bookmark_borderPost-367: Portraits of four great-grandfathers as young men, in 1917-18, in front of U.S. draft boards

It is still November 2018 as I write, the centenary month of the end of World War I.

In 2014, I wrote a brief post saying that one of my great-grandfather’s had a “piece” of that war; in fact, all of them had at least some piece of the era, as young men in the 1910s. Specifically and concretely, each of my four great-grandfathers had to register for the draft (conscription) in 1917-1918.

I have located all four their draft registration cards and will post the originals and transcribe them in four posts to follow (1, 2, 3, 4), followed by comments/thoughts on each of their individual cases and circumstances in 1917, and some informed conjecture on what they may have thought of the war.

In May 1917, the USA was on the way to raising a multi-million-man army which was to reach a size of 4.35 million when all was said and done, up from a meager peacetime strength of one-hundred-some thousand (1916).

In another sign of lukewarm enthusiasm for the war, only 75,000 U.S. men had volunteered in the month after Congress voted to approve President Wilson’s declaration of war (April 6, 1917), and so in May the government began to plan for a then-unprecedented national registration system for all young-adult men, and a tiered system of eligibility for conscription (based on “exemptions”). All young men had to appear in person before draft boards of their city or county on appointed days to register, under threat of prison for no-shows:

Continue reading “Post-367: Portraits of four great-grandfathers as young men, in 1917-18, in front of U.S. draft boards”

bookmark_borderPost-363: The Future of Fiji (and the World) as Seen From 1859

(Expanded from a draft from mid-August 2015. I was reading about Fiji at the time before I was to spend twelve hours in that mysterious, tropical island-country as part of one of my returns-to-the-USA in late August 2015. I was coming from Brisbane, Australia, visiting my cousin, Mel. W. The long layover in Fiji was also the cheapest option. From my perspective fortuitous as it would give me a foray into Fiji on the cheap.



In the weeks before I was to briefly spend time in Fiji in August 2015, I looked around for material. One thing I found to be so amazing as to be worth recording here. It is something published in March 1859, which concludes with a series of futurist predictions about Fiji and the world. Reading these predictions from 1859, I am amazed.

The predictions have (nearly) all come true:

(Final two paragraphs of an anonymous, ten-page book review appearing in The Knickerbocker [March 1859 issue] . The reviewed book is the 1858 Fiji and the Fijians by Thomas Williams and James Calvert (ed. George Stringer Rowe). The Knickerbocker was a New York literary magazine with an 1833-1865 publication run. It was similar in style, and likely a partial antecedent to and/or inspirtation for, The Atlantic [first issue published in 1857]). The entire March 1859 edition of the Knickerbocker is online here.)

Fiji Sunset — approximately the view I had. (Updated in Sept. 2019 with website move; I cannot now recall whether I took this picture, but it looks exactly like mine and what my memory tells me.)

First, my own brief experience in Fiji, then an attempt to evaluate the Knickerbocker writer’s predictions with the distance of 159 years of time elapsed since publication. Summary: Very accurate.


A Brief Foray into Fiji, Late August 2015

Fiji is not like any place I have been, before or since.

I formally entered the country and have the passport stamp to prove it, which means I am counted as one of the Continue reading “Post-363: The Future of Fiji (and the World) as Seen From 1859”