Military Advice from 1917– send in the ukuleles!

Goodwin’s Weekly, sometime in 1917 (I think), printed the following advice…

Americans might mobilize a corps of ukulele players to terrify any possible enemy.

This advice seems to have been taken seriously … on a small scale … because on Thursday, 22 May, 1919, the Washington Times reported that Battery B of the 110th Artillery included in its ranks Corporal Taylor, the ukulele sharp. See if you can find him below.

Where's Taylor and his uke?

 Battery B was regards as the most efficient of the 3 from Washington. During the 11 months they were in France, not one of them was court marshalled. 




Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Frumgeous Ukulele (in verse no less)

A poetic invitation and rhymed refusal were published together sometime after March 1917, and before the end of the First World War — the newspaper itself is as yet unidentifiable.

Why not visit Honolulu?
Drop in on us without warning
When your next vacation’s due

Many thank for invitation
But we don’t believe we can, Sir
We may have to serve the nation.

We might wear your flower Boa
And a smile — and wear ’em gayly —
But we fear the wild aloa
And the Frumgeous ukulele.
So excuse us.
                                                    T. A. Daly

Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ukulele packs troubles off to Leavenworth

The St. Joseph Observer of 22 June 1918 reported the following heart-warming story:

Eleven men in Khaki marched from an incoming train into the Union Station. One carried a ukulele and played as they marched, and only a few of those watching noticed that they were under guard. When they were seated the man with the instrument struck up a tune and four others formed a quartet and began to sing. In clear mellow tones they sang “Over There.” and people from all over the waiting room left their seats and moved forward. “Singing as they go to war,” remarked a man. The audience grew. A man started to talk to one who was not singing, but three husky sergeants stepped forward and ordered the crowd to keep back. They were not men singing on their way to war, but prisoners from Camp Wheeler, Ga., on the way to the federal prison at Leavenworth to serve sentences ranging from one to twenty-five years, but they had not forgotten the spirit of the army of which they had been a part and left the station singing “Pack up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile.”

It might be that they were singing because they were not going to war. It’s a sad thought that there was only one ukulele among the eleven prisoners.

A lady with a ukulele at war

On the 7th of December, 1919, The New York Tribune ran a feature on Lady Astor, who was elected member of the British parliament for Plymouth (I think) to take the place her husband had to surrender due to his translation to the House of Lords. But during the war (the First World War) she was active in nursing and cheering soldiers.

Her husband went into the army and became Major Astor. She went to work for the soldiers. The magnificent Astor estate of Cliveden, Taplow, one of the finest along the Thames, was turned into a hospital and rest cure, and she did not spare herself at nursing and visiting and cheering up the sick and wounded soldiers. After America went into the war, she could be found two evenings a week at an American officers’ club and two other evenings were passed at club for enlisted men, where she could be seen sitting on the floor playing the ukulele. She is said to be the only member of the British peerage who has mastered that instrument.

Lady Astor -- She's no flapper

… and Lady Astor was for prohibition.


Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Paying off the First World War one ukulele at a time

The Evening Independent reported on 30 July 1924 that ukulele fever had hit Berlin hard. Germany wanted a ukulele in every home. The uke was promoted with special musical tunes, “Ukulele Heinie” and “Try Me on Your Cat” [must have lost something in translation], as examples. Every ukulele sale contributed to the paying of war reparations, as Germany put a big sales tax on musical instruments, it seems, for that purpose.

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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