100 Years Ago Today: Buy More Liberty Loans

Aspen Democrat-Times, March 19, 1919

To read the propaganda promoting Liberty Loans between 1917 – 1919, you would think that if you didn’t buy one of these loans — also known as bonds and as securities — you were not only un-American, you were actively aiding the Central Powers in killing our soldiers and welcoming Huns into the United States.

Lend As They Fight
1917 Liberty Bond propaganda poster
Hun Or Home?
Propaganda poster showing a monstrous German looming

Even today’s brief article, announcing that Governor Shoup wants Coloradoans to buy Liberty Loans, mentions the word obligation in reference to people’s responsibility to buy these bonds.

So what were these Liberty Loans? Why was this one called the Victory Loan? And why was the government pushing so hard for people to buy these Loans?

Keep These Off The U. S. A.
Liberty Loan propaganda

The first of five WWI-era Liberty Loans was issued on April 24, 1917, under the Emergency Loan Act. This was immediately after the U.S. joined WWI, and the Loan was intended to fund the country’s initial war efforts. U.S. citizens were told to buy the bond, hold onto it for a set minimum number of years, and then be paid back plus a fixed interest rate by the government.

Charlie Chaplin sees his liberty bond money handed to an industry man to make guns for soldiers

Each of these five Loan periods was given a target dollar amount, an end date in the event the target was not reached, an interest rate at which the loan would be paid back, and an early cash out date and late cash out date. For example, the fifth Liberty Loan, known as the Victory Liberty Loan because the war was over, had a $4.5 billion target. Prospective buyers had from Apr 21, 1919 until May 10, 1919 to buy bonds, in $50 increments, at a 4.75% interest rate, and they could cash out after 3 years, but the interest would stop accruing after 4 years.

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Victory Liberty Loan notes from 1919
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Propaganda poster for the Fifth and Final Liberty Loan

Backing up a bit to the question of why the government was pushing so hard for these bonds, the first two Liberty Loans were not selling as well as hoped. Rumors were swirling that notes were being sold under their value just to make more sales. Treasury Secretary, William McAdoo, created a propaganda machine under the Committee on Public Information in order to push people to buy more bonds.

This committee helped make and distribute thousands of persuasive posters, enlisted celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks to make speeches promoting sales, urged communities to meet bond-buying quotas, promised prizes to volunteer promoters like custom buttons and German helmets, and spread rhetoric built upon the idea that buying these bonds was American, and anyone who didn’t buy them was un-American.

Steel prize tokens for volunteer promoters who sold the most Liberty Loans in their communities. These were made from melted down German cannons.

By the end of 1919, the U.S. had accrued debt in the ballpark of $25 billion as a result of Liberty Bond and other securities sales.

Timeline for Liberty Loans: The second Liberty Loan was issued on Oct 1, 1917, the third Liberty Loan was issued on Apr 5, 1918, the fourth on Sep 28, 1918, and the fifth and last called the Victory Loan was issued on Apr 21, 1919.

Depiction of the battle at Chateau-Thierry where the German cannon was captured and later melted down into Victory Loan prize buttons

100 Years Ago Today: Airedales Are Kings Among Dogs

Herald Democrat, March 12, 1919

Today, dogs perform dozens of specialized services for people, such as the work of Autism Assistance Dogs, Veteran Service Dogs, Brace/Mobility Support Dogs, Avalanche Rescue Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dog, and many more. But back in 1919, the idea that dogs could be trained to perform such highly skillful tasks, beyond their known abilities as retrievers during a hunt, was relatively new.

The Airedale Terrier was one of the first breeds identified as capable of learning such tasks, and they proved themselves invaluable to the British as well as German Armed Forces in World War I, performing vital services like finding wounded soldiers, carrying messages across the front lines, and acting as guard dogs. Perhaps it was their reputation in this last skill that led the Holly Sugar Company to use Airedales as watch dogs for their sugar factory in Swink, Colorado in today’s article.

Swink Sugar Factory of the Holly Sugar Company
Courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Department

The Airedale has been used more especially for guarding purposes. The peculiarly faithful and sagacious nature of the breed, combined with its adaptability to every circumstance where it may be required, whether it be the farmer’s yard, the factory, or a lady’s drawing-room, makes it very useful indeed.

