front for a couple of weeks, his efforts in this pursuit have been concentrated on one integral portion of the whole in the animated endeavor to save himself. From Peoria to Paris is a long, simmering journey in aspirations.
The ambulance man begins his military education by learning the "Marseillaise" and "Vive la France"; and he ends it with an intimate mastery of the significant phrases of "Après vous" and "Où est l'abri?" He comes, uplifted by a generous enthusiasm for the welfare of mankind, and he lets himself down to an equally enthusiastic sense of intensified individualism.
In Paris his earnest desire is to get out to the front, and once he is there he lives in the expectation of a "permission." The ambulance driver arrives with an ambitious energy which dwindles to a passive indifference before he has repaired two inner tubes. At first he is on casual terms with the truth, but after he has been sitting around the poste talking with the brancardiers for a month or so, he becomes a regular walking communiqué, and you can't trust a word that he tells you. At home his habits are fairly presentable, but he soon loses all taste in beer and tobacco, he looks on a bath as an indecent indulgence, and he sentimentally regards his fleas and his rats as inseparable companions.
This does not mean that he does n't add to his knowledge a store of valuable information. He knows more about dugouts than the man who has dug them. He is an authority on "départs" and "arrivées"; and by personal research he has handled more data than any psychologist on the old-fashioned instinct of self-preservation.
Lo, the poor ambulance driver! He exchanges his dreamy delusions for materialistic maxims, and when he returns, he is thoroughly demoralized --- and infinitely wiser!
A BUVETTE is the country cousin of a Paris café. And like most poor relations it seldom puts on airs. Sometimes it is a room all to itself, but it gets along amicably in the same quarters as the kitchen stove, or with the week's washing in the courtyard. Any place will do where you can store a cask of wine and a couple of glasses.
The primary purpose of buvettes is the sale and distribution of vin blanc, and in a land of foaming beer and cocktails it would certainly be a failure. But in the war zone such things are not known, and buvettes are frequented in great numbers by poilus and others who are thirsty. The poilu. will fight without food or water (quite well without the latter), but he has got to have his pinard.
The proprietor of a buvette is generally a madame---not the chin-chucking, barmaid variety, but a seasoned dame of forty years and up.
The wine list is always varied --- varied twice. You can get either vin blanc or vin rouge, and both are very sour. In swell buvettes you can get lemon or strawberry syrup to put in it, which makes it even worse. Wine is served in litres or in chaupines, but a chaupine is only half a bottle, so you may as well order a litre in the first place.
The prices range according to the nationality of the patron.
Buvettes are closed to the public between the hours of one-thirty and five-thirty according to a military regulation. During this time you must drink in the backroom --- the buvette proper being reserved for officers and gendarmes.
Buvettes act as a national forum more representative than the Chamber of Deputies. They are also utilized for vocal performances, to which etiquette demands the strictest attention. Many a man has been shot in the back for walking from a buvette while a poilu was singing. It is like leaving church before the collection --- very like.
Buvettes have several other uses. To the initiated and the wealthy they can produce anything from a full meal to a cobwebbed bottle of champagne.
They serve as excellent parking-places for staff cars and ambulances.
THE daily course of activity brought me into close contact with those glorious, but as yet unsung heroes of the French army, known to the world as the quartermaster corps, but to the American Field Service as Ravitymists.
Search through the allied armies from trench to base hospital, from bombing-plane to carrier-pigeon roost, and nowhere, I guarantee, will you find men more willing to accept a tactful gift, or more deeply imbued with the policy and doctrine of "laissez faire. "
Watch them, under the vigilance of the officer in charge, throw the frosted cattle to the ground, and gently cleave it with axes, carefully weighing every piece and clipping off the surplus weight, that no shortage or loss to the government and our glorious cause may ensue.
Watch me slip up with my meat-bag tightly clutched, and pass it to the chief chopper, who ducks behind the car and removes the bottle from the bag to his hip pocket, returning to his work, much encouraged, and merely waiting for the officer to pass down the line, before handing out a fifty per cent increase in our weight, carefully excluding all but the finest cuts.
Sugar is scarce in France, but Bull Durham tobacco is plentiful in the Field Service, so we manage to have sweet coffee, and preserve large quantities of jam in the fruit season.
We read of the shortage of fuel and the shipping difficulties, but the ambulanciers américains must keep warm in winter, and their private rooms, office, and messhalls be kept at a comfortably high temperature; --- so the art consists in leading the custodian of the coal heap into some distant corner, and telling him a good story,while the busy little assistant loads the camionnette to its full capacity on a hundred-pound order.
All ingenuity is lost, however, on the pinard gentleman who mans the hose near the tank wagon and siphons the rosy liquid into the section barrel, by the hygienic and effective method of applying personal suction to the end of the hose, until he has a mouthful, and then allowing the wine to take its own course.
In cold weather, the process is still further simplified, and probably made more sanitary, by the official taking an axe and chopping off a piece of wine corresponding in weight to the quantity due. (Careful drivers are cautioned against keeping this wine too near the exhaust pipe on the ride home.)
So much for government supplies. Then we have the buying from civilians of all the various delicacies --- the little things that add that last touch of flavor.
Somebody told us he thought that salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, and mustard just grew on the table, with the napkins and forks, until he took my job and discovered the bitter truth by personal experience.
Washing-soda, soap, eggs, vegetables, dish-cloths, butter, fruit, grease, hors-d'uvre, cheese --- such are a few of the daily requirements, and it is necessary to reconcile the tastes and appetite of the men with the limited funds grudgingly doled out by the section commander, and pitilessly mangled by that bottomless sink of iniquity and waste, the cook!
We have enjoyed many varieties of cooks: the cook that drank; the cook that did not drink, but also did not cook; the cook that sold the section sugar for a place in the sun; the cook that lost his kitchen during a move; and last, but not least, the cook that stood guard over the kitchen trailer with a rifle, the first time the Boche planes flew over our camp.
Oh, pity the poor popotier --- of all ungrateful posts he holds the worst. May his seat in Heaven be soft!
P. A. RIE
THIS letter is written in sheer desperation; it is the only means of getting a connecting wire with things American --- for let it be known I am in a desert of Allies with nary a star or a stripe or a bit of khaki in view. As I write, a tall Arab is chasing an Annamite around the table, while four poilus and an Italian are leaning over my shoulder expressing their surprise that the letters of the "American" language are the same as the French. Five more malades are yelling out a weird melody at the tops of their lungs, while still another, confined to his bed in back of me, is shrieking a question as to whether the general confusion distracts me.
Yes, I am sick and in a French hospital.
The Arab has now caught the Annamite, and the running noise has been succeeded by Indo-Chinese howls accompanied by guttural mutterings ordinarily swept by "Sahara" breezes. The French cook has entered and is showing his comradeship for les américains by slapping me on the back, while the French jazz band has burst into "Tipperary" with meaning glances in my direction. A Belgian from another ward comes running in excitedly, his fingers placed on a certain word in a certain book. He shows it to me. The word is cowboy. I nod nonchalantly, whereupon he works himself into a feverish state and makes sounds approximating "boom boom, wow wow, and moo." He then darts out and reappears with a gentleman built along the same generous proportions as Jess Willard, explaining the new entry with the remark: "Il connaît la boxe." The Herculean personage is about to grab me, and I shall continue when he has finished.... Jess is all through now, and outside of a black eye and slightly bloody nose I am well. A Frenchman has shoved a Vie Parisienne in front of me and is pointing to the limb of the girl on the magazine cover. I'm sure I don't know what he expects me to do.
The treatment here is wonderful --- I'm cured.
*Of New York City; Yale; served with Section Nineteen in the Field Service; subsequently in the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
MANY collections of letters from the front have been published and large profits reaped therefrom, but letters from the rear have thus far received little attention.
Now, the rear is always interesting, and has several stages. It is the place you fall back to when you win a strategic victory --- that is the immediate rear and you never get letters from it. Then it is the place you go to on permission. That is the second rear, and from it you get letters saying that she is lonely without you and quite angry because she has n't heard from you. Then there is the rear which means America, where we all came from, and where we all hope to go, le plus vite possible. That is the rear from which we get letters --- sometimes.
Formerly letters from the front were interesting --- at least the rear thought them so --- and might be sold to magazines at the rate of five dollars for each thrill they contained. This happy temps jadis has passed, much to the advantage of truth and the sorrow of our thrill-hungry friends. Nowadays you can't tell about terrific bombardments, colossal gas attacks, and throngs of blessés hysterically grateful for a ride in your ambulance, when your lieutenant ---who may or may not have written the same kind of stuff in the golden age of the Field Service --- when your lieutenant will read every word with a weary, cynical smile, and knows that only one small "thirty-seven" shell came in that day and that it failed to explode; that there had been no gas alerte for three months; that the one blessé of the day was a teamster who hurt his knee by falling from a ravitaillement wagon and mon Dieu-ed, bon Dieu-ed, doucement-ed and ma jambe-ed all the way in, finally calling you a Spanish cow as he hobbled into the hospital. You can't criticise the army, now, either. However, if you are a highbrow, you may make some such cryptic remark as "the enlistment officer reminds me of the first line of Browning's 'Childe Roland.'" I, of course, am not a highbrow. In this connection, you must bear in mind the fact that letter-writing is a privilege and not a right, and that in many previous wars the troops were --- unprivileged.
The reader must not infer that even the letter from the rear is an unalloyed delight. Often it bears evidence of many mistaken notions of the war. Perhaps much of this is due to "information" contained in letters from the front. But with all their faults, we love them still; and when Monday's mail brings a Ford radiator, Tuesday's three inner tubes and a rear spring, Wednesday's nothing at all, and Thursday's a complete outfit of overseas caps, we look forward to Friday rather expectantly.
