100 Years ago this week: we should have much better eats now

Background:  In September of 1917 My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, enlisted in the United States Army’s 20th Engineers whose primary purpose was to mill lumber and build the wooden structures needed by the soldiers. In November he sailed to France aboard a troop transport ship.  He is assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A and is based  inside a bull ring in Dax, France.  Many of the soldiers around him have come down with the Spanish flu.  Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.

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Sunday September 1, 1918– The medics left our mess today for their own new mess hall.  We should have much better eats now. Pumpkin pie for dinner today.

Monday September 2– “Labor Day” all are laboring too.  Some nice mail today is the most interesting thing to write about.

Tuesday September 3– Were issued tobacco for Sept. at 12:30 this morn but was all gone at 1:00 Great sport playing poker with Bull Durham.  

Wednesday September 4– Joe sells tickets on the world series.  Eighteen of us out of twenty drew blanks but Joe says it was perfectly on the square.  

Thursday September 5– The tennis courts are being used very extensively.  The courts are good. The Y.M. C.A. have furnished the equipment and we enjoy it.  

Friday September 6– We have remodeled the tent fixing up the floor sides and frame.  Will have a much more comfortable place this winter.

Saturday September 7– Payday and Mail day.  Two of the letters were from Marion.  The very best yet.


Mess Hall

Sunday September 1, 1918– The medics left our mess today for their own new mess hall.

Mess hall 1st Co., Mees

Labor Day

Monday September 2– “Labor Day” all are laboring too.  Some nice mail today is the most interesting thing to write about.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City.  So it was a pretty well established holiday by the time Poppa celebrated it in France in 1918.

Tobacco Rations

Tuesday September 3– Were issued tobacco for Sept. at 12:30 this morn but was all gone at 1:00 Great sport playing poker with Bull Durham.  

Prior to World War I pipe smoking was more popular among American men than cigarettes and any type of smoking was considered “unlady like”.  When the United States entered the war in 1917 tobacco companies saw an opportunity and marketed cigarettes to the soldiers as an escape and morale booster.  Cigarettes became so popular that they were used as a form of currency among soldiers.

Back home in America as women began filling jobs that became available as men joined the military they also began to take up smoking.  Campaigns were initiated to provide tobacco to the troops over seas.  The American Tobacco company of Durham started a program that allowed any American citizen or organization to provide a soldier with a gift box of 2 packages of Lucky Strike cigarettes, 3 packages of Bull Durham tobacco, 3 books of Bull Durham cigarette papers, 1 tin Tuxedo tobacco, and 4 books of Tuxedo brand cigarette papers for less than retail price.  When it was determined that not enough tobacco was getting to the troops through these contributions the American tobacco company took their products off the market and contracted directly with the U.S. government to provide tobacco to our soldiers.

For soldiers, tobacco was seen not only as an item of comfort but also as a battlefield necessity.  Contemporary studies supposedly demonstrated that soldiers could go an additional two hours between meals if they smoked, the tobacco serving as an appetite suppressant.

Poppa did not specify whether his tobacco ‘issue’ came directly from the army or if was a provided by private parties.

The World Series of 1918

Wednesday September 4– Joe sells tickets on the world series.  Eighteen of us out of twenty drew blanks but Joe says it was perfectly on the square.  

In 1918 The world series was played between September 5th and 11th.  The Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs in 6 games.

The World War I “Work or Fight” order forced the premature end of the regular season on September 1, and 1918 is the only World Series to be played entirely in September.

The rushed timing of things was due to the obligation of players drafted into the military to leave their teams and go to war.

According to Wikipedia the 1918 World Series marked the first time “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a major leaguegame. During the seventh-inning stretch of Game 1, the band began playing the song because the country was involved in World War I. The song would be named the national anthem of the United States in 193

.The winning pitcher of Game 1 was Babe Ruth, who pitched a shutout.

Babe Ruth

 

Next Week:  I Have Asked for a New Job

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