Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Great War: August 6, 1918

Yesterday, the Youth Department announced on Facebook at the field trip to Sylvia Center, a.k.a. Katchkie Farm, scheduled for today was being postponed until Friday because of the heat advisory. These days there are many programs--at the Youth Department, at Kite's Nest, and in the schools--intended to introduce kids to growing food. A hundred years, Emily Wurster supervised a similar program to engage children in creating and maintaining a war garden at the corner of Fairview Avenue and Parkwood Boulevard, now the location of the parking lot for Spruce Salon, formerly Canape Brothers Chrysler. The story of the war garden was reported in the Columbia Republican on August 6, 1918.


"Johnnie, get your hoe, get your hoe, get your hoe,
Mary, dig your row, dig your row, dig your row,
Down to business, girls and boys,
Learn to know the garden's joys.
Uncle Sam's in need, pull the weed, plant the seed,
While the sunbeams lurk do not shirk, get to work,
All the lads must spade the ground,
All the girls must hustle round.

"Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word, over there,
That the lads are hoeing, the lads are hoeing,
The girls are showing everywhere,
Each a garden to prepare.
Do you bit so that we all can share
With our brave boys, with all our brave boys,
Who will not come back till it's over, over there."
And when it's shouted out by twenty-six lusty American voices, the "Garden Song" sounds mighty good to hear. Better yet to see are the possessors of the twenty-six lusty voices as they work diligently with hoe and spade and spraying implements in the potato lots, the corn and bean patches, and among the squashes, beets, carrots and radishes with which their splendid garden abounds.
Twice a week do the twenty-six--or most of them--repair to the school gardens, located on the corner of Fairview avenue and Parkwood boulevard, where they are busily engaged in backing up Uncle Sam with a war garden which is a credit to them and to their able and efficient supervisor, Miss Emily L. Wurster.
The gardens were started on the fifteenth of June and despite the drouth and extremely unfavorable weather conditions, they are doing very well. Fourteen kinds of vegetables are raised, including four lots of potatoes and all are showing the results of the good care given them.
The youngsters range in age from 9 to 13 years and in their enjoyment of their work, they are proving themselves enthusiastic little patriots. If all this year's war gardeners would be as diligent in the care of their products, especially in spraying them to guard against bugs and blight, which are just now so prevalent, a great deal of good food and hard labor would be saved.
The rows of vegetables are very good to look at as they are kept free from weeds and in good condition. Two of the children have made perfect attendance since the gardens were started. They are John Zimbo and Mary Patten, while four others, Julia Papp, Sophie Butsky, Mary Sobin, and Jennie Ferrazzi have missed only one day. The rest have been more or less punctual and only a few have been dilatory. Miss Wurster, the supervisor, sees to it that all are kept busy while they are there and the result of her discipline and good advice is very evident.
The one thing that has been lacking this year and which is hoped will be more general next year is the co-operation of the parents and grown-ups in general. This work is very good for the youngsters. It gives them plenty of fresh air and good exercise, keeps them out of mischief and teaches them to know and love nature, besides providing good, fresh vegetables for home use. Next year it is hoped that the number of children will be doubled and more interest and co-operation will be shown on the part of their parents and grown friends.
The Children's Public Victory Garden, we learn from 1919 issues of the Columbia Republican, was a project of the Municipal Welfare Department of the Woman's Club, in cooperation with the Board of Education. In her report to the Woman's Club after the 1919 gardening season, Emily Wurster again expressed the hope that "more enthusiasm and co-operation will be shown by parents and grown-ups in general" and then offered this observation: "Usually in the early spring the enthusiasm runs high and everyone wants to get out of doors and plant, whether it be a few flowers or a small truck garden. This generally keeps up until the summer heat comes on and then the over-enthusiastic gardeners fail to see the importance of keeping up the good work and begin to give up and drop out."  

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