The next war that I attend, I shall drop certain people from my address book.
First, there is the college chum who thinks that all his letters are censored. Some day I am going to inform him that I have received only one letter which had been even opened by the censor. That was from my mathematics professor, and nothing was cut out of it, although the writer said that he had been making four-minute speeches --- an obvious falsehood, for the man never talked for less than fifty-five minutes in his life.
Then there is the girl who is so glad to get a "personal account of this great world movement." And the girl who thinks camp life must be so interesting. And her sister, who has sent me (so far) seven copies of the Emphasized Gospel of Saint John. And the girl who sends me banquet menus.
Next in order comes my Canadian aunt, who makes cutting remarks about the American army and especially about the ambulance corps, and inquires if we ever go near the front. And my cousin's sister-in-law's grandmother, who thinks we go up into the front line and carry the blessés down on stretchers. The rest of my relatives may continue to write. At least they mean well.
Then there is a whole phalanx of camp-fire girls who promised to send me packages, and write weekly letters instead enclosing photographs of themselves which resemble Aloha, the fair Indian maid, seven minutes before she bathed in the Fountain of Youth. One of the phalanx wants to know if I ever hear the guns.
A most offensive class comes next. Their letters urge me to seek out and slap jovially on the back their old friends, their very dear old friends, Captain Green, Major Brown, Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, and especially dear old Brigadier-General Jones.
The wife of the family doctor, who simply cannot understand why we are with the French, is a little annoying. So is the Methodist minister, who still addresses me at 21 rue Raynouard. The young lady schoolteacher, who counts that day lost whose low-descending sun sees not some unique knitted garment done and speeded on its way to me, is quite a trial, since often I can't discover on just which portion of the anatomy each garment should be hung, and since, after wearing for several weeks about my waist, as an abdominal protector, a strange creation which resembled an amoeba about to divide, I suddenly discovered that the thing was meant for a helmet.
But all these good friends cannot compare to the correspondent whose case I have saved till the last. I mean the sweet old lady who sent me a package containing seven hundred and forty-nine postcards --- picture postroads and cards bearing "cheering messages and inspiring quotations " --- for me to distribute to the wounded I carried, and, if any were left, to the men in the trenches. I owe a certain period of unpopularity in my Section to the fact that, instead of doing as she told me, I tacked up the cards to the walls of our cantonnement, putting up new ones when the old were torn down. The unpopularity was, of course, due to my using up the Section's supply of tacks.
PAUL M. FULCHER*
*Of Morgantown, West Virginia; University of West Virginia, '16; served in Section Thirteen of the Field Service and later in the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
STATUE OF LIBERTY
Goat's Island, N. Y., U.S.A.
I am writing to ask if I can get a date with you some time in the near future. It would do me worlds of good just to get one look at you again. Don't misunderstand me --- my intentions are entirely honorable.
Perhaps you have forgotten me --- I hope not. But you'll recall that I was standing near the stern, and you waved your blow-torch at me and I winked back --- 'member? I said not to worry, that I'd get matters straightened out, and that I'd be right back. And you stood very still and watched me out of sight. How brave you were, dear lady!
Well, I've been over in your native land for some time now, and let me say I like it fine. I can see now where you get your liberal notions --- about dress and things. And they have not forgotten about you. Ask any Frenchman --- he knows what Liberty is.
I saw Sisters Equality and Fraternity while I was in Paris. They send regards. Also I looked up Humanity, but I have n't been able to do much for her yet. But we Americans have n't seen as much of your relatives as we should have liked. They are kind of shy of our officers, and there are too many orders floating around to allow much chance to go calling.
Perhaps, after all the notoriety you've been getting lately, you won't want to be going around with a common fellow like me. We've been hearing a lot about you and your enterprises and we've seen your photo pretty often. Hope your motor is coming along O.K. and your Loans. I was one of your first creditors when I subscribed (remember?) lest you perish. Trust your investments are proving satisfactory, but, anyway, don't you worry --- it will be all right about that fifty bucks.
There's one thing you do want to be careful about, though, little girl; and that's how you let strangers use your name. It's been flying around pretty promiscuous of late, it seems to me. Of course, it's all right for President Wilson and old friends like that, but, honestly, it looks kind of cheap to see your name on pickle jars and rubber tires. And your army beans are rotten. I think they must be some of the crimes committed in your name that Madame What-you-call-it once referred to. If I were you I wouldn't authorize 'em, but you know best.
And another thing. They tell us America is going dry; but you won't let that happen, will you?---because all of us have planned a blow-out when we get back home.
Well I hear the bugle blowing for assembly, and so you and I have got to part company. Don't forget our date, because there are several thousand other fellows here who'll want to cut me out. But I'm like Patrick Henry and I say give me you or give me death.
P.S. Regards to Uncle Sam.
--- Here we have an Am-bu-lance.
--- Is it to carry wound-ed in?
--- Only in cases of ex-treme ne-cess-i-ty, or when there are no offi-i-cers handy.
--- What does the pretty red cross sig-ni-fy?
--- That signifies nothing. It affects the Boche like a red rag does a Bull. That makes it nice for the Driver, does n't it?
--- What is under the Hood?
--- Let us look and see.
--- Oh, what is that piece of junk in there?
--- That is called the Mo-tor, a word de-rived from the Es-ki-mo mo-to, meaning "might go" and or-os, meaning "might not." Thus we get Mo-tor; "it might go and it might not. "
--- Let us try and start the Motor.
--- Is n't that a funny noise?
--- Yes, it is very funny. How the Me-chan-ic would laugh if he heard it. It is only a Loose Con-nect-ing Rod, a Burnt Bear-ing, and a Car-bon Knock.
--- What are all those things?
--- They are things to keep the Mechanic amused with.
--- Let us ex-am-ine the Car-bu-re-tor.
--- Oh, a pretty word. What does the Carburetor do?
--- It makes nothing out of something and sometimes not even that.
--- What is it made of?
--- It is made from a few odds and ends of Scrap-iron.
--- What do those funny white things do?
--- Touch one and see.
--- How many Cyl-in-ders are there?
--- That is hard to say. Sometimes there are three, then again only two, and oc-cas-ion-al-ly they go as high as four in number.
--- Let us find the Ra-di-a-tor. Oh, there it is in front.
--- May it be touched?
--- No, leave it alone, it may fall off.
--- We will next look at the Run-ning Gear, the part held down by the Body.
--- Why is it called the Running Gear?
--- Sh, that is a Secret.
--- Yes, those are the Wheels; they hold the Tires on.
--- Oh no, there is nothing in the Tires. Later on there may be some Nails. Tires are very useful for picking up loose Nails.
--- What is that thing under there?
--- That is called the Muf-fler. It really is a Stove-pipe in an ad-vanced stage of De-comp-o-si-tion.
--- The Muffler? Is it to keep the car warm?
--- Not at all. It is sup-posed to en-able you to creep up on a Poste-de-Secours without being heard in Ber-lin.
--- Let us next look inside the Ambulance.
--- Is it not neat and pretty inside?
--- Yes, it is not.
--- What are those Sticks?
--- They are the Stretchers.
--- Are they used to stretch things with?
--- Oh no, they prevent the Wounded from being too Com-for-ta-ble.
--- Is that a Blood Stain?
--- No, that is a Pi-nard Stain.
--- What is Pinard?
--- It is a Crime. In Ci-vi-liz-ed countries it is called Red Ink. See there is a Poilu with a full Pinard Gourd. In a few minutes the Gourd will be empty and the Poilu will be full. Then he will forget all about the War.
--- That is not right, is it?
--- Let us turn from the Sad Sight and look in the Es-sence tank.
--- No, Essence is not something to eat. It is a liq-uid, 30% Gasoline and 70% Water. It is Prin-cip-al-ly used to fill Briquets with, and sometimes to run the Motor with.
--- What are Briquets?
--- They are the Chief Man-u-fac-tur-ing Pro-duct of France.
S. C. DOOLITTLE
THE author of the following Treatise, through experience has discovered that the Ford Manual, as published by the Ford Motor Car Company, while it may serve to give information concerning the operation and non-operation of a "milk-fed" Ford, does not fulfil its purpose in regard to that hearty perennial hybrid known as a "Flivver Ambulance." This strange monster, call it fish, animal, or thing, has at various times defied all the natural laws of mechanics, and it was therefore necessary to delve into fields of research hitherto unknown to man to bring forward a theory of operation which might stand the test of time. In the preparation of this treatise the writer has spared everything but "du bon vin blanc," and he hopes that his contribution will be read in the same spirit in which it was written. The method of the w. k. and j. f. Ford Manual has been followed for which he duly apologizes. (The Author.)
What must be done before starting the car? Answer No. 2,000,001.
Before trying to start the car fill the radiator (by removing cap at top) with clean, fresh pinard or any similar alcoholic liquor. The alcohol in solution not only prevents freezing, but also intoxicates the machine so that it starts with only two hundred revolutions of the crank. When returning from a run, drain radiator and drink contents.
What about gasoline? Answer No. 2 1/2.
Although the Ford car is as simple as human invention can make it, it sometimes becomes necessary to fill the tank with gasoline. If you think that your supply is becoming low, remove cap on tank and thrust lighted blow-torch through the hole. With micrometer calipers measure the reflected image of the blow-torch, superimpose the measurements on a slide rule and you will thus obtain the exact contents of the tank. An explosion indicates too much gasoline.
If for any reason it becomes necessary to drain the tank, turn car gently on its back and the force of gravity will cause gasoline to run out without further attention.
