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1st Royal Scots Pipes and Drums 1890s

Here’s another postcard that caught my eye at the antique shop.

Royal Scots front

It’s a print of the Pipe and Drum contingent of the 1st Royal Scots, the oldest regiment in the British Army.

The publisher was Valentine and Sons. Valentine and Sons were Victorian era publishers of postcards and grew to be Scotland’s largest.

The uniforms of the Scots on this postcard are 1890s vintage although the postcard was mailed much later as indicated by the air mail stamp on the back side.

Royal Scots back

I cannot date the card but clearly it was sent from an American tourist who is just leaving Scotland for London and then on to a ship for the trip home.

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To Hell with Kaiser Bill!

I’m reading, The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War by Richard Rubin.

Rubin had this great idea to interview living American veterans of World War One. Frankly, it was a race against the clock since all survivors of the Great War were well over 100 years old by the time Rubin got  to interview them.

The book is about more than the elderly doughboys and really shows a by-gone time that was the US in 1917-18.

For instance, Rubin has a chapter on Tin-Pan Alley, a certain section in Manhattan where publishers cranked out music and I mean cranked out! Rubin maintains that back in WW1 days music was more than entertainment, although it certainly was that. Rubin says that music publishers were a lot like journalists because they documented events in their songs and they also editorialized in those same songs.

That’s where it got very interesting to me.

After the US entered the war (and somewhat before) the Tin Pan Alley publishers published a gazillion songs that were designed to pump up morale both at home and at the front. Rubin says most were junk but quite a few were quite good and serve to give a glimpse into that by-gone era that seems innocent (it wasn’t) compared to now.

One of the favorite themes of the songs was bashing Kaiser William II of Germany. The general idea was now that the US was in the war the doughboys would kick the Kaiser’s butt across the Rhine and naturally go all the way to Berlin.

Picture is scanned from Liberty's Victorious Conflict and under the heading, "The Guilty Lord's of War."

Picture is scanned from Liberty’s Victorious Conflict and under the heading, “The Guilty Lord’s of War.”

What is interesting about some of these songs is the characterization of Kaiser Bill. Here’s a sampling of song titles from Rubin’s book:

We’re Going to Hang the Kaiser Under the Linden Tree

The USA Will Lay the Kaiser Away

We’re Out for the Scalp of Mister Kaiser Man

The Kaiser Wanted More Territory so We Gave Him Hell

I’d Like to See the Kaiser with a Lily in His Hand

It’s useful in war to personify and demonize the enemy but I admit this took me a little by surprise until I thought about it for a while.

Why did Americans suddenly (it seems) vilify the Kaiser and Germans in general?

I’m not an expert but I think of some possible explanations that made the US so anti-Kaiser and anti-German.

1. I think Kaiser Bill was an easy guy for Americans to dislike. By and large Americans don’t like royalty (except for the fascination with the British Royals which strikes me as odd). The Kaiser just looks arrogant and just the kind of guy one would think would love to snatch up Europe-kind of  a Snidely Whiplash character with that thin mustache. The Kaiser just looks like the perfect villain.

2.  America was also pro-French back then. Perhaps it was the vague memory that the French saved our bacon during the War for Independence (simply because it weakened the British and certainly not because they were in love with American ideas of liberty). The pro-French attitude resulted in quite a few Americans volunteering to fight for France, some in the French Foreign Legion and others in the famous Lafayette Escadrille. Newspapers would have made a big deal out of our pre-war involvement on the side of the French. (See the movie Fly Boys, good flying scenes, poor history.)

3. This is where it gets a little tricky. Officially the US was neutral until April, 1917. However, being neutral didn’t mean unwilling to sell munitions to both sides. However, the British had the Germans bottled up in their ports tighter than a drum which meant selling to the Central Powers wasn’t going to happen. This led to the Germans sinking passenger liners (suspected of carrying munitions). Hence, the Lusitania incident in 1915 and what was called unrestricted submarine warfare. The Lusitania carried about 120 Americans and most went down with the ship. This created a huge out cry in the US and we nearly went to war then and there. The Kaiser, as head of state, naturally got the blame and that on top of the German invasion of little Belgium in 1914 seemed to sum up the impression that Kaiser Bill was indeed King of the German Huns.

4. Early in the war the British managed to cut  the cables on the ocean floor that led to communications with the Central Powers. This meant of course that the only news that got into American newspapers had a British\French spin to it thereby enabling the British  and French to easily win the propaganda war and create a strong pro-allied sentiment.