Edwin Hautenville Richardson, from Watch Dogs: Their Training & Management

Airedales originated in the Aire Valley of northern England near the Scottish border during the mid-1800s. The Aire Valley was primarily a manufacturing town, and the mill and factory workers who lived there wanted to breed a tough, biddable dog to hunt rats that infested the area, as well as a dog that could retrieve ducks during a hunt. According to the AKC, the Airedale originated as a cross between several breeds, including the Otterhound for its sense of smell, the now-extinct Black and Tan Terriers for their desire to learn, and the Irish and Bedlington Terriers for their alertness.

 The Western Front's dogs of war revealed
Lt. Col. Richardson in the trenches with one of his dogs

During WWI, under the training guidance of British Lieutenant Colonel, Edwin Hautenville Richardson, the Airedale was introduced as one of the first War Dogs for the Allied side. Ironically, Richardson was made aware of the potential of war dogs by the Germans, who were training dogs to find wounded soldiers as early as 1914.

from Watch Dogs: Their Training & Management
by Edwin Hautenville Richardson

Despite the British military’s reluctance to catch on to the value of war dogs, Lt. Col. Richardson and his wife, Blanche, set up the British War Dogs Training School at Shoeburyness, Essex, where they trained hundreds of dogs.

“[Airedales] are very determined. They’re very single-minded and there’s no stopping them.

Lt. Col. Edwin Hautenville Richardson
Dogs
Airedales in the Red Cross uniform and carrying a messenger bag

Thousands of Airedales, as well as other breeds, were trained as messengers, sentries, and guards for the British Armed Forces. Messages were put in tins around the necks of dogs and they were identified by a scarlet collar or tally. Wendy Turner, secretary of the Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland said, “Red Cross used them as first aid carriers, they had a little package on their neck with medication in it and everything, and they were used for going out and finding wounded soldiers on the battlefield.”

Airedales were even taught to wear gas masks so that they could serve in the trenches on the front lines.

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Airedales wearing gas masks in WWI training

Jack, an Airedale British War Dog, was one of the most heroic service dogs in WWI. In 1918, Jack’s battalion, an advanced unit of the Sherwood Foresters, was completely trapped by German forces who had blown huge mortar shell holes behind the Allies. In front of them was a line of impenetrable barbed wire.

The Foresters were doomed, and Jack was their only hope of summoning reinforcements. The Airedale was sent to the deliver a message past the Germans to the next Allied line behind them. Jack suffered grave wounds during his mission. His jaw was shattered by shrapnel and a shell ripped down his back, but he kept going for another mile and a half. He saved his battalion, but Jack died soon after delivering his message.

Historic film footage of war dogs in the trenches of WWI

Presidents who have owned Airedales include Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. Author John Steinbeck also had an Airedale. The 1919 Best in Show was won by an Airedale.

100 Years Ago Today: Hugo Frey’s Odyssey

Fort Collins Courier, March 5, 1919
Hugo Frey in Navy uniform
From his memoir, Hugo’s Odyssey

Meg Dunn, who writes at the excellent history website, Northern Colorado History, has an in-depth article on Hugo Frey here, so I’ll just cover some highlights of his life, but definitely check out her writing, especially her five-part series on the rise of the KKK in Colorado in the 1920s.

Hugo Evon Frey’s story takes place over three distinct chapters: South Sea Navy Adventures, Colorado Public Figure, and California Newsman. He writes extensively about his time in the Navy in his memoir, Hugo’s Odyssey, a nod to the Homeric epic, which he published in 1942.

South Sea Navy Adventures

He joined the Navy during Teddy Roosevelt’s term in office (1901-1909), when the president was building the country’s naval force under the motto, “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Frey was a Chief Quartermaster in Aviation, if I’m reading his rating correctly: Chf. Q. M. Av.

Frey was stationed in Pago Pago, Samoa for several of the most formative years of his life. He regularly interacted with people he’d never have seen in Fort Collins, such as cannibals, native tribal leaders, and publicly nude people. But above all, he had adventures that would supply him with a lifetime of stories, like swimming races, haunted caves, an octopus attack, and learning the language of the Samoan people.

Hugo Frey in Samoa
From Hugo’s Odyssey

Frey later gave public talks to the people of Fort Collins about his time in Samoa, according to articles written 10 or so years after his service. During U.S. involvement in WWI (1917-1918), he urged his audiences to enlist in the Navy as soon as the country was enrolling again. This was advice he’d take up himself in a few months, with unforeseen consequences.

Colorado Public Figure

After returning to the states, Hugo Frey moved back to Fort Collins where he held several positions in the public sphere, notably as a Justice of the Peace and as a Judge. Despite his formal position, Frey was not above taking justice into his own hands, literally, when he reportedly punched a man who defamed and spit on the flag.

