December 22, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” What Rumsfeld said in bureaucratese, Robert Burns said more poetically: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley.” For the belligerents, squaring their reasons for embarking upon this war meant reconciling 1,616,015 casualties during August, September, October, and November of 1914 with both of these sentiments. Only a few of the handful of politicians and generals who made those fatal decisions in July understood that the reality of this war could be expressed in terms of 400,000 casualties a month in a war that would last 53 months.

As events go pear shaped, the ability to accept responsibility turns to finger-pointing in direct relation to the decision-maker’s proximity to the decision. President Truman’s “the buck stops here” is not a principle to be found among those whose decisions triggered having to contemplate 1,616,015 casualties after only four months of a war for which none could see a light at the end of the tunnel. (to use an expression from the Viet Nam war)

The blame game would corrupt the debate and each side would use the horrors of the reality to enflame support for their side. As Les McCann sang in “Compared to What:” Continue reading

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December 21, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

Contemplating the course of the war, the editor of the Capital Journal comments of changes brought about by technology:

THE SCIENCE OF KILLING

Great changes in armaments have been wrought by great wars. When guns and gunpowder supplanted the bows and the sword, the shield, emblem alike of national loyalty and personal safety, was made useless. Continue reading

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December 20, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

In the spirit of the season, the Oregon Statesman published this poem by Mrs F. T. Porter, of Salem:

Can we forget the cannon’s roar,
And those deep, gushing wounds that pour
Dark rivers, staining, far and wide
The shuddering earth and ocean tide?
Can we a space the conflict still,
And list the angel’s “Peace, good will”? Continue reading

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December 19, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The day’s headlines in the Capital Journal reflected the usual mix of confusion and optimism:

DOES JAPAN INTEND TO FURNISH TROOPS FOR EUROPEAN WAR?
Plan to Organize Two New Army Corps Causes Suspicion and Opposition
PARLIAMENT SPLIT, MAY BE DISSOLVED
Budget Now Shows Deficit of $13,000,000 – Japan In Bad Shape Financially Continue reading

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Sorting Through Undated Clothing: My Methods

by TeAnna, Exhibits Intern

At least half of the enormous collection of clothing the WHC (Willamette Heritage Center) collections remains undated. If I chose not to use these items based solely off the fact that the information I need from these articles isn’t already known, then I’m eliminating half of what is available to me to exhibit. This also means I’m eliminating the stories, and historical significance these pieces have.

So rather than doing that, I decided I wanted to put in the extra effort to try and find the approximate ages and/or time frame. I didn’t want to risk overlooking an article of clothing that could have been key to a certain decade or told an interesting story I felt needed to be heard. Who am I to underrepresented certain people or decades just because there was a lack of information?

Pencil skirt designed by Christian Dior. Image can be found at http://sew-simple.com/sewing/pencil-skirt-history/

Pencil skirt designed by Christian Dior. Image courtesy of http://sew-simple.com

As you can imagine, trying to match archival pictures and notes to notes and pictures written by fashion scholars can be a bit tricky and confusing. There are times when the clothing trend in one decade is very similar to the previous decade. Take for

Simplicity pencil skirt pattern. Courtesy of wesewretro.com

Simplicity pencil skirt pattern. Courtesy of wesewretro.com

instance the pencil skirt. Look at the images on both the left and the right. Can you tell which one is from the 1940s and which one is from the 1950s? Aside from the length (possibly due to the fact that one is designer and the other is a sewing pattern to do at home), there really isn’t much of a difference, is there? This is when you take a deeper look into the details and the fabric being used. If the clothing is made out of viscose or rayon, there is a high chance the skirt is from the 1940s, as more luxury fabrics such as nylon and wool were regulated for WWII. To answer my previous question about which is which, the designer skirt on the left is from the 1940s, in which the designer shown happened to be the first to create such a skirt. The skirt on the right is one of many pencil skirt sewing patterns from the 1950s. Continue reading

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December 18, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

In an editorial redolent of allegory, the Oregon Statesman writes of the futility of war when alternatives exist:

The Bodies of Men

“Men’s bodies are our women’s works of art,” says Olive Schreiner in “Women and Labor.”

“In a besieged city it might well happen that men in the streets might seize upon statues and marble carvings from public buildings and galleries and hurl them in to stop the breaches made in their ramparts by the enemy, unconsideringly and merely because they came first to hand, not valuing them more than had they been paving stones. One man, however, could not do this – the sculptor. He who, though there might be no work of his own chisel among them, yet knew what each of these works of art had cost, knew by experience the long years of struggle and study and the infinitude of toil which had gone to the shaping of even one limb, to the carving of even one perfect outline; he could never so use them without thought or care. Instinctively he would seek to throw in household goods, even gold and silver, all the city held, before he sacrificed its works of art.

Continue reading

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December 17, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

Expanding on the Monroe Doctrine, the Oregon Statesman suggests “Fencing the Hemisphere:” Continue reading

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