5. Britain was our largest trading partner anyway and since the east coast of the US benefited the most from that and that’s where all the big newspapers were it makes sense that the Kaiser and Germans in general would be easily demonized.

Whatever the reasons Kaiser Bill was the man Americans loved to hate in 1917-18.

Here’s a couple of personal stories regarding the Kaiser and WW1.

On my dad’s side I’m mostly Pommern (Pomeranian) German, an area that is now largely in Poland but back then a Prussian State within Germany.  My dad told me (without being able to verify) that as a little boy he remembers uncles who didn’t want to fight in WW1,  not because of loyalty to the Kaiser but because they felt strongly they’d be fighting relatives. From what I know my grand-father’s numerous brothers who were of draft age didn’t have to go. One was drafted but let go because of epilepsy. This contradicts my dad’s memory that he had at least one uncle who did serve and was gassed, dying in a V.A. Hospital in the 1930’s from the gas. On the other hand my dad grew up in “little Germany” on Milwaukee’s north side and was in a blended family. It’s possible he was remembering relatives from another side of his new family.

I would not be surprised in the least if the family didn’t think all that much of the Kaiser. After all, they left and had they stayed all would have served in the Prussian Army in some capacity-a fact that was undoubtedly unpopular and may have contributed to family immigrating in the 1870s as Bismarck unified the German States.

Om my mom’s side I’m German-Polish Pommern, again then part of Prussia. In fact, my Polish great-grandfather served two years in a Prussian Infantry Regiment in the 1890’s just prior to coming to the States. My mom told me more than once one of her memories is of her grand-mothers cursing the Kaiser. My mom was born in 1930 so the memory was probably 1940ish which is a long time after a war to curse a Kaiser. Clearly the guy was not popular even among German-Americans for quite a long time!

World War I changed America in general but German America in particular. But that’s a story for another time.




USS Saratoga (CV-3) WW2 postcard

Another interesting postcard that got scooped up from the antique store is a postcard of the USS Saratoga, postmarked 11/24/1942. It was sent from San Diego, CA.

USS Saratoga CV-3

USS Saratoga CV-3

According to the Wiki article on the ship the Saratoga would not have been at San Diego at the time of the postmark. She would have been on a cruise toward Nouméa, New Caledonia and then on to the E. Solomon Campaign in early 1943.

The Saratoga was a Lexington Class Aircraft Carrier (converted from a Battle Cruiser) and one of the four  pre-WW2 carriers. The other three being the Enterprise and Ranger and Lexington. The Lexington was scuttled after the Battle of the Coral Sea where she suffered damage that could not be repaired.

The Saratoga would see extensive action in the Pacific War and be torpedoed twice and kamikazed/bombed once.

Her air complement by 1945 was 53 F6F Hellcat fighters and 17 TBF Avenger torpedo bombers.  After the kamikaze attack during the Iwo Jima Campaign the Saratoga returned to the US for repairs for the final time. By then she had been replaced by more modern carriers and was obsolete. She was used thereafter as a training ship and ended up being used in the Bikini A-bomb tests where she was eventually sunk after two tries.

The postcard appears to be of pre-WW2 vintage as the planes above the Saratoga look like bi-planes. Wiki notes that the Saratoga carried 18 Grumman F2F-1 and 18 Boeing F4B-4 fighters, plus an additional nine F2Fs in reserve. Offensive punch was provided by 20 Vought SBU Corsair dive bombers with 10 spare aircraft and 18 Great Lakes BG torpedo bombers in 1936, all bi-planes.

 Vought SBU-1 Chttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vought_SBU_Corsairorsair

Vought SBU-1 Chttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vought_SBU_Corsairorsair

The the back of the postcard is intriguing.

The recipient is Mrs. Ellie P. Fallis, Fallbrook, Calif. Box 751. The writer is a gal named Jewel. She writes:

Tues AM 11-24-42

Dear “Mom” I’ve just said “goodbye” to Roy on the telephone. He left about noon for another flight “down under.” Monte is out at his ranch running the tractor. He will be in Wed. taking another round of new fever shots. In about two weeks he goes on a long trip. We have a fine thing this AM. An artist “Lietta” designer and illustrator of children’s books 2 PM. Very fine ______? station. Now I go to another “air-minded” lecture. Yours, Jewel

USS Saratoga back


The message is fascinating and Pearl’s use of quotation marks suggests attempts at communicating without getting sensored-in other words a type of code she hopes Ellie understands.

