Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting It Right

Last Sunday, after discovering in a box of treasures the souvenir book from the 1919 Welcome Home Celebration for World War Veterans, I identified this vintage photograph as one taken during that parade.

A reader informed me that I was mistaken. The parade pictured here was not a postwar celebration but a parade that occurred at the beginning of the country's involvement in the Great War to encourage people to buy war bonds. So on Tuesday, I reported this information.

A few days later, my source informed me that he had been wrong. The parade with the giant ball rolling down the street was not to encourage people to buy war bonds but to muster support for "Uncle Sam's Scrap Metal Drive." He provided the link to this website where I discovered a photograph of the same ball, or one very like it, being rolled along by two men dressed as Uncle Sam.

The website dates the picture June 1918 but does not indicate where it was taken. There is probably no connection between the two parades. They clearly happened at different times of year. It was was not June when the ball visited Hudson. There are no leaves on the trees, and the spectators appear dressed for cold weather.

Although there were scrap metal drives during World War I, the big effort in the United States to recycle metal occurred during World War II. Searching the Internet for "World War I scrap metal drive" yields more information about World War II than about World War I, including this picture of Rita Hayworth, then in her 20s, showing how she had sacrificed the bumpers on her car to aid the war effort.

So the question arises: When was the cannon once displayed in front of the Hudson Armory melted down to make new weapons?

This detail from a picture taken of the northwest corner of Fifth and State streets in 1939 offers evidence that the cannon survived World War I, so, since the story is that it was melted down to support the war effort, that must have happened in World War II.

Update: Nearly six years after publishing this post, I stumbled upon a news item in the Columbia Republican for April 23, 1918, that pinpoints exactly when the parade photographed on Union Street happened. It was Friday, April 26, 1918. The occasion was the Third Liberty Loan campaign. See "The Great War: April 23, 1918."

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