Our chemical experts have discovered that a two to one mixture of gasoline and nitroglycerine gives the best results for ordinary purposes. Careful drivers will always carry reserve bidons. This reserve should never be used (except for "un peu d'essence, s'il vous-plaît").
How about the oil system? Answer No. 43.
The driver should be well "oiled" or "sa-lubricated at all times. The machine will take care of itself.
How is the engine cranked? Answer No. 00.
Our cars were in use three years before the answer to this question was finally ascertained. No one without previous experience in a Fromagerie should attempt this delicate operation.
The starting crank, if searched for diligently, may sometimes be discovered protruding from the front of the car just beneath the radiator. After turning off switch, grasp crank with both hands, taking special care to place both feet on the near axle, meanwhile gently humming, "Oh, for the Life of a Sailor." Now push firmly toward the car until you feet the crank ratchet engage, then lift upward with a quick swing. This should start engine --- but it never does, therefore continue the operation until exhausted. Take another drink and begin at the point left off, this time making sure that the fenders are tight, all blankets neatly folded, and brancards arranged. French profanity should always accompany the second spasm. If engine fails to start now, remove spark plugs, placing them in the upper left hand pocket and fill cylinders with any high grade perfume. When this has evaporated fill cylinders with concrete and replace plugs. Turn switch on, disconnect carburetor, turn crank eighty-seven times and the engine is started.
In cold weather, other methods must be resorted to. The best of these is to jack up one rear wheel, taking special care to put on weed chain. To disregard this admonition is to gamble with death. When the engine is started, be sure to remove jack. Cases have been known in which experienced drivers have driven with the jack under the wheel.
Does the engine kick? Answer No. 3.
Yes. But, there is no excuse for broken wrists or other bodily injuries if directions are followed. The first principle is to get on good terms with the engine, speak to it gently, in endearing terms. When the psychological moment is reached, place four grammes of "Mellin's Food" in the gasoline tank, then start engine. In obstinate cases even this will not calm the beast. If it kicks, keep the crank firmly in hand on the backfire, the whole machine will then turn gently over, performing a complete revolution in the air, and will settle down, again in its original position.
How is the car started? Answer No. 00 1/2.
On a hill, by releasing the brake. On the level, by towing.
How is the car stopped? Answer No. 11,111.
This is a complicated feat which should not be attempted except by those of decided mechanical genius. For amateurs, stone walls, ditches, and embankments are often found very effective. Those wishing to investigate the subject further will find a technical survey of the available material in Robert W. Chambers' "Twenty Thousand Leaks in a Flivver."
How is the speed of the car controlled? Answer No. 072.
What attention does the car need? Answer No. 999.
When the car is in good condition, call the section mechanic; he will fix it so that you will not lack work for a week.
How are spark plugs cleaned? Answer No. 444.
Ivory soap and water. Ivory soap is over 99 % pure and it will not harm the fairest complexion.
How is the power plant removed from the car? Answer No. 1.
Insert hand grenade and touch off.
How is the engine cooled? Answer No. 3.
Ice bags and frequent cold showers.
The carburetor. How does it work? Answer No. 101.
It does n't.
How can one tell which cylinder is missing? Answer No. 44904.6.
Unscrew each spark plug and leave it loosely in the cylinder. Crank engine. If the resulting explosion in the given cylinder sends the plug flying into the air with a sharp report, that cylinder is good. Continue until all eight cylinders have been tested.
What about the steering apparatus? Answer No. ?
The main part of the steering apparatus is the wheel--- Hold to it. Many accidents result from improper steering caused by the eyes of the driver being diverted from the road by comely French damsels. There are many remedies which might be suggested but personally we would rather take a chance.
WHEN I'm working on my car, and my temper is n't par, as I clean and rub and polish up the wheels, he comes and looks me o'er to be sure that ne'er before he has come to me to show the need he feels. Like a sympathetic man, he will question, " C'est un panne? " And I answer that it marches toujours bien. He will edge a little nearer, for he hates an extra hearer, and he'll put the question that I so well ken. From his pocket large and spacious, with a manner grandly gracious, he'll produce a bottle, quart-size, for the fray. And his voice that's confidential, pleading, coy, and deferential, " Un petit peu d'essence pour mon briquet. "
If you murmur "Défendu," he'll produce a franc or two, which he'll flourish with a somewhat cautious hand. Though he knows beyond all guess that the men of A. F. S. won't accept that sort of largesse circumstance.
Then you know that it's no use to pull any new excuse, for he overwhelms you with torrential phrases. And you give him essence quickly, with a smile that's somewhat sickly, while you tell him mentally to go to blazes.
He will thank you with expression that knows no tongue-tied repression. You dismiss him less in anger than in sorrow, for you know, if you are here, polishing your auto dear, that his cousin will be coming 'round to-morrow.
SHERMAN L. CONKLIN*
*Of New Jersey; Rutgers, '16; killed near Montgobert, June 12, 1918.
ABOUT every two or three days, observant persons may notice bits of paper fluttering from a barrack's window, somewhere in France. That is me, tearing up a few letters.
It is nearly a year now that I have been over and I have been putting off this fatal moment since about the third month. But the time has come when I must relieve my feelings on this subject or burst. Naturally I have chosen the former alternative.
The more letters I read, the more my enfeebled intellect tells me that, like the cave-man and the dodo bird, the art of letter writing is extinct. There was a time when I would snatch my letters and hasten to some secluded spot where I could devour their contents at ease. But now the coming of the vaguemestre holds no interest for me; no longer will I desert a delicious morsel of singe for the mail wagon. It is not that my senses have become dulled by the war,---oh, no, far from that. The reason is that I can always tell without opening them, what are the contents of the letters. I am beginning to believe that most of the people at home have a form letter which they date, sign and send out at stated intervals.
From my relatives I am always sure of:
1 new way of preventing colds.
1 new way of curing same.
1 assurance of pride in my being in the army.
1 hope I'll keep out of danger.
1 prediction as to the end of the war.
1 malediction for the Kaiser.
Those from friends of the family contain without fail:
1 call on the folks.
2 comments upon the fact.
1 wish to knit something for me or
1 notice of something on the way to me, which I never get.
1 account of the uniforms on the streets.
1 pat on the back.
From the fair and weaker sex I can expect:
1 account of a Red Cross dance.
3 accounts of teas.
2 accounts of dinner-parties and of the "peaches of officers" there.
1 gush over a new musical comedy.
1 "Do you know that so-and-so has a commission now?"
1 hope I haven't lost my heart to a French girl.
1 desire to be a nurse.
1 hope I'll write soon.
But there is no use in continuing the list. I believe the above samples are enough to confirm my suspicions. What is to be done about the matter, I cannot say. Perhaps Congress will appoint a committee to look into it.
As for me, I came to the conclusion some time ago, that my father and mother are the only ones who ever could write letters anyway.
S. C. DOOLITTLE
COME into our barracks on a winter evening and take a seat beside our stove. That is to say, if you can wedge yourself a place among the hovering crowd that has already gathered around the weakly blazing iron pot of miscellaneous tinder. It is a hard night for the boys, because somebody locked the door to the coal-shed down by the hospital, and that we purloined yesterday from the railway siding has run out.
If you look carefully you'll see that we are practised fuel economizers. Those smouldering things at the bottom are the Hometown Bugle and the Silent Soliloquizer that somebody sends to Fred Simons. There are also the charred remains of some religious and prohibition tracts, as well as the letters of a lot of girls we never heard of who write to us faithfully from small towns in the States. All these things make a pretty good blaze if put in wrapped up---just as they come out of the mails. As to the more substantial part of the pyre, you might recognize the wooden arms of a government stretcher and fragments of the unessential woodwork of our barracks. At any rate, we've got to keep warm (without going into particulars).
If you are tired you can wrap yourself up in your overcoat and blankets and lie down on a stretcher there away from the circle. And while you are trying to go to sleep you can listen to the conversation. You need n't apologize for retiring. It makes no difference, for you'll hear the conversation, anyway. But you'll be warmer if you stay up, because somebody has just brought in an armful of war bread and the fire is burning nicely.
It's too cold to read or write. Attempts to get up a bridge game and a crap game have failed successively with the two elements of society present. The fellows are discussing their officers and the traits of character of the absent members --- without much flattery entering into the discourse. But they are interrupted by the entrance of "Mac" who has been out on a call.
"Hey, shut the door! Do you want to freeze us all?
"Go to the devil, you stove-hounds. They ought to make you crabbers drive on a night like this."
We have not learned much politesse from the poilus. Mac divests himself of some nondescript knitted objects wound round his neck and stuffed up his sleeves, and pushes forcibly into the circle.
"What's the dope, Mac?"
"Had a call to the front to get a Somali who wounded himself with a grenade. Forgot to throw it after he set it off, the brancardiers said."
This is a cause for general merriment.
" No, not very bad --- smashed up his leg and his arm and a little piece in the head. But he made an awful howl coming over that bad stretch by the railway crossing."
Most people would say that a man with a "smashed leg and arm and a piece of éclat in the head was well on the way to being injured, nor would they be surprised if he cried out at the joltings on the way. Six months ago when Mac first came out he would have driven this blessé with excited solicitude, and a pain equally real would have shot through him at every bump in the road. Now Mac will eat his lunch in the company of morts and will fall into tranquil slumber beside a man who is groaning in agony. No, he is not hardened, but he has to look at things more objectively. Pity is so utterly useless and there are too many blessés. All Mac can do is to see that his car is loaded properly, put a blanket under the blessé's head, drive as fast and as carefully as darkness and miserable roads will permit, and perhaps give him a cigarette. That is all. The blessé wouldn't thank him for a quart of tears or a dozen sympathetic phrases --- even if he could understand them. So the gruesome things are turned into jokes on even the most flimsy provocation.