My best guess is that Roy is her husband and she refers to Ellie as “mom” in quotes for that reason. Roy appears to be stationed in Australia with “down under” being code for it. I cannot surmise much about Monte other than assuming he too is on service and about to get more shots, probably for malaria or dengue fever and host of other tropical diseases before he ships out. Whoever Monte is he has a ranch and drives a tractor.

“Lietta”  is Helen Dowd an artist who branched out into illustrating a number of children’s books between 1936-1954. My guess she was at the San Diego Naval Base to either lecture or do an exhibit for service personnel and/or their wives.

Jewel notes that she needs to go to an “air-minded” lecture perhaps having something to do with the Navy explaining what a pilot does and what she could expect as a pilot’s wife. Whatever the case the postcard is intriguing and speaks of wartime San Diego and the people connected with the Saratoga either directly or indirectly.

USS Saratoga (CV-3) Aircraft on the flight deck, preparing for launching, circa 1929-30. Planes in the foreground are Boeing F3B-1 fighters. In the background are fifteen Martin T4M-1 torpedo planes, of Torpedo Squadron Two (VT-2B). Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C. Collection of Admiral William V. Pratt. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

USS Saratoga (CV-3)
Aircraft on the flight deck, preparing for launching, circa 1929-30.
Planes in the foreground are Boeing F3B-1 fighters. In the background are fifteen Martin T4M-1 torpedo planes, of Torpedo Squadron Two (VT-2B).
Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C. Collection of Admiral William V. Pratt.
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.




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Spirit of Paul Jones Postcard

The Spirit of Paul Jones is a recent find from an antique store.  The colorized postcards sell for a bit more than I’d like but then again they are old and somewhat unique.

Spiritof PaulJones front

This one is postmarked August 29th, 1919. The sender is a gal named Pearl and the recipient is Miss Nancy Austin at 519 Court St., Pekin, IL. It was sent from Lucas, KY a resort area in southern Kentucky. I could find nothing on the INET regarding Lucas, KY that connected with the US Navy.

The message is in pencil and in places hard to read so this is my best shot:

“Dear Nancy, your letter [re} was glad to hear from you. ______? ______? said he would write me a letter____? _____? he is so busy he didn’t get time to do anything. I think he will _____? if they get a book keeper he doesn’t like to grind and keep books too. He said that (someone’s name, perhaps female?) that was all between them. Love to all, Pearl”

The uniforms of the sailors on the card appear to be World War One although it is unclear what they are shooting at and with what kind of cannon. It appears to be a deck gun (no turret) of some sort and so has an earlier pre-World War One feel to it although a dead link to an eBay poster/print  identifies the card as 1918.

The publisher of the post card was E.G. Renesch of Chicago. A little research turned up the fact that Renesch did many military type prints for World War One. My guess is the postcard is a miniature rendition of a larger print. Perhaps it caught Pearl’s eye for some reason at the resort and off it went to Miss Nancy.

Interesting and maybe a bit radical for the time are a number of  Renesch prints celebrating America’s black soldiers, called “colored” at the time. Below is an example of a print featuring black soldiers engaged with German soldiers in hand-to-hand combat (the uniforms of the Germans are early war but accuracy was not what E.G. was after).



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Why Americans Should Thank King George I


Another reblog from my other blog

Originally posted on Church, State, Faith and Culture:

There is an interesting article at Townhall.com by Michael Barone titled, Three Hundred Years Later Americans Owe a Debt to King George I.

To most Americans George I would be even more obscure than George III who was King of England during the War for Independence. Yet without a George I there would not have been a George III to turn the world upside down-the song the British Army played as they surrendered at Yorktown.

The Georges were Hanoverian Germans and they secured the British throne through the back door so-to-speak.

As Barone points out the previous monarch was a gal by the name of Queen Anne.

Back in those days government and religion were mixed together in an unsavory soup whereby loyalty to the state was often determined by one’s religion. The union of England, Scotland and Ireland…

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Great White Fleet Battleship Postcards

There is a shop in my area that markets collectibles. Lot’s of glassware, Hot Wheels, Action Figures, trains, and piles of other things people like to collect. The shop is semi-organized and according to the owner simply a labor of love. It’s the kind of place a cheap American Picker like me likes to visit.

In addition to the organized collectibles there is much that is not and that’s where I started to dig, especially in the postcards. When I told the owner I was interested in WW1 and WW2 era postcards he was able to direct me to a couple of binders that had some great finds. Below are the best two I found.

