Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Great War: January 1, 1918

In June, Gossips shared the report, which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register, that Dr. Henry C. Galster, "well known physician and surgeon of this city," had been commissioned as a captain in the medical section of the Officers Reserve Corps of the United States Army. Gossips readers will remember that Galster lived and practiced medicine at 454 Warren Street, in the house where Nolita is now located. His shingle can be seen on the ground floor entrance to the house in this photograph by Walker Evans.

On January 1, 1918, Galster was the subject of two items in the Columbia Republican. The first reported the rumor of his death. 

The second was a letter from Galster written to a friend in Hudson, which was printed in its entirety in the newspaper. There is much of interest in Galster's letter, and Gossips will transcribe it in its entirety here.

Dear Friend:
Received your long and newsy letter the other day and very glad indeed to get it. I never before appreciated letters as I do those I receive out here. It came on Monday with six others so you see I had quite some news.
Mail coming over here has been very irregular indeed and I was out here a little over six weeks before I had any news of any kind from home. Of course, I cabled my safe arrival to Mrs. Galster upon arriving--. Even so, it was not sent until four days later. From what I can learn, all cables are held up at least that long for the purpose of censorship. Haven't had a word from any of the fellows, with the exception of yourself and Dr. Harris.
Several of my other friends have written to me having seen my address in the paper.
If this letter reaches you before 1-1-18, I hope you'll wish everybody a Happy and Prosperous New Year for me.
Rather hard to write very much of what one sees over here for one doesn't know how much the censor will allow. We are supposed to censor our own letters and consequently one is in duty bound not to write anything about military subjects that might give information to our enemies.
I've been at the front a couple of times and it wasn't so bad as they say; it might have been worse. While in the back areas we have pretty good times and oftimes one is able to find a good place to have dinner. In most of the larger places one finds an officers' club where one is always welcome, although at times one is stared at because we are probably the first American officers they have seen. this is not happening quite as muh at present for we are becoming quite numerous and I attended a lecture the other day at which I met about a dozen American mos [medical officers]. I met three chaps who had come across with me. Glad to see them you may be sure and learn what they had been doing and how they were enjoying the work.
The British officers as a class are as fine a body of men as one would care to meet. Very courteous and obliging; nothing being too much trouble.
I'm with a Territorial battalion which before the war resembled our National guard very much.
Forgot to tell you I was over to lunch to-day with a young chap from Albany, Dr. Dickinson. We were together in Washington and remained together for some time after landing over here. He is at present in another regiment and brigade but same division as I am. Although not many miles or kilometres (for metric system is used here almost exclusively) apart I hadn't seen him for nearly six weeks until day of lecture. So today I went over to have a good long chat with an old friend. By the way, Dr. Edwards knows him very well.
Thought all soldiers were to have a vote. Of course, I know I am not one still, as I'm supposed to be one, I wondered why I never received a ballot. Don't believe it would have made any difference. Do you?
I'm supposed to be sleeping in a bed that Napoleon slept in many years ago. It may be like the beds they tell you about that George Washington did the same. Anyhow, it's jolly comfortable and I'll enjoy it while I can because one doesn't strike such things every day. M.O. usually lucky for I am third senior officer at H 2 and I am looked after very well.
Don't think much of the heating arrangements of old world houses for they are inadequate. Oftimes wish I could find a place with either a hot air or hot water furnace. No such luck.
Now 10:30 p.m., so good-night for now.
As ever,
Henry C. Galster
At the time he wrote this letter, Galster was 29. Despite rumors to the contrary, Galster survived the war, returned to Hudson, and served as mayor in 1921 and 1922.

No comments:

Post a Comment