Likewise with hard-luck stories. They fare little better---worse if anything, because less tangible. In the war everybody has a hard-luck story of one sort or another, even if it's only that the mail has n't come for two weeks. Mostly they are more vital, pitifully so. But you are up against the same proposition. If a man tells you that he has lost two brothers in the war, that he has been serving four years in line, and that his home has been destroyed and his two sisters carried off by the Germans, what are you going to do about it? Tell him you are sorry and that the Germans are vaches or chameaux or something more disgusting if you can find it in the French language. That's about all.
After you have heard this story for the seven hundredth time from different mouths, your answer is going to lack sincerity of feeling. Of course you're sorry, but you're so helpless. Why does he bother you with it? You've got enough to contend with, with the rotten food we've been having lately and losing out on your chance for officers' training-school the way you did. The most you can do is to buy him a drink or give him a cigarette. And that's doubtless all he requires.
Sometimes you wonder why you are so callous. It's because you can't realize their stories. Even the suffering before your eyes ---it does not seem real. It's not the sort of thing that you've been used to.
But to get back to Mac.
"You shook him to death," says somebody. "No wonder he howled. Even a malade will be a blessé after he's had a ride with you. How many shell-holes did you hit? "
"Only one," says Mac. "I had to drive fast because they were shelling."
"In the middle of winter --- haw! Where do you get that noise? Write that in a letter home. The folks would like to hear about it."
"I tell you they were," maintains Mac stoutly. He sees an opportunity to put over one of his old favorites --- the narrow escape. "I never was so surprised and scared in my life. It was just as quiet as anything and I was n't thinking anything about shelling until I got right down there by the cross-roads, when all of a sudden one lit right in the middle of the road just ahead of me."
"How far away?"
"Only about a hundred yards. And 'I did n't know whether to wait or to go ahead. I said to myself, 'There'll be another,' and just as I said it, there she came --- just behind me that time."
" About the same distance. I saw I had to clear out tout de suite, and so I opened her up and let the old voit' tear. And four or five of them dropped before I could get out and around the hill."
"One of them was right close. I could hear the éclat whizz. And the blessé was scared green."
"Being black when he started. Yes, I suppose so. Which will you take, a Croix de Guerre or a Médaille Militaire?"
"I'm telling you a fact. You don't have to believe it. I don't care."
"Well, you better write it out for the Bugle. They'll swallow it back home."
And there the matter rests. It may or may not be true, and nobody will ever be any the wiser, unless somebody takes the trouble to look for the shell-holes. However, nobody will be interested enough. The narrow escape is the simplest form of "bull," and also the most trite and unimpressive, because of its lamentable limitations. You can alter the circumstances and sensations a bit, but you can't get away from the fact that in its elements the narrow escape is the dullest and most inane of events in narrative. Either you were hit or you weren't; either it happened or it didn't; and there you are ---there is n't any compromise. And the worst of it is that somebody is sure to go you one better. You are cheated of sympathy and even of attention sometimes, and often a reasonable account will go begging for credence just as Mac's story has done.
Sure enough, somebody takes up the challenge. It is Bert.
"Do you remember the night of the gas attack?" says Bert.
Everybody does --- they have good cause to while Bert is in the Section.
"Well, I don't believe I was ever so surprised or so scared in my life. We'd heard the shells coming in regular --- only they did n't sound like ordinary obus, more soft and ploppy --- plump! --- you know the way they go. And I was n't thinking anything about it when all of a sudden I heard the Klaxon start going, and I made a run for the abri, and the brancardier, scared green, came running in and said, 'Hurry up and get on your mask,' and . . . "
"In French?" Bert's linguistic difficulties are notorious.
"Of course, you idiot. But I understood him all right. And he said, 'There's a gas attack, and you've got to keep on your masks until you hear the signal to . . .'"
"Hey, come off a minute. You heard him say all that?"
"Well, something like that. I understood his meaning, anyhow. And there we sat for hours with the tears running down our cheeks, and those rotten masks choking us to death. And right in the middle of it I got a call . . ."
"Yes, and you took off your mask outside and found that all the gas was down in the abri, shut in with the rest of the hot air."
"Nothing of the kind. I had to drive over that road through a cloud of gas," insists Bert; and goes on without encouragement to the end of the anecdote of how they had to revive him with la gniole, and how the abri was hit by a shell, and the next day the brancardiers put three more stones and a piece of tin on the roof. Also long conversations with the doctors reported verbatim.
The company has now gotten well started on reminiscences, which is another fruitful department of "bull." We are in for it. We have got to hear the whole string of harrowing adventures from the terrors of Suicide Corner clear down to the account of that wonderful party when the Section was en repos in Champagne, and poor Bill passed out so cold that they had to put him on a stretcher and bring him home to bed. Good old Bill! He transferred into aviation, and our Service is n't what it used to be.
But there are other richer pastures for "bull." There is the wide and verdant field that Rumor cultivates. And Rumor is the most powerful and penetrating force the war has fostered. It precedes and follows every action from the greatest to the most insignificant. It is mightier than public speeches; it is swifter than communiqués, and more convincing than publicity. Which doesn't say much for its veracity. But it is extraordinary the amount of fact that can be conveyed through its devious channels. It is impossible to keep anything a secret. Like good liquor, it always leaks out. It is astounding that, in these days of perfected wireless telegraphy, Rumor, the medium of the Ancients, is still a broad jump ahead of the news.
Listen to Fred.
"I was in town to-day, and I met that bicycle rider of the 42d --- remember him? --- the guy that 'spiks Englich' --- and he told me that the British are going to attack in Flanders."
"Where did he get that dope?"
"I don't know. He knows the general's chauffeur and he's just been up to Compiègne on a conference, and I guess that's where it came from."
--- This is the way that rumors emanate. Somebody gets them from a bicycle rider or a telephonist, or from a Maréchal des Logis, or maybe just a poilu who heard it from another poilu. You can't trust them, but you always do ---for the sake of having something to tell and to speculate on. Even when there is a big attack on in your own sector, you can't tell how it is going. One blessé will tell you they are going well; that they've advanced six kilometres already, and that all the Boches are yelling "Kamerad." And the next one will tell you that the Boche mitrailleuses broke up the whole thing; that he is the only non-com left in his company; that they've had to retreat on account of counter-attacks; and he'll finish by asking you when you think the war will end. That's the way it goes. You have to wait for the papers to come out from Paris to get the straight of it. But you can't be finicky about rumors ---you go ahead and form an opinion and revise it after it turns out to be wrong, just as Phil does in this instance.
"That's just what I've been telling you," says Phil.
"The British will attack in Flanders, and if they take Lille the Boches will have to get out of Belgium. Then the French . . ."
"Why will they have to get out of Belgium?"
"Well, just because --- lines of communication and all that, you blamed idiot! And then the French will sling an attack here in this sector --- anybody can see they are getting ready for it ---and at the same time the Italians . . ."
And Fred continues his theories. In our Service every man is his own Frank Simonds. He has his maps, his war books, his authorities, his communiqués, and his imagination. He conjures up mythical campaigns and points of weakness, and he shifts around men and munitions and material (in his mind's eye) with miraculous rapidity. Time and again he circumvents the Boche's intrigues and frustrates their most enigmatical designs, and then, with a sudden and overpowering concentration of troops and artillery fire, he sweeps aside the opposition and finds himself triumphantly crossing the Rhine.
Such a man can tell you just what tactical moves the Allies must follow to take such and such a point, and reveal to you all the inside political tangles that prevent them from doing it. He will be able to explain all the strategic errors in previous operations of both sides, and give you intimate sidelights on the plans of Ludendorff and Pétain and Sir Douglas Haig. He is a brilliant leader, the ambulance man, and a remorseless critic.
But this sort of dialogue always leads to a bet, as all of us have our own notions of the thing.
"I'll bet you they don't attack in Flanders," says Bert. "They're going to attack near Saint-Quentin --- any fool can see that."
And there is a heated discussion. Meanwhile the rest of the crowd has dropped out and is quietly going to bed. Soon the talk will degenerate into "When do you think the war will end?" and then will subside.
Everybody knows it is all "bull." For "bull" is the generic term applied to all information, predictions, and reminiscences relating to the war. The same sort of thing will go on to-morrow night--- and the night after that --- indefinitely.
"Bull" occurs wherever two or more soldiers meet, wherever one or more soldiers meet one or more civilians, or when civilians who know soldiers encounter each other. It is always without authenticity or probability, and if it were possible to get at the truth of a single detail of this war --- "bull" would prevent it. When the very issues at stake in the conflict have died out and dropped into obscurity, "bull" will be flowing smoothly on to the utter delight and delusion of mankind. Our grandchildren will propagate the falsehoods we relate to them, and they will be recorded in the nation's history.
Look out, America!
"Bull" is the one insurmountable obstacle to a lasting peace even if the war does stop some day.
ON a smiling day in June, when even the recalcitrant sun of France was shining, and the scent-laden atmosphere so intoxicating that the booming of the guns seemed but a dreamy something far, far off, I first noticed it. We had just been dismissed from inspection, and as we wandered along, basking in the sun's rays, I saw my friend Bob working his way in and out of the groups, glancing stealthily at each one. One man's shoes seemed to attract him, while another's coat seemed to draw his gaze. And ever, from moment to moment, he looked hastily about to see whether or not he was being watched. Bob had never been regarded as a "'nut," and these were peculiar actions for him---but the sun was bright, the air was warm, and material things had not much effect on my brain.