They are colorized postcards featuring ships of the Teddy’s Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet-the USS Vermont and the USS Ohio. In the upper right hand corner of the card there is a serial number thus indicating that the cards were part of series.

USS Vermont BB-20

USS Vermont BB-20

The Vermont was a Connecticut Class pre-Dreadnought Battleship  launched in August of 1905. She was decommissioned in June, 1920 and struck from Navy roles entirely in 1923.

The Vermont’s claim to fame was taking part in Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet cruise (late 1907-1909). The Vermont was one of sixteen US Battleships that TR sent around the world to establish the US as a significant naval power. Teddy believed in sea power and was a powerful advocate for a strong Navy that would rival even Great Britain’s.

This link will take you a Popular Science article titled, Battleship Vermont (BB-20) Will be the Most Powerful of our Navy. The article pre-dates the ship’s launch. Highlights from the article include the ship’s dimensions, size of the crew (814 men plus officers) and the fact that the Royal Navy has only one ship larger than a completed Vermont.

The link will take you to further links about the Vermont and her sister ship the USS Connecticut.

The Vermont’s later history is  not very exciting. During WW1 it served as an engineering training ship. Immediately after the war the Vermont was converted to a troop transport and used to bring US forces back from Europe at the end of WW1.

USS Vermont Naval Historical Center picture http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-v/bb20.htm

USS Vermont Naval Historical Center picture http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-v/bb20.htm

The back of the card is dated September 28th, 1909 and is addressed to Mr. J.J. Slater, R.R. #3 Box 43, Racine, Wisconsin. It’s from a gal named Doris who writes;

“We are all here but you. I suppose if you were a little nearer you would be here also-will write soon.”

(R.R. refers to Rural Route)

On the left side of the card in small letters it says, “Made in Germany  A.C. Bosselmann & Co., New York.

I love the one cent stamp!

I love the one cent stamp!

The other card I obtained was of the USS Ohio.

USS Ohio

USS Ohio

The Ohio was a Maine Class Battleship commissioned in 1904. The Ohio was designated the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet and as such spent its early years on “show of strength” tours that included Japan. After the Spanish-American War of 1898-99 the US occupied the Philippines (and fought an insurrection there), No doubt President Teddy Roosevelt wanted to make it clear the US had arrived in strength in the region.

The Ohio was also included in the cruise of the Great White Fleet designed to show the world American Naval strength. The Ohio served as a training ship during WW1 and decommissioned in 1922 and later sold for scrap.

The relatively short shelf life of these battleships struck me. Technology was advancing so fast that a battleship built in 1905 was obsolete by the introduction of the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought in 1906.  By the time America entered WW1 in April, 1917 the Ohio and all the other ships of the Great White Fleet would be hopelessly outclassed by contemporary British ships (our allies) and the Germans (our enemies). This explains the secondary roles the Vermont and Ohio played during the Great War.

The back of the card is addressed to Miss Grace Stuart, R.R.  #3, Box 43, Racine, Wisconsin (same address as above). Doris signed this one as well but this time as Doris Slater this indicating that J.J. above could be her husband or brother or cousin. Doris writes;

“I’m [in] New York City at the Henderson Fulton celebration. The card is also postmarked September 28th, 1909.”

It appears that Doris went to a wedding!

It appears that Doris went to a wedding!

I surmise that Doris purchased the postcards in the hotel in which she was staying. The Great White Fleet was a popular topic of discussion in 1909 and President TR was a popular President. Here’s a brief YouTube video that explains the purpose of the Great White Fleet.


Interesting link to a site that is all things Great White Fleet including a number of examples of the vast amount of postcards produced by different publishers. My cards are not among the examples! The Cruise of the Great White Fleet

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The Great Martian War

Originally posted on Church, State, Faith and Culture:

The other day I was flipping channels and stumbled on BBC-America. The title of the program on next immediately grabbed my attention-The Great Martian War.

I still remember as a kid watching the 1953 movie, War of the Worlds with my dad and my dad explaining to me that the concept was based on a 1930’s radio program which in turn was based on H.G. Wells’ classic The War of the Worlds. Later I obtained the Classics Illustrated comic book titled War of the Worlds and read it until it almost fell apart (I still have it.)

I even watched the 2005 version of War of the Worlds starring Tom Cruise (it was okay).

Classics Illustrated-War of the Worlds

Classics Illustrated-War of the Worlds

So when The Great Martian War popped up I immediately knew the BBC was tinkering with a classic story. I spent the next two hours watching the special.

The Great Martian…

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