April 22, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

At the outbreak of the war the workforce was overwhelmingly male. In all sectors of the economy employing “breadwinners” the gender was male – until the meat grinder that was the trench war in France created a labor force imbalance:

As reported in the Oregon Statesman:

WOMEN ON STREETCARS
Glasgow Corporation Will Employ 400 Women Conductors

Glasgow, Scotland, April 21. – So satisfactory has the experiment of employing a dozen women as street car conductors proved that the corporation tramways committee decided today to employ as many additional women as would be necessary toil the vacancies caused by the men enlisting for service at the front.

It is expected that 400 women will be required for these positions. They will be paid 27 shillings ($6.75) weekly, and will be provided with service uniforms.

$6.75 in 1915 translates to about $157.00 in 2014 dollars.

The Oregon Statesman also reported efforts by German socialists to end the war. On the other side of the political spectrum, Prussian landowners were reported attempting to negotiate with Russia in an attempt to save their landholdings.

It is declared that the German Socialists are virtually unanimous in favor of peace and against any annexation of territory. It is said that although the socialist newspapers in Germany are not permitted, under penalty of suspension, to publish criticisms of the government and express skepticism regarding the results of the war, at a meeting where only members of the party were admitted and from which the police were absent, free discussions inferior of peace took place.

The general view of the Socialists, it is said, is that a Alsace and Lorraine should belong to neither France nor Germany, but should be autonomous.

Alsace and Lorraine should be autonomous. A century later, that is exactly what Alsace and Lorraine seek.

The headline in the Capital Journal is worthy of Monty Python:

FLOWER OF ENGLISH NATION OFFERED UP AS BLOODY SACRIFICE
British Army Now Has 750,000 Or More Men On Battlefields of Northern France Fighting In Gigantic Struggle – How Many Have Fallen Before German Bullets Is Problem Only Kitchener Knows – Band Concerts Help Morale

FIGHTING IN THE CARPATHIAN HAS COME TO A STANDSTILL SAYS REPORT

Bathing System Helps Authorities To Combat Vermin and Disease – Thousands of Mouth Organs and “Penny Whistles” Have Been Distributed To Troops In Trenches – Football Is Encouraged To Take Mind of Men From Business of Killing

Corrosive partisanship is not a plague of today, though its virulence may be worse now than when this editorial appeared in the Capital Journal:

TOLERANCE OF THE OTHER FELLOW

The other fellow is an awful bother. He is as contrary and independent of your reasoning as the weather. You run counter to him everywhere you go. He adds to the injury by refusing to recognize your superiority and right to be favored.

It is intolerable to you to see him in front of you in the line at the post office window. And at the intersection of streets it is humiliating to have to slacken your speed and give him the right of way in passing.

If you ungraciously unbend so far as to listen to his opinions – conversation – chances are he will want to talk just when you have something you want to say.

As a mater of course, he isn’t always the same fellow; but, whoever he is, he is always the other fellow. The worst thing about him is that there are so man of him.

But, hold on!

Put your finger to your bulging forehead and try to think a minute. It may be that he is just as tired of you as you are of him. Your pet ideas may seem to him nonsense. He may have lots of grievances against you.

Talk things over with the other fellow. He is as much a human being as your are. He is affected by heat and cold, love and hate, food and hunger, riches and poverty, toil and rest, just about as you are yourself. What is good or bad for you or distasteful to you is likely to be good or bad or distasteful to him too.

In one respect the other fellow is like a savings bank, which is not of lump interest to you until you have put some of your treasure in it.

His religion, his politics, his views regarding everything are all wrong because they differ from yours? He is a boor because he does not recognize your infallibility of judgment? Tut! tut! child. He is just as likely to be right as you are. His aims and his motives are apt to be just as high as your are.

The other fellow is a bully good fellow, if you are.

If you haven’t spoken a pleasant word to some other fellow this day, the what good is your power of speech?

The Salem papers of the day often show a scrupulous respect and encouragement of the core values of citizenship that exemplifies the respect we had for the Fourth Estate. The sentiment may seem naive today; nonetheless it would be refreshing to see the occasional editorial that did not conceal some element of condescension, snarkiness, or self-righteousness.

The Oregon Statesman reported groundbreaking for a new apartment building at the corner of Court and Cottage Streets:

BREAK GROUND FOR $35,000 APARTMENTS
Excavation Is Begun for Fine Structure at Court and Cottage Streets

Ground was broken yesterday starting the excavation for the new four-story apartment house to be erected at the corner of Court and Cottage streets by George F. Rodgers and C. L. McNary, at a cost of $35,000.

The building is to be of brick and when completed will contain thirteen apartments of two and three rooms each. All the most modern equipment and conveniences of the find apartment houses of the larger cities will be installed in the new structure.

The location for the building is one of the most desirable in the entire city as it is within a short distance of the center of the business district, and at the same time is well within one of Salem’s finest residence sections.

The Oregon Statesman reported editorially on “Zoological Allies:”

The possibilities in new forms of warfare have not yet been exhausted. On seeking means of combatting aerial enemies it has been suggested that birds might be utilized. From Holland comes the interesting report that pelicans are being trained to attack aviators. They are to be sent aloft as falcons were in the old days, at first sight of the prey; they will follow the hostile aeroplane, and pick and claw at the aviator’s face until they tumble him to earth.

An even more wonderful suggesting comes from Ferdinand Bartels, a zoological collector who has just returned from South America. He brings word of a talented bird called the whiffle buff, which not only can put the best aviator to shame in looping the loop, but has the unique trick of spearing is prey with its tail.

“The Whiffle buff of the Amazon,” says Mr. Bartels, “drops and then soars upward at great speed, with its sharp tail feathers or spikes projecting upward, and its head down.” It has therefore occurred to him that his bird, which is very powerful on the wing, might be trained to destroy Zeppelins by shooting up in the manner and spearing them full of holes.

But why stop at that? Isn’t it possible to train geese or storks to carry bombs or grenades, hovering with them over the enemy’s trenches and dropping them plumb on the heads of the defenders?

And here is probably the most valuable hint of all – the allies may take it or leave it – it is perfectly obvious, and yet not one of the belligerents seems to have thought of it – why not train swordfish to ram the enemy’s submarines?

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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