Two months rolled by, and another inspection day came. Clouds once more covered the sky. A fitful wind was blowing, and the occasional roar of a gun smote the ear like the blow of an unseen hand. We were dismissed---and once again I noticed Bob slinking back and forth in the half-light, his eyes gleaming, his fingers twitching nervously. I decided that the strain of shell-fire and bombs, the all-night driving and work, had unnerved him. He did always seem rather nervous, I thought. I decided to speak with him, to talk in a fatherly manner, to draw him out, and if it transpired that he was slightly "gone," to report the case to the surgeon. At second thought I changed my mind, however. I had just finished a story about a poilu on permission that had had a fight with another poilu whose mind had gone astray --- and anyway, I feared to give him an unintentional shock. So I started immediately for the surgeon's office.
It was toward night. A mist had fallen over the land, and the flare of the guns in the mist formed fiery aerial spectres. I hurried to get my disagreeable job done. Bob had been a good friend of mine. Poor Bob, he was always a real friend at the end of the month, and --- a sound in back of me interrupted my ruminations. I turned quickly to see Bob's face sticking from behind a corner, and Bob's eyes, with the peculiar gleam that I had noticed before, staring at me. Then he fled. So did---that is, I went discreetly home, and to bed.
We were all called for a convoy at five the following morning. It was nasty. The rain came down in sheets, the clouds seems hardly above the house-tops, and the wind howled and raged around the comers. The French were putting over a heavy barrage, and the steady roar of the guns mingled with the wailing wind. My mind was drawn from the weirdness of the scene when I suddenly noticed Bob. He came along the street, started as though to come toward me, veered off, approached me from another angle, and then, with a furtive glance to either side of him and behind him, tiptoed up to me and stood before me, twisting his hands. His cap was pulled down over his face, his coat-collar was up, and as the flashes of the cannon lit up the little part of his face which showed, it seemed to me that his eyes flashed fire, while his face was white with some hidden emotion.
I tried to be brusque, forceful, but when I said, "Well, Bob," it sounded in the noisy atmosphere like a tin-whistle in a trip-hammer shop. He looked down, he opened his mouth, he stuttered, his eyes rolled, and finally he burst out:
"Fred, I-I-I hate to do it. B-but others have done it before me. In fact, it has been quite the custom. I-I don't like to do it with such a good friend as you. Please believe me, I am driven to it. Fred, will you lend me your overcoat? "
Then, growing calmer, and with stronger voice, he continued:
"I'm going on permission and Oby has promised me his shoes, Jerry his suit, Albert his shirt, George his leggins, and I know how I can get one of the Lieutenant's silk handkerchiefs, and if you'll lend me your overcoat, I'll be all fixed."
I do not remember in exactly what words I exploded --- but there goes Bob on permission this morning, and there go Oby's shoes, Jerry's suit, Albert's shirt, George's leggins --- and the "Looey's" silk hanky is sticking flirtatiously out of my overcoat pocket!
FREDERICK W. KURTH
Défense d'Entrer. --- Come on in, the water's fine.
Défense de Doubler.--- Get by as fast as you can.
Défense de Fumer. --- Who's got a smoke?
Convois Interdit. --- Look out for camion trains.
Attention au Train. --- Wait twenty minutes while the man comes out and opens the gate.
Route très Mauvaise pour Autos. --- Ambulances this way.
Route Bombardée, Dangereuse pour Stationnement. ---Stick around awhile --- the brancardiers will be along pretty soon.
Consigné par l'Autorité Militaire. --- Use rear entrance.
S.S. U. 000
Par B.C.M., Paris
KAISER WILHELM II
Gott Knows Where,
YOUR IMPERIAL MAJESTY:
I've been planning to communicate with you for a long time, and I sometimes think it would have saved a lot of trouble if we had been more frank with each other from the first --- if we'd talked things over more fully before getting into this mess. However, it has got beyond a joking matter now, and I am going to tell you what I think --- straight out.
Understand, I did n't want this war --- any more than you did. I simply grabbed the chance, because I wanted to get to Paris. And you the same, I take it. Mind, I'm not crowing because it was I that got there; but you had an awful head-start, you know. Like you, I once took a trip clear up to the front line (in a quiet sector); but on the whole, I'm just as glad to be a little further to the rear as a general thing, eh? Also, I've had a lot of cheap publicity in the home-town papers. Nothing to compare with yours, maybe, but quite sufficient. All this we have in common.
Oh, no, it hasn't been bad in many ways, but to tell you the truth, I'm pretty blame well fed up with it. And I've got a suspicion that you're commencing to get fatigued yourself a little. Come off, you may as well admit it, Majesty.
Now be reasonable. We've got all we're ever going to get by this war. You know that as well as I. Though that is n't a fair way of putting it --- you've got a good deal more coming to you than I have.
Yes, and I leave it to you ---what's autocracy worth? You'll confess it isn't all it's cracked up to be---with Ludendorff and Hindenburg and that gang always around. I know what army officers are ---we've had some in the Section. And that's not mentioning the Hohenzollern family and the Reichstag. You've had your troubles all right, and I tell you, it won't buy you anything.
But to get back to the war. Really, Majesty, it seems like it's over-stepped the mark. Take gas, for instance. Has n't there been enough of it?
Besides, we're not killing the right people. For example, the prohibitionists ---there're more of them in the army, and say, Bill, how'd you like to have a mug of lager --- the kind they used to brew before the war, I mean?
As to your own soldiers, you can't keep 'em going forever on black bread and bad beer. "Hic, Hike, Hock" has been their motto too long. Some day they're going to lay down on you, you see.
Look here. This is the way it stands with me. I've had enough of it. Hell, I've done all the travelling I care to; I've got all the souvenirs I want; and to be perfectly frank, my line of bull has started to weaken --- just the way yours has. People back home don't swallow it the way they used to.
Yours for Peace,
Second Class Private Dante, who has been through Purgatory, and is willing to take chances.
M.P., guide, philosopher, but hardly friend.
American officers, demi-mondaines, Y.M.C.A. workers, bar-keep, permissionnaires, porters, taxi-drivers, waiters and other vultures of the world back there.
Dante. Where do we go from here, guide?
M.P. We don't; we must wait here for several hours until the next passenger train arrives.
Dante. But I am tired and hungry, and I came here for relaxation.
M.P. You can relax on the platform.
Dante. But can we get anything to eat?
M.P. We could get a sandwich; but this is a meatless day, and we don't sell bread to militaires.
(Dante falls into a deep sleep)
Dante. What is this wonderful place?
M.P. This is Paris.
Dante. So this is Paris. --- Where's the vampires?
M.P. They will be along presently. That's why we must hurry away.
Dante. But I like it here. I would fain listen to sweet music, eat expensive meals, and ride in costly taxi-cabs.
M.P. No, no, my friend; Paris is out of bounds.
Dante. But who are these in Sambrowne belts that look at me so haughtily?
M.P. Those, my friend, are American Red Cross officers. They live in Paris.
Dante (wistfully). Ah, me, would that I too were such an officer.
(Enter ravishing Demoiselles.)
Demoiselles. Monsieur, voulez-vous vous promener avec nous ?
M.P. No, my friend, we must be going.
(He drags Dante out, the sirens clinging to his coat-tails and making lament.)
M.P. This, my friend, is the home of the American Sammy. We want you to be happy here.
Dante. Yes, yes. I'm extremely tired. I would like to go to a good hotel at once.
M.P. Well, let's see; we take them alphabetically. Here is your card; you go to the Dilapidation.
Dante. Well, I'm a sport. I don't mind taking my turn, but I should like a good hot bath.
M.P. Um --- here are the regulations. "Every man is entitled to a hot bath upon arrival, if hotel has a bath."
Dante. That's good. Has our hotel a bath?
M.P. Unfortunately not.
M.P. Is this not a beautiful country?
Dante. Magnificent! What is there to do?
M.P. A variety of things. Perhaps you would like to go round to the Y.M.C.A. It was a gambling hall before the Americans came.
Dante. Oh, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
M.P. Or you can take long walks, or go for a bicycle ride. You leave from the Y.M.C.A.
Dante. No, I did quite a bit of walking out in Purgatory, and it's a bit warm for cycling.
M.P. There are many nice trips to take.
Dante. That's fine; I'd like to drop down to Grenoble, or Annecy or Avignon or Chamonix.
M.P. Those places, my friend, are out of bounds; but you can go to the Y.M.C.A.
Dante. Not just yet. Suppose we go round to the Hotel Spondulix: and get a cocktail.
M.P. The Hotel Spondulix is out of bounds; and so are cocktails, though you may have light wine and beer.
Dante. I don't think I should like the mixture. Is there anything good that is n't out of bounds?
M.P. The Y.M.C.A.
Dante. Then I suppose we have got to go there. I met two awfully attractive French girls at the hotel; let's take them around and dance.
M.P. The Y.M.C.A. is out of bounds for them.
M.P. Welcome here, friend. Do as you please --- go the limit.
Dante. But who are these that smile so sweetly, who dance so incessantly, and talk and chat so gaily?
M.P. They are the Y.M.C.A. workers, and it is their business to entertain our soldiers.
Dante. But I thought only men belonged to the Y.M.C.A.
M.P. (archly). You see you were mistaken.
Dante. It must be very hard for them to be kind and cheerful all the time.
M.P. Oh, no, it is their work. They are cheerful whether they are happy or not. They are very nice people.
Dante. That's just it. I didn't know there were so many Nice people left. I had forgotten it out there. But tell me, who are these who in khaki ride so feverishly on bicycles and sing so joyously and play the ukelele?
M.P. They are permissionnaires from the front having a good time.
Dante. Great guns! they're not the men that I know out there. It's all very nice, but is n't the kind of fun that I enjoy. There must be something radically wrong with me.