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Weekly Courier, June 30, 1916

Frey was also a curious businessman who heard about the burgeoning industry of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals like Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat, and Corn Flakes, and the rise of cereal manufacturing companies like Post, Kellogg’s, and Quaker Oats. His idea was to use alfalfa, a grain introduced to Colorado by John Brisben Walker, as the primary ingredient in his cereal. The idea never quite panned out, perhaps because alfalfa is only delicious to rabbits and cows.

On September 18, 1918, at age 35, Frey enlisted in the WWI draft. He could not have known that the war would be over in less than two months, which makes what happened next that much more devastating. He was soon sent to the Naval Station Great Lakes in northern Illinois, which trained 125,000 sailors during the Great War, including the famous composer and band leader, Lt. John Philip Sousa. After arriving at the Navy’s only boot camp, Frey received vaccinations that would leave him “invalid” for almost two years.

Great Lakes Bldg 1.jpg
Building 1 at Naval Station Great Lakes

However, by 1920, despite having been “at the point of death for many months,” Hugo Frey was on the road to recovery. He was also on the road to California (shout out to my OC heads), where he would receive further treatment for his illness.

California Newsman

Frey, along with his wife Ada and their two kids, lived out the rest of his life in Long Beach, California, where Frey wrote for the local paper, the Long Beach Telegram.

He wrote his memoir, Hugo’s Odyssey, in 1942, perhaps in another effort to help boost support for Naval enlistment in WWII, or maybe because he just wanted to share his adventures in Samoa with the world. Hugo Frey died in 1962 in California at the age of 78.

100 Years Ago Today: Eat Mangel Soup

EAT MANGEL SOUP

WITH THE AMERICAN ARMY IN FRANCE, Jan. 11 — Darmstadt’s civilian population has been staving off starvation with mangel soup, mangels stewed in water before American occupation, according to Edward Prunier, of New Haven, Conn., private in the 102nd infantry, 26th division, who was prisoner of war there for eight months.

“The Boche have been starving, around Darmstadt anyway,” said Prunier. “You cannot imagine how scarce food was. Mangels, stewed in water to make what they called soup was the chief diet of the civilian population. Why food was so scarce I believe anyone would have sold his soul for a biscuit.”

Prunier, who earned six cents a day on a factory while a prisoner, lived entirely on Red Cross food and found his sole recreation in playing games with equipment sent the 35 American prisoners at Darmstadt by the Y.M.C.A.

Aspen Democrat-Times, January 11, 1919

This headline sure is misleading. I thought we were getting a recipe for an early 20th century cure-all called Mangel Soup. Nope, instead it’s a retrospective morale-boost tucked inside a piece of World War I, POW journalism.

What the heck is mangel soup? Let’s start with the mangel, which is a hardy, weather-resistant beet that around this time in Germany was fed only to livestock, according to G. F. McCauley in Soldier Boys.

Ugly Food by Horsey and Wharton, illuminates the etymology of the word as a bastardization of the word “mangold” which means beet in German. Horsey and Wharton go on to describe the baseness of this vegetable by telling the story of John Le Marchant, a British cavalry officer who used the mangel as a means of testing swordsmanship because the oddly shaped beet with tough skin would flop around like a wounded man when tossed on a board, and therefore was good practice for new techniques of sword slicing.

mangel-wurzel

Mangel soup, we learn, was made by stewing mangels in water “to make what they called soup.” Prunier was so disgusted by this food that was the “chief diet of the civilian population” that he thinks anyone would sell their “soul for a biscuit.” Excuse me, Mr. Prunier, but I think one Dwight K. Schrute would have something to say for such maligning of a perfectly good, hearty beet.

Regarding the use of the term “Boche” referring to Germans, we turn now to Current History: A Monthly Magazine of the New York Times.

Numerous attempts have been made to explain the origin of the word “boche” which is now almost universally used by the French soldiers when speaking of the Germans…

Boche is an abbreviation of caboche…This is a recognized French word used familiarly for “head,” especially a big, thick head (“slow-pate.”)…Boche seems to have been used first in the underworld of Paris about 1860, with the meaning of a disagreeable, troublesome fellow.

100 years ago today, a WWI POW survivor on pittance factory pay remembers the disgusting beet soup that (slur-described) German civilians had no choice but to eat because they were starving so badly that they probably would’ve sold their souls for a biscuit.