M.P. Calm yourself, my friend, and quickly! --- Button up your collar or some officer will see you and send you home. (Dante only moans.) You are faint, shall I get you a grape-juice? (D. shakes his head.) Or an orangeade? (D. refuses.) Or a cup of chocolate?
Dante. No, no. If you love me, take me away. How long did you say we must stay here?
M.P. Seven days.
Dante. But can't we leave to-morrow if we like?
M.P. Absolutely not. No man is going to be cheated of his vacation.
An American Bar. Dante, alone, is seen to enter stealthily. He speaks guardedly to the barkeep and gives him money in French bills. The barkeep takes a bottle and pours out a drink which Dante downs behind a palm tree, smacking his lips. The process is repeated several times. Finally at the last drink there is a step at the door, and Dante turns in the act of drinking to face M.P. who expresses signs of horror. Tableau.
A third-class railway carriage. Dante and M.P. hunched in a corner. Several poilus snoring and eating garlic. Pinard leaking from a bidon on hat-rack.
Dante. Will we never get there?
M.P. Yes, my friend, we are arrived.
Dante. And where are we now?
M.P. Back in Purgatory.
Dante. Thank God!!
I WAS in a poste de secours and I had drunk rather too copiously of pinard. I had been reading a batch of American newspapers and periodicals of the month previous, and the brancardier, observing my boredom, approached mysteriously.
"La gniole?" he queried, at the same time uncorking the wicked bottle with a flourish. I knew it was no use refusing, and allowed him to pour me out a quantity equal in generosity to his own. When we had drunk our santé, he set himself to fanning out the fresh air about the entrance of the abri, and presently shut the door and started stuffing up the chinks. He had now completed his round of duties and I knew it was the signal to retire. Stretching myself on a crippled brancard, with neck reposing on the iron cross-bar, I listened confusedly to the rhythmic snores of the recumbent poilus round me.
When I awoke, amid the noise of traffic and the elevated trains, it took me some time to realize that I was actually in New York. Everything was the same, to be sure --- draped with flags and bunting --and yet there was a good deal that was strangely unfamiliar --- even the flags themselves, for out in front of every store hung great red-bordered sheets filled up with azure stars. About one of these flags was grouped a crowd of people, and I stopped to look at it.
"What's the idea of the constellation?" I inquired.
"Service flag, of course," said an on-looker. "Say, where you been?"
"Yes, I know," I lied, "but all the stores have them. What's the matter with this one?"
"Gold star," said he, pointing it out. "Means some one's been killed in the war."
"That's nothing," put in a bystander. "There's a flag with two up on Broadway."
"Whereabouts on Broadway?" doubted the first, and they began a discussion that I did n't wait to hear.
I began to look sharply about me --- for a bar; but they all appeared to be closed or deserted. The Knickerbocker bar had a sign "Out of Beer and Light Wine." I noticed that nearly every one was in uniform. There were beautiful ladies walking with British officers, with Italian officers, and with Australians, and with Canadian officers and French chasseurs. There were one or two American soldiers walking alone, and hardly a civilian to be seen.
I stopped one of the Americans.
"Pardon me, friend," I said, "but where are all the civilians?"
"Gone to France," he said, "or else in training-camps, you dub. I was to have gone 'over there last month, and I 'd be going 'over the top right now after the Kaiser if -----" and he launched off on a hard-luck story about how he couldn't get his head blown off for at least six weeks, because he had been turned down in the first draft.
"But these military?" I said, referring to our Allies.
"I thought they had a war on over there, too. Or is this a war council or something? "
"They're teachers," he explained. "Training our men how to live in trenches and to put on gas-masks at a given signal."
"Thanks," I said. "Now do you mind telling why the bars are closed, and where I can get a drink?"
" They are n't closed yet," he said, "but they can't sell anything but beers and light wines, and the manufacturers have got scared and are making non-alcoholics. Besides, you can't get even beer, if you're in uniform; but you can get some diluted grape-juice over there at the corner."
"Much obliged," I murmured, and left him.
At the comer directing the traffic stood a husky lady cop.
"Lord!" I thought. "Am I cross-eyed?"
But I suddenly perceived that there were women all about me engaged in the most extraordinary occupations. Women in white duck were sweeping the streets, uniformed damsels manned the street cars, and up the side streets I caught glimpses of female figures unloading trucks and heaving trunks and boxes. Scores of pretty girls in overalls, carrying picks and hods and other implements, passed by while reporters (reporters everywhere) hung about to snap their pictures. These were the munition workers, the shipbuilders and the lady riveters, I learned. Some, neatly dressed in jumpers and bearing oil cans were railroad employees--- engineeresses and firewomen.
Presently my attention was arrested by a mighty gathering of people who lined the streets, while the windows were black with spectators
I accosted an elderly man on the edge of the crowd.
"What's doing?" I asked; "a parade?"
"What! you don't know?" he returned. "This is Democracy Day."
"Well, well," I said. "I had n't heard about it. What does it do?"
"I'm not sure," he said. "But I suppose it'll be about the same as Liberty Day or the Festival of Freedom or Win-the-War Week; but they always have something new. I believe Charlie Chaplin and Annette Kellerman in strait-jackets are going to roll Liberty peanuts up Fifth Avenue, and----"
"Liberty peanuts. Then there'll be a collection taken up for the National Decoration Fund to buy service flags for orphan asylums and old people's homes. Or maybe to send bottled Bevo to our boys in the trenches like they did at the Woman's Home Gardening Union parade. I forget the benefit, but anyway you , can get Liberty Bonds," he added, a greedy gleam in his eye.
I left this man to his devices.
Further on I found an interested multitude struggling in front of Tiffany's window.
"Some rare piece of the silversmith's art," I thought; but on edging myself into view I saw in the central position of display an ordinary piece of éclat labelled, "Shell Fragment from the Western Front."
I passed on, and made straight for the first Child's Restaurant. To my surprise it was almost deserted, excepting for two or three humiliated customers sadly sipping buttermilk with soda crackers---no tumult of rattling crockery and silverware, and I noticed that part of the place had been turned into a sewing circle with a placard "Deposit Bandages Here."
Finally an antagonistic waitress came forward.
"Give me a stack of wheats," I cried, "with maple syrup; give me a grape-fruit, and some ham and eggs; I'll take a steak and onions, some asparagus in butter, and some apple pie and a strawberry short-cake, and a cup of -----"
"Wait," said the waitress menacingly. "We'll discuss that later. First, are you prepared to take oath that you are in positive need of sustenance? Are you fully aware that every morsel you eat is a drain on the national food supply; that by so doing you are, as it were, bringing aid and comfort to our enemies; and that every car-gram of nutrition that you consume will prolong the war in due proportion? Food," she finished automatically, "will win the war--- don't waste it! "
"Yes, I know," I replied, assuming my most Parisian air, "but ça ne fait rien. If you will just bring me the cakes and the beefsteak and pie -----"
"It is absolutely forbidden," she stated. "If you will give me your food order from the Chief of Police, and your certificate of patriotic good standing and citizenship, you will be entitled to your denatured buttermilk and Uneedas, but I would advise you to hold out a day or two."
At this I was so overcome that I did not at once see that one of the other customers had risen and was looking at me darkly. He was middle-aged, and wore a tricolor rosette as well as several other emblems, whose significance was obviously patriotic, in his lapel.
"My young friend," he said severely, "it is my official as well as my patriotic duty to report you for the distinctly un-American meal you have just ordered in my hearing. But you do not seem to know the enormity of your offence. Let me warn you that you are likely to be apprehended as a spy. Spies," he concluded mechanically, "are everywhere."
I saw I had to step easily.
"What is your official capacity?" I inquired politely.
"I am Chairman of the Champagne Committee of Ship Launching," he said importantly, "and my office is to furnish champagne for the Governors' daughters to smash on the prows of the concrete ships that don't sink when they are launched upside down. Congress has appropriated six billions --- "
"Champagne?" I scented. "Well, since you're in on it, perhaps you could tip me off where I could get some. I have a little boat of my own," I explained, "that needs naming."
"Well, there isn't any champagne just yet --- er --- Congress hasn't exactly appropriated--- "But listen," he said, "America is waking up to this war. Already there are a greater number of service flags in New York than in all of Europe. Congress has made big appropriations for the printing and distribution of patriotic songs; and McAdoo has made great expenditures; the President has burnt his hand on a tank; and more food has been saved and spoiled in America than a year's consumption in the British Isles, and even the women --- "
But at this moment a great hubbub arose outside. Newsboys were shouting extras; the factory whistles were blowing; the bells were ringing; and the people were pouring into the streets rejoicing. I ran out and bought a paper, and in six-inch headlines read:
The Chairman waved the paper at me triumphantly.
"There!" he shouted. "America is waking up! America is wake--- is wake--- is wak---
"-Ing up! " It was brancardier who was shaking me by the shoulder.
"Une voiture," he said, "tout de suite. Un malade et deux officiers ---chercher de la bière."
And as I picked up my helmet and started out I stumbled over a pile of American periodicals, and knew it was only a dream.
IF you want the truth, I was always a bit diffident about going into danger. I used to say that it was getting badly wounded that I was scared of, and not death. But as a matter of fact I did n't much fancy getting killed, either. That was what surprised me about getting popped off. It all happened so quickly. I was just stooping down to pick up a souvenir when all of a sudden --- bim! --- there I was, off on my way, ordre de mouvement and all, before I had a chance to think what had happened.
Pretty soon I got to wondering where I was going, and yet I was afraid to look at my papers. The uncertainty was terrible, but then suppose it should say --- Well, you can imagine how I felt. I waited awhile, and turned the papers around, and looked them all over on the outside. They appeared harmless enough. Then I turned up the corner to the line where it says "Destination," but not far enough to see what was written. I turned it up a little farther and there was a great big "H"; a little bit farther, and there was an "e." Oh, Lord, I began to break out in a cold sweat, and I could n't look any farther. "I 'll close my eyes and count ten," I thought, " and then I'll look." So I shut my eyes and opened the paper. I counted ten; and then twenty and thirty, and after I 'd been counting I don't know bow long, I sort of absent-mindedly opened my eyes and read it. I had to read it two or three times, before I was sure. But it certainly did say "Heaven " as plain as day. You see, I was sort of expecting the other.
Of course, after that I was feeling pretty good, and I went to sleep and dreamed of a six-course dinner. When I woke up, somebody was calling, "Everybody out! Change cars!" --- and I found myself just waiting around.
I stopped a guard.
"What place is this?"
He mentioned some name I'd never heard before.
"How long do we have to wait here?"
"Where are you going? Let me see your papers."
Now, it is against my principle to show my papers to any guard. They always find something wrong with them, and send you to a Provost Marshal.
"I'll take care of the papers," I said, "but I'm going to Heaven, if you want to know."
The guard winked.
"That's what they all say," he said. "Let's see; this is 1918 ---the through train for Heaven will be along in 1920; but I guess you can get on any of these locals, all right."
And he went away chuckling, and I sat down to wait. I've got to admit I was disgusted. The place was nothing but a junction and there wasn't even a buvette in town. I don't know how long I waited, but certainly a crowd of people had come and gone before my patience was exhausted. Then I looked up the guard.
"Look here," I said. "Isn't there any way I can get to Heaven without waiting for that blamed express?"
"You still here!" he exclaimed. "You don't mean to say you're really going to Heaven, do you? "
"Sure I am.," I said, and showed him the paper --- which is justifiable in case of emergency.
"Well, I'll be-----" he said. "It's hard to know what to do about your case. There has n't been anybody along for that destination since I came on the job. I was booked for there myself when I first came out, but I got put on detached service here," he explained.
He scratched his head a couple of times.
"I'll tell you what," he said, "if you're really set on it, you can go on to the next junction, and wait in the station until one of the empties goes back to Heaven. I think they have a short line there. That is, if you're sure you want to go there."
"Thanks," I said. "I believe I will."
"Just wait a second," he said, looking at me rather strangely, almost pityingly I thought; and he went into his office and came out with a bar of chocolate and a sack of bull.
"Take these," he said. "Good-bye and good luck. There's your train."
And I was off. Not long after we rolled into the next junction, and I found a guard.
"When does the next train leave for Heaven over the short line?" I asked.
"To-morrow morning, as soon as it comes in. Expecting a friend?" he asked.
"No. Much obliged," I replied; for as I said before, I hate inquisitive guards.
I began to look about the junction, and I could see I was going to like the burg. Brightly lighted streets, lots of traffic, and if I could judge, cafés and theatres. There was a guard at the gate, but I watched my chance, doubled back up the switch-yard and over the fence into the city.
That night I had some time. I met a little black-eyed devil in a café and she and I had supper together and went to a show, and, well, I'll never forget that night.
Next morning I had to argue with the conductor of the short line to get on the train, and finally had to bribe him with my cake of chocolate and a swig of something I had bought the night before.
It was a swift ride, and before I knew it I was in Heaven. Would you believe it, it was raining! There was a great big "Welcome" sign, done in gilt, with Christmas-tree hangings, bedraggled and dripping. There did n't seem to be anybody around, but pretty soon an old white bearded man with a red arm-band came by. He stopped, surprised, when he saw me.
"Who are you?"
" Stormfield, sir. Private Stormfield."
"How did you get here?"
I had tried to figure out some kind of a story for this event, but I kind of lost courage. I thought it was best to pull this bewildered stuff.
"Honestly, sir, I don't really know."
"Don't know, eh? Well, it affects lots of 'em that way. Let's see your papers."
I had to give them to him. I followed him into a musty office where there were a couple of other clerks. The old boy looked at my papers, vaguely, through his glasses. It was plain he couldn't read them. He stamped them five or six times and filed them away and gave me a pink check, "Good for One Eternity of Happiness." Then he turned to one of the clerks.
"Give this souljer a spiritual examination."
I went into the next room with the clerk. He sat at a desk and began checking off a lot of points without asking me anything, mumbling queries and responses automatically to himself, " Religion --Christian. Record --- Faithful, etc., etc."
"How are you morally?" he asked.
"Pretty well, thank you."
"Well, I guess that's all. Oh, let me see your soul."
I showed it to him; and he looked at it rather curiously.
"Hmmm. Never saw one like that before. Don't you think it looks rather --- well, rather ragged? How are your thoughts?"
"To tell you the truth, I have n't been thinking much lately."
"Oh, that's good," he said. "You're passed."
And he went back to the other room. The old boy turned to the other clerk.
"Give this souljer Equipment C."
The clerk got out a robe, a hymn-book, a harp, a halo, a pair of sandals, and one pair regulation angel's wings, and put them on the counter.
In another second I had them on, and a lot of dirty little cherubs came in and threw artificial flowers at me, and then asked for pennies and a cigarette américaine.
The old boy said, "Now you are an angel, 1st class, and you can go and have a good time forever."
Then I walked out into Heaven. There were some grand buildings and beautiful streets but not much doing. I passed bunches of other angels wandering about in badly fitting robes, and harps slung over their backs. I fixed mine that way.
Then I met a fellow with great big wings and a sash, who looked at me hard. I was going to pass on when he yelled at me.
"Say, Buddy, what's your outfit? Don't you know enough to salute a Seraph when you see one?"
I gave him a salute. There's no use arguing with that type. But it seems it was n't right.
"You do it like this," he said, kissing his hand and giving it a kind of a flourish at the end.
I made a stab at it.
"That's better, only kneel at attention when you're talking to a Seraph after this."
A little farther on I came upon an angel, actually scrubbing the golden paving-stones.
"And what may you be doing, my friend?" I inquired.
"Oh, me," he said. "I'm on corvée. I tried to skip out of here the other day on a little trip, and got caught and they shoved me on this cobble-stone detail for A.W.O.L."
"Well," I said, "if that's your idea of a heavenly time, take me home. What did you try to skip out for?"
"Got fed up. Nobody new ever comes in, and the kind we get don't make things any livelier. If I'd had my rights I 'd have been a Seraph long ago, but they stuck in a lot of these Charley Boys who had recommendations from the churches. I put in my application for Martyr Corps, and got it turned down, and then I tried to transfer to Choir Celestial, and to Messenger Service, and never heard from either of them. I tell you I'm sick of this cloud outpost duty."
This sort of stuff wasn't encouraging and I walked off to a small cloud and sat down to kind of think it over. I had n't been there long when I heard somebody hollering at me. I looked down and saw an angel in spectacles, and with a triangle on his sleeve.
"Hey there," he called. Cheery-o! Don't look so gloomy. Have a good time!"
"Who are you?" I said. "I don't have to have a good time unless I want to."
"Oh, yes, you do," he said, facetiously. "This is Heaven. Come down and have a cup of chocolate."
"You go away," I said, edging around the cloud.
"And don't forget the Flying Trip to-morrow," he continued. "We start early; bring your lunch. I'll show you all the famous places. And to-night we're going to have a dance if we can get any demoiselles."
"What, is there a scarcity of ladies? "
"No, but most of them are invited to the Seraphs' Ball. Don't forget to come to the dance, though. We're going to have the nicest time. Cheery-o! Good-bye. Have a good time!"
And he was gone.
By this time, though I hate to admit it, I had pretty well made up my mind about Heaven. So I went back to the main office, and hunted up the clothing clerk.
"Say," I said. "About this halo. It sort of settles down and scratches my left ear. I wonder if I could get another."
"Sorry," he said. "They all complain of it. But it can't be helped. It's regulation."
"Do I have to wear it? "
"Of course," he said. "It's regulation."
I turned away and went to the head clerk.
Pardon me, Sir," I said, saluting. "But are you sure this is Heaven? "
"It's absolutely official," he replied. "Accredited by G.H.Q."
"Well, that being the case," I answered boldly, "I believe I'd like to get checked out."
"Checked out?" he ejaculated. "Impossible! Why, where were you thinking of going?"
"I thought, maybe, if you did n't mind, I 'd like to go to --- to that junction at the end of the short line."
"That junction at the end of the short line!" He shuddered, aghast. "You must never go there!"
"And why not?"
"What, don't you know?" he said. "Why, my boy --- that's Hell."
Es ist longtemps since I have vous écrit parce qu'ich kann no longer parler ordinary Anglais, und I had peur that sie would nicht verstehe pas. Wir sind en Alsace, vous savez, und too many langues spoil the vocabulaire, nicht wahr? Die Leute par ici speak Allemand, les soldats talk French fluently, and wir, qui parle l'Anglais, get all mixed up. The Deutscherishers talk Français and English un petit peu, the poilus sprichen Deutsch and English ein wenig. Darum wir parlent a little bit of tous les trois.
This complicates la vie considérablement. Wenn you have auf ein Wirtshaft gegangen, la Madame says, "Bonjour, Monsieur, was wollen sie?" and vous dites, "Guten Abend, Madame, geben-sie mir ein bouteille of beer." Et quand vous avez finished, sie sagen, "Combien?" and she says, " Zwansig sous." Avant de partir you say, "Gute nacht, Madame," et elle répond, "Au revoir, Mein Herr." And quelque poilu calls out, "Good-night --- oh yess." That machts es difficile.
Aber ça ne fait rien. The Liberation von Elsäss marche bien. Wir haben évacué tous les buvettes, and the Deutsche Bier n'existe plus. We have acheté beaucoup de German souvenirs to sell zu dem green peas auf dem Y.M.C.A. à Paris. Mais c'est verboten to go there maintenant. Wir müssen get permission to go en permission. Das ist sehr traurig, n'est pas? Peut-étre es ist wahr qu'on has saved the world für la démocratie, but la liberté is scarcer than hell où nous sommes. Il y a plenty of soldats américains ici A.W.O.L., aber nous can't seem to machen ein get away. Der Weg zum Frieden ist ein route très longue und très mauvaise für autos.
We have had kein lettres from home depuis the Armistice. Les Folks croyaient that we were coming Heim tout de suite. And wir aussi. Aber nous were the bonnes poires encore. We would lieben d'être mustered aus hier en France. However, sie kannen jamais tell. Probablement we will to Base Camp allé, oder zum ein parc where we may have to arbeiten. That would be nicht gut, vous savez.
Anyhow, notre division will be busted up bald. Und der armistice will be fini, Gott sei dankt. Wo wir will gehen, nous should worry.
Voulez-vous, Cher Bulletin, accepter mes meilleurs sentiments, and wishes for ein Freundliche Weinnachten and a Prosit Neu Yahr. Mit lof,
Neuf-Brisach, Haute Alsace
THE first-class rapide, Nice to Paris, with its burden of civilian travellers and the usual sprinkling of French and other officers, slowly gathered momentum as an American soldier, clad in a smart overcoat and highly polished top boots, appeared suddenly in the passageway for all the world as if he had been drawn from the floor with the magician's wand. His actions denoted considerable haste and uneasiness, but after a searching glance up and down the corridor and station platform, he appeared reassured and settled himself comfortably next to a dignified French colonel. And as the train had left Nice far behind he expressed his contentment in a prodigious sigh and even hazarded a slight smile in the direction of an American officer in the opposite comer, who, booted and spurred, scowled slightly as became his rank and dignity.
Now there entered the compartment, with much ceremony and many flourishes, a very portly and withal busy conductor, who, glancing fussily at every scrap of the assortment of tickets and papers offered for his inspection, came at last to a deliberate stop in front of the American --- he of the extreme self-possession. Immediately thereupon ensued a pronounced silence while the dapper young soldier fished into many a pocket, and finally, a trifle reluctantly perhaps, brought to light a battered and ill-used pink permission paper of imposing size. This he handed over without a word, and then very calmly let his gaze wander out through the window and over the sun-flecked expanse of blue Mediterranean where it seemed lost in contemplation of that ever-moving scene.
Meanwhile the occupants of the compartment looked on. The French colonel seemed interested and the American lieutenant frowned more deeply. The portly conductor, suspicious through experience, scanned with exceeding care the pink leaflet, ever and anon pausing to glance over the top of his steel-rimmed spectacles at the conducteur américain, who oblivious to all else continued deeply interested in the passing scenery and wore withal an expression of most baffling innocence. The information contained in the pink ticket seemed to irritate the portly conductor for his brow continued to grow darker and the long ends of his drooping moustache grew fairly rigid. At last he could contain himself no longer and with many gesticulations, supported by a choice command of French, he left no doubt in the minds of those who heard him that the rapide was only a first-class train, and many another pertinent observation as to "privates," "third-class coaches," etc. And then with an air of finality he pointed with one long bony finger at the notation troisième classe, as he held the paper before the immediate subject of his harangue.
Now, our soldier, no doubt grieved at being so rudely disturbed in his nautical meditations, looked up with the air of one who has suffered much and is slightly bored, and said, very distinctly and with perfect accent, "Je ne comprends pas." These words seemed to have a magic effect on the portly one. It appeared that he was about to speak, but thinking better of that he closed his jaws with a snap, made one pitiful gesture of helplessness --- and fled.
But the strange part of this little story lies in the fact that had you looked closely you must have seen a merry twinkle light up the grave eyes of the French colonel and a smile hover at the corners of his firm mouth, seeing which the youthful soldier apologetically murmured something about "Système D " --- and the American lieutenant scowled more darkly.
WALTER E. BRUNS*
*Of Oakland, California; Stanford; served with Section Ten in the Field Service, and subsequently in the U.S.A. Ambulance Service.
SOME of the sections edited papers at various times, but as their effort was confined to repos periods there was no attempt to do more than issue a copy when occasion offered. The most pretentious of these publications was The Ippécourier brought out by Section Four in 1916, while stationed at Ippécourt. Besides a cover design the paper had twenty pages of articles, verse, drawings, and "advertisements." Less pretentious, but appearing more regularly, was Soixante-Neuf, Section Sixty-Nine's paper. The Big Blat of Section Eight was conspicuous for its cover design, which glorified the section mascot --- a goat. Other sections had simple multi-copied news-sheets, without attempt at drawing or design. Sections Eighteen and Nineteen issued printed section diaries each month. The following article tells of the Section Sixty-Nine publication.
DURING the summer and autumn of 1917, when we were in the region of Verdun, we issued a little paper, the Soixante-Neuf, which was written by us and printed or manifolded at our cantonment.
We had a full staff, for there was not only an Editor-in-Chief, but also two Assistant Editors, an Art Editor with two assistants, a Sporting Editor, a Business Manager, an Advertising Manager, and an Advisor and Censor.
The first number opened with a portrait of our French Lieutenant, André Charles Fraye, accompanied by a biographical notice, wherein it is declared that "in all sincerity we can say that he is the best Lieutenant in the French army "; and now, back in the quietude of American civil life, I can say amen, to this opinion expressed months ago on the Western Front.
Perhaps one of the most entertaining features of our effort was our advertising page. Thus, Messrs. Neynaber & Day keep a grocery store. Their address is "Car No. 5," which is "always open," and the public is informed that "if we do not have in stock what you wish, we will order it for you."
"F. E. Kneeland, Car No. 8, on the Board Walk," announces that he is always ready "to sew buttons on " and that he "mends everything from tiny rips to shellholes."
The occupant of Car 11 makes this statement: "Since I have, as yet, received no letter from home, I find myself in a very embarrassing financial condition and so wish to sell, cheap, a splendid pair of new woollen trousers."
At "No. 12 Mud Street" is "The Soixante- Neuf Barber Shop; haircuts and shaves while you wait. Hives scratched free of charge." In a later advertisement, customers are informed that they can have "a clean towel every week."
Jean Fanrie, "Mechanician, S.S.U. Sixty-Nine. Repair work of all kinds from toothbrushes to differentials." He also makes briquets "that light and stay lit in any sort of wind."
Then there is a "Hand Laundry," whose advertisement reads: "We take in washing. Put your trust in the Lord, and give us your clothes. Prices reasonable if the socks are."
In a later number the Section tailor breaks into verse:
|And when the bombs are bursting
And the bullets sing and whine,
Then you flop upon the ground
And your buttons lose their shine
Or perhaps you stalled your motor
And in starting it you tripped.
Next morning when you don your clothes
You find they're sadly ripped.
N.B. Car 8 is a fully equipped poste de secours for all manner of clothing wounds.
Again, the grocers burst into rhyme:
|Though avions flash through
the sky at night,
Dropping bombs and shells to the left and right;
Though bullets may sing and bullets may whine,
Right up at the front of the very first line;
When you're hungry and faint and thoroughly beat,
When your stomach is craving for something to eat;
Just step to Car Five, which is not far away,
And trade at the store of your own, Ney & Day.
This last "ad" is, furthermore, illustrated. You see Car 5 with two ambulanciers running to it, while shells are bursting behind it and above it, evidently dropped by the flying machine shown at the top of the advertisement.
"Le Tailleur de cette Section," F. E. Kneeland, also has recourse to pen and pencil --- thus:
The biggest bomb can't make me jump,
While playing ball one sunny day,
Bombs are seen bursting while two ambulanciers, with well-patched clothing, are working on their cars.
From the news columns:
9:30 A.M. All of Section Sixty-Nine resign from Ambulance Service to return home.
10.00 A.M. All decide to enter Aviation.
10:30 A.M. All agree to stay in Ambulance Service.
11:00 A.M. Again all going back to U.S.
Under "Classified Advertisements":
It becomes necessary to inform our readers that the Barber Shop, under the management of Manley & Hooker, has moved into its new quarters in the large and spacious barn on Broadway.
In the number for August 2 occurs this notice:
Do your Christmas shopping early --- there are only eighty-six shopping days left!
These are samples of the contents of our little sheet and they show the fine morale that characterized the personnel of our dear old Sixty-Nine.
In the third issue, that of September 1, appeared this notice:
The first issue of Soixante-Neuf announced that contributions would be gratefully accepted if placed in the box for that purpose. We regret to say that nothing has come to us and we feel a lack of coöperation exists, or, shall we say, interest? Owing to the vital question which now looms on the horizon, we realize it is difficult to think of aught else. In these three issues we have striven to give the best we could under the circumstances, having to print by hand, together with the many other problems of a printer; and we have now arrived at the point where we ask, Shall this paper continue? Will you manifest some little interest and help to keep it up? It is really up to you.
This was the swan song and here the enterprise ended.
A. D. RATHBONE*
*Of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Michigan, '19; Editor of Soixante-Neuf; served for four months with Section Sixty-Nine of the Field Service; later in the U.S. Navy.
1. This sketch symbolizes " Seven Days " at the "regulated " U. S. Army Leave Area of Aix-les-Bains as it impressed the Field Service man habituated to the freedom of a French permission.
2. Suggesting the manner in which U.S. Army Leave Centres in France were conducted.
Literature of the Field Service: Lighter Verse
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